Ecommerce Platform Battles: Commercetools vs SAP Hybris vs Remarkable Commerce
The underlying technology that a brand is built on will determine their digital performance, enabling growth if the right platform is chosen, or crippling the business and restricting growth if the wrong platform is decided on. Our article aims to give a balanced and fair breakdown of three popular platforms, known within the mid-enterprise market.
Commercetools and SAP Hybris (or SAP Commerce Cloud, if you talk to their marketing team) are two of the biggest names in the B2C eCommerce platform space, they are known for being strong for different reasons. They both enable medium to large retailers (typically with GMV of above £500m) to effectively sell products and services online. Both platforms power online storefronts for a number of large global brands, including Audi, Moonpig, 66° North, LK Bennett, Primark, Wickes, Wilko, Carhartt and Rapha. As a competitor, Remarkable Commerce is used by many leading UK retailers, including Ben Sherman, Moss Bros, Roman, Yours Clothing, Absolute Snow and WoolOvers.
All three solutions are significantly different, and if you’re thinking about using commercetools, SAP Hybris/Commerce Cloud or Remarkable Commerce, you’ll need to understand the differences in order to make the best choice. To assist you in doing so, I’ve compiled a list of points of comparison between the platforms, covering all important deciding factors for a replatforming project.
Any retailer that is growing quickly needs solid eCommerce solutions that can adapt to its changing needs. They are right to be reading about comparisons between the top players in order to understand which solution will be the best fit for their specific scenario. This guide is also useful for retailers who are seeing stagnant growth due to their technology stack being restricted because of poor platform capabilities.
So, what are the core differences and comparisons between these platforms? Below we review the most common features and popular questions.
SAP Hybris/Commerce Cloud
Java & PHP
Java & JS
How do these solutions compete on the following factors:
Cost of Ownership
Remarkable Commerce: Because the Remarkable Commerce Platform is completely tailored for each retailer, it is not an “off-the-shelf” SaaS offering like its competitors. There are no GMV or commission costs, and the licencing charge is simply based on average monthly sessions with tiered price ranges. The cost of building is typically between £60k-£100k. The monthly licence fee gives unlimited use of the Remarkable Commerce platform for an unlimited number of admin users, an unlimited number of API calls, several product variations, phone and email technical support during office hours, server, database, error log, third-party, and browser maintenance.
When reviewing TCO (total cost of ownership), a typical model will span 3-5 years, which is the length of time expected until the software becomes end-of-life and ready for an upgrade. With Remarkable Commerce, the TCO starts low and remains low. Typically, the build development is low enough to be OpEx (operating expenses), instead of CapEx (capital expenditure).
An important element to consider is the number of upgrades you are forced to take and develop - naturally, all technology needs to be kept updated and maintained, but unfortunately many platforms require fixed code upgrades at set intervals. This required development should be considered when calculating TCO. Remarkable Commerce do not force fixed code upgrades.
SAP Commerce Cloud: It was commonly understand that an eCommerce retailer should probably spend around 5% of their annual revenue on an eCommerce platform, this becoming the total cost of ownership. So if you are a £500m retailer, your TCO would be in the region of £2.5m. It is understood within the market, that SAP Hybris/Commerce Cloud is one of the most expensive options, due to the complexities of implementation and high ongoing fees. Over the last 10 years, many platforms including SAP Hybrid have moved towards a license fee model - it is understood their licensing starts from $54,000 per annum for smaller retailers, scaling up to $300,000 per annum for enterprises.
Commercetools: This vendor are different commercially to a standard GMV based model, Commercetools base their licensing on a calculation of average-order-value (AOV) and number of orders per year. This allows for high-volume low-value orders, to be treat equally with low-volume high-value orders. In terms of actual costs, commercetools are great at keeping their costs a secret, but we understand from retailers who had received quotes that costs are roughly:
Implementation: between £300,000 and £1,000,000
Annual license fee: between £200,000 and £500,000
Specialist services: £100,000 per year
Remarkable Commerce: Retailers who are UK based and primarily direct-to-consumer brands – with turnover between £5m and £50m p/a. Particular sectors are popular, including fashion and apparel (70% of clients), sporting equipment, luxury jewellery and toys. The technology agility attracts the attention of retailers from many sectors, as the platform allows for infinite options and limitless configurations.
