So, you’re about to start your own online store. You have an idea of what you want to sell. You’ve done some research here and there. You’ve even managed to list down a few potential competitors.
The only problem? You’re stuck on choosing the right eCommerce platform to use.
It turns out we are about to answer all of those questions and more in this guide.
We’ll compare Shopify and Magento on various important dimensions such as ease of use, features, integrations, design flexibility, pricing, and everything else that you need to know to make a data-informed decision for your eCommerce business.
Shopify is a popular user-friendly eCommerce engine that enables sellers to build and manage their online stores. Users sign up for a monthly fee that starts at $29 a month, register their store’s domain name, and design the store to what they want.
Once the store is set up, the seller can add products with prices, manage marketing campaigns, process orders, and accept payments from customers, making Shopify an all-in-one eCommerce solution for businesses.
There’s a large app store with thousands of apps that sellers can use to add different functionalities to their shops, a robust theme store with several modern templates to choose from, and a vast online community to provide support when needed.
One of Shopify’s biggest advantages is that it is extremely easy to use. Anyone with minimal technical skills can set it up and start selling in no time.
Magento is an Adobe-owned eCommerce software program. It is built for enterprise-class companies with larger eCommerce sites and a bigger budget.
As a matter of fact, for Magento to run appropriately, it requires experienced developers to set up and maintain it. This means the average person would find Magento difficult to use without knowing how to code — quite the reverse with Shopify.
Magento comes in three editions — Magento Open Source, Magento Commerce, and Magento Commerce Cloud. We’ll discuss more about each of these in detail later.The platform has customization options such as extensions, which can be obtained from the massive Magento eCommerce Marketplace.
Before we delve into this in-depth head-to-head comparison, let’s quickly look at what the stats say. This will help you see how each platform stacks up against each other:
|# of active users||1,266,000+ live websites according to data from BuiltWith||187,000+ live websites according to data from BuiltWith|
|# of merchants||500,000+ businesses||250,000+ merchants|
|Market share||21% (source)||9% (source)|
|Gross merchandise volume||$135+ billion USD (October 2019)||$155 billion USD per year|
|Years in operation||Since 2004||Since 2008|
|Estimated revenue||1.07 billion USD||$186.4 million (estimated annual revenue)|
|# of employees||1,200+ (data via Owler)||812+ (data via Owler)|
One of the biggest differences between Shopify and Magento lies in the infrastructure and architecture they run.
By understanding how they compare in terms of their infrastructures, you’ll be better positioned to understand how the two tools compare in the other aspects of comparison addressed in this guide.
As mentioned above, Magento comes in three editions:
Magento Open Source (formerly Magento Community) is the open-source edition of the platform designed for small businesses to download and use independently for free.
Anyone can access the code for free and edit it for their own use. To add advanced functionality, merchants have to use extensions from the Magento Marketplace or extend the basic features of the Open Source edition with custom-built extensions.
But building a Magento Open Source web store goes beyond just downloading and installing the software. You’ll have to take care of your own hosting, security, coding, backup, configuration and everything else needed to make your website functional.
Magento Commerce (formerly Magento Enterprise) is an on-premise solution and it provides more built-in advanced features than Magento Open Source. Such features include page builder, content staging, the B2B module, and preview. There are also advanced marketing features like customer segmentation, gift registry, store credit, abandoned cart emails, private sales, and rewards points.
With Magento Commerce, you also have to provide your own hosting, configuration, and everything else as it is an on-premise solution. As an on-premise solution, it is best suited for businesses with an experienced team of developers who are confident about hosting their own website in-house.
Magento Commerce Cloud is the only hosted edition of Magento and packs better features than Magento Commerce. It is a cloud-based infrastructure hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Magento Commerce Cloud has better security, improved support, faster loading time, and better marketing features than Magento Commerce.
Commerce Cloud has a number of packages available, with the most commonly used ones being Cloud Starter and Cloud Essentials. Some packages come with Adobe products such as Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Target, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Campaign, etc.
In summary, Magento runs:
Unlike Magento, Shopify runs only SaaS-based architecture. As a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform, you’re basically renting space on Shopify’s infrastructure.
Users can go either with the normal Shopify which has three cadres (Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify) or opt for the more advanced Shopify Plus.
Shopify Plus is the enterprise-grade version of the platform — a hosted solution built, customized and priced for high-end merchants and large businesses.
Next, we’ll explore the main features of each of these platforms to see what they’re made of and how those features compare.
You can view more Shopify features on this page.
The price of the eCommerce platform you use can impact your net profit, thus the need to compare prices before making a decision. Here’s how Magento and Shopify compare in pricing:
Magento’s three editions have their own individual cost.
