Online business has become an indispensable part of the modern lifestyle. It offers you the convenience of shopping from anywhere, lots of options to choose from, compare prices, and what-not.
Online shopping is growing exponentially. In 2020, more than 2 billion people shopped online, and e-retail sales crossed 4.2 trillion USD worldwide. In addition, the global pandemic accelerated the demand for online shopping, with lockdown prevailing everywhere.
Therefore, if you are an enterprise, SMB, or even a startup dealing with e-commerce products, you need a robust platform to sell your products and services.
There are two excellent solutions for it – Magento and Shopify, and they are giving tough competition to each other due to their capabilities and usefulness for different businesses. This brings us to the debate – Magento vs. Shopify- for choosing the best platform for your online store.
Let’s see who wins.
Magento vs. Shopify: What Are They?
It’s essential to understand these two platforms individually before we get into the Magento vs. Shopify comparison. It will set a clear ground for us to compare them and their attributes.
What is Magento?
Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform released in 2008 by Magento Inc. It works like a shopping cart platform and content management system (CMS) and lets you create customizable e-commerce sites and manage content, catalog, and marketing.
Magento is written in PHP and uses multiple PHP frameworks like Symfony and Laminas. Its original developer was a California-based company Varien Inc. and Magento’s source code is licensed under Open Software License (OSL). In 2018, Adobe Inc. acquired Magento for US$1.68 billion.
To date, over 100k online stores have been built using Magento, with its software downloaded a whopping 2.5 million times. This platform offers a high level of customizability, flexibility, and scalability to support online stores of various sizes.
In 2015, Magento released Magento 2 with improved scalability, page caching, and code structure, lower table-locking issues, in-built snippets, and more. It offers two platforms:
- Magento Open Source: It’s a free and open-source platform that lets developers modify code and customize it based on their requirements.
- Magento Commerce: It’s the premium version with complete cloud capability that businesses can utilize and optimize their store’s performance and sales. It’s available in two types – on-premise (Cloud Edition) and Platform-as-a-Service (Enterprise Edition).
Magento is best for medium to large-scale enterprises as it’s sophisticated and needs an IT team to take care of the store’s creation and management. Some of the prominent users of Magento are Nike, Jaguar, Landrover, Nestle Nespresso, Liverpool FC, and Cox & Cox.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a global e-commerce platform founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, Scott Lake, and Daniel Wienand. It helps you create an e-commerce website using powerful tools to help you acquire more customers, manage day-to-day tasks, and drive sales.
Shopify is a Canadian company headquartered in Ottawa and serves over 1,700k businesses located in 175 countries worldwide, generating US$200 billion in sales to this date, as per Shopify’s website.
This proprietary solution uses the Ruby on Rails framework and offers an effortless way to build online stores. As it’s a fully hosted platform, you can use Shopify to simplify store creation and maintain it. With a no-code builder, you can even create stores without any programming skills. In addition, experienced developers can customize it to add more functionality quite easily.
Shopify can support any business of any scale, whether it’s a startup or a billion-dollar company. The top brands using Shopify are The New York Times, BBC, Raymond, Kylie, Gymshark, Red Bull Gmbh, Heinz, David Beckham, and Nescafe.
Magento vs. Shopify: What Are the Differences?
The primary difference in this Magento vs. Shopify comparison is that Magento is a self-hosted platform to build online stores for enterprises. However, Shopify is a managed fully-hosted platform. Let’s understand their differences against some parameters as defined below.
#1. Ease of Use
The e-commerce platform you choose must be easy to use, from creating the site to managing and maintaining it. Otherwise, you may face a lot of issues regarding the flexibility or technical aspects. Ultimately, it will impact your site, and your sales may decrease.
Therefore, go with a more straightforward solution that you can at least understand and make quick fixes. And if you are a developer, you must be able to play with it effortlessly to save your time and effort. Here’s how Magento vs. Shopify compares based on ease of use.
Magento: Magento’s learning curve is steeper. Although it comes with a clean interface, it needs coding expertise for store creation and management. Therefore, you need to hire a developer to handle the site or learn it, which of course, will take significant time before you can become a developer.
In addition, Magento’s setup is a bit complex, for which new developers may sometimes seek guidance. So, if you don’t know how to code or lack a developer, it’s better to skip it. Otherwise, you won’t be able to build your site the way you want or perform specific fixes if needed urgently. If you have a skilled developer, it can do wonders for you. But the bottom line is, Magento is not easy to use.
Shopify: Shopify is a lot easier to use compared to Magento. Whether you are a developer or not, you can use it to create a site, manage, and maintain it. It comes with a drag-and-drop site builder, themes, and extensions to make things easier for you. You can customize your store or make quick changes easily and find all the features in your admin dashboard. And if you face any trouble, you can always talk to your hosting provider.
