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How ready out of the box are Bigcommerce, Shopify, and SEOshop (2)

This is the second in a series of blog posts in which I discuss important features that I would like to see in my ecommerce software provider. Thesehow ready are bigcommerce shopify seoshop out of the box are really handy and mostly even essential features that you – sooner or later – will need when building up your online business. It is, of course, handier and cheaper to have these features included, and be ready to increase your sales, out of the box. In the previous post, we found out that some of the discussed features were not included in some of our reviewed ecommerce packages and learned about some excellent options as well. In today’s post I will conclude which out of the three researched – SEOshop, Shopify, or Bigcommerce – is most ready out of the box.

We test everything at Ecommerce Income. We tested the ease of use and design (Check the reviews here: Shopify,  Bigcommerce and SEOshop). We offer general ecommerce software reviews – find them here. And it all comes together in the comparison, that we keep on building up with ever more features compared.

How I researched and graded ecommerce features of Shopify, Bigcommerce, and SEOshop

A short recap from last week’s post on how I researched and graded ecommerce features:

1 – Brainstorm what ecommerce features I would like to see in the ecommerce software platform of my choice. I made a list of about 10 features that I felt were reflective of the kind of essential features you want to have in your ecommerce software. I drew on both ecommerce experience and fresh research to compose this list.

2 – A lot of research to find out whether Shopify, Bigcommerce and SEOshop offered these features and how they work.

3 – Give each of the providers a grade for each of the features. If they don’t provide a feature, they got zero, the one I consider to be the best, got a full point. The second and third best got 0.75 point for that feature. (Formula: available? yes: 0.5 points. No: 0 points. Best: 0.5, second best: 0.25)

Product reviews

Product reviews are comments by buyers or visitors on your site, posted directly on the product page. They work great for your online store because they show to potential buyers customerreviewpeoplethat other people also trusted your store, bought products and were (hopefully) happy with the product and service received. In short, product reviews are great for increasing trust and conversion. An extra advantage of product reviews is that it helps your SEO efforts as it is an extra way of getting fresh content for your website – something Google loves.

Bigcommerce offers a built-in product reviews feature for all plans.

Activating the built-in product reviews feature is easy – you just need to check a box to enable it. It is also easy to integrate a third-party review system (there is a free integration with Yotpo, for example). There is an option to only accept reviews from past customers. The customers must enter the email address they used when purchasing that product. If you want to actively engage customers and trigger them to leave a product review, you will need to send them an email invitation to do so. Bigcommerce offers the possibility to send customizable product review emails to your customers.

Shopify gives you quite a lot of options with the Shopify-built product reviews app, but the installation could be more straight-forward. You need to edit the code of your theme to enable Shopify Product Reviews. An upside of the Shopify products reviews app is that it is possible to customize a lot of it to make it look like you want. It is also handy that there is extensive documentation available in the Shopify Manual – so although you have to edit the code a bit, it shouldn’t be such a daunting task.

However, what is a big drawback, is that there is no option to automatically send emails to customers who bought a product and thus actively gather product reviews. There is, however, a free integration with Yotpo available.

With Shopify, there is the option to import and export reviews.

SEOshop doesn’t offer a free product reviews feature out of the box. They work together with the Feedback Company for an app. Until recently, there was a free integration with the Feedback Company out of the box. The smallest package costs 14.50 EUR for SEOshop customers, and sends up to 150 feedback invitations per month.

What is cool about the Feedback Company is that they manually check each review that is submitted. If it is a negative review, they place it on hold first, and then give you the opportunity to offer a better service to the client and win a positive review instead. They even mediate if necessary.

You do need to install the app yourself: after receiving a code from the Feedback Company, you paste the HTML-code in your settings.

Grading for this feature: bigcommerce logo logo-shopify-default seoshop review
Available out of the box? Yes Yes Not out of the box (The below is for their Feedback Company App)
Pros  + Super easy to activate+ Option to only accept reviews from customers (email address check)+ Proactively send email invitations +fully customizable emails+extensive documentation available+ option to import and export reviews + Manually check each submitted review+ Possibility to bend a negative review into a positive one
Cons  – no option to import and export reviews -No option to automatically send emails – need to install the app-little customization of widget OR the need to do a lot with code- Starting at 14.50 EUR per month, quickly rising in cost when you need more than 150 invitations per month
Best and second best Best Second Best Second Best
Score* 1 0.75 0.25

 

Multi-Channel and shopping comparison sites

Online Stores and the products they sell need to be visible to generate sales. One important method to enable you to be visible to potential clients is by being present in multiple places, where your customers look for products. What places, you ask? I am not a large fan of selling on Facebook, and I don’t believe social media generate a lot of sales. It is good to build and maintain a relationship with your customers though, and to look “social proof”.

