Shopify vs Square

shopify-vs-square
Square is probably the most comprehensive free mPOS app out there. It was really the first company to make card processing widely available to everyone using just a free card reader and a smartphone.

Shopify launched in 2006 as e-commerce software. Like Square and mobile payments, Shopify has made selling online much easier for merchants, especially those who are just starting out with their business.

Not only that, both companies have since branched out considerably. Square now offers a comprehensive suite of business products for merchants who want to sell in store, online, and on-the-go. And Shopify has branched out from e-commerce with a powerful POS system and its own payments service, so merchants don’t need to have a merchant account.

The result is that two services that started off catering to very different audiences now have very similar offerings. Square and Shopify both have powerful POS apps targeted for iPads, a mobile solution, and multiple e-commerce options. Both give you tools you need to run a brick-and-mortar shop beyond just a POS app. 

Their card processing rates are also identical, with a couple of important caveats. The first of these is that Square and its POS app, Square Register, are completely free, while Shopify will charge you a baseline monthly fee, plus the credit card fees, plus additional fees for add-ons. The second of these caveats is that if you opt for higher-priced packages, you can also get lower processing rates.

Square is still the better option for merchants who only process credit card payments sporadically (such as artists who vend at conventions and art shows), because there’s no monthly fee. If your e-commerce site only gets a little traffic and your sales are infrequent, you’re better off using Square as well. But if your online sales are good enough to justify the added cost, Shopify has some very nice features and stunning themes for your store.

So what if you sell online and in-store, or on the go? The answer isn’t quite as clear-cut.

As a merchant, which one should you choose? Which service is the better value? Which has the best features? That depends largely on your own particular situation. Read on for a detailed comparison and find out which service comes out on top in the Shopify vs. Square debate.

Products and Services:

Winner: Shopify

Bear with me, but there’s a LOT to discuss here. Let’s look at each of the core offerings — POS app, payment processing, and e-Commerce, and see how they stack up individually.

POS App

Shopify’s POS used to be strictly for iOS, but as of January 2016, the app is now available for Android smartphones and tablets, too. Square, too, supports your choice of Android and iOS devices. However, to make the best use of either app, you need an iPad, as many of the best features are only available there. You’ll also find that you can use the app on any number of devices without needing to pay for additional license fees (but you won’t be able to differentiate among employees without paying for that feature).

Shopify POS Features:

  • Accept all forms of payment: Credit card, debit card, cash, check, and other customized payment methods — even Bitcoin.*
  • Split tender: This is useful and you can actually accept more than just 2 payment forms on a transaction.
  • Discounts: Apply discounts on individual items or on the whole order, by percentage or dollar amount.
  • Store credit: The only fault with the store credit option is that there’s really no accountability in it. You can simply mark a payment as paid via store credit, with no need for proof of it at all. Still, this is a useful feature.
  • Reporting: Track sales, compare how products are selling, monitor traffic to your store, customer data, and more. With the higher-tiered plans you can even built custom reports. Data can be exported to CSV, as well.
  • Item limits: The limit on the number of items you can include in Shopify POS depends on which device you’re running the app from. Also note that you can choose to hide or delete items depending on what you need. However, your Shopify store can have unlimited items and you don’t need to sync them all with your POS unless you want to. (It’s worth noting that you can’t actually make updates to items in Shopify POS, only through the browser interface.)
  • Item variants: Set different colors/styles/pricing for your various items.
  • Syncing: Shopify automatically syncs inventory and product information across all your sales channels.
  • Email/print receipts: Send digital receipts, or if you have an iPad and Shopify’s retail package, print them out.
  • Inventory: Shopify’s inventory features are pretty impressive. In addition to tracking your stock levels across every channel where you sell, you can print barcodes, manage products you order from suppliers and automatically update inventory counts, and more. You won’t get low-stock alerts without an add-on, though.
  • Employee accounts: In a retail setup, knowing who is ringing up sales is especially important. With Shopify’s retail package, you can assign individual staff PINs, track register shifts and sales, and more.
  • Invoicing: Shopify actually has a simple form you can fill out to auto-generate an invoice. You can email it to customers, save it, or print it out.
  • Full/partial refunds: Issue a refund or issue store credit.
  • Gift cards (iPad only): You can only get gift cards if you opt for the Standard plan or higher. However, you can sell physical and digital gift cards.
  • Offline capabilities: You can’t log in during an outage, but if you are already logged in you can still accept payments other than credit cards. This is very limited functionality, but it could get you through an outage mostly fine.
  • Auth-capture: You can pre-authorize a transaction for 7 days in Shopify, which isn’t the longest period of time we’ve seen, but absolutely workable if you need this feature.
  • Tax rate calculation: Shopify will auto-detect your tax rate based on your store’s location (if using the POS), or based on your shipping zones for eCommerce. Shopify doesn’t calculate tax for international orders. However, Shopify does generate tax reports for you if you have Shopify Standard or higher. You can also set up tax overrides for entire collections of products or individual products (or product variants, such as digital books vs print editions). Just remember to confirm that Shopify’s tax rate is correct when you get started.
  • Loyalty programs: This is not a native feature to Shopify. If you want a loyalty program, you’ll have to start looking at apps in the Shopify ecosystem and find one that works for you. There’s at least 1 free program, but the more advanced systems will cost you more.

*Shopify POS lets you connect external terminals and third-party payment providers, which may cost you more. 

Square Register Features: 

  • Accept credit card payments: You can also log cash and check transactions, but this feature isn’t nearly as robust as Shopify’s.
  • Split Tender: Accept cash and card, or cash and check, or check and card.
  • Discounts: Apply discounts on individual items or on the whole order, by percentage or dollar amount.
  • Reporting: Square’s reporting features are pretty solid, but they’re not quite on the same level as Shopify’s. Still, Square’s reporting will cover all the basics and does have some advanced filters so you can customize the data.
  • Item variants: Set different colors/styles/pricing for your various items.Square prefers to call these “price points” and you can track them in inventory. You can also add item modifiers, which are add-ons that don’t affect your inventory counts, though restaurants are far more likely to use this feature than retail shops.
  • Syncing: Square’s inventory feature will automatically sync across your online store and Square Register, and you can view it in the online dashboard.
  • Low-stock alerts: Square will send you daily email alerts for low- or out-of-stock products. Being able to get a daily alert is very useful for busy merchants, especially because Square lets you set the threshold for low-stock alerts.
  • Email/SMS/print receipts: Send digital receipts via email or SMS, or if you have an iPad, print them.
  • Inventory: Square has a solid free inventory management system, but you can also integrate with Stitch Labs and other inventory services.
  • Employee accounts:You can use Square on any number of devices, but if you want employee accounts, multiple permissions, and timekeeping, you’ll need to sign up for Square’s employee management ($5 per employee per month)
  • Invoicing: Send invoices from within Square Register or online.
  • Full/partial refunds: Pretty self explanatory here.
  • Gift cards: No subscription required, no redemption fees. Just pay the cost of the cards themselves, and load them up on demand. Note these are physical cards only, but you can use them online.
  • Offline capabilities: Square’s Offline Mode is actually one of the most powerful I’ve seen. You can still process credit cards during an outage, and they’ll go through so long as you connect to the Internet within 72 hours. The caveat, of course, is that you’re assuming responsibility for any transactions that don’t go through.
  • Tax features: You can disable or enable tax collection with Square, and set price to include tax, or have it added on separately. As with Shopify, you can enable or disable tax on specific items. However, there’s no auto-detect feature, so you need to manually look up your applicable tax rates.
  • Loyalty programs: For $25/month you can add a punch-based customer loyalty program. All consumers have to do is opt for a digital receipt. You can set the purchase requirements to earn a reward (Which could be a free item or a discount). It’s not the most advanced system, but it’s still pretty flexible.

Square also has a host of features/subscription services targeting restaurants and other service-based companies, none of which you’ll find in Shopify. This includes kitchen ticket printing, adding tip (by percentage or dollar amount), appointment booking, delivery services, and much more.

All in all, though, the two POS systems are about evenly matched. Shopify is more robust in most areas, such as its support for many payment methods and store credit, whereas Square shines with the simple things, like supporting SMS receipts as well as email, low-stock alerts, and its offline mode.

Card Processing

Shopify and Square are both aggregators — that means, when you sign up to process payments through either of them, you don’t get your own merchant account; your transactions are simply lumped in with everyone else’s. Shopify actually processes through Stripe Payments.

Aggregating is what has lead to the common complaints you get about Square holding funds or terminating accounts at random. Shopify generally appears to be more stable, which is good given that Stripe also has a reputation for funding holds and account terminations. However, I was still able to find a few complaints about account holds — I wouldn’t say Shopify is immune, but it does a lot better on the stability front. Most of those holds happen when merchants suddenly fall within Shopify’s requirements for 1099-K reporting.

We’ll look at specific processing rates later on, but for now, here’s what you need to know:

Shopify will let you use its Payments service at no extra charge beyond your swipe fees and monthly service charges. If you choose to use a third-party gateway (PayPal, Braintree, your own merchant account, etc.), you’ll be charged an extra 0.5-2% transaction fee. Note that you get a choice of more than 70 gateways, which is quite impressive. There’s no charge at all for accepting cash, check, or alternative payment methods (such as Bitcoin) using the POS app.

Square will lock you into using its service for payments. You’ll pay standard rates for credit card processing, and nothing for accepting cash and check. However, you can’t set up any other alternative payment methods and log them using Square (unless you want to mark them as cash/check).

Shopify has the advantage in terms of sheer versatility. I like that you can process through a third party and even connect terminals and PIN pads (allowing you to get interchange rates for debit, if your processor offers them), but a 2% transaction fee is high, especially for a small merchant. However, if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, Square is a solid option for payments. You’re covered for all the basics and you know exactly what you’re going to pay for each transaction, every time.

Both Shopify and Square now have APIs that allow you to build payment processing into your own apps as well.

eCommerce

Shopify started as an eCommerce product, and it’s stayed true to that idea with robust shopping cart software and an easy-to-use design that even newbies to selling online can handle. Features include:

  • Hosted site: Shopify provides hosting for your site with unlimited bandwidth and unlimited products.
  • Domains: Use your shopify hosted domain only, purchase a domain through Shopify and set up a redirect, use an existing domain with a redirect, or buy your own domain and set up the redirect. There are a lot of options.
  • Buy buttons: Even if you don’t have shopping cart software set up on a site, you can use Shopify’s buy buttons to enable purchases on the web, or in an app, or via email with the Buy Button feature.
  • Sell on social media: With Shopify you can set up a store directly on Facebook, and also sell on Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Abandoned cart recovery: Millennials are especially guilty of cart abandonment but with this feature, you can win them back. Only available for Shopify Standard and up.
  • Store migration: Making a switch? Use one of Shopify’s third-party add-ons to migrate your store from eBay, Amazon, and Magento without having to manually upload all of your products.
  • Import/export via CSV: Add your products to your store using Shopify’s CSV template.
  • Automatic data sync: Inventory is automatically updated and synced across all your sales channels, including your POS and social media.
  • Reporting: We’ve mentioned this already, but it bears repeating that you get some solid reporting features and can separate data by sales channel.
  • Order management: Shopify has some comprehensive order management tools that work in the app as well as through the dashboard. You can also get integrations to help with it.
  • Third-party integrations: There are a LOT of integrations out there for Shopify (just check out the app store). Some are free, some will cost you. But in addition to your standard accounting, inventory, and order management integrations, you can opt for a Fulfillment by Amazon integration and recurring billing/layaway services.
  • Discounted postage rates: Postage can be one of the biggest expenses for online shop owners, but if you print your postage through Shopify, you can get a discount. The higher-tiered packages give bigger discounts.
  • Many themes: Design-wise, Shopify gives you a huge selection of store themes and you can even customize them further if you have programming knowledge.

Square’s eCommerce support initially felt more like an after-thought. It was very limited, but lately the company has really expanded its offerings, which makes me happy.

  • Hosted site: Square will give you a webstore on its own domain. This feature is pretty limited, but it’s a great starter site and there’s no monthly cost.
  • Domains: You can also integrate your store with Weebly, Bigcommerce, or Ecwid. 
  • Import/export via CSV: Get your online store loaded up quickly, or update your inventory counts en masse. Also helpful for migrating stores.
  • Automatic data sync: Inventory is automatically updated and synced across your online store and the Register POS.
  • Reporting: All of your data is available and can be downloaded from the Square dashboard.
  • Third-party integrations: Square’s list of integrations includes some robust inventory and order management tools. There’s a custom API you can use to create your own.
  • Order management: You can manage your orders through Square’s online dashboard, but not in the app. Integrations can extend the functionality.

Shopify offers far more eCommerce features, but it’ll be interesting to see what Square does in the future. It’s also worth mentioning that if you opt to integrate your existing site with Square, you’re going to get the benefits of whatever shopping cart software you choose, so even if Square lacks a feature you need, you might be able to get it another way.

Compatible Hardware:

Winner: Shopify

Both Square and Shopify offer a range of hardware options, from free credit card readers to full-fledged retail kits with everything you need for a conventional register setup.

At the very least, you’re going to need a card reader to use with your smartphone or tablet. You have a couple different options there:

Shopify Card Reader Options:

  • Magstripe reader: Free
  • EMV/NFC reader: $129 (retail: $149)
  • Lightning magstripe reader: $99 (includes charging capabilities)
  • Third party terminals and PIN pads: $199 and up

Square Card Reader Options: 

  • Magstripe reader: Free
  • EMV/Magstripe reader: $29
  • EMV/NFC reader: $49 (includes free magstripe reader)
  • EMV/NFC reader with PIN pad: $129 (iOS only)

That’s just for the basic setup for smartphones or tablet. If you happen to have an iPad, you can take advantage of both services’ more advanced features (such as receipt printing), but you’ll need more hardware. Both provide ready-to-go retail bundles that you can use to set up your register.

Shopify Retail Kit

A bundled, ready-to-go retail kit from (excluding your tablet) costs $779. That includes:

  • iPad stand (retail price $129)
  • Bluetooth receipt printer ($399)
  • 16-inch cash drawer ($139)
  • EMV/NFC card reader ($139).

You can also purchase each piece of hard hardware separately, but buying the bundle will save you about $25. Other available hardware includes:

  • Barcode reader ($229/$399)
  • Barcode dock ($79)
  • Barcode printer ($119)
  • EMV/NFC reader dock ($39)
  • Cash drawers ($139-$349)

Square Retail Kit 

Square offers a few options for retail kits that range from $486 to $659, depending on your tablet (it even offers kits for select Android tablets. The iPad Air kit, which is $659, includes the following:

  • Square stand ($99)
  • USB receipt printer ($299)
  • Bundle of receipt paper ($49)
  • 16-inch cash drawer ($229).

Note that doesn’t include an EMV-compliant card reader (the Square Stand has a basic built-in magstripe reader), which will add $29 to $129 to the cost, depending on which EMV reader you want. You can add an iPad Air for $399, as well.

Something worth noting is that Square does not officially support bar code printers, whereas Shopify does. Some Square users have had luck with a Dymo printer, but there’s absolutely no guarantee.

Other available hardware includes:

  • Barcode scanner ($199)
  • EMV/NFC reader dock ($29)

Square actually offers a selection of both wireless and Ethernet-based receipt printers, as well as a kitchen receipt printer, and multiple cash drawers. With Shopify, there’s only one receipt printer but you do get multiple cash drawers.

It really comes down to your person needs. I like that Shopify’s kit includes an EMV card reader by default, because it is very important for businesses to transition over to accepting the new chip cards. It’s a nice thought that Square includes receipt paper, but I think an EMV reader is a lot more important.

Fees and Rates:

Winner: Square

At first glance, Shopify and Square appear to have identical pricing: 2.7% for swiped transactions and 2.9% + $0.15 for online transactions. Simple, right?

However, that doesn’t account for Shopify’s monthly fee or its retail add-on package, or the transaction fees if you choose another payment processor. Depending on which features you need, the cost of Shopify can really start to add up over time, especially with add-ons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you should look closely at your budget and projected sales to see if you can justify the expense.

Square Fees

Square will charge you $0 in monthly fees, PCI compliance, etc. You will pay nothing beyond the credit card transaction fees unless you opt for one of the add-on services (appointment booking, email marketing, employee time management/payroll). It really, really is that simple.

  • Credit card fees: 2.7% swiped, 3.5% + $0.15?? keyed, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce.

Shopify Fees

There are four Shopify plans. As you can expect, with higher-tiered plans, you get a greater number of features. Check out the Shopify pricing page for a full breakdown of features:

Shopify Lite ($9/month) 

  • Facebook store
  • Buy buttons
  • Shopify POS
  • Invoicing
  • 24/7 support
  • Credit card rates: 2..7% swiped, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce

Shopify Basic ($29/month)

  • 2 staff accounts
  • 24/7 support
  • Online store + blog
  • Discount codes
  • Fraud analysis
  • Sell on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest
  • Credit card rates: 2..7% swiped, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce

Shopify Standard ($79/month)

  • Everything in Shopify Basic
  • 5 staff accounts
  • Professional reports
  • Gift cards
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Credit card rates: 2.6% + $0.30 per online and 2.4% for swiped transactions,

Shopify Advanced: $299/month

  • Everything in Shopify Standard
  • 15 staff accounts
  • Advanced report builder
  • Real-time carrier shipping
  • Credit card rates: 2.4% + $0.30 for online/2.2% swiped.

The plan I really want to draw your attention to is Shopify Lite. If you are just starting out, this is the most affordable option, and you can still sell online via Facebook or your own site (or even Tumblr). If you find that Shopify is right for you, you can upgrade to the Basic or Standard plans. If that’s still too much of an expense, or you want a hosted eCommerce site without paying for it, you’re better off with Square.

For large businesses, there’s Shopify Plus, which is the company’s enterprise solution with custom pricing based on your volume and features.

Shopify Retail Package 

If you want to track staff shifts and run a proper register setup with receipt printers and other hardware on your Shopify POS, it won’t come cheap. You need the Retail Package, which will give you individual PINs for your staffers and allow you to use hardware and integrations for $40/month.

This is where it’s worth doing the math. Square doesn’t charge you for using add-on hardware. But it will charge you for employee management (timekeeping and staff IDs). That’s $5/employee monthly, so if you have more than 8 employees, Shopify winds up being the better value, if we’re just counting the retail package, not the monthly fee.

Shopify Transaction Fees

We’ve already covered what you’ll pay if you use Shopify payments to process credit cards. (Note: there’s no fee at all for cash, check, or alternative payment methods). But what if you already have a credit card processor and just need an eCommerce solution and mobile processing? Shopify will let you do that!

It’ll just cost you.

Let’s say you’ve got a great interchange-plus plan where you’re actually getting the very low debit interchange rates. You’ve got a PIN pad so your customers can process cards as debit.

First of all, you need to have the Retail package — so that’s $40 plus whatever Shopify plan you have. You’ll pay your credit card processor whatever they normally charge, and then an additional percentage to Shopify.

  • Shopify Basic: 2%
  • Shopify Standard: 1%
  • Shopify Advanced: 0.5%

So that’s a lot to consider. I highly encourage you to do the math and figure out where the best deal lies for you!

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Winner: Tie

Square has no contracts what so ever. Everything is pay-as-you-go, with all of its add-ons on a monthly subscription. You can even try each service out for 30 days, no charge.

Shopify is a monthly service. You can pay for an annual package and save some money per-month, but otherwise there are no contracts or obligations. You can get a 14-day trial, no credit card required.

Either way, there’s no long-term commitment, which is a serious advantage.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Winner: Tie

Overall, Square and Shopify are both very transparent as far as their sales and advertising go. There’s no hidden fees, no contracts, no sneaky auto-renewal clauses. I like the resources that both companies put out — blog posts on topics that merchants should be aware of, and tips for helping their businesses thrive. This is important, especially when serving small businesses. We live in the information age, and yes, content is king. You should absolutely expect this out of any service you use — especially in the payments space. Educated merchants make for better customers.

Both are doing very well on the social media front as well, with active Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, as well as dedicated Twitter support channels (@SqSupport and @ShopifySupport, respectively).

This is exactly what we like to see. You know exactly what you’re paying for, you know all of the terms, and you know what you’re getting. Best of all, you can move on whenever you’re ready.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

Winner: Shopify

Shopify is the clear winner in this category. No matter what Shopify plan you have, you get 24/7 access to the support team, which is astounding. Not only that, but the support team’s overall reputation is quite good, with timely responses and helpful answers. I also like that Shopify’s knowledge base is incredibly detailed. You should be able to get answers to a lot of the questions you’ll have without having to get anyone on the line. You can also get email, live chat, and phone support. There’s a community forum, and Shopify will even help pair you with experts who will help you complete your project. This is a convenient way to get up and running if you have more capital but not a lot of time or know-how — expect to pay for these experts’ time and insights.

