Magento 2 Commerce vs Shopify Plus

Magento Commerce and Shopify Plus are almost unquestionably the two most mainstream mid-market eCommerce platforms in the world – with both offering very different feature-sets and propositions to brands and retailers. This guide provides a detailed comparison across all aspects of the two platforms, including native feature-sets, cost of ownership, extensibility, infrastructure, SEO, eco-system, international, B2B and lots of other areas. This piece was last updated in January 2020.

My experience with Shopify Plus and Magento Commerce

Over the last ~10 years, I’ve worked on over 50 Magento replatforming projects in various capacities, ranging from advising on smaller consumer brand projects to acting as a solutions consultant on hugely complex builds for household names. In addition to this, I have both of the Magento solutions certifications. Examples of Magento brands I’ve worked with include The Conran Shop, Heal’s, T3, PMT, Wedgwood, Agent Provocateur, Waterford, The V&A, Sunspel, Dr Martens, and lots of others.

Over the last 3-4 years, I’ve also been very hands-on with Shopify Plus, working in a solutions role on lots of replatforming projects and supporting requirements gathering, validation exercises and general consultancy on lots more. Examples of Shopify Plus projects I’ve worked on include Bulletproof, The Science Museum, Lights4Fun, Current Body, Trotters, This Works, RC Geeks and various others. Vervaunt (my consultancy) are also one of the world’s only Shopify Plus consulting partners.

This experience with both platforms has consisted of me scoping out requirements, architecting catalog setup, generally creating solutions, managing data migrations, handling platform setup, using Shopify Flow, working with Shopify scripts, testing and configuring various modules, managing integrations, setting up product catalogs, creating new channels (e.g. wholesale store), managing customisations, managing things like shipping and tax, creating business logic for merchandising purposes, managing UAT etc.


Despite the dominance of these two systems, there are a huge range of eCommerce platforms to choose from, with varying benefits and functionality. In the mid-market, the list previously got much smaller, however there have been a lot of new entrants and platforms that have grown into the space recently, with other options including BigCommerce, CommerceTools, Salesforce Commerce Cloud (coming down market), Workarea etc – however, in this piece I’m focusing on two of the primary options (and the two that I work with most) in the mid-market eCommerce marketplace, Magento Commerce Edition (previously called Magento Enterprise) and Shopify Plus, to see how they compare against one another. There are other options (such as VTEX, Shopware, CommerceLayer, Elastic Path etc), but these are generally the most mainstream ones and also the ones that I tend to work with most.

I’ll be focusing on Magento 2 Commerce (formerly Enterprise Edition) and Magento 2 Commerce Cloud, both of which were fairly new when I first published this post, but have become a lot more mainstream and proven at various levels now. Magento 2 is designed to be more scalable and ‘enterprise’ than the previous version, Magento 1.x, however merchants who acted as early adopted generally faced a lot of issues with stability and general bugs with core functionality (as well as project delays and increased costs). This definitely impacted Magento’s reputation in the first ~2 years.

After Magento 2.2 Magento improved considerably and this trend has continued, with Magento 2.3 versions being in a much better place, as well as with a number of new features and improvements to areas of the platform. Magento 2.3.1 included the introduction of both page builder (commerce only) and MSI (multi-source inventory – both versions of the platform), which are both very good features. I’ll talk more about Magento’s page builder solution later on, but this is a big step forward in an area where Magento has really struggled historically – although it could and hopefully will be a lot better. Following the acquisition by Adobe, Magento have also started to integrate with core Adobe products, such as Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Analytics, which helps to create a stronger proposition in the enterprise. Magento are also building Adobe Sensei into the commerce platform, as a first move into proper personalisation and machine learning. There’s also now an Adobe Commerce Cloud product, which comprises Magento and a number of Adobe products – I’ll talk more about this later on.

Magento Cloud has always been questioned a lot, following it’s release in 2016. Early retailers faced a huge amount of pain with deployments, stability of non-production environments, core development principles and support – however, again, this is in a much better place now. It’s not perfect, but having spoken with a lot of the larger retailers who are live with Magento Cloud Edition recently – they’re far more positive about where they are with the platform now, in comparison to where they were 6 months ago. We have clients using it also and they’re happier than they were historically. Websites currently live on Magento Commerce Cloud Edition include Helly Hansen, Brewdog, Bulk Powders, Osprey London, Oliver Sweeney and Soak & Sleep. Some of the larger recent launches on the on-premise version of Magento 2 Commerce include Paul Smith, END Clothing, Cox & Cox, HP, Zadig & Voltaire and lots of others. Magento Cloud Edition is very different to a conventional SaaS platform and is offered as a PaaS (platform as a service).

Magento Commerce vs Shopify Plus Introductory Overview

In terms of mid-market GMV and market share, Magento is ‘probably’ the world’s biggest eCommerce platform – with a much bigger average retailer size and a huge (and massively increasing) presence in the B2B space. Magento are also growing in the real enterprise market – which is commonly cited as where the average user should sit these days. Magento is also the leader in terms of the number of the top IR1000 merchants, which is impressive. However, a lot of the really well-known stores (e.g. Missguided, Harvey Nichols etc) are still on Magento 1.x, which is a very different platform and a different level of maturity. Examples of large brands using Magento (all versions) include Paul Smith, Screwfix, Bulk Powders, Fraser Hart, Nike (AU), Nobel Biocare, Agent Provocateur, Hermes, Harvey Nichols, Fred Perry, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, and lots more. There are said to be lots of brands using Magento that are turning over well over $1bn online, which again is very impressive.

Despite having a smaller market share in the enterprise space and a lower average customer size, Shopify Plus’s mid-market and enterprise market share is growing really quickly – with recent launches including Staples Canada, JB Hifi, Decathlon US, Missoma, Protein World, APC, Color Pop and brands like Fashion Nova and Kylie Cosmetics frequently being cited as stores turning over in excess of $1bn per year online. The Magento 1 EOL has really helped Shopify Plus to grow, with lots of mid-market B2C brands choosing to move to the SaaS platform.

Shopify Plus have a very different proposition to Magento Commerce and I generally recommend them for very different reasons – with Shopify Plus providing a fully-hosted SaaS platform with a huge global eco-system and unrivalled agility when it comes to adding net new functionality. Shopify Plus’s proposition to straightforward retailers and brands is pretty incomparable, with low upfront and operational costs, a huge eco-system of both agency partners and technology partners, a general merchant-first approach and a product that’s designed to have very little maintenance and technical overhead. These are just a few of the benefits but it’s areas like these that are driving their growth in the B2C space, with a real dominance in the rapidly growing DTC market also.

Shopify Plus have only been around in the mid-market and enterprise space for the last three years but they’ve really grown with larger customers over the last 12-24 months. In addition to taking a lot of business from Magento Commerce, they’ve also acquired customers from the likes of Oracle, SAP and Salesforce – which is really impressive. The most impressive thing in my view is the advocacy that these retailers have towards Shopify – I’ve moved around 20 clients to Shopify Plus and none of them have regretted it or had the same level of struggles that I’ve seen others have with other mainstream platforms.

In recent times, the headless Shopify trend has really pushed Shopify Plus forward with more complex projects – with examples including Clare, Victoria Beckham Beauty, Staples, JB Hifi, Seedlip, Strivectin and Verishop. Going down the headless route with Shopify has pros and cons, but it does give you more control around front-end development, freedom around URL structure, better page load speeds and also allows for integrating complex third parties (e.g. Fredhopper or Bloomreach) and introducing additional channels. I’ll talk more about this later on.

I’ve referred a wide range of businesses to Shopify Plus, because I believe it’s a very, very good solution for B2C eCommerce teams who are looking to focus their attention on marketing / product (reducing time being spent on platform maintenance, security, infrastructure etc). Lots of Vervaunt (my consultancy) clients use Shopify Plus now and I’m a real advocate of it.

Magento Commerce and Shopify Plus both have price tags that all but prohibit their use for SMB retailers, although Shopify have lower plans and Magento have their open source product still. Magento Commerce licensing starts from around $30 per year and increases based on the merchant’s turnover (and various other aspects) against tiers (e.g. < $10m, $10m – $25m etc), whereas Shopify Plus is a flat $2,000 per month (up to ~$800k per month GMV) and increases from there. Magento Commerce Cloud edition is now the de-factor and on-premise would cost roughly the same, making it more expensive when you factor in hosting fees. Magento Cloud pricing also covers various other third-party costs (such as a Magento BI license, Fastly CDN etc) but costs have increased dramatically since the Adobe acquisition. We’ve handled negotiations for a number of brands using Magento (both net new deals and renewals) and the pricing now is far higher than it was 18 months ago. The average Magento license for the size of clients we work with is generally around $50k – $100k per year, in comparison to $24k – $36k for the same size retailer with Shopify Plus.

On the face of it, these costs don’t seem hugely different. However, Shopify Plus is a SaaS platform, whereas Magento commerce is either a self-hosted platform (on-premise) or a PaaS platform (cloud) that still requires a lot of technical resource, upgrades, security patches etc – Magento’s operating costs for support can also add up very quickly. Generally, I’d say that a mid-market merchant will pay hosting fees of anywhere from $5,000 per year to $100,000 per year, however, Magento Commerce Cloud will work out lower overall. In addition to this, you also have maintenance costs associated with Magento (no matter which version you’re using).

Both the on-premise approach (standard Magento Open Source / Commerce) and the hosted approach (Magento Commerce Cloud and Shopify Plus) could be seen as either a positive or a negative. Since Shopify Plus is a fully hosted SaaS platform, on Level 1 PCI DSS compliant servers, PCI compliance is more or less taken care of for the retailer, whereas a merchant using Magento Commerce (non-cloud) has to personally ensure that their own server configuration meets all PCI compliance regulations – this can be really valuable for retailers.

Likewise, a normal Magento Commerce client is responsible for all server security, as well as the application of patches to the Magento core codebase, whilst this is all taken care of for Shopify Plus clients. All areas of a Shopify Plus store are fully encrypted using SSL, not just the checkout pages. Whilst Magento Commerce Cloud offers a lot of the benefits that Shopify Plus has on this side, I’d say (in my experience of dealing with clients who use it) it’s nowhere near as polished and finished as Shopify Plus and my general recommendation, if you do go with Magento, would still be to go with the on-premise commerce license.

The TCO and agility of SaaS platforms is really driving people towards Shopify Plus (and BigCommerce) at the moment, so it’ll be interesting how Adobe approach this in the future. This said, there’s an argument to say that Magento has improved considerably and is just targeting a different customer (e.g. the Nobel Biocare or Fortnum & Mason’s of the world). They’re competing againt Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Commerce Tools (who are currently the leaders in the enterprise B2C market currently in my opinion) on a daily basis for deals that are considerably bigger than a few years ago.

Total cost of ownership / Pricing in more detail

As already mentioned, the costs associated with Magento Commerce have increased a lot and will be higher than Shopify Plus – the license fee starts from ~$30k per year, but there are a number of large B2C stores and B2B businesses who go well into the millions of dollars for licensing, which is based on a number of factors, but primarily GMV brackets. Magento use brackets but they tend to adapt licensing costs on a case by case basis and this differs for Cloud Edition also.

There are standard tiers for Magento licensing costs, but these are constantly changing and moved towards a GMV-based model, in a similar way to Salesforce Commerce Cloud. The tiers themselves are based on GMV, but examples of other things that are factored into consideration across the different versions include number of employees, size of company, number of stores and even traffic with Cloud.

The pricing tends to vary a lot – if you have any questions on this, feel free to email me and I can talk you through what some of my previous clients have paid (as they’re generally pretty flexible / negotiable on costs).

In addition to these costs, you also have the integration partner costs, which is where the high CAPEX costs tend to come in. A Magento 2 Commerce build is likely to start at $100k and the highest cost build I’ve heard of was supposedly around $6m, which was for a large multi-brand, high volume retail group. Build costs vary massively depending on the agencies / partners you look at and the level of complexity around features, integrations etc.

You then have the costs of the maintaining a Magento Commerce store beyond this, which can be very high – this would generally be split into:

  • Support / maintenance retainer – depending on the Magento partner, this would include things like applying patches, version upgrades, maintaining environments, installing and maintaining modules etc. A support retainer, in my experience, averages at around $5k – $15k, but I’ve also seen this go up to $50k for very large and complex Magento stores.
  • BAU development and material projects – in my experience, a BAU development retainer for a standard Magento Commerce store could be anywhere from $5k per month to $50k per month, depending on your backlog, the costings of the agency partner and the work you want to do.

In addition to these costs, you also have hosting fees (non-Cloud), consultancy / BA fees (depending on how you work with your agency partner) and various other additional fees. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the only way to work as lots of Magento integration partners offer things like blocks of time paid upfront or even dedicated developers / development teams, where the economies of scale would generally change a lot.

Shopify Plus starts from a flat $2k per month license fee (for retailers not exceeding $800k in a single calendar month), which covers all licensing and application maintenace costs. This is a real benefit of Shopify Plus as it’s both affordable and covers a lot of the core areas where additional costs would come in (such as hosting, managing scale, support, upgrades etc). The costs around developing the store itself are also likely to be lower, although the industry is getting more mature and the costs are going up. I’ve generally found the hourly rates to be lower than the top tier of Magento agencies, more in-line with $100 an hour, although this would vary and the top agencies are more like $200 per hour (which is still lower than a lot of Magento agencies, particularly in the US market).

