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Magento vs Shopify: Which Ecommerce Platform is Right for your Retail Business?
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Magento vs Shopify: Which Ecommerce Platform is Right for your Retail Business?
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Magento vs Shopify: Which Ecommerce Platform is Right for your Retail Business?

Magento vs Shopify: The Full Ecommerce Comparison in 2019

Setting up a retail business is a daunting task. Choosing the right platform adds more challenges, as you’re deciding the fate of your future business. This decision should be made wisely. That’s why researching your options is crucial.

There are many ecommerce solutions nowadays and the two most popular platforms are Magento and Shopify. In recent years, Shopify and Magento went through a lot of changes and presented some interesting innovations to become one of the most commonly used platforms on the market.

If you find yourself in two minds between the choice of Magento vs Shopify for 2019 — no worries! We will analyze the pros and cons of both Magento vs Shopify in order to choose the right technology for your business. Keep reading to discover what differentiates these ecommerce giants and find out the most suitable solution for your retail business. Let’s dive right in.

How to Choose an Ecommerce Platform 

Our Shopify Magento comparison will highlight their main differences. There are many aspects that should be taken into consideration when selecting a platform. Here, we’re going to compare Magento vs Shopify based on several key factors, including:

Magento vs Shopify Comparison

To help you make a final decision, we’ve come up with a side-by-side comparison of Shopify vs Magento. Let’s find out what is the best ecommerce platform for your business requirements.

Ease of use 

One of the most important aspects of a novice merchant is how easy it is to start selling and making money. You and your team need to be able to quickly ramp up, understand how to use the platform’s features, and make full use of them.

Shopify is the best choice for businesses that are new to website building,  as it’s incredibly easy to get up and running. Within 10 minutes of browsing the Shopify dashboard, beginners can understand how it works. It also has drag-and-drop tools, making it fairly easy to customize your website by moving elements around the page precisely how you want. For more advanced features, you’ll need to add apps or use custom coding. 

Magento and ease of use are not exactly synonymous. Although the platform is relatively quick to deploy (in multiple languages, payment methods, etc), it will require technical knowledge and extended developer support. Magento isn’t the best choice for beginners, however, experienced ecommerce merchants will find every feature they need in a flexible, customizable interface. Magento requires substantial design restyling, as well as more time to set up and go live. 

When it comes to coding, Magento and Shopify differ significantly. Shopify applies a coding language called Liquid, and Magento applies PHP. Magento is open-source, while Shopify is a closed platform (proprietary). With Magento, source code can be modified to meet specific store requirements, while with Shopify, it cannot be changed. 

Features

All retail companies have various needs and priorities when it comes to the features. Magento has a broad variety of features, including its support for big product catalogs with multiple modifications, native product bundles, cross-selling and upselling features. 

General Magento feature list

  • Marketing, Promotions, and Conversion Tools
  • Site Management
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Catalog Management
  • Product Browsing
  • Catalog Browsing
  • Checkout, Payment, and Shipping
  • Order Management
  • Customer Accounts
  • Customer Service
  • International Support
  • Analytics and Reporting
  • Mobile Commerce

The mentioned features above are general. The Magento Commerce version has more additional features. If you want to find out more about the difference between Magento Open Source vs. Commerce, check out our article.   

Shopify has some native features as well, and other ones can be added through its app store. 

General Shopify feature list

  • Unlimited products 
  • Staff accounts 
  • 24/7 support 
  • Sales channels 
  • Manual order creation 
  • Discount codes 
  • Free SSL certificate 
  • Abandoned cart recovery 
  • Gift cards 
  • Professional reports 
  • Advanced report builder 
  • Third-party calculated shipping rates

Hosting

Shopify is a cloud-based platform, meaning you won’t have to search for third-party hosting. Shopify takes care of operating your servers, optimizing it for performance and security patches. However, a significant downside of a cloud solution is that you have minimum control over it because it’s run, maintained and monitored by Shopify. This can be a problem for retail companies with extremely sensitive data and complex storage needs. This usually requires a high level of customization that cloud service companies are unable to provide.

Magento can be hosted on-site, in the cloud, or through a third-party. In cloud hosting, your ecommerce store is fully hosted and run by Magento, while in open source you need to purchase your domain and hosting. The benefit is that you get complete access to the server and home directory, thus you can do core programming to make a customized store. However, you also have to pay separately for security and hosting.

Theme Selection

The theme of your ecommerce website creates the basis of what your customers will see when they visit your website. The platform you select should provide a broad variety of themes. Alternatively, there is a high probability that your store will look boring. Both Shopify and Magento offer a large selection of themes. 

Shopify provides a wide range of mobile responsive themes (over 60). They also have a ‘product zoom’ function, allowing your customers to view each item in more detail. Some of them are free of charge but the majority are paid. Prices for themes range from $140 – 180.

