Magento vs Shopify – Which is the right platform for you?

Last updated on September 12, 2018

magento vs shopify

Having a tough time choosing between Magento and Shopify? You’re not alone.

After all, Magento and Shopify are two of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the market today. They’re often pitted against each other when in reality, Magento and Shopify are very different.

Our comparison of Magento vs Shopify will highlight their differences and help you decide which is the best platform for you.

The last thing you want is to have to start from scratch after having chosen the wrong one, right? This can be really time consuming and frustrating.

But don’t worry, we’re here to save you that time and frustration.

When comparing Magento vs Shopify, you’ll want to know:

  • Is Shopify really that easy to use?
  • How much will Magento set you back?
  • Can you try out each platform before making a final choice?
  • How quickly can each platform get you online?
  • Which platform will help your store grow and flourish?

By the end of this article, you’ll have the answers to these questions (and many more!) so your decision between Magento and Shopify will be a clear one.

We’ll look at the pros and cons of each platform and then do an in-depth comparison of their specific features, ready… Let’s go!

Magento vs Shopify: The Numbers

Before we delve into our in-depth comparison of Magento vs Shopify, let’s take a quick look at what the numbers say. This is a great way of checking the credibility of each platform – a helpful criteria to consider when choosing who to start your online store with.

Magento Shopify
Number of Sites Powered 240,000 500,000
Number of Apps and Add Ons 3,000 2,300
Number of Themes 12* 61*
Theme Prices $0 – $499 $0 – $180
Monthly Price $0** $8.10 – $269.10

*With both platforms you are also able to purchase themes externally if you would like.

**But with Magento, you’ll have to provide your own hosting which can be anywhere from $4-$1000 a month, depending on the size of your business – but more on this later!

Shopify: Pros and Cons

Shopify Pros
#1 Over 60 stunning, mobile-ready storefront themes.

Your online store will automatically optimize itself for different devices and screen sizes. This is great because there are now more mobile shoppers than ever!

In fact, 69% of consumers aged 18-39 use mobile to research products before they buy. Even if they then use a desktop to complete their purchase, this means that your products really need to shine on mobile to push your customers to convert.

#2 Comprehensive ecommerce website builder with a large App Store to extend the functionality of your site.

Shopify is great for taking your store to the next level and boosting your bottom line. Think the Apple App Store, and how it allows you to do so much more with your smartphone. Shopify’s App Store is just like that, but for websites!

#3 Easy to use with 24/7 support.

Shopify is always there if you get stuck, so you can resolve problems quickly and focus on making sales!

They have 24/7 phone support, live chat and email functionality available to suit everyone’s taste.

Shopify also have a forum where you can exchange website building and general business tips with other users – it’s a really nice community.

Try Shopify for Free

Shopify Cons
#1 Only 10 of their themes are free.

If you have your heart set on a free theme, this does narrow your choice a bit. But, to give your store the look you really want, and your customer the shopping experience they’re looking for to entice them into purchase, their premium themes are well worth the investment.

#2 Integrating lots of apps can make your store more complex to deal with.

If you’re worried about added complexity, you just need to be really choosey about which apps your store can properly benefit from. You can get trigger happy at first because of the wide range of apps available, but choose wisely and you’ll be fine!

You could start with integrating your Instagram feed to show off your products – this is really quick and easy to do.

As your store grows, we recommend adding an email marketing app to help you grow your sales and maximize your customers’ buying potential.

#3 They charge a transaction fee per sale.

This decreases as you pay more each month i.e. when you invest in a more inclusive plan. Shopify reward you with lower transaction fees so you can make more money on each sale.

Alternatively, to waive all transaction fees, you can use Shopify’s own payment processor: Shopify Payments.

Magento: Pros and Cons

Magento Pros
#1 Big community of support for users.

If you run into trouble, the Magento Forum has an answer for everything to help you get online as quickly as possible.

You can search for your query on the huge database of user generated content. You’ll usually be able to find quite a comprehensive, but simple to understand, explanation to whatever you’re looking for.

Consulting other Magento users is a great way to solve your problem as they’ve been in the same position as you before. This means they know what you want to do and how to do it – and can explain it in an easy way!

#2 Very flexible platform that gives you complete freedom.

With Magento, there are no limitations to how you design your store (as long as you know some code, or are willing to hire someone to do it for you!).

