eCommerce is a massive industry, raking in almost 5 trillion dollars worldwide in revenue, with a projected number reaching almost 7.4 trillion by the year 2025.
With numbers like that, you’d think that eCommerce is immensely lucrative, and that everyone gets a slice of that pie. However, the reality is often disappointing.
The truth of the matter is, the digital commerce industry is quite saturated and highly competitive. That pie we mentioned is by no means divided equally, with massive international conglomerates taking most of it, while the common man is left with crumbs.
Still, things aren’t as bleak as they may seem. Sure, competition is stiff, and you don’t exactly have the means to go up against industry giants, but there are ways to get your store out there and start turning a profit.
The first step, of course, would be the creation of your own e-store. But, online stores need to be hosted somewhere, and, considering your whole business is riding on it, the platform that’s going to be hosting it better be of world-class quality.
Luckily, there are two easily accessible and quality platforms that host eCommerce stores. Shopify and Salesforce are two of the biggest contenders on the market today, and both come with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
But, which one should you choose? Read on and find out!
1. Ease of Use with Shopify
When it comes to the technical knowledge required to create a store, Shopify requires almost none. See, Shopify was created with one thing in mind – ease of use.
Shopify is, by far, the simplest platform upon which to run your store, a feature that accounts greatly for Shopify’s popularity. It is also the major reason why Shopify holds almost a third of the market share in the US.
The core of Shopify is its myriad of themes and layouts to choose from. The platform offers hundreds, if not thousands, of different themes and templates, and each is powered by drag-and-drop functionality. This makes the creation of different web pages for your store quick and easy.
On the other hand, Salesforce offers no such thing. In fact, Salesforce goes in the opposite direction, where each site has to be made from scratch.
However, this does allow for major customization of each individual page for the technically endowed, allowing for a company’s store to leave a highly individualized imprint on the internet.
2. The Power of Plugins
When it comes to plugins, Shopify easily outmatches Salesforce in terms of sheer numbers. Shopify offers over 6,000 plugins, apps, and various integrations, enabling exceptional flexibility of the platform and, by extension, your store.
On the other hand, Salesforce only has about 200. This makes the platform far less flexible, and you’ll, more or less, have to work with what they have, or, rather, with what’s approved by the platform.
However, don’t let sheer numbers fool you – there is an advantage to having a small, select number of apps and integrations. Namely, all Salesforce apps are certified. Each third-party app wishing to become a part of the platform must undergo a rigorous certification process.
This means that each and every one of Salesforce’s apps is top quality. One of the major requirements to get certified is performance.
An oft-heard complaint among Shopify users is that the more apps you use on your site, the slower it gets. However, such a thing is virtually non-existent with Salesforce’s apps, as they’re all specifically tuned to the platform and won’t cause you performance issues.
That said, that doesn’t mean all Shopify apps are bad. However, due to the sheer number of apps, you might be inclined to hire outside help. At that point, do some research and hire the best Shopify development company for you and your business to help you navigate Shopify’s sea of integrations.
Another thing for which we must commend Shopify is the fact that they offer 100 different payment gateways. Salesforce offers half of that.
With 100 different options, you’ll be hard pressed to find an option that isn’t allowed in any country, while with only 50, you might run into problems.
3. Marketing with Salesforce
So far, it would seem that Shopify has Salesforce beaten in every category. The platform is easier to use, faster to set up and has an overwhelming number of plugins, apps, integrations and payment gateways.
However, here is something Salesforce excels at – marketing campaigns.
When it comes to planning and executing marketing campaigns, Salesforce is the undisputed king. Since the platform first started as a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, Salesforce excels at collecting data about customers, and customer behavior and tendencies.
Needless to say, you can then use this data to create highly accurate, highly specialized and, most importantly, highly successful marketing campaigns.
It’s no wonder, then, that the company earned $26.49 billion in revenue this year alone, as its marketing campaign planning capabilities attract some really high-brow customers.
With that said, it’s not like Shopify disregards marketing completely. After all, it is a platform specifically made to host eCommerce stores. However, due to Salesforce’s background, it’s clear which platform is more experienced when dealing with customers.
4. Multi-Store Functionality with Salesforce
Here’s another cool thing Salesforce lets you do: run multiple stores from a single backend. This is immensely useful for larger companies looking to branch out. However, smaller businesses don’t have a use for this functionality.
Shopify doesn’t have anything similar to this, as each store has its own isolated structure.
Scalability and Growth
A major concern for any business is the ability to scale up. As you gain more customers and more traffic, you start to have increased bandwidth needs and more space to grow.
The same happens if you’re losing customers. At this point, you would need to scale down and start small again to gain more of a following.
Luckily, both Shopify and Salesforce are excellent choices in this regard. Since both platforms are built on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, your ability to scale your store according to your needs is virtually endless.
On top of that, Shopify offers some nifty features that relate to scalability and growth.
Firstly, it offers full support for over 20 sales channels. Secondly, they offer you Shopify Flow – an excellent add-on featuring automated merchandising and other forms of automation that help you run your business more efficiently without incurring additional costs.
When it comes to Salesforce, they also offer a great deal of automation to their customers. They also have advanced AI and machine learning features that help you eliminate any menial tasks that would suck up the majority of your time.
Finally, let us discuss pricing, as this is, ultimately, going to be the deciding factor on whether you go with one platform or the other.
So, here it is: when it comes to pricing, Shopify is definitely a better choice. Or, at least, it seems like the better choice, for the most part.
You see, Shopify is a subscription-based service. In practical terms, this means you can host your e-store on their platform for as low as $9 a month on their Lite plan or as much as $2,000 on their Shopify Plus plan.
When it comes to Salesforce, they use a scalable percentage plan. In practice, this means you’re paying the platform a percentage of your revenue (2-4% depending on the plan) instead of a fixed price.
Now, for smaller businesses, this actually might be a cheaper option. However, particularly large companies might not be so cool with their eCommerce platform taking 4% of their revenue, which could be millions of dollars.
So, basically, what it comes down to when choosing either Salesforce or Shopify is the future scale of your business. If you’re a small local store, and are intending to stay on a local level, then paying that 2% might not be such a bad choice.
However, Shopify’s lower-end subscription plans offer you much better long-term stability because of their fixed prices. Besides, it’s much easier to work with a fixed price when planning out a budget than to calculate a percentage based on your earnings every year.
In the end, this should be your main takeaway from this article. When choosing your eCommerce platform, don’t just look at what your business is now, but try to incorporate its future into your decision-making process.
By doing this, by planning for the future, the advantages of either platform become much clearer. Neither of these platforms is a one-size-fits-all, and such an approach can be disastrous for your enterprise.
Instead, try to form a 5 or even a 10-year plan, and then review the platforms through this lens; you’ll find it much easier to establish which one will be better for your business.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.