Shopify vs. Medusa

by Iskandar Kurbanov

Medusa vs. Shopify: eCommerce CMS Battle

Quick comparison between Medusa and Shopify

Nowadays, eCommerce platforms have become the first choice of every business owner who plans to expand his business to attract more customers and reduce costs. Suppose we set aside the traditional online shopping experience and move towards a single solution that provides all the e-commerce features on a single platform. In this case, ecommerce giant, Shopify, has created a benchmark in attracting more customers to its easy-to-manage tools to control your business. But to enjoy all the features of Shopify, you will likely need to create custom solutions, which can be difficult on a closed system. Therefore, to overcome these types of issues regarding customization, Medusa is attractive for developers who want an easy-to-manage open-source headless ecommerce platform that they can easily modify.

Medusa has brought a revolution in the ecommerce development field as the architecture of this open-source is abstraction-based that supports developers to customize the design and the functionality of the ecommerce platform, which was not allowed in ecommerce Shopify. It is not like that if you have an ecommerce platform and you will immediately start selling your products by expecting growth. If your business does not require a customized website and you wish to choose an easy-to-manage shopping cart, then, in this case, Medusa would not work well as Shopify would be the best choice for you.

But if you expect that all the integration and customization should be of your choice from the home page to the checkout page, you need an expert developer to manage everything for you. And when your developer gets two options Medusa vs. Shopify, it will be a difficult choice.

Technical comparison between Medusa and Shopify

Apart from its native headless setup, Medusa provides similar features to Shopify. For example, we talk about payment gateways, checkout and fulfillment flow, shipping and stock management, user profile management, and many other features available with the Medusa ecommerce platform. By having a native headless backend feature, for which you have to pay in the case of Shopify, as it supports themes and their functionality, Medusa is becoming more popular in the market. However, Shopify is continuing to be a great choice for ecommerce development as it is a closed-source platform that is easy to manage and newer developers will have an easier time getting started.

This ecommerce headless also provides a region-based payment transaction feature. There is a full list of all the supporting features available on GitHub.

Different Architecture

If you want to understand the technicality of Medusa in one shot, then you have to focus on one thing it carries an abstraction-based architecture that allows developers to make the best of its abstraction layer by using the APIs to enhance the functionalities of the given ecommerce project.

On the other hand, if we talk about Shopify, its functionality allows you to control your store activities. It provides you with a bunch of features that can make your online store look more professional. While talking about business marketing, Shopify provides some marketing tools that help you to improve your business and product ranking on the search engine.

Shopify is quite simple to use as anyone from a non-IT background can control their business by using its features. But when we talk about its architecture, which is completely undiversified, it becomes more complex to customize the features. Therefore, while comparing Medusa vs. Shopify, the developer will have to make a decision on which one is the best choice for them. For most businesses, Shopify is cheap enough and easy enough to use that they don't look elsewhere.

Different Admin Panel

As we know, Shopify and Medusa are highly demanding ecommerce platform as anyone can take control over their admin panels. But few differences keep both of them set aside as Medusa has built-in flow functionality that allows users to manage support claims, exchange flow, returns, etc. While Shopify carries built-in support functionality that supports analytics and marketing where Medusa lags.

In total, Shopify’s admin panel is an easy-to-use system. On the other hand, Medusa’s admin panel is customizable as there is no limit to extending the structure. To make it feature-rich by adding extra services like marketing, analytics, etc., you can design its panel as per your requirements.

Frontend Functionality

Whether you use any technology for the backend to enhance the functionality, it will be difficult for you to cross your competitors if your frontend structure is not attractive and user-friendly.

If we talk about the frontend features of Shopify, it provides a wide range of themes; among them, some are free, and for some with advanced features, you will have to pay upwards of $300. Shopify also has an enterprise solution, Shopify Plus, which costs around $2,000/month. This plan offers additional customization features and is designed for the enterprise businesses with ultra high traffic stores and unique needs.

In addition to themes, Shopify allows for headless solutions which are easy to implement. Check for more information.

If we take Medusa, while designing the frontend, its headless setup doesn’t impact the backend, as when the developer designs the frontend, the backend gets detached from the structure. If you want to go for ready-to-use storefronts, then Medusa provides you with two options; one is based upon Next.js, and the other is on Gatsby. By using REST APIs of Medusa, you can develop your framework.

Conclusion of Medusa vs. Shopify

Shopify provides good features to make its users feel comfortable while taking control of their online store. Medusa is a much more hands-on approach to ecommerce and will require more time to get setup. However, Medusa is more flexible where as Shopify can be more opinionated and restricted in their approach. At the end of the day, each ecommerce platform has its own unique features and benefits. While from my experience, Shopify has been a great choice for the majority of business I have worked with, Medusa is worth keeping an eye on going into the future.