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Case Studies







Magento vs Shopify: An Ecommerce Platform Comparison

Magento Commerce and Shopify Plus are both powerful, feature-rich ecommerce platforms. Our jargon-free comparison of these two ecommerce heavyweights examines various factors to help you decide which solution is right for your business.

Written By
Hannah Smiddy

As an online retailer, you’ll know that the importance of a robust, agile and scalable ecommerce solution is not to be underestimated. Using a platform that can reliably keep up with your business’ evolving needs will save you significant amounts of time, money and resources. The right tech stack can, with your ecommerce platform at its heart, open up opportunities for rapid growth by allowing you to invest your budget and energy in revenue-driving activities such as strategic marketing campaigns, bespoke functionality and optimisation programs.

An inadequate platform, on the other hand, can quickly eat away at your budget, limit your future growth, and leave you facing significant technical debt.

Choosing an ecommerce platform that ticks all of your boxes can seem like a daunting task. You might feel like there’s an endless list of questions to answer. How do different platforms vary in cost? How does performance and reliability compare across solutions? How easy is it to implement changes on one platform compared to another?

In this article, we provide a comprehensive comparison of two of the most popular platforms in the ecommerce ecosystem: Magento Commerce and Shopify Plus. We take into account some of the key questions you’ll likely have about these two solutions, exploring:

At this point, it’s important to offer full disclosure: Swanky is an official Shopify Plus Partner. We work exclusively on the Shopify platform and cannot claim to be an impartial commentator when it comes to ecommerce solutions. Whilst we do regularly and thoroughly examine other platforms (and remain open to contrary viewpoints), we remain loyal to the conclusion that building on Shopify is the best option for our clients, their customers, and us as an agency.

It’s also worth noting that this comparison focuses on Magento Commerce (otherwise known as Adobe Commerce, and previously known as Magento 2) in particular.

Behind-the-scenes of Magento and Shopify

Perhaps one of the most crucial differences between Magento Commerce and Shopify Plus is the way they are hosted.

Magento Commerce is a self-hosted solution. Shopify Plus is, and always has been, a fully-managed, cloud-based ecommerce platform.

But what does this actually mean for your business on a day-to-day basis?


As a brand using Magento Commerce, you’ll either need to host your site yourself, or you’ll need a third-party to host it for you. This means you have to factor in the cost of hosting on top of Magento’s annual platform fee. Magento requires a robust server setup with plenty of processing power, which can result in rather sizable operational costs.

Magento merchants need to make sure they choose a hosting solution that will allow for store growth. On a self-hosted platform, hosting fees increase with the more products and visitors you acquire. This is particularly pertinent if you have plans to expand your business or if your product launches and sales tend to attract large peaks in traffic.

Your hosting package will affect the speed of your site too. Choose an inadequate Magento hosting plan, and your store could run into trouble during busy trading periods (potentially making you a victim of the dreaded Black Friday crash). This could see a direct and negative impact on sales, customer trust and revenue.

On the other hand, businesses using Shopify Plus don’t have to worry when it comes to hosting. Shopify Plus is a ‘software as a service’ (SaaS), which means your store is hosted and managed by Shopify. This SaaS configuration means that all hosting costs are included within your monthly plan without traffic volume fees.

Shopify’s content delivery network

Shopify was the first hosted ecommerce solution to use a content delivery network, or CDN. All merchants have access to this at no additional cost. A CDN refers to a collection of web servers distributed across multiple locations around the world. Content is delivered to site visitors from the server nearest to them.

Shopify’s global CDN means that stores load reliably and quickly around the globe, lowering response and load times, and keeping data flowing even during busy trading periods.

Quick response times have been shown to amplify visitor engagement, increase customer retention and boost conversion rates. Edward Matthews, Front End Developer at Swanky, explores this in more detail in an article on understanding Shopify site speed.

On the other hand, a standard Magento Commerce installation is self-hosted and self-managed. This configuration can be quickly overwhelmed during busy trading periods, restricting the availability of content for some users. This type of technical infrastructure also means that users from certain geographical areas may experience slower page load times. In turn, you could see a drop in conversion rates when trying to sell internationally.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a tried-and-tested enterprise solution that handles all your traffic requirements on a fixed monthly hosting fee, then Shopify Plus is the platform for you. And when it comes to providing a slick customer experience for users across the globe, Shopify’s cloud hosting and global CDN is a clear win over a self-hosted solution like Magento Commerce.