Square…well, if you check out our Square review, you’ll see what others have said. While the company has made major strides to improve, it’s far from perfect. That said, Square’s knowledgebase is astounding. As with Shopify, unless you’re dealing with a complex, account-specific problem, you’ll be able to find an answer without having to contact one. You can get phone support, but you’ll have to get a code first. Otherwise, it’s email only to contact Square directly. It’s also interesting to note that Square just added a user forum where merchants can connect. I expect to see this feature take off soon.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Winner: Shopify

Square’s complaints fall into two categories, mostly: account holds/terminations and bad customer support. The issues are related, too: merchants find out their accounts have been shut down or funds are being held until additional verification is required, and run into a brick wall when it comes to support and getting the matter resolved. We’ve seen an overall improvement on this front, but these are no minor concerns. (Another concern we’ve seen a lot of recently is faulty EMV hardware, but Square is generally good about replacing it.)

The complaints about Shopify are far different. One of the biggest complaints is that you can’t get a hosted payment page — any time customers complete a purchase they’re directed to checkout.shopify.com, which may drive off some potential buyers, who are understandably wary. Another common complaint is the difficulty of learning Shopify’s programming language, Liquid. If you want to make code-level tweaks to your site you are much better off hiring a Shopify expert. Something else that comes up quite often is that many of the apps and integrations available through Shopify aren’t free. This isn’t surprising, but it can be understandably frustrating for merchants, especially those who are just starting out.

We have found a few complaints about Shopify holding merchants funds, but nowhere near on the scale of Square or even Stripe, through which Shopify processes payments.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Winner: Shopify

Most of the positive chatter you will find about Square comes from the Reviews page, or big news publications (linked to on said page). From general user chatter, merchants love how easy it is to get started, the fact that all of the core features are free, and the overall ease of use. The fact that it offers an EMV reader for just $29 is amazing when most hardware runs upward of $100 is nice, especially for merchants who are just starting out, and the offline mode can be very useful.

With Shopify, people also rave about the ease of use. The fact that you have so many gorgeous themes to choose from with your online store is a major advantage. The rates are competitive (especially if you use Shopify Payments), and with the higher-tiered plans you get some really great features especially. But even the basic plans have everything you need.

Final Verdict:

Winner: Shopify

It’s difficult to say unequivocally that Shopify or Square is better than the other. Shopify does have many more advantages than Square — more robust POS app and eCommerce features, round-the-clock customer service, and less of a reputation for holds. But that doesn’t mean that Square isn’t a good choice for some merchants. Especially for new merchants, Square makes a LOT of sense.

Let’s look at a few key factors that will influence your decision:

Cost: Square is by far the less expensive service, especially if you are just starting out. If your online sales or in-person credit card payments are infrequent, Square’s pay-as-you-go plan with no monthly fee is ideal. As your cash flow improves, and business steadies, it makes more sense to invest the cash in tools that will make managing your business easier (and less time-consuming!).

Features: Square Register is easily the most robust free mPOS app out there. But that’s among free apps. Shopify isn’t free, and when you look at the feature sets, it’s pretty clear why. You’ll get more features suited to growing eCommerce and retail businesses than you would with Square. If you are doing steady business, you should absolutely consider upgrading if the features work for you.

Add-Ons and Integrations: How do you run your business? Do you print barcodes for every product? If not, the fact that Shopify supports barcode printers and scanners is probably irrelevant to you. But what other services do you use for your business? Both Shopify and Square offer a custom API that you can use to integrate if you have the technical know-how, but if you don’t, which one has a greater selection of ready-to-go integrations that suit your business? Keep in mind that Shopify’s app store is full of a huge selection of free and paid integrations that can do everything from help you migrate your inventory from eBay to Shopify to setting up layaway plans.

Level of Support: Hands-down, you will get better customer support from Shopify than Square. You can contact them 24/7 by email, phone, and live chat, whereas Square only offers email and phone (during limited hours and only with a code). Both have community forums and pretty respectable knowledge bases, so most of the basic technical questions may not ever require contacting a support person. It also bears mentioning that Shopify allows you to connect with experts who can get you set up, or take your business to the next level. If having someone you can reach at any time with questions is of the utmost importance to you, then Shopify is the obvious solution. If you’re the go-it-alone type, Square should do you just fine.

I hope this has helped you understand some of the big differences between Shopify and Square! They look quite similar at first glance, but when you scratch beneath the surface you’ll find they both have so much to offer. You absolutely need to consider costs when making the choice, but keep in mind your long-term goals and the features you are most interested in pursuing.

Have experience with either or both of these services? We’d love to hear from you, too! Leave a comment! And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

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What’s SaaS?


what is SaaS

Definition

SaaS means Software like a Service, a way to license and operate software entirely in “the cloud.” In a nutshell, which means that any software offered ‘as a service’ doesn’t need to be installed on your pc to become used. You just on line around the software vendor’s website, sign in, and employ the program entirely from the window inside your internet browser. SaaS programs will also be sometimes known as “on demand software,” but mercifully, that isn’t in usage as the second acronym. (However if you simply begin to see the term floating online, just realize that it’s talking about SaaS.)

The prevalence and near-predominance of SaaS piques the eye of first-time entrepreneurs and Enterprise-sized companies alike. Actually, deploying software in this sort of online-only platform results in a rare win-win scenario for companies and consumers alike. SaaS isn’t a flash within the pan it’s a milestone in technology that will become a fundamental element of our future.

Using Software like a Services are usually accomplished through simply a internet browser with an internet connected computer. However in more complicated or high-bandwidth cases, some SaaS usage is much better accessed through a little client downloaded for your computer. These clients act like a easier interface towards the same online software. (These include installing mobile clients in your phone or tablet for CRM apps or using desktop clients to gain access to gaming systems.)

In the following paragraphs, we’ll cover a little more than simply the fundamentals. Continue reading to obtain the full picture, and find out how SaaS might benefit your company.

Advantages of SaaS

I’ve damaged lower the main advantages of SaaS in the perspectives of both software vendor and also the finish user, but in the two cases, software of the type might be summarized as “faster, cheaper, simpler, smarter.” Investors and early adopters don’t hear individuals words, though rather, they simply hear “cha-ching.”

For Software Vendors:

For that vendor, SaaS deployment is about reducing costs and growing BI (Business Intelligence):

  • No media to buy (physical CD or DVD which to load the program to market like a physical product)
  • No media encoding (dedicated disc burners, location to accommodate production equipment, etc)
  • No packaging (disc inserts, jewel cases, boxes, cellophane, etc)
  • No shipping associated with a physical product to the distributor. (Just like Netflix put Blockbuster bankrupt, there’s no software on the CD to distribute to retailers).
  • No retail space needed (no contracts or partnerships to bother with, which further reduces costs for that finish-user and increases profits for that vendor).
  • A lot more accurate metrics on usage, which guides product.

For Users:

  • No exorbitant one-time license, but an infinitely more manageable recurring subscription.
  • No (or couple of) technical needs to satisfy.
  • No IT department needed in-house.
  • Near immediate deployment (zero local installation and minimal configuration).
  • New upgrades and security patches are carried out instantly and without anyone’s knowledge
  • Wide selection of technical support is generally incorporated, from extensive documentation to reside talk to powerful telephone calls (in some instances)..
  • Scalability. Forget about positive over-achieve. Sign up for exactly the thing you need, and upgrade whenever you&#8217re ready.
  • Compatibility. Remember when Ms Word documents couldn’t be opened up when the other user were built with a different form of Word installed? Or once the other user were built with a different platform altogether (Mac versus PC)? With SaaS, all users access the very same software. Compatibility issues basically disappear.
  • Ubiquity. Have to access your software admin whenever you&#8217re outside? As lengthy you may already know your username and password, you’ve full use of your software subscription from the internet connected computer. Should you&#8217re traveling, go to your hotel&#8217s data center or perhaps a library and sign in to obtain some impromptu work done. Many SaaS developers also support access from cellular devices, so that your tablet will be your go-anywhere workstation.

When the budget-friendly perks of SaaS were its only benefit, that will be monumental. SaaS enables you to definitely lease something outside your normal budget limits, greatly extending your purchasing power. If a bit of software costs a 1-time $1500, however, you sign up for its service for $30/mo, you&#8217ll have compensated for that software entirely in 50 several weeks (just a little over four years). However that&#8217s four years to do business which you may not have access to had the ability to accomplish otherwise.

Hold on! There’s more! See also &#8220Extensibility&#8221 below, like a single perk worthy of its very own subheading.

Drawbacks of SaaS

It’s not every sunshine and rainbows, but nearly. Here are the trade-offs.

For Software Vendors:

  • Data security becomes (almost) the only responsibility from the vendor. One exception to this is where users are needed to buy an SSL certificate to secure the bond using the vendor. Normally, this is only needed by retailers who require to keep PCI compliance.
  • New software vendors possess a harder time entering the, because a lot of technical burden falls on their own shoulders the program mustn’t simply be created, but located on the server, and also the UI (interface) should be entirely accomplished via a internet browser window. The complications with delivering software entirely within the cloud keep snowballing into bigger and much more intricacies, however i think you begin to see what i mean.

For Users:

  • Reliable high-speed internet access is essential. And also, since just when was any ISP noted for its reliability? In instances where the SaaS implementation processes orders and financial transactions, any downtime is particularly difficult. Some SaaS vendors particularly affected by downtime are beginning to provide &#8220offline modes,&#8221 which sync up all offline transactions towards the server once the connection is restored. But this isn’t a typical feature yet.
  • Should you ever choose to migrate to a different software solution, you’ll possess the arduous task of transferring vast amounts of information exclusively over the internet. No ethernet or firewire transfer or CDs to endlessly copy your backed-up files. Not a chance, you’ll depend on good ol’ internet-governed progress bars. And don’t forget, upload speeds are generally 1/10 the rate of downloads.
  • All of your business processes offered through the software vendor are in risk when the vendor should close shop or else discontinue the program.
  • Arguments over data possession can ensue. Look at your SLA (service level agreement) prior to signing up and investing in something.

Selection of Vendors

SaaS is really a revolutionary milestone for the way clients are conducted, on componen with email, mobile phones, and fax machines and copiers (technologies which within their time redefined and reprocessed the company landscape). The prevalent utilization of SaaS has already been prevalent, and also the technologies are well from its infancy. Actually, you’ve probably used it for a long time, regardless of whether you were conscious of it or otherwise. Ever encountered Facebook? Netflix? Both are Software like a Service. They’re not just handy, although complex, websites are all a web-based program, which needs only a internet browser to gain access to.

Here’s only a small mix portion of the industries already using SaaS, in addition to a couple of specific examples that you recognize:

  • eCommerce software (website builders like WordPress and Wix, and shopping carts like Shopify and Bigcommerce, etc)
  • Group messaging software (Slack, Asana)
  • Crm (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Keeper
  • CAD software
  • Development software
  • Games and Entertainment
  • Accounting software
  • Invoicing software
  • Hr Management (HRM)
  • Service Desk Management (i.e., Help-desk Software)

CRM apps have especially dominated the SaaS model. Salespeople who generally focus on-the-go can access all the data they’d have at work: full contact details for each lead (including contact history, notes, and relevant documentation), sales pipeline tracking, chance management, as well as sales forecasting, from their phone or tablet. Yet, though this “on-demand” sales data in the users hand of the hands is impressive, it’s not even close to the entire scope of the items SaaS can facilitate.

You don’t need to be a higher-tech sales rep to utilize SaaS applications. We’ve already pointed out Facebook, which is often used by individuals of every age group. But whether you’re someone or an entrepreneur, SaaS opens lots of doorways.

Selection of Customers

Who can usually benefit from SaaS? It might be sufficient, and succinct, to merely say “umm, everybody.” Speculate we enjoy being thorough at Merchant Maverick, I’ll elaborate.

  • Retailers
    • B2C (Business to Consumer) Most retail eCommerce has already been offered by a mix of SaaS solutions.
    • Business to business (B2b) These kinds of companies can leverage SaaS to sync up calendars, task managers, CRM and ERP suites, as well as inventory, invoicing, shipping, etc…
    • Internal use. Employees have to collaborate more proficiently compared to what they can by standing round the water cooler. Sometimes workers are divided by cubicles, floors in an office, or hemispheres from the planet. Using SaaS, internal communication platforms like Slack enables for immediate, secure, global communication.
  • Personal use. Many of the aforementioned-pointed out software groups also provide apps created for individual use. Some SaaS CRM apps simply help remind the consumer of people’s birthdays, as well as an growing most of games are created to be performed along with other gamers all over the world.

Common Charges Connected with SaaS 

Even though the SaaS subscription model is a lot more affordable than purchasing the same software outright, you will find charges which could accumulate rapidly if you’re unaware of them in advance. But don’t worry- we’ve got the back. Listed here are the most typical charges connected with SaaS. Not every charges is going to be relevant or enforced by all kinds of software, so research your options prior to signing up.

  • Recurring subscription, (monthly or yearly) at whatever tier and services information you select.
  • Transactions charges, designed for individuals services which offer commerce functionality to retailers.
  • Online storage. When the software for use is located within the cloud, then most (if not completely) from the data that every user builds up can also be kept in the cloud, File storage isn’t minor, which price is sometimes forwarded to the consumer. However the rate of development in software technologies have required commensurate development in data storage technology, which reduces the price of those storage drives basic demand and supply.
  • Bandwidth overages. Also called Customer Quota, as well as other similar name. Bandwidth charges seem uncomfortable, and lots of consumers vociferously complain about these charges. However the vendors that decide to impose bandwidth caps and overage charges achieve this to safeguard the shoppers around the lower finish of the prices structure. Think about this if your software vendor includes a wide spectrum of bandwidth usage among its users, then bandwidth limits avoid the smaller sized merchant from having to pay for that greater bandwidth use of the bigger retailers. &#8220Pay that which you use&#8221 logic. However, very effective software companies have sufficient infrastructure to soak up many of the bandwidth-related costs, and can promote &#8220unlimited bandwidth&#8221 which provides every merchant one less factor to bother with. And that’s the core tenet of SaaS to begin with.
  • SSL certificates. Again, they are mostly required to ensure PCI compliance. Most vendors who must make sure safe transmission of sensitive data ensure their very own guaranteed connection.
  • Supplemental technical support. This is extremely circumstantial – it might be mandatory for many users, and irrelevant for other people.
  • Extensions. That leads us to&#8230

Extensibility

This might be listed under &#8220Benefits,&#8221 however it deserves enough explanation to warrant its very own heading.

The &#8220cloud sourced&#8221 deployment of software applies perfectly to enabling 3rd party integrations. Solo developers, in addition to firms that particularly concentrate on creating plugins, possess a built-in audience once they list their add-ons on an SaaS vendor&#8217s website. Most SaaS vendors promote their very own &#8220app marketplaces&#8221 where organizations may submit add-ons which extend the functionality of the software.

This really is another win-win-win scenario. The seller is benefited just because a large assortment of compatible add-ons will make sure more customers find their software useful new developers are benefited because they may be a lot more easily promoted, and customers are benefited simply because they can basically pick whichever add-ons they require to create a wonderfully tailored software solution.

The way forward for SaaS

It’s unlikely that SaaS usage will decline in the near future. It’s also unlikely that in your area installed software is going to be totally eclipsed. This leaves us having a hybrid deployment structure mandated on the personal computers, and most importantly, on the cellular devices. If SaaS were ever to totally edge out local installs, our mobile technology would start to see (much more) rapid advancement because the needs for local storage, local processing power, and copious electric batteries could be minimal. However that&#8217s an aspiration for that distant future.

Meanwhile, many software companies have fully dedicated to SaaS deployment. Because these companies expand and offer several categories of software, a brand new layer of SaaS ensues: SaaS Integrated Platforms (SIP). If &#8220normal&#8221 SaaS is really a entrance right into a single store, SIP is really a entrance right into a shopping center. You might be surprised to listen to that you’re most likely utilizing a SIP already. For those who have their email having a major provider like Google, it most likely operates like a SIP, supplying email functionality, text document and spreadsheet support, calendar features, video chat, online storage, and so on. All of these are SaaS applications residing under one umbrella (one entrance, consistent with our previous metaphor). These types of SIPs are growing in number as well as in potential. You might have heard about a couple of: Google, Yahoo, Salesforce, Zoho, and Oracle happen to be within this arena of software development.

Between your impressive listing of benefits, the narrow your search of drawbacks, and also the growing reliance on the web during out lives, the effectiveness of Software like a Services are only starting to present itself. As internet speeds increase and our devices become much more interactive, SaaS will rapidly end up being the new norm within our lives. And That I&#8217ll function as the some guy who remembers the era when mobile phones could only call someone.

The publish What’s SaaS? made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Taking eCommerce one stage further: Helpful tips for some Best Enterprise Shopping Carts

Ecommerce symbols. Flat design vector illustration with ecommerce and online shopping symbols

I are actually particularly keen on the word Enterprise.

Maybe it’s only a holdover from the senior high school Star Wars obsession (Trekkies, unite!), or possibly it is due to the white-colored-glove eCommerce Enterprise solutions which i&#8217ve been reviewing lately. (It’s most likely the previous.)

Regardless, you found this site to understand more about Enterprise shopping carts, namely, the very best four available on the market: Shopify Plus, BigCommerce Enterprise, Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition, and Mozu.

All provide the unbeatable scalability, reliability, functionality, and support that giant companies have to still expand. So, how can you determine which plan to use?

Enterprise solutions have a tendency to fall under two groups: individuals that offer plenty of support and individuals that offer plenty of functionality. If you’re searching for any hassle-free eCommerce solution, you may want a choice in the first category. However, for those who have a really specific vision for the online platform, the 2nd category is much more your speed.

Keep studying for any introduction to four of the largest Enterprise solutions.

Category One: Simple to use and Straight Forward

Should you prefer a platform that will the meet your needs, try among the two options below.

Shopify Plus

shopifyplus

Like a effective server well over 275,000 companies, Shopify is among the most popular eCommerce platforms. Pointless to state, we’d pretty high expectations for Shopify Plus. Thankfully, this Enterprise shopping cart software doesn’t dissatisfy.

Listed here are a couple of of Shopify Plus’s best characteristics.

  • Simple to use. Shopify Plus utilizes a clean dashboard having a simple theme editor. Give it a try on your own with Shopify&#8217s Free 14 Day Trial.
  • Beautiful ready-to-go styles. You will find over 100 styles available and all sorts of are mobile responsive.
  • HTML/CSS friendly. This really is useful in situation for you to do some source code editing.
  • 70 + payment gateways. Also, Shopify Plus offers some reduced charge card rates with Shopify Payments.
  • Multichannel abilities. Marketing on multiple social systems and marketplaces and manage all of them in the same admin.
  • One bazillion add-ons. Okay, there are just a 1000 then one, but it’s still impressive.
  • Priority customer support. This is actually the kicker. Shopify Plus gives you your personal Merchant Success Manager to help you with the backwoods of establishing and looking after a web-based platform.

Shopify Plus takes the frustration from internet business and achieves this by providing what a lot of companies need, without all of the frills. Don&#8217t misunderstand me, Shopify Plus continues to have lots of features. They simply don&#8217t have every feature that you might need. Never fear, you will find apps for your.

If you’re searching for beautiful templates, low hassle, and repair without compare, Shopify Plus might be only the ticket. Take a look at our full overview of Shopify Plus for more information.

BigCommerce Enterprise

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BigCommerce Enterprise (BC Enterprise) continues to be a novice towards the Enterprise market. Launched in May 2015, BCE just switched baby. Nonetheless, they&#8217ve already signed on some big named clients: Toyota, Gibson, and Payless Shoesource. And thinking about the program&#8217s recent partnerships with Shipper HQ and Facebook Shop, it&#8217s obvious that BC Enterprise continues to be growing.

They are a couple of of BC Enterprise&#8217s best features.

  • Simple to use. BC Enterprise&#8217s dashboard resembles those of Shopify Plus. Give it a try with BigCommerce&#8217s Free 15 Day Trial.
  • Simple to edit styles. There&#8217s a WYSIWYG (a specific item is what you’ll get) editor for first page content. The Stencil theme editor now is easier compared to previous options.
  • HTML/CSS friendly. When ever the theme editor just doesn&#8217t work.
  • Tools for conversion. Abandoned cart recovery and filtered search turn more browsers into buyers.
  • Prioritized call routing. You&#8217ll receive fast responses for your concerns.
  • Attractive, mobile responsive styles. View all of them here.
  • Prefabricated integrations. BC Enterprise integrates with most widely used ERP, accounting, and marketing systems. Begin to see the full list here.
  • 38 payment processors. Choose.

BigCommerce has gotten some general complaints about customer support and up to date prices changes, that are worth considering. On individuals issues on the full BigCommerce Enterprise review.

BC Enterprise can be compared with Shopify Also in most groups, only falling a little short in areas associated with customer support. Should you&#8217re searching for any platform that needs hardly any techy-know-how, I suggest calling up both Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise to determine what prices could be like for the company.

Category Two: Feature Wealthy and Fully Customizable

Hassle-free and simple-to-use are generally good characteristics inside a shopping cart software, but let&#8217s say you aren&#8217t searching for straightforward. You don’t desire a cookie-cutter template you would like your specific brand to shine. You don’t require an easy-to-use admin you’ll need all of the features you will get. You don&#8217t want someone to secure your hands you know the right path for this online business.