Result: Shopify wins this point.
#2. Feature Comparison
Choosing between Magento vs. Shopify depends on how many useful features you get to meet your store’s functional needs. Here’s how it goes for two e-commerce platforms.
Magento: Magento offers a wide range of features to meet a variety of different business requirements, whether you have a medium-sized business or enterprise. Some of its great features are:
- Basic features: Magento offers various features such as shopping carts, collections, checkout modules, product pages, and built-in features.
- Inventory management: You can create unlimited products and sell them. But since it’s self-hosted, you may find reduced performance if you add too many products.
- Discount codes and coupons: You can offer discount codes and coupons to customers whenever you want.
- Multilingual capability: It offers multilingual support as its built-in feature to help you reach out to global customers.
- Blogging: You can add a blog section in your store with the help of a developer and customize it however you want.
- Marketing and promotion: Magento enables upsells, cross-sells, polls, recently viewed items, wish lists, and more.
- Other features: It includes more features like order tracking, email notification, advanced reporting, customer segmentation, newsletters, abandoned cart recovery, more.
Shopify: Its features are basic, not as advanced as Magento’s, but they can be enough for a startup or small business. Here are some features:
- Basic features: Like Magento, you get shopping carts, product pages, collections, checkout modules, and so on. But if you want to have some advanced features, you might need an extension.
- Inventory management: Shopify allows adding unlimited products easily. Here, Shopify excels because it integrates directly with a dropshipping inventory application.
- Discount codes and coupons: If you have Shopify’s basic plan, this feature is not available.
- Multilingual support: It offers no direct multilingual support; you’ll need an application and integrate it with your store. Or, you can hire a developer to custom code it for you.
- Blogging: Shopify offers an easy-to-use blogging functionality.
- Marketing and promotion: You get sitemaps, social media integration, SEO tags, customizable headers, metadata, URL keys, etc.
- Other features: It includes store management, detailed analytics (not in the basic plan), reporting, abandoned cart recovery, and more.
Winner: Shopify offers more features.
#3. Themes and Designs
Website design is crucial as it’s the first thing your customers notice in your store. Thus, let’s compare Magento vs. Shopify based on themes, templates, and designs they offer.
Magento: Magento’s list of themes is quite limited. There are around 16 themes in all, and you get both free and paid options. Among them, 10 are mobile responsive, and you can make others responsive using code.
Furthermore, if you are a developer, you can create themes all by yourself and update your designs, but it needs extensive coding. In addition, you can include product sliders, animations, newsletters, etc., in the store. However, its customization ability is higher.
Shopify: It has a vast collection of themes, over 100 free and paid ones to experiment with. You can use Shopify’s theme editor to customize a theme and make the design more suitable according to your store requirements.
Next, you can effortlessly add content, product images, logos, etc., in your store without hassles. You have the option to create themes from scratch by using its intuitive drag-and-drop builder and adding new elements. You can also easily include product images, logos, and content, manage colors, modify their looks, and a lot more capabilities.
#4. Performance and Speed
Speed is a vital aspect of the success of your online store. Even a second delay can decrease your conversion rates, and customers won’t stay on the page if it’s slow.
Magento: If you are self-hosting your store, you are responsible for taking care of its speed and performance. And if you take hosting services, the speed will depend on the hosting provider and their site optimization technologies. So, if you have a team, maybe you are good. But if not, you can get professional help from Magento developers.
Shopify: As it is a fully-hosted solution that takes care of speed and site performance. Shopify stores are relatively faster, and you would not face many issues unless you add too many products and extensions. And if any problem occurs, you would need to contact Shopify and resolve it.
Winner: No clear winner as the speed and hosting will depend on the host.
#5. Hosting and Security
Hosting and security are serious factors that require your attention. Your hosting provider must offer a scalable, easy-to-use, feature-rich solution to help you quickly create and manage your site while ensuring security.
Magento: As explained above, Magento can be self-hosted, or you would have to take a third-party hosting service like Nexcess. It may cost a few dollars per month based on different pricing tiers. Plus, you have the option to change the host if you don’t like the services.
For security, Magento offers tight measures such as protection from cross-site scripting (XSS) and clickjacking. They also issue patches and fix vulnerabilities to provide maximum possible safety. In addition, you can avail a hosting solution with impressive security features to further protect your store.
Shopify: As Shopify is a fully managed e-commerce platform, you don’t have to find a web hosting solution. They offer all the features included to run your site effortlessly. However, you don’t have the option to change the host.
For security, Shopify handles regular security patches, updates, and installs security certificates. It offers SSL encryption and is compliant with PCI to secure confidential data. However, if you want advance protection, you will have to contact Shopify; you can’t do things independently.
Winner: For hosting, no clear winner. For security control, the winner is Magento.
