updated in august 2023

Centra vs Shopify Plus vs Magento 2: A side‑by‑side comparison

Ecommerce has evolved. Gone are the days when a single platform could be good for everything. Modern original brands need agility, design freedom, and scale to grow and reach their customers internationally.

How do brands score Centra on G2?

See how Centra compares to Shopify Plus and Magento 2, below

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Shopify PlusMagento 2Centra
Meets requirements8.68.49.0
Ease of use9.07.29.0
Ease of setup8.76.28.5
Ease of admin8.87.49.1
Quality of support8.57.09.2
Ease of doing business with8.67.59.6
Product direction8.96.99.7

The evolution of commerce platforms

Legacy platforms
Example: Magento 1
redEcommerce business logic coupled with CMS and front-end website
redBusiness logic and website customized by integrating directly with the platform’s source code
redDifficult to upgrade due to version and vendor lock-in. Significant cost to keep an installation running
Monolithic SaaS platforms
Example: Shopify Plus
yellowEcommerce business logic coupled with CMS and front-end on limited APIs
yellowLimited possibilities to extend the built-in business logic and functionality through apps
yellowLimited flexibility prevents rapid online business development and makes it hard to meet enterprise needs
Composable SaaS platforms
greenPresentation layer fully decoupled from the ecommerce engine
greenOpen architecture, with data accessible through well-defined APIs
greenAPI “technical contract” between platform and implementation enables rapid low-cost development

Running a fashion brand? The right tool makes all the difference!

In the fast-paced world of fashion and lifestyle, the tools you use can significantly impact your brand's growth. If you're operating on a monolithic ecommerce platform, you might be limiting your brand's potential. While these platforms seem like comprehensive solutions, they may not always be the best fit for fashion and lifestyle brands. Their one-size-fits-all approach often fails to address the complex business strategies and nuances of modern lifestyle commerce.

In short

Even with lots of ecommerce platforms out there, Shopify Plus and Magento are often mentioned as the top ones. But when you look at the design of both platforms, the industries they excel in, and their growth facilitation strategies, their flaws begin to surface – particularly in their approach to tackling the hurdles of contemporary, global fashion ecommerce.

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Shopify PlusMagento 2Centra
Built for...
  • An industry-agnostic platform built for mid-size retailers and brands.
  • Many third-party apps are needed to get the core commerce features like variant handling, campaign features, and international sales.
  • Magento is a generic retailer-focused ecommerce product. Industry-specific adaptation needs to be added through customization, driving cost and complexity.
  • Geared for established or aspiring brands that need a flexible platform to achieve their global ambitions.
Powerful vs. ease of use
  • Built to be easy to learn. Shopify’s ambition is to enable aspiring online retailers to open up a simple online store with a few easy clicks.
  • Powerful but complex. Requires specific Magento programming skills to customize and maintain. Most programmers have difficulty learning Magento.
  • Centra is designed with the needs of business users in mind, rather than IT professionals. Its robust features make it a comfortable fit for seasoned ecommerce managers. And our top-tier support and onboarding ensure that users swiftly transition into power users.
Wholesale vs. direct-to-
  • Compared to the standard Shopify offering, Plus comes with a number of features aimed at online retailers and brands that have started to grow and expand outside their initial market.
  • Magento offers both B2B and B2C commerce; however, it lacks fashion-specific features.
  • With Centra, you can handle all channels from one platform — both Wholesale B2B and Direct-to-Consumer B2C.
Single vs. multi-market
  • To manage multiple markets with Shopify plus comes with trade-off. You either use Shopify Markets which means limited localization options and paying additional fees e.g. transaction and conversion fees.
  • Or, you’ll use separate stores, which limits your reporting and requires manual work for managing orders and inventory.
  • Multiple markets is possible. However, administration is quite complex and not built to scale on product nor content level.
  • Centra enables multiple markets, multiple currencies, multiple languages, prices and size charts depending on the location.
  • You can have multiple storefronts with advanced internalization.
  • With Shopify Plus, localization is done via expansion stores that create manual work to sync inventory and orders.
  • Magento 2 provides basic built-in tools for translation, but if you want comprehensive translation or localization, you'll need to do it manually or use additional extensions or apps from the Magento Marketplace.
  • With Centra, any information can be localized. You can serve any number of markets, languages, currencies, payment methods, price lists, warehouses, and users.
  • Making upsells with Shopify Plus is difficult. For instance, the platform lacks native bundles – they are available only through extra plugins. For more complex promotions, you would typically need to use Shopify Functions.
  • Native support for promotions, gift cards, bundling, private sales and events.
  • Native support for bundles, advanced promotions, and discounts. High flexibility in terms of pricing, stock, discounts, inheriting of attributes, etc.
Payment options
  • Few fixed payment options with focus on Shopify payments, which is tailored for the North American market. Extra fees and complexity when using other PSPs.
  • Multiple payment options available.
  • Flexible payment options.
  • Centra offers 200+ leading payment methods through multiple PSPs, empowering brands to sell globally.
Omnichannel capabilities
  • Shopify Plus’ omnichannel is geared towards mobile devices and social media.
  • The omnichannel capabilities are enabled through POS and POS Pro apps.
  • Magento 2 provides omnichannel capabilities, e.g. connecting social media, and third-party systems such as ERP.
  • With Centra, brands gain advanced omnichannel capabilities. It’s possible to connect Centra with marketplaces and ad networks via APIs. You can integrate Centra with different company systems.
Order management
  • Shopify Plus’ order management is limited if you use multiple stores e.g. in terms of localization and wholesale. Plus offers options for customizing order fulfillment both natively and through premium paid 3PL service in the US – called; Shopify Fulfillment Network.
  • Magento 2 offers inventory and order management, store fulfillment and can manage multiple warehouses.
  • Centra offers an advanced order management system. It enables order viewing, and automation of many processes, and supports replenishment, overselling protection, return, and refunds.
Licensing fees
  • The Shopify Plus pricing plan is more complicated than the standard plan since fees are determined by sales volume. A $2,000 monthly licensing fee includes: hosting, maintenance, version upgrades, your main store, and nine expansion stores, Shopify’s POS app, launch team, and merchant support.
  • Fees for licenses, customization, hosting, updates and upgrades come on top of website development, creating a high and difficult to forecast total cost of ownership.
  • Centra comes at a single cost, with no transaction fees. The cost covers all necessary modules for a fashion and lifestyle brand, but you’re free to switch to your preferred providers if you wish.
  • Additional costs (not payable to Centra) would be for design and development of the on-brand website and the underlying CMS and payment solutions.