One big thing that sets these two platforms apart is the pricing – both in terms of licensing costs and operational costs. Shopify’s flat fee (until you hit the $800k in a month, where it’s still really cost effective at 0.25% of revenue in comparison to most other platforms at that level) is really appealing as you get a level of support included within this – this covers very minor development tasks, using the platform and things like conversion marketing / growing the store etc, which can be beneficial. I recently did a total cost of ownership analysis piece for a small, high-end fashion brand for Magento Open Source, Commerce and Shopify Plus and Shopify Plus came out as the lowest cost option over a three-year period by quite a way. This was largely due to no hosting fees, lower maintenance costs, no version upgrades, costs associated with integrations / modules and the agency rates. The fact that Shopify Plus Account Managers and Launch Managers offer support is also a minor differentiator for smaller retailers. I’ve worked on these projects for larger retailers too and Plus still generally comes out a lot lower than open source, but at that level it’s often about more than cost of ownership with the platform and there’s lots of cost considerations around aspects you’re taking out of the main platform (such as presonalisation, loyalty, search, merchandising, PIM etc).

The additional costs with Shopify Plus generally come from the following:

  • Apps / third parties – there are monthly costs assoiated with these areas, which isn’t always the case with Magento Commerce. These costs aren’t generally too high – but they can add up. Our average cost would spend maybe $1k per month on apps and $3-5k on third parties (e.g. Shogun for content, NOSTO for personalisation, Klevu for search etc).
  • Apps for international stores – Shopify charge for apps on a per-store basis, which can increase these costs a lot. Most of the app companies do negotiate though, which people often don’t realise.
  • Transaction fees – if you’re not using Shopify Payments (through choice or eligibility), you’re going to need to pay an additional 0.15% per transaction.

You may also find yourself paying for things like custom apps, which may sit outside of build costs and standard operational costs.

In our average project, a merchant would use apps for at least the following:

  • Content management / page building (Shogun)
  • Customer fields for customer in accounts
  • Excelify to support data migration
  • Elevar or LittleData app to support GA / GTM setup
  • Transportr for redirects
  • DataFeedWatch for data feeds
  • One of the metafields editing apps for managing metafields
  • BoostCommerce for improved filtering (without replacing the Shopify product grid pre filter)
  • Loyalty Lion, Smile or Swell for loyalty
  • A third party search solution (usually Klevu)
  • Product recommendations (usually NOSTO)
  • ShipperHQ for shipping management
  • Wishlist (either iWishlist or Wishlist+)
  • Zendesk for CS / live chat
  • Automatic account invites and bulk account inviter for account activation
  • Avalara for tax
  • Yotpo for reviews / UGC

This is just on average – there are lots more that could be needed for specific areas and also most of our clients use an iPaaS like / Celigo. You may also find yourself developing custom apps to fill gaps or meet very specific requirements. The bigger third parties would also generally be factored into our Magento projects – e.g. Klevu, Nosto, ShipperHQ etc.

Paying Magento’s license cost is the only time you’ll deal directly with them, unless you want to use the their Enterprise Consulting Group, which is very expensive (but they’re also very good). Obviously, you’ll deal with the / support teams if you use Cloud edition, but that’s more of a support relationship. The real cost of using Magento 2 Commerce for the average project lies with the systems integrator, who generally charge higher fees, compared to Shopify Plus. The average rate for a Magento agency for merchants can expect to pay the top tier of agencies is anywhere from $100 – $250 per hour.

From experience, a Shopify Plus project is likely to cost considerably less because of the amount of work that Shopify take on (systems integrator / agency cost) and there is generally less complexity across each aspect (plus the costs for the agency are lower etc). I’ve seen some really nice Shopify Plus stores developed for ~$50k – $100k, which is around the same level as a basic Magento Open Source store (the higher of those numbers). There are also lots of larger projects that have been over $250k for the initial build, but generally these have been delivered by one of the top integration partners or they’ll have a lot of customisation.

Based on my last few mid-level projects (relatively simple catalog, small scale international, £4m – £25m online turnover etc), this is what I would suggest that the total cost of ownership looks like for Magento Commerce vs Shopify Plus.

Shopify Plus Pricing Overview

    • Average website build cost for Shopify Plus (in my experience) – $60,000 – $250,000
    • Annual licensing cost – $24,000 (until you get to the $800k per month cut off, where you pay an additional 0.25% of overage revenue)
    • BAU development costs (in my experience) – $36,000 – $60,000
    • App costs (average) – $6,000 ($500 per month)
    • First Year Shopify Plus Cost: $123,000 – $287,000
  • Three Year Shopify Plus Cost of Ownership: $252,000 – $514,000

Magento Commerce Pricing Overview

    • Average Magento Commerce build cost (in my experience) – $100,000 – $500,000 (can also be a lot higher)
    • Average annual hosting fees for Magento store (in my experience) – $24,000 – $48,000
    • Average annual Magento maintenance retainer (in my experience) – $24,000 – $72,000
    • Average annual licensing cost (Cloud Edition) – $80,000
    • BAU development costs – $36,000 – $120,000
    • First Year Magento Commerce Cloud Cost: $264,000 – $820,000
  • Three Year Magento Cost of Ownership: $592,000 – $1,460,000

These are very much finger in the air estimates – but overall I’d say that Shopify Plus is a considerably lower cost option than Magento Commerce. It’s worth pointing out though that Magento Commerce is also more scalable in a lot of cases (depending on growth aspirations and complexity of the store). That said though, for straightforward stores (and stores willing to compromise in areas for the benefits Shopify Plus offers), I’ve found myself recommending Shopify Plus a lot recently and I’ve also got some very happy clients operating on Shopify Plus.

It’s also worth noting that merchants can build and maintain both Shopify Plus and Magento Commerce stores for less than these numbers, but this is based on the retailers I’ve dealt with recently and averages.

Shopify Plus vs Magento – Native & Core Functionality

Anyone logging into the admin / back end of Magento and Shopify Plus will instantly see that Magento has richer native functionality than Shopify Plus. Whilst Shopify Plus still has a relatively comprehensive feature-list that represents a good starting point for mid-market retailers, Magento Commerce Edition excels in areas such as:

Promotions / discounts

Magento has a built-in promotions engine, which is often criticised by users and extended either via a customisation or via a module / extension (such as the Amasty module). The promotions engine is fairly comprehensive (in comparison to most platforms) and supports a lot of base discounts / promotions. You can also use promotions / discounts as part of other core Magento features, such as customer groups, content scheduling and customer segmentation. Magento allows for two types of promotions in this area, which are catalog price rules (broader rule applied based on a criteria across the catalog) and cart price rules (condition-based, action applied in the checkout). This can also be extended – which a number of our clients have been done.

Shopify Plus does support promotions natively, but it’s not as advanced. A lot of people use the Ultimate Special Offers app or rely on scripts to achieve anything non-standard, which is generally fine. I’ve worked on two projects where we used scripts extensively and we were able to achieve some really advanced requirements around tiered pricing, advanced ‘free gift’ promotions, customer-specific promotions and advanced shipping fee logic. The only issues will come with scale for bigger retailers as the promotions don’t stack and there’s a good chance you’ll need to customise / add to the scripts in the future, which can get messy for really complex retailers or retailers with lots of requirements in this area.