You can make it really personal and original so you stand out from the crowd. This will help customers remember you and come back to your store time and time again.

But, if you’re not confident with coding, or don’t have the budget for a developer, you’re best off using Shopify, as you can achieve very similar results in (at least) half the time!

#3 Cost

Magento is an open source platform which means it’s available in the public domain and therefore free to use.

One thing you’ll have to remember with Magento is that you’ll have to pay for your own hosting.


Magento Cons
#1 Difficult to get to grips with and requires coding knowledge.

If you’re a non-technical person, Magento can be a very daunting platform with a steep learning curve.

This is especially relevant when comparing it to Shopify – a platform that makes for a much more straightforward website building experience.

If you’re not technology-confident, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve with Shopify with little or no problems at all.

With Magento, you’re much more likely to run into difficulty.

#2 Requires a significant time investment to get your store up and running.

Familiarizing yourself with Magento’s interface is very time-intensive. It can look a little daunting to the first-time user so it’s best to set aside some time to get to know your way around the platform before getting stuck into building your site.

With Magento, you need to be prepared to spend a good few hours tweaking lines of code to get your site looking exactly how you want it to.

If you’re looking to get online quickly, it may not be the platform for you.

#3 Cost

Despite being free to use, you need to factor in hosting and app costs, which can become pretty pricey.

As your store grows, you’ll need to pay more for hosting. If you want an ecommerce platform that allows your store to grow without having to worry about increasing hosting costs, Shopify is the way forward.

Some of Magento’s apps are free, but others come with an installation and yearly fee. This is often around the $100 mark per app, which means it can rack up pretty quickly if you want to integrate lots of advanced functions into your store.

With Magento, you may also need to consider the potential of hiring a developer, which is a pretty hefty financial investment.

Ease of Use

“When choosing your platform, ease of use should be one of your first, and most important, considerations. After all, you want to get online quickly and stress-free, right?”

Starting a new business, or taking your physical store into the online world can be a stressful task. So why make it even more stressful by using an ecommerce platform that you find difficult to use?

If you pick a platform you’re not comfortable with, you risk not being able to create as good a store as you want.

In turn, you might not give your customers the best possible shopping experience, which would mean fewer sales for you. So it really is in your best interest to choose a platform you’re 100% happy with using!

Shopify

“Shopify’s interface is intuitive to use and quick to get to grips with – great for the non-technical user!”

Shopify is a one-stop-shop, drag and drop website builder. This means you can easily customize your store by moving elements around the page exactly how you want!

It gives you all the tools you need to build your online store, so you’ll be selling online in no time at all!

With Shopify you can:

  • Easily insert custom images into your theme to personalize your store and make it memorable to your customers
  • Quickly add products to start selling in no time
  • Set up payments simply so you can start making money
  • Customize the look and feel of your store to reflect your business and catch the eye of online shoppers

And, you can do all this without needing to know one line of code!

Shopify also have great customer support, just in case you do run into trouble. There’s 24/7 phone support, live chat and email functionality available.

shopify vs magento shopify help center

With Shopify’s help center, simply type your problem and they’ll instantly provide you with a solution – so you won’t be stuck for long!

Magento

When getting started with Magento, the learning curve is pretty steep compared with Shopify, as you’ll need to learn some code and technical terms to maximize the platform’s full potential.

The Magento CMS (Content Management System – their equivalent of Shopify’s editor) is less user-friendly than Shopify’s interface.

There are lots of technical terms all over the place that can be a bit intimidating to the less computer-confident among us (e.g. cache – a place to store something temporarily in the computing world)!

This means there are more potential stumbling blocks to navigate for the first-time user. Magento is a really flexible platform allowing you a lot of freedom, but this does come with considerable added difficulty.

As Magento is open source (i.e. free for all but without a dedicated, centralized platform like Shopify) you’ll need to learn at least some code in order to take advantage of its full functionality.

If you get stuck on Magento, they do have pretty extensive user guides that take you step by step through tricky processes. They also have a large forum where members share tricks of the Magento trade.

But unlike Shopify, there’s no 24/7 phone support to take advantage of if you really need to speak to a person about your problem. This can leave you hanging around for answer that you might need now!

magento vs shopify magento help forum

Magento’s forum allows you to connect with other Magento users having the same problems as you so you can solve them together!

Summary

If you’re more technically minded and are willing to invest some time to figure it out, give Magento a try.

