If you are looking to pick an eCommerce platform for your business, you're likely overwhelmed by the numerous choices out there. Two of the biggest eCommerce names in the game are Shopify and Magento, but even choosing between the pair can be a challenge. Ultimately, the best virtual storefront for your company comes down to the features you require. The following guide comparing Shopify Plus and Magento 2 will allow you to select the ideal eCommerce platform for your business needs.
Shopify Plus is the Shopify eCommerce platform's premium extension—one of the most well-known virtual storefront platforms on the market. Shopify Plus was released in 2014, 10 years after the original Shopify brand was founded. It offers a fully-hosted platform with countless special features like expanded API integrations, Shopify Launchpad, multilingual capabilities, among others.
Magento 2 is the most recent upgrade of Magento, a longstanding name in eCommerce. After the much-anticipated launch of Magento 2 in 2016, Adobe Inc acquired the company in 2018. The brand ended support of the original Magento 1 platform in 2020. Magento offers self-hosted, fully-hosted, or third-party hosting options, all with the freedom to customize your platform however you please.
If budget is of great concern when choosing a platform, Shopify Plus may be an obvious winner in this category. Shopify proudly states that they are "the only cost-effective enterprise platform that's built for change," and they stay true to this claim. Platform fees (including hosting, license, and support) for Shopify Plus start at $2,000 monthly but ultimately depend on your store features and revenue. You'll either pay the base $2,000/month or 0.25% of monthly online sales (whichever value is greater). Don't forget to factor in transaction fees and credit card rates. Shopify suggests that you contact a representative to discuss details.
Magento charges their platform use fee annually and upfront. The license fee alone starts around $24,000 annually, or you can elect for their cloud solution, which includes the license fee and AWS hosting costs. That option will run you $40,000 or more each year. The prices go up from there based on your projected annual sales revenue through the platform.
Shopify Plus is a fully hosted SaaS (Software as a Service) platform with the price of hosting included in the monthly platform fee. The full-hosted status means that the platform performs regular maintenance, upgrades, and security precautions to ensure maximum efficiency. This keeps costs lower and requires little effort on your part. Though fully hosted platforms come with many advantages, it's important to be aware of the drawbacks.
The big downside to the SaaS solution is the limitation in control and access to the codebase. Without the ability to modify code, you're limited in your capacity to customize the site. You also won't have full control over the platform's operations or management, which could be of concern to some. An example of such a scenario may be the obligation to undergo site upgrades at any given time. Or if servers happen to go down, sensitive data could be at risk, and you would have no command over operations. If you prefer on-premise of PaaS, Shopify may not be for you.
Magento 2, alternatively, is self-hosted or on-premise. You will run and manage all components of your headless commerce and eCommerce platform. Though your shop is your oyster when choosing self-hosted, if you're not well-versed in code you should enlist the help of a developer. The costs can add up when building from scratch, but you do have the ability to customize the platform however you wish.
Not ready to go for self-hosted yet? Magento offers an AWS-hosted solution called Magento Commerce Cloud, though it comes at a price. As mentioned previously, you're looking at an additional $16,000 or more annually for the hosted Magento Cloud option. You will, however, enjoy all the perks of a fully hosted platform. Third-party hosting is also a possibility with Magenta 2.
Both Shopify Plus and Magento 2 have a wide range of available app add-ons. Shopify apps may require additional charges, which add to your monthly Magento 2 or Shopify Plus platform fee. Notable Shopify apps include Analytics Buddy, which allows you to view your Google Analytics data within your Shopify configuration or MailChimp, enabling incorporating email marketing to your online shop.
Magento 2 also has both free and paid app extensions. Again, Magento requires coding; therefore, your developer may need to assist you in installing them. Popular apps include Remarkety, an extension to integrate email campaigns and social media, and Amasty Multiple Coupons, allowing you to add coupon codes to your store.
When planning for maximized online visibility of your store, you should assess each platform's SEO strength. Search Engine Optimization is your site's ability to appear on search engine results pages and generate more visitors and, ultimately, more customers. Many factors contribute to optimized SEO.
Unfortunately, the limitations of customization can inhibit Shopify Plus users from maximizing their SEO capabilities. Shopify Plus does have an official SEO guide available through the help center explaining ways to improve SEO. These include keyword implementation within the content, site structure techniques, etc. There are also Shopify app plugins designed to help with SEO.
Magento 2 allows for more freedom to optimize your online store for search engines as the code can be modified as needed. If developed poorly, however, your site structure could negatively impact SEO. As with Shopify, SEO extensions are available for Magento 2 to aid in online discoverability.
Which of the Two eCommerce Platforms is Right for Your Business?
Whether you're a new small shop or a large enterprise, either platform could be a good fit based on your needs. While you must carefully evaluate all components when deciding between Shopify Plus and Magento 2, be sure to consider whether you prefer a self-hosted or fully-hosted platform as that factor will significantly impact the outcome. Should you decide on a self-hosted site without the skills to develop it, enlist the help of a professional developer. The overall long-term success of your business relies on choosing the right eCommerce software development company and platform for your needs.