25 Feb 2019

7 Shopify Competitors: A Comparison of Alternative Options

Online shopping is quickly becoming one of the most popular online activities. Currently, there are almost 800,000 websites using Shopify as their chosen eCommerce platform. 590,000 of those websites are based in the U.S.A., followed by the U.K. and Australia.

There’s no denying that Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms when creating an online store.

 

When it comes to creating and managing online stores, there are quite a few options available. Although I find it hard to outline many faults with Shopify, some users may prefer an alternative.

 

Whether you’re looking for a cheaper option, different set of features, or are simply curious, I’ve reviewed 10 Shopify competitors (so you don’t have to)!

1. Wix (£22.00/Month)

There are almost 3.5 million sites powered by Wix (as of May 2019). Wix is an incredibly powerful alternative to Shopify, allowing people to create stunning websites and online stores in a matter of minutes. Wix’s market share shows that users truly love their platform.

What features does Wix have?

Wix ADI

Wix’s ADI is just one of my favourite features that Wix offers. When I mentioned you could create a website or store within minutes, I wasn’t joking. Wix ADI asks a few simple questions to gauge what your site is about and generates an awesome template based on your answers. If you like what you see, all you’ll need to do is fill in your content and you’re good to go!

Your website will be designed and created with mobile in mind. All of Wix’s templates, including their ADI design are mobile-friendly and responsive. You can edit a separate mobile version of your site if you wish too (though it can be a little fiddly).

Wix Stores

Although Wix isn’t solely an eCommerce platform, you can create your own online store. Just like it’s website’s templates, you can create beautiful online store fronts and product pages in no time at all. Once you’ve created your store, you’ll be able to manage everything, track products and orders, all from your desktop and mobile.

There’s plenty of payment methods you can use for your customers. Whether it’s PayPal, credit card, etc. it’s simple to integrate payment gateways to your store. What’s more, payments are commission free too (so you won’t lose a penny).

Wix Blog

It’s important to have a blog if you mean business in the online market. Not only is it good for your brand, it helps with SEO too. Wix’s blog feature makes it super simple to integrate a blog into your website or online store.

If you’re feeling inspired on the go or need to make quick changes, you can use Wix’s mobile app to access your blog. And if you require some help or invite guest writers, you can add blog contributors who can write and manage their own posts – fab!

Pros:

  • Monthly subscriptions mean you don’t have to pay out an annual fee all in one go
  • Wix is incredibly intuitive and easy to use
  • Wix’s ADI tool makes creating a website or online store a breeze
  • All of Wix’s templates are beautifully designed and professional-looking
  • There’s an absolute ton of features and tools available to use

Cons:

  • Once your website has gone live you can’t change your template (unless you start afresh)
  • Their mobile site editor can be temperamental at times

 

Visit Wix.com

2. BigCommerce ($29.95/Month)

There are 49,000 live sites currently on the internet using BigCommerce. This Shopify alternative offers many features, and a pricing plan to suit many users. Their essentials plan starts at $29.95 per month and boasts 0% transaction fees, unlimited products, a responsive website, blog, and up to $50k per year on sales.

What Features does BigCommerce have?

Store Templates 

Of course, when it comes to online stores, you may be interested in the features they have to offer. BigCommerce has a wealth of features that you don’t have to pay extra for. Their eCommerce website templates are a great starting point (they’re all responsive). As well as looking modern and professional, you also have the option of choosing a template that’s fast.

When I say fast, I mean fast in terms of loading speeds. BigCommerce have optimised templates to ensure that your online store loads within an acceptable time frame. This is perfect for your customers as well as your SEO if you want to generate more traffic and visitors to your site.

Server Speed 

It’s often easy to forget that when you use a eCommerce builder or website builder that they are your web host. BigCommerce guarantee a 99.99% uptime, as well as ensuring your site is PCI compliant. These little details allow you to focus on the content of your store, rather than having to worry about the back end.

Site Migration 

If you do decide to move your online store from another competitor to BigCommerce, it’s super easy. BigCommerce claim they have migrated over 20,000 stores to their platform. There’s an easy to use tool to make this happen, or you can contact BigCommerce’s expert team for help.

