Why You Should Choose Shopify Over Open Source eCommerce Solutions
If you are an SME (Small, Medium Enterprises), then you should be looking at a cloud-based solution for your eCommerce project.
Why? Because you can get started quickly, with the minimum of fuss and keep the costs of development to a minimum.
Any one of Shopify, BigCommerce or Lemonstand will do the job of setting up an eCommerce website for you admirably. I've used Shopify as my headline maker because it is the most popular and widely used eCommerce cloud-based solution.
If you are the CEO or the decision maker for your company, then you won't go wrong with my recommendation. You can start immediately and never look back. No need to burn the candle deep into the night making endless comparisons of eCommerce features and benefits.
Click here for my quick cheat guide to cloud-based eCommerce website builders
That's it. That's all you need to know. Now get cracking and make something wonderful!
On the other hand, if you are the IT manager or a decision maker who has to report to the board and whose job could be on the line if this doesn't work out then you are going to need some facts, figures and a persuasive argument to back up your case.
I'm going to make that argument for you. By the time you've finished reading this article, you'll be able to confidently state the case for starting your next eCommerce project “in the cloud” and give good reasons for ditching “free” open source software like Magento.
Here are seven excellent reasons why you should build your next eCommerce website using Shopify:
We've all heard tales of the new Ferrari owner who drove out of the showroom and straight into the river right? Letting people loose with expensive equipment that they don't have the experience to use is guaranteed to end in a disaster like this. It's the same with software and just because you CAN open a hosting account today and install Magento doesn't mean that it's the best way forward for your company.
Because Magento is “Open Source” and therefore “free” people overlook the fact that it is complicated software.
There are three security issues or “layers” that you need to concern yourself with.
The first is the hosting layer. In this layer, we are looking at ways that an intruder can gain access to the server either by using brute force attack or a known exploit. The easy way to make sure that you don't fall victim to attack is to buy quality hosting. If you buy hosting on a shared server, then you have no control over what other users install in their space for their website. Hopefully, your hosting company has good control over this, or you could be a victim through no fault of your own.
VPS servers are more expensive but more secure, and already we are getting away from the notion of “free software”.
On your Magento installation, you need to make sure that you set the right file permissions and don't allow access where there should be none. The Magento installer will set things up for you, but occasionally things don't work as they should, and file permissions get changed. Setting incorrect file permissions is the easiest way for an intruder to gain access to your installation. Are you sure your developer knows what he/she is doing?
The second layer is the software layer. Magento is always being patched with new updates to resolve security issues, and it is important that you keep your site up to date with the latest version.
Out of date versions get hacked and sad people with more time on their hands than is good for them purposefully set out to find those old sites. That's true not just of Magento but all Open Source software. Don't leave yourself open to kiddie scripters looking for an easy target.
The third layer is the actual eCommerce payment gateway. All eCommerce installations need to be PCI compliant. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is the information security standard for businesses or organisations that handle credit and debit card information.
Shopify meets all six PCI standards and every new shop created is automatically compliant. You don't need to do anything to make your store comply with the regulations. Also, every Shopify store gets hosted on the Shopify cloud-based hosting network which has a dedicated team of professionals monitoring its performance. The software is updated automatically behind the scenes, and every store runs the latest version.
When you start building your site out of your back bedroom, then the minimal amount of traffic you get isn't a worry for your hosting company. But look out! Magento is a known resource hog and eats up CPU and memory resources for fun. If you start doing well and business is looking up, then your hosting costs can be a dead weight dragging your business down. You'll continually be paying more to keep your site speed respectable.
By contrast, all Shopify stores share the same cloud-based network, so performance issues are not a problem. Of course, you'll need to upgrade your plan as you grow but you'll need to do that whatever option you choose. Shopify's hosting technology is one of the best in the business, and you won't be left crawling along in the slow lane.
Magento is clunky and cumbersome to set up. There are so many options to be configured it can feel like you are spending endless days just getting the software ready to do something.
Shopify has a rapid user setup wizard, and its cloud-based control panel is straightforward and easy to use. Don't be fooled by the simplicity though because under the hood Shopify packs a punch. When a new feature gets added to Shopify, it gets added for all those using the platform and not just those that requested it. It means that custom development is not an easy undertaking, but my advice is that if you think you are going to be leaving the basic Shopify road map, then Lemonstand would be a better option for you.
Shopify has an inbuilt blogging platform you can use that is SEO friendly (Lemonstand has one of these as well). With Magento, you'll be bolting on Wordpress and introducing a whole new set of problems to be overcome. Why make all the hassle for yourself? The idea is to get selling your products not spend all day every day configuring software.
UX And User Design
This is a commonly overlooked advantage of an eCommerce platform that is centrally controlled and administered by a professional team. Making the software user-friendly is the goal of UX (user experience), and by tapping into a global network of eCommerce stores, you are getting the benefit of combined experience.
If you choose Magento, then you'll be left to your own devices to find out what your customers like or don't like about your site.
Third Party Integration
Shopify uses REST API for integration with third-party software providers which means that you can integrate with “best of breed” providers like Kashflow for example to manage your accounting functions.
Every new integration uses this API to “Talk to Shopify”, and this makes integration development very easy.
Cost Of Implementation
A typical Magento developer charges out at £50 per hour in the UK. That makes the regular patching and bug fixing an expensive business. Never mind the hours spent on setup and configuration the constant development means that an average Magento installation will set you back around £10,000.
That's a lot of money to sink into a software development program that might not make it's investment back for many months.
By contrast, the “Pro” plan from Shopify at $79 per month means you can run for several years without even coming close to that sort of outlay. Oh, I forgot to mention that you'll also need to pay around £80 per month for hosting costs to run a Magento site.
It does not make financial sense to invest in Magento when there are so many other alternatives that are continually improving. Secure hosting, scaleable hosting technology, fixed monthly costs and the benefit of knowing that you are using a tried, proven and tested solution in the user experience field.
Magento may once have been the only viable solution for new eCommerce stores, but that's not true today. Cloud-based solutions give you many benefits and a huge cost saving. Now go and impress your CEO.