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Shopify Competitors and Alternatives

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Divs Chauhan
Salesforce Solutions Architect at Kcloud Technologies
Real User
Top 10
Features are developed and refined over many years to provide a highly customized e-commerce experience

Pros and Cons

  • "Salesforce offers the best features and functionality, which are developed and refined over many years to provide a highly customized e-commerce experience."
  • "If your organization has a nonstandard or niche business model or audience, the fast nature of the solution may not be a good fit."

How has it helped my organization?

Let me tell you about one of my clients: the basic premise of the solution is to enable the organization to do what it typically does best. It helps to create the platform, as much as possible, without having to focus on some of the associated challenges surrounding e-commerce platforms, like stability, scalability, and managing the technical agency theme or roadmap.

People always choose the solution that best serves their business goals. You can say that Salesforce is the best e-commerce cloud platform on the market, which serves the business purpose.

There is no "one size fits all" approach when it comes to e-commerce. It's a part of Salesforce's family, so Salesforce is very trustworthy and if we talk about Health Cloud, it's HIPAA compliant. If we talk about other industries, it offers all of the security policies which are needed. It is highly trusted, and the data is completely secure and it can easily integrate with the solution set. 

What is most valuable?

Salesforce offers the best features and functionality which are developed and refined over many years to provide a highly customized e-commerce experience. It is mostly for clients who are more into e-commerce, so they go for the Salesforce Commerce Cloud because, the best part is, you don't have to develop everything from scratch.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud has seamless upgrades. Since the platform is SaaS, Salesforce continuously rolls out many new features in the background. These are available through an administration panel and often with minimal or no technical intervention needed on the client-side.

What needs improvement?

The revenue share model is very attractive to organizations — strong product profit margins, from which to fund the license fee. This commerce model is not as appealing to high volume, low margin retailers, or B2B organizations as their margins are traditionally much tighter. I think that's a limitation they should improve. If your organization has a nonstandard or niche business model or audience, the fast nature of the solution may not be a good fit.

I think the E-commerce cloud should be improved for the low margin retailers and B2B organizations.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have seven years of experience with Salesforce, but technically only two to three years if we're talking specifically about Commerce Cloud.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Speaking about scalability as a cloud-based product, Salesforce Commerce Cloud can cope with huge demands and traffic spikes without the customer having to plan for it in advance. If there is a sudden spike in the demand, the platform scales silently in the background with no intervention required.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have reached out to technical support many times but usually, it was for help enabling any features which were not activated, or if there were any technical issues, for example, while publishing something. So in that case, I have reached out to technical support. You can't expect them to do any customizations in your org.

They will only help you with enforced technical glitches if there are any, or any activation features if needed.

Their support is good from my past experience; they definitely offer good support compared to other CRM platforms. Salesforce support is quite better than all of them.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. 

They offer a full system integration service, starting with the discovery that uncovered the highest revenue commercially focused activity roadmap of the business. Everything goes very well in Commerce Cloud. 

What I would suggest, initially it's a straightforward setup, but then later, if you need some customizations or high-level technical things added to your e-commerce platform, then obviously you need a solution partner or implementation partner to design that.

Setup time varies from customer to customer. Speaking about Salesforce in general, or any cloud of Salesforce, we can't give an accurate estimate of how much time it's going to take, because it depends on many factors: is it a big company or a small company? What kind of requirements they have? What kind of platform do they want to build? Do they need it to provide live agent support? Do they want to add social extensions, like Facebook, etc?

Everything adds more time to the total sites, so it depends from requirement to requirement, what kind of implementation they need. Sometimes it takes 10 days and sometimes it takes 10 months to settle things completely.

What about the implementation team?

Whether we follow an implementation plan depends on the client's requirements; however, the initial setup is the same.

If they want to launch their campaigns, personalize their merchandise, help shoppers find what they want and if they want to boost organic traffic, again, it depends on person to person and from client to client.

What was our ROI?

My clients see a return on their investment with SalesForce. For example, some of my clients' data and e-commerce sites were not properly organized earlier. When they started using Salesforce Commerce Cloud, it took some time, but their direct revenue increased.