#6. Sales and Marketing Tools
Your e-commerce platform needs a good set of sales and marketing tools to help reach more people and generate more revenue.
Magento: It has a limited number of sales and marketing tools. Its sales tools are abandoned cart recovery, setting a fixed price and percentage discounts, checkout customization, and selling on multiple channels like eBay, Amazon, Instagram, etc.
Magento’s marketing tools are not as advanced as that of Shopify. You’ll require marketing extensions and applications to run campaigns and create strategies. However, its SEO tools are good that lets you edit URLs, meta tags, page descriptions, page titles and climb up the ladder in search engine rankings.
Shopify: Some of the fantastic sales tools are abandoned cart recovery, the option to sell both digital and physical products, selling on multiple channels like Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, etc. You can also partner with numerous courier services such as USPS, UPS, Canada Post, and DHL Express.
Shopify offers excellent marketing tools through third-party integrations, and you can sell directly on various platforms. For SEO, Shopify relies on applications to edit image alt tags, page titles, and more.
Winner: For selling and marketing, Shopify is better, but Magento is better for SEO control.
#7. Apps and Add-ons/ Extensions
You can use applications and add-ons or extensions to add more functionalities to your store and make it even more attractive to customers. Both Magento and Shopify support lots of apps and add-ons.
Magento: You can get more than 5,000 applications and extensions in the Magento Marketplace, including free and paid options. They are available for SEO, payment processing, sales, adding discounts and coupons, emails, creating campaigns, inserting banners, and more. However, you may need some coding skills to install, and without proper knowledge, you may mess up while installing extensions.
Shopify: It also has thousands of apps and extensions to choose from, both paid and free. They are available for email marketing, social media platforms, shipping, adding digital badges, analytics, and so on. Although the list is less than Magento’s, installing and using them in your shop is way easier.
Winner: If you are a developer, Magento is better with add-ons and extensions. If you are not, use Shopify.
#8. Customer Support and Community
Customer support is a necessity, especially if you don’t have much knowledge about the technicalities of your online store. And if you face a problem, you will need responsive, quick customer support to help you.
Magento: Magento has a strong community of hundreds and thousands of developers worldwide. This means you can easily find developers for your project. It also has excellent user guides to learn store creation step-by-step.
In addition, Magento offers 24/7 dedicated support in Magento Commerce and Commerce Cloud. Using the open-source edition, you can learn through lots of resources like tutorials, blogs, videos, etc., available online. Besides, you can also seek support from your web hosting company.
Shopify: Shopify also has a large community across the globe in 175+ countries. Because it’s a hosted platform, you don’t have to hire a developer necessarily to create and manage your store.
They offer 24/7 support via phone and live chat, social media support, email support, and a help center. In addition, you can avail yourself of advanced specialist support and learn through video tutorials and clear doubts in their community forum.
#9. Pricing and Payment Processors
What service you choose depends mainly on your budget. So, it’s vital to compare Magento vs. Shopify based on their pricing and what payment processing mediums they support.
Magento: Magento has three editions – one free and two paid. However, you will need a web hosting solution to power your store if you don’t want to self-host. Web hosting solutions are available for as low as $5/month to $200/month.
Moreover, if you have a large enterprise and need extensive capabilities in Magento, you can contact their sales team to get customized pricing for their paid editions.
For payment processing, Magento offers 150+ gateways, primarily aimed at larger businesses. It includes both paid and free options such as PayPal, Stripe, WorldPay, Converge, and more. However, it may require some work to install, so that you may need a developer.
Shopify: With hosting included, it simplifies the pricing as you don’t need third-party hosting. It offers three pricing plans:
- Shopify Basic: $29/month, for 2 accounts, 4 inventory locations, 2% transaction fees
- Shopify: $79/month, for 5 accounts, 5 inventory locations, 1% transaction fees
- Advanced Shopify: $299/month, for 15 accounts, 8 inventory locations, 0.5% transaction fees.
Shopify supports 100+ gateways for payment processing, including Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Stripe, PayPal, and more. Besides, you have the option of using Shopify Payments that requires zero fees for transactions.
Winner: Shopify’s payment process is easier to use, and for pricing, it’s a tie.
Conclusion: Which is better – Magento or Shopify? 🤔
It’s tricky to make a statement as to which one is better. The choice of e-commerce platform largely depends on your requirements, business scale and size, budget, and developer skills.
If you are a non-coder, want an easy-to-use platform, and are not looking to hire a developer to create and maintain your store, Shopify can be a better option for you. It also applies to small-scale businesses, startups, and freelancers with limited budgets in hand.
However, if you have an enterprise-level business, possibly spread worldwide, and want to have a fully customizable solution to meet your extensive requirements, you can choose Magento. You can hire a developer and let them handle everything for you. In addition, you can pair it with a good web hosting service to enjoy a hosted experience, features, and more benefits.