Remember though, if you think you might get stuck and want to chat to someone about it, Magento don’t have this functionality. Shopify’s support network is one of the best in the market today.

“If you’re looking for a powerful, but easy to use, platform, Shopify is a great choice.”

Shopify will get you up and running in no time because it’s so quick to get to grips with, customize and add your products. You can be making money within 24 hours – unlike Magento, where it could take you at least this time to get to grips with the platform!

For more information on Shopify and other ecommerce software in the market, why not check out:

Shopify Review 2018 – our full in-depth review of Shopify

Ecommerce Comparison Chart 2018 – where we compare Shopify with other online builders

Themes

“A good website design makes it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for and builds trust. This encourages window shoppers to become paying customers and boost your all-important bottom line.”

The theme of your online store forms the basis of what your customers will see when they land on your site. This means you need to choose carefully to make a good impression and inspire trust.

You would naturally trust a website that looks sleek and professional right? This means your customers would too! They’ll be much more likely to buy from your store if it looks good.

Shopify

Shopify offers a range of over 60 professional, beautiful and fully customizable themes.

magento vs shopify shopify themes

Shopify themes are pre-populated so all you need to do is swap in your content and products and you can start selling in no time!

A huge 62% of smartphone users have made an online purchase in the last 6 months. Due to this rise in mobile usage for online shopping, it’s important your site looks great on all devices.

Shopify’s themes are mobile-optimized. This means they’ll look great on a tablet or smartphone, as well as the traditional desktop.

They have a number of free themes, but you’ll need to pay for most of them. When choosing a theme, it’s best to think of it as a long term investment.

While it may seem pricey in the short-term, you’ll reap the benefits later down the line. You want to make your store look professional from the outset to make sure you maximize your sales potential.

Think of it like investing in a brick and mortar store. You’d want to find the perfect location right? And that perfect location is worth paying a bit extra for – its exactly the same with your theme.

If you choose a theme that inspires your customers’ trust, this will help boost sales meaning you’ll have made your money back on that theme in no time!

Once you’ve chosen your theme, you’re completely free to customize it as much as you like in order to give your store a personal touch.

Check out a few of the customizations that Shopify makes easy:

  • Add new pages e.g. different product pages, an ‘About Us’ page or a blog to spark the interest of your customers to keep them coming back to your site
  • Change the color palette and imagery to reflect your business
  • Add, move, remove and resize page elements, such as the menu, page title, imagery etc. – the list is endless!
  • Integrate your social media feeds e.g. Instagram to show of your products in the best light and encourage purchase

You can do all this and more without needing to know how to code!

Magento

Magento offers 12 themes, both free and paid, 10 of which are fully mobile responsive. This means your site will auto-resize itself for devices of all sizes.

With Magento, you can even create your own theme from scratch (but this requires a LOT of coding knowledge, or a budget big enough to hire help).

magento vs shopify shopify themes

Magento has a more limited choice of themes compared to Shopify.

Magento is a very flexible platform, which means you can customize pretty much anything you want, exactly how you want!

Here’s a snippet of the kind of customizations you can make with Magento – be careful though, some of these customizations require a lot of coding knowledge. This means they aren’t as easily (or quickly!) made as with Shopify:

  • Add a featured product slider to your homepage
  • Add animations to your site to make it visually engaging
  • Include newsletter functionality in your webpage footer
  • Place ‘cross-selling blocks’ on your product pages

Summary

Shopify definitely wins out on the theme front. They have a much wider choice of themes that generally look more contemporary.

If you’re looking to get online quickly, Shopify’s themes can help get you there, and you won’t have to compromise on design.

It might take you a bit longer to get up and running with Magento’s themes (due to getting your head around coding). This being said, they often have more complex features than Shopify’s themes to help take your store to the next level.

It might be helpful for you to have a look at both Magento and Shopify’s theme stores, pick one you like the look of on each and compare the two.

You should look out for things like:

  • The features they have pre-installed – e.g. do they have a shopping cart already? It’s a lot quicker to start selling if they do!
  • The presentation of the product pages and whether or not you can change the layout – will your customers be able to find what they’re looking for quickly? If not, can you change this?
  • Is the design easy to navigate for your customers? – a better user experience means they’re more likely to make a purchase

Choosing a theme on either Magento or Shopify is like picking a location for a brick and mortar store. It is worth taking your time (and investing a bit of money) to make sure you get the right one. Would you rather pay $200 for a theme that boosts sales and pays for itself, or save money and make a smaller profit?

