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magento & ecommerce

Magento vs Shopify – Which One Offers More Freedom

Magento and Shopify are only similar in the sense that they are both eCommerce platforms that help you have your webstore. Other than that, the two are vastly different beasts. The discrepancies here are outlined in many aspects, but one of the biggest differences is the amount of freedom they offer.

If what you’re looking for in an eCommerce platform is freedom, you’ll want to secure the right one as soon as possible. You wouldn’t want to have to migrate from one platform to another.

The Common Ground

Although there are many differences between Magento and Shopify, let’s try and find common ground first, just so that you know where you stand.

For one, both of these platforms offer a variety of functionalities and features. Depending on certain eCommerce aspects, either one can provide a smooth flow to your online retail operations.

Both platforms feature a well-designed and simple-to-use user interface. Both platforms can facilitate your company’s growth, too.

So, with both platforms being so good, what’s the point of making a choice? Well, Magento and Shopify are both great but in different respects. They can take you down vastly different roads.

But, what about freedom? Which one of the two gives you more space?

SaaS vs PaaS

SaaS is short for Software as a Service, while PaaS means Platform as a Service. What does this mean? The former means that the platform in question is cloud-based, while the latter is open-source software.

Magento is PaaS, meaning that it’s completely open-source. Yes, Magento requires more IT expertise and assigned experts to create the actual webstore, but this means more freedom. Well, as long as you don’t mind paying more to hire an expert, that is.

Everything on Magento is crowd-sourced. There is a constant flow of upgrades, updates, and innovations here.

So, that would make Shopify SaaS, wouldn’t it? In a way, yes. As of now, Shopify is still regarded as a cloud-based eCommerce platform. That said, Shopify has been around for quite some time now (founded back in 2004). Since its inception, Shopify’s aim was on smaller to mid-sized businesses.

Now, Shopify currently has two options: subscriptions and merchant solutions. In terms of subscriptions, Shopify is a high-margin SaaS. However, Shopify’s merchant solutions are essentially transactional payment processing. That means that Shopify’s customers are charged a few dollars for every online transaction. Merchant solutions are growing faster than subscriptions.

Merchant solutions aren’t SaaS, and Shopify is rapidly moving in this direction.

But how does this impact the freedom that Shopify offers? Well, currently, Shopify is largely template-based. A change in tides might bring a bit more freedom to the table.

As of now, in terms of functionality and aesthetics of their webstores, Magento is a better solution.

Ease of Use

User-friendliness isn’t often considered an important aspect of “user freedom.” However, being limited in terms of ease of use can compromise your entire experience with the platform. Therefore, ease of use is considered a vital factor here.

Going online with your retail, whether you are just starting as a business or advancing onto the internet, is a daunting task. That’s why you likely want to go with an easy-to-use, self-explanatory platform that you can quickly learn how to use.

In this respect, Shopify takes the cake. As mentioned, Magento is open-source and, as such, way more complex. You definitely won’t be able to learn how to use Magento to its full extent in a few days. Shopify is a simple website builder. You have a list of customization options, and you make do.

Just move the elements around the page inside the builder and design your webstore. This platform allows you to insert themes, custom images, to add products, set up payments, as well as customize the store’s entire look and feel.

Magento is a CMS – Content Management System. It is significantly more technical and definitely won’t make too much sense to an untrained user. Think of using Magento as programming – you’ll likely have to hire an expert to set it up for you.

So, yes, as mentioned earlier, Magento may offer much more freedom, functionality, and flexibility but, when it comes to ease of use, Shopify comes out the winner any day of the week.

But does the ease of use mean more freedom? Well, it depends on your IT skills. If you don’t have any and don’t want to hire someone who does, none of the freedom that you get with Magento doesn’t matter.


Now, this may sound like a strange factor to consider when it comes to “freedom,” but in the case of Magento and Shopify, it counts.

Coming up with a webstore is a customer-oriented step – you’re taking your retail online so that your customers can buy from you. It means that the webstore’s theme should align with your customer’s taste.

Now, this may not sound like much, but the outlook of your webstore can make or break a purchase.

Shopify features more than 60 gorgeous, professional, and customizable themes. That’s more than enough for most users and should be enough for you.

Magento, on the other hand, offers only 16 pre-made customizable themes. That isn’t a wide palette. Does this mean that Shopify gives you more freedom in this section?

Well, no. Remember, Magento is fully-customizable. All it takes for you to make whatever you want is expertise; yours or someone else’s

Isn’t 60 themes enough, though? For some, it is. Others want to be able to create their very own theme, the way they see fit. In short, if you want to come up with your authentic webstore aesthetics, Magento brings much more freedom to the table. If you’re okay with choosing from 60 professional-looking themes, Shopify is likely a better choice.

So, Which One’s Better?

In theory, Magento offers much more freedom than Shopify. In a less literal meaning of the word “freedom,” Shopify pulls its weight and delivers. If you have an IT team to spare or some IT knowledge, Magento is a much better freedom choice. If you don’t, Shopify is the way to go.

Both of these two incredible eCommerce platforms are brilliant. The ultimate answer to the title question depends on what you need.

By interactivated • on November 30, 2019

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