Comparison between Magento and Shopify

World-famous "Magento" and "Shopify"

Which of the two major platforms for cross-border e-commerce sites, "Shopify" and "Magento", should be selected? It is important to select the optimal platform for your business! You should consider not only in terms of functionality, but also in terms of budget, scale, design, customisability to fulfil your needs , and whether ROI can be achieved strategically.

SaaS type and open source type

The SaaS platform "Shopify" developed by Shopify of Canada is said to be used by more than 1,000,000 companies. There are free and paid design themes available, EC shops can be opened in a short period of time, and a highly expandable enterprise version of Shopify Plus is also available.

The open source platform "Magento Open Source" developed by Magento, which is used by more than 260,000 large companies, is an open source for medium sized business to enterprise, and after downloading it for free, it is possible to develop while adding and expanding necessary functions. When building a large-scale EC site with large number of products and sales, Magento Commerce and Magento Commerce Cloud might be used.

Thorough comparison between Magento and Shopify

  • Various Numerical Values

    Before we look at the detailed comparison between Magento and Shopify, let's take a look at the numbers that each platform shows. This is a great way to check the reliability of each platform. Before building a cross-border e-commerce site, it is necessary to carefully consider "Which one is selling well?" rather than design and ease of use.

    Number of EC site operations and usage


    Design Themes

    App Selling Price

    Monthly Usage Fee


    Site Power



    3,200 & Above

    Design Themes

    50,000 & Above*

    App Selling Price

    Free 〜 500,000 JPY

    Fixed Monthly Fee

    50,000 JPY〜 **


    Site Power



    4,500 & Above(Included the App only can be used oversea)

    Design Themes

    70 & Above*

    App Selling Price

    Free 〜 20,000 JPY

    Fixed Monthly Fee

    〜30,000 JPY

    * It is also possible to set the themes purchase from an external site.
    ** If you have 100,000 or more products to sell and when building a large-scale EC site with Magento (enterprise version), hosting costs (1,500 USD ~) may be required depending on the scale of your business.

  • Construction Method

    Shopify and Magento differ greatly in the method of building a cross-border EC site. Shopify is simple and speedy to build, but there are many restrictions, while Magento has a high degree of freedom and flexibility in customization, but it is difficult to build. Let's take a closer look!。

    Shopify comes standard with the tools you need to build and sell your online store, so you can build your site quickly and start selling relatively quickly. It is possible to build a site without knowledge of HTML and web design, but due to it is a closed system, customization and arrangement are only possible if you able to rewrite the source code in "liquid" language instead of html and css,which is relatively difficult

    Generally, if you wish to add some customization like adding functions, link inventory, and link with an external flagship system,etc., you can ask a Shopify specialist company to build it.

    Magento is made with open source that can be built based on PHP. Compared to Shopify, it's designed to have high customizability, which you can add your own design and features, and to customize your site thoroughly. Therefore, it has been used by many Good-Selling EC sites and has a good track record. Since Magento enabling the integration with Marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, etc., you can have a centralised control for your EC business by syncing your inventory and order across all the platforms in Magento.

    However, unlike Shopify, Magento is not built with something prepared in advance, so you will need to ask a Shopify specialist company to build it. Also, when it comes to the operation phase, it is necessary to understand the mechanism of Magento CMS (equivalent to the editor of Shopify), but there will be no problem if the company has manual provision, post-delivery lecture, and accompanying support from the Magento specialist company during operation.

    Although Magento requires knowledge to use it at first, but once you master it, you can flexibly and freely operate a very good EC shop, and you can freely arrange and customize the design and mechanism for your EC site.

    ●Point to Choose
    Shopify is recommended for those who sell a small number of products, and those who make decision based on the good design and the cart function. On the other hand, Magento is recommended for those who want to build EC site for their company that supports full-scale multilingual and multicurrency as well as fits the company's rules and operations, for those who want to practice selling methods that match the rules of various countries, and for those who are particular in SEO, functions and the design of the EC site.

    Shopify has apps that link and integrate the listings and inventory at overseas EC malls such as eBay and Amazon, but for B2B business, digital sales, various customer management and operations that make heavy use of points and coupons, instalment sales, membership sales, group purchasing ,etc., Magento is more suitable in this case. Also, if you plan to flexibly change the operation or business itself and handle a large number of products and sales, Magento will be recommended.

  • Design Themes

    The design of an online store is the first to appear when a customer visits your site, so it's important to make a good impression and looks trustworthy to your visitors. Furthermore, the design and layout of your site should not just fits for PCs but also need to consider smartphones view and tablets view for smooth display.It is no exaggeration to say that sales of EC shops are influenced by design themes, so selection work is a very important theme, and it would be good to have EC introduction results and advice from UI / UX experts.

