Shopify vs Magento – Which one is better?

When searching Shopify vs Magento on Google, the first two listings come from Shopify itself. Clicking on those links, they don’t essentially say much about…
  • Gentian Shero
  • Co-founder, CEO, & Marketing Consultant
  • August 26, 2013 Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


When searching Shopify vs Magento on Google, the first two listings come from Shopify itself. Clicking on those links, they don’t essentially say much about Shopify’s features, not even a comparison table. Instead, there are some testimonials from Shopify’s satisfied customers, and a few lines of us vs them where Shopify states that they invented online shopping, they will water your grass while you’re on vacation and will sincerely love you for who you are. Since there is no clear comparison as to why one should use or not use either Magento or Shopify, today’s post is going to do exactly that, a head-to-head comparison between Shopify and Magento.

First lets start with a small bio for both companies. Shopify has been in business since 2006, their headquarters are in Ottawa – Canada and the CEO of the company is named Tobias Lütke. Shopify claims to host approximately 50,000 online retailers.

Unlike Shopify whose code is proprietary, Magento is an open source eCommerce web application. Magento was founded in 2008 and it was built using the Zend framework. Since June 2011, Magento is owned by Ebay and it is now part of Ebay’s X.commerce division. Their headquarters are in Los Angeles, California and the company’s CEO is Roy Rubin.

Now that we know some of the basics for each company, lets move on and see what they offer in detail.

Shopify has four levels of monthly payment plans: Basic, Professional, Business, and Unlimited. Depending on each plan, the company charges fees ranging from 0-2% on each transaction. All of Shopify’s plans include unlimited bandwidth and free setup. The company also offers a free 14 day trial.

The Shopify platform includes a content management system that allows users to manage inventory, edit HTML and CSS code, create coupon and discount codes, and accept online payments online with Paypal and major credit cards.

Shopify is easy for store owners who are working with smaller budgets and fewer products to get a store up and running quickly. It is designed to be easy to use without needing to pay a designer and team of developers to set up. Shopify has a reputation of excellent customer support and security. In fact, when researching this article, I noticed that most posts or tweets I found about Shopify were replied to directly by a Shopify representative who was extremely eager to help. While this is good PR, it’s also nice to know they are actively looking for problems and solutions.

To add to a Shopify store, Shopify has developed their own app store in which store owners can purchase and install apps that provide additional functionality.

While Shopify is an eCommerce platform designed to be simple and easy to set up and use, Magento is known for being a bit more complicated.

Shopify Magento
Proprietary Free and Open Source
Relatively easy to set up with excellent support Requires skilled and experienced developer
Customizable to an extent Extremely customizable
App Store with about 400 apps Huge community of developers and extension companies
Better for smaller businesses with limited sales Ideal for larger online sellers with lots of room to grow
Pricing starting at $29/month Free
Hosted Solution Requires dedicated server specializing in Magento hosting
One storefront on one platform Multiple storefronts / languages / currencies on one platform
Configure apps within third party admin Integrate extensions into Magento Admin
Products organized by tags Heirarchal organizational structure for products (categories and subcategories)
If you need help with your Magento store, call 845-656-3000 or Contact us here »

Magento comes out of the box with extremely powerful features built right in. Magento store owners have the ability to set up multiple stores with different designs, languages and currencies and control them all in one admin panel. Magento is flexible and it is designed to grow, whether a storeowner has 50 products or thousands of SKUs.

It is free and open source – but that doesn’t mean that it is cheap. In fact, Magento customization requires skilled and experienced developers and designers who are specifically trained in Magento. Because of this, Magento is by far far one of the most customizable and powerful eCommerce platforms, because a skilled developer and designer can literally change and customize each and every segment of your online store.

Because Magento is so customizable, over the years it has developed a vast community of specialists working to make Magento better. Storeowners will be able to find an extension for just about every need from companies who can help you install your extensions and offer support in case of problems.

Magento makes it easy in terms of SEO because you can easily control meta-tags from within the admin panel and to control all URLs. In addition to the meta-tags Magento can also be integrated with a WordPress blog. The blog can be seamlessly matched and branded to the rest of the Magento website, to the point that there is no distinction between the two, while you get the SEO benefits of WordPress and the power of Magento to maximize sales.

Prospective Magento storeowners should also know that this vast and powerful platform is not hosted and will therefore require a company who specializes in Magento hosting.

In our experience Shopify is more comparable to Magento Go rather than Magento Community or Enterprise edition, which are both way more robust and better. Shopify is a good platform to get started selling online, without assistance from a developer or web design company. On the downside,  websites running on Shopify look too generic and don’t allow for much customization. To verify this go on Shopify’s website and see that even some of the best websites that Shopify showcases and prides it self on are too general and non-comprehensive.

With Magento sky is the limit. You can run any promotion, set up any type of coupon, customize a website to match and represent your brand any way you want it, set up complex shipping, or any other functionality you may think of.

Summing it up, if budget is a concern, you’re just getting started, and don’t have a relation with a developing company like us, then Shopify is your best bet. If you want to get started right and are willing to invest some money, as one would invest to open an appealing physical store to sell products, then go with Magento, it is a better long-term investment overall.

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