OpenCart, BigCommerce, AbanteCart, Joomla, WooCommerce, Volusion... There are dozens of eCommerce solutions on the market. But when it comes to market shares, the most popular platforms are Magento and Shopify. Both of them have big communities consisting of developers, regular users, and business owners.
Since both platforms have excellent reputation, great set of features, and their general application is similar, choosing one of the eCommerce solutions for your online store may become a challenge. Naturally, both Magento and Shopify have their strengths and limitations, and your task is to understand which platform would work better for your business.
We are not going to take sides. This blog post's main objective is to help you make an informed decision about which platform is the perfect solution for your eCommerce project. After all, any of these content management systems are a decent option. Picking one platform over another will only depend on your goals and priorities.
Table of Content
Magento vs Shopify: Key Differences
Despite the similar functionality, Magento and Shopify have different ideologies, priorities, and – most importantly – core audiences.
Shopify: First Look
Shopify was launched in June 2006, and then the API and Shopify Apps were added in 2009.
Shopify is huge. According to information from Shopify, today, the platform hosts more than 4,5 million stores in 175 countries of the world. Their net revenue in the 2022 fiscal year was $5.6 billion dollars, with good growth dynamics.
As far as CMS is concerned, Shopify has a reputation as a simple product. Its plug-and-play mentality works great for customers who have just started out or have recently migrated from another platform for a better price or functionality.
Magento: First Look
The first version of Magento was released in 2008. Since then, the platform has gone through a major generation change, upgrading from Magento 1 to Magento 2. In reality, Magento 1 and Magento 2 are extremely different platforms, both in architecture and technology. We are going to focus on Magento 2 here since it's more secure and offers much more capabilities, not to mention that the company stopped supporting Magento 1 in 2020.
In 2018, Magento was acquired by Adobe, and later, renamed Adobe Commerce. In the article, we'll refer to the platform as Magento to avoid confusion.
Magento's big idea revolves around giving developers as much flexibility and customization freedom as possible. The downside of this approach is that you get a platform that requires.
Magento is a system with its own rewards, but the resources it requires can be hard to provide for customers with a minimal maintenance budget.
Magento vs. Shopify: Core Target Audience
When we are talking about core target audiences, you'll see that there's some overlap between Magento and Shopify. But, in general, both platforms have very distinct feature sets attracting different businesses.
First, let's take a look at Shopify clients. This is what the core Shopify customer base looks like:
- Customers who are new to online retail. This group is looking for a simpler option: something that doesn't cost too much but at the same time is easy and reliable. They don't know a lot about managing a store and, in some cases, can't even use a PC very well. That's why the fact that Shopify basically builds itself is a big point in favor of the platform. All they need to do is pick a nice-looking theme and add their goods to the store. Once they know how to refill stock, receive payments, and ship stuff, they’re good to go.
- Customers who came from a different platform. This is a more diverse crowd. It consists of users who weren’t happy about their online store's look or operation on another platform. They could have moved from WooCommerce because of security issues and frequent hacker attacks. If they migrated from Magento, they might have gotten tired of its complexity. Or maybe they abandoned OpenCart after months of frustration with keeping extensions bug-free and up-to-date. For these users, Shopify is secure, user-friendly, fast, and cheap. This is what they came for, and this is exactly what they get.
- Long-time Shopify users. These users have been around for a long time. They have grown their businesses alongside Shopify and know the platform inside out. They understand both its strengths and weaknesses and still stick around. It's not uncommon to see larger shops hosted on Shopify. However, most of the time, as the store becomes bigger, it tends to migrate to a more flexible platform.
As you can see, Shopify attracts aspiring entrepreneurs, mom-and-pop shops, dropship startups, and traditional small businesses.
You should also understand that Shopify serves big brands: there are about 32,341 Shopify Plus live websites. That's not a huge number when you compare it to the basic Shopify users. The breakdown looks like this:
Source: Shopify & You
Magento's core audience is different from that of Shopify:
- Mid-sized businesses create the bulk of Magento stores. As they grow, store owners become aware of the limitations of their platform. When they just start out, most eCommerce platforms could satisfy their needs. But with time, their need for customization grows, and it's harder and harder to find a good fit for the online store. They do the research and discover Magento as an alternative. Why? Because building a unique or highly customized experience on other platforms is not viable. Magento also comes with a cost of its own. But at this stage of business development, they can already handle that kind of investment in their store.
- Major brands need Magento even more. There are two factors that play into why large stores prefer Magento over other platforms: they need high customization and flexibility and have the budget to pay for it. It's much harder for smaller stores to justify the cost of running a Magento store. In general, a smaller business operation will be intimidated by the number of resources they need to invest in order to set up the store and keep everything going.
