Choosing the perfect e-commerce platform to launch your online business is a critical moment and a very important decision to make. The online world is rapidly changing, and that holds true for online store management as well. This means the competition is always fierce, and if you look for top lists of these platforms, there will always be differing opinions.
However, there are a few names that have become a constant and keep popping up wherever you go. Today we’re looking at two of them: Shopify and Magento.
Which one is easier to set up and use?
In the very first round of our comparison contest, Shopify wins in a heartbeat. Its setup comes down to clicking a single button, and its features (a drag-and-drop interface, simple and comprehensible tools, many various themes and easy editing) make sure that even a complete novice in the eCommerce world will be able to quickly learn the ropes and have a seamless user experience.
Shopify’s dashboard and side panel offered to each store admin make for an excellent example to be followed by other eCommerce platforms on the market. When it comes to the customers’ end of things, browsing for goods on Shopify is very straightforward, offering a simple and enjoyable experience for them as well.
By contrast, Magento is nowhere near as simple and straightforward. It presents a fair bit of a challenge to the novice user because it requires you to have a certain level of prior knowledge before you can set up your shop on it. Magento is definitely not the best choice for those people who only have basic or limited tech knowledge.
If you decide to go with it, get ready to invest some time into learning the basics. There is still space for improvement, though, and Magento is facing brighter reviews since the release of Magento 2.0, which made the platform significantly more comprehensible. This, however, is little comfort to the tech world newbie, as it still requires you to know some things before it’ll agree to work for you.
Which one has better customer support?
Magento is an open-source platform, and that means that, just like its many open-source cousins out there, its users regularly face a whole host of problems. Because the architecture is open and Magento Community Edition is free, its users don’t have an official support platform to access in a pinch.
Thankfully, the world of Magento boasts a very large developers community, and the developers’ forums have all the information you might need. However, it’s very easy to get lost in the murky muck of forum threads and irrelevant answers. This is where the premium perks come in: users of Magento’s paid Enterprise Edition may count on provided technical support.
Shopify is the total opposite. To begin with, there is no free version of Shopify (besides the 14 days free trial period) and users at every tier of subscription have an extensive safety net of support to fall back on should they have any problems, or when they just need some advice.
Aside from the standard FAQ pages, they offer customer care services through three main channels: emails, phone calls and live chat sessions, and all of these are ready on standby 24 hours a day, all seven days of the week.
Instant accessibility at such a high level is certainly a great convenience to users from significantly different time zones, and often the clincher for most because it can save a business (literally) when you find yourself in need of emergency advice.
Which one has better templates? Which has better options to customize or personalize?
Shopify’s great template choices are one of the platform’s major selling points. Their themes are outsourced, and some have been created by such worldwide famous designers as Pixel Union and Clean Themes.
When you put together and count through the themes that are available for free and those you get with the premium account, Shopify offers you an amazing one hundred (and more!) choices. Moreover, while you’re going through your first setup wizard (right after you make your account), you will actually get guided tips and suggestions about your store’s potential design. This is determined by Shopify’s expert designer teams based on the product categories your store features.
Magento is following close behind, though! Despite a steep learning curve, it is still an immensely popular platform, and owing to this high level of popularity, it boasts an incredibly large range of themes to choose from.
These designs are customizable, elegant and responsive on all devices and number to an amazing total of 121 in Magento’s extension store. And if you’re very particular about designing your store and none of these predefined templates work for you, you can find even more choices, both free and paid, in other template stores such as Theme Forest.
Which is cheaper?
As we mentioned above, these two platforms take quite a different approach to their pricing plans.
Magento has two variants: the free Magento Community Edition (a.k.a. Magento CE) and the paid Magento Enterprise Edition (a.k.a. Magento EE).
MCE is completely free to download and use, and unlike many other platforms and apps that start out free and raid your wallet later, there is no monthly subscription to maintain. This option is the perfect choice for those people who opt for Magento as the platform for their small or medium-size business.
MEE is ideally suited to large business and rapidly expanding stores. This version is paid, but instead of a fixed subscription, the price depends on the size of your particular business. While this is entirely fair, it can be a headache to calculate on your own. You’ll need to contact Magento’s teams to request an exact quote for your online store.
One thing to watch out for with Magento is the fact that it’s open-source. Even for the free MCE, many plugins, extensions and apps come with a fee. Don’t forget that you’ll need to pay your hosting provider as well. So, whichever option you go for, Magento does require an investment, and your spending will fluctuate according to how you handle your business.
Shopify will also make you calculate your cost, but the math is easier here because the prices are generally fixed. You can have a free trial period of 14 days, after which you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription.
The fee for the Basic Shopify plan is $29, and it rises with each subscription tier. You will also need to pay credit card rates and transaction fees if you use external gateways. You can see all of Shopify’s pricing information in much more detail on their official pricing page.
So, between Shopify and Magento, it’s a pretty tight race, and there are a lot of factors to consider. Have you had experience with these two platforms? Tell us in the comments!
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