This article was last updated and validated August 2023

Centra: Best Shopify alternative? A side by side comparison

Ecommerce has advanced. Crafting a unique and authentic brand expression is paramount in shaping a successful modern ecommerce strategy. 

How do Centra and Shopify score on G2?

See how Centra compares to Shopify, below

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Meets requirements8.79.0
Ease of use8.99.0
Ease of setup8.88.5
Ease of admin8.99.1
Quality of support8.49.2
Ease of doing business With8.89.6
Product direction8.79.7

The evolution of commerce platforms

Legacy platforms
Example: WooCommerce
redEcommerce business logic coupled with CMS and frontend 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
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

Managing a fashion brand? Choose the right platform to unlock the potential of your brand.

For a global fashion brand, it's crucial to employ a platform that grasps the intricacies of your industry and unleashes your capacity for expansion. A platform that delivers a great shopping experience for your customers with no additional software, apps or development required.

In a nutshell

While there are many ecommerce platforms on the market, Shopify is a great option for businesses looking to make a foray into ecommerce on a limited budget. However, when you consider how it's designed, its target industries, support for growth, and its approach to modern fashion challenges, their limitations start to surface.

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Built for...
  • For any small scale retailer that wants an easy-to-get-started webshop.
  • Built for established and aspiring brands in the fashion and lifestyle industry that need a flexible platform that scales easily and will help them reach 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.
  • Built flexible and globally scalable.
  • Centra is made for business users within brands, not IT pros. It has all the features any ecommerce manager needs. You'll quickly become a power user with our excellent support and onboarding.
Wholesale vs. direct-to-
  • It's hard to do wholesale with standard Shopify. The wholesale sales channel is only available to stores on Shopify Plus.
  • You can handle all channels from one dashboard — both wholesale and direct-to-consumer.
Single vs. multi-market
  • To manage multiple markets you need Shopify Markets which means paying additional fees e.g. transaction and conversion fees. You can build up to 50 stores.
  • With Shopify Markets, you can manage basic internationalization. For custom experiences, you need a separate store, which comes with a lot of duplicate work, and some inventory issues.
  • Centra enables multiple markets, multiple currencies, multiple languages and prices and size charts depending on the location. You can have multiple storefronts with advanced internalization.
  • Most robust promotion and upselling capabilities require third-apps or coding.
  • Bundles only available through extra plugins.
  • Native support for bundles, advanced promotions and discounts. High flexibility in terms of pricing, stock, discounts, inheriting of attributes etc.
  • Basic localization is possible with Shopify Markets. To achieve different experiences for each market, you'll need to create a separate store.
  • With Centra, any information can be localized. You can serve any number of markets, languages, currencies, payment methods, price lists, warehouses, and users.
Payment options
  • Few fixed payment options with a focus on Shopify payments, which is tailored for North American markets. Using other PSPs costs extra.
  • Centra supports over 200+ local payment methods through off-the-shelf integrations with PSPs such as Adyen, Stripe, PayPal, Klarna and Qliro.
Omnichannel capabilities
  • Shopify’s omnichannel capabilities are limited.
  • You can use online channels, such as social media, and in-store if you use POS – an app that allows brands to sell in person.
  • Managing wholesale requires a separate store.
  • Centra gives brands 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's order management is basic. For advanced use cases with multiple stores and inventory sync, third-party apps are required.
  • A third-party app is required for advanced order management, like delivering and fulfilling from stores, warehouses, etc.
  • Centra offers an advanced order management system. It enables order viewing, automation of many processes, supports replenishment, overselling protection, returns, and refunds.
Licensing fees
  • Monthly subscriptions start from $39/month. Any subscription requires an additional transaction-based fee. Transaction-based fee percentage depends on the chosen pricing plan.
  • 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 13 challenges of fashion commerce

Modern, dynamic fashion and lifestyle brands need to embrace various challenges related to scalability, intricate designs, global outreach, and product-specific needs. To thrive, these brands require ecommerce platforms that facilitate their growth ambitions, ensuring design and development aren't limited.

Here we look at how popular platforms such as Shopify and Centra deal with these challenges, and how they compare with Centra's headless, fashion-focused approach.

The comparison does not include Shopify Plus. If you’re interested, check out our other comparisons.

