Google Sites is Google’s free website builder software that it offers as part of the G Suite of Drive, Email, Hangouts, etc.
Sites has never been highly publicized like its other products. I’ve always thought of Sites as part of the bucket of products like Drawing, Blogger, and Correlate that sort of come as part of other, well-known product lines but are otherwise forgotten about…yet still awesome in their own way.
If you have a Google Account, go check out Google Sites here.
I’ve written about Google’s Domains product and Blogger – but have never looked at Google Sites specifically.
My experience with Google Sites began back when I first started my web design business years and years ago. I never used Google Sites for my own projects until I came across it when a client of mine was using it and needed a few tasks done.
But since then, better competition has popped up from Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress.com, Website Creator, and other website builders. And Google has upgraded the product I originally used. They’ve streamlined it to make it supposedly the “effortless way to create beautiful sites.”
See Google Sites here…
Skip to the Conclusion & Next Steps
So for a personal project of mine, I decided to try it out again and see who the product would really be a good fit for – and not just compare it to other hosted website builders.
I also wanted to compare Google Sites to other website solutions like hosting your own website or using a hosted eCommerce platform.
Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
New Google Sites vs. Classic Google Sites vs. Google My Business Website
Google is notorious for rolling out overlapping & competing with their own products – only to kill or update them after a couple years.
And Google Sites is no different. When discussing Google’s website builder product, there are really up to 4 products in play.
Ok – Blogger is an old-school but still surprisingly good blogging platform. You can create a website with it. You can do designs, templates, and everything else. It’s free. But – you are stuck with the reverse-chronological display of posts. I won’t really be covering this here. I wrote a Blogger review here.
2. Google My Business Website
This is Google’s website product for small, local businesses. You can’t use it unless you have a Google My Business account. The product is less of a “website builder” than a super-detailed local business listing. I won’t really be covering this here. You can read a good FAQ of this product here.
3. Classic Google Sites
This is the product that I started with years and years ago. It still lives at sites.google.com – and it’s decidedly old school.
You can find links to it throughout Google Sites.
The ironic bit about Classic Google Sites is that it actually has more technical options than Google Sites…even if it is less user-friendly.
Most of the pros/negatives of Classic Sites are the same as Google Sites. But I would not consider it for a long-term project since Google will likely kill it any day now if their history is anything to go by.
4. Google Web Designer
This product is not related at all – despite its name.
Google Web Designer is a desktop app to create designs for the Web (aka banner ads).
5. New Google Sites (free)
Ok – this is what we’re going to talk about. This is Google’s main website builder software. It is available for anyone with a Google Account. It not only lives on Google Drive – but it is marketed with Sheets, Docs, Drawings and more.
6. New Google Sites (G Suite)
Ok – this software is the same as the free Google Sites, except that it is built for business subscribers to the G Suite (the old Google Apps for Business). It is exactly the same as the free Google Sites, but has different account permissions and generally receives product updates – like custom domain mapping – sooner than the free version.
Let’s look at the pros & negatives.
Pros of Google Sites
Google Sites has a lot going for it. I know an eCommerce store owner who started and ran her store for 2 years before she began to look for a new solution (though it took a lot of hacking around with PayPal scripts). Here are the major pros.
Google Sites is free with unlimited use, traffic, and websites. This is possibly the most compelling part of Google Sites.
It’s part of Google’s relentless push to keep you signed into your Google account for as much as possible. If you are signed into your personal Google account, you can go to sites.google.com right now and get started. There are no risks, no upsells, no expiration dates or limits. It’s just free due to Google’s crazy innovative business model.
And if you are a paying G Suite for Business user, Sites is bundled with your subscription along with all the backups, administrative controls, and guarantees that come with your account.
There’s no risks and no catch and no “trying” – you can go get started now.*
*of course – there is your time and learning curve investment – which we’ll discuss in the negatives section.
Sites is fully integrated with Google’s products. With the new Google Sites, it even has all the same Material Design conventions of Google’s other products.
Your site is saved directly in your Google Drive. You can access it anywhere with any device. You can download it along with your other data from Google Takeout.
There are no additional passwords or account setup – it’s seamless and fully integrated.
Simplicity & Security
Google Sites is simple and straightforward to use.
The learning curve is measured in minutes. There’s no real “onboarding” or education because everything that is available with the product is “right there.”
You can build a multi-page beautiful, functional website quickly and simply.
Additionally, Google handles your security issues…since it is one and the same as your email account.
Speed & Sharing
Like security, Google handles your speed considerations. The resulting HTML / CSS product is lean on fast servers and available worldwide.
Since it is fully integrated with your Google Account – it is simple to share & preview. You can create & collaborate on a website as easily as you can on a Google Doc.
Negatives of Google Sites
Now – there are plenty of negatives with Google Sites. Like I’ve said with all website builders – there is no overall “best” – there’s only the best for you considering your budget, time, resources, and goals.
After reading the pros of Google Sites – you are probably wondering how Google Sites isn’t the go-to solution for every website.
Well, Google Sites has plenty of negatives. But the summary is that Google Sites is very feature-limited and not really meant for long-term website projects (hence the simplicity).
I like to use real estate as an analogy. If running your own website on your own hosting account is like owning a building on your own property and using a website builder like Weebly is like running a business in a leased storefront, then Google Sites is like leasing a table at a farmer’s market or festival.
It’s great for short-term, quick projects. And you do have plenty of options to “make it yours” – but it’s not really meant for a long-term business website. Let’s look at some of the specifics.
Limited Design Features
Google Sites’ design features are sorely limited.
Your template limits exactly what you can and cannot edit. And – you have very few templates to choose from in the first place.
You cannot add or edit CSS and add any kind of interactivity.
The design features on offer are simple and straightforward – but they are all Google Drive related design tools. There’s some embedding but no editing the embed details.
Although the templates look good, you can’t edit the layouts or any of the core parameters.
For example, with your navigation menu, you get to choose from the top right or the sidebar…and that’s it. There’s no 3rd option or even re-arranging.
The templates look good on all devices but impose strict limits on everything to make this feature happen.
If you want to build any sort of brand identity or build a custom design with tempates – then you’ll be sorely limited with Google Sites.
Limited Marketing Features
Google Sites’ marketing features are sorely limited as well. As a professional marketer, this negative is particularly glaring.
You get Google Analytics access so that you can have critical data like Sessions and Pageviews and such…but that’s about it.
There’s no adding a Facebook Pixel, Share Buttons or Redirects. If you’re into SEO, there’s no editing your Title tag or meta description.
Now – if you get all your traffic from offline methods, direct web referrals, or word of mouth then these tools may not matter.
However, since marketing data is only as useful as the amount of historical data you have – if you ever have plans to grow or use other marketing channels, then Google Sites will not be a good option.
Custom Domain Setup
All Google Sites use https://sites.google.com/[yoursitename] as the default domain name. Unlike Classic Google Sites, there is no option to add a custom domain name.
I don’t know why. The feature might be coming since Google rolled out custom domains to the new Google Sites for G Suite subscribers.
Either way – this is a major downside for Google Sites as a business or even a personal website. While not strictly necessary for a successful website, a domain name is fundamental for any long-term project.
It’s this missing feature that really highlights the fact that Google Sites is really only for temporary projects or internal uses – similar to a Google Doc or Presentation.
Google is notorious for killing off products – including really popular ones. And while Google Sites does seem to be a core part of Google’s productivity suite…that could change at any time (as is the case with the Classic Google Sites).
And while you can export your data as part of Google’s Takeout program, there’s no way to directly export or access your account via FTP within Google Sites.
If you are running a business or even a personal site on Google Sites, you should be aware that it could go away at some point in the future and you should have a plan for that.
Google Sites Comparison
Google Sites is a good product that serves a purpose – but how does it compare directly with other products in the website builder world?
Google Sites vs. Squarespace
I reviewed Squarespace here. If you have a small, temporary project, then Google Sites will be the fit. Squarespace is pricey and has its own learning curve. But – if you have a long-term business or personal project and you value well-done templates that display high-quality photography, then Squarespace will be a better fit.
Google Sites vs. Wix
I reviewed Wix here. Wix has a free plan where you use a [yoursitename].wix.com domain name – so in some ways it’s similar to Google Sites. But with Wix, you have premium plans and access to custom domains. They also offer more features on their free plan. Wix has similar issues to other website builders, but unless you are building a very small free project, then I’d go with Wix. Unlike Google Sites, Wix at least allows you to design more and grow out of the free plan. See Wix’s plans & pricing here.
Google Sites vs. GoDaddy’s Website Builder
I reviewed GoDaddy’s Website Builder (aka “GoCentral) here. It is very feature limited compared to Google Sites…but it’s also super easy to use with a few more marketing tools. Critically, it allows you to seamlessly integrate a custom domain. However, it’s also a paid product. If you have some budget and want a custom domain, but do not want/need many features – then I’d use GoDaddy’s Website Builder. For a free price point – you’ll get a similar product with Google Sites.
Google Sites vs. Weebly
I reviewed Weebly here. Weebly is a solid hosted website builder. They have a free plan with a [yoursitename].weebly.com domain name – but they also have upgrade options and custom domain name options and interesting beginner-level ecommerce options. Unless you have a specific reason to use Google Sites, I’d use Weebly for their drag & drop and upgradeable setup.
Google Sites vs. WordPress.com
I wrote about WordPress.com vs. WordPress here. WordPress.com has a free plan that is limited to [yoursitename].wordpress.com domain name. The setup is focused on blogging – but they have website features & plenty of upgrade options – including a custom domain option. Unless you have a specific reason to use Google Sites, I’d use WordPress.com for their design features and upgradeable setup.
Google Sites vs. Self-hosted WordPress
I wrote about setting up a WordPress website here. This option requires some budget (about $5/mo) and has some learning curve, but it’s also the best long-term option for businesses investing in their online presence. If you have simple, short-term project with a definite end then I’d just use Google Sites. If you know that you have a long-term project, then you’ll want to invest in the learning curve and go ahead and set up your own site on your own hosting.
Conclusion & Next Steps
So – is Google Sites good for small business? Yes…ish. As a defined short-term solution or project-based solution, it’s great. Go set up your site here.
But…if you have a short-term project that might expand, then I’d look at other options. Take my best website builder quiz here.
If you have a project that is long-term and worth investing in, then I’d go ahead and get your self-hosted website setup w/ instructions here.
The post Google Sites Review: Pros & Negatives of Using Google’s Website Builder appeared first on ShivarWeb.
Duda is known as an all-inclusive website builder that was originally created as an easy-to-use mobile website platform for DIYers. It has sinced evolved to help agencies, digital publishers, and hosting companies scale with an quick and easy website platform that helps their clients get up and running ASAP.
Duda is also known for making responsive websites, which means the site fits on any device (i.e. a tablet, phone, computer).
See Duda’s Current Plans & Pricing
Recently, I gave Duda a try for a full Duda review. But before I get into the pros and cons of my Duda review, let’s dive into an overview about tools to build a website.
There are so many considerations to take into account when choosing a website builder — and really, there are a thousand ways to get what you want in the end in terms of functionality, convenience, pricing, etc. The thing to remember is: whether you’re building a simple personal website or running a business, the way you build your site has a lot of consequences.
In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short-term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.
What Is Duda?
On the wide spectrum of website building solutions, Duda lives on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website. It contrasts with solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website (ie, domain name, hosting, software) separately.
Using Duda is sort of like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.
Everything may fit together just right with a website builder like Duda, but that may or may not be what you’re looking for.
As far as competition, Duda competes with all-inclusive website builders like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, Gator, GoCentral, Jimdo, and WordPress.com.
Compared to their direct competition, they focus on speed, ease of use, and responsive design (again, web jargon for making your website mobile device-friendly). Duda offers several website templates you can customize, but it also allows you to build your own sections from scratch, making it a solid solution for both DIYers with zero website experience and those who consider themselves a bit more advanced.
Duda also skews its marketing toward agencies, digital publishers, and hosting companies with features like content import, PageSpeed optimization, site personalization, and more (but we’ll get to that later!).
One other quick aside – a disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Pros of Using Duda Website Builder
Here’s what I found to be the pros of using Duda website builder — not just in comparison to popular builders like Weebly and Wix, but as an overall website solution.
Free Trial Plan
One of Duda’s biggest pros is that they let you try the platform, risk-free, for 30 days. You don’t even have to put a credit card when signing up — you just create an account and get building.
Duda doesn’t restrict your access to any of the features they offer when using the free trial option — it’s as if you’ve bought a plan and are already up and running with them.
This is a great feature if you’re looking to test out a website builder before committing. The thing to keep in mind here though is that the free trial gives you the features of Duda’s mid-tier plan, which includes things like team functionality, content import functionality, etc.
If you were to downgrade after your 30 days, you would lose those features. Not a big deal if you’re not using them, but could also be time wasted if you do use them and then have to make drastic changes to accommodate the new plan.
Straightforward Sign Up Process
Another pro of using Duda is how easy it is to get up and running on the platform. It’s basically just one step — enter your information to create your account, and you’re in! Again, if you’re using the free trial, you don’t even have to pull out a credit card.
This is great for DIYers who want to get up and running as quickly as possible without the hassle of creating a detailed account, selecting a niche, etc.
Simplicity + Flexibility
Duda is also seriously simple to use, which makes it hard to mess up your website design. Once you choose a template, entering your own content is super straightforward.
But Duda also combines ease-of-use with flexibility by offering pretty extensive design options. For example, by clicking the “plus” sign, you can add new, pre-made sections to the templated pages you’ve selected.
Or, you can create your own section from scratch.
This makes Duda a great option for both DIY-ers who want something that’s easy to customize and those who want to add their own design elements without having to hire an experienced designer and developer to make it happen.
Product Integration + Functionality
Another benefit of Duda is their integrations. First, Duda offers hosting on AWS (Amazon Web Services), which can be both a pro and a con depending on where you fall on Amazon.
The pros are that your site can and will still go down (it’s inevitable), but if you’re down, then big brands like Uber, AirBnB, Amazon, Reddit, etc. are down too… which means whatever is causing the downtime is likely to be fixed very quickly. Your site also has access to the best security and storage and speed people in the world.
But the cons are that since your hosting is bundled with Duda, you can’t actually access your files except through Duda (*although Duda does provide a data export). There’s also a chance that pricing changes on the AWS side will affect pricing with Duda. And of course, there’s some people who just don’t want to buy from Amazon… so if you’re in that boat, Duda probably isn’t for you.
Aside from offering DNS and hosting services, Duda also offers some pretty advanced functionality built in to its platform, like access to your website’s HTML and CSS, eCommerce functionality, content import, etc.
This additional functionality gives Duda a unique edge, because it builds in more control while still giving customers the convenience of an all-in-one platform. Typically, these types of website builders see a tradeoff between convenience and control, but Duda does a good job of giving you a decent dose of both.
Just remember that not all of these features are available with all plans, so make sure you do your research.
While this pro is only available with the mid-tier plan and higher, it’s a pretty solid benefit. Duda features the ability to work with your team on your website, which means you can leave comments on the design of the website for your team to review.
This is functionality is pretty nifty if you’re a small agency, business owner with a team, or even a solopreneur who wants a designer to build your site in Duda but YOU want an easy way to leave comments.
Cons of Using Duda
But of course, no review would be complete without looking at the downsides. Every piece of software will have complaints. Let’s look at the specific cons I found with using Duda as your website builder.
Pricing + Plans
While Duda has a lot of amazing features, they are on the pricier side, especially when you start comparing features across their plans. For example, if you wanted a basic plan, you only have access to email support, and if you were creating an ecommerce store with a basic plan, you could only have ten products.
When you dig a bit deeper, you can see that a good bit of functionality is reserved for Team and Agency plans, especially when it comes to Team Collaboration. And when it comes to Duda’s features that give you the most control over your website, like widget builder, website export, and API, those are reserved only for the Agency plan.
Related to pricing, another con of Duda is its free 30-day trial. Don’t get me wrong — having the ability to use Duda’s awesome features for 30 whole days is great! But as I mentioned above, the trial uses the Team plan… which means if you don’t want to pay a higher price point, you’re going to lose a few features and functionality when you move your website to the basic plan.
There also isn’t a free plan for those who just want a basic, short-term website that uses a subdomain. This isn’t a make-or-break con, but it just depends on what you’re looking for. If you need an ultra basic website builder for a short project, you may be better off with a different website builder that’s either less expensive or offers a free plan, no strings attached.
My team, my clients and I have seen and worked with a lot of different software companies. One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that companies have to follow not only the demands of their current customers, but also the demands of their business model. A company might be “good” or “bad” right now, but to know how they’ll be in a few years, it pays to spend a couple minutes thinking about their business model and how they’ll evolve to meet customer and market demands.
For example, anyone who understands that Facebook’s customers are their advertisers, not their users, can understand how & why they do the things they do. There is no inherently “bad” or “good” business model. Every model has tradeoffs. It just pays to know where you, the customer, fit in the picture, especially when you are building something as critical to your business as your website.
Duda is a private, venture funded company. They are based in Silicon Valley with venture capital partners. They’ve done several fundraising rounds since 2010.
Venture-funded companies typically want 1 thing – growth. Sure, they want to make money at some point, but that will usually be at the “liquidity event” (ie, a stock market IPO or company purchase) – not with quarter by quarter profits.
In fact, most venture-funded firms will deliberately lose money if that means growing their customer base. So what are the tradeoffs?
The huge upside is that Duda’s customers will probably get more features, better support, and cheaper pricing than they would otherwise get. The venture capitalists are subsidizing your awesome product.
The huge downside is that Duda’s business model could change (e.g., “pivot”) at any moment. They want customers and revenue – but they want to follow the growth of customers more than anything else.
A publicly traded is solidly committed to their market strategy. A non-investor funded but private builder like InMotion’s Website Creator is responsive to the founder’s vision and customer demands.