If this sounds like you, I suggest among the following.

Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition

magento-enterprise-review-logo-feature

Of all of the Enterpise solution about this list, Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition (Magento ECE) may be the youngest. Launched in April 2016, Magento ECE is just a couple of several weeks old. Granted, it&#8217s the cloud edition of Magento&#8217s pre-existing Enterprise Edition, therefore it isn&#8217t a totally cool product, but nonetheless.

As you may guess, Magento ECE is really a product from the well-known Magento, which serves 240,000 stores worldwide. Current clients include Zumiez, Rosetta Stone, and Nike.

Magento ECE differs from almost every other solution about this list since it is a PaaS, a Platform like a Service, which much like SaaS, though typically implies a lesser degree of service. On SaaS and PaaS here.

Listed here are a couple of of Magento ECE&#8217s other improvements.

  • Things are customizable. Admin or storefront, you are able to change everything regarding your Magento ECE software.
  • Apache caching system. With caching, pages load faster on customers&#8217 browsers.
  • Manage multiple sites. That can be done from one admin.
  • Unlimited discounts. Make lots of super-specific coupons add all of the conditions you would like.
  • Customer segmentation. Advertise to a particular customer groups according to their habits.
  • Limitless attributes. With the addition of more attributes to every products, you are making your store&#8217s search function much more accurate.
  • Free documentation and REST API. It goes to personalization. Changes are easy because you can get same technology which was accustomed to build Magenot ECE.
  • WYSIWYG editor. So that you can make changes to your website&#8217s content through the admin.
  • Worldwide payment gateways. Discover the full list here.
  • 24/7 phone support. You’re also eligible for support from Magento&#8217s Account Management Team.

One negative: there aren&#8217t many prefabricated (prefab) integrations presently readily available for Magento ECE. It is because Magento ECE uses the brand new Magento 2. system and many apps have yet to be made suitable for Magento 2.. I anticipate this altering soon.

Also, users have a tendency to complain that Magento&#8217s products generally tend to be more hard to operate. They frequently make use of the term &#8220steep learning curve&#8221 within their comments.

Here&#8217s the great factor: users have a tendency to agree that whenever you&#8217ve rose that learning curve, Magento is fairly great. In addition, many of these comments originate from developers, not retailers. I could notice a demo of Magento 2., and that i can tell that although the admin is unquestionably harder to navigate than most, it simply isn&#8217t that difficult.

Should you&#8217d like to find out more, try our full Magento Enterprise Cloud review.

Mozu

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Launched in September of 2013, Mozu is Volusion&#8217s contribution towards the Enterprise eCommerce market. Similar to Magento ECE, Mozu&#8217s merit is its customizability. Stores like Bluefly, Jelly Belly, and Sigma happen to be taking advantage of what Mozu provides.

They are a couple of more advantages of Muzu.

  • Filtered search. Easy searching = more purchasing.
  • Faster loading occasions. Mozu uses caching management to load pages quicker than other sites.
  • Customer management. Use Mozu to collect understanding of what your clients want. Then, create personalized promotions.
  • Free documentation, an escape API, and 7 open-source SDKs. Help make your developers&#8217 jobs simpler.
  • Hyp theming engine. This theming engine is made to simplify the development of your store&#8217s theme. Find out more about it here.
  • Mobile responsive blank theme. Use Mozu&#8217s blank theme (that is, coincidentally, the only real theme Mozu offers) to construct your store.
  • 85 add-ons. It appears just like a few, but don’t forget: you’ve plenty of features already. You’ll need less apps generally.
  • Ten payment processors. If your preferred payment gateway isn&#8217t within this list, keep in mind that free documentation makes integrations simpler.
  • Comprehensive customer care. You&#8217ll receive 24/7 phone support as well as an Account Manager.

Common complaints mention poor customer support, though these issues are nearly entirely fond of Volusion. I, myself, have obtained poor customer support from Mozu. I&#8217ve had my calls dropped and my emails forgotten. You could try contacting the organization you to ultimately see which kind of service they are able to supply you.

The truly amazing factor about Mozu is its versatility. You aren&#8217t restricted by theme templates or limited documentation. Should you&#8217ve had a very specific vision for the business, Mozu is really a solid option.

To learn more, read our full Mozu review.

Conclusion

There&#8217s nobody-size-fits-all eCommerce platform. What&#8217s suitable for one business might be drastically wrong for an additional. So, I’m able to&#8217t make any kind of statement about which shopping cart software is &#8220best.&#8221

However, I’m able to say this: In those two groups, I am inclined to prefer Shopify Plus and Magento ECE within the competition. For me, they provide the very best features using the least downfalls.

Regardless of the situation, I suggest calling sales representatives from each platform that you simply consider. They are able to take you step-by-step through prices, which might ultimately decide the problem for you personally.

Have fun!

The publish Taking eCommerce one stage further: Helpful tips for some Best Enterprise Shopping Carts made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Bigcommerce Enterprise Versus Mozu

bigcommerce-enterprise-vs-mozu

So, you&#8217re considering upgrading your platform.

You&#8217ve extended your old software to the limits, and today it&#8217s time for you to place the poor factor to relax. You&#8217re searching for something newer, bigger, faster, better. And, such as the smart entrepreneur you’re, you&#8217ve made the decision to seek information before jumping headlong right into a new commitment. That&#8217s great! You&#8217ve come right place.

To begin with, congratulations! Your company is growing, which&#8217s quite an achievement. We&#8217d love that will help you grow together with it, but to do that we have to enable you to get began with the proper platform.

While you likely know, BigCommerce and Volusion are two greatest players in eCommerce. Their SaaS platforms provide business proprietors using the tools the necessity to develop online retailers. But, should you&#8217re getting over $500K annually, these fundamental platforms might not be enough.

Both BigCommerce and Volusion have folded out enterprise methods to meet the requirements of midmarket to enterprise level companies. BigCommerce Enterprise (BC Enterprise) and Mozu (Volusion&#8217s contribution towards the enterprise scene) provide the key features that the large online shop must run easily: reliable uptime, comprehensive customer support, and scalability.

While BC Enterprise and Mozu are solid, four star solutions, both have a different method of eCommerce platforms. BC Enterprise focuses on usability while Mozu focuses more about customizability. So, though both of them are good options, you might find that certain platform fits your present business design much better than another.

We&#8217re likely to be considering the particular variations between your features and website design of the enterprise carts in a moment, however, here&#8217s just a little history about each company.

BC Enterprise premiered March of 2015, and it has since earned a status like a viable enterprise solution. Toyota, Gibson, and Payless Shoesource all use BC Enterprise. This cart is about conversion, while offering a multitude of tools to motivate your browsers to purchase.

Mozu has been available since September of 2013. Current clients include Bluefly, Jelly Belly, and Sigma. Where BC Enterprise markets usability, Mozu offers customizability. With Mozu, your website will appear and performance just how you would like it to.

Hang in there to determine what BC Enterprise and Mozu can perform for the business.

Web-Located or Licensed:

BC Enterprise and Mozu are generally SaaS (Software like a Service) systems. They’re fully-located and web-based.

Software and hardware Needs:

BC Enterprise and Mozu require same tools you utilize to check on your email: a pc, access to the internet, along with a current web-browser.

Prices:

Out of the box the situation in each and every enterprise solution, prices is negotiated between your merchant and also the company. There isn&#8217t greatly specific details about what type of cost range you may expect, though online comments claim that prices for BC Enterprise begins around $900-$1500 per month.

I would recommend contacting an agent from both companies. They are able to estimate a cost range for you personally based on profits volume, annual revenue, etc. Simply click the hyperlinks below to complete an application, plus they&#8217ll respond.

Contact BigCommerce Enterprise

Contact Mozu

Simplicity of use:

Champion: BC Enterprise

BigCommerce is well-known already because of its simplicity and simplicity of use. Luckily, BC Enterprise uses the identical dashboard that BigCommerce clients love. Should you already make use of a BigCommerce platform, you won&#8217t need to re-learn anything. Should you&#8217re a new comer to BigCommerce, the transition ought to be pretty smooth anyway.

Just take a look at BigCommerce&#8217s dashboard. It&#8217s neat and well-organized (don&#8217t you want you can repeat the same about all things in existence?).

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 1.10.04 PM

You’ll find all you need within the sidebar left.

Editing styles is simple having a WYSIWYG (a specific item is what you’ll get) content editor along with a new Stencil theme editor. The only real downside: to use the Stencil theme editor, you need to &#8220opt-in&#8221 towards the Stencil styles, that makes it impossible to work with the prior styles. Save time before clicking.

Here&#8217s what that Stencil theme editor appears like.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 9.20.02 AM

Bigger changes require adjustments within the source code (HTML/CSS), but typically, you will get around all right while using admin.

Regrettably, I’m not as acquainted with Mozu&#8217s backend. The demo which i requested from the organization, sadly, never showed up. All I&#8217ve got to take is that this video.

But, I&#8217ll do my favorite.

Mozu is split in 2: the admin and also the DEV center. The admin is to use and also the DEV center for the developers&#8217 use. And also you&#8217re have to developers.

With BC Enterprise it&#8217s possible (though not ideal) to complete the majority of things without the assistance of a developer, however with Mozu a developer is completely necessary.

Mozu includes exactly one theme where your developers construct your site. Without one, you&#8217ll be swimming inside a ocean of HTML and CSS, lost and hopelessly confused.

Fortunately, the admin appears to become much simpler to make use of. In the admin, you are able to set discounts, add products (as much as 20 million), and employ widgets to alter content in your website.

It is best to check out each product. BigCommerce provides a 15 Day Free Trial Offer, and you may request a demo from Mozu (hopefully, they really respond with one).

Features:

Champion: Tie

BC Enterprise and Mozu both provide the basics of the enterprise solution: 99.9% uptime, limitless bandwidth, scalability, and faceted (filtered) search.

Many of their choices are comparable. However, there’s a couple of features one cart includes the other doesn&#8217t, and the other way around.

Using their abandoned cart feature, BC Enterprise is about conversion. Whenever customers leave your website without acquiring the products within their basket, BC Enterprise transmits them an e-mail to help remind them concerning the forsaken products (and, hopefully, inspire an order). BC Enterprise also offers your blog integration feature, which enables you to definitely attract customers with entertaining and relevant content. Furthermore, this cart includes Shipper HQ built-in and social networking integration.

Mozu, however, doesn’t have your blog feature or perhaps an abandoned cart feature. Rather, Mozu boasts speed Mozu&#8217s pages load quicker than individuals on most platforms. Also, with Mozu, developers can make updates relatively rapidly. Customer segmentation enables you to definitely evaluate the habits of the customers and make personalized promotions accordingly.

I&#8217m likely to declare a tie here, though I actually do recommend you review each shopping cart software&#8217s full features list prior to making any decisions. (Get more information at a run-lower of BC Enterprise&#8217s features and here to see Mozu&#8217s features.)

Website Design:

Champion: BC Enterprise

BC Enterprise&#8217s goal would be to make website design easy. There is a host of styles available, including 39 fully mobile responsive options. Although this number is a touch low when compared with, repeat the 100+ styles provided by Shopify, 39 choices are enough to help you get began. In the end, you simply actually need one.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 1.39.27 PM

Of course, should you&#8217re searching for any unique look, you&#8217re going to need to hire a graphic designer to produce a custom site for you personally.

The truly amazing factor about BC Enterprise&#8217s design is you don&#8217t need an artist. While using new Stencil theme editor, it&#8217s simpler to create fundamental adjustments to your website, including alterations in text and banner colors. Having a WYSIWYG editor (a specific item is what you’ll get), you are able to update content without contacting IT.

Mozu, however, doesn’t offer any pre-made styles. Mozu has a blank theme (fully mobile responsive) that the developers may use to construct your website via Mozu&#8217s Hypr theming engine, which is made to simplify the event process. Also, Mozu is free, as well as your developers can code within their preferred language.

So, essentially, Mozu isn’t as DIY as BC Enterprise. You need to construct your theme in the ground-up and since Mozu doesn’t have a WYSIWYG editor, it’s harder to have an administrator to create updates to content.

Mozu&#8217s website design isn’t &#8220worse&#8221 than BC Enterprise&#8217s. It&#8217s simply not as simple to use.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Tie

BC Enterprise has lots of ready-made (prefab) integrations for the site: 265 finally count. BC Enterprise isn’t free, but does make use of a REST API, that makes it simple to integrate any service that isn&#8217t already available. And, with BC Enterprise, there&#8217s no-limit to API calls, so that your developers won&#8217t have trouble syncing or integrating multiple apps.

Mozu offers a number of prefab integrations within the Mozu Marketplace: 85 of these to become exact. Mozu also utilizes a REST API and it is free. Building additional connections ought to be relatively simple.

Payment Processing:

Champion: BC Enterprise

BC Enterprise already integrates with 38 payment gateways, together with a couple of of the largest: Stripe, PayPal, and Square.

In addition, BC Enterprise comes with an agreement with PayPal (Operated by Braintree) that may help you save some change. If you are using PayPal as the payment gateway, you&#8217ll take advantage of reduced charge card transaction charges. Check out this graphic.

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Mozu only integrates with 10 payment gateways away from the box. Because there are so couple of, I&#8217ll list them here.

  • Amazon . com payments
  • Internet
  • CardConnect
  • Chase Paymentech
  • CyberSource
  • Element Payment Services (Now Vantiv)
  • PayPal Express Checkout
  • Paypay Payflow Pro
  • Visa Checkout
  • WorldPay

It&#8217s correct that with Mozu&#8217s API and free documentation, adding another payment gateway shouldn&#8217t be too hard. However, developing that integration still takes some work. Because of this and due to the possibility savings with PayPal, I&#8217m giving the win to BC Enterprise.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Mozu

BC Enterprise provides all of the fundamental avenues for customer care. There&#8217s 24/7 Live Chat along with a Community Board where one can get quick solutions to common questions. There’s also Guides (documentation) and also the BigCommerce College, which is filled with information to help you get began. With BC Enterprise, you’re ensured priority routed support, which means your calls and concerns is going to be clarified faster. Telephone calls are obtained from Monday-Friday 8:00-6:00 CST.

For an additional fee, you may also get access to a Proper Account Manager, who can help you get the most from your BC Enterprise platform.

Mozu includes similar support. The DEV center offers the documentation that developers need, and also the Help Center features FAQs as well as an choice to submit an assistance ticket. Phone support can be obtained 24/7/365.

Each Mozu merchant is to establish by having an Account Manager.

I consider account managers to be among the many benefits of a company service. Because Mozu arranges a free account manager for each merchant with no extra expense, Mozu takes this category.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Tie

With regards to enterprise solutions, testimonials are usually pretty difficult to get. However, reviews that debate their founding information mill indexed by every corner from the web.

Both BigCommerce and Volusion have lately committed some pretty serious offenses in my opinion.

Big Commerce&#8217s Recent Prices Change: In April 2016, BigCommerce made some changes towards the way prices is structured for his or her plans. Clients were rearranged in prices brackets based on product sales. A salesman explained the change is made to avoid large companies by using BigCommerce&#8217s lower plans. And, I&#8217ll admit, the prices change makes lots of sense for BigCommerce. Additionally, it is sensible that BigCommerce customers are raving mad. Clients report prices increases as high as 800%. Additionally they state that BigCommerce gave them little notice (two several weeks approximately) prior to the prices adjustments entered effect.

Other complaints are fond of BigCommerce&#8217s customer support generally (dropped calls, unanswered support tickets) and too little technical support for alterations in HTML and CSS.

Volusion&#8217s Recent Database Failure: On Memorial Day 2016, several Volusion sites experienced three hrs of downtime, leading to many, many lost sales. Generally, Volusion has an excellent uptime history. It&#8217s unfortunate their .1% downtime happened on this kind of important day for sales. Since that time, Volusion has issued an apology explaining the downtime and measures they’ve come to avoid it again. You’ll find that apology here.

Volusion customers also complain about frustrating interactions with customer support in addition to tricky cancellation charges (you should know to cancel all your third-party services).

With big mistakes such as these, it&#8217s very hard to declare a champion.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Tie

Testimonials on enterprise solutions are couple of and between. The reviews that are positive I discovered originated from the testimonials for auction on BC Enterprise and Mozu&#8217s websites.

BC Enterprise advertises its conversion-optimizing features for any reason: they work. Testimonials boast improved conversions of 12%-203%. BC Enterprise clients love the mobile responsive styles along with the platform&#8217s consistent uptime.

Mozu&#8217s clients also understand the mobile responsive design. They love Mozu&#8217s customer segmentation feature which enables these to market differently to various customers. Clients discuss Mozu&#8217s fast-loading pages, which reduce bounce rate (the quantity of visitors who leave your website prior to the page finishes loading).

Reviews that are positive are reviews that are positive. I am unable to choose which be more effective (especially without independent customer comments). It&#8217s a tie.

Final Verdict:

Champion: BC Enterprise

BC Enterprise wins with a slight margin. Although it required two more groups than Mozu, it accomplished it only barely. Really, the 2 platforms offer such different (though important) functions, it&#8217s not entirely fair to one much better than another.

Should you&#8217re still unsure which platform is the best for you, you could try our full reviews of both products. (Get more information at our overview of BigCommerce Enterprise and for our Mozu review.) Or, if you wish to think about a couple of from the other enterprise solutions available on the market, read our summary of the 4 most widely used platforms out, including my top picks, Shopify Plus and Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition.

However if you simply&#8217re prepared to contact one of these simple companies, then go ahead and, do it now!

Get Began With BigCommerce Enterprise

Get Began With Mozu

The publish Bigcommerce Enterprise Versus Mozu made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Three Options to BigCommerce Enterprise

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Like many Americans, I spend the majority of time aimlessly wandering the net. Unlike most, I spend a lot of that point studying comments from customers on eCommerce shopping carts.

Here&#8217s what my wanderings have explained: Lots of e-tailers are really frustrated with BigCommerce. When BigCommerce made a huge prices alternation in April of the year (2016), a couple of individuals found her having to pay for BigCommerce&#8217s enterprise level plan. And also you didn&#8217t know you had been a company level business!

You may&#8217re certainly one of individuals clients, wondering if BigCommerce Enterprise may be worth the cost. Possibly you weren&#8217t impacted by the prices change but they are so frustrated with BigCommerce that you simply&#8217re prepared to change to literally anything else (caps lock players, I&#8217m searching to you). Or you don’t have any knowledge about BigCommerce whatsoever you&#8217re just looking at your choices.

Regardless of the situation, I&#8217m here to inform you a couple of options to BigCommerce Enterprise. The 3 have places that they match or exceed (I&#8217ll make use of the terms meet or beat) BigCommerce Enterprise&#8217s abilities, along with other places that they are unsuccessful.

Prior to getting into our alternatives, here&#8217s a fast review of BigCommerce Enterprise&#8217s features.

  • Simplicity of use: An easy dashboard makes adding products and editing styles easy (Give it a try on your own having a Free 15 Day Trial).
  • Beautiful Website Design: You will find 39 attractive pre-made mobile responsive styles available, varying in cost for free to $180.
  • Advanced Features: BigCommerce is about conversion with features like abandoned cart notifications and filtered look for your clients.
  • Priority Customer Care: BigCommerce Enterprise offers priority customer care with prioritized call routing and also the choice to employ a Proper Account Manager.
  • Lots of Integrations: You will find 265 prefabricated (prefab) integrations obtainable in the apps store, including integrations with 38 payment gateways, such as PayPal (Operated by Braintree). Bonus: If you are using PayPal together with your BigCommerce store, you&#8217ll pay lower charge card transaction charges.

Obviously, there&#8217s more to understand about BigCommerce Enterprise, many of which read within our full BigCommerce Enterprise Review, but that needs to be enough information for the time being.

Now, onto our comparison.

However a fast note: Because prices for enterprise solutions is definitely flexible based upon the dimensions and requires of the company, we’ll exclude prices within our comparison of those shopping carts. Obviously, prices is a vital component that you&#8217ll need to bear in mind whenever you make your mind up. I recommend contacting every shopping cart software you&#8217re thinking about to discover what prices may be like for you personally.

Shopify Plus

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Should you&#8217ve investigated enterprise level eCommerce whatsoever, you&#8217ve heard about Shopify Plus. Over 275,000 stores worldwide use Shopify in certain form or any other, which means you could express it&#8217s a well known choice, also it is among the shopping carts we like best at Merchant Maverick. When it comes to enterprise carts, Shopify Plus is easily the most similar available option to BigCommerce Enterprise.

Shopify Plus&#8217s simplicity of use and stylish pre-made styles echo the trouble-free approach that BigCommerce Enterprise advertises. Actually, I’d go to date regarding state that Shopify Plus will it better still.

Here&#8217s how Shopify Plus compares alongside BigCommerce Enterprise

Meets or Beats

  • Simplicity of use: Shopify has probably the most user-friendly dashboards available on the market with the basics readily accessible, and Shopify Plus uses exactly the same dashboard. Give it a try having a Free 14 Day Trial (no charge card needed).
  • Stunning Styles: Shopify Plus has over 100 mobile responsive web designs obtainable in the Theme Store. You are able to personalize your theme using Liquid, Shopify&#8217s own templating language. Liquid, admittedly, includes a slight learning curve, though I&#8217ve read it&#8217s a reasonably straight-forward language generally.
  • Expansive Application Store: Shopify Plus&#8217s technique is to supply the fundamentals within the dashboard and provide anything else within the application store. And That I mean everything else. You will find 1000+ apps available.
  • Payment Gateway Options: Shopify Plus integrates with more than 70 payment gateways. Should you&#8217re searching to renegotiate deals on charge card transaction charges, you may think about using Shopify Payments. You might be able to pay lower charges than you’d with BigCommerce Enterprise and PayPal.
  • Reliable Customer Support: Each Shopify Plus merchant is assigned their very own Merchant Success Manager (with no extra charges). They’re your direct line to Shopify support.

Fails To Deliver

  • Nobody-Page Checkout: I really like single page checkout functions. Reducing the quantity of steps your customer needs to take to buy your product leads to less abandoned carts. One-page checkout is just available with an application, known as CartHook, that amounted to $300/month.
  • No Filtered Search: Filtered search helps your clients find what they need rapidly. Filtered search is, obviously, available with an application.
  • Limited Discount Features: In the enterprise level, it&#8217s important so that you can create super specific discounts: discounts directed at a particular number of customers, discount for products of the specific type more than a specific cost, etc. Shopify Plus&#8217s dashboard only enables the development of discounts with one condition, that is fairly limited.

While Shopify Plus comes with some disadvantages, many of them could be solved with the help of a credit card applicatoin. Admittedly, all individuals apps can equal to big dollars (by which situation, you may consider among the two other shopping carts below). Regardless, Shopify Plus continues to be a notable competitor, along with a compelling option to BigCommerce Enterprise. Should you&#8217re searching to help keep the simplicity and ease that BigCommerce offers, Shopify Plus is a superb choice.

Read our full overview of Shopify Plus here.

Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition

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Unlike Shopify Plus, Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition (Magento ECE) isn’t at much like BigCommerce Enterprise. Rather of offering usability, Magento ECE provides functionality. You don&#8217t have to add-on lots of apps to create your store function how you would like it to. Most features come built-in.

Magento is among the most generally used eCommerce software available on the market, supporting 240,000 stores worldwide.

Magento ECE is PaaS (Platform like a Service) instead of SaaS (Software like a Service). This essentially implies that Magento ECE has a slightly lower degree of support. Find out more around the distinction between PaaS and SaaS here.

Here are a few different ways that Magento ECE and BigCommerce Enterprise compare.

Meets or Beats

  • Endless Features: Magento ECE includes more functionality than I&#8217ve observed in every other shopping cart software. You will find functions for customer segmentation, a visible (drag) merchandiser, so that as many discount features understandably. See the full features list here.
  • Full Customizability: Magento ECE was created particularly for customizability. You are able to personalize your admin to streamline how you behave. The storefront is similarly flexible you are able to make use of a webmaster to really make it look just how you would like it or make alterations in the storefront yourself having a WYSIWYG (a specific item is what you’ll get) editor.
  • Free Documentation along with a REST API: For this reason Magento ECE is really customizable. Your developers have the tools which were accustomed to build Magento.
  • Mix-channel Selling Capabilities: Manage all your sites in one admin.
  • Priority Customer Care: On the top of 24/7 phone support and lots of documentation, Magento ECE customers are qualified for support in the Account Management team (at extra expense).

Fails To Deliver

  • Steep Learning Curve: Magento ECE is a lot of things, but it’s not easy to make use of. A minimum of, not initially. After both you and your developers have determined using Magento&#8217s diverse features, it ought to obtain a little better. All of the comments I&#8217ve seen have stated that Magento may be worth time it requires to understand.
  • Potentially More Costly: Okay, okay. I understand I stated I wasn&#8217t going to speak about cost. I altered my thoughts. Many of these software cost around $1000/month in the cheapest possible rate. However a salesman explained that Magento Enterprise Edition (the in your area-installed version) costs $22K-$32K annually. Because Magento ECE is fully-located, it’ll cost you more than that. Again, call the sales people for more information.
  • No Ready-Made Styles: A ready-made theme is like pre-made cake crust: It&#8217s not perfect, however, a minimum of you didn&#8217t need to focus on it. Magento ECE includes exactly two styles: the mobile responsive Black theme and Luma (the demonstration theme). The concept is perfect for both you and your web-developers to construct the website that matches your brand to some tee. The pre-made cake crust just isn&#8217t a choice.
  •  Less Apps Available: Magento ECE uses the recently-released Magento 2.. Presently, there aren&#8217t lots of apps in Magento&#8217s marketplace that are suitable for Magento 2., however i expect this to alter soon.

So far as enterprise shopping carts go, Magento ECE is among my own favorites. Granted, it doesn&#8217t have the simplicity that BigCommerce Enterprise offers, which can be a figuring out factor for many folks. However, if you possess the capability to employ a webmaster (or perhaps a small group of them) Magento ECE is really a stellar option.

To learn more, read our Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition Review.

Mozu

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Mozu is Volusion&#8217s solution for enterprise clients.Mozu was produced during the period of 230,000 development hrs and launched formally in September, 2013.

Similar to Magento ECE, Mozu is about customizability. There&#8217s a great deal Mozu provides, but to use the woking platform to the full extent, you will probably employ a webmaster (or more).

Here&#8217s how Mozu compares with BigCommerce Enterprise.

Meets or Beats

  • Robust Features List: Mozu has lots of features like customer management tools, filtered search, and targeted promotions. The entire features list is disseminate across three pages on Mozu&#8217s primary site.
  • Faster Loading Occasions: Sites located by Mozu load rapidly, which reduces bounce rates (the quantity of customers who leave your website before a webpage finishes loading).
  • Developer-Friendly Technology: Open-source documentation, an escape API and 7 open-source SDKs (Software Developement Kits) make integrations and customizations simpler.
  • Hypr Theming Engine: Mozu doesn’t include any pre-made styles, however it does include the Hypr Theming Engine, that ought to make working on your own theme just a little simpler.
  • Account Manager: Every Mozu client is partnered by having an Account Manager who offers priority level support service.

Fails To Deliver

  • No Pre-Made Styles: You’re absolutely going to need to make your own. This provides the chance to create a really quality custom theme, but it’ll take work and professional assistance.
  • Challenging Use: Some set up needed. You will require a webmaster.
  • No Abandoned Cart Saver: There isn&#8217t a built-in abandoned cart feature, though there’s an application for your.
  • Only Ten Payment Gateways: This can be a fairly few. Now, because Mozu is open-source and has a REST API, it shouldn&#8217t be too hard to integrate your preferred payment gateway. Nonetheless, it&#8217s nice to achieve the connections already designed for you.

Although Mozu doesn’t include the straightforward dashboard and clean styles BigCommerce Enterprise clients enjoy, it will have a strong features set that drives conversion. And if you prefer a unique storefront and don&#8217t mind investing in some extra effort, Mozu is a great choice.

Read our full Mozu Review to learn more.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, you need to decide what type of shopping cart software you would like: one which&#8217s much like BigCommerce Enterprise, a treadmill that&#8217s significantly different.

Should you&#8217re searching for BigCommerce Enterprise&#8217s fraternal twin, Shopify Plus is what you want. But if you would like something far taken off BigCommerce Enterprise (and also you don&#8217t mind the net development involved), Mozu and Magento ECE tend to be more in your sweet zone.

And, like I&#8217ve been saying this complete time, please, please call sales representatives from each shopping cart software you&#8217re thinking about. Yes, securing is annoying, however it&#8217s vital that you get prices information in early stages in process, as it may function as the deciding element in which cart you finish up selecting.

Should you&#8217re still searching to learn more, you may search for a couple of of my comparison articles for any main issue perspective on enterprise shopping carts. Best of luck!

The publish Best Three Options to BigCommerce Enterprise made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The 6 Best Shopping Carts For Books And Video Games

Books On Wooden Bookcases

Books and video games: the source of so much quality entertainment for adults and children alike. Who among us doesn’t relish a good read, or enjoy a bout of Tetris every once and a while? However, while books and video games themselves have nearly universal appeal, if either of these is the focus of your store, you’re bound to have some specific needs for your shopping cart.

First off, when choosing an eCommerce software provider, you’ll want to keep an eye out for themes and sample stores that match your needs and vision. Does the platform offer options specifically for vendors of books or video games? Does it showcase clients who sell those things? Do those options and galleries look similar to how you want your online store to look?

It’s also important to check out each shopping cart’s shipping options. This is especially relevant to bookstores, which are more likely to deal with book rates and special shipping costs. However, both types of stores should be aware of shipping zones, payment options, pickup options, etc. The pickup options are especially relevant to bookstores, which have an even more clear online vs brick and mortar dynamic.

Next, look for what types of discounts are available. There are many types of coupon codes out there, along with group discounts, promotional codes, and much more. A big thing to watch out for is product bundling, which allows vendors to combine related products for a slightly reduced cost. This is a great way to combine the individual items in a book series or game controller system.

Customizations are another crucial thing to watch. From variants in product type or color to product bundling to checkout options, these can change the game for many stores.

Finally, it’s crucial to check whether digital products are supported. This is an obvious choice for bookstores selling ebooks, but video game stores should also make sure that downloads for specific games or software are available.

With all those key points in mind, let’s dive into the best shopping carts for books and video games!

IndieCommerce

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IndieCommerce is significantly different from its eCommerce compatriots in quite a few ways. Most importantly, it is geared entirely toward bookstores. In fact, only registered members of the American Booksellers Association are eligible to use IndieCommerce as their shopping cart. The good news is, stores can be either online only or brick and mortar, so worry not about limitations for yours!

Because IndieCommerce specifically works with bookstores, the available features read like a laundry list of necessary functions for booksellers. But never fear, video game vendors, I haven’t forgotten about you. You may not be able to use IndieCommerce, but if you want to read ahead you’ll get a glimpse of some of the benefits that come with such a focused platform. We’ll get to you next.

Themes and Sample Stores

IndieCommerce’s themes are supported by Drupal 7. They are organized in list format rather than a more visually appealing image-based format, but are nonetheless easy to browse (if less easy to understand). The site provides links to the themes and their examples, so exploration is just one extra click away.

Although browsing through IndieCommerce’s themes is a difficult and dry process, their collection of live sample stores is more similar to the collections provided by other shopping carts. The themes allow stores to list locations, provide calendars of events, feature books by their cover and author, and much more.

best shopping carts for books and video games

Shipping 

IndieCommerce works directly with Ingram as its wholesaler, which speeds up the process of shipping. In its page about fulfilling orders, IndieCommerce explains the different shipping options available. Vendors can choose whether customers pay through PayPal, credit card, or at a store.

Additionally, they can choose whether the order is shipped exactly as is, within four weeks, or sometime after four weeks if the product availability is pending. These shipping and payment options are great for bookstores that have either a brick-and-mortar location or an online store or both.

Coupons and Sales

As every good bookstore platform should, IndieCommerce makes it easy to provide coupons and other promotional codes. Everyone loves a book discount, after all! At IndieCommerce, vendors can use coupon codes to entice potential customers with cheap prices and online gift codes to send to literary friends who are inclined toward book buying.

If promotional codes are an excellent way to draw in customers, product bundles are an even better way to encourage them to make more purchases. Vendors can create product bundles by adding automatic coupon to buying certain products together — voila! It’s a great deal for the customer and brings in more revenue for the store.

One of IndieCommerce’s special features is the ability to add holiday catalogs to a navigation menu. The ABA connection really comes in useful here because it means IndieCommerce comes with a ready-made list of regional catalogs. As a vendor, you’ll be able to take advantage of working in these outside deals and discounts in a way that other platforms do not support as easily.

Customizations

Bookstores often sell more than books (think: T-shirts, tote bags, assorted paraphernalia); consequently, book vendors need more ways to customize products than one might think. Thankfully, IndieCommerce allows custom products, specifically recommending that vendors set up a separate product class for different products and then controlling attributes for each product.

IndieCommerce gives the example of a T-shirt for its explanation of custom products, but the attributes can be adjusted specifically for books as well. There’s even a setting specifically for managing author information, which larger companies are not likely to have.

Since (as discussed above) there are often so many shipping options for book buyers, custom checkout messages come in handy as a way to clarify the method of delivery to customers. Plus, if there are special instructions for special products (like signed books or pre-order pickups), the custom checkout messages allow you to put in a note to explain the process to customers. You can be as clever as you want — you’ll be dealing with bookworms after all!

indiecommerce-checkout-customization

Digital Products

As a bookstore platform, IndieCommerce well understands the need for eBook support. To make eBooks and digital downloads more accessible, the American Booksellers Association has partnered with Kobo. The Kobo eReading Program is separate from the IndieCommerce platform but serves as an added related benefit for IndieCommerce customers who wish to expand their eReading options.

Shopify

Shopify POS

Shopify is one of the biggest and popular shopping cart platforms out there, and for good reason. Its scope means that stores of any sort are welcome and provided for, but it also offers services that are specifically accommodating to sellers of books and video games.

Themes and Sample Stores

While Shopify doesn’t offer themes geared toward books or video games, its theme store nonetheless presents a variety of templates that can work well for any type of store. Bookstores may want to look to the examples at IndieCommerce to get a sense of what they want in a shopping cart. Video game vendors may choose to keep an eye out for image-heavy themes that are visually appealing and communicate the sense of action or adventure that video game stores so often go for.

Unlike its themes, Shopify’s sample stores do provide examples of book-specific sample stores. However, the books are grouped in with crafts, and there is no equivalent for video games. These two categories may not be Shopify’s priority, but the stores and themes are still worth perusing.

Shipping

Even before getting into shipping options, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge Shopify’s excellent Point of Sale system, which allows vendors to manage payments across sale sites, whether online or in person. No matter where the sale takes place, the POS system syncs inventory so you’ll never have to worry about losing track of what’s available to ship.

Ready to tackle the actual shipping aspect of your store? Shopify Shipping is here to help. It allows you to set up shipping zones, manage shipping rates, create the best possible customer experience on the shipping page, and much more.

The variety of options available in Shopify Shipping, while not necessarily explicitly geared toward bookstores or video game stores, make it easy for merchants in these fields to select the best option for their store’s purpose. For example, booksellers can adjust shipping costs to reflect book rates. The flexibility here is a great sell.

Coupons and Sales

Shopify offers gift cards that can be used in two ways. They can be purchased and sent to the recipient of the customer’s choice, or they can be issued as part of a rewards system. For bookstores and video game stores both, Shopify’s gift card availability appeals to regular customers or friends and family of regular customers, who might seek the perfect gift.

For those vendors who wish to offer discount options to all customers (not just the regulars), Shopify’s discount codes are a great draw. Discounts can bring in new customers as well as those who generally only purchase when they see a good deal or especially cheap product.

Some notes: Shopify does not allow stacked discounts, vendors can choose to limit discounts per customer if desired, expiration dates are available and always expire at 11:59:59 PM, and vendors can create customer groups and offer discount codes to those select groups. The options are bountiful!

Although Shopify does not offer product bundling as a standard feature, a product bundling app is available in Shopify’s App Store. For $15.99/month, merchants can purchase the ability to bundle items together into one discounted product. This way bookstores can sell an entire series or author’s works all at once for a discounted price, and video game stores can sell games along with consoles. Give it a look; it might be worth the extra dough.

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Customizations

Shopify allows vendors to create product variants for products that fall into the same category but differ slightly. As mentioned before, the most probably use would be for store merchandise like T-shirts and tote bags. However, these variants can also come in handy for books or games that may be the same except for one differentiating category — for example, a book that is available in both hardcover and paperback or a controller that is available in different colors.

Digital Products

Digital products are supported by Shopify but require downloading a free app. Once you’ve got the app, you can set it up so that purchasing either sends customers directly to a download link or sends them a download link in an email.

While Shopify has given the green light to digital products, its system may not be the most supportive of eBooks. especially since most books are already published through a third-party platform (think: Amazon.) Nonetheless, it is a strong option for bookstores. Video game stores may also opt for digital distribution, but it’s a process that may be too complicated for the Shopify app. Regardless, give the app a look and see if it meets your needs.

BigCommerce

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Like Shopify, BigCommerce is a large shopping cart platform with a huge range of options for all sorts of stores. As a result, there are many features available that might be excellent for sellers of books or video games, while other aspects of the platform might be less appealing. Let’s take a look.

Themes and Sample Stores

BigCommerce features a small selection of themes for bookstores. For video game vendors, the closest match is probably in their electronics and computers section, which has a few designs that are visually explosive. (There is a category for toys and games, but do not be deceived! That’s mainly for kids’ toys, not video games.)

Sadly, BigCommerce’s showcase of sample clients does not include any stores in the categories of books and video games. The stores are still worth a peek, but you’ll have to look elsewhere (Shopify, perhaps?) for industry-specific options.

Shipping

BigCommerce has curated an excellent selection of help documents relating to shipments and shipping processes. The most helpful of these articles is probably the one about shipping options, which lists off the different settings, rates, pickup options, and resources when considering which method of shipping is best.

The help doc goes into considerable details about the pros and cons for real-time shipping quotes vs. flat rates vs. free shipping. This is definitely a discussion to delve into as a vendor of books or video games. Since postal services often provide discounted book rates, bookstores will want to keep that in consideration when determining the best shipping option for them.

BigCommerce also offers the option for local or in-store pickup. For stores that maintain both an online presence and a brick-and-mortar location, this can be an excellent way to establish a strong presence both online and locally. Plus, it gives customers the option to save on shipping.

As a final plus to its already fantastic shipping options, BigCommerce boasts an even more helpful app, ShipperHQ. With ShipperHQ, vendors can manage shipping much more easily, use different carriers, improve customer relations, and more. Prices start at $50/month.

Coupons and Sales

Gift certificates are available for any BigCommerce store. Customers can purchase gift certificates as they would any other product and send to the recipient of their choice in an email that will contain the gift code. BigCommerce clearly lays out the steps needed for purchasing, redeeming, and tracking gift certificates.

BigCommerce offers product bundles under the name “product lists.” The process of bundling items is more complicated and a few more steps than it is under some of the other platforms. Still, it’s offered, which is excellent for bookstores and video game stores.

Customizations

BigCommerce has some of the best-explained product options out there. Fair warning: many of the descriptions and explanations are better suited for clothing stores. Nevertheless, the ability to differentiate between related products is a handy one, especially with BigCommerce’s help guide by your side.

Digital Products

Much like Shopify, BigCommerce offers digital downloads as a type of product. BigCommerce specifies a few additional options. For example, vendors can choose to add a time limit after which customers can no longer download their purchased item. A maximum can also be placed on downloads for each purchase.

bigcommerce-digital

The issues here are much the same as with Shopify. While it is certainly possible to upload eBooks and digital games or software, the process can quickly become more complex than it would be for, say, image or audio downloads. Again, the decision about what is easiest and most feasible is up to you, the merchant. The important thing is that BigCommerce offers this capability that is crucial to many modern stores.

3dcart

3dcart

While not at the expansive level of BigCommerce or Shopify, 3dcart is a full-fledged eCommerce platform that manages to hit many resonate notes for vendors of books or video games. Here are some of the features that might be especially useful for those particular merchants.

Themes and Sample Stores

3dcart does not sort themes by categories or type of store. Browsing for themes that are ideal for the sale of books or video games is therefore a tad more challenging than it is in other shopping cart platforms. Searching for “book” yields only one result. Likewise, I could only find one result when searching for video games.

The lack of easy-to-find relevant themes is unfortunate but does not mean that you are limited only to those two options. Browse away to find something that works for you. Just make sure you’re aware of whether your favorites fall into the category of free or premium themes; don’t be caught by surprise by a heavy price tag.

3dcart has a solid selection of sample clients, this time sorted into categories. No luck to video game and book sellers though; there’s no category that these products easily fall into.

Shipping

3dcart has a variety of shipping settings and options, possibly the widest range and most clearly explained of all the platforms in this article. Free shipping is not only available but can be set on specified conditions — for example, if a customer purchases a certain dollar amount, they can receive free shipping.

Merchants can monitor everything from shipping methods to the ability to preview shipping costs and methods depending on location to weight specifications. Another convenient feature: Real Time Shipping Location, which will display the location of the product as it is shipping from the origin point to the customer.

Coupons and Sales

3dcart has plenty of options for promotions and sales for vendors. Its Promotions Manager accommodates a couple different types of promotions, whether automatic application or coupon code.The amount of each promotion can be determined by dollar amount or by percentage.

If your store is working with other companies to present a special discount, 3dcart’s group certificates allow you to create coupon codes that can be used for a group campaign. This is an excellent option if, for example, you have a bookstore that wants to offer special sales for schools.

Product bundling is available using 3dcart’s product option figure. There are several steps to the process of setting up a product bundle, but 3dcart’s excellent Knowledge Base covers those steps in depth.

3d-cart-product-bundle

Customizations

3dcart provides 10 different product option types that allow vendors to customize products. Whether presented in matrix form or using a simple text box, these product option types give you the ability to add different colors, sizes, or materials of your product. The customizations extend so far as to allow customers to upload a file for specific requests or pay a one-time fee as part of their order.

