Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, OH MY! How to pick the Best eCommerce Platform Based On Your Situation
There are a variety of golf clubs for a variety of situations. Using a Driver when you should have been using a Putter? An overshot and loss of bragging rights…
eCommerce is no different. What your business sells and where you are with revenue dictates what platform you should use. Let’s compare Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento (Magento 2), and most importantly….
Help you understand which platform is the best based on your situation.
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Shopify is the Toyota of eCommerce Platforms…Affordable, efficient, and gets you from Point A to B. If this was a popularity contest, they’d be the prom King AND Queen.
When most people think of eCommerce, they think of Shopify. With over 1.7MM customers as of May 2021, they’re the catalyst of the eCommerce Renaissance.
But, before you pull your wallet out and sign up, hold tight for just a minute… Let’s see if Shopify is right for you
3 Reasons To Use Shopify
With basic plans starting at only $29 and custom enterprise solutions cheaper than the competition, it’s a no-brainer. While the other platforms require a designer/developer (they’re not cheap), you can easily get a site up and going for under $500. Other platforms will require a marketing expert, Shopify doesn’t. Their apps hook up to Google, Facebook & Bing at absolutely no cost to you.
While BigCommerce & Magento require at least someone with web development experience, Shopify doesn’t. You can easily start selling and marketing your products with zero design/development knowledge. Most themes and apps are one-click installs and simple to navigate. Back and forths and wait time is almost required for the other platforms. With Shopify, that isn’t necessary. If you’re a solopreneur and don’t have a huge team and/or resources – Shopify was built specifically for you.
The old adage, “less is more” could not be truer for Shopify. It’s simple and doesn’t have all the features that Magento or BigCommerce has. No paralysis by analysis here. They have just the right features to get you up and going and if you want more? You can look for it in the app store.
3 Reasons To NOT Use Shopify
Shopify is a closed system. The platform is hosted by Shopify and you’re only able to do what their system allows. If you have a custom product (example: Custom Napkins with multiple colors & sizes), you’re out of luck. Unless there is a “Shopify app” available, you’re out of luck. In many cases, even if there are apps available for your use case, they don’t work the way you want them to. We’ve had clients who try to set up subscription products and the custom apps don’t work.
Their reporting capabilities are mediocre at best and your options are pretty limited. For anyone looking for advanced reporting metrics such as LTV (Lifetime Value) and Cohort Analysis, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Lack of Content Capabilities
Shopify’s singular focus is…to sell. While there are apps for blog & social/customer profile functionality, it’s extremely limited. For many of our clients, they’ve had to run custom solutions such as using a WordPress install on top of Shopify which isn’t ideal.
If Shopify is the Toyota, Magento is the Land Rover. Not for the budget-conscious, but strong, sturdy, and meant to be used for more than just driving around the city. Is this for everyone? No. And, it might be what your business needs.
3 Reasons To Use Magento
For smaller businesses, having too many options is a bad thing. For businesses with $100MM+ in annual revenue, customizability is a must. As you grow, you’re going to diversify your offerings and Magento allows you to do anything you can imagine. Specific prices for different groups of people? Done. Different content and pricing based on location and user group? You got it.
Magento is an open-source platform which means almost anything is possible. Customer segmentation, reporting, dynamic rules for up-sells, cross-sells, and anything in between is possible.
If you’re on Shopify and looking to grow, a replatform will always be on your radar. With Magento, you’re already on an extremely capable platform and won’t really need to move anywhere else (except maybe a custom solution). This will save you time, headache, and the hassle with a replatform.
3 Reasons To NOT Use Magento
While it’s free to use for any company, most people won’t have the skills necessary to get their site running on Magento. It’s also not an easy platform to use if you don’t have deep technical skills. In order to get things right, your developer will spend more time setting this up, which also means more money. In my experience, I’ve seen Magento builds anywhere from $200K minimum up to $1MM+. On top of that, most companies have a web development team on retainer which is another added expense.
The same reasons why they’re a good platform are also the same reasons why they’re not. It is extremely time-consuming for both you and the web developer/team. There will likely be a lot of back and forth, multiple QA’s, and builds. Easy changes can take weeks and harder changes can take many months.
With Magento being open-source and a harder platform, public support is almost lacking (except for enterprise solutions). Furthermore, there aren’t many web developers with experience on the platform so finding a good team will be extremely hard.
BigCommerce sits right in between Shopify and Magento. We only have three reasons to use BigCommerce:
3 Reasons To Use BigCommerce
They’re more expensive than Shopify but nothing compared to Magento. You can purchase a theme or have a custom one set up without costing an arm and a leg.
In terms of features & reporting, they offer a variety of customizations. You won’t be able to set dynamic rules for location & customer segments but if you don’t need them, this is for you.
If you’re looking to have more capabilities (ex: dynamic blogs) and not just selling, you can do it here. If you’re looking to add custom delivery options and rebills, you can also do it here without the hefty price tag with Magento.
Lastly, there is plenty of support and web developers who can work on this. Usually, they’re also cheaper compared to a Magento resource.
How Do You Decide What’s Right For You?
If you’re a company with standard products (ex: apparel, consumer goods, electronics, etc.) or revenues under $30MM, Shopify is perfect. If you’re a company selling subscription items, custom goods, and/or between $30MM & $100MM, you might want to consider BigCommerce. Keep in mind, you can still go with Shopify, but it might be an awkward fit and/or you’ll realize that you require more than they can offer. If you are $100MM++, have difficult reporting needs, or have special pricing rules, definitely consider Magento.
For many companies, web development is going to be their biggest expense. Pick the right one, and you’ll see continued growth. Pick the wrong one, and you’ll be another failed business statistic.
In golf, picking the wrong club means a loss of bragging rights. In eCommerce, picking the wrong platform can put you in the business graveyard.