We often hear the opinion that the Magento store is more expensive to maintain than a store on a dedicated platform. Dedicated (so-called proprietary) store platforms include Shopify, Bigcommerce, Volusion, IAI Shop, RedCart, Open Cart or Shoper. Many people and companies choose proprietary software instead of running a store on an open source platform. The costs of running a dedicated store are very low, so it is assumed that maintaining such a store later will not cost much more.
What is it like in reality? Is Magento store cheaper to maintain than a dedicated one? We will answer this question by presenting several aspects of working with store software, e.g. maintenance of the platform, extensions, hourly rates and company availability.
The difference between price and costs
At the beginning, you should say a few words about the price and maintenance costs of Magento store. Well, these are two separate things. The store price is the price paid once (or every month) for running the store or using a dedicated software license. The cost of maintenance is all additional charges that come out during the operation of the store. For example: the cost of certificates, fixing errors, adding new functionalities, connecting modules or exceeding the transfer or sales volume. Since we have explained this difference, let’s get to the heart of the matter.
Magento store: maintenance and hourly rates
The costs generated by the operation of online stores can be very different. Often the stores can cope with a small monthly outlay. However, the larger the store, the greater the amount of money you need to invest in order to keep the store running and to take care of positive customer experiences. So let’s finally answer this difficult question: how much does it cost to maintain an online store on dedicated software versus Magento? The answer is not as simple as it would seem.
There is little information about how much it costs to expand dedicated platforms. To find out what hourly rates are charged by companies you can ask people who had stores on such platforms. The hourly rates for development that I was able to find are in the range of 80-100 PLN net per hour of programmers’ work. They are comparable to the amounts of some medium-sized agencies that create stores on Magento. Some companies even charge 200 PLN per hour of work on dedicated software, everything depends on the type of work required. As part of maintenance, we pay for graphic modifications and configurations of existing modules.
In Poland we have dozens of companies that can maintain our store on Magento. Looking at Magento, only on the territory of the country we have dozens of companies that can maintain our store. The hourly rates are between 60-100 PLN net per hour of work for smaller agencies (often not dealing only with Magento). Approximately 120-150 PLN/hour are the rates for medium-size agencies, which usually deal only with Magento. About 200-250 PLN/hour will be paid in large software houses, which can create the whole omnichannel strategy and work with many clients from abroad. In the maintenance of Magento stores, we pay for the removal of errors that occur over time, platform updates, functionality extensions and consulting.
So, dedicated software more affordable than open source?
In addition to the cost of proprietary platforms you have to pay for things that we have on open source “for free”. Such things are, for example, charges for high traffic on the store, visits to the store or exceeding the amount of sales, which gives additional monthly costs. In addition, in some dedicated engines, after reaching a high sales limit, the customer is even required to switch to the “enterprise” software version. This results in increased costs and forces the customer to switch to the system chosen by the software supplier, not the store owner himself.
Magento store and its expansion
I have mentioned earlier that open source store service companies are dealing with their expansion and new features, and what about dedicated software? It’s very difficult to find information about extensions carried out on such software. The main modifications in such software is related to changes in the store’s graphics or configuration of existing functions – no information about extensions. I also found information that some software provide access to extensions, but only in the highest versions of subscriptions. In such cases we pay separately for access to modifications and additionally for the extensions themselves, which causes double charges on such an engine.
An interesting (and shocking) information I received from customers is that when they were on dedicated software, the price of their store extensions was much higher than comparable extensions on the Magento platform. And I’m talking here about the customers who obtained such information because I also met people who were blocked and couldn’t expand their store, which happens more often than I thought.
Money isn’t everything
We all know the saying that “time is money”. This is definitely true for store platforms, where errors must be eliminated quickly and new functionalities must be implemented quickly in response to customer needs. Using the Magento store, we have many companies and programmers to choose from, so we always find a company that will respond quickly to our needs. With dedicated store sofas, I often hear complaints about slow answers and lack of time for any work on the store. So we can assume that we are losing money only because of the delays, during which our competitors will have better functionality on the store and we will not be able to present new content to the user, because we are waiting for it all the time – these are real losses on our side.
As we can see, we shouldn’t consider the choice of the store platform only through the price. Although the price of a dedicated platform is initially lower, as the store develops, we have to take into account additional fees beyond the subscription on propriatory software. Additionally, when it comes to expansions, we are unable to modify our store on a dedicated platform. It often happens that works on our store are delayed because we can count on only one company. Ultimately, we should make a decision taking into account the development of our store over the years ahead.
If you have any questions or need advice on maintaining your Magento store, please contact us.
*All names of dedicated store platforms are given for example. Information given in the article is presented randomly. It is not assigned to any dedicated platform listed in the article.
** The update of hourly rates was carried out as of February 2018.