SAP Commerce Cloud: There are around 3,000 retailers globally that use SAP Hybris/Commerce Cloud in some capacity, this is around 0.5% of the market - so their overall market share is relatively low, despite their brand recognition. The Commerce Cloud offering is only used by around 1,000 of their customers though, proving the legacy technology is still in use. In comparison to other enterprise-grade solutions like Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) with around 8,000 retailers worldwide. Typically retailers with an annual GMV of above £500m are attracted to SAP, due to their wider solutions outside of Commerce.
Commercetools: The best way of understanding Commercetools is to view their solution as simply a group of APIs and an admin interface. They are a solution for retailers with either an army of developers in-house, or happy to work with a specialist agency/integration partner. Your developers would use the Commercetools APIs to build the functionality, features, integrations and technology stack that you wish. With this model, their market share is always going to remain relatively small, despite the size of their brand name. Builtwith.com report that Commercetools only have 177 retailers globally that use their solution, 15 of which are UK brands.
Integrations and Partners
Remarkable Commerce: The Remarkable Commerce platform has over 300 integrated solutions, covering a wide range of technology types. Although the integrations are not self-serving in the admin, all historic integrations are relatively plug-and-play and available with a short amount of development time. Click here to view the full list of integrations, updated annually.
The biggest advantage of a fully custom solution like Remarkable is that an integration can be tailored to work exactly how a retailer or 3rd-party wishes it to – commonly, going beyond best practice and into ‘perfect practice’. This enables Remarkable Commerce and the 3rd party to have a strong working partnership that the shared client benefits from.
SAP Commerce Cloud: Many technologists view SAP Hybris as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solution, which is commonly known for being strong in terms of integrations and extensibility. When reviewing the integrations available, from the outside it looks like although many integrations are pre-built and available for configuration, they are extremely tightly-coupled. Meaning that the customisation and flexibility of integrations is quite rigid. Although, it is reassuring to see that at least SAP Commerce is API-driven and mostly use event syncs for pulling and pushing data between different elements of their stack. Their core application is micro service based and connects with context-driven services, such as segmentation, merchandising rules and their product recommendation engine.
Unfortunately, webhooks are unavailable for some of their core elements like the master data tables and the business event data. This could become a blocker for retailers wishing to trigger external events from this core data.
Commercetools: In early 2020, Commercetools announced their integration marketplace, where all of their pre-integrated partners are listed. They have around 80 integrations available listed in their marketplace, with a handful of options for each technology type (e.g. payments, PIM, merchandising and frontend solutions). Openly, Commercetools are transparent about their narrow focus and do not offer a wide array of modules.
APIs & Architecture
Remarkable Commerce: True innovation and development agility is possible when your eCommerce platform can be integrated with any solution and data can be accessed in real-time both manually and dynamically – this is why an open API is critical and why Remarkable Commerce has a suite of APIs which can be used in a headless fashion to retrieve and post data to. Headless architecture and simple, API integrations give you the flexibility to engage customers across every retail touchpoint – web, mobile, apps, marketplaces, and in-store – and deliver seamless omnichannel experiences. Remarkable Commerce has a pre-integrated front-end accelerator that slashes ‘time to web’ for new digital storefronts, so you can focus on UX, brand strategy and optimisation.
SAP Commerce Cloud: SAP Commerce Cloud offer a broad set of REST APIs to support most elements of their SAP Commerce platform, these range from marketing features and merchandising, to sales and service data. Their APIs allow developers to perform a small range of functions, such as: creating a customer account, defining required settings for the payment and delivery process, managing the customer basket, searching and selecting products, using coupons and promotions, placing an order, getting the order history, and finalising the payment with a specific payment provider.
