Whether you already have an e-commerce platform or if you’re shopping for ideas for your new e-commerce, you have certainly heard a lot about both Magento and Shopify.
To properly decide which platform you should be using, you should be doing a lot more than just reading this post, but we still wanted to give you a brief fly over so that you at least understand the basic differences between these two great solutions.
Let’s start with Magento just because they’ve been around a bit longer (since 2008) and age always comes before beauty 🙂
Magento is an open source platform with a lot of features that come packed as part of the core and thousands of extensions and qualified development agencies that can help you turn your wildest dreams and ideas into a real e-commerce site.
The Magento code base is available for free (community edition), and boasts a simple install, but the reality is that you need to be a bit tech savvy to get up and running, so chances are that you’ll have someone else take care of that for you.
But before you get to set up the site, you will need to find a host that will host your site, there’s plenty of options out there (we recommend Nexcess) so make sure you read up properly on what each host offers and @ what cost.
Once your site is up, you will need to choose a theme or have your own theme designed. You can buy a theme for less than $100 or you can go down the expensive path of designing your own theme – your site won’t have any identical twins.
Once your site is up and running, and you’ve added all your store info, product data, payment methods, shipping information and all your content pages your site is live and ready to go – but wait now is when the reality of running an e-commerce will settle in.
As your site starts gaining traction and the number of concurrent visitors goes up, you might start experiencing slow response time or other bugs that you weren’t aware of and now is when the real fun begins, you have to consistently be on top of your site and in tune with all the latest developments and make sure your site is always up to par and up to date.
If you have a lot of custom requirements for your site (as most businesses do) or if your marketing team is full of jubilant ideas, the fact that you have to manage your site is a small price to pay for the functionalities and endless possibilities that you’ll get with Magento.
I’ll list one such example, but in reality we could go on till the end of times. Let’s say you want to create a coupon code that will give free second day shipping to customers that purchase a certain item, if you’re using Magento that’s easily achievable. OK, I’ll throw in another example, let’s say you want to run a sale on an item and you want to display a countdown timer on the product page to indicate to your customers that they only have a couple of hours before the sale expires, this can be done smoothly in Magento.
So to sum it up, Magento is an extremely powerful platform with endless possibilities and options but the bottom line responsibility of keeping the site up and running is yours.
Now let’s turn to Shopify, and like we said earlier it is beautiful.
Say you have a product that you already sell out of your garage and now you want to go online and attract a wider customer base, but you don’t have the budget nor the time to be running your site 24×7.
All you need to do is sign up for a Shopify store and in under an hour your store could be up and live, sounds exciting, right?
If you don’t want to read till the end of this post and you want to sign up right now, we won’t be offended go right ahead and sign up and with Shopify
When you sign up for a store with Shopify, all you need to do is hook it up to your domain name, add your product data and your store is ready to sell.
It is so easy and simple that you’ll feel very accomplished that you put up an e-commerce site all by yourself.
With Shopify you never have to worry about upgrades or maintenance, you pay them a fee (with plans as low as $29.99/month) and they take care of everything else, you never have to deal with server maintenance, speed issues or security patch releases.
There is a nice and growing marketplace for themes and plugins that you can use to enhance your site, so long as what you’re looking for already exists out there, if it doesn’t there are plenty of qualified companies that can develop that feature just for you.
Most of the plugins that are out there and available for Shopify are sold on a per month basis, so for example if you wanted to connect your Shopify store to your QuickBooks you would find the excellent plugin from PipeMonk and the setup is very easy but you will now have to pay an additional $49 a month to use that plugin.
If you have a lot of custom requirements and functionalities you will find them to be a bit more difficult to implement with Shopify, but if all you need is to get your product up and online, this is definitely a beautiful solution that will just work and let you take care of your business without having to be busy with your website