Opening an online store involves a lot of decisions. Will you host your store yourself or use an e-commerce solution? Will you use PayPal to accept payments or choose a merchant account that gives you a greater level of control over your business?
One of the most important decisions any e-commerce business makes is the type of platform it uses to manage its online store. In this blog post, we’ll compare the two leading e-commerce platforms: Shopify and Magento.
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Shopify Basic & Professional
Since its launch in June 2006, Shopify has grown into one of the web’s biggest online shopping platforms. With over 100,000 users, it powers everything from small local boutique stores to massive online shopping malls.
Shopify comes in two different versions, each of which is split into several different editions. The most popular version of Shopify is available in three different editions: Basic, Professional and Unlimited.
All three editions are hosted on Shopify’s own servers, making it easy for you to get your online store up and running. Regardless of the amount of traffic your website receives, you’ll never need to purchase and configure your own server.
Shopify Basic gives users 1GB of file storage, an unlimited number of store products, round-the-clock support and a special engine for creating discount codes. It also has a mobile application, Shopify Mobile, that lets you manage your store on the go.
Designed for small online businesses and independent merchants, Basic is the least expensive version of Shopify. Users only need to pay $29 per month for the service, as well as a two percent transaction fee on all sales.
For medium-sized online businesses, Shopify Professional is the best choice. It’s an upsized, optimized version of Shopify Basic with an additional 4GB of file storage, a reduced transaction fee (1% compared to 2% for Basic) and additional features.
Professional users can create gift cards for loyal customers or special promotions and export professional reports using their admin panel. They can also implement cart recovery to increase conversion rates for returning users.
Finally, Shopify Unlimited offers the same great features as Professional with plenty more. Users get unlimited file storage, unlimited products, no transaction fees, a cart recovery feature, advanced report builder and real-time carrier shipping.
Designed for medium to large online stores, Shopify Unlimited is a fantastic deal for merchants. Although it costs $179 per month, the lack of transaction fees can often make Shopify Unlimited less expensive than Shopify Professional.
All editions of Shopify are easy to customize and redesign. Learn how to create great themes, product pages and checkouts for your Shopify store in our Building Shopify Themes From Scratch course.
Shopify Plus for Enterprises
Do you already have an online business? While most of Shopify’s services are aimed at new merchants and small ecommerce businesses, they also offer a special version of Shopify aimed at enterprise clients and high-volume merchants.
Shopify Plus offers the same great benefits as the three regular editions of Shopify – simple infrastructure and massive flexibility – with the power and support required by a large online store.
Users get their own account manager, priority support from Shopify’s team, analysis of their customer relationship management software (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERM) software and a dedicated technical project manager.
Shopify Plus starts at $995 per month and – although it’s more expensive than other editions of Shopify – offers a combination of excellent support and hands-off server and software management that makes it a great choice for large online stores.
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Magento Go for Small Business
Launched in 2008 as an open source e-commerce platform, Magento is now one of the most popular enterprise-level content management systems on the web, with a 34 percent market share of e-commerce websites.
Like Shopify, Magento is available in three different editions, although each offers a greater degree of flexibility than Shopify. Magento Go is the cloud-based version of Magento built for small businesses that don’t have their own web server.
Of the three versions of Magento, Magento Go is the most similar to Shopify. It’s used by over 200,000 merchants and offers some excellent features, including a variety of language choices for international stores and support for up to 10,000 SKUs.
Available from just $15 per month, Magento Go is an affordable alternative choice to the Basic edition of Shopify. It’s worth noting that Magento Go has a bandwidth limit for users, while all Shopify plans offer unlimited bandwidth at no extra cost.
Bandwidth restrictions aside, Magento Go’s simple interface and massive versatility makes it a good choice for small online businesses. Better yet, you can develop your store in less than an hour using our Basics of Ecommerce Magento Go course.
Magento Community Edition
Do you want to host your own online store? Magento Community Edition (CE) is the open source version of Magento. Available free of charge, it’s the best choice for web developers that would like to host their own heavily customized online stores.
Since it’s open source, Magento Community Edition offers limited support for users that need to solve problems. Instead, support is provided by a community of online store operators, developers and enthusiasts.
The Community Edition of Magento is ideal for merchants with technical experience or an in-house developer. There’s no one-click installation with this version – to get your store up and running, you’ll need to upload and configure Magento via FTP.
If you’ve got the technical knowledge to operate it, Magento Community Edition is an excellent choice. Easily customizable and massively powerful when hosted on a good server, the open source version of Magento powers thousands of stores.
Do you need help uploading, configuring and customizing your version of Magento Community Edition? Enroll in our Getting Started With Magento course to learn the basics of installing and configuring Magento CE for your e-commerce store.
Magento Enterprise Edition
Small businesses will prefer Magento Go and medium-sized business Magento CE. If you operate a large e-commerce business, however, you’ll probably benefit the most from Magento Enterprise Edition.
Designed for large businesses with millions of dollars in annual revenue, Magento’s Enterprise Edition includes a massive selection of analytics tools for tracking sales and user behavior, as well as improving conversions on your website.
Like the Community Edition of Magento, the Enterprise Edition is easy to customize and massively powerful. Users can customize their websites with new features and a custom design that showcases the values of their brand.
Finally, Magento Enterprise Edition is designed from the ground up for total control on mobile devices. This makes it an excellent choice for large businesses that field a lot of orders from users on mobile devices.
Which platform is the best?
From Magento Go to Shopify Unlimited, each e-commerce platform excels in a very different way. Shopify’s simple interface and quick setup makes it a great choice for small online stores, while Magento’s power makes it better for bigger businesses.
There are also many other e-commerce platforms and services available in addition to Magento and Shopify. Learn about two others – Volusion and BigCommerce – in our blog post on the best e-commerce platforms.