Looking for the right ecommerce software platform for your online store can make your head spin. Does it make more sense to work with a big, established software company with lots of experience or a small, fledgling brand with fresh ideas about selling online? Which features will get the most heavy lifting done for your business, especially if you’re working with a limited staff (or maybe even running the entire business yourself)?
Your search probably dug up a goldmine of information. Maybe Shopify and Volusion, two veteran ecommerce software companies, caught your eye. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble differentiating between the two. Here’s a comparison of some core functionality that might help you in your search for the right platform.
If your website design doesn’t take the work out of the shopping journey for your customers, it’s not doing what it’s supposed to. Design is more than just creating a pretty page or a memorable brand. It’s about forging the easiest path for your customers to get from point A to point B.
Of course, it’s nice not to have to pay an arm and a leg for your online store’s design. Shopping cart software typically comes with a library of design themes to choose from. Shopify doesn’t have much to choose from in the way of free themes, which means you’ll probably have to shell out a few hundred bucks for a premium theme.
Volusion themes, on the other hand, has a lot of option to choose from, many of them free. The big drawback for Volusion, though, is that only a few of the free themes are responsive, meaning they’ll adjust their design to make sense whether your customer views your site on their laptop or their mobile device. If you want a responsive template beyond the handful that are free, get ready to spend hundreds of dollars.
The cost of themes are one element you should budget for your store if you choose Shopify or Volusion. What other fees should you expect to incur?
It’s no surprise that ecommerce software companies are out to make money. But are they doing it in a way that’s sustainable to customers or are they penalizing you in ways that can hurt your business?
Here’s perhaps Volusion’s biggest drawback. The company charges fees for a laundry list of reasons including cancellation, migration, and bandwidth overage. You’ll even get hit with PCI, email, and SSL setup fees. Some of these are one time, while others you’ll incur monthly. While more transparent, you’re also going to pay fees on Shopify if you let your customers check out with third-party payment processors like PayPal.
Okay, so you’re already opening your wallet and wincing. Let’s take a look at what you’re paying for in general. Do you get the features you need to sell online?
As we’ve already seen, Volusion puts a big paywall in front of some of the most basic features your online store should include (like SSL setup, customer loyalty programs, API access, and CRM tools). This can severely limit the functionality of a new online store, forcing merchants to shell out a lot of cash before they’re able to see a decent return.
You’ll get more with the basic Shopify packages. Still, you’ll miss out on essential functionality like reporting that yields deep analytical insights for your store. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what you’ll be missing out on if you don’t pop for a premium package.