Medusa vs. Shopify: Comparing both CMS tools

Medusa vs. Shopify: Comparing both CMS tools

A Content Management System (CMS) is a software tool that enables users to efficiently create, manage and publish various forms of digital content, including text, images, videos, and documents, on websites or other online platforms. This article will compare two e-commerce platforms -Medusa and Shopify- outlining the features that are unique to each platform and those that are similar to both platforms, so you can better decide what to use.

What is Medusa?

Medusa is an open-source, headless, JavaScript-based e-commerce platform that allows developers to build online stores and marketplaces.

A headless CMS (Content Management System) is a content management tool that provides a way to create, store, manage, and deliver content. Still, it is designed to be used without any front-end presentation layer. The content is stored in a backend system, where it can be managed and organized, and then it is exposed through an API (Application Programming Interface) to be consumed by any front-end application, such as websites, mobile apps, or other digital platforms.

Medusa is designed to be highly customizable, making it a popular choice for developers who need to build complex e-commerce websites. It also includes an API that enables developers to integrate it with other applications and services.

It provides a wide range of features and tools to help developers build scalable and customizable e-commerce applications. It also includes features such as product management, inventory management, and payment gateway integration, to name a few.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows businesses to create and manage online stores. It provides a range of tools to help users build, manage, and market their online stores. These include customizable website templates, a user-friendly content management system, a secure shopping cart system, payment processing, shipping integration, and marketing and analytics tools.

One of the key benefits of Shopify is its ease of use, and it provides a simple and intuitive interface that allows even non-technical users to build and manage an online store.

While Shopify offers some customization options through its app store and theme customization features, the platform’s source code is not available to the public for modification or distribution.

Medusa vs. Shopify

Medusa and Shopify are both e-commerce platforms that allow developers to build online stores. However, let’s examine a few parameters to help developers compare Medusa and Shopify platforms.


With Medusa, you can completely control the platform’s code and customize it to suit your specific needs. This means you can create custom features and functionality tailored to your business. Since Medusa is an open-source e-commerce platform, it offers more flexibility and customization options than Shopify.

On the other hand, Shopify provides a range of customization options through its app store and theme marketplace. This means that users are limited to the features provided by the platform. However, Shopify is a good option if you are looking for a more user-friendly solution.


Medusa is an open-source eCommerce platform that can be used for free. It means that you will have full control and ownership of your code and store, as well as flexibility in what you do with it. However, large-scale businesses using Medusa may still need to pay for a dedicated support channel, architectural guidance, and guaranteed response time. You can visit them here to know more about the setup and pricing.

Shopify is a paid service but offers first-time users a free 3-days trial. It offers a tiered pricing structure for its services, and the pricing depends on the features and services selected. The basic package is $24/month for two staff accounts, and the Shopify package is $69/month for five staff accounts. The highest tier is the advanced package available at $299/month for fifteen staff accounts. Shopify offers alternative solutions for your business, such as the starter pack available for $1 a month and the Shopify Plus package available for $2,000/month, an all-in-one solution for high-volume businesses. Lastly, the modular pricing package is based on component usage. You can visit them here to know more about the pricing structure for Shopify.

Code Availability

Medusa is an open-source headless e-commerce platform, meaning its code is publicly available for anyone to view, modify, and distribute. Being open source, it attracts more developers who can contribute towards enhancing it for personal and public benefit.

Shopify is not an open-source platform, meaning its code is not available to the public for viewing, modification, or distribution. Access is limited to Shopify’s development team. This automatically limits the level of customization that businesses can achieve with Shopify.


Medusa supports the multi-currency feature, allowing businesses to sell their products in different currencies. The platform uses real-time currency exchange rates to automatically convert prices and display them in the customer’s preferred currency. It also set up different payment methods for different currencies, allowing customers to pay using their preferred payment method.

One of the features of Shopify is to sell products in multiple currencies, which can be useful for businesses that operate in different regions and countries. With this feature, customers can view prices and complete transactions in their preferred currency, while sellers can receive payment in their local currency. This feature can be set up on your Shopify store with a third-party payment provider, enabled in the Shopify admin panel.

Structure and Plugins.

The structure of Medusa consists of three main components: Headless Server, Admin Dashboard, and Storefront.

  • Headless server: Since it is headless, it is accessed and managed through REST APIs. The Medusa server handles every configuration performed on the storefront by the users.
  • Admin Dashboard: This is where you manage your data and configure settings on your store. Only personnel with authorization can access the admin dashboard.
  • Storefront: This provides the interface where consumers or buyers look for and buy products. A good example of a storefront is the Amazon website. Medusa provides two starter storefronts, one built using Next.js and one using Gatsby. Medusa also allows users to build storefronts by interacting with the REST APIs.

