Shopify Alternatives - limitations and options
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Shopify being a market-leading eCommerce platform is not without areas of weakness where it may not serve a business well. Most times if business plans analyze various eCommerce platforms, they will uncover which platform is best for them. If your business started with a known business model, and a clearly planned objective to offer a marketing funnel to the shopping cart, your online store is well poised to succeed. However, like most small businesses growing end up with a business model that has evolved and may find themselves in a place where the eCommerce platform may not be as suitable and may want to know the Shopify alternatives. Here we will uncover the reasons you might find wishing to search for other options, and what would be these options.
Key reasons to look for Shopify alternatives
Either you are looking at Shopify as your next platform, or you are already on it, seeking out the features to augment your sales. While a website builder can build your pages, and the UI/UX can impress your clients with your imagery and message the eCommerce software has to support how you want to handle the visitor in a particular way as you have profiled them such that it increases the chance for a conversion. However, some barriers you might be facing are listed below.
Shopify Payments - This can be a blessing and a curse, it just depends much on the stage of business maturity. Transaction fees can be as high as 2%, which for a startup might not be very impactful to have access to a payment gateway. However, when doing the financial projections of your business growth, that payment gateway might start to feel some financial pain. Additionally, because Shopify effectively partakes into your sales, albeit at 2% or less, they carry policies of restricted goods when using a credit card - things like firearms and associated parts and vaporizers.
Greater control over Onsite-SEO - Search engines pick apart your website and give it a judgment on its authority to your competition. When creating your website, your content architecture has to be filled out with original content, associated keywords, and long-tailed keywords, aligning your content to what your audience will be searching for and placing your site's content to be ranked with the search results. If you want more control over your SEO, such as accessing your robots.txt and sitemap.xml files. When adding and using Shopify apps, and creating a multilingual and multiregional online store, these files get impacted, and if they require to be managed/cleaned up for an optimal Onsite-SEO, you will find this restrictive.
Large and complex product catalog - As you might already know, Shopify is restricted to 100 variants and 3 options. If your products require to have a higher limit, this will definitely become troublesome as workarounds compromise the user experience, and a duplicate product would also hurt SEO. Shopify competitors such as BigCommerce have up to 600 variants and 250 options.
B2B sales model - If your business evolved from D2C and is looking to enter into the B2B space, this will add complications. B2B features payment terms, tiered business planned discounts, and the full feature set that competitive platforms such as the BigCommerce B2B Enterprise Edition offers through its partner BundleB2B. The B2B advanced features are a powerful set of tools and can support a B2B expansion from D2C into the affiliate space.
Multistore support - When looking at a multibrand, or separate international sites sharing the same inventory, Shopify Plus offers up to 10 stores, yet, managing inventory between them all is not shared. While you may look into the Shopify Apps store for a solution, there is nothing too elegant on a single back-end to manage, report, and plan your inventory replenishment.
Customer Support - When you start an online store, you might be looking for additional support in configuration management or theme customization. Adding features such as an abandoned cart or using the native email marketing feature, wouldn't require much-needed support - it is when you have to do any customization that support becomes needed and you are left with a Shopify knowledge base and Shopify Partners.
Integrations and API Speed - This eludes to integrations that are part of the operations in taking in custom orders to fulfill, or integrate as part of the sales funnel in assisting customers to make their choices. If it goes through the API, the speed limits are 80 requests per minute. Shopify Plus doubles this limit with 4 requests per second. BigCommerce starts at 300 requests per limit on their basic plan to 900 requests per minute. This gives BigCommerce an open SAAS advantage on any integration.
Shopify Alternatives when encountering these limitations
There are several dozen eCommerce platforms available such as Volusion, Open Cart, and the like - here we will cover what we consider to be the most capable and diverse platforms that would rival Shopify.
While the capabilities of this platform have some clear advantages over Shopify, it does have a couple of shortcomings as well. The maturity of its BigCommerce App store is still evolving and is not as diverse as the Shopify App store. Shopify has dozens of free Themes, while today, BigCommerce only has three free themes. This platform is not for the faint of heart, you have to apply development efforts, and while the website builder function does the job, a development team such as a BigCommerce Expert would be recommended.
Still the most versatile platform on the market, with full access to its core. However, with flexibility comes responsibility when it comes to managing the store's software. Its disadvantage is that it is not SAAS, and the PCI compliance to your payment gateway is your responsibility. This takes a toll on maintenance, if you have the development resource for Front-end and Back-end development, this flexible eCommerce architecture might be worthwhile.
While it may be an older architecture, it is one of the most capable platforms out in the eCommerce with extensions that can cover every possible feature you might require, it is the integrations between extensions that make this platform difficult to manage. More complex than WooCommerce's architecture, its core must be unedited all the while extensions can be modified either by the source development team or can be customized.
Wix is a new platform and it is maturing - for an entry-level store, where costs are competitive, and you require just a simple architecture with the ease of design - this might be the platform you are seeking. It is a good platform to prototype, filter out ideas and be a test-bed for a new product. When it comes to Apps the platform is limited as not many Wix App Development vendors are engaged. However, just like Shopify 10years ago, it has the potential for the future.
While there are Shopify alternatives, the Shopify platform is still a formidable eCommerce platform. However, pay special attention when you write a business plan, do your market analysis and conclude your choice in your executive summary - keep in mind that the marketing plan may change and evolve into different profit pools and audiences as your business grows. Optimizing your opportunity for Google searches BigCommerce has the most control, while Shopify has a good Onsite-SEO, search queries could be limited by sitemap.xml errors that Shopify accumulates within. Selecting the right eCommerce platform allows you to bring together your target market to your business model and their offerings with your content marketing attracting them to you. If you are looking to know more in-depth about your choice of eCommerce architecture - feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
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