June 29, 2022 Read 11 Min

Shopify vs Magento vs Custom Web Development: Which E-commerce Platform Should Your Business Migrate To?

Has your business outgrown your website’s capabilities? If so, it may be time to migrate to a better E-commerce platform. Check out this article to discover some of the biggest E-commerce solutions.

Laptop, lamp, shopping cart and bag, coffee and present box, stack of coins, credit cards 3d rendering. Online shopping and delivery concept.

The digital market is constantly charging through continuous innovation, and eCommerce platform migration is being forced upon eCommerce business owners. 

To gain a bigger stretch of success, companies will have to identify issues that may be jeopardizing their online business, at the same time discover and adapt to the quick pace of technological advancements or risk being obsolete. Although the process of migrating one’s eCommerce business can be daunting, the pros outweigh the cons as it can help mitigate costs and risks to ensuring your businesses remain competitive.

Still on the fence about which platform to migrate to? We’ve got you covered. We pit Shopify vs Magento, two eCommerce giants, against one another in terms of pricing, features, capabilities and more. We will also highlight a third option – custom web development to further address your doubts. This article will assist you in determining which choice is best for your company.

Identify your need for eCommerce migration

It is critical to first recognise the needs and issues that are pushing your eCommerce business for an upgrade. Here are some common issues you may be facing:  

  • Slow page loading speed. Keep in mind that a page’s loading speed can directly impact bounce rate. Research has shown that the average bounce rate for pages loading within 2 seconds is 9%, and it surges to 38% immediately after loading between 3-5 seconds. 
  • Insufficient integration in your current system. Eyeing for some special features such as an AI chatbot that could further benefit your business? Then it is a sign to urge for a new solution. 
  • Poor architectural scalability. With the rise of online shopping, customer expectations have grown from wanting basic features to needing a site with the ability to load thousands of orders per minute with no down-time.
  • Lack of mobile friendliness. The convenience of mobile shopping has changed consumer shopping habits and has shown its potential to become the next major shopping channel. Now more than ever, businesses should invest in mobile-friendly UI/UX designs to retain their customers.
  • Poor CMS function. Having the right CMS platform can directly impact and boost your SEO rankings. Factors such as crawlability, indexability, customizability and more are critical in determining your site’s SEO functionality and performance.

A brief overview of Shopify and Magento

What is Shopify?

So you don’t have any web developing certification? Fret not. Shopify is a fully-hosted, all-in-one commercial product that enables business owners of all sizes to design and construct professional online stores without requiring extensive technological know-how. Shopify has a reputation for user-friendliness, and provides a menu-driven mechanism for changing basic shop elements like fonts, colors, images etc. 

Here’s the intriguing part, because it is a subscription-based service, it saves you the hassle of piecing together various web development elements such as a domain name, third-party hosting, outsourced theme and more. Your Shopify subscription pack includes all the necessary tools you will need to operate your online stores. 

What is Magento ?

With nearly 200,000 websites registered under Magento, it is easily one of the biggest most popular eCommerce platforms around the world. The platform is carried by an open-source technology, encouraging freedom in controlling and managing their online stores’ overall look, functionality and content, as well as having flexibility in the shopping cart system.

After its release, Magento quickly met its roaring success and continued to prosper in the e-commerce world because it is incredibly customisable. The platform includes multiple built-in tools and offers plenty of prominent plug-ins, themes and extensions for its clients of all sizes, allowing them to have complete flexibility over the functionality of their websites. 

In short, whatever you can imagine, it’s probably possible in Magento. 

Wondering how Magento (Adobe commerce) is where it is today? Two years after its release, the gigantic company eBay made an investment deal to give 49% of its ownership to Magento. The company then acquired Magento in the following year. At the same time, as eBay also owned PayPal, eBay began to tightly integrate PayPal into the platform. However in 2015, Magento became a separate corporation once again when eBay and Paypal parted. 

This continued until Adobe eventually acquired Magento for $1.68 billion in 2018.

Advantages of Migrating to Shopify

a. Ease of use and Fast loading speed

The general consensus is that Shopify has a more user-friendly interface. Its wizard mode and drag-and-drop tools allow users with no web development experiences to effortlessly change the essential elements of their website with ease. Because it is fully-hosted, you will only have to provide your business’s products and information to set up the shop and customize it to your liking.

