In today’s post, we’re reviewing two of the most popular e-commerce platforms available – Magento (or Adobe Commerce) vs Shopify.
When researching this topic we found a lot of other blogs really honed in on which platform the author or agency thought was ‘best’. Instead of following suit, we have written a more balanced review.
As with our WordPress vs Craft CMS blog, we’ve done this for two reasons:
- We always recommend the platform that is best suited for the client, as we don’t build with it we would never take on a project that would be better built with Magento. Instead, we’d refer you to a specialist Magento agency that would help you get the best out of the platform
- Each platform has its own pros and cons, depending on what type of business you have, so it doesn’t make sense to choose a favourite
When it comes to Magento vs Shopify, there is a clear difference between the two…
Magento (Adobe Commerce): a self-hosted, open-source platform designed to support larger, enterprise organisations with a huge portfolio of different products. You can get started for free however expect hosting costs each month. Our favourite hosting provider is Digital Ocean* – we use this hosting regularly with our clients for a reliable and quality service.
Shopify: a hosted platform designed to make getting started easy and user-friendly. Whilst great for small businesses, it can also handle the scale of much larger organisations with a high volume of sales. Monthly payments will include hosting costs, plugins and transaction fees.
Read on to find out about the differences in more detail, and which might be better for you…
To note – Magento was acquired by Adobe in 2018 and is now called Adobe Commerce. I’ll use both names interchangeably throughout the blog as many people still use the legacy name Magento – it is however the same software.
Magento vs Shopify: Costs
Let’s get to the price point straight away shall we 😉
Magento offers two options, firstly the free open-source version. Very accessible price-wise but has less support, features and functionality.
As Magento is designed to suit larger organisations, the pricing of ‘Adobe Commerce Enterprise Solution’ (that’s the official name) reflects that with an investment of around £19,000 per year ($22,000).
Hosting fees must also be considered. The price goes up as the site’s capabilities increase and more web processing is required.
And finally, if you want to get the most out of the platform it’s best to work with an experienced design and development agency, like the team at JH. Initial development costs could come in at around £50 – 70,000, so it’s a big investment upfront.
Shopify on the other hand has built huge success by enabling smaller businesses to get started and scale rapidly with more affordable prices, a fully managed solution and a user-friendly back end.
Prices start from £19 per month, however, can quickly increase with plugin and transaction fees. Shopify Plus users can expect to pay £2,000 monthly to receive more functionality, help and support.
We go into more details about the pricing of hosting your site with Shopify in this blog.
Businesses with around £1 million in revenue per year might look to get more out of their Shopify e-commerce site. For a Shopify site design and build you can look to invest between £25 – 35,000. In this blog, we deep dive into the price of building a WordPress website, but the process and prices are not dissimilar.
Magento vs Shopify: Hosting
As part of your monthly subscription, Shopify hosts your site. This is so convenient for small to medium-sized businesses as you don’t have to worry about all the technical side of things. Plus if you’re in the UK or US then servers are pretty speedy.
Unfortunately though if you wanted or needed to, there’s no flexibility to increase the size, speed or quality of your server.
Magento allows you to host your site wherever you choose, enabling you to switch and pick a faster, more powerful server should you need it.
Whilst this is super handy for flexibility and speed, resource-heavy, enterprise-grade e-commerce sites do need a powerful server and the price of this could add up!
Magento vs Shopify: Maintenance
One of the BEST selling points of Shopify is that the monthly costs include regular maintenance and updates to the site, functionality and plugins. This means you always have the latest version, bugs are fixed and you don’t have to worry about updating your site manually. You get less control but more peace of mind!
On the flip side, a negative of Magento is that every 6 – 7 years a full new version is released, for example, Magento 1.0 (2007), Magento 2.0 (2015) and Magento 3.0 (2021). For the best experience, it’s better to upgrade your website entirely with the new version. This does put people off using Magento.
Our advice is to update your site every 4 – 5 years anyway so it’s a great prompt to keep your online experience top-notch! The only time this could cause a serious problem is if your new site is built on Magento 2.9 for example and the new version, 3.0, is released just a year or so later…ouch.
