Selecting the right ecommerce platform requires entrepreneurs or business owners to consider multiple facets of their online business.
Making such a decision means you must first understand your store’s size, the number of products you have available, the payment and shipping options you offer, and what you envision for your store’s user experience. Choosing the right platform also means finding one that balances your unique requirements as a merchant with those of your customers.
In this article, we will compare Shopify vs. Magento: two leading ecommerce platforms that feature large online communities. While both platforms offer unique ecommerce store experiences, they differ significantly in almost all areas — including their target audiences. The Magento platform is aimed at larger enterprise-level businesses, while the Shopify platform targets small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and those looking for ease of use over functionality.
Let’s take an in-depth look at Shopify vs. Magento below. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Shopify vs. Magento: By the Numbers
- Weighing the Pros and Cons of Shopify vs. Magento
- Magento Pros and Cons
- Shopify Pros and Cons
- Key Differences Between Shopify vs. Magento
- Designs and Themes
- Mobile Responsiveness
- Ease of Use
- Payment Gateways
- Apps and Extensions
- Inventory Size
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Sales Tools
- Customer Support
- Shopify vs. Magento: Summary
Shopify Versus Magento: By the Numbers
According to the latest BuiltWith data for Magento and Shopify, Magento currently has more than 182,000 live ecommerce stores. Shopify has more than 3,766,000 live ecommerce stores. 1.05% of Magento stores are featured within the top 1 million sites globally, compared with 2.71% of Shopify stores. 1.57% of Magento stores are featured in the top 10,000 sites globally, compared with 4.44% of Shopify stores.
Despite the number of sites using Shopify, Magento is known for its opensource software, incredible functionality, and ability to customize the ecommerce experience. This means it’s more likely to be used by enterprise-level ecommerce stores that want to make shopping more personal for users. Shopify, however, is proprietary software and offers a more templated platform with fewer options for user personalization.
|Total Live Sites||182,670||3,766,071|
|Total Extensions or Apps||3,524||7,000+|
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Shopify vs. Magento
Magento Pros and Cons
|Magento Pros||Magento Cons|
|Advanced functionality: Magento offers incredible functionality compared to almost any other ecommerce platform. This makes it one of the most versatile options for merchants looking to create personalized customer experiences — especially if they have a developer team behind them.||Difficult for beginners: Magento was not designed for those looking to take their first steps into building an ecommerce store. While there is a page builder in the works for Magento Open Source, you still need either coding knowledge or a developer to get started.|
|Streamlined shopping cart options: Shopping cart customization can translate into real return on investment (ROI). As one of the most vital stages of a customer’s journey, the right options during a potential purchase can make the difference between a customer clicking “Purchase” and adding on additional cross-sold products and services.||Expensive: While Magento Open Source is free, hosting is not. Hosting can cost hundreds of dollars if you’re running a large store. It can cost you more than the Shopify equivalent, but you’ll likely get more for your money by self-hosting.|
|Extension expandability: Magento has built a reputation for flexibility, scalability, and functionality when it comes to the extensions the platform offers.|
|Supportive community: Magento’s community is an asset that is not talked about enough. Loyal community members provide the ecommerce platform with a lot of support that other non-open source applications don’t have.|
Shopify Pros and Cons
|Shopify Pros||Shopify Cons|
|Ease of use: Shopify is designed to be a simple ecommerce platform that provides owners with an easy way to get started selling quickly. Pages can be easily customized, as can products. While this customization is nowhere near Magento’s, it’s enough to get started.||Transaction fees per sale: Using a third-party payment gateway (also known as a payment processing service) can cost an additional 2%, 1%, or 0.5% for Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, respectively.|
|Free themes: Shopify has several free themes to help you get started. They require no coding, are responsive, and look modern.||Lacks functionality and customization opportunities: As we’ll explore later in this article, Shopify can’t compete with Magento in terms of functionality and customization.|
|Inclusivity: Shopify is managed through a single point of contact. Instead of managing your store on multiple fronts, you’re able to access and do everything in one place.|
|Less expensive: Once you’ve gone through everything you’ll need to add to your Magento budget, Shopify is often the less expensive option.|
Key Differences Between Shopify vs. Magento
Designs and Themes
In terms of design, both Magento and Shopify hold their own. However, Shopify offers a more direct design experience for beginners from the get-go. Shopify’s available stock themes come in free and paid options, provide a modern look, and can be tweaked to align with your brand’s image. These tweaks can include:
- Changing color schemes throughout the site
- Applying custom images to products and pages
- Changing how newsletter signups work
- Editing the action bar and navigation text
Suppose you’re coming into ecommerce with limited experience or are on a limited budget. In that case, Shopify’s stock themes open a world of online store creation you won’t find with most other more complex pieces of software.