This is an area where Magento is stronger and more extensible, but Shopify Plus is better than a lot of people that don’t use the platform regularly assume.

Merchandising and production

Larger and more complex retailers with bigger catalogs and more complicated product setups will likely lean towards Magento, as things like bundled products, grouped products and certain use cases for product attributes require customisation or re-thinking completely to replicate in Shopify, depending on how you want to use them. This does depend on setup though as something like bundled products (with most setups) can be achieved pretty easily, but the complexity comes from the setup of the SKUs that make up the bundle and how you want to handle pricing, discounting etc. This also needs to be considered with your ERP or retail system integration if you’re using Shopify / Shopify scripts to build the bundles. Magento natively supports bundles and allows for more customisation around the handling of the simple products.

Shopify Plus also doesn’t natively have the concept of product attributes and product attribute sets for storing data, instead using tags (allowing for tagging of items) and metafields (managing additional custom data points – more similar to attributes but not as widely supported), which work in a different way. These can be really useful and flexible, but they’re not as structured as Magento, which is actually very impressive when it comes to managing data. Although this isn’t always a limitation with Shopify Plus, it can make things harder for more complex retailers who use different attribute sets to improve manageability or restrict certain data points to certain product types etc.

Magento Commerce has 7 native, standard product types, which are:

  • Simple products
  • Configurable products
  • Bundled products
  • Downloadable products
  • Virtual products
  • Grouped products
  • Gift cards

Shopify only has one type of product, which which can then used with variants to replicate how configurable products work. Variants are widely supported thoughout Shopify and via apps and they natively allow for different SKUs and various other options. I’ve also worked with a retailer who has created a parent <> child relationship with standard products to allow for very custom shipping and availability requirements, but this wouldn’t be my recommended approach.

Shopify also supports gift cards natively and they have an API available to allow for broad usage. Magento also allows for gift cards to be extended and if you have really complex requirements around gift cards (e.g. custom redemption needs, multi-channel gift cards etc), Magento may well be better. I have seen people extend Shopify quite nicely in this area though. Your approach on both platforms will differ depending on how you want these gift cards to work and whether you want physical gift cards or gift certificates.

Shopify, however, is easier to use when it comes to managing a product catalog and it’s often cited as being perfect for simple product catalogs selling simple products, like fashion retailers for example.

That said, there are various routes for extending product functionality for Shopify, such as:

  • Using separate products to avoid variant limits (you can also sometimes get these lifted)
  • Using a PIM to manage product complexity outside of Shopify (we have a number of clients that successfully do this by using Akeneo)
  • Using products in place of variants to allow for more custom data points
  • Using tags to trigger custom logic from outside the platform or from custom apps
  • Metafields are also useful for storing different types of data

It’s worth noting that are quite a lot of Shopify Plus stores that have over 1 million products and also achieve things like mixed baskets, live availability lookups, product customisation, highly configurable products etc on the platform.

Magento is no doubt stronger out of the box in this area and is more suited to more bespoke requirements. There are lots of examples of hugely complex product setups with Magento and that’s why Magento is arguably the leader for complex catalogs and very custom builds (alongside SAP).

I would say there is a theme when comparing the two platforms – Magento generally has a stronger native offering and is also designed for customisation and generally very extensible, but that is also where issues do come from. With Shopify, you’re using custom apps, scripts and creating custom logic in the theme to customise, so you’re not actually customising the platform itself. We’re generally advocates of trying to simplify things in this area where possible and avoid unnecessary customisation. The only other thing I’d recommend considering is when you create very custom solutions with Shopify, it can cause issues as you scale and you end up having to go back and adapt these solutions every time you introduce new features and functionality.

One aspect of product management that Shopify is stronger with is CSV import / export, which is native within the platform. I’ve used this function a lot with Shopify and I’ve not had any issues, whereas with Magento it’s always been a headache and I’ve only really seen it work well when using a third party like Magmi or URapidFlow. Most Magento merchants either steer clear or import / export or use a third party solution (or a PIM). The vast majority of our clients use an app called Excelify – this is a really valuable app that makes importing and exporting a lot quicker and cleaner, allows for broader data to be used (e.g. metafields or images) and also allows for scheduling.

Things like order management and inventory management are comparable, but again Magento has more of a robust, customisable solution. Most of our clients would use an OMS or an ERP here anyway, rather than using the standard feature-set. If you did want to use the platform across this area, Magento is likely to be a lot stronger. I’ve worked with a couple of very complex retailers who have kept things like inventory management and order management within Magento, but this isn’t the best route.

Visual merchandising is very basic in both platforms and both simply allow for manual drag and drag and base ordering (e.g. best sellers).

Multi-store management

Multi-store is one of Magento’s key selling points, allowing merchants to manage multiple brands, regional stores and B2B / B2C stores from one Magento interface. The main benefit here is that the product catalog can be shared across different websites, stores and store views with the freedom to make changes at different levels. The scope of attributes can be set to be managed at a global or local level, allowing merchants to assign attributes like ‘product name’ at a global level, but define the price or long description attribute at a local level. This is applied at all levels and is a big pro for Magento for international, multi-brand and B2B2C retailers.

This feature is one of Magento’s biggest selling points and there are plenty of merchants that I’ve come across who are managing large product catalogs across over 100 websites (be it international stores or different brands etc). A few examples of stores doing this include Warner Music (multi-brand), Nestle (multi-brand), Helly Hansen (international) and lots of others. This is really flexible and there are some really impressive implementations.

Shopify Plus does allow for multiple stores (you’re allowed up to 10 clone stores with the Plus license) and there are examples of multi-brand and international stores that are live, however, there’s no proper multi-store architecture. This is by far the biggest reason I’ve seen retailers opt against Shopify Plus, but that’s not to say a solution can’t be achieved, particularly if you’re using a back office system or a PIM. Examples of Shopify Plus stores that are using multiple stores in this way include:

  • Current Body
  • Gymshark
  • Protein World
  • Emma Bridgewater
  • Missoma

A new solution for multi-store setups has been cited at both of the last two Shopify Unite conferences and it’s rumoured that the ‘new Shopify Plus’ with multi-store features will be officially released at this year’s Unite. The main issues that I think need to be resolved is individual product IDs per store, global / local architecture for data, apps being independent to each store, shared customers & orders and various aspects of managing the store.

We have a number of customers who are managing complex stores with multiple stores, with workarounds including:

  • Using a PIM to manage product data independently of the platform (and just pushing data into the different stores)
  • Workflows for managing theme changes across the different stores
  • Sync’ing of data across the different stores
  • Broader order and customer management via other systems (ERP, CRM etc)
  • Use apps that are able to support multi-store setups (e.g. Shogun, NOSTO etc)

I’ll talk more about this in the context of international in the next section.

Dependent on requirements, this is an area where Magento can win RfPs and offer a lot more – but it depends on setup and what a retailer prioritises.

