If you want to get into the eCommerce business, you are going to have to have to have a means of receiving payment. PayPal “Buy Now” buttons are one option, but if you plan on growing a big business, you are going to have to invest in a shopping cart. Shopify and Magento are two of the most popular choices, but which platform is best for you? Let us go over some of the features of each, and weigh the two options.
What Both Platforms Offer
To be fair, we will first look at what both Shopify and Magento offer potential users. As any good eCommerce platform should, both shopping carts are capable of factoring in shipping fees. Any profitable online store will have to attract customers as well, and both platforms offer powerful SEO tools to get your shop to the top of the search results. While these two juggernauts of the eCommerce battleground do offer the same basic functionality, they differ in many ways.
Shopify is probably the most popular eCommerce site builder at this time and for good reason. With over a hundred customizable templates, building an online store using this platform gives its users a wide range of layouts to choose from. Shopify can be set up almost “right out of the box”, and there is a large online community as well as 24/7 support to make things even easier.
To top off all of these great features, Shopify also offers hosting, so users will be able to simply connect their shops to their domain names without having to purchase hosting from a separate provider. Users that do not know much about Web design will be able to set up their online shops quickly by following the numerous tutorials about the platform.
One downside to Shopify is that the basic edition (which costs $29 per month at the time of this writing) only allows users to have twenty-five items in their stores at any given time. More advanced packages offer more inventory space and other additional features, such as coupon codes. Luckily, the first two weeks are free, allowing shop owners to test the waters before they commit to paying for a plan.
Another downside is that while Shopify is indeed a flexible platform with numerous modern themes, premium themes come at a hefty price. The free themes work fine, but business owners that want to soup up their presentation will be paying a pretty penny, along the lines of $80 for a responsive premium theme. Setting up Shopify in a language other than English may also require third-party add-ons, so it may be a challenge to reach customers outside of the Anglosphere by default.
Magento is a free, open-source shopping cart solution, which may make it appeal to users at first. However, unlike Shopify, Magento requires quite a bit of technical know-how in order to get it off of the ground. Although with that said, there are lots of tutorials around to assist you. Business owners that do not have this technical knowledge will have to invest in hiring people that do, and can get things set up. Users will also have to have their own hosting plan and know how to install Magento on their servers.
After surmounting these technical hurdles, Magento becomes a more powerful and flexible tool than Shopify with thousands of themes and apps. The platform lacks flexibility when it comes to integrating payment solutions, however. Shopify, by default, can easily connect with about seventy payment gateways, while Magento would require setting up third-party apps to do so.
Setting up shop with Magento also allows greater ease of attracting non-English-speaking customers than Shopify. By default, the platform supports multiple languages and can easily be customized to support more.
Magento’s free themes are not as modern as Shopify’s, but its premium themes are quite nice and are far less expensive compared to its competitor. To top this off, Magento does not force its users to pay to increase the size of their shop inventory, meaning that there is less overhead for store owners that have a plethora of items to sell.
Magento offers greater flexibility and power than Shopify, but these benefits come at the cost of a much steeper learning curve.
As we can see, both shopping cart solutions have their pros and cons. Objectively, we cannot say that one is better than the other; if this were the case, it is likely that one would have gone out of business a long time ago.
What we can say is that Shopify is probably the better solution for those that want to set up shop quickly, without having a high learning curve. Magento may appeal to users with a more technical background that want to have their own hosting plan and don’t want to fork over additional monthly fees.
Do your research and weigh your options when investing in a platform. Only you can decide which shopping cart is best for your business!