Right now, Duda is serving all markets, including DIYers. But they say right on their homepage who they *really* want to serve –
If you are an agency or hosting company – this is great. And if you are building a short-term project, it’s great. But if you are planning a long-term site, you should keep in mind that their product development might shift away from DIY features and more to project management features.
Duda Review Conclusion
Duda certainly makes getting a website up and running easy, and when you factor in their advanced features that give you more control, it makes the platform a pretty solid website builder for small agencies and even DIYers who need something that’s easy-to-use but can also scale.
Check out Duda’s plans here.
However, like most all-inclusive website builders, there does come a point where there’s a tradeoff between convenience and control, especially when you factor in price. Duda’s pricing (and market positioning) leaves something to be desired, especially when you get into the higher priced plans.
If you’re looking for a website platform that has that many advanced features that allow you to control more of your site, you’d probably be better off with something like Wix for a drag & drop builder or using a self-hosted website builder like Website Creator or Weebly if you want an ecommerce component.
Not sure Duda fits your needs? Check out my quiz to find what the best website builder is for you based on your preferences.
The post Duda Website Builder Review: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives appeared first on ShivarWeb.
If you’ve arrived at our comparison of Shopify and Etsy, I’m guessing you’re an online seller (or an aspiring one) of the “artsy” or “craftsy” variety. Perhaps even “artsy-craftsy.” Whichever identifier you prefer, you’ll be pleased to know that both Shopify and Etsy can help you sell all sorts of unique, handcrafted, and/or vintage items.
I’ll admit that in some respects, it’s a little unfair to compare Shopify and Etsy head-to-head. Shopify is a shopping cart platform/website builder you can use to create and manage your own, standalone ecommerce store. The Shopify brand itself operates almost completely in the background from your shoppers’ point of view. (If you build your store correctly, no one will know that it’s really powered by Shopify.)
By contrast, Etsy is an online marketplace that allows youÂ to set up shop directly alongside other ecommerce vendors, all with a similar artsy and/or craftsy vibe. All the while, Etsy’s involvement in the whole operation is directly front and center for your shoppers.
You could also argue that a direct comparison between Shopify and Etsy is quite fair and appropriate. People often wonder 1) which of the two software platforms provides the best starting place to sell online, 2) under what circumstances it makes sense to use one or the other (or both), and 3) at what point a seller might need to transition from Etsy to Shopify.
Plus, the introduction of Pattern by Etsy a few years ago made the comparison between Shopify and Etsy even more apropos. For a monthly fee, Pattern makes it possible for Etsy sellers to maintain a standalone, inventory-synced site of their own. Sites built with Pattern can even offer additional products and services that don’t meet the handmade/vintage/craft supply restrictions of normal Etsy shops.
Pattern aside, a huge draw of Etsy in its original form is the built-in traffic and existing customer base from which you can directly benefit as a seller. (You don’t get that with a standalone Pattern site.) The downside, of course, is that you must share your customers with similar stores.
So, with Pattern thrown in, can Etsy compete directly with Shopify? Does the magic combination of Etsy and Pattern render Shopify completely unnecessary for some Etsy-type sellers? You can already tell from our chart at the top of this article that we are still fans of Shopify, but we think all sellers should understand precisely how these two services stack up on all the important dimensions. Ultimately, the right fit is up to you.
Shopify’s eCommerce Options
Mobile App + Free Card Reader
Point of Sale
Social Media Selling
Low-cost POS for iOS and Android with free hardware
All-purpose POS integrated with all sales channels
Build a store or integrate with your current website
Sell on Facebook and other platforms
Starts at $9/month
Starts at $29/month
Starts at $29/month
Starts at $9/month
Despite some overlap, there’s no getting around the fact that Shopify and Etsy have very different pricing structures. The differences are significant enough that we can’t call a clear winner for cost.
Here’s a very generalized way to compare the two:
Sellers who are just getting started, are very concerned about cash-flow, and simply can’t afford a monthly subscription fee will find an initially cheaper option in Etsy.
Once you have a moderate and fairly predictable stream of transactions and need a full website for your store, Shopify starts to become more cost-effective.
That’s the condensed version of our pricing comparison. For the full breakdown, strap in and keep reading!
When comparing these two platforms, you should first wrap your mind around the main categories of fees involved. It will also help to keep the following overarching difference in mind: Shopify’s main charge is a monthly fee for using the service, while the main component of Etsy’s cost is a fixed 5% transaction fee charged on every sale that occurs on the platform.
Here are the different categories of costs you should keep in mind when comparing Shopify and Etsy:
Monthly Fee: Subscription fee for using the platform.
Listing Fee: Cost of listing a product (or group of products that make up one listing) in your shop.
Transaction Fee:Â Percentage commission per sale charged by Etsy or Shopify itself.
Payment Processing Fee:Â Not the same as a transaction fee!Â This is a per-sale fee (usually a percentage and a dollar amount) charged by your credit card processor/payment gateway. While this entity is usually a third-party company, it turns out both Etsy and Shopify have an in-house, pre-integrated option that most sellers use (Etsy Payments and Shopify Payments, respectively).
Standalone Website:Â Cost of having your own, hosted website with a customizable theme template.
Let’s take a close look at the numbers, shall we? All prices will be shown in USD.
Shopify plans have a monthly fee, no listing fee, and a variable transaction fee that only comes into play if you do not use Shopify Payments as your credit card processor. Starting at the $29/month level, you get your own store website. This involves choosing a free Shopify template or purchasing a premium template from the Shopify theme store. As you look through Shopify’s five pricing plans, remember that you can completely avoid Shopify’s extra transaction fee if you use Shopify Payments as your credit card processor.
Shopify Lite PlanÂ
Monthly Fee: $9/mo.
If Using Shopify Payments: None
If Using External Gateway: 2.0%
Payment Processing Fee (Online)
Shopify Payments: 2.9% + $0.30
External Gateway:Â Varies
Standalone Website: Unavailable. Sell on an existing website, Facebook, or in-person only.
Basic Shopify Plan
Monthly Fee: $29/mo.
If Using Shopify Payments: None
If Using External Gateway: 2.0%
Payment Processing Fee (Online):
Shopify Payments: 2.9% + $0.30
External Gateway:Â Varies
Standalone Website: Included. Templates are $0-$180/ea.
Monthly Fee: $79/mo.
If Using Shopify Payments: None
If Using External Gateway: 1.0%
Payment Processing Fee (Online):
Shopify Payments: 2.6% + $0.30
External Gateway:Â Varies
Standalone Website: Included. Templates are $0-$180/ea.
Advanced Shopify Plan
Monthly fee: $299/mo.
If Using Shopify Payments: None
If Using External Gateway: 0.5%
Payment Processing Fee (Online):
Shopify Payments: 2.4% + $0.30
External Gateway:Â Varies
Standalone Website: Included. Templates are $0-$180/ea.
Shopify Plus:Â Custom pricing.Â Reserved for enterprise-level customers.
With each bump in subscription level, Shopify sellers have access to additional features, as well as more staff accounts for their stores. Check out our full Shopify review, or our quick guide to Shopify pricing, for a more complete breakdown of features by plan.
Same as above
Same as above
Same as above
Etsy has two main plans — Standard and Plus — and a Premium plan that will launch sometime in 2019. Most Etsy sellers use the Standard plan with no monthly fee, whereas the Plus plan is $10/month. Other components of Etsy’s cost include a fixed listing fee, as well as 5% transaction fee on every sale. There is no avoiding this 5% fee, even when you use Etsy Payments as your credit card processor.
Also, keep in mind that your only web presence is your shop page within the Etsy marketplace. If you’d like your own store website separate from (but synced to) your Etsy shop, you can create and maintain a Pattern site for an additional $15/month.
Here are the plans:
Listing Fee: $0.20/ea.
Lasts 4 months
Charged when listing is first published or when renewed
Standalone Website: None, or $15/month with Pattern. Pattern site templates are free.
Monthly Fee: $10/mo.
Other Costs Same As Above
A monthly budget of credits for listings and Promoted listings ads
Access to a discount on a custom web address for your Etsy shop
Restock requests for shoppers interested in your items that have sold out
Advanced shop customization options
Access to discounts on custom packaging and promotional material like boxes, business cards, and signage
Will include premium customer support and advanced management tools for businesses with employees
One final note about pricing before we sum up this section: if you want a standalone site built on Pattern, you’ll also need to purchase and/or connect a domain name. The annual cost varies, but should be comparable to purchasing a domain for a Shopify store. Of course, if you stick to just selling on Etsy and not on Pattern, you don’t need your own domain URL.
Again, this is one of those comparisons you’ll have to decide the winner of for yourself. You can see that once you have a steady flow of significantly-sized transactions, avoiding that 5% Etsy fee on every sale and ponying up $29/month for Shopify instead (and using Shopify Payments to have the Shopify transaction fee waived) starts to make more sense.
Shopify and Etsy stores are both fully-hosted solutions based in the cloud. You don’t need to download or install anything to use either. If you create an Etsy-connected website using Pattern, your site’s hosting is covered by your $15/month Pattern subscription. Similarly, Shopify store hosting is covered by the monthly fee.
Specific Size Of Business
Shopify deserves the win in this category for accommodating a much wider range of business sizes. For just $9/month, you can start selling on Facebook with no additional transaction fees (beyond payment processing itself) if you use Shopify Payments. From there, Shopify scales all the way up to enterprise-level merchants. Etsy, on the other hand, is better geared toward small to mid-sized operations and doesn’t scale nearly as well. That said, for those who just want to test the ecommerce waters and dabble in selling a few handmade or vintage products, Etsy is ideal.
Hardware & Software Requirements
No special hardware or software is required to open and manage a shop on either platform. You do have the option to add hardware (like card readers) if you wish to sell in-person.
Ease Of Use
Shopify usually earns our top rating for ease of use in the ecommerce software category, and with good reason. In this case, however, I’m awarding Etsy the narrow win. As a marketplace with a uniform structure across all web shops on the platform, the whole Etsy setup process is much less open-ended, so it’s easier to start selling right away. Once you fully dive into the admin dashboard and start manipulating individual features, however, I think the two platforms are equally easy to use.
Let’s peek inside the setup process and backend structure of each system, so you can see what I mean.
Shopify offers a two-week free trial of the platform — all you need is an email address. You’re free to test the software to your heart’s content, short of making actual sales.
Once you’ve started a trial account, you’ll gain immediate access to your store’s admin panel. The Shopify dashboard is quite streamlined, with daily operation menus contained in the left sidebar. There are even a few tips to get started setting up your store in the center area:
Shopify — Add A Product
Listing your first product is typically one of the first tasks inside Shopify, but it doesn’t have to be. Adding a product involves completing a simple interface:
In addition to configuring products and setting up the rest of the backend of your store, you can work on customizing your online storefront at the same time. We’ll have more on this process in the Web Design section.
While Shopify is easy to use, you are ultimately responsible for locating and configuring all the settings (shipping, tax, billing, etc.) to get your store going.
The cookie-cutter look of Etsy shops is no accident — it’s achieved through a simple, highly-controlled system behind the scenes. In fact, Etsy guides your hand to such a strong extent that by the time you’re taken through the basic setup process, you already have a store that’s up and running.
Unfortunately, there is no free trial of Etsy. Instead, you must enter a product, your bank account routing number, your credit card info, and other personal/business details before you can even enter the admin dashboard. Coming from the land of ecommerce software where no-credit-card-required free trials abound, I find this system annoying. However, I can’t deny that it is also very effective.
From my personal Etsy account, I’ve used to make Etsy purchases in the past, I simply clicked “Sell on Etsy.” I was then taken through a very detailed setup wizard, all the way from setting my country, to listing my first product, to inputting my billing and payment methods. As you can see from the dots across the top of the wizard interface, it’s a five-step process:
When you finally make it to the main admin panel (called Store Manager), you’ll find it’s actually fairly similar to Shopify. In my own testing, I could find all the menus and features I was looking for in the left sidebar:
Etsy — Add A Product
The most detailed piece of the store setup wizard is step three: adding products (a.k.a, listings). As I mentioned, you’re forced to list at least one item before you can even complete the Etsy signup process and see your main dashboard. Below is the third screen from the setup wizard. Yep, it’s long. Click it to enlarge, if you dare.
This may seem like a lot of work, and it kind of is. Mercifully, Etsy makes it all extremely straightforward. You just need a touch of patience. As part of this process, you’re actually also setting up a shipping profile that can then be reapplied to other products. And, once you choose the type of product you’re selling, Etsy is very good about predicting the type of attributes and variations you might need for that product. I walked away from the processing thinking, “Wow, Etsy knows its sellers and their products really well.”
Side note: Once you finally make it to your dashboard, you can load additional products with a similar interface:
As soon as I was (finally)Â done with the initial setup wizard, my shop was online and ready to sell. I received so much guidance steering me directly to the goal that I almost felt like I was tricked into suddenly having an active store. In a good way, I guess!
I’ve focused on getting a store up and running in this section as an illustrative example — there are lots of other components of each platform to consider. As you’ll see in our Feature section below, though, Etsy has fewer features than Shopify overall. This makes it easier to quickly get a handle on the entire software platform’s capabilities and scores Etsy another point for user-friendliness. Still, the ease of going from zero to ready-to-sell is what really puts Etsy on top.
Let’s acknowledge right away that comparing the features of Etsy and Shopify is hardly an apples-to-apples endeavor. One is an online marketplace including multiple sellers, while the other is a platform on which to build a website that you ultimately own. Etsy has a specific target market of crafters, vintage resellers, and the like, while Shopify’s merchant pool is much wider. The feature sets of each platform work really well for sellers within their specific contexts. Once we add Etsy’s Pattern to the mix, the comparison gets a little closer, but it’s still slightly unfair to both systems.
I do think the best “features” of Etsy have already been highlighted — it’s very easy to get started selling, and you’ve already got a built-in traffic base. Beyond these important advantages, there’s not a lot you can do on the back or front end of your Etsy and/or Pattern shop that you can’t do with Shopify. And, if the core Shopify platform doesn’t have a specific tool you’re looking for, I can almost guarantee you’ll find a solution in the immense app store (more on that later).
All in all, I’m giving Shopify the win because I think it’s a more advanced system for ecommerce. Shopify adds several features that Etsy and Pattern are missing, like checkout on your own domain (customers are redirected back to Etsy if they purchase through your Pattern site), manual order creation, a built-in POS system, and bulk product import/export/editing. In addition, many of the features the two platforms share in common are more robust or flexible with Shopify (I’m thinking of their respective discount engines, abandoned cart recovery systems, SEO tools, etc.).
Despite their core differences, Shopify and Etsy/Pattern still have a lot of great things in common. Thus, I’d like to end this section with aÂ list of someÂ features both platforms share:
Sell unlimited products
Sell physical or digital products
Free SSL certificate (with Pattern)
Built-in blog (with Pattern)
Social media sharing
Automatically calculate shipping & tax
Purchase/print shipping labels
Inventory & order management
Create discounts & coupons
Abandoned cart recovery
Analytics & reports
Mobile store management app
Shopify easily wins this category, even after you throw Etsy’s Pattern software into the mix. Shopify’s frontend template options have Pattern’s beat on all counts — the sheer number of options, the variety of styles, and the overall quality of designs. Not to mention that once you’ve chosen a theme, Shopify gives you much more flexibility to perform further customizations. Allow me to illustrate!
Shopify offers 70 templates, most with 2-4 style variations. Ten themes are free and supported by Shopify developers, while the remaining third-party themes are offered at $140-$180 as one-time purchases.
I think most of the free themes from Shopify outshine Pattern themes, but we’ll get to Pattern in a moment. For now, you should know that Shopify has tools to adjust fonts and colors (via the Theme Editor), and to drag-and-drop page elements up and down your layout (via the “Sections” tool) — all without touching any code. You can also make further adjustments with code if you have those skills, but this is not necessary for the average user.
Here’s a quick screen-grab of Shopify’s visual, non-coding editor:
For more information on how these tools work, check out our full Shopify Review.
Your Etsy shop comes with just one design template that’s the same as everyone else’s on the marketplace. You already saw the default store layout that popped up when I initially created my store. In the backend admin panel, you can customize your homepage by adding a banner image, your logo, a featured area to highlight products, an About section, and a few other basic elements. Each piece is fixed in place, though — no drag-and-drop tool to be found. Anywhere there is a little “+”, you can add a specific element:
With the $10/month plan, you have a bit more flexibility in your design. For example, you can insert a rotating image carousel in lieu of a fixed banner image across the top. And yet, there’s still no dragging nor dropping allowed.
If you decide to create a standalone website with the Pattern feature (remember, that’s another $15/month), you can choose from 10 possible templates. Pattern will recommend an option for your shop depending on your current Etsy store, but you can easily swap it out later:
Once you’ve chosen a theme, you have the option to customize your colors, fonts, text, and images — but again, all with pre-defined placement: Here’s the interface after I added a logo and header:
You can also add a few select pages to your site, like an About or Contact page. You just have to be okay with your layout being completely fixed for each page. Even if you wanted to try tweaking the template code, it’s just not an option.
Sorry, Etsy. Shopify has some of the best designs and editing tools of all shopping cart platforms on the market, so I’m not surprised that Etsy is completely overshadowed in this area. Pattern is only ideal for the most basic of websites. Fortunately, it does offer a 30-day free trial of a live site (once you’re already signed up for Etsy) if you’d like to test the site builder for yourself.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Etsy and Shopify each offer a collection of free and paid add-ons to integrate with your shop. The big difference is in the quantity. Etsy’s selection of a couple dozen apps just can’t compete with Shopify’s approximately 2500 offerings. If you’re worried about the quality of these Shopify add-ons, you have access to thousands of user reviews in the app store. You’re likely to find anything and everything you need to expand your store beyond the core Shopify platform.
A large selection is certainly great, but with the important caveat that the vastness of it all could end up becoming too overwhelming, costly, and unnecessary for small sellers. I was happy to see that Etsy at least offers a few well-known accounting and tax integrations (e.g., Quickbooks, Wave, TaxJar, TaxCloud) and email marketing apps (e.g. AWeber, or MailChimp if you use Pattern). You’ll need to decide if you will ultimately need the store expansion capability that Shopify provides, or can settle for Etsy’s offerings. If you set up a Pattern store, you’ll definitely want to add a good SEO integration.
Payment processing is a complicated and nuanced topic, so we’ll just cover some basic comparisons. Your mileage on this verdict in favor of Shopify will vary depending on your location, currencies, risk level, etc.
We’ve already mentioned that Shopify and Etsy both have their own self-branded payment gateways. Do note that Shopify Payments is actually built on Stripe’s infrastructure, while Etsy Payments is largely powered by Adyen, another big payment gateway company.
At any rate, most sellers on either platform end up using these pre-integrated options. Why? Well, even though you have over 100 processor options with Shopify, recall that you’re penalized with a separate transaction fee (usually 2%) if you don’t pick Shopify Payments. Meanwhile, Etsy Payments (formerly Etsy Direct Checkout) is essentially your only credit card processor option with Etsy. The only reason you wouldn’t use Etsy Payments is if it’s not yet available in your location. If you’re not operating from one of the approximately three dozen approved countries, you can only accept PayPal or manual payment methods (like check or money order) that you arrange separately with your buyers.
Etsy Payments allows you to accept credit and debit cards, Etsy gifts cards and credit, PayPal (pre-integrated), a few bank transfer services, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Shopify Payments offers similar options but adds Amazon Pay and Shopify Pay to the mix. Meanwhile, Etsy Payments does allow you to accept a few more currencies than Shopify Payments (Danish or Norwegian krone, anyone?).
Below is a quick look at the processing fees for Shopify Payments versus Etsy Payments (shown in USD). As you’ll see, Shopify Payments it the better processing deal, especially as you climb the subscription ladder. Of course, you need to factor this into the larger picture of costs we discussed earlier.
$9 Lite Plan
2.9% + $0.30 Online (including manual entry)
$29 Basic Plan
2.9% + $0.30 Online
$79 Shopify Plan
2.6% + $0.30 Online
$299 Advanced Plan
2.4% + $0.30 Online
3% + $0.25 Online
In-Person (with Square integration only):
3.5% + $0.15 for manually-entered online transactions
+ $0.20 for any Square product not synced with your Etsy store
An “in-house” payment processor can really streamline this aspect of your business, so it’s nice that both platforms offer one. Neither is a 100% perfect processor for everyone, as you’ll see when we discuss user reviews later. Nevertheless, Shopify Payments comes out ahead because it offers better rates, more payment methods for shoppers, and a native system for in-person transactions. Plus, if Shopify Payments doesn’t work for you, you’ve got plenty of other gateways from which to choose. Not so with Etsy.
Customer Service & Technical Support
This particular contest was closer than I expected. Both platforms offer 24/7 email and phone support, but Shopify adds a third contact channel via 24/7 live chat. That’s really the main reason for Shopify’s win here. I know a lot of online sellers prefer this option over email and phone, since it works like a nice blend of the two. Etsy does offer a callback option when waiting on hold, which is very handy. On the flip side, I’d like to see Etsy’s contact number and ticket system more easily accessed from the help center page — it’s much too buried for my taste at the moment.
While both platforms also offer great self-help resources such as blogs, forums, knowledgebase articles, and videos, the information for Etsy sellers is mixed in with support resources for Etsy shoppers. This can feel a bit cluttered and confusing at times.
I will say that Etsy does go beyond the support of a typical ecommerce platform in a unique and specific way. As a marketplace that gathers lots of merchants together in one place, sellers are automatically part of a built-in community. There’s even an opportunity to join Etsy Teams — groups of sellers in the same location, selling the same types of products, or with other unifying aspects to their stores. Some teams even meet up in real life or organize special events together. While Shopify users can tap into the strong community of developers and merchants offering mutual support in forums, the overall camaraderie can’t compete with Etsy’s community vibe.
You also may have more access to seller protections as part of a marketplace, but this can heavily depend on the specific situation. Etsy aims to look out for its shoppers as well!
Because Etsy is a marketplace full of buyers as well as sellers, buyer complaints abound. When something goes wrong with a sale, it’s more accessible and more public for a shopper to point a finger at Etsy than the actual seller, even when the seller was primarily at fault. Shopify mostly operates behind the scenes from a shopper’s point of view, so it’s easier to isolate feedback about the platform that’s specifically from store owners.
For these reasons, Etsy’s reputation on review sites can be skewed quite negatively, so I can’t make a truly fair comparison with Shopify. Nevertheless, I’ve teased out some seller-specific feedback, just so you can get an idea of the common threads that appear.
First, the good. Not surprisingly, Etsy sellers like how easy it is to set up shop. They enjoy access to an existing customer base and the effective site search tools that make it easy for shoppers to find their products. Some users have mentioned their positive experiences with Etsy’s customer service, and the help they’ve received resolving disputes with customers (or even other sellers).
Of course, some Etsy sellers mention bad experiences with customer service, saying the marketplace isn’t taking enough responsibility for regulating seller behavior. I found several complaints that Etsy gets away with being a “neutral” party, shifting blame to its users on either end of transactions. At the very least, people are confused about Etsy’s role.
Other Etsy shop owners contend that the marketplace is too saturated with similar sellers, and that competition is simply too tough to sustain their shops. Still others have issues with payments or chargebacksÂ or claim their shops were suddenly closed without warning. I’ve also seen plenty of sellers lament the increase in Etsy transaction fee from 3.5% to 5% in mid-2018 — that wasn’t so popular.
On the Shopify side, the top accolade is typically its ease of use. Sellers also like the opportunity to add functionality and scale their stores using add-ons from the app store. Shopify’s web design is highly praised, especially among those who appreciate the ability to easily customize their sites without code.
Like with EtsyÂ — and many other large software companies — Shopify’s customer support receives mixed reviews. Other common Shopify complaints include the added cost of integrations and the extra transaction fees if you can’t use Shopify Payments. Sellers do sometimes have problems with the payment system itself as well — their funds were held, or their Shopify Payments accounts were terminated due to various factors.
If that all sounds a bit scary, understand that a lot of the problems that pop up for Etsy and Shopify are common across the ecommerce world. The good news is that the research you’re doing now will help protect you against some of the more avoidable issues!
Etsy and Shopify are both PCI complaint systems, offering site-wide SSL certificates for data encryption. If that all sounded like nonsense and jargon, don’t worry. You should know, however, that part of the reason Pattern websites meet security requirements set out by the data regulatory folks is that your shoppers are directed back over to Etsy checkout pages to complete their transactions. This kind of ruins the illusion that your site was actually your own site, but it does at least help with security. With Shopify, your customers can check out directly on your site with the same level of security in place.
Shopify won this battle handily, coming out ahead in most of our individual comparison categories. And yet, I’ll be the first to admit that the one-sidedness of our comparison does not do the key selling points of Etsy justice. The main advantages to Etsy — the ability to get a shop up and running quickly on a shoestring budget, and built-in access to the traffic of an entire online marketplace — are absolutely huge for beginning sellers. If you’re not ready to go whole-hog into selling online and would prefer to test the waters first, Etsy is definitely the way to start. For first time sellers, it’s akin to setting up your craft booth at an established craft fair, versus plopping your stall on a street corner in the middle of nowhere.
This is all to say that Shopify only really wins if you’re ready to take responsibility for maintaining and drawing traffic to your own website. You’ll need to learn and implement an effective SEO and marketing strategy, for example. This is no small feat for the budding online seller and should not be taken lightly. If done well, however, any customers you obtain are your own, and this is the big reward that accompanies your efforts with Shopify. Your sales and growth will not be limited by super-direct competition with other sellers within a marketplace. You’ll completely sidestep this major downside to Etsy.
When we start talking about actual ecommerce features and web design, Shopify is a more powerful ecommerce tool. Specifically, we’ve seen that Etsy’s Pattern software can’t compete with the standalone storefront-building capabilities of Shopify. For most sellers who are ready to launch their own websites, I’d suggest skipping over Pattern and heading for Shopify. Yes, a Pattern subscription is cheaper than Shopify, but it seems like too much of an intermediate, half-way step that won’t get you fully where you want to go. Besides, there’s no reason you can’t keep your Etsy shop open in the meantime as you grow your Shopify-based store — and, you could ultimately connect an app to sync up your inventory between the two. Etsy could then become one marketing channel of many for your main online store’s top products. Something to consider!
I think if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably ready to at least test the capability of Shopify with a free 14-day trial. Of course, if you’re already an Etsy seller, you can also play around with Pattern’s tools for free before even connecting a domain and going live with your site. Since you’ve got nothing to lose with either platform in that respect, why not set up your own mini-showdown between Pattern and Shopify?
Let us know how it goes in the comments. Happy artsy, craftsy, or artsy-craftsy selling!
Shopify’s eCommerce Options
Mobile App + Free Card Reader
Point of Sale
Social Media Selling
Low-cost POS for iOS and Android with free hardware
All-purpose POS integrated with all sales channels
Build a store or integrate with your current website
Sell on Facebook and other platforms
Starts at $9/month
Starts at $29/month
Starts at $29/month
Starts at $9/month
The post Shopify VS Etsy appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
WooCommerce and Shopify are both wildly popular software systems that can help you build a thriving online store. Behind-the-scenes, however, the two platforms work quite differently from one another. Before we jump into comparing these juggernauts of the ecommerce software realm, let’s quickly get oriented on the basics of each.
At its core, Shopify (read our review) is a SaaS (software as a service) online shopping cart platform. Starting at just $9/month, you can upload products to an online catalog and sell them on Facebook, or post them on an existing website of your own via embeddable “buy” buttons. You can even sell your products in-person with the Shopify POS app. Then, beginning at $29/month, Shopify facilitates the creation and hosting of a fully-fledged ecommerce website.
By contrast, WooCommerce (read our review), is a free and open-source ecommerce shopping cart plugin that was created specifically for installation inside the WordPress dashboard. The WooCommerce plugin turns a WordPress website or blog into an ecommerce storefront. In other words, WooCommerce has no actual website-building capabilities of its own — WordPress handles that part.
To understand WooCommerce and how it works, you need a little familiarity with WordPress itself. To put it simply, WordPress is a website builder/CMS (content management system) that exists in two forms: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the self-hosted version, whereas WordPress.com uses the same basic software as WordPress.org, but provides web hosting for your site as part of its services. Either WordPress version can actually be combined with WooCommerce, but each setup has different implications for cost, site maintenance, etc.
For the purposes of our Shopify versus WooCommerce comparison, we’ll focus on combining WooCommerce with WordPress.org, the self-hosted option. Most ecommerce sellers are attracted to WooCommerce because they already use WordPress.org for their websites, and/or they like the WooCommerce plugin’s “free” price tag in conjunction with WordPress.org. While the WooCommerce plugin itself is always free, you can only add plugins to the dot-com version of WordPress if you’re on the $25/month WordPress.com subscription.
Now that you know the basics, we’ll break down the two platforms into their various components — usability, features, comprehensive cost, and more. It’s basically the same old compare-and-contrast essay we were all forced to write in middle school. The stakes are a bit higher with this particular essay, however. By the time we’re done, you’ll hopefully have a good sense of which ecommerce platform (if either) is best for your online business.
You might be tempted to think WooCommerce immediately takes this category without contest. After all, both the WooCommerce plugin and the WordPress.org software download are free, whereas Shopify automatically involves a monthly subscription. In reality, you need to invest in a few services (e.g., web hosting) to get a WooCommerce + WordPress.org ecommerce store off the ground. The bottom line is, WooCommerce may be a bit cheaper at the outset, but it’s not 100% free. Just wanted to clear that up first!
Before we run a more detailed cost comparison of the two platforms, here’s a quick look at why WooCommerce wins this category:
You can launch an online storefront up for well under $29/month, which is the starting price for a full online store with Shopify.
All WooCommerce features are included with the free plugin. You don’t automatically need to jump to higher subscription levels for additional features or staff accounts (you just may need some add-ons as time goes on). In other words, you pay only for exactly what you need.
Neither WordPress nor WooCommerce charge any additional transaction fees per sale, beyond those charged by your credit card processor. Shopify only waives its extra transaction fees (that start at 2%) if you use Shopify Payments as your credit card processor, and not everyone is eligible for Shopify Payments.
WooCommerce is the budget option of the two, but only if you have the skills to run your own website and don’t need to hire extra help for web development, site maintenance, security, backups, etc. If you do need lots of extra help, you could still end up paying more with WooCommerce + WordPress in the long run. Fair warning.
That’s the summary explanation. Now, here’s a more detailed pricing breakdown if you’re interested:
Monthly Subscription Fee: $9 (no standalone storefront), $29, $79 or $299/month.
Domain: Unless you want your store URLs to end in “myshopify.com” (and you probably don’t), you’ll need to purchase or connect a custom domain. Domains from Shopify start at $11/year, or there are lots of third-party options.
Web Hosting: Included
SSL/TLS Certificate: Included
Additional Transaction Fees:Â 0.5%-2.0% depending on your Shopify subscription — unless you use the in-house payment processor (Shopify Payments), in which case these extra fees are waived. Note: these transaction fees are on top of regular credit card processing fees you must pay per sale with any processor.
Additional Cost:Â Primarily add-ons from the marketplace, and perhaps a one-time purchase of a premium theme.
WooCommerce + WordPress.org Pricing
Monthly SubscriptionÂ Fee: None if you set up a free WordPress.org site. The WooCommerce plugin itself is always free.
Domain:Â Varies, but can start at less than a dollar per month from third-parties.
Web Hosting:Â Rock-bottom hosting can cost as low as around $3/month, but most people end up paying at least $10 per month, depending on the size and traffic levels of their stores.
SSL/TLS Certificate:Â Often included with your hosting or domain provider, but may need to be purchased separately. Basic certificates cost just a few dollars per month.
Additional Transaction Fees:Â None. Neither WooCommerce or WordPress charge a commission per sale.
Additional Cost: Add-ons, themes, and any web development and ongoing site maintenance if you’re not taking care of all that yourself.
Sample WooCommerce + WordPress.org hosting
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
As we’ve mentioned, a major difference between Shopify and WooCommerce is that your Shopify subscription includes web hosting. No downloads or installations are required. To use WooCommerce, however, you first must download the WordPress.org software and install it on a web hosting server. Then, you add the WooCommerce plugin to that setup. Some web hosts do offer preloaded WordPress + WooCommerce packagesÂ or “one-click” installations.
Is the Shopify or WooCommerce method better? This one really comes down to personal preference and ability. The self-hosted setup of WooCommerce requires more hands-on involvement and skill from the user, but you may be just fine with that.
Specific Size Of Business
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are scalable, working for small to enterprise-level businesses.
Shopify has predetermined subscription brackets. While none of these put hard limits on your revenue, number of products, bandwidth, or storage, the implication is that you’ll increase your subscription as your store grows. The exception is the jump to Shopify Plus, which is required if your revenue reaches over $1 million per year. These plans cost a couple thousand a month to start, but it can be worth the investment in return for a service that’s tailored specifically for enterprise-level merchants.
You will also need to change your Shopify subscription as you add more staff accounts to your store. For example, the $29/month plan accommodates two admin seats in addition to the owner’s account, while the $299/month plan gives you 15 spots.
WooCommerce also has the potentialÂ to grow with your store, but the system is much more fluid. You have 100% flexibility to expand your operation (and perhaps employ more help with your site) in a piecemeal fashion, exactly when and how you see fit. As your site traffic increases, for example, you’ll want to adjust your hosting service accordingly to accommodate more bandwidth.
Hardware & Software Requirements
As a fully-hosted, SaaS platform, Shopify takes care of nearly all technology requirements on your behalf. All you really need is an internet connection and an up-to-date web browser.
With WooCommerce and WordPress.org, most of the hardware and software requirements are functions of your hosting environment. Your server needs to support specific versions of PHP and MYSQL, for example. You’re responsible for staying on top of the evolving requirements for both WooCommerce and WordPress.org when you set up a WooCommerce store. This includes installing updates of both the Worpress.org and WooCommerce software as they are released. Plugins are available to help automate some of these steps for you, but you’re still ultimately responsible for finding and updating those plugins!
Because dealing with hardware and software issues with WooCommerce is more nuanced and requires more vigilance from the user than Shopify’s arrangement, we award Shopify the win.
Ease Of Use
It should be noted, however, that WooCommerce actually isn’t all that bad when it comes to ease of use, especially compared with most open-source solutions. For starters, many folks are already somewhat familiar with WordPress, which gives them aÂ head start in navigating WooCommerce. (Keep in mind that the reverse will apply if you’re not already familiar with WordPress — you’ll be learning two systems at once.)Â Once you get everything installed and up and running, day-to-day operations and manipulation of features are all pretty straightforward with WooCommerce.
WooCommerce offers to install some additional free plugins (like Jetpack and WooCommerce Services) from theÂ get-go that help bring the system more in line with a fully-hosted solution like Shopify, but you still end up with a sort of cobbled-together setup that is more difficult to manage than an all-inclusive platform.
Have a look at our full Shopify and WooCommerce reviews if you’d like more information on the topic of ease-of-use, but I’ve included just a quick peek at the dashboards of each platform, as well as what it’s like to add a product.
After signing up for a free 14-day trial, you’re taken to a clean and easy-to-navigate dashboard, with all your major functions in the left menu, and a few tips to get started in the center:
Shopify — Add A Product:
Shopify has a super-simple product interface. All fields are completed simply by scrolling down the page.
Below I’ve shown a WordPress dashboard with WooCommerce already installed. If you look closely at the left menu, you’ll see that WooCommerce is just one item of many. I haven’t even expanded its own menu yet, nor the “Products” menu right below. In the center of the dashboard, I’m faced with additional suggested configurations and plugin choices. Do I need them all? Should I set them up now? Just “Dismiss?” It’s certainly all doable, but I find it bit cluttered and overwhelming to get started. Plus, this is all after I completed the setup wizard.
