If you’re looking to start an eCommerce website, there’s never been a better time! With so many great eCommerce platforms to choose from – not to mention the low start up costs associated with an online business – it’s a great time to launch a commercial website.
But how can you choose the right eCommerce platform for your business? In this guide, we’re going to compare two of the biggest platforms used for eCommerce: Magento and Shopify. We’re going to rank them on usability, beginner-friendliness, SEO capabilities, and more. Let’s take a look!
Magento vs. Shopify: what’s the difference?
Both Shopify and Magento are free-to-use eCommerce platforms, and both of are widely used globally for small businesses and global brand names alike. But what’s the difference between these two platforms? Here are four major differences to take into consideration before choosing a platform:
Ease of use
One of the major differences between Shopify and Magento is their ease-of-use. For beginners – or those who don’t have any formal training in web development – Shopify is certainly the easiest of the two platforms to navigate. Shopify uses an easy-to-use interface, and comes with a content management system that is fairly simple to understand.
Magento is definitely more complex, and is more suited to an advanced developer. This is because you’ll need to work with code and HTML as you build and customise your website.
If you’re a new business with a large start-up budget, you could also hire a Magento expert to help build and optimise your website from the ground up, while also hiring a Magento SEO consultant to handle the marketing aspect of your site. While Magento is certainly more complex, it does come with extra features and customisation options, whereas Shopify is more limited in this area.
As referred to above, Magento is the better option if you’re looking for a website with almost unlimited customisation potential. Magento allows users to create code and build their eCommerce store with custom themes and plugins, but do note that you can end up paying thousands – if not tens of thousands – on a custom premium theme and premium features. (And you can expect to double that figure if you pay a developer to do it for you.)
Shopify, while offering a wider range of both free and premium themes, is slightly more limited when it comes to custom features and custom design. On the upside, Shopify offers around 4000 plugins (including 1500 free plugins), while Magento offers a little over 3000.
As we’ve made pretty clear so far, Magento is definitely the more complicated of the two eCommerce platforms – and this complexity is especially relevant when it comes to sales tools.
While Shopify has incredible selling features, including in-built multi-channel selling, established partnerships with global postal services, and the ability to sell digitally downloadable products, Magento requires extensive plugins in order to perform the same functions.
If you’re an eCommerce beginner, Shopify is certainly going to be the simplest platform for you to get your shop up and running in the shortest amount of time.
If you have big ambitions for your eCommerce store, you’re going to be interested in your chosen platform’s capabilities for scaling. If you plan to grow and expand your business, it’s important to pick a platform that can support an increasing inventory, increased number of site visitors, and the logistical challenges that occur if you plan to transition to a brick-and-mortar store.
Both Magento and Shopify make it easy to scale your business, although Magento does have a renowned reputation for making scaling easy (and less expensive) than Shopify.
This is because Shopify owners will need to upgrade their site to Shopify Plus in order to access the platform’s features for large enterprises. Shopify Plus costs a minimum of $2,000 (£1700) per month, but will increase in accordance with your monthly sales. As of 2022, Shopify Plus fees are capped at $40,000 per month for eCommerce sites making up to $16million per month.
Magento vs. Shopify: Verdict
Overall, both Magento and Shopify are great options if you’re looking to create a functional, customisable site with impressive features and scaling potential. Our verdict is simple: while Shopify is best suited to beginners and newbies, Magento is best for businesses with the budget for custom web design.