Shopify vs. Magento: Both solutions compared

Having your own online shop as an additional presence on the web is now pretty much essential for those who own their own shop or sell their products to the public. Even for companies or individuals who sell their products exclusively online, having their own shop is worthwhile as an alternative to a simple website or sales platforms such as Amazon or eBay. Those planning to create their own online shop face what seems to be a big challenge at the start, finding the right software to create, manage, and maintain their own e-commerce site.

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In this guide, we’ll compare Shopify vs. Magento, two of the most popular shop solutions. In doing so, we’ll highlight the biggest pros and cons of both online shop options, as well as the biggest differences in various categories such as beginner-friendliness, security, search engine suitability and support – so you can best find out whether Shopify or Magento is the better choice your e-commerce venture.

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An overview of the pros and cons of Shopify and Magento

Both Shopify and Magento have been among the top picks when it comes to creating and managing online shops for years. A first version of Shopify was released in June 2006, and Magento’s first edition was available around two years later. Before we go into detail to show the differences in the Shopify vs. Magento comparison, we will first summarise the most important strengths and weaknesses of both to give you a general overview.

What are the pros and cons of Shopify?

The makers of Shopify call their system an ‘all-inclusive shop system’ that provides all the functions for selling on the web. Thanks to the focus on reliability and scaling, you can be sure that your shop is always available and can grow without any problems. The hosting of the cloud-based software and your Shopify shop is handled by the globally active company itself – which is practical on the one hand, but also entails fixed monthly costs (between 29 and 299 US dollars per month) on the other. With ‘Shopify Lite’, there is also a ‘Buy Button’ solution, which is available for 9 US dollars per month.

Tip

Elsewhere in the Digital Guide, we’ve showcased the best Shopify alternatives. In addition, we’ve compared the system in the article ‘Shopify vs. WooCommerce’ to WooCommerce, which is available as a plugin for the popular CMS WordPress.

The other pros and cons of Shopify are shown in the following table:

Shopify Pros Shopify Cons
Versatile POS system as a central base for all online sales Most themes need to be paid for
Unlimited number of products All payment methods (except Shopify Payments) incur additional fees
Over 100 pre-built responsive designs available Localisation is possible only with the help of extensions
High reliability and performance even with heavy traffic Checkout process takes place on separate landing page in basic version
Over 5,000 apps and tools available for expanding your own shop Limited design options

What are the pros and cons of Magento?

Magento has been owned by the computer software company Adobe since 2018. With Magento Commerce and Commerce Cloud (including managed hosting), Adobe has introduced commercial versions of the popular store platform, but the original open-source edition is still available. With this version of the software, you can design your shop as you like – thousands of free and paid Magento extensions from the official Magento Marketplace will help you with this project. However, you are left to your own devices when it comes to designing your online shop if you decide to host it on your own.

Tip

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All the other pros and cons of Magento are shown in the following table:

Magento Pros Magento Cons
Huge community available for help and advice Open source and Commerce edition require a lot of setup effort
Available as free open-source edition Access to all features available only to Commerce Cloud edition customers
Highly extendable and customisable High costs for solutions requiring a license
Over 3,800 available extensions Complex update or upgrade process for new versions
Choice of self-hosted or in the Adobe Cloud Basic PHP and MySQL knowledge required

Shopify vs. Magento: Comparison of the main categories

Shopify or Magento? As is so often the case, it depends on what you’re looking for. Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages, but in principle they are perfectly suited for creating a online shop. You should therefore determine which of the two platforms is the better choice for your purposes. To make this decision as easy as possible for you, we have summarised the most important differences in this ‘Shopify vs. Magento’ comparison. We’ll take a close look at key categories such as user-friendliness, available payment methods, security, and search engine friendliness.

Which one is better for beginners?

Shopify is designed as a comprehensive drag-and-drop online shop builder that is characterised by high usability. A wizard guides newcomers through the setup process so that all functions can be discovered one after the other. The open-source edition of Magento does not offer a drag-and-drop editor. For this, it is necessary to install a corresponding extension, which makes things more complicated, especially when starting to work with a shop system. In addition, basic programming skills are pretty much essential if you want to customise your own Magento shop.

