Shopify vs. Magento: The Battle of the eCommerce Platform Giants

man choosing which door open

Let’s get ready to rumble! In one corner of the ring, standing at 2,000 employees and over 500,000 businesses, it’s the crowned king of the eCommerce world — Shopify! In the other corner, Shopify‘s OSS competitor stands at an impressive 250,000 companies and is the current runner-up in the world of online stores — it’s Magento!

Today we’re going to put these two cornerstones of eCommerce to the test. Let’s take a look at both of them and see how they stack up against each other. Who’s going to win the heavyweight championship belt of eCommerce solutions? Let’s find out!

On a more serious note, we obviously prefer Shopify. We’re certified Shopify partners and we develop beautiful websites for businesses powered by Shopify.

But, we don’t just prefer Shopify blindly.

When we created our business, we positioned ourselves with Shopify because we really believe that it’s the best eCommerce platform currently available. We hope that this post will help illustrate why Shopify is our top pick — no offense Magento.

The Key Differences in Shopify vs. Magento

The most striking difference between Magento and Shopify is the closed-source vs. open-source software debate. Magento boasts a fully open-source platform and Shopify is closed-source.

This means that anyone can create plugins and Magento elements, while only a few hand-selected developers can create Shopify addons.

This open vs. closed source platform debate has a direct influence on the prices, scalability, and adaptability of both platforms. We find that Shopify‘s closed-source nature has created a more stable, scalable, secure, and ultimately cheaper platform than Magento.

The other huge difference is that Magento is simply a framework. Shopify is the entire eCommerce solution.

To do this comparison, we’re going to go over 7 factors that we consider critical to the overall success of online businesses. These are: scalability, cost, design, security, SEO, PoS, and, of course, your time investment.

#1 Scalability

“It’s better to have infinite scalability and not need it, than to need infinite scalability and not have it.” – @littleidea

The biggest mistake that a business can make, especially in its earlier growth phases, is to ignore scalability. Sure, it may not be the most exciting thing to think about, but it can quickly become a time (and money) sink relatively early during your business’s growth.


With Shopify, scalability is simple. You purchase a bigger package. It’s point-and-click scaling. So, you don’t have to build the architecture, and you don’t have to worry about dealing with hosting solutions.


With Magento, it’s a little tougher. Since Magento is free (on the surface), you will have to host your site. This means that scaling becomes a matter of architecture.

You will have to make sure that you adapt to your growth. If you see peak traffic, you may have to move your website over to another server or switch hosts. This complexity will almost certainly require you to hire someone to handle scalability directly.

When scalability becomes your issue, it can quickly become one of the most complex issues that you’re dealing with. The very last thing that you want is to lose sales because of queues, lag, or downtime.

The Winner?

Shopify is a clear winner in this category. Not only is Shopify‘s scalability most likely cheaper (more on that next) it’s also easy, which, for most business owners, comes as a relief. After all, the last thing you want to be thinking about is server structures when you’re trying to build a brand.

#2 Cost

We all know that cost is the pain point that unites growing businesses with well-established ones. So, naturally, it’s essential to factor cost into our analysis.


Luckily, Shopify has a tiered pricing system. It ranges from $30/mo to $299/mo and is entirely scalable with your business. Remember, these upfront costs should be the only costs associated with your site beyond design and SEO. So, when we look at the big picture, we can say that a well-oiled Shopify site should cost a small-to-medium sized business around $299/mo (before apps and themes.)


Now, Magento, on the other hand, gets a little complex when it comes to pricing. Magento’s platform is completely free. This means that installing Magento on your server costs relatively little — it depends on whether or not you hire someone to set it up.

But, once we get past the initial setup, there’s still a ton of missing features that you’re going to have to address. Magento is very basic, but it lives and dies by its extensions, which vary in cost and implementation.

Of course, you also have the hidden server costs. Since Magento simply provides the software, you’ll have to scout out the hardware to support it. Again, you’ll have to figure scaling into your costs. For small-to-medium sized businesses, you should expect to pay at least $50/mo, much more if you want a dedicated server.

