In the light of current events, adjusting to the new normal has most retailers searching ‘how to start an online store’. But the search results aren’t enough to help them get started. With competitive features offered by various eCommerce platforms, choosing the right solution for your business can be overwhelming. If you’ve been making Magento vs Shopify comparisons for days, this guide is for you.
Shopify and Magento are both strong contenders for starting an online store. But which one is better for you, completely depends on your skills, your vision for the brand and how you want to scale your online business.
So before we delve into a detailed Magento vs Shopify, let’s quickly go over the key areas you need to take into consideration while making a decision.
Key factors to choose the right platform for starting an online store
eCommerce is a competitive space. While starting an online store will help you reach your customers faster, there is always also going to be competition for their attention. That’s why you need to choose an eCommerce platform that enables your business to succeed.
The ease of setting up and starting an online store
The only way to sustain a changing market and appeal to the evolving consumer behaviour is to take your business online as soon as possible. The longer you take to set up your online store, the more market your brand loses, and not to forget all the losses you have been experiencing due to an overstocked warehouse for months.
That’s why the number on consideration while making a Magento vs Shopify comparison, is the ease of setting up an online store. If the eCommerce platform makes you dependent on external agencies, outsourcing help or spending time reading endless how-to guides to learn a bit of coding, it’s not easy.
Shopify offers an intuitive interface that is easy-to-use for even a non-technical user. You need absolutely no technical or coding experience to start an online store on the platform. The drag and drop website builder gets your brand up and running in no time!
Additionally, the platform also offers a number of elements that you can move around to customize your homepage, product page, cart page and other pages to create a look and feel that is exclusive to your brand.
In a survey conducted on retailers exploring eCommerce platforms for the first time, 4 out of 5 rated Shopify as ‘easy to use’ and quick to get started on.
On the other hand, getting started with Magento involves a pretty steep learning curve. You’ll need to learn a few technical terms and also learn to code a little. In comparison to the Shopify drag-and-drop interface, the Magento Content Management System (CMS) is less user-friendly.
The tools and ability to offer an immersive shopping experience
As your online store grows, you’re going to need it to serve different functionalities. For example, once you establish a good customer base, you would want to display product reviews and testimonials on the store.
Similarly, if you open an online fashion store, you’re going to want to create multiple size guides for different products. If you’re selling jewellery, you would want to find a way to let shoppers try them on virtually.
Now you can’t possibly build out every solution you shoppers need. It’s not just time-consuming but requires a whole new level of technical knowledge as well. That’s where the eCommerce platform you choose should offer an extensive toolkit that you could implement solutions out of.
Shopify has its own App Store with more than 4400+ free and paid apps for merchants. Right from apps that enable them to showcase reviews on the store, to those that can help automate email and SMS campaigns, set up loyalty programs, localize the store language for and more.
All you need to do is install the app you need and the rest is pretty much similar to Shopify’s drag-and-drop interface. With most apps, you don’t even need to have any technical expertise. In some of those that do, the Shopify app partners remain proactive to help you get started or achieve the customization you need.
So what you’re looking at is a huge toolkit that has everything you need to acquire more customers, keep them engaged on and off your store, boost customer retention and loyalty, drive more sales and increase repeat purchases. There’s something for everything you need to grow your business.
If you’re doing a Magento vs Shopify comparison, you’ll notice that Magento too has a huge range of free and paid extensions. But if you’re looking at customizing a certain aspect, you’re going to need technical support from the extension builder or outsource the task to an agency.
The possibility to scale and grow your online business
Once you have your store set up and start to accept orders, you’re going to need the flexibility to grow your business. Be it in terms of the number of locations your store can deliver to or the basic functionalities like the number of product pages you need to set up to accommodate an ever-growing inventory.
Shopify is a hosted platform. It takes care of all the hosting you will need while growing your online store or opening sub-stores to cater to a wider market. That’s why starting an online store on Shopify is often associated with the ease of scaling - you can upscale or downscale based on what you’re selling and what the market needs, without worrying if your store will be able to handle the changes.
On the other hand, Magento is a self-hosted platform. So when you start your online store on Magento, you will have to sort out the hosting service you take on your own. This also means that every time you plan to grow or downscale your business, you’ll end up having to solve your hosting requirements beforehand.
So apart from a good eCommerce platform, you’ll also end up wanting to look for a good hosting service provider. This means an additional investment of time in just scaling your online store’s capabilities and offerings.
The cost of the eCommerce platform to start an online store
Continuing on our point above, since Shopify is hosted, all the hosting costs are included within your monthly plan. There’s no extra effort of paying separate bills or bearing additional fees to start an online store on Shopify.
Since Magento is self-hosted, you’re going to have to look for a hosting service provider. This adds an additional cost of hosting on top of your monthly billing for using their eCommerce platform.
On Shopify, you can control a lot of your expenses by making choices that suit the resources available to you. For example, if you’re starting an online clothing store, you can choose to set up the storefront with a free theme. But if you have the resources, you can also explore the Shopify Themes market to find something that is more customizable or matches your branding.
The same holds true for the Shopify apps you use on your store to make it more engaging for shoppers.
Simply put, the pricing or the cost of setting up your online store on Shopify is completely in your hands.
What’s more? Shopify has even curated some of the best deals and discounts from industry-leading partners in warehousing, delivery, marketing and more, in a back-to-business model for new retailers.
You can check it out here to save more than 1 Lakh INR in setting up an online store!
Now when you compare Magento vs Shopify, the costs will be seemingly high for using Magento. You’re going to have to pay for the domain, the hosting you take from another service provider, the multiple extensions you use, and more, separately.
So apart from a lot of costs getting added to your monthly bills, you’ll also end up spending a lot of time dealing with payments from different places. And when you’re starting an online store, you want your spends to remain in-check.
The support offered to enable your growth
When you’re starting an online store and you’re new to eCommerce platforms, you’re bound to hit roadblocks. At that moment, you would want access to some support that will help you get things out of the way so you can set up an online store as quickly as possible.
For instance, with the support of the Shopify team and its partners, SUNNY India was able to start an online grocery store that delivers to multiple cities, in less than a week. You can read all about it here.
Shopify offers great customer support. There’s a 24/7 help via phone, live chat and email for the smallest of concerns, doubts or roadblocks you may face. The team’s focus remains on being able to help retailers understand their platform better and help them set up an online store in just days.
There’s also an extensive library of quick guides in both text and video format that you can use as step-by-steps to set up your online store. You can also choose to post your questions in the Shopify forum to get answers from the team or reach out to Shopify experts who have partnered with them, to help you get set up.
Now when you do a Magento vs Shopify comparison, you will notice that Magento does not have as proactive a support team. They do have a pretty extensive library of user guides and an active forum, but finding a quick solution to something can be tricky. There’s no 24/7 support that you can take advantage of either, leaving you waiting for an answer for hours.
Magento vs Shopify - Which eCommerce platform should you choose?
In conclusion, Shopify is a more user-friendly eCommerce platform than Magento. With easy access to support, eCommerce experts and app partners, you’ll be able to take your business online much faster.
As compared to Shopify, Magento might result in becoming more of a project that takes you weeks or maybe months to complete. It entirely depends on the availability of resources and the partners you choose in addition to the platform to help you set up your store.
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