Article | October 16, 2020
In 2004, Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Luke established an online website to sell snowboards. They tried a bunch of online store builders but were not satisfied with the status quo. So, they decided to build a tool that could operate their website. Soon, they realized that the tool was more powerful than the website's business. And hence, Shopify was born.
Eventually, Shopify became one of the largest eCommerce store builders in the world. By 2009, the company had $100 million in sales and decided to launch its own API as well as an app store. More than a decade later, Shopify is now supporting over 800,000 stores globally and is a $125 billion company.
While the company has shown remarkable growth in its business, it would be ignorant to say the market's needs have been fulfilled by the Shopify platform. Shopify's eCommerce platform works for a lot of businesses, but that does not mean it will work for every business.
Here is why Shopify is Not the Right Fit for Every Business:
Shopify's growth over the years shows that the company has taken several steps to address the market's inherent needs. However, the presence of several other companies and the issues still faced by merchants show some significant gaps in Shopify's offerings:
1. Cost of Setting Up: Each price-point offers a fixed set of features and functionalities. If you want anything over and above that, you will have to buy the subsequent package. For instance – something as conventional as a Gift Card is not available in the $29 per month package; to get it activated, pay as much as $299 per month.
2. Cost of Operations: The additional functionalities and features cost extra in your package. Even basic features like transaction or credit card processing attract an additional fee. To add to that, you have to purchase the app to activate the feature from the Shopify app store. Even though some apps are free, the apps that offer maximum value tend to cost north of $39.99 per month.
3. Limited and Expensive Themes: The entire Shopify store has a total of 73 themes, with the prices going as high as $180 a theme. This means that as a merchant, even after paying the high price, you may end up with an eCommerce platform that hardly stands out from the crowd.
In short, while Shopify was started with great intentions, the cost of using it has started outweighing the probable value it has to offer. This issue gets further highlighted when one starts looking at the Shopify alternatives.
Best Alternatives of Shopify
While Shopify suits the needs of a certain set of merchants, here are the alternatives that can suit the merchants looking for more tailored, affordable, or customizable solutions:
1. Quick eSelling
Quick eSelling is one of the most affordable and easy to deploy ecommerce store builder among the Shopify alternatives. It can be deployed in under 10 minutes for the basic variant. Its free variant has some prolific features like a native Android app, responsive website, and a catalog that can support up to 1000 products.
The free package requires a 5% transaction fee, which gets eliminated the moment you upgrade to a paid plan. All the paid plans have a fixed monthly fee and no setup costs. The list of standard features includes a wide set of functionalities like customizable web-store themes, SMS & Email marketing, comprehensive payment gateway integrations, detailed analytics reports, inventory management systems, social media plugins, discount coupon codes, and even live chat.
The premium package which costs around 50% the price of the $299 Shopify package, comes with a dedicated account manager and enterprise-level integrations.
Ideal for: Merchants who are seeking an affordable, easily usable, and quickly deployable solution.
WooCommerce is popularly considered one of the most preferred alternatives for Shopify. It is quite convenient for website owners as it is a plugin for WordPress.
Unlike other tools in the list, WooCommerce is designed to make WordPress sites work as functional eCommerce platforms. And in that particular aspect, it does a great job.
However, if you are not already using an established WordPress site with high traffic, running WooCommerce can become quite expensive. On average, a website owner has to spend as much as $1000 in setting up a WooCommerce store with a moderate degree of customization.
Even if you are not customizing a lot, running a WooCommerce store can cost you as much as $150 in a month. This would cover your hosting, themes, shipping plugins, security, and SEO. You will pay additional 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Ideal for: Someone who has a successful WordPress website and now wants to convert it into an eCommerce store.
Yo!Kart is a popular self-hosted multi-vendor platform for building online marketplaces. Unlike Shopify, it is a standalone platform that comes with a lifetime license and rich ecommerce features. The platform is fully customizable and scalable.
Yo!Kart packages start from $999 and every package comes with a 1-year free technical support, free installation, and full source code. There are no monthly or yearly recurring fees.
