An eCommerce store is only as good as the engine that drives it. As the founder and president of one L.A.’s most successful design firms, I have seen firsthand how a client’s chosen shopping cart solution can make or break the success of a business. So when choosing a shopping cart platform to host your website and product line, you will want to consider all of the variables involved.
Shopify vs Magento
Shopify and Magento are two of the most successful eCommmerce platforms available. Each service offers an impressive array of worthwhile features and functions, including built-in SEO capabilities, slick templates and conversion-friendly marketing tools. But when it comes to issues like price, customization freedom and overall value, there are some vast differences.
When it comes to price, Shopify is usually the better value for smaller businesses. Magento has several editions—including Magento Enterprise, Magento Community and Magento Go—to accommodate different needs and budgets, but Shopify’s plans offer more space and bandwidth. Magento does have a free version, called the Magento Community Edition, but the features are so stripped down that it’s hardly worth your time. Take note, however, that Shopify charges a 2% transaction fee, so if you have a high quantity of transactions, you may want to go with Magento.
When determining the value of a product, it’s important to weigh the price against the available features, and the cheapest option may not necessarily be your best option. While Shopify offers more generous pricing overall, a few of the features are only available for upgraded plans. This is true of Magento as well, but on a smaller scale. For the most part, Magento Go has everything you need right out of the box. So there’s no definitive answer as to which platform has the better features, but make sure to read what’s included before settling on any individual plan.
When it comes to customization, Magento has the upper-hand. Magento is a PHP/MySQL-based framework with almost endless customization capabilities. Anyone with a basic understanding of PHP programming should find it easy to customize pages. Shopify, on the other hand, is a hosted, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, which means you won’t have access to as much of the source code, but you can make a lot of cosmetic customizations within the pages themselves.
Ease of Use
If you’re looking for the simplest, most straightforward platform available, go with Shopify. Magento is an extremely powerful and versatile engine, but with that power and versatility comes a higher level of complexity. Shopify is meticulously designed so that anyone can use it with ease. Setup is a snap, and no technical knowledge is required.
Both platforms offer excellent support, but Shopify has the overall advantage. That’s because Shopify offers phone support with all of its plans, while Magento does not. If you use the Magento Community Edition, or one of the cheaper versions of Magento Go, you are not eligible to receive phone support. All Magento plans are eligible for email and forum support, however.
The Final Verdict
There’s no definitive answer as to which shopping cart platform is better, because each is suited to different needs. If you run a large, thriving online, or if you just want full customization freedom, your best bet is Magento. However, if you just want your platform to be affordable, simple and user-friendly, with excellent support, go with Shopify. Each platform offers a fully-functional free trial, so try them both on for size and see what works for you.