Magento vs Shopify

World's popular Shopify and Magento

Which of the two major cross-border e-commerce website platforms, Shopify or Magento, should you choose? It is important to choose the most suitable platform not only in terms of functionality, but also in terms of budget, scale, design, fulfillment of customization requests, and whether the ROI can be achieved strategically.

SaaS type and open source type

Shopify, a SaaS-type platform developed by Canadian company Shopify, is said to be used by more than one million companies. You can open an e-commerce store in a short period of time with a variety of paid and free design themes, and Shopify Plus is also available for high scalability.

Adobe's Magento EC platform, "Magento Open Source” is used by over 260,000 large companies, is an open source for middle-grade to enterprise users, and can be downloaded for free and then developed while adding and expanding the necessary functions. When building a large-scale e-commerce site with a large number of products and sales, the paid version "Adobe Commerce" may be used.

Thorough comparison of Shopify and Magento

  • Various values

    Before we check out the detailed comparison between Shopify and Magento, let's take a look at the numbers each platform shows. This is an excellent way to check the reliability of each platform. Before building a cross-border e-commerce site, you should not look at design or ease of use, but rather, "Which one sells well?" needs to be considered carefully.

    No. of EC sites operated and used

    Apps and Extensions

    Design themes

    Price of the app

    Monthly Support Fee


    Site Power


    Extensions and add-ons

    Over 4,500 (incl.overseas apps)

    Design themes

    70 & above*

    Price of the app

    Free 〜 20,000 yen

    Monthly Companionship Support Fee

    30,000 yen〜


    Site Power


    Extensions and add-ons

    Over 3,200

    Design themes

    50,000 & above*

    >Price of the app

    Free 〜 50,000 yen

    Monthly Companionship Support Fee

    50,000 yen〜 **

    *It is also possible to purchase, install, and configure the design and theme you want to use from an external sales site.
    **If you are building a large-scale e-commerce site, such as one with more than 100,000 products, you can use Adobe Commerce (Enterprise Edition), but you may need to pay a separate hosting fee depending on the scale of your business and the cloud environment.

  • Construction methods

    The method of building a cross-border e-commerce site differs greatly between Shopify and Magento. Shopify, which is simple and fast to build, is not open source, so the scope of customization is limited compared to Magento. Magento offers a high degree of freedom and flexibility, but it is more difficult to build and the cost is generally higher. Let's take a closer look.

    Shopify comes with standard tools necessary to build an online store and selling on it, so you can build your site quickly and start selling relatively soon. You don't need to know anything about HTML or web design to build an e-commerce site, but because it's a closed system, customizing and arranging your site is more difficult, such as rewriting the HTML, CSS, and other modified sources into Shopify's "liquid" template language.

    Customization such as the adding functionalities, inventory linkage, and linkage with core systems, etc., are generally handled by specialized development companies. It is also possible to link inventory and orders with e-commerce malls such as eBay and Amazon by installing the application.

    Magento is built as open source and can be built on PHP. It is designed to allow you to add design and functionality and to customize it thoroughly. As a result, it has been adopted and proven in medium to large scale EC sites. It is also good at linking inventory and orders with e-commerce malls such as eBay and Amazon.

    However, since it is not built with pre-prepared items like Shopify, you will need to hire a professional company to build it for you. Also, when it comes to the operation phase, you need to understand how the Magento CMS (equivalent to Shopify's editor) works, but since Adobe does not provide a manual, you need to ask a professional development support company that can provide lectures and Magento management guidebooks after delivery.

    Magento requires you to have some knowledge at first, but once you master it, you can run a very good e-commerce store flexibly and freely, and you can arrange and customize the design and structure of your e-commerce site freely.

    ●Points to choose
    For those who decide to sell only a small number of products, thinking that the cart should work and the design should be simple, Shopify is recommended. On the other hand, if you want to build and operate a full-fledged multilingual, multi-currency EC site that fits your company's rules as an EC site with a certain amount of product volume and sales potential, or if you want to provide multiple language sites to meet the rules of various countries, or if you want to be particular about SEO, functions, and design, Magento is recommended.

    Shopify has applications for listing products and linking inventory to overseas EC malls such as eBay and Amazon, but if you plan to flexibly change your operations and business itself, such as B2B business, digital sales, various customer management and operations using a lot of points and coupons, installment sales, membership sales, joint purchases, etc., or if you handle a large number of products and sales amount, Magento is the right choice for you.

  • Design themes

    The design of an online store is the “face” of the store that is displayed first when customers access the site, and it is important to make a good impression for visitors and make them trust the site. In addition, it must be able to fit and display smoothly on smartphones and tablets. It's no exaggeration to say that the design and theme of an EC store can affect sales, so the selection process is a very important topic, and it's a good idea to have advice from an EC implementation expert or UI/UX specialist.

    In Shopify, you can choose to use paid or free design themes. In recent years, more and more e-commerce purchases are made from smartphones, and Shopify's themes are optimized for mobile. In order to change the color, design, and placement of buttons, etc., it is necessary to rewrite the HTML, CSS, and other sources that have been changed into Shopify's template language, "liquid," and then implement it, so many Shopify sites adopt the free design to easily open their shops and list their products in a short period of time.

    Magento has thousands of free and paid design themes. It is fully compatible with computers as well as smartphones and tablets, and will automatically resize to devices such as large TVs, but not all operating environments are suitable. We recommend carefully selected design themes that are selling well overseas, and provide unique arrangements.

    Magento is not built with pre-prepared items like Shopify, so you need to hire a professional development company. In addition, when it comes to the operation phase, you need to understand how Magento CMS (equivalent to Shopify's editor) works, but if the development company provides manuals, lectures after delivery, and companionship support during operation, there will be no problem.

    Magento requires you to have some knowledge at first, but once you master it, you can run a very good e-commerce store flexibly and freely, and you can arrange and customize the design and structure of your e-commerce site freely.

    ●Points to choose
    Magento has more themes than Shopify, but there are not many designs and themes that can be used in practice. It's not just a matter of having a large number of designs and themes. You need to choose a design from a stable design/theme company that has a good track record, sells well, and keeps up with upgrades quickly.

    You also need to determine if you can arrange them freely. Shopify does not have many design themes (less than 100), but you can use a design that is stable and works well. Shopify is not as flexible as Magento, so if you want to be particular about the design, you will need to hire a professional development company to develop it, which will take as much time as Magento.

    Regardless of whether you use Shopify or Magento, the common points to consider are whether it is easy for the user to purchase, whether the cart is abandoned, whether the site expresses a sense of trust, whether the site is in an environment that allows secure payment, whether there is a smooth linkage and transition between various content pages, and how fast the site loads. It is necessary to check comprehensively, and it is even better to get advice from an expert.

  • Apps, Extensions, and Add-ons

    Shopify and Magento also have basic sales functions for building an online store, but in order to expand the functionality of the site and increase traffic and sales, it is essential to add applications and extensions (add-on extensions).

    In order to expand your site on Shopify, it is essential to use the app. Shopify has both free and paid apps, but most of them are in English, and although more and more of them are available in Japanese, but they are not fulfiling. As an example, the following apps are available.

    • Countermeasures against abandoned carts

    • Overseas eBay Amazon Linkage
    • Overseas EC mall linkage function
    • SNS feed display
    • Shipment Tracking
    • Fraudulent use prevention
    • SEO enhancement measures
    • Multi-language, multi-currency capabilities
    • Introduction of international payments
    • E-mail newsletter
    • Many more

    Magento Marketplace has more than about 3,200 free and paid extensions, and extensions can be additionally introduced after asking a professional company to check the operation of the extensions. The following are some examples of Magento extensions, but please contact a professional companies for more details.

    • Introduction of major international payments
    • Overseas eBay Amazon Linkage
    • Membership sales function
    • Pre-order function
    • SEO enhancement measures
    • B2B quotation function
    • Customer tracking function
    • QR code sales function
    • Multi-language, multi-currency capabilities
    • Fixed Price Sales Function
    • Issuance discount coupons and points
    • Many more

    ●Points to choose
    Both Shopify and Magento offer a wide variety of applications and extensions, but the common points to consider for your main website are whether they fit with your company's predetermined management methods, whether they are applications or extensions that are easy to use from the operator's perspective, whether they are stable, whether they can correspond to EC platform upgrades, and whether they have a track record of implementation. You will need to do a comprehensive check and will need advice from experts.

  • Payment methods

    When running an online store, it is very important to implement a secure payment method. In particular, if you are selling your products to overseas users, having a reliable means of payment can affect your sales.

    Shopify offers 29 different payment methods for businesses based in Japan. Shopify has its own payment method called "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 from 3.4%~, but if you want to use other payment methods, you will need to pay an additional fee of 2% or more.

    There are a variety of payment methods such as credit card, debit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Shop Pay, PayPal, Amazon Pay, KOMOJU, mobile carrier payment, Paidy, GMO Epsilon, SB Payment Service, etc., and each payment method has different payment fees. Also, please note that the available payments vary depending on the country where you have registered Shopify.