Shopify Themes
Shopify Themes

Magento provides 12 free and paid themes, 10 of which are mobile-optimized. If you decide to purchase a theme, they are not expensive but be ready to optimize it for mobile and other devices. Prices for themes range from $29 – 499.

Magento Themes
Shopify Themes

With Magento and Shopify, you can also create custom themes from scratch. 

Performance

When you’re running an ecommerce store, performance is vital to its success, since you might lose potential sales. None of the customers waits too long for store pages to load and is likely to look elsewhere to make their purchases. 

As has been mentioned above, Shopify is a hosted solution, so it takes care of the loading time of your website. However, if you have any issues related to speed, all that remains is to contact the Shopify support team. 

Unlike Shopify, Magento is a self-hosted platform, so you can choose your own server and make all the required changes to speed up the store performance. Previously, the majority of users complained that Magento was very slow. With the release of Magento 2, many new enhancements were added to Magento 2 that allowed you to optimize pages for fast delivery, minimize the server response time for store activities, and make backend operations more efficient. 

SEO

93% of online experiences start with an online search. Select a platform that offers robust SEO techniques to gain a higher ranking. This is a point in Magento vs Shopify comparison, where both ecommerce solutions provide different functionalities and extensions to guarantee higher SERP (search engine result pages) positions. 

Being a self-hosted platform, Magento offers a lot more flexibility from an SEO perspective and enables you to improve your strategy for maximum output. With Magento, you can take advantage of no-follow links, redirects and canonical tags. You also can edit permalinks and meta tags and change URLs. 

All these strategies make it much easier for search engines to crawl ecommerce stores and understand their structure. Check our article to find out more Magento 2 SEO tips to increase your website traffic. 

Magento SEO
Magento SEO. Image credit: Cordena

Shopify also offers a basic set of SEO tools. With Shopify, you can edit meta tags, optimize product pages, edit the site structure, and benefit from a variety of SEO dedicated add-ons. All these things make it easier for search bots to crawl your website. However, since Shopify is a hosted platform you cannot perform any server configurations, like changing the URL structure and more. 

Shopify SEO
Shopify SEO. Image credit: Cordena

Payment Solutions

Every ecommerce business needs to provide its customers with secure payment solutions to make transactions seamless for you and your customers.

Both Magento and Shopify offer access to a great variety of payment gateways. Magento offers a far lower number of gateways, but it can be implemented through third-party apps. Among the most popular payment gateways supported by Magento are PayPal, Authorize.net, Amazon Payments, Stripe. These payment solutions offer almost all the features for maintaining secure financial operations. 

Shopify currently supports 70+ various payment gateways including PayPal, Amazon Payments. However, if you decide to integrate these third-party payment gateways with Shopify, be ready for additional processing fees (from 0.5%-2% on each sale). Shopify charges for financial operation made with external payment processors. 

Extensions and Integrations

Once you’ve set up your ecommerce store, you may find that some features are lacking. Advanced navigation, elastic search, FAQ (frequently asked questions), one step checkout as a few examples. A set of functions that can be added to an ecommerce store are called extensions by Magento and Apps by Shopify. 

On the Magento marketplace, you can find over 5,000 extensions that integrate smoothly with the Magento backend. 

Magento Extension Marketplace
Magento Extension Marketplace

Shopify, on the other hand, offers much less – 3,000 Apps. It’s not just the quantity of extensions that make Magento so much more versatile, but its in-depth functionality. At the same time, Shopify offers an easier integration process.

Shopify Apps Marketplace
Shopify Apps Marketplace

Inventory Management

Inventory management allows you to sort out and catalog all products that you want to sell via your online store. Both platforms offer standard features such as product and pricing options, inventory importing, categorizing and filtering, catering to your business needs. 

As has been mentioned, Shopify has a user-friendly interface where you can run your inventory without hassles. There is a number of fields that you can customize for each product including product description and name, image category, and more. 

Shopify Inventory Management
Shopify Inventory Management

Shopify isn’t designed for big online stores as it lacks some advanced features. Don’t worry, you can always integrate apps to add features like promotional sell-offs, discounts for registered customers, and more. The drawback is that Shopify significantly relies on its apps to expand the functionality of your inventory management and requires them to maintain these plugins. 

Magento Inventory Management
Magento Inventory Management

Magento offers basic out-of-the-box inventory management features, just like Shopify, but this ecommerce solution differs significantly when it comes to advanced features. For instance, there are many different variation options (product sizes, quantity, colors). With Magento, you can also integrate plenty of custom extensions that can add a whole range of new features.

Scalability

One of the biggest mistakes that an ecommerce company can make, especially when starting their online business, is to neglect scalability. If you’re considering to expand your business in the near future, which ecommerce solution you select also depends on the scale of that growth. Luckily, both Magento and Shopify are able to provide you the scope for scaling up or down.

