Written by Debra Weinryb, Content Strategist at diff agency
On June 1, 2020, all versions of Magento 1 will cease to be supported. This change leaves many sites vulnerable unless they’ve defined an upgrade or migration plan.
With timely pressure, tens of thousands of Magento 1 online retailers are facing a difficult decision. Replatform to Magento 2, or migrate to a new platform altogether?
While Magento’s greatest strength at one point was their ecosystem, the introduction of Magento 2 has significantly altered the landscape. Deep changes to architecture and technical competencies have made it difficult for the community to keep up. This leaves expertise, support and implementation lacking.
This is exactly why Magento customers are considering switching to Shopify Plus. Shopify’s growth over the past year has matched the growth of the Shopify ecosystem. The ecosystem is made up of Shopify experts, developers and learning resources. These have all supported Shopify in reaching over 1,000,000 customers.
To support the exponential growth of their merchant base, the Shopify Plus Partner program was created. It carefully vets a diverse range of agencies, solutions and technical providers to drive innovation in retail around the globe.
The trade-offs between platforms couldn’t be more stark. Magento retailers are looking for more manageable ways to scale their business and delight their customers. Shopify offers ecommerce flexibility with a software as a service (SaaS) platform.
Merchants on Shopify don’t ever need to worry about server side issues or security upgrades. The Shopify Plus ecosystem supports retailers on infrastructure and development tasks. This allows merchants to refocus their time and resources on more important goals to grow their businesses. Such goals include customer engagement, social influence, content creation, and data-driven marketing.
What is the Shopify ecosystem?
The Shopify ecosystem includes thousands of passionate developers, designers, and doers. They are focused on helping entrepreneurs design, launch and manage their online stores. From user friendly themes to helpful apps, the Shopify ecosystem compliments Shopify’s services.
Partners offer expertise and tools to merchants who want to add functionality to their ecommerce websites. They help retailers push the boundaries of what’s possible with Shopify. The Shopify ecosystem is divided into three categories, which include:
- Solution partners are designers and developers that specialize in Shopify Plus themes, third-party app integrations, and custom commerce technologies.
- Technology partners create ecommerce tools and integrations. These provide added value to Shopify Plus merchants and work seamlessly to grow their brands.
- Agency partners offer marketing, creative and development business support. Full-services often include strategic planning, development, and innovations.
Shopify’s app store has a library of over 1,500 professionally built apps and services. Since every business is unique, apps are categorized so that merchants can easily find the solution that’s right for them.
Categories include store design, marketing, sales and conversions, inventory management, and customer support. Shopify’s third-party apps are available on Shopify’s app store to help all merchants streamline their enterprise business needs.
How does Magento compare?
In the Magento Marketplace, you’ll find “extensions” for applications and services to add custom functionality to your online store. However, these features are rarely implemented easily on their own. Magento commerce requires a deeper level of technological knowledge. You’ll need to tweak code to get your site looking the way you want it to.
Extensions can also conflict with customizations. This can create higher overheads to ensure development work fixes all stumbling blocks and ensures stability. You’ll also need to invest QA resources for each deployment, adding extra time and resources to your ecommerce project.
According to Shopify, merchants can expect to migrate to Shopify Plus within 3 – 4 months. Whereas upgrading with more traditional software platforms can take 8 – 12 months. Merchants can start selling in just 90 days because of its wide selection of customization and turn-key apps. Shopify Plus also promises continued support so merchants never have to worry about replatforming again.
Shopify ecosystem in numbers
Entrepreneurs of all sizes rely on Shopify and the ecosystem network to grow and support them. New features and announcements made last year at Shopify Unite show that Shopify is making commerce better for everyone. Here are a few key metrics from “The Opportunity Ahead” keynote by Harley Finklestein, Shopify’s COO, at Shopify Unite 2019:
- If you combine all of Shopify’s US merchants and their sales, Shopify is actually the third largest retailer in the United States.
- 25.8 million apps were installed from the Shopify app store in 2019. And 80% of merchants use the apps they have installed to run the day to day operations of their businesses.
- More than 200,000 merchants who build stores were referred to Shopify by the partner network. Those merchants have sold 73 million products, with $64 billion gross merchandise volume from partner referred merchants.
- Merchants have purchased over 350,000 paid themes developed by the Shopify partner network.
