Looking for ecommerce software? Here's how Magento and Amazon FBA stack up.
Daniel Adams and Mark Hammersley
Last updated 10o July 2020
3.8 Stackupp rating
$ 2200.00 / month
Best forMagento “Open Source” requires development knowledge and is suitable for large enterprises. “Magento Commerce”, a fully-hosted version of Magento Open Source, available on a range of plans, catering retailers from mom-and-pop stores to global enterprises.
3.4 Stackupp rating
$ 0.99 / month
Best foronline sellers with limited product ranges. It is also a good option for retailers with established stores that want to take advantage of Amazon’s significant reach.
Can't decide between Magento and Amazon FBA?
Find the best platform for you with our side by side comparison of Magento and Amazon FBA. See how each platform stacks up across ease of use, design, support and value for money.
Let the comparison begin. Don't worry, we'll guide you.
Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform owned by Adobe which is offered in a range of formats. The best-known option is a completely free, open-source version called “Magento Open Source”. Retailers that want to use the platform while taking advantage of cloud hosting, customer support, and additional functionality, can opt for one of the paid options under the “Magento Commerce” banner.
Because of its extensive feature-set, scalability, high customizability, and popularity among developers, Magento is particularly suitable for retailers running larger stores. Medium-sized retailers that need a comprehensive and feature-rich solution will also be drawn to Magento.
For smaller retailers without any development experience, however, a more user-friendly and streamlined solution will probably be preferable.
If you’re a large retailer that needs a customizable, powerful solution through which you can manage multiple sites in different countries. Remember to take care of hosting, security, and troubleshooting yourself if you opt for the open source version.
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) is Amazon’s in-house fulfillment service for sellers. Instead of taking care of the storage and delivery of products themselves, sellers who opt for Amazon FBA can use Amazon’s warehouses and logistics networks. This can significantly reduce financial and administrative burdens.
It’s important to recognize that Amazon FBA is an additional service for Amazon sellers. It will only meet your needs if you already intend to sell products on Amazon. It is not a self-contained ecommerce solution that will allow you to list a wide array of different items and keep all the revenue from sales. What’s more, Amazon takes a significant cut of the final purchase price. You will also have to compete with other sellers in the marketplace.
With all that in mind, it’s essential to weigh up the benefits associated with access to the world’s single largest retail market with the cons of hefty fees, limited control, and high levels of competition.
Generally speaking, small retailers that don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing an entire ecommerce store (and all the technical, marketing, and logistical tasks this involves) will find a lot to like in Amazon FBA. Equally, retailers with established stores that want to bring their best products to a broader market should consider Amazon FBA.
Finally, keep in mind that running a successful business on Amazon FBA requires a unique skill-set. It’s a different ballgame to running a “traditional” ecommerce store, and this should be accounted for. You will need to familiarize yourself with topics like competitor research, keyword analysis, product page optimization, results page optimization, and so on.
you are a small independent retailer who doesn’t want to run their own store and handle complex back-end logistical tasks. Amazon will do a lot of the hard work for you while providing access to a large retail marketplace.
Our first comparison criteria, ease of use. Why? Because it’s the most important.
Think about it. You don’t want to invest a lot of your precious time setting up an online store and tweaking the design only to find out that it’s a pain in the butt to manage day to day.
We take a look at how simple the Magento and Amazon FBA platforms are to run.
While advanced development knowledge is required to run the open-source and paid enterprise version of Magento, the management dashboard itself is pretty intuitive. That said, Magento does have a very large feature-set, so there’s a learning curve for new users.
The small business version has a page-builder for ease-of-use and assistance is available for getting set up. Smaller retailers interested in Magento should try the free trial to see if it fits with their needs.
"Powerful e-commerce platform - if you are willing to get your hands dirty.”
“It's a great and versatile eCommerce platform, which gives plenty of flexibility and has support for a vast amount of features and products.”
“I like the security features that Magento offers. It is one of the more secure options out there. The support community is very large so if you need help or have questions, you can usually find an answer quick.”
Amazon FBA is managed through “Seller Central”, an online dashboard that all Amazon merchants use to manage their inventory, product listings, storefronts, and analytics.
The interface is very user-friendly, and you can add and configure products quickly. There is a substantial amount of help documentation online through the “Seller Central” portal and Amazon also offers an “Amazon Seller App” for mobile devices. All in all, it’s a very good option for beginners, along with retailers who have limited technical expertise.
Configuring fulfillment options is also a straightforward, linear process and is completed within the “Seller Central” area once products have been added to a catalog.
