If you’re a NetSuite merchant you’ve probably found yourself asking: “SuiteCommerce Advanced vs. Shopify Plus? Which one should I go for?” We can help!
Shopify is a very well-known platform and growing platform and chances are, if you’re doing research looking for your next eCommerce platform, Shopify is in the top 3. In fact, more than 4 million merchants are using it in 2023. However, if you are currently using NetSuite for running your business, then SuiteCommerce Advanced is also on top of your list.
Both NetSuite and Shopify have variants ranging from basic to ultra-sophisticated and complex. To be able to compare apples to apples (if at all possible), we are comparing the most advanced and complete editions for both platforms — SuiteCommerce Advanced vs. Shopify Plus.
As complete and full of rich features as both products are, they both have drawbacks — hey, nobody is perfect! You should know whether they will affect your business or not.
So, with that said, we are going to focus on the platforms’ limitations that the industry has identified for both products and we are analyzing them by different key categories.
Quick Launch Website Themes
Let’s start with the obvious. An online store should look beautiful and professional to make a good impression. In this area, both have killer examples demonstrating their design flexibility allowing merchants to deliver an engaging and pixel-perfect experience for shoppers.
Great-looking website themes and templates can be purchased for both platforms. Because of Shopify’s popularity, there are more pre-designed themes available on Shopify Themes. However, SuiteCommerce Advanced themes are made specifically with NetSuite in mind, and they have more exclusive designs.
Website Customization (Design and Functionality)
Customization capabilities are critical to every online merchant.
Unless you’re a pro at Liquid, Shopify’s custom templating language, you have limited customization options. Though it’s fairly well documented, learning and developing on Liquid can become quite challenging.
Powerful merchandising capabilities go a long way in helping display and promote products in the store but also in making it easier to handle and manage inventory.
SuiteCommerce Advanced comes with many built-in merchandising features. Faceted navigation is one of the most popular. It allows shoppers to narrow product listings using product filters (also available for search results pages). Shopify does not have native narrow filter navigation and would require installing a 3rd party tool at an extra cost.
One of SuiteCommerce Advanced’s merchandising highlights is Merchandising Zones. Here, merchants can display products following any business logic (ie, best sellers, highest inventory count, most profitable items, most popular items, new arrivals) based on data coming directly from the NetSuite ERP (including all business areas and sales channels). This has proven to be a very powerful tool for merchants and can only be provided by a platform that apart from managing the online store, also manages the entire business suite including all incoming sales orders, inventory and even accounting.
In the case of Shopify Plus, displaying and promoting items based on a most profitable, or highest inventory count (as well as other business logics), is practically impossible as it is an eCommerce platform only, missing key ERP company-wide data.
Shopify has also been criticized for not helping merchants with large SKU counts. Users found it hard to set up the catalog, organize and maintain it. If a merchant is selling products that come in different colors, sizes, and prices, then Shopify Plus is great. However, when product attributes are more complex by product, then it’s not so good.
Shopify Plus and NetSuite SuiteCommerce Advanced sit on a cloud-based infrastructure. Both offer a content delivery network (CDN) at no extra cost to ensure faster page loading time across the globe.
NetSuite SuiteCommerce Advanced performance standards are as follows:
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any information from Shopify about Shopify Plus performance standards (or any other Shopify edition).
Customization capabilities are critical to every online merchant.
Based on the number and type of B2B features available in both products, it’s clear that Shopify was originally built as a B2C ecommerce platform. However, SuiteCommerce Advanced was built with B2B in mind from the beginning because of the large share of B2B NetSuite-user companies.
There are a couple of alternatives to handle a B2B model on a Shopify Plus website. First, it’s to create a clone store from your B2C website to manage B2B customers. The second is to use the password-protected invite-only Wholesale Channel portal.
Shopify Plus supports :
- Customer based pricing
- Pricing breaks
- Ability to invite, edit and cancel wholesale accounts
- Ability to set min. and max. order thresholds against customers
- Set complex pricing discounts (both percentage and fixed) at a collection, store, and product level
- Tiered pricing structures/discounts per customer
- Ability to provide different payment options for different customers (not hugely flexible)
- Ability to set product visibility for different customers
SuiteCommerce Advanced, on the other hand, is a richer solution for B2B. It provides all Shopify Plus’s features and:
- Set Customers’ Credit Limits. Customers that reached their credit limit will not be able to submit new orders with terms (only paying with ACH or credit card).
- B2B Shipping Methods. Merchants can set up exclusive shipping methods for B2B websites, not possible in Shopify Plus.
- B2B Payment Methods. Merchants can assign terms to individual B2B customers to allow them to pay with an Invoice.
- Estimates/Quotes. Customers can submit Quotes and manage them from their My Account section.
- Pay Open invoices online. Customers can review their account open balance and submit full or partial payments to cancel open invoices.
- Print Statements. Customers can access detailed account statements including all types of transactions such as orders, invoices, and payments.
- Enter Quick Orders. B2B customers can easily create new orders by entering SKU numbers and quantities to be purchased without needing to browse through the product catalog to search for products.
- Create Multiple Shopping Lists. Customers can create multiple shopping lists with the products they frequently purchase, making it easy to organize their product needs and quickly reorder items.