Internationalisation (multi-currency, multi-language multi-warehouse etc)

Magento has a lot of great features around internationalisation, as detailed above, and their global multi-store architecture is a huge reason why lots of merchants tend to use the platform. Shopify Plus can achieve a good solution, however, there’d be a lot more manual work and I’d personally say it wouldn’t be as solid for really large, global stores. This is a really big weakness for them and it’s something that’s likely to be addressed really soon.

There are various routes for achieving a good multi-store setup (for relatively straightforward retailers) for Shopify Plus retailers (with some compromise), which I’ve written about here. Here are some of the options:

  • Use a sync’ing solution – there are a number of existing sync’ing apps available and some of the larger agencies also have proprietery solutions too.
  • Use a PIM – if you have the budget available, a PIM can help to reduce the overhead around managing product data considerably.
  • Use your ERP to support more areas – using your ERP to manage base product information and setup products etc can help to make things a lot easier here.
  • Create workflows around imports / exports – using a solution like Excelify will help to speed up the management processes for products and a number of other areas. There’ll still be manual work required, but the overhead will be lower.

These are just a few examples of options and they’re primarily focused on managing product data – I’d suggest reading this guide which covers more considerations such as managing apps, promotions, shipping, merchandising logic etc.

Magento’s ability to allow the user to manage all components of individual stores (such as specific attributes, stock, the catalog etc) at a global level is a huge advantage, whereas Shopify Plus would have separate stores (clone stores) which would need to then be updated / managed individually.

Managing multiple languages and content generally is quite straight forward – if you’re managing stock across multiple stores you’ll probably want to look at using either a custom solution or an iPaaS to handle this. Managing currencies (e.g. separate price lists) and payments is another issue, but I’ll come onto this later on.


Magento 2 Commerce does have a visual merchandising solution, which is based on the previous OnTap Visual Merchandiser extension (which they acquired a few years ago and build into the M2 core), allowing merchants to visually sort products in specific categories. This solution is very similar to what is offered by Shopify Plus, but it’s not great still and it is far behind the likes of Workarea or Salesforce Commerce Cloud (which both allow for complex rule-based merchandising and are built around machine learning).

Shopify Plus also allows you to choose a base sorting order of products, be it manually or in a set order, which can be defined at a collection level, but this isn’t a great solution. This is another area that I’d imagine will be addressed at some point (on both platforms).

Lots of larger merchants would want to use a third-party solution (such as Attraqt or Bloomreach) in this area anyway. Other aspects of merchandising, such as search (which is equally weak natively on both platforms), product labels etc are comparible.

Mobile, headless and PWA

Both Shopify Plus and Magento Commerce have fully responsive base themes and all available themes would be fully responsive, as are the admin interfaces.

Building stores as a PWA (progressive web app) is becoming very common with both platforms, although Magento are definitely pushing this more via their PWA Studio framework that they’re actively building, alongside the development community. This is seen as a big focus for Magento and they’re actively pushing merchants to use PWA Studio. There are also lots of other third-party frameworks (such as VueStorefront and Deity) that were at least initially built specifically for Magento. Agencies such as JH, Tom&Co and Limesharp have also built proprietery PWA frameworks for their builds. Currently Magento is relatively open for headless builds (moreso than Shopify), but they don’t have full API coverage like a lot of their competitors, such as CommerceTools. The arguments against using Magento in a headless manner generally come from loss of functionality, with certain areas of the platform not yet having APIs available. Some examples of headless Magento sites include:

  • Oliver Bonas
  • Topps Tiles
  • Selco
  • Zadig & Voltaire (some of the European sites)
  • Me+Em

Headless Shopify (in the context of a website) has become a very common approach recently, although doing this via their storefront API isn’t a full headless approach, with things like the checkout and the account section remaining in Shopify. I actually think this is quite a nice route, as it’s a relatively light touch approach and the Shopify checkout is almost a trust signal these days – it also avoids risk with the checkout. The main argument against headless Shopify for me is that you lose the apps, as most don’t have APIs available. This isn’t the be all and end all, but it is a big reason for using Shopify generally and you lose a bit of agility around the platform. Examples of headless Shopify sites include:

  • Koala
  • Victoria Beckham Beauty
  • Staples Canada
  • JB Hifi

I have mixed views on headless and we’re generally quite cautious when evaluating it for clients.

Third Party Integrations, Extensions and Apps

Both Magento 2 Commerce Edition and Shopify Plus have well-established eco-systems when it comes to existing integrations and marketplaces for third-party extensions and apps. Magento’s marketplace is relatively new, but now has a level of vetting for modules. This being said, most developers don’t tend to use it and install modules directly. Shopify’s app store and technology partner eco-system is one of its biggest strengths – with thousands of pre-vetted apps in existence and, more importantly, lots of Shopify-focused specialist app companies driving key areas. Companies like Recharge (subscriptions), Boost (filtering) and Gorgias (customer services) are examples of very impressive solutions that provide a very strong feature-set for a key area at a low cost. Taking subscriptions as an example, you could have an advanced setup within hours, as opposed to spending thousands and it taking weeks with Magento. This is a real pro for Shopify.

Following on from third-party extensions, there is the issue of maintaining the codebase to consider. Magento is a very open platform and it’s often self-hosted, which means that clients are free to extend or customise any element of the code as they see fit (which definitely has it’s negatives, as well as positives). Shopify Plus is a very locked down platform and clients do not have access to the main codebase or the database (again, coming with plenty of pros and cosn). Shopify Plus then allows for customisation via apps, which connect to the platform via API – this is a really nice approach, as it ensures stability in the main platform and reduces issues considerably, however it does also create limitations in achieving certain things.

Two of the biggest benefits of the two platforms is the existing integrations available with other systems, some of which falls under the extensions and others comes under middleware and APIs. Because they’re two of the more mainstream platforms on the market, they’ve been integrated with the majority of the popular third-party systems, like ERPs, fulfillment services, payment gateways etc.

Both systems are pretty good on this side and most integrations can be achieved with both systems.

B2B / Wholesale Capabilities

One massive selling point for Magento commerce is that it provides very advanced native support for B2B merchants, via their relatively new B2B suite (Magento 2). Even without the B2B suite, things like customer groups, tiered pricing, customer based pricing and product availability, customer-specific promotions etc are all supported via standard features of Magento 1 and 2 (both Open Source and Commerce), but the new B2B suite offers a lot more.

B2B is a huge focus for Magento currently and the new B2B suite comes with a lot of strong features, such as the ability to manage quotes, create customer-specific catalogs, manage various settings against customers, assign roles to users, assign budgets to users and companies, setup credit limits, various approval workflows etc. This is a big strength of Magento over Shopify Plus.

Magento’s new B2B suite is very impressive and has helped to move them into the enterprise bracket, competing against solutions like SAP CX, OroCommerce etc. New features released with this include customer roles, user management within accounts, ordering restrictions, budget management, quote management, credit management and lots more.