These numbers show the strength of the Shopify ecosystem. They also point to why so many Magento merchants are now considering replatforming to Shopify Plus. Customizations help to drive the success of the world’s biggest brands, including Gymshark, Bombas, Nestle and Budweiser. While Shopify provides the ecommerce platform, the Shopify partner community fuels merchant success by providing brands with a competitive edge.
Scaling on Shopify
The Shopify ecosystem includes thousands of passionate web designers and developers. They help merchants in over 175 countries develop an understanding of international commerce. Shopify merchants can be found across the globe, from France to Singapore.
An example of a Shopify partner agency making an impact is Tricelo. Co-owners Renata and Juan started an ecommerce university that teaches people how to sell online. Their courses have helped drive the development of Mexico’s ecommerce industry. Tricelo exemplifies how the partner ecosystem acts as a driving force for helping scale online commerce in new markets.
The Shopify ecosystem also provides helpful resources that support scaling. These include apps, themes, services, help documents, blog posts, video tutorials and podcasts. The Shopify Academy offers free training to help Shopify merchants build and grow a profitable business. There are courses on email marketing, online advertising, product photography, and more.
While Magento 2.0 was designed with scaling in mind, scaling also comes at a cost. Magento is an open source platform, which means it’s available in the public domain. This also means that hosting and managed services are not included in Magento’s licensing. Merchants using Magento must pay for a domain, SSL certificate and payment processing gateways.
Magento also requires installation, setup and configuration to accommodate high-peak traffic. The platform’s focus on maintenance can distract merchants from working on their main business goals. These include business development, marketing, customer service, and growth.
Many retailers are choosing Shopify Plus as their commerce platform to accommodate their need to scale. Shopify Plus helps merchants handle flash sales, like Black Friday, with ease. Shopify Plus is a fully hosted SaaS solution and it’s built to handle any level of volume. Merchants who want to focus on scaling globally can benefit with Shopify’s infrastructure that supports over 1,000,000 Shopify merchants.
Magento to Shopify Plus success stories
Diff has been a Shopify Plus partner for over 10 years. All of our experts are Shopify certified, and have exceptional experience in working with Shopify modules, themes, plugins and apps. We regularly contribute custom themes and apps to the Shopify app store through our sister company, Modd. We are also proudly committed to supporting the Shopify Community with Diff University free training courses on Shopify.
With our knowledge of the Shopify platform, diff aims to help merchants boost their ecommerce capabilities and drive their business growth. Here are two of diff’s notable success stories:
Urban Planet, operated by YM Inc., is a fast-growing fashion brand dedicated to delivering on-brand apparel at affordable prices. Urban Planet switched from Magento to Shopify Plus because they wanted a customizable front end. They also wanted to stop the painful Magento maintenance efforts and costs.
Diff masterfully migrated YM Inc.’s brands including Urban Planet, Stitches, Sirens and Urban Kids to Shopify Plus. The result was an award winning customer experience that continues to outperform its predecessor month over month. Read more on the Shopify Plus blog.
Bestseller is an international and family-owned company with over 20 fashion clothing and accessory brands. Their brands include JACK & JONES, VERO MODA, and ONLY & SONS. BestSeller asked diff to migrate their North American site from Magento to Shopify Plus. They wanted to reduce hosting costs, enable real-time inventory updates and rectify oversell issues.
Diff created a custom theme for BestSeller’s house of brands and a responsive design to boost mobile sales. As a result, BestSeller’s mobile traffic, conversions and inventory shipping capacity has doubled.
Let’s grow together on Shopify Plus
The Shopify ecosystem challenges the boundaries of ecommerce with innovative solutions, platform expertise, and support for business owners. It is self-sustaining and constantly growing on a global scale. The Shopify ecosystem empowers merchants to have the best tools available to them.
They are equipped to help merchants increase recurring revenue, acquire more customers, and maximize their customer lifetime value (CLV). This allows retailers to refocus their work away from operational and development tasks. They can focus on more important matters like sales promotions, customer engagement, social influence and growth marketing.
If you have any questions about migrating your Magento store to Shopify Plus, reach out to our team at diff. Together, we can achieve ecommerce growth without limits – or expiry dates – on Shopify Plus.
This article originally appeared in the Diff Agency blog and has been published here with permission.