Magento vs Shopify: Pricing Comparison 2023
It's hard to accurately estimate how much money you need to develop and run Magento or Shopify stores. All businesses are different – they have different goals, needs, and budgets. To give you a better understanding of the price range, we've made the table:
|Basic plan cost
|Free (Magento Community Edition)
$32 per month ($24 if paid yearly) and 2.9% + 30¢ per CC transaction for Basic Shopify.
Additional 2% per transaction when using anything other than Shopify Payments.
|Advanced plan pricing
$22,000+ for Magento Enterprise Edition.
Up to $125,000 for high-earning stores.
Magento Cloud costs
$40,000+ depending on your Gross Sales Revenue.
$92-$399 monthly for advanced Shopify plans ($69-$299 if paid yearly) with 2.4%-2.6% + 30¢ per CC transaction (additional 0.5%-1% per transaction when using anything except Shopify Payments).
Shopify Plus (which is the equivalent of Magento Enterprise Edition) starts at $2,000 per month.
|Development cost (average, per month)
|Hosting (average, per month)
|Included in Shopify Pricing Plans
|Third-party services (average, per month)
As you can see, your total costs will depend a lot on your needs here. Do you want to gradually install new extensions? Are you ready to invest in fancier hosting options to speed up your online store? Do you want? What about load handling or advanced traffic monitoring options? The possibilities to spend money here are endless. The costs add up to create a unique expenditure pattern for your own store.
Note: A lot of users think that Shopify is cheap. It's not always true for a couple of reasons:
- Building a heavily customized Shopify store can be really expensive – which makes it comparable to Magento development costs. Imagine the need to deploy additional servers in order to add unique functionality or support third-party integrations. The amount of effort and know-how is as high as for Magento development: just take a look at the or .
- App subscriptions can really make up a hefty sum at the end of the month. An average Shopify store has six apps installed. Imagine paying $40 a month just for a single app!
- Other apps are free but include a paid action, such as an image upload that could cost $1 per file. Depending on your needs, that can turn out to cost a fortune.
Magento: expect to pay $7,000-$140,000 to set up a brand new Magento 2 store in 2023. To be able to better compare the cost of running a Magento store, we have four separate guides that cover every aspect of building an online store on top of this platform. Browse these reads to get a clear understanding of the cost.
Start your journey with the article covering
Shopify: expect to pay $30-$100,000 to set up a brand new Shopify store in 2023. The final cost will depend a lot on your desire to invest in the hosting infrastructure, extension development based on Shopify API, and other customizations.
We can't determine the winner in terms of cost, as while Shopify is cheaper, it doesn't offer as many capabilities as Magento. Let's call it a tie.
Magento vs. Shopify: Ease of Use
Magento might be challenging for non-technical users. While this eCommerce platform gives consumers total control over their website, installing and setting up a Magento eCommerce store takes a thorough understanding and skills in coding. The Commerce edition makes things simpler with its Page Builder, but not every business will be ready to pay extra for this plan.
With Shopify's drag-and-drop website builder, you can simply modify your store by rearranging the items on the page in any way you like. Put simply, Magento is only for web developers, but users of all technical backgrounds can use Shopify.
Considering the aspect of usability, Shopify is an obvious winner.
Magento vs Shopify: Customization Options
Magento Marketplace holds more than 5,000 third-party extensions and custom themes for Magento 1 and Magento 2 stores. Magento is the ultimate playground for those medium and large businesses that require customization, modding, and tinkering. Its flexible nature allows developers to do almost anything with your store. If you can't find the right Magento extensions you need on Magento Marketplace, just make them yourself. It's neither easy nor cheap. But it's very doable.
As far as themes are concerned, the eCommerce platform offers 11 fully responsive ones. The design of the themes may be updated from the backend, which requires the assistance of professionals yet makesmore flexible than Shopify ones.
Shopify offers 140+ themes, which are mobile optimized and can be easily customized with the drag-and-drop editor. However, Shopify themes are only slightly modifiable, allowing you to alter color palettes, change images, block placements, and fonts, and add social media feeds. For those looking for more tailored solutions, ourcan assist in creating a unique and personalized online presence.
Shopify App Store offers more than 8000 apps and extensions of various capabilities, from advanced customer support to shipping and warehousing solutions. They can be easily integrated without any side help, which is perfect for small businesses. Despite all the benefits, there are several ways Shopify limits store owners in terms of customizability:
- Restricts stores from using their own payment gateway,
- Has an extremely simplified product category structure,
- Limits custom theme use to Shopify Plus users,
- Doesn't offer advanced search options,
- Doesn't cater to users with custom Checkout requirements.
As you can see, both CMSs have their pros and cons in terms of customization. While Magento is more customizable due to the possibility of editing code, Shopify provides a worthy alternative in the form of various themes and a rich Shopify app store.
