Home Forums Selling online Shopify, BigCommerce or Volusion?

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  • #991788
    VickieN
    Member
    • Total posts: 6

    Hi there everyone, I’ve been a member of Flying Solo (great resource and a fabulous team!) for some time but this is the first time I’ve actually posted on this forum.

    I’m planning on opening an online store in the near future, hopefully in a couple of months, and I’ve been researching the different ecommerce options out there and I must admit, I’m totally confused!

    What I would like is something that is visually appealing (neat and not too “busy”) and of course something that can handle GST. I would also like to have a blog page.

    So far I have narrowed it down to Shopify, BigCommerce and Volusion. Volusion appears to be better in that it has a 1-page checkout. I also love Squarespace, I have used them before for a business I had (not a shop) and found them very easy to use, with helpful support and stunning templates – but have ruled them out because they aren’t configured for GST yet.

    Has anyone had any experience with these hosted options, or can recommend which one would be the best to use? I don’t mind paying $30-$50/month but would not like to go much higher than that.

    #1183308
    James Rayers
    Member
    • Total posts: 268

    Hi Vickie,

    As a Shopify-fan this is a slightly a biased opinion, but I almost always recommend it above the others. It has awesome designs, is fully compatible with Australian taxes, and has arguably the best pricing. It also has a one-page checkout, so no worries there.

    I’ve built websites on all 3 platforms but have found Shopify to be the most flexible and user friendly.

    In reality it’s probably best to test BigCommerce and Shopify for yourself to see which feels more suitable. The difference between the two is largely negligible. If you’re happy with one of those, don’t worry about trialling Volusion.

    I actually gave up on building on Volusion because it didn’t have enough flexibility beyond their default setup. Even as a (so-called) expert I still found their interface confusing. It’s very dated and most of the designs are pretty ugly, and many not responsive (essential nowadays). It’s obviously very well marketed because in terms of software I think it is way behind Shopify and BigCommerce.

    I can’t comment on Squarespace but as a general rule it helps to pick software that specialises in your required functionality.

    Hope that helps.

    #1183309
    Fuggsy
    Member
    • Total posts: 18

    Hi Vickie both Bigcommerce and shopify are much the much and as James has suggested why not try both

    Also have a look at http://www.neto.com.au/ and Australian version of the hosted carts and with some excellent tools and offerings and its all Australian based and they have a very good eBay add on app as well. I cant tell you how easy they are to set up as I haven’t used them but have considered trying their 14 day trial just to see how they are and ease of use. Others on here with experience on neto may be able to offer more info

    Just remember the prices that shopify and bigcommerce quote are in US$ so by the time you do the cost conversions to AU$ they start to add up.

    Another Australian based one with a very active rep on here is http://www.ecorner.com.au/ cant help much with what they are like though

    I hope your website and endeavours are profitable

    #1183310
    MichaelDigital
    Member
    • Total posts: 140
    VickieN, post: 213969, member: 32969 wrote:
    Hi there everyone, I’ve been a member of Flying Solo (great resource and a fabulous team!) for some time but this is the first time I’ve actually posted on this forum.

    I’m planning on opening an online store in the near future, hopefully in a couple of months, and I’ve been researching the different ecommerce options out there and I must admit, I’m totally confused!

    What I would like is something that is visually appealing (neat and not too “busy”) and of course something that can handle GST. I would also like to have a blog page.

    So far I have narrowed it down to Shopify, BigCommerce and Volusion. Volusion appears to be better in that it has a 1-page checkout. I also love Squarespace, I have used them before for a business I had (not a shop) and found them very easy to use, with helpful support and stunning templates – but have ruled them out because they aren’t configured for GST yet.

    Has anyone had any experience with these hosted options, or can recommend which one would be the best to use? I don’t mind paying $30-$50/month but would not like to go much higher than that.
    you understand of course that with any of these 3rd party offerings you don’t actually own your business, you pay hefty monthly fees and you must follow their rules? Why do people always go for these solutions when they could own their own asset, and make it look exactly how they want it to, sell what they like and be in control of their businesses? It seems to me it like the ‘Coles & Woolworths’ syndrome, folks just go with the herd – then they wonder why their store is not ranking online and they sell sod all. Build your own online store with WordPress, use something like WooCommerce (both free softwares) run your own business, then you can apply genuine SEO and build your brand, get away from these ‘me too’ platforms!

