Magento vs Shopify – Two big hitters in the ecommerce platform arena clash in our extensive, informed and in-depth comparison review.
We will give an ‘approach overview’ of these 2 major ecommerce players and then get into a detailed ‘side-by-side’ comparison to help you establish whether Magento or Shopify best suits your needs.
For those looking to further increase their knowledge of other platforms in this arena please click here to visit our comprehensive review pages.
You can find our ‘Pros & Cons section for both platforms here along with in-depth assessment of both platforms.
Don’t forget, further comparisons for similar sites to Magento or Shopify can be accessed here to help round of your detailed knowledge of ecommerce and web building platforms.
Magento, Shopify – Same arena – Different approach:
While this will be an in-depth comparison review of Magento vs Shopify it is important to understand some fundamental differences between the two platforms.
Rather than giving individual overviews of each platform we will outline some of the major Magento, Shopify differences in order to help you understand whether Magento or Shopify is the platform for you.
- Shopify is a commercial product – This means you need to pay to use it.
- Magento is an open source, free to use software product. Note:There is a Magento2 enterprise product but this is only suitable for large organisations. We will be concentrating on the ‘standard’ Magento vs Shopify offerings.
- Shopify is a hosted solution – The Shopify platform hosts your store.
- Magento is a self-hosted solution – This means you need to establish your own hosting, installation, setup and complete configuration before beginning store creation – This will require at least a reasonable knowledge of web development and programming skills unless the task is outsourced to a professional Magento developer – Costs for the latter need to be taken into account.
- Shopify is a platform more suited to novices and offers a simple user interface.
- Magento is packed full of features but taking full advantage makes it more suitable for those with advanced development experience.
Who wins the popularity stakes?
Before we get into side-by-side comparisons let’s take a look at the Magento, Shopify figures for use.
It is roundly understood that in the Magento vs Shopify user statistic comparison that Magento currently has around 250,000 users while Shopify has in excess of 600,000 users.
This makes Shopify the clear winner when looking at Magento, Shopify active ecommerce sites.
Side-by-Side comparisons – Magento or Shopify for your business?
The Magento & Shopify platforms have both been tested to ensure you get a clear picture from the various categories below. You will also note that when looking at each category there will be a ‘winner’ in each section.
If further comparisons on other e-commerce platforms are needed before your final decision is made please click here to assess similar platforms.
|Ease Of Use:|
|It must be said that there is quite a learning curve to be encountered when considering Magento. The reality here is that unless you have some coding experience and understand a range of technical terms you will not maximise the true power of this platform.
We feel the Magento Content Management System (CMS) is less user friendly than Shopify’s unless you are well versed with programming and coding.
This is because there are lots of technical terms to overcome and some of these can be quite intimidating for the beginner, but those with such experience or those willing to invest time in understanding Magento will certainly benefit from the platform’s flexibility and use.
Being open source means Magento gives a lot of freedom once coding experience develops.
There are also lots of resource guides that will help get you through any difficult processes but time and patience is required for the beginner.
|The opposite must be said of Shopify’s user interface. Beginners will find it easy to get the hang of and will find the system very intuitive.
As your one-stop-shop, drag ‘n drop website and store builder you will find it pretty easy to customise your store and moving elements around the page can be achieved exactly as you wish.
Shopify provides all of the tools require to build and run your store. This means you can be up and running in next to no time.
Some key ‘ease of use’ functions everyone should appreciate are:
· Ease of custom image insertion into themes in order to fully personalise your store
· Addition of initial and future product range in no time whatsoever
· Payment set up is simple
· Fully customise your store’s look and feel to reflect your business goals
In the Magento vs Shopify ‘ease of use’ comparison – Shopify wins.
|Templates & Flexibility:|
|There are 12 themes available from Magento. Both free and paid for.
Note: 10 of these are fully mobile responsive (we will get into mobile responsiveness in the next category).
One very positive aspect for those with coding knowledge, or anyone who has a budget to hire a Magento developer, is that your own theme can be created from scratch.
It should also be noted that Magento is an extremely flexible platform.
