Looking for an eCommerce platform that is the right fit for you is often a task. The issue with the popularity of a specific service is that businesses tend to follow the crowd with their eyes closed, and don’t take the time to evaluate what they really require. Thus, when it comes to selecting your eCommerce platform provider, this mentality can cost you!
There’s no doubt that the crowds are drawn to Shopify, and with good reason. While they are most definitely one of the leading eCommerce service providers out there, your eCommerce venture need not start and end with them. There are other platforms worthy of your attention, and possibly others with more suitable offerings for you and your business.
Why is Shopify such a hit?
To begin with, let’s understand why Shopify is such a popular choice. First off, the nature in which it’s designed, makes it generate mass appeal. It’s easy to use and has a quick learning curve. It also boasts of 24×7 support, and being a SaaS platform, it requires next to no technical expertise. To add to it, they bring an assorted app selection to the table and have a wide range of templates to choose from. This is more than enough to attract first time eCommerce venturers.
So, why is it not the perfect choice?
Even though it boasts of a wide range of qualities, there are certain drawbacks and limitations that could be quite significant if you’re unaware of them. The downsides include the following:
- A rigid URL structure which is unsuitable for SEO optimization
- Additional transaction fees apply on every transaction unless you use their built-in payments app
- Best-in-class features are available only within the premium plans
- There are sale prohibitions on certain ranges of products
- Poor International Support: They have a limited range of countries wherein you can expand your business
- With limited product variant options, it’s impossible for brands with a larger variant catalog to list their products
While these limitations may not apply to a business that is just starting out, they will most certainly hamper long-term growth plans. Switching to another service provider while you’re in the growth stage of your business is an avoidable occurrence. It’s imperative to be aware of the services being provided, and those not being offered.
What are the other options?
Even though Shopify may suit your current needs, here are some other platforms that you should take into contention before coming to a decision. These are our top 4 picks of Shopify alternatives:
As one of the major competitors, BigCommerce is definitely a top contender. Like Shopify, it’s user-friendly, offers 24×7 technical support, handles the back-end technical aspects, and although not as extensive, it has a large variety of themes to choose from. In addition, it has impressive and free base-cart features, that would cost you big bucks on Shopify. BigCommerce comes with zero transaction fees, a 600 product variant capacity, multi-channel selling capabilities, and excellent SEO options.However, it has certain drawbacks. BigCommerce has a limited sales threshold and a comparatively steeper learning curve.
Another contender in any list of eCommerce platforms is Magento – an open-source and highly flexible alternative. While Magento demands the prerequisites of vast technical expertise; for advanced businesses who are established and looking for a switch, this is your best bet. Being open-source Magento is customizable unlike any other platform and its downloadable version is free. However, it requires you to host your own website, and the premium version is highly expensive. Thus, if you’re a well-established business, equipped with the technical know-how, this is the platform for you.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce plug-in for WordPress – one of the largest Content Management Systems in the world. An open-source platform, it’s one of the most straightforward ways for a WordPress user to start an online store for the first time. Since most businesses employ the use of WordPress, the WooCommerce plug-in is convenient and highly suitable. However, as with any open-source platform, it requires technical knowledge to be able to get maximum use out of it. Another downside to it is its functional exclusivity with WordPress.
Another SaaS platform you should consider is Volusion. Volusion is user-friendly, comes with inbuilt marketing tools and zero transaction fees. They provide 24×7 customer support, and their onboarding is fairly seamless. However, with this platform, an increase in traffic on your website causes a simultaneous increase in prices. Volusion also does not provide an SSL certification, which you will be forced to purchase separately.
Each platform has upsides and downsides, and the key is in finding a platform that suits your current needs while being scalable to accommodate your future growth. While Shopify is definitely in the running, it’s worth looking at alternatives that could prove to be more than satisfactory.