It really depends on many factors. You can easily see the sales growth, you can analyze that and you can add many features to make it user-friendly. You can add the chat option, you can easily send campaigns. If you are sending personalized campaigns, then obviously you will get some clients which are not coming back to you from the last few months so that is a long process to get more revenue.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If I talk about the cost of using the platform as realized as a revenue share, meaning that the client effectively funds the platform from OPEX rather than CAPEX, then there are no significant upfront license costs. As an approach, it's quite compelling that Salesforce has seen their financial success due to the growth of client revenue in what's described as a shared success model. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have worked with Shopify, some of my customers were using Shopify and Salesforce Sales Cloud, not the Commerce Cloud in that case. They were managing everything on the Shopify website and they mentioned it is easy to use, but still, I feel with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, we have tons of features, which are not available in Shopify.

Sometimes people don't need the features which are provided by Salesforce. They just need a simple e-commerce platform. Shopify is cheaper than Salesforce so that is the reason that people often choose it, but if a company is big and they want to achieve something good, they obviously go for Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

There is built-in marketing functionality in Salesforce Commerce Cloud. If you want to do very personalized marketing campaigns, those are available in Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

If you only want people who have purchased RED products to see sales on other RED products, you can do that with Salesforce Commerce Cloud. If you want to send campaigns to only those people who are living in city X, and who have purchase items worth more than five dollars, within the last 30 days or any duration; you can easily do that with Commerce Cloud. No other solution can hold a candle to this.

A secondary advantage that Salesforce Commerce Cloud has over Shopify is that while the plugin market is much smaller, all plugins must be certified. A constant complaint of everyone using Shopify is that the plugins make the site slower and slower — who knows what crazy code they are including. That doesn't happen with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, since each plugin must be fully certified, which includes speed requirements.

What other advice do I have?

You could say, Salesforce Commerce Cloud is like a cloud-based software as a service, e-commerce solution. 

If you find Salesforce Commerce Cloud a compelling proposition, chances are, you will continue with adopting the Commerce Cloud roadmap provided by Salesforce. It's another thing that you won't have to concern yourself with. Clients can focus on using the solution's features and functions to drive sales for their sites. They don't have to always be focused on the CRM part of Commerce Cloud, it allows them to focus on their sales growth.

There are some huge brands that use Salesforce Commerce Cloud, including Puma and Adidas.

These are not my direct clients, but I have worked for some of these companies, doing some outsourcing work with some third parties involved. 

If you are interested in using Salesforce, be sure to check which additional Salesforce Commerce Cloud you want to go for — B2B, or B2C Commerce. There are different additions: a starter pack, a growth pack, etc. It depends on the business.

Also, if you wish to use Salesforce, you should hire an implementation partner, not just for the customization part, but for the best advice, because implementation partners know the best practice and the best things which are useful for the client and for the company. I have seen people who have completely messed up because they didn't have an implementation partner.

On a scale from one to ten, I would give Salesforce a rating of eight.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
SN
Head of Service Delivery at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Consultant
Top 20
Provides seamless administration and out-of-the-box features for OMS integration, but needs better performance and a better way to measure performance

Pros and Cons

  • "As compared to platforms such as ATG or Commerce Cloud, its interface is easy to use. Magento also provides seamless administration for business users. You can also integrate an OMS to an extent. You don't need to have a dedicated OMS. You can leverage the out-of-the-box features of Magento, which is very valuable for startups. Other platforms, such as Commerce Cloud, don't have an OMS, and you have to have your own OMS solution."
  • "I am still playing around and trying to catch up with the latest version to understand all the features, but I do feel that its CMS can be much more streamlined. They provide a what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor, which many customers prefer, but based on the implementations that I have done for more than seven years, I have seen that many times, it is run by the marketing team, and they don't find it very comfortable to use. They feel uncomfortable managing and changing the content. As a business user, you need to have at least basic knowledge of HTML, which you cannot expect from all marketing teams. Some companies or organizations have that competency, but many organizations, especially in the Middle East, have a very small team, so it becomes quite difficult for them. This is a common challenge that I have seen across the platforms. Magento is better and easier than Oracle Commerce Cloud, but Shopify is much easier than Magento. A layman or my 10-year-old kid can go ahead and set up a store in Shopify in probably 45 minutes, which is not the case with Magento. Elasticsearch has really been a pain. It takes a toll on the performance. Starting with version 2.4, Magento requires Elasticsearch, which has been causing a lot of serious performance issues. We had a client in the US who was running a promo, and they lost a subsequent number of orders over one and a half hours. They were on the enterprise platform, not open-source. The team had to open a ticket with Magento. Its performance needs to be upgraded, or some kind of guidelines have to be provided for the setup. It looks like even Magento has no clue. When you go through the answers given in the online community, it seems that in spite of having the hardware configurations that they suggest, it is not performing at the optimal level. It should also have a better way to measure performance. Performance measuring has to be much easier. Many times, we see CPU utilization going up and down. We see spikes without any reason. Therefore, we need a better performance management system."