The main conclusion that can be made here is that Magento is more suitable for larger online stores, and Shopify is perfect for small enterprises. Yet, Magento would win here, as the majority of Shopify's customizations are only made with applications that might affect page loading speed. Magento, on the other hand, is a blank canvas on which developers may construct anything they like.
Magento vs Shopify: Scaling Options
Magento sites can be resource-intensive. To ensure the platform scales effectively, you might need to invest in performance optimization techniques like caching, content delivery networks (CDNs), and database optimization.
Since Magento is created for large enterprises, scalability capabilities are provided. In general, Magento 2 scaling is well-researched and has a lot of working solutions. You just need to know what to look for. Magento has a wide selection of tools to deal with scaling:
- Performance-focused core configurations,
- Load-resistant database engines and DB configs,
- Magento-optimized hosting solutions,
- Heavy-duty caching techniques with a multi-tiered architecture,
- A wide range of third-party services,
- Magento Enterprise has native support for load handling.
Mind that with the Open Source edition, users are responsible for their own hosting provider, which means you can choose a hosting plan that matches your scalability requirements. Magento Commerce offers a cloud solution that is scalable, but it requires a higher budget.
Since Shopify manages the hosting, they also handle many of the performance optimizations to ensure that the platform scales correctly. They work with the infrastructure, ensuring that it can deal with increases in traffic and transactions. Shopify Plus, the enterprise solution, is designed to handle a high volume of visitors and sales. It also offers features like advanced API rate limits, multiple storefronts, and dedicated support.
With Magento, you can do anything, but if something breaks, you are on your own. If Shopify breaks, you have to wait until it gets fixed by their team.
No winner here. Both eCommerce platforms can handle huge loads and seamlessly grow along with your online store.
Magento vs. Shopify: Marketing Capabilities
Magento allows you to alter basic SEO features, like SEO-friendly URLs, meta title and description tags, SEO-optimized product and category pages, sitemaps, and Robots.txt files.
Additionally, Magento supports a robust collection of marketing tools that can be used to advertise your online business. These tools include the ability to create discounts, build landing pages for various categories, manage newsletters, and more.
As far as Shopify search engine optimization is concerned, you can still use fundamental SEO features to change the page's meta title, descriptions, and other search engine optimization settings. Yet, since Shopify users have little control over the software or hosting environment, it may be difficult to manage SEO factors as the company expands.
For instance, sitemaps are automatically created and are not editable since you do not have access to the Robots.txt file. Once your company reaches a certain size, you can realize that you wish to exert some influence over these factors to improve your rankings.
With the help of third-party integrations, Shopify offers excellent marketing capabilities, including the capacity to manage email campaigns. Also, Shopify allows selling and promoting goods directly on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
We can conclude that the solutions are equally well-equipped with marketing tools and capabilities.
Magento vs. Shopify: Security
With the Magento Open Source version, the security responsibility largely rests on the store owner. This encompasses duties ranging from hosting to applying security patches. However, the Magento Commerce version brings a cloud solution incorporating enhanced security features.
Shopify operates as a hosted solution, handling most of the security intricacies for its users. This service includes provisions such as SSL certificates, ensuring PCI compliance, and guarding against common online threats.
Both Magento and Shopify regularly release security updates and patches. The difference is that Magento merchants need to apply them by themselves, and Shopify updates all stores automatically, providing continuous protection without requiring direct intervention from the store owners.
PCI compliance is another significant differentiator. Magento stores, especially those on the Open Source version, need to ensure they are PCI-compliant if they are to handle credit card data. Shopify simplifies this by ensuring PCI compliance across all its stores. As for SSL certificates, while Magento store owners are tasked with procuring and renewing them, Shopify graciously includes them for all its domains at no extra charge.
In the unfortunate event of security breaches, Magento store owners are recommended to have their response plan or to lean on their hosting provider or development agency for guidance. Shopify, in contrast, possesses its dedicated incident response team, ensuring timely action in such scenarios. Additionally, while DDoS protection might be an optional feature for some Magento hosting solutions, Shopify guarantees it for all its merchants.
To sum it up, both platforms offer robust mechanisms to uphold security. Yet Magento, particularly its Open Source plan, demands a heightened sense of vigilance and management from merchants.
Magento vs. Shopify: Reporting
The Shopify Analytics dashboard allows merchants to choose report templates, which can be modified later by adjusting the columns and filters. What is more, it's possible to integrate Google Analytics into a Shopify store for further insights tracking.
The dashboard provides a snapshot of store activities, sales trends, and online visitor data. Merchants can analyze sales over specific periods by product, vendor, location, and even by discounts. Customer-centric data is available, tracking growth, sales by country, and differentiating between first-time and returning customers. Shopify also supports real-time insights via its Live View feature, displaying current site activity and visitor locations.
