For online retailers, there’s a wide choice of eCommerce platforms that you can choose from, with varying functionality and benefits. However, at the mid-level end of the markets, the pot gets smaller, with a relatively low number of eCommerce platforms offering levels of security, scalability and functionality that £1m to £20m turnover clients normally require. As such, the platform that you choose for ecommerce stores is crucial to the success of your businesses: If you pick the right platform, it will scale easily and grow together with your company. However, if you happen to choose the wrong platform, then your site will turn out to be a poorly-functioning “homegrown” solution as you attempt to make it fit the needs and requirements of your growing businesses.
There are many questions right now on whether Shopify Plus or Magento Enterprise provides the best ecommerce platform, more so with the release of the latest Magento 2.
In this comprehensive article, we compare these 2 solutions so as to help you in deciding on which platform is best suited for your ecommerce business by focusing deeply on what every platform can do for your business.
Let’s begin by taking a more general look at the two platforms. Magento Enterprise leads ecommerce platform markets, with around 8.7 percent of large ecommerce businesses that use it. Shopify Plus’ market share isn’t far behind and it stands at 8.4 percent. However, it’s important to note the fact that Shopify Plus’ share has improved by 124 percent between 2013 and 2014, and it doesn’t show any signs of ever slowing down.
Now that we’ve understood the basics, let’s now take a closer look at the areas in which Magento Enterprise and Shopify Plus differ so that business owners can better determine the platform that’s best suited for their ecommerce store.
Shopify Plus Vs Magento Enterprise:
Few things are usually of greater importance than security for any ecommerce company (over 30,000 sites are hacked daily!). While both Shopify and Magento Enterprise ensure that you’re PCI Compliant, Magento is a ‘self-hosted’ ecommerce platform. This simply means that you, and not Magento, is responsible to ensure that the information and data on your servers is secured. In addition, it also transfers all risks of any security breaches onto you, and ensuring that the information is secure can actually consume large amounts money as well as time.
On the other end, Shopify Plus has a better solution to keep your store (and the customer’s information) much more secure. Since Shopify Plus can provide hosting, business owners do not have to work about while still carrying risks of any security breach. Furthermore, since Shopify Plus is PCI DSS compliant, your information and data is well-protected using the same security as that provided by banks.
Clearly, Shopify creates a safe environment as compared to Magento Enterprise, unless you’re willing make extra investments to customize your security requirements and also take the risks that are associated with being in charge of the security breaches.
2. Implementation times
In addition, Shopify Plus allows for cart scripting and private app development to accommodate complex or unique customizations. The ecommerce platform can also enable complex customizations without any need to understand the full application infrastructure. Their APIs are intuitive and standardized to allow developers leverage the development language or ecommerce platform of their choice for business development.
The implementation times for Magento 2 deployments are commonly between 4 and 8 months depending on the complexity level. They also need an array of resources including architects, deployment specialists, developers, QA resources and many more. The implementation of on-premise ecommerce solutions looks a lot like a custom application development. Furthermore, building out customizations in Magento Enterprise is also less efficient because there’s no standard of code. Even though you can hire developers to build out your customizations, all of the code will still be running on your own environment. As such, it becomes your own responsibility to maintain and manage changes to the core architecture. Load testing is also mission-critical for Magento Enterprise customizations. As a result, even if your customizations are implemented and working fine today, it might not perform well under peak performances.
3. Marketing Friendliness
Your marketing team is the one that drives clients to your site. As such, it is important that they are able to easily navigate the backend. Most marketers lack a tech background. Your platform therefore should make it very easy for them to do things such as creating product descriptions, editing website copy and adding customer forms.
Between Magento Enterprise and Shopify, the latter is certainly marketer-friendly. Shopify will certainly provide your marketing team with an access to the most important functions directly from admin’s panel, thus making changes an easy task. It also includes a unique ability to the create conversion pixels so as to track the social media campaigns, discount code generators, advanced analytics, Google AdWords credit, and many easy-to-add extensions for sending targeted email campaigns just to mention but a few.
Besides having a complex backend, Magento Enterprise doesn’t have any default functionalities (even although you can still integrate on any social media site). As such, a developer should create each feature (or even install an extension which has them). In turn, this causes marketers to depend fully on the developer so as to do even those simple tasks.
Magento 2 is an improved version from the previous platform, and it gives the marketers benefits of faster page-load times and friendly backend UI, all which will enhance customer experience. This new platform also allows the marketers to use affiliate marketing extensions and referral, that help in driving more organic traffic to your website thus resulting into more sales.
Even though there are obvious significant improvements in The Magento 2 platform, Shopify still remain to be the easiest and most comprehensive ecommerce platform for your team.
4. SEO Optimization
Do you know that 44 percent of ecommerce purchases start with online searches? Due to this, it is important that you pick a platform that supports SEO by integrating quite well with the search engines and helps to display search-relevant pages based on your website to your consumers.
