The Gloves are Off – Shopify vs. Magento CE!

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Every week we get calls from business owners who need help with their e-commerce websites. They feel overwhelmed by the hundreds of e-commerce vendors and need someone to make sense of the shopping cart cacophony. In this article, we compare two of the most popular types of carts available today. Our goal is to help you determine the e-commerce champion for your online business.

Shopify vs. Magneto CE: Two of the most popular and powerful solutions available today:

Contender #1 – Shopify
Shopify  is a “hosted” e-commerce solution. This means that the Shopify company will sell you a license to use their e-commerce software and host your website on their servers. They will own the code but you can upload your products, customize the look of the website and add features as long as you don’t modify their backend code.

Contender #2 – Magento Community Edition (CE)
Magento CE is a “self-hosted”, open-source e-commerce solution. This means that Magento will give you their powerful, e-commerce software free of charge. You will need to find a hosting company to house your website and a development company to set up the code and customize it to your needs.

Pound for pound, both include:

  • A multitude of template themes you can choose from.
  • A large network of local and offshore designers and developers who can help you.
  • Prebuilt plug-ins and extensions that will enhance your site’s features and functionality.
  • The ability for you to upload products and manage your website.

Now let’s compare and contrast:

Contender #1 – Shopify

  • You don’t have to look for a hosting company because Shopify hosts it for you.
  • An internet savvy, non-technical person can set up a basic website themselves.
  • You won’t have to purchase an SSL certificate.
  • There is customer support and on-call technical service available.
  • Very low up-front costs and fixed monthly expenses.
  • Quicker design and development time
  • Easy to set up and use for a small business.


  • You will be somewhat limited to the website features involving the database.
  • You won’t “own” the software – you can’t move it to a different host. You only own your website content and customer data.
  • If you have an existing inventory, warehouse, bookkeeping or other backend systems, you may not be able to connect them to the Shopify cart.
  • Transaction fees may apply on some e-commerce plans.

Contender #2 – Magento Community Edition

  • You “own” the software and can set it up or migrate to any host that will support it.
  • Magento is a true heavyweight with unlimited features. As long as you have enough skill and/or budget, you could customize the heck out of it.
  • Scalability: you could potentially support hundreds of thousands of customers and products.
  • If you have an existing inventory, warehouse, bookkeeping, 3PL or other backend system you can probably connect it.
  • No additional transaction fees.


  • You will need to factor the costs of hosting as well as  application upgrades into your ongoing maintenance budget.
  • You will need to research and purchase hosting and various add-ons like an SSL (for security), backups, etc.
  • You will need to find and integrate a payment gateway (such as
  • You will need to hire an experienced development company to install the website on your hosting provider.
  • You will need to hire an experienced development company to design and build the website and to install software upgrades.
  • There is no customer support for the free version of Magento.
  • Longer development time to ramp up and launch.

We hope this overview has helped you decide which shopping cart will be the decisive winner for your business. Our quick analysis concludes that if you’re a larger business with complex requirements and a sizeable budget, Magento CE would be good to have in your corner. If you’re a smaller business with less requirements and budget, then Shopify would be a more nimble and affordable solution.



by admin
Posted: May 5, 2014