The Winner?

In the end, Shopify easily takes the cake here. In fact, you will end up paying much more for Magento if you want to match some of Shopify‘s features using extensions.

For example, Shopify natively offers over 70 payment gateways. Magento, which offers very few initially, may require some hefty investment (and time) to set up a few. To use a payment system like Stripe on Magento’s platform, you’re looking at installing a $349.00 extension.

Then, you have to take into account scalability, security, and your overall architecture.

Remember, Magento is just an eCommerce framework. You’ll have to set it up on a server, hire a team who can scale and adapt the site to your needs, and pay for extensions to create a fluid eCommerce environment.

It’s also important to note that only basic Magento is free, enterprise edition starts at $22,000 annually. And — this only includes the architecture. Keep in mind that both Magento and Shopify will require up-front design costs.

#3 Security

Seeing as how the average cost of a Malware attack is $2.4 million43% of small businesses are targeted by cyber attacks, and the average small business target by a cyber attack goes out of business within 6 months, cybersecurity is a very big deal.


Since Shopify is closed-source, security concerns are all-but negated. Instead of letting anyone (and everyone) peek into its framework, Shopify is only controlled by, well, Shopify.

So, Shopify has its own security team and is PCI DDS compliant. This means that you don’t have to worry about your customer’s credit card information, because you don’t get to touch it.


When it comes to cybersecurity, Magento is far from a superstar. In fact, 85% of all compromised eCommerce sites use Magento. So, if you’re planning on using Magento, plan on getting security.

Unfortunately, cybersecurity isn’t cheap. The most basic plans for Magento run in the $100/mo range for most of the major companies that cater to Magento securities.

Note: It’s important to understand that you are responsible for storing your customer’s CC information on Magento. So, you need to have adequate security measures in place. For Shopify users, you don’t have to worry, Shopify stores that for you.

The Winner?

Shopify easily wins in the security comparison. Magento has clear security issues, and with stats showing that 62% of Magento stores have at least one vulnerability, it’s easy to see why Magento cybersecurity is big business. This is another one of those hidden Magento costs that quickly add up.


woman doing a conceptual map in a blackboard


#4 SEO/Marketing

Search engine optimization is the lifeblood of any modern digitally-driven commerce site. So, it only makes sense to include it on our list of comparisons.

Shopify & Magento

Both Shopify and Magento have plenty of SEO capabilities. Both of them have premium extensions, expert web designers (though not quite as good as us) and plenty of agencies catering to SEO needs.

The real toss up comes to how easy SEO strategies are to implement on each platform. With Shopify, SEO is built in. As in, most of the SEO options are auto-populated and easily generated. With Magento, you’re going to have to do more manual SEO (Alt tags, URLs, etc.)

With Shopify, there are also a ton of marketing solutions available immediately. You can integrate your store with abandon cart emails, create targeted and segmented email campaigns, and point-and-click integrate critical marketing solutions.

The Winner?

It’s a tie! Here’s a great post detailing why. In the end, it comes down to how involved you want to be in your SEO efforts. Shopify is a little less involved, but both platforms are manageable.

#5 Point of Sale

Both PoS and store fulfillment are critical issues for any business that wants to utilize eCommerce. PoS will dictate when and where customers can access your inventory, and store fulfillment will make sure that your inventory is accessible across all shopping channels. So, let’s take a look at how easy setting up your PoS and store fulfillment options are in Shopify and Magento


With Shopify, you have lots of eCommerce tools right at your fingertips. First, Shopify has an app store filled with professional tools that will assist you in setting up a coherent and inclusive customer experience. With tools like ZapietPixel Union, and Scout, you can set up in-store fulfillment, multiple sales channels, sales, discounts, and deliver plenty of PoS options.


Like Shopify, Magento has plenty of 3rd party extensions that you can use to set up complex PoS systems and store fulfillment options. However, it’s critical to note that you should absolutely be wary when browsing Magento’s extension store. Since anyone can publish Magento extensions, there are ongoing vulnerabilities to be aware of. Make sure that you thoroughly research each and every extension before using them.

