Shopify Ecosystem

Magento vs Shopify: An Honest eCommerce Platform Comparison


You’re ready to launch or re-launch your online store and you’re trying to decide which eCommerce platform to use for your store. Two of the top names in the business are Magento and Shopify. If you don’t choose the right one for your needs, it could be a costly mistake. 

One is not necessarily better than the other. But, there are instances where one or the other is a better choice for your operations. So, for you, which is the best platform for eCommerce? Here are the pros and cons you need to know about Shopify and Magento to help you make the best decision. 

A Quick Comparison of Magento vs Shopify 

In a nutshell, here’s how these two eCommerce platforms stack up to one another.

Magento vs Shopify

Magento vs Shopify

So, which is the best eCommerce platform? The answer to that question depends on your needs. Learn more about why you might want Magento over Shopify or vice versa. 

Magento Platform Overview

Magento is an Adobe product, launched in 2008 and has maintained its place as a top eCommerce platform for large companies. The brand boasts that it is the #1 eCommerce platform in the world. But, is Magento better than Shopify?

Shopify Platform Overview

Shopify, founded in 2004, has climbed the ladder and made its way into the world of eCommerce. Today, because nearly anyone can use the platform, the company has become a household name. To what can you contribute this success and is it a better option than Magento? 

Most User-Friendly Platform: Shopify

Will you build and maintain your website on your own? Do you have a limited budget for development? If so, you need to know which eCommerce platform is the most user-friendly. 

Where ease of use is concerned, even Magento developers will tell you that Shopify is the winner. The amount of technical knowledge required to build a website in Magento is enough to give the most patient person on the planet a headache. 

If you choose Magento, you will undoubtedly need to hire a developer. With Shopify, you can get along as a one-person show. Many individuals and small businesses successfully host online stores on Shopify with very little support. 

So, if ease-of-use is a high priority, Shopify is probably your best bet. 

Lowest Monthly Pricing: Varies 

How much will you pay in monthly hosting fees with each platform? You need to answer this question because your bottom line depends on the answer. 

To understand Magento pricing, note that the platform is open-source. This means that you can leverage the solution for free (or so it seems). In reality, hosting a Magento store will come at a cost. You can expect to pay from $10 to $500 per month, depending on your needs. 

Consult with your Magento developer to understand how much you will pay each month. And, remember that your monthly hosting is just one cost. You will also pay transaction fees in addition to the price of building and maintaining your web store. 

Shopify’s monthly pricing is a little more cut and dry. Pay between $29 and $299 per month for a Shopify-hosted site.

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Shopify’s pricing options: from basic to Advanced plans.

For an enterprise solution, read about Shopify Plus pricing

Monthly costs will vary from platform to platform and depend on your choice of hosting. So, neither Shopify nor Magento wins this round.

Lowest Transaction Fees: Varies

To make smart pricing decisions or to know your profitability on each transaction, you must know how much you’ll pay in transaction fees on each sale. So, which platform has the lowest transaction fees?

Magento does not charge transaction fees. So, with Magento, you will always use a third-party payment processor. Your transaction fees will depend on the amount charged by your provider. 

Shopify takes a percentage of sales. Their base transaction fees range from 0.5% per transaction to 2% per transaction. In addition, you could be charged by an external payment processor, depending on how your checkout process is set up. 

For either eCommerce platform, check with your preferred payment processor for a full understanding of how much you can expect to pay. 

Most Marketplace Extensions or Apps: Magento 

When you run an online store, you will need a shopping cart, help desk, and marketing and promotional add-ons to make your job easier. So, which eCommerce platform has the most marketplace extensions/apps? 

Magento currently has 5,724 extensions in their marketplace. So, they win this round. However, if you ask anyone who uses the platform about installing an extension, you will understand why this is debatable. The installation process is quite technical.

Magento Marketplace

Magento Marketplace: +5700 extensions.

Shopify has 3,715 apps in their app store. While they do not have as many available helpful add-ons, they have an advantage. Shopify enables one-click install for most available apps, which makes the process super easy.

Shopify app store

Shopify App Store: +3700 apps.

So, while Magento has the most add-ons, they are much more difficult to install than Shopify’s and must be updated manually. 

Highest Customizability: Magento

As an entrepreneur, you understand the importance of branding, flexibility, and an otherwise customizable website. The last thing you need is for your online store to look like everyone else’s (or worse, just look like trash). So, which platform offers the highest customizability — Magento or Shopify? 

At this point, Magento still blows Shopify out of the water where customizability is concerned (unless we’re talking about Shopify Plus, which is in another realm). Magento primarily uses PHP on the backend. On the front end, it uses HTML, CSS, Javascript. 

