Magento vs Shopify - objective comparison. Which one is right for YOU?

  • Date: Aug 28, 2019

So, you’ve decided to build an online store and while your grand vision for building the next household name brand is clearer than anything else, what platform should power your store may not be as clear. And indeed Shopify and Magento are the biggest platforms in the game, making it even harder to decide.

But there is no 1 right answer here and it all depends specifically on what you want to build. E-commerce is a broad term after all. Both single-page food ordering website and a complicated subscription based enterprise solution products fit the category but each require different back and front ends. In this article we will try to objectively evaluate each platform and let YOU decide what is right for you instead of skewing into the side of the player that paid for this article.

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In our 20+ year custom development career we’ve built stores for our clients on all ecommerce platforms. For something as simple as a store selling phone cases the Shopify was a perfect solution. Quick to build, set up and turn over to a client who can handle the whole store from an intuitive admin panel.

On the other hand for more complex solutions like a subscription service for online training and courses, Shopify couldn’t do it all. It requires much more complex approach since everything has to be custom built from scratch. Magento is perfect for custom development.

And indeed the main advantage of Magento is in having no limits to how much you can customize the product. Shopify makes it super streamlined and easy to choose from ready templates (it literally takes 10 minutes to set up a turn-key store) but you have a lot of restrictions if you want to create something of your own, something non-traditional. You will always be forced to go to their app store to make sure that a third party developer offers exactly what you want. Chances are even the closest solution is not close enough to what you want.

Now let’s dive into a categorized analysis of each platform:

Shopify vs. Magento
Features:

Admin Panel

As you can see, you won’t find as much of a user-friendly admin panel with Magento as you’d have in Shopify. So, if you’re starting out this you’d be better off with Shopify straight forward design. But good news this is not going to affect your customers’ user experience.

Inventory Management

This one is really individual because it depends on how complex each of your products is and the variations of it. If you’re just selling sneakers of a certain brand then Shopify is perfect but if your store carries both make-up items and cheese then Magento is the way to go. Generally, coming back to main point, look at the size of your store and most of the cases with bigger stores you’re going to skew towards Magento and with smaller to Shopify. Doesn’t mean that Shopify can’t handle large amount of products but it may be harder to customize if you have various categories. For example, for a marketplace platform we built for a client we couldn’t use Shopify.

Payment Processing

Shopify by default integrates with 70+ payment processing systems including its own Shopify Payments and offline POS which is more than enough. But while that includes most of the popular systems it’s not limitless. Unlike Magento which allows you to add anything out there through its open source system. And in rare cases like when we had to integrate Click(Payment processor in Uzbekistan) that could make a difference.

Themes and Templates

In this category it’s hard to give one a winning edge since both allow third party developed theme integrations. So, even if the basic free themes are not enough for you and you will have to go looking for custom solutions it’s a tie.

Apps and Add ons

While Shopify has a lot of innovative apps, so does Magento with its 5000+ add ons and apps. So, tie it is here too.

SEO

Each can be well optimized for search engines, however in some cases where you would need to tweak the code Magento will have an advantage.

Multi Language Support

Magento has a built-in multi language support. So, if you’re launching in different markets then Magento wins this category. However, through third party apps you can add this feature to Shopify stores as well.

Innovate or Die

Having worked with innovating startups, especially many of them being in ecommerce it’s clear to us how dynamically the tech is evolving in every industry. And commerce is no exception. What works today may not work tomorrow. And as a founder you should constantly innovate. For example, the demand for sales funnels and new checkout solutions, like Bolt is increasing. These alternative tools can rarely be integrated with Shopify, which by the way only has 1 template for checkout. As the competition gets tenser, you will be coming with more innovations to stay alive and how quickly can you deploy those changes if you don’t have access to the code, which is also a disadvantage Shopify has.

To conclude

Overall, whether you should choose Shopify or Magento depends on whether you are doing a regular store that can be easily replicated or have come up with a unique and innovative idea or a complex solution. We recommend looking at our ecommerce services section for more insights and our case studies.

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