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Magento vs. Shopify: Head to Head Comparison

Are you having problems choosing a CMS? Don’t know which one is worth it and good for you? Are you feeling confused by the plethora of options?

Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Anyone who needs to pick a CMS has similar problems. The technological boom of the 21st century has brought upon us so many new things and so many choices. So, it’s no surprise that many people struggle with making the final decision.

Shopify vs Magento comparison cover image

However, you can relax at least a little, as I got you covered when it comes to CMS platforms. This article is here to help you narrow down the choices and make picking a CMS a little more convenient. And on the roster for today, we have Magento and Shopify.

One of the most frequent dilemmas users have when it comes to CMS platforms is whether they should go for an open-source platform or a hosted cart. Seeing as Magento is open-source and Shopify is not, we will see which one is the better choice in this article.

First things first, though, let’s introduce the two competitors.

Introducing Magento

Magento is a PHP-based eCommerce platform that is open-source.  Magento was first released on the 31st of March, 2008. Adobe Inc. acquired it in 2018. Magento is one of the leading eCommerce platforms and can accommodate both small and large businesses.

Magento offers three versions: the Magento Open Source, the Magento Commerce and the Magento Commerce Cloud. The Magento Open Source is the free self-hosted version that allows users to build their online store from scratch via numerous features. Magento Commerce and Commerce Cloud are the premium paid versions recommended for businesses and developers who want an all-in-one cloud platform that can optimize the performance and sales of online store websites.

Magento Hosting

Every online store or website needs a hosting provider, even when it comes to eCommerce. However, Magento does not come with hosting. This can be considered by some as a drawback. However, most consumers see it as a benefit because it allows them to choose the provider that will host their eCommerce platform.

But before you can choose a provider, you have to make sure that it meets requirements, and some of them are:

  • Magento’s technical hosting environment
  • Magento’s hosting plan
  • Magento hosting provider

So, when it comes to choosing a Magento hosting company, keep these three factors in mind. Additionally, you can select from the following hosting options for your Magento hosting, depending on whatever best suits you and your company:

  1. Shared hosting
  2. VPS hosting
  3. Dedicated hosting
  4. Cloud hosting (the most recommended)

However, the final decision on which provider to choose and what type of hosting to buy, whether managed or unmanaged, cloud or dedicated, and so on, is entirely dependent on what you want and need.

Magento Pros

  • Great community and user support
  • Flexible platform with lots of customization options
  • Good range of themes to choose from
  • Phone support available
  • No actual coding knowledge needed for Magento commerce hosting
  • Magento is open-source and free to use
  • Magento 2 extensions
  • It is built exclusively for eCommerce
  • The SEO Edge feature
  • Multiple store management possible

Magento Cons

  • It has a bit of a learning curve
  • Quite difficult for beginners
  • Requires a lot of time to set up
  • Many costs can pop-up because of the store set-up

screenshot of Adobe Commerce page within Adobe Experience Cloud website

Introducing Shopify

Shopify is an eCommerce platform on the rise, and it’s a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform. It was founded in 2006, and its headquarters is in Ottawa, Canada.

Shopify does the hosting for you, and it takes care of all technical issues that might arise. So, to use Shopify, you don’t need to have any technical expertise, as Shopify takes care of all technical aspects that come with creating an online store.

There are two available options with Shopify: Shopify and Shopify Plus. Shopify is the hosted version that allows users to customize the storefront of their online store, sell products, and run and grow an eCommerce business. Shopify Plus is a multi-channel platform that includes a higher level of customization, support, and other valuable features compared to the previous version.

Shopify Pros

  • There are a plethora of lovely and responsive store themes to pick from
  • A comprehensive eCommerce builder
  • Great app store for extending the functionality of your website
  • Pretty good customer support
  • Easy to use
  • Lots of checkout and payment options
  • A large community of dedicated fans

Shopify Cons

  • The majority of themes have expenses involved in them
  • It becomes more challenging to integrate apps into your store
  • Every transaction is subject to a charge (unless you use Shopify payments)

screenshot of Shopify website

The More Secure Choice

Now that we’ve gone through the pros and cons let’s look at the categories that could make or break your decision between Magento and Shopify, starting with security. Security is a fundamental category to consider, seeing as it’s a vital feature for any online shopping platform because it saves user data, customer data, and other sensitive information.

Magento gives users the freedom to strengthen their store’s data security on their own. Installing the Magento extension in the payment and security section can provide additional protection and keep corporate data safe.

However, Magento is as safe as you want it to be. Even for simple things like SSL, certification and upkeep will be required. Magento will release patches for known security vulnerabilities, like the SQL site injection vulnerability that put 300,000 Magento stores at risk in 2019. Still, it is up to your team to maintain your site up to date.

screenshot of Adobe Security Center

Now, onto Shopify. One of the benefits of a SaaS service that Shopify offers is that it includes security. Shopify’s hosted sites comply with all six PCI criteria categories and incorporate SSL security.

