Shopify vs. Magento: The Tide is Shifting
The jostling for top ecommerce platform is unending, seemingly to the advantage of Shopify.
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Just a few years ago, it was virtually unheard of for an ecommerce site to use anything but Magento for their shopping platform needs. Certainly a platform like Shopify wouldn't have been in the running for what most considered a "top-tier ecommerce platform." Slowly but surely, though, these sentiments have begun to change and, in ever increasing numbers, marketers and business owners have begun to look to Shopify instead of Magento. Amazingly, in June of 2016, Shopify overtook Magento in terms of Google trends.
In fact, we here at Group 8A had one of our biggest months ever using Shopify and have been exceedingly satisfied with our choice of platform. Although, the decision did not come easy and we had to look at many different factors to determine which platform would best suit our needs.
Here are a few of the features we took into consideration when making our decision between Shopify and Magento.
Related: The 6 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses
Ease of SEO
It might seem counterintuitive when there are so many other aspects to take into consideration, but for a business like ours that exists in an increasingly competitive marketplace, SEO is key (read: king). Furthermore, more than 35 percent of consumers begin their purchase through Google, so it's no wonder why great SEO integration can make or break a business.
To be fair, both platforms easily allow the imbedding of page URLS, meta-descriptions, page titles, independent links, etc., which will allow your business to tailor your text to help boost the presence of a page or a site and with it your search engine rankings. But only Shopify has Traffic Control, a handy app that allows you to manage redirects so you don't lose traffic or SEO rankings after migration. An app like this is absolutely imperative if you're considering changing platforms.
Of course, Magento being open source, the SEO option could be unlimited if you have the technical know-how. If not, you might end up shelling out lots of money finding somebody who does.
Related: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform
Pricing should have probably been our first consideration (and for the folks with the money, it probably was) and both Shopify and Magento have their pros and cons.
Magento Community Edition is 100 percent free. Of course, if you want to upgrade to Enterprise Edition, you'll have to request a quote from the company, which can be a hassle and potentially very expensive (in the $18,000 range).
Shopify has a few different pricing options for businesses.
- $9/month + 2.9% + 30¢ credit card fees
- $29/month + 2.9% + 30¢ credit card fees
- $79/month + 2.6% + 30¢ credit card fees
- $299/month + 2.4% + 30¢ credit card fees
Just looking at the raw data, it appears as if Magento Community Editon is the better option of the two, and it certainly could be if you're looking for something a bit more rudimentary and hands on. But if you take into consideration what Shopify offers its users that Magento doesn't— 24-hour customer service, tools for manual order creation, and fraud analysis features— it's clearly a very good option.
Likewise, the price of hosting your site is included in your Shopify subscription. If you're using Magento, you'll have to sign up with a third party hosting platform, which could cost anywhere from a few bucks to several hundred dollars a month.
Related: Shopping Cart Throw-down: Which Ecommerce Platform Reigns Supreme?
For advanced users, Magento can be the easier of the two to edit files, as it will connect you directly to an FTP client. But for less experienced users, this might be a bit confusing and possibly very difficult. There exists a decent theme marketplace but, unfortunately, many of the themes aren't quality-controlled so using one could be dicey. Some are free but most of Magento's themes will cost anywhere between $50 and $300.
Shopify has a good many more varieties of themes overall, which are easy to adapt without any knowledge of code or coding. A casual glance over the look of the builds show an abundance of themes that are sleek, powerful and, most importantly, mobile friendly.
Related: 5 Signs That You Should Upgrade to a New Ecommerce Platform
As a business, we pride ourselves on always being available to our clients, and when we were looking for a platform, we wanted the same customer service made available to us.
To that point, and to vastly oversimplify it, Shopify has support and Magento doesn't.
To be fair, Magento has a dedicated community support forum full of knowledgeable and helpful developers. But unless you yourself have a background in developing, or have hired someone that does, this may be of no use to you, especially if your site goes down at 3AM Christmas Eve and there's no one to troubleshoot with.
Shopify's customer support is unmatched. They provide 24-hour support staff available over live chat, email or phone, a blog -- Ecommerce University -- full of valuable advice, and, yes, even user forums.
Related: How Shopify Became the Go-To Ecommerce Platform for Startups
Group 8A isn't the only business to have success with the Shopify platform. Others too have seen massive increases in site conversions after migrating to Shopify. Overall, yes, both platforms boast some great features and, in the end, it's going to come down to which is more ideal for your specific business and will best serve your strengths.