Shopify vs Magento: which platform is best for your e-commerce business?

Shopify vs Magento: which platform is best for your e-commerce business?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing an e-commerce platform for your business. Not only do you need to consider current requirements, you also need to factor in future needs: what platform will take your business to the next level and evolve with you as it grows?

Shopify and Magento are two of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the market. But is either one right for you? An easy way to figure it out is to weigh up the pros and cons of Shopify vs Magento.

Magento pros

Magento Open Source (formerly known as Community Edition) is free to download and uses a coding system called PHP that can be modified to the requirements of your business, so there’s no limit to how your online store can look.

It’s worth noting that Magento is a self-hosted solution; users will have to pay a third-party hosting service. That means finding the solution that best fits your needs and paying the price that comes with it.

Although this may cost more per month than other platforms, excellent hosting is essential for a successful online store. It can be detrimental to your business if your site goes down: not only are you likely to lose revenue, your SEO ranking will be adversely impacted, too.

Magento cons

Magento does cater to small e-commerce businesses, but it fails to have as much flexibility for these sellers as some of its competitors.

Although requiring users to oversee hosting does have benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks: the cost of self-hosting can run into serious figures.

Users are also in charge of their own security, which can make your website more vulnerable to hacking attempts, something that’s a growing—and costly—issue in the e-commerce world. Last year, Target was forced to pay $18.5 million to settle claims by 47 states and to resolve an investigation into a huge data breach that occurred in 2013.

Additionally, Magento themes are slightly more complex to install and even more complicated to modify. Along with this, many users have run into difficulties when updating their product details on the platform: it does have a section where you can add and edit products, but this can prove difficult if you’re not a pro-coder.

Shopify pros

More than 600,000 businesses use Shopify’s e-commerce platform to power their online stores, collectively generating $55 billion worth of sales. The platform’s monthly flat fee (ranging from $29 for basic to $299 for advanced) includes maintenance, hosting, security, support and bandwidth, making it an affordable option for small e-commerce businesses.

At the same time, Shopify does not require any in-depth technical knowledge to launch an online store. Users can choose from over 100 themes in its drag-and-drop store builder and customize colors, imagery and fonts with ease. Not to mention, every theme is fully responsive, which means customers enjoy a consistent experience, whether they browse your store on desktop or mobile.

Shopify is a wholly hosted solution that can be set up in minutes, with or without a custom domain. In addition to providing unlimited bandwidth, instant upgrades and lightning-fast servers, the platform is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant.

Wannabe multichannel seller? Shopify is expanding its integrations with marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, as well as with the likes of Facebook, Buzzfeed and Wish, which means there’s an opportunity to increase your sales by listing your products on multiple platforms at once.

Shopify cons

Unlike Magento Open Source, Shopify has less options for customization (and only 10 of its themes are free), which may not be as appealing to fast-growing or big businesses. The standard configuration may not be enough for someone who has a very specific idea of what their online store should look like.

In addition to its monthly flat fees, Shopify charges processing fees if you use Shopify Payments to process credit cards, or a transaction fee (ranging from 0.5% to 2.0%, depending on your plan) if you use your own processor.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, Shopify vs Magento comes down to how much control you want over the design of your e-commerce site.

If you’re looking for a simple drag-and-drop website builder and are happy to customize predefined themes, then Shopify is the one for you. But if you have a sleek, original design in mind, as well as some coding experience or technical expertise (or access to someone who does), Magento Open Source might be a more desirable option.

Whatever route you choose to go, an e-commerce help desk is a must. With xSellco Helpdesk (which integrates with both Shopify and Magento), you can manage support for all your marketplaces, online stores and social channels in one connected dashboard.

Resolve queries quickly with an e-commerce help desk

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Lorna Franklin

With a background in eCommerce, Lorna joined xSellco to fulfill her passion for helping online sellers to reach their full potential. In her spare time, you'll find her practicing headstands at yoga class.