As someone planning to create an online store or migrate their current business to another platform sometime in the future, you've probably come across two popular eCommerce platforms: Magento and Shopify.
Both are world-class and both vary significantly in features and functionality. Briefly: Magento is an open-source eCommerce solution that gives you complete control of your online store, whereas Shopify is a hosted platform that provides a one-stop-shop (pardon the pun) to build your online business.
In this blog, we take a deep dive into each platform's pros and cons and discuss pertinent considerations to help you make the best choice for your online store.
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce solution that allows you to build an online store from scratch without coding. As a cloud-based platform, you don’t need to install any software or pay for a hosting service. Instead, you have access to everything you need to sell online.
Shopify works as a “software as a service (SAAS) tool—offering a wide range of software products and plugins to set up, run, and grow your online store—all for a reasonable monthly subscription”. This platform is one of the most user-friendly and offers good value for money, which is probably why over two million merchants use Shopify to run their eCommerce stores.
Magento is a leading enterprise-class eCommerce platform owned by Adobe and chosen by one out of every four online eCommerce businesses. As an open-source platform, it’s free to install on your computer, but you still have to pay for hosting.
Engaging shopping experiences, unrivaled customization, and Magento’s unique ecosystem of partner and third-party extensions are just some of the attributes that elevate this groundbreaking platform above the rest. Typically, it’s better suited to enterprise-level businesses because it can handle large sales volumes, and costs more to develop desired eCommerce functionality.
The eCommerce platform you use has a massive impact on your business growth. It’s the window to your store and could make or break your budget and customers’ experience. Comparing top-tier platforms is a bit like comparing Ivy League universities.
All are excellent, but there are variables, personal preferences, and business needs that must be considered before you settle on one. With that in mind, we’re comparing Magento vs. Shopify not to find an outright winner—spoiler, there isn’t one —but rather to help you understand their full capabilities and if they can support your eCommerce store ambitions.
Before we get into detail, let’s quickly look at each platform’s pros and cons.
After settling on a budget, the main concern of an eCommerce business owner is what their store will look like. Thus, themes are a vital package of template files, building blocks, and supporting assets that let you design and control your website’s appearance.
Shopify offers over 100 free, and premium professionally designed eCommerce themes. Whether your customers view your store from a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, your website will display perfectly, thanks to the responsive nature of Shopify themes.
Generally, themes cost around $150—$350. However, Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to add, switch, remove and resize elements, as well as integrate social media feeds and modify the color palette on website templates.
Out-of-the-box, Magento offers two design themes: Luma as a demonstration theme, and Blank as a basis for custom theme creation. Because Magento has such a high level of customization, you will likely need to hire a developer to design your website, unless you’re proficient at coding.
Otherwise, opting for a ready-made theme costs anywhere between $100-$300. If you do choose complete customization, then your Magento site could be anywhere between $600 and $25,000, depending on the designer you hire and your store requirements.
Plugins are essential to improve the functionality of all eCommerce stores, especially since most in-built features, regardless of the platform, tend to be limited.
According to the website builder, the Shopify App Store has over 3,200 apps (both free and premium) for all areas of business like social media marketing, Shopify shipping, external payment gateways, payment processors, and analytics.
These plugins generally cost between $10-$20 per month. Below are some must-haves:
Magento Marketplace offers 1000s of extensions built by expert eCommerce developers and carefully curated to meet coding standards, compatibility, and online security. Some extensions cost $30, while others are in the ballpark of $2,000.
Magento pricing varies depending on the development agencies that created the extensions and if you need an expert to install them. Obviously, the marketplace has all the bells and whistles required, from marketing to finance, customer support, etc.
A few of our favorite extensions include:
Payment processing fees are the costs incurred when processing payments from customers, Unfortunately, there’s no way around them.
Magento doesn’t have a built-in payment processor, so you have to download one from the Magento Marketplace. These payment gateways have fees of around 1.4% -3.5%.
If you have a merchant account, your prices will be lowered, usually around 0.1%—20% per payment. However, you’re still paying a transaction fee for every payment.
Magento supports over 340 payment gateways, most of which target large businesses, although you can also integrate standard payment processors like Stripe or Square.
Shopify has a payment processor called Shopify Payments, which means there are zero transaction fees except for regular card processing fees. If you choose not to use Shopify payments, the platform will charge you per transaction as follows:
If you’re not using Shopify Payments and you want to accept credit cards, you can choose from over 100 compatible card payment providers. Shopify supports two types of credit card providers: direct providers and external providers.
You want your eCommerce platform to help you sell as much as possible. Without the right sales tools, it’s impossible to have good conversions that grow revenue.
In general, most of Shopify’s sales tools are built-in—you only need to add a plugin or upgrade. Magento also supports more or less the same set of available tools via extensions.
The only advantage Magento has that makes it stand out is its real checkout customization that directly impacts conversion rates.
Magento’s unique inventory system supports multiple product variants, total visitor count, and total revenue reports along with:
Just like Magento, Shopify plugins offer a myriad of ways to boost sales. On a basic level, it comes with the following:
All online stores need search engine optimization to achieve low-cost brand awareness and increased traffic. An SEO-friendly store gathers more sales, so this is a crucial aspect for merchants.