Magento Open Source is free to download and use. But you’ll have to take care of hosting, development, and other requirements.
This table shows estimated costs of running an online store with the free Magento Open Source:
|Hosting||$5 — $1,000+ per month|
|Magento themes||$0.00 — $499 per theme|
|Magento extensions||$0.00 — $499 per extension|
|Magento development and design (in-house or agency)||$1000 — $100,000+ per year depending on the size of your business|
|Magento maintenance and ongoing support||This depends on your negotiation with the development agency or in-house team but can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars|
The cost of using Magento Commerce and Magento Commerce Cloud depends on your gross sales revenue. To develop an online store on either edition, you first have to create a Magento account to be able to buy a license.
The cost of the license starts from $24,000 and can go as high as $190,000 per year for the merchants that generate over $25,000,000.
On average, the cost of a basic Magento Commerce (on-premise) and Commerce Cloud website lies within the $24,000 – $50,000 range, however, it can be cheaper or more expensive depending on your business needs.
Unlike Magento, Shopify’s pricing structure is straightforward; you choose from any of its three paid plans, namely:
While the Open Source Edition of Magento is free to download, Shopify offers a 14-day free trial.
If you choose to pay full payment upfront for one year, you will get a 10% discount; if you pay for two years, you get a 20% discount.
Here’s a look at what is included in each of Shopify’s plans:
Looking at the prices of both Magento and Shopify, it becomes clear how wide the price difference is between the two platforms. A more reasonable comparison would be with Shopify’s enterprise grade solution — Shopify Plus.
Shopify Plus starts from $2,000 per month and is targeted at big brands with large sales.
Are there hidden Shopify fees? Well, the only other fees Shopify charges are transaction fees (which we’ll address later).
It’s time to take a look at the pros and cons of the two competitors — Shopify and Magento. These pros and cons are tailored to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each of the platforms over the other.
|Shopify is beginner-friendly and super easy to use||Compared to Magento, Shopify does not really give you full control. All your files and store data are kept with Shopify|
|There are many themes to pick from, including free and paid variants. Shopify themes are generally less expensive than those of Magento||No free plan is available other than a 14-day free trial|
|There’s a highly engaged online community and numerous partners to provide support. The company itself has a rock-solid support service that new or non-technical users can rely on||Shopify Payments attracts zero transaction fees but additional transaction fees are charged for using external payment gateways|
|About 3795 apps are available for extending the functionality of your online store||Customization are limited to theme and platform capabilities|
|All of Shopify’s plans come as a fully hosted solution. You also get a domain name and all the tools needed for building your web store||Themes and apps attract extra costs other than the cost of the normal plans|
|Shopify offers its users the ability to sell on multiple channels including online, offline, social, and mobile — all from one place||There’s a limit to the number of orders you can process with the three pricing plans|
|Shopify has an enterprise grade version — Shopify Plus — that suits the needs of bigger brands. This is a worthy competition to Magento|
|Compared to Magento, Shopify’s pricing favors the online retailer. There’s even an inexpensive plan ($9/mo) for lite users|
|A free, open-source version is available||Magento Commerce and Commerce Cloud editions are expensive|
|It can accommodate small, medium and large scale businesses||It requires a programmer to set up and run a website as working with Magento demands high-level skills and coding knowledge|
|Themes and templates are available on the marketplace and you can create uniquely-designed templates from scratch if you have the resources||Although Magento has a large community of users, the number of professional Magento developers is limited. This means higher prices and less choices for the user|
|Merchants can process considerably more orders per hour on the same hardware, delivering near-instant service response time for catalog browsing||In comparison with other eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento is more time-consuming to customize and manage|
|A great number of built-in features and functionality for running your store are available||Poor technical support is often associated with Magento, especially for the free Open Source edition. The official Magento forum is inundated with spam due to a lack of organized monitoring, thus offering poor content. Paid support is expensive because developers and consultants charge fees for services|
|Magento is highly flexible being available as open-source, on-premise, and cloud software||Using Magento Open Source or Magento Commerce means you’ll have to, on your own, deal with the hassle associated with hosting, security, backup, and everything else|
|Magento is big on scalability; so it does not matter how big your business gets, you won’t need to switch platforms||Magento often requires a dedicated server to host it as other normal web hosting platforms may not be able to run it efficiently. And the server you use should be one that you and your developer are proficient in|
|Its responsive design makes it mobile-friendly||The free open source edition has a limited number of features|
|Magento’s many integrations and extensions means you have an abundance of options when it comes to third-party services and adding features/functionality to your store. Plus, you can develop your own custom extensions||The Magento Themes marketplace has a limited number of themes (17 at the time of writing), out of which only one is free. If you want more, you’d have to develop it yourself|
If you’ve been wondering what the key differences between Shopify and Magento are, this section will show you everything.
