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TCO in eCommerce platforms: an in-depth comparison

Understand the TCO for top eCommerce platforms. Compare initial and ongoing costs for Shopware, Shopify, BigCommerce, and more! When it comes to selecting an eCommerce platform, understanding the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is crucial. TCO encompasses all expenses associated with purchasing, implementing, and maintaining a solution over its entire lifecycle. For businesses looking to...

Last updated: 27 May 2024 - 7 mins read

Lilli Digital Marketing Intern

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CONTENTS

Understand the TCO for top eCommerce platforms. Compare initial and ongoing costs for Shopware, Shopify, BigCommerce, and more!

TCO eCommerce Platforms


When it comes to selecting an eCommerce platform, understanding the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is crucial. TCO encompasses all expenses associated with purchasing, implementing, and maintaining a solution over its entire lifecycle. For businesses looking to make an informed decision, this overview examines the TCO for several leading eCommerce platforms based on the Gartner Magic Quadrant: Shopware, Adobe Commerce, Custom Solutions, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, Commercetools, SAP Commerce Cloud, and BigCommerce.

Each of the platforms offers unique advantages and cost structures from enterprise-level solutions with high costs to more affordable options for smaller businesses. Let’s give you a short breakdown of each Platform: 

A breakdown for each platform

General Info Who should use this platform ?
SAP Commerce Cloud SAP Commerce Cloud is tailored for large enterprises with complex eCommerce needs. Its powerful features and integration capabilities with other SAP products make it a comprehensive solution for businesses with significant budgets. The high initial and recurring costs reflect its enterprise-grade capabilities, making it suitable for businesses with complex requirements and substantial budgets.
Adobe Commerce (Magento)Adobe Commerce, formerly known as Magento, is a robust platform that excels in providing extensive customisation and scalability. However, its high initial costs and complex implementation processes make it better suited for larger enterprises. The need for regular updates and security patches also means higher maintenance costs. For businesses that can leverage its advanced features, the investment can lead to significant long-term benefits.
Salesforce Commerce CloudSalesforce Commerce Cloud stands out for its integration capabilities with other Salesforce products, providing a seamless ecosystem for large enterprises. Its cloud-based nature ensures scalability and reliability, but these advantages come at a high cost. The platform’s robust support and customisation options make it a preferred choice for enterprises looking for a comprehensive solution.
Commercetools Commercetools is designed for enterprises seeking headless commerce solutions, offering unparalleled flexibility and customisation. Its API-first approach allows businesses to integrate various services and create unique customer experiences.The high initial and recurring costs reflect its enterprise-grade capabilities, making it suitable for businesses with complex requirements and substantial budgets.
BigCommerceBigCommerce provides a balance of affordability and functionality, making it a strong contender for small to mid-sized businesses. Its straightforward pricing model and included hosting and support services simplify cost management. However, businesses must consider the costs of additional apps and potential payment gateway fees.BigCommerce is ideal for small to mid-sized businesses seeking an affordable, flexible eCommerce platform with included hosting and support services, simplifying cost management.
ShopwareShopware is known for its flexibility and range of features that cater to various business sizes. The Community Edition provides a cost-effective entry point for startups, while the Professional and Enterprise versions offer more robust features suitable for growing and established businesses. The flexibility in pricing and the extensive plugin marketplace make it a versatile choice, though careful management of plugin costs is necessary to avoid escalating expenses.Shopware is ideal for businesses of all sizes due to its flexibility. The Community Edition suits startups, while Professional and Enterprise versions cater to growing and established businesses with robust features.
Shopify Shopify’s user-friendly interface and range of subscription plans make it accessible to businesses of all sizes. Small businesses can quickly set up with the Basic plan, while growing businesses benefit from advanced plans offering professional reports and better shipping rates. Large enterprises can use Shopify Plus for extensive customisation, advanced automation, and high transaction volumes.

However, reliance on third-party apps can lead to additional costs, and transaction fees can add up for high-volume stores.
Shopify is ideal for small businesses and startups needing a low-effective, user-friendly platform, as well as growing businesses and large enterprises requiring advanced features and scalability.
Custom SolutionsBuilding a custom eCommerce solution offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing businesses to tailor every aspect of their platform to specific needs. However, the initial development and ongoing maintenance costs can be prohibitive, and businesses must be prepared for a significant investment in both time and money.It is approach is ideal for companies with unique requirements that off-the-shelf solutions cannot meet.

General Overview Table for leading eCommerce platforms

To give you a clearer picture of the financial commitments involved, we have compiled a detailed table that outlines the Total Cost of Ownership for each of the platforms. This table includes the initial costs, recurring costs, and additional expenses associated with each platform. By examining these costs side-by-side, you can better understand the financial implications of each option and make a more informed decision about which platform best meets your business needs.

Overview Table: TCO for leading eCommerce platforms

Gartner Magic Quadrant: Enhancing your TCO analysis


Another valuable tool for evaluating which eCommerce platform to choose is the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. It provides comprehensive insights into the strengths and weaknesses of various platforms by categorising them into four quadrants based on their ability to execute and completeness of vision:

Leaders: Platforms that perform well in both execution and vision. These are typically robust solutions with extensive capabilities and scalability.

Challengers: Platforms with strong execution but perhaps less complete visions. They excel in performance but might lack some innovative features.

Visionaries: Platforms with a strong vision for the future but might be less proven in execution. They are often innovative and forward-thinking.

Niche Players: Platforms that focus on specific market segments or needs. They can be highly effective in their niches but might lack broader applicability.

Incorporating the Gartner Magic Quadrant into your TCO analysis adds value by:

  • Benchmarking Industry Standards: Provides an objective comparison of how different platforms stack up against industry standards.
  • Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses: Helps you understand the strengths and potential limitations of each platform.
  • Guiding Strategic Decisions: Assists in aligning your choice with your long-term business strategy and growth plans.

Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce for B2C

Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce for B2B

By consulting the Gartner Magic Quadrant, you can gauge which platforms are likely to meet their needs while also considering the associated TCO. For instance, we can see that Shopify is categorised as a leader, for both B2C and B2B. This means that it would be a strong solution, giving you many capabilities and allows for scalability.This understanding helps in making informed decisions that balance functionality, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. For more details, you can review the full Gartner Magic Quadrant report here.

To sum up


When choosing an eCommerce platform, it is essential to consider both the initial and ongoing costs to understand the TCO. Each platform reviewed here offers distinct advantages and cost structures:

  • Shopware, Shopify, and BigCommerce offer more affordable options suitable for small to mid-sized businesses and offer more flexibility.
  • Adobe Commerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Commercetools, and SAP Commerce Cloud have higher TCO but provide extensive capabilities for large enterprises.
  • Custom Solutions offer unparalleled flexibility but come with the highest TCO, suitable only for very large organisations with specific needs.

Carefully evaluating these factors will help businesses select the most cost-effective and suitable eCommerce platform for their needs. To learn more about eCommerce platforms check out our blog where we compare Shopify and Salesforce here.


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