Magento vs. Shopify Plus

Find out why Shopify Plus is the best omnichannel enterprise commerce platform for your business.

Let’s talk

The world’s biggest brands trust Shopify Plus with their business.

GE
Red Bull
Nestle
Budweiser

Shopify Plus is the world’s most scalable and robust platform

  • Sell across 20 channels without custom code
  • Deliver blazing-fast service with 99.99% uptime
  • Integrate third-party systems with an open API
  • Customize your front end with limitless possibilities
  • Leverage and experiment quickly with 6600+ apps
  • Get 24/7 global priority technical support
  • Rest secure in a cloud-based solution with zero update or security headaches
Channels include Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, Rakuten, Google, Microsoft, eBay, and Pinterest.

Shopify Plus has made the transition from Magento effortless with its highly respected turnkey operation. We’ve seen our maintenance hours lessen dramatically ever since the migration. This has allowed us to allocate our resources to more progressive projects and advance the business.

Carlos VillaEcommerce Director, Obey Clothing

Don’t know which commerce platform is right for you?

Talk to a Shopify Plus expert about your business today.

Let’s talk

Overview

More and more enterprise-level brands are making the switch from Magento Community and Magento Enterprise to Shopify Plus. But many brands are still nervous about about changing platforms, and comparisons can be hard to find. So we decided to break it all down into one simple article.

Magento is the leader of on-premise ecommerce. Built for developers, it offers tremendous flexibility. But software as a service (SaaS) is changing all that. Many retailers are looking for a simpler, more manageable way to create delightful customer experiences at scale.

Shopify Plus is innovating how enterprise merchants do commerce. Instead of costly infrastructure and development, we let retailers put their resources into strategy, customer engagement, social influence, and data-guided marketing.

With the launch of Magento 2, tens of thousands of Magento 1.x clients are facing a tough decision: Replatform to Magento 2, or evaluate other options in the market?

Scalability

Both Magento Enterprise and Community host enterprise businesses operating at scale. Magento 2.0 is designed with scalability in mind—but at a cost. Hosting and managed services are specialized competencies that require a great deal of care and attention. As a licensed, on-premise solution, Magento does not include hosting and managed services with its licensing.

Instead, Magento clients need to pay a reliable provider to host and accommodate peak traffic. Beyond the additional cost, the focus on your infrastructure can take your eye off your core business.

On-premise deployments require that you architect your solution to accommodate the single highest peak in traffic. This means building and managing an infrastructure that you might only use one day a year. Any time you roll out a change to production, you risk impacting the scalability of the overall architecture.

The biggest problem we had, in one word: instability. We didn’t trust the back platform. [The launch] was supposed to be a huge day for us, but we let our customers down. It didn’t matter that it was Magento’s fault. It’s our brand, and customers blamed us, which really hurt. The great thing about Shopify Plus is the fact we fundamentally trust the platform. We can go into Black Friday and not worry about the website crashing.

Ben FrancisFounder, Gymshark

Magento also requires installation, setup, and configuration. This is challenging across a distributed architecture. A significant portion of every Magento deployment is dedicated to ensuring performance and scalability, rather than focusing on your core requirements.

Shopify Plus clients benefit from Shopify’s own massive architecture. Shopify Plus gives high-growth, high-volume merchants the scalability, reliability, and flexibility they need, without the hassle, long timeline, or expense of an on-premise solution.

Many Shopify Plus clients are coming to the platform just to accommodate the massive loads associated with flash sales. These flash sales often see thousands of checkouts per minute. Migrating to Shopify Plus means never having to worry about infrastructure, hosting, networking, or load testing again.

Shopify Plus offers a fully hosted SaaS solution built to handle any level of volume, allowing high-volume merchants to focus on their business, not their IT. Shopify Plus is built on the same infrastructure that supports over 1700000 Shopify merchants, ensuring that flash sales, Black Friday, or heavy daily volume can be handled with ease.

Offloading concerns around scalability and performance frees you to put your time and energy into product innovation, marketing, and customer experience.

We were getting major press and our [Magento] site couldn’t scale on demand like we needed it to, often leading to a poor experience for our customers and supporters. Whether we’re doing 500 or 5,000 orders a day, Shopify Plus automatically scales with us. Stability is key, and that’s the peace of mind Shopify brings us.

David HeathCo-founder, Bombas

Customization

Built for developers, Magento is an open-source platform. This means clients can access and modify all of Magento’s core modules. Such access provides enormous freedom when designing and customizing a website.

But without standard code, managing even basic content on Magento 2 demands in-depth knowledge of the platform architecture. The skills needed to develop a custom front-end experience on Magento 2—including advanced knowledge of its component architecture, directory structure, PHP, and other technologies—are much higher than they were in Magento 1.x.

This slows implementation times and adds costly development cycles, even for small changes to user experience or product offerings.

In response, most merchants hire Magento developers to build customizations for them, but development and architectural resources can be expensive, in both the initial launch of new projects and their maintenance. Because Magento sites are run on private servers, you are on your own to manage, support, and scale any extensions or customizations, as well as their impact on the existing code base. This creates risk and puts greater dependency on QA and load testing.

Outsourcing or insourcing a team to manage customizations not only preoccupies development resources and eats into your budget, it also distracts you from more important efforts that drive direct value to consumers.

Brands focused on speed shouldn’t require a development project and testing cycle for basic content changes. As time to market becomes more and more important, on-premise platforms will have a hard time keeping up.

To a build a custom enterprise online store with Shopify Plus, all you need is knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Liquid, Shopify’s intuitive coding language. Shopify also maintains an enormous library of themes, which can almost entirely remove the need for manual page development.

In addition to full front-end code control, Shopify Scripts gives developers the freedom to create their own customized shopping cart. Advanced functionality and flexibility without compromising stability.

With Shopify Plus, developers can also build custom apps in their preferred programming language. And the Embedded App SDK lets individual client extensions appear directly in the Shopify admin.

Global and omnichannel

More than ever, merchants need to reach customers and early adopters right on the channels they already use. This is why Shopify enables ecommerce on any social network, blog, app, or third-party marketplace.

Shopify Plus customers can list, sell, and manage their products on over 20 sales channels like Facebook, Messenger, Pinterest, and Instagram, as well as popular marketplaces like eBay, Houzz, Ebates, and Wanelo.

Shopify’s Sales Channel SDK allows you to add commerce to any mobile app, marketplace, or website, connecting your users to millions of products right where they are. Shopify handles the hard parts, including payments, shipping, taxes, inventory, and analytics.

Shopify’s Buy Button strategy allows retailers to add ecommerce to any website using only a snippet of code. Embedded products, collections, and even an on-site shopping cart can be added in just minutes. The JavaScript Buy SDK is a lightweight library that allows you to to retrieve products and collections from your shop, add products to a cart, and check out.

Magento currently lacks integration with common social channels and marketplaces. As the number of channels grows, on-premise platforms like Magento will soon fall behind. In a world of omnichannel selling, managing one-off integrations with Magento can become cost prohibitive.

To sell in multiple currencies, merchants need to set up separate currencies in a new store view on Magento, which means more views to manage. Managing an international or rest-of-world store isn’t easy natively. Also, switching currencies on the online store is only available through apps.

On Shopify Plus, our multi-currency solution is easy to implement and maintain on a single store natively, without apps. Merchants can sell in multiple currencies on one store, and get paid in their own currency, no additional views required.

Mobile optimization

Shopify themes and templates are responsive on any device. When customers browse your store on a smartphone or tablet, its design automatically changes to optimize the mobile experience. The Shopify Theme Store includes over 100 free and premium themes, each designed to display beautifully on any screen size.

Shopify also provides a Mobile App SDK that lets you easily develop custom commerce apps or integrate Shopify’s checkout into your existing mobile app. With just a few lines of code, you can insert native Buy Buttons or embed a responsive online store into your app.

Given the complexity of page development, designing responsive experiences on Magento 2 can be difficult. Magento includes a responsive theme for all merchants, but heavy page development and QA testing are required with each responsive or mobile deployment.

Security

Strong brands require a relationship built on trust. Customers must feel safe and secure when transacting with your brand. For this reason, security is fundamental to ecommerce. PCI Compliance is our industry’s way of verifying security standards for organizations that handle any online payments. PCI Compliance goes well beyond the software itself, creating dependencies on how the software is managed, deployed, and hosted.

While Magento provides the ability to deploy PCI compliant storefronts, you as the vendor are responsible for ensuring that your site is safe and secure. Ensuring PCI compliance is costly and time-consuming. Since the burden of securing server data is entirely yours, it creates headaches that distract from your business.

As an open-source solution, Magento is also prone to malware. Security breaches to the software itself are a regular concern. Over 10,000 Magento sites fell victim to the Guruncsite malware in 2015. Google was forced to blacklist over 8,000 storefronts in the first 90 days of the breach alone. As the most recent Trustwave Global Security Report found:

“In the ecommerce space, the Magento open-source ecommerce platform was the target of choice for attackers, with Magento installations accounting for 85% of compromised systems.”

With Shopify Plus, your site will be hosted and protected in full compliance with Level 1 PCI DSS. This includes:

  • Maintaining a secure network
  • Protecting cardholder data
  • Maintaining a vulnerability management program
  • Implementing strong access control measures
  • Regularly monitoring and testing networks
  • Maintaining an information security policy

Where most ecommerce websites use SSL encryption technology to protect a shopper’s personal information during checkout, Shopify covers the entire online experience. Once your certificate is activated, all traffic will be redirected from HTTP to encrypted HTTPS.

Shopify Plus support and my launch engineer have been incredible. He answered emails, Slack messages, and smoke signals typically within minutes and in the middle of the night. His guidance and advice were crucial to our success. I smile knowing I never have to perform another ‘critical security patch’ or pay the equivalent of a mortgage on a small beachside vacation home each year for server space.

