Magento 2.0 VS. Shopify Plus- Which One Is Right For You

Choosing an online channel can be a difficult task, especially when there are so many options available. This can be confusing especially for a retailer who isn’t sure what features they want from their e-commerce stores. Both Shopify and Magento are really popular with huge customer bases. But, which one is right for you?

While both have their strengths and weaknesses, it becomes quite challenging for a merchant to choose from the best one amongst the two. Compare and contrast both choices to help you decide which is best for your store.  

Based on two principles, the e-commerce software may be a downloadable option or a SaaS option, which is when the provider hosts the whole thing for your online store. Magento 2.0 is from the downloadable group, while Shopify Plus is from the SaaS group. 

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows entrepreneurs of all sizes, whether you’re starting up at home or you’re an entrepreneur that works inside of a Fortune 500 company, to start a store, run a store, manage an online store selling products locally and globally. It’s the backend that powers all that capability, and Shopify Plus is then the enterprise version. It was started to help entrepreneurs start companies and grow those companies. Shopify Plus allows them to grow larger and allows large brands to also run global e-commerce capabilities on Shopify.

Shopify Plus has customers in 170 countries, including San Francisco, USA. It has customers all over the world, which is fascinating because commerce and retail is different in geographic regions. Consumers these days want a relationship with the products that they buy and the manufacturers that make them. Shopify Plus allows you as the manufacturer and maker to have a one-on-one relationship with your consumer.

Technical Know-How

Shopify is definitely the most technical friendly. As you really won’t have to do any development work if you don’t want. It’s completely a plug-and-play solution. Shopify offers it users a great deal of freedom to customize their stores and really get across their personalities and branding. You don’t need to be a design wizard to create a great looking store and there’s a huge amount of support available if you need any help. There’s an extensive catalog of apps and add-ons that you can choose from, to add more features and functionality to your sites or to help with other aspects of running your business.

Magento 2.0 is an e-commerce platform that is downloaded to your local machine and is hosted on your own server infrastructure. It’s going to require you a good bit of time and technical know-how in order to setup, configure, build, or run.

Ease Of Use

Easy to use? Is that as important to the enterprise customer? It’s probably more important to the enterprise customer. Their history with software is not good. Companies out there who sell large, big-ticket items take forever to implement and are a pain to try and manage. So, it’s probably more valuable that it’s easy to use for the enterprise than the entrepreneur.

The nice part about what Shopify does is it lets you own a store and lets you control the store. You’re not putting your products on and then it’ll sell them for you. You’re putting it on your own website and sell it yourself. So, you get to decide how it looks, functions, and feels. You can tailor it to the experience of your local region. It’s a very powerful software that’s very easy to use. Shopify Plus has given people what has been very expensive capabilities, very cost effectively and easy to use.


Magento themes come quite customizable, though with a developer expertise needed in most cases. Magento does offer quite a vast selection of themes as others have pointed out. But generally, they are heavy e-commerce store-styled. They are very classic as a whole, offering robustness in the menu bars and navigation.

Shopify themes are primarily made from developers in the Shopify community, and put for sale in the theme library. Cheap free themes are available, and will give you most of the essentials, but lack in giving your site a real pop. Premium themes are usually at $140 to $180, and have differences in the customization. Generally speaking, Shopify themes are fully customizable, should you mess around enough in the developer window, but overall stock themes are nicer than the Magento themes.

Marketing & SEO Effectiveness  

So, what exactly makes Shopify popular with its users? There’s a wide variety of themes to choose from so you can make your store look professional. You also have access to the HTML and CSS of your store. You can customize it in whatever way you want, providing you have the capabilities to do so. You get your own blog, which has some built-in SEO capabilities. The shopping cart is very secure with automatic carrier shipping rates. Shopify also offers abandoned checkout recovery and automatically emails any prospective customers with a link to their abandoned shopping carts, encouraging them to complete their purchase.

There is a customer profile feature which allows you to get to know more about your customers and their shopping habits. It is a great feature for customer understanding and tailored marketing so you can push your products on people who are more likely to buy them. Customers are able to create their accounts at the checkouts which encourages repeat custom. Your customers can also checkout as a guest without creating an account so there’s a less chance of frustrated customers abandoning their carts. There’s nothing more customers hate than a lengthy signup process or checkout which involves more than one or two steps.

Shops are search engine optimized. There’s an email marketing platform and your shop will have integrations with all the leading social media sites to cover your social media marketing basis. There are plenty of integrations to choose from, plus software available to help with your integration. You can sell digital products like mp3s and e-books. There’s an analytics tool which gives you reports on sales figures, orders, and traffic. It helps you gain an insight into your store’s growth. you can see which products are selling and which ones aren’t.

Magento, on the other hand, is a non-hosted, open solution. Its ability to customize and tweak your SEO strategy is much more promising. Since Magento will let you get into the structure of the site, you will be able to customize how the links show for inventory items for example. You can also of course edit the meta content, and implement your on page strategy easily within Magento. Perhaps where Magento becomes much handier is in the redirects, no follow, and canonical settings which are customize-able within the configuration file for Magento.