Besides that, Shopify takes care of your entire server’s security and software updates and the costs are all included in your subscription pack, saving you the time to gather different website elements, to pay separately, and potentially facing cyberattacks and lengthy system maintenance.

That being said, the platform also caters to professional developers as it comes with full access to CSS, HTML and Liquid (Shopify’s templating language). 

Shopify is also acclaimed for its page loading speed. Instead of solely relying on manual work like compressing your images, choosing lightweight themes, reducing extensions, Shopify contributes effort in increasing the speed with you. The platform’s success in this originates from leveraging a quicker global network and content delivery network (CDN), along with the effort of converting all images to Webp automatically. Note that Webp is typically 30% smaller than JPEG, while maintaining a similar quality, reducing the site’s loading speed.

b.Themes and Mobile-friendliness

Shopify offers a wide range of amazing and fully customizable themes to choose from, and they are relatively easy to assemble. There are tons of sleek themes that are tailored to different industries and are free to help you get started, while the rest require payment.

With the rise of mobile usage for making transactions everywhere, many platforms including Shopify have introduced mobile-friendly user interface (UI) or responsive themes to their platforms, ensuring that their themes are able to fit into various screen sizes to cater to different users and stay competitive in the SEO rankings.

c. Payment Processors and SEO

There have been numerous instances where customers are faced with scammers or unsafe checkout processes, and this experience can easily tarnish one’s business reputation. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all transactions are done safely and avoid back checkout experiences for your customers. 

Shopify not only provides the common payment processors such as online banking, debit and credit card payment, they also have at least a 100 other integrated options, including its very own payment gateway called Shopify Payments. Upon using this option, you will be able to eliminate transaction fees that you would otherwise need to pay with other payment processors. On top of that, you can also easily activate SSL, the “HTTPS” protocol recognised security system, to your Shopify site to contribute to your site’s authority and trustworthiness. 

Furthermore, if you are an avid sales person for your business, then ensuring the ease of organic search for your online stores via Google is very critical. Research has shown that almost 88% of shoppers search for their desired items online, and more than 70% don’t scroll through anything beyond the first page of results.

In this case, Shopify offers tons of SEO-additions and marketing tools to assist you in achieving a greater site performance. The tools allow you to discount coupons, link your products to other social media networks, and generate SEO-friendly keywords. Let’s take a look at some of Shopify’s glorified SEO features : 

  • XML sitemap. This tool gives the search engines a better insight to the structure of your digital stores, allowing the search engine bots to have an easier time crawling and indexing your site. The XML sitemap will be automatically generated for your site, and all you have to do at this point onward is to verify your domain and submit your sitemap to Google Search Console. 
  • 301 redirect. When your site’s URL has achieved a good ranking on the search engines, it is important not to make any changes to your link as the name will be removed from the ranking list. However, if you have broken links that pose potential harm to your business, you need to redirect them to new URLs with more attractive content. Here’s where Shopify excels in providing a super simple redirect tool for you to use. 
  • Robots.txt file. This tool instructs search engines on which pages they should crawl and which they should ignore. To achieve high search engine rankings, you must ensure that each indexed link is resourceful and unique, and if they are not, then search engines will not recognise the need to crawl. The Robots.txt file is automatically generated by Shopify, so that novice users will not have to worry about it. You can check it out at domain.com/robots.txt
  • Other SEO plugins: 
    • Image optimization
    • Fixing broken links 
    • Copywriting SEO-friendly blogs
    • Meta tags checker
    • Creating HTML sitemaps 
    • Writing image alt tag 
    • Control your indexing 
    • Keyword checker

Migrating to Shopify : Problems to expect

While it may be great to have a platform to automatically generate all the necessary tools you need, there are some downsides including the lack of customization in Shopify. Let’s skim through some of the disadvantages to the platform: 