Alex CranmerVP, International Military Antiques

Implementation

Implementation for a new Magento 2 deployment commonly takes 4–8 months, including developers, architects, deployment specialists, QA resources, and more.

Implementing an on-premise ecommerce solution looks a lot like custom app development. Building customizations in Magento is also less efficient because you have no standard of code. You can hire a developer, but all of the code is running on your own environment. It becomes your responsibility to manage and maintain changes to the core architecture.

Load testing is mission critical for Magento customizations, so even if your customization is implemented and working just fine today, it might not perform well under peak traffic and transactions.

Shopify Plus is focused on speed. Because we remove the need to worry about ecommerce architecture, hosting, and security, deployments typically take 2–4 months, depending on the level of complexity. This allows merchants to put customer needs first.

For a detailed timeline, contact a Shopify Plus expert.

When we moved from Magento to Shopify Plus, rather than taking months and months to replatform, it took weeks. We could concentrate on what we’re really good at: our customers, our brand, and our product.

Ben FrancisFounder, Gymshark

The learning curve for internal resources with an on-premise solution is significantly steeper than with Shopify Plus, and the skillsets required with Shopify Plus are much closer to those of a traditional UX resource (HTML, Javascript, CSS, and Liquid). Our templating language is intuitive, and does not require significant development experience.

I wish we had switched to Shopify Plus sooner. Everything was such a struggle with Magento. With Shopify Plus, it’s so easy.

Brian LimCEO and Founder, EmazingLights

Support

Support is another major point of consideration. Magento offers technical support, but like many on-premise solutions, once licensed you are largely on your own. A third-partner agency or integrator is required for any ongoing expertise on the platform and your deployment.

That’s why Shopify Plus offers the industry’s largest network of support—including an expert team of launch engineers, solution engineers, front-end deveoper, and dedicated support staff—to make sure your transition is smooth, fast, and painless. This starts with migration and launch, but doesn’t end there:

  • Launch engineers are assigned to every new project and serve as a technical point of contact for migration and replatforming coordination
  • The merchant acceleration team regularly creates exclusive courses for Shopify Plus merchants
  • The Shopify Plus Facebook Community, as well as in-person and digital meetups, make sure you never have to face scaling alone

Ecosystem

One of Magento’s greatest strengths has always been its ecosystem, which features hundreds of systems integrators and certified developers. With almost 280,000 Magento community sites, the number of developers and architects that have worked with Magento 1.x is staggering.

But Magento 2 alters the equation. Radical changes to architecture and deep technical competencies have had an impact on this community, leaving much to be desired where support, expertise, and execution are concerned.

Shopify, on the other hand, now has over 1700000 customers on its platform, and a community of thousands of Shopify Experts has grown up around them. To ensure that Shopify Plus can accommodate the needs of large retailers, we created the Shopify Plus Partner program, an award-winning, carefully-vetted collection of agencies, solutions, and technical providers. These include:

  • Solutions partners: designers and developers that specialize in Shopify Plus themes, app integration, and customization
  • Technology partners: ecommerce tools, providers, and integrations that extend the value of Shopify Plus to our merchants
  • Agency partners: full-service agencies that offer a comprehensive suite of creative, marketing, and development services

Within the Magento Marketplace, you’ll find a variety of extensions that allow your store to function as a custom online store should. But these rarely feature turn-key operations. The majority take a little bit (or a lot) of coding to get up and running.

As a result, Magento extensions place added dependence on your development team. They can also conflict with your individual customizations, requiring heavy tweaks to ensure stability. Extensions should be tested with each deployment by development and QA resources.

Shopify maintains a library of over 5,300 professional apps, all designed to minimize dependency on developers. The Shopify App Store offers a wide array of solutions that specialize in marketing, sales, social media, shipping, inventory, and supply-chain management. Shopify’s third-party apps are available to help streamline all your enterprise needs.

I fell in love with the Shopify app structure. Implementing doesn’t require a big commitment or custom build, so we can experiment a ton and launch almost immediately. Our most recent contest grew our email list by 40% and took just a few hours to set up. A lot of its success rests on the freedom we have to play. That freedom didn’t exist before.

Cassie SmithEcommerce Manager, Jones Soda

Updates

Magento has an aggressive development cycle for its 2.x roadmap, with plans to deploy multiple point releases and security patches in a given year. Like many on-premise solutions, new releases can pose a challenge when the platform has been extended or customized.

With each release, the client must organize a true project to understand how it might impact the existing code base. Depending on the situation, upgrades like these can take days or weeks. In many instances, the client may need to rewrite existing customizations, requiring QA and load testing for each individual release.

Shopify Plus removes the need for upgrades, patches, and point releases. The platform is designed to allow retailers to launch new features as they become available from within the Shopify admin. This saves time and money typically associated with upgrades and patches, and also removes the opportunity costs that software deployment can bring along with it.

The future of commerce starts here.

Let’s talk