    #1183311
    JohnTranter
    Member
    • Total posts: 842
    MichaelDigital, post: 214005, member: 52719 wrote:
    Why do people always go for these solutions when they could own their own asset

    Same reason people rent houses or lease cars. Less of an upfront cost and also convenience of someone else taking care of the ‘big things’.

    MichaelDigital, post: 214005, member: 52719 wrote:
    folks just go with the herd …. Build your own online store with WordPress

    Bit of irony there. ;)

    #1183312
    VickieN
    Member
    • Total posts: 6

    Thanks for the replies.

    James & Fuggsy – I’ll certainly trial Shopify and BigCommerce and see how they go. Neto also sounds interesting and has some nice themes, so I’ll look into that too and see which one is most suitable for what I need.

    Michael – To be honest, I had never thought of using WordPress and WooCommerce and I’m not sure why, but I will be looking at it to see how it compares with the others, not just on price but on themes and other services.

    The product I’ll be trying to sell is handmade, handcrafted soap which I make myself using the traditional cold-process method, so one of the main criteria for the site is that it needs to be very visual and not too “busy” looking. Because soap is a simple product I need each variety of soap to stand out and look fantastic. I also do photography so I’ll be able to produce professional looking images of each soap.

    Not too sure how successful it will be, but I really love doing it and it seems to be pretty popular at markets so it seems logical to take it online :)

    #1183313
    James Rayers
    Member
    • Total posts: 268

    Some valid points Michael but at the end of the day the choice of platform is the same as any other business decision. Some bricks and mortar stores choose to lease space in Westfield. Despite the risk and rent it’s still a value proposition.

    If WooCommerce ceased development or the WordPress framework you chose no longer provided updates the business downtime would be equal to major changes on any other platform. If anything you’re afforded more security by having a paid contract with hosted platforms like Shopify.

    I’m a strong believer in trying to maintain control of your assets and spread the risks, but the benefits of ‘owning’ your online property can be a bit overstated these days.

    MichaelDigital, post: 214005, member: 52719 wrote:
    you understand of course that with any of these 3rd party offerings you don’t actually own your business, you pay hefty monthly fees and you must follow their rules? Why do people always go for these solutions when they could own their own asset, and make it look exactly how they want it to, sell what they like and be in control of their businesses? It seems to me it like the ‘Coles & Woolworths’ syndrome, folks just go with the herd – then they wonder why their store is not ranking online and they sell sod all. Build your own online store with WordPress, use something like WooCommerce (both free softwares) run your own business, then you can apply genuine SEO and build your brand, get away from these ‘me too’ platforms!
    #1183314
    Byron Trzeciak
    Member
    • Total posts: 422

    I’ve found with shopify that it tends to make really unfriendly URLs, however in saying that I’m not a massive user of this platform so correct me if I’m wrong.

    For example I just looked up some of the best examples of shopify stores and I’m constantly seeing urls like the following:
    http://www.twelvesaturdays.com/collections/frontpage/products/wine-and-dine-dress

    From an SEO perspective this is really not going to do you any favours as it doesn’t show the high level category and also includes non sensical words, such as frontpage and products by default, which do nothing to descibe what is on the page and push keywords further away from the start or the url.

    I love wordpress for the control and the fact that you own your business “store” but in saying that I think the one area that wordpress doesn’t do so well is allowing easy control of category pages. Your core category pages are critical to the SEO of your online store and these should simply be easier to modify and control for landing pages for the non technical user base.

    Magento in my opinion is a comprehensive system but by default is very poor for SEO right out of the box. It needs some solid massaging to fix a number of duplicate content issues.

    Bigcommerce provides URL friendly options and controls over category and product pages. The one thing i didn’t enjoy was the fact that the I couldn’t assign unique meta titles and meta descriptions to the blog posts. Overall there was a few areas that I just lacked the ability to control it exactly the way I was wanting which is why i’d still lean towards woocommerce or magento.

    #1183315
    John Debrincat
    Member
    • Total posts: 963
    VickieN, post: 214013, member: 32969 wrote:
    Thanks for the replies.

    The product I’ll be trying to sell is handmade, handcrafted soap which I make myself using the traditional cold-process method, so one of the main criteria for the site is that it needs to be very visual and not too “busy” looking. Because soap is a simple product I need each variety of soap to stand out and look fantastic. I also do photography so I’ll be able to produce professional looking images of each soap.

    Not too sure how successful it will be, but I really love doing it and it seems to be pretty popular at markets so it seems logical to take it online :)

    Hello Vickie,

    As mentioned earlier eCorner also provide a solution that is based in Australia and does not charge a percentage of your sales turnover. We start at $77 / month.