While some SEO-centric features are enabled by default, like adding alt tags to images and customizing URLs, you’ll still need to tweak a few settings to get the best outcome. Having said that, Magento offers plenty of SEO guides and tools to ensure your store is fully optimized.
Shopify, on the other hand, tends to rely more on Shopify SEO apps. While you can edit page titles and image alt tags, you’ll need to use plugins to optimize your website. This doesn’t mean you can’t implement a strong SEO strategy with the platform — it just requires more effort.
In terms of cost, when it comes to Magento vs. Shopify, the latter is cheaper. Even though Shopify charges a monthly subscription fee and transaction fees, the cost of Magento themes, extensions, and web development is more expensive.
While Magento doesn’t require a subscription fee, and the platform is free to download, you have to pay for a domain and web hosting provider. There is a smidgen of price flexibility here, contingent on your selection; however, you still have to add several integrations, which can cost up to $15,000. This excludes hiring a developer that can cost between $60 and $150 an hour. And no, you can’t really build a Magento store without expert help.
Shopify’s monthly subscription is between $29 and $299 per month. The platform’s plans include both domain and hosting fees, so you don’t have to worry about these elements. As for transaction fees, this can get complicated depending on your subscription plan. Lastly, you’ll still have to pay for some apps, some of which can cost around $20 per month.
If something goes wrong, you need immediate help or community support to troubleshoot Both Magento and Shopify offer numerous contact options.
Shopify wins when it comes to customer support. They have a dedicated team available 24/7 for phone, email, and live chat to solve any issue, Furthermore, Shopify users can explore its community forums, help center, API documentation, and numerous video tutorials.
Because Magento is a self-hosted platform, it doesn’t offer live chat, phone, or email support unless you use the Adobe Commerce edition, which provides a dedicated account manager and technical specialist to answer your questions. Otherwise, the platform’s forums have plenty of guides, tips, and tricks compiled by over 500,000 professional developers from around the globe.
Website performance is vital for customer accessibility and other metrics that serve your business goals. It correlates directly to user experience and sales.
Known for its control and flexibility, Magento is a self-hosted platform, so you can select your own server and make necessary adjustments with Magento extensions and technical SEO to improve performance.
Undoubtedly, it is a more resource-intensive choice, so it needs a powerful hosting platform. So much so that we’d discourage shared hosting. Yet, Magento is built for enterprise businesses, and its software offers an optimized and unique solution that uses caching for fast speed and robust performance.
As you know, Shopify is a hosted solution, which means you can’t control your store’s hosting environment or adjust its server levels. If you’re on the basic plans, all you can do is contact Shopify’s support team. Overall, Shopify is lightweight and operates smoothly in most environments. But, if you’re looking for complete control over your store, then Magento is the better option.
Basic eCommerce security like privacy, integrity, authentication, and non-repudiation is a must if you’re going to win customers’ trust in the long run.
Although Magento is PCI-certified as a level 1 Solution Provider, it does require a more hands-on approach to follow PCI compliance. Despite that, it frequently sends patches and updates to keep your online store secure. Furthermore, you can easily add extensions for additional security.
Interestingly, Shopify comes with SSL encryption and is level 1 PCI DSS compliant, which guarantees automatic protection. The Shopify platform takes care of the software, infrastructure, and disaster recovery, while merchants are responsible for password security, permissions given to users, third-party apps, and backups of the data you put into your account.
Ease of use is a major consideration when choosing eCommerce platforms. You want to get your store up and running without too much inconvenience and make sure its interface is user-friendly. This is where Shopify and Magento are vastly different.
Magento 2 uses PHP programming language and leverages elements of the Zend framework and the model-view-controller architecture. If you don’t know what that means, it’s perfectly fine. It’s to do with coding and illustrates how Magento can be a stumbling block for beginners.
Despite Magento’s flexibility, you’ll need to hire a coder to maximize the platform’s full potential. For this reason, Magento works better for enterprise companies that require extensive customization and would likely spend a significant amount of building their eCommerce platform and web presence.
Comparatively, Shopify is much easier to use. The platform uses wizard mode, which allows those with no technical knowledge to set up a store with relative ease. Without a single line of code, Shopify users can utilize its drag-and-drop editor to design their stores.
Everything you need is included: hosting, the website builder, payment gateway, marketing tools and order tracking. There’s no complex installation process or wait time to start building your store. If you’re a small business, you could launch your store within a day.
Which is better, Apple or Android? That’s a trick question. It’s the same with choosing the right eCommerce platform. Both Magento and Shopify have different website-building approaches and come with their advantages and disadvantages.
As expert website builders, here’s our honest opinion: Shopify is a great solution for small to medium businesses, and Magento is a better solution for enterprise ventures. Therefore, your store size determines the best platform choice. And don’t forget, if you start with a Shopify store and outgrow it, you can migrate to Magento at a later stage.
Once your store is set up, the real work begins. Something you’ll have to budget for is regular digital marketing, which may also affect your platform choice. Selecting an eCommerce store platform is never a simple choice because your business goals and budget will always alter the equation.
If you need personalized assistance comparing Shopify to Magento, our digital marketing experts are happy to help. Comrade Digital Marketing‘s qualified developers have built both Magento and Shopify stores for many successful clients. We also offer comprehensive digital marketing services to grow your store’s online customer base and profits. Get started with a free consultation today.
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