Running an ecommerce business using a multichannel ecommerce platform means doing a lot of things – from maintaining a product database, tracking and managing your product inventory, and marketing your offerings to customers, to fulfilling and shipping orders, running a loyalty program, tracking sales, using offline channels to sell, and even maintaining a blog. Rather than doing it all manually, which would require a lot of time and effort, thus slowing down the entire process and driving your customers away, you should opt for an efficient shopping cart software instead. With the right choice, you can handle all your business activities in a streamlined manner. This would mean your buyers enjoying a fast and straightforward shopping experience, which would make them happy. And happy customers certainly augur well for your business.
Most popular shopping cart software are often complex systems that offer “do-it-all services” to make your business run smoothly. But this often makes it a tough task to decide how to assess them or even the starting point of such assessments. To make matters a bit easier for you, we bring you the comparative study of three top shopping cart software. Whether you already have an online store and want to upgrade it, or are planning to start your ecommerce business, we hope the analysis below will let you make an informed decision.
Some reputed brands and businesses using Shopify are Budweiser, Penguin Books, Red Bull, the Lady Gaga Official Shop, and Tesla Motors.
You can use the free 14-day trial of Shopify before deciding to opt for an active monthly plan.
The pricing plans of Shopify are:
- Shopify Lite: At a monthly fee of just $9 USD, you can sell on Facebook (by integrating your Facebook account directly with Shopify), use Messenger to chat with your customers, add products to any blog or website, and accept credit card payments.
- Basic Shopify: At a monthly fee of $29, it’s ideal for kickstarting your new ecommerce business.
- Shopify: At a monthly fee of $79, it’s suitable for a growing business.
- Advanced Shopify: Costing $299/month, this plan is suitable if you need to scale up your business and want advanced features.
- Shopify Plus: This enterprise-grade solution is targeted at large businesses and high volume merchants. You’ll have to contact Shopify to set up a custom rate together with the features that your business needs.
- List unlimited products (albeit with limited variations as you can list only up to 100 combinations)
- Sell products online as well as offline
- Ability to sell on multichannel ecommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay
- Sell directly through your Facebook account by integrating Shopify
- Sell in person (with the Shopify POS app for Android and iOS)
- Hundreds of user-friendly and attractive templates for setting up your Shopify store
- An easy to use and user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop system that lets you create pages (without any coding skills) in less than 30 minutes
- An extensive app store with 1500+ plug-ins, integrations and add-ons (free and paid) to grow your business
- Enabling customers to create personal accounts for receiving promotional emails in the future and making upcoming transactions easier
- Customer segmentation with Customer Segment Builder that facilitates the creation of highly targeted and advanced segments by drilling down into your store data
- Access to the Developer API
- Bulk import and export features for products, customers, metafields, collections, discounts, and much more
- Integration of Shopify with dropshipping apps like HubLogix, Inventory Source, and Ordoro
- Mobile-friendly designs
Marketing & SEO
- SEO features (like adding keywords to your Shopify store to boost SEO, submitting your sitemap to search engines, site structure optimization for search engines etc)
- Social media integration by syncing your Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter information, in adding to letting you sell on Facebook
- Creation of discount codes and coupons, including Buy One, Get One (BOGO) discounts; in case you opt for higher plans, gift cards too would be available
- Shopify’s own email templates, and their easy integration with MailChimp, the latter being ideal for those needing complex email functionalities
- Shopify’s own Analytics, integration with Google Analytics, and some additional marketing as well as cross-channel analytics for important insights
- Comment-style product reviews and star ratings given by customers to have a positive impact on potential customers
- A user-friendly blogging platform integrated right into your ecommerce system
Checkout and Shipping
- Guest checkout that lets customers buy without requiring them to create an account
- Checkout can be displayed in 50+ languages
- Integration with 100+ payment gateways including PayPal, Amazon Pay, Sage Payments, and Authorize.net
- Automatic tax and shipping rates calculator
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Checkout on your own domain
- User-friendly: Multichannel listing tool of Shopify and the platform itself is ideal for owners of startups and mid-sized businesses as they can set up their online store even with no experience of creating websites.
- Eye-catching themes: You’ll get to use some of the best-looking themes available on a multichannel ecommerce platform.
- Well-known and attested Rest API: It makes the job of building applications and integrations a cakewalk.
- A wholly hosted platform: It takes the worry out of hosting your ecommerce store on thirty party hosting site where you would have to deal with the technical side of operating and maintaining an online store. With Shopify, you can rest assured that your site is hosted on servers that are secure and updated timely using the latest software.
- Limited functionality: Shopify’s focus is on keeping its functions basic and easy-to-understand. Perhaps this is why its features list has some missing elements. This often triggers frustration in customers, who have restricted product variations, and don’t get to use wholesale (B2B) selling options because it isn’t available.
- Expensive add-ons: To overcome Shopify’s lack of functionality, you’ll have to buy and integrate add-ons, which could turn out to be quite expensive.
- Poor customer service: Opinions on Shopify’s customer service are extensively varied, and many merchants say in their hour of need, they either can’t reach the support desk or are kept on hold for a long time.
- Poor experience with Shopify Payments: Many merchant reviews blame Shopify Payments for withholding vendors’ payments and even freezing merchant accounts, which have hurt their businesses badly. Additionally, merchants are worried about the risk of Shopify Payments’ right to cease services for any merchants they consider a risk.
BigCommerce is a leading SaaS e-commerce solution, which has helped over 90,000 online stores since its inception. Known for its beautiful templates, user-friendliness, and quality customer support, BigCommerce empowers businesses of all sizes to set up their online stores.
Some reputed brands and businesses using BigCommerce are Toyota, GE, Kodak, Ben & Jerry’s, Paul Mitchell, and Camelbak.
Before you commit to any paid pricing plans, you can use the 15-day trial period of BigCommerce for free before deciding to opt for an active monthly plan.
Pricing plans of BigCommerce are:
- Standard: For a monthly fee of just $95, this plan is applicable for yearly sales volumes of up to $50K.
- Plus: Ideal for yearly sales volumes of up to $150K, this plan comes at a monthly fee of $79.95.
- Pro: Ideal for yearly sales volumes of up to $400K, this plan comes at a monthly fee of $249.95. However, the pricing would take a leap of $150 per month for each additional $200K in sales up to a maximum of $1M.
- Enterprise: This pricing model is a customized solution to meet the needs of high-volume clients. You can get details by contacting BigCommerce.
- Integrates With POS solutions like ShopKeep PoS and Square POS
- Encourages and facilitates multi channel listing on Amazon, Google, and eBay with its native integrations that help in selling via these popular marketplaces as well; You can use BigCommerce app plugins at present to sell on Rakuten, Etsy, and Jet.
- Sell on social media by creating a Facebook Store, using Buyable Pins to encourage buying on Pinterest, and tagging products on Instagram.
- User-friendly drag-and-drop interface that doesn’t need any coding knowledge or experience
- Mobile-friendly designs
- Bulk import/export of your product information via a CSV file
- Customer segmentation lists
- Inbuilt integration with ChannelAdvisor to facilitate running and managing of all your channels right from your BigCommerce control panel
- Filtered search for customers to help them filter products based on parameters like size, color, and price
- Public and private wishlists for customers to help them track the products they want
- Recently viewed products feature to show what others are looking at on your storefront
- Two categories of pre-made templates – new Stencil themes (with 127 new themes around 508 variations of those styles, and legacy Blueprint themes)
- 500+ add-ons (paid and free)
Marketing & SEO
- SEO tools for generating automatic sitemaps, optimized urls, titles, meta descriptions and header tags
- Built-in blog to improve SEO
- Create coupons and discounts applicable to the entire store or a particular category
- Analytics to evaluate customers’ behavior and site’s performance
- Social sharing to let customers post your products and their purchases on their social media accounts
- Product reviews to motivate trust in visitors coming to your site
- Email communication
Checkout and Shipping
- Integration with 60+ payment gateways, with some popular options being PayPal, Authorize.Net, Stripe, Skrill, 2Checkout, Simplify Commerce, and Square
- Successively lower PayPal transaction fee as you go up with your pricing plans due to the arrangement BigCommerce has with PayPal (driven by Braintree)
- Multi-currency support
- One-page checkout
- Giving customers the freedom to select via guest checkout or customer account checkout
- Getting quotes in real-time from major carriers including FedEx, UPS, Royal Mail, USPS, Canada Post, Australia Post, and more
- Deep integration with ShipperHQ – the shipping calculator, to guarantee your customers will be charged the right shipping rates
- Free shipping
- Abandoned cart saver (available on Plus and above pricing plans)
- Usability: From listing and syncing your BigCommerce products across multichannel ecommerce platforms to running and managing your online storefront, BigCommerce is extremely user-friendly, just like Shopify.
- Good customer Service: Most opinions on BigCommerce’s customer service are positive, with many merchants praising the customer service representatives for their helpful and friendly nature.
- Nil transaction fees: Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce has no transaction fees.
- Effective SEO tools: BigCommerce offers a bouquet of SEO tools, implementing just a few of which have reportedly helped merchants enjoy higher ranking soon after such implementations.
- Single page checkout: Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce offers a native, single page checkout, which encourages more customers to make a purchase.
- Lacks advanced features: Despite being great for smaller businesses, BigCommerce lacks robust features, which are needed by larger businesses.
- Sudden pricing change: In 2016, BigCommerce made changes to how businesses are categorized under various pricing plans. Without giving a reasonable advanced notice to its merchants, BigCommerce bumped up or down many merchants by a tier or two. Those who suddenly found themselves categorized under the enterprise pricing level were extremely upset for having to shell out up to 800% more for their multichannel ecommerce platforms. The biggest grievance against BigCommerce was not giving the merchants enough time (notice was given just a couple of months prior to the changes taking place) for switching platforms, in case they had wished to.
In the commerce realm, Magento is one of the most admired self-hosted platforms with more than 240,000 merchants aboard. And with its complete customizability and expansive feature set, it isn’t hard to understand why it’s so popular. For experienced ecommerce merchants who have the resources to implement advanced technology the best way, Magento can be an excellent platform to use.
Some of the top brands using Magento are Ford, Nike, Christian Louboutin, Samsung, Nestle Nespresso, and Coca Cola.
At present, Magento is available in two versions:
- Magento Open Source (previously called Magento Community Edition): You can download and use it for free. However, you can’t implement it for free. You’ll have to pay for your own domain names, web hosting, an SSL certificate, add-ons, and payment processing, which would add up to a heft amount.
- Magento Commerce Starter: At a monthly price of $2,000, this plan is ideal for small businesses with a growth potential. Here, you won’t need to shell out an additional amount for the above listed features.
- Commerce Pro: At a monthly price of $3,417, this plan is ideal for large businesses.
Since a majority of Magento users choose Magento Open Source, we have summarized those features below in our review.
- Sell physical and digital products
- Advanced pricing rules for giving discounts on bulk orders
- Unlimited product attributes to help customers find quickly what they are looking for
- Filtered/faceted search
- Display of multiple, clear images for each product with the ability to zoom that enables customers get a good idea of what they’re about to buy
- Multi-site capabilities to manage multiple sites from a single admin
- Unlimited customization
- Thousands of add-ons and integrations made available at the Magento Marketplace – paid and free (but you may have to pay for the software you integrate them with, even in case of the free ones)
- Unlimited staff accounts
- Manage permission to let different users access different parts of the admin
- Bulk import/export using CSV files to facilitate an easier migration
- Compatible to mobile responsive design by supporting HTML5 designs to ensure your store on the multichannel ecommerce platform looks impressive on any screen
Marketing & SEO
- Flexible coupon codes creation and making them available for offline distribution
- Customer segregation in groups based on demographics and location to effectively market to them
- Exhibiting recently viewed and compared products to let customers know what others are buying with them
- Display associated products, up-sells and cross-sells to encourage additional purchases
- Saving customers’ shopping carts when they leave your site (persistent shopping cart)
- Let your customers send and share their wish lists via email to let their contacts know what they liked from your store
- Google site map
- SEO-friendly urls
- Google Analytics integration
- Built-in report features for tax, sales, abandoned carts, and more
- Meta-information to let you write meta-data for content pages, products, and categories
Checkout and Shipping
- One-page checkout to make the process fast and easy
- Checkout as guests or by creating an account
- Integrates with 70+ payment gateways (which must be purchased) including PayPal, Realex Payments and Square Payments – to name a few
- Ship to multiple addresses
- Automatic tax and shipping estimates in shopping cart to avoid surprising your customers with additional expenses at checkout
- Features: Magneto has everything you may need for selling via multichannel ecommerce platform And in case you don’t find what you are looking for, chances are high that you’ll get it in the Magento Marketplace. With lots of apps and integrations, it lets you extend your ecommerce store’s capabilities in various ways.
- Scalable: As your business grows, so can your online store with Magento.
- Large user community: Numerous merchants using Magento are facing and solving the same problems you are dealing with. Through the user forum, you can tap into this huge knowledge pool and quickly address your issues or get solutions to your pain-points.
- Customizable: Magento lets you customize any facet of your storefront and admin to meet the specific needs of your business.
- Steep learning curve: If the store owner has little to nil coding skills and experience, and doesn’t have a team of programmers to work for him/her, Magento can be a huge challenge to use. That’s why it’s not recommended for beginners.
- Slow: Magento can frequently run rather slowly, which makes SEO optimization and managing your admin difficult.
- Expensive: Your “free” platform can turn out to be quite expensive when you count your expenses for web hosting, hiring a web developer, and any supplementary integrations.
- Almost non-existent customer support: On this platform, you’re on your own. However, you can browse the Magento community forums to find answers to many of your problems.
No matter the size of your business – which could be a startup, a huge enterprise, or anything in-between, Shopify can be a great choice. And in case you have limited tech skills and are just getting started with a multichannel listing tool, Shopify may serve as your ideal solution. Setting up a dependable ecommerce store fast and easily on a multichannel ecommerce platform can’t get simpler than with Shopify. However, it makes prudent business sense to opt for Shopify Plus in case the yearly sales figure of your business is in excess of $500K.
If you have a small to mid-sized business, BigCommerce can be a good choice. For ecommerce beginners with limited tech skills, BigCommerce can again be the ideal choice. This user-friendly multichannel ecommerce platform makes it simple to build a stunning, full-fledged and functional online store without facing the hurdles of coding, integrating plugins and other related technical hassles. And for all those ecommerce merchants looking to steer clear of transaction fees, BigCommerce gets a huge advantage over Shopify.
If you are an ecommerce merchant with an established business having a huge volume of products, possess advanced knowledge in web development (or can hire a web developer), and have adequate resources to buy the add-ons essential to run your online store, you may opt for Magento Open Source. Due to being an open-source platform, Magento lets your site have unlimited customization and functionality.
In case you are an ecommerce beginner in search of a user-friendly platform, we would recommend giving Magento Open Source as well as both its overpriced cousins – the Magento Commerce Starter and Commerce Pro Packages, a miss. Instead, we suggest you to opt for a completely-hosted shopping cart like Shopify or BigCommerce.
Every business has unique needs and requires specific features to be run successfully and to transition to the next level. Based on the size of your current business, its future prospects, and your requirements, select any of these multichannel ecommerce platforms to begin your journey as an online seller, and experience the joy of going from strength to strength. And if you need any help or advice with your selection, feel free to contact our eChannelHub experts.