By: Julian Wong|
06 May 2022
Setting up your business’ online platform is not an easy feat as many important decisions need to be made, and choosing the right eCommerce platform is at the forefront. At Verz Design, we leverage three of the largest eCommerce solutions in the market – Magento, an open-source platform, Shopify, a Software as a Service with many tiers, and WooCommerce, a WordPress plugin with many installable plugins.
From creating content to maintaining the online store, the platform you choose could determine the success of your eCommerce business. With this article, we aim to help you make an informed choice so that you can select the ideal platform amongst the three for yourself and run your online business with ease.
As professionals well-versed in Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce, we will be comparing them against each other to help you make an informed decision on which platform you should choose in order to make your eCommerce site a success.
Before comparing Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce, we must first understand what a self-hosted platform and a SaaS platform are, as both offer different capabilities and have different requirements.
A self-hosted website is a website you own, so you host it yourself on a hosting provider of your choice. Think of it as buying a car–once you buy the vehicle outright, you own it. You can paint it however you like it and make any modification your heart desires. However, owning a car comes with many costs, such as paying the road tax, car insurance as well as the maintenance of the vehicle.
On the other hand, A SaaS platform is software that its owner leases to clients. Using the same analogy as above, you can think of it as renting a car, as opposed to buying one. The rental company sets rules for how you use it and what modifications you can make. However, they take care of the road tax, car insurance and vehicle maintenance.
Magento and WooCommerce are self-hosted platforms, whereas Shopify is a SaaS platform. Whether a platform is self-hosted or SaaS should not be the only consideration, but it is an important one. When choosing between a self-hosted solution and a SaaS solution, you should take the following into consideration:
Now that you know what a SaaS and a self-hosted platform are, let’s delve directly into each of the platforms.
Magento is an open-source platform with built-in PHP, a general-purpose web server that helps programmers develop websites. Using Magento, developers can implement the core files and improve the platform’s functionality by adding plugin modules written by other developers. As a result, Magento is easily one of the most customisable options for eCommerce platforms; however, this flexibility requires technical expertise to unlock.
Shopify is a SaaS eCommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. As compared to Magento and WooCommerce, Shopify clients don’t own their stores. The platform is closed-source, and everything, from features to hosting, is included in your monthly fee. There are three main plans available: Basic, Shopify, and Advanced.
The main differences between these three plans are the transaction fees for not using Shopify Payments, and credit card rates, which decrease as you upgrade to a more expensive plan. Functionality wise, Shopify and Shopify Advanced provide reports, a feature not available to Shopify Basic users. Shopify Advanced also empowers its users to take their business global, by offering third-party calculated shipping rates, duties and import tax estimation, and custom pricing strategies for different markets.
Shopify also provides an enterprise-level eCommerce solution in Shopify Plus, which we recommend only for high-growth companies as the fees start at a whopping US$2,000 a month.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform built on the WordPress platform. If you’re familiar with this name, it’s because nearly half of all websites on the internet utilise this platform.
To create a WooCommerce online store, all you have to do is add the WooCommerce plugin to a WordPress site. The plugin will then turn either all or part of your WordPress website into an eCommerce store. You can still leverage other WordPress features, such as articles, client resources, case studies, or a blog, in addition to your eCommerce store, making it a holistic solution for businesses.
It is hard to arrive at a conclusion just by knowing what each eCommerce platform does, hence, we will be pitting Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce against one another so that you can choose the ideal eCommerce platform that best fits your business’ needs.
As with every other aspect of business, we understand that cost is one of the utmost concerns our clients have when it comes to choosing the right eCommerce platform. However, a website is a worthwhile investment, and we would recommend that you make your decision based on the other factors in this article.
While the Magento software is free to use, a Magento-built website comes with a hefty price tag. Not only are you required to procure your own hosting provider due to Magento being a self-hosted platform, but you will also need to hire a developer due to the complex nature of the solution. On top of these costs, you will also have to pay for any apps or plugins you purchase. You will also be charged a 3.4% + S$0.50 fee per transaction if you choose to utilise an acclaimed payment gateway like Stripe. For PayPal domestic credit card payments, the rate is 3.9% + S$0.50. With so many payment gateway options to choose from in Singapore, it may be hard to arrive at a decision, so reach out to us, and our experienced consultants will advise you based on your requirements.
Although a Magento website may seem expensive at first glance, you would be pleased to know that a bulk of payments are one-time only. Magento charges a one-time payment model for applications and add-ons, so you never need to worry about recurring fees in this regard.
For the Shopify subscription itself, Basic starts at US$29 a month, Shopify starts at US$79 a month and Advanced starts at US$299 a month. The main difference between these plans is the cut that Shopify takes if you do not use their payment gateway, as well as the degree of customisation.
There are 5 free eCommerce themes, however, if you fancy none of them, you may purchase a paid one anywhere between US$150 – US$350. If you choose to get extensions from the Shopify App store, this will also add to your monthly overhead cost.
Aside from the monthly cost, Shopify also charges a transaction fee if you do not use their Shopify Payments gateway, from 2% for Basic, 1% for Shopify, and 0.5% for Advanced.
Out of the box, WooCommerce does not cost anything to install and use. However, as it is a self-hosted platform, you will need to pay for web hosting. As for themes and extensions, there are thousands of free themes and extensions, for your eCommerce website to be functional; however, if you want to stand out from the crowd, or have specific needs, many of these extensions might require a recurring payment and rack up many costs for your businesses, depending on how advanced your site is.
There is not much point to having a highly complex website if you do not know how to harness its full potential. User-friendliness refers to the difficulty level of building on the platform, as well as using its features after its creation. If your business does not possess the skill sets needed, it is recommended to go for a more user-friendly option.
Creating a good website with Magento is an uphill task for anyone without web development knowledge. Given the extensibility of the platform and the plethora of features at its disposal, the creation of a Magento website is best left to a professional.
After development, you will have a user-friendly interface that anyone can use for basic store functionalities, however, you might need to be a bit of a techie to use its more intermediate and advanced features.
Shopify is one of the easiest platforms to set up, as you do not require any coding knowledge to get your website up and running. Designing your site elements is as simple as pointing and clicking, and the interface is designed to be usable by anyone without any difficulty.
WordPress makes creating a website effortless, despite its huge number of customisation options. Using its content management system, you can build a website and organise its content without requiring any knowledge of coding.
There are many guides and resources for WordPress that can help make using the platform simple, and there is a plugin for almost everything you need. No coding knowledge is required, you simply need to know how to use each individual plugin.
When you create a website, you want it to be uniquely yours. Having an eye-catching theme and unique functionalities can help you stand out from the competition and attract more web traffic. The more customisable the platform is, the easier it is for you to achieve this.
Magento is an open-source software– this means that its users are free to study, modify or distribute its code to anyone. As you are able to edit the code directly, Magento provides unparalleled flexibility and the customisation options are limited to the competency of your web developer. On top of that, because of the publicly collaborative nature of the software, Magento developers are constantly sharing their knowledge of the platform, paving the way for new extensions and functionalities.
All of Shopify’s themes allow for some degree of customisation, however, being a SaaS programme means that you are limited to the Shopify interface and will not be able to edit the website’s core code, or make full-on customisations. As far as extensions go, there are over 6,000 applications on the Shopify app store.
WooCommerce’s flexibility allows you to be able to sell all kinds of products outside physical items, such as downloadable products like books or passes to training sessions. WooCommerce has a plethora of themes and plugins, both free and paid, that can allow you to customise your website however you like it.
Scalability refers to the ability of your eCommerce website to grow alongside your business. As your business scales, you would ideally want to be able to upgrade your eCommerce site to handle the higher demand, more extensive product offering and increased revenue. While it may not seem important at first glance, if the website is not scaled, it can result in lost revenue as the site cannot handle the larger influx of visitors.
The open-source nature of Magento allows it to be one of the highest scaling platforms, and it can grow alongside your store. However, you need to invest in a good web hosting solution so that you can handle an increased amount of web traffic.
Scalability for Shopify is as simple as upgrading your plan to the next tier. For web hosting, Shopify offers secure unlimited hosting for all three plans.
On its own, WooCommerce is very scalable. However, everything you install on your WordPress site can slow down its performance, hence you should choose quality over quantity for your themes and plugins. Similar to Magento, choosing a good web hosting solution can help with performance issues significantly.
SEO functionalities help your businesses appear higher in search engines, which in turn attracts more online visitors. Content marketing tools, such as blogs, also help to increase your website’s visibility, educate customers and social-proof a business.
While default Magento does not come with blog functionality, Magento’s open-source nature gives users control over their website’s SEO elements. This is done by directing Google to find important URLs on the site through its Sitemap.xml file. Take note, however, that faceted navigation in Magento sites sometimes creates duplicate pages or content which will affect SEO.
Shopify’s default content marketing capabilities are functional at best. While Shopify comes with a built-in blogging tool, it is not as robust as compared to WooCommerce and Magento. For example, Shopify does not allow you to categorise your blog posts, and only allows the use of tags. There is no native version history or SEO tool as well. With that being said, you can work around these limitations by utilising some apps from the Shopify app store if their costs fit into your budget. Thankfully, you can subscribe to the renowned Yoast SEO plugin in the Shopify app store for US$19 per month.
With WooCommerce, you have a robust content marketing platform at your disposal, in the form of WordPress’ CMS. The well-designed blog structure allows you to upload blog posts, podcasts, or video content easily. You can also add crucial resources such as white papers, galleries, and digital products.
On its own, WooCommerce is already SEO friendly as WordPress is very standard compliant, and can be further optimised with plugins. You can integrate the Yoast SEO plugin into your WooCommerce store in a few clicks, and gain access to a whole toolkit of SEO features.
Security refers to the measures put in place by each platform to guard your website against cyber attacks. These attacks include, but are not limited to brute force attacks, data leaks, malware attacks and unlawful transactions. While you may feel that your website is not ‘attractive’ enough for cybercriminals, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If your website is compromised and sensitive information such as your customers’ credentials are leaked, it could cause severe damage to your business’ finances and reputation.
Magento comes with strong built-in security features which mitigates security risks. These include an enhanced password management and a non-default admin URL, which makes attacks on your site difficult to mount. File ownership permissions can also be configured, and in the worst-case scenario, the Magento Framework has adopted conventions that regulate the escaping of data in output. To top it off, Magento’s open-sourced nature also allows one to add more security functions to their Magento site.
Shopify has a Level 1 PCI DSS compliant, which means that it has met all six categories of PCI DS (Payment Card Industry Data Security). These six benchmarks that Shopify fulfils are:
With Shopify, you can rest assured knowing that your customers’ data is safe, however, if you would like to have more security features, you have to install these functions from the Shopify app store.
WordPress has robust built-in features, such as an SSL certificate, attack monitoring, firewalls and even a dedicated security team made up of 50 experts! WordPress also continuously update its software to have Version Backwards compatibility, ensuring the themes and plugins on your site have no room to be breached.
WooCommerce’s most outstanding security feature has to be its 24/7 support, which can address your security concerns regardless of your timezone.
Truth to be told, there is no definitive answer to which is the best eCommerce platform, as Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. It also depends on which stage of your eCommerce business you are at currently. In short, the best eCommerce platform for you is one that fulfills your business’ needs and fits into your budget.
On this note, we would recommend Shopify for small businesses looking to grow their online presence, Magento for bigger companies with ample resources and WooCommerce as a holistic solution for both small and medium-sized businesses.
Ultimately, whichever platform you choose, an eCommerce solution is only as good as its developer. This is because they will be able to capitalise on the strengths of the platform while mitigating its weaknesses. As a competent eCommerce developer in Singapore, we are skilled in Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce and more. We will be able to capture your vision regardless of which platform you decide to choose and create your dream website.
Thank you for reading to the end of this article. For your easy reference, we have created a table comparing the platforms and the categories we have listed, to help you arrive at a decision. However, if you are still unsure of which platform best suits your needs, do contact us for a free consultation, and we will be more than happy to take you through each of the platforms.