However, it is common that most retailer/client change requests are not available 'out-of-the-box' and therefore require custom API calls and code manipulation, which developers using SAP Hybris APIs struggle to do.
Commercetools: This is what Commercetools specialise in, providing a set of APIs that a brand can do anything with. There are no call limits or per-call charging, so a developer is free to use the API however they wish. They have a GraphQL API too, for querying larger amounts of data and manipulations of data sets. Their APIs are grouped into what we could describe as 'modules' - yet, although the functionality you can create yourself if limitless, the amount of modules themselves is small and specialised. Product catalogue, pricing, and checkout - these are the main 3 'modules' of the Commercetools solution. Comparing the Commercetools API capabilities against other D2C-focused solutions, they come up short in terms of breadth of feature groups.
Product & Catalogue Management
Remarkable Commerce: With an endlessly customisable admin (and storefront!), all Remarkable Commerce platform clients have heavily tailored functionality which saves them time and effort, when managing large amounts of products and categories. A few popular features inside the PIM module of Remarkable Commerce include:
Product translations interface: allowing the retailer to bulk set translated copy
Manual & Automated Cross-selling functionality: allowing the retailer to create mapped items
Product image tagging: allowing the retailer to bulk create keyword tags, querying Google’s Vision API
SAP Commerce Cloud: Product catalogue management is one of SAP Hybris's most well known and most used elements, typically because other SAP products are used by a business including their ERP - meaning that it makes logical sense to keep all product and catalogue data within the SAP ecosystem instead of using an external PIM. Although, SAP Hybris do not offer features found in other modern product management solutions - including admin-functions like auto-tagging.
Commercetools: In terms of 'out of the box' functionality within the Commercetools template admin console, it's relatively basic and quite lacklustre in design. Yet, the business user will usually be utilising the custom functionality their developers have created for them. If reviewing the Commercetools 'products' API and SDK options available, it is arguably suitable for most business types.
Remarkable Commerce: The OMS module in the Remarkable Commerce platform has many customisable fields and functions, with the base solution including Bulk Orders Management, Returns and Refunds Management, Custom Order tagging, Management of Order status emails, Bespoke Invoicing, Automated Courier Tracking, Automated Payment Tracking, Manual Order (MOTO) functions for Customer Service teams and a full suite of advanced reporting.
SAP Commerce Cloud: This is another module which SAP Hybris is known for excelling at, especially because of their background in ERP technology. Their order management (OMS) module contains features for managing order data, returns, stock allocation, availability to promise (ATP), cancellation and refunds management, pick/pack/print shipping labels, stock reallocation and order item sourcing. Although a little clunky to look at, the OMS provided by Hybris SAP is robust and looks architecturally modern.
Commercetools: Order management from Commercetools is a module where they have focused a lot of time and effort, building up a vast API that can be utilised for many various order types and order process functions. There are specialist OMS technologies which integrate with Commercetools, but if you have the development resource at hand, there is little need for additional 3rd parties.
Extensibility & Flexibility
Remarkable Commerce: One of the biggest unique selling points of Remarkable Commerce is how extendable the platform is. This is achievable as each retailer who uses the Remarkable Commerce Platform has a tailored version of the storefront, that is connected through APIs, to their fully-custom admin/control panel. Both the frontend and the admin are commonly extended to include additional modules, functions and connectors. With full access to every line of architecture code, the Remarkable Commerce service team have no limitations or restrictions, leading to infinitely customisable customer experiences.
SAP Commerce Cloud: In recent years, SAP Hybris has moved towards a headless architecture of their commerce solution, allowing the admin and core technology to be integrated with a separate frontend solution. To facilitate this integration between applications, an open source solution named Kyma is used. Kyma is essentially a middleware solution that manages the flow of business events into extended modules outside the legacy applications. Like almost every open-source technology, this middleware unfortunately has restrictions and limitations so it's often a challenge to connect or send data in any other way apart from the default settings.
