Shopify vs Magento Decision Making Guide

Shopify vs. Magento: A Decision Making Guide

Shopify or Magento? This guide cuts through the complexity to give you the information you need to make the best decision for your business. 

Choosing the right e-commerce platform can be a maze of options. But getting it right now means saving time, money and effort later on. 

Shopify and Magento (which officially became 'Adobe Commerce' in 2021) are two options that continue to stand out in 2024. Clients will often ask us which is better for them and the answer (as you might expect) is that it entirely depends on your business and future objectives.

Read on to make a decision with this easy-to-follow guide. 

Shopify and Magento Overview

Simple Overview of Shopify and Magento

Two ecommerce platforms. How do they compare at-a-glance?

Shopify - a user-friendly and fully-managed ecommerce platform where all technical aspects such as hosting (where your website “lives” on the internet), security, and software updates are handled for you within your subscription.

Magento - a flexible, open-source ecommerce platform that is way more hands-on, giving you full control, but also requiring you to set up your own web hosting, security measures, and manage software updates.

The image below shows two graphs comparing the worldwide search popularity for "Shopify" and "Magento" over the past five years.

Shopify and Magento Search Trends

The trajectories show that interest in Shopify, with 1.6 million monthly searches vs. Magento's 259k, has been on the rise for the past five years. Interest in Magento, on the other hand, has steadily been declining. 

Magento's declining popularity in search might of course, have something to do with the fact that Magento is now known officially as 'Adobe Commerce'. We can see from the graph below that Adobe Commerce gets on average 9K monthly searches worldwide, and is a term that has been increasing since 2022. 

Graph showing search trends for Adobe Commerce

Shopify vs Magento: Feature-by-Feature Breakdown

  • Site creation and maintenance
  • User interface and ease of use
  • Customisation and flexibility
  • Themes and design
  • Payment processing and transaction fees
  • Multilingual and multi-currency support
  • Checkout experience
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Scalability
  • Security
  • Apps and add-ons
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Product variants and options
  • Blogging and content marketing 
  • SEO and marketing

Site Creation & Maintenance

The ease or complexity of creating and maintaining an ecommerce site can be a huge factor when choosing a platform.

Shopify Analysis

Pros: Quick setup and automatic maintenance. No need for technical staff unless you want certain customisations.

Cons: Less flexibility for custom solutions without additional costs.


Magento Analysis

Pros: Pretty much unlimited potential for bespoke ecommerce solutions.

Cons: Requires a big amount of technical expertise; much higher costs for developer resources. 

     Site Creation & Maintenance Summary:

    • Shopify: Ideal for a quicker setup with less technical involvement.
    • Magento: Good option for bigger businesses seeking a fully customised online presence with the resources for having developer help at every step of the way.

    User Interface & Ease of Use

    The ease with which you and your team can use the platform's interface affects how smoothly daily tasks are managed. A user-friendly interface is key for efficient operation, especially for those without technical expertise

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: A simple, drag-and-drop interface that’s very usable.

    Pros: Great for beginners or non technical people; no need for technical knowledge.

    Cons: Customisation is limited without coding or getting apps.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: A very detailed dashboard offering in-depth control.

    Pros: Highly customisable for those with technical expertise.

    Cons: Steeper learning curve - potentially overwhelming for new users.

     User Interface & Ease of Use Summary:

    • Shopify: Way easier to use. This is one of the big things that makes it so popular. 
    • Magento: More complex to navigate, backend less user-friendly for the whole team.

    Customisation & Flexibility 

    The capability to tailor and tweak your ecommerce store to fit your specific business can be really important.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Accessible customisation through themes and apps.

    Pros: User-friendly for beginners with a range of theme options.

    Cons: Advanced customisation often requires third-party apps or higher-tier plans.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Deep customisation due to its open-source nature.

    Pros: Almost limitless possibilities to create unique user experiences.

    Cons: Will pretty much always require advanced development skills or hiring a developer.

    Customisation & Flexibility Summary:

    • Shopify: Offers great customisation for many merchants.
    • Magento: Provides extensive flexibility, preferred by businesses with specific needs who really want own their whole tech stack. 

    Themes & Design

    The design of your online store is the first thing customers interact with, making the availability and quality of themes crucial.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: A variety of sleek, modern themes that are responsive and easy to implement.

    Pros: No design skills needed to create a professional-looking store.

    Cons: Limited scope for modification in standard themes.f


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Vast opportunities for design customisation with a variety of themes.

    Pros: Full control over the look and feel of the store for a unique brand presence.

    Cons: To take full advantage of the design capabilities, a designer or developer is often needed.

    Themes & Design Summary:

    • Shopify: Streamlined theme selection for quick launches.
    • Magento: Robust design options for a completely customised storefront.

