CMS for eCommerce: Magento, PrestaShop, and Shopify

In this series of posts I will examine and compare different eCommerce CMSs. The three CMSs that are possibly most popular right now are Magento, PrestaShop, and Shopify.

These are three solutions which I know well and have worked with, and even though I may leave other promising systems out (I’m thinking of OpenCart), these three are, in my view, the three main platforms at this time.

In this post I will give a general overview, continue with an individual examination of each solution, and finally give my conclusions in my last post.

I have used Google Trends to provide a historical introduction to the birth and evolution of these three CMSs. I have opted to compare these three solutions with the previous reference in eCommerce CMS: osCommerce. This is simply a measurement of interest, based on the number of Google searches for these terms.

Magento started to take off in mid-2007, while PrestaShop did so one year later, and interest in Shopify wasn’t significant until 2011. The growth of Magento seems to have become stagnant since 2011, possibly due to the appearance of other solutions by other companies. Even though the level of interest in Shopify is still lower than the other two solutions, its growth curve is very promising.

Even though Magento and PrestaShop use a similar model in which customers install their solution in their hosting, Shopify opts for a SaaS model that includes hosting. It should be pointed out that both Magento and Shopify have created SaaS solutions, although so far they don’t seem to be very popular.

As regards the technology used, both Magento and PrestaShop use PHP and MySQL. In the case of Shopify, even though it’s implemented using Ruby on Rails, this is not relevant to its SaaS model. All platforms use an API that makes it possible to automate store processes, and even though this may not seem relevant for store users, it allows for greater flexibility when it comes to creating extensions.

As we have said before, one of the factors when it comes to choosing a system of this type is the existence of extensions created by the CMS creators or else by the community that surrounds them. In this sense, there are extension marketplaces for all three systems where you can find modules that cover practically any need and which are not given in the standard version.

The last comparison that I will give in this post is pricing, as it does not depend on previously explaining how each of the three CMSs works separately.

PrestaShop

The system is free open-source (AFL 3.0 license). Therefore, you can download, install, and configure the system in your server for free. However, PrestaShop offers an initial installation and configuration plan plus support and customer services at different levels and prices:

  • Initial pack €1,995
  • Essential support €399
  • Premium support €699
  • Deluxe support €1,399

Magento

Magento comes in two versions: Community and Enterprise. The Community version open-source (OSL 3.0 license). Like PrestaShop, you can install the Community version for free. The Enterprise version includes various exclusive improvements and its price depends on the support level chosen:

  • Magento Enterprise: from $15,550
  • Magento Enterprise Premium: from $77,990

Shopify

Given that this is a SaaS service, you cannot install Shopify in your server. However, Shopify prices include hosting. Prices vary depending on the functionalities and the volume required by the online store, and the most affordable prices include a percentage of sales.

  • Basic $29 + 2% sales
  • Professional $79 + 1% sales
  • Unlimited $179