Commercetools: The Commercetools team have recently announced they are extending further into the B2B market due to their more 'natural' fit, regarding their API's abilities to handle deep complexity in a narrow space, such as multi-user/multi-site shopping lists and advanced quoting features. The Commercetools solution can be flexible into most situations, as long as you have deep pockets and plenty of resource.
Admin Ease of Use
Remarkable Commerce: The Remarkable Commerce Manager (admin portal) has been moulded over the last 22+ years, with the direction and direct input from clients of various sizes – this has led to a comprehensive and easy-to-use platform, where a retailer can complete key actions much quicker than other platforms. An example of this is promotion/campaign setup and launching, which can be achieved within minutes. Each client has a tailored version of the core admin where they request function and UX updates – ultimately leading the development roadmap for their own version.
SAP Commerce Cloud: As SAP Hybris was specifically built for IT professionals, not for a typical business user of a £10m p/a retailer. This becomes apparent when viewing their admin, which is full with monitoring and maintenance functions - most of which will be irrelevant and unnecessary for retail teams. The SAP Hybris admin was first developed in the mid-2000's and has not seen many UI/UX updates since then.
Unfortunately, documentation is behind a login, but we understand that SAP do not provide snippets and their documentation search functionality (SOLR) isn’t configured very well for specific requests — so not only are things hard to find, you can’t download or share them either.
Commercetools: Strictly speaking, the admin application that is provided 'out of the box' by Commercetools is the bare bones and everything you wish to use needs configuring or building. This would be a daunting situation for many retailers with time limitations and the requirement of setting fixed budgets to rebuild like-for-like features they have with their previous platform.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Remarkable Commerce: Remarkable Commerce is a totally bespoke platform so the admin can be tailored to suit your needs within the build phase. Due to it being flexible, it allows for custom rules and logic to be created to automate certain features that influence SEO, such as a product retirement strategy. It doesn’t, however, have plugins and any mar-tech integration would be actioned as a development project.
SAP Commerce Cloud: There is a large knowledge gap when it comes to technical SEO at Hybris, including Hybris forum members discussing where they can add meta keywords at a category level as recently as 2018, and in the official documentation allows users to create “SEO URLs”. Due to the sheer size of technology, retailers struggle to customise the platform's SEO architecture and run into common technical issues. There are several very large SEO issues that are commonly faced with SAP Hybris migrations, thanks to SALT for these include:
Index bloat and crawl wastage stemming from parameter handling on faceted navigation elements.
Canonicalisation issues and conflicts with PLPs (product landing pages) and parameter usage.
Pagination related crawl issues.
Canonical issues with the canonical tag being rule-based by the order.
Dynamic XML sitemap running on a cron (this is an issue as it updates every 24-hours and updates the file name, causing the previous XML sitemap to 404).
Hreflang implementation functionalities can sometimes cause issues for international eCommerce websites.
Commercetools: The Commercetools solution itself is technically just API's, therefore SEO is not a consideration. However, Commercetools acquired Frontastic in 2021 (a frontend technology, which they now refer to as Commercetools Frontend) - so we are able to review the SEO performance of this framework instead. It is disappointing to again see references to 'Meta keywords' in the Frontastic support/guide documentation, an SEO practice that was debunked as a ranking factor by Google themselves, in 2009.
Remarkable Commerce: Each retailer who uses the Remarkable Commerce Platform has their own unique roadmap of storefront and admin new functionality, change requests and version updates. This enables every retailer to take their own direction but also benefit from the larger frequent platform updates that every client receives. Every Remarkable Commerce client benefits from packaged functionality that is built across all client teams, allowing for faster time-to-market for new features.