Shopify is structured to provide a simple and scalable platform that allows businesses of all sizes to create and operate an online store. Shopify is structured to solve scalability and maintainability issues by providing users with integrations, applications, and developer support.

Medusa and Shopify both offer extensions and plugins to help extend functionality for your store.


Medusa is a newer e-commerce platform geared toward businesses with more complex needs. Its open-source framework and customizable features have gained a following among developers. While Medusa may not be as widely used as Shopify, it has a dedicated community of users who appreciate its flexibility and the ability to tailor it to their needs.

Shopify is currently the more widely-used platform, with over 4.4 million businesses using it to power their online stores in over 175 countries around the world in 2023. It was created in 2006 as a solution for selling snowboarding equipment online, and it quickly evolved into an all-in-one e-commerce platform catering to online stores of all sizes in a wide mix of industries.

Ease of use

Medusa is an advanced e-commerce platform that’s designed for businesses with more complex needs. While Medusa offers more customization options and flexibility over Shopify, it can be complicated to set up. It requires some technical knowledge, including familiarity with command-line interfaces.

Shopify is a great option for users who want to quickly set up an online store with little or no technical knowledge. Shopify is a user-friendly platform with a large user base and is widely recognized as one of the leading e-commerce platforms in the market. It offers a wide range of features, including payment processing, website design tools, and marketing tools.

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How to install Medusa CLI

Medusa CLI is a command-line interface for Medusa, an open-source e-commerce platform. To install the Medusa CLI, ensure that Node.js is installed on your system. Next, open a terminal or command prompt and run the following command to install Medusa CLI globally.

npm install -g @medusajs/medusa-cli

Then, install a Medusa server with the following command.

medusa new openreplay-Medusa-store --seed

Great! Your server now resides in the openreplay-Medusa-store directory. The --seed option creates an SQLite database at the root of the project, which holds dummy data for your server. To check the version number of the Medusa CLI, use the command below.

medusa --version

That’s it! You have successfully installed Medusa CLI on your system. You can now use it to create, manage, and deploy Medusa-powered e-commerce stores.

How to install Shopify CLI

With the Shopify command line interface (Shopify CLI 3.0), you can:

  • build custom storefronts and manage their hosting.
  • initialize, build, dev, and deploy Shopify apps — and generate app extensions.

To install the Shopify CLI, ensure that you have Node.js version 14.17.0 or higher installed on your system. Next, open a terminal or command prompt and run the following command to install Shopify CLI globally.

npm install -g @shopify/cli

To verify that Shopify CLI is installed properly, run the following command:

shopify version


Medusa and Shopify are both e-commerce platforms designed to help businesses sell products online. Since they are both e-commerce platforms, there are tons of similarities between them, some of which include the following:

  • Scalability: Medusa and Shopify are both scalable and can support businesses of all sizes. They are built on a cloud-based structure that can handle high levels of traffic.
  • Customizable: Both platforms allow customization of the storefront to create a unique brand identity for users.
  • Payment Processing: Both platforms offer integrated payment processing options, which makes it easy for businesses to accept payments from customers.
  • Cloud-based: Both platforms are cloud-based, meaning that they can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Community Support: Both platforms have active communities of developers and access to documentation to guide you throughout the development process.

Key Differences

Medusa and Shopify are both e-commerce platforms, but they have some notable differences. Some of which include:

  • Hosting: With Medusa, the user is responsible for hosting the platform and managing the infrastructure. In contrast, Shopify provides hosting and infrastructure management as part of its service.
  • Pricing: Medusa is an open-source platform, which makes it available for free to the public for use, while Shopify has multiple pricing plans that range from $29 to $299 per month, depending on the features you need.
  • Technical Expertise: Medusa requires more technical knowledge and development experience to set up and customize, while Shopify provides a more user-friendly experience during customization; this makes it a great option for users who want to quickly set up an online store with little or no technical knowledge.
  • Market share: Medusa is a newer and less widely-known platform that is gaining traction among developers and eCommerce businesses. Shopify is a much more established and widely-used platform with a larger market share and a significant presence in the eCommerce industry.

Medusa vs. Shopify - the most suitable option

Deciding on which will be the most suitable option between Medusa and Shopify if you want to start your e-commerce store will largely depend on your business needs and technical expertise. If you have a dedicated development team and require a high degree of customization, then Medusa may be the best option. However, if you’re a small to medium-sized business with minimal technical expertise and looking for a user-friendly platform with a range of features, then Shopify may be a better option.

You can also consult the similarities and key differences section earlier discussed to make a more informed decision.


Both Medusa and Shopify are powerful e-commerce platforms that offer a range of features and services designed to help businesses build and manage their online stores. The choice between the two platforms ultimately comes down to a business’s specific needs and budget.

Finally, Medusa may be a better option for businesses that require more customization and have the technical expertise to modify the source code, while Shopify may be a better option for businesses that want a more user-friendly and supported platform.

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