    Magento can adopt Stripe (including credit cards, Alipay, WeChatPay, etc.) and PayPal for cross-border EC, and GMO Payment Gateway for EC in Japan.

    ●Points to choose
    Both Shopify and Magento have flexible payment and can use many payment services, but if you want to use Stripe payment with Alipay and WeChat Pay, which are required in China's cross-border EC, Magento is recommended. Basically, the international payment methods to be introduced differs depending on the target country of cross-border EC sales, so it is best to get advice from an expert before considering and deciding.

  • SEO

    As for SEO settings, both Shopify and Magento provide it as a standard feature. Stores built on both platforms are compatible with Google and other search engines and may rank higher in search results. By installing apps and extensions, It is possible to have a more sophisticated SEO strategy.

    Both Shopify and Magento allow you to take the necessary steps from Shopify's editor and Magento's CMS (Content Management System) to make your store more easily set up to be search engine friendly. This means that a minimum of SEO is provided by the standard features without the need to add extensions, apps, or other extensions.

    For example, you can define how you want the title and description of the page to appear on the search results page. This will tell search engines more about your store and make it easier to show up in searches for users who are looking to buy the products.

    You can also add alternative text (alt) to your product images so that search engines can recognize them, or set up sharing buttons and links to social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    If you want even more advanced functionality, you can add extensions that support advanced SEO in the App Store for Shopify or Magento Marketplace for Magento. You can apply various measures such as speed up to display the site, meta tag settings, SEO score check, search rank check, etc.

    ●Points to chooose
    If you want to install additional apps on Shopify for advanced SEO, you will need to pay around $10-$30 monthly subscription fee instead of making one time payment only. In the case of Magento, you can purchase over hundreds of advanced SEO extensions from Marketplace, and you just need to pay once.

  • Operational cost

    One of the major differences between Shopify and Magento is that Shopify uses the EC platform hosted by Shopify as it is, while if you use open source version of Magento, you need to operate and maintain it on your own cloud-based servers.

    Shopify does not required to be operated on your own servers, and operating costs are included in the monthly fee. Magento is said to be the best option for small to large companies, although you will have to operate and maintain the cloud server on your own or hire a development company to operate and maintain it for you.

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

    The costs associated with Shopify are paid on a monthly basis, but there are a few initial fees that you should be aware of when setting up your online store. Shopify offers free design themes, but they also have paid themes to expand your site building options, ranging in price from $10 to $200.

    If you do not want to use your own domain name, it will be randomly chosen by Shopify.
    (Example: www.jgrab.myshopify.com)
    If you want to use your own domain name, you will have to pay an initial acquisition fee and renew it every year.

    The average cost of Magento infrastructure maintenance and operation agency is from 50,000 yen per month, and you should be able to choose a cloud server by consulting with the construction company depending on the scale of your EC site and the number of products. Design and theme are included in the initial construction cost, even if you choose a paid and proven design. You can choose your own domain name to start the operation. It is also possible to use subdomains.

    ●Points to choose
    The initial cost of building a cross-border EC site, as well as the operation and maintenance costs, will vary depending on the scale of the EC site to be built, the number of products, the number of languages, and whether or not additional functions are required. If you want to reduce the initial cost, Shopify is the way to go, and if you have some budget for flexibility and customization, Magento is the way to go. Also, Shopify charges a monthly fee, while Magento charges a certain amount of money for the initial build only. In any case, the mid- to long-term cost performance will vary depending on the number of products, the functions you want to use, your domain, and other requirements.

General Review of Shopify and Magento

Shopify is a very easy to use e-commerce cart service because it can be opened in a short period of time, changes are relatively easy because they can be made from the administration screen, and there is no need to update the software. Detailed design and functional customization can be difficult to achieve, but you can focus on fitting what can be arranged within the admin panel. In contrast, Magento is the best choice for stores that are relatively large in scale, require flexible design and customization, and want to use additional features such as B2B functions.

Also, instead of focusing on these two services, you should make sure to check out other e-commerce carts and services such as WooCommerce and Big commerce. In the end, it is important to choose the most suitable platform after comparing its functions and future potential, and determining whether the service is necessary for your company, whether it has affinity, and whether the ROI can be strategically realized.

We have reviewed the similarities and differences between Shopify and Magento as a comparison, but if you are still not sure which one to use, we are here to help you. From a neutral and impartial standpoint, our cross-border EC consultants will advise you on the most appropriate EC cart and construction methods. Please feel free to contact us for more information.


Edit:j-Grab Cross-border EC Lab


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