Which kind of ketchup is better: ketchup, or mustard? It sounds like a non sequitur. Yet that’s exactly what people do when they compare Shopify vs Magento to determine the best ecommerce platform for their needs .
In the world of ecommerce, these two options might just be the equivalents of ketchup and mustard, after all. Nearly two million online stores use Shopify, making it one of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the entire internet. Magento’s no slouch, either, powering some 1.2% of the world’s websites.
Together, the two platforms host shops that generate billions upon billions of dollars. But which one is better? The short answer: it depends on your needs.
The long answer: you’ll find it below. We dissected two of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the Internet. We started with basic comparisons: pros and cons, pricing, and lists of features. And then we asked ourselves: but who’s the one doing the research? Depending on who you are—whether you run a small-time starting shop or a large enterprise-level company—the answer can be very different. Here’s our guide on whether Shopify or Magento might be right for you.
- What are Shopify and Magento?
- Quick Comparison: Shopify vs Magento
- The Pros and Cons of Working with Shopify
- The Pros and Cons of Working with Magento
- Pricing: What Do Shopify and Magento Charge?
- A List of Shopify Features
- Honorable Mention: Shopify Plus
- A List of Magento Features
- Online Reviews
- How Do Shopify and Magento Weigh In With Specific Features?
What are Shopify and Magento?
Both Shopify and Magento are digital commerce platforms. In other words, they provide the infrastructure you need to start selling products online.
It sounds big because it is. With Shopify and Magento, you’re not just acquiring a hammer: you’re acquiring the entire tool shed. These platforms give you everything you need to create digital storefronts, input product content, make sales, track sales, and more.
- Shopify is less of a do-it-yourself solution than it is a plug-and-play platform. If you’ve ever wondered how a newbie can go from knowing nothing about ecommerce to running an online store in a few weeks, it’s probably because they use Shopify.
- Magento Commerce integrates with Adobe Commerce to provide more customizable solutions. Think self-hosting and open-source platform, and a lot more control in your pocket. Which, depending on your experience level, can be a good thing—or a bad thing. However, don’t be thrown off: Magento’s IT-free design, for example, is less intimidating than it sounds.
Quick Comparison: Magento vs Shopify
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, let’s provide a bird’s view of these two platforms. For comparison’s sake, we’ve split it up between different categories of features to give you an idea of how each one stands up:
|Style of hosting||Self-hosted, open source||Hosted|
|“Basic” pricing||Reportedly starting at $2,000 for enterprises||“Basic”: $29/month|
|Native apps||Many features built right in||Often requires customizing with different apps|
|Themes||Available, including drag-and-drop web page building, free and paid||Available, free themes and paid|
|SEO||Robust, with easy integration to Google Analytics||Basic: editing tags, headlines, etc.|
|User Experience||Requires more expertise||Beginner-friendly|
|SSL||SSL included||SSL included|
|Localization||Includes multiple currencies and custom pricing||Unlock more multiple currencies with higher pricing tiers|
|Page builder||Drag-and-drop page building||Standard web templates|
|Apps, add-ons, and extensions||Over 3,200 Magento “extensions”||4,200 apps|
|Transaction fees||None||Have to use Shopify Payments to avoid added transaction fees|
|Multiple languages||Yes, available with a single Magento license||Up to five with Shopify Basic through Advanced, additional licenses available|
|Customer support||Yes, limited||Yes|
The Pros and Cons of Working with Shopify
It can be difficult to make blanket statements about everyone’s Shopify experience. After all, there are enough features, add-ons, and pricing tiers to completely customize what you’ll experience when getting set up on Shopify. However, let’s assume that you’re just poking your head in the door and want to have a look around. What is the basic Shopify experience like? Here are some of the common pros and cons you’ll find:
- Easy to use—highly intuitive with mobile-friendly templates to pull from
- Extensive options and add-ons for enhancing the point of sale
- Pricing is generous, and includes a free trial for people who want to dip their toes in the water
- With over 1,700,000 businesses using it, there is a large marketplace for add-on applications and features
- Quick setup is effective for experienced dropshipping entrepreneurs
- You may have to pay more than you assumed if you want certain additions. For example, accepting additional currencies in a new market may require upgrading your plan
- Template issues. For example, if you don’t have product photos that fit the predetermined templates, you may have to take new photos
- May require some experimenting to determine which add-on is the best solution for your shop
- It’s less “out-of-the-box” ready than you’d think; you will have to customize your experience with essential applications
- Less customization available. For example, the checkout process
- Shopify Payments is required if you want to avoid Shopify’s transaction fees
The Pros and Cons of Working with Magento
As you might expect, Magento Commerce is an entirely different approach to building an ecommerce store. That means the pros and cons will look quite different. Not only is Magento open source, but its entire appeal may be different. Look at our list below to get a gauge for whether the pros line up with your ecommerce priorities.