Challenge #1

Shopify vs Centra: Ease of use

While easy to launch, platforms like Shopify make it hard to deliver a unique experience to your buyers. There's no native support for international fashion ecommerce on these platforms. This often leads to developers putting in extended hours to maintain the platform.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra’s clean, easy-to-use back end is constantly developed and improved. The powerful admin interface is created by a dedicated team of UI/UX experts to make the daily work of managing a brand as intuitive as possible, while keeping up to date with changing conditions.

We designed Centra's user interface so administrators can do as much as possible, as fast as possible.

Challenge #2

Shopify vs Centra: Design freedom and flexibility

Fashion industry websites have very unique needs in terms of design. Original brands need to be able to express themselves without compromises.

Design freedom means empowering editors with a full-scale modular CMS mixing content marketing and shop capabilities. This modern approach may not be easy to achieve through some types of ecommerce technology. 

Agility is key to achieving a competitive edge. For modern fashion brands it means being able to quickly deploy front-end changes, enter new markets, create customized content for top influencers in a local market and drive seasonal campaigns. These changes should be feasible in hours or days by the brand itself, without turning into an expensive and slow IT project or a hunt for dozens of plugins.

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Shopify Centra
Headless, composable and API-first architecture🟡 Monolithic architecture with some APIs ✅ Composable, API-first platform allowing complete freedom of design

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra represents a modern software development approach: it’s API-first and composable. It’s also compatible with MACH architecture

Composable architecture lets brands cherry-pick and assemble best-of-breed integrations to build a platform that suits their needs. This allows for seamless adjustment to both tech advancements and shifts in customer behavior, ensuring the store stays relevant in the future and offers excellent shopping experiences. With the composable approach, you can tailor the online experience to suit your needs, both design- and feature-wise, without compromising scalability or performance.

The API-first approach makes Centra the ideal choice for fashion brands with ambitious goals. Many of Centra’s clients opt to incorporate a headless CMS into their front-end stack, striking an ideal balance between content marketing and sophisticated ecommerce features. The extensive API provided by the platform empowers brands to enhance their storefronts without being constrained by the typical limitations seen with many well-known, monolithic ecommerce platforms.

Challenge #3

Shopify vs Centra: Multi‑market and localization

The key to driving sales internationally is localization. Prices that work well in one region might not be as effective in another. Language, as well as payment methods, play a crucial role. The people who influence buying decisions vary from place to place, and even different climate zones can affect when certain items sell more. Each region has its own unique path to purchase.

Offering a localized website tailored to specific markets gives brands considerable benefits, such as a wider customer base, higher sales, and a competitive edge. It also helps brands optimize logistics, cut shipping costs, and strengthen customer relationships.

Why brands migrate to Centra

With Centra’s multi-store architecture, you can manage your core data locally and globally across all your stores, which is perfect for brands with a global reach, as well as those aspiring to enter new markets.

Centra lets admins manage products at the store, language, or global level. Each store's descriptions can differ based on the language, while images can be used globally. The same principle applies to category management, promotions, customer management, etc.

Challenge #4

Shopify vs Centra: Wholesale & B2B capabilities

The wholesale experience has emerged as a new competitive arena for fashion brands. It requires a solution built around specific business logic. To be successful today, brands have to be able to cater to both B2C and B2B clients. They need the right tools to do that.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra brings a fully digital wholesale platform ready to give your brand a competitive edge. The integrated B2B portal, designed for buyers and sales reps, caters to the comprehensive wholesale business logic, including preorders, reorders, seasonal collections etc. It allows personalization and full control of customers’ experience. 

Challenge #5

Shopify vs Centra: Native features vs plugins

An ecommerce platform can be enhanced with apps and plugins, but native integrations are more stable and cost-effective.

Add-ons often come with additional costs and need separate maintenance and support. An overload of plugins can disrupt your platform and potentially result in conflicts between different extensions.

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Features for fashionThrough apps/extensions Native

Why brands migrate to Centra

Unlike modular, plugin-based platforms, Centra offers a comprehensive set of native features. This approach ensures the best user experience and stable performance of the platform. Centra's efficient API lets you integrate best-of-breed services with no redundancy or data silos.