Considering it is a comprehensive platform, you may need some technical training to understand the system.
Ideal for: Business owners who want to start ecommerce websites like Amazon or ebay where multiple sellers are selling under the same roof.
PrestaShop runs on the basic premise that creating an online eCommerce store should be an affordable exercise for any merchant. That is the reason why it is available for free and comes without any additional monthly fees.
Its features include eCommerce functionalities like CRM & Email Marketing, Inventory Management, Multi-Store Management, and SEO Management. You can get a basic eCommerce store running by paying the registration fee for the domain and the hosting fee dues.
While this may seem like a great alternative, given the fact that it is practically free, there is one major caveat – you cannot deploy or personalize your PrestaShop eCommerce store unless you know how to code. The entire platform has been designed, keeping in mind people who can code at professional levels of proficiency. The cost of hiring a developer who can add features to your store or modify the theme can be very costly.
In addition to this, some basic features like promotions & reviews management, data security, and mobile access are not available on the platform.
Ideal for: The merchants who have access to programming talent and don't mind a basic eCommerce store.
Wix became popular as an online website builder. It also offers interesting eCommerce functionalities. For as low as $35 a year, you can have the Business Basic package that comes with a free year of using the domain, analytics reports, and 20 GB of storage.
If you want greater control of your eCommerce platform but are not a professional programmer and are not interested in hiring one, Wix can be a great alternative. Its most expensive package costs about $80 a year. It comes with features like email marketing, SEO management, inventory management, data security, and promotions management.
The challenge is – most of the charges marketed by Wix are very affordable for the first year in operations. After a year, many of these features, like the domain, will become payable elements. This way as soon as the first year of your operations is over, your cost of running the eCommerce platform will dramatically go up.
Ideal for: Merchants who want to have greater control of their website's design without the need for coding skills and those who want the first year of operations to be largely affordable.
Shopify can work for you if you are seeking a limited set of features. However, for lesser price-points, the alternatives for Shopify offer great functionalities. Quick eSelling is good for cost-effective and rapidly deployable eCommerce websites that come loaded with native features. WooCommerce is a viable option if you have a WordPress site and want to convert it into an eCommerce store. Yo!Kart specializes in building multi-vendor marketplaces.
PrestaShop can be handy and very budget-friendly if you have access to coding talent. And Wix is good if you want greater control over what your store looks like, without getting into the programming aspects.
Article | October 16, 2020
Have you been considering changing your current traditional POS to a tablet POS system? Well, one thing is for sure, you aren’t alone. More and more businesses are making the switch from the bulky point of sale systems to POS touchscreen monitors that offer more mobility. The traditional cash register is almost obsolete. As such, more retailers now trust cloud-based POS systems that run on smart devices like tablets and phones.
Article | October 16, 2020
For many years, payment terminals have been a vital tool for businesses that complete their customer transactions in-store. The familiar hand-held devices have reliably taken card payments and offered simple additional services like mobile phone top-ups, cashback or electronic tipping solutions.
However, with recent technical innovation, boosted by the urgency surrounding Covid-19, the humble payment terminal is shedding its hard exterior - no longer is it, as some would argue, simply a commoditised, hardware-based necessity. As many within the payments space have predicted, the payment terminal is truly becoming a digital enabler and vital pivot point of modernisation for any business that accepts electronic transactions.
The Android Operating System leads the way
Today, payment terminals come in many forms. Though the traditional, handheld counter-top devices remain, many businesses now use off-the-shelf smartphones or tablets enabled with SPOC and CPOC technology.
Regardless of their physical form, truly modern payment terminals share a commonality – enhanced functionality which allows businesses to update and adapt quickly to changing performance, environments, and customer needs.
The Android operating system has been at the centre of a latest wave of innovation, facilitating the rise of mobile payment devices - pushed hard by the likes of Visa - and supporting the budding versatilities presented by Open Banking and PSD2 initiatives.
