What You Need to Know about Magento vs. Shopify

Magento and Shopify are undoubtedly among the most popular ecommerce platforms for medium and large enterprises alike. Small businesses are also present on both platforms, although they usually operate with smaller budgets and thus have different requirements from an ecommerce solution.

Magento vs. Shopify

We’ll start with some market fundamentals to show you the broader picture and will then compare those Magento and Shopify properties that matter most for both large and small business users.

Magento and Shopify: Essential Market Indicators

Market research and statistics by BuiltWith show that both platforms enjoy high popularity among online businesses. Some 310,000 websites out of 371,000,000 ones on the entire Internet are using Shopify, while 244,000 are adopting Magento as an ecommerce solution. Magento have a greater customer base among Top 10K, Top 100K, and Top Million websites. Analysing the figures, we can draw a conclusion that it’s mostly small businesses outside the top million sites that are using Shopify.

The website industry verticals show that Magento leads in certain common industries while some Shopify users come from industries where Magento is not present. The Magento platform is more popular across such industries as online shopping, business-to-business, and vehicles. Both platforms score pretty close in attracting users from the adult industry and organisations from the health industry.

Magento usage statistics

Magento website verticals

Magento Usage Statistics and Magento Website Verticals
Source: https://trends.builtwith.com/shop/Magento

Shopify usage statistics

Shopify website verticals

Shopify Usage Statistics and Shopify Website Verticals
Source: https://trends.builtwith.com/shop/Shopify

Websites from technology and sports industries are using Magento as a platform, while no stats are available for Shopify websites across these industry verticals. In contrast, the Shopify platform has users from the entertainment and pharmaceutical industries, where no stats for Magento are available. The above figures do not suggest not a single website across the cited industries is using either of the platforms, but mean that the number is insignificant and has no marked impact on their respective market share.


Magento vs. Shopify: Pricing Plans and Costs

Shopify’s pricing rates start from $28 to $79 a month and go up to $299 a month for an advanced plan. They also offer the Shopify Lite plan allowing online merchants to sell on social media, in person, and on an existing website or blog for a price of $9 a month. Shopify offers enterprise-grade solutions, called Shopify Plus where very large businesses can get a custom quote for a Shopify store. Compare Shopify plus vs. Magento here.

Any user can download the Magento Community Edition (Magento CE) for free. It is an open source solution you can self-host or choose a third-party hosting solution, and you can choose between the hosting plans ranging from $5 to $150 a month.

As a web-hosted solution, Shopify has no setup fees while a business should calculate their particular costs for setting up and hosting a Magento-based website. Some experts believe the costs of running and maintaining a Magento-powered online store are higher because you need to hire Magento developers to tweak the site, add-ons, and themes to fit your needs. These are usually one-time initial expenditures, though, and if you opt for an advanced Shopify plan that is over $299 a month, you should carefully consider the long-term costs on either platform.

Payment Processing and Transaction Costs

Global revenues in the ecommerce market stand at $1.36 trillion in 2017, and experts estimate the market will grow to $2.1 trillion by 2021. Having such a vast market in mind, payment processing and transaction costs play a major role for any merchant creating an online store or expanding an existing ecommerce business.

Global ecommerce market

Global Ecommerce Revenues, 2015 to 2021
Source: https://www.statista.com/outlook/243/100/e-commerce/worldwide#market-revenue

Credit card rates applied by Shopify vary from 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent with an additional flat rate ranging from ?0 for POS payments in person to ?30 for online payments. The platform charges no transaction fees if you use Shopify Payments, while fees for use of external payment gateways vary from 0.5 percent to 2 percent. However, Shopify Payments are available only to merchants based in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Being a free and self-hosted platform, Magento CE does not charge credit card and transaction fees, and the total cost of those services will depend on your selected payment processing gateway. The cost includes purchase of any third-party add-ons required to process payments.

Both platforms offer integration with dozens of external payment gateways, but while Magento has an option for a one-page checkout, Shopify still lacks it.

Themes, Apps, and Extensions

Shopify currently offers 10 free and 49 paid themes for online store creators. Their paid themes vary from $140 for a theme with three different styles to a four-style theme for $180.

Magento offers a total of 1,000 free and paid themes that are available for all Magento CE versions. Of course, a particular free template may not work with your version of Magento CE, but with 120 free themes to choose from, you have a good chance to find a suitable template for any supported version. The price of the Magento CE themes starts from the impressive $0.01 for a functional theme to $5,999 for a theme that allows store visitors to create custom products through 3D technology.

Both platforms feature free and paid responsive themes with most of the themes being optimised for mobile devices.

Magento and Shopify offer both free and paid apps and add-ons through their app stores. By having over 5,000 apps and extensions available through Magento Connect, Magento CE provides far greater integration capabilities compared to Shopify’s less than 200 apps and add-ons.

Shopify allows merchants to develop private apps through APIs, but, as the PHP development team from Iflexion points out, the open source nature of Magento encourages a vast community of software developers to create extensions and apps for this platform.


SEO, Multi-language Support, and Customisation

Today’s fast-growing market for ecommerce solutions is forcing all platforms to provide extensive SEO and multi-language capabilities. Magento and Shopify are no exception to the rule, both featuring advanced SEO options, support for multiple languages, and allowing merchants to customise stores by tweaking CSS and HTML codes.

Summing it up

Shopify may seem easier to use at first glance, but Magento offers add-ons for any functionality that a business may require. Both platforms provide viable content management systems (CMS) with Magento’s CMS having a bit steeper learning curve.

We should debunk the popular belief that running an ecommerce site on Magento is much more expensive compared to Shopify. Sure, the initial cost of creating a decent site with varied functionality on Magento is relatively higher. A business may need to hire a Magento developer to create and maintain the site until all the functionality is added and all the settings adjusted. Once a viable business site is created, Magento offers a comprehensive admin panel with the same ease of use as Shopify’s one. In fact, if you need a completely tailored website on Shopify using API, you need to hire a software developer too.

The very fact that some 13,000 of all Magento-powered sites are in the top million on the Internet, compared to just over 10,000 for Shopify, suggests that a good number of small businesses are running their ecommerce activities on Magento. The gap in the usage statistics for the top million is closing, but it is partly to the increased usage of drag-and-drop builders by small business, not because of the overall functionality. A good number of businesses opt for Shopify’s cheapest plans at $28 to $79 a month but, after offsetting the initial costs of creating a Magento site, a business can get long-term costs for a Magento store that are comparable or even lower than Shopify’s.

The two platforms differ greatly only in terms of support options they provide. Shopify has 24/7 support through email and live chat for all of their pricing plans. According to their website, the average response time for email tickets is 16 hours, and the average wait time for live chat is 20 minutes. Magento CE offers only community support, but their help & support documentation is extremely extensive, in addition to the very active and knowledgeable Magento community.

Online shopping

To conclude, I would not recommend Magento CE to a small or medium merchant who lacks average technical skills and wants to run a Magento store without much help. The same, to a lesser extent, applies to Shopify but you still will be able to create a working site by yourself. Many experts suggest that Magento is for large ecommerce businesses only, but inexperienced users and businesses will face many challenges creating a viable online store on Shopify as well.

Finally, if you are a growing ecommerce business, you will make a smart move by hiring a professional web designer and a web developer to build the website you require either on Magento or Shopify. Before doing that, however, pay your own due diligence and choose the platform that offers extensive functionality in those areas you need most.


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