- Customization. With Magento working more “open-source” than Shopify, you’ll have more options for customizing your own store
- Pricing variants are easy to achieve. For example, if you want a certain price for different segments of customers, you won’t find it hard to “unlock” this feature
- A large user community means there are plenty of troubleshooting tips online, giving plenty of support
- Once a Magento store is up and running, it’s relatively simple to scale without having to unlock new levels
- Drag-and-drop designs are mobile-friendly
- Time and effort. If you’ve never built a store before, you’re almost certainly going to find Magento more confusing than Shopify
- Additional hosting needs. Since Magento is so open, you’ll have to provide for your own hosting platform, while with Shopify, hosting is included
- Magento experts can be a little more expensive, whereas Shopify support is relatively straightforward
- Difficulty: if you’re not already working with a Magento expert, you may find it a challenge to find one to build your store
- Pricing. Rather than a small monthly bill for a basic list of features, Magento may require more substantial investments, especially at the enterprise level
Pricing: What Do Shopify and Magento Charge?
As you might expect, Shopify and Magento’s pricing structures vary wildly. That’s why we’ve broken it down as best as we can, although the dissimilar structures make it hard to do a head-to-head Shopify vs Magento comparison.
Let’s start with Shopify. What if you only want to use Shopify to sell on an existing website or store you have? Then you would use the Shopify Lite plan at $9/month. Shopify’s essential pricing tiers go all the way up to $299/month, however. You do have to pay for some of the convenience of lower upfront costs, as you have to use Shopify Payments if you want to avoid transaction fees as high as 2%.
|Tier||Shopify Basic||Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|Transaction fee (without Shopify Payments)||2%||1%||0.5%|
|Online credit card rates||2.9% + 30¢||2.6% + 30¢||2.4% + 30¢|
|In-person credit card rates||2.7% + 0¢||2.5% + 0¢||2.4% + 0¢|
Head over to Magento’s pricing page and…yikes. Not only do they not tell you what you’re going to spend without getting in touch, but they refer you to Adobe Commerce Pro. Reports online suggest that Magento’s pricing can start at $2,000, which doesn’t include the hosting fees you’ll incur from creating your own store.
In essence, think of Magento only as a rock-solid platform if you have the budget, or if you have the growth, to justify making a major investment in customization. Although Shopify does charge you for the rights to make sales online, the pricing tiers alone make it by far the more appealing “beginner’s” option.
However, it’s worth noting what Magento includes for the price. For starters, there are no transaction fees when using Magento; what you pay for is what you get. You also won’t be nickel-and-dimed for many expanded features, such as unlocking new licenses for multiple languages. For that reason, it becomes a question of “getting what you pay for” with Magento. Is it worth the high investment of time and money to ensure a smooth long-term experience for a significant store? If you’re not sure, the pricing systems for Shopify are more generous for getting your feet wet.
A List of Shopify Features
We’ve covered what it costs. Now let’s talk about what you’re getting for your investment. With Shopify, going for Shopify Basic means you’ll be limited. But in the list below, we’ll cover not only what Shopify Basic includes, but what you can hope to expand to if your store begins taking off.
- The online store means an ecommerce website as well as a blog to go along with it. You can purchase your own domain for use, or use the free MyShopify.Com domain Shopify throws in with the basic features.
- Add unlimited products with every pricing tier.
- User accounts: You can use 2 staff accounts with Shopify Basic, but up to 15 with Advanced Shopify.
- Shipping labels included for printing off on any standard printer.
- Multiple languages: Up to five included with each plan.