I do believe that it is important for many online stores (including for my stores) to sell on comparison (shopping) sites. One example of multi-channel (another term is “Omni-channel” – being present on “all” channels) marketing from my own experience: people in my home market the Netherlands, who are googling for hammocks, will see my hammocks in the google shopping results. They will also see my results in the google ads, as well as in the organic results. Moreover, when they will click on the link of the largest comparison website in the Netherlands – Beslist.nl – they will also find me. In short: everywhere where they may want to consider buying a hammock online, I try to be there.

Your ecommerce software needs to provide a link between the products and the comparison sites. You need to provide a product feed to the comparison sites. How easily that is done, depends on your ecommerce software and the comparison site.

Bigcommerce has complete integrations with Ebay, Facebook, Bizrate, Shopzilla, Beso, Nextag, Pricegrabber, and Shopping.com. It thus offers plenty of options to be availabe wherever your customers are, that is – when you are operating in the US.

Bigcommerce offers clear documentation with instructions on how to connect your Bigcommerce store with the above websites – and specifically how to create and submit feeds.

If you need to submit feeds to other comparison and shopping websites, for example in Europe, it is possible to use the Datafeedwatch app which costs 29$ per month. This app makes it easy to submit your product feeds to hundreds of websites in any region of the world.

A video for the people who do believe in selling on social media – Bigcommerce does offer pretty much every sales channel imaginable.

Shopify doesn’t offer a standard integration with comparison sites. They do offer a Shopify made app for Google Shopping, as well as a Facebook store app, but that’s it! I must say I was quite surpised by this fact, Shopify probably being the biggest Ecommerce SaaS (Software as a Service) provider out there!

This being Shopify, and having a huge app store, there are a lot of third party apps that make creating and submittings feeds to shopping sites easy.

Seoshop offers integrations with the following comparison (shopping) sites: Beslist (huge in the Netherlands), Ciao (Europe), Google Shopping, Kelkoo (Europe), Kieskeurig (big in the Netherlands, especially for electronics), Vergelijk (the Netherlands). They are easily activated in the backoffice, allowing you to directly send your products to the comparison site you chose to do business with. There is also a Facebook shop.

SEOshop offers the opportunity to create and edit custom feeds, and advises that it “requires intermediate technical knowledge and understanding of XML, Rain template syntax, and the services you are creating the feed for.” They do offer some hints in their manual, but if you don’t know anything about code this could be a big task for you.

SEOshop also has the Datafeedwatch app in its app store at 29$ per month. This could make things easier for you, even if you do use the Dutch and European comparison sites that SEOshop has integrations with.

Grading for this feature: bigcommerce logo logo-shopify-default seoshop review
Available out of the box? Yes Yes (Google/Facebook) and No (the rest) Not out of the box (The below is for their Feedback Company App)
Pros  + complete integrations with comparison sites operating in North America+ Good documentation available  + Google Shopping and Facebook store available + Integrations with European comparison sites+Option to create and edit custom feeds
Cons  – no European options out of the box  – Pretty much nothing out of the box – creating and editing custom feeds can be hard- Some of the biggest US comparison sites are not available
Best and second best Best Second Best Second Best
Score* 1 0. 5  0.25

Coupon and discount codes

Offering a discount can be a great marketing strategy for your online store. You can use discounts in any or all of your sales channels and in this way they work in various ways. You could for example send a discount along with an abandoned cart saver email to win over the customer. Or reward your existing customers by offering them a discount in their customer account or in an email marketing campaign. You could even let a coupon code drive extra traffic from a coupon code website. Check this page out to learn more about this marketing method.

Bigcommerce offers the following coupon options:Bigcommerce coupon details

 

 

It is easy to limit your coupon to certain categories or products. You can also limit a coupon by location (country, states/provinces, postal codes) or certain shipping methods. The coupons are trackable in Bigcommerce, making it easier to analyze how effective they are.

Shopify offers various discount rules, being monetary discounts (10$/€ off), percantage-based dicounts (10% off) or offer free shipping. You can also apply an automatic discount to an abandoned checkout recovery email. As always with Shopify, it is well-documented how to use it.

SEOshop offers various discount rules:

  • Buy x products and receive free shipping
  • Receive free shipping when ordering more than X EUR
  • Receive X discount on orders of more than Y EUR
  • Receive X discount for returning customers
  • Buy X products and receive Y products free
  • Receive X discount on all products in one or more categories
  • Receive X discount on all products in one or more customer groups

There are also various limits (such as end date, or maximum number of usage of certain code). Implementing is a little less simple than with Bigcommerce or Shopify, but there are some more discount rules available.

Grading for this feature: bigcommerce logo logo-shopify-default seoshop review
Available out of the box? Yes Yes Yes
Pros  + All “standard” discount rules+ Limit coupon per product or category, by location, shipping method+ Coupons trackable+ Use Coupon in Abandoned Cart Email + All “standard” discount rules+ Use Coupon in Abandoned Cart Email  + All “standard” discount rules+ Some extra discount rules
Cons
Best and second best Best Second Best Second Best
Score* 1 0.75 0.75

 

Pci compliant and with own SSL certificate

You want to have a secure shop, because 1) you probably want to be a decent ecommerce entrepreneur and 2) when people trust your store, they are more likely to buy from you.

There is a fairly universal standard in security, that is easily recognized by customers world wide – a SSL certificate. It is related to the encryption of the connection, which is a necessity at the moment personal and payment details are transmitted. Maybe not everyone knows what a SSL certificate is, but they do know the green address bar in their browser. Make sure your ecommerce software provider sets you up with one!

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that  companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Bigcommerce is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. Bigcommerce offers the option to get your own checkout with your own SSL certificate (paid)

Shopify is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. When you proceed to checkout, you go to a https://checkout.shopify.com secure domain. Therefore, you don’t need your own SSL certificate.

SEOshop is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant.Wwhen you proceed to checkout, you go to a https://yourstore.webshopapp.com secure domain. Therefore, you don’t need your own SSL certificate.

Grading for this feature: bigcommerce logo logo-shopify-default seoshop review
Available out of the box? Yes Yes Yes
Pros + option to get your own checkout (on your own domain)
Cons
Best and second best Best Second Best Second Best
Score* 1 0.75 0.75

App Store

Over the last years it has become a standard for the serious ecommerce software solution: an app store. However complete your ecommerce software is going to be out of the box, there will always be some tweaks that you can only make by using an app. I had a look at the App stores of the reviewed providers. Some number and some impressions, based on the more or less randomly selected areas in which I did some research in the app store: Shipping, Accounting, and Referrals. If you want to learn more about what referrals are, read my post on social shopping here.

 

Bigcommerce has a very decent app store, with over 225 apps (May 2015)

Accounting: Bigcommerce has 21 apps available related to accounting, including three free apps. I saw that the popular Intuit QuickBooks app is free and already integrated. I thought cool! – but on closer inspection I found out that “installation and use” of the app is free, but the Intuit QuickBooks itself costs 12.95-39.95$ per month.

Shipping: Bigcommerce has 20 apps related to shipping of which 9 are free.

Referral: Bigcommerce doesn’t allow to search the app store, but there are at least two specialized referral apps.

 

Shopify probably has every ecommerce app every made in this universe, with over 900 apps (May 2015)

Accounting: Shopify has 34 apps available related to accounting, including 13 free apps. It has the same deal for Intuit QuickBooks as Bigcommerce has.

Shipping: Shopify has 84 apps available related to shipping, including 53 free apps.

Referral: 26 apps related to referrals of which 10 apps are free, including friendize.me, which I discussed here.

 

SEOshop has apps with solutions for most, but not all issues, with 95 apps in their app store (May 2015)

Accounting: 15 apps, including one free Dutch app integration. The more popular Dutch accounting app integrations typically cost 9.50 EUR per month (that is, without the actual accounting software subscription fee). The Intuit QuickBooks app is not available.

Shipping: 10 apps, including 4 free apps. They are pretty much all focused on the Dutch market only.

Referrals: 1 app, an app that rewards customer loyalty including referrals. 119 EUR/month.

Grading for this feature: bigcommerce logo logo-shopify-default seoshop review
Available out of the box? Yes Yes Yes
Pros + Apps for pretty much anything you need +Apps for everything + Good basic selection of Apps, but not an App for every issue
Cons
Best and second best Second Best Best Second Best
Score* 0.75 1 0.75

The Most Complete Out of the Box Ecommerce Software Is…

Adding all the results for all features for each of the ecommerce software providers, as discussed in this blog and last week’s blog, leads to the following results:

Grading for this feature: bigcommerce logo logo-shopify-default seoshop review
Abandoned Cart Saver 1 0.75 0.25
One page checkout 0.75 0 1
Newsletter 1 1 0.75
Integrated blog 1 0.75 0.75
Product reviews 1 0.75 0.25
Shopping comparison sites 1 0.5 0.25
Coupon and discount codes 1 0.75 0.75
Pci compliant and with own SSL certificate 1 0.75 0.75
App Store 0.75 1 0.75
Total: 8.5/9 6.25/9 5.5/9
On a scale of 10 = 9.45 6.95 6.1

… Bigcommerce Is The Most Complete Out Of The Box

We’ve got a clear winner with Bigcommerce. There are actually only two features where Bigcommerce didn’t get the full points. Bigcommerce has some right to claim the title of being the most complete out of the box.

What is also interesting to notice is that the much smaller company of SEOshop is almost on a par with Shopify, the ecommerce giant.

This comparison gets even more meaning, if we compare more features. Feel free to leave a comment below with the ecommerce feature(s) you consider to be essential – I will then soon publish a follow-up post to research these other features and add them to the calculation above.

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