Want more information on themes? Consider giving these a read:

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!

Apps and add ons

“Once you’ve chosen and customized your theme, you’ll want to think about expanding your store. Both Shopify and Magento have huge app stores where you can find everything from marketing apps to accounting and finance extensions to take your store to the next level.”

Both Shopify and Magento give you the basics with which to build a successful online store. But what if you want to grow your store with more advanced tools? This is where apps and extensions come in.

These are one-click add-ons that really broaden the functionality of your store. They help automate mundane business tasks to free-up your time so you can focus on boosting sales and revenue. Using apps is a win-win!

Think of these apps like the apps you add to your smartphone. They extend its functionality, and even if you don’t always use all of them, it’s great to know they’re there that one time you do need them!

Shopify

Shopify’s App Store offers you over 2,300 free and paid apps to choose from. These can make your website more powerful, giving it the potential to make you more money.

And the best bit – you can add them all with just one click!

magento vs shopify shopify app store

Shopify’s App Store helps you grow your business and boost your all-important bottom line

Here’s a snippet of what you can achieve with Shopify’s apps:

  • Display trust icons to customers to reduce cart abandonment and increase purchases e.g. Trust Hero by Booster Apps. 58% of incomplete transactions are due to security reasons, and this app can help you rectify that!
  • Integrate marketing email campaigns for welcome emails and promotions e.g. Add your MailChimp account to Shopify for free to create targeted campaigns to boost your sales
  • Integrate social media feeds e.g. Add Instagram to your homepage to showcase your products and reach a wider audience
  • Add order tracking functionality to reduce time wasted answering the complaint ‘where’s my package?’ e.g. Trackr for $4/month. With this app you can notify your customers automatically about the whereabouts of their order
  • Add analytics to your page to see where your customers drop off and then rectify this to boost sales – e.g. Analytics Buddy – an app that pulls all your Google Analytics data into your Shopify dashboard so its super easy to monitor and gain helpful insights

Magento

Magento Marketplace has a huge range of just under 3,000 free and paid extensions. For the less technical user of Magento, their extensions are great as they don’t require any coding knowledge and you can add them to your site with just one click of the mouse!

What you can achieve with Magento’s extensions is similar to what you can do on Shopify. For us Magento has the edge here though, as you can easily add very complex functions to your store so you can take it to the next level.

Some of the cool things you can do with Magento’s extensions include:

  • Add custom discount coupons and apply multiple coupons to one order e.g. Amasty Multiple Coupons. This aims to make customers feel valued and encourage repeat purchase
  • Add pre-order functionality to check out the demand for new products e.g. Product Pre-Order at $39 – an app that will send customers an email automatically when the product becomes available
  • Integrate email marketing campaigns and social feeds to promote and show off your products e.g. Remarkety – an email marketing automation platform that allows you to design and track emails to your customers
  • Insert advertising banners to create another source of revenue for your store e.g. Banner Slider. This app allows you to add personalized banners with targeted links
magento vs shopify magento app marketplace

Magento Marketplace allows you to add more complex ecommerce functionality than Shopify’s App Store

Summary

Magento has more apps with more complex ecommerce extensions than what is available on Shopify.

This being said, Shopify’s range does offer you more than enough choice and still has the capability to take your store to the next level.

The apps we recommend from both Shopify and Magento are their social media and marketing extensions. These are great for increasing the visibility of your products, boosting your sales and your bottom line.

The fact that they’re easy and quick to install is an added bonus – not a line of code in sight to get going!

Payment processor options

In order to start making money selling online, you’ll need to connect a payment processor to your store.

Payment processors are services that allow you to take online credit card payments from your customers.

An easy way to understand payment processors is to think of them as the online version of a card machine.

With both Shopify and Magento, you can connect to a payment processor in just a few clicks and start making money in no time at all!

Shopify

Shopify have their own integrated payment processor, Shopify Payments. This quick-to-setup feature allows you to manage your payments directly in your user dashboard.

Shopify are the first ecommerce platform on the market to introduce their own payment processor. It shows them to be a platform that really wants to provide their users with useful and up-to-date features.

If you use external payment processors on Shopify (such as PayPal or AmazonPay), you’ll be charged transaction fees ranging from 0.5%-2% on each sale – but more on this later!