Magento offers a range of reporting capabilities to help merchants understand their business performance, customer behavior, and other essential metrics. The reporting features can vary based on the version of Magento you're using and any additional extensions or integrations you've added. Among the report types that you can obtain are:
- Sales reports, including order, tax, shipping, coupon reports, and more.
- Customer reports with order total, order count, and new accounts reports.
- Product reports consisting of views, bestsellers, low stock, ordered products, and download reports.
- Search Terms Report, displaying the search terms customers have used in your Magento store's search bar and how often each term was used.
- Tags Report, offering statistics on customer-generated tags for products.
The platform also allows integration with Business Intelligence (BI) tools for more comprehensive analysis and reporting.
Given that both systems provide adequate analytics services, let's consider the platforms equal regarding this aspect.
Magento vs. Shopify: Help and Support
Shopify support is available for all plans at any time through various channels, including phone, email, and live chat. Besides, the users of Shopify Plus can enjoy the services of a dedicated support team. The CMS also offers help from a network of third-party experts at an additional cost.
Magento, in turn, provides official expert support only to those who purchased the Magento Commerce plan. This includes technical support, security updates, and other features.
Most Magento Open Source users turn to the community if they have questions or require assistance. With such a wide professional audience, Magento forums tend to work wonders in difficult situations, not to mention that this kind of support is completely free. Yet, it might take time to get a response.
Both platforms take good care of the self-support resources, where you can find extensive answers to common questions. These can be articles, video tutorials, webinars, user guides, etc.
So, although you may be sure you'll find assistance needed on both platforms, Shopify's approach ensures more easy access to professional help.
Magento vs. Shopify: Shipping and Inventory
Shopify has a built-in feature called Shopify Shipping. This user-friendly service is tailored to streamline various aspects of shipping, making it easier and more cost-effective for Shopify store owners. Among its capabilities is direct integration with major shipping carriers like UPS, USPS, DHL Express, and Canada Post, ensuring discounted rates from the carriers and allowing stores to purchase and print shipping labels directly from their admin panel.
The tool assists with the custom forms and duties for international shipping. Shopify eCommerce platform also offers a range of shipping options, including expedited and overnight ones, for example.
In terms of inventory management, it offers a centralized system that ensures efficient tracking and inventory management across various channels. Its integration with the Shopify Point of Sale (POS) system ensures seamless online and offline tracking.
Magento excels in offering flexibility and customization in shipping. It allows users to set up complex shipping rules and integrates with multiple carriers, but this might require additional extensions or custom development. In comparison to the Shopify shipping model, tailored for a wide audience, Magento's approach caters to businesses with specific shipping needs that standard solutions might not adequately address.
Multi-Source Inventory (MSI) feature enables the management of inventory across multiple locations. This means you can have different warehouses, stores, or distribution centers and control the inventory. When a customer places an order, MSI intelligently chooses the best source to fulfill the order based on various factors like proximity to the customer, stock availability, and shipping costs. This helps in optimizing the shipping process and reducing delivery times.
Both Magento and Shopify provide great solutions for the calculation of shipping fees and allow adding and managing an unlimited number of goods. Besides, both systems integrate with various shipping solutions and carriers, yet Magento may require additional extensions or custom development. What is more, Magento and Shopify have built-in functionality for discount code generation and calculation.
This is another aspect where we can't define the leader. Shopify is an excellent solution for small to medium-sized businesses that are looking for a straightforward and cost-effective solution to handle their shipping needs. Magento, offering greater flexibility and customization, caters to larger companies or those with complex shipping requirements.
Magento vs. Shopify: Conclusion
We know people don't like this kind of summary but as you can see from all the aspects described above, there's no clear winner. Both platforms have their strong and weak points. What's even more important is that Shopify and Magento are good at different things.
As a store owner, your goal is to choose the eCommerce platform that works best for you. We created a small list that would help you pick either Magento or Shopify for your store. And who knows, maybe someday you'll decide to migrate from one platform to the other. After all, it's all about efficiency and common sense.
When You Should Choose Shopify
Choose Shopify if you need:
- a small online store with standard functions and navigation,
- an easy to use out-of-the-box solution,
- basic hosting options and load handling,
- easy support of the store.
When You Should Choose Magento
Choose Magento when you need:
- a major storefront that works exactly as you want,
- build something according to your vision and requirements,
- full freedom in choosing your payment processors and gateways,
- extremely customized features that you can't get anywhere else,
- full control over your hosting and server configuration,
- unique design and UX that stands out from the competition,
- complex inventory, supply, or payment handling mechanism.
Want to get a better idea of which eCommerce platform is the best fit for your store? Consider ourto be sure. Let's talk!