Shopify Plus last year completed the acquisition of Handshake, a highly regarded B2B eCommerce platform. This is likely to push them forward with B2B and expectations are high when they finally start to release a solution. Currently with Shopify Plus, options are nowhere near as comprehensive as the new Magento B2B suite. The different options are:

  • Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel – a dedicated wholesale channel based on the main store’s catalog. Products are pulled through based on price lists, which use the main price and the wholesale price assigned to a tagged group of customers to calculate the discount, which is displayed on the front-end. This means that the sale is essentially going through as a normal order with a discount applied (which needs to be considered for things like reporting etc). There are various limitations here such as not being able to edit the theme, not being able to set different shipping rules (although this can be achieved via heavy usage of scripts, tags and a complex third party). The store is super easy to setup and manage though and features like customer-specific pricing and product visibility, tiered pricing and draft orders are very useful. This is a very basic solution but it can be good for proof of concepts and very basic wholesale needs.
  • Separate store – as you’d imagine, a separate clone store for wholesale, which allows for lots of freedom with setup and management. Shopify Plus still doesn’t natively support a lot of the requirements you’d need though, so this would need to be scoped out properly.
  • Using the main store with customer tagging, template variables and scripts – this can be effective for simple wholesale programs.

You can read more about the different options and how Shopify retailers use these options here.

Platform Support

Both Shopify Plus and Magento Commerce offer application-level support, however at different levels. For Shopify Plus clients, this is via phone, email or live chat, whereas for Magento Commerce clients, it is purely developer support and it doesn’t have the best reputation. You could also choose to work with the Magento Enterprise Consulting Group (ECG), however, this comes with a big price tag.

One of the key selling points for Shopify Plus is the support they provide, which also reduces on-going support costs with your agency. As per of the $2k per month license fee, merchants get access to a dedicated 24/7 account management function, who are able to help handle technical issues, general platform-related questions, fix bugs, provide guidance around marketing and conversion rate optimisation and pretty much anything else. These CSMs are generally super technical, but they can add value.

Although you’ll still need developers to implement changes and for front-end work, the support would cover what a merchant would usually pay for from a development support / SLA perspective. Although it’s advised that you still have a development retainer, you wouldn’t have the overhead around a support retainer that you would with Magento.

Control, extensibility & flexibility

Magento is commonly deployed as an on-premise eCommerce platform (although they do have the cloud version) with a wide range of broad APIs across both the front-end and back-end of the platform, as well as the ability to customise most of the platform. The general extensibility of a platform like Magento 2 is unquestionable, but this can be as much of an issue as a positive, as it can impact maintainability, upgradability and the costs of maintaining the platform.

We’ve already mentioned the fact that Shopify Plus users do not have access to the core codebase or the database behind their store. Whilst this means they do not have to worry about security patches etc, and they can rely on Shopify to keep the code up to date, it does mean that they have less control over the platform, although the pros often outweigh the cons on this front (for a lot of retailers).

At the enterprise level, for some organisations with strong in-house development teams, the thought of not having absolute control of the platform could rule out Shopify Plus as an option, the same applies to Magento Commerce Cloud to some extent, but that’s very much circumstantial. As already touched on, more and more retailers are looking for a hosted, SaaS eCommerce platform and there are definitely big time and cost savings from this approach in my experience.

In terms of systems integrators, I would say that Shopify Plus users would be far less reliant on the third party, making it much easier to switch providers and also build an in-house development team. If a Magento merchant had a store built by an integrator, there would be an overhead around getting the code checked, understanding any custom extensions / integrations and ultimately handing everything over. This wouldn’t be the same for Shopify Plus because it’s essentially a software-as-a-service. That said though, both platforms are right at the top of the list for not having vendor-lock in as there are so many options for the merchants.

One of the biggest selling points for Magento, in my opinion, is the community, as there are thousands and thousands of very smart developers that are obsessed with extending and improving the platform. I would say that Shopify has less of this, however, this comes down to the fact that there’s less complex development work required with Shopify and Shopify Plus generally, which again, does have its benefits.

In addition to the good developers with Magento, there are also lots of not-so-good ones that have started offering services due to the demand around the platform, but this can be a real issue as you need to be at a certain level to successfully work with Magento 2 in my experience and there are a lot of rescue projects out there as a result of companies selected a less experienced, non-partner Magento agency. This, again, isn’t as much of a risk with Shopify as you can generally judge an agency’s work on the front-end as Shopify are supporting the application and agencies aren’t able to access the core.

Shopify Plus also have some excellent partners and this list of Plus partners is growing all the time – examples of really good Shopify Plus partners that I’ve worked with include:

These are just a few examples – there are lots of others too, such as Eastside Co, Strawberry, Blubolt, Verbal & Visual (US), Diff (Ca) BV Accel (US), Lucid Fusion (US) and there are also a lot of high profile Magento partners that have really grown in the Shopify Plus space – such as Corra, Bounteous, Something Digital, MediaSpa and One Rockwell. There are also some of the bigger, platform-agnostic integration partners that have started working on Shopify Plus builds, which represents progress in an area where Magento was definitely stronger historically. Magento partners we work with commonly include:

Magento is ideally suited to more complex sites and is regularly chosen as a solution against SaaS platforms in general, not just Shopify Plus. I’ve been involved in a host of very complex Magento sites, ranging from headless implementations to mixed basket sites (requiring complex integration with booking engines etc) – there are also lots of other examples of where Magento has been used to provide solutions for highly complex B2B sites and high volume sites. These stores wouldn’t be suited to the Shopify Plus platform.

Overall, Magento is more extensible than Shopify Plus and the broad range of APIs and ability to do more with the software does make it a better option for complex stores. I’d say that the key here is to assess your requirements (both long-term and short-term) and see if Shopify Plus is able to provide a solid (without too many workarounds) solution to achieve these. If not, Magento is likely a better option.


Magento Commerce had a host of options when it comes to accepting payment options, including existing integrations with Braintree, Adyen, Stripe and most of the mainstream payment gateways. In addition to this, there are a wide range of pre-integrated payment options within the core, reducing the overhead with the integration.

One pro and con of Shopify Plus (if you choose to use it) is that Shopify also offer Shopify Payments (which is basically white-labelled Stripe) as an option, which is owned and managed by Shopify and it’s very competitive in terms of fees (starting at 1.6% but coming down if you can prove a loss based on an existing provider). Shopify Payments has a number of benefits to the merchant, but it can be very frustrating too, with merchants needing to have a registered business and local bank account for any country they want to use it with. You also can’t use Shopify Payments in regions (e.g. European store or ROW store) and they’re very strict with eligibility. They also don’t support a number of countries currently, such as France. But, if you can work with it – it’s very simple and easy to work with.

Shopify do also work with most third-party payment gateways too, but they charge an additional processing fee if the retailer is using a third party gateway. Other examples of retailers with a Shopify integration include Stripe (clean integration within the Shopify checkout), Braintree, Adyen, PayPal, Sagepay (clean integration within the Shopify checkout), Klarna and Worldpay (clean integration within the Shopify checkout) – these are just a few examples.