- Stock Visibility. Shoppers can see how much stock is available for each product. Merchants can even display the stock level in each warehouse.
- Design Flexibility. The B2B storefront can be fully customized to meet the design needs of each brand. Shopify Warehouse Channel design can’t be modified.
In general, companies selling B2B typically sell through additional channels than online. Hence, it’s key that the customer portal not only displays sales, entered through the website but also includes a dashboard, reports, sales, and transaction information sourced from all sales channels. This is why SuiteCommerce Advanced is better equipped to support B2B customers.
Both SuiteCommerce Advanced and Shopify Plus support multiple currencies including checkout. This capability is brand new for Shopify. One limitation, though, is that the Shopify feature is subject to using their payment processor linked with Stripe. Also, it currently supports up to 9 currencies only.
As far as multiple languages, SuiteCommerce Advanced supports as many languages as needed. However, Shopify Plus requires merchants to clone the website every time a new language needs to be supported. This means that each Shopify instance only supports ONE language.
I personally don’t agree when people talk about platform scalability only referring to the capability of supporting growing traffic and sales.
Of course, an eCommerce platform needs to be able to cope with a growing customer base, traffic peaks, and, as a result, a larger volume of incoming orders. That seems obvious but only represents a tiny part of the pains that come with growing a business.
The real platform challenge when a business is growing is being able to manage a larger volume of orders, and how flexible the platform is to accommodate new business scenarios and pivot according to the newly discovered market and business needs and trends.
Managing Growing Incoming Orders
A growing volume of orders will typically come with more fulfillment challenges and more advanced needs; and the same goes for payment processing needs, inventory adjustments, returns (RMAs), and more.
This is where Shopify Plus (or any other eCommerce-platform-only software) will succumb to SuiteCommerce Advanced.
When an online merchant selects Shopify Plus to run their eCommerce, the merchant will need to connect Shopify Plus to business-critical 3rd parties software such as CRM, ERP, Accounting, and inventory management. To connect these systems, 3rd party connectors are required.
The problem with connectors is that they can support the most simple and most common business logics and integration points. However, and this is where “real fun” starts, as your eCommerce business is growing, your business will require more advanced system communication to support the growing challenges that come with more incoming orders, fulfillment scenarios, payment processing needs, product returns, reporting, etc.
When you are using connectors to communicate between systems, you will need to first pray that the connector will be able to support your growing needs and if at all possible, maintain and keep developing advanced integration code. The risk of hurting the business is high, not to mention the time and money that needs to be allocated to make new scenarios work.
SuiteCommerce Advanced removes all these complications as no connectors are needed and eCommerce, CRM, ERP (including inventory management) and accounting live in NetSuite.
Platform Flexibility Is Key For Pivoting
You need to evaluate Scalability around the capability of a platform to be flexible enough to adjust and incorporate new business structures as the business grows.
Consumer needs change over time and new competitors arise challenging existing market players. As a result, merchants need to adapt to support new consumer demands while increasing internal efficiencies.
The eCommerce platform needs to be ready to pivot and support future business requirements that merchants didn’t think they needed before. This includes supporting multiple languages and multiple currencies, adding new departments, adding new accounting classes, better financial reporting, increased visibility on the supply chain, forecasting demand, supporting multi-locations, etc.
Shopify Plus, only lets merchants change a few things on their Wholesale Channel and is limited to strictly eCommerce features. SuiteCommerce Advanced, being part of NetSuite, can accommodate any new business need in the storefront, no matter if it’s related to an eCommerce feature or anything around CRM, ERP or even accounting.
To evaluate pricing, we compared all expenses of building a typical eCommerce website using a pre-designed theme. We also took into account some customizations for preventing a cookie-cutter design.
|Shopify Plus||SuiteCommerce Advanced||Notes|
|Range from $60,000 to $200,000||Range from $40,000 to $80,000||Considering a largely customized commercially available theme to deliver a unique look and feel that matches their branding, customer features, etc.|
|License||$24,000 per year (not negotiable)||$50,000 per year but usually negotiable. We assume aprox 30% discount totaling $35,000 to $40,000||On Shopify Plus when reached $800,000 revenue per month it turns to a revenue-shared model paying 0.25% of monthly revenue.|
|Connectors to integrate with NetSuite||$5,000 per year||N/A||Connector supporting orders, customers, inventory, payments, refunds.|
|Total Cost First Year||Starts at $89,000||Starts at $65,000|
|Total Cost For 3 Years||Starts at $147,000||Start at $145,000|
Before choosing an eCommerce platform for your site, do your homework and consider all relevant aspects of your business.
If you are selling B2C-only, then both Shopify Plus and SuiteCommerce Advanced can be great. However, if you are selling B2B (or B2C&B2B), SuiteCommerce Advanced seems to be a more robust platform.
Both Shopify Plus and SuiteCommerce Advanced are excellent products, and we hope that this article helps you better understand their differences, restrictions, and limitations. Get in touch with our NetSuite eCommerce experts for a free consultation, and let us help you discover which eCommerce platform is the right for you.
Learn more about our NetSuite integrations and our NetSuite eCommerce growth services: