Magento VS. Shopify: Managing Customers and Customer Groups

21 Mar 2016

If we try to describe eCommerce using running terms, we would definitely claim it’s a marathon. But it probably consist of loads of sprinters thinking they can do it. The problem is that they’re exhausted, drenched and tired somewhere in the back.

And apart from good will and enthusiasm, they need great equipment.

Success, for them, is in obvious requirements of course – they need great running shoes, shorts and a T-shirt, and a headband would be great, thank you!

But it also lies in details – how comfortable are those shoes? Is T-shirt dri-fit or is it a woollen one?

The fact is – in global you can say that you fulfill all of the necessary prerequisites to run the race.

But how much effort have you invested into details?

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If you are running an online store, details are what will get you win the race eventually.

There are so many stores, so many products, and still, if someone would ask you what is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions online shopping, it would be safe to claim that story ends with you naming three eCommerce giants.

Details are what got them there.

Having great products is essential, but the way you treat your potential customers is what will ensure success in the long run.

In one of our previous blog posts, we compared Shopify and Magento in terms of product launch.

We created two online stores with one idea only – reach conclusion which of two platforms can offer more to a store owner in terms of sales growth, market segmentation and other vital processes when running eCommerce business.

Which platform can ensure that you can run the race and have a chance of winning?

With this article, and by comparing what Shopify and Magento can do in terms of customers, customer segmentation and promotions, we wish to find out which one of the platforms can help you actually win in eCommerce.

We will cover:

Creating new customer


How to add new customer in Magento

Creating new customer in Magento is a rather simple and straightforward process.

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Navigating to Customers and choosing Managing Customers will let you start creating your new customer.

Now, enter data obtained from your customer (name, last name, shipping and billing address, state, city and zip code, tax class), and assign it to a specific customer group right away if you wish.

You can also easily generate customer’s password and subscribe your new customer to your newsletter (assuming that you were given permission to do so of course).


Essentially, the entire procedure doesn’t differ much from Magento’s.

You need to add name, last name, email, customer’s primary address, extra notes related to the customer or tags if you have any.

How to add new customer in Shopify

Procedure is basic and easy on both platforms.

Have in mind that tags are rather important when it comes to your customers.

According to Shopify Help Center:

“Using tags can help you organize your customer list. You can use tags to label your customers with categories or descriptive terms. For example, if you have wholesale customers, you can tag those customers as wholesale”.

Another reason why tags are important will come up later on, when we focus on customer groups.

Actually, we were close to calling it a tie, and then a little feature caught our eye – Wishlist.

And wish lists are great! According to Kissmetrics: “A wish list can successfully fight shopping cart abandonment, and keep people tuned in for a future purchase.”

It is the only thing that is related to online customer’s account managed by store owner, that is available as out of the box feature in Magento, and that Shopify offers only if you purchase third party app.

Still, we would have to call this one a tie since the whole procedure of adding new customer is easy on both platforms.

Also, both Shopify and Magento offer to the store owner to easily create orders for customers from admin panel, easily change and edit shipping and billing address, subscribe to newsletter and add tax class.

Managing customer groups

Creating customer groups on your online store based on certain parameters that you have previously defined, is what will ensure success for your online store.

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Segmenting your customers is vital, and it is what will help you perform targeting and improve personalization on your online store.

Magento Customer Groups

Magento, by default, comes with several customer groups such as Not logged in, General, Retailer, Wholesale.

And you can add more! In case you wish to segment customers that are subscribed to your email list, or those who are from a specific geo location, you can easily add more customer groups.

All you need to do is click Add New Customer Group orange button, enter group’s name, tax class, and you are all done.

Of course, having an empty customer group cannot help your online store in any way, so make sure you add your customers to their belonging groups.

It is an easy procedure, and there are more ways to do it. The easiest way is to assign certain customer group when creating customer for the first time.

If you are not able to do so, or if the nature of your relation with a certain customer grows and changes so that you need to change customer groups, you can easily change it by following these steps:

Note that you can change customer group for multiple customers at once by simply marking checkboxes next to customer’s name.

Changing customer group in Magento

And on the left hand side you will see…

Changing customer group for multiple customers in Magento

Under “Action”  – choose  “Assign to a customer group”. New tab – “Group”  will appear as shown in the screenshot above.

As you can see, creating new customer groups, adding customers to it, changing preferences related to one or more customers – it is all easily manageable from Magento admin panel.

Simply mark customer group that you wish for your customer and click orange Submit button.

Shopify Customer Groups

Shopify supports customer group creation no matter which plan you are subscribed to. And that’s great!

The procedure itself is a bit confusing, as you do not have the option to create one directly from Customers tab.

You need to search for a group that you wish to add even though you are quite sure you are adding it for the first time.

Here is how:

How to create customer group in Shopify

You will be notified that there is no such group, and offered to save it for future use.

Once saved, it will appear in a new tab and it will become possible to add customers.

Creating new customer group in Shopify

The part that is slightly confusing is – who would expect that searching for something that does not exist, is what will offer possibility to create new customer group?

A bit of a workaround, it seems, but the important thing is that Shopify, same as Magento, offers this feature out of the box and without any additional programming.

But, we need customer groups for one more reason – offering better conditions to those engaged in wholesale, those subscribed to our email list etc.

Let’s take a look how the process looks like when using Shopify to run your eCommerce business.

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In Shopify, it all comes to properly deciding which filters you will use.

That means that in order to create rule for our Newsletter Subscribers customer group, we need to add filter – customer accepts marketing.

FIltering customers in customer group

Store owners are not able to manually assign customer group to a customer. The only way to do so is to add tags to a specific customer.

According to Shopify: “Customer groups update automatically, so customers will be added and removed from groups depending on the search or filter terms used to create the customer group.”

Managing promotions


Now that you have your brand new customer group, you can add new rule that would act as an incentive and share it with the whole group.

Simply go to Promotion tab, create new rule and follow this procedure:

Adding special promotion to customer group in Magento

Next you will have to define conditions that need to be met in order for your customer to obtain discount.

And finally, under Actions tab, you will need to set up whether your discount will be percentage or fixed amount and whether it will be applicable to subproducts.

Another great thing about promotions in Magento is that you can apply as many promotions you like to only one customer.

And it can be defined by simply choosing Yes or No in the field called Stop Further Rule Processing. If marked No, you will allow multiple rules to be processed.

You can set them up if you navigate to left hand side menu and choose Conditions tab.

Adding new condition to promo rule in Magento


Let’s say that you wish to give discount to your affiliates. You would need to have that particular tag assigned to your customer.

Again, it is a bit of a workaround and potential downside of using Shopify customer groups.

Also, after you have set up your filter and your customer group, Shopify will continue to automatically add customers responding to filters you have set up.

And you might not want that to happen for various reasons.

Shopify makes it rather easy to generate coupon codes and distribute them to a certain customer group.

However, since the rule of thumb is creating coupon codes (and not promotions) we will cover this segment in one of our future articles dedicated to coupon codes comparison only.

Bonus: Don’t have the time to read? Save PDF for future use!

What is the verdict?

This is where you reach the verdict. We will simply try to sum it up so you could see and conclude which functionalities you need more for your online store:

  • both Magento and Shopify offer creating customers from admin panel, as well as customer groups, and the procedure is rather easy and straightforward.
  • it is an out of the box feature on both platforms.
  • both platforms allow creating as many customer groups as you wish for your online store.
  • Magento offers Wishlists as out of the box feature. Shopify users will need an app.
  • Magento comes with predefined customer groups and allows new ones to be added. Shopify’s default installation doesn’t include customer groups.
  • Creating customer groups is easier in Magento. Creating customer groups in Shopify is easy, but not intuitive.
  • Magento allows adding multiple promotions to be used by customer group members. Combining discounts is allowed out of the box. Shopify doesn’t allow combining promotions.
  • Magento requires customers to be added manually to a customer group. Shopify adds them automatically based on filters.

In the end, no matter which platform you have chosen, the important thing is to always have in mind your customers.

Ensure their trust, make them come back and do your best to become their only choice.

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