But, if you use Shopify Payments, you can wave goodbye to transaction fees and make more money from each sale – it’s such a great feature!

You can even track your money in real-time, whenever you want. It’s really handy to have everything in one place so you can stay updated with payments quickly and easily.

magento vs shopify shopify payments

Shopify make it really quick and easy to set up a payment processor so you can start selling as soon as possible.

Shopify also supports over 70 external payment processors, such as PayPal and AmazonPay. This gives your customers the option to use different methods of payment if they want, which keeps them happy.

And if your customers are happy, they’re much more likely to keep coming back for more!

Magento

To access payment processor options in Magento, you’ll need to go through the Marketplace (where you go to get your apps). This is slightly different to Shopify where you have access to both Shopify Payments and external payment processors through your user dashboard.

This makes the process of setting up payments slightly more drawn out, but it’s not difficult to do.

Magento support the major payment processors such as PayPal, AmazonPay and Stripe. In their Marketplace, Magento have 148 payment integration apps. This can be a bit of a pain to go through and find exactly what you want, as often they all look very similar.

If you want a platform where setting up payments is more straightforward and less time-consuming, Shopify is for you!

What Magento does very well, is offer a range of other payment processors that support different countries and languages. This is great if you’re looking to take your store international and connect with customers who speak languages other than English.

Did you know, 42% of consumers never make purchases in a language other than their own! This means if you are looking to sell overseas, multi-language support is essential, and Magento can help you with that.

While Shopify do have a couple of translation apps to help take your store international, namely Langify, their capacity for this is not as comprehensive as Magento’s

Summary

If you’re looking for an ecommerce platform that will allow you to set up payment processors easily and quickly, Shopify is the one for you. And, it has the added benefit of waiving transaction fees if you use Shopify Payments.

With Shopify, you’ll be set up to take payments in no time at all and you can keep more money from each sale.

Where Magento wins out is on the international side of things. If and when you’re ready to do so, their multilingual payment processors are great for taking your store across borders.

SEO

“SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the term used to describe a range of things you can do to make your website more search engine friendly. Search engine optimization helps increase traffic to your store which will mean more paying customers and more money in the bank for you!”

So, choosing a platform that helps you optimize your store to try and improve rankings is essential.

When it comes to SEO, Shopify and Magento offer pretty similar functionalities. Stores built on both platforms are friendly in the eyes of Google and other search engines. This means that Shopify and Magento stores both have the potential to rank highly in the results pages.

On both Shopify and Magento, its really easy to make your store more search engine friendly. In Shopify’s editor and Magento’s CMS (Content Management System) you can take the necessary steps to optimizing your store.

This means that without having to add any apps or extensions, on both platforms you can:

  • Edit the page title and description to define how your store appears in the search results pages – this tells search engines what your store is all about so it can be shown in relevant user searches. If you get these right, they will help you attract the right customers to your store – those who are ready and willing to make a purchase!
  • Add alt text to images to help search engines understand what they’re all about – and if your website is more comprehensible to search engines, it’s likely it will rank more highly in the results pages, helping to get you more traffic and more money in the bank!

In the Shopify App Store or Magento’s Marketplace, you can also find apps and integrations to further support your SEO efforts. These include:

  • SEO issues scan – so you can identify and then rectify potential problems that affect your store’s search engine ranking, such as a poor meta description or page title. Shopify’s ‘SEO Doctor’ app is great for this – and it’s free!
  • Site speed checks – the faster your site loads, the more search engines like it, as it provides a better experience for users. This potentially means higher rankings and (hopefully!) more visitors to your site!
magento vs shopify shopify seo apps

Shopify’s App Store has an impressive range of SEO apps to help you get more traffic to your store and make more sales!

Summary

Choosing an ecommerce platform that helps you as much as possible with SEO tasks is essential. After all you want to attract more customers to your store and make more money, right?

With Shopify, its quick and easy to create an online store that is search engine friendly. And their apps are great for troubleshooting so you can really make it as friendly as possible!

Magento too has great SEO functionality. The Marketplace has over 250 SEO apps to choose from, but they can be a little pricey, some are around the $300 mark.

If you haven’t got the budget to invest in some of Magento’s more expensive SEO apps, Shopify has a very reasonably priced range (the majority of which are around $10 a month) that can achieve very similar things.

