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The ecommerce platform for global brands.

Salesforce CC vs Shopify Plus vs Centra: A side‑by‑side comparison

The world of ecommerce has evolved. The days of combining cookie-cutter templates and a single platform are over. For modern original brands to grow and reach their customers internationally, they need design freedom, powerful native features, agility, and scalability.

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Salesforce Commerce CloudShopify PlusCentra
Meets Requirements8.68.69.1
Ease of Use8.29.09.0
Ease of Setup7.38.68.3
Ease of Admin7.98.79.1
Quality of Support8.28.59.1
Ease of Doing Business With8.38.69.7
Product Direction8.28.89.5

The evolution of commerce platforms

Past
Legacy platforms
Salesforce
yellowEcommerce business logic coupled with CMS and frontend website
yellowBusiness logic and website customized by integrating directly with the platform’s source code
yellowDifficult to upgrade due to version and vendor lock-in. Significant cost to keep an installation running
Present
Monolithic SaaS platforms
Shopify
yellowEcommerce business logic coupled with CMS and frontend on limited APIs
yellowLimited possibilities to extend the built-in business logic and functionality through apps
yellowLimited flexibility prevents rapid online business development and makes it hard to meet enterprise needs
Future
Composable SaaS platforms
greenPresentation layer fully decoupled from the ecommerce engine
greenOpen architecture, with data accessible through well-defined APIs
greenAPI “technical contract” between platform and implementation enables rapid low-cost development

Running a fashion brand? Pick the right tool for the trade!

If you’re doing fashion and lifestyle on a monolithic ecommerce platform, you’re very likely limiting the growth potential of your brand. Today’s leading monolithic SaaS platforms don’t support the business logic and complexity of modern lifestyle commerce.

To scale fast, brands that grow the fastest right now are the ones that are adapting to new conditions very quickly. The high pace of business development is key for growth. Dynamic fashion brands need a solution that enables such growth without imposing limitations in terms of design and development.

At a glance

While there are many ecommerce platforms on the market, Shopify Plus and Salesforce are often mentioned as the top ones. However, when you look at how both platforms were built, which industries they serve best, and how they support growth, their shortcomings start to emerge – especially in how they solve the challenges of the next generation fashion and lifestyle brands. 

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Shopify PlusSalesforceCentra
Built for...
  • Built for entry-level retailers that want an easy-to-get-started webshop
  • Many third-party apps are needed to get the core commerce features like variant handling, campaign features, and international sales.
  • Built for retailers.
  • Generic retailer-focused ecommerce product. Industry-specific adaptation needs to be added through customization, driving cost and complexity
  • Built for both established and aspiring brands that need a flexible platform that scales easily and will help them reach their global ambitions.
Powerful vs. ease of use
  • Built to be easy to learn. Shopify’s ambition is to enable aspiring online retailers to open up a simple online store with a few easy clicks.
  • Powerful but complex. Requires specific programming skills to customize and maintain. Salesforce is known for its complexity. It has a difficult admin UI. Someone experienced is needed to administer and maintain the platform.
  • Centra is an advanced ecommerce system built for power users.
Wholesale vs. direct-to-
consumer
  • Shopify Plus offers a bad wholesale experience. Also, Shopify’s wholesale is not natively built-in and as robust in terms of price and vendor control. It still needs a separate store to run a full Wholesale Site which means more money spent.
  • B2B and B2C ecommerce for business customers and wholesale
  • Wholesale and direct-to-consumer
  • With Centra, you can handle all channels from one platform — both Wholesale B2B and Direct-to-Consumer B2C.
Single vs. multi-market
  • Separate storefronts are needed per each market. Shopify Markets helps with basic internationalization, however this does not allow for proper local catalog management, assigning of multiple warehouses per market, local bank accounts, base currencies, payouts etc.
  • Multiple markets is possible. However, administration is quite flawed and not built to scale on product nor content level.
  • Multiple markets
  • Centra is one system to rule them all – markets, currencies, languages, and price.
  • Serve all markets from one system.
Custom design/dev vs. closed templates
  • Template-based design system
  • Generic look and feel based on templates.
  • A good choice for businesses that cannot afford to invest in on-brand design
  • Integrated solution.
  • Legacy, tightly coupled, architecture with ecommerce, CMS and frontend in a monolith, leading to slow development pace
  • “Headless” design system
  • Build your site with complete freedom of design. Use any CMS. Frontend fully separated from backend, enables agile development and choice of technology.
Payment options
  • Few fixed payment options with focus on Shopify payments, which is tailored for the North American market. Extra fees and complexity when using other PSPs.
  • Multiple payment options available
  • Flexible payment options
  • Centra offers 200+ leading payment methods through multiple PSPs, empowering brands to sell globally.
Hosting
  • Cloud-based infrastructure
  • Self-hosted product
  • Hosting is integrated. A hosting provider needs to be contracted separately from the platform and typically does not give an end-to-end availability guarantee.
  • Hassle-free SaaS solution
  • Centra always works. Operated in the cloud, Centra guarantees 99.9% availability - even during peak sale periods such as Black Friday.
Automatic updates vs versions
  • Automatic platform updates
  • Versioned software
  • Software needs to be manually updated to the latest version, driving cost, risk and creating plug-in compatibility issues
  • Always up-to-date
  • Centra is always running on the best and latest version with automatic updates fortnightly
Licensing fees
  • A monthly licensing fee includes: hosting, maintenance, version upgrades, native multi-store capabilities, Shopify’s POS solution, and account management. However, the service in this package is very limited and not very personal.
  • The high total cost of ownership fees for licenses, customization, hosting, updates and upgrades come on top of website development, creating a high and difficult to forecast total cost of ownership.
  • Cost-efficient modern solution
  • Centra’s license fee covers everything needed, including support. The only cost on top is the design and development of a custom-built, on-brand website.

