Choosing a CMS and E-commerce Combination

A guide to Craft, WordPress, Magento, and Shopify

Rich, creative content is an increasingly important part of online marketing strategies. As inbound-marketing giant Hubspot notes:

“Big brands realize they need so much more than a picture and description to sell products. They’re all about selling a lifestyle, and that means bigger, better content is needed to engage consumers.”

Unfortunately, the two most prominent e-commerce platforms — Magento and Shopify — have limited capabilities for creating content. So what should savvy brands do if they want both a powerful e-commerce solution and a feature-rich content management system?

Which E-Commerce Platform Should You Use?

Here's a quick comparison of Craft Commerce, Magento, and Shopify to get started. Afterwards, we'll review CMS + e-commerce setups in more detail.

Craft CommerceShopifyPlusMagento CommunityMagento Enterprise
Cost$999 / one-time fee + Hosting + PCI Compliance$995 per month + ExtensionsFree + Hosting + PCI Compliance + Extensions Starts at $18,000 per year + Hosting + PCI Compliance + Extensions
Developer recommendedDeveloper neededDeveloper needed
ManageNo supportDedicated 24/7 live supportNo support24/7 support
HostClient must purchase and maintain hosting, SSL certificate, and PCI complianceShopifyPlus fully hosts your site and provides Certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliance, free SSL certificate, and two-factor authenticationClient must purchase and maintain hosting, SSL certificate, and PCI complianceClient must purchase and maintain hosting, SSL certificate, and PCI compliance
FeaturesFully integrated CMS and Ecommerce, Powerful content marketing capabilities, Live preview, Endless upsell, cross-sell potential, Puts you in control of everythingCustomer tags, Blog, Additional sales channels such as Shopify Buy Buttons, Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter, Over 70+ payment gateways, Built-in integration with fulfillment vendors Amazon, Shipwire and RakutenMultiple stores within one admin backend, Google shopping available, Credit card info can be saved on file, Send wishlist via email, Hundreds of extensions available (free + paid)Community features +
Gift registry, Private sales, Loyalty rewards, Wishlists, Customer-initiated returns, Hundreds of extensions available (free + paid)
Deal breaker?New this year so the extensions (plugins) available are limited, Client must manage hosting and PCI complianceLimited CMS functionality makes customized content pages difficult, Credit cards can not be saved on file (sometimes deal breaker for subscription payments), Client must host site with ShopifyLimited payment gateways without extension purchase, Extension required for any fulfillment integration, Dynamically generated URLs not SEO-friendly and extension required to update, You may need to purchase a lot of extensions to get the features you need
Same as Magento Community

Your specific needs, priorities, and budget will ultimately inform your decision. But generally, if you already use Magento Community/Enterprise or ShopifyPlus, Craft is a great choice, and WordPress also integrates well. If you don't already use (or can move away from) Magento or Shopify, we recommend considering Craft and its Craft Commerce platform.

Here's a look at those CMS + e-commerce approaches.

Craft + Magento or Shopify

Magento and Shopify focus on e-commerce features such as product variances, pricing and shipping models, tax rules, return management, and security. Both list CMS capabilities, but neither offers intuitive or easy ways to build and manage the large amounts of rich and engaging content that many brands want to create.

For example, Shopify lets you create product pages, a one-off page (think legal policy), and a blog page. The blog and page templates only offer a title and a text editor — that’s all, folks:

In contrast, Craft offers unlimited content types (e.g., blog posts, articles, pages, press releases, people, events) and unlimited, re-orderable content blocks (e.g., text, photo, photo carousel, quote):

Other Craft highlights include:

  • Easy-to-create content relationships 
  • Drafts/versioning 
  • Live preview 
  • Categories and tags 
  • Automated image resizing

In short, Craft lets you create a fully customized marketing site that can tell your story and display rich content exactly the way you imagined it.

Things to consider:

  • Your e-commerce pages will be on a separate domain from your content marketing pages.
  • You'll need to log into two admin sites: one to manage e-commerce data and one to manage marketing content.
  • For Craft + Magento:
    • You will be hosting two sites.
    • You'll need to develop a plugin to display Magento product data on your Craft marketing site
  • For Craft + ShopifyPlus:
    • You will be hosting one site and paying Shopify to host your other site.
    • Your Shopify product data can be displayed on your Craft marketing site, if your developers use Viget's free Craft + Shopify plugin.
  • Cross-sell is possible but will require development and manual upkeep.
  • Checkout will be dictated by Magento/Shopify patterns, with limited customization.
  • Magento and Shopify require multiple extensions (or plugins or apps).

Wordpress + Magento

The Magento WordPress Integration Plugin by FishPig integrates your WordPress site with your Magento Community or Magento Enterprise site.

Things to consider:

  • Free.
  • 1-click login to your WordPress admin from your Magento admin.
  • No additional development needed to style WordPress pages in your Magento theme.
  • Create relationships between your WordPress content pages and Magento product pages.
  • Full translations in over 10 languages.
  • 12 extensions for your extension (sigh) including:
    • Multi-site integration
    • Custom types and taxonomies
    • Advanced custom fields
    • Email subscriptions tied to MailChimp
    • Contact forms
    • Single sign-on to both WordPress and Magento customer accounts

Wordpress + Shopify

The Shopify WordPress Plugin lets you add your Shopify products (or collections) and Buy buttons to any page on your WordPress site from the WordPress admin. The Buy button connects directly with your Shopify secure shopping cart.

Things to consider:

  • Free.
  • Easy-to-generate embed code
  • Available in English, French, and Spanish
  • Customize button and cart colors
  • Customize button target (cart, checkout, Shopify product page)

Craft Pro + Craft Commerce

If you aren't wedded to Magento or Shopify, Craft Pro + Craft Commerce offers an integrated feature-rich CMS and e-commerce platform. Unlike Shopify/Magento, you have control over basically everything — from content blocks and page design to the checkout flow.

Things to consider:

  • $999 one-time-fee ($700 if you’ve already purchased Craft Pro).
  • One fully integrated site: one domain, one admin interface for both content and product data, one hosting environment.
  • Fully customized design; no rigid templates
  • Endless ability to upsell, cross-sell
  • Craft Commerce does not come with some out-of-the-box features you’ll find with Shopify or Magento (e.g., gift registry, private sales, customer reviews, persistent shopping cart). However, these features can be developed.
  • Newest to market, limited (but growing) availability of plugins.

If you need guidance on choosing a CMS, check out our comparison of off-the-shelf systems and our closer look at Craft vs. WordPress.

You can always give us a shout if you need some help deciding.

Heather is a senior project manager in our Falls Church, VA, office. With a career rooted in advertising, she works with Viget clients such as PUMA, HelloWallet, and the White House Historical Association.

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