The platform you choose for your ecommerce store is critical to your success: If you choose the right one, it will easily scale and grow with your company. If you choose the wrong one, your site will become a poorly-functioning "homegrown" solution as you try and make fit the needs of your growing business.
There are a lot of questions right now about whether Magento Enterprise Edition (EE) or Shopify Plus provides the best enterprise platform, especially with the recent release of Magento 2. In this article, we'll compare these two solutions to help you decide which is best for your business by focusing on what each can do for you, not on the detailed technical differences.
Let's start by taking a general look at both the platforms. Magento EE leads the ecommerce platform market, with nearly 8.7% of a large ecommerce businesses using it. Shopify's market share is close behind at 8.4% (statistics referenced don't differentiate between Shopify and Shopify Plus), but it's important to note that Shopify's share has increased by 124% between 2013 and 2014, and doesn't show signs of slowing down.
Now that we understand the basics, let's take a look at 6 areas in which Shopify Plus and Magento EE differ so that you can better determine which is best for your ecommerce store.
Few things are more important than security for an ecommerce company (more than 30,000 sites are hacked every day!). While both Magento EE and Shopify Plus ensure that you are PCI Compliant, Magento Enterprise is a 'self-hosted' platform. This means that you, not Magento, are responsible for ensuring the data on your server is secure. It also transfers the risks of security breaches entirely onto you, and making sure that this information is secure as it needs to be can consume large amounts time and money.
Shopify Plus, however, has a much better solution for keeping your store (and your customer's information) secure. Since Shopify can provide hosting, you don't need to work about carrying the risk of security breaches. And because Shopify is Level 1 PCI DSS compliant, all your data is protected with the same level of security provided by a bank.
Clearly, Shopify Plus creates a safer environment than Magento, unless you are willing make additional investments to customize security requirements and take the risks associated with being responsible for security breaches.
Your marketing team are the ones who drive customers to your site, so it's important that they be able to navigate the backend with ease. Most marketers don't have a tech background, so your platform needs to make it easy to do things like create product descriptions, edit website copy, and add customer forms.
Between Magento EE and Shopify Plus, the latter is definitely the most marketer-friendly. Shopify Plus will give your marketing team access to key functions directly from the admin panel, making changes a breeze. It also includes the ability to create conversion pixels to track social media campaigns, advanced analytics, a discount code generator, free Google Adwords credits, and a myriad of easy to add extensions to do quick A/B testing, send targeted email campaigns, and more.
In addition to having a more complex backend, Magento EE has none of these default functionalities (although you can integrate just about any social media platform). A developer must create each of these features (or install an extension that has them), causing the marketer to depend on the developer to do simple tasks.
Magento 2 is certainly an improved version, and it gives marketers the benefit of faster page load times and a friendlier backend UI, all of which enhance the customer experience. The new version also allows marketers to use referral and affiliate marketing extensions, that help drive more traffic to your site leading to more sales.
Although there are clearly significant improvements in Magento 2, Shopify Plus is still the easiest, most comprehensive platform for your marketing team.
Did you know that 44% of all ecommerce purchases begin with an online search?
Because of this, it is crucial that you choose an ecommerce platform that best supports SEO optimization by integrating well with search engines and helping with displaying search relevant pages on your site to your consumers.
Both Shopify Plus and Magento EE permit the use of independent links, page titles, Page URL's, meta descriptions, image alt tags, and H1 Headings to help boost your engine rankings. They also offer you the ability to have an integrated blog, social sharing buttons and use of your own domain name, which are critical to SEO optimization.
The one major benefit Shopify Plus offers is to stores that are migrating to Shopify Plus from another platform: You're able to use the "Traffic Control App" to redirect traffic you've built on your previous platform without compromising on SEO rankings. This can be a lifesaver, as you'd normally lose some of your organic traffic when migrating to any other platform.
But don't forget about Magento 2. They've added some improvements to SEO, including the ability to add rich snippets and organize structure markup data, optimize search engine indexation by editing robots.txt files from the admin panel, and a more extensive set of tools for optimizing category pages.
Shipping Provider Integrations
Almost all ecommerce purchases need to be shipped to the customer, so your platform should integrate seamlessly with your shipping provider(s) so that your customers can see the most current shipping rates and your products get shipped efficiently.
Using apps like Shipworks, Magento EE integrates with most major shipping providers, including Fedex, USPS, UPS and DHL. Shopify Plus integrates with USPS, UPS and Fedex as default options, but does not integrate with DHL.
Since shipping is such a critical part of your business, make sure you have clearly outlined the providers you must integrate with before choosing your platform. Missing the mark on this integration can become a frustrating and costly oversight.
Given that B2B sales are more complex than B2C sales, it's important to know your platform can handle them.
Magento EE makes an attempt to 'consumerize B2B sales' while still supporting all of it's complexities. To do this, it supports negotiated pricing terms, fast bulk orders, and complex payment terms.
Shopify Plus only supports B2B or wholesale functionality via a B2B wholesale app. With the help of this Wholesale App, you can offer different customers different prices by creating a separate B2B Wholesale store. This allows you to keep retail and wholesale parts of your ecommerce business separate. If you don't want regular customers having access to your wholesale store, you can restrict access to it depending on the customer account.
So, even though Shopify Plus does support B2B ecommerce functions, it does this through 'add-on' apps in addition to the original version which add to the costs of using the platform. On the other hand, both Magento 1 and 2 offer greater customizability and support greater complexities of B2B ecommerce. This clearly makes Magento EE the better choice.
Platform Ecosystem and Support
Although knowing what the platform itself can do for you is important, it's also vital that you look into if it has well established ecosystem of third party providers and supporters. Choosing a platform that has this extended network goes a long way to ensure you're well looked after when things get rough.
The Magento ecommerce platform serves more than 200,000 merchants around the world, and those merchants are supported by a global community of solution partners, merchants, forum moderators and developers. There are enormous amounts of support, from online forums to 'meetup' groups for anyone affiliated with the platform. With this large of a community, you can almost be 100% sure you'll never be left in the dark.
The only concern that does cause some anxiety in the Magento community is the development of the Magento 2 platform. Though there are major (positive) changes in Magento 2, many feel the release was too drawn-out and that the new version is actually not a viable upgrade from previous Magento versions. If this is something that concerns you, you can read more about it here.
Shopify has a community of more than 150,000 merchants in over 150 countries (We're unsure of the breakdown between Shopify and Shopify Plus). This large community ensures that there are plenty of third party applications that are easy to download and run, which makes Shopify Plus an attractive option for developers as well as merchants. Having grown rapidly in market share since Shopify went public, Shopify Plus is definitely more cost effective than Magento EE, with the plethora of third party apps available in the ecosystem.
So, which platform should you choose?
Unfortunately, this isn't a black and white issue. Both Shopify Plus and Magento Enterprise offer great benefits to ecommerce business owners, so it truly comes down to what is best for your business.
If you've got the resources to invest in development of a highly sophisticated ecommerce platform, or if you deal in complex B2B ecommerce transactions, Magento Enterprise may be the way to go.
On the other hand, Shopify Plus may be the better option if you're looking to launch quickly, have an openness to utilizing third-party applications, and prefer a more user-friendly user interface.
Your decision depends on your company's unique circumstances and overall business goals, so if you do your research and put time and thought into your decision, you won't go wrong!