The 13 challenges of fashion commerce

The fashion industry needs a solution that allows fast scaling and international expansion without design or development limitations. Scalability, complexity, freedom of design, internationalization, and suitability for fashion and lifestyle are a few of the challenges they face.

Here we will examine how popular platforms address these challenges, and how they compare with Centra's headless, fashion-centric approach.

Challenge #1

Ease of use

Shopify and Salesforce are easy to launch, but make it harder for ecommerce stores to provide their buyers with the experience they expect without extra development hours and integrations. These platforms don't natively support international fashion ecommerce.

As a result, developers are often required to work on the ecommerce platform 24 hours a day and maintain it. The elimination of this need to babysit your system can give you more time to focus on growing the business. 

Why brands migrate to Centra

The Centra backend is continuously developed and improved. This makes the daily tasks associated with managing a brand much easier. The user interface is designed to help its users work efficiently and access all the information they need from one place.

Challenge #2

Lack of design freedom and flexibility

Fashion ecommerce stores have very unique needs – they need the agility and design freedom to build brand-authentic, pixel-perfect sites – without any compromises or limitations. The majority of popular ecommerce platforms don't allow for full freedom, limiting brands' growth and flexibility.

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Shopify PlusSalesforceCentra
Headless, composable and API-first architecture🟡 Monolithic architecture with some APIs 🟡 Monolithic architecture with some APIs✅ Composable, API-first platform allowing complete freedom of design

Why brands migrate to Centra

You can build a headless store on top of a monolithic commerce platform but it completely defeats the purpose – you’ll lose the convenience that made you choose the monolithic SaaS platform in the first place. Consequently, you will also end up paying as much or more than a truly headless ecommerce setup – while not getting all the benefits. 

Fully headless, composable and API-first architecture offers performance and growth benefits that are impossible to achieve with a monolithic platform like Shopify Plus or Salesforce.

Good API coverage is the foundation of composable commerce

By focusing on APIs first, Centra serves the needs of ambitious fashion brands. Centra's clients often use a headless CMS as part of their front-end stack for a perfect blend of content marketing and advanced shop functionality. Centra’s API coverage allows brands to elevate their front-end experiences without worrying about the restrictions associated with popular monolithic ecommerce platforms. 