- Multiple currencies: Can sell in up to 133 currencies.
- SSL certificates. An encrypted connection comes standard with Shopify, helping to enhance security with every pricing tier.
- 24/7 customer support.
- Discount codes available for running promotions with specific products and incentivizing new buyers to show up at your shop.
- Abandoned cart recovery. If you’ve never run an online shop before, you might be surprised at how many sales come after the first time someone has dropped an item in their cart.
- Bandwidth. The advantage of using a hosted platform like Shopify? They throw in unlimited bandwidth for free as part of working with them.
- SEO. If your focus is optimizing for search engines, you may be left wanting a bit. Shopify has some nice standard offerings, but has limitations that SEO’s typically expect as table stakes with other platforms. For some, this is an important factor.
Let’s also look at some of the features that require upgrading to Shopify’s $79/month plan or above:
- Reports. Detailed reports on your shop’s activity don’t come standard with Shopify’s Basic tier.
- Third-party calculated shipping rates. This feature is only available with Shopify Advanced.
- International domains. If you want to optimize SEO with internationally-specific domains, it will require an upgrade.
- Per variant pricing. Want to charge different customer segments different prices, such as higher prices in one country or another? That will require an upgrade to Advanced Shopify.
Honorable Mention: Shopify Plus
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Shopify Plus.
Shopify Plus has become so essential that it certainly warrants a section of its own. Plus is Shopify’s version of a more Magento-like platform designed expressly for “enterprise-level” clientele. In other words, if you have a big budget to work with and need to expand the features, you can do it with Shopify Plus.
What does it entail? Unfortunately, since we’re talking about the enterprise level here, the most Shopify will offer in terms of pricing is a “let’s talk” feature. In other words: Shopify Plus is going to cost you, and it’s going to depend on your specific needs.
However, Shopify Plus may be essential for the way your company does things. It offers:
- Enhanced international commerce features for those who find Shopify’s default settings lacking
- Headless ecommerce if you want a more customized approach to the Shopify infrastructure
- Access to a Merchant Success Program
For many businesses just starting out and weighing ecommerce platforms, a move to Shopify Plus might not be in the works right away. But it’s good to know it’s there in case you have need of it.
A List of Magento Features
The good news about Magento: when you pay for a lot, you get a lot. Below, you’ll find the robust list of features you unlock when you decide to host your own ecommerce site with Magento:
- 100% customizable design features so you can make the website look and function exactly how you want it.
- Includes templates to avoid building from scratch.
- Robust content management system means adding on landing pages, blogs, etc., and gives you the flexibility to create a web presence along with your store.
- Create flexible coupon rules to incentivize purchases from all sorts of customer segments.
- Different price points for different customer segments included—the same feature requires an upgrade to use in Shopify.
- Automatic image resizing helps you customize your web pages without having to take new photographs. Shopify is a bit less flexible in this regard.
- Robust product page features such as zooming in, multiple images, and more.
- SSL security support.
- Order management feature lets you manually create orders and invoices from your control panel.
- Support for multiple currencies and tax rates included right off the bat. Again, this is a stark difference with the lower pricing tiers at Shopify.
- Integrated with Google Analytics for easy reporting. In contrast, Shopify does not have reporting available with its lowest pricing tier.
- Easy to onboard multiple users. With Shopify, one of your worries will be managing multiple accounts when you’re limited to them, especially given a growing company.
Because Magento doesn’t have the aggressively shifting pricing tiers of Shopify, there’s less to parse out here. Magento’s features are included once you sign up for it; the question is, how much will it cost you, since prices are variable with Magento?
Magento Enterprise Features
Since the platform is open source, you can unlock a lot of core features right away. However, Magento’s “enterprise” offerings offer higher levels of features related to the following:
- Customer segmentation. Customer segmentation makes it easy to personalize your offerings and target specific segments to enhance sales.
- Targeted promotions. With more advanced customer segmentation, you could potentially create promotions exclusively for, say, unknown site visitors who are new to your store.
- Persisting shopping. Letting customers view their previously-viewed products and essentially leave a trail of breadcrumbs could encourage cross-selling.
