commercetools vs. Shopify Plus
We take a look at two very different ecommerce platforms today: commercetools and Shopify Plus. The main difference is in the architecture of the platforms; commercetools is a cloud-native, headless commerce platform, while Shopify Plus is a traditional commerce platform that uses platform-based architecture.
A headless commerce platform separates the frontend (the user interface that customers interact with) from the backend (the underlying system that manages processes like inventory management, order processing, and data storage). In a headless architecture, these two components are decoupled, allowing for greater flexibility and customization in both design and functionality.
In contrast, a traditional ecommerce platform uses platform-based architecture. This means it comes with the backend and the frontend (presentation layer) in one complete package. However, a traditional ecommerce platform can still be used in a composable solution! Read more about the differences between platform-based and composable architectures here.
Let’s compare commercetools and Shpoify Plus and explore what makes each one a strong contender for your business. If you want to read more about commercetools, click below!
Commercetools is a cloud-native commerce platform designed to empower you to deliver exceptional digital shopping experiences. With its headless architecture, commercetools provides the flexibility to separate the frontend presentation layer from the backend commerce functionality. This allows you to craft highly customized and innovative user interfaces across various devices and channels, including websites, mobile apps, voice assistants, and IoT devices.
What sets commercetools apart is its commitment to composable commerce, a modular approach that enables you to assemble and integrate specific commerce components tailored to your unique needs. This lets you swiftly adapt to changing market demands, experiment with new sales channels, and create personalized customer journeys.
By leveraging a wide range of APIs, commercetools enables seamless integration with other business systems, providing a unified view of operations and customer data. With its cloud-native infrastructure, commercetools offers scalability, security, and the ability to quickly implement updates and new features, ensuring you stay ahead of competitors.
Shopify Plus is an enterprise-level ecommerce platform tailored to meet the unique needs of large-scale businesses. It provides a comprehensive suite of features and tools to streamline the online retail experience, from setting up an intuitive storefront to managing complex operations. Its scalability and flexibility set Shopify Plus apart, allowing you to handle high transaction volumes and seamlessly adapt to changing market conditions. With a user-friendly interface and a wide range of customizable templates, Shopify Plus helps you create mobile-responsive websites that resonate with your target audience.
One of the standout features of Shopify Plus is its extensive app marketplace, which offers integrations that enhance functionality and provide additional tools for marketing, customer service, analytics, etc. This ecosystem of third-party apps enables you to tailor your ecommerce operations to your needs, providing a highly personalized shopping experience for customers.
Additionally, Shopify Plus offers robust security measures and 24/7 support. With features like multi-channel selling, automated marketing, and a powerful analytics dashboard, Shopify Plus equips you with the tools you need to drive growth.
Comparing commercetools and Shopify Plus
Let’s compare the suitability of our two contenders for different business needs. Here are some of the key distinctions between the two:
Architecture and approach
Commercetools: Commercetools is a headless commerce platform. It emphasizes flexibility and allows for a decoupled frontend and backend, which lets you create highly customized and unique user experiences. It’s often favored by enterprises looking for a more tailored and adaptable solution. This means that you will need a frontend–such as Vue Storefront. Read our case study with Vue Storefront here.
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus follows a more traditional ecommerce approach with a full-stack platform. It provides an all-in-one solution, including hosting, website building, and payment processing. While it allows customization, it’s not as flexible as a headless approach.
Scalability and performance
Commercetools: Designed with scalability in mind, commercetools can handle high volumes of traffic and transactions. It’s suitable for larger enterprises with complex requirements.
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus is known for its ease of use and can be quickly set up. However, it may face limitations in handling extremely high traffic volumes compared to some other enterprise-level solutions.
Commercetools: Often favored by larger enterprises and businesses with specific requirements for customization and integration, commercetools is suitable for those seeking a highly adaptable and scalable solution.
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus caters to a wide range of businesses, from smaller to mid-sized enterprises to larger corporations. It’s known for its user-friendly interface and is a popular choice for businesses looking for a streamlined ecommerce solution.
Integration and ecosystem
Commercetools: Commercetools offers a wide range of APIs and has a flexible architecture, making it highly compatible with various third-party systems and tools.
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus has a large ecosystem of apps and integrations available through the Shopify App Store. It’s known for its easy integrations with popular tools and services.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Commercetools: While commercetools provides a robust and flexible solution, it may involve higher initial development costs due to its more customizable nature.
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus typically has a lower initial setup cost and can be quicker to launch. However, ongoing costs can vary depending on the specific needs and scale of the business.
Commercetools: Flexibility, scalability & customization; API-first approach; omnichannel capabilities, global expansion
Shopify Plus: Ease of use; quick deployment; managed hosting; scalability; app ecosystem
Commercetools: Development expertise required; initial setup complexity
Shopify Plus: Less customization when compared to headless; transaction fees for external payment gateways; limited control over hosting environment; platform dependency
Which platform is right for my business?
The main question to ask yourself is whether you want to go composable, or if a traditional, out-of-the-box ecommerce platform better suits your needs. There’s no right or wrong answer here–only what suits your business requirements now and in the future.
commercetools is right for you if you have:
- Have specific requirements for customization, scalability, and flexibility
- An enterprise-level business with complex requirements
- A need to provide seamless shopping experiences across multiple channels
- A global or multinational corporation
- An existing tech stack and want to try the composable/headless approach
- Commercetools users include Audi, Bang & Olufsen, Salling Group, BMW, and more.
Shopify Plus is the right choice for:
- Businesses seeking an easy-to-use platform that doesn’t require extensive technical skills
- Startups, small to medium-sized businesses, or those aiming to launch quickly
- Businesses targeting mobile shoppers
- Brands experiencing steady growth and aiming for scalability
- Businesses with varied product offerings, from fashion and beauty to electronics and food
- Shopify Plus users include Allbirds, Gymshark, Staples, Heinz, and more.
The choice between commercetools and Shopify Plus depends on factors such as your business size, the complexity of your operations, customization needs, technical resources, and growth ambitions. Evaluate these factors and align them with the strengths of each platform to determine the most suitable option for your online store.
If you want to take a (really) deep dive into platform comparisons, visit our platform comparison resource below.