Magento vs Shopify: Levels of support
With both options asking for £22-24,000 per year for their enterprise-level platforms you receive a very good level of help and support. At that price, you’d expect to, right?
On top of that, there’s a huge Magento community with more than 260,000 developers who are continually innovating and developing new functionality and features. The same goes for Shopify, however not quite at the same scale. As it’s not open-source there’s less opportunity for the community to develop new features but there are plenty of people out there willing to help you out.
Read more: How much do Shopify experts cost?
Magento vs Shopify: Customisation
The beauty of Magento is that you can customise your site entirely. With a great developer team, you can create bespoke experiences, sell complex configurable products and enable multiple different shopping experiences.
Plus, thanks to the recent acquisition you can integrate the site with the rest of the Adobe suite and a range of third-party digital tools.
Via the Adobe Marketplace, access over 3,600 plugins/extensions to help you manage payments, tax, shipping and more.
If you’ve got a less complex product or service offering then Shopify would be well suited! The platform offers a straightforward, clean and user-friendly interface for both customers and administrators. It’s not possible to customise some elements of the platform, such as the checkout process, because the company work to ensure that it converts well, for everyone.
There are plenty of plugins available on the Shopify Marketplace and we’ve worked closely with clients to build some high-converting e-commerce websites on Shopify – take X Rocker for example.
Magento vs Shopify: Content/Product Management
Magento’s legacy platform doesn’t offer the same, simple user experience in the back end as Shopify’s clean, straightforward admin panel.
Given that it’s possible to customise the site a lot and have many categories, the administration of the products and content can feel a bit more complex and confusing.
It’s pros and cons here though as whilst Shopify’s system is simple to use, it offers fewer customisation options meaning companies with many complex product offerings might have trouble categorising them easily.
Leading us nicely on to…
Where Magento really excels is the categorisation of product complex product sets. Take a desk, for example, there are many different specifications you might want to consider:
- Number of draws
- Standing manual
- Standing with motor
Each of these options is linked so you can filter and review all the different desks a company offers, each item is tagged and categorised to make the filtering process simple for someone who knows exactly what they want.
Fancy an example? Check out this link to Staples and click ‘filter’ to see all the options they offer!
Despite saying all this Shopify handles categorisation well too. There are many huge sites built on the platform, Gym Shark for example.
You can filter, sort and add swatches on Shopify too, so the best choice here really depends on the range of your products.
No modern-day website is complete without blog functionality. It’s a great way to engage users, rank via search and offer valuable, relevant content.
Great news, Shopify offers its own built-in blog. This enables users to easily upload content via the simple content management system. You can add plugins to increase functionality and improve the designs.
Magento does not have this feature built-in and during development a WordPress content management system must be added. Not ideal as the URL is only available via a sub-domain. This means there’s no guarantee that all your SEO ranking efforts will be transferred between your usual URL and the blog URL.
Magento vs Shopify: SEO
Speaking of search, Google LOVES a fast-loading site when it comes to SEO rankings!
Both platforms offer the ability to update alt tags, metadata and other on-site SEO best practices making them pretty equal players.
To help support speed goals, Magento offers the ability to integrate a Content Delivery Network (CDN), a server specifically designed to host and serve imagery on a site, fast. As with hosting you can choose which one you use.
Shopify users you’re also in luck as it too offers access to its own CDN. As with all the back-end functionality, Shopify keeps it simple so you won’t even know this exists, you can just reap the rewards!
Conclusion: Magento vs Shopify
Hopefully, the comparison is pretty straightforward. Shopify is best suited for businesses with a straightforward e-commerce proposition; a select group of products and a conversion-focused checkout.
Magento (Adobe Commerce) is built for enterprise-grade sites that have many many products, require much more customisation and want a personalised user journey throughout the website.
As mentioned we don’t work with Magento, however, if you’re a medium-sized business looking to improve the conversion rate of your Shopify store then you’re in the right place. Our clients typically see returns on their new, conversion-led sites in just 3 months.
Fill in our Project Planner and we’ll see what we can do!
For Magento builds check out specialist agency JH.
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