On the other hand, building a theme in Magento can be a long process that requires coding knowledge. However, the rewards can be massive. A customized Magento build allows you to create a unique storefront, unlike anything Shopify offers. This includes:
- Cross-selling and up-selling blocks throughout your site
- Advanced search functionality with tools like Elasticsearch
- Featured product sliders and hero carousels
- Expanded footer functionality including newsletter sign-ups
- Advanced cart and payment integration
Of course, websites don’t just need to look good. They also need to cater to mobile users—especially with Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices, which primarily use mobile website versions for indexing and ranking new websites.
It’s no wonder that Google has decided to make mobile a priority. Mobile commerce sales hit $359.32 billion in 2021, an increase of 15.2% over 2020. By 2025, retail mobile commerce sales are expected to more than double, reaching $728.28 billion and accounting for 44.2% of retail ecommerce sales in the U.S.
However, if you’re willing and able to develop your ecommerce store, Magento shines in terms of the mobile experience. We’ve seen some fantastic mobile designs from agencies and merchants alike. Many Magento stores make great use of fluid product grids, mega menus, and unique layout customizations.
Shopify also offers some of these features — but in a mobile-first world, maintaining a store that gives you great functionality and code clean enough to sparkle in terms of SEO means you’re going to be a lot more successful.
Ease of Use
When comparing Shopify vs. Magento, Shopify takes the lead regarding ease of use. This platform is known for enabling merchants to create easy-to-navigate, well-designed online stores quickly. Shopify features a simple drag-and-drop admin interface that makes creating new pages a breeze. This is something you won’t find within the Magento platform.
However, with Shopify’s simplicity comes a lack of versatility — but you can find this missing versatility within the Magento platform. Aside from offering a host of built-in customizations and functionalities, Magento also offers an innovative extension marketplace. Its library of extensions provides several functionality options you can also find with Shopify, but many are exclusive to the Magento platform. Magento’s acquisition by Adobe has also led to other added functionality and integrations for the ecommerce platform — many of which Shopify can’t compete with for enterprise-level clients.
If you’re looking for ease of use, Shopify is the way to go. However, if you’re willing to put in the time and energy needed to learn and create an incredible customer experience with Magento, it will likely perform better than Shopify.
Magento is known as an ecommerce powerhouse. Between built-in functionality and add-on extensions, it stands as one of the most adaptable ecommerce platforms available. By default, Magento is engineered to give merchants complete control over the customer experience. This means creating and selling fully customizable products and managing them across multiple stores if needed.
On the other hand, Shopify offers enough functionality for SMBs to grow. Their ecommerce platform makes it easy to do a lot of things without having to code even a single line. This includes:
- Inserting custom images to create a personalized experience
- Adding products and SKUs to your store
- Setting up optimized payment options
- Personalizing the customer experience and the look and feel of your store
However, your monthly premium will increase as you require more advanced functionality. You’ll have to pay more than $29 a month if you want to use gift cards, build professional reports, and implement advanced shipping options.
