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Magento vs. Shopify: Which Is The Better eCommerce Platform?

Magento vs. Shopify: Which Is The Better eCommerce Platform?

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Magento and Shopify are two clear leaders in the eCommerce game—but which is the better solution for building your online store? 

While Magento and Shopify are both fantastic options, they have key differences to consider. This article will detail the benefits and drawbacks of both platforms. I’ll also take you through a comparison of crucial features like pricing, user accessibility, extensions, and more, so you can settle the Magento vs. Shopify debate for yourself. 

Let’s dive in!

What Is Magento?

What Is Magento?

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Magento (also known as Adobe Commerce) is a popular eCommerce solution that boasts over 250,000 users. The website builder was launched in 2008 and is trusted by many popular brands like Ford, Coca-Cola, and Nike. The platform is open-source, so it is highly customizable and scalable for businesses of all sizes. 

Magento offers a variety of features that appeal to store owners looking to create a flexible and multi-faceted online store. The perks include AI-driven data analysis, multi-channel commerce, and headless capabilities, which means your business site can grow as you do. But is the Magento platform right for your business? Let’s take a look at some of Magento’s most notable features, as well as some downsides of using the platform.

Pros Of Magento

Pros Of Magento

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Magento is generally considered to be slightly more challenging to learn than other eCommerce platforms. Still, it also gives you more control over your store—it is designed for customization, scalability, and offers a wide range of extensions for further optimization. In the following sections, I’ll take you through the importance of these various Magento assets.

Customization

Pros Of Magento

Magento Dashboard

Magento offers merchants a lot of flexibility and control over the look and feel of their online store. With the Magento page builder, you can change any aspect of your store, including the layout, design, and functionality. These features give you more freedom when designing your store and allow you to create a unique shopping experience for your customers.

You can improve the performance of your Magento store by modifying its features —there are many modules and extensions that you can add if you want your store to stand out. Additionally, because Magento is an open-source platform, developers worldwide are always adding new and exciting features and enhancements, allowing you to update your storefront as your business grows and changes.

Scalability

Magento Scalability

Magento Scalability

Magento is very scalable, making it a good choice for businesses expecting to grow or experience a lot of seasonal traffic. The platform can handle large volumes of traffic and orders, ensuring that customers can shop for your products anytime and anywhere. 

Even if your site experiences a spike in traffic, Magento can ensure that your store remains fast and responsive. This capability is essential for eCommerce stores that rely on quick page load times to convert visitors into buyers. Additionally, because you can adjust your website and add features as you grow, you only pay for the features you need.

Extensions

Magento Extensions

Magento Extensions

Magento has a large community of developers who can create custom extensions and themes to fit your business’s specific needs, available on the Adobe Marketplace. The Adobe Marketplace is a curated collection of the best Magento extensions from around the web and offers free and paid extensions.

The Marketplace is searchable by category or keyword, and you can filter results by featured, popular, or newest extensions. You can also read reviews and ratings from other merchants to help you decide which extension is right for you.

The Adobe Magento Marketplace is an excellent resource for merchants looking to add more functionality to their stores. With hundreds of extensions to choose from, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.

Multi-Channel Commerce

Magento Multi-Channel Commerce

Magento Multi-Channel Commerce

Magento is one of the leading platforms for multi-channel commerce, providing merchants with the ability to create a unified shopping experience across multiple sales channels, including online stores, mobile apps, and marketplaces.

There are many benefits to using Magento for multi-channel commerce. Magento offers a robust feature set that enables merchants to manage and optimize their sales across all channels, including B2C and B2B.

Cons Of Magento

Let’s now look at some of the cons of Magento.

Costs

One downside to Magento is that it can be expensive to set up and maintain. The costs aren’t clearly outlined on their website, and it is more subjective based on your business’ needs.

Users that choose Magento should be prepared to invest in web development and design services to create a functional and visually appealing store. Unless you have coding experience or are willing to hire a developer, setting up and managing a Magento store can be expensive. Magento also has a fairly steep learning curve, so it may take some time to get your store up and running the way you want it.

User-Friendliness

Magento was created with developers in mind and is geared towards more tech-savvy users. While Magento is a powerful platform with many features, it can be challenging to use and navigate. This learning curve can be a challenge for business owners who are not familiar with coding or website development. Additionally, the Magento interface can be overwhelming and cluttered, making it difficult to find all the information you need to launch your store.

Magento Pricing

Since Magento is an open-source platform, prices will vary depending on the size and scope of your online store. The platform is free to download, but you’ll have to account for the costs of hosting and a domain name. You’ll also have to consider the prices of Magento themes, extensions, and marketing, estimates of which can be seen below.

Magento Pricing

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If you want an all-in-one commerce solution, you can also opt to use Adobe Commerce Pro. Costs will vary depending on your individual business needs and size—you can get an estimate and a free demo by filling out this form with more information about your business.

What Is Shopify?

Shopify

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Shopify is an e-commerce company founded in 2006 and used by over 1.75 million merchants, including notable brands like Red Bull, Tesla, and Penguin Books. The cloud-based platform has various subscription plans that provide an all-in-one solution for eCommerce retailers and businesses. 