Pros:

  • No transaction fees, even with third party gateways
  • Extensive feature set even on lowest pricing plan
  • Plenty of SEO tools
  • Built-in blog
  • Ability to sell with companies like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook

Cons:

  • Limits on annual online sales
  • Pricing is high compared to competitors
  • No mobile app to manage online store

 

Visit BigCommerce.com

 

3. SquareSpace

SquareSpace not only provides eCommerce solutions, you can build websites for many professions. Whether you’re a budding artist, musician, or setting up a new shop, SquareSpace can provide the right tools. SquareSpace currently hosts over 1 million live sites, which gives an indication of it’s popularity.

What Features does SquareSpace have?

Product Catalog 

SquareSpace doesn’t put any limits on the number of products you can sell. As well as items, you can sell services, making it very versatile. When you list your products or services, you can do so with different variations, SKUs, etc. SquareSpace makes it really easy to setup an online store, regardless of your size. If you own a small business or large scale corporation, you can display all your items in one place.

Subscriptions 

It’s becoming a lot more common for online stores to offer subscriptions. Products like food boxes, postal services, etc. all require a subscription. SquareSpace allow you to create monthly subscriptions, annual product deliveries, or seasonal and one-time subscriptions. Users will find it easy to setup recurring subscriptions via your online store, and may even entice more traffic to your site.

Abandoned Checkout

The average abandoned checkout rate is almost 80%, which is a shockingly high figure. With SquareSpace, you can automatically setup rules so that your business will send out reminders to customers. When reminded, customers may revisit their cart on your online store and complete their purchase. This is a must have feature for any online business.

Pros:

  • Beautiful templates in terms of design
  • Plenty of eCommerce focused features
  • Easy to use
  • Customisable without the need to code

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to other competitors
  • Although easy to use, may not be very beginner friendly
  • Could do with more payment gateways

 

Visit SquareSpace.com

 

4. WooCommerce

If you have a WordPress site, you may want to consider WooCommerce. It’s an open-source eCommerce platform for WordPress customers (with over 61 million downloads).

The plugin is free and easy to install to any WordPress account. WooCommerce, like other online stores, doesn’t charge card transaction fees, and offers multiple payment gateways. In addition to the fresh install of WooCommerce, there’s plenty of add-ons available to customise the plugin to your liking.

What Features does WooCommerce have?

Sell anything 

You can pretty much sell anything using WooCommerce. Whether it’s digital or physical (or even both), it’s all possible to fill your online store with. If your business is affiliated with another site, you can provide affiliation links too, keeping everything in one place. When you put a product or item up for sale, you can offer an unlimited amount of variations, e.g. colours, sizes, etc.

Shipping Options 

WooCommerce gives you the ability to offer a multitude of shipping options for your online store. You can choose local pickup, delivery, or worldwide shipping. Or, if you only want to ship to certain locations, you can do this too. As well as location-based options, you can also set your own shipping rates.

Whether you want a flat rate, variable depending on size, location, etc. WooCommerce can calculate your preferences and provide the output to your customers.

Optimisation 

It’s important once you have your online store up and running that you optimise it. WooCommerce tools ensure you’ll get the most out of your business (and so will your customers).

You can add features like coupons to entice customers (and their friends) to purchase more. You can also make recommendations to customers as their shopping, taking them on an extended journey of your online store.

Pros:

  • Plenty of advanced features
  • Ideal for small or large online stores
  • Customer and admin accounts
  • Free and paid designs available

Cons:

  • Can be quite difficult to use
  • No direct support

 

Visit WooCommerce.com

5. LemonStand

LemonStand provides the usual eCommerce platform features. However, it also provides a large amount of flexibility, customisation, and automation to make your life easier.

Their pricing plan makes choosing the best option for you really easy. All of their plans include their main features, with the difference being the amount of orders you can take. LemonStand also offer a free 14 day trial, so it’s worth giving it a go (even just for the trial).

What Features does LemonStand have?

Flexibility 

As I mentioned, LemonStand provide lots of flexibility. You can setup and sell your products exactly the way you want to. As well as adding products in the ‘standard’ way, you can add custom fields to ensure that regardless of your needs, your products will still sell. You can sell any number of products with unlimited variants, add group-based pricing, discounts, and more.