WooCommerce — Add A Product:
Once you scroll past the plugin suggestions, adding a product is quite straightforward with WooCommerce. If you’ve ever used WordPress, it’s a lot like creating a blog post. You’ll just need to configure ecommerce settings like price and inventory levels.
Another aspect to consider is that you won’t be able to test WooCommerce (like you can test Shopify with its free trial) unless you have a host and server already set up to install WordPress.org. Ease of use is always a bit subjective, and it’s hard to get a good feel for usability without testing the software yourself.
Although one is software-as-a-service and the other is open-source, both Shopify and WooCommerce actually take a similar approach to features. The basic components to get a store launched and managed on a day-to-day basis are included with the software, but you’re expected to add a few extensions and integrations to either platform in order to tailor your store to your exact specifications.
With Shopify, this occasionally even means bumping up your subscription level, whereas with WooCommerce, features are always expanded through separate add-ons. WooCommerce has also been known to test new features by treating them as extensions first, and then eventually incorporating the features into the core offering once all the kinks are worked out by users. It’s really a community effort with Woo.
However you slice it, a common complaint about both platforms is that extra plugins can cause extra cost and extra headaches. Each system is kept as simple (yet functional) as can be from the outset, so that new users are not immediately overwhelmed by all that’s ultimately possible with these powerful software programs.
Let’s do a couple of quick sample feature comparisons. WooCommerce lets you add unlimited product variations, sell digital products, and incorporate product reviews without separate extensions, while Shopify requires (free) add-ons for each of these functions. Meanwhile, Shopify already includes abandoned cart recovery, invoice creation, and pre-integrated shipping software (Shopify Shipping). You’ll need extensions for these features in WooCommerce.
I’m tempted to give Shopify the win because I feel it comes with a slightly more well-rounded ecommerce feature set out-of-the-box without any plugins. And yet I also don’t want to overlook the enormous capability that comes with an entire WordPress.org ecosystem at your fingertips, nor dismiss the potential to customize each feature to your liking in an open-source environment. There are just too many factors at play to declare a clear winner here. The best advice I can give is to check for the features you need, as well as how they are obtained with each platform.
I know this makes our compare-and-contrast essay less exciting, but it’s difficult to call a winner in this category as well. Each platform has advantages and disadvantages, and your own perception of what actually qualifies as anÂ advantage or disadvantage will differ depending on your situation.
Below is a quick summary of each system’s approach to the design and customization of your storefront, along with some screenshots to help illustrate.
67 total templates, most with 2-4 style variations
10 templates are free and supported by Shopify developers
Remaining third-party themes cost $140-$180
Built-in theme editor with drag-and-drop capability
Additional customization available with HTML, CSS, and Shopify’s own theme coding language (Liquid)
Shopify Theme Marketplace:
Shopify Theme Editor:
The Shopify theme editor consists of two elements: “Theme Settings” (for changing fonts, colors, etc.) and “Sections” (for dragging and dropping widget blocks up and down your pages).
Access to thousands of free and commercial/supported WordPress.org themes (over 900 show up when filtering for “ecommerce” in the marketplace)
WooCommerce recommends its free “Storefront” theme for foolproof compatibility and web ticket support
14 Storefront “child” themes available (two free, premium are $39 each)
Theme editor allows color changes and placement of widgets (but without drag-and-drop)
Storefront expansion bundle ($69) allows further customization without coding
Theme modification also possible with HTML and CSS (no proprietary coding language involved)
Add a free plugin (such as Elementor) for drag-and-drop design editing of WordPress.org pages without code
WordPress.org’s new Gutenberg editor provides additional non-coding customization for your overall WordPress site
WooCommerce Storefront Themes:
WooCommerce Theme Editor:
Below, I’ve shown the portion of the built-in theme editor where you can choose widget blocks for various spots within your pages.
So, how do WooCommerce and Shopify stack up when it comes to web design? Does Shopify win for having a drag-and-drop theme editor and font tweaking built-in, or does it lose for making you learn a proprietary coding language if you want to do further template customizations? The new Gutenberg block editor for WordPress enhances your theme editing capabilities without code, and lets you easily place WooCommerce products wherever you’d like within your larger WordPress site — so that’s another factor to consider going forward. It’s issues like these that make this category a toss-up depending on your point of view.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Even though I’ve already spoiled the winner of this category, we need to highlight the fact that Shopify also has an amazing app marketplace with around 2500 integrations at your disposal. With Shopify, you have the opportunity to connect with many of the most popular third-party software platforms associated with ecommerce (think shipping, marketing, accounting, and the like). Thousands of developers have invested in creations for the Shopify extension ecosystem. In most ecommerce software battles, Shopify easily wins this category.
All that said, open-source systems like WooCommerce + WordPress.org typically offer more integration possibilities than even the most well-connected SaaS platforms. The whole point of an open-source platform is for users at large to jump head-on into the codebase to customize and build connections. In the open-source world, WordPress has a particularly enormous and active community of developers extending the platform. As a WooCommerce user, not only do you benefit from hundreds of WooCommerce-specific extensions, but also from the over 50,000 plugins available in the WordPress.org marketplace. Even Shopify can’t fully compete.
Some argue that because many WooCommerce integrations are one-time installations, it works out cheaper in the long run, or point out that more WooCommerce plugins are free. In truth, integrations can add to your monthly cost with either Shopify or WooCommerce — especially if your integrations are to third-party software platforms with their own monthly subscription fees (and not just one-off feature installs). Be cognizant of the potential for ballooning add-on costs with either system.
The complete freedom WooCommerce offers to choose a payment processor and associated pricing model that best suits your particular store’s needs is the reason we award the open-source plugin the win in this category.
While Shopify technically offers more pre-built payment integrations than WooCommerce in its respective marketplace, you are actually penalized with an extra 0.5% to 2.0% Shopify commission on every sale if you don’t select the in-house Shopify Payments option. This percentage — 2% for most merchants starting out — is applied on top of the fees charged by your payment gateway itself. Trust me, that extra 2% adds up fast.
Shopify Payments has its own advantages and disadvantages, but for starters, some merchants don’t even qualify to use this processor in the first place. While Shopify Payments definitely works well when it works, a lot of merchants end up stuck in no-man’s land when it comes to payment processing with Shopify. Caught between an extra fee and a hard place, as it were. (Insert your own, better metaphor here.)
While you may need to pay a one-time fee to integrate your favorite processor with WooCommerce (Stripe and PayPal come as free, built-in options), you can ultimately select an option that fits perfectly with your risk level, sales volume, and transaction size. You can also select for any customer support and feature requirements you may have for your payments system.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Winner: ShopifyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Both WooCommerce and WordPress have produced a plethora of self-help resources and documentation. Moreover, both boast thriving communities of developers and merchants working with the software who readily share problem-solving advice via forums. This is all very good and helpful.
WooCommerce can’t compete with Shopify when it comes to personalized support, however. A “help desk” is offered with WooCommerce from which you can submit a web ticket for specific purchased items, but a personal response is not always guaranteed.
Meanwhile, along with great self-help resources and community forums of its own, Shopify offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat avenues for contacting live representatives in real time. This is part of the all-inclusive nature of the Shopify platform, and part of the reason you pay that monthly subscription fee.
Now, this is not to say you couldn’t potentially receive personalized assistance from your hosting provider if your site goes down, for example. The quality and availability of this sort of third-party tech support will vary widely by company, though. Not to mention, things can get complicated very quickly regarding exactly who holds responsibility for whatever’s gone horribly wrong with your online store in the middle of the night. Once again, our point is that neither WooCommerce nor WordPress.org has a team of service reps standing by waiting for your distress call. You’re largely on your own.
Shopify and WooCommerce each have devoted followings of satisfied users, and both platforms tend to score very highly on user review websites. Shopify merchants love the user-friendliness of a powerful SaaS platform where most things are taken care of for you, while WooCommerce devotees appreciate that most things are not taken care of for you — it gives these users the flexibility and control they desire.
Of course, neither ecommerce platform is perfect. Here are a few of the complaints that arise most often:
Extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments
I’m still calling this one a draw. One platform does not dramatically outshine the other when it comes to real user feedback.
Shopify wins this category because all Shopify stores are automatically PCI compliant out-of-the-box and come with a built-in SSL certificate. With WooCommerce, your store’s security falls more directly upon your own shoulders. You’re ultimately responsible for choosing a secure and PCI-compliant web host and payment gateway, obtaining an SSL certificate, performing Woodpress.org and WooCommerce plugin updates, and staying on top of the latest security patches. As WooCommerce reminds you in its own documentation, “a given WooCommerce site is overall exactly as secure as the WordPress installation itself.”
There’s no doubt that a WooCommerce storeÂ can be just as secure in as a Shopify store, as long as all the right pieces are in place and carefully managed. There’s just a higher chance for site security to go (horribly) awry due to mismanagement or innocent mistakes.
This was a tight race, folks. Shopify and WooCommerce have both earned their popularity in the ecommerce world, even if for different reasons and for different segments of online sellers. Based on our experience, as well as our sense of the needs of our Merchant Maverick readership overall, we’re still more likely to recommend Shopify over WooCommerce.
The majority of online sellers will have an easier time with Shopify right out-of-the-box. Shopify is much more “foolproof” and all-inclusive than WooCommerce, with technical aspects like installation, hosting, updates, and security all handled on your behalf. This allows you to expand your focus beyond just building and maintaining your store, even as an absolute web-beginner. The opportunity for 24/7 personalized customer support with Shopify is also a huge factor in our verdict.
All Shopify gushing aside, we firmly maintain that this SaaS platform is not a magic bullet solution for all online merchants, and WooCommerce may be just the alternative you seek. As an open-source software plugin combined with WordPress.org’s vast ecosystem, WooCommerce offers a degree of ownership, control, and flexibility that isn’t possible with Shopify. It’s the perfect platform for the technically-inclined among us who have the time and skill to tinker with code, updates, and integrations to customize their stores at a finely-tuned pace. The freedom to select your own web host, as well as a payment processor that works best for your specific country and risk level without financial penalty (hello, Shopify’s extra transaction fees) is also a big draw for a lot of business owners using WooCommerce. The power truly is in your hands if you go this route.
As the old adage goes, however: with great power comes great responsibility. If you choose an open-source platform like WooCommerce, you should definitely heed this nugget of graphic novel-based wisdom.
Have you worked with Shopify or WooCommerce? Let us know if the comments — particularly if you have experience with both!
The post WooCommerce VS Shopify appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Right away, Shopify and Squarespace both score points in my book for their names. Shopify is all about helping you build an online store where customers can shop — “shop-ify-ing” a regular website, as it were. Squarespace, by comparison, is a more traditional website builder, allowing you to create a literal “square space” (or series of square spaces) where people can view your content and images on the internet.
Thank you, Shopify and Squarespace. Your names actually make sense.
Indeed, Shopify is a household name in the world of shopping cart software, whereas SquarespaceÂ is well-known for its attractive and modern site design capabilities. Squarespace is more than just a pretty face, though. In the last few years, this platform has added ecommerce functionality at a surprising level of sophistication.
If you’re here for an epic cage match between Squarespace and Shopify, I’m guessing you’re thinking about both of these platforms in terms of ecommerce. You’re in luck, because this is the precise focus of our comparison. How does Squarespace’s ecommerce functionality and design measure up to the ecommerce powerhouse that is Shopify? How do they compare in terms of pricing, customer service, and payment processing? Keep reading for our take on these and other key facets of Shopify and Squarespace.
Donât have time to read an entire article? Take a look at our top-rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.
Both Shopify and Squarespace offer free 14-day trials with no credit card required, and neither charge setup or cancellation fees. From there, the two platforms begin to diverge. Here’s how the differences play out:
Price Range:Â Choose from $29/month (Basic), $79/month (Shopify), or $299/month (Advanced) plans. There’s also a $9/month plan (Lite) for selling in-person, for embedding little “buy” buttons on other sites, and for selling on Facebook — but you don’t get an actual online store at all, so we’re leaving this plan out of our comparison for the most part.
Annual Subscription Discount:Â Save 10% when your subscription is paid annually upfront, or 20% if you pony up for two full years. For example, the Basic Plan becomes $26 or $23/month, and the Shopify Plan becomes $71 or $63/month.
Subscription Structure:Â All Basic ($29/month) plans and above include unlimited storage, products,Â and bandwidth. Higher subscription levels add a few features and additional staff accounts. Subscription levels also affect your Shopify transaction fees and your payment processing fees. Which leads us to…
Additional Transaction Fees:Â If you choose Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) as your payment gateway, you are not charged any separate transaction fees. As an added bonus, you also see a gradual decrease in your payment processing fees with Shopify Payments as you climb the subscription ladder. However, if you use an alternative payment processor and not Shopify Payments, Shopify does charge extra transaction fees, beginning at 2.0% on the Basic plan. Thankfully, these fees gradually decrease to 1.0% and 0.5% as you increase your subscription.
Price Range: For ecommerce capability, you must skip over the $16/month plan and start at the $26/month (Business) level. However, merchants who’d really want to take advantage of Squarespace’s ecommerce features in a manner that’s comparable to Shopify are likely opting for the $30/month (Commerce Basic) or $46/month (Commerce Advanced) plans.
Annual Subscription Discount:Â The Business plan drops to $18, Commerce Basic to $26, and Commerce Advanced to $40 per month when paid upfront in one annual lump sum. You also qualify for a free domain registration for one year when you pay your main subscription annually.
Subscription Structure:Â Similar to Shopify, features are added as you increase your Squarespace subscription level. Bumping up to Commerce Basic or Advanced will eliminate separate Squarespace transaction fees.
Additional Transaction Fees:Â A 3.0% fee (above your gateway fees) is incurred by Squarespace on every purchase if you’re on the Business Plan. This additional transaction fee is eliminated, however, on Commerce Basic and Advanced.
For a direct comparison with Shopify, use the smaller print, month-to-month figures for Squarespace (Commerce Basic $30 and Commerce Advanced $46). Shopify promotes month-to-month figures ($29, $79, or $299).
Confusing enough for you? With all these pricing components, you can’t actually perform a true apples-to-apples comparison of cost. In truth, both Shopify and Squarespace offer a fair market price for their services. I will say that the transaction fee issue is problematic with both companies, especially since many competing platforms have eliminated these extra charges altogether. The good news is that each platform at least offers some way out of these fees.
In the end, I’m primarily basing my pricing verdict on one key factor: Squarespace offers its complete arsenal of features for only $46/month ($40/month if paid annually). In contrast, Shopify reserves its premium features for sellers with much deeper pockets (six and a half times deeper, to be exact). The big question is: does Squarespace offer enoughÂ ecommerce features at that $46/month level? The answer will depend on your business needs, but you can keep reading to develop a clearer picture of each platform.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Your Shopify or Squarespace store will be fully-hosted. No need to download and install either one locally.
Specific Size Of Business
Both platforms allow unlimited bandwidth and products, but Shopify is better at accommodating a wider range of business sizes and product catalogs. In addition, Shopify provides a natural growth option via Shopify Plus, whereas Squarespace offers no enterprise-level plan at this time. On the other hand, if you happen to sell a handful of very expensive products (and that’s what makes your business “big”), Squarespace could still work swimmingly for you.
Hardware & Software Requirements
Since Squarespace and Shopify are both SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms, you only need a computer, an internet connection, and an up-to-date browser to use either service. Both also provide Android and iOS apps for managing and editing your store.
Regarding supported browsers, Squarespace edges out Shopify by offering Chrome and Safari support on Linux operating systems, while Shopify only works with Windows and Mac. Meanwhile, Shopify stores are optimized for Samsung Internet in addition to Chrome and Safari browsers when viewed on mobile. Depending on your point of view, these finer points may or may not make a difference, so I’m still calling it a draw in this category.
Ease Of Use
With both platforms specializing in general ease of use, we really need to examine Squarespace and Shopify in terms of usability for ecommerce.
Neither platform has a dedicated setup tutorial inside the dashboard, but both have documentation and instructional videos handy. If you’re accustomed to using or testing popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Squarespace will definitely have its own learning curve. Once I got the hang of it, though, I could operate the backend quite smoothly.
When you create a trial account with Shopify, you’re taken to the main admin panel. Shopify’s admin is structured like most ecommerce dashboards I’ve seen. Although you can preview your storefront at any time, your backend functions are kept separate from the storefront.
With Squarespace, however, you must choose a theme (you can change it later) before you even get to see your admin panel. Once the admin opens, your dashboard is actually a combination of your backend control panel on the left, and your storefront preview on the right.
Although I can vouch that both platforms are very easy to use in the grand scheme, I find navigation of Squarespace’s backend to be slightly trickier than Shopify’s. The Squarespace UI is structured so that there are more dashboard layers to dig through — and then dig back out of again. Additionally, the left control panel menu changes (or even disappears) depending on what layer you happen to be in at the moment, which can be disorienting. This is in contrast to Shopify’s menu, which remains a fixed anchor point for admin navigation.
Take a quick look at the following screens from each platform to see what I mean:
Add A Product — Shopify:
You can see above that my main menu remains fixed on the left side of the dashboard as I enter my product details.
Add A Product — Squarespace:
With Squarespace, I’m already a couple of dashboard layers in, my left sidebar is gone, and I must dive one more screen deep from here to even enter my price. Also, what is not shown above is that you can’t just jump right in and start adding products with Squarespace like you can with Shopify and other online store builders. Even with Squarespace’s ecommerce-friendly templates, you must create a separate product pageÂ for your website first. I admit I had to resort to Squarespace’s documentation to figure this out, since I’m accustomed to ecommerce dashboards that make adding your first product a completely frictionless process.
Adding and managing inventory is just one piece of running an online store, but it remains a reliable ease of use test case. While you can list unlimited products with Squarespace, I think the backend interface is better designed for sellers offering a relatively small number of aesthetically-oriented products. Merchants with a large inventory will appreciate Shopify’s clear menus, efficient navigation, and the way in which product data is ultimately organized.
