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Shopify vs Magento: The Ultimate eCommerce Platform Comparison

Whats Inside - Shopify vs Magento
What’s Inside?

Shopify and Magento are two common eCommerce platforms that enable businesses to launch online stores. The difference? Quite a lot.

Read on to learn what sets these two industry standards apart.

Whats Inside - Shopify vs Magento
What’s Inside?

Shopify and Magento are two common eCommerce platforms that enable businesses to launch online stores. The difference? Quite a lot.

Read on to learn what sets these two industry standards apart.

If you have an online store for your business, there are a lot of great eCommerce platforms available for you to choose from. However, Shopify and Magento are two of the most popular platforms on the market, and there are plenty of great reasons why millions of business owners all over the world choose these two platforms to create and manage their online stores.

But how do you decide which one is the right choice for you? In this ultimate guide to Magento vs Shopify, we'll cover everything you need to know about these two eCommerce platforms, including their setup processes, pricing, security features, and more.

Chapter 1

Introduction to Shopify and Magento

Meeting Two eCommerce Giants

Let's start our Magento vs Shopify comparison by taking a brief look at the history of these two platforms and what put them on the map. Let’s start with Shopify and how it came to be one of the world's leading eCommerce platforms, despite not being the first.

Founded in 2006, Shopify has been on the market for 18 years now and has evolved plenty since those early days to keep up with advances in technology and market changes. While there were other eCommerce solutions available at the time of Shopify's founding, Shopify quickly carved out a major foothold in the market thanks to its user-friendly interface, scalability, and comprehensive feature set. Today, Shopify is a solution that is designed to serve businesses of all sizes—from mom-and-pop shops to international enterprises— and there are more than 4.4 million live Shopify stores globally. While the platform's primary user base is small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the launch of Shopify Plus in 2014 has made Shopify a capable option for larger enterprises as well. 

Magento, meanwhile, was founded two years later in 2008, and was acquired by Adobe in 2018. It is a locally hosted,  open-source platform that is designed for maximum flexibility and customization. Unlike Shopify, Magento primarily caters to medium to large enterprises and businesses with advanced eCommerce requirements who want extensive customization options and complete control over their online stores.

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Shopify vs Magento:
The Ultimate eCommerce Platform Comparison

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Chapter 2

Setting up Shop

Getting Started: Shopify vs Magento

Creating your online store can be a complex process, and the platform that you choose will have a major impact on how time-consuming and technically challenging it is for you to set up shop.

As a user-friendly solution, Shopify makes creating an online store a lot easier than most platforms. With Shopify, you can expect a straightforward setup process with guided steps that require minimal technical expertise. Shopify offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, a drag-and-drop website builder, and a large library of pre-built plugins and themes. This allows business owners to create a unique and functional website faster than traditional methods.

With Magento, the setup process is quite a bit more involved. All of the advanced customization options that Magento allows come with a cost, and setting up a Magento store requires a lot more time and technical proficiency. The process involves things like hosting setup, database creation, and installation in addition to the steps required to integrate all of the features and customizations that you would like your store to include.

When it comes to theme customization, it's the same story. Shopify makes the process easy by providing pre-built themes and a drag-and-drop editor, while Magento offers unlimited theme customization options by providing access to the source code (but makes the process a lot more complex as a result). Which solution is best for you will depend on things like your budget for hiring outside help, your own technical expertise, and how deeply you wish to customize your online store. However, the setup process of both of these platforms is an essential factor to keep in mind when comparing Magento vs Shopify.

Chapter 3

Product Management

Managing Products In Shopify vs Magento

Product management is a vital part of running an online store, but it's a process that can quickly become complex and time-consuming the more products you offer. Thankfully, both Shopify and Magento provide tools designed to streamline product management for both physical and digital products.

With Shopify, you can look forward to basic inventory management tools suitable for small to medium-sized businesses, including tools for tracking stock levels and managing product variants (although Enterprise brands can extend this with integrations). Magento, on the other hand, offers even more robust product management capabilities, including support for complex product catalogs, multiple warehouses, and advanced inventory tracking.

Shopify and Magento both support product variations and options (though Magento offers more extensive customization options for product variations). Both offer support for digital products as well, allowing you to sell digital downloads such as eBooks, software, or music.

