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Magento vs Shopify

It’s a new age for eCommerce. A little over 10 years ago many businesses that wanted to sell online had limited choices when picking an eCommerce software. Many times, if a brand wanted a system that would do everything it wanted, they would just had to build it themselves. This was an often costly endeavor and required never-ending software support to keep things operational. Brands were limited on UI choices, better selling tools and shipping options because of the costs to operate.

A hopeful eCommerce star emerges, but, is it the Death Star?  

In 2008, Varien (who was later acquired eBay) created the eCommerce platform Magento.  For brands this was sigh of relief, as Magento allowed full control over UI and the open source approach allowed for complex integrations into mission critical systems such as Netsuite.   Varien had worked extensively with OS Commerce, which, ironically since Magento launched, has been in continual decline.

Magento vs OS Commerce
Magento vs OS Commerce

If you’re Darth Vader you may need the Death Star

First I want to make a disclaimer: Magento can be a great system for companies that have an internal team to manage it. Much like Darth Vader building the Death Star with an army of people to carry out the Emperor’s will, Magento requires extensive support. You will need a professional PHP developer to help you. I have yet to meet a company using Magento that has not had some sort of massive frustration, trying to manage integrations, plugins and a variety of other issues with the system. Commonly what I hear is that companies are spending money and time simply working on the system itself. Beyond wasting resources, this is often frustrating, demoralizing and confusing.

When you grow you need more

As small businesses continue to increase online sales they typically go international, run marketing automation, have more complex accounting needs and need more powerful technology to manage their operations. Ideally, when a company buys a new tool they gain efficiency and see an increase in revenue. The new revenue and new efficiency leads to more growth and that cycle is repeated.

The New Hope AKA Shopify

Magento vs Shopify - A comparison

But we’re not all Darth Vader and we don’t all need the Death Star. In fact, most of our clients aren’t and most of our clients don’t. Luckily, an option is here that is proving to be quite the new hope.

 Once you build your website, the focus should not be on more technology. The focus should be on acquiring relevant traffic sources and optimizing user experiences helping to produce an ROI. This likely sounds obvious but some tools will limit your ability to do this. If you are a small business, I would not recommend Magento if you’re just getting started. If you look at the chart above you can see that Magento had a huge rise when it was the best option out there but that Shopify has had slow, steady smart growth that may make it the best choice in the long run for eCommerce options.

In 2013 we began using Shopify for clients and our team noticed a very specific conversation went away almost entirely. No one was calling us to ask how to use the system or complaining about breakdowns. The frustrations with Magento were not being repeated with Shopify. The conversation began to change, and largely they were focused on expansion, marketing and optimizing users experiences.

The force is strong with Shopify

Why? Because Shopify is so damn easy to use. The UI almost requires minimal (at most) training and we have received no complaints to date about daily operations of the tool. You don’t have all the bells and whistles that Magento has out of the box, but we found most of customers don’t need them.

What Shopify doesn’t have out of the box, Shopify’s curated developer community does and the prices are far less than those of hiring developers to install them. Shopify actually makes sure plugins work before allowing them into the store. Most plugins require just a few clicks to install and simple configuration. Shopify’s curation helps keep all vendors at a high level and ensures plugins are not breaking down right after you install them.

We place a high value on aesthetics and we have found that Shopify has allowed us to do anything we want with the UI. Check out these sites: TrueLipz.com & Reach79.com. Our development team has found it easy to use and integrate 3rd party applications into such as NetSuite and Salesforce.

 We typically stay agnostic when it comes to eCommerce systems, tailoring our recommendations to the client’s specific needs. Given our track record with Shopify, though, we are excited to highly recommend it for people shopping for a system whenever it’s appropriate.

Magento Vs Shopify
Shopify is a fast growing competitor to Magento this google trend chart shows it.


If you need the Death Star, take on Magento as it’s got enough power to blow up a planet, but be aware the Force is growing with Shopify. Google Trends illustrates this above.  If your in the Magento vs Shopify conversation reach out to us, we would be glad to share more. 

To learn more about our Shopify expertise, contact Landis White at 877-527-BLUE x103 or email, landis@bluelikeneon.com .

Find out Why We Like Shopify

  • Harley

    Cool post. I love the analogy. If there’s anything I / we can do to be more helpful, please let us know 🙂

  • WebShopApps

    Great post, well thought out. You need to redo that graph just looking at the US as its skewed by some of the other countries.

    Don’t overlook some of the other platforms tho, Mozu is a key sponsor of IRCE and BigCommerce are ramping up in the US, I think there are a few players here.

    Magento is not going anywhere anytime soon. But they do need to sort the ‘frustration’ side out, get much better curation and make it easier for merchants to onboard without it turning into a very expensive experiment in ‘open source’.

  • Harley thanks for the feedback. Really appreciate it.

  • WebShopApps,

    Thanks for pulling that chart. Thanks for the recommendations. I like the chart you pulled as well.

  • Thanks Harley. Will do!

  • Be interesting to see that graph with Mozu as well. I’m actually not that familiar with Mozu.

  • WebShopApps

    They aren’t on the radar yet. New kid on the block.

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