Shopify is the deserving winner in the features category. With solid out-of-the-box functionality and a rich add-on ecosystem, the blunt truth is that Shopify has spent much more time and resources cultivating features specifically for online sellers.
That said, there are a few features Squarespace offers that even Shopify lacks. Another thing to keep in mind is that Squarespace’s comparatively small feature set may still be just right for certain sizes and types of companies.
Key features of both platforms include:
Unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage
Free SSL certificate
Sell physical or digital products
Shipping & accounting integrations
Inventory & order management
Offer gift cards
Create discounts and coupons
Checkout on your domain
Abandoned cart recovery
Guest checkout & customer accounts
Real-time, carrier-calculated shipping
Analytics & reports
I’d say the Shopify versions of some of the above features are stronger or more versatile than the Squarespace versions. For example, the discount engine is much more flexible with Shopify.
Now, here are a few features that differentiate the two platforms:
App store with thousands of integrations
Point of sale integration (Shopify POS or third-party POS)
Manual order creation (virtual terminal)
Proprietary shipping platform (Shopify Shipping) for carrier discounts and label printing
Extensive dropshipping capability
Enterprise expansion available via Shopify Plus
Abandoned cart recovery at cheaper plan level
Unlimited staff contributors on all ecommerce plans
G Suite integration (full year free)
$100 Google AdWords voucher
Free domain for a year if you pay annually
Customizable checkout forms
In-dashboard product image editing
Third-party calculated shipping rates at cheaper plan level
Both platforms offer elegant, modern templates that are fully mobile responsive. Here’s a quick comparison of template stats:
67 total templates, most with 2-4 style variations
10 templates are free and supported by Shopify developers
Remaining third-party themes cost $140-$180
90 templates organized into 21 template families
All templates are free and supported by Squarespace developers
The overall web design winner is a tough one to call, because that decision really depends on the type and number of products you intend to sell, with Squarespace catering to smaller catalogs with visual interest. If we were deciding strictly based on the variety of pre-made templates designed for stores selling lots of stuff, Shopify would snag the win.
That said, here are some ways Squarespace stands out when it comes to design:
All templates are free, and all are created and supported by Squarespace.
Offers a more versatile drag-and-drop editor for page layout customization.
Allows you to edit your product images from within your dashboard.
Uses a common templating language (JSON), versus Shopify’s own invented language (Liquid).
Was this category too close to call? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Integrations & Add-Ons
Shopify has an impressive app store with around 2500 integrations —Â more than the vast majority of SaaS ecommerce platforms at large. While add-ons can certainly increase your monthly expenditure with Shopify, there’s no denying that your choices are plentiful. Plus, since a huge community of developers and merchants interact with Shopify apps, you also have access to thousands upon thousands of detailed user reviews.
Squarespace takes a completely different approach to integrations. No app store is offered, but Squarespace spins this as an advantage. Any pre-built integrations (about 70 in total) are already incorporated into your dashboard and fully tech-supported by Squarespace. Aside from payment providers (Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay) and shipping carriers (UPS, USPS, and FedEx), there are just a small handful of official Squarespace integrations specifically related to ecommerce. Here are a few key add-ons:
ShipStation: Order fulfillment
MailChimp: Email marketing
Zapier: Workflow automation, multi-app connector
Just like many Shopify apps, several Squarespace apps have monthly subscription fees of their own. And, just like with Shopify, you can always build custom integrations if you have those skills or can hire someone who does. To put things in quick perspective, however, Squarespace has one official shipping/fulfillment app in ShipStation. Shopify has over 280 choices in its “Orders & Shipping” category, and over 600 results pop up if I simply type “shipping” in the app store’s search bar.
The win in this category goes to Shopify, the reigning monarch of ecommerce integrations. Besides keeping decision-making overload at bay, the trick with Shopify add-ons is to always check the quality (including quality of developer support) and ongoing cost of each integration.
Shopify wins at payment processing for one primary reason:Â flexibility. Consider the sheer number of gateway options with Shopify — over 100. With Squarespace, Stripe and PayPal are your only choices. More gateway options means availability in more countries and currencies, more ways for your customers to pay, better odds of finding the perfect processor for your specific needs, and even the opportunity to customize your own pricing model and rates in some cases. With Shopify, you can also accept cryptocurrencies or set up manual payment methods like cash on delivery, money orders, and bank transfers.
This is not the end of the story, however. Factor in the additional transaction fees that may be charged by either platform depending on your situation, as well as Shopify’sÂ payment processing discountsÂ with Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe), and the comparison becomes more nuanced.
As we examine these complications further, keep in mind that the going rate to process ecommerce transactions with most gateways these days is 2.9% + $0.30.
Here’s how your processing will work with Squarespace according to your subscription level:
Squarespace + PayPal and/or Stripe
Business ($26/mo.): 2.9% + $0.30, + 3.0% Squarespace fee = 5.9% + $0.30 per transaction
Commerce Basic ($30/mo.):Â 2.9% + $0.30
Commerce Advanced ($46/mo.):Â 2.9% + $0.30
Those are the only potential processing costs you’re looking at with Squarespace. That additional 3.0% Squarespace fee on the Business plan is pretty brutal, but as soon as you upgrade to Commerce Basic for an extra $4/month, it disappears. For this reason, I don’t think the Business plan is a sustainable option for most ecommerce stores.
Now, let’s take a quick look at Shopify, remembering that using Shopify Payments as your gateway provides two perks: 1) no extra Shopify transaction fee on any plan, and 2) decreased payment processing fees as you upgrade your overall Shopify subscription.
Another twist is that Shopify Payments is currently only available for businesses located in 10 countries, so you’re stuck with an alternative gateway and that pesky Shopify transaction fee if your country isn’t included. (Squarespace at least doesn’t punish you for something you can’t control — your location.) On the flip side, if you are in one of the supported countries, you could opt to use Shopify Payments in addition to any of the other gateways Shopify offers to increase your customers’ payment options.
In a perfect world, both platforms would let you pick your own processor from among many, and never penalize you with extra transaction fees for any reason! Both Shopify and Squarespace have their own flaws in this regard.
So, what does this all mean for your business? The short answer isÂ math. To determine the real winner in this category for your own company, you must consider your monthly subscription cost to either platform, your average number of transactions per month, and your average transaction size — not to mention the countries and currencies involved. Because the best platform and subscription level for your business depends on these and other factors, I award Shopify the payment processing win for at least making things interesting!
Customer Service & Technical Support
In terms of overall quality of customer support, both Shopify and Squarespace receive mixed user reviews. That said, Merchant Maverick’s own experiences with customer service and technical support would award Shopify the victory in this category. We’ve had better luck contacting the Shopify support team through the available channels — even when they’ve been unaware that we are software reviewers on the prowl.
Shopify also has more available support channels and more open-hours. Take a look:
Live Chat: 24/7
Live Chat: Monday-Friday, 4AM-8PM
Squarespace publishes a whole manifesto on its website explaining why no phone support is offered if you’d like to read it for yourself. Although they don’t come right out and say it, the bottom line is that this helps keep overall costs down. Meanwhile, not being able to contact a live person (even via live chat) after 5pm Pacific time is pretty brutal if you’re running an online store. Squarespace should know better — ecommerce never sleeps:
One final note in this category: both platforms provide several self-help resources — community forums, blogs, video tutorials, webinars, knowledgebase articles, and the like. However, note that Shopify resources are 100% geared toward ecommerce, whereas you’ll have to wade through other topics to find ecommerce resources at the Squarespace site.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
When comparing user reviews for these platforms, it’s important to keep in mind the difficulty in teasing out feedback on Squarespace that is specifically related to ecommerce. Despite its growing ecommerce capability, Squarespace typically ends up in the generic website builder category on most review sites, with users discussing traditional website building issues.
Those caveats aside, here are some of the most common issues that come up for each platform:
Extra transaction fees when not using Shopify Payments
Poor customer support
Frustration with Shopify Payments
Glitches & bugs
Poor/limited customer support
Limited theme customization
Of course, traditional website builders tend to get raked over the coals for the slightest theme customization limitations. We’ve already said Squarespace’s design capability is quite good overall, particularly when compared to a lot of shopping cart builders. When customers do criticize Squarespace specifically on ecommerce, there are no consistent patterns emerging so far. For this reason, I award this category to Squarespace based on a “no news is good news” argument. We’ll keep checking back for patterns.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Both Shopify and Squarespace tend to rate highly for overall customer satisfaction on user review websites. On top of that, both platforms are known for their ease of use and elegant templates. And, along with all the negative review of customer support both software programs have received, users of both platforms have been known to also sing praises for customer support. The combination of these factors led meÂ toÂ call this one a draw.
Once again, we’re faced with the dilemma that there’s not a whole lot of feedback about Squarespace’s ecommerce offerings. I have definitely seen several generic comments, such as “good for ecommerce!” Honestly, I think people are mostly pleased (and perhaps a bit surprised) that there’s some solid ecommerce capability available with Squarespace at all. I haven’t come across many users directly comparing their experiences with the two platforms.
Our combatants are quite close in this category. Both offer PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance, a free SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate for your site, two-factor authentication for logging in to your account, a CDN (Content Delivery Network), and even provide methods for complying with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws implemented by the EU in 2018.
The main difference I can see is that Shopify’s checkout pages are covered by an industry-standard, 256-bit shared SSL certificate. Squarespace’s checkout pages are covered by a less-robust, 128-bit certificate. My understanding is that while 128-bit encryption may end up working slightly faster, it’s technically less secure.
Squarespace put up a good fight in several categories, but Shopify emerges victorious as the better ecommerce website builder. Shopify’s pricing, core feature set, and vast app store can serve budding sellers on the Lite plan, all the way up to enterprise clients using Shopify Plus. Meanwhile, ecommerce was quite literally an afterthought for Squarespace. The platform’s developers have done an admirable job adding features for online selling, but they just can’t compete with Shopify’s dominance here.
As we’ve said time and again in this comparison, Squarespace still provides an interesting option for sellers who’d like to feature a small number of products with aesthetic appeal. Especially if you’ve already been using Squarespace to develop your company story and brand, I’d definitely recommend fully exploring the ecommerce feature set — perhaps by bumping up your subscription for just month or two — before completely abandoning ship for Shopify or another dedicated shopping cart builder.
I’ll offer one more interesting twist before you head off to test Shopify and/or Squarespace for yourself. Some users have actually used the two services in combination. How? By integrating those “buy now” buttons from a $9/month Shopify Lite plan into an existing Squarespace website. It’s a roundabout option, to be sure, but it also gives you access to in-person selling with the Shopify POS app. At any rate, take that as some final food for thought, and best of luck in your search for the perfect ecommerce platform.
The post Shopify VS Squarespace appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
At the outset, email marketing can seem like an overwhelming prospect. There are so many things to do — building your subscriberÂ base, designing attractive messages, tracking click-through rates, following anti-spam laws, and more than anything else,Â writing actual emails for your readers. The good news is that these jobs don’t have to be your responsibility alone. Nearly all email marketing software options available today come with some form of automation, allowing users to create pre-made email campaigns and messages and automaticallyÂ sendÂ themÂ when certain conditions are met.
If your time is being consumed with email work, you aren’t getting the most from your software. There are several email marketing best practices you can employ to make your life easier.
Let’s dive in and explore some ways you can make your email marketing app do the work for you!
Level 1 Automation: Welcome Messages
If you are thinking of email marketing purely as a newsletter service that will send out updates to subscribers, I want to encourage you to expand your thinking a bit. Yes, you can use your email service provider (ESP) to write and send newsletters, but most email marketing software can be and do so much more! To move out of the newsletter comfort zone, let’s take a look at one of the most basic forms of automation that comes standard in nearly every app out there: welcome messages.
The idea here is simple. As soon as an interested person creates an account or joins your mailing list, they get an automatic message from you welcoming them to the group. It’s a great chance to introduce yourself, tell them more about your work, and win them over with general charm. Is this email marketing tactic a bit basic? Sure. But it is also a great opportunity to win the loyalty of customers from the outset. (You can alsoÂ get pretty creative with your welcome messages if you want to spice things up.)
Automated welcome messages come standard with such industry leaders as MailChimp (read ourÂ review) and Emma (read ourÂ review), but you can also find it in simpler ESP’s like Mad Mimi (read our review). Basically, in a world dominated by AI and machine learning, it would be a surprise if an email marketing developer did not include this capability in their app. But where do we go from here? Further up and further in!
Level 2 Automation: Abandoned Cart Notifications
The next level of automation in email marketing is conceptually quite similar to the welcome message but involves a bit more set up. This email marketing strategy is only useful if you have an online store. If youÂ do run an online store, you are almost certainly familiar with the frustration of abandoned shopping carts. Most of the time, those customers never return to buy their goods and pay you some hard-earned cash. But this is an area where your ESP can help you out. Automated abandoned cart reminder messages!
The gist of this feature is that your ESP keeps track of all the customer activity in your eCommerce store. When someone on your email list adds an item to their cart and then leaves, it will send a message out reminding them about your product. Some email marketing software providers allow you to set up a whole yes/no chain of possible emails, tracking click-through rates and offering discounts, special offers, and more as an enticement to return. But all operate on the basic principle of keeping a digital eye on your customer and sending tactical pre-determined prompts to (hopefully) bring them back into the fold. As a committed internet shopper myself, I can attest to the effectiveness of this strategy!
Though many ESPs offer this level of automation, I have been most impressed by Emma, which I mentioned earlier, and GetResponse (read our review). Both offer advanced chain-of-event automations designed to bring customers back to your store over the course of several interactions, all of which are handled automatically.
This is pretty advanced stuff, but it’s time to take this thing to the top.
Level 3 Automation: Dynamic Content Creation
The highest level of automation available in email marketing is what several ESPs term “dynamic content.” The idea behind this is that you sit down and create a wide spectrum of content, attach a definition to each type, then allow your ESP to sort out the best way to deliver the content (in the form of emails) to individual subscribers. Obviously, you will need to spend some significant time creating compelling content (and strategic subject lines) for advanced email campaigns in the first place, but the upshot is that your customers and subscribers will get customized, personalized messages tailored just for them. Your open rates will be so much better if the folks on your email list are receiving high-quality, custom content.
The ability to create dynamic content is considerably less common in email marketing software than either of the prior two forms of automation. Notable exceptions include the ever-present Emma, as well as Active Campaign (read our review). Keep in mind, though, that dynamic content is often locked behind a paywall: you need to subscribe to top-tier payment plans in order to get access to it.
When using email marketing software, the goal is toÂ save time, not waste it. Fortunately, most ESPs offer some level of automation. Knowing what your software can do is key to saving as much time as possible. Whether you are starting with simple welcome message emails or working all the way up to dynamic content, a little effort spent on email marketing best practices at the outset will pay off in the end, saving you time while your email software does the work for you.
Want even more advanced email marketing tips? This article explores 40 ways you can write better emails. ESP blogs can also be excellent resources for detailed email marketing tactics. MailChimp has written a comprehensive email marketing field guide, and Constant Contact has written a complete guide to becoming a better email marketer.
Looking for a good ESP for your business? Our independent email marketing software reviews explore the pricing, customer service, features, and integrations of all the top ESPs. For a quick overview of the industry, check out Merchant Maverick’s email marketing software comparison table.
The post Simple Email Marketing Best Practices Every Merchant Should Know In 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Shopify vs. Squarespace – they are two of the most well-known brands in the online store / website builder industry. I’ve written a Shopify review here and Squarespace review here. But how do they compare directly to each other?
First, a bit of background. Over the past few years, online store software costs have plummeted, and the technology to get a website from idea to reality has blossomed.
All-inclusive ecommerce builders have been particularly interesting. Companies like Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Shopify, and BigCommerce – not to mention platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon – have brought ecommerce to everyone regardless of their coding skills.
On the wide spectrum of ecommerce store building solutions, they all live on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website.
That is in contrast to solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately. That’s not a good or bad thing. But it is something to be aware of when you’re choosing one of them as a solution since it affects your website both long and short term.
In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.
Using an online store builder is like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.
Shopify, Squarespace and other options like BigCommerce and Weebly as a group compete with options like WordPress (which provides the free software to build a website that you own & control – see my WordPress setup guide here) all the way to options like typing actual HTML code into a text file.
The last preface I’ll mention is that Squarespace is an all-around website builder with ecommerce capability.
Shopify, in contrast, is strictly an ecommerce platform.
This focus puts Squarespace behind as an advanced ecommerce tool and Shopify behind as a general website builder tool. With their respective free trials, you can quickly see the differences.
Try Shopify for Free
Try Squarespace for Free
Make sense? Awesome – let’s dive into the comparison.
Side note – if you want this comparison in a BuzzFeed-style quiz, you can take my online store builder quiz here…
You can also look at my posts on –
Otherwise, we’ll look specifically at pricing, onboarding/user experience, design features, technical features, ecommerce features, marketing features, and customer support.
Disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my professional experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Comparing pricing between Shopify and Squarespace is fairly straightforward if you have a clear idea of your needs. This comes from the fact that Shopify focuses on *only* online store owners whereas Squarespace markets to everyone.
The short version is that Shopify is more expensive. But there’s a few caveats to look at.
The first caveat is credit card fees.
Squarespace syncs with Stripe and PayPal. Their fees are 2.9% + $.30 per transaction.
Shopify has their own payments gateway that charges lower per transaction fees. But – if you use a non-Shopify gateway, Shopify charges an additional transaction fee that Squarespace does not have.
So why is this important? If you already have a gateway (ie, Authorize.net for your physical pop-up shop) and you want to use them with Shopify – then Shopify’s transaction fee kicks in. But – if you want to use Shopify Payment’s for your online store – you can save a bit of money on transaction fees. Those fees add up. If you have revenues of $100000 – a 0.4% reduction in fees could equal $500 per month.