One big limitation for Shopify Plus retailers is if you’re not using Shopify Payments and are looking to still use ‘3d secure’ to help prevent fraud, this can result in a very poor checkout user experience. Shopify Plus have recently introduced Shopify Fraud Protect, which covers liability for fraudulent payments (for a small charge on each order), but this is only available for Shopify Payments and is very new. If you’re selling products that are susceptible to not being accepted by payment gateways (e.g. supplements, alcohol, adult products etc), this can be a very frustrating issue with Shopify. That said, I have clients in this category and they’ve worked around it either by using a third party fraud solution and / or creating verification rules using Flow.


Although there’s a lot of work that needs to be done from the out-of-the-box setup, Magento provides a lot more flexibility from an SEO perspective because the system is more open. Due to the locked down nature of Shopify, it’s not possible to make changes to things like the URL structure and hierarchy or implement certain technical SEO components easily. The lack of multi-store can also make things like hreflang logic harder to create, but it can certainly be done (and has been by lots of merchants). The other major frustration for lots of people is that stores need to be on a local CCtld (e.g. or a subdomain (

I’d say that Shopify Plus is probably stronger out-of-the-box from a technical SEO perspective than Magento, which requires work to prevent some issues (e.g. indexation of dynamic pages etc), but it’s very fixed (e.g. the URL structure).

If you use Shopify in a headless manner, you do have full control over the URLs, as Shopify isn’t powering the front-end. Lots of retailers do go down this route and it also gives you access to the server so you can implement things like visual merchandising solutions without just relying on JavaScript for the product grid.

Magento is actually very strong for SEO and you won’t ‘need’ to make big changes as part of the replatforming project – this is seen as a big plus for Magento over Shopify Plus.


One of the biggest weaknesses of both Magento has historically been the native reporting, including when using third-party modules (as there’s not really a good one in existence). The out of the box Shopify reporting is much better! Although it doesn’t cover everything, Shopify has a much nicer and cleaner reporting interface and covers all of the core metrics, as well as having a really good API to support this. You can then use third parties like Elevar, Excelify and Glew to help fill the gaps.

A couple of years ago, Magento acquired RJMetrics (now Magento BI), which is a very strong solution that adds a lot of value to merchants. They offer a really nice product available from just $100 per month and it’s free for Commerce users, but it’s not part of the admin at this point. Magento BI gives you access to some really nice reports (by pulling data out of the Magento database) that aren’t readily available, such as customer lifetime value, purchase lead-time, category-level top purchasers, various product reports etc. Magento BI is essentially a data warehouse and you can also pull in data from other systems and sources, which is really powerful.

Examples of reports available from Magento BI include:

  • Time between orders
  • First time vs repeat orders
  • Customer lifetime value reports
  • Repeat order probability
  • Various reports around account creation etc
  • Various complex product sales reports focused on understanding product performance
  • Various top customer reports for identifying top spenders and aligning this with initial purchases

Thes are just a few quick examples of reports which can also include additional filters and variables. Magento BI is a really strong addition to Magento’s stack – you can read more about it here on Pinpoint’s article.

Shopify does have a number of very good reporting tools, but they’re not connecting to the database and going into the same detail around customer and order data like Magento BI. Two reporting tools (that also support GA setup) that I really like with Shopify are:

These are both GA-based but where they’re looking to go with predictive analytics and pro-active suggestions for growth are great, as are their integrations with Shopify.


The almost undoubtedly biggest selling point of Magento is the community, as mentioned above – there are thousands of skilled, experienced Magento developers out there capable of helping you build and maintain Magento stores at all levels (as well as work with other Magento products, such as Order Management and BI). Other platforms just don’t have this – because of the community-led nature of the platform and the ability to do highly complex things with the platform. The Magento certifications and partner program (although I don’t fully agree with how the partner program is managed etc) also help to give merchants guidance in selecting the right service providers. This being said, lots of the big Magento agencies now work with Shopify Plus, including Blue Acorn, Something Digital, Guidance, Inviqa etc.

Shopify’s partner network is getting really strong too now – with the platform growing at a crazy rate! In the UK, there are lots of strong partners that have built several Plus stores and several long-term Magento agencies have started offering Shopify Plus build services, such as Space48, Inviqa, GPMD and lots of others.

Magento 2’s improvement over the last ~12 months (and the fact they still exist after all of the issues they have around the launch of Magento 2) is in the most part down to the community and the number of developers that contribute to the growth of the platform. Magento are now accepting a huge amount of contributions from community developers and features such as the Adobe stock integration and MSI are examples of community-led initiatives.

Shopify Flow

One feature that can be hugely beneficial to Shopify Plus merchants is Flow, which is essentially an automation platform that can be really powerful and reduce the need for developers considerably.

Flow allows Shopify Plus merchants to create workflows to automate specific tasks, with the scope ranging from custom order notifications or order management logic to personalising the experience for specific groups of customers and creating customer-specific promotions.

Some examples of how I’ve used Shopify Flow with customers include:

  • Replace the add to cart function on specific SKUs based on inventory thresholds – on a project I worked on recently, we replaced the add to cart button with a pre-order button if the stock for a specific set of SKUs went below a certain number. The add to cart button would then be restored when the inventory increased above the threshold again. We had three levels of stock that we applied across different groups of products.
  • Order tagging – I’ve used Flow for tagging various types of orders, which can then dictate how orders are handled or the information that is passed into third party order management or ERP systems, for example. An example of this could be a wholesale order being tagged as “wholesale”, which would result in different order attributes being passed into the ERP.
  • Provide custom content in account section – Another workflow we created on a recent project was focused on providing access to specific downloadable items to specific customers based on them being assigned a tag. This tag was assigned based on them purchasing a specific item. This was super easy to setup and there was literally no management overhead.
  • Customer tagging – Again, I’ve used Flow to add various tags to customers, which can then be used for personalisation, order restrictions, promotions etc. Most of my use cases have been related to wholesale and assigning customers to specific price lists. I also used this with one retailer based on lifetime spend / loyalty to allow for specific promotions etc.
  • Custom order notifications – I’ve also used Shopify Flow to alert CS teams of large orders and draft orders, both of which would require checks and a different workflow.
  • Fraud checking – In one case, when a retailer I was working with moved to Shopify Payments (which doesn’t support 3d secure), we used Flow to create logic for fraud checks in the interim until we introduced a fraud checking tool.

These are just a few quick examples of how Shopify Flow can be used – these are also all very quick and easy-to-manage workflows that would likely require custom development with other platforms.

One other big new development with Shopify Flow is the introduction of third-party integrations, which opens up a whole new level of opportunity with the automation. A number of Shopify Plus technology partners have already integrated with Flow (such as Loyalty Lion) to allow support for native triggers. An example shown at Shopify Unite was pulling in customer groupings from Loyalty Lion and customising the on-site experience to encourage repeat purchase, for example.