With Shopify, to scale up or down is simple. There’s a clear plan for expanding your ecommerce business. You can easily scale up or down by choosing the lower or higher plans, which differ in price quite a lot from$29$200  per month. 

Keep in mind that the lower your Shopify plan is, the higher are the transaction fees per financial operation will be. Shopify Plus offers enterprise-grade solutions for scalability, providing a fully hosted solution designed to deal with any level of volume. 

Due to its robust architecture, Magento can handle massive numbers of products. In fact, Magento 2 Commerce is designed with scalability in mind and can deal with up to 250,000 products. With Magento 2, if your sales increase by ten times from one day to the next, Magento will be able to manage it smoothly without causing any issues. Magento Commerce supports millions of merchants, making sure that sell-offs, Black Friday, or large volumes can be managed without hassles.

Security

Security should be a top priority for your ecommerce website. According to Blue Corona, 84% of online customers won’t buy at an ecommerce store that is not secure. In fact, millions of websites get hacked every day.  To prevent a security breach, you should ensure that the latest security patches and service packs are applied to your website. 

Shopify supports all six categories of PCI (Peripheral component interconnect) standards and follows with SSL encryption to manage customers’ confidential information during their buyer’s journey. As a hosted platform, Shopify protects your website from hacker attacks and regularly sends patches and updates to guarantee high security.

Due to the fact that Shopify is a cloud-based platform, there is less room for fixing security issues. Shopify also introduces a bounty program that rewards users who find security vulnerabilities related to the Shopify store. 

With Magento, web hosting plays a key role when it comes to keeping your store secure. Magento requires you to take a more practical approach to meet PCI compliance. Of course, Magento presents patches and updates for known security risks (SQL site injection vulnerability) however, it’s up to your development team to keep your site safe. Magento also releases dedicated security patches systematically.

Costs 

A crucial aspect to consider when selecting an ecommerce platform is how much it’s going to cost. 

The license cost of Magento depends on which edition you have. Magento Open Source Edition (Community) is free to download from Magento’s website,  but you’ll have to cover all development, design, hosting, security, and maintenance fees. Magento is self-hosted, so merchants need to buy a hosting solution for Magento. As a rule, our customers pay between $20 $150 for shared Magento hosting and from $500 $800 for dedicated servers. 

Magento Commerce Edition (Enterprise) has a support package but is considerably more expensive. The license of Magento Commerce starts from $22,000$125,000 per year. 

Magento also offers the cloud-hosted Magento Cloud Edition, which is built on Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model. The Cloud Edition is more expensive and the cost ranges from $40,000$150,000 per year. 

Shopify has different pricing models depending on the business model. A Basic Shopify Plan starts at $29 and has basic features. The more advanced plan starts at $79 –$299 per month. Shopify Plus, designed for mid-to-large businesses, starts at $2,000 per month. Shopify provides a 14-day free trial so you can test it before choosing a suitable model.

Shopify vs Magento Comparison Table

The table below shows a Shopify vs Magento features comparison. 


Magento 2Shopify 
Ease of useComplexEasy
Source code accessibleOpen-sourceProprietary source
HostingOn-site, third-party, Cloud-basedCloud-based
Extensions5,000 +3,000 +
CostFree and Premium From $29 
FeaturesFeature-richFeature-rich
Ease of IntegrationFlexibleLimited to Shopify API
Theme selection1260+
Payment GatewaysSupport for a far lower number of gateways, but they can be added through third-party appsSupports more than 70 payment gateways
SecurityAdvanced Security and UpdatesSSL Certificate included
Multilingual capabilitiesBuilt-in multi-lingual support.It does not provide full multilingual capabilities. Third-party apps can be integrated for multi-lingual support. 
Product VariantsUnlimitedLimited to 100
Available DevicesWindows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-basedWindows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based
Ideal Ecommerce SizeA large enterprise with lots of resourcesSmall companies wanting to go online

Which Ecommerce Solution Works for You

Magento Enterprise vs Shopify, which platform do you prefer? After all, these leading players in the ecommerce market are best-suited for very different types of businesses.  

Are you new to ecommerce and want to build a simple store to handle 100 products? Shopify is the best solution for small retail to medium-sized businesses wanting to create an online presence. Shopify is known for its usability and provides great features for those who don’t have much experience building online stores and want to start selling ASAP. 

If you are looking for a solution with unlimited features and scalable to handle your business growth, Magento is the best choice. Magento is the right solution for large companies and enterprises, which require advanced functionality and a high level of customization. Bear in mind that there are not so many qualified Magento 2 developers out there, so make sure you hire a Magento development company that has enough expertise to handle your project. 

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