The second caveat is value pricing.
On front-end features alone – Squarespace is significantly cheaper than Shopify, especially on their Advanced plan, which compares almost directly with Shopify’s Standard plan.
See Shopify’s Plans here.
See Squarespace’s Plans here.
But – like I mentioned in the introduction, it’s hard to compare their pricing tables directly since they are really different products for different audiences.
It’s a bit like comparing the pricing of a motorcycle vs. an SUV.
Sure, the motorcycle is much cheaper and it gets you from A to B. It has wheels, an engine, and it drives on the road just fine. But it’s also meant for a certain type of driving.
It all really comes down to what you need for you project – two wheels that will get you where you need to go or a vehicle that has plenty of room along with lots of features. So let’s look at other differences.
Aside – if you’re curious, Shopify’s $9/mo Lite plan isn’t applicable since it’s more of an inventory/payments software than an online store builder software. You can upload products, manage them, and accept payments, but you can only sell them via other platforms such as a Facebook plugin or a button on an existing website. Same goes with Squarespace’s Business Plan. It’s meant to do a website that happens to have a couple things for sale – not really a full online store solution. I’ll set both those options to the side for the moment.
Onboarding & User Experience
No matter how intuitive and simple a piece of technology is, there’s always that moment of “what am I looking at and what do I do now?”
Onboarding is the process of guiding you past that point. In theory, a huge selling point of online website / store builders is that they have a near-zero learning curve. They have a straightforward process from website concept to website reality.
On this point, Squarespace and Shopify both do alright but in different ways.
Shopify has a quick path from free trial signup to site launch. They have guided tours and a very straightforward setup. They also have customer support outreach focused on getting you up and running quickly.
However, Shopify also has many more features, apps, and technical options available that can present a challenge. The most daunting hurdle is linking your domain name to your store. It’s not difficult but is daunting at the mention of “setting your CNAME” (in fairness, you don’t have to direct your domain if you purchase via Shopify for a bit more per year than via a 3rd party).
Since Shopify functions as a platform for payments, offline inventory and more – their website store setup is actually on the second menu of their main dashboard rather than front and center.
Squarespace has a ridiculously fast sign up to live site process. Their backend is fairly intuitive for basic websites. However, they to have a “Squarespace jargon” to get used to. They like to appeal to developers and freelance designers – so there are advanced tools that can clutter simply launching a site.
Their support emails and tours are structured well. But since their software is made for all types of websites, the ecommerce features are a bit buried (and limited) from the perspective of an online store owner.
I would not rule either provider out on onboarding/user experience. But their differences are sort of like a restaurant with a waiter (Shopify) vs. a fast casual restaurant with a menu above the cashier (Squarespace).
If you want more help and more customization, then Shopify is your choice. If you want to quickly see and order from the features, then Squarespace is less daunting.
Part of the overall value of website builders is simple, straightforward design – no web designers necessary.
But good design is hard. And it matters – a lot. A lot of people can spot a good looking website but have a harder time figuring out how to get there. Using a template for a foundation and then customizing it is a good way to get the site you want without paying for a custom design.
Both Shopify and Squarespace use templates (aka “themes”) for design. But they are very different in customization options.
Shopify has a solid drag and drop design feature. You can create any layout element you’d like and drag it into place. You can click and edit any portion of any web page – including both content and design.
But – Shopify does not combine design and content. You have to get your design right – and then add content in a separate area (ie, it’s a template).
Since you can edit HTML/CSS with Shopify, you can build any design possible. There are few, if any, limits to any design that you see on the Internet. Additionally, Shopify has a drag and drop template editor.
Squarespace has a hybrid approach. They famously have beautiful pre-built designs.
They also have drag and drop – and pretty intuitive editing.
But – they also combine design and content with their editor. This approach has tradeoffs. On one hand, you can edit the design for specific pages. On the other hand, your design can go “off-base” pretty quickly – especially with content for hundreds of products.
The other drawback with Squarespace is that their off-the-shelf themes require *a lot* of really good imagery. If you don’t have access to high-quality photography, their themes are not going to work well. Many of Shopify’s designs are fine and functional regardless of product imagery.
They both have large marketplaces for premium designs (in addition to professional designers).
If you are a fan of raw functionality – then you’ll appreciate Shopify’s approach to design. If you want your site to look amazing off the shelf, love to edit details, and have access to good imagery – then you’ll appreciate Squarespace.
The absolute core features of an ecommerce store are a –
That is it.
But, especially in 2017 (and 2018 and beyond), there is a *lot* more than can (and should) go into an ecommerce store. There’s everything from selling via Facebook Messenger to syncing with Amazon FBA to integrating with eBay – not to mention features for executing on marketing fundamentals.
Even for advertising products, there’s selling via Buyable Pins, Google Merchant, Twitter cards, and more. There’s remarketing and coupon codes. There’s A/B testing. There’s inventory synchronization with vendors like AliExpress. And there’s order synchronization with shippers like UPS and USPS.
And that’s all a drop in the bucket.
Obviously, not every store needs every feature. If you are trying to sell a couple T-shirts or a couple specialty products – you certainly don’t need them all. But if you want to grow and expand, you’ll need your options open.
For ecommerce features, Shopify wins hands down, though Squarespace does make it simple to sell your product. Squarespace has a few advanced features (like abandoned cart recovery), but it’s nothing like Shopify.
Shopify not only has more features directly integrated into their platform, but they also have a well-established app store that includes free and paid apps to extend your store with every feature you could possibly need.
That said, this section is a bit unfair to Squarespace, because, again, they are a general website builder that includes ecommerce. Shopify is strictly an ecommerce platform.
If Shopify didn’t “win” on ecommerce features it would be a surprise. Technically, Squarespace competes more with the likes of Weebly and Wix or WordPress who are also website builders that provide core ecommerce features.
In short – if you need core ecommerce features integrated in a simple, straightforward way, then Squarespace is fine. If you actually need a full suite of ecommerce features to grow, then Shopify is hands-down better.
Technical features are all the web development best practices that don’t really “matter”…until they matter a lot. I’m talking about generating clean URLs, editable metadata, allowing page-level redirects, etc.
On this point, Shopify does very well – and not just compared to Squarespace, but compared to any hosted platform.
Traditionally, hosted platforms presented a risk for web designers, developers, and marketers who wanted to work on the technical aspects of the site.
I know that I flinch anytime a prospective client tells me they are on a hosted platform of any kind.
But Shopify and Squarespace perform well in general. Many skeptics of hosted platforms note that they actually take care of the technical features well. You still don’t have FTP access to your server, but you do have access to change things via their Liquid editor (Shopify) or Developer Mode (Squarespace).
Where they differ (especially for me) is in their potential for technical features. And again, here, Shopify’s app store is their “killer” feature. Even if a feature is not native to Shopify, a non-developer can usually add it.
On the flip side, Squarespace has a lot of native features that simply “work” – and a process of continually adding & revising existing features.
Both Squarespace and Shopify have inherent limitations as hosted platforms (ie, when you leave, you a lot of your data), but Shopify does a bit more to eliminate the weaknesses and capitalize on strengths as a hosted platform.
In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character says “if you build it, they will come.” Sadly, that is not true about websites. Like any business, you have to actively promote and market your online store for anyone to show up.
Marketing features like custom metadata, open graph information, Schema markups, email signups, share buttons, landing pages, etc all make marketing your site a lot easier.
For marketing features, both Shopify and Squarespace both do really well. They support header scripts. They integrate with many products. They add meta data, product schema and open graph tags automatically.
But like design & ecommerce features, there’s the same catch. For an ecommerce store owner, Shopify has many more (and higher quality) built-in features plus a better, more developed app store.
Squarespace has core marketing features built-in, but with more limits.
Support & Service
Customer support and service are difficult to judge. Like I’ve said in most of my reviews, a single customer can never really know if they happened upon a disgruntled rookie or if the company is really that bad.
That said, there are ways to look at a company’s investment in both customer services and support.
For Shopify vs. Squarespace, I think the clear “winner” is Shopify. Shopify not only provides more channels for customer service (phone, chat, email, forums, social media, etc), they also have an incredibly extensive help center.
The help center not only tackles technical issues, it also tackles customer success issues (aka problems with making money).
Squarespace has email support, and limited chat support – but no phone. Their knowledgebase does not have the attention or the depth that Shopify has.
So Shopify vs. Squarespace – which one is a better fit for your project?
If you plan on running a growing online store and want all the features possible, then you should go try Shopify.
Go try Shopify for free here.
If you want a simple store – or a general site with a beautiful look, then Squarespace might be a good fit for you.
Also – bookmark my post on creating an ecommerce marketing strategy here.
Shopify and Volusion are two best-known “hosted” ecommerce platforms on the web.
Ecommerce options exist on the spectrum of convenience and control. Both Shopify and Volusion are right in the center of the spectrum simply because they bundle all of the technical areas of a web-based store – hosting, speed, security, inventory, shopping cart software and payment processing – and bundle it right into a single monthly cost. This contrasts with solutions like WordPress + Woocommerce in which you buy, operate and keep each bit from the store but additionally have true 100% control of your site.
But just like a self-located ecommerce website, Shopify and Volusion also bundle in your website in your domain in which you have full charge of product, prices and customer experience. So unlike managing a store on Etsy, eBay or Amazon . com – you control the build, design and content of the store.
Even if this area of the spectrum has lots of tradeoffs – services like Shopify and Volusion are a great choice for many storeowners. Therefore the question becomes – Shopify versus. Volusion?
I’ve reviewed Shopify here and Volusion here. I’ve used both like a customer so that as an advisor to customers of both.
Both are excellent companies by having an excellent product. And like several my other ecommerce and hosting reviews, there’s no such factor being an absolute “best” – there’s only the best choice for you personally according to your circumstances, goals and sources.
Here’s how Shopify comes even close to Volusion across 6 variables that many customers take a look at – and what you need to consider with Shopify versus. Volusion.
Skip to conclusion here.
Aside – I built a Buzzfeed style quiz for ecommerce platforms that grades the standards together with your goals. You should check out the quiz here.
Also, a fast disclosure – I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data and opinions derive from my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.
Ahh – cost. It’s both simplest and many complex method to compare two products.
Rapid story on cost is the fact that both Shopify and Volusion work on a regular monthly cost structure having a ~2 week free trial offer. They likewise have a really similar “sticker” cost with tiers at ~$29/mo and ~$79/mo or more.
That stated, their plan structure is simply different enough to create a direct comparison a little difficult.
The primary tradeoff originates from charges.
And you will find 3 various kinds of charges to think about.
First is the monthly store fee. This fee may be the “sticker” cost. Both Volusion and Shopify are usually exactly the same. Volusion is slightly cheaper, they also don’t include each and every feature on lower tiers that Shopify does.
Second is the store transaction fee. Shopify doesn’t charge transaction fees if you are using their charge card processor. Otherwise, their transaction charges are identical.
Third is the charge card processing charges. If you are using a third party processor like Authorize.internet, PayPal or Stripe – then you’ll pay anything they charge. If you are using Volusion, you’ll need to use a third party processor. If you are using Shopify, you should use Shopify payments for just two.9% + $.30 – about industry average.
If you are considering using a third party processor (ie, for cost or staying with your present provider), then Volusion is going to be comparable – or perhaps slightly less expensive than Shopify each month.
If you’re available to going “all in” ‘with Shopify, then you’ll save a lot of profit charges based on your revenue level.
In either case – cost isn’t the deciding factor for Shopify versus. Volusion. Rather, I’d take a look at additional factors.
Customer care is among the most undervalued advantages of choosing a located ecommerce platform.
The entire charge of a self-located ecommerce website is wonderful until it will get hacked and you’re having to pay $$$ to some developer or you are within the WordPress forums wishing someone points you within the right direction.
Both Volusion and Shopify have customer care included in their monthly cost. You obtain access to a variety of channels on – from phone to talk to forums to email tickets.
All customer care is customized since both operate on proprietary platforms.
At register – both of them come with an “onboarding” sequence along with a consultant to assist with any issues.
I’ve had good encounters with and you will find a few variations that I’ve observed –
Volusion has more thorough and instructive DIY education. They’ve videos and screenshots for small changes around the Dashboard whereas Shopify may have text instructions.
Volusion results in as increasing numbers of beginner-friendly because of onboarding and high consultant walk-throughs
Shopify has more thorough and instructive content on running your overall business. They invest considerable time and sources in situation studies, lengthy-form guides, tutorials, and helping your company succeed beyond just applying a brand new feature.
Shopify also offers a far more well-developed network of third party developers and marketers who focus on Shopify. They’re also known as “Shopify Experts.” It isn’t effortlessly, but it’s a much better beginning point for advanced help than the usual Google or UpWork search.
Shopify has *many* more integrations along with other 3rd parties along with other platforms. And frequently, individuals other platforms will really provide support for that Shopify integrations. This really is crucial for labeling providers, fulfillment providers, bookkeepers, etc
Overall, I’d state that beginners will probably find Volusion’s support system to become less daunting. However a growing store will probably find Shopify’s support system to become handier. Quite simply, Shopify has a little more of the learning curve to understand their system, but once you understand it – that you can do more by using it.
Shopify and Volusion both serve companies that vary from really small retailers selling niche products to multi-billion dollar brands. Have enterprise plans (I authored about Shopify Plus here) plus they have customer care teams educated to help absolute beginners.
That stated – there’s a significant difference between your companies when it comes to sources and mission. Shopify did an Dpo in 2015 to be a perfectly-funded public company. Their platform should serve all retail companies both on and offline – however with an emphasis on startups or online-first companies that are looking to grow offline.
Shopify runs their very own payment processing service as well as has their very own Point-of-Purchase (POS) system to ensure that small offline retailers sell offline an internet-based from inside exactly the same system. These were the first one to unveil “buyable buttons” on Pinterest and Facebook to ensure that retailers could sell inventory directly anywhere online – not only from customers who examined through the merchant’s website.
Shopify’s backend (which I’ll cover within the next section) reflects this focus. These products / orders / customers / inventory area is outside of the “website” area. The concept is your website is just one of numerous sales channels. You are able to certainly run your site as the only sales funnel in Shopify – however the choices to sell elsewhere happen to be built-in.
Volusions’s focus appears to become more about stores with an existing large offline operation – and want to grow online (almost overturn of Shopify).
That’s not necessarily a bad or perhaps a good factor – it’s only a choice. Their backend and terminology is centered on the storeowner that has a current retail business and requires to create it on the internet. There is a robust inventory system having a concentrate on the operations of the ecommerce store as opposed to the marketing of the ecommerce store. They’ve straightforward functionality to create on team people to handle listings and inventory.
Both Volusion and Shopify are fantastic platforms for startups to enterprise. However, Shopify’s focus is on getting an extensive platform that is useful for any kind of store. Volusions’s focus helps existing storeowners sell better – and manage across channels.
User-ambiance & Onboarding
Associated with Customer Focus would be the problems with user-ambiance and “onboarding” (ie, obtaining a new customer for an active storeowner).
Both Volusion and Shopify have excellent onboarding processes and user-friendly management areas.
The primary difference is when each backend is structured. Volusion includes a single Dashboard in which you manage everything – your product or service, inventory, websites, settings, billing, etc.
Shopify breaks out products/customers/orders as well as your website into separate areas. Furthermore, Shopify has their very own lingo.
For instance, rather of “product categories” – Shopify has “Collections.” Rather of a “website” – Shopify has “Online Store” that is among your “Sales Channels.”
To have an absolute beginner, it requires a couple of more minutes to determine Shopify’s lingo and structure when compared with Volusion. That stated, once Shopify’s lingo clicks, it will provide a little more versatility for daily operations. Shopify’s inventory setup, their product filtering and template editor are faster and much more versatile – when you figure them out.
For those who have never operate a website before and just possess a promising small to mid-size product collection, then Volusion will probably be preferable than Shopify.
If you would like more lengthy-term versatility, you’ll likely appreciate Shopify’s system more when you tackle the training curve.
Method of Features
Both Shopify and Volusion have the majority of the tools (marketing, Search engine optimization, inventory, order, etc) a web-based store will have to be effective. They differ though in the way the each approach adding additional features.
Shopify takes the “platform” approach. They’ve essential features that storeowners will require built-in. However for features that does not all storeowners need – they concentrate on ensuring storeowners can also add feature extensions for their store when needed. There is a large and active Application Store that does not has only well-known extensions (ie, MailChimp) but additionally lots of indie apps for each situation (ie, apps for worldwide tax and shipping features).
Shopify’s template editing language, Liquid, also enables developers to include features straight to an outlet if required. Shopify also offers a good “CMS” to handle non-product content (ie, blogs, pages, etc).
Volusion comes with an Application Store for extensions too. However, Volusion includes a bigger concentrate on building plenty of features straight into their software to ensure that there’s you don’t need to add extra time.
For instance, take selling on Amazon . com or importing your Amazon . com listings for your store. Both Shopify and Volusion could make these functions happen.
Volusion builds the feature to their backend. Should you not require the feature, it adds some clutter and technically enables you to “pay” for something aren’t using. However if you simply require it, it’s already there also it simply works.
Shopify doesn’t have it built-in. However, they are doing come with an application extension (produced by Shopify, readily available for free) that you could supplment your store if you are an Amazon . com seller.
That stated – the switch side from the platform/built-in tradeoff is when Volusion doesn’t have an element built-in – they’re unlikely with an application to supply the functionality whatsoever.
For instance, if you’re applying bulk 301 redirects and wish to monitor 404 errors to find out if you missed any URLs – Shopify comes with an application will require proper care of that however, you won’t have the ability to it whatsoever in Volusion.
It’s exactly the same situation for drag editing, membership shopping and lots of other advanced features. Most storeowners don’t needOrwould like them. However if you simply do, you are more inclined to have it in certain form or fashion in Shopify than Volusion.
The final example this is actually the “content management system” – Shopify includes a decent one to have an ecommerce platform. Volusion, though, is decidedly missing.
