We’ll take a new perspective to answer this question, which assumes that you will be looking to either expand your physical brick and mortar presence with a nice new online site, or you will plan to create a physical brick and mortar presence with an online site as well.
Now that our assumptions are set lets take a look at this question from a pure ROI point of view, since at the end of the day this is what we are looking to achieve when selling online or offline. In this calculation we will look at the benefits of Magento vs. Shopify from a technical challenge, design and customization, marketing effectiveness, inventory channel capability, ease of inventory management, apps and integrations, in store usefulness, and overall time needed to manage for results.
Technical Challenge- After working with a lot of retailers, certainly one of the biggest concerns with a website is the technical know-how required to operate it. Most smaller retailers, and even mid size retailers don’t have a full time technical developer to create/manage the site. How do Magento and Shopify compare here?
Design Friendliness- This category of comparison is primarily concerned with overall ability to match the theme with your business brand, and has less of a direct effect on ROI.
Marketing/SEO Effectiveness- This crucial component must take into account both the factors which come within the software itself, as well as the ability for the marketer to actually use and adjust the content of the site to better reflect updated SEO and marketing practices. Again here, we need maximum ROI from the marketing efforts of the software and operator.
Inventory Channel Capability — Getting your inventory across multiple channels, and into every necessary channel is a big factor in today’s modern retail environment. When selling online, especially if you are starting out now you should go with a platform that will, with one inventory database, allow you to sell online, in stores, through marketplaces, and on major platforms.
Inventory Management- Each platform does things a slight bit different, but each will get you where you want to be. For adding and maintaining inventory, both options offer importing of inventory, and simple categorizing, sub categorizing, variations, and pricing differences. One of the major things we think needs to be improved is the integration of existing inventory systems with systems that go across any system via REST API. Yes, this is a bit of a technical, option, but it is still far easier, and more effective than replacing everything to achieve results. This is why we made Orkiv Inventory as simple and easy to use as possible, being able to incorporate inventory from any channel, and deliver across any channel with ease.
Apps and Integrations- No need to expand too much on what has already been said about this topic. Magento being the “Android” type has by far the most number of applications and extensions available to users. Shopify is a restricted, but still widely used app store, and offers many of the same or similar style extensions that Magento does, without as much customization within the implementation.
1) Payment gateways extensions
2) Marketing extensions
In Store Usefulness- While both platforms do offer integrations with Point of Sale providers and card swipers. They have differences in the way you are able to use them for in store purchases.
Time Investment Required- its certainly something to pay attention to. While eCommerce could be a big part of your business, you still want to be sure the use of the platform isn’t zapping more of your time than it should.
Bottom Line- While each of these platforms offer some things the other doesn’t it really depends on where you are now, where you intend to be, and how you want to get there. If you’ve got someone technical, and/or will hire this position, Magento may be more your speed. If you’re smaller and want something to plug and play with, Shopify is probably a better fit for you. From a brick and mortar perspective, you need to consider growth as well, if it’s in the cards, strive for a more customize-able, multi location platform like Magento. The ROI will be bigger here and you will be able to leverage more complex features to increase shopper frequency and average order value. If you want to attract new local customers to your stores, go ahead and grab Proximo, which will provide actionable coupons to customers within the local area of their stores, providing distance, and navigation directly from your site.
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