Finally, you can manage your own independent store, which will show all your Amazon listings, via the “Stores” tab.
"This website is good for beginners who want to earn."
"This platform is the most solid on the web to sell products online."
"They have never failed to pay me and they have been supportive when deviant customers have tried to steal from me."
Powerful features are great, but we all know first impressions count. So, do Magento and Amazon FBA templates actually look any good? See for yourself. We outline each platforms design options, plus showcase a few real life examples.
Magento is arguably the most customizable ecommerce platform on the market. But there’s a big caveat. To make design changes to the open-source and enterprise solutions, development skills are a must.
Magento only comes with one built-in storefront theme but a range of third-party templates are available. The downside is that these can be very expensive.
Small and medium retailers that want access to a user-friendly site-builder and library of free templates will likely prefer solutions like Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix.
If, as a small retailer, you’re drawn to Magento because of its wide array of features, “implementation plans” are available.
Amazon doesn’t offer much in the way of design freedom. Sellers can only customize specific product page elements, such as the title and description, images, and in-depth “body copy”. The layout and overall page design cannot be altered.
Once they have registered their brand, sellers can also open their own Amazon storefront, which affords a greater (albeit still limited) level of design flexibility.
If you’re looking for complete control over your store, you will likely find that a self-managed ecommerce solution like Shopify or WooCommerce better fits your needs.
Everyone’s favourite topic - pricing. Let's dive in to see if Magento or Amazon FBA offers better value for money.
It’s always difficult to fault a free solution. What’s more, Magento comes with an extensive feature-set that would cost a significant amount of money on a similar plan from another provider. Open-source features include support for multiple languages, promotional tools, content management, order and shipping processing, customer service, and more.
But there are a few important points to keep in mind. For larger enterprises, the cost of maintaining secure servers and the need for an in-house development team will be high. And extensions often cost hundreds of dollars. Pricing for fully-hosted Magento plans is not published. The enterprise-level options, however, are reported to cost tens of thousands of dollars every month. Small business plans are advertised as “affordable”.
“Value for money” is a slightly mixed bag when it comes to Amazon FBA. It’s important to stress that all serious Amazon FBA sellers will have to purchase a subscription to an Amazon Seller account. There are two plans available. The “Individual” plan is free, but a charge of $0.99 per item sold is collected. The “Professional” plan is $39.99 per month.
On the surface, these figures don’t seem significant. It’s when you get down to the nitty-gritty of item fees that a more precise picture starts to emerge. FBA sellers have to account for several charges: a referral fee (which can be up to 15% of the item sale price, a storage fee), storage costs, and a fulfillment fee. All of these can quickly add up, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the fine print and do all your calculations to ensure you can make a sustainable profit.
If things go wrong (and they often do) you need to know someone’s there to help get you back on track. So, how does Magento's and Amazon FBA's support measure up?
Technical support is limited on all plans on Magento. Users that have subscribed to a paid plan can submit support tickets. Additional support options - such as the “implementation package” for small businesses and “Magento Services” for enterprises - can be purchased for an additional cost.
If you decide to run Magento Open Source, you will need in-house IT support or an outsourced solution with an agency.
Amazon provides support to sellers through online tickets and has published extensive online documentation and training for new users. There is also an active community forum where it’s possible to get answers to questions.
While the support options are reasonable, we would like to have seen phone and email support in conjunction with the options already on offer.
The final say. Let's wrap up our thoughts on each platform.
Magento has an exhaustive of features. Enterprise-level stores should definitely consider it as a solution. Medium-sized retailers will also find Magento to be an excellent choice that scales as their store grows. The virtually unlimited scope for customization is another big plus.
Retail companies that don’t want to take care of hosting in-house can also opt for one of Magento’s paid plans. Just keep in mind that development knowledge is a must and that the cost of extensions and additional support packages can quickly add up.
For smaller retailers, there is a plan that provides full access to Magento’s features at a lower price. A free trial is available and well worth checking out. Just remember that simpler entry-level solutions - which are easier to use for people without any coding skills or access to developers - may be more viable.
The FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) program has done a lot to open up Amazon’s sizable marketplace to new sellers and streamline the often-complex process of storing items and fulfilling purchases.
If you are starting out in the ecommerce space, and find the prospect of running an independent store daunting, then Amazon is a viable option. Equally, if you already have an established online presence and want to reach new customers, selling your top-performing products through Amazon is also worth considering.
Just keep in mind that running a profitable Amazon FBA business is different from running your own online store. It requires a unique skill-set and the ability to evaluate competition and find gaps in the market.
Overall, we found Magento to be the better ecommerce platform.
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