There are a lot of platforms you can use to create eCommerce stores. Three of the most popular eCommerce website builder solutions are Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento.
Today, I will be comparing these three platforms. If you’ve been wondering which one to use for your eCommerce store, this article will help you decide.Each of these platforms has its pros and cons, but one might be better suited for your needs than the others.
Let us get into it.
In this section, I will provide a brief overview of each platform.
Magento is a popular eCommerce website builder that has been around since 2004, and it is now owned by Adobe. What makes it different from Shopify is that it is free to use and open source.
That it is open-source basically means that the source code used to power the platform is publicly available. On an open-source license, not only can you use the software for free, but you can edit it according to your needs and even distribute it.
Magento is not nearly as popular as Shopify, but being that it is open-source, it has unique benefits, as I will explain in further depth throughout this article.
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce store builder. It is one of the most popular website builders in the world, and many famous stores use it.
Shopify provides its own hosting and sells you domain names directly. It’s a one-stop-shop – you can set up your entire store using only Shopify, without needing other services.
In addition, Shopify has a service called Shopify Lite, which will work with any existing website, including a WordPress website or even a Tumblr blog. Shopify Lite does not allow you to create an entire store but rather place buy buttons on your existing blog and collect payment for products.
WooCommerce is not a website builder in and of itself. Instead, it is a plugin that will turn WordPress websites into eCommerce stores.
WordPress does not inherently include support for eCommerce stores. If you want to sell products on WordPress, you will need to install a plugin like WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is open-source, which means that you can edit the source code. However, it doesn’t offer the same flexibility and customization you can get with Magento.
Check out : how WooCommerce performed when put against Magento.
How can you get started with Magento or Shopify or WooCommerce? Which platform makes it easier to get started, even if you are getting started from scratch?
Magento is perhaps the least easy of the three eCommerce builders to use. I don’t want to get too technical in this article about the installation process, as that is not my focus today, but you can see a guide here.
Basically, you’ll need to set it up on your hosting plan by creating a database on your hosting manager and using F2P or your file manager to upload and unpack Magento.
As you can see, it’s a more technical process, and you will need to have at least some experience setting up websites to figure it out. If you are migrating an existing store to Magento, the process will become many times more complicated, and you will probably have to hire a developer to help.
Magento also doesn’t have a drag and drop page builder (unless you sign up for the super expensive Magento Commerce), so creating product pages will also be more complicated.
Do you absolutely need to know coding to use Magento? No, it is possible to use Magento if you don’t know how to code – even the free version.
However, if you don’t know any coding, you are missing out on some of the main benefits of Magento – the flexibility and customization it allows for. But if you don’t know any coding, I’d say you might as well choose Shopify or WooCommerce; there’s not much benefit in using Magento.
However, Magento does have extensive documentation to help make things easier.
I will also say this: If you are hiring a developer to create a site for you, and they know their way around Magento, Magento might be a good option because it will allow them to customize the site according to your exact needs.
Getting started with Shopify is a fairly easy and straightforward process. After signing up for a trial, you will be prompted to create your own store by selecting a name and adding an email address for the store.
The store will appear on a Shopify subdomain (like this: YOURSTORE.SHOPIFY.COM), but you can always change it later by purchasing a unique domain name from Shopify and setting it as your store’s main URL.
After you create your store, you will be able to add products and start selling. The process is pretty intuitive and easy to follow; it’s not complicated, and even newbies can do it.
Interesting Read: Shopify vs ClickFunnels
To use WooCommerce, you will first need a WordPress site. For that, you will have to first buy a domain name, sign up for a hosting plan, connect your domain name to your hosting plan, and set up your website.
However, most hosting platforms make it easy to set up WordPress.
Only then will you be able to download the WooCommerce plugin from the WordPress plugin directory. All of that might seem more complicated if you have never set up a website before, but once you have the WooCommerce plugin downloaded, the WooCommerce Setup Wizard will walk you through the process of setting up your store.
Once you have gotten your store set up, you might be interested in adding additional features using add-ons, plugins, or integrations with third-party services or apps. Does WooCommerce, Magento, or Shopify provide you with add-ons?
Magento has a wide variety of add-ons on the Magento Marketplace. Some people think that Magento doesn’t have any add-ons, but that is not true, as you can see for yourself.
Here are the top categories of apps on the marketplace. These categories are further divided into subcategories, but I don’t have space to go through all the sub-categories in this article, so I will only mention the main categories.
- Accounting and finance
- Content and customizations
- Customer support
- Payments and security
- Reporting and analytics
- Shipping and fulfillment
- Site optimization
The add-ons let you do all sorts of things. Here are just some examples:
- Add payment methods
- Add social proof
- Integrate with HubSpot
- Add countdown timers to create FOMO (fear of missing out)
- Manage on-page SEO
There’s a lot more you can do, so head over to the marketplace to see for yourself. Although not all of the add-ons are free, many are.
