The SEO Decision

Shopify vs Magento from an SEO Perspective

First up we have Shopify who seems to be the popular kid of the eCommerce world. It is home to over 800,000 businesses and has generated more than $100 billion in sales, since its launch in 2006.

Then we have a name that has long been synonymous with eCommerce, and one that has been responsible for plenty of the growth in the market, Magento, which now has over 250,000 active stores.

Overall the eCommerce market share can be broken into the following:

  • Shopify: 8%
  • Magento: 12%
  • Woocommerce: 18%

Side note: These are the numbers taken in mid 2018 and the landscape has certainly changed A LOT in that time.

Today we’re going to put these two giants of eCommerce to the test and see exactly how they stack up!

Spoiler: If we were to be really honest, we prefer Shopify…….

But, we don’t just prefer Shopify blindly.

We hope that this post will help illustrate why Shopify is our top pick — no offense Magento fans.

The Key Differences in Shopify vs. Magento

Main factors to consider

To make this a fair fight, it's only right we compare these two platforms on a fair playing field.

For this purpose, we will consider:

Open vs Closed Source: Pros and Cons

No two businesses are the same

The most notable difference between Magento and Shopify is the closed-source vs. open-source debate.

This has two impacts:

  1. Being open sourced, Magento can give you a little more flexibility when editing the core files and templates. This is awesome if you are a developer or have these resources at your disposal. If you don’t - you might not be so worried about this.  Shopify is a closed system and certainly isn’t as flexible. On the flip side, if you are not a developer, this might actually be a benefit, preventing less from going wrong.
  2. Plugins/Apps: Anyone can create plugins and Magento elements, while only a few hand-selected developers can create Shopify addons. From a plugin and apps perspective, we have found that Shopify’s closed source nature has created a more stable, scalable, secure, and ultimately cheaper platform than Magento.

The Winner: Dead Heat

This really depends on your situation and resources. What is preferable for one business, might be the opposite for another.

Hosting

An easy winner

Shopify’s hosting is built in. End of story.

All plans come with unlimited bandwidth and storage, and are tiered based on some additional features, as well as the payment processing fee structure.

You don’t have to think about building architecture or worry about hosting speed or security issues - it’s all taken care of.

When you are using Magento, you are on your own when it comes to finding somewhere to host it.

Managing your own hosting does have some advantages and flexibility, but it is also comes with big responsibility.

Some of the issues you will need to manage yourself include:

  • Scalability: Huge traffic spike? Out growing your current server? You are on your own!
  • Security: Behind Wordpress, Magento was the 2nd most hacked CMS platform on the internet in 2018 (Sucuri). Who will make sure that doesn’t happen? If it does, who will fix it and at what cost?
  • Updates: Being an open source solution you are on your own to ensure that your Magento version and apps are all up to date and working correctly. Just typing that is making me anxious...

The Winner: Shopify, pretty easily on this one.

Scalability comes easily, without the need to consider what is going on behind the scenes, which for most business owners would be a relief.

Cost

Different businesses have different budgets

The costs to run a Shopify store are very straight forward and scale according to the size of the business.

Just remember that this covers all your website hosting, but not email!

If you are looking for email options, you can look at either Gmail or Office 365 emails for around $5 per month per user. (Never cheap out on email)

When it comes to Magento and pricing, things become a bit more complicated. It is an Open Source platform, meaning it is available in the public domain and therefore free to use, which is a huge tick.

Despite being free to use, Magento simply provides the software. You’ll have to sort out the hosting (covered previously), as well as ongoing development costs and apps. Much like Shopify, if you need to look at custom features you may also need to look into paid apps (which are much less reliable than the already vetted Shopify App store).  

The Winner: Dead Heat

This one depends on how big your business is, and what resources you have within your team.

If you have significant resources and knowledge to manage your own hosting and development, Magento may be a better choice. However, if you are like most store owners, with tight budgets and limited resources, the completeness of the Shopify solution is going to suit you much more and cause less headaches.

Security

Security is a fundamental to ecommerce

We touched on this point a little bit in Hosting but Security is fundamental to ecommerce, so it’s worth its own section. Website security crosses into many areas and is really important for eCommerce business owners to know and understand how it applies to them.

Shopify is a SAAS product, meaning that Shopify is only controlled by Shopify, instead of allowing anyone to change it’s core code at will. This means that Shopify has its own security team and is PCI compliant. So you don’t have to worry about your customer’s credit card information, because you can’t touch it.

As an open source solution, Magento is also prone to malware. Security breaches to the software itself are a regular concern. So, if you’re planning on using Magento, plan on monitoring security issues yourself, or hiring someone to keep an eye on things for you.  