Inventory Channel Capability

If you’ve been paying attention to Shopify at all, you know they are making it as easy as possible to sell across many channels. Their big push has been to sell on Facebook with the Shopify Facebook App. In addition, they do offer capabilities to sell on other platforms, though any platforms outside of the mainstream ones like Facebook, Twitter, Houze, Wanelo, and Pinterest are not incorporated.

For the physical retailers, Shopify does offer a nice point of sale solution, which will connect your online inventory to your offline inventory. For smaller store chains, or boutiques, this may be a great option, though keep in mind processing fees will be around 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. This may be a feasible option, but also check with Square first before going all in on Shopify. Additionally, Shopify will limit you significantly if you were planning to sell across Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, and others. You will not be able to go outside of the Shopify platform, though there are extensions to sell through most of the major platforms out there.

While Shopify does offer in some cases easier integration with the largest channels, Magento offers true customization so you can integrate with whichever channel partner you see fit. This will however require a good amount of agency or third party time to achieve, unless you utilize an extension, of which there are many to help you sell through various channels. Magento is able to integrate with several POS providers, which you will have to do your own homework on before using them. When you get up into the pro league, Magento Enterprise allows custom integrations and full scale customer data integration to deliver personalized offers based on purchase history, or flash sale offers, and even multi-location pricing differentials. This is certainly the option to go with if having complete control over where your inventory is distributed to.


Inventory Management

Meant for the small to medium sized retailers, Shopify has a simple to use inventory interface, which will give you clear access to add items. Importing items utilizes Shopify’s excel sheet, which can be filled out and uploaded within the platform itself. It really is a pretty standard platform from this respect. Shopify does offer inventory extensions as well, which can provide things like flash sales, club discounts, etc. But it will not offer full customization like a Magento inventory can, simply because of open source access.

In the stock community version, there is a basic inventory upload inventory via CSV as well. This makes them equal in this respect. But, where Magento stands out, is their ability to extend the inventory so it matches inventory levels at the store location. This makes true omni channel capabilities much easier, and allows you to show available inventory at a store location. This may involve more management, but it does offer customers major benefits. Magento will let you customize the products color, sizing, and other variations directly within the CSV file itself, which makes it easier to update. Additionally, Magento will give you plenty of options to integrate with third party services for distribution across a wider potential network than Shopify might offer.


In-Store Usefulness

Touted as the easiest way to create your online store, this is the primary use case for this platform. Though it can be used to support a smaller retail chain or mom and pop store, it may lack in features for a robust retailer operating many stores. This may be overcome in the future, but the restrictions are there. You won’t have as much in store return capability, and multi store sales management is only an upgraded feature within the platform. The point of sale itself is rather simplistic. It will offer small stores a convenient and easy way to checkout customers. So if this is the goal, go for it!

In this case Magento is more of an original retailer’s software. This means it has generally been built more with the retailers in mind who operate a physical presence as well. The community edition of Magento will allow you most functionality you would need to integrate your in-store POS and manage in store purchases right from within the platform, giving it a omni channel edge. When you get to Magento Enterprise edition, there is full multi store support, and the ability to customize the offerings at each store, pricing, and discounts available, as well as easy sync across the multitude of channels you need 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 has the lowest $9 per month option. It is if you already have a site and will want to utilize Shopify’s buy now buttons, or create a Facebook store. This can be a good option, but really limits the functionality and won’t scale for crap unless you upgrade.

Community edition is FREE, but requires technical setup. As you scale and need more, the enterprise edition starts at $18,000 a year but you will need to provide hosting, which will add significant costs at this scale, perhaps double the licensing cost. Both platforms will also charge a payment processing fee, which can be reduced with volume. Also, the product support for Magento is quite expensive because developers and consultant charge handsomely for Magento. In addition, Magento forum support is not what you’d expect it to be. Official support forum of Magento is overrun with spam because of the lack of organized monitoring. This is one of the downsides of choosing Magento.

Time Investment Required

Shopify is certainly the less time consuming option, simply because the infrastructure side is already taken care of in this situation. This setup is convenient in the user experience, and actually provides a simple way to accomplish most changes right within the main interface application. For non techies, this will feel like most other website builders after a day of two of use.

Magento has a slow loading time. Therefore, customizations are pretty difficult to make, in comparison to other e-commerce platforms.  It is also not easy to switch from another e-commerce platform to Magento because it imports the data at a very slow rate.

One reason behind this slow loading is due to its flexible architecture, which makes it complex and time-consuming to set it up. However, this is highly debated because only community version of Magento is slow at loading. In contrast, the enterprise and premium enterprise versions are quite fast.

Now, these are two big capable platforms which offer pretty different features. So, it should be an easy decision to make.  if you are a Shopify Plus merchant, there’s a dedicated Shopify expert that will really go the extra mile to help or create a fix for you. A Shopify expert will do a good job making sure that you are taken care of to the best of their ability and frequently work with engineers for quick fixes to common problems.

Mat Mullen