Digital Products

For your eBook and digital software download needs, 3dcart presents its handy eProduct feature. Vendors first need to enable 3dcart’s eProduct module in the Store Manager. Since books and videogame-related products are the category of choice here, it’s likely that you’ll need to log in to 3dcart’s File Transfer Protocol, or FTP in order to upload non-image or non-PDF files.

Once the eProduct is set up, customers can purchase as they would any other product. They will then receive an email receipt that includes a link to their download. You’ll have the option to set the number of days the link will be active; it’s actually one of the first things you can do when you enable the module in the first place.

WooCommerce

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WooCommerce is not, in fact, a full-on platform on its own. It’s a free WordPress plugin that allows WordPress users to add a store to their pre-existing site with very little difficulty. Although some of the features are more basic as a result, there are still quite a few highlights for the potential bookstore or video games store. And did I mention it’s free?

Themes and Sample Stores

WooCommerce offers special WooThemes as part of the extension. The Storefront theme, the standard platform, is free while the rest of the themes can be purchased individually or in a package — all 34 themes together cost $399.

The selling point for the WooThemes, especially the Storefront theme, is the automatic WordPress integration. Beyond that, it’s still an excellent selection with a variety of clean styles and responsive designs. Searching for themes specifically related to books or video games is a little tricky because there are no related categories. Nonetheless, the themes are still solid and may work very well for your purposes.

Unlike its theme section, WooCommerce’s store showcase is indeed searchable. Even better, there’s a special showcase for book-related stores! The sample clients shown include bookstores, authors, editors, book clubs, and more.

There’s sadly no showcase category for video games. The closest match is the digital and software category, which does include video game stores. The electronics section may also be worth a look. The examples are there; just do some searching.

Shipping

WooCommerce has Shipping Zones so that vendors can have control over shipping costs depending on location. There are also a few different shipping methods that customers can select, all of which work very well for the types of stores in question here. WooCommerce offers local pickup, flat-rate shipping, and free shipping.

woocommerce-shipping-zones

Coupons and Sales

Many types of discounts and coupons are available through WooCommerce; however, in accordance with the style of WordPress, most require some sort of plugin or extension.

The most all-encompassing option is the Smart Coupons plugin. With this plugin, users can set up coupon codes, gift certificates, and a variety of discounts. Additionally, it’s easy to manage settings. You’ll easily be able to set the dollar or percentage amount of the coupon, link any number of coupons to a given product, send a gift certificate to customers who purchase a certain amount, set expiry dates, reduce coupon balance automatically, and use with other WooCommerce features such as Chained Products and Subscriptions.

WooCommerce also offers a plugin that provides free gift coupons. The free coupons work exactly the same as the other coupon options in terms of how the customer redeems them, but it takes a little extra setup.

Group coupons are available for members of specific groups or people with specific roles. Restricting coupons by role is easy; no additional extensions or plugins required. You simply select the type of WordPress user (Administrator, Editor, Contributor, etc.) to whom you’d like to grant coupon access, and it’s done! This is one way to provide discounts for your own employees.

The group aspect works as long as you have the group plugin activated. With that plugin, it becomes possible to create groups of customers to whom you can then send specialized coupons. This works well if, for example, you are a bookstore and have a discount you’d like to offer to educators.

Customizations

In its section on managing products, WooCommerce lays out the different types of products and the ways in which those products can be added and managed. One especially relevant point: Products can be listed as simple products (e.g. a single book or game) or grouped together in a collection.

The simple product vs. group product point is different from product bundling, which is another feature WooCommerce offers via extension and which is a popular feature of other platforms. This handy chart helps differentiate between the different ways to sell multiple products together — other options include chained products, force sells, composite products, and mix ‘n match products.

Using the product bundle extension, merchants can group products together in a defined bundle that limits which quantities and attributes customers can select. It allows users to offer the grouped products at a discounted price.

Since WooCommerce has so many options for multiple product sales, it’s best to read through all the options before automatically heading over to product bundles.

Digital Products

Digital downloads are available through WooCommerce. Once the digital product is added, vendors can choose the path to downloading and can set a limit to the number of downloads available.

Volusion

volusion-logo

Like BigCommerce and Shopify, Volusion is a large company that provides services for many different types of stores, including some pretty big names. There are many reasons to choose Volusion, but here are some of the features that stores selling books or video games might look for.

Themes and Sample Stores

As might be expected for a large platform, Volusion has a fairly large selection of themes available for its customers – 75 templates in total. Unfortunately, the themes are not easily searchable by anything other than price, and no results turn up when searching for books or video games.

Volusion’s client gallery is more easily searchable. However, there are again no immediately relevant categories. The closest sample stores shown might be found in the Hobbies or Electronics categories.

Shipping

In its support center, Volusion offers extensive information on the topic of shipping. The information is laid out in a very straightforward way, which stands in contrast to some of the other platforms.

Like the other platforms discussed here, Volusion offers quite a few features that would appeal to bookstores and video game stores: free shipping, flat rate shipping, fixed rate shipping, in-store pickup, and more!

In case you, like me, are initially confused by the difference between flat rate shipping and fixed rate shipping, here’s the breakdown: With flat rate shipping, vendors can set a specific cost for an order, generally determined by a minimum or maximum weight. Fixed rate shipping, on the other hand, allows for a set shipping cost for a specific product.

Coupons and Sales

Many types of coupons and discounts are available through Volusion. The most traditional coupon/discount option has the benefit of being pretty customizable. Vendors can control the number of available uses, update the category of coupon, set a time limit, define quantity requirements, and identify the type of discount.

Volusion also offers other types of coupons, including coupon codes, free shipping coupons, and site-wide discounts. Any of these are excellent options to a store that wants to offer specific sales or discounts on books or video games.

volusion-coupons-discounts

Customizations

Like most other platforms, Volusion offers product bundles as a way to package together specific products. As part of the process of bundling products, Volusion allows vendors to include free accessories, which might be an extra perk for some bookstores and video game stores to offer.

Digital Products

Volusion’s digital products instructions give specific steps on how to upload the file in question as well as options for how customers can download. Unlike other platforms, which allow a little more flexibility, Volusion’s digital products can only have one downloadable file each. Downloads themselves can be limited to any amount, as with most other platforms.

Another downside is that each download affects the vendor’s data transfer allotment. Since Volusion prices its hosting plans based on bandwidth, this can potentially be a big deal for some vendors.

Once the download option is set up, an email with the download link is sent to the customer. The “Order Finished” page that customers received is customizable, so feel free to add any sort of store-specific or product-specific thanks or messages!

Conclusion

Which platform you choose depends, as usual, on the type of store you have. IndieCommerce is an excellent choice for bookstores with ABA membership — it may not be your typical platform, but it comes with built-in communities and resources specifically for bookstores. Meanwhile, WordPress users may be drawn to WooCommerce because it is free and easy to add to a pre-existing site, especially with the many available plugins for different features.

That said, if your bookstore or video game store needs something on a grander scale, you might want to go with one of the larger shopping carts. If you sell through more than one channel — online and in a brick and mortar environment — Shopify might be the best bet thanks to its all-encompassing POS system.

For those vendors who most value excellent product customization options, BigCommerce could be the way to go. If in-depth explanations of discount types are a must, 3dcart has your back. And if you’d like to have your shipping options explicitly laid out, Volusion is a fantastic choice for you.

All in all, there are many excellent shopping carts for books and video games. No matter your mission, you should be able to find a cart that works for you. Hopefully the info and tips here will help you make the best decision for your business.

The post The 6 Best Shopping Carts For Books And Video Games appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Three Options to Shopify Plus

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With regards to enterprise eCommerce platforms, you will probably deal with many different sass . . . . er, SaaS. Software like a Service (SaaS) continues to be increasing within the last couple of years, largely because SaaS platforms are a great deal simpler to obtain ready to go.

Shopify Plus is a such platform. Being an enterprise shopping cart software, Shopify Plus offers all the characteristics SaaS platforms do best: a dependable 99.9% uptime, scalability, and flexibility. Shopify Plus is a superb option for many retailers who wish to expand their online retailers. Using its easy-to-use dashboard and stylish styles, this cart could be a simple means to fix the reasons of internet selling.

Although Shopify Plus is a superb platform for a lot of, you might find it isn&#8217t right for the company. Although this software has got the most to provide when it comes to ease-of-use, it’s somewhat limited in feature depth and customizability. So, if robust functionality and completely flexiblility is what you would like from a shopping cart software, Shopify Plus won&#8217t come out on top.

In the following paragraphs, we&#8217ll be evaluating Shopify Plus with three other leading enterprise search engine optimization. We&#8217ll see featuring take presctiption componen with (or much better than) Shopify Plus&#8217s choices, so we&#8217ll also check out areas that they miss Shopify Plus&#8217s standard.

Before we all do that, let&#8217s first obtain a general concept of what Shopify Plus is much like.

Shopify Plus may be the enterprise form of the über popular shopping cart software, Shopify. Shopify hosts over 275,000 stores worldwide and it has facilitated $17 billion price of sales. With big names like Google&#8217s Zagat and Wikipedia aboard, Shopify Plus is greater than a little effective.

Here&#8217s an overview of the items Shopify Plus does best.

  • Beautiful Pre-made Styles: You will find over 100 fully mobile responsive designs obtainable in Shopify&#8217s Theme Store. 26 seem to be free, and also the rest cost between $140-$180.
  • An Ample Application Market: Shopify&#8217s Application Market includes over 1000 apps and integrations.
  • Simplicity of use: Shopify Plus uses Shopify&#8217s fundamental dashboard, which is probably the simplest available on the market. It won&#8217t be difficult for you and your marketers to navigate features in the admin. Request a totally free 14 Day Trial to give it a try on your own, no charge card needed.
  • Theme Editing: You are able to edit your template using Shopify&#8217s coding language, Liquid. You may also make changes in the HTML/CSS level.
  • Payment Gateways: Shopify Plus integrates with more than 70 payment gateways. Shopify also provides its very own Shopify Payments. If you opt to follow this path, you might take advantage of some discounted rates on charge card transaction charges.
  • Priority Customer Care: Shopify Plus assigns each merchant a Merchant Success Manager, who helps talk to Shopify and advocates for further features.
  • Search engine optimization: With Shopify&#8217s Traffic Control Application, you are able to transfer all your previous visitors to your brand-new site, with no stop by Search engine optimization.

Although Shopify Plus offers quite a bit to provide, that is certainly not perfect. They are some areas by which Shopify Plus can use some improvement.

  • Nobody-Page Checkout: Single page checkout simplifies the purchasing process for the customers. Shopify Plus doesn’t yet possess a feature for single page checkout, though they are doing come with an add-on available. (It&#8217s known as CartHook, also it costs $300/month.)
  • No Filtered Search: Shopify Plus doesn’t incorporate a filtered (faceted) search feature. Filtered search helps your customer locate what they desire rapidly and simply. It’s, however, like an application.
  • Liquid: Some reviews I&#8217ve seen state that Liquid is rather easy to determine, I know that learning a brand new coding language is frustrating for many developers.
  • Limited Discount Features: It&#8217s only possible to create discounts with one condition. For instance, you can’t produce a 10% discount on all tee-shirts over $20. You may create a price reduction of 10% on all tee-shirt Or perhaps a discount of 10% on all products over $20, although not individuals two conditions together.

For additional info on Shopify Plus, try our full review.

Otherwise, keep studying to determine how other enterprise shopping carts compare well to Shopify Plus.

Note: Because prices differs from merchant-to-merchant for those enterprise solutions, I’ll exclude prices out of this comparison. Obviously, understanding prices is an integral part of the decision making process process. I counsel calling sales representatives from each shopping cart software you&#8217re thinking about for any prices estimate.

BigCommerce Enterprise

BigCommerce-logo-dark

Of all the enterprise solutions about this list, BigCommerce Enterprise (BC Enterprise) is easily the most much like Shopify Plus. BC Enterprise offers hassle-free service by having an easy-to-use admin, pre-made styles, and priority customer support.

Take a look at how BC Enterprise&#8217s top characteristics act like individuals of Shopify Plus.

Nearly As Good or Better

  • Simplicity of use: Like Shopify Plus, BC Enterprise has a simple dashboard. All the fundamental functions are readily-available and simple to operate. Check out BigCommerce using their Free 15 Day Trial.
  • Beautiful Styles: BC Enterprise lately unveiled 21 new Stencil styles. Each theme includes several variations (&#8220styles&#8221), which create a total of 160 various appearances. These styles look every bit as good as Shopify&#8217s plus they&#8217re simple to edit while using Stencil Theme editor. If you wish to personalize your website further, it can be done by looking into making alterations in the HTML/CSS.
  • WYSIWYG Editor: A WYSIWYG (a specific item is what you’ll get) editor enables you to update storefront content in the admin, without touching any code.
  • Conversion Features: Features like filtered search, one-page checkout, and abandoned cart notifications guide your clients toward purchase.
  • Believed Tax and Shipping Rates: Believed tax minute rates are instantly generated with built-in Avalara Tax. An integration with Shipper HQ lets your clients see shipping quotes before they checkout.
  • Lots of Integrations: With 265 integrations available, BigCommerce&#8217s apps store is not very shabby. Obviously, it&#8217s nowhere near how big Shopify&#8217s Apps Store, however i&#8217m prepared to bet that BigCommerce has enough to suit your needs.
  • Prioritized Call Routing: BC Enterprise includes priority customer support your calls and concerns is going to be clarified sooner.
  • Reduced Charge Card Rates: If you are using PayPal (Operated by Braintree), you may enjoy reduced charge card rates per transaction. Granted, the rates aren&#8217t quite just like individuals of Shopify Payments, however it&#8217s an improvement on nothing.

Fails To Deliver

  • Extra Expense for Account Manager: You’re qualified for any Proper Account Manager, however it&#8217s likely to set you back extra.
  • Limited Support on Customizations: Should you personalize your website in the HTML/CSS level, you&#8217re less inclined to receive tech support team from BC Enterprise.
  • Recent Prices Change: In April 2016, BigCommerce place a new prices schema into effect. This latest prices plan is dependant on product sales and it has pressed several merchant into greater prices brackets. Retailers who have been once having to pay $29/month are all of a sudden having to pay hundreds monthly for nearly identical services. Understandably, many purchasers are upset and angry relating to this prices change.

Basically, BC Enterprise matches Shopify Also in onpar gps and usefulness, but fails to deliver in customer support. So, if you’re able to forgive their customer support mishaps and you’ll need a shopping cart software that&#8217s much like Shopify Plus, BC Enterprise might be your decision.

Read our full overview of BigCommerce Enterprise to learn more.

Mozu

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Should you&#8217re following a shopping cart software that&#8217s much like Shopify Plus, BC Enterpise is the greatest alternative. However, should you&#8217re thinking about something significantly different, a platform like Mozu is the perfect approach to take.

Mozu isn’t the easy-to-use dream that Shopify Plus seeks to become. Mozu doesn’t tote usability its rally cry is customizability. With Mozu, you are able to construct your site in the ground-up.

Here&#8217s what Mozu offers.

Nearly As Good or Better

  • Faster Loading Pages: Mozu claims its pages load quicker than individuals located by other servers. Check out this video.
  • Hypr Theming Engine: Mozu&#8217s Hypr Theming Engine helps your developers construct your site on the top of Mozu&#8217s mobile responsive blank theme.
  • Open-Source Documentation: An Escape API and 7 open-source SDKs (Software Development Kits) make customizations and integrations a bit simpler.
  • Wide Features Set: Filtered search, one-page checkout, customer segmentation, and personalized promotion features are provided with Mozu. Click the link to tour their &#8220Platform&#8221 pages that specify more.
  • Account Manager: Each merchant is designated a free account manager, with no additional costs.

Fails To Deliver

  • No Pre-Made Styles: With Mozu, the concept would be to construct your website. There aren&#8217t any styles that will help you on the way (aside from the mobile responsive blank theme), which might be a bad or good factor based upon what you can do to employ an internet developer.
  • Challenging Use: Okay, which means you&#8217re have to a developer it isn&#8217t really optional. All large changes and 3rd-party integrations require some pretty serious know-how.
  • No Abandoned Cart or Blog Features:  While neither feature is made-in, you can include on with apps.
  • Only Ten Payment Gateways: Granted, you could construct your own connections using the API, however it&#8217s nice to not need to. Ten choices are just a little limited.
  • Limited Add-Ons: You will find 85 add-ons within the Mozu Marketplace. Like always, you are able to construct your own connection, however, you&#8217d most likely prefer not to.

Mozu is really a strong competitor when it comes to features and versatility. But don’t forget: It isn&#8217t a person-friendly platform. Should you don&#8217t want to utilize code and you may&#8217t bring in help to code for you personally, Mozu isn’t the right approach. However, for individuals that don&#8217t mind just a little HTML within their diets, Mozu is a great option.

Learn more within our full Mozu Review.

Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition

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Like Mozu, Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition (Magento ECE) is much more thinking about customizability than usability. Introduced in April 2016, this selection wealthy platform may be the sparkling new, web-based form of Magento&#8217s Enterprise Edition.

With more than 240,000 stores signed on, Magento is among the most generally used eCommerce platforms. Additionally they serve more Internet Store Top 1000 retailers than every other shopping cart software, making Magento a bit of a huge in eCommerce.

Unlike almost every other platform about this list, Magento ECE isn’t SaaS it’s PaaS (Platform like a Service). Essentially, which means that Magento ECE has a slightly lower degree of service, though I don&#8217t see that much of the difference. Find out more on SaaS and PaaS here.

Check out how Magento Enterprise compares alongside Shopify Plus.

Nearly As Good or Better

  • Endless Features: Magento ECE includes more features than I&#8217ve observed in every other shopping cart software. You will find features for customer segmentation, filtered search, drag-and-drop merchandising, and processes for creating every kind of discount. Get more information at the entire list.
  • Fully Customizable: You are able to personalize everything about Magento ECE, in the storefront towards the admin. Make use of this feature to re-arrange your dashboard and streamline how you behave.
  • Apache Caching: Caching management helps load pages faster.
  • Open-Source Documentation: There&#8217s additionally a REST API.
  • WYSIWYG editor: Should you don&#8217t would like to get in to the code, there&#8217s a WYSIWYG editor that will help you update content.
  • Manage Multiple Sites: Do all of it in one admin.

Fails To Deliver

  • Challenging Use: Magento ECE includes a steep learning curve it requires some time to actually get used to the woking platform. But, when you finally decipher it, there are plenty of features when you need it.
  • Extra Expense for added Support: Magento ECE has a free account Management Team, but you spend for his or her help.
  • No Ready-Made Styles: Like Mozu, Magento ECE offers merely a mobile responsive blank theme. It&#8217s your decision (as well as your web-developers) to really make it your personal. There’s a couple of 3rd party styles available to buy within the Magento Marketplace, however they are usually untidy and bland.
  • Less Apps: Because Magento ECE uses the recently-released Magento 2., only 51 add-ons are presently suitable for the woking platform. I picture this number increases soon.

Ironically, Magento ECE&#8217s greatest trouble with ease-of-use is because its best asset: each of the features available. Magento ECE may be the platform that will it all. So, if you feel Shopify Plus is ok, but simply doesn&#8217t do enough, give Magento ECE a go.

For additional info on Magneto Enterprise Cloud Edition, read our full review.

Final Ideas

Hopefully, one of these simple three alternatives has piqued your interest. If that’s the case, I recommend studying our complete evaluate the cart(s). I additionally recommend calling sales representatives each and every company they’ll inquire a couple of questions regarding how big your company after which have the ability to estimate a cost range for you personally.

However, should you still think Shopify Plus is the greatest platform for the store, that&#8217s great too. Shopify Plus does indeed offer the best support and usefulness available on the market.

Regardless of whether you decided on a simple platform a treadmill with versatility, a click-and-publish theme or perhaps a build-it-yourself, a SaaS solution or perhaps a PaaS, If only both you and your business the very best inside your endeavors.

Get More Information At the entire Shopify Plus Review

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The publish Best Three Options to Shopify Plus made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Square VS Vend

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Finding a robust POS app that is also affordable is basically like ordering a really delicious cupcake with just the right amount of icing. Finding one that has mobile support and an integrated eCommerce store? Well, that’s akin to the holy grail for new and small business owners.

Vend is something a bit unconventional in the POS space. Its POS app is entirely browser-based, powered by HTML. That means you can run it on both Windows and Mac computers — as well as iPads! Everything is stored in the cloud, meaning you can access your information everywhere. There’s also an integrated eCommerce store, and integrated payments.

Square is best known for its mobile payments app, which lets anyone accept credit card payments with just a smartphone and card reader. But the real advantage to Square is a powerful, completely free POS app — and an entire ecosystem of business products that can help entrepreneurs exceed. Everything is stored in the cloud, as well. And did we mention you can sell on Square’s marketplace or through pretty much any other shopping cart software, too?

All of this sounds great, right? Good.

