When you start an ecommerce business, the right website builder for your online store matters. If you don't have the supporting technology to back your business model, no marketing and advertising will make a difference.
What to Look for in Ecommerce Platforms
With so many ecommerce softwares on the market today, it can be challenging to choose the right one for your business. They all have the basic features you need for an online store, but what works well for one entrepreneur won't necessarily be the best solution for another.
Regardless, as you evaluate platforms to run your business, you need four things: a price you can afford, features you'll use, something that's easy for you to use, and a tool that's backed with solid customer support.
Affordable Pricing Plans
No matter what stage your business is in, maximizing your capital is crucial.
With hosted solutions, you'll pay a fee every month. Pricing is relatively similar across the board. It's what you get for that price that should influence your final decision.
You can always step up to the next pricing tier as you scale your business.
If you opt for a self-hosted solution like WooCommerce with WordPress, you'll still have hosting costs. You'll also be responsible for maintaining website security and updates.
Depending on the other features you need, you may have to spend more (one-time or recurring) to get what you need.
Transaction fees are something else to consider. While ShopWired doesn't charge them, others charge you on top of your payment gateways for processing payments.
Features You Need
Most ecommerce platforms will have the basic features you need to sell physical products online. If, however, you're selling digital products or services, you may not be able to use certain platforms.
Depending on your ecommerce business model, you may have a different set of feature requirements. For instance, if you'll be dropshipping, you need a platform that integrates with your primary suppliers. If you're running a print-on-demand business, you'll need options to integrate with your print provider.
Ease of Use
Whether you're a complete novice to website technology or you're a coding expert, you still need something easy for you and your team to use.
Having someone available to assist you is important. With hosted solutions like Shopwired, Wix, and Volusion, getting in touch with someone for help is easy.
That's not to say there's no help for self-hosted options like WooCommerce. Since WordPress is an open-source platform and powers 43.3% of all websites, there's a large community of experts and developers. The problem is - finding one that you can trust (and afford) when you need them.
With that out of the way, let's look at how ShopWired stacks up against the competition.
ShopWired vs. Wix
ShopWired and Wix are both hosted platforms. You connect your domain name, choose your site theme, customize the design, add products and start selling.
Wix began as a website builder, with ecommerce features added after the fact. The free-forever version of Wix doesn't include ecommerce functionality and prevents you from using many apps.
Both platforms offer a 14-day free trial for you to see the full capability.
ShopWired offers four plans:
● Pro: £29.95/m (£75k annual turnover)
● Advanced: £59.95/m (£200k annual turnover)
● Premium:£119.95/m (£500k annual turnover)
● Enterprise: From £149.95/m (£1 million annual turnover)
The U.S.-based plans offer the same pricing and sales limits in USD.
Wix offers three plans:
● Business Basic: £13/m (20 GB storage space)
● Business Unlimited: £16/m (35 GB storage space)
● Business VIP: £22/m (50 GB storage space)
Considering that the Wix plans have product limits or turnover limits, they are pretty generous. However, all plans have storage space limits, so it may not be the best choice for larger operations. Plus, the Business Basic plan doesn't give you access to all of Wix's features.
The feature set is pretty similar, but the major difference lies in the hosting and performance.
Both offer an impressive set of ecommerce tools, email marketing options, SEO management, and multiple payment gateways. ShopWired has more payment options than Wix does.
Wix and ShopWired make website building easy, with a selection of free themes. The designs are responsive and come with a variety of customisation options.
While Wix offers an artificial design intelligence (ADI) tool to make designing your site easier, ShopWired gives customers the option to purchase a completely custom theme design.
Hosting and Performance
ShopWired offers unlimited storage and bandwidth, PCI compliant servers, a free SSL certificate, 99.9% uptime, 24/7 server monitoring, and fast server speeds.
On the other hand, the Wix platform only offers 50 GB. of storage with the free SSL certificate and 99.9% uptime.
Customers demand a fast, smooth experience no matter what platform you use. And that's where testing finds ShopWired excels.
Speed tests conducted on three sites over three days found that the Shopwired ecommerce website loaded in 1.17 seconds compared to 3.93 seconds with Wix. Google rates the Shopwired mobile experience at 42 and desktop experience at 81, compared to Wix at 13 and 42, respectively.