Challenge #3

Multi‑store and internationalization

Localization is key to driving sales internationally. Different markets accept different price points and prefer different languages and payment methods. They follow different influencers, and their different climate zones impact seasonal sales in the ecommerce store. As a result, they need the freedom to offer different payment options and localized checkouts. Traditional monolithic commerce platforms make localizing an additional challenge, which makes SEO more difficult. Popular ecommerce platforms require brands to use one storefront per each market. 

Ecommerce stores that offer a localized website and local payment methods see an over 10% increase in their conversion. On top of that, offering local shipping options adds another 10% to that figure. 

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra’s native multi-store architecture allows for full management of core data locally and globally across different stores, supporting brands with global reach or aspirations to enter new markets. 

Centra allows admin users to manage product management at a store level, a language level, or globally. You can use different descriptions for each store based on local languages, while the same images can be used globally, saving a lot of manual labor of re-adding them to each localized store. The same principle applies across category management, promotions and customer management.

Challenge #4

Wholesale for the fashion industry

In general, many popular ecommerce platforms don’t offer a great wholesale experience for brands. Shopify, for example, has a module called Wholesale, but it still offers fewer features than the B2B ordering apps that have been around for the past decade. Brands that want to move ahead with a wholesale strategy need a more flexible solution. It will take weeks of development to make Shopify work as a wholesale website with the features you need.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Running on Centra, you gain a digital wholesale module to help your brand stand out from the competition. The built-in B2B portal for buyers and sales reps supports the business logic for preorders and at-once orders.

Challenge #5

Native features vs plugins

Plugins and extensions can extend the functionality of your ecommerce platform, but native integrations are cheaper in the long run.

If you only need a simple site, this won't apply to you, but then you also have no reason to use Shopify Plus or Salesforce apps when simpler, more stable solutions are available.

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Shopify PlusSalesforceCentra
Features for fashion🟡 Apps/extensions bought and downloaded from Shopify App Store 🟡 Additional features available through Salesforce AppExchange Apps and other integrations developed and maintained by third-party Salesforce partners. ✅ Native

There are four big problems with the app-based approach to achieving the basic functionality that all fashion brands need:

  1. Apps or plugins are not equal to native functionality.

    Some things can’t be achieved with apps because they can’t access specific data. Business logic that needs to be interconnected is turned into silos – the app needed for managing the product catalog doesn’t speak to the app used to manage inventory. 

    With Centra, fashion brands get a highly integrated feature set that covers all the core needs.

  2. Apps raise security and stability concerns

    Each app works like another website inside the Shopify admin.  This means you depend on many third-party developers to keep their sites up and running. This is a risk not every brand wants to take.

  3. Apps cost extra

    Monolithic platforms might look cheap to start with, but with all the apps, payment transaction fees, FX markups, and costs per storefront, the cost can go very high.

  4. Apps lead to a cumbersome user interface

    Because the apps are siloed, non-native extensions, they are managed from different parts of the user interface. Simple processes achieved with a few clicks in Centra need multiple steps in multiple apps with Shopify Plus.

Platforms like Shopify or Salesforce direct you to apps in their marketplace (Shopify App Store and Salesforce AppExchange, respectively) even when it should be something natively offered by the platform.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Launching on Centra, original fashion brands get all the features they need, integrated in a tight package. 

Challenge #6

Performance, scalability and stability impact on SEO and conversion

Faster store means better SEO and more sales – it's common knowledge today. To gain more control over the SEO aspects of their websites, ambitious ecommerce stores need to leverage  decoupled architecture.

From visibility (SEO and SEM), to traffic, user experience, and ultimately conversions and revenue, website speed impacts the entire digital strategy. Stores running on bloated monolithic commerce platforms with customized themes and lots of extensions lack the speed you need to rank high in SERP. 

Also, most sales in fashion commerce happen on mobile devices, which makes mobile SEO and performance super important for brands.

It is worth noting that you do have full control over the URLs If you use Shopify in a headless manner, as Shopify isn’t powering the front-end. It also gives you access to the server so you can implement things like visual merchandising solutions without just relying on JavaScript for the product grid.