Linked inherently to each platform’s hosting and server configurations is their scalability.

Thanks to Shopify’s cloud infrastructure and global CDN, it can handle high volumes of traffic with ease. With a peak order volume of 10,978 per minute, Shopify Plus retailers can be confident in the platform’s ability to seamlessly handle busy trading periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as highly-publicised product launches.

Self-hosted ecommerce platforms like Magento Commerce, on the other hand, have been known to struggle with an influx of site visitors, with serious consequences for businesses. A well-known example of this occurred on the Magento-based site of premium sock store, Bombas.

Following their success on an episode of hit US TV show Shark Tank, Bombas founders David and Andrew Heath watched as their online store crashed before their eyes. Product images weren’t displaying properly and customers were unable to check out. Within just a few minutes, losses totalled $15,000, and their reputation as a trusted retailer was starting to take a hit. And, when the Shark Tank episode reran, their site suffered the same damaging problems.

As a result, Bombas made the decision to migrate to Shopify Plus, known for its unrivalled and seamless scalability. It is now thriving as one of the most rapidly-expanding fashion brands, thanks to an ecommerce store which is built to handle large numbers of site visitors. In fact, since migrating from Magento to Shopify Plus, the business has seen revenue grow by 300% year-on-year.

Talking of Shopify Plus’ scalability, Bombas co-founder David Heath said:

“Whether we’re doing 500 or 5000 orders a day, Shopify Plus automatically scales with us, without us having to do anything extra.”

And, thinking ahead to your brand’s future growth, the launch of Commerce Components by Shopify (CCS) is an excellent indicator of Shopify Plus’ long-term scalability. Emergent challenger brands and global category leaders alike can be confident in Shopify Plus’ ability to support their omnichannel commerce operations. Tailored for brands with GMV in excess of $500m, CCS unbundes over 30 of Shopify Plus’ high-performance functional components and enables enterprise retailers to build a fully flexible, scalable commerce solution.


As a result of Magento Commerce’s self-hosted configuration, users are entirely responsible for maintaining their site’s security. All updates and security patches have to be installed manually, which requires extra funds and development resources.

Things like PCI compliance are also the onus of the retailer. This is a rather costly and time-consuming process that can distract retailers from growing their business.

Being an open-source solution, Magento is also prone to malware and is more susceptible to security threats. A single vulnerability is often all a digital attacker needs to install malware onto a website. Therefore, having the best and most current security mechanisms in place on your ecommerce store is crucial for the safety of your customers’ data. Managing your own protection against these malicious cyber attacks places huge demand on your time, resources and budget.

As a fully-managed ecommerce platform, Shopify Plus takes care of security for you. It guarantees up-to-date security around the clock, which not only provides retailers with peace of mind about the safety of their site, but frees up time and resources for other tasks.

By default, Shopify Plus has Level 1 PCI DSS compliance (which is much harder to attain if you are using a self-hosted solution). This means that the platform is committed to protecting your cardholder data, regularly monitoring and testing networks, and maintaining a secure network and vulnerability management program at all times.

What’s more, Shopify uses SSL encryption technology to protect a customer’s entire online experience as standard.

And when it comes to preventing security breaches, Shopify is well-known across the ecommerce industry for its Bug Bounty Program. This sees security researchers contributing to the security of the ecommerce platform by identifying serious vulnerabilities before they can be exploited in malicious cyber attacks. In return for identifying a valid vulnerability, researchers are rewarded with a bounty payout. This highly successful bounty program complements Shopify’s overall security strategy and ensures that it remains arguably the most secure ecommerce platform in the world.

Support for users

Another key difference to consider in a Magento vs Shopify comparison is the level of support provided to brands.

The biggest source of free support available to Magento retailers is the Magento forum, where users can search for answers to their queries on a huge database of user generated content. This large community of users can provide comprehensive, jargon-free solutions for all manner of Magento queries.

Magento users also have access to 24/7 phone support and extensive user guides.

