Magento vs. Shopify: 2 Top E-Commerce Platforms Compared – The A2 Posting

A rack of shopping carts.

Figuring out the best platform to power your e-commerce store is an important decision. Whichever option you land on needs to include all of the features you need and be easy to work with. A couple of our favorites are Magento and Shopify – but even with just two choices, picking the right one can get tricky.

For example, Magento is well-known as a great option for large e-commerce retailers, whereas Shopify is famous for its ease of use. However, neither of them are perfect for everyone, so it pays to know what their features are before making a decision.

For this article, we’re going to introduce you to both platforms, talk about how easy it is to get started with them, and explain how much they cost. Then, we’ll talk about extending their functionality and help you choose the right one for you. Let’s jump in!

The Magento homepage.

Magento is powerful e-commerce platform that comes in both hosted and self-hosted versions. Both versions are well suited for stores of any size, and they pack in all of the features you need for an e-commerce platform. If you’re starting a new store, chances are you’ll want to go with Magento’s Community version, which you can set up on any web host you want (including A2 Hosting).

As far as features go, Magento doesn’t disappoint. It offers built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), extensions, order management tools (think wish lists and gift registries), and excellent scalability. Keep in mind though, that Magento is not particularly newbie-friendly. Even so, the platform does offer excellent documentation.

The Shopify homepage.

Shopify is one of the most popular hosted e-commerce platforms available. It’s easy to use, modern, and makes a fantastic option for people who don’t have much experience when it comes to e-commerce or building websites.

As a user, the main upside of using a platform such as Shopify is that you don’t need to look for separate hosting. You still have to pay a monthly fee to keep your store ‘open’, but it can take less time to set things up.

When it comes to features, Shopify offers you a drag-and-drop site builder, built-in payment processing, and automatic mobile optimization. You also get access to mobile apps that enable you to manage your store on the go, which is a huge plus. Getting acquainted with all these features is easy too, as Shopify provides you with an extensive collection of guides and video tutorials.

Comparing Both Platforms’ Ease of Use

We’ve already talked a bit about both platforms’ ease of use, but let’s take a minute to dig in deeper.

The Magento dashboard.

Despite having a reputation for being somewhat difficult to use, Magento’s dashboard is very sleek. Setting up the platform is also easy, depending on which web host you use. Most services will enable you to install it through your cPanel, or do it for you based on your plan. It’s a simple process that shouldn’t scare anyone off.

The Shopify dashboard.

For a platform that’s billed as being very user-friendly, Shopify’s dashboard can actually take some time to get used to. It offers as much data as Magento, and chances are you’ll also need to look through its documentation to get acquainted with how it all works. That being said, Shopify does get an edge when it comes to ease of use simply, because you don’t need to set the platform up to start working.

How to Extend Both Platforms’ Functionality

Both Magento and Shopify enable you to extend their functionality. The former does this through extensions, which are available from its Marketplace:

Magento's extension.

Despite its enterprise leanings, Magento offers an extensive collection of free extensions and premium ones. Best of all, the platform’s open-source roots mean you can modify any of them to your liking (if you know how to do it). This gives Magento an edge when it comes to customization potential.

Shopify's app store.

Shopify refers to its extensions as ‘apps’, but the system works very similarly. The key difference is you don’t need to download or upload any files to set them up. You just pick the app you want from its store, and the platform takes care of the rest. Keep in mind, though – you can’t tweak Shopify extensions. The process may be simpler, but it also limits your options a bit.

The Costs of Setting Up Magento and Shopify Stores

As you can imagine, costs vary wildly depending on what type of store you’re looking to set up. If it’s going to be large, theh costs are going to pile up fast – so let’s work with the assumption that you have more modest needs (at least for now).

When it comes to Magento, you don’t need to pay to download or install the platform, but you will need to look for hosting. Shared plans can be had for quite cheap, and if you’re not looking to set up any premium extensions, you can create an excellent store on a budget. What’s more, Magento is highly scalable, so you can just upgrade your plan whenever you feel it’s needed.

An example of shared hosting prices.

In contrast, Shopify plans start at $29 for the platform’s most basic features. This tier enables you to list as many products as you want, but you can only set up two staff accounts, and you don’t get access to in-depth reports. These are restrictions that Magento users don’t have to deal with.

Shopify's tiers.

In short, with Shopify you’re paying a premium for ease of use. If you can afford it and you want a platform that’s easy to pick up, it’s a good choice – but Magento can be a less expensive option with fewer limitations.

Which Platform Is Best For You

So far, we’ve covered all of the major points to help you make an informed decision, so let’s recap our findings quickly. Here are our suggestions based on what you’re looking for in an e-commerce platform:

  • Magento: If you want a platform offering full customization, with functionality that can be extended to your liking, this is a good option for you. The learning curve can be a bit tough, but there’s thorough documentation to help you out, and getting started isn’t too expensive.
  • Shopify: It’s clear that Shopify is the easier platform to use. However, this comes at a premium, since prices start at $29 per month for semi-limited features. If you don’t mind the price tag and the two-member limit on your staff, Shopify will be a good option.

Keep in mind that neither platform is perfect for every situation. If you have the opportunity to test them out for yourself before settling on one, go for it!


Magento and Shopify are both great options for setting up an online store. However, they also offer quite a different set of features. If you want to pick the right one for your needs, you’ll need to know what they provide.

Let’s take a moment to go over the main differences between the platforms once more:

  1. Magento: This is a robust and scalable platform that you can set up cheaply.
  2. Shopify: This managed option is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a hosted alternative.

Do you have any questions about which of these two platforms would make a better fit for you? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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4 Non-Blogging Niches WordPress Is Perfect For – The A2 Posting

A woman typing on a computer.