Users can use the eCommerce platform to design, set up, and manage their stores across multiple sales channels, including web, mobile, social media, and brick-and-mortar locations. Additionally, Shopify offers 24/7 customer service and a wealth of resources for new users, making it highly accessible and easy to navigate for even novice online store owners.

In the following sections, I’ll take you through the pros and cons of using Shopify and pricing, so you can decide if it is the right platform for your business.

Pros Of Shopify

Shopify Features

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Shopify is known for being extremely user-accessible and easy to navigate, offering a comprehensive variety of tools and support. They provide a secure platform and built-in store management and guides to navigating marketing and SEO for your online store. Below, I’ll outline some of Shopify's most notable features.

Shopify Themes

Shopify Themes

Shopify Themes

When it comes to creating a beautifully-designed online store, Shopify is a popular choice, providing a variety of free and paid themes. Users can browse the theme store based on industry type, aesthetic preferences, and popularity.

If you’re on a budget, you’ll have eight free options to choose from, and if you want your store to be more unique, there are 73 paid themes to explore (these typically range from $200-$300). All themes come with drag and drop options so that you can adjust the look of your store without coding or any technical expertise.

Free Business Tools

Shopify Free Business Tools

Shopify Free Business Tools

Shopify offers a variety of free business tools that can help you boost the efficiency of your online store. Whether you need to design a new logo or create a label for shipping, Shopify has you covered. Using these tools, you’ll also be able to calculate your profit margins and generate invoices to keep track of the financial aspects of your business.

If you’re starting in the eCommerce game, these tools can make it easier to launch your store by providing emerging entrepreneurs with resources like a slogan maker, business name generator, and a domain name generator optimized for SEO.

Shopify Community

Shopify Community

Shopify Community

The Shopify community provides a plethora of support for both new store owners and experienced Shopify users. You can browse the discussion forum, connect with other Shopify sellers using the group's feature, or find local events digitally and in person. Shopify also regularly updates its blog with troubleshooting techniques and hacks for running a more lucrative store.

You can also access Shopify Learn for free if you need additional guidance, which provides on-demand online courses organized into categories, from digital marketing to product photography. If you want one-on-one mentorship, you can hire a Shopify expert to help with specific projects. However, new users should be able to quickly find the answers to most of their concerns using Shopify’s wide variety of free resources.

Shopify App Store

Shopify App Store

Shopify App Store

The Shopify app store has over 6,000 free and paid apps for download, allowing users to optimize their store and run their business more efficiently. You can search apps based on your business goals, from attracting new customers using marketing campaigns to shipping your orders. 

Shopify easily integrates with large platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and AliExpress to make your marketing, product sourcing, and fulfillment tasks seamless. Best of all, you won’t need to spend hours downloading extensions or coding—Shopify makes it simple to add apps to your storefront.

Point Of Sale

Shopify Point Of Sale

Shopify Point Of Sale

The Shopify app store has over 6,000 free and paid apps for download, allowing users to optimize their store and run their business more efficiently. You can search apps based on your business goals, from attracting new customers using marketing campaigns to shipping your orders. 

Shopify easily integrates with large platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and AliExpress to make your marketing, product sourcing, and fulfillment tasks seamless. Best of all, you won’t need to spend hours downloading extensions or coding—Shopify makes it simple to add apps to your storefront.

Cons Of Shopify

Though Shopify has many fantastic features, there are also a few downsides to the platform to consider. What may be helpful for new users—pre-made themes, a built-in app store—may feel limiting to more experienced and tech-savvy entrepreneurs. In the next section, we will look at some of the limitations that come with using the platform.

Customization

Although Shopify offers drag-and-drop tools for customizing your storefront, there is much less flexibility to alter the design of your shop than there is with other open-source sites like Magento. Since Shopify only has around 80 themes, your store may look like thousands of others. Therefore, standing out against the competition in terms of store design may be difficult since there are fewer advanced opportunities for customization.

Scalability

If your store grows rapidly, you’ll have to update your plan—which comes at a cost. If you need advanced reporting, a higher number of staff accounts, and more inventory locations, you may have to pay for the advanced plan, which costs considerably more than the basic or Shopify plans. Therefore, Shopify isn’t always the most cost-friendly platform for scalability.

Migration

If you want to take your store to another platform, it can be difficult to migrate from Shopify. Just the domain will take 60 days to transfer, and you’ll need to have some degree of technical expertise to move the rest of your data or hire outside help. While this is not an impossible task, it can be daunting since Shopify is an insulated platform and not open-source. Therefore, it’s essential to use the 14-day free trial and do your research before committing to Shopify.

Shopify Pricing

Shopify pricing

Shopify Pricing

Shopify is a subscription-based service, so you’ll need to pay for a plan to take your store live. However, they offer a risk-free 14-day trial, so you can play around with the platform and decide if it is right for you.

