There’s a war on in the ecommerce industry: Magento vs. Shopify. Both Magento and Shopify have a lot going for them, to the point at which it’s pretty much competition between these two platforms, with other software providers being left out of the loop. But how do you tell which one to go for when we’re talking about Shopify vs. Magento? Let’s go ahead and take a little look.
Magento Open Source is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world, and there’s a reason for that. Magento 2 is easy to install, easy to customize, and easy to use, and Magento Commerce pricing is quite affordable to most businesses. Arguably the biggest advantage of using Magento 2 is that there’s a huge Magento community providing new themes and plugins either for free or at a small price. More about What is Magento read here.
Shopify is the best alternative to Magento 2 and has several key advantages. For example, Shopify is typically easier to use and requires less training, but it’s also less customizable, and, unlike Magento, it isn’t open-source. The chances are that you’ll find it the easiest to use when comparing Magento vs. Shopify. Still, it’s important to remember that while your business might find it easier, it could also be sacrificing functionality as a result of it.
Main Differences: Magento vs. Shopify
Now that you know a little bit about Magento and Shopify, it’s time to pit the two of them against each other. The battle is on, so let’s go ahead and have a look at Shopify vs Magento 2 and see who comes out on top. Let’s break it down into some of the different features and functionality and get started comparing Magento vs Shopify.
Design and Themes
Magento vs Shopify Summary: There are many ready to use themes for both Shopify and Magento, but Magento also allows you to have custom designs of your own.
Let’s start by taking a look at the design and themes of Magento and Shopify. One of the good things about Magento 2 is that it’s open-source, and the Magento open-source model allows anyone to access the source code and to develop it further, adding new ecommerce functionality. When it comes to designs and themes, Magento 2 tends to come out on top because there’s a whole army of third-party theme designers who have dedicated their careers to building beautiful layouts and themes for Magento.
But that’s only one side of the story when it comes to the Magento vs Shopify war. So what exactly does Shopify have to offer? Well, Shopify isn’t open-source, which means that you won’t get the choice of thousands and thousands of plugins as you will if you pick Magento 2. That’s not necessarily a problem, though, because Shopify also comes with hundreds of ecommerce themes to choose from. There might not be as much choice as there is for Magento stores, but you should still be able to find something that works for you and your business.
And so for this section of our comparison of Shopify vs Magento, there’s no clear winner. Magento 2 comes out on top for the sheer number of third-party themes available, but either way, you should be able to find something that works.
Cost and Fees
Magento vs Shopify Summary: Shopify has a subscription cost, while Magento is available for free. However, Magento doesn’t include hosting costs, and you may need to pay a developer to add the functionality you need.
Magento and Shopify are both available for anyone to use, but the difference comes in when we start to look at fees. Magento Open Source is available for a free download. Still, your business may need to splash out a little extra cash if you want to use premium plugins and themes or if you need to hire a developer to build out some custom functionality.
Of course, with Shopify, you might not even have that choice. With that said, you might not need it, because, in the battle between Shopify vs Magento 2, it’s Shopify that comes on top in terms of default functionality. Sure, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to use their software, but they reinvest the money that they make to improve the platform further.
This means that you can expect Magento open source to cost more in terms of upfront costs when you hire developers or purchase themes and plugins. Shopify is more of a monthly thing, in that you pay a monthly fee and they give you all the functionality you’ll need, at least for a smaller business. If you’re a more significant business, you might be better off going for Magento if you want to customize your build heavily.
Ease of Use
Magento vs Shopify Summary: Shopify is the king of simple software, but Magento isn’t too tricky to use either, especially once you’re familiar with it.
This is the next major battleground for Shopify vs. Magento, and it’s one where there’s a clear winner. Shopify has been falling behind in the last couple of categories, but here’s where it excels because it’s designed to be as easy for you to pick up as possible. It’s undoubtedly one of the most intuitive ecommerce platforms that we’ve come across. It sets something of a benchmark and is only a little trickier to pick up than WordPress.
But again, this comes at the cost of functionality. Magento and Shopify both offer up a different set of core features, but Magento can easily be enhanced, while Shopify can’t. This all plays back into the ease of use, though, because the more functionality your business adds to its ecommerce store, the more complicated the backend becomes.
So Shopify wins the battle of Shopify vs Magento, but that win comes at a cost. It’s also important to remember that just because Magento 2 takes a little longer to pick up, that doesn’t make it a wrong choice. Once you get past that initial learning curve, you’ll be good to go!
Magento vs Shopify Summary: Both Shopify and Magento have a range of extensions and apps available to enhance their functionality. Magento Open Source edges out a win just because the community is so huge.
