Magento vs. Shopify Plus
See why Shopify Plus is the best multi-channel enterprise commerce platform for your business
The world’s most scalable and robust platform
- Sell across 20 channels without custom code
- Deliver blazing-fast service with 99.98% uptime
- Integrate third-party systems with an open API
- Customize your front-end with limitless possibilities
- Leverage and experiment quickly with 1,500+ apps
- Get 24/7 priority support
- Rest secure in a cloud-based solution with zero update or security headaches
- Expert Launch Engineer
- 24/7 support 99.98% uptime
Sell on any channel
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Carlos VillaEcommerce Director at Obey Clothing
“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 other more progressive projects and help advance the business.”
If you’re weighing Magento vs. Shopify Plus…
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At Shopify Plus, we’re seeing more and more enterprise-level brands make the switch from Magento Community and Magento Enterprise. The number of migrations to Shopify Plus is staggering, but many brands are still nervous about about changing platforms. Looking for information online can only add to the anxiety. Quality comparisons can be hard to find… so we decided to break it down into a single, easy-to-navigate article.
No doubt, Magento is the king of on-premise ecommerce. Built for developers, it offers tremendous flexibility. But SaaS is changing the world, and ecommerce is no exception. Many retailers are looking for a simpler, more manageable way to create delightful customer experiences at scale.
Shopify Plus is innovating how enterprise merchants navigate commerce. We allow retailers to refocus their budgets and human capital away from costly infrastructure and development, and onto more important matters like strategy, customer engagement, social influence, and data-guided marketing.
The launch of Magento 2 represents a line in the sand. Tens of thousands of Magento 1.x clients are facing a tough decision: replatform to Magento 2, or evaluate other options in the market?
Both Magento Enterprise and Community are replete with enterprise businesses operating at scale. In fact, Magento 2.0 is designed with scalability in mind, but this scalability comes 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 are required to pay a reliable provider to host and accommodate peak traffic. Beyond the additional cost, the focus on “keeping the lights on” 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 out and managing an infrastructure that you may only use for a single day each year. Any time you roll out a change to production, you risk impacting the scalability of the overall architecture.
Ben FrancisFounder, Gymshark
“The biggest problem that we had, in one word, would be instability. We just 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 don’t need to worry about the website crashing, whether we can or can’t handle it.”
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 all the hassles, long timelines, and 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 concurrent checkouts. 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 800,000 Shopify merchants, ensuring that flash sales, Black Friday, or heavy daily volume can be handled with ease.
Offloading concerns around scalability and performance allows you to focus time and energy on value-added pursuits, such as product innovation, marketing, and user experience.
David HeathCo-founder, Bombas
“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, without us having to do anything extra. Stability is key, and it’s better to be up all of the time, and that’s the peace of mind Shopify brings us.”
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 your website.
Unfortunately, without standard code, managing even basic content on Magento 2 requires an in-depth knowledge of the platform architecture. The skills required to develop a custom front-end experience on Magento 2 — like an advanced knowledge of its component architecture, directory structure, PHP, and other technologies — are much higher than they were in Magento 1.x.
These demands not only slow implementation times but add costly development cycles, even when all that is required are minimal 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, both in the initial launch of new projects as well as in 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 worry about how future customizations and upgrades will impact the existing code base. This can create 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 for brands becomes an increasing focus, on-premise platforms will have a hard time keeping up.
To a build a custom enterprise online store with Shopify Plus, all that is required is knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Liquid — Shopify’s intuitive templating 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 allows developers to “enter” Shopify’s servers and create their own customized shopping cart. Scripts give you advanced functionality and flexibility, while at the same time maintaining stability.
Shopify Plus also enables developers to build their own customizations in the form of private apps, which can be developed using the client’s preferred language. And the Embedded App SDK lets individual client extensions appear directly in the Shopify Admin.
It’s become increasingly important for merchants to reach customers and early adopters directly, instead of waiting for them to come to you. As a result, Shopify has deployed a suite of capabilities to enable ecommerce on any social network, blog, application, or third-party marketplace.
Shopify Plus customers can list, sell, and manage their products on up to 20 separate sales channels. This includes native social media selling — most notably, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, and Instagram — as well as popular marketplaces and communities, like Amazon, 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 — like payments, shipping, taxes, inventory, analytics, and more.
Magento currently lacks integration to common social channels and marketplaces. As the number of channels expand, on-premise platforms such as Magento are going to have a hard time keeping up. In a world where retailers are increasingly leveraging more channels, managing all of these one-off integrations with Magento can become cost prohibitive.
Shopify Themes and Liquid Templating are designed to be responsive from the ground up. When customers go to your store using 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 engineered to display beautifully across any screen size.
Shopify also provides a Mobile App SDK that allows you to easily develop custom commerce apps or to integrate Shopify’s checkout into your existing mobile application. 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.
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; it creates 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 percent 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.
Alex CranmerVice President, International Military Antiques
“Shopify Plus support and especially my Launch Engineer, Paul Moretti, have been incredible. There is zero comparison. Paul answered emails, Slack messages, and smoke signals typically within minutes and many times in the middle of the night. His guidance and advice were crucial to our success. I smile on my pillow at night 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.”
Implementation for a new Magento 2 deployment commonly takes four to eight months. It also requires an array of resources, including developers, architects, deployment specialists, QA resources, etc.
Implementing an on-premise ecommerce solution looks a lot like custom application development. Building out 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 may 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 just two to four months, depending on the level of complexity. This allows merchants to put customer needs first.
For a detailed timeline, contact a Shopify Plus expert.
Ben FrancisFounder, Gymshark
“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, really good at, which is our customers, our brand, and our product.”
Brian LimCEO and Founder, EmazingLights
“Oh, absolutely, I wish we had switched to Shopify Plus sooner. Everything was such a struggle with Magento but with Shopify Plus, it’s so easy.”
Support is another major point of consideration. Magento offers technical support, however, 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.
Shopify Plus offers all customers access to ecommerce’s largest network of support — including an expert team of Launch Engineers, Solution Engineers, front-end designers, and dedicated support staff — to ensure that your transition is smooth, fast, and painless… not only during migration and launch, but for the lifetime of our relationship.
Launch Engineers are assigned to every new project, and serve as a technical point-of-contact for migration and replatforming coordination.
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.
Conversely, Shopify now has over 800,000 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 host of “extensions” designed to 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 1,500 professionally-built apps, all of which are designed to minimize dependency on developers. The Shopify App Store offers a wide array of solutions, from marketing, sales, social media, shipping, inventory, and even supply chain management. Shopify’s third-party apps are available to help streamline all your enterprise needs.
Cassie SmithEcommerce Manager, Jones Soda
“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. I feel a lot of its success rests on the freedom we have to play. That freedom didn’t exist before.”
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 it also removes the opportunity costs that software deployment can bring along with it.