Again – a CMS isn’t by itself an enormous deal. But it’s vital that you consider which needs are critical for your store.
Overall, for those who have fairly core ecommerce needs and just want something to exist and also to work – then Volusion will probably are more effective.
If you would like more versatility (without going the self-hosting route), then you’ll convey more use of features with Shopify.
Aside – for this reason I suggest carrying out a 2 week free trial offer with Volusion and Shopify simply to click around and discover for yourself.
Method of Design
Both Shopify and Volusion make use of a system of styles / templates for design. You decide on basics theme after which edit it to appear as you desire.
As the finish result is identical, they are doing have a slightly different approach.
Shopify includes a well-developed “Theme Store” which, similar to their Application Store, has many free and premium styles produced by companies, individuals, and Shopify.
Shopify’s backend enables you to definitely make changes towards the theme. It can be done via drag or via a hybrid method of editing. Small customizations (colors, logos, etc) require only a click while bigger changes (layout, widgets, etc) require editing Shopify’s custom Liquid language. Here’s Shopify’s drag tool.
Volusion includes a Theme Store that’s quickly growing. They’ve just added a brand new batch of new styles. However, still it lacks the variety of Shopify. Their cost points for premium styles are often greater too. That stated, Volusion theme editing options include both selecting small customizations and editing the HTML/CSS. It’s a far more straightforward editor that you will get with Shopify.
Overall, I believe most storeowners will discover more versatility with Shopify’s method of design. However, if you wish to edit HTML/CSS directly without learning a brand new language and/or wish to download template designs (instead of your development store) – then you’ll like Volusion better.
Shopify versus. Volusion Conclusion & Next Steps
So Shopify versus. Volusion – who is the perfect fit for who? For those who have time – I’d really recommend carrying out a free trial offer (no charge card needed) with and merely clicking around.
Obtain a free 14-day free trial offer with Volusion here.
Obtain a free 14-day free trial offer with Shopify here.
Personally, i such as the versatility and options of Shopify. They’re likely a much better fit for many online storeowners. Take a look at Shopify here & my Shopify Review here.
However, if you are a old store and wish a less complicated experience, you’ll prosper with Volusion. Take a look at Volusion here & my Volusion Review here.
If you’re undecided – then take my Ecommerce Platform Quiz here. It will require your requirements and let you know who is the greatest option for your web store.
Charge card fraud, for most of us, invokes 1 of 2 scenarios. First, you will find data breaches à la Target or Lowe’s, where thieves connect to the system and steal charge card figures, names, along with other data. Beyond that, you may consider online card fraud, where shady people use stolen card figures (sometimes acquired in data breaches such as the formerly pointed out ones) to purchase a lot of stuff online. Even though you start digging into ways retailers can safeguard against card fraud, the overwhelming quantity of sources are directed at eCommerce an internet-based transactions, and the ways to prevent fraud there. There isn’t many details whatsoever about card-present fraud — that’s, transactions which are still not legitimate but occur inside a store, in which the card is swiped or dipped.
Overall, card-present charge card fraud is really a smaller sized bit of the cake than online fraud, that is likely why there is a disproportionate quantity of sources regarding internet-based cons. But it’s still necessary that retailers take each step they are able to to safeguard themselves. Which includes being aware of what risks you face within the brick-and-mortar atmosphere.
Table of Contents
Understanding the kinds of Charge Card Fraud
I’m penning this mostly to describe how to prevent fraud. I shouldn’t enter into all the various scams and methods that fraudsters use because you can write a little ebook about them. But generally, all charge card fraud (or bank card fraud) falls into 1 of 3 groups:
Cloned/Counterfeit Card Fraud: This is a kind of card-present fraud in which the fraudster forges a card with another person’s username and passwords and uses it inside a brick-and-mortar storefront.
Lost/Stolen Card Fraud: This kind of fraud is most familiar to consumers, and sure concern for a lot of retailers: a fraudster using another person’s card to create a transaction (frequently a really large one). This could happen online or perhaps in a store.
Card-Not-Present Fraud: Any kind of fraudulent online transaction falls into this category, simply due to the credit card not swiped or dipped. While there are several tools retailers may use to mitigate this risk, generally, it’s the easiest kind of fraud to commit. CNP fraud comprises nearly all card fraud, especially as EMV makes it harder to clone or counterfeit cards.
It is also important to note there’s a couple other kinds of fraud retailers have to be cautious about:
ATM Fraud: Scammers uses a couple of different tactics to obtain either money or card data from ATMs, including installing card skimmers (we’ll discuss individuals inside a bit) or deliberately blocking the money distribution mechanism. For those who have an ATM on-site at the business, be familiar with it as being a possible target.
Check Fraud: Checks are certainly decreasing. Actually, based on the Fed, the entire quantity of check payments produced in the U.S. fell typically 6.2 percent each year from 2000 to 2012, and from 2012 to 2015, fell by typically 4.4 % yearly. In 2015, consumers authored as many as 19.4 billion checks, that was a complete loss of 3.1 billion over 2012 figures. However, the Given also reports that the need for the checks risen has elevated — and therefore while individuals are writing them less often, they have a tendency to create them for more and more bigger purchases. Check acceptance isn’t universal, however if you simply do accept checks, utilizing a digital service for example Telecheck to instantly convert payments and flag dangerous transactions is a great way to safeguard yourself.
I am not likely to really enter into CNP fraud, as the majority of it requires running an eCommerce store. This short article won’t cope with ATM or check fraud in-depth simply because they don’t affect nearly all retailers. Our focus is particularly card fraud at brick-and-mortar stores, whether it is debit or charge card related.
The Charge Card Fraud Game-Changer: EMV
Before the EMV liability shift required place, fraud experts were predicting that CNP fraud would increase with a tremendous amount in america because other nations that implemented EMV observed an identical pattern, and individuals predictions have held true. Credit monitoring agency Experian reported a rise of CNP fraud totaling 33% when compared with 2015.
One of the reasons for elevated CNP fraud may be the development of shopping online. As increasing numbers of use online, the entire amount of charge card fraud is likely to increase. However, the rollout of EMV can also be playing a job within the increase of card-not-present fraud.
Particularly, the chips in EMV cards tend to be harder to repeat and reproduce than the usual magstripe card (which is dependant on technology straight from the 1970s). So rather, scammers are switching to purchasing online, where you can find no techniques to physically authenticate the credit card. Rather, most security checks depend around the CVV or AVS checks to recognize suspicious transactions.
That’s not saying cloned or counterfeited cards aren’t an issue whatsoever. They’re. EMV market saturation in america isn’t 100%, as well as if consumers have nick cards, that does not mean retailers are outfitted to simply accept nick cards. As well as if counterfeited card fraud is decreasing, there’s still lost/stolen card fraud to bother with.
6 Methods to Reduce Charge Card Fraud in Brick-and-Mortar Stores
So, your house you need to antiques store. Someone is available in to purchase some furniture for his or her new house. Two days and a few 1000 dollars later, you discover the card used would be a stolen card. The cardholder has filed a chargeback, meaning the entire transaction amount continues to be deducted from your bank account and put on hold pending analysis. Not just that, but you’re the actual merchandise, effectively doubling whatever is lost.
Regrettably, this could and does occur to retailers. Although some industries are much more likely than the others to become victims of card fraud, any and each business should know the potential risks and take safeguards.
Which industries are most in danger? Based on an american Bank presentation, a few of the MCCs (merchant category codes, accustomed to identify the kind of services or products a business offers) which are most focused on fraud range from the following:
5411: Supermarkets and Supermarkets
5732: Electronics Stores
5812: Dining Establishments and Restaurants
5999: Miscellaneous and Niche Stores
4722: Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
5661: Shoe Stores
Exactly what do you need to do to safeguard yourself? To begin with, you should know of whether you’re in the kind of industry that’s enjoy being focused on card-present fraud. A dry-cleaning business or perhaps a cafe? Most likely less. An gallery, a furniture or electronics store, or other business where consumers can drop hundreds or 1000s of dollars all at once? Most certainly a target.
Second, make certain you implement procedures and policies that will help mitigate fraud. We’ll begin with a very fundamental one, that we suspect lots of retailers overlook:
1. Check Network Guidelines for Card Acceptance
I mention mtss is a lot — by a great deal, I am talking about in nearly every review I write — but READ YOUR CONTRACT. Understand what you’re signing and just what rules and needs you’re being certain to. It’s important to maintain your credit card merchant account open so that you can keep accepting cards. But it’s also wise to consider the merchant guidelines the various card systems (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Uncover) offer. They often cover guidelines for example displaying marks of acceptance, surcharging, and minimum/maximum transaction amounts. Hidden in individuals guidelines will also be policies which cover safety measures you’re likely to take and list of positive actions if you feel a card is fraudulent or even the transaction otherwise seems suspicious.
To help you get began, I suggest checking the Visa card acceptance guidelines, in addition to MasterCard’s rules.
2. Secure Your POS and Hardware
In addition to the threats resulting from counterfeited or stolen cards, it’s also wise to be familiar with the opportunity of an information breach. If a person has the capacity to access the body and compromise your customers’ private information, it may be devastating for both you and your business. Data breaches can occur in lots of ways.
Among the apparent ones is skimming, in which a fraudster installs a tool over your terminal or pin pad that captures the credit card data and stores it. Skimmers may take only seconds to set up and therefore are difficult to place unless of course you are aware how to acknowledge the twelve signs. Scammers may also result in a data breach by using adware and spyware in your POS system or else hacking it. They are more complex techniques in most cases directed at high-value targets, but they’re possible you should know of, particularly if you store any type of customer data.
PCI Compliance: What you ought to Know
Technically, PCI DSS compliance (usually just known as PCI compliance) isn’t just about POS systems. Sturdy your hardware, too. More often than not that’s lumped along with your POS, though, particularly if you come with an integrated solution.
PCI DSS means Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It’s a unified policy indicating the steps retailers have to take to secure their transaction data through hardware and also the POS system, laid by the PCI Security Standards Council. Retailers are sorted into certainly one of four levels with respect to the type and number of transactions yearly. Most small companies are Level 3 or Level 4, that have the least steps to consider to keep compliance.
There’s an excellent chance that, should you didn’t construct your system yourself, you’re already PCI compliant. Software and equipment vendors will need to go via a certification process when they handle payment card information. However, should you store any customer data (particularly in a database you develop and keep yourself) or route it via a website you maintain yourself, that won’t function as the situation. You need to speak to your credit card merchant account provider or software vendor by what steps are needed to make sure your compliance. You might be needed to accomplish quarterly scans or self-assessments.
PCI compliance could be summarized into 12 points of action lumped into six groups. The reason here is obtained from the PCI SCC Quick Reference Guide.
Build and keep a safe and secure Network 1. Install and keep a firewall configuration to safeguard cardholder data. 2. Don’t use vendor-provided defaults for system passwords along with other security parameters.
Safeguard Cardholder Data 3. Safeguard stored cardholder data. 4. Secure transmission of cardholder data across open, public systems.
Conserve a Vulnerability Management Program 5. Use and frequently update anti-virus software or programs. 6. Develop and keep secure systems and applications.
Implement Strong Access Control Measures 7. Restrict use of cardholder data by business have to know. 8. Assign a distinctive ID to every person with computer access. 9. Restrict physical use of cardholder data.
Regularly Monitor and Test Systems 10. Track and monitor all use of network sources and cardholder data. 11. Regularly test home security systems and procedures.
Maintain an info Security Policy 12. Conserve a policy that addresses information to safeguard all personnel.
For retailers, I believe the important thing takeaway is the fact that PCI compliance (and knowledge peace of mind in general) isn’t a one-and-done type deal. You have to positively take preventive steps and monitoring the body, from updating software and firmware when updates seem to watching the employees and ensuring they’re educated on card security issues and proper procedures to handle.
Beyond PCI Compliance: How to maintain your POS (and knowledge) Secure
Learning all the intricacies of PCI compliance is most certainly challenging for anybody, the experts! However, since, data security isn’t something take proper care of once rather than consider again, you need to certainly take a moment to discover security.
Two big terms at this time are file encryption and tokenization. PCI DSS signifies that the POS and hardware should secure transactions. There’s two major kinds of file encryption, point-to-point and finish-to-finish.
Tokenization isn’t yet a business standard, though it’s increasingly common, mostly because of NFC/contactless payments. Tokenization generates a 1-time-use card number and substitutes it for that actual card number. Even when information is breached and decrypted, that tokenized number is useless to scammers. That’s just how Apple Pay and Samsung Pay and Android Pay keep the card data secure: Your card number is kept in a cloud vault which your phone have access to. Your phone generates the token and passes it to the system, which verifies the amount.
If you would like to understand more about how you can secure your POS, check out our POS 101 article around the subject, in addition to PC Mag’s article regarding how to place skimmers.
3. Capture Signatures, Even on Low-Value Transactions
Credit (and debit) cards possess a space around the back for customers to sign them because, theoretically, retailers are meant to compare that signature towards the one around the receipt as a way of verification. The truth is couple of or no retailers really do that.
Within the interest of speeding along transactions, particularly in environments where customers be prepared to be interior and exterior the checkout fairly rapidly, the credit card systems have relaxed their guidelines with no longer need a signature on all transactions. Low-value transactions (under $25 or $50 with respect to the network) frequently waive the signature requirement.
mPOS systems — Square, PayPal Here, SumUp, etc. — plus some POS systems frequently allow retailers to disable signatures on low-value transactions. For mPOS systems, the brink is generally $25. For full-fledged POS systems, that threshold may also be in the merchant’s discretion.
Realistically speaking, quick-serve cafes and restaurants, supermarkets, etc., where you’re likely to encounter low-value transactions, aren’t an enormous risk. And also the losses, unless of course you’re experiencing a huge string of fraudulent transactions, are minimal. It isn’t that you simply absolutely must enable signatures on all transactions to safeguard yourself. That’s not true. However if you simply want to maximise your protection out on another mind the additional time to gather a signature throughout the checkout phase, you are able to enable them.
For top-value transactions, you need to absolutely be collecting signatures on everything. Actually, for large transactions, signed invoices are an easy way to safeguard your company and reduce the chances of chargebacks.
4. Request Customer Identification
Some consumers, rather of filling out the backs of the cards, decide to write “SEE ID” for the reason that space. This informs retailers they ought to request a photo ID and compare it towards the name around the card.
A great practice. Not every retailers get it done, especially with increasingly more consumer-facing PIN pads and terminals in which the cashier never handles the credit card.
But there’s only one small problem:
A merchant can ask to determine a photograph ID for any transaction, but legally, the customer isn’t obligated to supply it. Visa’s guide, 5 Important Visa Rules That Each Merchant Ought To Know, explains it such as this:
“A Merchant may request cardholder identification inside a face-to-face atmosphere. When the name around the identification doesn’t match the name around the card, the merchant could decide whether or not to accept the credit card. When the cardholder doesn’t have, or perhaps is reluctant to provide, cardholder identification, the merchant should recognition the credit card should they have acquired evidence of card presence, a legitimate authorization, along with a valid signature or PIN.”
Therefore if a person provides an ID that does not match the name around the card, the merchant can pick to say no the transaction. When the customer will not offer an ID or doesn’t have one, Visa’s rules condition that you ought to process the transaction, provided you will find the card in hands plus they sign or enter their PIN.
That stated, requesting ID continues to be generally a great policy. Just be familiar with the credit card systems acceptance rules (see point #1 above).
5. Avoid Keyed Transactions
It’s story time!
A lengthy, lengthy time ago (OK, a lot more like eight years back), after i labored like a cashier somewhere that shall ‘t be named, I recall from time to time getting to place a card inside a plastic grocery bag and swipe it to obtain the POS to see it. I’m still unsure why this labored, however it did. Them which had this issue were usually old and worn — sometimes worn to the stage the elevated figures weren’t as elevated because they must have been, and also the whole card appeared thinner, even extended. They often left worn-lower, overstuffed wallets, therefore i just generally assumed the put on evolved as the result of in which the card was stored. Sometimes, though, even that didn’t work, since the card might have a split inside it within the magstripe or it simply wouldn’t read. In individuals cases, I could (and did) by hand go into the card.
I do not determine if the cards I processed by doing this were fraudulent, but I know since it was a danger. Card network guidelines, in addition to other security experts, suggest that you inspect the physical card for indications of damage or tampering before you decide to process a transaction. Broken cards — particularly if it normally won’t swipe — can (but don’t always) indicate counterfeit or cloned cards. Entering the transaction means the POS does not have to physically look into the card, because it’s treated like a card-not-present transaction.
First, keyed transactions always are more expensive than swiped or dipped ones. PayPal and Square both charge 3.5% + $.15, that is well over the 2.7% and a pair of.75% (correspondingly) they charge for swiped or dipped transactions. Traditional merchant services may also assess a greater fee, although it varies more.
Second, getting a lot of keyed transactions is frequently a warning sign for a free account provider. It shows that someone may be processing cards that aren’t even physically contained in the shop, that is, clearly, a large no-no. A particular quantity of keyed transactions should be expected, but a lot of can result in a hold, freeze, or termination.
So your very best to prevent entering card information, because this will safeguard your company. Most security experts also recommend searching at the processing background and making note associated with a patterns — whether these transactions happen in a particular time consistently, or maybe one cashier is much more vulnerable to keyed transactions than the others.
6. Change to EMV Acceptance
Should you not curently have a POS and hardware that accepts EMV transactions, it’s about time you are making the switch. No exceptions, no excuses. Yes, it may appear costly, you will find, the EMV rollout continues to be rather slow partly due to the backlog on hardware and software certifications. But there are many EMV-certified hardware and software open to retailers. If you were postponing the switch, just start it already. It’s probably the most important methods for you to safeguard your company from charge card fraud.
Like I stated earlier, it’s a great deal harder (not possible, but very, very hard) to repeat a nick card. That is why many scammers are relocating to CNP fraud. On October 1, 2015, liability for fraudulent nick card transactions shifted in the banks to “the least-secure party,” which within this situation means retailers who aren’t outfitted to simply accept EMV.