Vend will charge you a monthly fee for its POS. There are multiple subscriptions depending on what features you need. You have a limited selection of payment processors (at least for retail setups) with no transaction fees, and a simple, but functional, eCommerce setup (if you opt for the mid-tier plan).

Square is entirely pay-as-you-go. The POS is free — you pay only the processing fees, plus a monthly fee for whatever a la carte services you choose to add on. eCommerce support is entirely free beyond processing fees — you can use Square’s hosted solution or integrate with something else.

Both services have all three core offerings: a retail setup with a solid POS, mobile capabilities, and eCommerce setups. But as you’ll see, both have different core strengths. I highly encourage you to think about where most of your business comes from and evaluate which features are most important. Then crunch the numbers and look for the most cost-effective strategy.

Read on to see how Square and Vend match up on core features, extra services, cost, support, and more!

Products and Services:

Winner: Tie

Square and Vend are both omni-channel commerce solutions. They’re integrated so well that you can sell pretty much anywhere and keep all of your sales data and inventory in one centralized dashboard. Let’s take a look at how each of the 3 sides of Square’s products (the POS app, payments, and eCommerce solutions) match up. We’ll also take a look at the integrations and extra services available.

POS App

Sometimes I am genuinely shocked that Square doesn’t charge at all for its POS app (and a bit disappointed that it won’t let you use the app with a different payment gateway). It is without question the most robust free mobile POS (mPOS) out there. While it’s definitely friendly to both iPhones and Android devices, you get the most functionality out of an iPad. This is especially important in a retail setup.

Vend’s core offering is its POS — it’s taken the easy path toward integrating payments and eCommerce as well. So its app really is the biggest draw. Here’s the thing, though: I have a hard time really calling Vend “mobile friendly.” Since the POS is primarily browser-based, it runs on Windows and Mac computers. There is also an iPad-exclusive POS app — no Android, not even iPhone. That said, you can absolutely make do with an iPad as your mobile solution for pop-up shops or booths at events. I just don’t think Vend is really designed with mobile as a priority.

Square POS App Features:

  • Unlimited registers and up to 75 locations: Note: if you want to track individual employees, you’ll need to add the employee management subscription. But if you don’t need that individual data, this feature is free.
  • User permissions: This is fully customizable — you determine the role and what features they can use. But you have to be using Square’s Employee Management system. Otherwise, it’s all default.
  • Credit card payments: Accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express at 1 flat rate.
  • Transaction records: Record cash and check as well as accepting cards. This still allows you to take advantage of the customer database and loyalty program features.
  • Split tender: Accept cash and card in one transaction.
  • Inventory: Square’s inventory feature is basic, but it does allow you to keep track of stock levels in-store and online. Square will send you low-stock alerts and let you set your own threshold for them. Square also integrates with Stitch Labs for more comprehensive inventory support.
  • Import/Export via CSV: Populate your online and retail stores with products in one go.
  • Product Variants and Add-Ons: Technically, Square calls variants “price points” — but the point is the app supports them. You can also add item modifiers, which are essentially add-ons.
  • Email/SMS/print receipts: Your choice (and your customers’, too).
  • Full and partial refunds: Self-explanatory.
  • Gift cards: Order your own custom designs. There’s no redemption fees or activation fees. You only pay processing fees if the gift card is purchased on a card.
  • Offline mode: Square’s offline mode is pretty unique. Most “offline” functions for POS apps allow you to accept cash only — no cards. But with Square you can swipe a card as normal, and as long as you reconnect to the net within 72 hours, the transaction will go through. The caveat is that you eat the cost of any declined transactions.
  • Sales tax and tip: Square’s sales tax feature is basic, but very functional. Toggle sales tax collection on or off and set multiple rates as necessary, if you are selling in multiple locations or move around. You can also enable tips, which is something Vend does not support.
  • Loyalty program: Square’s loyalty program (add-on for $25/month per location) works by giving either free items or percentage discounts. The system is tied to the customer’s mobile number.
  • Reporting: Square won’t give you the advanced reporting of a full-scale POS but it does pretty well in this category.
  • Customer-facing display: This is a beta feature, but one that puts Square closer to full-fledged POS systems.
  • Customer database: Square’s customer database isn’t quite as advanced as you’ll find with more expensive CRM software, but it’s definitely worth looking into, and it’s improving all the time. In addition to the loyalty program, there’s a feedback feature and custom segmentation, and it links directly with Square’s email marketing service (starts at $15/month).
  • Special Offers: Send automated email campaigns linked from your customer database if you use Square’s email marketing.

Vend POS App Features:

  • Sell through one or multiple outlets: While multi-outlet support will cost you more (a point we’ll come back to), you can get a boatload of features that will make managing each location easier.
  • User Permissions: You can choose from pre-set roles with limited customization, but this is an entirely free service.
  • Accept Credit Card Payments: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express through one of Vend’s partners. You can also use non-integrated solutions through another payment processor if you choose.
  • Record cash payments: No check support, though.
  • Split tender: Accept cash and card.
  • Inventory: Vend has options to help you manage your stock orders in the dashboard as well.
  • Import/Export via CSV: Vend allows barcode printing, too.
  • Product variants: The POS technically supports 3 types of products: Standard, Variant, and Composite. Standard products are individual items with no other versions. Variants are products such as clothing, which come in different colors and sizes. Vend’s system allows you to create 3 modifiers per item. Composite products are those assembled from your inventory into a grouping — such as gift baskets. You cannot have separate inventory for composite products; it’s based on inventory for your other products.
  • Parked sales: This lets you save ticket in the POS and pull it up later, which is useful.
  • Price Books: You can create different price books for different stores, or for promotions, or for loyalty customers, or for whatever other reason you want. In Square, the best way to accomplish this is by setting individual item modifiers, so Vend is definitely far more functional.
  • Full and partial refunds: Self-explanatory. You can also do exchanges, a feature not available with Square.
  • Email or customizable print receipts: Your choice.
  • Store credit: This is a new feature, still in beta, but I would expect to see it roll out to everyone soon. Unlike Shopify, which lets you issue store credit but doesn’t have a proper way to track it, Vend’s store credit feature lets you keep track of it in your customer database. Currently this feature integrates with Xero, but not QuickBooks Online.
  • Gift cards: Gift cards work in store and online, but you can’t order them from Vend the way you can with many others (including Square).
  • Offline mode: Vend has an offline feature — but like Shopify and many other POS systems, it really only lets you accept cash payments and record sales. No credit card sales. In addition, you have to be signed in before the outage, and in offline mode has limited features. That said, it will get you through an outage mostly OK if you can survive on cash alone.
  • Sales tax: There’s no tip feature in Vend at all. However, its sales tax features are pretty advanced. You can set a single tax rate for everything, or create groups of tax rates. You can also set tax by location. The one flaw I see in the system is that creating tax rates doesn’t apply them to any existing products in your store. If you’ve already loaded products into your store, you’ll need to open up those products and modify the tax settings.
  • Loyalty program: Vend’s loyalty program is very simple, based on a dollars-for-dollars system. Spend so much and earn so many dollars to spend.
  • Reporting: Vend has some pretty advanced reporting — you can generate pre-populated reports or create your own custom ones.
  • Layaway program: This is included at no charge, with no integration required.
  • Customer-facing screen: A useful feature available at no-extra charge. You can only have one register linked to a display, but you can link multiple displays to one register.
  • Customer database: Obviously the database is good for having a loyalty program, With Vend, it’s possible to segment databases by groups and even create different price books for them (such as rewarding particularly loyal customers with special offers). Vend’s API can link it to another CRM if you want. Note that Vend doesn’t have its own email marketing service; you have to integrate with another.

While Square’s app is incredibly robust for an mPOS, it’s still not quite quite on par with a full-fledged POS like Vend. You’ll get an incredible array of features, but if you are looking for some highly advanced, retail-specific capabilities — like store credit and layaway, you should look more toward Vend. Of course, Square also supports more service-based companies with many of its features, notably restaurants. And you get a lot of integrated services in a single place (email marketing, loyalty program, even timekeeping and payroll). They’ll cost you more than just the processing fees, obviously, but the convenience of everything being consolidated in one place, with a single log-in and no need to bother with importing/exporting data, certainly can’t be overlooked.

eCommerce

As my fellow writer, Jordan, noted in her review, Vend’s eCommerce offering is basic. It was something added later, and so it’s not as refined as the POS system. You get everything you need to run a web store in tandem with your retail setup, but it’s not feature rich by any stretch. Here’s what you get:

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain (or bring your own)
  • Multiple responsive themes to choose from
  • HTML and CSS support
  • Integrate with Shopify’s eCommerce store for greater functionality (and higher cost)
  • Inventory sync across retail and online stores
  • Customer accounts (can be linked to customer profiles in database)
  • Sales and promotions through Vend price books
  • Social media integrations
  • Integrated reporting features
  • Flexible shipping
  • Customizable tax settings
  • Pay Later (to support ACH or in-store cash payments)

There are some drawbacks, however. The eCommerce system isn’t particularly friendly to dropshipping, and there’s no integrated blogging system or email marketing (but you can get email CRM with an integration). You can’t support individual promo codes, either. Inventory is based on a single outlet, and you can’t change the outlet later. The system also doesn’t support partial payments using gift cards — the entire balance must be paid using the gift card.

But honestly? Square’s eCommerce feature isn’t amazingly complex, either. Unless you choose to integrate another shopping cart), you sell through Square’s marketplace (which gives you a hosted domain and URL, and not much else). The store designs you can choose from are responsive but there isn’t a lot of customizability. Square’s features include:

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain (or bring your own)
  • Multiple responsive themes to choose from
  • Choice of responsive templates
  • Support for digital and physical products (this is one of the biggest differentiators from Square)
  • In-store pickup available
  • Integrated reporting
  • Customizable tax settings

If you want more advanced features, or even just your own domain, you can integrate with Weebly, BigCommerce, or Ecwid or play around with Square’s API for a custom solution — but that’s only if you’re comfortable playing around with such things. Again, there’s no blog at all, and shipping options are somewhat limited — but you can enhance the options using an add-on such as ShipStation.

I think it’s important to remember that unlike a service such as Shopify, which was always meant to help people sell online, both Vend and Square started off serving different markets — Vend is a POS system for retailers, while Square’s core feature has always been mobile payments. It’s not surprising that both of these are lacking in eCommerce options. However, I look forward to seeing what both of these services introduce next as omni-channel commerce becomes more important.

Payments

I appreciate the simplicity of Square’s payments system. But no matter what kind of volume you do, you pay the same flat rate — 2.75% for swiped cards, 2.9% + $0.30 for eCommerce. There’s no reduction in fees until you hit a very high volume — much higher than would qualify most merchants for a solid interchange-plus plan. The good news is you don’t have to deal with any sort of tiered pricing or qualified cards, all of which can be frustrating for merchants. You even process American Express at 2.75%. You can’t use any other payment processor with the app. But at the same time, it’s worth noting that you don’t pay for the POS at all — and you don’t have to pay for a more advanced eCommerce option unless you want to.

Vend decided, rather than try to implement its own branded solution like Shopify or ShopKeep, to simply partner with some other payments providers. Vend is an international product, and so there are other solutions available in other countries, but in the U.S., if you want an integrated processing solution in-store, your options are PayPal and Vantiv Integrated Payments (formerly Mercury).

The biggest problem with this is that PayPal is about the same price as Square (2.7% per swipe, 2.9% + $0.30 for eCommerce), on top of Vend’s monthly fee. And Mercury/Vantiv Integrated, while not the worst company out there, has a record of spotty customer service and hidden fees and expensive contracts, and Vantiv tends to have a liquidated damages provision in its contracts.

However, there is a silver lining,of sorts. You can choose a non-integrated processing solution and use whatever merchant service provider you want. The one draw back to this is you’ll have to enter the transaction amount in your terminal and process it, then complete the transaction in Vend separately. It adds an extra step that not everyone wants to deal with. However, that said, it could easily be worth the trouble if you opt for a processor like Helcim, which will give you interchange-plus AND debit card rates for processing.

You can also choose from a variety of gateways (including Authorize.net) and connect your account to process eCommerce transactions. It’s a bit sad that Vend has disabled Authorize.net as a gateway option for the POS, but you can at least use it online so you can use virtually any payment processor.

None of these options is a terrible choice. When you want mobile processing, Square’s rates are absolutely competitive — as I’ve said, PayPal is very similar, and so are many other mobile options. I like that Vend will also give you special discounts once you clear $10,000 a month with PayPal. I also like that Vend doesn’t charge you any sort of transaction fees for using a non-integrated solution. Plus, with PayPal will let you start processing almost right away.

All I can say is, run the numbers. If you’re leaning toward Vend, talk to some of our top-rated processors and request a quote from Mercury. Don’t overlook PayPal, either. It might not be interchange plus, but there are some benefits: an affordable EMV reader, instant access to funds, and even a truly mobile option (PayPal Here) if you absolutely need to be able to use smartphones to process cards, not tablets. Plus, with the PayPal debit card, you can access your funds anywhere without needing to transfer them to your bank.

If you’re leaning toward Square, you have an advantage in that you pay no monthly fees, just card processing rates, That is, unless you opt for a monthly add-on service (like Employee Management). You can also get set up pretty much right away.

Compatible Hardware:

Winner: Tie

If you’re going to process credit cards, you need some sort of register setup, right? I like that both Vend and Square give you some flexibility in that department.

Vend Hardware

With Vend, you have a few choices for what platform to run your POS on:

  • Windows Computer: Requires Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 or Microsoft Surface Pro and Google Chrome.
  • Mac Computer: Requires Mac OSX Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, or El Capitan and Google Chrome
  • iPad: Requires iOS 8 or later. Download the app from the iTunes store.

All the hardware is sold via POSportal.com, which doesn’t offer any laptops but does have iPads available.

Vend’s hardware kit consists of the bare bones: a cash drawer and a USB receipt printer, plus a cable. If you opt for the tablet package, you also get a tablet stand and an upgrade to an Ethernet receipt printer.

The upside to this is that Vend’s hardware kits are fairly affordable (starting at just over $300 for Mac or PC, for $500 for the tablet version). You can also pick and choose your own hardware and build a custom package that includes a thermal label printer, a barcode reader and dock, and more. In all, that’s not too bad.

You’re probably noticing there’s one big thing missing: card readers. That’s because it entirely depends on who you choose for processing. PayPal has just a single EMV-compatible reader (chip and PIN) available for $149, that also supports NFC. Mercury offers a choice of EMV-compatible wired and wireless terminals, as will any non-integrated processing service you choose. Costs will vary, so be sure to shop around.

And if you already have some hardware, it might be compatible with Vend, no new purchase required! You can check whether your hardware is compatible here.

Square Hardware 

Square is far more flexible as far as hardware is concerned. While it can’t run from desktops or laptops at all, you do have a large range of mobile devices and tablets to choose from:

  • Android: Works with tablets and phones. System requirements vary, check the list of devices with known issues.
  • iOS: Works with iPad, iPhone, iPod. Requires iOS 8 or later, but some hardware may not be compatible with iOS 9, only 9.1.

It’s worth mentioning again that a handful of Square’s features are iPad-only. You can also check the compatibility between your device and specific hardware here.

Square also offers an assortment of hardware bundles, all of which fall in the $500 to $700 range. These include a tablet stand, a receipt printer, and a cash drawer, as well as receipt paper and a free magstripe reader.

That means the EMV-compatible card readers are sold separately. However,you do have a few options:

  • EMV and magstripe reader: $29
  • EMV/NFC (chip and sig): $49 (includes a free magstripe reader)
  • EMV/NFC (chip and PIN): $129 (Note: This isn’t a branded Square reader, but a Miura m010, which supports iOS only).

The Square Stand ($99 or included in some kits) also has a free magstripe reader built in. You can get a dock for your EMV/NFC readers, as well as a bar code scanner. Square doesn’t officially support a label printer, but it says many customers have used a Dymo printer in their setup.

Both Vend and Square give you some very flexible options as far as hardware goes. You have multiple cash drawers and receipt printers, and even card readers. It really depends on what you need. Frankly, though, the low cost of Square’s EMV readers is a big draw — they are the the lowest prices I’ve seen anywhere.

Fees and Rates:

Winner: Square

It’s absolutely essential that your business find a POS and payment solution that fits your budget. There’s no sense in paying for more than you need, or letting yourself be conned into paying much higher credit card processing rates than you have to.

In that sense, Square has the advantage. You don’t pay for the POS, just card transactions. Here’s the basic transaction fees:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Invoice transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed-in transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
  • eCommerce transactions: 2.9% + $0.30

If you want some of the additional services, here’s what you’ll pay:

  • Gift cards: Per-card cost (starting at $2 per card and dropping as you order more)
  • Appointments: $30 for one person, $50 for 2-5 staff, $90 for unlimited staff.
  • Payroll: $20 monthly subscription + $5 per employee paid (available in limited states)
  • Employee management: $5 per employee
  • Email marketing: $15 per month and up, depending on package

With Vend, you can choose from multiple packages:

Free Plan ($0/month)

  • 10 active products
  • Customers: 1,000
  • Users: 1
  • Community forum support only

Starter Plan ($59/month on yearly plan, $69 billed monthly)

  • Single-outlet support
  • Active products: 500
  • Customers: Unlimited
  • Users: Unlimited
  • Live chat and email support

Advanced ($85/month on yearly plan, $99 billed monthly)

  • Single-outlet support
  • Active products: Unlimited
  • Customers: Unlimited
  • Users: Unlimited
  • eCommerce store
  • Live chat and email support

Multi-Outlet ($169/month on yearly plan, $199 billed monthly)

  • Multiple-outlet support
  • Active products: Unlimited
  • Customers: Unlimited
  • Users: Unlimited
  • eCommerce store
  • Live chat and email support
  • 24/7 phone support

Remember that this is on top of any processing fees you pay. On the one hand, $60-$70/month sounds expensive because Square is free, and Shopify’s basic plan is $29. If you want an eCommerce store, that costs even more.

But that kind of thinking overlooks the fact that Vend gives you unlimited users and hardware integration for free. Shopify will charge you $40/month for those capabilities, and Square will charge you $5 per employee per month.

I like that Vend won’t charge you any transaction fees if you choose a non-integrated solution. If you use Shopify, you can wind up paying an additional 2% per transaction on top of your processor’s fees. And Square won’t let you use anyone else for payment processing at all.

If you use a different eCommerce gateway with Vend, you could wind up paying an additional charge for that. And if you choose an add-on (such as Shopify’s eCommerce integration), you’ll pay more for that, too. The same applies if you choose to integrate Square with another eCommerce provider, like BigCommerce.

This is really a matter of what you can afford vs. what you need. Since Square is entirely pay-as-you-go, it’s a good starting place if this is your first foray into retail. If you definitely need Vend’s capabilities, be sure to shop around and find the most affordable and convenient solution for card processing. Remember that you can use the import/export features both Vend and Square provide to move your data over if you ever decide to switch providers.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Winner: Square

With Square, there’s no contracts, no monthly fees. You can stop using Square whenever you want with absolutely no penalty. That is a significant advantage. You can also try the add-on services for 30 days completely free.

Vend gives you the option to save some money by paying for a full year in advance. Otherwise, you can go month-to-month and pay more for each package. That’s pretty common for most SaaS (Software as a Service) providers. I recommend starting with the month-to-month plan and see how it works before you invest in Vend for a whole year. There’s a 30-day trial where you can decide if Vend is right for you. You can also try the free plan, although it has very limited offerings.

The other thing you need to consider, though, is who you choose as a processor with Vend. PayPal is entirely pay-as-you-go, so if you stop using Vend, you can stop using PayPal, too, with zero penalties.

The problem is if you choose Vantiv Integrated/Mercury. While if you look at the Vend site, it says that Vantiv offers no-term contracts, that’s not the case across the board. The company does lock some of its vendors into multi-year contracts with ETFs. So even if you can stop using Vend whenever you want, you may still be stuck with a Mercury contract that could be potentially difficult to get out of.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Winner: Tie

Square has always been well known for its transparency. Clear, flat-rate processing, not hidden fees. There’s no pushy sales people, shady gimmicks or to-good-to-be-true promises. There’s a detailed knowledge base you can search without even needing an account, plus a solid blog with helpful resources for businesses, and social media (Twitter: @Square or @SqSupport, Facebook, LinkedIn).

I like what Square is doing in this department — though there is one niggling issue: account holds and freezes. Square isn’t exactly forthcoming about what causes them, and plenty of merchants are understandably upset. We’ll come back to this point in just a bit, though.

I also like how transparent Vend is. You know exactly what you’re getting and what the fees are. Again, there’s nothing that stinks of too-good-to-be-true. There is a sales force — you can request a consultation and Vend will send someone out to meet with you. However, I can’t find any evidence of Vend’s sales team using sketchy practices or hard selling techniques, which is good news indeed.

You can search Vend’s knowledge base before you sign up, and the blog is also full of great resource for merchants. Vend has a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as a YouTube and even a Pinterest.

The problem of course, is that payments aren’t integrated. PayPal is generally fair and transparent — flat-rate pricing, no shady gimmicks for businesses. You’ll see, if you dig into PayPal user reviews, that it still has an issue with holds and account terminations, but I can’t find any evidence that Vend users are affected by this.