This means that you can customise just about any aspect of your site.
The caveat here is as previously mentioned: Some of these customisations require deep coding knowledge.
Examples of such customisation:
· Add a ‘product slider’ for those products you wish to feature and promote
· Animations can be added to your site for visual engagement – This addition can be extremely beneficial in terms of getting your site noticed
· Newsletter functionality can be added to your webpage ‘footer’
· ‘Cross-selling blocks’ can be placed across your product pages – This is an effective way to increase revenue
All of these customisations and more make the possibility of taking your Magento store to the next level a reality.
|In the Magento to Shopify comparison of templates, Shopify has the upper hand.
They offer in excess of 60 professional, well-designed and attractive themes, all of which are customisable.
There are free as well as paid-for themes available.
To ease the pain of purchase, you should consider this as a long-term rather than short-term investment. After all, it will be the ‘face’ of your online store.
In this respect you will be pleased to know that any Shopify theme chosen can be customised exactly as you wish.
Here are a few popular customisations to consider:
· Addition of new pages – Examples being: Individual product pages, An ‘About Us’ page or a Blog.
When presented in an interesting style these types of pages will keep your customers coming back for more
· Colour palette and image changes in order to reflect your business as you wish
· Change page elements – You can add, move, remove and even re-size page elements to suit your style
· Social media feed integration is very straightforward to achieve
In the Magento vs Shopify ‘Templates & Flexibility’ comparison – Shopify wins on template choice although Magento does offer excellent flexibility.
|Anyone starting an online store (whether they are using Magento, Shopify or any other ecommerce platform) should be aware of the high importance of mobile responsiveness.
A site that is slow to load on a mobile device will in all likelihood be abandoned by a visitor.
As we have mentioned, of Magento’s 12 themes, 10 are fully mobile responsive. This means that when your site is viewed via a mobile device it will automatically resize itself to fit the viewing device.
If you have chosen to employ a Magento developer to assist with your online store appearance, do spend a little time discussing mobile responsiveness and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
This feature continues to increase in importance and is something you would be wise to understand (not necessarily from a technical point of view, just the benefits it offers!).
|The number of smartphone users who regularly make online purchases continues to rise.
To catch your share of this very demanding audience your online store and themes need to be fully mobile responsive.
Those considering Magento or Shopify as their ecommerce platform will be pleased to know that all Shopify themes come as mobile optimised.
What this means to you is that your store will look as appealing as you have designed it whether your visitors view on a smartphone or tablet.
In the Magento vs Shopify comparison there is one other Shopify feature that must be mentioned:
You will be able to offer a ‘product zoom’ feature which allows your visitors to view each product in more detail.
In the Magento, Shopify mobile responsive comparison – Shopify once again takes the title.
|Features & Tools:|
|In the Shopify or Magento decision making process the features and tools offered need to align with your business aspirations.
Magento offers solid features and tools and will allow you to grow your store at exactly the pace you wish.
Indeed, the features and tools offered by both platforms are deemed more than sufficient to maintain and manage your online store.
We will take 4 examples of some ‘key’ features that both platforms offer and mention 2 in each section.
Shipping charge calculation:
This is one of the most basic, essential aspects for those selling physical goods via their ecommerce store.
Both platforms perform well when it comes to powerful calculation of shipping charges.
With Shopify you also get some integration of drop-shipping tools which come with shipping estimates. Their shipping calculators are also more exact.
Magento allows you to create and sell unlimited product numbers. Shopify matches this.
There is a word of caution here relating to Magento. While an unlimited number of products are permitted by the platform, if you are selling lots of different products you need to ensure that your hosting provider can match your needs. If not, performance and site loading speeds could turn out to be serious issues.
This is not a concern for those using the Shopify platform (due to the fact that Shopify is a fully hosted and managed ecommerce solution).
The creation of products and collections using Shopify or Magento offers similar scope. However, Shopify steals a march here due to its direct integration for drop-shippinginventory apps such as Oberlo.
In the Magento or Shopify ‘Features & Tools category – We deem Magento to be the winner
|The Shopify store functionality is quite powerful and easy to set up.
