Magento vs Shopify: Which Is the Better eCommerce Solution?

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Dani Nolan

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2019 September 12th

magento vs shopify

With so many eCommerce solutions to choose from, making a final decision can be extremely challenging. One platform might suit one business but be completely unfitting to others.

You also have to consider various features your store needs, and the way you want your website to be built. This will ensure that your site functions the way you intend it to.

In this article, we offer a comprehensive comparison of Magento vs Shopify, two eCommerce giants. We discuss the user experience, design, and pricing - all to help you get a complete look at the platforms.

About Magento

Magento is a self-hosted, open-source eCommerce platform that allows store owners to build a fully customized online shop. Aside from giving you full control over the look of your store, Magento offers a full shopping cart system so that you can keep track of your orders and inventory.

Magento Homepage

Magento comes with powerful marketing and SEO tools. You’ll also benefit from the service’s catalog management feature which allows you to add, edit, and remove products from your site in a matter of seconds.

You'll need a Magento hosting account to set everything up.

About Shopify

Shopify is an all-in-one hosted eCommerce solution. It allows to create an online store, manage orders and inventory, take local and international payments, and run marketing campaigns, among other activities.

Shopify Homepage

Shopify offers a full eCommerce solution: instead of paying for a hosting provider, the solution does everything for you. All you have to do is create an account and you’ll gain access to a fully hosted site. Plus, each subscription comes with a domain name for the first year.

Magento vs Shopify: How They Work

Magento and Shopify work very differently. With Magento, you have to take care of hosting, while Shopify is an all-inclusive hosted product. But Magento can be more attractive in terms of flexibility.

So which one is the right pick for your business?

Here's an overview of the most important features to make the decision easier.

Self-Hosted Magento vs Hosted Shopify

The main difference between Magento vs Shopify is the way they’re hosted.

Magento is self-hosted. This means you have to source your own hosting provider and pay for a plan before you can start using the service for free.

Luckily, hosting doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Some of the best affordable hosting providers include Bluehost, Hostinger, and A2 Hosting.

While hosting your own site does come at an extra cost, it also comes with many benefits. One of which is creative freedom. By paying for a hosting provider and using an open-source eCommerce solution like Magento, you’re not limited to specific templates and themes. Instead, you can design your site exactly how you want it.

Magento Page Builder Homepage

On the other hand, with a hosted solution such as Shopify you don’t have to worry about hosting, including site speed and security. Instead, you pay a monthly subscription and you gain full access to the platform’s features.

However, while this option is far more straightforward, it doesn’t give you the same creative freedom, unless you pay a professional to design your site in code and then upload it.

Magento is self-hosted - you have to find hosting services, while Shopify takes cares of hosting for you. But independent hosting can bring more freedom.

User Experience

With Magento, the learning curve can be quite steep, especially if you're new to using web-building solutions. Shopify uses a drag-and-drop builder and its user experience is far more intuitive and straightforward.

If you truly want to make the most of what Magento platform has to offer, you’re going to have to learn some code or pay a web developer to join your team. If you’d prefer to avoid going down this road, Magento does have a Content Management System (CMS), though this isn’t as user-friendly as Shopify’s.

Magento Environment

Although Magento may be intimidating for some, the company does have some comprehensive user guides that can help you get started. There is also a Magento forum you can check out to ask and get answers to questions.

Shopify is a lot different. From the moment you sign up for Shopify, you’ll land on a dashboard where you can do everything from customizing your site’s design to adding products and even creating marketing campaigns.

Shopify also has a drag-and-drop website builder where you can personalize individual elements on each one of your website’s pages.

Shopify Website Builder

To create your store, you won’t need any coding knowledge whatsoever and, if you get stuck, you can contact the support team which is available 24/7.

To benefit from Magento's capabilities, you need web development knowledge or have someone help you. Shopify, on the contrary, is very user-friendly and easy to start with.

Design and Customization

Magento is the best choice if you’re looking for a fully customizable site with everything exactly the way you want it down to the millimeter. Alternatively, Shopify is the way to go if you want a good selection of ready-made themes to choose from.

Magento allows choosing from 14 themes and you have the ability to create and upload your own, free of charge.

Magento Themes

The only catch is that you’ll need a lot of coding knowledge to make this happen.

Whether you do it yourself or hire a designer, this option lets you personalize every single aspect of your site. In addition to choosing the layout you want, you’ll have the chance to add animations and include newsletter functionalities, among other features.

Shopify offers a selection of 10 free themes and 60 paid ones. These are all fully customizable and tailored specifically to eCommerce.

Shopify Themes

Furthermore, each and every one of them allows you to add products and their variants as well as set up various payment and shipping options. You can change the color of the theme and add your own media such as your company logo, for example.

Magento allows customizing every aspect of a website and also offers free and paid themes to start with. Shopify has many more themes and great flexilibity as well.

Price Comparison of Magento vs Shopify

Magento offers a free community version of its services - provided that you have the necessary skills to be able to use it. There is also the hosted premium Magento Commerce edition that comes with a much higher price tag. Shopify does not have a free version and offers 3 plans ranging from $29 to $299/month.

Most of Magento's users choose its free community version since it is good for many types of shops. Also, there is a choice of extensions that add additional functionalities.

Magento Extensions

Shopify, on the other hand, has a choice of three main plans.

These include the ‘Basic Shopify’, ‘Shopify’, and ‘Advanced Shopify’ which cost $29 a month, $79 a month, and $299 a month respectively.

All these options include an eCommerce website and blog as well as unlimited product listing, and 24/7 customer support.

Shopify Pricing

You’ll also be able to create orders manually and integrate with other marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. Not only this, you can add discount codes and you’ll benefit from the abandoned cart recovery feature.

Plus, every plan comes with a free SSL certificate which adds a layer of security to your store. If you’re not sure you want to commit to a monthly plan, you can try the service for free for 14 days.

Magento is a complete "build-it-yourself" experience and can be both very cheap and very expensive. Shopify offers three plans for different needs.

Magento vs Shopify: Conclusion

Magento offers more freedom when it comes to customization, while Shopify is the more user-friendly eCommerce platform. To fully benefit from Magento's eCommerce features and great scalability, some coding knowledge or help of a professional is required. With Shopify, everything is easier: it is suitable for online store creators of varying skill levels.

Magento gives complete freedom to customize an eCommerce site, but requires more technical knowledge. Shopify has great eCommerce capabilities and ease of use.

But what's your experience with Magento and Shopify? Do you have experience with using these platforms? Let me know in the comments!


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Written by Dani Nolan

An experienced content professional with a creative mind. If I'm not writing, you can probably find me in the backyard playing with dogs or at some weird art show.

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Our reviews include affiliate links and if you choose to buy a product, you help support the running of this blog. However, we are not sponsored by any of the providers so we can keep our reviews honest and transparent. Read more...
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