    There are dozens of paid and free design themes available in Shopify. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of purchases from EC sites generated form smartphones, the Shopify themes are optimized for mobile. However, if you wish to change the color, design, buttons, etc., instead of HTML and CSS you will need to modify it using Shopify platform language "liquid.Many Shopify sites use the free design that makes them easy to open and start to sell in a short period of time.

    In Magento, there are more than hundred thousand of free and paid design themes . It is fully compatible with smartphones and tablets as well as PCs, and is automatically resized to devices such as large TVs. Magento also allows you to create your own designs from scratch, so if you want to show off your brand or product better, Magento is much recommended. J-Grab offers carefully selected design themes that sell well overseas to our clients, of course we can also follow your own arrangement and preference in choosing the design theme.

    Unlike Shopify, Magento is not built with something prepared in advance, so you will need to ask a Shopify specialist company to build it. Also, when it comes to the operation phase, it is necessary to understand the mechanism of Magento CMS (equivalent to the editor of Shopify), but there will be no problem if the company has manual provision, post-delivery lecture, and accompanying support from the Magento specialist company during operation.

    Although Magento requires knowledge to use it at first, but once you master it, you can flexibly and freely operate a very good EC shop, and you can freely arrange and customize the design and mechanism for your EC site.

    ●Point to Choose
    In terms of the number of themes, Magento outperforms Shopify, but there aren't many design themes available in action. We would not recommend to choose any EC platform based on the number of themes available, but based on the actual achievement. It is important to choose a design theme that has a proven track record, help you to sell well, stable and having speedy version upgrades.

    You also need to determine if you are able to arrange it freely. There aren't many Shopify design themes, less than 100, but you can choose to use the stable designs. Unlike Magento, Shopify can’t be designed freely as you wish, if you wish to customise it, you will have to ask a Shopify specialist construction company. The amount of time needed for customisation will be same as Magento, so please consider it careful.

    Regardless of whether you choose to use Shopify or Magento, the common points to be considered are whether it is easy for users to make a purchase, the shopping cart abandonment, whether the store can create a sense of trust for your potential customers, whether it is an environment where customers can make payments with peace of mind, whether the linkage and transition with various content pages are smooth, and how fast the site loads. All requirements needs to be checked comprehensively, and it will be better if you get the advices from EC specialist.

  • Apps/Extensions/Add-Ons

    Shopify and Magento have the basic sales functions for building an online store, but in order to expand the functions of the site and increase traffic and sales, it is recommended to install apps or extensions as add-ons for the store.

    In order to expand your site with Shopify, it is essential to utilize the app. Shopify consists of free and paid apps. Most of the apps are available in English, and although the number of apps that support Japanese has increased recently but it has not been enhanced yet. The following apps are examples.

    • Measures againts Cart Abandonment
    • Overseas EC Mall Integration
    • SNS Feed Display
    • Product Shipping Tracking Function
    • Countermeasures against Fraudulent Use
    • SEO Enhancements
    • Multilingual & Multicurrency Features
    • E-mail Newsletter

    The Magento Marketplace has more than 3,200 types of free and paid extensions, and you are able to install additional extensions by asking a Magento specialist company to install it in your Magento store. The following functions are examples of Magento extensions, but please contact a specialist for details.

    • Integration of Major International Payment Methods
    • Overseas eBay Amazon Linkage
    • Membership Sales Function
    • Pre-order Function
    • SEO Enhancements
    • B2B estimation Function
    • Customer Tracking function
    • QR Code Sales Function
    • Multilingual & Multicurrency Features
    • Flat-rate Sales Function
    • Discount Coupon & Point Issuance
    • Many others

    ●Point to Choose
    Both Shopify and Magento have a wide variety of apps and extensions, but the point to be considered in common is, as it is to be used as the official website for your business, it should be easy to be used and fits with the predetermined operation and management methods of the company from the operator's point of view.It is also necessary to comprehensively check whether the application is easy to use, whether it is an extension, whether it is stable, and whether it has been introduced, and it requires expert advice.

  • Payment Methods

    Adopting a secure payment method is very important in the operation of an online shop. In particular, when selling your products to overseas users, the availability of reliable payment methods determines sales.

    Shopify has its own payment method, which is Shopify Payment. This feature allows you to manage your payments directly in your Shopify dashboard. In the case of Shopify Payment, the payment fee is free, but if you use other payment methods, a separate fee of 2% ~ is required.

    There are about 100 other payment methods such as credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay, and the payment fee varies depending on each payment method. Also, please be aware that the available payments methods may be vary depending on the country where you registered Shopify.

