At this day of age, there are numerous options for #eCommerce platforms to choose from. What do these platforms do? They come out of the box (OOB) with eCommerce features and may or may not include hosting options. For this version of our blog, we will be comparing Shopify (Shopify Plus not included) and Magento Community to give you 5 reasons why you should choose Shopify over the latter.
As a means of recap, #Shopify comes with 3 pricing plans namely Basic, Shopify and Advanced at $29, $79 and $299/month. The pricing plan is inclusive of license and server cost.
#Magento Community on the other hand is a Free to use eCommerce platform and does not charge you to use it. However, one would have to spend on hosting the website on their own server instance.
Ease of use
When it comes to ease of use, Shopify wins the battle hands down. Shopify Admin functions like Importing and configuring products, uploading assets to products, managing sales orders and running reports is a piece of cake. This is true for both power users and business users. For someone that has had very little to no experience in eCommerce platforms, Shopify is easier to adopt compared to Magento which tends to be overwhelming until you get used to the system.
Apart from the #B2C and limited #B2B features provided in the Admin, Shopify is self hosted. Which means, you do not have to worry about finding a hosting partner, signing up with them and hosting your website with them. Shopify does all of this when you sign up with them and your instance is ready to launch whenever you think the time is right. At the click of a button, your store can be published to the outside world.
Magento on the other hand, provides a rich set of B2C and B2B features right out of the box. A lot of Magento users that I personally know admit they have never used some of the features available OOB even after years of taking their store online. This is primarily because Magento offers more than any eCommerce platform out there in the market at a $0 price point. With excess features comes a pain point - Magento Admin takes a lot of getting used to. Apart from all this, Magento requires that you handle the hosting and does not come pre hosted like it’s Enterprise/Commerce version. This is exactly where Shopify shines as a better choice for most small and mid sized businesses.
Total Cost of Ownership
Total Cost of ownership (TCO) can be categorized into 3:
License Cost - a cost that is typically paid to utilize the platform for your needs
Hosting Cost - a cost that is required to get your website up and running on a server
App/Extension Cost - a cost that is required to add additional functionality on your website via 3rd party plugins/apps/extensions
Comparing TCO between Shopify and Magento - this is a different ballgame in some ways. While Shopify prefers to run recurring/monthly payments for license, hosting and app costs, it is the opposite for Magento that relies on a one-time payment for its extensions. As already discussed, Shopify bundles the license and hosting cost together when you choose a pricing plan with them - Basic/Shopify/Advanced. For any additional functionality that you might want on your website, for example, a #chatbot OR advanced promotions you may use an app from their App Store that will result in an additional monthly pricing.
With Magento, there is no concept of a recurring payment yet. The Magento Community platform as such is a free to use platform. Any additional features you might need such as the #MailChimp newsletter OR 3PL solutions are achievable through extensions. The extensions require a one time payment to purchase and use. So all of your Magento costs are upfront except for the hosting which typically is month on month recurring cost. Typical examples are Nexcess or #Cloudways.
For small and medium sized businesses, it is usually a better option to pay in smaller monthly installments rather than having to pay upfront.
Theme is the skeleton of the website’s look and feel. This determines the layout of the website and the branding/color scheme to be used. Of course the layout and branding can be customized after purchasing a theme. That is seldom required for #SMB (Small & Medium Business). Most businesses are able to adopt a theme and make minor modifications on top to suit their design expectations.
Shopify provides a total of 73 mobile responsive themes in its store - 9 of which are free & 64 paid. The free themes tend to have a similar look & feel and using this might mean your store looks more or less like another business’s store that opts for a Free theme. The paid themes typically cost a maximum of $180 in store and that provides a unique outlook to the website. Shopify themes are also available on 3rd party theme stores. These tend to be less expensive compared to the paid themes on Shopify theme store. Also, from our personal experience, the 3rd party themes tend to have a great collection of branding and designs.
Magento only has 11 fully mobile responsive themes. These cost up to $499 on the #Adobe Marketplace. The most popular approach for Magento themes in general is to opt for 3rd party themes like Porto that provide a great value for the money and unique design layouts. A not so popular yet potential option is to start from scratch and create your own theme using Magento’s Luma theme. This is worth the time and effort provided you want a very unique and customized experience in your store.
Though the options are equally open in both platforms when it comes to themes, we pick Shopify for the low cost option.
Other options like Theme, TCO and Ease of Use are more of initial level decision makers. Scalability on the other hand is a post launch decision maker parameter. Scalability is a serious consideration when you are thinking of growing your business. To launch your own store is one thing and to have it automatically scale based on the traffic incoming is a different league altogether.
Shopify comes with auto scaling capabilities right out of the box and you do not need to worry about hiring a server specialist to ensure scaling configurations.
Magento does not come with the scaling feature and hence requires your hosting partner to handle the same. Setting up auto scaling feature on your hosting infrastructure is a 2-fold work -
Re-architecting your website for auto-scale feature
The ability to scale on demand without increasing your monthly license cost is a no-brainer and a clear victory for Shopify.
Customer Support is a vital part of choosing any eCommerce platform. A prime example of this could be a case where your site is temporarily down and you need technical support to troubleshoot the issue and resolve it. OR a case of promotions not working.
Fortunately, 24x7 Customer Support is offered with all Shopify Plans. This means you simply have to login to your Shopify account and raise a ticket with the technical team for a response/resolution.
This is not a part of the Magento Community unfortunately and thereby businesses running Magento eCommerce stores are required to hire a Managed Services team that may or may not provide a 24x7 support depending on your terms with them. This in a way adds to the growing list of expenses of running an online store.
For small and medium businesses, it is beneficial to move to Shopify for the sake of the free Customer Support.
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