Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Shopify Plus are two of the biggest eCommerce platforms that businesses choose to take their products and services to the next level, and both solutions are great options for those with specific requirements.
Picking the right solution requires a holistic understanding of your commerce needs and business aspirations, both now, and for the future.
Here we discuss what you should be focusing on when deciding between Shopify Plus and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Shopify vs Salesforce Commerce Cloud comparison
It can prove difficult to compare Shopify Plus and Salesforce Commerce Cloud in detail because of their radically different approaches. With Salesforce Commerce Cloud, you’re investing in a platform with a myriad of native features and the common approach of building on these features is through moderately-heavy customisation work.
With Shopify Plus, you’re buying into a fairly basic core platform that features a large eco-system of third parties that integrate best-in-class features quickly and easily with the help of apps, alongside simpler customisation work.
They’re essentially two very different platforms and a standard RFP / RFI approach won't make any real headway.
You don’t have to decide alone
If you're really uncertain on a decision or maybe don't have the time to invest in the deliberation process, then a specialist eCommerce consultant like Sherwen Studios will provide expert help and guidance when it comes to selecting a new commerce platform for your business to grow.
Discuss with a Digital Commerce Consultant what your goals are. A discussion like this should be a staple of a business roadmap every year alongside a Digital Commerce Consultant. If you don’t have a partner, then our Salesforce Commerce Cloud Consultants are always happy to lend their ears.
Your questions should focus on long-term success:
What is your roadmap for the next 2-5 years?
What are your next steps after any initial success?
Where are there opportunities to grow?
What platform also meets your customer's expectations?
Which platform will be scalable enough to keep up with digital market trends?
Reviewing the Basics
As the benchmark for eCommerce platforms, Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Shopify Plus share common solutions, but it's their differences that can determine which one is best fit for your business.
What do they have in common?
Fully managed SaaS solution
Realise your business potential with a comprehensive product roadmap
Customer support and vast learning resources
Simple & intuitive user interface
What are their differences?
Salesforce offers innovative tools in their superior product suite
Shopify integrates with all of the tools via third-party software
Salesforce prioritises enhancing a platform and acquiring new features
Shopify focuses on integrating with the best-in-class options for each individual feature
Determine which integration partners your end-to-end eCommerce solution requires and assess your total cost of ownership. Some third-party fees can be sizeable, along with subsequent integration costs.
Shopify Plus does have some B2B features, and it is a future focus, but the current features are not as sophisticated as its competitors. There is limited support for multi-store, complex customer permissions, pricing, etc.
Consider your Product Roadmap
Both Shopify Plus and Salesforce Commerce Cloud are growing their product roadmaps to appeal to the small-medium sized business market. While Salesforce is offering new, more aggressive pricing models to provide enterprise features to smaller retailers, Shopify Plus is offering more self-service solutions for brands that don’t have complex needs now or in the future. Understanding your own short and long term eCommerce needs will help you determine which is the better fit.
Shopify Plus popularity is well deserved and it's becoming more recognised as a leading eCommerce platform, but there are still factors limiting the platform from being a comprehensive enterprise solution. It's an affordable option for SME with a simple and straightforward product inventory and no in-house technical knowledge. These businesses tend to value money, time, and ease of use over customisation, control, and a unique omnichannel brand experience.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud gives your business all of the industry-leading tools it could ever need. Salesforce’s new aggressive pricing makes it an option for any sized business. However, they typically cater to businesses focused on growth and innovation. Those who choose Salesforce value a more robust approach to commerce, integrating social and email into the selling experience and focusing heavily on CRM.
However, you're likely to need a partner to get you up-and-running on Salesforce. As a Salesforce Commerce Specialist, Sherwen Studios can realise your enterprise capabilities at an affordable price and in a reduced time to market as there is no need to start your eCommerce build from scratch.
What are the costs of SFCC & Shopify Plus?
Assessing the costs of the platforms can prove to be a complicated task, as SFCC represents the majority of the licensing cost through their GMV model, whereas Shopify’s license cost is a smaller proportion of the total platform cost, with lots of third parties making up the overall tech stack.
