Published on 07/01/22 by Brad Houldsworth
The tech stack chosen by a retailer will determine their digital performance, thus making the wrong option might be fatal. However, re-platforming is a massive undertaking for any store and should not be underestimated; however, it is frequently a necessary for growth, as many merchants will see minimal (or even negative) year-over-year growth and will have reached the limits of their current platforms’ capabilities.
Magento (Now catchily named ‘Adobe Commerce powered by Magento’) and Demandware / Salesforce Commerce Cloud are two of the biggest names in the B2C eCommerce platform space. They both enable medium to large retailers to effectively sell product online. Both platforms power online storefronts for a number of large global brands, including: Barbour, Brewdog, Misguided, Harvey Nichols, Converse, Adidas and Charles Tyrwhitt. Remarkable Commerce is used by many leading UK retailers, including Ben Sherman, Moss Bros, Roman, Yours Clothing, Absolute Snow and WoolOvers.
Both solutions are significantly different, and if you’re thinking about using Magento Commerce, Demandware / Salesforce 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 re-platforming project.
Any retailer that is growing swiftly needs a solid eCommerce platform that can adapt to their changing needs. They are right to be reading about comparisons between the top players in order to figure out which solution will be the best fit for their specific scenario, given the abundance of possibilities available.
So, what are the core differences and comparisons between these platforms? Below we review the most common features and popular questions.
How do these solutions compete on the following factors:
- Cost of ownership
- Market sector
- Integration partnerships
- APIs and Architecture
- Product and Catalogue
- Order Management
- Extensibility & flexibility
- Ease of Use
- Storefront Speed and Performance
1. 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 build is typically between £70k-£100k. The monthly licence fee covers 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, and 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 software becomes end-of-life and ready for 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).
Magento Commerce: An average Magento Commerce build typically is between £100k and £1m, depending on the requirements and size of site. Licensing fees for Magento Commerce start around £2k per month, obviously on top of the website build / development costs. Although the licensing costs start relatively sensible, this can get really expensive depending on the size of your business. Amongst other factors, Magento now works to GMV (gross-merchandising-volume) brackets – taking a commission of any sale your website processes.
According to expert eCommerce consultant Paul Rogers…
“With larger B2B retailers, Magento’s pricing will tend to be more bespoke, which seems to vary based on lots of things, particularly for > $100m turnover businesses. Magento Commerce Order Management is billed separately and can also be very expensive, depending on order volumes and complexity.“
Magento Commerce pricing is also dependant on the type of product chosen. Most commonly, Magento is an on-premise, self-housed eCommerce platform, but they do have 2 ‘PaaS’ (Platform-as-a-Service) solutions too – Magento Commerce Starter Edition, and Magento Commerce Professional Edition.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: As part of the licensing cost, Salesforce Commerce Cloud is provided as a SaaS solution, with their team taking care of platform maintenance, hosting / server management, code quality assessment / validation, upgrades etc. They also tend to be more integrated with the agencies who develop retailers storefronts, pushing hard for retailer growth – as this benefits SFCC without them doing any extra work. Salesforce Commerce Cloud changed their pricing in 2019, to allow for smaller merchants looking to use the platform and to compete with the likes of Magento, Shopify Plus and BigCommerce. The new pricing has three core tiers, which are called Starter, Growth and Unlimited. The Starter tier starts at 1% GMV and can be used by retailers with a single store and up to two price books. The Growth tier can be used by retailers with up to 5 stores and up to 10 price books and is set to 2% GMV. The unlimited tier is then for merchants that exceed these areas.
It is commonly known that a Salesforce Commerce Cloud build start from around £200k and could go all the way to £1m, depending on complexity and requirements. The average build seems to be more in-line with £400k – £600k – which is just slightly lower than SAP CX.
2. Market sector
Remarkable Commerce: UK Medium-sized B2C retailers – with turnover between £5m and £50m p/a. Particular sectors include fashion and apparel (80%), 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.