WordPress may have started out as a blogging platform, but nowadays it’s a lot more than that. In fact, this Content Management System (CMS) powers almost 30% of the entire web. If you think of WordPress as only for blogging, you’re missing out on a ton of its features.

In our opinion, the best thing about WordPress is how customizable it is. With the right plugins and themes, you can build nearly any type of website you want, including online stores, portfolios, business sites, and more. Once you see what WordPress is really capable of, you’ll probably be a user for life.

For this article, we’re going to talk about four non-blogging niches that are perfect for WordPress. We’ll tell you why the platform is a solid fit for each type of site, and show you some outstanding examples. Let’s take it from the top!

1. Online Stores

An example of an online store.
WordPress can help you create modern online stores.

WordPress has many strong points, but it’s not built for e-commerce out of the box. However, that doesn’t mean the platform can’t work for online stores. In fact, by using the right plugin, such as WooCommerce, you can quickly start selling digital and physical products over the web.

Let’s talk about why you should consider using WordPress over a dedicated e-commerce platform:

  • Ease of use. WordPress is renown for its ease of use, and its top e-commerce plugins can be picked up quickly as well.
  • It’s often cheaper than using a dedicated e-commerce platform. You can set up WordPress on any web host you want, and you’ll often find plans that start at less than $5 per month.
  • It’s a secure platform. WordPress is always under active development, and you can use plenty of tools to improve your store’s security even further.

Some people might think that e-commerce plugins are only a good fit for small sites. However, a lot of popular online services rely on them to make sales. For example, OptinMonster provides lead generation services to over 300,000 websites, and uses Easy Digital Downloads to power its subscriptions:

The OptinMonster homepage.

This example highlights the fact that WordPress isn’t just a blogging platform. With the right customizations, you can handle any type of online sales you want, and scale your business as much as possible.

2. Business Websites

An example of a business website.
Even massive businesses such as Toyota use WordPress now and then.

Every business needs a website. It provides you with an excellent way to reach new customers, build trust with existing ones, and even keep people updated about what’s going on in the industry. Plus, it’s an important tool when it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

What’s more, WordPress packs a lot of features that can help you create modern business websites. For example:

  • WordPress websites are easy to maintain. The way the platform is built makes it easy to handle complex tasks in minutes. For example, you can schedule backups and content from your dashboard.
  • It’s easy to find WordPress professionals. WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. That means it’s easy to find professional help if you run into a problem.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). WordPress makes it easy to stay on top of SEO tasks, thanks to plugins such as Yoast SEO. It simplifies the process of attracting brand-new visitors to your site, which can lead to more business.

One excellent example of a business that uses WordPress is The Walt Disney Company:

The Walt Disney Company homepage.

This is a straightforward website, which focuses mostly on news, information about the company, and career opportunities. However, the fact such a famous company uses WordPress effectively says a lot about the platform’s adaptability and potential.

3. Social Networks

An example of a social network.
WordPress social networks enable your users to create profiles, send messages, and much more.

When people think about social networks, they don’t often think about WordPress. To be fair, the platform doesn’t power any social media juggernauts like Facebook or Instagram. However, it can be the perfect solution for modest online communities, thanks to plugins such as BuddyPress.

You may not know this, but there are several services that enable you to create custom social networks. With that in mind, let’s talk about why WordPress is a worthy option:

  • It’s much cheaper than specialized social networking software. This type of software is very niche, so it comes at a premium (unlike WordPress, which can be set up for a few dollars in hosting).
  • You’re using open-source software. With WordPress, you can customize any aspect of your social network. Specialized software, on the other hand, tends to be a black box you can’t tamper with.

As we mentioned earlier, WordPress makes an excellent fit for small online communities (think a few hundred users). Take Little Sketchers, for example:

The Little Sketchers homepage.

This social network was built using BuddyPress, and it looks fantastic. With plugins like this one, you can enable users to create profiles, publish updates, and more, which is all you need for a basic social network.

4. Portfolio Websites

An example of a portfolio website.
WordPress is an excellent platform for creating professional portfolios.

So far, we’ve talked about online stores, business sites, and social networks. Now, let’s focus on something a little less complicated – portfolios. This type of site might not be as technically advanced as an online store, but a professional-looking portfolio is crucial if you’re a freelancer or simply exploring career options.

Let’s go over a few reasons why it makes sense to power your portfolio using WordPress:

  • It enables you to create any type of gallery you want. There are dozens of gallery plugins that offer just about any style you’re looking for, to display your work in all its glory.
  • You can add contact forms to your website. Just as with galleries, you can have your pick of contact form plugins. This feature is useful for engaging prospective clients.
  • It supports client testimonials. This is an essential element to build trust with your clients, and there are several tools that make adding them simple.

Portfolio sites can be very subjective. However, we’re a fan of designs that mix style with outstanding functionality, such as DaInk:

The DaInk homepage.

This gorgeous portfolio site isn’t all style. It has a very clear navigational scheme, and it includes all the information clients need, including past projects, contact forms, and more. These are all things you can do easily with WordPress.


If you’re not sure which platform to use for your next project, you should consider WordPress. It’s easy to pick up, versatile and customizable, and can do a lot more than just power simple blogs. All you have to do is find the right plugins and theme for the job you have in mind, and you’ll be able to design nearly any kind of website.

For example, these four non-blogging niches do a great job of showcasing how versatile WordPress can be, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg:

  1. Online stores: WordPress offers dozens of easy-to-use e-commerce plugins.
  2. Business websites: With WordPress, you can build scalable and secure business websites.
  3. Social networks: WordPress is an excellent option for small online communities on a budget.
  4. Portfolio websites: The platform offers dozens of features that make building online portfolios easier.

Have you ever used WordPress for a website that wasn’t a blog? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.

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