The only “gimmick” I can find that Vend offers is a deal with PayPal that will give you a 50% discount on Vend when you sign up for both. The half-off deal lasts for three months. And if you process more than $10,000 monthly, you also get discounted PayPal rates.

Vantiv Integrated also has its own flaws with transparency (namely disclosure of that ETF). Quite a few complaints about Vantiv, especially recently, focus on merchants being overcharged for processing, which is understandably upsetting.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

Winner: Vend

Square and Vend have both managed to keep their prices down by looking for cost-effective support…which meant neither company offered phone support at all initially. Fortunately, that’s changed, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say either company is completely rocking it in terms of customer service.

Check out any user reviews of Square, and the lack of customer service — especially decent phone support — is one of the most common issues. Square’s knowledge base is extremely detailed so you can solve most problems yourself. There’s also email support, and a new community forum. But to get on the phone, you need a customer code, which some users have had trouble getting (and something people with frozen or terminated accounts can’t get at all). There’s also a dedicated Twitter customer service channel, @SqSupport, and you can reach Square on Facebook as well.

Vend’s free plan doesn’t give you customer support at all — just access to the community forum. For the Basic and Advanced plans, you get access to a very detailed knowledge base, as well as email and live chat support — which is good. I like to see live chat as an option because honestly, waiting on hold and dealing with automated systems really sucks. However, if you really do prefer to talk to an actual person, Vend’s 24/7 phone support is only included in the multi-outlet plan. If you have one of the other paid plans, you can add phone support for $20/month. I don’t like merchants having to pay for customer support at all, but at least you get email and live chat at no added cost.

I do like that both companies have a service that will let you know whether the system is fully operational or whether it has issues. You can check out Vend’s status here, and Square’s here.

Something else worth mentioning is that if you need it, Vend has a lot of other resources to help. There’s Vend U, which is included at no charge with any paid subscription, and gives you a wealth of lessons and resources. If you’d rather pay an expert for their time, you can find Vend’s official list of partners here and look for someone in your area.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Winner: Vend

There are two very consistent complaints with Square:

  1. Its tendency to hold or terminate accounts with no warning and very little room for appeal
  2. Dubious customer support, especially after having your account frozen or terminated.

As far as holds and freezes go, that’s an unfortunate side effect of Square’s business model: it aggregates payments rather than opening individual merchant accounts for every single user. On the one hand, this means you can start processing much sooner, but on the other it means you may find yourself shut down with no warning. Square seems to be doing much better at mitigating the risk over all, and it’s definitely taking strides to improve its customer service, as well. However, if you are in a high-risk industry, I highly encourage you to avoid both Square and PayPal as your processors.

Vend’s complaints are a bit less focused. Some of the issues that come up most often include lack of various features, including limited cash management, or glitches in accounting integrations. Vend is constantly adding new features and rolling out improvements, though. There are also a handful of complaints about the quality of customer support — but these are very, very few and far between.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Winner: Tie

It shouldn’t be so surprising that Vend and Square have a lot over overlap in the “Good Things” categories — namely, customers like how easy-to-use and intuitive both POS systems are. They are easy to set up and get running. Because everything is stored in the cloud you can access your data everywhere. Just grab your iPad and open up the app to run your reports and check on sales. Beyond that, here’s what else what people like about each:

Square

  • Easy to set up: You can start processing through Square pretty much right away.
  • Truly mobile: Unlike Vend, Square is truly mobile friendly. While the iPad gives you the most functionality, you can still run the system from a smartphone and have all your data in one place.
  • Offline mode: Square’s offline mode is the best one out there. It’s the only one that I know that will still let you process credit cards during an outage. Yes, you accept the risk yourself, but depending on your business it could be a nonissue.
  • Inexpensive: With a free website/shopping cart, a free POS, flat-rate processing and everything else, it’s hard to argue with the value that Square offers. When you throw in all the affordable monthly add-ons… it might not be the most advanced system, but Square has everything most businesses need at a very attractive cost.

Vend

  • Customer Service: You will see the few odd complaints about Vend’s customer service but overall, users really seem to appreciate it. You can get phone support if you want, but otherwise, live chat, email, and the knowledge base should see you through just fine.
  • Affordability: Vend sounds more expensive than Square, but compared to many other cloud solutions or full-fledged POS systems it is very affordable.
  • Feature set: Vend doesn’t have everything everyone could ever want — but it certainly has everything you need, and then some. Even better, the company is always introducing new, more advanced features. Overall many people are happy with everything Vend offers.

Final Verdict:

Winner: Tie 

In this case, it is honestly difficult to point out a clear winner. While Square and Vend have similar offerings, comparing them isn’t a perfect apples-to-apples comparison. Vend is a cloud POS that happens to work on an iPad; Square is a mobile payments app that happens to have a very effective POS that also works on an iPad.

As always, the issue ultimately boils down to what features you need and what you can afford. Vend is a great option for retail environments, but it requires a monthly or yearly subscription, plus you pay processing rates. Square is an excellent mobile solution, and it has everything you need to run a retail register setup as well. You pay only processing rates and the monthly subscription fee for any add-on services you want.

You get comparable options for hardware. Square gives you an online store at no additional cost, while Vend offers one in its mid-tier subscription plan. Both also give you inventory management and a choice of add-ons and integrations to expand the functionality.

If you’re unsure of your budget, you don’t need as many advanced features, or mobile is a genuine concern, Square is a viable option. You only pay per transaction, which is great if you’re just starting out. Just know that Square’s aggregating model isn’t quite as stable as a traditional merchant account.

If you can afford Vend and need the more advanced features it offers (exchanges, store credit, etc.), by all means go for it. You’ll certainly get better customer support, but for the most part everything is so intuitive you should not need much guidance. Make sure you shop around for the best processing option, and consider a non-integrated solution from one of our top-rated merchant account providers if you want the lowest rates and best service. .

I hope this helps you make a decision! Be sure to check out our other iPad POS options as well as our mobile processors.

The post Square VS Vend appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Square vs. Etsy: Which is Best for Artists and Crafters?

Square-vs-Etsy

Artists and crafters are a unique subsection of merchants, in my experience. And I say this as someone who has worked an artist table at conventions and other events for a few years. Running a business of this type deserves a special sort of consideration: if you are an artist or a crafter, you handle not just the sales, marketing, accounting, and other day-to-day tasks (like order fulfillment), but also the manufacturing! Some artists work on their business full time, while for others, it’s a second (or even third) job, but it is always 100% a labor of love.

But even a labor of love needs the right tools! While artists and crafters are essentially running retail businesses, many of the crucial components of a retail business — a solid POS, affordable retail hardware like receipt printers, and advanced inventory software — don’t always apply. Instead, mobility, flexibility, and affordability are most important. Omni-channel commerce, the ability to sell seamlessly in person and online, is often the best solution, because many people sell online as well as traveling around to events. And if you make your own products (2-D art, 3-D art, knitting/crochet, paper crafts, jewelry, for starters), there are two standouts in this category: Square and Etsy.

Background

SquareSquare review is well known in the arts community because it made accepting credit card payments via a smartphone feasible for the masses, allowing almost anyone to run a business anywhere you could get cell signal or Wi-Fi. More than 2 million merchants of all sizes use Square.

Etsy logoEtsy is the first marketplace that’s truly friendly to artists and other creators. It’s hugely popular with consumers, too, who know they can find tons of vintage and one-of-a-kind creations (not to mention their craft supplies) all in one place. Etsy boasts 1.6 million sellers.

Nowadays, both offer that oh-so-important omni-channel experience — though with a very different feel to each. Square’s biggest draw is the sheer abundance of features it offers, but not all of them are something artisans can or will use, at least not until their business grows a bit. Etsy’s biggest draw is its visibility — the guaranteed traffic to your online shop. It also offers other tools and partnerships to help merchants grow their business.

If you’re just getting started with your art or crafts business, or you’re looking to take it to the next level, Etsy and Square should be at the top of your list for ways to do so. But which is the better option? That depends on a lot of factors.

1. Do you sell (or plan to sell) mostly online and only occasionally in person? Mostly in person and occasionally online? Both? Do you want to change that ratio at all? Some artists and craftspeople sell very well online, while others have much more success at events. Selling online can provide extra money in between events.

2. How much freedom do you want in selling online? If you want to be able to build an entirely custom website, Etsy is likely not a good fit for you. Square has its limitations as well, but they are far fewer. As far as websites go, convenience (and a built-in audience) will always cost you more.

3. How large are your average purchases? If you have a large average ticket size, you might want to consider investing in an EMV reader. EMV is the official name for the chip cards that have been cropping up more often of late. Rather than relying on the magnetic strip (magstripe) on the back of cards, EMV readers encrypts information from the tiny computer chips embedded on the front of the cards. It’s a more secure method of data transmission and also makes it more difficult to counterfeit cards.

That’s important because in October 2015, there was a massive liability shift in terms of who’s responsible for processing any fraudulent cards. Now, any merchant who swipes a chip card that turns out to be fraudulent is responsible for the cost of the transaction. There are a couple of caveats: this doesn’t directly affect eCommerce, and it doesn’t apply to cards that don’t have the EMV chip.

NFC, or near-field communication, is what powers contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. While it’s not necessary to accept NFC payments (they’re still very much a new thing), if your audience tends to be younger and tech-savvy, it’s not a bad idea to be ahead of the adoption curve (if you have the funds for it).

Generally speaking, artists are at a lower risk for fraud than other retail businesses, especially those who have a lower ticket volume. That doesn’t mean you should assume you’re immune to fraud, but it shouldn’t haunt your thoughts if you don’t have the cash for an EMV-friendly reader right away. (It’s worth noting that Etsy doesn’t offer an EMV reader at all.)

Both Square and Etsy have shortcomings, as well as serious advantages. One issue is that both use aggregate payment processing, which translates to greater account instability. But the same, the convenience of automatic inventory counts and minimal work to create an online shop should not be overlooked.

Let’s take a look at the key elements of Square and Etsy — the mobile apps, the online stores, and the costs — to see how they stack up against each other.

Square vs. Etsy: Mobile Apps

Etsy started as an online sales platform only. Eventually it introduced its own mobile app, called Sell on Etsy. It is partly a dashboard for managing your online sales, and partly an app for taking payments in person.

Square’s app is called Square Register, and it’s honestly the most robust mobile POS (mPOS) app out there right now. It is available for both Android and iOS. However, unlike Etsy, the Register app is almost exclusively for in-person sales. eCommerce sales are mostly controlled through the browser-based dashboard.

Square Register App Features:

square-register-tablet

You may not ever need all of the features Square has to offer, but it has some great ones:

  • Custom Sales Tax: While I wish Square would get around to an auto-detect feature that can pick up sales tax rates based on GPS location, it is still nice that you can toggle sales tax on and off and save multiple tax profiles in the app. You can also set or disable tax for specific items as needed.
  • Item variants and add-ons: Great especially if you have several color options for the same basic item.
  • Record cash and check transactions: Keep all your transactions in one place, which is helpful especially if you are using Square’s inventory option. No fee for either of these options.
  • Inventory sync: if you sell online and have inventory management enabled, the system will automatically adjust your inventory count when you sell an item. So if you sell out at an event, no one can purchase that item from your online store. That’s a useful feature if you only have a limited run of products, or maybe even just a single item. Most mPOS providers allow you to create items and run sales reports for what sold, but they don’t keep track of your inventory like Square does, which can be a very big deal.
  • Invoicing: Do you take custom orders and commissions? Square lets you send invoices directly from within the Register app (or through the online dashboard). The invoice is free to send, and there’s no charge beyond the transaction fee, which is deducted from the total invoice once it’s paid.
  • Apply Discounts: You can apply a percentage discount to one or all items, or apply a dollar-amount discount to the entire purchase. This applies to orders before tax is applied.
  • Email/SMS receipts: Send digital receipts at your customer’s request.
  • Custom purchase amounts: If you don’t use Square’s inventory feature or item listings, you can still just ring up individual purchases by just the amount.
  • Full and partial refunds: Send full or partial refunds from within the app or the online dashboard.
  • Offline mode: Process credit cards even when you can’t get Wi-Fi or cellular signal. Of course, you eat the cost for any transactions that are declined, so use this feature at your own risk. Still, it’s very useful, especially if you’re at a venue where it’s difficult to get signal.
  • Item and category creation: You can create and manage your items in the app using both Android and iOS devices.

Some of Square’s more advanced features (such as the ability to scan item bar codes) are only available in the app if you’re using an iPad. However, most of these are more focused on retail stores, so you likely don’t need them as an artist. Also, you have full control over everything if you log into your Square account in a web browser and head to the dashboard.

Overall, though, the Register app is simple to use and very intuitive. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding your way around it even if the technology is entirely new to you. Remember that you don’t have control over eCommerce sales from within the app. You need the dashboard for that.

Something else I like is that Square keeps a comprehensive list of devices with known issues. This is very helpful because Square offers multiple credit card readers, and not all of them work with every device.

Speaking of hardware: the basic magstripe reader is still free from Square if you order online (or you can get a credit for purchasing it in-store). You can get an EMV/magstripe reader for $29, and the EMV/NFC readers start at $49. Check out our unboxing of the Square chip reader here.

Sell on Etsy App Features:

While Square Register is largely for processing payments and most eCommerce matters must be handled through a web browser, the Sell on Etsy app is much more comprehensive. Available for Android and iOS, It allows you to run your online store and sell in person without having to log into the online dashboard.

Etsy-in-person-payments-1

Here’s a breakdown of features:

  • Alerts: Get a notification when someone makes a purchase or favorites your shop on Etsy.
  • Conversations: Communicate with your customers through the app.
  • Shop stats: Check your reviews and other Etsy shop details
  • Order management: Mark online orders as ship and add tracking details, process refunds (full refunds only), add notes to transactions, and more.
  • Create listings: You can add items to your online store via the mobile app.
  • Inventory sync: You can sell items from your online store and Etsy will automatically adjust your inventory counts.
  • Email Receipts: No SMS option, but if the email is linked to an Etsy user ID, the transaction will appear in their purchase history.
  • Record cash transactions: No fee for this, obviously.
  • Quick Sale: If you don’t want to bother with items and keeping track of your Etsy inventory, or you have items for sale that aren’t in your Etsy shop, you can use the quick sale feature to enter an item name and amount. The nice thing is this won’t incur any listing fees (we’ll come back to this in a bit).
  • Discounts: Apply a percentage or dollar amount off the entire purchase. The percentage deduction is taken off the total purchase, including taxes.
  • Sales tax: Again, an auto-detect for sales tax would be great here. You can set multiple tax profiles and modify taxes on individual items.

It’s worth noting that to use the in-person sales feature, you must have Etsy’s Direct Checkout enabled. There’s also no dedicated iPad app. Etsy recommends, if you’re using an iPad, to enable the 2x zoom so the app takes of the entirety of the screen.

Talking with other artists, their experience is that the Etsy app is a bit clunkier for in-person sales. This may be because the in-person sales feature is buried within the menu, not the first thing you see. At the same time, the mobile app is for more than just processing payments — it is a genuine tool for managing your business on the go. I think it’s safe to assume Etsy thinks you’ll sell more online than in person.

Something I do want to point out is that while Etsy’s card reader is free, it’s just a basic magstripe device. It doesn’t support EMV or NFC payments, and Etsy says it has no plans to introduce an EMV reader at this time. This isn’t quite as terrible as it seems because Etsy is the one accepting the liability for processing any transactions, not you. But it’s still a bit disappointing to see that Etsy isn’t interested in keeping pace with the rest of the payments industry.

Overall, it’s fair to say both of these are pretty robust apps that will serve you well. What you’re looking for in an online store is likely going to be the deciding factor.

Square vs. Etsy: Online Stores

Square really has come a long ways as far as eCommerce is concerned. Its online store is completely free to use, though it can seem a bit limited compared to some of the more comprehensive options out there. You can also integrate Square’s payment processing with some other eCommerce providers (BigCommerce, Weebly and Ecwid). If you can navigate code or have a programmer friend handy, you can even use Square’s API to integrate the payment processing into another eCommerce solution.

Etsy, on the other hand, is a marketplace like eBay and Amazon. That means many sellers on Etsy will have their listings appear next to one another when users search for a product. This is both good and bad, really: One the one hand, marketplaces draw far more traffic than an individual site that’s just starting out. On the other, it puts you at the mercy of the marketplace, which means you could find your shop closed down with little to no warning or recourse.

Let’s see how these two companies compare as far as eCommerce goes:

Square Online Store Features:

square-online-store-screenshot

If you use Square’s store, here’s what you need to know. You get all of the following:

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain (the default is squareup.com/store/your-store-name, but you can edit the URL)
  • The option to purchase a new domain or use an existing one
  • Alternative payment/pickup options (including in-store pickup).
  • Invoicing support from Square dashboard
  • Inventory management: If you enable inventory management you can keep track of what is sold through online and in person. There are also some more comprehensive inventory features such as supplier management.
  • The option to integrate with BigCommerce, Weebly and Ecwid, or use Square’s API to integrate with another shopping cart.

One thing to note is that there’s no real custom order option or integrated communications channel with Square’s stores. You can handle custom orders through product variants or add-ons, or just use Square’s integrated invoicing system. For communication, consider investing in a business email (Google can give you an email to match your domain for $5/month).

Square’s online store option is somewhat limited as far as design options go, but they are at least mobile-friendly, responsive templates. You can create different sections to organize your products by relevant categories, as well. In some ways, the simplicity is an advantage because you have less to worry about.

The only costs you pay are per each transaction, much as with the mPOS app. If you opt for another shopping cart instead of Square’s story, you’ll have to pay whatever fees they charge, too. if you have something already set up, you can just switch to Square for payment processing by integrating the API.

Square will also let you control the status for your shop in two ways: you can set the store as visible or offline, and indicate whether you are accepting orders or not. (Think of it as a “Vacation” mode.)

Etsy Shop Features:

Etsy shop home page

You don’t have much in the way of customization for your Etsy shop, and that’s because as a marketplace Etsy has to create a consistent look. But that means you don’t have to spend a lot of time tweaking things.

Here’s what you get with Etsy:

  • Free hosting
  • Free custom Etsy URL
  • Custom orders option
  • Invoicing through PayPal
  • Mail and “other” payment methods supported.
  • Discounted shipping rates when purchased through Etsy
  • Advertising through promoted listings (for an additional cost)

Etsy has an easy-to-use feature for accepting custom orders. With a couple clicks, you can enable this option for your customers. “Conversations” is Etsy’s equivalent of a messaging system, where customers can reach out to you about your products and their orders.

Something relatively new to Etsy’s suite of services is Pattern, which allows you to sell on your own custom website while all of your inventory is linked to your Etsy shop. Management of both is centralized through Etsy and you pay the same costs as you would on Etsy — plus an additional $15/month.

etsy-pattern-site-screenshot

Like Square, Pattern gives you a limited selection of responsive themes to choose from. However, you can modify color palette, font, and other small aspects of your site. which gives you some creative control that you don’t get with Square.

Honestly, the fact that Etsy felt the need to branch out into payments processing and give sellers an option to run eCommerce stores on their own domains is a pretty powerful indicator of where the entire industry is going (hint: it’s heading toward omni-channel).

I need to stress this: Your own site should definitely be a long-term goal. It will give you much more freedom and stability, and generally costs less than selling through a marketplace, especially as your sales volume picks up. But Etsy will definitely help you get started and make some online sales, and possibly draw in people who otherwise wouldn’t even know where to find you. And there’s certainly no reason you can’t run your own online shop (through Pattern, Square or another service) and sell on Etsy at the same time.

Square vs. Etsy: Costs

Card-processing costs can make or break a business, and here at MerchantMaverick we firmly believe no merchant should pay more for processing than they have to. I’m happy to say that Square and Etsy are both very transparent about their pricing, and their actual card processing rates are competitive among aggregate processors. But, there’s one niggling matter…which is Etsy’s transaction fees.

Square Rates:

Square made a name for itself with its simple, flat-rate processing. There are no monthly subscription fees for using Square itself — just pay a small fee per every transaction. The Square Register app is totally free as well. This is what your rates will look like:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
  • eCommerce transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Invoicing: 2.9% + $0.30 (or 3.5% + $0.15 for cards kept on file)

You can add on monthly subscriptions for addition services, but apart from email marketing, most are targeted pretty heavily at retail stores (loyalty program, timekeeping and payroll, etc).

I like Square’s payment scheme. Its rates are pretty competitive for an aggregate processor (the only way to get lower rates with a comparable value is to get a merchant account). I’m genuinely shocked that Square doesn’t charge more for its POS app, because it easily could.

Etsy Rates:

Etsy offers you several payment methods, which can be a bit complicated. There are two main options:

Direct Checkout allows you to accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, Etsy gift cards and Apple Pay. You pay Etsy’s rates and all of your funds (even PayPal transactions) go into your Etsy account, which will then deposit them into your bank account.

It’s worth noting that some sellers are unhappy about the integrated PayPal option, mostly because it takes longer to get your money.