This one’s pretty simple, and indeed there’s almost no competition in terms of Magento vs Shopify. With Shopify, what you see is what you get. Third-party integrations are few and far between, and so if it’s not included in the core installation, then you might be out of luck.
With Magento 2, however, there’s a whole community around the core product, with literally thousands of third-party Magento developers working on extra functionality, from new themes to plugins. You can even develop and deploy third-party Magento 2 functionality of your own, or use existing addons to tap into pre-built APIs.
Fear not if you’re planning on using Shopify, though. Its database might not entirely be as extensive as that of Magento open-source, but Shopify still has a marketplace of sorts where you can download and install a range of integrations. There’s no chance of you having to pay extra, either.
Magento vs Shopify Summary: Shopify and Magento 2 both have powerful merchandising features available, making them both a pretty good option for your business.
Magento 2 comes with something called the Visual Merchandiser, which is essentially a suite of tools that are designed to help you to add and modify products and categories as smoothly as possible. There are all of the other ecommerce essentials on offer too, from product tags and order tracking to their dedicated visual mode, which allows you to view all of your products in a grid.
But the battle isn’t over yet, and in fact, when it comes to merchandising, it’s a pretty even field for Shopify vs Magento. Shopify has a visual merchandising plugin of its own, and both platforms offer pretty similar features for creating a library of products. That’s hardly a surprise, though, as merchandising is a core part of every ecommerce business.
We should also mention here that both Shopify and Magento 2 support SKUs (stock-keeping units), supporting bar codes, inventorying, and other functionality that’s vital for a modern-day ecommerce business. The two competing ecommerce platforms are on a pretty even keel here, and so there’s not much to recommend one over the other. It comes down to whichever works for you!
Magento vs Shopify Summary: Scalability is vital to any modern ecommerce business. Shopify is reasonably scalable, but Magento 2 has the edge because of its payments system.
Both Magento and Shopify have pretty decent scalability, and we’d be hard-pressed to pick a winner here. If anything, this is more a question to ask of your web hosts, because it doesn’t matter which ecommerce software you pick if your business doesn’t find itself a scalable web host.
As for Shopify vs. Magento, both should work for your business, no matter how ambitious it is or how much it intends to scale. If we had to pick just one, we’d go for Magento – but only because again, it’s so customizable that even if some aspect or another doesn’t scale, you can probably tweak the code to change that.
Your best bet is probably to go for Magento 2. That’s because Magento pricing is all about upfront investments in plugins, themes, and custom development, whereas when Shopify scales, monthly costs can start to climb. Magento also has a powerful payment system that can be used to facilitate and track international sales, which is good news if your business plans to go global.
Magento vs Shopify Summary: This is another area where it’s tough to choose between Magento open-source and Shopify. Both come with pretty powerful inbuilt SEO tools that will help your business to improve the rankings.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to any company that hopes to get found on search engines, and ecommerce companies, in particular, can gain a lot of income from inbound traffic from an SEO strategy. The good news is that both Magento 2 and Shopify come with a range of inbuilt features for SEO, as well as plenty of plugins that add extra functionality.
Shopify is arguably easier to just pick up and run with, mainly because an essential part of SEO is creating and deploying high-quality content. Shopify won out in our ease of use category, and in terms of setting up a store with content-rich category and product pages, it’s difficult to beat.
Magento 2 is more robust and feature heavy, and while it can take a little longer to wrap your head around it, there’s no reason why it can’t be a powerful centerpiece for a solid SEO strategy. Better yet, if the Magento cost isn’t too much of an issue, you can hire a reputable provider of Magento development services to create even more powerful custom functionality.
There are plenty of good reasons to go for both Shopify and Magento Open Source, and so it ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference. If you don’t already have prior experience, it can be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the back-ends of both Shopify and Magento so that you know what you’re getting yourself in for.
Remember that it’s better to invest some time upfront in getting to know both platforms than it is to rush into a decision and to find yourself regretting it. It’s not impossible to migrate an ecommerce store from Shopify to Magento Open Source (or vice versa), but it isn’t easy. It’s also time-consuming and error-prone.
The good news is that by now, you should know everything you need to know about the pros and cons of Magento Open Source and Shopify, and so you should also be ready to make the call one way or the other. If you’re still struggling, you can also reach out to a web developer and get a second opinion.
For our part, we usually default to Magento, mainly because the core software is free, and we’re able to modify it to suit our clients’ needs, no matter how big their business is or what niche their ecommerce store aims to serve. With that said, we also have plenty of experience with Shopify, and we’re more than happy to work with it if our client has a preference or if circumstances call for it.
Which ecommerce platform do you and your company use, and how have you found the experience so far? We’d love to hear from you, so be sure to let us know in the comments.