    Magento has more payment methods available to adopt than Shopify, such as Stripe (including credit card, Alipay, WeChaPay, etc.), PayPal, AmazonPay for cross-border EC, GMO payment gateway, GMO Epsilon, Veritrans 4G, Softbank Mobile for Japan domestic EC.

    The advantage is the stable provision of payment processing programs that support different countries, languages ​​and currencies.

    ●Point to Choose
    Shopify is recommended if you just wish to operate your EC site with credit card payment. On the other hand, in addition to credit cards, Stripe payments with Alipay and WeChatPay, which are particularly strong in cross-border EC in China, and PayPal for eBay official payments, Magento is recommended. In addition, the international payment methods to be introduced differ depending on the target country of your cross-border EC business, so it is advisable to consider and decide after receiving advice from cross-border EC experts.

  • SEO

    Regarding SEO settings, both Shopify and Magento are providing standard SEO functions. Stores built on both platforms are compatible with Google and other search engines and may be ranked high in search results. By introducing apps and extensions, it is possible to take more sophisticated SEO measures.

    For both Shopify and Magento, you can perform the necessary steps from Shopify's editor and Magento's CMS (Content Management System) to make your store easier and more search engine-friendly. This means that standard features provide a minimum of SEO without the addition of extensions, apps, or other extensions.

    For example, you can define the title and description of the page depends on how you want it to appear on the search results page. This informs search engines about the contents of the store and makes it easier to find in the search of the user who is trying to purchase.

    You can also add alt text to your images to make them recognizable to search engines, or set up share buttons and links with social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    For those who need the advanced SEO functionality, Shopify can add extensions to the App Store, and Magento can add extensions from Magento Marketplace to support advanced SEO. You can take various measures such as site display speed, meta tag setting, SEO score check, search ranking check, etc.

    ●Point to Choose
    If you want to install additional apps on Shopify and take high-performance SEO measures, you will need to pay about $ 10 to $ 30 per month instead of just making one time payment. In the case of Magento, there are few hundreds of Advance SEO extensions available for purchase from Marketplace and you just need to pay once for the license.

  • Operating Costs

    SOne of the major differences between Shopify and Magento is that Shopify uses the EC platform hosted by Shopify as it is, but Magento is an open source version of EC site that need to be operated and maintained with a in-house cloud-type server.

    Shopify doesn't need to operate on your own server, and the operating costs are included in the monthly fee. Magento will either operate and maintain the cloud server in-house, or request operation and maintenance from a construction company. It is said to be the best option for small and medium-sized enterprises to large enterprises because it eliminates the trouble of operation and maintenance by leaving the operation to the construction company.

    Now let's dig into the specific costs associated with each platform.

    If you use Shopify, you will have to pay monthly for Shopify-related costs. Please be careful when setting up your online store, as some may incur initial costs. Shopify offers free design themes while the paid themes are available and cost around $ 10- $ 200, to give you more options for building your site.

    Also, if you do not use your own domain, it will be a domain randomly determined by Shopify.
    If you use your own domain name, there is an initial acquisition cost and you need to renew it every year.

    Magento's infrastructure maintenance and operation agency costs start at 50,000 yen per month on average, you are able to select a cloud server after consulting with the construction company depending on the scale of the EC site and the number of products. Design themes are included in the initial construction cost even if you choose a paid and proven design. The domain will start operation with the original domain specified by the customer. Subdomains are also available and flexible.

    ●Point to Choose
    The initial cost and operation and maintenance cost of cross-border EC site construction will differ depending on the scale of the EC site to be built, the number of products, the number of site languages, and the presence or absence of additional functions. Shopify is the way to keep the initial cost down, but Magento has the advantage of freedom and flexibility. In addition, Shopify requires you to pay the cost on a monthly basis, but if you use Magento, you will need to pay the initial construction cost in a lump sum to some extent. In any case, the medium- to long-term cost performance will change depending on the requirements such as the products and number of the products handled, the functions and domains you want to use.

General Evaluation for Shopify & Magento

Shopify is an e-commerce cart service that is very easy to handle because it can be opened in a short period of time, it is relatively easy to change, and there is no need to update software. If you want to realize detailed design and functional customization, Magento may be superior in terms of centralized management of global sites and multilingual functions.

Also, instead of focusing on Magento and Shopify, you should also check other EC carts and services such as Big commerce, Demandware, and WooCommerce. Ultimately, compare the functions and future potential, determine whether the service is necessary for your business/ company, whether it has affinity, and whether ROI can be strategically realized, and then select the most suitable platform.

So far, we've looked at the similarities and differences between Shopify and Magento, but if you're still wondering which one to use, please talk to j-Grab. From a neutral and impartial standpoint, a cross-border EC consultant will advise customers on the optimal EC cart and construction method. Please feel free to contact us.


Edit: J-Grab Cross-border EC Lab

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