Getting Started with E-Commerce: Making the Choice Between Shopify and Magento

By: Bryce Morgan  |  June 3, 2014

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Magento and Shopify are two of the most popular e-commerce platforms in use today. Both support a wide range of features. There are some important differences as well. It is important to consider several points when trying to choose between Shopify and Magento.

Simplicity

Simplicity is one of the most visible differences between the two platforms. Shopify is designed to be a very simple out-of-the-box solution. Even someone who is very new to e-commerce and business will be able to walk through the menus and interfaces to set up a Shopify storefront. Magento is much more complex. Magento has less friendly user interfaces although it does have more options. Shopify is a better choice for people who want simplicity.

Customization Options

Magento really shines in the number of customization options available. The platform allows for the customization of nearly every element from dynamic landing pages to different marketing and analytical components. Magento was designed to be very flexible and customizable. Shopify has fewer customization options especially in areas that do not deal with the appearance of a storefront. Magento is a good choice for businesses that need a granular level of control and customization.

Templates and Skins

Both platforms are attractive because of the ability to use pre-made themes, templates and skins. This saves time with design and testing. Shopify actually has a larger number of templates available. Additionally, Shopify templates tend to be more visually appealing and diverse than what is available for Magento. Magento skins are available in many styles although they do not always have the same polished appearance and behavior as Shopify templates. If templates are important for the e-commerce website, then Shopify might be a better choice.

Product Management and Complexity

Shopify and Magento handle the products being sold a little differently. Shopify sticks to the theme of being easy to use and simple. This means that Shopify has very basic tools for managing and entering products into an e-commerce site. This is actually helpful for people who are simply selling hard goods to customers. Magento has a much deeper level of complexity. Products can be placed into tiered pricing groups or attached to intricate promotions and other items. Magento is the right choice for businesses that need complex product tracking and management.

Service Integration and Extensions

Shopify and Magento both have basic services like payment gateways integrated into the software. Shopify has over 70 different integrated options include many lesser-known companies. Magento has fewer options although all the major payment providers are included. Both programs also have extensions that can be added to expand the core functionality of the platform. Shopify has around 400 extensions usually with limited options. Magento has far more extensions available and a larger number of independent extension developers. Magento is the right choice for companies that need custom functionality.

Cost

Cost is a complex issue when it comes to these e-commerce choices. Magento is technically open source and free although the free version requires extensive expertise to install and run on a server. Magento Go is the cloud-based service competing with Shopify. The plans offered through Shopify are a little more expensive although they have fewer limitations. Magento options are cheaper but have limits for the lower-tiered plans. Choosing the most cost-effective platform really means looking at how the plans match the needs of the business.

About Bryce Morgan

Bryce loves working with the internet and making content a better tool to help good business succeed. Follow Bryce Morgan on Google+

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