Magento vs Shopify Comparison: Which One is Better?

Categories: General
Magento vs Shopify Comparison: Which One is Better?

Choosing the most appropriate web-based business solution for making, overseeing and keeping up an online store is very important, as it very well may be the factor that decides success or failure for your business. This should matter the most for small companies since they often have to operate with constrained budgets.

There is a wide range of eCommerce platforms that allow businesses to build and run online stores, yet probably none are more famous than Shopify and Magento. Shopify has established itself as a strong player in the hosted website solution market, while Magento is one of the greatest players with regards to bigger, progressively complex eCommerce businesses. While they’re different platforms, we’d like to compare Magento against Shopify to see which one can suit your business the most if you’re planning to choose either of them or switch from one to another.

Now, let’s jump into the details of what each of these platforms is and how different they are from one another in many different aspects ranging from pricing, speed, features to designs. At the end of this article, you will be able to decide which platform is the most suitable for your current state of the business.

Table of Contents:

What is Magento?

Magento logo
Magento logo

Magento is a self-hosted website builder solution. And, first of all, there are two versions of this platform that you need to know: Magento Trade and Magento Open-source.

  • Magento Open-source: Earlier known as Magento Community, Magento Open-source is the free form of Magento that can be downloaded, modified, and self-hosted.
  • Magento Commerce: Some time ago, Magento Commerce came in two versions, Magento Enterprise and Magento Enterprise Cloud. Those two versions have been bound together, leaving users with Magento Commerce, a premium version of Magento that incorporates cloud-hosting as a feature of the membership charge.

Magento Open-source is accessible for everybody to download for free. It’s an open-source platform that is free to use, and you can broaden and design your website on the platform however you see fit. Likewise, Magento Open-source users have access to a tremendous range of extensions and themes, and are upheld by a growing user community.

Magento Commerce, in comparison, is a premium version with costs beginning from $22,000 yearly if you use Magento 2. This fee can rise if your company’s GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) is over $1 million. As you’d expect, Magento Commerce gives you more functions, including advanced marketing features, targeted promotions, and customer-reward programs. On top of that, you will get 24/7 support from Magento’s technical team. Magento Commerce users can also choose between an on-premise deployment and a cloud-hosted solution. The latter carries an even more expensive price tag, but will give you a cloud-hosted environment, enabling you to enjoy the benefits of a SaaS eCommerce solution.

In this article, I won’t address Magento Commerce further because this solution is not suitable for most new online eCommerce businesses because of its price tag. In the following, the comparison is between Magento Open-source and Shopify.

What is Shopify?

Shopify logo
Shopify logo

Shopify is a web application that allows you to make your own online store. It provides you with a wide range of formats that can be modified to meet the needs of individual customers and enables either physical or advanced products to be sold.

Some of the key concepts behind Shopify is that users with no technical or design experience can build a shop without the help of a design firm or web developer; however, people who are familiar with HTML and CSS would be delighted to find that Shopify enables you to edit them, allowing you a lot of control over the design of the templates.

Since Shopify is a hosted service, you don’t need to think about buying web hosting or upgrading applications anywhere; the core of Shopify is providing virtually everything you need to create and run your store out of the box.

You can set up a Shopify store to add more features at a later time by adding apps or using custom technology. Shopify is a service software called “SaaS” device. This means you don’t have to pay a subscription fee to use it. You can run the store anywhere you have access to a web browser and the Internet.

Magento vs Shopify Comparison

Magento vs. Shopify
Magento vs. Shopify

Magento vs Shopify: Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons Comparison
Pros and Cons Comparison

Magento Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Better community support for users: The Magento forum has the ability to answer all your questions inline. You can easily find answers to any questions in a large database of user-generated content.
  • Flexible Platform: Magento is a fully flexible platform that gives you complete freedom to design a store.
  • Price: Magento is a free basic platform that is public domain and free to use, but you have to pay for your hosting.

Cons:

  • Hard to use: this is a tricky platform for non-technical people. Magento is difficult to master, and users should have good coding skills.
  • Time investment required - The platform requires significant time investment to build a store and run it.
  • Hosting and application cost: Although it is free to use, the cost of hosting and the applications is relatively high.

Shopify Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Mobile-enabled storefront themes: Shopify continually optimizes desktop switching for different devices and screen sizes.
  • App Store functionality: Shopify is a full-fledged designer of e-commerce websites with a large application store to extend the functionality of your website.
  • Easy to use: Shopify is easy-to-use, and offers 24-hour support to solve any problem you may have via chat or email.

Cons:

  • Transaction fees: The only platform that charges its own transaction fees (unless you use Shopify Payments).
  • Theme change: Content is not automatically reformatted when the theme is changed.
  • Cost of apps: costs of applications can add up quickly as you add additional functionality to your website.