    Payment Processing & Transaction Fees

    The ability to process payments seamlessly and the associated costs can significantly impact the profitability and customer experience of an e-commerce store.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Integrated payment solution with Shopify Payments, plus support for multiple third-party gateways.

    Pros: Easy setup with no additional transaction fees if using Shopify Payments.

    Cons: Additional fees are incurred when using external payment gateways.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Freedom to choose any payment gateway, without any built-in solution.

    Pros: No extra transaction fees imposed by Magento for using third-party gateways.

    Cons: Potentially more complex setup and management of payment systems

    Payment Processing & Transaction Fees Summary:

    • Shopify: Simplified payment setup, best for those who want an all-in-one solution.
    • Magento: Greater flexibility, suited for stores that need specific payment options without extra fees.

    Multilingual & Multi-currency Support

    Expanding your business internationally requires support for multiple languages and currencies to cater to a global customer base.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Built-in multi-currency support with Shopify Payments and language support via third-party apps.

    Pros: Easy to implement multi-currency; user-friendly options for adding languages.

    Cons: Full multilingual capabilities may require additional costs.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Native support for multiple languages and currencies, easily configurable from the admin panel.

    Pros: Extensive out-of-the-box features for international sales without extra apps.

    Cons: Complexity may require developer assistance to set up and maintain.

     Multilingual & Multi-currency Support Summary:

    • Shopify: You can now do pretty much anything with Shopify Payments. The lower plans are built for straightforward, basic multi-currency and language needs. 
    • Magento: Pretty comprehensive for a global storefront with a variety of languages and currencies.

    Checkout Experience

    A smooth, secure checkout process is vital for conversion rates and customer trust. 

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: A checkout that’s easy to use, right from the start.

    Pros: Quick setup and simple for customers, which can help with sales.

    Cons: Changing the checkout's style or function is limited without a higher plan or Shopify Plus.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: The ability to customise your checkout to meet your specific business needs.

    Pros: You can design a unique checkout process that's just right for your shoppers.

    Cons: You’ll need some technical skills or a developer to make changes.

    Checkout Experience Summary:

    • Shopify: Best for those seeking a reliable, quick-to-set-up checkout experience (options to personalise and add extras to fit your brand)
    • Magento: Ideal for businesses requiring a fully customised checkout flow right from the start.

    Mobile Responsiveness

    Chances are, the majority of your customers are browsing your online store via their mobiles. A responsive design is going to be essential for customer engagement and SEO. 

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: All themes are ready for mobiles, meaning your shop will look good on phones and tablets.

    Pros: No extra work needed; your store automatically adjusts to fit screens of all sizes.

    Cons: Custom mobile features might require special themes or apps.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: The flexibility to create a highly responsive site if you have the skills or resources.

    Pros: Potential for a highly optimised mobile shopping experience.

    Cons: Requires technical expertise to ensure your site works well on mobile devices.

    Mobile Responsiveness Summary:

    • Shopify shines for those who want a mobile-ready store without the fuss.
    • Magento is for those who aim for a tailored mobile experience and have the resources to create it

    Scalability

    As your business grows, you need an e-commerce platform that scales up smoothly to keep up with your growing customer demand and increased product offerings.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Scalability through various subscription levels, including Shopify Plus for larger businesses or those needing advanced features.

    Pros: Easy to scale up with the support of Shopify's infrastructure, suitable for businesses of all sizes.

    Cons: Higher levels of scalability, like those offered by Shopify Plus, come with increased costs.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Open-source platform with the inherent ability to scale extensively, given the right hosting environment.

    Pros: Exceptional scalability options perfect for very large enterprises or rapidly growing businesses.

    Cons: Requires a significant investment in hosting, infrastructure, and technical expertise to scale effectively.

    Scalability Summary:

    • This one is easy! The simple fact is ecommerce businesses can scale on both Shopify and Magento. 

    Security

    Protecting customer information and transactions is critical for any online business.  

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Shopify handles security for you, with automatic updates and compliance with PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards.

    Pros: Peace of mind with a secure, hosted solution, especially for those without technical expertise.

    Cons: Less control over specific security implementations since it's managed by Shopify.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: As an open-source platform, Magento gives you the flexibility to implement custom security measures.

    Pros: Ability to tailor security settings to your exact specifications.

    Cons: You are responsible for security updates and PCI compliance, which requires a more hands-on approach and possible reliance on professionals.

    Security Summary:

    • Shopify: Ideal for businesses looking for strong, hassle-free security right out of the box.
    • Magento: Suited for companies with the capability to customise and actively manage their security protocols.

    Apps & Add-ons

    Loads of apps and add-ons extends the functionality of your ecommerce store.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: A huge, diverse app store with a wide range of plugins to enhance your store's functionality.

