Many people nowadays are purchasing and selling more and more online. Every business is unique, with specific goals, structure, audience, and that’s why requires the special and customized solution. The requirements for online retailers are becoming more complicated and demanding, to stand out from the competition. So choosing a right shopping system is not easy, because this is shopping system to build on. There are only a couple of shopping software, ready for professional use even by large online stores. In this article I want to compare Magento 2 (made in USA/Ukraine) with Shopware 5 (made in Germany), because both systems really play in the same league, and there is absolutely no other software to be so close to Magento, as Shopware does.
As a e-commerce agency we are working with both Magento and Shopware shopping software since years and are able to discover the real advantages and disadvantages of both. In this article I compare free versions - Shopware 5 Community Edition (CE) and Magento 2 Community Edition (CE).
The following main topics, important to any e-commerce project for successful business running, are to be compared:
- Features for Admin
- Upgrades and updates
- Multi-store feature
- Available editions
- As “out-of-the-box” solution.
Magento vs Shopware - Popularity
According to the service builtwith.com the most popular open-source shopping systems in Germany are - Zen Cart, Magento, Gambio and Shopware. But builtwith.com measures the amount of installations, because Zen Cart and Gambio are technically obsolete and are used mostly by “abandoned” stores, which are still alive, these should not be really counted. Also “Magento” here on this chart means Magento 1 as well as Magento 2 software. The difference between Shopware 4 and Shopware 5 is not so big and it is much easier to upgrade from Shopware 4 to Shopware 5. Magento 1 and Magento 2 are completely different, and so to be handled.
According to t3n survey, done in 2016, Shopware is the number one open source shopping system in Germany. I believe, now it is even more than 20% of online stores (worth mention), who uses Shopware software.
By measuring starting from 2011 Shopware gained 642 online retailers from Magento, and lost only 59, these are almost 100% those, who were migrating from Magento 1. This difference is too big not to be considered!
According to Google Trends during the last 12 months Shopware was more popular in Germany than Magento. Actually as an e-commerce agency we can confirm that, we got much more project requests from customers interested in Shopware 5, than from those interested in Magento 2.
In the international comparison during the last 12 months only Prestashop can be count on as a modern shopping software, but in Germany it is not nearly so popular, as Shopware, not without reason. Shopware is technologically far more advanced. But still, internationally the Magento 2 is 10 times so popular as Shopware.
I don't want to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of Prestashop any further, it could be a Magento alternative for someone, not for me. A couple of years ago we decided not to work with Prestashop, because it seemed to us to be much chaotical with a low quality of code. Nowadays it may differ, I can tell nothing about it.
So the Shopware 5 shopping software is the true number one in Germany. Interested? Read further!
The online presence of any business should be promoting and attractive. On the competitive e-commerce market, it is rather difficult for the online store to stand out of the crowd. The ability “to show a business in the best light” can be realized through vivid and recognizable design. This is possible in both systems, without any limitations.
Design configurability in Shopware 5 is generally better organized and offers more possibilities to the admin thus being a good Magento 2 alternative.
Visual Content Editing
Also regarding visual content edition Shopware is a much more progressive than Magento CE.
Shopping world - is the most innovative feature of Shopware 5 for presentation of your products.This solution enables even non-technical people to create landing pages, and visually edit content on category and other types of pages, without great efforts and specific knowledge in CSS. Responsive images, device allocation, design grids, drag & drop, a large number of widgets - this is only a part of shopping worlds’ features.
It is fair to say that in Magento 2 the visual content edition is also possible, but only via using a third-party extensions, so the integration is not so deep as in Shopware. In Magento 2 it is not possible to configure a landing page, separately for a certain device type, even by using a third-party plugin.
Thanks to live preview, the self-created pages can be tested in different resolutions - for smartphone, tablet and PC. Those who are continuously engaged with different marketing campaigns have with the shopping worlds a powerful tool at their disposal. So I think, that for those counting on emotional selling of products (enjoyment, luxury, rarities, fashion goods, etc.) Shopware 5 is probably a better solution among the alternatives to Magento.
Usability and features
Usability is one of the most important factors to consider by choosing a proper shopping system for your online store. Because both systems are open source you can change everything, but it depends on the cost, you will and can invest. Here I compare what you get directly out-of-the-box.
Homepage of both systems is looking pretty much the same, but for Magento it is just a content page, for Shopware it is a “shopping world”. The Shopping worlds is the most innovative feature of Shopware, which can be used on any page besides of product page. If you need a shopping world also on a product page, you need to buy a plugin. In Magento it is not so easy to change the visual content of a page, you should use a plugin, to be able to do this, but even then, it is not possible to configure different content for different device types. Oft the online retailer should engage their agencies, to change the content, which requires time and money.
Category page has a bit different funсtionality, which can still be changed in templates and by adding plugins. Out-of-the-box Shopware comes with more advanced filters - here you can use multi choice, attribute value grouping and much more, in Magento not. In Shopware you can configure the top seller to be shown and use shopping worlds.
Magento shows additionally the available product variants and enables to buy the product directly from the category page - not really needed features, if your products are in need of explanation. In Shopware you need to go to the product page for that, or use a plugin.