When it comes to product management, the simplified features offered by Shopify are more than adequate for meeting the needs of most business owners. However, if you need more advanced product management features (like advanced inventory tracking and more product variation customizations) then Magento is the clear winner of the Magento vs Shopify comparison.

Chapter 4

Sales and Payment Processing

Transactions with Shopify vs Magento

The ability to manage sales and securely process online payments from customers is a big part of why business owners choose to use an eCommerce platform in the first place. While Magento does offer more advanced sales and payment processing features than Shopify, both of these solutions will allow you to sell your products and collect payments with relative ease.

Shopify gives you a few options to customize your store's checkout process, including the option to add custom fields and branding elements. Other than that, though, Shopify provides a pre-built and standardized checkout process that, while not highly customizable, is optimized for a convenient customer experience. With Magento, the sky is the limit when it comes to customizing your checkout process—however, creating a checkout process that is streamlined and functional and PCI-compliant falls on you and your development team.

For payment processing, Shopify offers a pre-built solution called "Shopify Payments" that supports numerous third-party payment gateways. However, Shopify also charges transaction fees on each payment processed, which will vary depending on the Shopify plan that you choose. Magento, meanwhile, allows you to use any payment gateway that you like for your store, and Magento itself does not charge any transaction fees (though you may still incur fees from the payment processor that you choose to use).

The final consideration when comparing the sales and payment processing features of Magento vs Shopify is how each platform handles taxes and shipping fees. With Shopify, tax and shipping are automatically calculated based on the customer's location and the type of product that they purchase. Shopify also offers integrations with major shipping carriers to further streamline the process of shipping products out to customers, Magento does the same thing, allowing you to create advanced tax and shipping configuration options and set up rules and shipping methods based on various criteria.

Chapter 5

Extensions and App Ecosystem

Integrations for Shopify vs Magento

There is a broad range of tools that online store owners can use to customize the user experience, reach more customers, provide customer support, and more. And, thankfully, both Shopify and Magento offer access to a wide variety of these apps and extensions.

With Shopify, the App Store is where you will find all of the third-party apps and extensions that you can integrate into your Shopify store—and there are thousands of different options to choose from. Tools like Oberlo for dropshipping, Klaviyo for email marketing, and Bold Upsell for increasing average order value are just a few of the popular apps on the Shopify App Store that business owners can use to add new features and functionalities to their online store.

With Magento, third-party apps and extensions are available through the Magento Marketplace. Like the App Store, the Magento Marketplace offers a massive amount of tools to choose from. Integrating these tools into your Magento store won't be quite as straightforward as integrating apps from the Shopify App store, but Magento does provide an even bigger list of apps to choose from along with more advanced customization options. A few popular apps on the Magento Marketplace include apps like Amasty for advanced SEO, Aheadworks for customer loyalty programs, and Mageplaza for improved checkout functionality.

Shopify and Magento both also allow you to create custom apps and integrations for your store. With Shopify, this is done using the Shopify API and other developer tools that the platform provides. Thanks to Magento's open-source design, there is no limit to the number of custom apps and integrations that you can build. To help you create them, Magento also provides extensive documentation and a range of development resources.

Chapter 6

Scalability and Performance

Growing on Shopify vs Magento

Almost every business owner hopes to grow and scale their business over time, but doing so requires choosing an eCommerce platform that's capable of scaling alongside your business. This means selecting a platform that not only offers all of the features and functionalities you will need now and in the future but also one that offers the performance required to handle increasing traffic.

While the unparalleled scalability and performance of Magento make it a viable choice for large enterprises that plan to grow even larger, Shopify is a highly scalable solution as well. Take Gymshark, for example—a fitness apparel brand that scaled from a startup to $128 million in revenue exclusively using the Shopify platform.

To find similar case studies of companies that have scaled using Magento, you don't have to look very far; major brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike, and Ford all rely on Magento for building and managing their online stores. And if Magento offers the scalability and performance to meet the needs of these mega-corporations, you can rest assured that it will be capable of scaling alongside your business as well.

Chapter 7

Security and Compliance

Keeping Data Safe With Shopify vs Magento

Did you know that retail is the most targeted sector for cyber attacks? If you want to avoid all of the potential consequences and financial losses that can come with a cyber attack, choosing an eCommerce platform that offers robust security features is vital.