The 12 challenges of fashion commerce

To grow quickly and expand worldwide, modern fashion brands require a platform that facilitates this without constraining their design and development. Platforms must be able to scale up, resolve complex issues, allow creative freedom, enable cross-border sales, and support the sales of fashion and lifestyle products.

Let’s have a closer look at how popular platforms solve these challenges, and how they stack up against Centra’s headless, fashion-centric approach to fashion ecommerce.

Challenge #1

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Design freedom and flexibility

When it comes to website design, the fashion industry has distinct requirements. Forward-thinking brands need the flexibility and creative freedom to craft websites that perfectly reflect their brand's authenticity – without any compromises or constraints on design.

Creative freedom means giving editors the ability to control and customize the front end through a full-scale modular CMS combining content marketing and online shopping. Most popular ecommerce platforms don't give brands that freedom, limiting their growth.

Why brands migrate to Centra

You could set up a headless store on top of a monolithic commerce platform but you’ll miss out on the functionality that led you to pick that platform initially. On the other hand, you'll also lose the advantages of a headless system like low costs and little developer support. So, you could end up paying as much or more but getting fewer benefits.

By adopting a fully headless, modular, and API-first architecture, you can achieve performance and scalability benefits that are unattainable with monolithic platforms like Shopify Plus or Magento 2.

Centra's API-first approach is designed to meet the demands of modern fashion and lifestyle brands. Centra's clients opt for a headless CMS as part of their front-end architecture, creating an ideal combination of content marketing and sophisticated shopping features. The extensive API coverage of the platform enables brands to enhance their front-end experiences, free from the limitations often related to well-known monolithic ecommerce platforms.

Challenge #2

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Multi‑store and internationalization

It's important for ecommerce fashion brands to focus on localization if they want to increase international sales. Each market has a different language preference, payment method, and price point. Consumer behavior and seasonal sales vary by climate zone, influencer, and cultural factors. 

A country's holidays, seasons, and trends can create different sales spikes, like Singles' Day in China, a popular online shopping holiday, or Les Soldes in France, a nationwide retail sales period. Likewise, even something as universal as clothes sizes can vary by geography.  

Fashion ecommerce brands need to provide their customers with localized checkouts and multiple payment options. Localization needs to include product bundling and merchandising as well.

Traditional commerce platforms, on the other hand, present challenges for effective localization. They require separate storefronts for each market, complicating localization and hindering search engine optimization (SEO).

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra's multi-store architecture enables control and management of essential data both locally and globally across multiple stores, thereby helping brands with international expansion or those aiming to enter new markets.