The Winner: Shopify

With Magento, you don’t have the same level of security as Shopify. It’s easy to understand why Magento cybersecurity is big business, with stats showing 62% of Magento stores have at least one vulnerability.

SEO Friendliness

One of the most important factors to consider

Search Engine Optimisation should be the core of any marketing strategy for an eCommerce website.

Both Shopify and Magento work out of the box pretty well with Google as there are several plugins that can make some of the basics that little bit easier.

With Shopify, its quick and easy to create an online store that is search engine friendly as lots of SEO is built in. Most of the SEO options are easily generated and auto-populated with the built in apps making the processes very simple.

Magento too has great SEO functionality. The marketplace has over 250 SEO apps to choose from, all of which will do a similar job and function but there is no questioning the fact that  it will take you longer to bring it to the same level.

The Winner: Shopify

Magento and Shopify are pretty neck-to-neck but we would have to give the win to Shopify as it can do more SEO wise out of the box, and is a little easier and faster to navigate around.

For a little more detail on how to SEO your Shopify store you can read our guide, “How to SEO Your Shopify Site in 2019” for a step by step walk through.

Point of Sale

It's tough to say!

If your business integrates eCommerce and physical locations, both point of sale and store fulfilment are critical issues.

Shopify can supply its own point of sale support as a core offering of its platform. It can even offer its own set of specialised point of sale hardware that has been designed to work with the platform without the need for complex integration procedures (Hardware is only available in the US and Canada currently). You can also easily set up a fantastic end to end customer experience through the use of Shopify’s app store, utilising tools you can set up in-store fulfilment, multiple sales channels, discounts, and heaps more.

Magento is a bit more complex as there’s no official Magento point of sale module. It has plenty of 3rd party extensions that you can use to set up store fulfilment options and complex POS systems. Although, since anyone can publish Magento extensions, it is important to thoroughly research each and every extension before using them, as there are ongoing vulnerabilities to be aware of.

The Winner: Hard to say

POS is always a big issue when it comes to retail, integration is never easy. To find out the winner for you, you need to research on your current systems as well as your future requirements.

Shopify is certainly getting a lot of buy in from the big POS players with many integrations either already present, or currently in the works.

If we were to base it off that, Shopify would certainly be the winner..

Design

Express yo'self

Shopify offers a range of over 60 professional, beautiful and fully customisable themes. It provides themes that work amazingly well as a framework for us to produce high-quality, custom-branded, sites. It allows for the integration of in-store features with rich design.

It’s also not a problem to design a fully customised design for Shopify, but for the most part this is unnecessary.

Magento on the other hand offers 12 themes, both free and paid, 10 of which are fully mobile responsive. With Magento you can also create your own theme from scratch, although this requires a lot of coding knowledge or a budget large enough to hire someone. Keep in mind Magento wasn’t designed with aesthetics in mind. It is the framework for an eCommerce solution rather than a platform that drives eCommerce.

The Winner: Shopify

Shopify wins here. They have a much wider choice of themes that generally look more contemporary. If you’re looking to get online quickly, Shopify’s themes can help get you there, and you won’t have to compromise on design. Shopify was created with themes and store conversions in mind.

Time Investment and Ease of Use

Choosing one that's right for you

When choosing your platform, one of the first things you’ll be thinking of is the time it will take to get your website off of the ground and the ongoing efforts required.

Shopify is super easy and its interface is intuitive to use and quick to get used to. Even my Mum could set up her own Shopify store in a few hours (Ok, maybe not).

Ongoing management of a Shopify store is genuinely a breeze. It’s built for beginners, but will also satisfy power users with its variety of clever advanced features.

The learning curve experienced with Magento is quite steep compared with Shopify, as you’ll need to learn some code and technical terms to maximise the platforms full potential.

Not only is the initial setup more time consuming, but you also have to configure your site manually. Expect to spend a significant amount of time If you want to change any UX elements, extensions, point of sale, product layouts etc.

The Magento CMS is certainly less user-friendly than Shopify’s interface and can even be a bit scary to those who are less eCommerce savvy. The extra flexibility you gain with Magento also adds a considerable level of difficulty.

The Winner: Shopify by a mile

Who has time to do a 3 day course on how to use your CMS?

So is Shopify or Magento a better eCommerce Platform?

Our winner!

If you want your chosen platform to have an easy scalable infrastructure, high-level of security, and a low level of difficulty, Shopify is the choice for you.

If you run a big ecommerce brand, need lots of flexibility, and have all the technical skills in house to manage it yourself - Magento might be for you.

We’ll leave the final decision with you but consider this quote from a very wise woman:

Selling honest online products is finding your way into new success!**

**Read the first letter of each of these words...

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