Magento vs Shopify: Pricing

Pricing Comparison
Pricing Comparison

Due to the nature of Magento and Shopify, it is no wonder that their price structures are different. Before I dive into that, I’m going to mention the similarities in their pricing first.

Magento has an enterprise version – Magento eCommerce – and a cloud version – Magento Commerce Web – for which you will need to pay around $22k and more for licenses, as well as additional costs for using the cloud platform, which also includes functionality like Fastly CDN. Magento’s pricing can differ depending on your custom design. But the open source program is free of charge.

In comparison, Shopify has Shopify Plus, which starts at $2,000 a month, and then rises depending on how much functionality you need. However, most people reading this post either have not started their eCommerce business or are at the stage of their start-up development. So, I won’t talk further about the business versions of both platforms. Now, let’s get into how much Magento and Shopify costs to build a website for start-up companies.

Magento Pricing

Magento’s open-source community edition is different in functionality from the Magento Commerce version, but most of the additions are not a major difference for startups. The Magento open-source platform doesn’t charge you anything to download and use. What you need to do is purchase a hosting contract.

Magento is better off with a decent hosting. If you don’t have the best, your backend will slow down, so you wouldn’t be able to keep up with orders when they arrive. So, don’t hurry to the cheapest package when you buy your hosting. Have an eye out for bandwidth and any additional optimization packages. Be careful when you see “unlimited bandwidth.” Review the terms and conditions, the appropriate scope of usage, and the knowledge base to know the actual limit you face. This significantly affects how long your site is up, particularly if you’re getting a large amount of traffic.

On top of hosting, you’re going to have to take into account the expense of hiring Magento developers. Access to good Magento web developers is available on the market, but most of the time, it’s expensive; the cost could reach up to $100 an hour. I’m not trying to discourage you or something from using Magento. But that’s just how much it costs to use this platform. However, if you’ve got the money or you’ve been a Magento developer before, that part shouldn’t be a problem.

The launch of a Magento Open-Source web store goes beyond downloading and installing the app. Additional costs for coding, setup and hosting will also be incurred. In my experience, the price for a Magento basic website, which includes standard features, a paid theme and no integration with any external systems and services, is about $15,000. Remember that this is not a monthly payment, but a life-time payment. If you want to get a monthly number, you need to divide this $15,000 by the number of months for which your website would be up and running (12, 24, 36, 48 months, etc.).

Shopify Pricing

Shopify Pricing Plans
Shopify Pricing Plans

Shopify’s pricing structure is different. It’s self-hosted, so you won’t have to pay a separate fee for hosting. You, however, will need to buy your domain name. The most popular Shopify plans are: Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify.

The basic Shopify plan provides enough functionality for most online stores; sell unlimited digital and physical products and sync with Amazon, eBay and Facebook. The Shopify plan allows gift cards, retail hardware support, and professional reporting for the increased cost. With the Advanced Shopify plan, you receive all of this along with real-time third-party shipping.

The key problem with Shopify, which Magento does not have, is transaction fees. Depending on the package you chose, you can pay between 1% to 2% for each transaction if you accept credit card or e-wallet payments from third party-payment gateways.

Pricing Winner:

It’s obvious that it’s way cheaper to get started with Shopify than with Magento.

Magento vs Shopify: eCommerce Performance

Performance Comparison
Performance Comparison

In terms of overall results, Shopify is doing better than Magento. This comparison is based on criteria including the loading time, the speed of both mobile and desktop, and the SEO ranking.

Platform Performance Load time Mobile Speed Desktop Speed AVG SEO traffic
Shopify 3.9 1.3 63 75 11717
Magento 2.8 4.8 39 43 19408

Load Time

On average, ecommerce store builders will be loading in around 3.2 seconds. Shopify beats that entirely with the average loading speed of about 1.3 seconds. If you want to use Shopify, there’s no need to worry about how quickly your website can load.

Magento is not that much of a good player. While its loading time isn’t all that bad, it doesn’t match the norm. The average load time of Magento stores often falls in the range of 2 - 4 seconds. You can improve Magento loading speed in many ways, but that optimization is performed by you, so you will either need to learn how to do it or hire somebody to do it for you.

SEO

Magento is more effective, but Shopify makes it easier for the average users to control. Magento adds an .html to the end of the product and category URLs. Although this doesn’t have a big impact on SEO, it could add length to your URL and make it harder to read. You can get rid of this part in the Admin Panel, which is the easy part. Then, there’s the /index.php/ string which makes your product URL end up like this: https://examplestore.com/index.php/example-product/. You’ll need to learn how to edit your .htaccess file to delete it. If you go in there and hit something wrong, you may mess up your entire store. So, the support of the developer might be needed here again.

