Shopify is an excellent eCommerce solution for selling products online — until it’s not. This might be your story. You started with a Shopify store, and began marketing your products, increasing your brand awareness, attracting loads of customers, and growing your sales by orders of magnitude.
So now you have a problem: You’ve outgrown Shopify. You know that choosing a more robust enterprise solution for your eCommerce business is one of the most salient decisions you’ll make for the future growth of your business. But there are literally hundreds of Shopify alternatives to choose from, so this isn’t an easy decision to make.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to eCommerce platforms, but there are some important details that make all the difference. Here are six critical factors to consider when deciding whether you should stay with Shopify or find an eCommerce solution that better suits your growing needs.
Does The Platform Grow With You?
This is the biggest problem with some of the most popular plug-and-play platforms available – they don’t really grow with your business. The ease of using Shopify is extremely attractive when you’re just starting out, but it can be quite limiting when your small business heads into seven figures in annual revenue. You might be constrained by Shopify’s platform if you want specialized inventory management (especially if you have plans to open brick-and-mortar stores along with your online presence), want a loyalty program, need deep customizations on the front and back ends, want very robust reporting (Shopify doesn’t have the ability to input cost price, making profit margins harder to track), or have tens of thousands of SKUs to catalog and process.
Do You Plan To Expand Internationally?
Shopify heavily favors merchants based in North America and the United Kingdom, with features, payment processing, and language options all skewed toward those demographics. In fact, many experts consider the problem of localization to be Shopify’s Achilles heel. If you want to take your commerce across borders, you need a solution that can process multiple languages, currencies, tax rates, and text display styles (right to left, for example).
Do You Want To Improve Profit Margins?
Every business needs to keep a laser focus on its costs. Fewer costs mean more profits. Shopify’s pricing structure forces merchants to pay transaction fees of up to two percent for using popular, non-Shopify payment gateways such as Paypal and Authorize.net. Shopify Payments is currently available to merchants located in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. Expect to pay the extra transaction fees if you are located outside of those countries.
Does Your Brand Need A Unique Look And Feel?
Sure, you want a functional store with an easy checkout process. But, it also needs to look great. Just like a brick-and-mortar business has careful layouts, attractive signage, and pleasing décor, your eCommerce platform should have an attractive design that instills a sense of professionalism and authority.
If your store looks slapped together and shoddy, you will have a hard time building the consumer trust you need in order to sell more. While Shopify’s ready-made, mobile-friendly themes have won over many fans, merchants who need a highly customized brand experience find them to be constrictive. Additionally, Shopify themes are built using its own proprietary coding language called Liquid. Finding qualified web developers who really know how to build amazing customer experiences using Liquid can be a challenge.
Is Security A Top Priority?
Security is a massive issue when it comes to online businesses, especially in the eCommerce space where fraud and identity theft are huge concerns. You want your customers to feel 100 percent confident in giving you their money and personal information. You want to be sure charges are safely and securely processed, and customer transactions can be completed without any worries of data leakage or cyber attacks.
Shopify doesn’t offer its merchants a dedicated SSL certificate until you are a Shopify Plus customer paying $1,500 a month or more. That means your customer transactions don’t take place within an SSL-secure environment, which is evident by the “https” in the site domain and the lock icon in the address bar. The lack of SSL compliance can negatively affect shopper confidence and cart conversions, resulting in lower profits.
Do You Want Higher Search Result Ranking?
You cannot survive as an eCommerce business (or any online business, really) if you don’t show up in search results. The problem here is that many Shopify themes don’t support schema markup (a feature that optimally structures “microdata” for major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo). Correctly implementing microdata can increase search rankings by up to four positions, and increase search engine clickthrough rates by up to 30 percent. Kissmetrics says schema markup is “one of the most powerful, but least-utilized forms of SEO available today.” There are workarounds and apps that can help mitigate this problem, but experts have found that many Shopify stores are simply missing this microdata.