  • Can’t edit the sitemap. 
  • Limitations in customization. Keep in mind that Shopify uses proprietary coding, meaning the themes that they offer aren’t very tweakable. 
  • Limited blog post feature. Blog posts are the core attraction to generating organic traffic, in fact, the majority of SERPs are blog posts. Shopify fails to provide useful blogging features such as gallery uploading, share buttons to social media, comment sections, map and CTA button insertion and no-follow tags for outbound links. 
  • International SEO limitation. Shopify only recently invested efforts into international SEO, adding simple features for international subdomain, ccTLDS along with various XML sitemaps and JSON.file support systems. Despite having all these, Shopify is far from having global SEO as their strong suit. On top of that, Shopify is very reliant on 3rd party integrations for not only SEO, but other advanced functionality as well. 
  • Price and fees. Although the platform offers free themes, Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SAAS) and ultimately not free to use. You are only entitled to a 14 days free trial, and then the costs go by monthly subscriptions, payment for themes and transaction fees if you are not using Shopify Payments on your store. You can choose between 3 subscription plans and the higher the opted plan, the lower the transaction fee percentage. For example, you will have to pay 2% in Basic Shopify, 1% in Shopify, and 0.5% in Advanced Shopify.

Advantages of migrating to Magento

a. Improved performance

After the departure of Magento 1, Magento 2 took the stand with a better overall performance while offering the following features: 

  • Php 7 support 
  • Use of varnish caching 
  • Reduced unnecessary browser operations on the client’s side with minimized and bundled Javascript.  
  • Built-in tools for image compression 
  • Improved browser caching for static contents

b. User-friendly checkout and mobile-friendliness

Compared to the old system, Magento 2 offers a checkout process that is now 38% faster, and has the ability to handle a larger number of orders at a time. Research has shown that more than 20% of shoppers tend to leave if they’ve encountered complicated checkout processes, and to avoid this possibility, Magento 2 now allows its users to opt for a less time-consuming guest checkout or to simply create an account from the checkout page. 

Magento 2 offers numerous responsive templates that are adaptable and optimized for different screen sizes, similar to that of Shopify, ensuring that the platform’s CMS is touch-friendly and mobile-friendly. According to Insider Intelligence, by 2024, mobile eCommerce or mCommerce sales are expected to account for 42.9% of eCommerce. This alarming factor should be taken into consideration as the use of mobile devices is evidently increasing each year. 

c. Customization and payment processors

As we all know, having an open-source software means you are allowed to have all the freedom in the virtually limitless customization for your platform. If a certain feature isn’t available natively, there’s a strong chance a 3rd party developer may have already written the extension and is ready to be installed, and if the functionality is nowhere to be found in any existing extension, then you are encouraged to create your own extension or tweak the existing functionalities to your liking. 

Magento 2 now comes with more than 150 payment gateways. Other than the common default methods, the platform has also introduced a variety of integrated secure payment processors such as Paypal, Braintree, Authorize.Net and other global payment. Additionally, Magento charges no transaction fees and no extensions are required to integrate these gateways.

d. Improved admin interface and SEO

Magento’s new admin interface is intended to make online store maintenance easier. It’s far more user-friendly, simple to understand for new users and less time-consuming with a quicker product import capability. 

Admins can now personalize the admin panel so that essential company information is easily accessible. This makes each admin panel distinctive, resulting in increased productivity when handling orders and customer information. Over and above that, the convenient drag-and-drop tool is now available in Magento 2’s admin interface. This means that altering the appearance of your online store will not require substantial coding knowledge and effort. 

On the other note, having responsive web designs create possibilities in delivering an overall better experience in mobile and desktop shopping, making it necessary to integrate them. With the roaring success of mCommerce, Google has also been active in evaluating the responsiveness of your stores when it comes to search engine rankings.

Magento 2 includes a comprehensive set of SEO modification options, including index management, which allows you to choose which links are sent to Google. There are multiple discoverability methods available, prefixes and suffixes, as well as canonical tags and other significant SEO features including: 

  • Meta tags for products and categories pages 
  • Meta tags for Home page 
  • SEO-friendly URLs for products and categories 
  • Image optimization 
  • HTML and XML sitemaps
  • Robots.txt and meta robots 
  • Rich snippets 
  • Google analytics and Google AdWords integrations 
  • Better layered navigation optimization

These capabilities, when combined with SEO best practices, helps you achieve higher ranking in the SERPs from the day you launch your online store. There will be no requirement for additional extensions or modules because Magento’s built-in SEO tools will sufficiently boost your store’s ranking.