- Automated email marketing reminders. Keeping people in the know is essential to ensure that you don’t only stay on top of things, but have it automated to reduce friction.
How does everyone else feel about these two platforms? We decided to look at reviews at G2 to help you get a sense of where they stand with people who have used them before. Since these reviews are divided up into different listings, we’ll break them down by each one:
- Shopify Basic. Over 3,600 reviews award an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars for the essential version of Shopify. One bright spot here is that the percentage of people rating Shopify 2 stars or even 1 is low; most reviews are firmly fixed above three.
- Shopify Plus. What about the “Enterprise” version of Shopify? The reviews tick up slightly, arriving at 4.5 out of 5 across over 170 reviews.
- Magento Open Source. Magento’s free version has more 4 star reviews than 5 stars, yielding a 3.9 rating across over 120 reviews.
- Magento Commerce. A slight uptick in reviews for the paid version still yields 3.9 stars at G2.
Overall, Shopify is the clear winner, with Shopify Plus earning the highest-quality reviews on G2 across either paid or free versions of each platform.
How Do Shopify and Magento Weigh In With Specific Features?
So far, we’ve come a long way in defining how Shopify and Magento are different. But what if you’re looking for a specific feature? What if you have one priority that clearly towers above the rest? Let’s break it down by different features to give you an idea of which platform might work out best for you.
We’ve covered how Shopify and Magento handle pricing. The clear advantage here? Neither. It depends on what you need. For most people, Shopify’s prices being lower and predictable are going to be great for starting out with a new ecommerce website. For large enterprises, it’s possible that an initial investment in Magento development can pay dividends by ensuring no transaction fees.
It’s not exactly a wash: Shopify certainly wins in the pricing department. But you may end up paying more than you expected if you need specific features like detailed customer reports and per variant pricing on your shop.
How Easy Are They to Use?
The clear advantage here is for Shopify. It’s built for people to get up and running with a digital store. It offers templates for quick store creation. It’s not difficult to get up and running on Shopify. One potential issue: you may have to do some digging with the various Shopify apps to have all the features you want, but since many of these are free, it’s not a major hassle.
On the other end, Magento is big, complex, and can make for difficult development. That complexity can be great for companies with a lot of capacity to build a store of their own choosing. But if you don’t have any technical skills, stick with Shopify.
Online security is a major issue for anyone doing a lot of selling on the web. How do they compare? We’ll call this one a bit of a wash. Shopify does offer pretty robust security right out of the gate, including free SSL. And while free SSL is included with Magento, there’s more customization here so you can create your own security protocols. With Shopify, you’re working on a hosted platform, so you don’t have to worry about getting the security started yourself.
Which do you prefer: options, or quality that comes right out of the box? This one, we’ll leave to preference.
Overall List of Features
It’s hard to argue with the astounding capacity of Magento; it is, after all, why the platform costs so much more. This isn’t a “batteries included” option, which explains the pricing. But Magento does offer such a robust list of features that you’ll find yourself wondering if they even thought to leave anything out.
That’s not to say Shopify is without its features. It certainly has a large app database to choose from, which can help enhance everything you’re doing. But since some of the features do require upticks in pricing to unlock, we’re going to stick with Magento as the winner here.
Which is Better for Small Businesses and Startups?
This one’s easy. If you’re just starting out, a free trial of Shopify might be your first step. It will introduce you to the ins and outs of online sales. You’ll get to browse through templates to see what your products might look like in a Shopify store. And if you do decide to sign up, yes, you’ll pay transaction fees at first, but your upfront costs are going to be minimal.
Shopify does particularly well with new businesses because it offers store owners everything right out of the box: web templates, the security you need, plus their own order-taking system.
Which is Better for Enterprise Clients?
No question here, either: it’s Magento. Shopify Plus has expanded Shopify’s power with larger, enterprise clients, and there’s nothing wrong with using that. But Magento remains popular with companies who have some money to spend and want to create an online shopping presence that specifically matches their brand.
Shopify vs Magento: The Final Tally
By now, you’ll have a clear view of whether Shopify or Magento is right for you. Is it going to be ketchup or mustard for you? The two offerings do very different things and appear targeted at completely different customer segments. Ultimately, the winner is the one that’s going to be right for your next shop.