Environmental Analysis of US Online Shopping

| December 22, 2019

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Since the advent of the Internet in the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in online shopping in the United States. As online shopping keeps growing, so does the online retail industry. Multiple players are investing either through pure online retailing or by click and mortar retailing, which also has a physical presence and a face-to face experience with their customers. While significant research has been done on the operational, marketing, branding and buying behavior dimensions of both retailing processes.

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5 Shopify Alternatives in 2020-21 that Make Ecommerce Simple for Beginners

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. 2. WooCommerce 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. 3. Yo!Kart: 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. 4. PrestaShop 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. 5. Wix 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. Conclusion: 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.

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How to Boost Donations Through Online Point-of-Sale Fundraising

Article | October 16, 2020

According to data firm Statista’s most recent e-commerce outlook, Americans will spend over $1,500 online each over the next 12 months. Moreover, that number is expected to surge even higher as Americans opt to do their holiday shopping online rather than wind their way through those infamous, in-store holiday crowds. If your nonprofit is able to turn that online shopping activity into a fundraising stream, there’s massive potential to boost donations. And the good news is that it’s not incredibly difficult to get started. Below, we’ll walk through how you can get your organization set up to accept these donations during your community’s online point-of-sale moments. First, however, we’ll explore the overall value of point-of-sale fundraising and why you need to consider it as a viable strategy for your nonprofit.

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Retail warehouses - omni-channel fulfilment essential or Coronavirus breeding grounds?

Article | October 16, 2020

Recent coverage of the pressures on the retail supply chains during the current global health crisis has made reference to the essential roles of the back end warehouses and distribution centers that power the fulfilment of online orders. In recent days, these have come front-and-center of attention as concern has grown about the well-being of the people working in them. Ocado’s robotic warehouses are very far from the norm. Behind the scenes at the vast majority of facilities is a human workforce now in search of reassurance that their health is being taken into account.

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How is Point of Sale Software Changing in 2020?

Article | October 16, 2020

All great businesses are blooming on the edifice of POS, which stands for Point of Sale System. Every inch of your business consistency, management, and profits is subjected wholly and solely to the retail POS system. As we all are aware of its importance in a business and how effectively it tends to expand business empires and profits. In other words, a retail POS system is like a Midas touch to your business; it enhances it and enhances it for good, adorning it with golden profits. The idea of POS software is simple. It excludes every chance of human errors and inconsistencies, holds back your company's loss, and increases the productivity of your checkout counter. This is all it does, and all of these tasks are simple, but they are reassuring business tactics that ensure promising gains and remarkable retail growth.

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