Over the past month I wrote about my experiences with Shopify, Volusion and Bigcommerce. As a first timer with all of these platforms, I can tell you that building a web store is not as intimidating as it may seem. There are some differences from one to another, but it’s fair to say that unless you have pretty specific requirements, you can’t go wrong if you chose any one of them. I will cover my three biggest considerations which include: pricing, design and overall user friendliness.
With any of these platforms it’s clear that you can get a lot of features for your money. Luckily for you, the competition between eCommerce platforms is so fierce, that they are constantly improving their offerings while keeping the price affordable to attract new businesses.
If you take a look at the table above and compare those rates to the cost of rent for a typical brick and mortar store, you can say that there is a substantial difference. A small business with little to invest can get up and running for just a little more than the cost of a Netflix account. The more you can afford, the more features and storage capacity you have access to.
Volusion stands out at the premium level, but both Shopify and Bigcommerce are a little more dynamic at their higher tiers. For example, with Shopify and Bigcommerce, merchants can better customize their analytics. Determining is this worth paying for is based on individual merchant needs. One important distinction is that Volusion has bandwidth caps at all pricing levels, unlike Shopify or Bigcommerce. Given enough traffic and bandwidth use, you could be looking at monthly fees.
Template design has come a long way. This is evident when browsing through the numerous free options on each platform. If you are like me and can be a little indecisive, then you will love that each platform gives merchants the ability to switch from template to template without losing any of your work. Below is a chart of the number of template offerings by each platform:
Volusion and Shopify both offer more free templates than Bigcommerce, about twice as many to be exact. For a beginner, this is great advantage because you will be more likely to find something that has the look and feel that will best align with your business. To be clear, any one of these templates can be completely customized or built from scratch by a professional eCommerce agency such as 1Digital. In the end, I felt my Shopify and Volusion stores had more noticeable design flaws. Bigcommerce tutorials went into far more depth and thus my final design was much more clean and presentable. No matter what your level of experience or general sense of design is, you can find a theme to suit your business needs.
In my opinion, user friendliness is the thing that matters most for any beginner. With competitive pricing and excellent design features among all three platforms, I feel the deciding factor for many first time users could simply come down to how comfortable they feel at the dashboard. Free trial periods bring immense value and should be taken advantage of.
Shopify was easiest to navigate and use right out of the box. They earned a lot of points based on the simplicity of managing customers, coupons and other administrative duties. Some basic tasks such as adding products can be very time consuming, and I found that Volusion was better at streamlining these things for the merchant. Bigcommerce offers certain functions from the dashboard that Shopify and Volusion do not, such as real time analytics and more robust product options. For that reason, I needed to spend more time training and watching tutorials.
Bigcommerce is the most comprehensive solution of the three platforms I tested. It combines a dynamic and customizable dashboard with the training and service to get its users comfortable. Businesses that have outgrown their current platform or that expect substantial growth should consider Bigcommerce for its scalability.
If I was suggesting a solution for someone who has never built or managed a site, I would probably point them to Shopify. With the most templates to choose from and the easiest dashboard to use, it is the ideal platform for new or medium sized business.
Having been around the longest, it’s clear that Volusion has optimized most of the basic features of running an ecommerce business. This might also mean that they are a little slower to keep up with new developments. However, they do have an impressive library of extensions available. If it weren’t for the bandwidth caps, I’d say Volusion could support very large, enterprise level growth.
- Dan Kogan
- July 16, 2015