Some of the security features that Shopify provides are:

  • Fraud analysis
  • SSL Certificates are available for every Shopify plan
  • PCI Compliant
  • GDPR Compliant

screenshot of Shopify Privacy Policy page

So, I have to declare a tie in this category, as both platforms are pretty secure. However, I have to mention that Shopify’s security features are a bit better, as it includes essential features for free in its options.

Pricing

When it comes to the pricing of these two platforms, it is essential to know that Magento is self-hosted while Shopify is a hosted platform.

So, Magento is free to install as it is open-source, but all other features like web hosting, security, extensions, and domain are paid. Thus, the overall price you’ll pay if you go with Magento depends on different factors and the features you want. Additionally, you’ll need to pay for themes and extensions, which vary in cost. However, it’s worth noting that Magento leans towards businesses and enterprises more, which can spend money in most cases. Also, Magento doesn’t require its users to pay a monthly subscription.

screenshot of Magento website

Now, onto Shopify. Shopify is a closed-source platform, and it has three plans for its users to choose from and a 14-day free trial period. The plans include domains and web hosting and are paid via monthly subscriptions.

However, apps and themes come at an additional cost, aside from the monthly subscription. It’s worth mentioning, though, that Shopify offers more affordable themes and templates than Magento.

screenshot of Shopify pricers

Considering that these two platforms are very different and cater to separate markets, I have to say that this one is a tie. Magento is an open-source platform, which means that the price will vary depending on your needs. Shopify has three set price plans that may appear less expensive at first glance, but you’ll still have to pay for applications and themes. As a result, the pricing of the two platforms cannot be directly compared.

Customer Service

It goes without saying that no business would be complete without excellent customer service. This applies to CMS platforms as well. The good thing is that both platforms have excellent customer support and take great excellent care of their customers.

Let’s start with Magento. It contains user instructions that walk you through the full process of creating an online store because it is a community-based platform. The guides are step-by-step and include a plethora of helpful information from other Magento developers. However, since it is a self-hosted platform, Magento doesn’t offer any of the standard support options, like live chat, phone, or email support along the way unless you opt for the Magento Commerce Cloud option that is for B2B. Despite this, Magento does offer other options, such as troubleshooting, help center guide, and support tools.

screenshot of Adobe Commerce Help center

Shopify checks all the boxes, as it provides all the standard customer support options. More specifically, the options it offers are the following:

  • 24/7 phone support
  • Social media support
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Community forum
  • Email support
  • Help center
  • Video tutorials
  • Advanced specialist support

Shopify also has API documentation and the option to hire professional help from certified Shopify experts.

screenshot of Shopify help center

Although, as mentioned, Shopify offers many customer support channels and many other additional tools, I have to give the win to Magento, as Shopify does not come close to the level of expertise of Magento. However, this win comes with a grain of salt, as Shopify is also excellent in this category.

The More Beginner-Friendly CMS

When it comes to ease of use and beginner-friendliness, Shopify blows Magento out of the race.

Shopify is often described as a one-stop-shop and has a drag-and-drop website builder, which is a tool that makes customization of your online store simple and easy. Moreover, using Shopify does not require having any technical expertise or knowledge. So, anyone can build their online store with Shopify!

screenshot of Shopify store builder page

Magento is quite the opposite of Shopify in this category. It has a steeper learning curve. You need to have some level of technical knowledge and expertise, and you need to know internet jargon and code to build your online store. So, if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, you will need to hire a web developer to do the building for you.

screenshot of Products page within Adobe Experience Cloud website

There is a clear winner for this category, and that is Shopify.

Add-Ons

Add-ons are an integral part of any CMS, as they add functionality to the online stores users seek to build.

Magento offers approximately 4 000 extensions, both free and paid, and you do not need to have extensive coding knowledge to install them. A few of the best and most used Magento extensions are:

  • Using Amasty Multiple Coupons, custom discount coupons may be added to orders, and multiple discounts can be applied to a single transaction, making customers feel valued and encouraging them to buy again.
  • When a new product is available, Product Pre-Order sends automatic emails to customers to gauge interest in your current offering.
  • With Remarkety, you can link your store to email marketing campaigns and social media.
  • By adding advertising banners with personalized URLs to your store, Banner Slider improves revenue.

screenshot of Extensions for Adobe Experience Cloud

The Shopify App Store offers its users over 4 000 free and paid apps that can add features, enhance control of the user’s store and increase sales. Some of the most popular Shopify apps include:

  • Trust Hero – Display digital security badges to encourage users to complete purchases
  • Trackr – Installing on your phone will automatically email your customers information on the status of their orders
  • Analytics Buddy – integrates all of your Google Analytics data into your Shopify dashboard, allowing you to acquire useful insights

To reach out to your target demographic, Shopify also allows you to integrate marketing email campaigns, like those from MailChimp.screenshot of Shopify app store

I have to declare Shopify the winner for this category because its App Market is easier to navigate and the apps it offers are more refined than those of Magento.

