As an eCommerce entrepreneur, choosing the right foundation on which to build, manage, and maintain your online store is crucial. Plus, for smaller businesses, limited resources and tight budgets make the decision even more critical.

Two of the most widely discussed and extensively utilized eCommerce platform options are Shopify and Magento. Though similar in trade, each system is uniquely designed with varying differences in operational, usability, and investment points. Before selecting the platform on which you’ll base your online empire, it’s essential to review the pros and cons of each.

Getting Started With Shopify vs. Magento

Though you will only need to set-up your online store once, the timeframe and manner in which you do so may impact your business - positively, or otherwise. Depending on your specific needs, Shopify and Magento have much to offer.

Back-End Set-Up & Hosting

Shopify boasts an easy-to-use set-up process, perfect for users with little programming knowledge. By offering an all-in-one hosting solution, Shopify takes care of the confusing back-end web set-up necessities. On the other hand, Magento requires you to host your own site, which entails installation and configuration. This allows for a more personalized set-up, easily implemented by advanced web developers.

Once your site is up and running, customization is the next step. With Shopify’s easily-navigated, menu-driven design, personalizing your online store is as easy as clicking a few buttons. Plus, Shopify’s handy drag-and-drop sections allow for painless and quick organization of your content and design. Comparatively, because of Magento’s open-source coding, customization options are almost limitless. However, it takes time and programming expertise to configure these settings properly.

Design Theme Options

Shopify and Magento both have a large collection of themes, or templates, from which to choose when determining the appearance of your online store.

Focusing on optimized-for-mobile layouts, Shopify offers quite a selection of free and paid themes. Though the paid templates tend to start around the $80-mark, the free themes are usually a bit more streamlined and modern than the competitor.

On the other hand, Magento provides a variety of themes to work with, some of which are mobile-responsive. However, all of Magento’s themes can be updated and customized with a bit of back-end coding knowledge, including functionality for product sliders, animations, and newsletters. Magento’s paid templates start at a whopping $1.

Daily Operational Comparison

Though the initial set-up of your store is an important factor in choosing an eCommerce platform, consider carefully the benefits and drawbacks of Shopify’s and Magento’s daily operations. Doing so will help you determine which platform is best suited for your current and future company needs.

Basic eCommerce Usability

Shopify and Magento both offer the common, necessary eCommerce features and available customizations for shopping carts, checkout modules, item pages, and product collections - just to name a few.

However, the differences of each platform are made apparent in the ease of extending the user-experience on a more detailed level. Though both eCommerce platforms boast a well-designed, intentional interface, Shopify tends to focus on ease-of-use, while Magento excels in customization.

For example, Shopify features a simple, built-in blogging function, while Magento requires personalized coding in order to do so. Though, customized code consequently offers the opportunity for the implementation of countless intermediate and advanced UX and UI personalizations.


Thankfully, both Shopify and Magento can handle an unlimited amount of products, so you can add as many items to your store as you please. However, depending upon your hosting provider, loading speeds may become an issue with the addition of products to your Magento store. If you’re familiar with servers, this may not cause too much of a headache. Conversely, since Shopify is a fully-hosted solution, you will never run into reduced speeds or website crashes.

Depending on your niche, dropshipping may be on your radar. If that is the case, be sure to consider the fact that Shopify offers direct integration to dropshipping inventory applications, like Oberlo. This partnership could prove to be extremely helpful if you decide to sell products without personally stocking them.


eCommerce apps allow you to streamline your CMS, add membership plugins, implement countdown timers or cart abandonment pop-ups, highlight social buttons, and more. Shopify and Magento both offer a wide variety of free and paid applications, available at roughly the click of a button, to further customers down the sales funnel and retain more shoppers than ever before.

The Shopify app store features an assortment of programs, carefully vetted for security and performance. You can browse with confidence, knowing you’ll only be adding the best of the best to your site.

Offering app store real-estate to anyone in the community, Magento boasts a massive selection of applications to elevate your store’s performance. However, select apps carefully, since anyone, expert or not, can add to the selection of extensions.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It simply wouldn’t be a proper eCommerce comparison without touching on one of the most important aspects of online growth: SEO. Considering how critical of a role proper search engine optimization plays in eCommerce success, Shopify and Magento both adequately optimize your store for search engine ranking. The platforms score almost equally in regards to SEO capabilities.

Customer Payment Processes With Shopify & Magento

As an entrepreneur, it’s essential to please your customers if you want them to shop with you again. Consider carefully the discounts and payment options available with each platform, before choosing which best suits your needs.

Coupons & Discounts

Out of Shopify’s four available programs, users can offer coupon codes and discounts with the Basic, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans. However, on the Lite plan, offering discounts and coupons is not an available option. As a free, open-source program, Magento always allows you to utilize discounts and coupon codes.

Payments & Shipping Calculation

Shopify and Magento both offer flexible and powerful options for calculating shipping charges. However, where they differ is in the variety of payment options and related fees.

At first glance, Magento appears to support less payment gateways, but does offer the option to add more with available third-party apps. Magento also supports all of the major payment processors, including multiple languages for optimal international commerce.

On the other hand, Shopify boasts 0% transaction fees for any purchase completed using their namesake payment gateway. However, you also have the option to implement over 100 additional payment gateways, like PayPal or Amazon Pay, but it will cost you a small transaction fee. You can find a breakdown of the transaction fees for non-Shopify gateway purchases per plan below.

Shopify vs. Magento: Business-Side Investment and Fees

Calculate the cost of doing business with Shopify and Magento to see which platform makes the most sense for your company. Both platforms offer a high-level paid version for enterprise companies doing thousands of dollars of business per month, but we will focus on the options for small- to mid-sized online stores.


As a commercial program, Shopify costs a fee per month, depending upon which plan you choose:

  • Lite Plan: $9/month (2% third-party gateway transaction fee)
  • Basic Plan: $29/month (2% third-party gateway transaction fee)
  • Shopify Plan: $79/month (1% third-party gateway transaction fee)
  • Advanced Shopify Plan: $299/month (.5% third-party gateway transaction fee)

However, keep in mind that there are no transaction fees on Shopify’s own payment gateway. Plus, Shopify never charges any start-up fees, hosting fees, or bandwidth fees on any of its plans.


Magento, as an open-source program, is free and available to anyone. However, in order for your Magento store to operate, other fees vary and may include:

  • Third-party hosting, which can range from a few to hundreds of dollars per month
  • Bandwidth fees may apply, depending upon your hosting provider
  • Transaction fees vary based upon your choice of gateway provider
  • An hourly fee applies for consulting or hired-developer/coding assistance

Shopify vs. Magento: Which Is Best For You?

No matter which platform ultimately ends up best for your company, be assured you are not alone in your eCommerce journey. Shopify and Magento both have a proven, loyal-fan base, waiting to welcome you into the folds. Plus, the large communities of users are ready to offer necessary support and assistance whenever you may need it.

If you’re still not sure which platform is best for your online business, or if you have questions not covered in this post, feel free to chat with one of our eCommerce experts today.