Magento Commerce: Between 2010 and 2018, Magento’s credibility grew and the number of UK retailers using a Magento platform grew to well over 10,000. However, over the last 4 years Magento uptake has slowed down substantially. Magento is used by retailers in almost every retail sector, with the most popular being apparel/shoes (60%), furniture (20%), groceries and consumables (20%).
Since they were acquired in 2018 by Adobe, many expected a re-birth of Magento, and the many bugs (and several year delays) that came with Magento 2, would be resolved swiftly and a brand relaunch was expected. However, this has not happened, and instead Magento has continued to age even further. Adobe officially consolidated the branding of Magento Commerce and Adobe Commerce Cloud to the single brand of Adobe Commerce in 2019 – yet it is still commonly known as Magento.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Seeing steady growth over the last 5 years, SFCC are currently used by around 300 UK B2C retailers, split into the following sectors – apparel/shoes (70%), skincare and fragrances, furniture, watches. Seen as an enterprise solution, aimed squarely at retailers with annual online revenue above £100m, and known for their high GMV commission model. Retailers of this size are normally not overly agile, which is why SFCC can make sense. Yet, if a retailer wishes to remain agile and unrestricted, they would be better suited to a platform like Remarkable Commerce.
3. Integration partnerships
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 fairly 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 hybrid-SaaS 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’.
Magento Commerce: Most of the time, you will want to integrate your eCommerce platform with your backend systems (like ERP/ Accounting, POS or 3PL). However, if your integration providers don’t know the endpoint systems well enough, they might make the Magento integration go horribly wrong. For example, an ERP uses product data in a different way compared to Magento. Then, your integration provider should know how to cope with that difference.
One of the most common integration issues which Magento retailers face is getting data in or out of Magento via their APIs. Additionally, it will hardly can deliver the performance you expect, and will lead to issues like database locking and update failures. All of which are massive headaches.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Most of the Salesforce Commerce Cloud integrations are based on plug-and-play solutions (integration ‘LINK cartridges’), which are modified for each customer’s requirements and business needs. Usually, the complexity of client-business processes and requirements for global support (for example, multi-brand solutions in Europe, APAC, and the Americas) will require a lot of additional functionality beyond standard integrations. In such cases, it is known to be easier to write each integration from scratch – which has a large cost and long timeline.
4. APIs and 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, 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.
Magento Commerce: Magento ‘Commerce Cloud’ is an upgrade of a Magento Commerce self-hosted edition, that stands side-by-side with Magento Open Source. It is known that all versions of Magento offer a large amount of flexibility, and developers have access to almost (if not all) source code within the platform. However, the big draw back is stability and security – which are Magento’s main flaws and pain points.
Magento release security patches several times per year, which even if you have a Cloud solution, still require manual work to update. There are regular security concerns and vulnerabilities with Magento, where malware can intercept your customers shopping behaviour and hackers gain access to your website code and databases.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Salesforce has been a cloud-based, fully-hosted SaaS eCommerce platform, which means the headaches and responsibilities around hosting the technology and managing the associated services is handled by Salesforce themselves, and not the retailer or agencies/developmers. This set up is ideal for retailers who don’t want to manage server maintenance and software updates – which are frequent and will soak up a large amount of additional development resource if this is managed by an agency.
The SFCC Commerce API (which is different to their Open Commerce API, for 3rd parties to call) has around 500 classes that can be called by the platform – these span products, customers, promotions, stores, orders, baskets, content, cryptography, files and web services.
5. 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
Magento Commerce: Magento was built to sell products, not to manage them. This becomes apparent when you face challenges like viewing change logs for product data, or having unique category structures for each parent product category. The Magento architecture also prevents you from several important requirements that retailers often have, including effectively managing your product attributes in bulk, as each product/item is not connected smartly. Plus, retailers are unable to build product segments and dynamic collections of products based off attributes.