Basic features such as Shopping carts, Checkout modules, Product pages and Collections are all included, as they are with Magento.
Here are comparisons of the final 2 of 4 ‘key’ features in this Magento, Shopify category:
Coupon and Discount code provision:
Those plumping for the Shopify ‘Lite’ payment plan will not have this feature.
It is available on all of the more expensive plans.
Magento offers this important feature from the ‘get-go’. You can manipulate as you wish when it comes to discount code creation and calculation functionalities.
Payment gateway options:
This is where Shopify has a big edge in terms of numbers (but only in the amount of gateways available!).
They support in excess of 70 payment gateways, far more than Magento, although it is eminently possible to add more gateways using 3rdparty apps to Magento.
The real issue we find with Shopify is that unless you use their payment gateway – ‘Shopify Payments’ which gives 0% per transaction incentive, you will pay a transaction fee on every sale when using other payment gateways.
While both platforms are pretty similar regarding the availability of features and tools, the main difference we see between them is that Magento offers far more intermediate and advanced features which come built into the system.
With Shopify you may need to regularly dip into the app market (see category below) to extend functionality.
|The Magento Marketplace offers a huge choice of free and paid extensions. Just under the 5,000 mark!
An added bonus is the fact that users with little technical knowledge can simply add an extension with just one click.
You will find an app for just about every function required from the Magento Marketplace apps store and due to the available quantity of apps this gives them the edge over Shopify.
It must also be pointed out that both platforms offer excellent social media integration apps.
The winner in this Magento, Shopify ‘Apps Availability’ category is: Magento.
|The App store available from Shopify offers a healthy selection. You will have in excess of 2,400 Apps to choose from. These are both free and paid for.
Taking advantage of such add-ons will certainly add power to your store.
There is a very good ‘apps search’ feature which makes it easy to find the type of app that you are looking for.
A word of caution:Some ‘Shopify-specific’ apps do require some coding snippets. Make sure you are aware of this when browsing for a required application.
|Good SEO is a crucial feature for all online stores.
In this respect both platforms offer similar functionality and are seen as being search engine ‘friendly’.
When the SEO functionality is used effectively this will give you the ability to ensure your store climbs page rankings.
Those using Magento or Shopify online stores have the potential to rank highly in the results pages.
Due to the similarity of functions on both platforms here are 4 highly useful SEO features split across the 2 comparisons that are either built-in or can be obtained from the relevant platform apps store.
Page edit of title and description:
This will help define how your online store appears in search engine results pages.
Add alt text to images:
By adding alt text to your store’s images, it will help search engines to understand what they are about, thus helping to move you up the ranking ladder.
When looking at Magento, Shopify SEO features – We deem this a draw.
|As we have referred to, both platforms offer solid SEO features.
These features are fairly straightforward to implement via both CMS editors.
Here are the final 2 of 4 examples of what SEO features can be taken advantage of on both the Magento or Shopify platforms:
SEO issues scan:
This tool allows you to identify and subsequently rectify any potential issues which are affecting your stores search engine ranking potential. Examples being; poor meta descriptions or page title.
Site speed checks:
It stands to reason that the faster your site loads, the better search engines think of it (this is because it provides a more satisfactory user experience).
Using this tool can help you keep a check on site load speeds.
The final thing to say on SEO functions is that all of Shopify’s themes are required to include social media links as well as sharing buttons. This certainly helps spread your word!
|Back Up & Restore:|
|Because Magento is a ‘self-hosted’ platform this means that either yourself or the hosting provider are responsible for back-up and restore functionality.
It is extremely important that you do not leave such an important function to chance. Before you choose a provider to host your Magento-powered online store do check extensively what they offer in terms of backing-up of your data and the restore function if data is lost.
It should be said that there are some very good hosting providers out there that deal well with the back-up and restore functions.
You would also be wise to save your data on a regular basis.
This should be looked upon as either after any changes are made, or daily.
You will find apps that help automate the process but do make this a priority. Losing data after restoration due to any issue could cost you many hours to put right.
|When it comes to back-up and restore with Shopify things are far more straightforward.
The platform backs-up your data on a daily basis.
This means that in the worst case you should only lose data on any changes made on the day a problem occurs.
Of course, it is good business practice for you to also back-up data and as with Magento, there are plenty of automated apps to help you do this.
Our view is that it is far better to have more back-up copies than less. We trust you agree!
Verdict: Due to the regularity and ease of which Shopify’s hosted platform backs up your data we deem Shopify the winner in this category.
|Help & Support:|
|Because Magento is a self-hosted platform there is no dedicated support as such.
What you can rely on for assistance is the huge community of users who offer a high level of support.
Whenever you run into trouble you can reach out to the Magento Forum.
Here where you will find answers for just about every issue seen.
There is also a powerful search tool on the massive database consisting of user generated content where questions and answers have been clearly laid out.
But unless you are paying the big bucks for Magento2 vs Shopify far lower costs on even their highest price plan you will not have any avenue to a dedicated support team when opting for the Magento platform.
|Shopify does extremely well in the help and support category and actually takes some beating even from other hosted ecommerce platform competitors.
They offer support in various ways:
· Email: Feel free to email the support team with any query day or night.
· Live Chat: The option to chat directly with a “Shopify Guru’ is an excellent way to resolve issues quickly.
· Telephone support: The support team are available 24/7 to deal with any issue.
Other support options include extensive knowledge-based tutorials that come loaded with screenshots and tips. You can also make full use of the helpful Shopify Community Forum.
One final comment on Shopify assistance is the opportunity to join The Shopify Ecommerce University. This free resource is an excellent way to increase your ecommerce expertise.
In the Magento, Shopify ‘Help & Support’ category: Shopify is the winner.
|Just because Magento is free to use does not mean you can run and progress your site for nothing!
Two important factors relating to Magento costs are the hosting you will need to pay for and the additional applications you will pay for to ensure enhanced site functionality.
The greater the functionality and size of your online store, the more you will pay for in terms of related apps and increased hosting costs.
An example here is that while some of Magento’s apps are free, the ones that cost come with and installation and annual fee. This can often be seen at around $100 per app per year.
As mentioned, the more paid for apps installed, the greater your cost.
Another cost consideration that may need to be take in into account is the potential of hiring a Magento developer. If this option is taken then there is a fairly hefty financial investment involved, although you should expect an ‘all singing, all dancing’ site set up for this outlay.
|Shopify offers 3 ‘standard’ price plans that range from $29/month to $299/month. There are 2 other pricing options:
Their ‘Lite’ plan at $9/month does not allow for an ecommerce store to be set up, but for those with an existing website who simply want an easily convertible ecommerce add-on, the Lite plan achieves this through the addition of the ‘Shopify Buy Button’.
The other plan available is known as their ‘Enterprise’ plan.
This is targetted at huge online stores. Anyone interested in pricing for this plan will need to contact the company directly to assess needs and associated costs.
Bear in mind that to enhance your Shopify store that additional app purchase will likely be required. If so, this will obviously add to your running costs.
For our comprehensive insight into Shopify pricing details please click here.
Verdict: This should be classed as a Draw due to the many variables involved.
When considering whether to plump for Magento or Shopify as your ecommerce platform of choice there are various things to consider.
Those with development experience are far more likely to go for Magento, Shopify on the other hand is the ‘go-to’ hosted ecommerce platform provider.
Beginners, those with little technical knowledge or anyone who wants to concentrate solely on promoting and increasing their business will definitely benefit from using Shopify.
Costings can be a confusing issue as you need to assess what you actually get for your money on each plan with Shopify then include extras such as paid-for themes and apps.
While you do not pay for Magento software there are costs that must be taken into account and these have been explained above.
Our in-depth Magento vs Shopify testing and review tells us that the majority of those looking to start an online store will be far more comfortable going down the Shopify route.
Being a veteran in the website building and eCommerce game definitely has its benefits. Richard has long been in the industry with more than 10 years of experience with building websites and constructing eCommerce platforms for clients. He’s also a bit of a whiskey connoisseur.