The Winner?

We’re going to call this one a tie. We think (know) that Shopify‘s apps are safer than Magento’s extension as a whole, but there are plenty of safe Magento options. Both platforms can be set up to deliver all of your critical PoS needs.

#6 Design

Here we go! The moment we’ve all (mostly us) have been waiting for! The design elements. Let’s dive in.


Let’s get this out of the way: Shopify has better themes than Magento. Sure, Magento has more themes than Shopify, but this is an area where more isn’t necessarily better.

Here at Future Holidays, we are obsessed with Shopify‘s UX. It’s clean, professional, easy-to-install, and you can thematically present branding elements that are hyper-relevant and beautiful. Shopify provides themes that work amazingly well as a framework for us to produce high-quality, custom-branded, sites for our clients.

Integrating in-store features with rich design is an area that Shopify excels at, and we believe it’s the reason that Shopify is the eCommerce leader.

Shopify integrates with clean design so spectacularly that it’s almost impossible for a design company to deliver an end-product that doesn’t make your brand pop! If you need any more proof, check this outWow! Whoever designed these sites must be design geniuses! 😉 eh?


To be fair, Magento does offer some impressive themes in its catalog. But, not only is branding on Magento more difficult, installing the theme is a pain. Since the installation and modification of Magento themes is such a hassle, changing design elements (especially UX) is dreadfully difficult.

You also have to take into account the fact that Magento wasn’t designed with aesthetics in mind. It’s simply the framework for an eCommerce solution — not a platform that drives eCommerce.

The Winner?

Surprise! It’s Shopify! This one isn’t even close. Shopify was created with themes and store conversions in mind. The back-end UX and front-end design elements work together fluidly. We have built some breathtaking websites thanks to Shopify, and we’ll continue to build more for years to come!

#7 Time Investment

When your business is looking for an eCommerce platform, one of the first things that you’ll be thinking of is your time investment. How long until you can get your website off of the ground? Let’s see!


Setting up a Shopify site is insanely easy. It’s point-and-click. Sure, there are some after concerns such as design and PoS that you will have to address soon after setup. But, the actual act of creating a Shopify website requires a minuscule amount of time.


Setting a Magento site up, on the other hand, can be a time-sink. First, you’ll have to find a host, install the framework, hire someone to set up your website, find all of the extensions that you need, scout cybersecurity elements, and make sure that your products are accurately integrated manually.

Not only is the initial setup more time consuming, but you also have to tweak and reconfigure your site manually. Want to change a UX element, extension, products, PoS, etc.? Expect to spend a significant amount of time with each.

The Winner?

Shopify by a long shot. This isn’t even a fair category, honestly. Shopify is so much easier to set up and integrate that you can handle everything but the design in a lunch break.


It’s the final round and Magento is looking worn out! Bam! Shopify hits Magento with its hyper-scalable infrastructure.

Oh no! Another hit by Shopify! This time it’s using its patented security elements! Oh no! Shopify hits Magento with ease-of-use and cost! Magento looks like it can barely stand. Smack!

Oh my! Shopify just put Magento on the ground with its insanely beautiful and easily brandable themes! We think it was that sweet theme that Future Holiday’s designed for Tomo Golf! It’s a knockout!


office team celebrating success campaign


Shopify Wins!

We know! We’re biased. But, again, there’s a reason we pivoted our entire design company to work as Shopify partners, we think it’s the best-of-the-best.

Shopify is more accessible, cheaper, faster, safer, less time-consuming, and has an overall better design architecture than Magento. So, if you’re looking to create an eCommerce store, and you want the very-best-option-available, Shopify is your answer.

And hey! If you want someone to help you take that store to the next level, contact us! Whether your selling weird mugs or the very best of the latest fashion and beauty products, we can create a theme that will blow you and your customers away!

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and create that perfect eCommerce store that you’ve always dreamed of having.