Another issue is product image duplication, as Magento clone the product images for each product, even if it is the same image file. This leads to inefficiencies with data caching.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Unfortunately, SFCC retailers need to adjust their URL parameters settings so to avoid the default configuration which negatively effects SEO performance. SFCC’s parameterised site search tends to result in multiple URLs for the same product, each reflecting specific parameters used during a particular search. This can thankfully be avoided with the use of canonical tags referencing the original product page, to avoid duplicate content issues. It is also recommended to set no index robots meta tags for pages that have been filtered or created as a result of a website search.
6. Order management
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.
Magento Commerce: One of the most common order management issues which Magento retailers face is that Magento uses a global stock position for the whole platform, no matter how many storefronts are created. This means that if a product runs out of stock, it will become unavailable in every website. For companies who have multiple warehouses and who want to leverage those in different countries, this feature is crucial to be able to sell the same product in one country (region) and show it out of stock in another country.
Another common challenge is the amendment of order details after an order has been placed. The platform will cancel the original order and create a new one, with the new details. This has many knock-on effect’s to both the customer and the process flows.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Salesforce Commerce Cloud enables merchants to fulfil orders from specific warehouses, via their order management solution (which was introduced following the acquisition of Mainstreet Commerce) – it gives shoppers flexible delivery/collection options including in-store pickup, ship from store, and more.
7. Extensibility and flexibility
Remarkable Commerce: One of the biggest USPs of Remarkable Commerce is how extendable the platform is. This is achievable because 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 agency team have no limitations or restrictions, leading to infinitely customisable customer experiences.
Magento Commerce: There is a decent feature set in the base Magento Commerce platform, but it does have some limitations. In every single Magento build, there will be particular features that aren’t available as a core asset. These features are only available in 3rd-party solutions, which need to be installed and integrated into the platform code. Magento is commonly extended on and is not known for being overly restrictive, however, retailers should be cautious in extending and customising too far – as this will impact performance and speed hugely.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: SFCC doesn’t natively communicate with any third parties, which means it relies heavily on other ‘non-platform’ code to power key areas of the storefront and the admin. Integrating with a third party is required because SFCC itself (being a SaaS solution) cannot be extended to include all desired functionality; instead it gets augmented. Integrating third parties requires a deep and profound understanding of the SFCC architecture and close collaboration with the third party. SFCC accounts for this technical and resourcing gap through the use of LINK cartridges.
A LINK cartridge is a Salesforce-certified collection of the code, configurations, and documentation needed to implement a certain third-party integration. Salesforce has a set of strict standards for these cartridges that encompass everything from code structure, syntax, architecture, and documentation content, as well as requiring the involvement of a certified Salesforce B2C Commerce developer. To design these cartridges, third-party service providers often engage with teams of SFCC professionals, ensuring that experts on all important issues are involved. An aftermarket cartridge can be developed by anybody, but a LINK cartridge has been approved to meet severe specifications, allowing it to be trusted and installed with confidence. This is an incredibly difficult and prolonged process for retailers wishing to add third-party integrations with speed and agility.
8. Admin Ease of Use
Remarkable Commerce: The Remarkable Commerce Manager (admin portal) has been moulded over the last 20+ 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.
Magento Commerce: One of Magento’s most common downfalls and known issues is ‘speed’ – and this extends to the admin portal too. Most of the time, when your Magento Admin Panel is slow, it also means your front-end storefronts are slow. So although the Magento admin is relatively straight forward to learn and use, retailers struggle with code bloat and load times.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: It’s safe to say that the SFCC admin portal is vast and tricky to navigate. It is incredibly easy to get lost in the structure of admin pages and takes several months to understand the architecture of the admin. This makes simple tasks take much longer than it should – as half of the time, you are just looking for the correct functionality. That said, there is a good amount of self-serving functionality – if you can find it.
9. 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.
Magento Commerce: Faceted navigations are a great way for users to get through a large e-commerce site. Customers can use filters to find exactly what they’re looking for. Faceted navigations, on the other hand, might be a source of optimization headaches. Magento’s faceted navigation generates parameter URLs that are frequently crawled, causing Magento SEO difficulties. Because Google only crawls a fraction of your Magento site at a time, indexation bloat is a concern, and you want it to focus on the essential pages that provide value to visitors (and have value to the business). You aren’t optimised for crawling if there are hundreds or thousands of URL parameters to worry with.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: There are many known SEO challenges and problems with the SFCC platform, this article by Shogun gives several examples.