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, check out some of our articles below:

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

Costs

“A very important factor to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform is how much it’s going to set you back. When it comes to Shopify and Magento, what you pay for and how you pay for it differs wildly. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you understand these differences so you can decide which platform is best suited to you.”

The main difference between the two, is that Shopify is a hosted platform and Magento is self-hosted.

A hosted platform, like 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.

Think of it like having a phone contract with unlimited minutes, messages and data – great right?

Using a hosted platform frees up your time to sort out the important things, like adding products to your store, so you can start making money.

Shopify’s hosting is more than well-equipped to deal with stores of all sizes, which makes the platform a great choice for small and large businesses alike!

Magento, on the other hand, is a self-hosted platform. If you choose Magento, you’ll have to sort out your own hosting service.

This means an additional investment of time and money on your part – and it can be confusing trying to work out which hosting provider is the best for your needs.

Now that we’ve got their main difference out of the way, let’s drill down into the specific costs associated with each platform.

Shopify

The costs associated with Shopify are mostly monthly, but there are a couple of initial costs it’s good to bear in mind when setting up your online store.

As discussed above, Shopify provides a wide range of free themes, but to extend your choice you might want to consider a paid theme.

Choosing the right theme can massively improve the shopping experience for your customer and push them right through the sales funnel to purchase. A paid theme can give you a professional looking website that inspires trust, which is a big factor in boosting revenue.

Prices for Shopify’s paid themes vary from $140 – 180. This may seem like a big investment, but one that’s well worth the money when you consider the above benefits.

One cost it’s good to bear in mind when setting up shop online is your domain name.

“Your domain name is like the digital version of the address of a brick and mortar store. It identifies who and where you are and means visitors will be able to find you easily.”

If you choose to build your online store with Shopify, you’ll receive a free domain name in your monthly package. However, this will contain the brand name within it, for example: www.alexenglish.myshopify.com. Doesn’t look very professional does it?

We at Website Builder Expert always recommend purchasing your own domain name so it’ll look more like this: www.alexenglish.com – which looks much more professional and trustworthy.

You can purchase a domain name directly through Shopify quickly and easily. While this may be easier in the short run, it’s always good to consider long-term flexibility – for example if you want to change platforms in the future.

If you do decide to move away from Shopify, a domain name bought with the platform can be tricky to take with you. To be more versatile in the long run, you can purchase your domain name through a third party such as GoDaddy or NameCheap.

A custom domain name will cost around $10-15 initially. This will need to be renewed annually.

And now onto the monthly costs, but first it’s good to remember that Shopify offer a 14-day free trial so you can try it out before committing to a monthly plan.

Once you’ve decided on the right plan for you, you can either pay monthly or subscribe to a 1-year or 2-year plan, where you can save 10% and 20% respectively on their monthly fees. The table below illustrates this:

Shopify Pricing Plans Shopify Basic Shopify Advanced Shopify
Monthly $29.00 $79.00 $299.00
1-Year
$/month
$26.10 $71.10 $269.10
Savings (%) 10% 10% 10%
2-Years
$/month
$23.20 $63.20 $239.20
Savings (%) 20% 20% 20%

Every Shopify plan gives you:

  • 24/7 support
  • Free SSL certificate (this shows your customers your website is safe to use)
  • Fraud analysis (so your store is always safe from hackers)
  • Unlimited storage (perfect for hosting lots of photos and videos on your site)
  • Unlimited bandwidth*

*Bandwidth is the fuel that powers your online store. The more you have, the more content you can host on your site and the more visitors your store will be able to handle.

So having an unlimited bandwidth allowance is great! It also means your store will load very quickly. This is great for keeping people on your page, as no-one likes to hang around for a slow loading website.

The more people that stay on your page for longer, the more money you’re likely to make!

With Shopify, the more you pay, the more functionality your store gains access to. For example, if you upgrade to the ‘Shopify’ plan, you gain abandoned cart recovery capability.

This is really important as a shocking three quarters of all online shoppers will abandon their purchase. Abandoned cart recovery functionality allows you to send those customers an email reminding them of their abandoned order to prompt them into purchase.

As is common when comparing Magento and Shopify, what comes included in Shopify’s monthly plans, is something you’ll have to search for either on Magento or externally.

And abandoned cart functionality is no different. If you want to add this capability to your Magento store, you’ll have to go through the Marketplace and pay for an app. One of their most highly rated apps for this is the ‘Megawares Abandoned Cart Email’ extension, which is $79.

