E-Commerce Software Comparison: Shopify vs. Magento (Adobe Commerce)

We reviewed Shopify and Adobe Commerce (Magento) using our Composable Agility Score rating system. Learn more about the relative strengths and weaknesses of each platform.


Shopify and Magento (now Adobe Commerce Cloud) are popular e-commerce solutions serving businesses of all sizes. We reviewed the two companies using our proprietary Composable Agility Score (CA Score) rating system and explain below how Shopify compares to Adobe Commerce (Magento). Continue reading to learn more about the two platforms and which use cases they best serve.

Shopify and Adobe Commerce (Magento): a brief overview

Shopify was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. At the end of 2021, over 2 million merchants in 175 countries were using Shopify; they generated a total of US$175.4 billion in Gross Merchandise Volume that year. Shopify itself generated $4.611 billion in revenue in 2021. The company has around 10,000 employees.

The software behind Adobe Commerce Cloud was developed by Varien, Inc. in Culver City, USA under the name Magento. It launched publicly in 2008 and was acquired by Adobe in 2018. In 2019, Adobe released Adobe Commerce Cloud, which is built on Magento and offered as a cloud-hosted solution that is integrated into the Adobe Experience Cloud.

Both platforms make multiple versions of the software available: Shopify offers several different plans for businesses at every stage of growth, ranging from the “Starter” edition to the enterprise system Shopify Plus. Magento (Adobe Commerce) is also available as a free, self-hosted, open-source software called Magento Open Source, and as a managed enterprise version called Magento, which is not integrated into the Adobe Experience Cloud. This review covers Shopify Plus and the Adobe Commerce Cloud platform.

Shopify vs. Adobe Commerce (Magento): how are they different?

Our analysis shows that Shopify is the more modern, agile platform of the two. Shopify’s overall CA score was 5.8, while Adobe Commerce (Magento)’s was 5.1.

Shopify’s highest score was for the category Headless, where it earned 7.8 points, while its lowest score was for Modularity at 2.6. Adobe (Magento) had the same highest and lowest categories: 6.1 for Headless and 3.8 for Modularity.

Although Shopify’s overall score is only slightly higher than Adobe’s, this is due to a particularly low Modularity score. In most categories, Shopify scored significantly higher than Adobe. Let’s look at the five categories in more detail.

The largest difference in scores between Shopify and Adobe (Magento) was for Headless

The Headless score tells us how decoupled the front end and back end are for each platform. Shopify received a score of 7.8 for this criteria, whereas Adobe scored only 6.1.

Shopify offers a fully decoupled front end, which makes it a truly headless solution. Adobe Commerce (Magento), on the other hand, is not headless despite offering extensive front end customization options.

Users who don’t need headless commerce will find the customization options for the two platforms similar, but not identical. Adobe offers a variety of front-end skins and UI options, as well as an out-of-the-box PWA front end, which users can build using the PWA Studio.

Shopify does not offer a native PWA front end, but third-party PWA storefronts are available on the app store. Like Adobe, Shopify gives users access to a wide variety of third-party integrations and pre-made themes on their marketplace. It also makes software development kits (SDKs) available for app development, including a sales channel SDK. However, no SDKs are available for back end functions.

Cloud Nativity: significant differences between Shopify vs. Magento (Adobe Commerce)

The Cloud Nativity score tells us if the software’s design takes full advantage of cloud architecture. Potential advantages of cloud nativity include elasticity and seamless updates.

Shopify scored significantly higher in Cloud Nativity, with a score of 6.8. Adobe Commerce scored a still-respectable 5.6.

As a cloud-based SaaS with multi-tenant operation, Shopify takes advantage of cloud native architecture. Customers enjoy a fully managed system with seamless updates, automatic scaling and easy maintenance options. It utilizes both Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform.

Adobe Commerce Cloud (Magento) on the other hand, is hosted in the cloud but does take full advantage of the technology. Commerce Cloud customers are responsible for their own updates, which is less convenient than Shopify’s model. And although Adobe offers modern features like on-demand self-service and resource pooling, auto-scaling is not available. This limits adaptability during traffic spikes. As both seamless updates and scaling are core strengths of cloud native architecture, their absence lowers Adobe’s score in this category.

API First: a moderate difference between Shopify and Adobe Commerce (Magento)

The API First score tells us if this software is built around APIs, which allow it to communicate with other applications. An API-first architecture means that virtually all data can be accessed by other applications, offering businesses the chance to customize their software stack with best-of-breed integrations.

Shopify scored a respectable 5.9 in the API First category, whereas Adobe Commerce (Magento) scored a slightly lower 4.9. While neither software takes a truly API-first approach, Shopify’s API access is somewhat more extensive.

Both platforms offer fairly good API coverage for front end development and customizations. Adobe Commerce uses the Magento API framework, but the API layer was added as an afterthought and the graphical user interface (GUI) is permanently coupled, which limits flexibility.

Shopify offers a variety of APIs for storefront, admin, partners, payment applications and messaging. The APIs are well-documented and meet modern security standards with GraphQL. Software development kits (SDKs) make it possible to add payment functionalities such as iOS and Android.

When it comes to back end APIs, Adobe wins out. Shopify offers no back-end APIs — back-end functionality can only be added using rigid code integrations from the Shopify app Store. Adobe, on the other hand, has its built in PWA framework that communicates with the back end via APIs. These APIs follow several industry standards such as OAUTH and REST. However, they are primarily hard coded and don’t provide versioning.

Overall, both platforms offer decent API coverage for the front end, but lack the flexibility that an API-first approach would provide.

Adobe Commerce and Adobe (Magento) are very similar in terms of Modularity

The Modularity score tells us how easily the software can be customized by adding and removing individual software functions. Older software is generally monolithic, which is the opposite of modular.

Both platforms received lower scores in this category, with Shopify scoring 2.6 and Adobe Commerce (Magento) receiving a score of 3.3.

Shopify takes what it calls a “modular monolithic” approach, offering a precomposed software without any microservices. Many functionalities can be added via the app store, but they are not functionally independent like a true microservice would be. Adobe is much the same, offering a few additional services that can be added at extra cost. It is not possible to remove unneeded functions from either platform.

Shopify and Adobe Commerce (Magento) score similarly for Composability

The Composability score tells us how easily the software lets you build scalable and customized software solutions. Shopify and Adobe Commerce (Magento) earned virtually the same score in this category, with 5.9 and 5.8 points, respectively.

Both platforms are precomposed and monolithic; they cannot be pieced together from scratch, and unneeded functions cannot be removed. While each offers a wide range of themes, apps and third-party integrations, none of these is functionally independent, nor can they be independently scaled up or down. As a result, neither platform can be considered truly composable.

Shopify vs. Magento (Adobe): who is the winner?

Shopify offers better composable agility than Adobe Commerce (Magento), receiving higher scores in four out of five categories. Shopify’s SaaS approach makes better use of cloud architecture while offering headless commerce to boot. Adobe Commerce (Magento) is not headless, updates are more complex, and it has less comprehensive API coverage than Shopify. Businesses that are currently using services from the Adobe Experience Cloud might prefer Adobe Commerce, but overall Shopify is the more modern, agile platform. In particular, businesses that need a headless architecture and prefer seamless updates will be happier with Shopify.

Evaluation methodology.

Working together with scientists and industry leaders from the respective cloud areas, our evaluations are based on an industry peer review standard that meets the highest standards of objectivity. All the insights are combined in a single figure, which means they can be applied more easily and effectively from both a technical and a business perspective.

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