We’ve seen that SFCC stores handle non-existent pages wrongly, which is a widespread SEO issue. They either redirect users to their homepage or return inaccurate status codes instead of returning a 404 error code. These pages are marked by Google as generating a soft 404 error. Soft 404 returns irritate Google because they offer a confusing experience for both users and search engines. Soft 404 answers are a waste of Google’s resources, which may be better spent indexing valid pages.
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.
Magento Commerce: In 2022, Magento’s global roadmap focuses on these four key areas: headless commerce, new B2B capabilities, intelligent commerce, and improvements to the cloud infrastructure. We view these progressive developments as Magento ‘catching up’ with the industry and updating their foundations to allow for future innovation – yet, Magento are not known for their ‘innovation’.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: With 2 large releases per year, Salesforce Commerce Cloud announce their roadmap plans and release features to their community of partners and retailers – therefore the roadmap is hidden from public view. In 2021, the main developments were the ability to part-pay for gift cards, the ability to either capture funds at time of purchase, or time or fulfilment, and finally, the release of their PWA site converter function (which allows admin users to convert pages into PWA friendly versions themselves, seemingly without development input).
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.
Magento Commerce: Magento’s multi-store feature allows retailers to manage many brands, regional stores, and B2B/B2C businesses from a single Magento admin interface. The key advantage is that the product catalogue may be shared across several websites, stores, and store views, with the flexibility to make modifications at various levels. Attribute scope can be adjusted to be maintained at a global or local level, allowing merchants to assign global attributes like “product name” while defining the price or long description attribute at a local level. This is true at all levels and is a significant advantage for Magento for multinational, multi-brand, and B2B2C retailers.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) is a platform built with internationalisation in mind, ready to support enterprise retailers to grow internationally. This ‘out-of-the-box’ technology is rigid and does not allow for easily changeable configurations. Therefore this suits retailers looking for quick expansion, and those who are happy to not be agile.
The Remarkable Difference: Powering the World’s Fastest Growing Plus-Size Brand to £100m Turnover
Traffic increased by over 800,000 visitors during the last 12 months and Ecommerce sales conversion has consistantly increased by over 10%.
12. Storefront Speed, Performance and UX
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 quickest sites possible.
Magento Commerce: Speed is critical in ecommerce; this isn’t new information. As a general guideline, you should not leave a user waiting for more than 3 seconds; else, they will likely go on to a rival who is more responsive. While cached sites are delivered in a matter of seconds, not all pages can be cached. Category pages with dynamic filtering methods are a nice example. Magento retailers are required to alter category or product data, in order to force a cache refresh. The discrepancy in loading times between cached and uncached pages perplexes users and grows exponentially as the number of page view requests increases.
M2 (Magento 2) has a bad reputation because of slow platform speed and although there are work-arounds which developers can implement, this is arguably a waste of development resource and budget.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud: SFCC was designed in a way that mainly focuses on core business functionalities: displaying product information along with pricing and giving operators a functional backend to manage their stock. Storefront speed optimisation is left to the platforms’ system integrators and agency developers – who, unfortunately, are not the architects and creators of the platform code – therefore, typically, do not have the technical deep knowledge that is required to make ‘under the bonnet’ changes to meaningfully improve site speed and performance.
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 £50m 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 retailers platform choice should be in line with both their current online performance and their growth ambitions. There are many pros and cons for both Shopify Plus and BigCommerce, and where one excels, the other underperforms.
For retailers with a turnover above £5m p/a and considering a platform move, 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, here is an article comparing Shopify Plus, BigCommerce and Remarkable Commerce. As two of the most popular, fastest-growing commerce platforms in the market today, Shopify and BigCommerce are often two of the most popular choices when reviewing eCommerce platform providers – and more commonly now, in the enterprise space too. Click here to read this article.