Note

In the newer editions of the paid Commerce variants, a site builder feature is available. However, these enterprise packages are not aimed at beginners, which is evident, among other things, from the high price!

Getting started in online business with Magento Open Source is also significantly more difficult than with the fully supported Shopify due to the hosting environment that you’ll need to take care of yourself.

Summary

Shopify or Magento? In terms of beginner-friendliness, the all-in-one Shopify package beats out the open-source competition.

Shopify or Magento: Which one has better extensions?

Both systems in the comparison are characterised by their first-class extensibility. There are more than 5,000 extensions for Shopify, and just under 4,000 for Magento. This means that both shop systems can be functionally adapted to your ideas. However, Shopify’s extensions are more often subject to a fee and also more expensive than comparable Magento plugins – this is where Magento’s strong community factor comes into play. Furthermore, the Shopify platform can only be customised to a certain extent.

Looking at the range of official themes, Shopify is ahead of the game. The Magento Marketplace lists eleven official design templates for Magento Open Source and Commerce, of which you can use only one free of charge for the visual design of your online shop. In the Shopify theme directory, you’ll find over 70 different responsive templates – including nine free themes.

Summary

At its core, Magento is an open-source project, which comes into play especially when evaluating extensibility. Shopify users have more extensions available, but Magento users have more freedom when designing the platform.

Which one is better for customer service features?

Good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is one of the most important factors of a successful online business. Although neither Shopify nor Magento (open source) have an integrated CRM function, functions for customer care can be added via extension or established CMS solutions. Solutions such as SendinBlue, HubSpot, Metrilo, or Salesforce can be integrated directly into the shop platforms. With Flow, Shopify also offers its own extension for customer management, which you can install free of charge. In the licensed editions, Magento also has a native solution.

Summary

When it comes to tools for customer care, neither of the two stand out in a particular way. Magento might have a slight advantage, which can be seen in how quickly plugins for the integration of third-party tools are available.

Which payment solutions are supported?

Nowadays, anyone who buys things online assumes that the operator offers various options for payment. In particular, online payment services such as PayPal are hugely popular, but offline methods of payment processing such as bank transfer, invoice, and direct debit are still used. Both Shopify and Magento are well equipped in this category and each support over 100 different payment methods, which are available by default or can be activated or unlocked via extension.

Tip

You can learn more about the possible types for purchase processing in e-commerce in our guide on payment methods for online shops!

With Shopify Payments, Shopify even has its own online payment method, but this is also the only method for which no additional fees are charged per transaction. When using third-party services like PayPal, Amazon Pay, or Apple Pay, Shopify retains between 0.5 (Advanced Shopify) and 2.0 percent (Basic Shopify) of the transaction value, depending on the plan purchased.

Summary

If you want to offer your customers a variety of payment methods, it doesn’t make much difference whether you choose Shopify or Magento as your platform. Since Shopify charges additional fees for all online payment methods, Magento comes out on top in this category.

Shopify vs. Magento: Security and maintenance compared

In terms of security, Magento’s open-source approach is crucial. The open-source version brings with it a lot of freedom for creative adaptation of the platform, but also a certain degree of vulnerability. Cybercriminals have an easier game when it comes to exploiting discovered vulnerabilities in the code, particularly in extensions. Uncovering security problems in Shopify’s source code and using it to infiltrate malware and the like, on the other hand, is much more difficult. Furthermore, Shopify has set up its own team to guarantee the security of its hosted shops. Like Magento’s paid editions, Shopify also ensures PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance for all card payments.

The comprehensive support for all Shopify shops also has a positive effect in terms of maintenance. The provider ensures that the underlying hardware works and also takes care of updating the software if necessary. As a user of Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce, these two points fall within your area of responsibility, unless you have chosen a hosting provider to take care of the maintenance.

