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Shopify vs. Medusa — Comparing the Open Source Alternative


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MedusaShopifyWebsite Builders & E-Commerce Platforms

Summary (TL;DR): In this article, we are going to discuss two e-commerce platforms — Shopify & Medusa. We’ll compare the two, taking into consideration such elements as backend customization, site performance, cost, scalability, extensions & apps, API for developers and more.

The pandemic was a time of massive change in the e-commerce industry, as many companies were forced to go online in order to survive.

There was a huge increase in global e-commerce to nearly $26.7 trillion dollars, according to the United Nations, making it one of the biggest industries in the world.

The modern e-commerce platform serves as a crucial first point of contact for customers, allowing businesses to deliver customized views of some of their available information and allowing them to work more quickly and more effectively.

In this blog post, we will learn about and compare Shopify — a popular e-commerce platform, and Medusa — the new e-commerce platform on the block.

While You Are Here, Why Not Learn How To Build Shopify App With React, NodeJS and Common Ninja?

Table of Contents

What Is Shopify?
What Is Medusa?
Comparing Shopify and Medusa
>> Comparison by Backend Customization
>> Comparison by Site Performance
>> Comparison by Omnichannel Support
>> Comparison by Cost
>> Comparison by Multi-Currency Support
>> Comparison by Scalability and Maintainability
>> Comparison by Extensions and Apps
>> Comparison by API for Developers

What Is Shopify?

Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform for online merchants that also includes a POS (point of sale) system for accepting payments in physical stores. It allows businesses to develop a multi-channel experience that highlights their brand. Shopify is a great option for businesses of all sizes. You may construct a website and use their shopping cart solution to sell, ship, and manage your products with their subscription-based platform.

Shopify includes several tools to assist you in analyzing every area of your online store. It also comes with lots of add-ons enabling you to do more. Notable add-ons include Shopify payments for accepting credit cards and Shopify markets for international businesses.

What Is Medusa?

According to the official documentation: Medusa is a free and open-source Shopify competitor. It’s an e-commerce platform for all businesses that enables you to create, grow, and manage your business. 

Medusa is a headless commerce engine, which means it can be used for any type of digital commerce experience. It can be used as the backend for an app a traditional e-commerce website, or for social commerce experiences. All of these cases are supported by Medusa.

Comparing Shopify and Medusa

This section will cover the comparison between Shopify and Medusa. This comparison will enable a well-informed choice into which is best for you. We will use metrics like backend customization, site performance, and omnichannel support.

Comparison by Backend Customization

An e-commerce backend is a data layer that holds customer information as well as products and orders. It facilitates the operation of websites by processing, storing, and transporting data to and from the customer-facing side.

By backend customization, we are talking about making changes to the data layer based on business needs or product customization in order to improve the customer experience.

Shopify uses a monolithic architecture. The monolithic architecture lacks flexibility and makes backend customization harder because everything is composed in one piece. Shopify provides another option for backend customization by offering the Shopify plus option. This allows for backend customization through their Hydrogen setup.

Medusa is built with customization in mind with various out-of-the-box features for customizing your backend. This means that you can make changes based on your needs and also improve the customer experience without any hacky workaround.

Comparison by Site Performance

Site performance is a measure of how rapidly your e-commerce website’s pages load and display in a browser. Faster websites make for more conversion rates, attract more mobile shoppers and make more sales.

Shopify hosts your online store on fast global servers, which doesn’t limit your store’s bandwidth. Certain factors can still limit your site’s performance like additional apps, features and custom integrations. You sacrifice speed when you add apps to change the appearance or functionality of your online store. One solution to this is by disabling app features that you don’t need when using Shopify.

Medusa’s headless design frees up the frontend from the constraints of the backend. This means your store loads independently of the backend and only communicates with it to retrieve or post data thereby improving the site’s performance. Also, any other additional features or custom integrations that you may want are added as plugins to your Medusa server. This way they won’t impair your site’s performance.

Comparison by Omnichannel Support

Omnichannel support is a sales strategy that allows merchants to provide customers with a consistent experience across all channels (online stores, social media, physical stores, etc.).Each sales channel is connected, giving customers a uniform purchasing experience across any combination of touchpoints. This allows merchants to manage orders in the same logistical manner regardless of where the client places the order.

To enable omnichannel support, you need an e-commerce platform that allows you to utilize your store’s resources across platforms and devices in the same way.

Shopify plans (Basic, Shopify, and Advanced) don’t clearly outline how to enable omnichannel in your store. There are a few apps that provide it when using Shopify, but you will often require more than one. This can cause your store to slow down even more, as well as fill it with more apps. Shopify offers a solution for omnichannel support through its Shopify Plus subscription, which costs $2000 per month.

Medusa comes with omnichannel support by default. The REST APIs from Medusa are built to be consumed consistently regardless of which client sends the queries. As a result, your users will have a consistent experience across both e-commerce websites and mobile apps. Medusa provides omnichannel support without the need for additional integrations or expenditures.

Comparison by Cost

Shopify comes with plans for everyone. The plans range from basic to advanced, all of which come with a free trial to enable you to make a well-informed choice.

Medusa’s open-source nature means that it is free of charge to use.

Comparison by Multi-Currency Support

Multi-currency support refers to the ability to give your customers the choice to view prices and also pay for goods and services in their local currencies. This allows merchants to set the product’s price for each currency separately and in local currencies.

Shopify handles this with the Shopify Pay feature and the Shopify Market feature. One con is that merchants that need customizability for various pricing formats will need to go for an Advanced plan or create multiple stores to manage multiple currencies.

Medusa comes with a central admin dashboard that allows you to handle multiple currencies. 

Comparison by Scalability and Maintainability

Scalability is the ability to grow your e-commerce system to meet the needs of your business’s online growth. The majority of e-commerce stores begin modestly and grow over time. This means that there is no need for complex integrations in the beginning but there might be a need for them as your business grows. Therefore, there is a need for an e-commerce platform that scales with your business. 

Shopify solves scalability issues by growing with your business and providing a diverse range of integrations, apps, and developers to help with any business size.

Medusa scales to meet the needs of growing organizations. A company can customize its e-commerce platform to meet its specific requirements, or ensure that the server can handle more users or products at a cheaper cost.

Comparison by Extensions and Apps

Apps and extensions are features that extend the functionality of your e-commerce store.

Shopify and Medusa come with tons of extensions, plugins, and apps that extend the functionality of your application.

Comparison by API for Developers

Shopify comes with different APIs that let developers build applications and integrations on top of Shopify. Shopify APIs offer merchants customization and efficiency, as well as a better shopping experience for customers.

Medusa also comes with REST APIs which gives you more flexibility when optimizing your storefront. You have the freedom to choose your frontend framework and connect to Medusa.

Conclusion

You should select an e-commerce platform that will meet your current business needs while also allowing you to scale your firm as it grows.

We looked at Shopify, an online e-commerce platform trusted by brands such as Fitbit, Red Bull GmbH, PepsiCo Inc, and others, as well as Medusa, a fast-growing e-commerce and headless CMS platform with a great developer community and over 11k stars on Github.

Medusa offers unrestricted expansion and integration possibilities. You can use Contentful, MailChimp, Paypal, and other platforms to integrate with Medusa.