Magento or Shopify: Which One Is The Bespoke Platform For You? - Productimize

Stature of e-Commerce

With the e-Commerce medium ruling the global commodity sales to over $2.5 trillions, also accounting to 10% of total retail sales, having a well-maintained, uniquely designed, and user-friendly eCommerce website is not an advantage anymore but a mandatory necessity. Only a healthy website could help the customers to purchase the right thing they are looking for, thereby achieving higher conversion rates.

Why e-Commerce Platforms?

All that said, implementing an e-commerce website in-house from the scratch is definitely a gargantuan, at the same time cumbersome, task. It asks for sound technical knowledge, round-the-clock maintenance and a lot more responsibilities; however, e-Commerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce and SAP Hybris have paved easier way for companies to get their stamping on to online sales. More the opportunities to choose from, more the confusions and dilemma arise on what to choose.

This article is confined to the boundaries of Shopify and Magento platforms, considering the length and readability. Subscribe to our blogs and it’s highly likely that you’d see a blog on BigCommerce and SAP Hybris in coming weeks.  

A dilemma

These days a lot of merchants move from Shopify to Magento and vice versa, because they think Magento is an upgrade to Shopify or otherwise. Contrary to this belief, Magento isn’t really an “upgrade” to Shopify, but just another platform pretty much different from Shopify and it caters to rather different group of companies/merchants. The responsibility could be handed over to  the technical architects and business team where they could come up with discussions and brainstorming sessions on which platform suits best for the companies’ need or outlined requirements.

To whom does Shopify suit better?

If ease of use and efficiency is of paramount importance to your organization, then Shopify would be the better choice as it doesn’t require much coding/customization. All you need to do is input the product simply, and it’s automatically available for sale on your website. It’s a cinch; however, you’ll only have little control over the aesthetics, and if the Shopify servers go down due to some environmental issue, you wouldn’t have any control over the website. That said, Shopify suits best for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Note that Shopify’s Achilles heel is localization. Enabling multilingual and multi-site business becomes cumbersome, whereas Magento provides a list of tools to handle this very requirement.

To whom does Magento suit better?

If flexibility and ownership are more important to you, then Magento would be the better choice as you’d have more options for customizing the system/backend in a desired way, and thus a complete control of the site. The drawback here is, if you aren’t technically sound, maintaining the site would be practically impossible, because there would a plethora of codings/software tweaks to deal with. Magento is entitled for enterprise applications with a powerful framework and wide range of plugins (free as well as paid). Magento is perfect for grand stores handling multiple transactions with tons of products and huge turnovers. There is, of course, Shopify Plus to complete, but it’s quite expensive and, as a hosted cart, it still has limited customization opportunities.

Magento will pose a lot of challenges, but we’ll have to either master our tech skills, by a lot, or build a strong team with more experienced professionals. Unless you have a Magento enterprise edition, hosting, security, performance and page response time will all become a pool of responsibilities to take care of.

Category-wise differences

I hope this gives you a basic idea of what Shopify and Magento are and whom do they cater to. In the following sections, I’ve tried to categorize both these platforms under different scenarios, for better understanding. Read along and you’d not regret it whatsoever.

Technical Challenge

After working with dozens of retailers, certainly one of the biggest concerns with a website is the technical know-how required to operate it. Most smaller retailers and even mid-size retailers don’t have a full-time technical developer to create/manage the site.

Over the past years, I’ve worked with many e-commerce customers and implemented tons of modules/features in both B2C and B2B. What I did infer is: Operating and managing an e-commerce store is the gargantuan concern. Small- and mid-size retailers usually don’t have a technical team to manage things. Let’s compare how Shopify and Magento address this concern.

Shopify is technically friendly, and it doesn’t require much technical knowledge. Most of the features come with out of the box and there would be zero necessity to implement complex features. Shopify is a complete plug-and-play solution, and this will require only minimal knowledge in e-commerce that too to choose the right theme for your store. Managing the content and other stuff is rather simple. Shopify being a hosted platform doesn’t ask for server files though we have a connected domain. It’s important to point out that Shopify uses properiarity  .liquid framework, so when the site is up and running, it’s possible to simultaneously begin customizing the look and feel, of course with a little developer know-how. A little patience, well-read online tutorials and a bit technical knowledge is pretty much enough to build a user-friendly, brand-image-retaining website. This will potentially save a lot of money and time, indeed.