Challenge #6

Shopify vs Centra: SEO, performance, scalability and stability

Having a faster store means better SEO and more sales – we all know it. Ecommerce stores that want to get more control over their SEO need decoupled architecture. Website speed plays a big role in the whole digital strategy, from visibility (SEO and SEM), through traffic, user experience, and ultimately, conversions and revenue. 

Moreover, most fashion ecommerce sales happen on mobile devices, making mobile SEO and performance critical.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra is a modern, headless ecommerce system designed with a focus on fast performance and the capacity to grow.

Challenge #7


Fast and effective customer service is critical, influencing not just the store's launch time, overall effectiveness, and budget, but also its features and capabilities.

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 #8

Shopify vs Centra: Cost of ownership

The total cost of ownership (TCO) estimates the financial impact of an investment by combining initial costs with the operating costs of setting up, running, and maintaining an ecommerce platform over three to five years. Operating expenses can make up 40%-60% of TCO, depending on the platform. This shows how important it is to factor them in right away to avoid budget strains.

Why brands migrate to Centra

With many industry specific features offered by default, Centra significantly reduces the long-term cost of maintaining the platform and ensuring its stable, good performance in peak sale periods.

Centra is an ecommerce platform for fashion and lifestyle brands, without hidden costs and the need to acquire additional plugins or third-party solutions.

Challenge #9

Shopify vs Centra: Analytics and reporting

Brands need to review their business performance. That's why they seek ecommerce platforms that offer reporting capabilities. With analytics you can track your inventory by seeing which items sell quickly and which don't, which markets perform best and which require improvement.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra’s user-friendly dashboard gives you an overview of your sales in a flash. You can analyze your store's performance in numerous different dimensions and over any time period you want. A high-speed database powers Centra's dashboard, making it fast, accurate, and easy to use.

You can generate a variety of reports to analyze any part of the business data stored in Centra. The reports can be automatically generated at specified times or intervals, and exported as .csv or .xlsx files. Once the report is ready, you will receive an email.

Challenge #10

Shopify vs Centra: Bundling, promotions, and upselling features

Top ecommerce platforms usually offer features like bundling, promos, and upselling. However, the way these features are set up and how simple they are to use can vary quite a bit from one platform to another. Let's see how Shopify and Centra compare when it comes to these features. 

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra has a complete set of features for trading and also supporting brands in their marketing efforts. Centra's robust voucher engine integrates seamlessly with your CRM system, so you can segment your customers and offer targeted promotions.

Challenge #11

Shopify vs Centra: Suitability for fashion and lifestyle products

Most monolithic platforms aren't equipped to handle the intricate business requirements and complexity inherent in fashion lifestyle commerce. These platforms can be advantageous for quick launches on a budget, but their lack of fundamental, fashion-specific features limits your growth potential.

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Features for fashionThrough apps/extensions Native

By design, Centra supports the growth of complex lifestyle products. The platform allows fashion brands to easily handle styles, colors, sizes, collections and drops. All that comes out of the box, so you don’t need to install and pay for advanced third-party extensions.

Using Centra, fashion brands can spend less time maintaining ecommerce technology and more time growing their business at scale. Features and roadmap are 100% tailored to the needs of brands with global ambitions, while retailers have no influence over what's prioritized.

With Centra, brands can also have direct-to-consumer, wholesale, and order management under one roof.

Challenge #12

Shopify vs Centra: Omnichannel capabilities

Brands want to sell to consumers and retailers across channels, countries and marketplaces to scale globally. Here is how the platforms compare in terms of omnichannel capabilities enabling a boost to a brand’s growth.

Why brands migrate to Centra?

One platform, unlimited channels: distributors, resellers, marketplaces and their own direct-to-consumer websites.

Challenge #13

Shopify vs Centra: Order management

Fashion brands in ecommerce require efficient order management to operate smoothly. The challenges posed by geographically dispersed shoppers and a constantly expanding array of sales channels have enhanced the significance of order management in today's ecommerce landscape. Order management is becoming more complex and sophisticated as consumers demand faster, more flexible, and sustainable delivery methods.

That’s why brands need scalability and elasticity beyond what many monolithic platforms provide. In contrast, headless ecommerce platforms with advanced capabilities such as distributed order management (DOM) and overselling protection can fill this void.

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 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

International 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.