    You can also find a solution from Australia Post – My Online Shop – that starts at less than $20 / month. Also Australia based and billed in Australian dollars. (http://auspost.com.au/business-solutions/my-online-shop.html).

    Shopify and BigCommerce are good solutions but remember that they are hosted in the USA, bill you in US$ and change you a percentage of your sales each month.

    So for Shopify for example the starter plan at US$29 / month will cost around $40 (Aussie dollars plus exchange rate fees on your card) and it will cost 2%, so $10 fees for every $500 in sales.

    Neto is also a good Australian based solution already mentioned and iiNet also offer a shopping cart solution.

    John

    #1183316
    Jason Ramage
    Participant
    • Total posts: 3,165
    John Debrincat, post: 214128, member: 2969 wrote:
    Shopify and BogCommerce

    Always sage advice from John, although I am curious if your little ‘typo’ is showing your true feelings :p

    Cheers
    Jason

    Jason Ramage | Lucas Arthur Pty Ltd | E: hello@lucasarthur.net.au   P: 61 3 8324 0344    M: 61 412 244 888
    #1183317
    John Debrincat
    Member
    • Total posts: 963
    HarryLuke Logistics, post: 214146, member: 34537 wrote:
    Always sage advice from John, although I am curious if your little ‘typo’ is showing your true feelings :p

    Cheers
    Jason

    Oops…..

    No malice intended now edited.

    John

    #1183318
    onepointsoftwaresolutions
    Member
    • Total posts: 17

    Hi Vickie,

    We have customers using both Shopify and BigCommerce and it’s very much a matter of personal taste and what you’re looking to achieve. My spin on it is; Shopify is clean, easy to use and amazing if you’re wanting to do any retail sale as well (using their sell in person options) but lack some of the features that BigCommerce offer. I’ve been using BigCommerce since 2008 (when it used to be called Interspire Cart and was an outright sale not SaaS) and I’m still in love with it. It’s very flexible and extensible from a developer/designer point of view (well as extensible as a SaaS product can be). If you’re selling complex products with heaps of variations i’d defiantly lean to BC.

    Hope it helps :-)

    #1183319
    annietea
    Member
    • Total posts: 15

    How easy is it to switch sites further down the track?
    I’m currently on a trial with shopify and I really love how easy it is to use and make the shop look good but worry about being locked in when there may be better options..
    I hadn’t heard of the Australian owned shop sites before today (so many American e-commerce forums!) so will be checking those out – thanks to all who have suggested them!

    #1183320
    John Debrincat
    Member
    • Total posts: 963

    Hello Annietea, we get asked this question a lot relating to our own system. Moving from one platform to another is generally pretty straight forward. The thing to look for is how easy it is to export your content and in what format. Most shop systems will need to have customers, categories/content pages, products, product/category assignments, cross selling and maybe price lists or discounts imported in order to be able to move and setup again. So the existing system that you are on needs to have the capability to export those in a friendly format (generally a CSV file). Other things that you need to export are newsletter addresses, orders (for history). You will need a file of all your images that are used and most of the service providers will provide that if asked (we do in a zip file format.

    If we make it easier for our customers to move away then it actually works in our favour as they tend to stay longer.

    Although we also export the design style files we find that it is generally easier to build a new design from scratch. When people move systems they tend to update the style.

    So ask what import / export capabilities exist in the system that you are looking to use or later move to.

    Regards

    John

    #1183321
    Hatching_It
    Member
    • Total posts: 414
    MichaelDigital, post: 214005, member: 52719 wrote:
    Build your own online store with WordPress, use something like WooCommerce (both free softwares) run your own business, then you can apply genuine SEO and build your brand, get away from these ‘me too’ platforms!

    Because when Australian businesses get quotes from all over the place and some useless agency in India is half the price they’ll end up going with them and have a horribly coded, typo riddled, slow loading pile of cr@p for a website that has cost them 3 to 4 years worth of Shopify hosting and costs them the same again to get fixed by a real agency once they’ve already burnt the cash and every potential customer that visited it.

    As so well put earlier, some people lease a car rather than owning it, it makes sense for a starter business to pay more over a much longer period of time rather than spending that money upfront.

    On topic: Of the 3 I would suggest Shopify. Why listen to me? I deal with all 3 every day at a payment company that processes 1 in 4 of every dollar online in Australia and I know it’s ahead of the other 2 for Australian businesses.

    BUT: Don’t discount Australian solutions like eCorner and Neto – they offer better, local support and generally their product offering is more tailored to the Australian market.

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