Starting a webshop? These are the top 5 eCommerce solutions + checklist for startup
Several business owners are moving their business online for the very first time and ask themselves: how do I start a webshop? I have talked to Graphiq’s web designers and compiled a list of recommended eCommerce solutions, as well as a checklist for starting a webshop.
Top 5 eCommerce solutions
WooCommerce is an extension to the WordPress publishing platform and is by far the largest platform with 28% market share in 2020. They market themselves as “the most customizable platform” and this is precisely the main advantage of WooCommerce. The customization options are endless and there are hundreds of different extensions to develop a truly unique webshop. WooCommerce can, therefore, be the right fit for everyone. This flexibility is due to the software's "open source" which allows users to completely change the source code to customize the functionality.
To change this code, however, you must also be familiar with the programming languages CSS, HTML or PHP. If you want to take advantage of WooCommerce's customization capabilities, you have to have the right expertise. WooCommerce is basically free of charge with the exception of some paid extensions. The hidden cost is acquiring the right expertise, assuming you’re not an expert yourself. Recruiting a web designer and developer to create a webshop can be costly. In return, you get a completely customized and optimized webshop for your needs.
“WooCommerce is superior, and I would say that this is clearly the best solution for those who want full flexibility. There are endless possibilities and no limitations. Obviously it costs you to develop a functional and beautiful webshop - but the return on investment will be worth it.”- Graphiq designer Eivind Holum
Pros and cons
- Customization: Endless possibilities for unique and customized functionality
- Open source: Full access to source code and no restrictions
- Extensions: Hundreds of extensions for payment, delivery and marketing
- Setup: Requires source code expertise for unlimited functionality
- Price: Costly to recruit the right setup expertise
- Operation: Requires more than the all-in-one-competitors when it comes to operating the webshop
Wix is a cloud-based platform with 150 million users in 2019, and is thus among the most used eCommerce solutions. They position themselves as a platform that “makes it possible for anyone to create a website”. Wix stands out by being user-friendly for beginners while allowing simple customization for professionals. This solution may be best for the former. With ready-to-use templates, drag-and-drop functionality and artificial design intelligence (ADI), anyone can start an online store.
WebsiteToolTester writes that Wix can be compared to buying a house. You can choose your own wall paint and interior, but you cannot change the basic structure. Wix promotes itself as the free website builder and is basically free to use. However, if you want an ad-free website with your own domain or eCommerce solution, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan. This can cost you $ 25/month, which is still a budget-friendly option for smaller businesses and beginners.
Pros and cons
- User-friendly: Easy to use with drag-and-drop function
- Operation: All-in-one platform and easy to operate
- Price: Budget-friendly price for integrated eCommerce solution
- Customization: Difficult to customize unique functionality through source coding
- Flexibility: Restrictions when using finished templates
- Complexity: Not suitable for large and complex webshop
Shopify is a complete eCommerce platform that “makes it easy to build and manage your online store”. The usability is perhaps the most important benefit of Shopify. They are used by 1 million companies and thus take 11% market share. This is a platform that contains everything you need to start, manage and grow your online business. With integrated functionality, you can manage physical and digital sales through multiple channels in one platform. External app integrations also let you manage marketing and analytics activities.
In terms of price, Shopify has no free version and payment plans start at $ 29/month. This is generally a competitive price. However, do note that there may be additional costs related to transaction fees and purchase of design templates. When it comes to design, Shopify offers a very small selection of free design templates and has a limited number of paid templates. As with their competitors, the templates are restrictive but make it easy to get started for a beginner. If you have the help of a developer, there’s a better possibility for unique customization through source coding.
“Shopify is a great solution for businesses that are taking their first steps online, offering comprehensive information and guidance on how to use the service without prior knowledge in design or development. With the help of a skilled developer, there is no limit to what you can do with Shopify. ” - Graphiq designer Troy
Pros and cons
- User-friendly: Simple platform with drag-and-drop feature
- Integrations: Supports integration of external applications
- Omnichannel: Integrates sales across various channels including social media
- Design: Small selection of design templates and more standardized design
- Customization: Restrictions related to customization of design templates
- Price: Expensive added cost for transactions, design and functionality
Squarespace is an all-in-one platform with 18% market share behind WooCommerce. Focusing on their award-winning, beautiful designs, they stand out from their competitiors. You can choose from different templates from leading designers with beautiful elements. Whether you sell products, services, subscriptions or bookings, there is a template for you. Squarespace is user-friendly and you can easily customize the different templates. At the same time, it is not as intuitive as Wix for a beginner.
