Can’t decide whether you should use Magento, Shopify or have a custom e-commerce solution built for your business? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Technology has come a long way and there are so many solutions available on the market now, it’s hard to know which way to go. We’re going to demystify it for you so you can make the right decision for your business.

Platform Overview – Magento, Shopify or Custom?

Magento and Shopify are two of the most popular e-commerce platforms on the market today.

Shopify is known as an easy-to-use solution for building online stores. Its interface and user experience make it very easy to start selling within hours of signing up for an account. It’s what’s known as ‘closed source’, meaning you cannot make edits to the core platform itself, or deeply customise it the way you want. That being said, most businesses will find the out-of-the-box solution suitable for their needs.

Some businesses you might know that use it are JB Hifi, Harris Farm Markets or Dyson.

Magento is an open-source platform, like WordPress, which is the most popular content management system in the market today. Open-source simply means you download it, install it on your web server, and you then modify it as you see fit. Magento is often referred to as the most adaptable shopping cart system out there today, since it enables complete control of the shop’s appearance, content and features. It’s highly scalable and is easily expanded from a few dozen products, to many thousands of products.

Some businesses you might know on Magento are: Harvey Norman, Petbarn or Skechers shoes.

Finally let’s take a look at Custom E-commerce Platforms. This means building one from the ground up. Like custom designing a house with an architect versus building and modifying from a design. You are free to build any features you like, choose your coding language, frameworks and other tools that you want. On the design side, your creativity is the limit and there is very little here that developers cannot do.

e-Commerce platforms currently using custom solutions include: Booktopia, David Jones and Bunnings.

Features and Functionality

So how do you decide which one is right for your business? Let’s take a look at the features and functionality, and make some comparisons.

Basic functionality

Both Shopify and Magento offer some flexible out-of-the-box store functionalities that are a great option to build your business on. You’ll find that in both, basic features like shopping carts, checkout modules, search and product pages are all included.

Custom systems unfortunately take significantly greater time and effort to build, because every feature needs to be built from the ground up. By comparison, it comes in as a distant third by way of a basic functionality offering.

Inventory management

Shopify, Magento and custom solutions will all allow you to create and sell an unlimited number of products. The differences really come into play when it comes to integrations with third-party inventory management systems. Whilst Shopify has some great apps in their app store, Magento and custom are the clear winners here by way of integrations. For larger retailers we have dealt with this functionality, which has played a big role in their final platform decision.

Shipping and shipping integrations

All platform choices will allow flexible and powerful options for the calculation of shipping charges. Shopify has the best mix of out-of-the-box and add-on solutions, followed by Magento. One of the key parts of your decision here is a look into your logistics or supply chain solution as a whole. Custom platforms are very capable of handling complex stock and logistics processes and tracking systems, and it’s often the choice for businesses with this problem.


By way of technical integration, Shopify supports over 70 payment gateways, while Magento supports a far lower number. Custom will allow integration with any payment gateway in the market and is perfect for when you have a large volume of transactions. If you are using disbursement systems like Stripe Connect or complex multi-currency systems, custom certainly makes this a lot easier.

No matter who your payment gateway is through, don’t hesitate to reach out to their sales rep before signing up for a plan. Quite often, you can negotiate more favourable rates than are publicly listed.

Making the Decision

Shopify has been very successful in the market for years, and they are evolving all the time. In our opinion, it’s a great option for when you are starting out and your business is a small to medium size. Magento is the halfway point between Shopify and custom, with some fantastic out-of-the-box features, and complex systems for shipping, payments and tracking.

If you run a large store, and want to implement a lot of different features, then you can consider custom as the best option. Its unlimited flexibility and customisation capacity is impressive and endless. Remember, whatever you decide, base your decision on where you want to be and not only where you are today.