Download our Salesforce Commerce Cloud eBook for more information regarding the financial cost and implementation process of Commerce Cloud for online retailers [ebook landing page URL link]
Why you should be using Salesforce Commerce Cloud
You require unique designs and features — All of the visual and functionalities of a website empowered with SFCC are created, coded, and tested to meet the specific design requirements of your business. Although it will ultimately cost more, the result is a website that’s completely unique across all digital channels.
You have access to an in-house or external development team — Salesforce offers users full control over the back-end of your website, which means you're tasked to manage it. This requires people with technical knowledge in Commerce Cloud, web development and IT.
To infinity and beyond — With Salesforce you have the ability to continuously build on top of your features. It may take effort to customise, but customisation is key to providing consumers with a personalised retail experience when they interact with your brand across all digital devices.
To create a personalised brand experience for consumers — Salesforce’s extensive suite of tools allow businesses to create an highly personalised commerce experience. This can significantly increase conversion and brand loyalty. Understanding your customers and evolving market trends is key, and it will take time to configure and manage.
You want Automation and AI Analytics - Salesforce Einstein AI is a game-changer for business; Einstein doesn't need data preparation to get up-and-running or a technical team to analyse and determine key insights. Einstein tailors everything from advertising to marketing, and the brand experience to each individual customer.
You want to embrace Omnichannel - Salesforce Marketing Cloud is one of the leading omnichannel marketing platforms. It's primarily used for creating and nurturing 1:1 relationships with customers, and for creating marketing campaigns that connect with customers to provide a unique personalised experience.
You need legal security and risk mitigation - Shopify don't provide Service Level-Agreements, and for some businesses, they cannot afford to take that risk. Salesforce is at an elite level above when it comes to compliance standards. They're particular ahead of the curve when it comes to CCPA compliance, and they're unmatched in meeting ADA standards. Shopify makes businesses slightly limited because your data is integrated with various third-party tools. Spotify users have also previously experienced issues successfully managing ADA compliance.
Which is the most agile eCommerce platform?
The Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform has always been revered for its ability to scale both functionally and to meet evolving demands, and this has commonly been the main attraction of SFCC for larger businesses.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud's fundamental value is focused on assurance, providing a fully managed SaaS with platform-level QA around code that’s deployed to production and any integrations. This level exceeds many of its competitor's platforms and is a huge selling point for Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Shopify Plus does not easily allow brands to manage different storefronts with different warehouses. This makes managing various brands, B2B, and internationalisation extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible.
However, this level of assurance can come at a cost with customisation, but Salesforce Commerce Cloud does facilitate significant customisation. It’s a collaboration to ensure that Salesforce is happy with the quality and that any changes are not detrimental to the core areas of the platform.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s architecture is designed and built to scale up and cater for significant peaks in demand.
Comparing Production & Merchandising
Salesforce Commerce Cloud is far more capable of handling large, complex catalogues from a merchandising perspective. It includes a ready-made superior visual merchandising functionality, along with their native Einstein AI to support machine learning and 1:1 personalisation.
Einstein, Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s innovative AI engine, provides richer merchandising and personalisation capabilities.
Salesforce also offers a comprehensive promotions engine and supports various types of products such as native support for bundled products, which is an area where SFCC is stronger than Shopify Plus.
While Salesforce is moving downmarket and presenting themselves to smaller scale business, Shopify is targeting large-scale businesses, but there are still some hurdles they need to overcome to reach those brands.
Shopify Plus and Salesforce Commerce Cloud offer compelling products with limitless scalability, ease of use, and flexibility which are key factors in the platform selection process. Whilst stores with simpler requirements may find that Shopify Plus is ideal for their needs, other brands, especially those with omnichannel and international operations, may find that Salesforce Commerce Cloud suits their requirements far more accurately.
Salesforce is becoming increasingly proactive in delivering affordable solutions to small and medium-sized businesses, empowering their partners to help establish new relationships.
One thing that is certain, is that both platforms are continuing to grow as demand for SaaS platforms and features rises in 2023.
With any development or replatforming project, the decision of which platform to choose has to be based on a comprehensive analysis of functional requirements and platform capabilities. Choosing an eCommerce solution is a significant decision that will prove key to any success.
Partnering with a eCommerce Consultant that can help assess your needs against each platform's strengths and informs the end-to-end ecosystem can save you money and time.
Sherwen Studios has experience with a range of commerce platforms and we'll help determine what solution is best for you to get underway and to support your continuous growth.