What is our primary use case?

I was working as a service delivery manager in the Middle East. That's where I did Magento implementation for B2B. Currently, I am refreshing my knowledge. I am using the open-source version.

How has it helped my organization?

One of our clients was the largest radiator manufacturers in the Middle East. They were into manufacturing radiators for trucks, cars, and construction equipment, and they wanted a solution to reach out to the B2B market in Europe and other geographical areas. We did a Magento implementation with just B2B functionality, which actually helped them to get more traction. They started getting quite a lot of leads through online channels, and they had their marketing team engaged. Previously, they had to send their salespeople literally all over the northern part of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. After implementing Magento, they could get a lot of potential leads.

What is most valuable?

As compared to platforms such as ATG or Commerce Cloud, its interface is easy to use. Magento also provides seamless administration for business users. 

You can also integrate an OMS to an extent. You don't need to have a dedicated OMS. You can leverage the out-of-the-box features of Magento, which is very valuable for startups. Other platforms, such as Commerce Cloud, don't have an OMS, and you have to have your own OMS solution.

What needs improvement?

I am still playing around and trying to catch up with the latest version to understand all the features, but I do feel that its CMS can be much more streamlined. They provide a what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor, which many customers prefer, but based on the implementations that I have done for more than seven years, I have seen that many times, it is run by the marketing team, and they don't find it very comfortable to use. They feel uncomfortable managing and changing the content. As a business user, you need to have at least basic knowledge of HTML, which you cannot expect from all marketing teams. Some companies or organizations have that competency, but many organizations, especially in the Middle East, have a very small team, so it becomes quite difficult for them. This is a common challenge that I have seen across the platforms. Magento is better and easier than Oracle Commerce Cloud, but Shopify is much easier than Magento. A layman or my 10-year-old kid can go ahead and set up a store in Shopify in probably 45 minutes, which is not the case with Magento.

Elasticsearch has really been a pain. It takes a toll on the performance. Starting with version 2.4, Magento requires Elasticsearch, which has been causing a lot of serious performance issues. We had a client in the US who was running a promo, and they lost a subsequent number of orders over one and a half hours. They were on the enterprise platform, not open-source. The team had to open a ticket with Magento. Its performance needs to be upgraded, or some kind of guidelines have to be provided for the setup. It looks like even Magento has no clue. When you go through the answers given in the online community, it seems that in spite of having the hardware configurations that they suggest, it is not performing at the optimal level.

It should also have a better way to measure performance. Performance measuring has to be much easier. Many times, we see CPU utilization going up and down. We see spikes without any reason. Therefore, we need a better performance management system.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have about four to five years of experience in using this solution.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is not stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Its scalability is actually good. You can start with the open-source version, and as you are scaling up, you can move to the enterprise version. Both options are there. In the enterprise version, you also get other benefits and advanced features. So scalability-wise, it is good, but there is a cost for scaling.

In terms of the number of users, we had the end-users and business users. The number of business users varied from four to ten. Up to ten business users were added for managing catalogs and content and for administration and other aspects. You need one person for deployment, code fixes, and maintenance. Apart from that, you need people for testing and catalog merchandising. A very small organization would require six to eight employees.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their enterprise platform support has not been great, but it has improved. As compared to Oracle and other platforms that operate on SaaS models, Magento support is better.

Their response is great. They normally provide immediate responses, but when there is an infrastructure issue, there are delays. I have seen them taking days to get back. There have been instances where we had the Customer Success Manager from Magento sitting with us on calls for eight hours to ensure that somebody from their side delivers a solution. They just need to handle the infrastructure issues better.

How was the initial setup?

It is slightly complex, and you need technical knowledge. It is not as easy as Shopify, where you just log in and create your domain and a store. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to set a store up in Shopify, and you can then start playing with its interfaces and other things, but that's not the case with Magento. It took me a couple of hours to set up Magento.

What about the implementation team?

For deployment, it definitely requires at least one Magento certified lead or a senior developer. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Many implementations were open-source. We also had a couple of enterprise-level implementations, but I didn't have visibility on the licensing cost.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution, but if you are not technically strong, I would suggest Shopify.

I would rate Magento a six out of ten. It is a decent choice.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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