While the Magento URL structure is complicated, that makes it better for SEO than Shopify. On Shopify, if you have two strings added to the URL: /collections/ and /products/. If you’re going through a search engine, you have /products/ only. Having /collections/ is not that bad for a big store with a lot of categories, but if you sell a few items, it doesn’t make much sense. Also, these two strings are default in Shopify and you can’t get rid of them.

Except from the URL structure, Shopify and Magento have many similarities. It’s easy on both to edit your title, meta description, and add tags. What makes Magento better than Shopify when it comes to SEO is that Magento allows you to interfere with the embedded coding of your website much more deeply, so you can generate more impactful SEO optimizations.

Blogging

Apart from advertising, blogging is one method that can attract huge traffic. Publishing high-quality content about the product, and your target audience will drive customer traffic and create trust. Shopify has a built-in interactive blog. If you want to take it further, you can use apps such as the Shogun Page Builder to create templates for user-friendly, long-form posts.

It’s not that easy on Magento. You’re going to need an extension to get a blog function. There are a lot of them for this fortunately.

Futher Reading:

PageSpeed

Much like loading time, Google PageSpeed is a vital factor you need to take into consideration before you select an eCommerce platform.

Shopify loads fast on both PC and mobile devices (75/100), but Magento is relatively slow – it landed well below the average speed, ranking 43/100 on PC. That’s just not good enough. Again, you can improve PageSpeed of Magento to match that of Shopify with tools available on the market, but that requires technical skills.

Winner

Shopify has an advantage here due to fast loading time and speed, but these are stuff you can optimize for Magento. SEO-wise, you will be better off with Magento than with Shopify.

Magento vs Shopify: Features

Features Comparison
Features Comparison

The key functionality of Magento and Shopify is largely similar in that both apps offer a simple way to sell goods online, manage your inventory, measure shipping and customize your shop for search engines.

Apart from that, you can add a range of ‘add-ons’ or features so that your store suits your exact needs. Since Magento started out as an open-source web framework, it’s more versatile when it comes to adding features – as long as you’re able to get comfortable with the technical side of things.

Magento Features

There are three aspects that I think Magento is definitely better at than Shopify: selling in various languages, delivering coupon codes, and integrating with Ebay. With Magento, you have the option to sell your store to customers in a variety of different languages; Shopify does not actually support this function ‘out of the box’ at the time of writing this article.

As far as coupon codes are concerned, both Shopify and Magento offer them, but in the case of Shopify, only on more expensive plans (Magento offers them as standard). Finally, Magento Go works incredibly well with Ebay – you can run both your Ebay shop and your Magento shop using a single control panel.

Shopify Features

Shopify wins over Magento in two main areas: its out-of-the-box blogging features and its user interface. It provides blogging features as a standard.

While not as fully featured as the WordPress blog, Shopify’s built-in blogging tool is a fantastic way to add blog content to your site, which means you don’t have to think about things like using a third party blogging platform, branding it to suit your store, creating a subdomain for it, and so on.

Features Winner:

If you want to get all of the necessary features right out of the box, Shopify is the option to go for. If you’re comfortable with technical stuff, and want to customize your store exactly the way you want it to be, then Magento should be suitable. Keep in mind that the initial investment to get started is always larger with Magento than with Shopify.

Magento vs Shopify: Integrations

Integrations Comparison
Integrations Comparison

When you operate on other eCommerce platforms, such as Amazon and Ebay, apart from your website, you might want to optimize your ordering process. On top of that, if you run a dropshipping business, it’s necessary to integrate with your suppliers. Many other integrations that might matter to you, depending on your business model and business activities.

Magento’s Integrations

Magento comes behind Shopify in terms of integrations and most of the integrations require manual deployment. You’re going to need technical assistance for that. That said, you can integrate with the feed and analytics of Facebook and Google easily and free of charge.

If you have an Amazon website, you’re going to have to invest in a paid extension to tie all storefronts together. Same thing with eBay.

Customer feedback is great for your business. Hardly anybody these days would purchase a product without checking out social proof, particularly when it’s not from Apple and the big brands. You can add email marketing automation tools, such as Drip or MailChimp, with a free extension. You can add Google User Ratings for suggestions if you have extra money to spend.

Just to be clear – with Magneto, you can pretty well integrate with anything, but you’re going to need a developer, and it doesn’t do that far out of the box:

Magento Out-Of-The-Box Integrations Free Download (Hosting not included)
Alibaba No
Amazon 2 Way Sync No
Amazon Checkout Yes
Amazon FBA Integration No
Drop Shipping Integration No
Ebay 2-Way Sync No
Facebook Sync Yes
Google Ecommerce Analytics Yes
Google Product Data Feed Yes
Google Customer Reviews No
Email Marketing Automation No
Paypal Checkout Yes
Printing On Demand (PrintFul / Printify) No
USPS Integration Yes
WordPress Integration No
User Generated Content Automation No

Shopify’s integrations

Built-in feature to integrate your website with the Amazon and eBay store? Included. Facebook and Google analytics integration? Included. Are you going to need to fulfill orders using Amazon? If you do, you’ll love the built-in Amazon integration that Shopify provides. I appreciate that marketing automation is done free of charge, and it’s simple and safe for dropshippers to connect to suppliers. You will be better off sticking with Shopify if you want to do dropshipping. That’s because AliExpress Dropshipping and every other Dropshipping software you need is free of charge.