Shopify also has an abundance of apps. You can find all available Shopify apps in the Shopify App Store.
Personally, I like the Shopify App Store over the Magento Marketplace. I just feel like the Shopify App Store is easier to navigate and that it is easier to find the apps you are looking for on Shopify vs Magento, even if Magento has more apps in sheer numbers.
Also, I feel like the page layouts of each app are set up better on Shopify, making it easier to understand what each app is about.
Apps are available for many categories. Many categories are further divided into subcategories.
The main categories are:
- Finding products
- Places to sell
- Store design
- Sales and conversion
- Orders and shipping
- Inventory management
- Customer support
- Trust and security
Here are some of the things you can do with Shopify apps:
- Find products to dropship
- Create pages with drag and drop builders
- Send out emails and abandoned cart reminders
- Create tracking numbers to send to customers
- Add trust badges to your site
- Accept payments
- And a lot more
Check Out: Best Landing Page Builders For Shopify
Although WooCommerce is itself a WordPress plugin, it does have a lot of extensions you can add to the main WooCommerce plugin. These WooCommerce extensions can be found on the WooCommerce marketplace.
The top categories of extensions are:
- Developed by Woo
- Product type
- Store management
Developed by Woo are extensions created by WooCommerce, and Collections are bundles that contain a few extensions to each, such as the “Grow Your Business” bundle, which includes eight extensions designed to help you grow your business.
The WooCommerce extension library has enough extensions to help you get things done, from sending emails to social media marketing to offering improved shipping methods.
Who wins? I’d say it depends on what you’re looking for. Magento probably has more extensions, due to the fact that it is community-based and anyone can contribute an add-on.
However, that does not mean that it is easier to use Magento’s add-ons or that they are better. While Shopify might have fewer add-ons, I find the Shopify App Store much easier to use, and you can rely on the fact that the add-ons are of higher quality.
WooCommerce has an okay selection of add-ons too, but I still find Shopify to offer better options and make it easier to find what you are looking for.
What about themes? Now that we know that all three options offer a decent selection of add-ons, which one has a better offering of themes: Magento, WooCommerce, or Shopify?
Magento is open-source, and pre-made themes and templates (both free and paid) are not its strong point. It does offer a few themes on the marketplace, which you can see here (right now, there are only 11 themes there, and only one of them is free).
However, remember that Magento is open-source and community-based, so there is a huge selection of Magento templates offered on third-party websites, including free ones.
For example, on ThemeForest, you can find tons of well-priced Magento templates.
In addition, there are around a dozen free Magento templates over on Template Monster (which I found by filtering for free templates and searching for “Magento.”)
The thing with Magento is that it is made for customizations and maximum flexibility. That’s why templates may not be as important.
On a platform like Shopify, where you don’t do any coding and don’t have much control over the code, a template can help you get a unique look for your store quickly. On Magento, which is best for unique customizations, a template can interfere with that as it may not be fully compatible with what you want to do.
Shopify, on the other hand, has a very nice selection of free and paid themes. You can find dozens of free and paid themes on the Shopify Theme Marketplace.
In addition to all those themes released by Shopify, there are also many themes on third-party websites. For example, there are over 1,000 themes for Shopify on Template Monster and over 1,200 themes on ThemeForest.
Explore: Shopify vs AliDropship
You can find plenty of WooCommerce themes on the WooCommerce Theme Marketplace. That includes Storefront, WooCommerce’s main theme, and three free themes altogether.
In addition, over at ThemeForest, you can find over 1,300 WooCommerce themes.
In conclusion, it is hard to say which platform wins when it comes to themes. It might be Shopify when talking about free themes specifically, but all three platforms do allow for many theme options when you include themes and templates created by third party developers.
Also Read: AliDropship vs WooDropship
Which platform is best if you might need to expand and scale your store, WooCommerce, Shopify, or Magento? Also, which platform makes it easier to customize your website according to your company’s exact needs?
I’d say Magento is a great option if you need to expand your store later on. While Shopify might be an easier and better option for small businesses that want to create a small store quickly and easily, without spending too much time and/or effort on coding, Magento is a better option for large stores that need to scale and expand.
Magento, for example, unlike Shopify, allows you to create multiple stores. This multi-store feature lets you expand and scale your business.
You can also accept multiple currencies, use shipping providers to ship all over the world, offer your store in many languages, and more.
Magento allows for rapid expansion with unlimited flexibility and continuous customizations.
Magento is also great for B2B eCommerce stores as it provides the right framework and possibilities for a smooth B2B flow.
Shopify might be easier to get started with if you are opening a small store. However, if you are experiencing rapid growth, you may feel that you are outgrowing the platform.