Both Magento and Shopify offer access to many payment gateways, including PayPal, Braintree, and others. Shopify currently supports more than 100 payment gateways, while Magento supports 340. However, if you decide to use external payment gateways with Shopify, you can expect to pay additional transaction fees. As we mentioned earlier, Shopify external transaction fees can cost an extra 2%, 1%, or 0.5% for Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans. If you use Shopify Payments, you can waive these fees.
One of Magento’s greatest strengths is payment processing for international merchants. Magento offers several payment processor options that support different countries and languages. Because 65% of global online consumers prefer content in their language (even if it’s poor quality), offering a multilingual experience is vital to target international merchants successfully.
Apps and Extensions
Once you’ve got your store up and running, you may find some functions and features you want are missing. This includes advanced checkout options, improved search functionality, and expanded payment options. Both Magentoand Shopifyhave an answer to this, and it comes in the form of one-click add-ons that you can download and install on your site. Shopify calls these apps, while Magento calls them extensions.
Delving into the app and extension options available to merchants on Magento and Shopify, the first thing you might notice is the difference in the number made available for each. The Magento marketplace offers over 3,524 extensions, while Shopify’s marketplace offers 7,000 apps. But it’s not just the quantity of add-ons that matters when analyzing Shopify versus Magento — it’s also the quality.
Shopify apps allow merchants to:
- Integrate their store with social and shopping channels.
- Add additional shipping options.
- Make basic edits to necessary SEO data.
Magento extensions allow merchants to:
- Add advanced, pre-ordered functionality.
- Draw insightful analytics into how well a product is doing.
- Integrate marketing and analytics software into the ecommerce platform.
- Leverage powerful advertising tools both internally and externally.
Comparing some of the more popular add-ons for each platform shows that Magento is genuinely geared towards delivering a custom user experience.
|Yotpo Reviews||Facebook Channel|
|Amasty Improved Layered Navigation||Instagram Channel|
|Amasty Customer Attributes||Oberlo|
|Aheadworks Ajax Cart Pro||Point of Sale|
|Aheadworks Add Free Product to Cart||Klaviyo|
Unfortunately, Magento’s extensions (in general) are more costly than Shopify’s apps. Luckily, Magento has many intermediate and advanced features built into its ecommerce platform. With Shopify, merchants often need to download an app, that is if they can find a comparable feature at all.
The Magento and Shopify platforms enable merchants to include an unlimited number of products. They also allow you to integrate shipping and fulfillment extensions into your store, making inventory management easy.
However, the larger your inventory becomes with Magento, the more likely you will run into performance problems if you don’t upgrade your hosting account. Shopify has similar issues — but because Shopify hosts your store, they will encourage you to upgrade your account before you start to experience slowdowns.
“The larger your store becomes, the more products you have to manage in terms of search, deliverability, and more. Magento’s support for Elasticsearch and personalized product delivery make it perfect for that.”
Shopify makes it easier to manage inventory and performance through one point of contact. However, with Magento, you’ll likely have to get in touch with a developer, your hosting provider, or the Magento community to help enhance site performance as your inventory grows.
When using Magento, we recommend finding a Magento-optimized hosting provider like Nexcess. This will provide you with a fully managed service. In some cases, with a managed Magento hosting provider, you may even find that your store is faster and more reliable than its Shopify counterpart
Magento is resource-intensive, requiring a robust hosting environment to back it up. It’s common knowledge that a merchant’s hosting infrastructure can start to feel the strain as more product SKUs are added. Backed by over a decade of experience, Magento offers an optimized solution that uses caching to improve site performance. This solution can’t be found elsewhere.
Shopify, on the other hand, is a lightweight application. As a result, it runs quickly in most environments and can hold more product SKUs on the same hardware that will only run a smaller Magento store. However, Shopify doesn’t have the same level of functionality as Magento.
Personalized shopping experiences with Shopify can be limited to occasional product recommendations and cross-selling. Running a site on an optimized hosting platform can significantly affect actual page load times. Ultimately, this means that the better your hosting platform, the better your sales.
Magento is such a resource heavyweight because of everything going on behind the scenes. This includes true personalization of the ecommerce experience, cross-selling, up-selling, customized shopping cart experiences, and more.