SAP Commerce Cloud: SAP Hybris has been shrinking in size over the last several years, as they continue to lose retail clients and decrease their team size. There is not a public facing roadmap for the SAP Hybris/Commerce Cloud platform, so it is difficult to assess their short term roadmap. However, we were shared an internal roadmap update from 2021 which gives the following themes for their roadmap:
Circular commerce (business opportunities like product rentals, subscriptions and refillable products, reconditioned products and re-sale checkout models - with a short term focus on Punchout solutions into other SAP applications and procurement systems)
Experience led commerce (business opportunities like personalisation, native AB testing and conversion attribution)
Tighter SAP-connected products
Composable commerce (highlighted features like headless APIs and performance improvements, ALO (at least once) delivery for webhooks)
Trust and privacy standards and settings (highlighted features such as environment permission updates, payment frameworks and stronger MFA support)
Commercetools: A key focus for 2023 at Commercetools is their B2B functionality and further advancing their marketshare amongst enterprise-sized retailers. As a historic innovator, the Commercetools platform was the founding solution of the MACH (Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless) alliance - therefore we expect even further decoupling and segmentation within their existing APIs.
Remarkable Commerce: Retailers need the ability to change, adapt and launch as quickly as possible, without needing to repeat tasks. This is the reason that we created functionality for retailers to launch promotions across multiple sites, apply configuration updates to multiple sites and publish content updates to selected sites in real time. Removing restrictions, improving efficiencies and enabling revenue growth. Remarkable Commerce retailers can choose the configuration of their international model – with limitless options for sharing (or separating) product data, stock data, category architecture, third parties and checkout options – all in a truly headless fashion.
SAP Commerce Cloud: Although SAP Hybris is an internationally recognised eCommerce platform, their multi-country configurations leave a lot to be desired. The complexities of selling internationally (order processing, stock management, inventory control and catalogue management) become huge challenges due to the Hybris architecture.
Commercetools: With the Commercetools APIs, developers are able to configure multi-site and multi-territory settings to enable international storefronts to use the same APIs with a site ID. Not a huge number of their current clients have a multi-storefront configuration though, so I'd expect the boundaries of their international capabilities have not been met yet.
Storefront Speed & Performance
Remarkable Commerce: With an obsession with site speed and storefront performance, the frontend developers at Remarkable Commerce pay particular attention to speed metrics and regularly undertake speed audits, to review what area of code can be optimised further. This continuous exercise ensures that our clients are providing the very best customer experience and the quickest sites possible. Although an option for any client, every Remarkable Commerce retailer chooses to benefit from the platform's native storefront, instead of using a 3rd party.
Commercetools: The standard frontend storefront that Commercetools offer is their recently acquired 'Frontastic' solution, that was built by. They have pre-built component libraries and rely on the speed of their APIs for the instant-loading of their sites, only to be slowed down by additional connections or extensions to their storefronts. Looking closely at https://www.66north.com/ on Google's PageSpeed Insights tool, the storefront scores averagely with 56/100 for 'Performance' on mobile devices.
The question of what eCommerce platform to use (or migrate to) is always a really tough decision for any business to make, especially when the retailer has a turnover above £10m p/a – as there is a lot more budget at stake, more stakeholders involved etc. Enterprise eCommerce solutions don’t come cheap and they require a huge amount of time (and a lot of people) to implement, run and maintain. This is why it’s incredibly important that you remain highly organised and systematic in your research and decision-making process, as selecting the wrong platform can have a huge impact on your business.
Ultimately, a retailer's platform choice should be in line with both its current online performance and its growth ambitions. There are many pros and cons for both Commercetools, SAP Hybris/Commerce Cloud, and even Remarkable Commerce, and where one excels, the others underperform.
For retailers with a turnover above £5m p/an and considering the need for a new platform, click here to take a deeper look at our platform page to learn more about the Remarkable Commerce Platform.
If you’re interested in reading further platform comparisons, click below for further comparisons: