Demandware Ecommerce Platform Review

By Tinuiti Team

demandware-review-logoInterested in creating an online store or migrating your current store to a new platform? This unbiased Demandware review will help you learn the fundamentals of the platform as well as your store’s fit with its features and functionalities.

Want to know how other platforms measure up? See our full list of ecommerce platform reviews here.

Demandware Review: What kind of merchant should use the Demandware platform?

Demandware is a cloud-based ecommerce platform that launched in 2004. Currently, the platform serves more than 180 companies across the country, including big names like Adidas, Barneys New York, Brooks Brothers, Crocs, Ecco, FILA, Godiva, Kate Spade, Loreal, Lancome, New Balance, PacSun, Panasonic, Pier1 Imports, UGG, and more.

Demandware is unique from other ecommerce platforms in that there are two ways a customer can use it. First, it can be used simply as a “shell”. Customers can build and create the website themselves, using Demandware as the backbone to power it (see here). For less tech-savvy clients (or those who wish to have a more hands-off experience), Demandware also offers a second option: let a Demandware LINK partner handle it for you. With this method, clients are partnered with a one of Demandware’s LINK program partners who can help design, launch, manage, and market the site for optimal success. Demandware boasts LINK partners for technical aspects, strategy solutions, and end-to-end assistance.

While Demandware is not self-hosted, it does afford users a fully customized experience. Its Eclipse-based support system allows experienced developers to add custom code, debug existing code, and even test new code in a staging environment before going live. Demandware also boasts open APIs, so it can easily and quickly be integrated with outside programs and applications.

As far as pricing goes, Demandware operates on a subscription-based model. Clients are charged a license fee based on a percentage of the sales they generate from the site. This percentage varies from client to client (1-800-Contacts pays around .75 to 1.25 % of monthly sales, according to Equity Research.) Implementation services, which include web design, management, marketing and other services provided by Demandware LINK partners, depend completely on what assistance a client needs. Typically, a customer that boasts annual sales between $20 and $500 million (Demandware’s target client) can expect licensing fees between $200,000 and $700,000 a year and an additional $250,000 to $600,000 a year for other services.

Though Demandware’s sales-based platform model does seem harsh at first (taking a portion of your profits!), it can actually turn out to be quite a beneficial system for both parties involved. Since Demandware only gets a high payday if the retailer does the same, the company is extremely invested in its clients’ success. They’re motivated to help customers be as profitable as possible, so they, in turn, can be profitable as well. According to Demandware’s president and CEO Tom Ebling, this is a “shared success model” of business.

Use of Demandware has been on the rise in recent years, especially among big-name retailers. According to its 2012 annual report, the company increased total subscription revenue by 44 percent between 2011 and 2012, raking in a grand total of $67.9 million in licensing fees alone. But despite its seemingly successful system, Demandware is not without problems. In fact, late last year, shoe retailer Finish Line attributed a $3 million dollar loss to its recent choice to migrate from its in-house system to Demandware’s platform.

Ideal for: Enterprise-level businesses that generate between $20 million and $500 million in sales annually



Demandware Review: Positive Demandware Features [ws_table id=”72″]

Demandware Review: Negative Demandware Features [ws_table id=”73″]

You can view all of Demandware’s features here.

Notable Demandware Sites:


Brooks Brothers


Demandware Review: Bottom Line

Demandware is best for large-sized, enterprise-level retailers looking for an all-inclusive, customized ecommerce solution. While it is possible to use the Demandware system simply as an open-source ecommerce solution (if you’re tech-savvy or know your way around code), the platform’s real power lies in its unique LINK partner program. Through LINK, customers can pick and choose any number of value-added services that can improve their store and add to their bottom line.

If you’re looking for a strong differentiation between Demandware and Magento Enterprise, it’s certainly Demandware’s pricing structure, cloud platform, and lack of an active, established community (not as huge a factor for enterprise businesses). Demandware will most likely be significantly more expensive than Magento Enterprise solutions, but speaking just of functionality, enterprise-level businesses can’t go wrong with either feature-set.

Demandware Ecommerce Platform Comparison Grade: A

How do you think this shopping cart stacks up against the rest? Have your voice be heard and your opinion known! Email [email protected] and request to have your experience be part of this Demandware review.

View the master list of our ecommerce platform comparison to make the most informed choice when choosing your ecommerce platform software.

*Note: Grades are subjectively based on analysis and comparison to other ecommerce platforms, based on availability, significance, and functionality of the platform feature and overall value.

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