With Shopify, the more comprehensive a plan you subscribe to, the less you have to pay in transaction fees. This means you’ll make more money on each sale!

Transaction fees are a very small fee charged by the payment processor on each sale you make. Think of it like a tiny sliver of commission for letting you use their payment processor.

Check out how they decrease as your monthly plan becomes more comprehensive:

Monthly Plan Transaction Fee
Shopify Basic 2.0%
Shopify 1.0%
Advanced Shopify 0.5%

However, as we discussed above, if you use Shopify’s own payment processor, ‘Shopify Payments’ you won’t incur any transaction fees, which is a really great incentive to try it out!

If you add any paid apps on Shopify, these payments are normally made in monthly installments, so you’ll need to factor these in as well. These prices range from free to around $60 a month.

Take a read of these if you want to know more about Shopify’s pricing plans:

Shopify Pricing Review 2018 – an in-depth review of Shopify’s pricing plans

Shopify Basic vs Shopify – we compare two of Shopify’s most popular plans to help you choose which is best for you

Magento

Similarly to Shopify, the upfront costs you’ll confront when getting started on Magento are the cost of your theme and domain name.

But, as Magento is a self-hosted platform, one of the first things you’ll need to decide on is your monthly hosting plan.

Hosting is closely connected to bandwidth (remember – the fuel that powers your store). Your hosting provider will also supply you with bandwidth.

Unlike with Shopify, where all of this is taken care of and you receive unlimited bandwidth, with Magento you need to think carefully about the needs of your store.

When you purchase your hosting and bandwidth package, you need to keep one eye on the future growth of your online store. This is because these affect site speed and the number of products and visitors your store can handle.

You’ll need to make sure you choose a website hosting plan that will allow your store to flourish. This means one that has enough bandwidth to cater for all your site’s visitors while ensuring that it still loads quickly.

Site speed is important both in the eyes of search engines and of your customers. You want to make sure your store loads as quickly as possible to give your customer a great experience so they’ll want to return to your store.

Costs for this can vary wildly. They can start from as little as $4 a month and rise to well over $1000 a month if you’re intending on creating a mega-store!

If you choose the wrong hosting plan with not enough bandwidth, your store could stop working half way through the month! This would lose your customers’ trust and your revenue would plummet. It’s always best not to opt for the cheapest hosting plan to avoid this happening.

If you’re looking into hosting, you could check out GoDaddy or BlueHost. These are two of the most popular and trusted hosting companies on the market.

It’s important to consider that with Magento, you might want to think about enlisting the help of a developer to get your store off the ground and give you a hand with some of the more technically challenging aspects of the platform.

If you’re thinking about this as an option, the price of a developer must be factored into the initial costs of a Magento store. These costs can rack up quickly, so if you haven’t got a pretty big budget, Shopify would be much better suited to you.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that while hiring a developer might seem like a one-off cost, if you want to make changes down the line then you might need to re-hire the same developer to make them – costing you twice!

This can be time consuming and eat into your budget. It’s quicker and cheaper to go about it yourself – either by getting to grips with Magento, or by choosing a simpler platform, like Shopify.

If you’re not going to take the developer route, after you’ve got your hosting sorted, you’ll want to start thinking about a theme for your online store.

Magento offers a range of free themes as well as the (very technically challenging) option of creating your own. Prices vary from $29 – 499.

With Magento, and equally with Shopify, the more you pay for a theme, the more comprehensive set of features come with it.

If you choose to build your online store with Magento, you’ll have to purchase your domain name from a third party. This means it’s very flexible and easy to take with you should you choose to leave Magento.

Your domain name will cost you around $10-15 annually – this will be the same regardless of which platform you choose.

Another annual cost you’ll need to bear in mind with Magento is the cost of any extensions you add to your store.

Magento apps often come with an installation fee and need to be renewed yearly. Their app prices vary from free to $699.

Unlike Shopify, Magento doesn’t have its own payment processor. This means that with each sale you make, you’ll be subject to the payment processor’s transaction fees.

Take ‘Stripe’ for example (a popular and reliable payment processor). It costs $99 to integrate Stripe payments with your Magento store and the price per transaction is 2.9%+30¢.

Let’s do a quick working example. If you sell a t-shirt for $20, Stripe will take 2.9%+30¢ of the sale price.