Centra lets admin users oversee product management at the level of individual stores, specific languages, or globally. It makes it possible to use unique descriptions for stores depending on languages, while the same images can be used globally. It's possible to apply this to other areas such as managing categories, running promotions, handling customer relations, and so on.

Challenge #3

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Wholesale

Often the popular ecommerce platforms fall short when it comes to providing a robust wholesale experience for brands. Platforms like Shopify Plus and Magento 2 give you basic wholesale options, which essentially involve setting up a separate store with different pricing and invoice payment methods. However, the buyer's journey remains the same. Because of this, brands seeking to improve their wholesale strategy need technology with greater flexibility and comprehensiveness.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra is designed to support the unique purchasing processes and workflows unique to the fashion industry, especially for wholesale buyers. It provides essential features tailored to the operational needs of the fashion sector, including elements like seasonal preorders, collections, reorders delivery windows, among others. 

Challenge #4

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Native features vs plugins

Extensions and plugins can enhance the capabilities of your ecommerce platform, but opting for built-in integrations is more cost-effective over time. When you only need a simple site, this may not concern you, and you wouldn't need something complex like Shopify Plus or Magento 2 when simpler alternatives exist.

Shopify Plus and Magento 2 are designed to cater to a wider range of industries. However, for fashion and lifestyle brands running on these platforms, this broad approach means they'll need multiple apps or custom solutions to accomplish the "basic" functionalities for their fashion industry. 

Additionally, there are four major challenges that fashion brands face when using apps to gain these basic functionalities:

Apps or plugins are not equal to native functionality

  1. There are things that simply can’t be achieved by Shopify’s apps – they can’t access specific data. Business logic that needs to be interconnected is turned into silos – the app needed for managing the product catalog doesn’t speak to the app used to manage inventory. 

    With Centra, fashion brands get a highly integrated feature set that covers all core needs, out of the box. 

  2. Apps raise security and stability concerns

    Each app is basically another website inside the Shopify admin, which means you depend on many third-party developers to keep their sites up and running well, and keep the data secure.

  3. Apps cost extra

    Monolithic platforms might look cheap to start with, but with all the apps, payment transaction fees, FX markups, and costs per storefront, the cost can go very high.

  4. Apps lead to a cumbersome user interface

    Because the apps are siloed, non-native extensions, they are managed from different parts of the user interface. Simple processes that are achieved with a few simple clicks in Centra need multiple steps in multiple apps with Shopify.

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Shopify PlusMagento 2Centra
Features for fashionThrough apps/extensions Through apps/extensions and native integrations (limited)Native

Why brands migrate to Centra

Launching on Centra, original fashion brands get all the features they need, integrated in a tight package. 

Challenge #5

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Performance, scalability and stability impact on SEO and conversion

Speed plays a pivotal role in your digital strategy, influencing everything from visibility (SEO and SEM) to traffic, user experience, and conversion rates. However, if your website relies heavily on numerous extensions and customized themes, it may struggle to achieve high rankings on search engine results pages (SERP).

Mobile SEO and performance are especially crucial for fashion brands, given that the majority of their sales typically occur on mobile devices.

Choosing decoupled architectures is one of the ways modern brands are supporting their efforts in optimizing their websites for SEO.

In a recent study conducted by Limesharp, the speed at which products are added to carts on various ecommerce platforms was tested. Centra demonstrated impressive performance, with an average add-to-cart time of 125ms. In contrast, other platforms showed slower response times, as illustrated by the following examples: 

• Shopify - 490ms

• Salesforce Commerce Cloud - 525ms

• Adobe Commerce Cloud 915ms

• SAP Hybris - 1.7 seconds

Ideally, the Interaction to Next Paint (INP) time should be 200ms. INP is a new responsiveness metric that is part of Google’s Core Web Vitals metrics, which assess the quality of a web page experience in terms of responsiveness and user engagement.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra is a modern headless ecommerce platform, designed with a focus on rapid performance and the ability to grow. The underlying technology of such headless platforms allows them to expand horizontally, effectively managing virtually any load while maintaining exceptional response times.

Challenge #6

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Support

One of the key considerations in choosing the right ecommerce platform is customer support Whether it's 24/7 assistance or access to an extensive library of resources, reliable support can influence your store's speed to market, the expansion of your brand, and your revenue and performance.

Why brands migrate to Centra 

With Centra, brands can rely on experienced, high-touch support from migration, through implementation and onboarding to post-launch optimizations. 

