Magento Commerce Cloud vs Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Salesforce Commerce Cloud (formerly Demandware) and Magento Commerce/Commerce Cloud are both enterprise level products – aimed at medium to large scale businesses. Both platforms have Cloud Commerce versions, and it is these that we’ll be comparing.


Demandware was purchased by Salesforce in 2016. Since that time, it has focused on migrating Demandware’s backend technology to its cloud platform, now rebranded as Salesforce Commerce Cloud.  The focus of the platform is on brands and retailers that require B2C functionality within a one-stop solution. For larger high-volume, low-margin retailers or B2B organisations, however, the platform starts to show its limitations. Retailers like this will probably require a more advanced package.


Magento has been trading since 2008 and serves medium to large scale firms. There are a number of versions of Magento. These include Magento Open Source, Magento Commerce and Magento Commerce Cloud. The cloud version is probably the one most comparable to Salesforce’s own. It features include staging and production, AWS hosting (ensuring a secure back-end scalablity of products), and a git-based branch workflow that supports teams and projects in making regular deployments.

Quick View Comparison

Features Magento Commerce Cloud Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Multiple storefronts Yes Yes
Online Support Community Yes Limited
$100m+ merchants ~100 ~30
Total GMV Transacted $155B $16B+
Degree of Control Unlimited (full source code access) Limited (no access to shared core)
Cloud based architecture Amazon Web Services, Single Tenant Proprietary, Multi Tenant
No. of Extensions 2000s 100s
Partner Network Large Global Ecosystem Small Partner Network

Features Comparison

Both Magento and Salesforce give you the capabilities to create highly customised, powerful online stores for global brands. Both are capable of managing large product catalogs, complex data sets and multi-store setups. But there are also some significant differences when it comes to how these capabilities are delivered and, as we’ll see, the quality and quantity of development options available.


Salesforce: Unlike Magento, Salesforce uses a SaaS (software as service) protocol for its platform. There are many benefits to SaaS: most significantly, it alleviates the need to maintain code and there any worries about the underlying IT infrastructure. But the nature of Salesforce’s shared code means you do not have the freedom to customise or create bespoke functions. Because he technology is controlled by Salesforce, there are some limitations on features you can upload and install. In addition, all users must go through an approval layer to implement new code or modules. This in itself can create severe time overheads to making site changes.

Magento: Magento’s cloud platform is designed to greatly reduce the costs associated with multi-tenant SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). Magento combines a high performing and scalable PaaS platform where you have the freedom to test and deploy new customisations to your store, with no dependencies on your product road map or release schedule.  Magento Commerce offers the best of both worlds – the full control over your implementation, without the hassle or worry of maintaining the underlying hardware.

Development Options

Magento: This is another area where Magento takes the lead – with hundreds of highly qualified agencies, and just as many certified and experienced developers, finding someone experienced to work on your ecommerce site won’t be a problem. The percentages of sites developed on Magento bares this out: with a number totalling approximately 356,000 websites, it practically follows that there are an equally large number of developers out there to build them. Because Magento also boasts a huge online developer community (including the Stack Exchange), finding advice when creating or navigating the platform is just as easy.

Salesforce: By contrast, there are far fewer experienced developers on Salesforce Commerce Cloud. A lot of the Salesforce Commerce Cloud agencies tend to be bigger providers, often diluted across a number of different platforms, which can often result in less specialist work and less focused aftercare. Another downside for developers working in Salesforce is the number of sites developed on it: totalling around 49,000 (compared to Magento’s 356,000) there has been far less scope for experimentation on the software, meaning far fewer ‘tried and tested’ modules and far less development advice available online.


Salesforce: Unlike Magento, Salesforce is non-API  proprietary 15 year old code base.  It is still based on Demandware’s old code base, having undergone very minimal ‘fine tuning’. As a consequence, Salesforce can often prove sluggish. It tends to struggle when integrated with external APIs. This means that Salesforce requires a lot of coding for any non-standard integrations.  Unlike Magento, new code cannot be added to production immediately, you can be waiting up to 30 minutes. This can make even small changes a chore; dragging out project times far longer than is necessary. This is borne out by developer-led reviews. In a recent poll amongst developers, Salesforce came out in the 2nd position as the most ‘dreaded platform’, a total of 70.6% out of 100%.

Magento: Magento supports a wide range of APIs, and also provides integrations with many APIs ‘straight out of the box’. Another major benefit is that with Magento, you have access to a marketplace containing thousands (as opposed to hundreds in Salesforce) of extensions for integrating with ERP, PIM and CRM systems. In addition, unlike in Salesforce, upgrades are user defined:  upgrades are not forced on you, potentially upsetting your customisations, add-ins, integrations, and ultimately the performance of your store. Magento allows customers to decide when to upgrade or update their environment, ensuring site performance does not suffer.

Hosting and Maintenance

Salesforce: With Salesforce, your site falls under a fully hosted multi-tenant proprietary solution. This means all the core infrastructure is managed by Salesforce themselves. This is an attractive option for site managers who do not want the hassle of securing and maintaining their site. But the problem arises when you want to install a customised module or plug-in. Such customisations require approval from Salesforce, and even then there are restrictions ensure the site functions with their inclusion. However, this makes quickly and effectively rolling out integral site changes near to impossible with in practice.

Magento:  By comparison, Magento gives you much more control when it comes to hosting. Rather than being a proprietary solution hidden from view, as with Salesforce Cloud, Magento Commerce Cloud is hosted via AWS. Apart being one of the world’s most trusted providers, AWS also comes with CDN and RDS services – allowing you to dedicate resources to your database only, as well as monitor your performance.  This setup also allows you to take ownership of platform upgrades and security patches, unlike in Salesforce Cloud where this is decided for you, thus limiting your ‘freedom of movement’ as you run and maintain your site.

Licensing Fees/ Total Cost of Ownership

Salesforce: Perhaps the most crucial thing to bear in mind with Salesforce is its revenue share setup: the company calls it “shared success”, where fees are worked out according to a GMV model (Gross Merchandise Value). Licensees can expect to pay anywhere between 2-3% of annual GMV to use it. In essence, this equates to a regressive ‘Success Tax’ – where the more revenue you generate, the more you pay. Salesforce’s contracts are generally longer than Magento’s (between 3-5 years) as well, with a severance fee if you decide to leave early. Overages for exceeding prenegotiated sales levels or transaction limits can also make costs with Salesforce spiral.

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Magneto: Unlike in Salesforce, you do not need to model projected costs over three to five years to make choosing the platform worthwhile. Costs are negotiated on a year by year basis, and for new Commerce Cloud clients, Magento offers monthly payments to paid over the course of that initial year. Another thing to consider is that, for the TOC (Total Cost of Ownership) Magento Enterprise Cloud gives much better value for money. With Magento CC  you get Magento BI, Fastly, CDN and RDS. This makes it is a fully packed omni channel platform for fully integrated shopping experiences. With access to far more extensions (costing on average around $80) in Magento Marketplace, ‘add on’ costs should be kept to a minimum as well.

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Further reading