The most essential thing to set your online store going is not to miss out with the right platform. In case the decision was right – it won’t be of a great problem to support and extend its functionality, which is going to be a leading factor of your store thrift. Otherwise, you may get such pain in the neck like too cumbersome and complicated platform if you run a small online business, or vice versa – the complete platform inability to cover all your growing business requirements if you don’t forsee prospect scalability of the store functionalities.

For the last 7 years we’ve built our expertise around Magento shopping cart and have never regretted that we’ve selected this platform as our primary software at the early stages of our company existence. But Magento is not always the best match. Small businesses have to do with limited resources and budgets, and that’s when Shopify may come handy.

Overview

Shopify and Magento Community Edition may be taken into consideration while new online store making or migrating from simpler platforms. These are two fast growing platforms  that are constantly updated, extended and enhanced which facilitates their market share expansion. Despite their fast growing tendencies – these two platforms have some fundamental differences and cover different business needs.

The very first thing to start with is the size of your business and its prospect scalability. Shopify platform is a rational solution for small-sized business. In case you own a middle-sized or big business – you should better keep your eyes on Magento platform, because it gives you much more opportunities to scale and extend your online store.

Let’s dig deeper to see the core differences of these two platforms.

Platform code

One of the major differences between these two platforms is the fact that Shopify has proprietary code and it can be edited only by Shopify developers. Magento is an open source platform, code is available and can be modified by any php developer. Shopify uses  Liquid template language written in Ruby, while Magento2  takes advantage of more popular HTML and LESS.

These are crucial aspects when choosing a platform, since you have to decide to what extent your future project is going to be customized. As it follows from all the above – Magento sites can be modified to meet project requirements, while Shopify can’t, even though it is being positioned as a platform for online retailers with large inventory.

Therefore, in case you are going to create custom and complex project, you need advanced functionality as well as custom design – the obvious solution here is Magento. On the other hand, if you are just taking first steps in setting up a business and planning a simple online store with basic functionality – you can confidently start your way with Shopify.

Integration with third-party solutions

Magento Community gives Magento web APIs an ability to integrate with third party solutions. Consequently, you can easily integrate any third party solutions even with Magento Community if developer’s documentation is provided. Shopify, on its part, doesn’t allow such integrations.  But with  Shopify Plus integration is possible via restful APIs.

Pricing

Shopify offers five different plans with fixed monthly fees as well as charges store owners for each transaction. You can learn more about features of each package here.

shopify plans

You can try Shopify for 14 days and decide whether the system is what you need for your ecommerce business.

Transaction fee

One more downside is that Shopify charges transaction fees from 0.5 to 2% for payments made through external payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net. But there is no transaction fee for Shopify Payments. You can negotiate credit card rates by accepting payments directly with Shopify Plus on their site. In comparison to Shopify, Magento community Edition doesn’t take any transaction fees and payments like PayPal, Authorize.net Direct Post, Cash On Delivery Payment, Bank Transfer Payment. A positive and important thing to add is that BrainTree became an out-of-the-box Magento 2 payment solution.

Hosting

In comparison to other open source e-commerce platforms Magento has higher server demands. It requires  third-party hosting service to launch the site, where an owner can choose shared hosting, dedicated server, Virtual private server (VPS) or even Cloud Hosting depending on budget and project requirements.  When choosing hosting – it’s very important to consider that it has a great influence on the store speed performance.

As to Shopify and Shopify Plus – they are hosted solutions which means that your store is hosted by Shopify and it can’t be deployed to any third-party servers.

Design

To start with, Shopify is easier to set up compared to Magento. But, on the other hand, Shopify enables you to choose only from ready-made themes, both free and paid. All the themes are responsive, modern, with big images, lots of free space, stylish menus and logos. Theme prices vary from $100 to $180. The disappointing thing is that they can be customized only to a certain extent even though there is an access to themes code.

Although you can edit HTML and CSS code of Shopify stores, it does not offer that level of freedom and self-expression that Magento open source nature offers its users that are looking for ways to quench their thirst for creativity. It’s all because Magento enables you to create your own designs and in this process you are limited only by your imagination and you tech knowledge base.

The other differences

Shopify offers blogging functionality out-of-the-box, while in Magento you need to whether install a blog extension or integrate the platform with a separate blogging system like WordPress.

Magento grants much more powerful tools and features. There is an ability to set up a big Multistore with different currencies, where each store can have unique design and language and the admin will be able to manage this from single admin panel. One more thing that is a Magento advantage is the number of product types, and a number of attributes that can be created. While there are six product types in Magento, Shopify enables you to create only one product type, and each product can have only three attributes.

On the other hand, Shopify has plenty of advantages if you are running a small online retail store. The platform allows activating customer accounts and storing password-protected information about each of your shoppers such as personal data, their shopping history, and current orders if any.  As many other online merchants, you will save up your clients time when they shop with you next time by auto-filling the form with the info previously stored in the system.

Conclusion

Considering store to be a long-term perspective, it is better to create a store on the Magento platform, where there are a lot of possibilities for any customization based on business needs without extra commissions and monthly payments. If there are some budget and time limits, or if the number of products is not hundreds or thousands – you can use Shopify. But in this case it is necessary to take into account pricing policy provided by Shopify and Shopify Plus.

Of course, you are the only one to make the right choice and dot the i-s when picking specific platform to run your business. Depending on your company scale and features you would need to present it in a good light, you might weigh up the pros and cons that we have listed to make up your mind to best suit your current business needs and goals for the future.