Choosing the right platform means getting to know their features. Image source
If you want to set up an online shop, the first thing that you need to consider is the platform that works best for your needs. When it comes to platforms catering to online shops, there are two leaders – Magento websites and Shopify stores.
If you have tried Shopify and you feel that you want a website that you could fully customize, you might find yourself checking out Magento, which powers more than 28% of the websites that are currently online. How does this platform differ from Shopify?
Magento Community Edition is Free
Magento websites that use the Community Edition do not spend for the platform, which makes it a great option for those that are running small businesses. All you need to get started is to download the software and you can get started on creating stunning websites. Shopify, on the other hand, will charge you $29 to $179 per month to use their software, depending on the features that you want. This means that you will get more access to features while on Shopify by paying more every month.
What do you get when you get a Shopify plan? Your store gets free hosting on the Shopify platform itself and get to enjoy their payment gateway. If you get a more expensive plan, you will be able to access more robust reporting and features such as abandoned cart recovery.
Built-in features on different Shopify plans. Image source
Magento, on the other hand, requires you to take care of your own hosting, which may cost you from $4 to a few hundred dollars, depending on your needs. This allows you to customize your hosting plans depending on your budget and your store’s needs.
Magento is Tougher to Set Up
Shopify is a great choice for storeowners who wants their store running in no time at all – it is essentially a drag-and-drop website builder that can allow anyone to setup shop within minutes. One of the major advantage of Shopify is that it comes with tools that will allow you to manually create your store without breaking a sweat, and should you ever get lost in the process or when something goes wrong, you can rely on their 24/7 customer service.
Magento, on the other hand, has a steeper learning curve, but it allows you to enjoy drag-and-drop site building in order to be able to launch a store without doing a line of code. Since the software is open-source, you also have the option of hiring a Magento expert, which gives you an opportunity to create a store that has every element that you need, without having to get those features in installment.
Both Magento and Shopify websites may rake in some added costs in the future, depending on the store that you have in mind. Remember that online stores may not run very well on a very basic set up, which means that you may need to pay for additional features to make your website more user-friendly to potential customers. Magento users get to enjoy a huge Marketplace that offers themes (both free and paid, which can help you get your hands on modules, which pretty much works like a store template that you can tweak. Shopify users can either purchase a sales channel, an app, or hire Shopify experts to create or customize themes if they want extra functionality.
Magento Websites has Unparalleled Flexibility
What makes Magento a great platform is that it gives its users freedom in creating the store that they want – if you have some programming skills, you can easily edit files and directly upload any feature that you can think of via an FTP client without having to pay for anything extra, given that the user knows how to code. This says a lot when it comes to the store’s ability to scale – you could easily convert a small business into a giant online mall with numerous products that ships to different countries without having to set up a different account. Users get to enjoy more than 5000 available add-ons, which gives a lot of options for stores that want to enhance the way they perform on the fly.
Shopify, on the other hand, does not require its users to do any line of code, which means that it would be great for those that do not have any interest in tweaking their website once it is up. However, customizing usually becomes a necessity once a store grows and it gets more traffic.
Magento Websites Enjoy Better Branding Tools
Magento allows full customization – a must when creating a unique look. Image source
Magento really shines when it comes to creating design and frontend that can create a unique branding, which is something that Shopify lacks. Magento now comes with a visual editor that has a drag-and-drop function, which allows non-coders to be able to make major changes on how web pages look. At the same time, the available Magento extensions also allow users to embed frontend functions to enhance user experience while on site. This means that you can do a lot in enhancing how store tasks can be managed in a shorter amount of time on Magento,
Since most available Shopify themes are there for proprietary use, they do not give you much room for customization, apart from changing fonts and colors.
Magento Offers Better SEO
Not all e-commerce sites give you a great chance on being found on a Google or Bing search, and this can be a major consideration when building an online business. 44% of online shopping starts with a search, and it surely would be helpful if you use a platform that can give you the SEO leverage.
Magento’s requirement that you get your own hosting factors in here – not having an own domain that has your brand name makes your business look a lot less professional. At the same time, it also means that every link out there that points to your website gives benefit to your platform, and not your business.
Shopify hosts businesses free of any charge, and would charge extra if you choose to have your own domain. While it may be convenient for you to simply let Shopify do the hosting for you, this can be a huge problem for you later on – if you choose to leave Shopify or use your own domain, you will lose any authority that you may have earned.
Should You Use Magento?
The answer to this would depend on how much feature you are going to need and how much time you are willing to spend for building your site. If you want to start selling right away and you want a platform that will allow you to have a website with the least possible customization, you may be better off using Shopify.
If you wish to create a website that has all the features that you want and you want the option to develop your website’s user experience and frontend as you go, then Magento will be the best option for you. If you feel that Magento is too daunting for you, no worries – you can always hire an experienced Magento expert to help you create a website that will give you the results that you want.