Blogging

As with many websites now, you can add a blog to your online store. Customers like businesses who inject a little more personality into their websites, and this gives your the opportunity to reach out even further to them. LemonStand’s CMS allows you to create a professional designed website, online store, and blog. You’ll have full control over your content, posts, announcements, and even link products from your store to your blog.

Management 

When businesses create an online store, the last thing they’ll want to do is manage the back-end of their website. LemonStand ensure that they manage support, infrastructure, and maintenance. This means you can focus entirely on your business, without any additional stresses.

Pros:

  • Great support
  • Fixed pricing
  • Wealth of features
  • Highly customisable

Cons:

  • None of the plans offer unlimited products
  • Missing features compared to other competitors

 

Visit LemondStand.com

6. 3dCart

3dCart is a cloud based shopping cart, offering plenty of features for most businesses. Their plans all come with standard features including unlimited bandwidth, orders, 24/7 support, and more. eCommerce stores won’t incur any transaction fees and can be linked to existing blogs and social media stores like Facebook. Plans start from $14.25 per month, including unlimited products, which I think is pretty competitive in the market.

Features:

Responsive Themes 

3dCart will provide you access to over 60 free themes. All of these are mobile ready, meaning you won’t have to worry about optimising your online store for smart device users.

With so many internet users now accessing the world wide web via their smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc. it’s essential your site is optimised. If your eCommerce store isn’t mobile ready, you could be jeopardizing your user base, traffic, and SEO score.

Sales Channels 

Selling products solely from your online store is now a thing of the past. Customers want to interact in multiple ways, whether that’s through social media (Facebook Store), Amazon, Google, etc.

If you don’t connect with other channels, you could be losing out on a lot of your market. 3dCart connects your online store with the likes of eBay, Facebook, Amazon and Shopzilla with ease.

Secure Payments 

eCommerce providers offer multiple payment gateways. 3dCart has over 100 payment options for you to choose from. It’s really easy to accept payments from your customers with a wide range of providers. Popular choices include PayPal, Visa Checkout, Google Pay, etc.

The more payment methods available, the more customers you could potentially be gaining. All payment gateways are completely secure, too, so you’ll never need to worry about that.

Pros:

  • Plenty of free (mobile ready) themes
  • No setup or transaction fees
  • Unlimited products on all pricing plans

Cons:

  • Not as customisable as other shopping carts
  • Some user interface issues

7. BigCartel

BigCartel is my recommended choice for beginners into the eCommerce market. They offer affordable pricing plans, and even provide a free plan if you want to sell a limited amount of products. They may not offer as many features as other eCommerce stores, but they provide the market with an alternative that many users could make use of.

What Features does BigCartel have?

Custom Store 

Many website builders and online stores allow you to customise aspects of the themes and templates available. BigCartel allows you to customise your store to exactly how you want it. If you want to use their editor to add products, move content, etc. then it’s really easy to do.

But, if you’re feeling experimental, you can access the back-end code of each template and switch and change whatever you like.

Analytical Tools 

Once you’ve established a customer base, or even if you’re building one, it’s key to learn where they’re coming from, how they shop, etc. BigCartel’s analytical tools allow you to check stats on your products and run promotions based on data. You can setup marketing, edit your products, and change anything you like. Best of all, you can do all of this from your mobile device!

Niche Market 

Although this isn’t necessarily a feature, BigCartel really focus on getting small businesses up and running. Their pricing reflects this, making it easy and accessible for start-ups and individuals to start spreading their wings in the eCommerce market.

With BigCartel you can sell anything you like; paintings, music, t-shirts, you name it. BigCartel are 100% independent which means their focus is really on you.

Pros:

  • Free plan available
  • Very easy to use
  • Ideal for beginners and start-ups

Cons:

  • Basic themes
  • Limited features

 

Visit BigCartel.com

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12 Feb 2019

Wix Vs WordPress – 8 Important Differences That You Should Know

WordPress may be the most popular website builder on the market, but there are other options to consider. In 2018, Wix held over 22% of the website builder market share. When it comes to designing a website, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job at hand! Depending on your needs, one website builder may trump another, so you should take your time to consider which is best.