Magento will run smoothly if the server is configured correctly. In 2018, we saw 64% of our hosting solutions run Magento. When asked why they chose Magento, merchants cited uptime and functionality as the two primary reasons — indicating that performance makes a difference.
While Shopify requires minor optimization, Magento reigns as the performance champion due to the added functionality that comes with it. By offering customized customer experiences, it’s almost certain a Magento ecommerce store will perform better in terms of ROI.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In the battle of Shopify vs. Magento, both platforms are strong SEO contenders. However, while Shopify is better from an ecommerce beginner’s perspective, those with some SEO knowledge will get more out of a Magento installation. The primary reason for this is the extensions available and the ability to conform to coding best practices.
Magento doesn’t just let you edit metadata; it also enables you to make vital product and on-page customizations that can provide you with an SEO boost you won’t find in a software as a service (SaaS) product. Additionally, if you’re looking to start optimizing for longtail keywords, adding a WordPress blog to your Magento store is a relatively simple process.
Magento leads the way in customization options available for users, including customizing the SEO process manually.
Security should be at the top of any merchant’s ecommerce store must-have list. With changes to how Google handles security, sites that lack an SSL certificate are subjected to unsecured site warnings before shoppers can proceed. Without an SSL certificate, websites can experience many problems, including non-compliance issues, cyber-attacks, and a lack of trust from both search engines and online shoppers.
While Shopify manages the integration of an SSL certificate, Magento requires you to purchase and install it separately. This process can be handled for you by a managed hosting provider, but you’ll need to find one first.
Patches and Updates
Shopify manages patches and updates for their customers, while Magento requires you to do this manually. While Magento’s method requires more time investment from the merchant or developer team, it also provides more flexibility.
This is, in large part, due to Magento’s incredible community of ecommerce developers and contributors. Magento frequently releases dedicated security patches resulting from constant testing and development by a community of developers well-versed in ecommerce store requirements.
Shopify, on the other hand, is only managed by in-house talent. This makes for a much smaller pool of resources to create and deploy fixes for security problems. While a Shopify bounty program rewards users who find vulnerabilities, the fixes themselves are managed internally.
For merchants to process credit card data, they need to comply with the Payment Card Industry (PCI). Shopify manages this internally. However, finding the right Magento hosting provider will make managing PCI compliance just as easy. PCI Compliance is a necessity for large, modern ecommerce stores. Without it, processing credit card data securely becomes impossible.
Magento is the clear security winner here. While it’s true that Shopify makes security more accessible, Magento community support can’t be matched. Moreover, by searching for and finding the right hosting provider, managing security with Magento can be just as easy while still providing the flexibility you won’t find with a SaaS platform.
A quick look at the pricing for Shopify vs. Magento makes it seem as though Magento is the cheaper option. However, while Magento is open source and free, there are several other costs to consider. As a Magento merchant, you must consider prices involving hosting costs, security costs (such as SSLs), and developer fees. Developer fees can be the largest, with some Magento stores costing several thousand dollars just to create.
Of course, Shopify comes with its costs, including transaction fees if using an external payment gateway. Add to that the price of a developer (if you decide to go that route with Shopify), and you can quickly see costs start to rise. If you’re merely looking for a less expensive option, Shopify is the better choice. It’s also a lot more predictable in terms of cost, with a clear, monthly payment in addition to a transaction fee per sale.
Re-Platforming From Magento 1
For merchants re-platforming from Magento 1 to Magento 2, the vast majority of the most popular Magento 1 extensions have received updates. This means the re-platforming experience shouldn’t be challenging in terms of continued extension support. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for those looking to move to Shopify.
While offering its impressive array of apps, Shopify doesn’t cover some of the advanced features merchants have grown to love with Magento. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the additional features that go together with an Adobe product. “Re-platforming from Magento 1 to Magento 2 is going to avoid a lot of pitfalls related to moving to Shopify.”
Which Platform Is Best to Migrate To?