    Pros:  Easy to find and install apps, most of which integrate seamlessly with your Shopify store.

    Cons: Dependence on third-party apps for advanced features can increase costs.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Access to a vast library of extensions, both free and paid, due to its open-source nature.

    Pros: More variety and customisation potential for adding extra complex features to your store.

    Cons: Finding and configuring the right add-ons will require technical expertise.

    Apps Summary:

    • Shopify: Great for those who need simple, easy-to-integrate apps to expand their store's capabilities.
    • Magento: Better suited for businesses that require more specialised or tailored functionality and are comfortable managing a more complex system.

    Analytics & Reporting

    Detailed data insights into store performance help you make business and website decisions. 

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Built-in analytics dashboard that provides insights into sales, customer behaviour, and website traffic.

    Pros: User-friendly interface with essential metrics readily available, ideal for beginners and small businesses.

    Cons: Advanced analytics features might require integration with third-party tools.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Advanced analytics capabilities, especially with additional extensions and customisations.

    Pros: Highly detailed and customisable reports that can cater to specific business needs.

    Cons: Setting up and interpreting these advanced analytics may require technical expertise.

    Analytics & Reporting Summary:

    • Shopify: A straightforward solution for those who need basic analytics without extra setup or complexity.
    • Magento: Offers more in-depth and customisable analytics, ideal for businesses requiring detailed data analysis and reporting.

    Product Variants & Options

    Flexibility in product options and variants allows for a better customer shopping experience. 

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Easy management of product variants, like size and colour, with limitations on the number of variants and options per product.

    Pros: Simple and intuitive setup for basic product variations.

    Cons: Limited to 100 variants per product and three options (like size, colour, material) without using third-party apps.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Extensive customisation options for product variants without inherent limitations.

    Pros: Allows for a large number of variants and complex product configurations, ideal for stores with diverse inventories.

    Cons: The complexity of setting up and managing these variants may require more time or a technical skill set.

    Product Variants & Options Summary:

    • Shopify: Perfect for stores with simpler product lines or those who prefer ease of use over extensive customisation.
    • Magento: Best suited for businesses that need to manage a wide range of product variations and complex configurations.

    Blogging & Content Marketing 

    Content marketing is key for driving organic traffic and engaging customers.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Shopify includes a built-in blogging platform to help you engage with your audience and enhance SEO.

    Pros: Easy to set up and integrate with your online store, with no need for additional software.

    Cons: Blogging features may be more basic compared to specialised content management systems.


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Magento requires third-party extensions or platforms for blogging and content marketing capabilities.

    Pros: With the right extensions, can be highly customised for a robust content marketing strategy.

    Cons: Not as straightforward to set up, may require additional development and integration work.

    Blogging & Content Marketing Summary:

    • Shopify: Offers a simpler, more integrated solution for businesses to start blogging quickly.
    • Magento: Provides flexibility for a more advanced content strategy, but typically at the expense of ease and convenience.

    SEO & Marketing

    SEO tools and marketing features help increase visibility and attract customers to your store.

    Shopify Analysis

    What It Offers: Built-in SEO features such as customisable headlines, titles, and meta descriptions. Integration with various marketing tools and platforms is also available through the Shopify App Store.

    Pros: It gives you want you fundamentally need to create and optimise content for search engines. 

    Cons: Advanced SEO customisations might require third-party apps or a higher-tier plan. 


    Magento Analysis

    What It Offers: Advanced SEO settings and capabilities right out of the box. Offers extensive marketing tools and options, which can be further enhanced with extensions.

    Pros: Greater control over SEO practices and the ability to create highly tailored marketing strategies.

    Cons: More complex to set up and manage, often requiring technical knowledge or developer assistance.

    SEO & Marketing Summary:

    • Shopify: Ideal for those who need functional SEO capabilities and a straightforward way to integrate marketing tools.
    • Magento: Suitable for businesses seeking in-depth SEO customisation and a wide range of sophisticated marketing strategies.

    10 Essential Questions To Ask Before Making a Decision Between Shopify and Magento  

    When deciding between online platforms to build and manage your business, you’ll want to consider your website strategy (in essence: how your digital presence relates to your business goals). By answering these questions, you can start to feel for what platform might best suit your business and your customers.

    1. Is this your first eCommerce website?
    2. Will you be building the site yourself?
    3. After set-up, are you looking to make changes yourself?
    4. How is your PHP coding? Have you the time to learn?
    5. Are you happy with a pre-made store theme?
    6. Is cost or time a primary concern?
    7. Do you need to start selling immediately?
    8. Do you require tailor-made APIs or digital functionalities?
    9. How important is digital scalability to your business?
    10. Do you understand the basics of website security?