There are just a couple of services you will need to spend money on; among them are Alibaba and Google’s user feedback. Have a look at the complete list of out-of-the-box features:

Shopify Integrations And Plans

Basic Shopify
$29/month

Shopify
$79/month

Advanced Shopify
$299/month
Alibaba
No No No
Amazon 2 Way Sync
Yes Yes Yes
Amazon Checkout
Yes Yes Yes
Amazon FBA Integration
Yes Yes Yes
Drop Shipping Integration
No No No
Ebay 2-Way Sync
Yes Yes Yes
Facebook Sync
Yes Yes Yes
Google Ecommerce Analytics
Yes Yes Yes
Google Product Data Feed
Yes Yes Yes
Google Customer Reviews
No No No
Email Marketing Automation
No No No
Paypal Checkout
Yes Yes Yes
Printing On Demand (PrintFul/Printify)
No No No
USPS Integration
Yes Yes Yes
WordPress Integration
Yes Yes Yes
User Generated Content Automation
No No No

Integrations Winner

Shopify wins here obviously. It comes with much more features right out of the box even with the Basic plan. With Shopify, you will barely have to deal with technical stuff, and your store can be up and running right after you pay for your plan.

Magento vs Shopify: Theme Design

Theme Design Comparison
Theme Design Comparison

A lot of the time the eCommerce solution people go for is decided by the templates (a.k.a themes) offered by the platform and their price. Both Shopify and Magento offer a few free themes out of the box. For me personally, Shopify’s themes are better in appearance: they are far more modern and sleek in terms of look and feel.

One thing that is worth mentioning is both Shopify and Magento allow you to customize your template extensively, so you can always start with a free template that you are not 100% pleased with and modify it until you’re happy with the results.

However, if customizing free templates is not to your taste, both platforms allow you to purchase and install a wide range of additional templates from third parties. Prices differ by template, with Shopify themes costing between $80 and $180. Magento paid themes can be much less expensive; lots of them are available at $49 - $99.

When comparing between Shopify and Magento themes, one thing that’s certainly better about Shopify is its template store. Shopify’s theme store is much simpler to use, because you can browse themes by category, price and features. In comparison, Magento just lets you search by category.

Theme Design Winner:

Pricewise, Shopify costs much more than Magento for themes, but for me personally, that higher cost is worth it because of the contemporary and user-friendly nature Shopify themes have.

Magento vs Shopify: Ease of Use

 Ease of use Comparison
Ease of use Comparison

To me, Shopify is the winner here – the interface is tidy, user-friendly and, generally speaking, intuitive. Its ease of use arguably is what Shopify is most famous for. It’s very well suited to those who are new to website development.

Its step-by-step / checklist approach to building a website makes it very easy to get from scratch to launching a fully-fledged eCommerce store, and its content management system (CMS) makes it very easy to maintain your site. Customizing themes is also very simple to do in Shopify – you can do a lot from the control panel without having to go close to the code.

Magento’s user interface isn’t bad, but it feels more like a CMS system that is more suitable for experienced website developers than small business owners who want to set up a shop but have no experience creating or maintaining websites.

Winner:

It’s certainly Shopify. Shopify is highly recommended for newbies who are new to eCommerce and not familiar with website development.

Which one is better? Magento or Shopify?

The answer is it depends on your needs and experience. If you have experience with coding and web development, Magento should be a great option for you as you can build a store exactly how you see fit without unnecessary built-in features.

On the other hand, if you are an eCommerce newbie, I’d recommend you to stick with Shopify. You can launch a fully functional website within a day with Shopify, which can hardly be done with Magento. Using Shopify will also be a no-brainer as the platform is optimized for non-tech users.

Keep the initial investment in mind too. In the long run, if you’re planning to run your business over a long period of time (years or decades), the monthly cost with Magento might be lower than Shopify. However, the initial investment that Magento requires is much larger than Shopfy, so if you’re planning to try out an idea, Shopify is a safe bet.

Final words

I hope this article has given you clear insights into the strengths and weaknesses of Shopify and Magento. There’s no best eCommerce platform, but there’s only one that suits your needs best. And now, after having all of the needed information, you will have to decide for yourself.

If there’s anything important about these two platforms that I have not mentioned, please leave a comment below so that other eCommerce fellows can learn from you too!

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