Both Magento and Shopify have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to site migration — and picking the right platform will have far-reaching consequences for the future of your store.
Your decision should be based on two core questions:
1. How much do you currently use Magento’s intermediate and advanced functionality?
2. What budget do you have for re-platforming?
If you’re using a lot of Magento’s built-in functionality and it’s leading to an increase in sales, we highly recommend making a move to Magento 2. Losing some of those features if migrating from Magento 1 to Shopify may end up being a disaster you won’t recover from.
However, if you’re not using those added features and are looking to save money, Shopify may be the right option. Of course, don’t forget about other options that are easy to use and implement, such as WooCommerce or BigCommerce. Both offer merchants the accessibility features of Shopify but with more potential for additional customization.
When comparing Shopify vs. Magento, each platform offers its unique tools that enable merchants to streamline online sales.
Some of Magento’s best sales tools include:
- One-page checkout that’s fully customizable
- Real-time shipping rates from UPS, UPS XML (account rates), FedEx (account rates), USPS, and DHL
- Ship to multiple addresses in one order
- Save unpurchased items for the shopper’s next visit with a persistent shopping cart
- Create flexible coupons for specific stores, customer groups, periods, products, and categories
- Offer free shipping options
- Add Facebook, Twitter, and email links for sharing products
A few of Shopify’s best sales tools include:
- Sell via a variety of different online sales channels, including your online store, the Shop app, Instagram, Facebook, and Handshake
- Abandoned checkout recovery (ACR), which sends automatic emails to customers who leave a store without completing the checkout process
- Create discount codes, set up automatic discounts, or set sale prices for individual products
- Carrier shipping rates calculated in real-time
- Advanced customer reporting that shows at-risk and loyal customers
- Built-in fraud analysis
- Manual order creation through Shopify admin panel
Both Magento and Shopify have a wide range of built-in sales tools that come standard with the platform. However, if you’re looking for more advanced tools, you must upgrade your Shopify plan or purchase additional extensions via the Magento Marketplace.
Customer support is a vital component of any ecommerce platform. Both Magento and Shopify offer several avenues for merchants to get the support they need to troubleshoot common roadblocks and create innovative web stores. Shopify provides customer support via:
- Shopify Help Center
- Shopify Community forums
- Video tutorials
- 24/7 phone/live chat support
- Shopify Changelog
Magento provides merchants with several customer support resources, such as in-depth user guides from Magento developers, a community support knowledge base, and training videos. However, because Magento is an open source platform, merchants won’t have access to a dedicated support team like they would when using Shopify.
Shopify vs. Magento: Summary
Determining whether Shopify or Magento is better for your online store depends on what you want to do with it and your level of site-building experience. Shopify is great for beginners, but Magento offers more experienced users a wealth of design and theme options you just won’t find in simpler ecommerce applications.
Moreover, if you’re thinking about re-platforming and making the move from the Magento 1 platform, then Shopify will be a big let-down in terms of functionality. As a result, you’re more likely to see a search engine ranking drop after you re-platform to Shopify. Magento 2 is a much safer re-platform option.
Final Thoughts: Is Magento Better than Shopify? Or Vice Versa?
We’ve concluded that it depends on your store’s needs. Do you want to create unique customization? Magento is better for creating personalized experiences customers won’t find anywhere else. Looking for simplicity? Shopify is good for merchants looking to develop a simple ecommerce site that requires little coding or technical experience.
However, if you have either technical experience or a team of developers, we highly recommend Magento. With functionality you just can’t find anywhere else and an open source version driven by an incredible community, it’s hard to beat. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in creating these unique experiences, Shopify can provide a simple, customer-friendly storefront.
Get Started With Managed Magento Hosting
If you’re looking for ways to secure Magento 2 and optimize its performance, sign up for Nexcess’ fully managed Magento hosting. Our plans include Magento-optimized hosting environments, nightly backups, and 24/7/365 security. Browse our plans to get started today.
This blog was originally published in November 2019. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.