PayPal allows you to accept credit and debit cards as well as payments from a bank account…so long as your customer has a PayPal account. The funds go into your personal/business PayPal account. Etsy doesn’t allow sellers to enable payments through both Direct Checkout and your personal PayPal.

If you need to, you can set your business up to take orders by mail. You can also set up custom orders and invoicing via PayPal, though the invoicing feature isn’t seamlessly integrated with Etsy.

Fees are as follows:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed transactions: 3% + $0.25
  • eCommerce (Direct Checkout): 3% + $0.25
  • eCommerce (PayPal): 2.9% + $0.30
  • Online transaction fee: 3.5%* 
  • Item listing fee: $0.20**

*All items sold on your Etsy shop or through Pattern are subject to a transaction fee, but in-person sales are exempt.

**Listings are active for 4 months. If you have multiple quantities of an item, you’ll pay the initial $0.20, plus an additional $0.20 for every item after the first that sells. When you sell an item in your shop in person, you’re also charged the listing fee — but not for quick sale items, which aren’t listed in your online shop.

Time to Receive Funds: 

Square deposits funds in your bank account on a rolling basis, typically within 1-2 business days. You can check out more about Square’s deposit schedule here. You can also initiate an instant deposit for 1% of the transaction value and have your money within minutes.

Etsy takes a bit longer to get your money, at least if you use Direct Checkout. For the first 90 days, transactions take 3 business days before they are available in your account (after that point they are available the next day). Funds are automatically disbursed on Mondays, but you can can initiate a transfer to your bank account Tuesdays-Fridays. After that, it takes an average of 3-5 days for the funds to appear in your bank account.

There’s no question that Square is the more affordable option. You’ll pay double on Etsy thanks to that transaction fee (which is still less than what you could end up paying on Handmade at Amazon or even eBay). You’ll also get your funds more quickly, unless you choose to only accept PayPal on Etsy — in which case you will have your money in your PayPal account almost instantly, and can spend it anywhere so long as you have a PayPal debit card.

Square vs. Etsy: Other Concerns

There are other considerations beyond just cost. We’ve already talked about the features and services available, but what about the other stuff, the intangibles that neither company really spells out? What about value-added tools and services that don’t fit neatly into another category?

Visibility: Etsy is a known marketplace, with thousands of visitors daily. Unless you’re a marketing genius with an established name, having your own website just isn’t going to bring you that kind of traffic. Of course, you have to deal with the competition from other sellers, whose products will appear next to your own in the search results. With Square, you don’t have that competition, but you’re also not going to get that kind of traffic. However, since you don’t have to pay for hosting or anything beyond the actual transactions, you can spend some time (and maybe even money) building your reputation and putting your website out where anyone can find it.

Stability: Square does have a reputation for holding funds. There’s no way around that. However, artists and crafters generally seem less affected by Square’s trigger-happy risk department. I’d guess it’s because most transactions are relatively low-volume, but there’s no official word on that. Still, the most likely thing to trigger an account hold or termination is processing an unusually large transaction.

Etsy is a marketplace, and you are subject to its rules. If you break them, or if Etsy thinks you’ve broken them, it will shut your store down the same way Square implements holds. Do a bit of Googling (try “Etsy shop shut down”) and you’ll see this happens, if not regularly, at least with enough frequency to note. If you create fan-art based on popular media, know that some very large companies regularly search Etsy and other marketplaces to issue cease-and-desists. Copyright infringement (even in a nebulous area such as fanart) is just one of the reasons your shop could be shut down.

However, it’s difficult to draw apples-to-apples comparisons between the two because while Etsy is exclusively for artists, crafters, and other small niche retailers, Square serves merchants in a huge variety of industries. This is the risk you run with aggregate payment processors and marketplaces. A merchant account will give you more stability, but is generally not suitable for small, low-volume businesses. Don’t let it keep you up at night, but do have a backup plan.

Customer Support: Things happen. Sometimes you’re going to have questions. Sometimes customers file chargebacks and disputes. That’s why customer service is there.

Square’s support system is based primarily on a very detailed knowledge base and a user forum. You should find most of the answers to your questions there. For more complex issues, there’s phone support. But first you need to obtain a passcode to be able to call in at all. There’s also a dispute management system in case a customer files a chargeback. Square will request documentation. In a handful of circumstances you may be eligible for chargeback protection — which means you won’t pay for the chargeback even if the case isn’t resolved in your favor.

Etsy has a similar setup. There’s both a community forum and teams where like-minded sellers can collaborate and community. There’s also a phone support option, but you submit a request and receive a callback (Etsy says within 30 minutes). There’s also a dispute resolution system for conflicts between buyers and sellers.

The question is whether the support offered is of any use. And that’s not an easy answer. A bit more Google searching and you will find no shortage of complaints against Square and Etsy, and their customer service (or lack thereof, as the case may be). Some are from disgruntled sellers. Some are from disgruntled customers. In short, your experience may vary. Some people have no problem at all; some have lots of trouble.

Marketing Tools: I’ve mentioned before that Square offers several marketing and business tools. Artists and craftspeople likely won’t get much benefit out of them, except the email marketing tool, which starts at $15/month.

Etsy has taken a different approach. There are no email marketing tools (though it allows you to post an email signup link on your shop). Instead, consumers can use Etsy Local to find events featuring Etsy sellers. It also offers an option for you to sell your goods wholesale through Etsy, and to pair with large manufacturers to scale your business.

Mass production on Etsy is a contentious matter — as you might expect on a platform started for independent craftspeople. But if you find these options worthwhile for your business, you should pursue them. If not, there are many, many other platforms and tools out there for you to grow your business.

Final Verdict: Should You Use Square or Etsy?

The right payment processor and online store provider is really a matter of personal preference.

With Etsy, you get access to a huge marketplace with people who are actively searching for products each day, but you pay for the convenience, literally. You’ll pay more than double what you would with Etsy. You can even run your own website with a custom URL…for an additional monthly cost on top of your fees. Still, for business that is just starting out, being visible to customers is a serious concern, and Etsy definitely delivers in that category. The Sell on Etsy app lets you manage every aspect of your business on the go instead of dealing with a browser interface, and you can take payments from within the app.

On the other hand, if you sell primarily in person (at conventions, craft fairs, pop-up sales, etc.) square is in your favor. Square Register is a powerful POS app that even has an offline mode so you can accept credit cards literally anywhere, any time. If you use Square’s online store, you’ll pay less in processing fees per transaction than you would on Etsy, and worry less about competition.

Both have their risks, because they aggregate payments and Etsy is also a marketplace that makes its own rules about what is acceptable for sellers. You aren’t guaranteed stability, but both services are generally friendly to artists and craftspeople. You pay only as you make sales unless you opt for any additional expenses, which means there’s no upfront investment beyond the costs to make your products.

And honestly? There’s nothing that says you can’t use both Etsy and Square! If you prefer Square’s mobile app to Etsy’s but want the traffic that Etsy provides, go for it. If you want to sell on Etsy and Square, that’s absolutely possible! What matters most is that you weigh all the benefits and disadvantages and find a solution that will help you manage and grow your business.

Got questions? Have an opinion about the Etsy vs. Square debate? Leave us a comment and let us know — we love to hear from you!

The post Square vs. Etsy: Which is Best for Artists and Crafters? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How You Can Increase Website Speed & Performance For Novices

How To Increase Website Speed

Would you like to learn how to increase website speed &amp performance. You most likely know that the slow website kills visitors, organic traffic and purchasers.

And cargo time is particularly essential in an more and more mobile world where readers are loading your site on the 4G mobile connection.

But asking the best way to accelerate your site is like asking the best way to drive faster &#8211 the treatment depends. In most cases a lot of random tips won’t help much should you not know how everything in concert with.

Quite simply, purchasing a Ferrari makes no difference should you not understand how to switch off the parking brake, disconnect your horse trailer and take corners.

That’s what this Beginner’s Help guide to Growing Website Speed is all about &#8211 breaking lower the approach, to be able to do what you ought to provide for your particular website.

And we’re likely to tackle the entire subject using the example of serving food in a restaurant.

How Website Speed Works

You will find 3 actors while loading an internet site.

The Customer is jargon for any visitor’s browser for example Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Ie.

The Pipe may be the literal wires that carry information towards the Client. The Pipe consists of a lot of companies, as well as your visitor’s Isp.

The Server is the hosting account, and it is where your site “lives.”

If somebody types inside your website name to their Client, the Pipe routes the request towards the Server. The Server states “ahh &#8211 you would like these files” and transmits it well towards the Client through the Pipe. The Customer then arranges the files so the customer sees a end product &#8211 an internet site.

Let’s suppose you visited a cafe or restaurant. You’d request a meal. The waiter would go ahead and take to the chef. The chef will give all of the dishes from the meal (meat, vegetables, etc) towards the waiter. The waiter will bring everything for you and serve your food.

That’s the example we’ll use.

  • Customer = Visitor’s Browser
  • Meal = The Web Site
  • The Meal’s Dishes = Website Files
  • Waiter = The Pipe
  • Chef = Your Hosting Server / Business Owner

Because the Chef within this example, how may you serve your food as rapidly as you possibly can?

You cannot control how quickly the waiter runs. You cannot control once the customer orders.

But because the creator from the meal, you will have a large amount of options. So let’s join in.

Aside &#8211 if you work with a “hosted platform” like Shopify, Bigcommerce, Weebly, WordPress.com or perhaps a specialist webhost like WordPress Engine, they’ll handle most, although not all, of those options. In either case, it’s best to be aware of general method of website speed. I’ll mention WordPress a great deal, however the same techniques affect other software like Joomla or Drupal.

How You Can Increase Website Speed &amp Performance

Here&#8217s the 11 options. They can be so as worth focusing on. But the treatment depends in your website as well as your test results.

1. Serve Demands Rapidly

Let’s suppose each time the waiter demonstrated up in the kitchen, he’d to wait for a meal to become cooked. And picture when the chef was slow as molasses. It wouldn’t be great for fast service.

For those who have a sluggish hosting server, that is what is going on. Probably the most visible metric here’s known as Time For You To First Byte (TTFB). TTFB measures how rapidly an internet server serves the very first byte of knowledge after getting a request.

If you’re on the shared web hosting server, it’s several that may vary with time. However in general, it’s several which should remain low &#8211 like 500ms to have an okay shared host. When you are getting consistently over a second, you’re in slow territory.

In case your server is slow serving demands &#8211 there is not a great deal else that you can do.

How to proceed: Test for TTFB with WebPageTest or with Pingdom Tools. You are able to repair it by switching to some good webhost.

eHost TTFB

Speed, obviously, is just one element in selecting a great hosting company. It is very central within my website hosting quiz here.

2. Serve Less Demands

What really constitutes a good meal? What really makes a good web site?

Could it be the sheer volume of random things or perhaps is it the caliber of that which you serve?

Is the chef serving more dishes than your customer can eat or enjoy? Then eliminate some out! Reduce how big your site.

Every website consists of an accumulation of files. And each element needs a file &#8211 every image, every widget, every share button, every ad tracking script, every slider &#8211 everything needs a file.

And over the Web &#8211 it’s awful. In case you really wish to improve your website speed, have a hard review your design. Look “under the hood” at the WordPress theme. Look the page source of the page.

Webpage Size

Do you want much random stuff? I elevated this website’s speed by removing a lot of Twitter follow buttons and YouTube subscribe buttons. I stored a few images with links, however the buttons were adding 4 new JavaScript files to each page.

How to proceed: Browse the Website Weight problems Crisis (or watch the keynote here). Examine your styles, plugins, and scripts. Search for extra fluff. Review your widgets, badges and overall design. Remove whatever isn’t well worth the extra request.

3. Serve Demands Properly

Let’s suppose your meals menu listed all of the wrong dishes inside your meals. It adds extra journeys between your chef and customer. “You requested for broccoli, but we do not have it. Is cauliflower ok rather?” &#8211 it slows lower service.

In case your website has factors that are wrong, incorrect and have moved &#8211 it slows lower your site load time. Your server has to discover the correct element after which send it.

Webpage Redirect

How to proceed: Audit your website for bad demands and redirects with Website Test, Pingdom Tools or Google PageSpeed. Evaluate which causes the errors. Fix them.

In WordPress, usually it’s an outdated theme, wordpress plugin or bit of content. Assets move and it is vital that you keep everything updated.

4. Serve Smaller sized Demands

Bigger dishes take more time to hold. And larger files take more time to load.

By reduction of how big your files, you are able to usually improve your website speed.

The greatest gains listed here are usually with images. You are able to lessen the both the length of your images and image data. In case your website displays an optimum width of 1280px &#8211 do your images really should be 4000px? They don’t.

Additionally they don’t need to be the size of they’re. Image software usually adds extra data that isn’t seen through the eye. You should use compression software to loss-lessly remove this extra data.

How to proceed: Before uploading, make use of an image editor to re-size your images. You’ll keep your same quality and dramatically reduce their quality.

With image compression software, you are able to lessen the filesize of the images to without losing any quality. Look at this help guide to comprehend the variations between Digital and PNG &#8211 and just how image compression works.

For WordPress, there are several excellent plugins like Compress JPEG &amp PNG images and WordPress Smush which will instantly compress images while you upload them.

But serving smaller sized demands doesn’t visit images. You may also use techniques for example HTTP Compression within popular caching plugins like WordPress Super Cache and W3 Total Cache to further reduce how big your site files with no reduction in quality.

5. Serve Demands within the Right Order

Let’s say the chef told the waiter not to serve the appetizers before the dessert was finished cooking? Let’s say the waiter at random introduced out dish changes while your customer was eating your food?

Browsers attempt to load websites because they get the files. You might have observed how websites will shift and alter a while they’re loading &#8211 the browser gets files.

Although not all files are produced equal. Some files, like JavaScript is actually a “blocking resource” &#8211 the browser won’t attempt to load the page until it receives the bit of JavaScript it needs.

Unless of course you’ll need a file within the mind (ie, first) portion of your website (ie, the install instructions let you know to place it there), it ought to use the footer (ie, last) portion of your website. And something that is incorporated in the mind section ought to be minimal, screaming fast or should load “asynchronously” &#8211 like Google Analytics.

Furthermore, you shouldn’t use “in-line” (ie, inside the website) CSS or JavaScript. It’ll override the initial CSS or JavaScript and can make the website to maneuver and jumble around.

How to proceed: Review your reports in Website Test, Pingdom Tools or Google PageSpeed. Review your page source. Find any factors that are now being loaded within the wrong order. Move these to the right location.

6. Have Demands All Set To Go

Let’s say the chef had already pre-cooked every dish within the meal, and also the waiter just needed to snap it up and go?

The technical term with this in site speed is caching. If you’re managing a site with WordPress without caching, each time someone requests a website, the server needs to produce the file on your own through the database.

If you’re managing a cache, your server periodically creates every website with no request &#8211 after which serves the already produced page when requested.

This often creates big gains in speed. Additionally, it protects your server from crashing from a lot of demands at the same time.

How to proceed: If you’re running WordPress on the shared web hosting account, install and configure WordPress Super Cache. The instructions listed here are excellent.

If you’re running WordPress on the VPS or Server, install and configure W3 Total Cache. The instructions listed here are excellent.

How to proceed (advanced): Go look at this publish on rel=”prerender” by Mike King. It’s a concealed jewel for Chrome users that allows you to pre-load your whole website for individual users. It’s much like your customer calling ahead so your chef can pre-prepare and pre-serve the whole meal.

Aside &#8211 There’s also some website hosts like WordPress Engine that cache everything on every WordPress install so you don’t need to bother about it.

7. Bundling Some Demands

Rather of serving meals one dish at any given time, let’s say you can bundle several similar dishes on a single plate?

That’s the concept behind minifying and mixing scripts.

Suppose your website has 2 CSS files and a pair of JavaScript files. Normally, that’ll be 4 demands for the server. Should you minify and mix scripts &#8211 you’ll combine the two CSS files into 1 and also the 2 JavaScript files into 1.

Your server will only serve two demands rather of 1.

There’s a danger with this particular method though. Exactly like you wouldn’t want steak sauce inside your cake, sometimes minified files will conflict.

Minification

How to proceed: Test minification plugins. If you work with W3 Total Cache for WordPress, minification is really a built-in module. Begin with CSS files, what are least prone to conflict.

8. Serve Demands Nearer To The Client

Rather of serving several things like water, dessert and bread in the kitchen &#8211 let’s say you might have individuals ready right beside your customer’s table? That will accelerate several things.

The web site equivalent will be a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN is really a network of servers located all across the globe that host website files that rarely change daily &#8211 such things as images, video, JavaScript and CSS.

Whenever a customer types inside your website name, individuals assets is going to be offered in the CDN server that’s nearest for your customer &#8211 not out of your primary server. This solves a few speed problems.

First, the files don’t have to physically travel as far. Even light are only able to travel so quick. And for those who have a worldwide audience, images routing to India from Singapore is going to be quicker than routing to India via Atlanta.

Second, you will find less files that the server needs to deliver because the CDN has taken proper care of it. Your server may take on other demands rather of having bogged lower serving up each and every demands. With less demands, your server works faster.

How to proceed: Explore connecting a CDN aimed at your website. I personally use MaxCDN with this website. It integrates seamlessly with W3 Total Cache &#8211 additionally to the WordPress install.

CDNs also exist on the spectrum. Even though you can’t plan for a MaxCDN type solution, sometimes your webhost will offer you a financial budget CDN upgrade. Should you run WordPress, you are able to install the JetPack wordpress plugin and make the most of WordPress.com’s Photon CDN network for images.

Aside &#8211 CDNs have Search engine optimization and compatibility factors which are outdoors the scope of the publish. I&#8217ll cover them thorough later on. But for now, make certain you recognize all the intricacies before selecting one (a &#8220free&#8221 one like Photon).

9. Help Make Your Server/Chef Less Busy

A chef that’s busy along with other tasks like cleaning, repairing and serving some other clients is going to be slower to fill customer meal demands.

Same goes with your server &#8211 if it is busy and bogged lower along with other tasks, it’s likely to be slow to really offer your site.

This problem is particularly normal with WordPress and WordPress plugins. Poorly designed plugins (as well as styles) can take in server sources and kill performance.

How to proceed: For WordPress, temporarily install the P3 Performance Profiler. Utilize it to determine which plugins and styles are taking in server sources. Remove or replace individuals plugins/styles.

You may also look at your WordPress security wordpress plugin to make certain it’s banning IPs that abuse your server. If you are using a high quality one like iThemes Security &#8211 you’re set. Crawlers, bots, online hackers and junk e-mail draw server sources. While not one you can reduce performance, for those who have thousands which are constantly pinging your server, you’ve both a speed and security issue.

Lastly, for those who have outgrown your server plan, you may want to upgrade to a different hosting plan. This website needed to migrate to some VPS server with InMotion after i outgrew my shared server.

10. Serving Demands Safely &amp Fast

Within our example, at this time most waiters are transporting meals uncovered outside. But because of occurrences of individuals touching the meals and potentially tampering by using it in order to the client, more chefs are since the food.

However, covered food is another bit slower to move. The waiter needs to make an additional visit to read the customer’s order before covering it.

That’s the proceed to HTTPS via SSL that lots of websites are earning. It’s safer but it may also slow lower your site speed.

How to proceed: Be sure you factor speed to your HTTPS factors. It is possible to accelerate HTTPS via SSL, but I’ve discovered that it mainly helps to make the other speed factors more pressing. Look at this publish to learn more.

11. Further Speed Enhancements

With website speed, it’s remember this that there’s always some thing that you can do. You have to consider marginal utility though.

Within our example &#8211 you could employ a niche chef, get sharper knives, better kitchen equipment, etc. It’ll all obtain the meal prepared faster.

In web design, you could change to Nginx, implement a Varnish cache, move your database to some database server, etc. Everything is outdoors from the scope of the beginner’s guide. But it’s important to be aware what is offered where individuals options lie across the spectrum.

How to proceed: Possess a general knowledge of advanced choices for growing website speed. If you have taken proper care of all of the low-hanging fruit or are searching to scale an intricate website, cause an expert webmaster to judge options and implement customized solutions.

But don’t jump to individuals solutions til you have taken proper care of the fundamentals.

Next Steps

There are lots of variables which go into website speed. Instead of utilizing a lot of random tips, are looking for the root issues with your website&#8217s slow load time.

Produce a troubleshooting system and enhance your website speed with time.

First, you have to set up a baseline of website speed. Within the in a few days, run speed tests on several days at different occasions using the following tools &#8211

  • PageSpeed Insights
  • Pingdom Tools
  • Website Speed Test

You may also take a look at GeoPeek to visit your worldwide speeds.

Second, make use of the data to select a couple of areas to enhance. Focus on individuals areas. It could mean installing a caching wordpress plugin. It could mean slimming lower your images. Run tests and find out the outcomes.

Third, take another area and implement changes. Test the outcomes. Repeat the three step process until n’t i longer makes economic sense to invest time optimizing for speed, then periodically test.

Should you found this helpful &#8211 connect to it in your sources page or share it using the share buttons. Thanks!

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