Challenge #7

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Cost of ownership

The total cost of ownership (TCO) helps brands manage their spending and choose the right ecommerce platform. TCO includes both the initial price of an ecommerce platform and the costs of running it over time. It's a crucial measure because it reveals the true cost of a platform.

TCO considers factors like front-end and back-end development and maintenance, as well as hosting and other fees (like payment processing) and operating costs, which can make up 40% to 60% of the TCO. This is why you need a TCO analysis before purchasing the platform.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Through Centra's built-in fashion-centric features, you can minimize platform maintenance costs and ensure peak performance during peak sales periods, which ultimately reduces costs in the long run.

Centra offers a low cost of ownership, free from hidden expenses or the need for third-party plugins and apps.

Challenge #8

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Analytics and reporting

Having analytics and reporting capabilities in your ecommerce platform is a must for brands to monitor their business.

Magento has historically been bad at reporting, even with third-party modules. 

A few years ago, Magento acquired RJMetrics (now Magento BI), which is a fairly strong solution that adds a lot of value to merchants. Magento BI is essentially a data warehouse and you can also pull in data from other systems and sources, which is really powerful.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra provides an easy-to-understand dashboard that offers a quick snapshot of your sales. It allows you to analyze your business from various perspectives and over any chosen time periods. Thanks to its fast database, the dashboard is intuitive and quick to use.

Centra also enables you to generate a wide range of reports. These reports can be exported as csv or xlsx files or set to generate automatically at specific intervals. You'll receive notifications via email once a report is ready.

Challenge #9

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Bundling, promotions and upselling features

Many popular ecommerce platforms include options like bundling products, promotions, and other encouraging upselling. However, the ease of using these features can differ quite a bit between platforms. These features are crucial as they can enhance customer experience and boost sales, making them key factors in the success of an ecommerce business. We will compare Shopify Plus, Magento 2, and Centra on this front.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra has a strong feature set for trading and marketing.

Challenge #10

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Suitability for fashion and lifestyle products

Most popular monolithic platforms don’t support the business logic and complexity of fashion lifestyle commerce. They are good if you want to launch fast without paying much but then hold back your growth by not offering core, fashion-specific features.

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Shopify PlusMagento 2Centra
Features for fashionThrough apps/extensions Through apps/extensionsNative

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra is designed to support fashion and lifestyle brands with complex product products. It allows these brands to manage styles, colors, sizes, collections, and drops without the need to install and pay for expensive third-party extensions.

With Centra, fashion brands can shift their focus from maintaining ecommerce technology to scaling their business. Its features and development plan are fully tailored to meet the needs of brands with global ambitions.

Challenge #11

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Omnichannel capabilities

To scale globally, brands must be able to sell to both consumers and retailers across various channels, countries, and marketplaces. Omnichannel capabilities provide a seamless shopping experience for your customers across all channels. This lets you improve customer engagement, boost sales and customer loyalty.

Here we’ll explore how different platforms handle omnichannel capabilities, which can significantly enhance a brand's growth.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra provides a comprehensive omnichannel offering, enabling seamless integration with various marketplaces, social media platforms, and internal systems through its open APIs. It also allows brands to manage sales through distributors, resellers, and direct-to-consumer websites, all from a single platform, enhancing its omnichannel capabilities.

Challenge #12

Shopify Plus vs Magento 2 vs Centra: Order management

Ecommerce fashion brands need effective order management to function seamlessly. With customers spread across different locations and an ever-growing variety of sales channels, brands look for effective ways to deliver orders to shoppers in no time. As consumers expect quicker and sustainable shipping methods, order management is becoming more troublesome. 

That means, brands require a level of scalability and adaptability that goes beyond what traditional, monolithic platforms offer. On the other hand, headless ecommerce platforms equipped with advanced features like distributed order management (DOM) and overselling protection can effectively address this need.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra has strong native distributed order management capabilities. You get tools to automate order routing and splitting, shipping, inventory forecasting and management.

Centra allows you to integrate any third-party tool you use now or may use in the future. It means that you stay ahead of the game and can offer the experience modern customers want, with multiple flexible delivery and return options across the full range of channels. Thanks to that you can ship orders quickly with short lead times, reducing your working capital needs and increasing profits.

You’re in good company

Global fashion brands choose Centra as the only platform that fully understands the needs and complex business logic of fashion commerce.

Join the vanguard of original brands that have grown fast and conquered new markets without limitations. Trust Centra’s impressive portfolio of brands: Nudie Jeans, Sandqvist, Eton, IDEAL OF SWEDEN, and Norse Projects – some of whom have been on the platform from the very beginning.