Magento Vs Shopify (2020): Choosing The Right E-Commerce Platform

Choosing a suitable e-commerce platform for your online store isn’t always a walk in the park. Beyond the idea of going digital, understanding how the platform actually supports your business is critical. Magento’s open-source nature, for example, offers expansive room for customization and scalability. On the other hand, Shopify’s packaged solution banks on user-friendliness and responsive customer support. Which then should you choose? Here, we look at the fundamentals and highlight some of the most important features of Magento and Shopify to help you make an informed decision.

Magento vs Shopify Comparison Chart

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NameMagentoShopify
TypeOpen source e-commerce platformSubscription-based e-commerce platform for online stores and retail POS systems
HostingSelf-hostingCompany-hosted
CostFree to use but with self-hosting costs:

Web hosting: $4-$1000 monthly
Themes: $29-$499
Domain name: $10-$15 annually
Magento Apps: Free to $699

Subscription plans

Basic Shopify: $29 per month Shopify: $79 per month Advanced Shopify: $299 per month

Payment GatewaySupport for PayPal, AmazonPay and Stripe, and 150 third-party payment integrationsShopify Payments, and third-party payment gateway options
Payment Options and FeesSubject to third-party payment gateway processing feesCredit Card: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction

Third-party payment providers (including Amazon Pay and PayPal): 0.5% to 2%

Extensions and Add-OnsOpen-source community with over 5,000 free and paid extensions and add-onsStandalone Shopify AppStore with both native and third-party applications
CustomizationYes, with 16 themes; expansive room for customization and scalability

Open source code

Yes, with over 100 free and paid-for themes and templates; SSL-certificate included

Proprietary code

Multi-lingual supportBuild-in multilingual capabilityThird-party app, or through a Shopify developer
Customer SupportResource center, phone and email customer support24/7 phone and live chat support
Inventory ManagementUnlimited productsUnlimited products
ShippingAllowed, with multiple, configurable shipping ratesThird-party calculated shipping rates for Advanced Shopify plans
Ideal ForLarger organizations with resources and technical expertiseSmaller businesses looking to go online

Cost

Magento is free to use but you’ll shell out on hosting costs compared to Shopify’s all-in-one plans.

When choosing Magento, keep in mind additional costs that could go higher than Shopify’s monthly fees. 

Right out of the gate, it’s important to note that Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SAAS) while Magento is an open-source software. This fundamental difference has immediate implications in terms of cost. As a commercial product, Shopify requires users to pay a subscription fee. Magento, on the other hand, is free to use, although an Enterprise edition does come with an upfront cost.

Unlike Shopify which is hosted by the company, Magento is a self-hosted solution with users in charge of their own hosting service. So while using the platform is free, you’ll be shelling out money for hosting and app costs, which can be pricey. In addition, bandwidth and hosting packages vary wildly, coming in as low as $2.75/mo or as high as $1,000/mo, depending on the features you’ll get. Dedicated servers, SSL certificates, and customer support can all push monthly fees higher. If you’re looking for dedicated hosting, consider HostGator or Bluehost for affordable services with commendable security.

Interestingly, the Basic Shopify plan at $29/mo already includes hosting services, unlimited bandwidth and storage, free SSL certificate, as well as 24/7 customer support. If you opt for the Shopify or the Advanced Shopify plans, you’ll get more benefits, including lower fees for third-party payment processing options. In contrast, Magento doesn’t have its own payment gateway option, so sales will be subject to the processing fees of the payment gateway you choose.

Themes and Customization

Shopify has plenty of themes to choose from but Magento’s open source code offers more scope for customization. 

Here’s a look at Magento’s minimalism theme—one of the 16 it offers.  

While setting up Magento will be more expensive than Shopify, you do get impressive room for customization and scalability. The platform is feature-rich, offering support for cross-selling and upselling features as well as access to an impressive range of extensions and add-ons. You also get a modest number of themes to choose from. But because it’s open source, anyone can modify the template code to suit the specific needs of your online business. This will, however, entail the technical expertise of a developer.

If you’re a beginner, Shopify’s fully customizable themes will be more appealing. Because of its drag-and-drop feature, you don’t necessarily need coding experience to build your online store. In a way, Shopify is quite akin to Wix. Both platforms allow users to adapt themes, customize palettes and fonds, and add elements to your page. Lastly, all of Shopify’s themes are optimized for mobile, too.

On the downside, Shopify uses its proprietary code. While this shouldn’t be a problem for simple online stores, larger organizations will find Magento more flexible platform for the advanced functions they need. In addition, these businesses will most likely have the resources to hire a developer who can maximize Magento’s features.

Ease of Use

Using Magento requires some coding knowledge while getting started on Shopify should be easy for non-developers. 

Shopify’s suite of e-commerce features are easy to learn and add to your online store.

End users will definitely find Shopify easier to set up thanks to its intuitive interface. Building a website is a relatively straightforward experience, with menu driven methods that make it simple to change the basic attributes of their store. Plus, you get dedicated customer support 24/7.

On the other hand, Magento will require some coding knowledge. There’s a steep learning curve when using this platform, and its inherent flexibility makes it more difficult to navigate. With the roll-out of Magenta 2, however, some of these difficulties are being addressed. New ready-made extensions have also been introduced offering non-coding solutions for some common issues.

Add-ons and Extensions

Magento and Shopify offer an impressive range of add-ons and extensions that boost your store’s e-commerce functionality. 

The Shopify app store features a range of app integrations that should suit any business need. 

Speaking of extensions, both Magento and Shopify support more advanced tools that your business may require. Magento, for example, boasts of thousands of free and paid extensions, thanks to its large community of developers. From integrated marketing campaigns to custom discount coupons, the 5,000+ add-ons in Magento is a treasure trove for e-commerce capability. Plus, these extensions do not require coding, so it’s as simple as adding them to your website.

While Shopify only has half of Magento’s offerings, they are more than enough to extend the functionality of your online store. The range of app integrations in the platform include dropshipping, SEO site audits, marketing campaigns, as well social media feed integration. Keep in mind, however, that Magento’s extensions are often less expensive than Shopify’s.

SEO

Shopify comes with built-in SEO features but Magento allows for more customized SEO efforts and digital marketing strategies.

With Magento, online stores can develop bespoke solutions for their unique, business needs.

Unlike Amazon for example, using Shopify and Magenta as your e-commerce platform doesn’t come with a built-in audience of shoppers in the millions. You’ll have to work hard to get traffic to your website.

Thankfully, some basic SEO features are available on Shopify. As mentioned, all the themes are mobile-responsive and come optimized for any kind of device. You can also optimize product and inventory pages, and edit meta tags. The built-in SEO also means search engines will easily find all your content, so long as they follow a logical hierarchy of categories.

Meanwhile, the open-source nature of Magento means businesses can implement custom SEO strategies that fit their store design and digital marketing efforts. With Magento 2, some nifty SEO features have also been introduced, including URL customization, rich snippets, and Google Tag Manager.

Verdict

Magento is a more powerful platform that can be leveraged by larger organizations while Shopify should be great starting-point for smaller businesses.

Both Shopify and Magento are exceptional e-commerce platforms for your business. Which one you should choose, however, depends on your goals, resources, and capabilities. Smaller businesses will certainly find Shopify easier-to-use. Its all-in-one package is the ideal solution for end users on a budget. On the other hand, tech-savvy users will greatly benefit from Magento’s powerful customization and SEO capabilities. While you won’t go online as fast as when you use Shopify, you do get more scope for scalability. This makes Magento ideal for sizable businesses with the resources to hire developers who can leverage the platform’s features.

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