More and more people are taking to the Internet to open their own entrepreneurial businesses and online stores. There are many advantages to choosing to sell online rather than in a brick and mortar store: not having to pay rental fees on a storefront, not needing to pay for utilities such as electricity or water, not having to pay for maintenance or even a staff to aid in the selling.
Why sell online?
By all accounts, it is simply more cost effective to get started online with a business rather than opening an actual store, as there is ultimately less risk and less capital needed. Nearly anyone can sell online through a variety of shopping websites or even social media pages. Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr now have integrated “buy” buttons and business page options that allow users to easily buy right from the site. You can get started immediately, with very little effort necessary.
However, for individuals, groups, or entities that truly aim to launch an e-commerce presence that is above the regular buying and selling online, it becomes imperative to create one’s own shopping website. As with opening one’s own brick and mortar store, however, the groundwork and the system that you will erect needs to be the best fit for your business.
The two major options
The two of the most popular options available online are between two e-commerce software systems: Shopify and Magento.
Shopify is a licensed software that ultimately gives individuals and brands complete control about the features, look, and feel of their website. The customization options are endless, and Shopify is a near-universal tool available to everyone in the world who requires a more customized user experience for their own e-commerce website. It can be applied to virtually any type of website for e-commerce, from selling individual niche items to businesses that cater to a large base.
Magento is another powerful software, open-source, that has steadily been gaining in popularity as well as quickly becoming the latest standard in e-commerce software. Being open-source software, it means that it’s even more customizable as well as completely open for absolutely anyone to use with or without a license. Users can apply Magento in a variety of ways, even customizing the code to best adapt to what they need it to provide for their online business. Currently, Magento is now in it’s second iteration at Magento 2.
Which version is right for you?
As with anything, there are pros and cons for either one. These are quite a few differences between them, so let us look into what they have to offer in terms of:
Availability and Setup
Let’s begin with the availability and setup of each one. Shopify, being a commercial and licensed software, will obviously cost you some money to procure for its full capabilities. It is a hosted solution, which means that your store will be based within Shopify’s servers itself. There is a support system in Shopify that will already have this system installed, setup, and configured as needed.
Magento, on the other hand, is free, being an open-source software. The downside of this, on the other hand, means that you will have to find your own hosting, and you will have to install, set up, and configure it yourself before any customization can begin.
This means that if you were a small business owner looking to start up on your own, Shopify would be far easier to use given that it already provides hosting, software, and support built right in. It would cost money, but it’s a lot easier for you to make use of. Magento, on the other hand, being open source, would still require work before you can even begin using it. You may need the help of a web developer who understands this software’s coding for it to be installed and subsequently used as needed. This may be easier for companies who can afford to hire their own developers.
Both Shopify and Magento have a large inventory management capability. Users can put any number of products or items into their online store through these systems easily. An e-commerce store lives and dies by what it puts up to sell, so this is one of the major concerns, particularly as many sites that host e-commerce tend to have a certain limit to items being sold and other similar restrictions.
Themes and Templates
Both Shopify and Magento also work with pre-built themes that users can choose from. These theme templates can be changed and customized to better fit the brand of the company or the individual’s business. However, there is a notably larger pool of themes and templates available in Magento rather than in Shopify. Being open source, it makes sense that Magento would have more themes and templates available as many more people would be able to freely create them and make them available for use for anyone who wishes to use the system. Shopify remains restricted to what Shopify as a company intends to produce as a template or theme for its users.
This means that customizing in Shopify might take a little more work than in Magento which, with its mass amounts of custom themes, would probably have what you need already.
Apps and Add-Ons
Magento and Shopify are themselves pieces of software; to make it even more useful, you can add custom add-ons to them. These include things like integration of e-mail marketing, widgets, payment options, and other additions that would not only make the customer experience easier, but also make it a lot easier for the company to keep track of customer data.
Again, being open source, Magento has far more offerings in terms of apps and add-ons that can be used, while Shopify’s are extremely limited, as not many people will have access to the code that will allow them to develop them.
If you expect to reach customers beyond the English-speaking sphere, Magento may be the better bet as it fully supports multiple languages for your e-commerce site. However, Shopify doesn’t allow multilingual capabilities and restricts you to a single language throughout the website. This may limit your user base, as not everyone may speak the single language on your site.
All in all, both software are excellent. Whichever one selected would largely depend on the company’s target, resources, the need for customization, and how many people they want their products to reach. SMEs and entrepreneurs might make a great start on Shopify, but bigger companies who demand more customization and more abilities may be better off with Magento operated by their own ecommerce website developers.