Summary

Shopify scores points in all packages as a shop platform with a high security standard. In addition, the provider takes over the maintenance of hardware and software – a service that only the enterprise edition Magento Commerce Cloud offers.

Which shop offers better SEO features?

Both Magento and Shopify offer some features out of the box that you can use to specifically improve the search engine ranking of your online shop. For example, Shopify automatically generates an XML sitemap and canonical tags for pages with matching content. In addition, many themes generate meta titles that include your shop name, although you can also define each title manually, as well as meta descriptions, URLs, or alternative texts for images. In Magento, you will also find all the features mentioned – but without the high level of automation. If you want to have a sitemap for your Magento shop, for example, this requires a bit more work in the backend.

Tip

Read our article on ‘the most important meta tags at a glance’ to find out which SEO measures are important for your online shop.

Those who want more than the basic functions will find various additional extensions for both shop solutions, with more than 400 extensions in the Magento Marketplace in comparison with around 120 SEO apps in the Shopify App Shop.

Summary

Both solutions in the ’Shopify vs. Magento’ comparison take an equally professional approach to search engine optimisation equally professionally. The slight advantages for Shopify in terms of automation are offset by Magento’s large number of extensions.

Which one offers better customer support?

One of Shopify’s greatest strengths is its comprehensive support. All users can rely on professional 24/7 support from the Shopify team. Depending on the issue, email, phone, and live chat are available as options – only the ‘Lite’ plan doesn’t offer phone support. In addition, answers to typical questions and various step-by-step instructions can be found in the Shopify Help Centre. A smaller community forum for exchanging ideas with other customers is also accessible via the official Shopify website.

When it comes to community support, Magento also cuts a good figure. As with many applications from the open-source sector, you will find numerous offers of help on the web from dedicated users or developers who are available to offer advice and support. There is also an official FAQ section for Magento. When it comes to direct support, Adobe draws a clear line between the open-source edition and the paid plans because the ticket system for support with technical problems is not available for Magento Open Source users. Phone support remains an option here, with higher priority given to paying customers.

Summary

Shopify has versatile support that Magento cannot contend with.

Shopify or Magento: The most important features compared

In our Shopify vs. Magento comparison, the former shop system has shown its popularity due to its high beginner-friendliness, which not only results from the software’s user-friendliness, but also from the general support of the Shopify team. Users of Magento (with the exception of Magento Commerce Cloud) will need to invest more effort. However, the fact that Magento is an open-source system is advantageous. Magento Open Source in particular is much more customisable and expandable in detail than Shopify, which can be an important building block on the way to an individual online shop.

The following table once again summarises the most important aspects in the direct ‘Shopify vs. Magento’ comparison.

  Shopify Magento
User-friendliness No installation required; straightforward setup includes wizard; drag-and-drop builder included by default Installation required (except in Cloud edition); simple but time-consuming setup; drag-and-drop editor can be added via plugin
Hosting Included as standard in all packages To be set up in all plans except Magento Commerce Cloud itself
Extendability Own shop can be customised functionally and visually if required; over 5,000 extensions and 70 design templates available Customise own shop to a great extent functionally and visually if needed; over 3,800 extensions and 11 design templates available
CRM features Not integrated by default; integration of various third-party tools possible; own free ‘Flow’ app Not integrated by default; integration of various third-party tools possible; native solution in Magento Commerce Cloud
Payment methods All common offline and online payment methods supported; additional fees for all third-party payment services All major offline and online payment methods supported
Security and maintenance Vendor has full control over source code and extensions; shop security and maintenance is Shopify’s responsibility Open-source code poses security risks, especially in terms of plugins; security measures and maintenance efforts are user’s responsibility (except for Cloud edition)
SEO Features Good base set of features that can be expanded with over 120 apps if needed; some automated features Good basic features that can be extended with over 400 extensions if needed
Support Award-winning 24/7 support via email, phone (not available in ‘Lite’ package) and live chat; FAQs and small community forum Telephone support and FAQ for all versions; FAQ and huge community support; direct support via ticket system only for paying customers
Cost Between £6.50 and £215 per month Open-source: free of charge

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