Starting your own online business essentially comes down to choices. And playing favorites.
Choose a partner? Do it alone?
Work from home? Rented office space?
Choosing niche products? Go with the flow?
And probably the most common dilemma – which eCommerce platform to choose?
With so many comparisons out there, you might think it is easy to choose.
If you are small go with Shopify, if you are big – go with Magento.
But is it really like that?
We think it is a common misconception and that is why we decided to get to the bottom of it.
And not by simply naming pros and cons of both platforms, but – executing what will be every online store owner’s daily tasks when managing online store.
Without trying to prove that either one of solutions is good or bad, we will simply get into the bottom of functionalities offered, since plans and programming languages have been compared many times in past.
Meaning – we will get to the bottom of what it is like to actually manage a store, by exploring its perks, differences, and focusing on funcionalities available – out of the box and in form of apps/extensions. Without getting our fingers into custom development.
After all, you want your administering of your online store to go smooth right?
So let’s skip it and go straight to your online store setup.
New product launch
That is why we decided to start from there. In our effort to be completely unbiased, we launched two stores for this experiment.
And first step was – adding new product. Let’s see how the process looks in Shopify.
We decided to sell our amazing mug – we entered product name, product description, image and price.
Fairly easy and quickly, as expected.
But let’s see how many different options can we add for our mug.
We were given option to add different size, colour and material.
Every variation can be changed, so you can easily adjust them to your needs. We had to consult Shopify Help in order to find out whether is possible to add more than three attributes to our product.
“What about options – can I have more than 3?
And we got an answer:
“You can only have a maximum of 3 options per product, for example Size, Color and Style. Note that these options can differ from product to product. This limit of 3 cannot be raised for any Shopify account or plan.”
That’s right – 100 variants and only three options per product.
Let’s see how many attributes we can add to each product in Magento?
Magento knows two codependent terms – Attributes and Attribute Sets. Out of the box, it comes with a rather long list of attributes, such as:
And dozens more to choose from. Managing attribute sets seem difficult, but it is based on a rather simple principle. Drag and drop attributes that you want certain product to have, and add attribute set to a product when creating one.
But, going one step back, let’s see how it looks like to add new product in Magento.
Magento offers you to choose which attributes will your product have right at the beggining of adding new product.
Also this is the moment to decide – will your product be simple, configurable, grouped or downloadable?
Here is how adding of a new product from scratch looks like in Magento:
This is the moment when Magento goes 1:0.
Procedure of setting up more than a simple product in Shopify couldn’t go without the help of a third party solution.
Meaning, if we want to add downloadable product for example, this is what we should do, according to Shopify Help Center:
“To provide a download link to your customers for a digital product, you must use an app from Shopify’s App Store. Shopify’s Digital Downloads app is a free, easy-to-use solution that is supported by Shopify.
There are other third party apps as well that supported by their developers. Be sure to determine which digital download app best suits your needs.”
Magento offers different product types out of the box.
Next step is quite similar to Shopify procedure. You will be asked to enter basic information about your product – Name, Description, SKU, Weight, Manufacturer, New From Date etc.
It’s a tie!
But, we need to perform several other adjustments before saving our product in Magento. Magento offers multi store view so you will be asked to determine in which of the store views do you want your product to appear.
Adding your product to a category (in Magento) or collection (in Shopify) is equally easy on both platforms.
As a matter of fact, the whole procedure of adding new product on both platforms is easy and straightforward.
Both platforms offer you possibility to easily add a product, choose the right category, add weight, price, different product variations, image and mark it as in, or out of stock.
Cross selling and Up selling
Magento offers adding up sell and cross sell products out of the box, while in Shopify you have to rely on adding third party applications.
Let’s compare both platforms:
As you can see in the screenshot above, adding related products from admin panel is easy and takes minutes.
Shopify does not offer this out of the box, and according to their blog:
“There are a lot of ways you can use upsell and cross-sell to enhance your customers purchase experience while increasing your average order size as well.
Below we have featured some ways for your to consider in which you can up and cross sell your visitors and customers as well as apps to help you achieve the desired results.
Apps. Again. Magento goes 2:0 on this one!
Not only because of the need to use app, but the cost.
Starting small, you need to do everything you can to avoid spending over your budget.
The first application on the list goes for $9.99-$59.99/month, while others, such as Nosto for example, will take 1-4% of revenue generated through the App. Not to mention Sellout that will cost you $20/month + $0.005/per customer.
Inventory is probably the most important part of your online store.
Tracking your inventory and knowing at all times how many items you have in stock is crucial for successful management of your online store.
Shopify allows you to sell items that are not in stock at the moment by simply marking checkbox next to “Allow customers to purchase this product when it’s out of stock” field.
Magento, on the other hand offers multiple options when it comes to managing your inventory.
Let’s take a look at major differences between two platforms:
Magento offers possibility for the store owner to set up quantities for when the product is close to be out of stock.
You can do so by filling out the field “Qty for Item’s Status to Become Out of Stock“.
Setting up a value in this field means that you will know when it is time to produce some more of your great product.
You can also set up minimum and maximum quantity allowed in shopping cart.
It is a quite useful option, as it can make your customers end up with a bit more in their shopping cart than originally planned.
Make sure you do not overdo it though.
Another useful feature is possible in Magento – you can use decimals for your products. It can be quite handy if you are selling fabrics, food or any other product that requires to be ordered using decimals.
Shopify inventory management
Managing inventory in Shopify is easy, but you will face limited options.
Clicking on Inventory tab gave us a table that contains all variations of our product and only couple of options:
- Show our product variants filtered by visibility, product type, vendor, quantity and tags.
- Set up whether you wish to continue selling when item is no more in stock.
- Change item’s quantity.
Shopify allows you to set up minimum and maximum quantities to be added to customers’ shopping cart.
But, if you wish to prevent small purchases in Shopify, you will need to install an app.
You will also need to install third party solution if you wish to allow Backorders on your online store.
Another important feature that Shopify does not allow is using decimals in quantity field. Entering integer is the only option allowed.
According to Shopify Experts:
“Quantity is an integer. You cannot buy 0.333 of a t-shirt. You cannot by 1.875 of a dog collar. You cannot buy 99.99 of a box of pretzels.
Your quantity must be a 1, 2, or … a 99. How you achieve that is through the greater glory of script code. There are as many ways to do this as there are muppets. Many many muppets.
It is all in impedance matching. If your backend works in grams, but your front end is in kilograms, just multiply or divide by 1000 where necessary. Do Not Play with decimals.
Shopify is unable to inform you when your quantities have reached minimum, unless you are using an app.
Time for a verdict…
Magento wins, and here is why:
- Magento allows selling simple, downloadable, configurable and bundle products out of the box. Shopify requires downloading and installing an app to do so.
- Magento allows adding unlimited number of attributes and attribute sets to your product(s) out of the box. Entire process is easily manageable from admin panel. Shopify allows 100 variations (no matter which one of the Shopify plans you are using) and only 3 attributes per product.
- Magento allows adding related, up sell and cross sell products out of the box. Shopify requires using of an app that is not available for free.
- Magento allows backorders, quantity to be set in decimals, minimum and maximum of products in shopping cart to be set out of the box. Shopify does not allow quantity to be in form of nothing else but an integer, and allows minimum and maximum quantity to be set up only with the help of a third party solution.
We have to call it a tie when it comes to adding images, allowing multistore views and Shopify definitely wins when it comes to platform’s dashboard design.
Please note that we have skipped Pricing, as it will be covered in detail, along with Klarna integrations and Shopify payment gateways in one of the next blog posts.
Make sure you stay tuned!