There are numerous eCommerce platforms out there that can help merchants create an appealing online storefront, and provide consumers with an outstanding shopping experience. eCommerce platforms are generally fall into 1 of the following groups: hosted or self-hosted solutions. In this post we look at the most popular hosted platforms – Shopify, Volusion, and Bigcommerce.
At eBridge Connections, we believe that all three are great platforms, with each possessing its own unique characteristics. That being said, I will discuss the distinctive features of each platform from an unbiased point of view.
Bigcommerce is a fairly easy platform to utilize when setting up an online store. It’s a fully loaded eCommerce platform consisting of a wide variety of features that help you create an attractive storefront. As with many platforms, it provides several search engine optimization (SEO) tools, such as page titles, meta descriptions, search engine friendly URLS, sitemap submission with Google and Bing, to help make your storefront visible and accessible on the web.
This platform provides various built-in marketing tools, such as discount/coupon codes, social media integration, newsletters, automatically generated customer lists and an abandoned cart saver, which can help attract potential customers to your store and drive sales. Additionally, Bigcommerce offers product reviews, product recommendations, wish lists and product comparisons, which aid in increasing conversions by turning store visitors into buyers.
What’s more, you can build your online store however you like! Bigcommerce has a large collection of themes that you can choose from. If you are a beginner, you can utilize the point and click design tool to change the layout and functionality of your store. For those who are more advanced, the eCommerce platform has customizable CSS/HTML that you can use to perfect your webstore to suit your needs.
As well, the platform provides it users with Bigcommerce University, where they have access to tips and step-by-step tutorials for running a successful online store.
Bigcommerce charges a monthly fee, depending upon what type of plan – Silver, Gold and Platinum – you invest in. The Silver plan is the cheapest at $29.95 per month and offers all the basic necessities that are required to launch your storefront. The Gold plan – the most popular – charges a monthly fee of $79.95 and offers additional marketing tools, such as loyalty marketing, Omni-channel sales and abandoned cart saver. As well, there are no transaction fees and you get unlimited storage and bandwidth. Last but not least, the platinum plan charges a monthly fee of $199.95 and provides the same features as the gold plan, while adding in Google trusted stores automation,- a certified badge that helps drive traffic, build trust and improve conversion with excellent customer service- data migration, one-on-one expert setup and troubleshooting.
If you wish to try out the eCommerce platform before making the big investment, Bigcommerce also provides a 15-day free trial.
Having similar features as Bigcommerce, Volusion is a less expensive yet fully loaded eCommerce platform. It offers over one hundred ready-made templates, free and paid, that help in designing an appealing storefront. If you’re looking for something customizable, Volusion also allows you to create your own storefront design with full access to HTML and CSS files.
The Easy Editor tool is a great feature that allows you to make design or content changes easily without any coding. It’s an easy to use tool if you are creating an eCommerce storefront for the first time or even if you are highly advanced. It saves you time and effort by not having to update your code every time you need to edit content.
A very popular feature offered by Volusion is the Deal of the Day and the Free Slideshow. The Deal of the Day creates a sense of urgency with your customers by offering them daily deals on your website, which immediately increases revenue. The free slideshow highlights the top discounts and best-selling products provided on your website directly on your homepage.
Additionally, Volusion features a one-page checkout tool that has the ability to create custom checkout fields, making it easier to convert shoppers into buyers.
Similar to Bigcommerce, Volusion has four monthly plans – Mini, Plus, Pro, and Premium – which you can choose from. The low-priced mini plan charges a fee of $15 per month and includes unlimited storage, no transaction fees, 100 products, and other basic add-ons, such as online supports, social media tools, Facebook store, and many others. On the other side of the spectrum, the premium plan charges a monthly fee of $135 and offers unlimited storage, no transaction fees, unlimited products and additional add-ons, such as priority support, a dedicated account manager and unlimited products.
Just like Bigcommerce, Volusion provides a 14-day free trial to those interested in testing the platform to see if it suits their needs.
In addition to Bigcommerce and Volusion, Shopify possesses some of the same characteristics. It has over a hundred different professional themes that you can select for your storefront. Similarly, it allows you to customize every aspect of your website and checkout with full access to HTML and CSS files of your store.
Shopify has an app – Shopify Mobile – that allows you to manage your inventory and fulfill orders right from your mobile device, making it convenient when you’re on the go. As well, Shopify Mobile includes a built-in mobile commerce shopping cart, allowing your customers to browse and purchase products from any mobile device or tablet from anywhere!
Shopify provides you with a full blogging platform with great features where you can publish and categorize articles, create look books of your products and encourage discussion on your blog. This helps in promoting your storefront through the use of relevant content to your buyers.
Shopify offers three different monthly plans – Basic, Professional, and Unlimited. The basic plan charges a monthly fee of $29 and includes features such as 1 GB of file storage, unlimited products, 24/7 support, discount code engine, a free Shopify card reader and many others. The unlimited plan charges a fee of $179/month and includes features offered in the Basic and Professional plans with a few add-ons, such as unlimited storage, advanced report builder, and real-time carrier shipping. If you are looking for a very basic plan, Shopify also offers a starter plan for just $14/month. With this plan, you get limited features that allow you to upload up to 25 products, 1 GB file storage, unlimited bandwidth, no transaction fees, if you use Shopify Payments, chat and email support.
Similar to the other eCommerce platforms, Shopify provides a 14 day free trial to prospective users, allowing them to evaluate the platform before making the purchase.
The integration capabilities are similar for all three of the eCommerce platforms. They can integrate with several marketing and store management applications, such as Facebook, Help Scout, MailChimp, and others. Additionally, using an integration provider such as eBridge Connections, you can integrate Bigcommerce, Volusion and Shopify with your accounting/ERP system – for example MS Dynamics, NetSuite, Sage, SAP, and several others.
What type of business should use these platforms?
The eCommerce platforms mentioned are targeted towards small to mid-size businesses that are in search of a simple, easy to use eCommerce platform that helps them through the process of building a storefront for their business from beginning to end.
All three eCommerce platforms – Bigcommerce, Volusion, and Shopify – possess great features that will aid in development of your online store. However, it is the specific features that your company needs to operate a profitable eCommerce property that will ultimately help determine which platform is the right fit for you!
Please let us know your thoughts on these platforms in the comment section below. We would love to hear what you are looking for in a platform.