If you’re ready to use Shopify, you can choose between three plans: the Basic Shopify plan, the Shopify Plan, and the Advanced Shopify plan. To learn more about what each has to offer, refer to my comparison of the three Shopify plans.
  • Basic Shopify Plan: $29/month
  • Shopify Plan: $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify Plan: $299/month

Magento vs. Shopify

Magento vs. Shopify

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Magento vs. Shopify: Ease Of Use

Magento is a bit more difficult to use than Shopify for beginners, and you’ll likely need some coding experience to start building your site. The platform offers more flexibility and customization options despite the steeper learning curve, so if you need more control over your eCommerce store, Magento is the better option.

In contrast, Shopify is easier to use than Magento, especially for beginners. The platform offers an all-in-one solution and a wide breadth of free resources so that even if you run into any trouble when starting your site, you likely won’t have to hire a developer or outside help. The layout is intuitive and user-friendly, so it may also be more time-efficient to set up than Magento.

  • Verdict: Shopify is much more user-friendly and offers more support for eCommerce newbies, but it comes at the cost of customization options, which I’ll discuss next.

Magento vs. Shopify: Customization

If you’re looking for complete control over every aspect of your store, Magento is the best option. You’ll be able to tweak all the features of your store, which helps users make more unique websites. However, they only offer five themes, so you’ll have to put significantly more work into making your store stand out.

Shopify offers drag-and-drop tools but is more limited for customization, although the available themes are ready to use. They have 80 free and paid themes to choose from, but with a large number of Shopify users, it’s possible your store may look similar to your competitor’s sites.

  • Verdict: Magento is more customizable, but this comes at the cost of needing to spend a lot of time adjusting your website. Shopify gives you less freedom with customization, but you can launch a professional-looking store without much work.

Magento vs. Shopify: Marketing And SEO

Magento has a marketing menu that you can use to set up promotions, integrate with other sales channels, and generate user product reviews. In terms of SEO, Magento gives users the option to manage metadata, edit URL structures, and create a site map, giving them more control over the keywords and phrases on their page. 

Marketing on Shopify is also very intuitive—users can run advertisement campaigns using email marketing, Facebook ads, Google Shopping, and more. The app store also provides many resources for SEO, including add-ons like Booster SEO and Smart SEO.
  • Verdict: Both Magento and Shopify offer a variety of tools for managing marketing campaigns and optimizing SEO. 

Magento vs. Shopify: Apps And Plugins

Magento offers more extensions than Shopify since it is an open-source platform. Open-source means that developers can create their extensions and share them with the community. While this offers more choice, it can also make it challenging to find the right extension or verify that it will work well on their website. 

Shopify’s extension selection is smaller, but all of the extensions are vetted by Shopify before they are made available on the platform. This process makes it easier to find high-quality extensions that work well with your store and don’t require any technical expertise to download.

  • Verdict: While Magento offers more third-party apps and plugins, Shopify’s app store is easier to navigate and highly controlled, so you know you’ll get quality extensions. 

Magento vs. Shopify: Transaction Fees

Magento does not have its own payment system, but you’ll be able to choose from over 300 providers. Therefore, the transaction fees will vary based on which you choose. You will have to add payment integrations through extensions as well.

Shopify offers Shopify Payment, and the transaction fees will depend on which plan you have, ranging from 0.5% to 2%.
  • Verdict: Shopify payments offer low transaction fees, but you’ll have to weigh the options Magento provides before deciding which is the best option for your business. 

Magento vs. Shopify: Pricing

Magento is open-source, meaning it is technically free to download and use. However, you will need to pay for a hosting provider and domain name, themes, and extensions. You will likely incur additional costs with Magento, especially if you need to hire outside help with developers or run marketing campaigns.

In contrast, Shopify offers a wide range of pricing plans, starting at just $29 per month. The subscription-based method makes it a more affordable option for small businesses. Still, it can get more expensive if your business proliferates and you have to update to a more advanced plan.

  • Verdict: Pricing is more flexible with Magento and you won’t be paying for features you don’t need. However, the costs are more difficult to gauge, while Shopify has monthly subscriptions. 

Magento vs. Shopify: FAQ

Is Magento Better Than Shopify?

Both are fantastic options, but the eCommerce platform you choose will depend on your budget, experience, and preferences regarding cloud-based versus open-source solutions. Magento is the clear winner when it comes to customization and scalability. However, Shopify is more user-accessible, can be less expensive, and is easier to set up for new online store owners.

Which Are The Best eCommerce Platforms?

If you are looking to explore other options, here are some of the leading eCommerce platforms:

Still not sure which is right for you? Check out my guide on the best eCommerce CMS.

Final Thoughts: Magento vs. Shopify

Final Thoughts: Magento vs. Shopify

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Determining which website builder to use when entering the eCommerce world can be a daunting task, especially if you have to spend hours comparing the most popular platforms. You’ll need to think about the costs, support, and customization abilities, which can get overwhelming. 

Both Magento and Shopify are two of the top eCommerce platforms in the game, and for a good reason—but the platform you choose will depend on your needs and experience level. Magento has a steeper learning curve but allows more freedom for design and more extensions. Shopify is better for newer store owners who require 24/7 customer service and want to set up their store without the hassle of coding.

You’ll be in good hands with whichever eCommerce platform you choose, so get started today with launching your online store!

About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is an author, investor, and speaker known for building a business from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months while traveling the world.

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