Magento has two editions: Magento Community and Magento Enterprise. You could download Magento Community edition and host it on your own IT infrastructure. However, this requires a plethora of time and technical expertise, to configure, setup, and run the website. This will require a full-time developer to setup and implement the website which might end up in the ballpark of $5000-$10,000 or more depending on the customization and infrastructure. Magento enterprise edition is bit more expensive and will cost $18,000(approx) per year. Nevertheless, Enterprise Edition will give us complete control and grip over store credit, advanced return management, custom admin management, and in-depth product management/customization. Though it seems simpler, extensive development expertise is needed to deliver full-scale customization, in the case you need a  unique storefront.

Friendly UI Design

This category of comparison is primarily concerned with overall ability to match the theme with your brand, and has less of a direct effect on Return on Investment (ROI).

Shopify themes are primarily designed/developed by the developer community and sold in the theme library.  Mostly you can get lots of free themes, and it will give most of the essential features out of box. Furthermore, Shopify themes are fully customizable.

Magento themes are quite customizable, however a developer expertise is much needed often. Magento has a colossal developer community and they’ve built so many themes for various industries like healthcare, fashion, Jewellery, etc. Nonetheless, most of the themes are styled heavy offering a classic, robust eCommerce store, which perhaps feel lacking intuitiveness and immersiveness.

Marketing/Search Engine Optimization

This crucial component must take into account both the factors: one that comes within the software as well as the ability for the marketer to actually use and adjust the content of the site to better reflect updated SEO and marketing practices. Again here, we need maximum ROI from the marketing efforts through the software and operator.

Shopify comes with pretty good SEO functionality with them. It gives the ability to edit meta tags and necessary SEO console tags, and allows placing the inventory in an SEO friendly way within the browser. However, you might still need to edit the website’s file structure, so it is easier for the search crawlers to understand the content. Shopify offers appreciable optimization for the site content, but that’s only surface level concerning the overall SEO possibilities. Few of the limitations are:  since the website is hosted on Shopify’s server, there’d be no configuration possibilities there; the software has its “own boundaries” refraining the administrator from editing the core pieces of our site, which, in turn, results in better SEO.

Magento is a self-hosted, open-source platform, thus the ability to customize and tweak your SEO strategy is much more promising. You can edit the meta content and implement our on page-wise strategy easily within Magento. Perhaps where Magento becomes much handier is in the redirects, no-follow, and canonical settings, all of which are customizable within the configuration file.

Inventory Management

Each platform is unique and ultimately each will get you where you want to be but in rather different ways. For adding and maintaining inventory, both platforms offer importing of inventory, simple categorizing, sub-categorizing, variations, and pricing differences; however, one of the important things we need to improve is the integration of existing inventory systems with systems that go across any platform via REST API. This is a bit of a technical, option, but it is still far easier than you wonder, and more effective than replacing everything to achieve results.

Shopify is, generally, meant for the small- and medium-sized retailers, and has a simplified user interface, which will give us clear access to add items. Importing items utilizes an excel sheet, which can be filled out and uploaded to the platform itself (of course, the format will be provided by Shopify). Shopify does offer inventory extensions as well, which can provide things like flash sales, club discounts etc., but full customization like in a Magento inventory is challenging and it’s actually because of the open source access.

Magento- In the stock community edition, there is a basic inventory where you could add items by uploading a CSV file. However, Magento stands out in its ability to extend the inventory module so it matches inventory levels at the store location. This makes omni-channel capabilities much easier. This might involve extensive management, but it does offer major benefits to the customers. Magento lets you to customize the color, sizing, and other parameters of the product directly within the CSV file, thus making the job easier. Additionally, Magento gives you a plenty of options to integrate with third-party services for distribution across a wider potential network than Shopify might offer.