Shopify comes equipped with numerous security controls designed to protect customer data and prevent breaches, including SSL encryption and fraud detection tools. Shopify also undergoes regular security updates to ensure that any discovered vulnerabilities are patched and that the platform is kept up to date with emerging threats. The same is true for Magento, which likewise offers advanced security features like two-factor authentication and data encryption as well as routine security patches.

Along with ensuring strong security, it's also important to make sure that your online store is PCI-compliant. Shopify simplifies PCI compliance by handling payment data securely through Shopify Payments, which reduces your compliance burden. With Magento, you'll be required to ensure PCI compliance for your hosting environment and payment processing setup yourself, though Magento does offer some helpful guidelines and resources for achieving compliance.

Aside from choosing a secure and compliant eCommerce platform, there are several other best practices you can use to keep your online store secure. This includes practices such as regularly updating software, using strong passwords, enabling security features, and monitoring for suspicious activities.

Chapter 8

Support, Community, and Resources

Documentation for Shopify vs Magento

When you run into questions and issues with your online store (as almost every business owner eventually does), it's nice to know that you have a place to turn to for answers. Although they go about it in different ways, Shopify and Magento both offer excellent resources for supporting their clients.

Shopify is renowned for its excellent customer support, and you can get in contact with customer support specialists 24/7 via live chat, email, and phone. Shopify also offers extensive documentation and an active user community for further assistance. Unlike Shopify, Magento does not offer dedicated customer support. However, the platform does offer other support options like community forums and official documentation as well as access to certified developers and solution partners.

In addition to these support resources, Shopify and Magento both offer a range of learning resources intended to help you master the platform and build a successful online store. This includes learning resources such as tutorials, webinars, forums, and developer documentation—all of which are offered in some form by both Shopify and Magento.

Chapter 9

Pricing Structure and Total Cost of Ownership

Technical Debt for Shopify vs Magento

The final point of importance to consider when comparing Magento vs Shopify is how much it costs to use each platform. To estimate this, you'll need to consider the pricing structure of both platforms as well as the total cost of ownership (to include things like hosting, transaction fees, and development costs).

Starting with Shopify, how much you pay for a Shopify subscription will depend on the plan that you choose. As a SaaS solution, almost all of the expenses associated with creating and managing a Shopify store are covered by the platform’s subscription fees.  

Shopify currently offers four pricing plans:

  • Basic Shopify starting at $29/month
  • Shopify starting at $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify starting at $299/month
  • Shopify Plus with custom pricing available upon request

Pricing for Magento, meanwhile, can vary considerably depending on factors such as the edition and deployment option that you choose, the extensions you want to add, and a range of other choices. On average, though, businesses can expect to spend a minimum of $40,000 to build their Magento store. This high price is due largely to the fact Magento is an on-premise/locally hosted platform and must be hosted on a server that the merchant pays for separately. 

Along with these upfront costs, there are also several ongoing and/or hidden costs that are important to consider as well. This includes things like transaction fees that are applied to every purchase, the cost of apps and extensions, development and customization expenses, and ongoing maintenance.

Shopify easily wins the Magento vs Shopify comparison when it comes to affordability. For large enterprises, though, this might not be the case. Companies that are selling large amounts of products may find the transaction fees that Shopify charges to be a substantial expense, and that's not to mention the other limitations that Shopify has compared to Magento when it comes to serving the needs of large enterprises.

Chapter 10


Choosing the Right Platform for Your Needs

In most cases, choosing between Magento vs Shopify is a relatively easy choice to make. 

For large enterprise-level organizations that want to develop a highly customized online store complete with advanced features and custom-built integrations, Magento is often the right choice. 

For merchants who want a more affordable and user-friendly solution that doesn't require an immense amount of technical expertise and upkeep, Shopify is a much better option.

Of course, there are some cases where the choice between Magento vs Shopify isn't quite so clear (for example, startups that plan to scale in the near future or other companies that aren’t sure if the customization options offered by Shopify will meet their long-term needs). If you need any further assistance choosing the best eCommerce platform for your business, Groove can help!

Along with helping you choose the best eCommerce platform for your business's current and future needs, Groove can also help you build your store from the ground up, ensure its compliance and security, execute effective eCommerce marketing campaigns, and more.

We hope that you've found this guide to Magento vs Shopify helpful! To learn more about how Groove can help you build a successful online store, be sure to check out the services that we offer. Or, if you have any questions at all, feel free to contact us today!

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