They’re two of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market and together power hundreds of thousands of online stores across the world, but which one is best – Magento or Shopify? More importantly, which one is right for you and your business?
Choosing an eCommerce platform is a big decision and one that can have a huge impact on your overall success, so it’s important to do your research and weigh up all the pros and cons before you commit. As we shall see, Magento and Shopify are actually quite different and offer various benefits and drawbacks.
Founded in 2008, Magento is a powerful and highly flexible eCommerce platform that comes in two main versions: Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce. The former is free, while the latter is a paid subscription offering additional features and access to the Magento Hosted Cloud.
Widely considered as one of the most flexible and scalable solutions on the market, Magento is a self-hosted platform that is capable of powering everything from small start-ups to multinational enterprises. It has a learning curve – but it counters with unrivalled flexibility.
Shopify is designed as an all-in-one, hosted solution that’s offered as a subscription-based service. With lots of pre-built themes to choose from, it’s primarily aimed at businesses who want a simple, easy-to-use solution that includes everything they need to get started selling online.
While Shopify’s out-of-the-box functionality makes it intuitive and easy to understand, it is nowhere near as flexible or feature-rich as Magento. You’ll also need to factor in the costly transaction fees on top of your subscription.
Magento vs Shopify: Comparison
So, how do the two stack-up in key areas?
Ease of use
As we just mentioned, the biggest strength of Shopify is its ease of use. With a familiar drag-and-drop interface, it allows even novice users to modify basic attributes and easily manage their site on a day-to-day basis.
By contrast, Magento has a much steeper learning curve. Despite this, it offers much greater scope for customisations and is undoubtedly the more robust and versatile solution. Shopify makes it simple to launch something, but Magento allows you to get exactly what you want.
Both Magento and Shopify offer generally speedy performance, with quick page loading times and overall responsiveness. Keep in mind that Shopify is a locked-down platform, leaving little room for on-site performance optimisations.
In the case of Magento, there is huge scope for speed improvements, with the ability to implement flexible options including page caching, Redis cache and CDNs like Cloudflare.
Design and templates
Both platforms support a wide range of themes, but once again Magento wins out in terms of flexibility. Essentially, there are unlimited possibilities in terms of customisations, allowing you to get exactly the site you want.
Shopify does counter somewhat with some beautiful out-of-the-box themes. Just remember that customisation options are more limited and can work out expensive.
Features and extensions
Magento and Shopify each offer some very impressive standard features. In terms of add-ons and extensions, it’s Magento however that leads the way by some margin.
As an open source platform, you’ll find a huge array of free and premium Magento extensions, including everything from shipping and fulfilment add-ons to accounting software integrations. Extensions are available for Shopify (and they’re easy to implement), but the choice is more limited.
Shopify charges a monthly subscription, with standard plans starting at $79 a month. You’ll also need to factor in Shopify’s standard transaction fees of 1.9% + 20p for online credit card payments through Shopify Payments, plus an extra 1.0% if using other payment providers. Don’t forget you’ll also pay their fees on top of this.
Magento Open Source is free, but you will need to purchase your own hosting. While it doesn’t charge any transaction fees, you’ll again need to pay the fees charged by any third-party payment provider.
Shopify is a great solution for small businesses who want a quick and easy way to start selling online.
Despite this, we believe that Magento’s superior flexibility and scalability make it a much better choice in the longer term. Magento can be tailored to meet pretty much any need, making it a great choice for both small-to-medium sized businesses and enterprise-level organisations.
Want some expert advice about the best platform for your business? Still not sure which solution would suit you best? Get in touch with our friendly team today and we’ll talk you through your options.