Both Wix and WordPress are incredible website builders (that’s why I’m mentioning them). However, each has their own pros and cons, different sets of features, and affordability. So you can decide which is the best website builder, I’ve put together a Wix Vs WordPress comparison to save you the hard work!

Pricing

Luckily, we now live in a world where it’s become very affordable to build a website. However, the cost of each website builder does differ, and could be a deciding factor for some users. The cost can often depend on your requirements, so I’ve done some research as to which website builder is more cost effective.

Wix:

Wix offers it’s customers a free plan, which comes with basic website builder features. However, there are several downsides to it, because it is free. It includes branded adverts on your website in the header and footer, and you can’t use a custom domain. If you did decide to create a website using their free plan, your domain would look something like user.wix.com/websitename

There’s also a lack of features, so you wouldn’t be able to use Google Analytics, eCommerce tools, and Favicons. If you do want more advanced features, you’ll need to upgrade to one of their premium plans.

 

Premium plans start from £3 per month and allow you to connect your own domain name. However, your website will still be limited, and will contain Wix advertisements. If you’re willing to bump up to £6 per month, adverts will get removed and more features will become available. In terms of value for money, I’d suggest the unlimited plan at £8.50 per month. You get a lot more for your buck, and will be able to create a professional looking website at an affordable cost.

WordPress:

WordPress is actually free for anyone on the internet to use. I suppose you’re wondering why it’s free – well, I’ll tell you! If you want to use WordPress to create a website, you’ll need to purchase your own domain name and web hosting. Most web hosts will come with the 1-click installation software which means WordPress can be installed with the click of a button.

There are plenty of WordPress web hosting packages to choose from. If you choose a web host like iPage, you can get web hosting for just £1.50 per month, and you can start to explore your WordPress options. Of course, the more money you’re willing to spend, the options start to open up. For example, you can pay more for a web host to manage your WordPress website, taking the pressure of you, allowing you to concentrate more on your business.

WordPress does offer lots of free themes and templates to get you started. However, if you want something a little more professional, you can pay for a premium WordPress theme, as well as plugins, and more. These features allow you to customise your website to your liking, and there’s literally thousands to choose from.

Verdict:

Both WordPress and Wix offer free options for customers. WordPress is entirely free, but you will need to pay for your own domain name and web hosting to get started. On the other hand, Wix is it’s own web host, but does come with limitations unless you’re willing to pay for a premium plan to unlock more features.

Both has it’s pros and cons in the pricing category. However, when you weigh up the cost versus the features and flexibility, my money is on Wix.

Usability

When it comes to website builders, most people won’t want to learn a new skill to get their website live. The beauty of website builders is that the majority of them don’t require you to know or learn any code to get started. Both Wix and WordPress come with their own features and tools. The main thing is, neither of them are difficult to get used to, even for beginners.

Wix:

Wix is a classic drag and drop website builder. It’s interface allows you to select any section of your website and edit it with the tools they offer. This is called a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) interface.

You can literally drag and drop items on to your website from your device. Simply select an element and update it’s content, add images, videos, etc. This is a great choice for beginners as everything is obvious, and there’s even tooltips should you need them.

WordPress:

WordPress doesn’t use a drag and drop facility, which is a little unfortunate. It uses something called a visual editor which lets you edit your website and theme in a similar WYSIWYG environment. You can customise all themes and templates and choose where you want each element to live.

Personally, I’m not a massive fan of the WordPress interface. It’s difficult to use, especially for beginners, and isn’t obvious where things are. However, once you do get the hang of it, it’s extremely powerful and very flexible. The trouble is, getting to that point in the first place!

Verdict:

I think the winner is pretty clear here. If you’re a beginner, Wix offers an easy to use interface, which is a pleasure to use. Even if you’re a more advanced user, Wix has plenty of features to keep you occupied and allow you to edit your website the way you like it. WordPress is a powerful tool, but in terms of usability, it takes to long to get the hang of.