2.9% of $20 is 58¢, add 30¢ and you can see that Stripe will take 88¢ in transaction fees off a $20 sale.

This means that you take home $19.12 of your t-shirt sale (pre tax of course!).

Summary

When comparing the costs of Shopify and Magento, it’s helpful to ask yourself: Do you want to pay one monthly fee and have pretty much everything sorted out for you (Shopify)? Or are you willing to manage lots of different monthly payments (Magento)?

With Shopify, your monthly plan is all-inclusive. This means that once paid, you’re free to focus your efforts on optimizing user experience to increase sales, or on product sourcing and shipping.

Using Shopify means you don’t have to worry about whether you have enough bandwidth to support your growing store, you can let it grow and flourish with the peace of mind that it will still function quickly and correctly.

With Magento, you don’t have the same level of security – if your store starts growing quickly and you don’t have the hosting plan to allow for this, you might run into trouble.

Another key difference between the two platforms concerning costs, is the ability you have on Shopify to reduce or completely eradicate transaction fees.

Using ‘Shopify Payments’ waives transaction fees and allows you to keep all the money you make from each sale. With Magento, you’re subject to the transaction fees of each external payment processor you integrate into your store.

“If you’re looking for an ecommerce platform with transparent and cost-effective pricing, Shopify is the one for you.”

Magento vs Shopify: Conclusion – Choosing Your Ecommerce Platform

This article has run you through the key similarities and differences between Magento and Shopify. By now, you should have a pretty clear idea about which ecommerce platform is best suited to your needs.

But, if you’re still unsure, these are the key questions to ask yourself when choosing between Magento and Shopify:

  • Is ease of use a very important consideration for you?
  • Do you want to get your store up and running very quickly?
  • Do you want a vast range of themes to choose from to find the perfect one for your store?
  • Do you want your hosting and bandwidth taken care of for you?
  • Do you like the idea of not having to pay a transaction fee on each purchase?

If you’re answering ‘yes’ to these questions, you’ll be much better suited to Shopify than Magento.

This is because Shopify is a much more user-friendly platform that has the potential to get you online in a matter of hours.

They have a huge range of professional and stylish themes to help you get started, all you really need to do is switch in your own content and imagery and you’ll be ready to go!

Shopify also have their own payment processor, ‘Shopify Payments’ which lets you manage all your payments directly in your user dashboard – and you don’t have to pay any transaction fees – it’s a win-win!

Shopify is a comprehensive ecommerce solution that will produce great results quickly and easily.

On the other hand, if you’re answering ‘no’ to the above questions, you might want to give Magento a try.

If you’re quite technically savvy and you’re willing to invest some time to get to grips with Magento, you can produce great results with the platform – it really is very flexible.

Unlike with Shopify, you will have to source your own hosting provider, which can become more and more expensive as your store grows – so you’ll need to monitor this carefully.

We recommend having a play with both platforms if you’ve still not come to a definitive decision by the end of this article. After all – spending a couple of hours trialing each platform is a very worthwhile investment if you’re serious about your online store!

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Alex English

About Alex English

I know first-hand that creating a website can be a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be! I am here to share with you what I have learnt from my experience so you are able to create a professional looking website to grow your business.

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Alex English

About Alex English

I know first-hand that creating a website can be a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be! I am here to share with you what I have learnt from my experience so you are able to create a professional looking website to grow your business.

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4 Responses to Magento vs Shopify – Which is the right platform for you?

  1. #

    Hi, I was searching for Magento vs SHopify feature difference and came here.
    But this article sounded bias towards Shopify.
    In your conclusion, you have mentioned about transaction fee for Magento.
    From my research ( other articles) understand this is applicable for SHopify not Magento.
    Also, it is known to the market that Shopify have limited themes where as you have more theme options in Magento ( I understand you have wrongly conveyed this idea).

    I am still struggling to get a more genuine article on this topic. All I can find are articles from paid writers – I only wish to know the right technical stuff

    • Fred Isaac
      #

      Hi Ajay, Shopify does charge transaction fees, but our conclusion highlights how you can avoid paying them if you use Shopify Payments – it’s nice to have this option!

  2. #

    I will recommend Magento over Shopify because it has a large scale of adding products and good for large type store has thousands of products.

  3. #

    Thank you for sharing this interesting article about Magento and shopify.