Product page is pretty much the same - you can choose different product variants, compare the product with other products, add it to the wish list, see the technical specifications in a table - in Magento on different tab, in Shopware on same tab below product description.
Shopware offers also a bonus program, which is available at Magento only for Magento 2 Enterprise Edition (Magento e-commerce) or you should use a third-party plugin for it.
Magento offers to register a customer account after the order is completed, so the Magento checkout is much more simpler than Shopware checkout. So I believe Magento is here a little bit more friendly. But still this can be changed by plugins.
Shopware invested much more in the development of the mobile version. It offers a much greater user experience and more features than Magento or different Magento alternatives. Navigation and filters are more user-friendly, you can use sliders. If you use Shopware on a smartphone you feel like using a smartphone app. It is a great advantage of Shopware.
Of course, you can use a template for Magento, but our experience was, that every template bought has bugs and should be polished for a production use. The standard template of Shopware is already polished and is really great for the most of online retailers.
Features for Admin
Admin Panels for Shopware and Magento are completely different. Shopware is using Ext JS Framework for it, so it is possible to work with different windows simultaneously. There are very many tabs to click on to make all needed configurations. Magento ist much simpler and offers in general two types of views - a list view, and a detail view. On the list view you see all the items and are able to filter and sort them, on detail view you can configure all possible values and options, which are grouped, any group can be unfolded and closed.
It is not possible to productively use the admin panel of both systems on the smartphone. Maybe it will be implemented some day on Magento (it is technically possible), the developers of Shopware should get rid of Ext JS to be able to do this, and they are already thinking about this.
The comfort that Shopware offers its admin users is in Magento not reached. Everyone should decide for himself what is more user friendly, solution approaches here are completely different.
Dashboards for both systems are informative and show to the store owner all the information at a glance. In Shopware you can activate additionals widgets to see more details, and that’s why Shopware can also be considered as a good Magento alternative.
To my opinion the product list is in shopware better organized, because i can see here all the category trees, configuration in a system, and by clicking on them the products are automatically filtered. Shopware, as one of the alternatives to Magento, also offers a quick edit function, by clicking twice on the certain item, which Magento does not have.
The are very many configuration options for a product in both systems. They are organized differently - you have tabs with options in Shopware, and accordion with options in Magento.
Shopware is a way better Magento alternative in terms of marketing. It offers a built-in affiliate program, banner management and bonus program. More advanced promotional features can be added by using plugins, third-party plugins or those directly from Shopware.
Real marketing features for Magento are only available in the Enterprise Edition, or you should use third party modules.
Newsletter and reports are available in both, but in Shopware they are just better.
Shopware also offers such innovative features as a product stream and customer stream, which are dynamically formed lists, based on some rules. It is possible to use this groups to better target your audience.
The Content Management in Magento offers only basis features. In addition to Magento features Shopware as one of Magento alternatives offers the possibility to run a blog and has a media manager, to prepare images and media content to be used on different types of pages. In Shopware you can also create new forms for your (potential) customers, directly from admin panel.
Pricing the articles in a proper way is one of the important ways to organize successful and profitable business. Certainly, both systems are very flexible in terms of price configurations. You can have as many customer groups as you wish and edit prices separately for each customer group, configured in your system.
Both shopping software offers excellent configurability, so you should pay attention to your developers, for them not to develop functions, which could be configured directly from the admin area.
Performance plays probably the key role for success in e-commerce, thus page loading times are very important for sales and conversion rate. The majority of online shoppers are highly impatient, and every second is extremely valuable for them. In fact, the rule is the faster loading times your online store have, the higher conversion rates and turnover could be achieved.
Both systems comes with support for Varnish Cache directly out of the box, which is a must solution for any web-based software interested in performance, especially for online stores.
According to GTMetrix, if comparing the homepage, TTFB (Total Time to First Byte) is almost the same (as a result of using Varnish). The results of other page types are also comparable.
Both systems are rock solid to be used in a high load projects and could be used by online stores having hundreds or even thousands of orders every day, without any problems.
Upgrades and Updates
Software should be always kept updated. The main reason for update is always security, but getting new features, better efficiency, and higher productivity are also important.
The developers of the both shopping systems put great efforts into new versions development.
Speaking of the process of system or plugin update, I have to admit that Shopware 5 is more advanced and enables updates directly from the admin panel (should not be done on production environment!). Moreover, a store admin can see the list of plugins, update of which will lead to problems or conflicts.
Magento 2 update requires more operations and time investments from developers, mostly because it is a young software, being still actively improved. Taking this into account we can say that Shopware 5 can be a good Magento 2 alternative.
Extendibility with plugins and modules
Plugins and modules enable enrichment with many top-notch features to implement a high amount of business requirements and goals.
Both systems has large communities - Magento has a large international community, Shopware has a large community in German speaking countries. There are many modules and plugins available on marketplaces for both.
Shopware also develops and sells own plugins, Magento only offers Enterprise Edition. Nevertheless, Magento 2 is growing and improving dynamically, but this cannot deny the fact that many Magento 1 modules are still not available in Magento 2.