Customer Support

Support is important when considering a website builder. If you’re a beginner and think you may need assistance, support should be accessible. Even if you’ve designed a website before, resources, forums, FAQs, etc. could still be very useful. Support comes in many forms, including tutorials, live chat, and ticket systems.

Wix:

Wix has a dedicated and focused support area (namely their ‘Help Center’). Support categories are broken down into different sections, making it really easy to locate useful information. They provide a trending topics section which will display the most popular topics being talked about at the moment.

Wix’s social media accounts are very active, making it easy to engage with them, and others. They have scheduled email and telephone support, as well as forums, video tutorials, and more.

WordPress:

WordPress offers thousands (literally) of tutorials and articles. The problem is, because the community is so large, it can be difficult to determine what’s good, bad, and down right ugly! There’s almost too much information to trawl through.

Admittedly, it’s great to have a community of actual users to talk to. People can report their own experiences and share their own stories on how to get things working, to fix things, etc.

Verdict:

Although both Wix and WordPress offer a large support network, Wix is much more focused. Wix caters more towards the wider market, making their support center accessible to beginners and experts alike.

Maintenance

Websites require maintenance to ensure that they continue to be safe and secure. Software updates will need to take place, and add-ons, plugins, etc. will need to be consistent so as not to cause conflicts. Sometimes you can pay for someone to maintain your website, saving you the hassle. I took a look at how Wix and WordPress deal with their updates and how this effects it’s users.

Wix:

There’s not an awful lot to say on this topic for Wix. All Wix updates are carried out automatically by their technical teams. Updates are deployed to your website and you don’t need to get involve at all. In honesty, you won’t even know an update has taken place unless you are monitoring their deployment schedule.

Wix is incredibly easy to use, and this is displayed with their automatic updates. As you don’t need to be involved, you won’t need to worry about anything going wrong.

WordPress:

Being open source, WordPress is constantly updating it’s security, platform, and offering issue fixes. When WordPress deploys an update, it’s users will need to manually update their WordPress website. However, this gets a little tricky when you’re using a custom theme/template, multiple plugins, etc.

Some theme and plugin developers will update their products, ensuring that anything you have installed is automatically updated. However, this isn’t always the case, leaving your website potentially vulnerable. Unless you are constantly monitoring your website, you are open to malicious attacks.

With WordPress, you are required to do your own website maintenance (unless you choose managed WordPress hosting). You’ll need to ensure your website is always updated, and any plugins you have are updated too, otherwise this could cause conflicts.

Conclusion (The Winner is Wix!)

Both Wix and WordPress are very capable and professional website builders. Depending on your needs, each one may be more suitable to your own requirements. WordPress is extremely powerful and offers a lot of customisation, if you’re willing to put in the work. Wix is very user friendly; it’s drag and drop functionality means you can build a professional looking website within a matter of hours.

If you’re not looking to spend too much money, both are good options. However, Wix may be a better place to start as you can upgrade your plan over time, as your needs become greater. With WordPress, you’ll really need to choose the best web host from the outset, as migrating can sometimes be a bit of a pain longer down the line.

Both Wix and WordPress offer some amazing tools to create your website. If you have the money to spend on a WordPress developer, you’ll probably get a better website overall. However, as many people won’t be able to fund such a thing, Wix offers some cracking features that any level of ability can get their hands on.

Overall, Wix is the winner in my eyes. You don’t need to be a techy to get your website on the go. What’s more, once it’s live, there’s a wide range of tools to enhance it even more. You can deal with your SEO all in one place, generating more traffic to your website, and pushing it up the search engine ranks. Creating meta descriptions, meta tags, favicons, etc. is all really easy to do. Wix will take you through the whole process from start to finish, and if you want to understand it, you can read more into it.

If you have any trouble figuring things out (which I doubt you will), there’s a wealth of knowledge in their Help Center. Their support team are available on-hand so you can speak to someone there and then. There’s also plenty of tutorials, FAQs, and help topics if you want to dive a little deeper.

If you’re not convinced by this point, why don’t you take a look at the type of websites you can create with Wix. Personally, I wouldn’t have known these were created with a website builder. The features behind website builders are so powerful nowadays, it makes you wonder why you’d pay for a web designer!

Visit Wix.com

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