It’s not that Shopify’s standard platform isn’t customizable. Using the right theme and Shopify’s theme editor, you can mostly customize a web store within the platform. Still, it takes quite a bit of knowledge of Shopify and its programming language, Liquid (backend). The front end is typical HTML, CSS, and Javascript. 

Overall, Magento has the highest level of customizability, which is one of the major selling points for many users. 

Most Popular eCommerce Platform: Shopify

According to Google Trends, if you would have asked which eCommerce platform was the most popular five years ago, it wouldn’t have been so easy to answer. At that time, Magento’s popularity was beginning to decline while Shopify was gaining interest; public interest in the platforms converged. 

Today, Shopify is at its search share peak; to the public, it is the most popular of the two platforms.

Most Stores Powered: Shopify

The number of monthly users can indicate trustworthiness. It’s important to understand which platform is the most trusted. So, between Magento and Shopify, which platform powers the most online stores? 

As of today, Magento powers more than 250,000 web stores, which represents approximately 1.2% of the internet. And, 11,000 of these stores are hosted on Magento 2. These are impressive numbers that show, in the 12 years they’ve been in business, Magento has generated an average of almost 21K new stores each year. 

And, Shopify powers over 1,000,000 stores, about four times more than Magento. About 5,300 of these stores are hosted on Shopify Plus. In the 16 years Shopify has been around, they’ve generated an average of 62.5K new stores every year. 

So, Shopify powers the most stores, indicating that it might be the most trustworthy platform of the two. But, you still need to look at which platform powers the highest sales so you can use your better judgment to make that reference for yourself.

Highest Annual Sales: Magento 

The number of stores can indicate trustworthiness, but you need to consider the fact that nearly anyone can launch a store on Shopify. So, are all of these stores run by authorities? Or, are some of them just sitting around not making any money. Well, let’s take a look at the annual sales powered by each platform. 

In total, Magento is a channel for $156 billion in sales each year. Allegedly, merchants who migrate to Magento, on average, grow three times faster. So, store owners can expect higher gains with the platform.  

Shopify is an avenue for over $56 billion in annual sales — According to Shopify, annual sales powered by their stores for Q1 through Q3 2019 totaled $40.5+ billion. And, sales on Black Friday alone hit $2.9+ billion. So, Shopify retailers likely sold more than $56 billion in merchandise last year.  

All in all, Magento users generate the most sales even though Shopify powers more total stores.

Most Themes Available: Shopify

Of course, any skilled developer can create a custom theme from scratch for either platform. But, for the sake of this comparison, let’s look at how many ready-to-go online store templates/themes are available in Magento and Shopify’s branded directories. 

The Magento marketplace offers 17 recommended themes for online stores. These are the web store templates that the platform recommends users start with. This means that user support for these themes is available through the platform. 

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Themes on the Magento Marketplace.

The Shopify official theme store contains 72 themes for online stores. This is four times more than Magento. So, while Magento is allegedly a more customizable platform, Shopify provides starter stores with many more options.  

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Themes on the Shopify App Store

Altogether, Shopify wins in the realm of available themes.

Lowest Theme Pricing: Shopify

We’ve learned which platform has the most themes. Now, does Magento or Shopify have the best theme pricing? Let’s take a look. 

  • Magento’s theme price range is between $0 and $499. 
  • Shopify’s theme price range is between $0 and $180.

So, if both marketplaces offer free themes, why did Shopify win this round? The availability of free themes was key to making this call. 

Free eCommerce Themes by the Numbers

How many free themes are available with each online store platform? 

Magento has one free eCommerce theme in their marketplace. The Free Absolute Template by Templates Master is the only free theme recommended by Magento. Users have given the theme 2.8 out of 5 stars. 

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Magento ecommerce theme

Shopify has eight free eCommerce themes in their marketplace. Each of them has between two and three styles for a total of 20 recommended free theme options. 

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Shopify ecommerce theme

And, the user ratings for Shopify’s free themes are a little higher than that of Magento’s free Absolute Template. For example, the Style theme has 67% high ratings out of 46 total.

Plus, outside the marketplace, there are more free Shopify themes than you might imagine. So, now you see why Shopify takes the cake. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re an enterprise-level online seller, Magento might be the right eCommerce platform for you. And, if you’re an individual or small business, it’s likely that Shopify is a better fit. But, before you make a final decision, be sure to explore the differences with Shopify vs Shopify Plus (another great enterprise solution). 

In full disclosure, at Gorgias, we don’t have a favorite eCommerce platform. You can seamlessly integrate our online helpdesk software with your store via the Magento Marketplaceand the Shopify App Store. So, to try it out, schedule a Gorgias demo today.

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Ashley Kimler is an eCommerce specialist who has been selling online and helping both small businesses and enterprise companies with their online sales marketing for nearly 15 years. Follow @gorgiasio and @ashleykimler on Twitter to read more expert advice.

This article was originally published by our friends at Gorgias.

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