Why brands migrate to Centra

If your store runs slow, it is a telling sign to upgrade your setup to Centra – a future-proof headless platform built for speed and growth. 

Challenge #7

Support

Fast and responsive support is, apart from the features and capabilities, an important factor impacting how fast brands can get their stores up and running.

Challenge #8

Cost of ownership

The total cost of development and maintenance, as well as hosting and other fees like payment processing, may exceed the initially projected cost of launching on a legacy monolithic or generic headless platform.

Why brands migrate to Centra

With many features offered out of the box, Centra significantly reduces the long-term cost of maintaining the platform and ensuring its good performance in peak sale periods. Since there are no hidden costs and no third-party integrations needed, Centra is the most affordable ecommerce platform of the three.

Challenge #9

Bundling, promotions and upselling features

Centra has a really impressive set of features for trading and also supporting marketing activity.

Challenge #10

Monolithic architecture instead of composable architecture

It’s no secret that website speed impacts the entire digital strategy – from visibility (SEO and SEM), through traffic, user experience, and ultimately conversions and revenue. Stores running on bloated monolithic commerce platforms with customized themes and lots of extensions lack the speed you need to rank high in SERP. 

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SalesforceShopify PlusCentra
Fully headless, composable and API-first architecture

You can build a headless store on top of a monolithic commerce platform but you’ll miss out on the tooling that made you choose the platform in the first place. At the same time, you will also lose most of the benefits generally associated with headless like low price and minimal developer support. You will basically end up paying as much or more than a true headless ecommerce setup – while not getting all the benefits.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Fully headless, composable and API-first architecture offers some performance and growth benefits that are impossible to achieve with a legacy or SaaS monolithic ecommerce platforms like Shopify Plus or Salesforce. This is where Centra truly shines.

Challenge #11

Analytics and reporting

Commerce needs reports to give you the means to review your store's recent activity, get insight into your visitors, analyze your online store speed, and analyze your store's transactions.

The out-of-the-box Shopify reporting is much better. Although it doesn’t include everything, Shopify has a nice and clean reporting interface that covers all of the core metrics and  nice API coverage to support this. You can then use third-party solutions like Glew or Daasity or build out your own data warehouse / bespoke reporting for broader business reporting.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra has an intuitive dashboard, giving an instant overview of sales. It can be analyzed through numerous dimensions and over any user-selectable time. The Centra dashboard is powered by a fast database.

Centra has extensive report generation capabilities. Reports can be exported as csv or xlsx files or be automatically generated at set intervals. You’ll get an emails once a report is generated.

Centra is your complete digital control room, giving you analytics and reporting modules for a detailed overview of your business performance.

Challenge #12

Suitability for fashion and lifestyle products

Most popular monolithic platforms don’t support the business logic and complexity of fashion and lifestyle commerce. They will serve the purpose if you want to launch fast without paying much. However, without core, fashion-specific functionalities, it will be hard to scale your business globally.

Why brands migrate to Centra

Centra is built for original fashion and lifestyle brands, and supports complex lifestyle products. Centra easily handles styles, colors and sizes, different product displays, collections and drops. 

Supported by Centra, fashion brands can focus on growing their fan base and global expansion rather than on maintaining complex technology. The features and roadmap are 100% designed for the needs of brands with global ambitions and no retailers influence the prioritization of features. 

Challenge #13

Omnichannel capabilities

Brands want to sell to consumers and retailers across channels, countries and marketplaces to scale globally. Here is how the platforms compare in terms of omnichannel capabilities enabling a boost to a brand’s growth.

Why brands migrate to Centra

With Centra, brands gain the possibility to sell through distributors, agents, resellers, marketplaces, and their direct-to-consumer websites from a single platform.

You’re in good company

International fashion brands choose Centra as the only platform that fully understands the needs and complex business logic of fashion commerce.

Join the vanguard of original brands that scale fast and expand on new markets without the limitations imposed by their legacy ecommerce platforms. Centra has a very impressive portfolio of clients, including Nudie Jeans, Sandqvist, ETON, iDeal of Sweden and Norse Projects – with some of these being on the platform right from the start.