Shopify vs Magento : Which Ecommerce Platform Is Better

21 Oct 2019
Mike Patel
Mike Patel
Shopify vs Magento : Which Ecommerce Platform Is Better

If you ask a merchant what was the most difficult part of their Ecommerce store development, almost all of them would say selecting the Ecommerce platform. Merchants have a lot to consider from store size, the number of products, payment and shipping methods to store functionality and more.

All these things revolve around which platform will offer everything you want while being cost-effective and providing an intuitive customer experience. In this article, we will take a look at Magento vs Shopify by finding answers for these questions:

  • How Magento handles millions of products?
  • Are they SEO friendly?
  • Which is more secure?
  • Which is better: Magento or Shopify?

While Magento is aimed for big businesses with complex workflows, Shopify is designed for SMB’s who want to create a quick e-commerce presence.

When it comes to numbers, Shopify boasts over 880,000 dwarfing the 245,000 live Magento sites.

However, the picture is different when we take a look at the percentage of sites making it into the top 1m and top 10k. According to BuiltWith, 6.2% of Magento sites and 2.51% of Shopify sites are within the top 1m sites globally. The trend continues with 0.07% of Magento stores and 0.05% of Shopify sites featured into the top 10k sites.

It suggests that enterprise-level stores are more inclined towards Magento as it helps them better hone in on personalized customer experiences.

  • Designs and Themes

Shopify and Magento hold distinct features in terms of design. However, Shopify offers a better experience for beginners. Its themes come in both free as well as paid versions and offer a classy, modern look.

You can also modify Shopify themes to line up with your brand image. These modifications can include but are not limited to: changing color schemes, applying custom product pages, editing the navigation, checkout and more.

If you’re on a limited budget or have less experience in e-commerce, Shopify’s themes offer a world of e-commerce experiences that you can’t find with other, more complex platforms.

Creating a theme in Magento can be a long process as it requires coding knowledge. But the rewards it offers are a multitude. A custom-built Magento theme helps you create a storefront with intuitive user-experience with a lot of flexibility, unlike anything that Shopify can offer.

In a Mobile-First World

We all know – looking good isn’t the only thing that makes websites successful. Your store needs to be tailor-made for mobile users – especially Google’s Mobile-First policy. In the year 2018, 79% of users made a purchase through their mobile.

While some merchants are still designing for desktop users, a large number of e-commerce stores are competing on mobile battlegrounds. They are optimizing their site for mobile devices for better user experience and ease of use. Magento as well as Shopify has responsive templates by default for maintaining sleek, intuitive user experience.

When it comes to advanced customizations for mobile layouts, it makes Shopify vs Magento debate a question of “can I?” than “which one?” However, Magento shines in terms of mobile experience.

Choosing Design or Themes

Selecting a better platform from both primarily depends upon what you want to do and what is your experience level. While Shopify is tailor-made for beginners, Magento has a wealth of designs and themes for more experienced users that you won’t find in simpler e-commerce applications.

Winner: Draw

  • Ease of use

Shopify outperforms here with its ease of use to create simple and easy to navigate online stores. Shopify also features an easily manageable drag and drop interface. As opposed to Magento creating new pages is much easier with Shopify.

However, with simplicity decreases the versatility. This versatility is found and can be taken advantage of with Magento. This e-commerce software not only offers a host of built-in customizations and functionalities but also has over 4,700 extensions to download and add to your store.

Magento’s acquisition by Adobe offers added functionality and integrations for its e-commerce application. Integrations that Shopify can’t compete with for enterprise-level clients.

Shopify is the way to go for ease of use. However, if you can put in the time required for creating an incredible customer experience, Magento is the better option.

Winner: Shopify

  • Ecommerce Functionality

Magento, also known as the e-commerce powerhouse is one of the most adaptable platforms available.

Yet Shopify offers enough functionality for SMBs to grow. It makes a lot of things happen without even coding a single line.

However, your monthly fee increases with more advanced functionality with Shopify. Merchants have to pay more for each apps on a monthly basis for gift cards, professional reports, advanced shipping options and many more.

Magento is engineered to allow merchants to have full control of the customer experience. It enables merchants to create and sell fully customizable products and manage them across multiple stores.

Magento is a clear winner when it comes to complex e-commerce processes:

  • Multi-Site Environment
  • Extensive B2B Capability
  • Custom bridge for ERP Integration
  • Customized Mobile Experience
  • Customized Checkout Flow
  • Custom Search Functionality
  • SMS Integration for Payments

Winner: Magento

  • Payment Gateways

What payment gateway does the store have?

This is the most significant question before you make the move to either Magento or Shopify. Both supports PayPal, Braintree, and other payment gateways. However, with Shopify, you can expect             additional transaction fees as it charges for transactions made via external payment processors.

Perhaps one of the reasons Shopify does this is because it supports more payment gateways than Magento. Shopify currently offers support for over 70 payment gateways, with Magento having support for far less.

Despite this, the options for Magento are not limited. It supports PayPal,, Stripe, Amazon Payments, and many more. They have all the functionality e-commerce stores expect from a payment gateway while maintaining the security of the transactions.

Winner: Magento

  • Apps and Extensions

Improved search, Advanced checkout, and expanded payment options are a few examples of the functions and features that you may want once your store is up and running.

Both of them have one-click add-ons which you can purchase (in some cases), download, and install. Magento calls them Extensions, Shopify calls them Apps.