Migrating to Magento : Problems to expect

Moving your entire store to a platform like Magento is far from being quick and easy. There are bound to be some risks and issues that need to be addressed prior to the migration, and here are some of those issues that you may face: 

  • Themes from Magento 1 aren’t portable. Yes, if you’re migrating from Magento 1 to 2, then all of your storefront customization will have to be redone as it is impossible to take your current themes with you. Additionally, some of your extensions from magento 1 will disappear. Extensions from M1 and M2 differ, thus you will need to seek for new ones. However, this process can be made smoother due to the support of Magento 2’s HTML5, LESS, and CSS3.
  • High price. Migrating to Magento 2 can cost you a fortune, because you’ll need a decent budget to pay for developers to help with the complex migrating process, making new adjustments, adding extensions and themes etc. While Community Edition is free, just the license for Enterprise Edition has surged from $18,000 to &22,000 per year.
  • Steep learning curve. You may have already guessed it, but Magento’s system is large and complex, unsuited for people with no web development knowledge. Since Magento is not a hosted solution, getting your own hosting and setting up your store can be a confusing or inconvenient task for most users to endure. 
  • Requires powerful hosting. Because the eCommerce platform is rather large and complex, Magento specifies its hosting needs for merchants to only use VPS (Virtual Private Server), cloud, or any dedicated hosting. You’ll also need to handle domain registration, SLL security certifications, and hosting plans. This can be a hassle for novice merchants that lack technological competence or an eCommerce team.

Custom Website Development

Still undecided after reading through the previous points? Worry not. We present to you a third option – Custom web development.

Instead of having to manually tweak a pre-built template, you only have to communicate your special requirements to the web developer, and then sit and watch the magic happen. This saves you the time to search for designs and themes to fit your company’s aesthetics, as well as conducting in-depth research on the many eCommerce platforms available.

Custom solution pricing

Pricing for bespoke web development is highly determined by elements such as your business needs and goals, hosting, additional extensions and integrations, features and functionalities, and upkeep, among others. Here, you have to start by consulting the web developer or respective agency that is responsible for delivering your website solution, and tell them all the necessary information. They will then provide you with a detailed plan to guarantee that all of your needs are satisfied.

Custom solution possibilities

Seeing some features or functionalities you like in Shopify or Magento but still wanting more? Having the right custom web developer can serve you just the same, if not more. Instead of digging through different packages and comparing their capacities, you can communicate directly with your custom web developer exactly what you need and they will get it done, some may even give good suggestions.

Besides that, custom eCommerce development is a good alternative because optimizing a website developed from the ground up is less time consuming. The website code will be created from scratch, allowing developers to optimize it for search engines and help increase its rank in SERPs.

When and How to Migrate

Website migration, also known as website re-platforming is a time-consuming procedure that necessitates some significant thought and planning, usually months in advance.

Here are some important steps that shouldn’t be ignored: opting a migration checklist, audit and backup existing data, import and verify your data and test the new platform before launching to ensure that there are no missing steps to contribute to the failure of the migration process. 

If you don’t want to face manual work, then keep your options open and look out for a custom web developer. Snappymob is more than just your website-migrating developer, we are your dedicated partner; you focus on your brand, we bring the tech to life.

Shopify vs Magento vs Custom solutions – which one is best for your store?

With all that being said, how systems like Shopify and Magento (Adobe Commerce) or even custom solutions can benefit your business will depends on your online goals.

If you are managing a large business with unlimited budget, have the expertise or personnel to run a website, and want to integrate various features and extensions to the platform, then Magento is a good choice for you. On the contrary, if you are a smaller-scaled business wanting to gain more awareness online, and are fairly new to the eCommerce world and website creation, Shopify is the better option. 

If none of the above are are your cup of tea, allow us to help! Because it is designed specifically for you, a bespoke website will definitely stand out from the crowd.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team of experts and discover how we can help your business prosper!

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