Remember the instance I began with, using the antique furniture. Repeat the person purchasing the products have a counterfeit nick card. However, you, the merchant, have only a magstripe readers. If you’d had an EMV readers, it could have been in a position to identify the card was fraudulent. But rather, you processed the magstripe transaction — which leaves you entirely responsible for the entire mess.
The problem could be different when the fraudster were built with a stolen EMV card and tried on the extender in an EMV terminal. For the reason that situation, the liability would fall around the card provider.
Should you haven’t already, get EMV-capable card-readers and make certain your POS is EMV certified, too. It’s absolutely worthwhile, and every one of our top-rated merchant providers offer EMV acceptance, just like our top-rated mPOS providers.
Conclusion: How Large a danger is Card-Present Charge Card Fraud?
Realistically, retailers who sell online face an even bigger threat than brick-and-mortar retailers. That’s largely because of the EMV liability shift and rollout of nick cards. Unfortunately, even nick cards can’t safeguard against stolen or lost card fraud. And until EMV market saturation hits 100%, there’s still a danger of accepting counterfeit cards.
Fortunately, you are able to take measures to safeguard your and yourself business. Understanding is power, especially within the payments industry. So review your processing contract, the credit card networks’ laws and regulations, and also the legal matters affecting your industry. Make certain that you simply keep the POS secure, out on another overlook simple defenses for example collecting signatures or requesting IDs, and keeping keyed transactions low. Applying EMV, should you haven’t already, is among the most critical methods for you to safeguard your company.
If you have questions, we’d like to respond to them! Take a look at our comment guidelines by leaving your question inside a comment. Thanks for studying!
Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.
Exactly what do the Walmart Savings Catcher, Macy’s Shop The Right Path, and Delta SkyMiles programs all share? They’re loyalty programs operated by large companies generating huge amount of money annually. These programs offer incentives to customers in return for certain behaviors, varying from frequent or greater spending to social discussing and referrals. By providing carefully marketed incentives, loyalty programs boost sales and feet traffic, increase contact with your company, and open a door for future marketing. Sophisticated, digital loyalty programs aren’t always new, but having to pay between tens to thousands and thousands of dollars of these programs make them unattainable for small companies – until lately.
Loyalty and reward platforms are relatively recent towards the small company space. Numerous companies have embarked to produce top quality, digital loyalty programs at affordable rates. The majority of the companies I’ve reviewed average around 2-four years old the first began in ’09. That being stated, loyalty programs are extremely diverse, and also the rules and abilities of 1 aren’t prone to match another. Regardless of this diversity, most programs are made having a couple of things in your mind. The foremost and primary because you have a company that needs significant feet visitors to stay afloat. Companies for example restaurants, stores, fitness gyms, local niche shops, and ecommerce stores which require frequent visits may benefit a good deal from loyalty programs. Essentially, a properly-rounded loyalty program must do three things: increase repeat business, generate start up business, and provide you with an aggressive edge.
Construct it right. Developing a loyalty program that work well for you personally will require forethought and meticulous planning. While adjustments might be necessary after a while, you need to make certain the basic principles of the program are seem. I suggest studying the McKinsey & Co strategies in more detail.
Make use of the right draws. Among the best tools any loyalty program can provide is the opportunity to collect specific data regarding your customers. This data may be used to tailor promotions while offering to some customer’s preferences, giving your choices more quality and increasing the likelihood that buyers will revisit.
Possess the right reasons. Among the goals of the clients are to earn money. Getting stated that, it can’t be the sole reason if you wish to be effective. Your loyalty program is a superb tool. Utilize it to enhance the client experience, services or products you are offering, in addition to express gratitude for your customers for his or her patronage.
“But let’s say companies used their loyalty programs to help make the service or product better for me personally? Let’s say, rather of paying me for which is generally a similar (and of low quality) experience, they provided the knowledge better?” – Taddy Hall on loyalty programs, The Cambridge Group
So, how can you tell if your loyalty program fits your needs? You will find numerous studies which suggest loyalty programs work, and numerous others which claim that loyalty programs don’t. Based on a Stanford Business article, loyalty programs don’t change customer behavior for top spenders, but instead only affect behavior for low spenders whose overall value might not offset program costs. A more modern article from Business Insider implies that companies without loyalty programs grow in a slightly greater rate than companies that do possess a loyalty program. Mckinsey & Company has identified a couple of explanations why loyalty programs neglect to deliver value, citing insufficient differentiation, innovation, and knowledge because the primary causes. Effective programs shared characteristics for example integrated or omni-funnel loyalty encounters, quality data to facilitate targeted marketing, and partnerships with non-competing retailers.
If you’ve didn’t have a loyalty program before, or else you have however it was unsuccessful, my hope may be the tips offered in the following paragraphs will take you better success. Loyalty programs are available in all sizes and shapes, so selecting the correct one for your company is key.
Table of Contents
Choosing the right Program
Steps Choosing the right program may appear just like a daunting task. Whether you’re a physical merchant or work strictly in ecommerce markets, there’s a numerous possibilities. Prior to choosing a course, there are several preliminary steps you need to take that will help you make a good decision.
The First Step. Define your company. Your company type will matter when choosing a course. Some loyalty programs are produced strictly for ecommerce, while some need a location. If you are generating business both on and offline, you’ll find you will find less low-cost options open to you to streamline the procedure. Within each business type you will see limitations according to your company hardware and software. Some loyalty programs operate like a stand-alone product while some require integration. For brick-and-mortar retailers this can typically involve your POS for ecommerce retailers, this can involve your ecommerce platform or shopping cart software.
Second Step. Define your objectives. Knowing what you would like is half the fight in selecting, well, anything, particularly loyalty programs. From the three functions listed, that is most significant for you inside a loyalty program? Give me an idea your program to complete? Once you’ve written lower what you would like, begin defining how you need to keep it in check. Some programs permit you to make changes anytime towards the program, other medication is smaller. Just how much detail do you want in reports? Are you currently searching for simplicity or impressive personalization options? Be as honest so that as thorough as the hectic agenda enables.
Third Step. Define your limits. It’s important to reconcile what you would like with what you could realistically maintain. Many loyalty programs need a subscription, compensated monthly, though some don’t. Just how much are you able to afford? Are you able to invest in an agreement, as well as on what terms? Creating custom rewards and tiers could be a bit tiresome, as well as time intensive. Determine the length of time you’re prepared to invest in creating and looking after your program.
Fourth Step. Define your census. Probably you’ve already defined some, if not completely of those areas, in certain capacity. Your target audience (the shoppers you need to generate), subscriber base (the shoppers you have) as well as your competition (individuals who sell similar products within the same area or space) would be the areas that warrant probably the most analysis. Get just as much feedback as possible from customers about things that they like. This should help you pick which platform works perfect for your company, in addition to assist you in making significant rewards for the customers.
Survey Your Choices
Once you’ve completed your preliminaries, it’s time for you to start narrowing things lower making a top three list (or even more, if you have time). You should check out the loyalty reviews here on this website to obtain began. For physical retailers, I’d recommend you review FiveStars or Perkville for ecommerce retailers or retailers using both platforms, I suggest you take a look at Sweet Tooth. A couple of areas to seriously consider:
Customer Support. Each loyalty review gives information on customer support and overall impressions. If customer support is really a major feature for you personally, pay attention for this area. Some companies offer great products, but horrible interpersonal relations.
Prices, Contracts and Cancellation Policies. Before getting associated with any loyalty program, know with certainty ways to get out and just what do it yourself. Contract lengths and cancellation policies ought to be well defined and clearly expressed. A thing of caution: sales people will frequently downplay cancellation policies with vague or dismissive solutions. Never be afraid to inquire about more clearness about this subject, or request their official policy if it is not easily available online. Regarding contracts and prices, some companies are prepared to negotiate on either of individuals terms, therefore it never hurts to inquire about.
Simplicity of use. Typically, a great loyalty program ought to be simple for your clients to make use of and simple for you to handle. Some companies perform a better job only at that than the others, but make time to view available demos and tutorials on loyalty software to find out if it will likely be a great fit.
*If you are getting trouble narrowing lower your choices, or would prefer to have another person perform the legwork, you are able to call us for further assistance. *
Each program may have its very own group of features open to you, and options and abilities will be different from business to business. A few of the more prevalent features are highlighted below:
Point-based programs. A place based program provides extensive value and versatility. Use a point based system to provide different point values for various services or products, and provide bonus or marketing suggests encourage specific actions.
Tiered programs. Utilizing a tiered system of rewarding your clients does a couple of things. First, it adds some gamification which provides your clients something to achieve for. Second, it enables you to definitely differentiate between customers and provide rewards according to their profitability.
Social Discussing. From Twitter and facebook posts email incentives, social discussing is a superb tool to market your company and special promotions. Most programs have incentivized social discussing (a coupon reward or X quantity of bonuses) however, many provide it without resorting to incentives.
Reviews. Not every companies provide the ability for the people to take a look at business from where you are, and also the limitations vary. There are several disadvantages in this selection namely, the possibility backlash from rewarding customers for 5 star reviews.
Data reports. Data reports are part of the effective lengthy-term loyalty program. Mckinsey & Co offer tips on how using data acquired through loyalty programs helps boost sales. Data collected from customer behaviors for example purchases, social networking interactions and reward redemptions will help you figure out what works well with each client and interact them in significant ways as individuals or smaller sized groups.
Campaigns & Promotions. Additionally in managing your loyalty program, some companies offer the opportunity to manage temporary or targeted campaigns and promotions via email, mobile application notifications, or SMS texting. These functions frequently include tracking abilities so that you can see whether a campaign ought to be repeated later on, or thrown within the scrap pile.
Mobile check-in. This selection generally needs a customer to download a particular application on their own smartphone. Mobile scanners such as the one utilized by Belly create a customer’s phone their loyalty card which may be scanned at the purpose of purchase. The iBeacon technology utilized by Perka automates the procedure using your customer’s Bluetooth capacity.
Omni-Funnel Features. Omni-funnel refers back to the ability for an organization to provide a seamless experience across multiple platforms. (i.e., beginning my shopping experience on amazon . com.com and finishing it with my cell phone) The amount of loyalty programs with omni-funnel technologies are still fairly small, however, many companies do provide omni-funnel development for his or her clients.
Companies to think about: Search Engine Optimization
Sweet Tooth Sweet Tooth can be obtained through Magento while offering a softer, Beta version in Shopify. Their point- based loyalty program has a clean front finish design and it is wealthy in features including social networking along with other interaction rewards, thorough program customizations, and product critiques. Sweet Tooth enables API integrations in addition to omni-funnel development. They’ve great customer support reviews, however the program could be cumbersome because of its complex rule system.
S Loyalty S Loyalty can be obtained through Shopify or BigCommerce and it is a place-based program. This program is extremely easy to use and could be setup within minutes. It can be bought in parts or in general package. It isn’t a really robust program, however it will get the task done.
Companies to think about: Physical Solutions
Perkville Perkville offers affordable rates for any card free loyalty program. Their features include social networking and referral rewards, in addition to daily data reports. A good option for fitness gyms, gyms and restaurants, Perkville integrates with multiple POS systems and it has a reasonably seamless process. Their transaction limits can be a drawback, however their program has gotten lots of reviews that are positive from retailers as well as their customers.
FiveStars FiveStars offers seamless integration with multiple POS systems, along with a well-rounded loyalty program. Features incorporate a customizable loyalty program, additional marketing abilities via SMS text and email, and knowledge reports to trace the progress of the program.
Belly Belly provides a customer facing iPad having a “per visit” loyalty platform. The Belly card is really a universal card customers may use at any Belly merchant location. An excellent choice for retailers with DIY customers, Belly offers social networking interactions, review abilities, a simple out-of-the-box setup, and knowledge reports which may be filtered into multiple groups.
Loyalty Gator Loyalty Gator offers an array of choices for your loyalty program. Based on your subscription plan, you may choose multiple campaigns varying from the point system to some punch card system. Additionally they offer worker loyalty programs and coalition programs for multiple retailers. Additionally to data possession, retailers receive accessibility API to build up additional integrations.
Running A Highly Effective Loyalty Program
Promotion Before you decide to unveil your program, and for some time later on, advertise it. For those who have an email list, enable your subscriber base be aware of information on this program ahead of time. Many programs offer marketing kits to brighten your doorways and funds registers (or nifty buttons for ecommerce retailers). Make use of the tools you need to tell your friends regarding your program. In almost any correspondence, your clients ought to be informed regarding how to join, how you can earn rewards, and the way to redeem them.
Should you haven’t already, ask your clients what sort of rewards they’d want to see, or make use of the information you’ve already to produce enticing rewards for the customers. With respect to the loyalty program you select, you could possibly get additional help with this out of your marketing repetition or software programs. Rewards ought to be enticing enough to inspire return visits, although not too pricey.
Once you have your loyalty enter in place there’s a couple of things you want to do regularly:
Train your employees. Unless of course you’re the only real worker, the possibilities your employees may have different responses for your new program. Let everybody know upfront what’s expected of these, and make certain to possess very obvious guidelines to follow along with in situation something goes completely wrong (i.e., will we redeem rewards when the system crashes?). Some companies offer training via tutorials or webinars for the employees, so take benefit of individuals things too.
Inquire. Mainly in the beginning, and also at various times all year round, acquire some feedback out of your employees along with your customers on which they consider this program. According to your responses, you may want to have adjustments or re-train staff.
Use every chance. Whether it’s a complaint, concern, or compliment, use every chance to interact your clients inside a positive way. Versatility and courtesy go a lengthy means by improving customer relations.
Place your data to operate. Most loyalty programs have a helpful approach to data accumulation. Some data reports tend to be more extensive than the others, offering thorough analysis and actionable insights, while some just provide raw data for use at the will. The information abilities of the loyalty program are the best, since the insights attracted from that data may be used to enhance your business in other locations. My advice? Go to whichever you need to make smarter choices regarding your program and business.
Should you not seem like your program is fulfilling all your needs, speak to your customer support repetition. Regardless of whether you need additional tools or perhaps your loyalty program requires a couple of tweaks, contacting your repetition and expressing your concerns can help you save considerable time and. A lot of companies are eager to help you. In the end, your ability to succeed is the success.
Safeguards Every loyalty programs aren’t likely to please everybody, so be ready for negative feedback, and prepare for foreseeable problems. All loyalty programs have limitations, and so i encourage you to definitely read both good and bad reviews when searching for your loyalty program. A couple of commonplace problems to think about are highlighted below.
Mobile Application software. If you are searching right into a mobile application for the loyalty software, it’s essential that you understand how your program interacts together with your customers’ phones. For instance, some mobile phone applications focus on all cell phones, while some only focus on smartphones. Also, apps have a tendency to crash more traditional programs.
Ecommerce software. The loyalty software I’ve reviewed for ecommerce can be obtained on 1 of 3 platforms: Shopify, Bigcommerce, or Magento. Though there are several integrations within the works best for the likes of Sweet Tooth, I haven’t seen anyone loyalty program on the 3 ecommerce platforms, therefore the platform you utilize will limit your choices. There’s a couple of software firms that can make custom integrations for the ecommerce store, however these integrations could cost you.
Program limitations. Some companies limit your program through transaction or signup limits, based on your subscription plan. Be sensible when selecting plans with these sorts of limitations, and think about future growth when deciding.
Guidelines Loyalty programs provide essential tools to assist generate business, but the easiest method to stick out is thru customer relations. Most of all, preserve the connection you’ve together with your existing customers. Listed here are a couple of do’s and don’ts worth mentioning about this subject:
Don’t hide your loyalty program. This can be a horrible practice. If you notice that rewards are squandering your an excessive amount of, make alterations in your program or discontinue it. Sporadically telling your clients “the product is lower,” “the machine is damaged,” or “we’re full-scale,Inches paints your company inside a negative light, particularly when individuals statements are blatantly false. If individuals statements are true, which is likely to happen, attempt to offer positive alternatives (i.e. another reward, additional points/punches/perks, or perhaps an I.O.U.). Small gestures go a lengthy way.
Never be stingy together with your customers. Lavish gifts aren’t expected, but common courtesy is. You shouldn’t provide a “tenth donut free” if my tenth donut would be the tiniest, stalest one you’ll find. Help remind your employees that rewarding your clients is a great factor.
Don’t complain for your customers. In case your loyalty program is squandering your money, you shouldn’t gripe for your customers about this. Making your clients uncomfortable will probably turn them off and them.
Do smile. Smiling at the customers and which makes them feel appreciated for patronizing your company goes a lengthy means by keeping them. Whether they’re buying or redeeming a totally free reward, the interaction ought to always be an optimistic experience.
Do be flexible. Some arguments simply aren’t worth getting. If your potential conflict could be diffused with a small compromise, choose the compromise, particularly if the alternative involves creating a scene or slowing lower service.
Do give advance notice of changes for your program. If you are thinking about altering the guidelines of the program, or plan to cancel this program altogether, provide your customers a manages. Email changes, publish an indication, or inform customers once they buy something (Personally, I’d recommend doing the 3, simply to be thorough).
Getting a loyalty program doesn’t guarantee your company will succeed, but the potential for a effective program can’t be overlooked. Loyalty programs boost profits inside a significant way. Selecting a loyalty program that’s the right fit for the business, creating significant rewards, and preserving the connection between both you and your customers will pave the best way to that success. Make sure to take a look at our loyalty reviews to obtain began with a small company loyalty program, and for those who have additional questions, you can leave a remark or achieve to us!
Phylicia is really a freelancer, indie author, and Google addict. She accustomed to scout all New York’s free venues in her own free time, however she’s reviewing loyalty rewards software for Merchant Maverick. Her professional background includes technical writing and research, though she’s also fluent in toddler gibberish. When she’s not crying over spilled milk, Phylicia enjoys studying, writing, and performing random Google searches.