ShopWired vs. WooCommerce
Both ShopWired and WooCommerce are solid ecommerce platforms for online stores. One isn't inherently better than the other - what it comes down to is your budget and technology comfort level.
The main difference is that WooCommerce is a self-hosted platform. The ecommerce tools are free, but you'll still spend money. You find and pay for your web hosting, which is included in your monthly fee with a hosted service like ShopWired.
The price you pay can vary widely, based on factors such as:
●The hosting company you use
●The hosting plan you choose
●Whether you pay monthly or annually
●The premium features you need to buy plugins or extensions for
ShopWired offers a wide range of features for small businesses. You can add more marketing tools, inventory management, and SEO management features with the app market.
WooCommerce provides many of the same features. Since it is an open-source solution, many developers are working to provide extensions. While many extensions are premium, they usually come with a one-time or an annual fee. This helps reduce your monthly costs compared to a hosted solution.
Hosting and Performance
It also means you're in charge of installing WordPress, adding WooCommerce, managing any plugins or extensions you need, and handling your SSL certificate. To sell online, you must have SSL because it encrypts your customer's payment data. To accept online payments without it puts your business at risk - and damages your brand's reputation.
For the tech novice, it's a tough ask. It usually means hiring an expert to assist you. This translates to higher upfront costs, with the possibility of needing to keep an expert on standby as you run your business. If anything on your ecommerce site breaks, you lose money while coming up with a fix - whether you hire someone to do it for you or learn how to do it yourself.
There are managed WordPress hosting services available to help monitor your ecommerce website. These managed platforms let you invest in your own hosting with some freedom and flexibility in terms of standard features but handle most of the tech stuff for you.
However, for the tech expert, a website builder may remove some control over what can and can't be done with the website. That's where the freedom to choose your own website hosting with WooCommerce becomes an advantage.
The performance you get strongly depends on which hosting company you use and the extensions you add.
See the side-by-side comparison.
ShopWired vs. Volusion
ShopWired and Volusion are hosted platforms that make it easy to build an online store. Volusion is a major player in the website builder space.
ShopWired beats Volusion in terms of features. All Shopwired plans include upselling and cross-selling, including one-click upsells. All plans include abandoned cart recovery with a free add-on and product search.
Volusion doesn't offer upselling or cross-selling at all. It only includes abandoned cart recovery on the top two plans. And it lacks product search features. If you want real-time shipping rates and tracking, you'll get it with ShopWired, but need a paid app with Volusion.
Want to include email marketing automation in your marketing plan? You can do it with a free Shopwired add-on. With Volusion, you'll have to have a paid add-on. With ShopWired, you get many additional features included in your monthly subscription.
If you're in the B2B space, you'll find the ShopWired software has a variety of options built-in that Volusion lacks.
Volusion offers plans ranging from $15 to $135/month. While they're more affordable at first glance, when you consider the free add ons you get with ShopWired, you could end up paying more with Volusion.
You won't pay any transaction fee on top of your payment processing fees when you sell products with either ecommerce platform.
Both ShopWired and Volusion offer two-week free trials to help you see how the platforms work before committing to a paid plan.
Hosting and Performance
Speed testing revealed that ShopWired sites loaded in about one second, compared to Volusion loading in about two seconds. While two seconds isn't slow, the faster, the better the user experience. Testing also revealed that page speed with ShopWired came in at 57 for mobile and 76 for desktop, compared to 31 and 70 for Volusion.
See the side-by-side comparison.
Why ShopWired is the Best Choice for Your Online Store
ShopWired offers the best of both worlds for small businesses. In exchange for a monthly fee, you won't have to worry about any technical aspects of running your online store. These popular solutions offer a variety of ecommerce features, allow you to use your own domain name, and make it easy to sell across multiple channels.
ShopWired is the best choice for selling online not because it's a hosted solution but because the site builder offers many features, is easy to use, and, most importantly, performs well. If you've built a site with an easy website builder, but it loads slow, it won't rank well in the search engines. And what's the point of a website if people can't find it?
Whether you're based in the U.K. or the U.S., the ShopWired platform gives you everything you need to succeed with an online store.