In-Store Usefulness

While both platforms do offer integrations with Point-of-Sale (POS) providers and card swipers. They differ on in-store purchases.

Shopify, touted as the easiest way to “Create your online store”, can be used to support a smaller retail chain or mom-and-pop store, but it may lack in features for a robust retailer operating multiple stores simultaneously. This perhaps could be enhanced in the future, but the restrictions are there now. We won’t have as much in-store return capability, and multi-store sales management is only an upgraded feature of the platform. The POS itself is rather simplistic offering a convenient and easy way to checkout customers, whereas when things get complex things do turn around in the wrong way. So if this is the goal is small and tangible, go for shopify!

Magento is more of an original retailer’s software. It is ideally built having retailers in mind who may or may not have a physical presence as well. The community edition of Magento offers as many functionalities as needed to integrate an in-store POS and manage in-store purchases right within the platform, giving it an omnichannel edge. Nonetheless Magento Enterprise Edition offers full multi-store support, ability to customize the offerings at each store say pricing and discounts available, and easy sync across the multitude of channels where you wish to sell through. Keep in mind that while this is certainly possible, and more customizable than Shopify, it will take quite a bit of technical capability or third-party help to make it a reality.


Shopify offers both monthly and yearly subscription. You can upgrade or downgrade your plan anytime, without any additional cost. This can be a good option, but it really limits the functionality and won’t suffice the scale-up unless you upgrade.

Here’s a breakdown of the pricing for each plan:

Lite Plan – $9 per month + a Buy button

Basic Shopify Plan – $29 per month + 2.9% and 30¢ per transaction

Shopify Plan- $79 per month + 2.6% and 30¢ per transaction

Advanced Shopify Plan – $299 per month + 2.4% and 30¢ per transaction

Magento- The Community edition is FREE, of course, nothing beats free, but requires technical setup. If you are an enterprise and running more sales with more products you may choose the Enterprise edition starting at $18,000 a year(approx). Even here, the hosting, implementation and, security stuff will add significant costs at this scale.


It is certainly something one should pay attention to. While e-Commerce could be a big part of your business, you still want to be sure the use of the platform isn’t zapping more time than it should.

Shopify- Since hosting is already done in the cloud, setting up a shopify-powered store won’t take more than couple of weeks. The setup is convenient and once done the administration console offers unimaginable user-experience. Even a non-technical person, with sheer interest and motive, can learn the in-and-outs in couple of days.

Magento- The development, hosting and implementation might well swallow months depending of the complexity of the design. When it comes to navigating the backend, Magento takes up some time to learn. Once you’d achieved the slim learning curve, there shouldn’t be any problem in administering the console.


While each of these platforms offer some things the other doesn’t, it really depends on where we are now, where we intend to be, and how we want to get there. If you’ve got some technical personnel, or hoping to hire, Magento perhaps is your cup of tea. If you’re smaller and want something like a plug-and-play, Shopify is probably a better fit. You might want to consider growth as well, if it’s in the cards, strive for a more customizable, multi-location platform like Magento. The ROI will be bigger here and it leverages more complex features to increase shopper frequency and average order value.

Though quite long, hope the above article gives you come clarity about what e-Commerce platforms are and which might suit your need better.

Mohan Natarajan

Mohan Natarajan

Mohan heads the Magento Extensions business at DCKAP. Within a span of 7 years, Mohan has acquired all four Magento Certificates and offers impeccable knowledge in the Magento platform, and has evolved as a Solution Architect, developing a handful of Magento Extensions for numerous B2B customers. Loves to surf and play Table Tennis, when not working in Magento projects and managing DCKAP Store.

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
Meshur AhirAlex Morco Recent comment authors
Alex Morco
Alex Morco

Thanks for sharing, I am using Magento which is hosted with cloudways Magento hosting and installing Magento and themes are very easy thought their managed platform., I would like you to review them and write something about their platform.

Meshur Ahir
Meshur Ahir

Great post! Thanks for Sharing…Nothing can beat Magento when it comes to E-commerce store development.
I would always Prefer Magento For E-commerce Development.
You can Know More about Magento here: