Can’t decide between Magento and Shopify? You’re not alone. These two brands are two of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the market today.
Shopify is an easy-to-use solution for building online stores. You pay a monthly fee, and it’s capable of supporting both fledgling and high-volume businesses.
Magento is an open-source platform which, like WordPress, is free to install onto your computer. However, you’ll need to pay for web hosting (around $10 per month), security, and extensions (they’re like apps), which we’ll explain in more detail below.
It’s a powerful platform, but you’ll find it hard to achieve your ecommerce goals without knowing how to code. It’s more suitable for enterprise-level businesses with their own development teams.
How do we know what’s best for your store? For starters, we’ve run various ecommerce platforms through our extensive research process, which included asking people just like you to try them too. We’ve also calculated scores for each platform in all-important categories like value for money, sales tools, customer support, and more.
In short, we have a comprehensive, crystal clear picture of each platform. Check out our tables below for an overview of each one…
What is Magento 2?
In June 2020, Magento 1 was replaced by the new and improved Magento 2, bringing with it a wider range of features which you can read about further down the article.
|Shopify Pros||Shopify Cons|
|Multichannel selling – sell on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay||Transaction fees – only platform to enforce its own fees, unless you use Shopify Payments|
|70+ mobile responsive themes – 10 free options, plus 64 premium options starting from $140||Cost of apps – it’s easy to get carried away installing lots of paid apps|
|App store – extensive range of apps to extend the functionality of your site|
|Magento Pros||Magento Cons|
|Large user community – the Magento Forum has a comprehensive answer for just about anything||Unsuitable for beginners – you’ll need to know how to code, and the software uses web developer jargon that isn’t very beginner-friendly|
|Very flexible platform – there are no limitations to how you can design your store, as long as you know how to code||Not easy to install – unlike other open-source software, it’s harder to find a hosting provider that will support Magento (SiteGround is one that will)|
|Ideal for medium to large businesses – an advanced platform suitable for businesses with their own web development teams, or that have money to spend on hiring a developer|
Picking a platform that’s too hard to use will make it impossible for you to create the ecommerce store you want, which could be damaging to your brand image.
Shopify is far easier to use than Magento. It’s a fact. Shopify is a one-stop-shop, drag-and-drop website builder, which means you can easily customize your store by moving elements around the page exactly how you want.
In our ease of use research category, Shopify scored 4.1/5, while Magento scored 2.5. In essence, Shopify is suitable for users of all technical abilities, while Magento is for web developers only.
With Magento, the learning curve is pretty steep compared to Shopify. You’ll have to interpret jargon and use code in order to build the online store you want, or or hire a web developer to build the store for you.
Magento vs Shopify – Ease of use: Verdict
Shopify is easier to use than Magento. Magento is more flexible than Shopify, in that it enables you to customize your store however you like with code, but it’s much trickier to use overall – which will make it hard for most users to build a store to be proud of.
The theme of your online store forms the basis of what your customers will see when they land on your site. With that in mind, you need to choose your template carefully to make a good first impression and inspire trust.
Scoring 3.7/5 in our ‘design’ research category, Shopify offers 10 free and 64 premium themes, which cost between $140 and $180 each (which is much cheaper than the average theme on Magento).
All of Shopify’s are mobile responsive, which means they’ll still look awesome when displayed on a mobile or tablet. This is important considering that 79% of smartphone users have made an online purchase in the last 6 months.
Once you’ve chosen your Shopify theme, you can then go crazy with customization by adding new pages, changing the color palette, moving and resizing elements, integrating social media feeds, and more. You can do all this without touching a line of code!
Magento scored 3.5/5 in this category, offering ready-made themes that dont’ require any coding customization, as well as custom themes that demand the skills of a professional developer.
The average cost for a ready-made theme is $100, while the custom themes can cost anywhere from $600 to $25,000. Naturally, the custom themes are only suitable for large businesses with chunky budgets.
Magento vs Shopify – Themes: Verdict
Shopify has a wider (and cheaper) range of themes than Magento. You don’t need to use code to customize Shopify’s themes, either, which makes it really easy for you to tailor your chosen template to the needs of your brand.
3 Criteria To Help Choose Your Theme – 3 essential things to consider when picking a theme for your online store
Winning Ecommerce Product Page Design Part 1 – the best ways to customize your product pages
Winning Ecommerce Product Page Design Part 2 – how to structure your product pages to help you sell more!
Ecommerce platforms and sales tools go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other, right? Well, let’s see what Shopify and Magento have under the hood.
Shopify scored an impressive 4.7/5 in our sales features research category. Below are some of the best features on Shopify that enable you to sell products and make money:
- Abandoned cart recovery – recover potentially lost sales by sending automatic emails to customers that left your website before finalizing a purchase
- Multi-channel selling – sell on Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram as a built-in feature
- Sell digital products (as well as physical ones)
- Partnerships with USPS, DHL Express, UPS, and Canada Post – to save you the hassle of finding your own courier service
Magento scored 4/5 in the same category. We’re really impressed with Magento’s inventory system, which comes with excellent built-in features such as bulk product import from your database, multiple product variants, total revenue reports, and total visitor count.
We also love these sales tools from Magento:
- Multi-channel selling options – install extensions in order to integrate your store with Facebook, Instagram, and eBay
- Checkout customization – create a totally bespoke checkout for your online store
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Set percentage and fixed price discounts
Magento vs Shopify – Sales Tools: Verdict
Shopify has a more impressive range of sales tools than Magento. Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms around, offering plenty of built-in tools like multichannel selling – something only available via installing expensive extensions on Magento.
Having access to powerful marketing tools should help your business reach new customers and improve your bottom line. What’s not to love?
Shopify provides brilliant marketing tools, including the ability to run email campaigns through third party integrations with Seguno, Klaviyo, Constant Contact, and many others. You can also advertise and sell directly on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We also love Shopify’s ability to support multilingual sites, helping you sell products in different languages.
In the opposite corner, Magento relies on its Marketplace for the bulk of its marketing tools. For instance, you’ll need to install extensions, such as Remarkety, to run email campaigns. What’s more, you’ll likely need to rely on the skills of a web developer to integrate your marketing tools if you want truly bespoke features, whereas Shopify offers plenty of built-in marketing tools to help your store scale.
Magento vs Shopify – Marketing Tools: Verdict
Shopify just wins this one. Both Magento and Shopify rely on their respective app markets for the most important marketing features, such as the ability to create email campaigns, but Shopify enables you to advertise on social media as a built-in feature.
Adding extra functionality to your online store is really important, especially if the platform’s in-built features aren’t enough for your ecommerce desires. Both Shopify and Magento enable you to easily install apps, extensions, and add-ons. But which option is better?
Shopify’s App Store contains over 1,200 apps, both free and premium, for areas of business such as email marketing, shipping, social media advertising, and more. Below are just a few of our favorite apps in the Shopify App Market:
- Trust Hero – display digital security badges to encourage users to finalize purchases. Did you know that 15% of abandoned carts are due to concerns over payment security?
- MailChimp – integrate marketing email campaigns with your Shopify store and boost your sales.
- Trackr – costing just $4 per month, installing this app will automatically send your customers updates on the whereabouts of their orders.
- Analytics Buddy – pulls all your Google Analytics data into your Shopify dashboard, providing useful insights.
Magento Marketplace has over 5,000 extensions to choose from, and 1,970 of those are free. 10% of the paid options cost around $30, while other extensions can cost up to $2,000. For example, it costs $199 just to integrate your online store with Facebook, which comes free on Shopify.
The prices will vary depending on the development agency that created them, and whether you’ll need expert help when installing them. A few of our favorite Magento apps include:
- Amasty Multiple Coupons – add custom discount coupons and apply multiple coupons to one order, helping the customer feel valued and encouraging repeat purchases.
- Product Pre-Order – send emails to customers automatically when a new product becomes available to examine the demand for your latest offering.
- Remarkety – integrate email marketing campaigns and social feeds with your store.
- Banner Slider – insert advertising banners with personalized links to create another source of revenue for your store.
Magento vs Shopify – Apps and Add-ons: Verdict
Shopify’s App Market is easier to use and offers more polished apps than Magento Marketplace. While Magento does have more extensions on offer than Shopify, they require coding knowledge to install, and you run the risk of installing a sub-par extension because anyone is allowed to design them.
Payment processors enable your store to accept online payments. Thankfully, both Shopify and Magento make it easy to connect your store with a payment processor in just a few clicks. But which platform has the best offerings?
Shopify has its own payment processor, Shopify Payments, which imposes zero transaction fees (aside from the regular credit card processing fees).
Check out our table below for a quick overview of how much you’ll pay in extra fees per transaction, with each Shopify plan, if you don’t use Shopify Payments:
|Shopify Basic||Shopify|| Shopify Advanced |
|2.9% + 30¢ per transaction||2.6% + 30 ¢ per transaction|| 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction |
By using Shopify Payments, you’ll only pay for each transaction fee imposed by the credit card processor, and not Shopify – meaning the above fees would be waived.
Shopify supports over 100 different payment gateways, which, unlike Shopify Payments, all come with a transaction fee imposed by Shopify. These gateways include popular names like PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and Apple Pay.
Magento supports over 150 payment gateways, but the majority of them are aimed at large businesses, such WorldPay. In order to integrate your store with the more common payment processors like Stripe or Square, you’ll just need to install them from the marketplace.
What’s more, Magento allows you to sell directly through Amazon while using your own Magento-based inventory. This is quite nifty, allowing you to reach many more customers via the Amazon marketplace.
Magento vs Shopify – Payment Processors: Verdict
Magento has better payment processor options than Shopify. Shopify has fewer payment gateway options, and it imposes its own transaction fees unless you use its own option, Shopify Payments, which can be quite restrictive.
SEO helps to increase the amount of visitor traffic from search engines to your website, which means gaining more paying customers and more money in the bank.
Magento really excels in SEO, and comes with plenty of SEO guides and prompts to help you get started. You can edit image alt tags (which help Google understand how to categorize an image on the image search platform), and customize URLs to help search engine users find your web pages more easily. All of these are built-in features, too.
On the other hand, Shopify is more reliant on apps for its SEO. While you can edit page titles and image alt tags, you’ll need to search the app store for the majority of your SEO tricks.
Magento vs Shopify – SEO: Verdict
Magento edges Shopify in the SEO department. It has a wider range of built-in SEO features, such as SEO prompts and the ability to customize URLs. With Shopify, you’ll need to search for and install apps for many of your SEO wants and needs.
SEO Tips – Website Architecture – we help you structure your online store so its search engine friendly
SEO Tips – Anchor Text – to learn about anchor text best practice
SEO Tips – Backlinks – we explain the importance of backlinks for SEO and how you can use them to help your store
How To Add Google Analytics To Shopify – we help you take your Shopify store to the next level using Google Analytics
The more easily you can fix issues with your online store, the sooner you can get back to making sales and gaining new customers. That’s why the help and support options for your chosen platform must tick certain boxes. Thankfully, Shopify and Magento certainly do tick plenty – we rigorously tested both platform’s customer support options, and liked what we saw.
Shopify scored 4.1/5 in our help and support research, offering:
- 24/7 phone support
- Social media support
- 24/7 live chat support
- Community forum
- Email support
- Help center
- Video tutorials
- Advanced specialist support
Magento, as a user community-based platform, has excellent user guides that take you through the online store building processes. They can guide you step-by-step, and are filled with useful information from other Magento developers.
While you don’t have access to dedicated support via Magento, you will have access to SiteGround’s superb help and support team. All in all, Magento and SiteGround are a fountain of help and knowledge, with SiteGround scoring 5/5 in our help and support research category for hosting platforms.
Magento vs Shopify – Verdict: Help and Support
Magento just wins this one. It’s aimed at professional web developers, which means the calibre of its user guides is extremely high. You’ll also have access to SiteGround’s superb support. On the other hand, Shopify has great customer support options, but can’t match the level of expertise that Magento and SiteGround’s support offers.
The main difference between the two is that Shopify is a hosted platform, while Magento is self-hosted. A hosted platform, such as Shopify, takes care of all your hosting worries for you. All hosting costs are included within your monthly plan, with no extra effort or expense required from you. Magento meanwhile is free to install, but you’ll need to pay for web hosting, security, extensions, and your domain.
Shopify has three main price plans to choose from, with fixed monthly rates. In contrast, the overall cost of Magento will depend on different factors.
To use Magento, you’ll need to pay for your web hosting (remember that SiteGround is one of the few providers that supports Magento). On SiteGround, you can choose from three hosting plans.
|Shopify||Magento (powered by SiteGround)|
|Shopify Basic ($29/month)|| Startup: $9.95/month |
|Shopify ($79/month)|| Grow Big: $19.95/month |
|Advanced Shopify ($299/month)|| GoGeek: $29.95/month |
It’s worth noting that Magento offers an Enterprise price plan, aimed at enterprise-sized businesses. This price plan is bespoke to each business, but for now, we are focusing on Magento’s ‘Community’ version.
You’ll also need to pay for your domain to use Magento, which usually costs around $10-$15 per year. You’ll need to visit domain registrars, such as Domain.com, in order to register your new domain.
Remember we mentioned how costly the Magento extensions and themes can be? They can cost thousands of dollars each, depending on the web development agency that created them, so the true cost of your Magento online store will vary massively.
You might be looking at spending a few thousand dollars per month on your Magento store. However, don’t forget that Magento is aimed at large businesses that have big budgets to boot, and are expected to grow quickly.
Magento vs Shopify – Pricing: Verdict
It’s a tie. Magento and Shopify offer different pricing models because they’re two very different platforms. Magento is an open-source platform, which means the costs will completely depend on your requirements, whereas Shopify has three fixed price plans which may seem cheaper on the surface, but you’ll also need to pay for apps and themes.
This article has run you through the key similarities and differences between Magento and Shopify. Now you know which platform is right for you, let’s quickly recap the main differences between the two.
Shopify is more user-friendly than Magento. You’ll be able to get online faster, and have a support team close at hand.
Magento is more of a project. It’ll take time and technical know-how to bring your vision to life, and you’ll be largely reliant on a Magento forum (or on developers).
You should use Shopify if…
- You want to get your store up and running as quickly as possible
- You’ve been using an ecommerce website builder (like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly) and want to switch to something more powerful
- You’re just starting out in ecommerce, but are hoping to develop a fully-fledged ecommerce business
- You’d like the convenience of an all-in-one payment, and having a support team on hand
You should use Magento if…
- You have coding skills, and you want to build an online store for your medium or large sized business
- You want total creative freedom through coding
- You already have a global audience, or international aspirations
- You’re aiming to create a big brand with big revenue, and are prepared to invest time and money into design
That concludes our Magento vs Shopify battle royale. Whichever platform you deem the worthy winner for your business, we’re sure that you will build an online store to be proud of. We wish you the best of luck!