Magento and Shopify are two of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the market. Both solutions offer a wide range of features and tools to help businesses of all sizes create and manage online stores. However, there are some key differences between the two platforms that businesses should consider when choosing which would be better to represent their brand online.
First, let’s get introductions out of the way. Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform that offers a high degree of customization and flexibility. It is a fantastic choice for businesses that need a scalable and powerful platform to support their growing ecommerce needs. Shopify is a closed source, hosted ecommerce platform that is known for its ease of use and affordability. It is the ideal choice for businesses that are new to ecommerce (or new to taking ecommerce seriously) and do not have the technical expertise to manage a complex platform.
As you can see, both platforms have their place in the market but while they have their areas of specilisation, they do cross over quite frequently. Doing our best to be unbias (Wind & Kite is a Magento development agency, after all), we are going to take a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two platforms. If you are thinking about developing a new ecommerce website, please make sure you consider the following points carefully as the last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and money on an imperfect ecommerce solution that may well end up holding you back
Open Source Vs Closed Source Ecommerce Platforms
Before we dig into the specifics of each platform, let’s look at the most fundamental difference between the two. As mentioned during the introductions, Magento is an open-source platform while Shopify is a closed source, hosted platform (there is hosted version of Magento called Adobe Commerce, but we will put that to one side for now).
Open source ecommerce platforms are software programs that are freely available for anyone to use, modify, and distribute. This allows businesses to have more control over their online store, as well as the features and functionality that are available. Hosted ecommerce platforms are, as the name would suggest, hosted by third-party providers. This means that businesses do not have to worry about managing their own hosting, but they may have less control over their online store.
It may not sound like a particularly big deal but there are some pros and cons inherent to both.
On that last point, you will be happy to learn that sorting out your own webhosting isn’t a particularly arduous task and there are a lot of hosting providers out there. Like any service, you will find providers charging next to nothing to host websites, but they will also offer next to nothing in terms of support. This is perfectly fine if you’re tech savvy or have someone on hand who knows what they are doing, but if that’s not the case then we strongly recommend paying more for a hosting provider who is willing and able to provide support when necessary.
Regardless of what platform you’re using, if you’re not sure what to look for in a hosting provider or if you’re just looking for recommendations then feel free to get in touch. A member of the Wind & Kite team would be happy to make a recommendation based on your technical abilities and the requirements of your website.
As we’ve already establised, open source websites offer more flexibility than their hosted counterparts, which makes them more customisable. This isn’t to say that you cannot get hosted websites to look the way you want as businesses can use themes and apps to customise their Shopify stores. As a matter of fact, Shopify has an extensive range of themes to choose from, as well as a variety of apps that can be used to add additional features and functionality to the store. While there are new themes and apps always being developed, however, businesses are limited to those that are available on the Shopify App Store.
Customising a Magento store doesn’t have this limitation and businesses can create their own custom themes, extensions, and plugins should their needs demand something specific or bespoke. That said, Magento also offers a wide range of pre-made themes to choose from, as well as a vast library of extensions and plugins that can be used to add additional features and functionality to the store. These existing themes, extensions, and plugins will easily integrate with custom themes, extensions, and plugins, which means that businesses can develop their ideal website so long as the right foresight and planning has taken place.
What’s more, one of the key differences between Shopify and Magento in terms of customisation is the ability to modify the front-end code of the store. Shopify does not allow businesses to modify the front-end code of their store, while it’s possible for those using pre-existing front-end templates on Magento to edit the code and make changes. The ability to customise existing templates is incredibly convenient, as it allows companies to give their website a distinct look and feel without having to build their desired front-end from scratch. All they have to do is find one that’s similar and hammer it into shape.
Changing the look and feel of a front-end Magento theme does require a reasonable degree of technical skill and ability, plus there will be digital marketing considerations and best practices that you will want taken into consideration. With this in mind, we would recommend consulting an experienced website designer and ecommerce marketer before editing a front-end theme. It just so happens that Wind & Kite has a great deal of experience when it comes to customising Magento front-ends, so get in touch.
On the topic of customisation, another key difference between Shopify and Magento is the ability to integrate with third-party systems. Shopify offers a wide range of pre-built integrations with third-party systems, such as payment processors, shipping carriers, and marketing platforms. However, businesses are limited to the pre-built integrations that are available on the Shopify App Store. Magento, on the other hand, allows businesses to integrate with virtually any third-party system, providing businesses with more flexibility and control over their online store. However, as with front-end code editing, integrating with third-party systems in Magento does requires technical expertise (we can help out here too).
Scalability is the ability of an ecommerce platform to handle increased traffic and transactions without sacrificing performance or reliability. This is important because businesses need to be able to accommodate growth without having to make significant changes to their infrastructure.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the scalability of an ecommerce platform, including the architecture of the platform, the hosting environment, the use of caching and other performance optimisation techniques, and the ability to integrate with third-party systems. Scalable ecommerce platforms are able to better handle significant increases in concurrent users, more transactions per second, and greater data storage requirements.
Both Magento and Shopify are scalable platforms, however, they differ in terms of scope of said scalability. Shopify, while highly scalable, has limitations tied to the packages that it offers. Users can select whatever package best suits them at the time and can go either up or down levels depending on their requirements. It’s worth bearing in mind though that even the advanced plans have their limitations and inflexibilities.
Magento’s model is different and there aren’t packages or limitations placed on sites according to their spend or size. That said, they require more robust infrastructure than Shopify websites do, so businesses that receive a high volume of traffic and transactions are encouraged to choose Magento-specialist hosting providers that are experienced in managing high-traffic and high-transaction ecommerce stores.
Price & Fees
There are a number of costs associated with running a Magento website. We have enumerated several standard costs below but there can be additional costs depending on the use of additional modules. You will also notice that the costs below are in US Dollars rather than Pound Sterling, as this is how the majority of costs online are presented:
Magento Vs Shopify
As you can see above, there are plenty of differences between Magento and Shopify. These differences don’t make one necessarily better or worse than the other, but each has its own strengths and weaknesses that businesses ought to be aware of. Below is a concise breakdown of these differences, but please bear in mind that the points in the table below are general and there can be exceptions.
So, which is right for you?
If you’ve gotten this far and are still not sure which ecommerce platform is right for your business, please get in touch. We would be happy to look at and discuss your ecommerce requirements then make the appropriate recommendations. Rest assured, while we are a Magento development agency, it’s not in our interest to work with clients that are ill-suited to Magento and we will point you in another direction if there’s a more suitable CMS available. You can email us at email@example.com or message us via our website.