Despite the support available though, self-hosted Magento users often find that their support queries need to go through their hosting provider. Understandably, this can leave many brands feeling unsure, unsupported and frustrated. This is especially the case when something on your website has gone wrong and you’re in need of immediate help to get your store up and running again.

Shopify Plus offers 24/7 technical support available via phone, email and live chat. Like Magento, Shopify also has an online forum where users can exchange advice about site builds or ecommerce trading in general, as well as comprehensive documentation and learning resources for users.

On top of this, each Shopify Plus retailer has access to a solutions engineer and dedicated launch team at no extra cost. These platform experts provide access to training and support on key business areas such as growth strategy, technical solutions and business management. They will help you define a clear roadmap for success, whilst providing the tools and advice to execute your ecommerce vision. 

Ease of use

Shopify’s intuitive drag-and-drop store builder doesn’t rely on technical expertise, which makes it easy for retailers to stay agile and quickly adapt. Not having to depend on a development team to make basic changes and deploy new features means you can focus your time and budget on growth-focused activities and more complex bespoke requirements.

Magento, on the other hand, can be a complex platform to navigate, particularly if you don’t have any backend development experience. For non-technical team members, the steep learning curve that comes with Magento’s content management system can be rather daunting. You may find that it causes a delay in pushing campaigns or site changes live.

Without a visual editor, everyday tasks like customising your homepage or making simple changes to your site can become complicated, often requiring input from a developer. Should a development team need to execute changes, this process involves several stages. Development will first need to be done in your pre-production environment, then it will require thorough testing before it is added to a pipeline for deployment on your live site. This can take a large chunk out of your budget and timeline, whilst making it difficult to remain agile. Magento users typically cite this complex and cumbersome change process as a core frustration of the platform.

Of course, if you have a tech-savvy team who are familiar with PHP (the coding language that Magento is written in), along with time and budget to invest in your store-build, then Magento Commerce presents fewer barriers to entry. Navigating its content management system won’t be so much of a challenge, and you’re more likely to be able to harness the platform’s full potential.

Customisation & flexibility

Because Magento Commerce is an open-source platform, merchants can access and modify their site’s full source code. Whilst this puts unlimited customisations at their fingertips, it requires advanced knowledge of the demanding platform architecture. Therefore, many merchants choose to hire experienced Magento developers to build customisations – which doesn’t come cheap. The time and budget allocated to this can eat into valuable resources for other important marketing activities.

What’s more, having access to and responsibility for the code base of the entire website, including the checkout, means that there is a higher risk of making costly mistakes. A problem with the checkout functionality is not only frustrating for your customers, but it poses a security risk and could ultimately cost you significant revenue.

There’s also a greater amount of risk involved with Magento customisations because the platform is self-hosted. Merchants are effectively on their own to manage, support and scale any customisations, which places responsibility of non-functional requirements such as security, performance, reliability and accessibility firmly with them. This is another distraction from important sales and marketing efforts.

As a Shopify Plus user, all that’s required to build a custom enterprise ecommerce store is knowledge of HTML, CSS and Liquid. The platform has an extensive library of themes too, which can almost entirely remove the need for manual page development. Users can also make customisations (such as adding new pages, changing the colour palette, editing page elements and integrating social media feeds) all without needing to know a line of code.

This customisation functionality has recently been extended to the Shopify checkout, with the release of Checkout Extensibility for Plus retailers. A suite of powerful apps and tools for making code-free customisations, it will allow users to build the checkout experiences they want.

Magento-turned-Shopify retailer Shivraj Bassi, CEO and Founder of ground-breaking nutritional supplements brand Innermost, is full of praise for how straightforward customisations and additions are within Shopify Plus:

“It’s been a breath of fresh air for us. On Magento, our biggest frustration was that it was very difficult to make changes to the website, to upgrade the website, add additional functionality, but with Shopify Plus a lot of that just comes out of the box.

“It’s really been a way for us to empower ourselves and have a website that really helps us grow our business.”

You can hear more insights from Shivraj in our case study on Innermost’s migration from Magento Commerce to Shopify Plus.


Shopify has the largest ecosystem of apps and pre-built integrations in the industry – a unique aspect of the platform’s value proposition. In fact, there are more than 8,000 apps available for Shopify retailers to make customisations to their online stores, all of which undergo a rigorous review process prior to release.