The first difference that you might notice is the number of third-party add-ons available for each. Magento offers over 4,700 extensions, almost double of Shopify’s 2,500.  And it’s not only the quantity that makes Magento more versatile, it’s the quality as well. Its extensions are aimed towards delivering a simplified user experience from a complex workflow.

Majority of Magento extensions are fixed one time cost compared with Shopify’s apps which have a monthly fees. Magento comes with a lot of advanced features built into the e-commerce platform. Merchants often need to download an app in Shopify to find a comparable feature.

Magento is a clear winner here.

  • Inventory Size

Both platforms allow an unlimited number of products. They also allow integrating shipping and fulfilment extensions into your store for easy inventory management.

However, the larger stores are more likely to run into performance problems with Magento if you are not running on a Magento optimized dedicated server. Shopify also has similar problems. But as your store will be hosted by Shopify, it will prompt you to upgrade your account before any slowdowns.

As your store grows larger, you have to manage speed, performance, search capabilities for an increased inventory of sku’s. Magento’s Elastic search and personalized product delivery support make it perfect for enterprise-level stores.

However, Shopify wins this round because it’s easier to manage inventory and hassle-free performance via Shopify’s hosted platform, instead of getting in touch with a developer, the Magento community, and hosting provider.

Winner: Shopify

  • Performance

Magento is a resource hog that requires a robust hosting environment for its back up. The merchant’s hosting infrastructure starts feeling the strain when more product SKUs are added.

Shopify, in contrast, is a lightweight application and runs quickly in most of the environments. It can hold numerous product SKUs on the same hardware that can run only a smaller Magento store.

However, Shopify’s level of functionality isn’t the same as Magento. True personalization of the e-commerce experience with the up-selling, cross-selling, customized shopping cart, and more that Magento has in-built features and possible in Shopify via apps.

While Shopify needs less optimization, Magento’s added functionality for customized customer experiences makes a Magento store perform better in terms of ROI.

However, Magento’s performance in terms of speed can let your store down due to its load time, occupancy of hardware resource, cache, and more. Shopify being a hosted solution offers unmatched performance.

Winner: Draw

  • SEO

Though from an absolute beginner perspective Shopify is better, those with basic SEO knowledge can get more out of their Magento installation. Magento truly conforms to the coding best practices.

The most common Shopify SEO issues include:

  • No editing of tag pages
  • Duplicate content and page titles, multiple URLs get created when you sort products by tags
  • Forced URL structure
  • Locked robots.txt
  • No or limited customization of pages
  • Limits on page titles and meta descriptions

Magento, on the other hand, not only allows you to edit metadata but also enables you to make vital product and on-page customizations. This offers an SEO boost which isn’t there in any SaaS product. Moreover, adding a WordPress blog to your store is a simple process with Magento.

The added customization options and the ability to manually customize the SEO process let Magento outperform here.

Winner: Magento

  • Security

Security tops the list for every e-commerce merchant. While Shopify has SSL certificate integration, you need to purchase and install it separately in Magento with your managed hosting provider’s help.

Patches and Updates

Magento regularly releases security patches through continuous testing and development efforts by its developers’ community, well-versed in e-commerce store requirements. However, you need to manually install them.

Shopify, on the contrary, being managed by its in-house talent works on fixes for security and manages the updates and patches for your problems.

PCI Compliance

Merchants need to be PCI compliant for processing credit card data. Your Magento hosting provider must be very careful in managing the PCI compliance. Magento being an open-source platform has a huge security risk and more vulnerable to hackers.

Shopify manages this internally and its support makes security easier. Also, as a hosted and closed platform, it is very rare or never that Shopify can have any security issues.

Winner: Shopify

  • Pricing

While Magento open source itself is free, there are various hidden costs. Magento merchants have to consider the hosting costs, security costs (SSLs), and developer fees.

Shopify also comes with some costs that include the transaction fees when you use an external payment gateway, the cost of a designer, cost of monthly apps, and more.

However, Shopify is a better choice, if you have an low budget. It’s more predictable, clear, monthly payment, and a per-sale transaction fee.

Winner: Shopify

Magento or Shopify: Which is better?

Shopify or Magento, it depends on what you’re looking for. Magento is ideal for merchants looking to create a personalized customer journey that users can’t find anywhere else. Shopify is meant for those looking to create an e-commerce site with minimal coding or little to no technical experience behind them.

However, the Magento functionality and its open source version driven by a robust community is hard to beat.

It’s difficult to gauge which platform is better for you. It depends on your business model. Do you have complex workflow and processes? Do you do business locally or globally? Do you need multiple front-end websites with one backend? Do you have a custom checkout process? Do you have third-party inventory and order management needs? Are you looking for a warehouse management integration?

Please consult with an e-commerce agency who can help you answer these questions and help you pick the right platform for your business.

Mike Patel
Mike Patel linkedin

Mike Patel is the Founder and CEO of ioVista, a leading digital commerce agency specializing in eCommerce solutions. With a strong background in business and technology, Mike Patel has been at the forefront of driving digital transformations for businesses. He has successfully navigated the ever-changing landscape of eCommerce, helping companies leverage the power of online platforms to grow their brand, increase revenues, and optimize their digital presence. Under his leadership, ioVista has become a trusted partner with major technology companies: Adobe/Magento, Google, BigCommerce, Shopify, and Yahoo. He is dedicated to staying ahead of industry trends, adopting cutting-edge technologies, and continuously improving strategies to provide clients with a competitive edge. Mike’s commitment to excellence and client satisfaction is evident in every project ioVista undertakes.

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