|Ownership and Storage||Shopify is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company. So on Shopify, you’re basically renting a space, as all of your site’s content and files are stored and run within Shopify’s servers. This includes the domain name, hosting, site content, store data, customer information, and so on.||Magento is an open-source platform, which means you own everything. You can download the software and deploy it to whichever environment you want. You can store your files anywhere you want, including on the servers of any web host of your choice or on your own on-premise servers.||Magento|
|Ease of Use||Shopify boasts of a platform that is extremely easy to use. It is developed for non-techies who want to get their online stores up and running in no time. This is one of the easiest eCommerce platforms to use.||Magento takes the opposite seat to Shopify when it comes to ease of use — it’s hard to use. In fact, to set up and keep running Magento successfully, you’ll need to have at least one to 3 competent programmers. If you’re thinking of using Magento on your own, be sure you’re first proficient in coding.||Shopify|
|Design Flexibility and Customization||In comparison with Magento, Shopify offers less customization; you have a limited set of design options to work with. In some respects, this is enough for certain online stores. Design changes and customizations are mostly made from the admin area in your Shopify dashboard using the Theme Editor.||As an open-source/on-premise platform, Magento allows for the customization of pretty much any aspect of design and enables you to create your own store from scratch. You can change the code and implement whatever customization that makes sense for your digital store.||Magento|
|Hosting||Shopify comes with its own hosting as well as domain name. This means you won’t have to spend extra money on domain name and servers elsewhere. Shopify claims that it’s hosting solution offers unlimited bandwidth and 99.98% uptime.||Whether you’re using the free Open Source or Magento Commerce, you’ll still have to pay for your own server elsewhere. This means an extra outflow of $5 – $1000+ paid monthly depending on the web host you use. Magento Commerce Cloud is the only hosted infrastructure (with AWS)||Shopify|
|Features and functionality||Shopify packs a bunch of features within the core software itself. But if you want additional functionality, you can add third-party apps which are readily available on the Shopify app store in their thousands, although this may amount to extra cost.||Just like Shopify, Magento has its own built-in features. But the built-in features may not be enough, so running additional functionality means you’d have to install extensions from the Magento Marketplace. It is also not uncommon for merchants (especially large businesses with dev teams) to develop their own custom features and functionality.||Tie|
|Inventory management||Shopify offers an inventory management system that tracks stock count, sends an automated reminder to sellers to place orders or manufacture more products when stock hits a certain low, and allows the seller to update inventory numbers when new shipment arrives.||The inventory management functionality on Magento comes with features like concurrent checkout protection, stocks for tracking available aggregated quantities through assigned sources, shipment matching algorithms, etc.||Tie|
|Calculation of shipping charges||Shopify offers competitive shipping rates from USPS, UPS, and DHL Express. Merchants can apply general rates, price-based rates, weight-based rates, free shipping, or calculated shipping rates.||Shipping offerings in Magento include flat rates, table rates, and carrier integrations with USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. Merchants can set their own shipping rates based on weight, destination, price, or number of items.||Tie|
|Coupons and Discount codes||Merchants can create discount codes, set up automatic discounts, or set sale prices for individual products. You can also create codes for a percentage, a dollar value discount, or a free shipping discount. Buyers can enter discount codes online during checkout, or in-person if you’re using Shopify POS.||Magento lets sellers create different coupon and discount codes, including rule-based coupons. For example, shopping cart price rules can be created to apply a discount when a set of conditions is met, like a customer making a purchase over a certain amount.||Tie|
|Payment gateway options||Shopify supports hundreds of payment gateways including PayPal, Apple Pay, iDEAL, Google Pay, Braintree, Amazon Pay, Authorize.net, credit/debit cards, and more.||Magento Open Source supports a wide range of payment solutions and gateways including PayPal, Braintree, Stripe, Authorize.net, Amazon Payments, 2Checkout, and credit/debit cards. But it’s nowhere close to Shopify’s options.||Shopify|
|Transaction fees||While Shopify Payments attracts no transaction fees, sellers who use external payment gateways are charged additional fees of 2%, 1% or 0.5% for Basic Shopify, Shopify, or Advanced Shopify plans, respectively.||Magento does not charge any transaction fees. Magento store owners only pay the payment processors themselves.||Magento|
|Set up fees||There are no set up fees.||There are no set up fees.||Tie|
|Themes and Templates||There are over 100 free and premium modern eCommerce website themes on the official Shopify Theme Store, going for between $0 – $180 each.||Magento has a limited number of themes on the Magento Themes Marketplace. They sell for between $25 – $499 per theme. But most Magento users hardly ever use those themes as they usually have a team of devs creating custom designs for their sites.||Shopify|