For now Shopware is more Europe oriented, so if you need a plugin for a specific payment system or logistic provider, you will not always find one. This is the most critical factor to be considered. If comparing a general functions conceivable for any user both system are comparable and are very good.
Both systems are based on an extremely efficient and modern software architecture. Being open-source both systems relies on the experience of thousands of developers and meets the highest quality standards and offers innovative solutions.
It is still recommended for both to run updates or install new plugins by programmers, not by online store owners.
By default, Shopware is better optimized for SEO. It makes automatically the most of the basic search engine optimization settings. You only need to re-adjust them manually, if needed. Magento clashes with the default settings for the indexing as well as the correct pagination and has some additional problems, causing extra effort (and thus costs) to solve them.
Nowaday the content marketing is a key discipline for SEO. Shopware offers just better solutions for content marketing, which are more emotional.
Both systems can be used as a multi-store solutions. Magento is here more flexible and should be used, if you want to implement a really complicated multi-store solution. But if so, implementing a solution with multiple instances also can be a good alternative. Costs for maintenance and support of a complicated multi-store solution can be higher, as for two different instances of Magento (or Shopware).
In Shopware you need to buy a professional edition to be able to use sub stores, these you get in Magento CE for free.
Magento comes with 2 Editions - Community Edition and Enterprise Edition, which costs start with $22.000 (annually!!!). The core of both systems is completely different and Magento to my pity is not trying hard to implement all innovative solutions in the Community Edition. So Community Edition is more or less left standalone software. It is the Magento community who develops new features, but as modules, not as a core system.
Shopware 5 Community Edition is also free to download and use. Besides of CE there are 3 paid editions of Shopware software: Professional Edition - €1,295.00 (one-time fee), Professional Plus Edition - €5,995.00 (one-time fee) and Shopware 5 Enterprise Edition - starting with €20.000 (one-time fee).
The main advantage of Shopware compared to Magento is, that all Shopware editions have the same core and “editions” are nothing else than a plugins bundles, so if you don't need them, you should not buy them.
Obviously, for the owners of small and medium businesses it is cheaper to choose Shopware 5, as one can get structural, top-notch, well-running functionality at an affordable price. Even for many Enterprises the Shopware Enterprise Edition can be a cheaper and better solution than Magento 2 Enterprise Edition.
Price is always a key factor when choosing a proper solution. E-commerce solution costs depend on its capabilities and meeting the business goal requirements. When choosing a shopping system, to many factors should be keep in mind - so involving an external consultant experienced with the systemes you are choosing from, would be a best decision.
With Shopware you can start with a much lower budget, if the individual design for you is not so important. In complicated projects the budgets for developing a Shopware project in general will be about 20% lower than for Magento, because Magento is still more complicated (was it really needed?).
Costs for Maintenance and Support
Cost for Support will be much the same. The Costs for updates and upgrades of Magento will be higher due to a consistent improving of the system, which was launched in the version 2.0 not as a really stable software, with much problems, also in performance.
In general the admin is able to do, especially in terms of content marketing, more in Shopware than in Magento, so the cost for updating the content in Shopware store will be lower than in Magento 2 store, what makes Shopware a real Magento 2 alternative.
Innovating built-in tools and ready-made e-commerce solutions simplify business development in such criteria: sticking to the budget, saving time, having generic solution, which can achieve business goals easy. No need to reinvent the wheel when there is wide choice of “from the box” solutions.
Among qualitative ready-made e-commerce solutions, Shopware 5 stands out of the crowd as a really innovative one. In comparison with Magento 2, Shopware 5 allows to create a store in the shortest possible time due to its already built-in functionality and offers much more features out-of-the-box, especially for marketing purposes.
So it is obvious, that Shopware offers a much higher value-for-the-money, with many free features, only Magento Enterprise Edition can offer, but not for free!
To my option Shopware is the only open-source e-commerce shopping system, which plays in the same liga as Magento does, and thus could be a real Magento alternative 2018 for those, looking for a very innovative solution with a “Made in Germany” quality. Shopware is BMW or Audi for the e-commerce software world, still not recognised as those.
Magento is an undoubted leader all over the world, while Shopware tends to raise its power in Europe and continues gaining clients from Magento, first of all in Germany. Shopware has already gone international and done a lot for it, so it can already be used in any country of the world. There were many improvements in terms of internalisation. There is also excessive documentation in English available.
The popularity of this software in Germany should not be ignored and I believe, Shopware AG is too much occupied with the customers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, to discover the real potential of the Shopware software internationally. This time will definitely come and Magento will give up its positions as a sole leader. To my option internationally Shopware is the most undervalued shopping system, which moreover is an open-source!
Both platforms are the most advanced professional open-source shopping software. Both shopping systems are customizable, flexible, search engine friendly, extendible. There may be little things to influence your decision, like connectivity to other systems, availability of certain payment options etc. If you do not have a web store yet, choosing between Magento or Shopware is not critical to success or failure in e-commerce, it is much more important to choose the experienced partner, developers or agency to support your e-commerce efforts.
Feel free to comment on this article, especially if I am wrong about some topics.