Getting your online store started is not an easy feat. There are plenty of e-commerce platforms widely available, both free and paid. Today we will be looking at the two most popular options: Magento (Community Edition) and Shopify. Choosing a suitable e-commerce platform for your website is a vital factor that will contribute to the success or failure of your business. This is important for small businesses with limited budgets and allocated resources.
If you are planning on starting up an online store to Magneto or Shopify, or migrating an existing store, you should conduct some research. There are some fundamental differences between the two platforms that you should be aware of before making a decision.
Shopify is a commercial platform for which you will need to pay. Magento (Community Edition) is free and open-source. There is also an Enterprise version of Magento but we will mainly focus on the Community Edition today, since it contains nearly everything that the Enterprise version has.
Shopify is a hosted solution meaning your online store is hosted with them, while Magento requires you to provide your own hosting and conduct your own installation and configuration before you can actually start building your store. The latter option may put off some beginner users, but setup is straightforward.
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Ease of Use
Magento and Shopify are both fairly powerful e-commerce platforms. Both feature a well-designed user interface which makes it easy for any user to navigate and set-up an online store. Shopify has a slight advantage over Magento, since it includes a Wizard mode that lets novice users create their store easily. Since Magento is a self-hosted solution, the typical processes involved in setting up a suitable Magento environment might not be easy for end-users.
Setup Fees – Shopify does not charge any setup fees. They do offer a 14-day free trial where you can test the functionality and features offered by the e-commerce platform. Magento, as an open-source platform, is free to install and use.
Monthly Fees – Shopify offers four different plans to suit the needs of your online store.
- Starter Plan: $14
- Basic Plan: $29
- Professional Plan: $79
- Unlimited Plan: $179
Since Magento is self-hosted, you will need to pay for hosting services. These can vary greatly depending on your provider, ranging anywhere from $5 – $100+ per month.
Bandwidth Charges – Depending on your hosting provider you may have to pay for bandwidth fees if you are using Magento. With Shopify, bandwidth is free for all plans.
Transaction Fees – With Magento, no transaction fees are charged other than the payment gateway provider’s fees, which vary from provider to provider. These fees are applicable to Shopify as well, however Shopify doesn’t charge any additional transaction fees when its own payment gateway is used. If you use any other gateway or method (such as COD – Cash on Delivery), their transaction fees apply.
- Starter Plan: 2%
- Basic Plan: 1%
- Professional Plan: 1%
- Unlimited Plan: 0%
Theme/Template Prices – Magento and Shopify both offer a good number of free and paid themes and templates with Magento’s premium theme prices start at $1. Shopify’s premium themes start at $80.
Making the right choice
Shopify is often the popular choice with those who want avoid additional set-up and the cost of development to build their online store. Merchants who want to start up small will definitely benefit the most out of Shopify, at least until they have a stable business presence. Then it would be worth considering migrating to Magento. Shopify is also a great starting point for vendors that want to try out innovative products and services without a huge loss if their idea doesn’t work out.
Magento is definitely for the established brand and often for medium to large sized businesses that can afford premium hosting and dedicated team of developers and maintainers for their online store. Of course, there’s no stopping small businesses from starting out and experimenting with Magento as a solid foundation for future growth. The decision ultimately depends on the needs of your business, and it is up to you to decide whether Magento or Shopify is the right choice for you.