As can be seen by this brief assessment, there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides. On the one hand, Shopify Plus offers a fast and easy to use platform that can be used as an enterprise-level eCommerce solution, without the requirement for specialist development teams, complex server setup or lengthy learning processes for staff (although likely with some level of compromise). I’ve had several clients who have moved to Shopify Plus and saved a huge amount of time that can now be spent on growing their store through developing their product range and marketing.

For merchants who have more complex requirements (particularly in terms of large, complex catalogs and complex multi-store), however, the native flexibility and scalability of Magento may mean that Magento Commerce Edition is the safer choice, but I think that’ll change soon when Shopify release a solution for the weaker areas mentioned above.

The decision on which platform is the best choice should ultimately be a highly individual one, based on a clear and detailed assessment of the client’s specific functional requirements and in-house resources. It will undoubtedly be interesting to observe how, over the coming months or years, these two eCommerce giants fare against one another.

Magento Commerce is almost definitely going to cost you more than Shopify Plus, purely because you need to pay integrators more money (both in terms of higher rates and more hours required) and all fees around the platform are likely to be higher (particularly if you’re a high turnover merchant).

If I was running a relatively straightforward store and I didn’t have complex requirements, I’d personally be seriously looking at Shopify Plus – to be honest, this is becoming a bit of a no-brainer. If I was a store with some complex requirements, B2B requirements or if I wanted to go with a on-premise platform, I would look at Magento Commerce.

The below table shows a top-level feature comparison, providing guidance around native capabilities and where customisations are required in key areas.

Feature Shopify Plus Magento Commerce
Native product types Shopify natively supports the equivalent of simple and configurable products, but can achieve the other forms of products that Magento offers via customisations or the use of third parties. You would need to consider how you want the product setup to work from a discounting and catalog management perspective (particularly with bundles). Simple products, configurable products, bundled products, virtual products, downloadable products, grouped products, gift cards
Multi-store support Shopify doesn’t currently provide native support for multi-store, however, this can be achieved at a basic level via customisations and Shopify are soon to be releasing a PIM-like solution to support international and multi-brand implementations. Native support for managing multiple storefronts – this is a real strength of Magento and the platform is built around managing data at different levels that allows for efficient management of multiple stores.
Product attribute management Shopify uses tags and metafields instead of product attributes and this represents a bit of a different way of working. Shopify isn’t as advanced as Magento on product management in general, but there are usually workarounds to achieve core requirements. One thing I would say is that, although it’s not as scalable, working with Shopify’s tagging approach is really clean and user-friendly. Advanced product attribute management that allows for different types of data out of the box and allows for management of these attributes at different levels.
Customer management Shopify use customer tagging, which can replicate most of the functionality provided via Magento. Once customers are tagged you can use this to apply different pricing, product availability, front-end nuances, promotions etc. Magento’s customer groups is a very strong native capability that is built into the core of the platform – meaning you can use it alongside other areas of the platform, such as customer segmentation, pricing, promotions etc.
Visual merchandising Shopify Plus don’t have a visual merchandising interface, however, the platform has the same basic capabilities really, with the drag and drop approach. Magento has a basic visual merchandising interface within categories, but don’t apply for complex sorting or global weightings etc.
SEO Shopify is very locked down around SEO, although it is relatively strong in places. Shopify doesn’t allow for editing of the robots.txt file, URLs etc. Users are able to amend logic around things like canonical URLs, hreflang references, noindex tags etc. Magento is far more flexible around SEO and allows for heavy customisation – I’ve seen retailers do pretty much everything with the platform and there are no real restrictions here.
International Shopify Plus’s international offering has been the most widely talked about limitations of the platform, however, they’re expected to release a PIM (for managing data across multiple stores) and the ability to show different pricing in different currencies and take payment in different currencies within the next few months. A lot of the larger integration partners have also built bespoke solutions for managing international multi-store setups or use a PIM, such as Akeneo. Once you do achieve the international setup on Plus though, you’re essentially working with multiple stores, rather than being able to properly use local and global logic etc. Magento has a very strong multi-store infrastructure, which allows for complex international requirements, such as local product management, local catalog visibility and selling restrictions, local payment methods, complex localised pricing, local shipping options and logic, sharing of global data at an attribute-level basis etc. Magento is a proven solution with international stores, which is one area where it really stands out, however, Shopify Plus are making big moves to change this.
Content management Shopify Plus is relatively basic when it comes to content management, however, they do allow for a modularised approach via sections and most merchants use something like Shogun alongside native features. I would say that Shopify Plus is ‘ok’ in this area but it’s not a core strength, as with most mainstream platforms currently. Since acquiring the Bluefoot module from Gene a couple of years ago, Magento has been working on introducing a far more advanced and integrated CMS solution, but this still isn’t available presently. Rumours suggest that the new page builder module will be made available late this year as part of the 2.3 release. I’ve played around with page builder and it is very strong and allows for very clean management of content across the platform, not just on CMS pages and within static blocks. The ability to use things like static blocks in Magento is also a strength here.

If you have any questions about anything in this post, please feel free to email [email protected]

Paul Rogers

Paul Rogers is an experienced eCommerce Consultant, specialising in all aspects of replatforming and eCommerce optimisation / customer experience.

Paul has worked with most mainstream eCommerce platforms and has supported complex replatforming projects with retailers from all over the world. From a solutions perspective, Paul specialises in working with Magento and Shopify Plus.

Paul is also the Managing Director of Vervaunt, an eCommerce consultancy and paid media agency based in London.

10 thoughts on “Magento 2 Commerce vs Shopify Plus

  1. Hi Paul, we are trying to create a multi vendor B2B marketplace platform like Amazonbusiness. Which off-the shel solution would you recommend for taking any open source platform which is market ready.


  2. Thank you, Paul, this is an incredibly useful, unbiased comparison of the two platforms. I appreciate the inclusion of average costs to build a mid-level site. You’ve helped me assess and summarise the risks for my client to consider.

  3. Hi Paul,

    Came across your article comparing Shopify Plus (SaaS) & Magento Commerce(PaaS). Could Pl. elaborate on

    1) BAU development costs (in my experience) – $36,000.
    2) First Year Shopify Plus Cost: $148,000
    3) Three Year Shopify Plus Cost of Ownership: $267,000
    4) First Year Magento Commerce Cost: $226,000
    5) Three Year Magento Cost of Ownership: $438,000

    Do you have any data on number of Magento Commerce (PaaS) and Shopify Plus (SaaS) implementations.

    Kind Regards,

  4. Hi Paul, excellent write up – thank you very much. I have a couple of smaller Magento clients who I’ve moved onto Shopify as it represented a better option than migrating to M2.

    However, something to note – Shopify’s preferred payment gateway is Stripe & they have pretty restrictive rules on the products merchants can sell – alcohol to sex toys & much more besides are verboten. You can use alternative gateways but I believe Shopify will still charge a 2% transaction fee for not using their preferred payment gateway!

  5. Very insightful article and glad it’s kept up-to-date. A real pleasure to read such a considered deep-dive… talented guy!

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