For a professional, the platform is somewhat restrictive when it comes to full customization through source coding. As with Wix, we can use the analogy of buying a house here as well. You can customize the templates but not change the fundament in them. When it comes to price, Squarespace stands out by being more expensive than their direct competitors. A fully functional webshop requires the most expensive payment plan of $ 40/month. For price-sensitive users, this could be unreasonable, but for those who value functional and beautiful design that creates results, Squarespace will be worth the investment.
Pros and cons
- Design: Large selection of professional and beautiful design templates
- Operation: Easy to use with all the features in one platform
- User-friendly: Functional design and good user guides
- Price: More expensive than the direct competitors
- Integrations: Does not support external features and applications
- Customization: Restrictions related to unique customization and source coding
Webflow positions themselves between WordPress and Wix as a “no-code” platform for complete design freedom. The platform is often referred to as a product for designers. Webflow is a visual tool that allows full customization and development - without writing a single code. As with WooCommerce/WordPress, you can develop a truly unique online store without restrictive design templates. One of their sales arguments is "if you can design it, you can build it", but this is also one of the restrictions with Webflow. It requires expertise in web design.
For those of you who are a beginner without the right skills, Wix is probably a better alternative. However, if you want a professionally designed webshop and have the budget to recruit a web designer, Webflow is worth investing in. Except for this resource cost, there is also a cost of an eCommerce payment plan that can cost you between $29 and $212/mo.This is likely more expensive than the competition, and the price, in addition to the niche positioning towards web designers, makes Webflow fall under the market-leading platforms.
Pros and cons
- No-code: Allows full customization and functionality without source coding
- Design: Visual tool for designers who are passionate about aesthetics
- Integrations: Supports external app integration
- Setup: Complex tool that requires design expertise
- Price: Expensive payment plans and costly design resources
- Support: Less available customer support and smaller community
Checklist for starting a webshop
1. Domain and web hosting
The first step in starting an online store is purchasing domain and web hosting. The domain is the URL of your webshop, while the web host is the server that stores your data digitally. Most eCommerce solutions offer domain purchase and web hosting in their platform. For some, this is included in the purchase of paid plans. For WordPress users, this is purchased from external vendors. We recommend using GoDaddy who has their own payment plans for WordPress and WooCommerce.
2. Price and payment
An essential element in setting up a webshop is pricing and payment solutions. Digital retail often results in increased costs, such as transaction costs, shipping costs and tax. Consider including this in the product price. You also have to choose which payment solutions to offer in your webshop and find out what transaction fees the different vendors demand. PayPal, Klarna and Stripe are common payment options that can easily be integrated into WooCommerce as well as Shopify.
Choosing delivery options is another essential part of preparing your webshop. Think about how your products should be delivered to the buyer. For a small local business, pickup or drop-off might be good and cost-effective alternatives. Companies that want to distribute their products nationally, on the other hand, depend on contracts with external suppliers such as USPS or DHL. It’s important to consider shipping options not only from a cost perspective but to consider the buyers' preferred delivery methods. Delivery is actually crucial for 7 out of 10 buyers.
4. Storage and logistics
Depending on whether the company has a physical store or not, it may be worth considering the storage and packaging of products. Where should the products be stored? How should we handle orders and package items? How should we keep track of inventory for physical and digital purchases? The storage space is something you have to arrange yourself, but fortunately, the various eCommerce platforms have good solutions for automated purchase processes. Shopify even has its own app for logistics and inventory management.
Implementation of trust signals is an essential part of setting up a webshop. There is still some uncertainty about online shopping among consumers, so it’s important to reassure them before purchasing. Consumers may be uncertain whether the company is trustworthy or whether it is safe to buy. Elements that contribute to creating trust are terms and conditions, product reviews, logos of external suppliers and SSL certification. Such trust signals can actually increase the conversion by as much as 32%. To read more about trust, click here.
6. Terms and conditions
As mentioned above, the terms and conditions help to reassure consumers when purchasing online. This includes terms of price, returns, refunds and warranty. In addition, this includes information about privacy, cookies and data collection. Make sure you have all the legal aspects sorted out before starting up. However, you may not have to get a lawyer to prepare these legal documents. The Consumer Authority have created great guidelines and templates for standard terms and conditions that safeguard the Consumer Purchase Act, the Cancellation Act and the eCommerce Act.
7. Customer support
Finally, I would like to mention the importance of good customer support. This relates to trust and the consumer's uncertainty about who to contact for problems with, say, delivery or returns. Think about how you can be available to the buyer and what contact points to use. The various eCommerce solutions have good internal or external customer contact integrations, including live chats and contact forms. Shopify actually has over 300 customer support applications.