Combined, this new choice and flexibility has the potential to deliver significant advantages to businesses deploying Android point-of-sale (POS) solutions. These include integrated EPOS, strong authentication, and an array of alternative payment methods such as bank-to-bank payments, QR codes and even crypto currencies.
It’s about more than being just Covid-ready
Getting the timing right to make adjustments and improvements is now a focus for businesses across the UK as we start to emerge from Covid-19 restrictions and resume face-to-face interactions. The conventional payment terminal can play a central part in engineering the essential adjustments needed to create a Covid-safe environment – the new £100 contactless limit being the most obvious example.
However, functionality provided by the latest payment terminals allows businesses to do more than just make their premises Covid-ready.
For more commercial gains, payment terminals running on the Android OS allow for this same POS functionality but combine it with other essential business systems such as stock management, visual itemisation, and centralised booking systems.
As well as providing greater visibility of a business’ health and finances, more information also means friction points such as wait times and queues in store can be better managed. More data about customer behaviour also makes the in-store experience more customisable, for example, businesses can use this data to identify their busiest periods, explore seasonal changes or test new product lines and structure their staff planning and stock levels accordingly.
Coupled with more vital operational efficiencies, payment terminals can allow for a speed and flexibility of payments that can directly enhance the bottom line.
As the pace in retail environments ramps up to match that of the pre-Covid days, meeting new customer expectations and new environmental changes will be critical in staying relevant. An ability to accept the latest types and methods of payment could actually play a part in helping a business survive through difficult economic times.
Bolstering cash flow will also take on added importance as businesses rebuild. Payment terminals powered by better internet connections mean transactions are already faster, but internet speed alone is not enough. Today, terminals can be updated in ways that allow merchants to process those transactions faster still and get funds deposited into bank accounts in batches throughout the day, often completing within the hour.
Payment terminals and Big Data
With data becoming the bedrock of all modern businesses, it is the Android operating system’s ability to generate such an impressive wealth of data that adds to its compelling proposition. The value of Big Data and analytics to filter large volumes of information and uncover actionable insights is well known to the business world. Useable information can help leaders learn about their customers, make better decisions and, ultimately, produce more revenue. Customer data, for example, makes it possible for a business to learn about the buying behaviours of an individual customer or of defined customer segments.
When a business knows the time of day (or night) their customers shop and what type of purchases they make, it becomes easier to plan when inventories are stocked and with what items. Android payment terminals can provide data in a way that offers easy visibility of key trends and which specific hours of the day produce the most sales, allowing businesses to investigate possible reasons and react accordingly.
Such knowledge can then be used for a variety of purposes including the ability to upsell to future customers with greater success and the tactical arrangement of items in store. Crucially now, it will also enable businesses to maintain a Covid-safe environment by planning ahead for in-store activity and capacity limits.
With hundreds of applications already available to download from the app store, it’s important that SMEs are able to use this scale of choice to their advantage rather than become overwhelmed or distracted by it. Indeed, by taking the time to explore the apps available, smaller businesses can find the tools which allow them to level the playing field by bringing their operational efficiencies in line with larger brands and by leveraging the solutions that allow them to compete on customer service.
Article | October 16, 2020
Consumer attention is shifting. Brick-and-mortar stores must now compete with e-retailers as customers spend more time online, thanks to targeted ads and personalized deals. As noted by Digital eCommerce, online sales rose almost 18 percent last year to $3.46 trillion worldwide and are on track to top $892 billion across the U.S. in less than two years. This shift has alerted most brands to the need for a retail evolution to ensure ongoing success. With e-commerce sales still accounting for just under 10 percent of retail revenues, businesses have an opportunity to boost sales and raise their brand profile — if they can reliably capture consumer interest. One solution: effective and engaging digital signage. Retailers Can Capture Crucial In-Store Moments To capture attention and drive conversion, businesses must capitalize on what Google calls micro-moments, when customers leverage their mobile devices to discover more information, find a price or pinpoint a vendor online.