    You'll be able to give the above questions a work-out as we go into the pros and cons of each platform. Don't forget that you can also get in-touch to speak to one of our team!

    Shopify vs Magento Infographic

    Real-World Examples: Brands Thriving on Shopify and Magento in 2024

    Some of the biggest ecommerce brands have websites built on both Shopify and Magento.

    Here are 6 examples of brands on Shopify and Shopify Plus:

    • Gymshark
    • Fenty Beauty 
    • Daily Paper
    • Polaroid
    • Fitbit
    • Skims 

    Different page examples of brands on Shopify

    Here are 5 examples of brands on Magento:

    • Nike
    • Tom Dixon
    • Ahmad Tea
    • Charlotte Tilbury
    • Nestle 

    Different page examples of brands on Magento

    Investment Insights: Comparing the Cost Between Shopify and Magento 

    The verdict within our team (especially those seasoned in working with both Shopify and Magento) is that Magento tends to mean higher initial costs and ongoing costs. This is due to Magento's reliance on specialised development and ongoing technical resources.

    However, it's also important to say that there is really no simple or quick way to compare the pricing for Magento and Shopify.

    Each platform has totally different pricing models (more information of this below) and total cost of Shopify and Magento will depend on the complexity of your website, the level of customisation and functionality you want, and any additional apps or services you may need. 

    Shopify Pricing Options

    Shopify's pricing plans are based on a monthly subscription model.

    • The Basic Shopify plan starts at $29 per month and includes features such as the ability to sell an unlimited number of products, access to Shopify's payment gateway, and abandoned cart recovery.
    • The Shopify plan costs $79 per month and includes additional features (such as gift cards and professional reports).
    • The Advanced Shopify plan, which costs $299 per month, includes even more advanced features such as advanced report builder and third-party calculated shipping rates.

    In addition to these plans, Shopify also offers Shopify Plus, which is an enterprise-level plan, made for high-volume merchants. The pricing for Shopify Plus is customised based on the needs of the merchant. Find out more about Shopify Plus pricing. We also have written an article on The Benefits and Drawbacks of Moving From Magento to Shopify Plus

    Magento Pricing Options

    As an open-source platform, Magento is free to download and use. However, merchants will need to pay for hosting, security, and any additional features or extensions that they want to add to their website (the cost of these additional items can vary widely, and the total cost of using Magento will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the merchant).

    If you want a precise estimate of pricing plans for Magento, you will need to contact a Magento development company. The guys over at Magestore have written a good piece looking at the pricing of Magento/Adobe Commerce

    Screenshot from Magestore blog looking at Adobe Commerce Pricing

     Source: Magestore 

    Support Systems: Evaluating Shopify and Magento's Help Resources 

    When choosing an e-commerce platform, the level of support and resources available can be a big factor, especially if you encounter issues or need guidance.

    Here's how Shopify and Magento stack up in terms of support:

    Shopify's Support Resources

    Shopify support system has a good reputation. Platform users can access 24/7 customer support through various channels including live chat, email, and phone. Additionally, Shopify provides a wealth of online resources, such as guides, tutorials, and an extensive FAQ section. 

    Magento's Support Resources

    As an open-source platform, Magento's community support is one of its biggest assets. Users rely on community forums, developer resources, and third-party specialists for assistance. Magento Commerce (paid version) offers dedicated support.

    Summary:

    • Shopify: Perfect for businesses that prefer a straightforward approach with readily available support. The platform's user-friendly nature means you'll likely face fewer technical challenges, and when you do, help is just a call or click away.
    • Magento: Good for those with more technical know-how or the resources to hire professional help. The community-driven support model works well for those who don't mind delving into forums or working with developers for tailored solutions.

    Looking Ahead: The Future of Shopify and Magento 

    The future looks increasingly promising for Shopify and Shopify Plus. The ecommerce platform is increasingly popular with a growing user base from businesses of all shapes and sizes.

    Magento, while facing some stiff competition, still holds a significant place in the market. Especially with some big high-performing brands that have been around for a while.

    Like the rest of the industry, we have seen a big trend in businesses transitioning from Magento to Shopify This shift is evident in various case studies and discussions, like this interesting podcast episode featuring the electronic brand Maplin discussing their switch from Magento to Shopify.

    Final Thoughts: Summing Up the Shopify vs. Magento Conundrum 

    We have a soft spot for Shopify. It's our preferred platform for building and developing brilliant websites due to many of the reasons that we've mentioned above. 

    However, our experience with Magento and the wider ecommerce industry gives us a well balanced perspective on both platforms. If you're weighing up Shopify vs. Magento and would like a chat, we'd be happy to have an honest and open consultation around what platform we think will work best for your particular business. Get in touch today.  

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    James McManus

    James McManus

    Shopify Growth Consultant

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