If and when that happens, you may find that transitioning to another platform like Magento can be quite complicated, and you may need a trained developer to help you do that.
It might be interesting to note that Magneto powers many more times the number of stores on the Internet Retailer Top eCommerce 500 list compared to Shopify, which only powers 10 stores on that list. Magento powers 70 of the top B2C stores and 40 of the top B2B stores (source).
Why is that? It seems that larger stores prefer Magento because it allows for more customization and expansion.
Shopify doesn’t allow multiple stores, for example. However, using certain apps found in the Shopify App Store as well as built-in features, you will be able to accept multiple currencies, find great shipping options to ship all over the world, and more.
Nevertheless, overall you are more limited when it comes to rapid growth. Also, it is best for B2C stores, as the Shopify infrastructure is just not set up for the complexity a B2B store involves.
WooCommerce definitely does not win against Magento in terms of potential expansion capabilities. Sure, you can do a lot of things with extensions, but not all extensions are free – Magento has more options.
WooCommerce is open source, but overall, Magento is a better option if you are looking for maximum flexibility and expansion capabilities.
A big factor in whether you choose Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce can boil down to pricing. Which platform is the cheapest and which gives you a bigger bang for your buck?
To use Magento, you will need a domain name and hosting plan. Domain names usually go for around $10-20, depending on where you buy them from.
Hosting plans can cost as little as a few dollars a month if you use providers like Bluehost or SiteGround.
After that, you can use the open-source version of Magento for free. You can also install extensions and use free themes.
So, overall, Magento can be cheaper than Shopify. However, there is more you have to consider.
First of all, not all themes and extensions are free. Also, if you don’t know any coding and are hiring a developer to make customizations on Magento for you, that can affect the final cost as well.
There is also Magento Commerce, which is designed for extremely large stores and enterprise solutions and comes with a page builder and many advanced features, but a license costs around $20,000/month.
The advantage of using Shopify is that when you sign up for a plan, you know that you won’t have any additional costs. The only exception is buying a custom domain name – although it is optional, I consider it necessary if you want your store to look professional.
Nevertheless, the domain name shouldn’t cost more than $10-20/year.
Shopify plans include hosting, and if you do buy a domain name, you can buy it directly from Shopify. Also, you can continue using free themes and apps for as long as you wish.
With Shopify, you can get started with your own store for just $29/month. Basic Shopify, as that plan is called, will be sufficient for smaller stores.
It includes most Shopify features, although it does lack some features like professional reports and the ability to set up international domains and pricing.
The other two plans cost $79/month and $299/month, respectively. They give you access to more advanced features, more staff accounts, more local selling locations, and cheaper transaction fees when using Shopify Payments.
Those are the three main plans. However, there are also two more plans: Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus.
Shopify Lite is not a real Shopify plan in that it does not allow you to set up your own store. Instead, it allows you to add selling buttons to existing websites and accept credit card payments; it costs just $9/month.
Shopify Plus is rather expensive, at $2000/month, and it is meant for enterprise-level businesses.
I recommend checking the Shopify Pricing Page for updated pricing information, as it is subject to change at any time.
WooCommerce, like Magento, is free to use, but you will need to pay for a hosting plan and a domain name. Once you have WordPress installed, which is free, you can install WooCommerce too.
The difference between WooCommerce and Magento is that Magento has a lot more extensions that are available for free, as well as a lot more features built into the core platform which are only available as extensions on WooCommerce.
Also, compared to Shopify, WooCommerce has more extensions that cost money. As you can see in the screenshot above, only 31 extensions on the WooCommerce Marketplace are actually free as of this writing.
So, you can use WooCommerce for a lot cheaper than Shopify, but do consider the costs of possible extensions unless you have a small store with limited needs.
For a better understanding of the total costs of running WooCommerce, read their blog post about it.
|Free Version Available||✓||✗||✓|
|Free & Paid Themes||✓||✓||✓|
|Free & Paid Extensions||✓||✓||✓|
|Best for Maximum Scalability and Customization||✓||✗||✗|
|Good and Easy for Small Stores||✗||✓||✓|
|Can Be Used On WordPress Sites||✗||✓ (Only Shopify Lite)||✓|
The answer really depends on your needs. While Magento allows for maximum scalability and customization, it can also be more difficult if you don’t have any experience and just need to set up a small store.
In that case, I would choose Shopify. Not only is hosting included and removes that step but there are more apps available for free to help you get things done.
However, if you already operate a WordPress blog and would like to turn it into a full-fledged eCommerce store, the WooCommerce plugin would be your best bet.
So, in conclusion, Magento is best for experienced developers and coders or very large businesses, while Shopify is best for newbies and small to regular-sized businesses.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.