Who Handles SEO Better?

Your website should, without a doubt, rank in the top 10 results in the majority of search engines in the ever-changing world of technology. As a result, one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a platform for your business is SEO. So, let’s see if one of today’s platforms is better than the other at this.

Magento is excellent at SEO and offers numerous SEO guides that help users get started with the SEO integration. Users can edit image alt tags that help search engines categorize images on the image search platform. Additionally, Magento customizes URLs to make websites more easily discoverable. And if that isn’t enough, all the mentioned features are built-in.

On the other hand, Shopify falls slightly behind Magento for this category. Shopify relies more on its apps for SEO integration, which means that to discover some tips and tricks, you’ll need to scour the app market first.screenshot of SEO and Search tab in Commerce user Guide within Adobe website

screenshot of Improving SEO page within Shopify website

While both platforms offer the ability to change page titles and image alt tags, Magento exceeds Shopify in this category because of its more comprehensive range of built-in SEO features. So, Magento wins this battle.

Themes and Designs

Another critical aspect of every CMS is the themes and designs they offer to their customers.

Magento offers 11 completely mobile responsive themes, a wide range of already made and custom themes. And while the already made themes do not require any coding customization, the custom themes demand developer-level skills to be made.

Some features that Magento offers in the theme category that are worth mentioning are:

  • It allows for greater customizing options (as long as you have a firm technical foundation)
  • It enables you to add animations to your store to make it more engaging
  • On your homepage, includes a featured product slide
  • You can have subscription choices in the footer of your website
  • Cross-selling blocks‘ are placed on your product pages

screenshot of the theme page for Adobe Commerce

When it comes to Shopify, all of its offered themes are mobile responsive, and it provides an extensive range of nine free and 64 premium themes. Also, Shopify allows for unlimited customization, which can be done by adding new pages, editing the color palette, moving elements, merging social media feeds, and in many other ways. Moreover, anyone can customize their website, as no coding knowledge is needed for this process.

screenshot of the theme page for Shopify

The better designer among our competitors today is Shopify. It offers a broader range of themes, requires no coding skills for customization, and allows users to edit as much as they desire.

Category Overview

CategoryMagentoShopify
Ease Of UseDifficult for beginners, technological expertise neededVery easy to use, no need for technological knowledge or expertise, favored by beginners
Sales FeaturesOffers more extensive sales featuresOffers high-level sales features
Website FeaturesOffers a wide range of featuresProvides a wide range of features
Customer SupportAdvanced level of expertiseProvides multiple support channels
SecuritySecurity features have to be purchasedOffers more built-in security features

Key Differences Between Magento and Shopify

FeatureMagentoShopify
DropshippingPossible with extensionsBuilt-in integration with Oberlo
Coupon ProvisionsBuilt-in featureBuilt-in feature with every plan expect Lite
Multilingual capabilitiesBuilt-in featurePossible with extensions
Security
  • Security Scan
  • Security extensions
  • Compliant with PCI in the Commerce edition only
  • Fraud analysis
  • SSL Certificates are available for every Shopify plan
  • PCI Compliant
  • GDPR Compliant
Supported currencies200133
InventoryUnlimited number of productsUnlimited number of products
BloggingMore ExpensiveCheaper
PerformanceSelf-hostedHosted

Additional Features List

MagentoShopify
Instant CheckoutHas its own payment processor included with its platform with no transaction fees
Advanced site-management abilitiesAutomatically emails a link to users to their abandoned card encouraging them to complete their purchase
Payment gateways like PayPal and Braintree are available and has integrations with over 300 moreExcellent blogging platform
Includes 100 predefined reports, nine reporting dashboards, and the ability for users to create and edit their own reportsAutomatically handles country and state tax rates
Numerous ways to engage and support your customers like guest or login checkout, email marketing campaigns, coupons, promotions, and othersIts customizable mobile app lets users manage orders, products, staff, and customers remotely
Global SellingOffers advanced marketing capabilities like SEO optimization, loyalty programs, discounts, gift cards, social media integration, and others

Concluding Remarks

So, for this race, there is no clear winner. All I can conclude is that, overall, it is my personal opinion that Shopify is the better platform because it is more user-friendly, has multiple support channels available, and does better in the themes and design area.

However, I will be remiss not to note that Shopify is better suited for small and medium businesses looking to get into retail and for users who are not quite tech-savvy.

Magento is better suited for medium and large businesses that desire a platform designed to support more extensive traffic and a broad range of different products. Also, I believe that developers and tech-savvy users would take a better liking to Magento if they’re willing to spend a little extra money on it, of course. Additionally, Magento hosting provides superior integration and experience to its users and makes online stores run smoothly and successfully.

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