Such is the currency that Shopify holds in the market, third parties typically develop apps and integrations with a Shopify-first mindset.

As well as a rich network of apps and integrations, Shopify Plus retailers can leverage the expertise and experience of certified Plus Partners. These include solutions partners who specialise in themes, app integration and customisation, tech partners who provide tools and integrations to extend the value of Shopify Plus to users, and agency partners like Swanky who offer a comprehensive suite of design, development and growth services.

The Magento Marketplace also offers a variety of extensions that allow retailers to expand the functionality of their stores. However, these are rarely turnkey and can require a developer to handle their configuration.

Furthermore, extensions can often become incompatible with upgraded versions of Magento. They therefore have to be tested thoroughly with each deployment – adding greater dependance on your development and QA teams.

Total cost of ownership

A critical challenge for Magento users can be the high costs involved with maintaining their ecommerce store.

Magento retailers can easily find themselves battling with unforeseen costs that aren’t covered in their original annual fee. As we have touched on above, costs can quickly mount for things such as:

  • Hosting (with fees that increase with product and traffic volume)
  • Pre-production server
  • Security
  • Licence fees
  • Site maintenance
  • Developing, testing and deploying changes and new functionality
  • Upgrades

From our experience, brands on Shopify Plus are likely to have a 25-75% lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than on Magento Commerce. What makes Shopify Plus so much more affordable than other ecommerce platforms like Magento Commerce is the large number of functions and features included within the flat monthly price. As a brand using Shopify Plus, all of your basic development, hosting, security, technical support and business management tasks are included at no extra cost.

Discussing Kent Brushes’ migration from Magento to Shopify, former Ecommerce Manager for the brand Carly McIntyre said:

“Replatforming to Shopify has also allowed us to focus more time and resources on growing our business with exciting marketing strategies, rather than having to spend money on constant maintenance work.”

It’s also much cheaper and quicker to build a Shopify Plus site compared to a Magento store, so you’re saving money from the get-go as a Shopify retailer. Time to launch could be as little as 90 days on Shopify, compared to 6-9 months on Magento.

This significant reduction in TCO is complemented by performance, conversion and revenue uplifts from new-found budget being redirected into growth.

For more information on TCO, our CEO, Dan Partridge, has taken a detailed look at the TCO of various ecommerce platforms and how this is driving decision-making for retailers.

Magento vs Shopify: A summary

Magento Commerce and Shopify Plus are both powerful, feature-rich ecommerce platforms.

The former is geared towards brands with more complex customisation and hosting architecture requirements. Built for developers, there’s no denying that it offers a vast amount of flexibility, although this can come with hidden, and often rather significant, costs.

Shopify Plus, on the other hand, is an intuitive, scalable, fully-hosted platform that’s quick and easy to get to grips with. It provides all the key components of a comprehensive ecommerce solution, without the need for development teams in day-to-day operations. Crucially, the money that you can save as a Shopify Plus brand can be invested into growing your business – perfect for ambitious brands who are looking to innovate in line with fast-moving industry trends.

As we’ve seen, there are a variety of factors to consider when choosing the right ecommerce solution for your business. The decision on which platform is best should ultimately be based on a detailed assessment of your specific requirements and resources.

Looking to migrate from Magento to Shopify?

Over 1,000 brands have replatformed from Magento to Shopify in search of a more agile, less labour-intensive commerce solution which has more integrated features and reduced total cost of ownership. This includes the likes of Gymshark, Rebecca Minkoff, Bombas, Culture Kings and The NY Times.

We ourselves have liberated several brands from the constraints of Magento, including luxury fashion label Needle & Thread, health and wellness retailer Innermost, and contemporary jewellery brand Daisy.

These brands have all chosen a platform that enables them to put their resources into strategy, growth and customer experience, rather than costly infrastructure and maintenance.

Contact our team of Shopify Plus Experts to find out how we can support your ecommerce migration project. We’d love to kickstart your journey on Shopify.


Editor’s note: The original version of this article was published in April 2019. It has been updated in March 2023 to reflect changes to both Magento and Shopify, as well as wider changes in the ecommerce ecosystem.

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