Both Magento Enterprise and Shopify Plus allow the use of page titles, independent links, Page URL’s, image alt tags, H1 Headings and Meta descriptions to help in boosting your engine rankings. In addition, they also offer the opportunity to have the social sharing buttons, integrated blogs and the use of your domain name, which is very important to SEO optimization.
The major benefit that Shopify Plus platform offers is to the stores that are currently migrating to Shopify from other platforms. You will be able to use “Traffic Control App“ so as to redirect the traffic that you’ve built on your former ecommerce platform without having to compromise on your SEO rankings on major search engines. This can actually be a lifesaver, because you would normally lose part of your previous organic traffic as you migrate to any other ecommerce platform.
5. Third Party Extensions And Apps
Both Shopify and Magento 2 Enterprise have established marketplaces for apps and 3rd party extensions. Magento’s third-party extension marketplace is quit new, but the Magento’s Connect marketplace ( legacy module marketplace that had little vetting as well as quality control around the extensions) is more extensive as compared to that for Shopify app store. However, Shopify enforces tighter quality controls on the third-party apps as compared to Magento Connect. The brand-new Magento marketplace also follows the likes of Shopify and Demandware in vetting all the extensions that are listed, something that a lot of merchants and integrators had been looking for. It’s also worth noting that a good number of the commonly used extensions have not yet been developed for the Magento 2. They include Visual Merchandiser and One Step Checkout but the situation is improving gradually.
Two of the main benefits of the these platforms is the existing integrations that are available with the other systems, some which falls under extensions while others comes under APIs and middleware. Since they’re 2 of the more mainstream ecommerce platforms in the market today, they have been integrated with majority of popular 3rd party systems such as ERPs, payment gateways and fulfilment services. Magento Enterprise’s open source codebase usually allows for 3rd party integrations and it can be delivered by development agencies. That said, Magento 2 has less existing integrations as compared to Magento 1, something that ought to be improved in the next 6 to 12 months. Shopify normally works with Shopify Plus partners on the integrations, as it adds an extra level of quality control.
6. Platform Support and Ecosystem
Even though knowing what an ecommerce platform can do to you is vital, it’s also important that you take a look into whether it has a well-established ecosystem of 3rd party supporters and providers. Choosing an ecommerce platform with this extended network will go a very long way to make certain that you are well looked after whenever things get rough.
The Magento Enterprise platform serves close to 200,000 merchants all over the world, and these merchants are normally supported by the global community of merchants, forum moderators, solution partners and developers. Furthermore, there are also enormous amounts of client support, from the online forums to the ‘meetup’ groups for any person affiliated with this platform. With such a large community, business owners can almost assued that you won’t ever remain in the dark.
The only major concern that causes some anxiety within the Magento Enterprise community is development of Magento 2 platform. Even though there are several (positive) changes in the Magento 2 platform, many people feel that the release was drawn-out and the new version isn’t a better upgrade from the previous Magento Enterprise versions.
Shopify Plus, on the other end, has a community close to 150,000 merchants in more than 150 countries. This community makes certain that there are several 3rd party applications who are quite easy to download. This makes Shopify Plus platform to be an viable option for merchants as well as developers. Having grown quickly in market share ever since Shopify decided to go public, this ecommerce platform is certainly more cost effective when compared to Magento Enterprise, with a variety of 3rd party applications available in the platform ecosystem.
Both Magento 1 and 2 Enterprise have a wide range of options when it comes to payment options, including the existing integrations with PayPal and other mainstream payment gateways. However, one issue with Magento 2 is the fact that some of the less mainstream payment gateways don’t have the modules built yet, which doesn’t add much work from the development perspective.
One advantage of using Shopify Plus is the fact that they also offer Shopify payments as an option. This payment option is owned and managed by Shopify. It is also very competitive in terms of the fees. In addition, they work with all other mainstream payment gateways including Braintree and Sagepay, which have had easy integrations.
8. Platform customization
Shopify recently announced the scripting capabilities, which frees up the developers to write their customizations. The Shopify Scripts allow developers to ‘enter’ into the Shopify’s servers and then create their customisations to the shopping cart.
By utilizing the custom scripts, you can reduce the costs and time associated with building the shopping cart customizations. Custom scripts will give you an advanced custom functionality without compromising maintainability or flexibility.
Shopify Plus enables the developers to build platform customizations of their own in the form of private applications that can be developed by using the customer’s preferred development language. There’s also an Embedded App SDK that allows individual customer extensions to appear directly on the Shopify’s Admin.
Magento Enterprise is an open source platform, and customers can access and also modify all Magento Enterprise’s core modules. This usually provides endless freedom when customizing and designing your website. However, building out customizations in this platform can be challenging without the standard of code. You can decide hire a developer who will build the customizations for you. However, since you’re running everything on your server, you will be on your own to support, scale and manage any customizations or extensions. You also have to worry about how the future upgrades and customizations will impact existing code base. This might create risk and it also puts greater dependencies on load testing and QA.