|SEO capabilities||Shopify is built with SEO in mind. Built-in features like ‘SEO Product Tags’ and numerous SEO apps like ‘Plug in SEO’ make it much easier to optimize your shop for top ranking.||Magento comes with all the major SEO settings, so the out-of-the-box SEO of Magento sites is reasonably fine. Think of Google Sitemap support, SEO-friendly URLs configuration, plus there are helpful SEO extensions to add.||Tie|
|Multilingual capabilities||You can enable multiple languages in the admin area. This creates separate localized URLs for the translated content so that when customers land on that URL, your store automatically shows the translated version to them in their language.||You can create multiple store views in your target languages. But it requires some level of technical knowledge to set it up properly. Here’s how to do it.||Shopify|
|Blogging functionality||Shopify comes with a built-in blogging solution that you can use to run a full-fledged blog.||To add a blog to your Magento site, you’ll need to use an extension. There are several free and paid blog extensions on the Magento Marketplace.||Shopify|
|Support and knowledge libraries||Sellers can access support 24/7 via email, live chat, and phone. Other support channels include Shopify Help Center, a dedicated YouTube channel, and a bunch of helpful content all over the web.||Magento generally has poor support at the Open Source and On-Premise levels. Support gets somewhat improved for Magento Commerce Cloud users but it costs more. Third-party services that offer support do so at high prices.||Shopify|
|Payment Card Security||Shopify is certified as Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. This is the highest level of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Businesses using Shopify to sell are automatically PCI DSS compliant as Shopify offers integrated payment gateways that allow sellers to securely transmit credit card data.||Open Source and Magento Commerce users mostly take care of their security. Commerce Cloud is level 1 PCI compliant and its users are allowed to use the PCI Attestation of Compliance to facilitate their own PCI certification process for securely transmitting credit card data.||Tie|
|Apps and Extensions||Shopify has a massive app store with apps for all sorts of functionality and add-ons. At the time of writing, there are about 3795 free and premium apps on the store.||Magento has an official Magento Marketplace with about 5837 extensions, which can be used to add different functionality to your Magento store. Prices range from $0 – $399.||Tie|
So, which of these two eCommerce solutions should you use?
This totally depends on your business needs and goals. Each platform — Magento and Shopify — is built to efficiently meet the needs of its own set of users. So here’s what we think:
If you decide to go with Magento, ultimately, the key decision will be whether to go with Magento Open Source, Commerce, or Commerce Cloud. If you’re not ready to deal with the headaches of hosting, security, and other requirements, then Magento’s platform-as-a-service Commerce Cloud is best. If you’re experienced in running on-premise solutions, Magento Commerce will fit your needs. If you’re out only for a free software program you can edit and run on your own and can build custom extensions for, then Open Source makes sense.
Here’s a brief comparison of the ideal users of both Shopify and Magento:
|Shopify Ideal User||Magento Ideal User|
|Shopify is great for small or mid-market businesses who want their online store in one affordable place, but still want to be able to own the design, customization, and choices of payment gateways, shipping options, and so on. There’s also Shopify Plus, which is built to handle anything high-volume merchants throw at it. Large businesses find Shopify Plus to be a better option than spending huge time and money on developing and running an expensive in-house eCommerce solution.||Magento is perfect for big brands with a large amount of sales and high business complexity, who run mission-critical websites. These are mostly businesses who are willing and able to deal with the technology of hosting, programming, and doing everything else to have their eCommerce stores running on the cloud or on-premise. Small, mid-size businesses and startups with a strong urge for customization who are ready to work with code or coders and host their own online stores will also find the Open Source edition of Magento useful.|
Here’s a look at some popular online stores that are built on Shopify:
Both Shopify and Magento are well-built eCommerce platforms with extensible feature sets and functionality. However, they are meant for two different sets of users.
Magento is more suitable for enterprise-level companies while Shopify mostly attracts small and mid-market businesses.
But with the free open source edition of Magento, there’s no harm in smaller companies trying out Magento. And with Shopify Plus designed for bigger brands, high-volume stores have a cheaper alternative they can use.
Magento’s full control and unlimited customization advantages come with a price tag though – it is harder to use and often requires coding assistance. Shopify is way easier to use but may limit your data ownership and control.
We also found that Magento is more expensive than Shopify when considering the overall cost.
As you might have realized, ultimately the platform you choose depends on your specific business needs and goals.