Magento architectural and development resources can also be expensive and quite hard to find. A lot of retailers require a whole team to manage the customizations. This might be a distraction to the existing development teams, thus taking their eyes off more valuable efforts that usually drive direct value to most of your consumers.
9. Integrations and Add-Ons:
It’s quite difficult to beat Shopify in terms of integrations.
With more than 1,000 applications available in Shopify Apps store, you are hard pressed to get something that Shopify doesn’t offer.
Although Magento Enterprise’s marketplace is quite extensive, integrations for the Magento ECE are somehow limited because it uses the recently launched Magento 2.0 system, which has fewer applications available that connect. Nonetheless, there’s still a decent amount of integrations and apps that you can always take a closer look at.
10. Commerce anywhere
It’s becoming increasingly important to go to your clients and early adopters, rather than waiting for them to come to you. As such, Shopify Plus has deployed their suite of capabilities to make sure that we’re capable of enabling ecommerce on any third party marketing social network, marketplace, site or blog.
Shopify’s Sales Channel allows one to add commerce to any mobile application, website or marketplace,. You can also connect your users to a wide range of products right from where they’re. Shopify usually handles the harder parts — like shipping, taxes, payments, analytics, inventory and several more.
Shopify clients can also deploy the commerce capabilities to Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook immediately after setting up their store — all from within Shopify. The other third party integrations include the popular communities such as houzz, Wanelo and Ebates.
Magento Enterprise currently lacks integration to marketplaces and common social channels. As the number of social channels expands, the on-premise platforms like Magento Enterprise will have a very difficult time keeping up. Integrating with any of these social channels requires custom development and integration. In today’s world where the retailers are continuously leveraging more social channels, managing all these one-off integrations with Magento Enterprise might become cost prohibitive.
To a build your own beautiful custom site, all that’s required is the knowledge of CSS, HTML and Liquid — Shopify Plus’ intuitive templating language. In addition, Shopify maintains a huge library of themes that can totally remove the need for manual page development.
Managing presentation and basic content on Magento 2 platform requires in- depth knowledge of the platform’s architecture. The skills that are required to develop the front-end experience on the Magento 2 platform are much higher as compared to where they were in Magento 1.x. In fact, Magento 2 needs knowledge of its directory structure and complex component architecture, as well as the knowledge of PHP and a wide range of other technologies for customizations or basic changes. Magento 2 has been built for developers. As such, it requires developers from the basic changes all the way to presentation. This slows the implementation time and also adds lengthy development cycles when all that’s required is basic change to the user experience.
Brands that are focused on speed should not require a testing cycle and development project for the basic content changes. As time-to-market for your own brands becomes an increasing area of focus, on-premise ecommerce platforms will have a very hard time trying to keep up.
11. Customer Support
Both Magento Enterprise and Shopify Plus and offer customer support, but at different levels. For Shopify clients, the support is via phone, live chat or email, whereas for Magento clients, it’s purely developer support and it does not have the best reputation. However, an Enterprise Edition customer can purchase services of Magento Technical Account Managers (TAM) for an additional cost. This is basically a dedicated professional who is available for a certain period of time every week, including one every month that’s spent at the client’s site. You can also choose to work with Magento Enterprise’s Consulting Group. However this normally comes with a bigger price tag.
One of the main selling points for Shopify is definitely the support that they provide, which reduces any need for an on-going relationship with a consultant or a development agency. With the 2k dollars/month license fee, merchants will be able to get full access to a 24/7 dedicated account management function, who are capable of handling general platform-related questions, technical issues, fix bugs, offer guidance around conversion rate optimization and marketing, and anything else that you might be having. Although you will still need developers for marketing and to implement the complex changes, the support service would cover what merchants would usually pay for from the development support perspective. The other major consideration is the fact that Shopify is a fully-hosted system. As such, merchants do not really need the development support retainer in any way.
Shopify Plus Vs Magento Enterprise Final verdict
Unfortunately, this is not a black/white issue. Both Magento Enterprise and Shopify Plus offer amazing benefits to any ecommerce business owner, so it just comes down to what’s best suited for your business. Your decision on which platform to use depends on your overall business goals and company’s unique circumstances. Therefore, as you do your own research, ensure that you put thought and time into your decision so that you won’t go wrong.
If you have the resources required to invest in the development of a sophisticated platform, or when you usually deal with complex ecommerce transactions, then Magento Enterprise might be best suited for you. Shopify Plus, on the other end, is an ideal option if you are looking forward to launch your business quickly, have openness to use 3rd party applications, and you prefer a user-friendly user interface.
To sum it up, if you are running a relatively simple ecommerce store and you don’t have many complex requirements, then go for Shopify Plus. This ecommerce platform seeks to simplify almost everything. The themes are ready made, the integrations are already established, and the support service is just one phone call away.