This is the second article in a series on Europe-readiness of ecommerce software. Check out the first article first if you didn’t read it already. I focus on Ecommerce Income’s favourite three ecommerce software providers – Shopify, Bigcommerce and SEOshop – the “European” solution from the Netherlands. But is SEOshop, apart from made in Europe, also the most Europe-ready? Find out in this second and concluding article!
And even if your favourite ecommerce software provider is not among these three, this series of blogs is still useful for you as a “checklist for European expansion”.
This second blog post discusses Multiple stores, shortly touches upon Payments and Shipping, and lastly looks at the possibilities to scale up. It concludes by summing up which of the three ecommerce software providers is most “Europe-ready”. The next and related last blog reviews what platform would best suit a truly globally operating ecommerce business.
When you operate an ecommerce business in multiple countries, you will possibly want to have multiple websites, each targeted at the specific country, complete with its own domain (.fr for France, co.uk for the UK, .de for Germany, etc.). I, for one, have a separate website for every country I do business in. What you need for this purpose on the ecommerce software side, is two things. First – and that’s a necessity – the possibility to open multiple stores which can be administered from one admin panel (mainly talking about maintaining a joint stock here!). Second, desirable but not a necessity, is whether these multiple stores are free of extra charge, or whether you need to get an extra subscription. This second point is related to the last section on upscaling – higher plans often include more than basic plans.
Shopify doesn’t allow you to run multiple stores from one admin. If you want to have another store, you need to open a new one, with the extra subscription fee and a separate admin.
There is an app called Brightpearl that can connect all your Shopify stores and lets you manage them all from the app. It does come with a price though:
Shopify does allow you to use multiple domains with one store, but the store needs to be exactly the same. As we saw in the previous post on languages in Shopify (link with anchor), one would still need an app than to offer multiple languages in that store.
In short: with Shopify you’d need quite some workarounds and a lot of extra costs to achieve full-fledged multiple stores.
Bigcommerce, Similarly to Shopify, doesn’t allow you to run multiple stores from one admin. Brightpearl also works with Bigcommerce.
SEOshop Refreshingly offers the possibility to run multiple stores from one account for free through an already integrated extension. This extension, called “Multishop”, needs to be activated for every online store you want to link. You do need to pay for an extra plan for every extra store.
Payments and Shipping
If you are serious about your online business – and I assume you are, since you are reading an article about expanding your business across borders – you should offer good and trusted options for payments and shipping to your customers.
As it is not doable to discuss all the payments and shipping options the various ecommerce software providers offer, I will only leave some general remarks here.
It is hard to say what shipping company is right for you. It depends on the dimensions and weight of your products as well as the countries you ship from and to. A similar story goes for your payments service provider. Always try to negotiate – in this business prices are negotiable. Always make sure to contact a few possible payments and shipping partners and find out where you can get the best deal.
Have a look at what shipping company and payment services provider you may want to use and see if there are good integrations available in the various ecommerce software providers. It can really be a pain and/or a high extra cost if you need to choose another, more expensive shipping or payments company or when you need to make an integration yourself.
First make a list of the preferred and most popular and trusted payments options and shipping methods in the countries you want to sell to. Then make a list of possible shipping and payments companies and lastly look what ecommerce software packages match your requirements.
Scaling up to enterprise level
Every business is unique, and the needs of every business are unique, especially when it is growing. Once your online business is growing, you don’t want to be hampered by ecommerce software problems. Therefore you need an ecommerce software platform that is flexible and good enough to facilitate your growth as seamless as possible. When you are business is growing across borders, you will probably also soon need a larger ecommerce software solution.
Bigcommerce, Shopify and SEOshop all offer enterprise solutions and they all promise to be able to offer you exactly that – a painless scaling up of your business on the ecommerce software side.
A question which of the three ecommerce software platforms discussed is the best for (the future growth of) your business is a difficult one to answer. Ecommerce and Software as a Service (SaaS) have grown enourmously and very rapidly over the last decade and the enterprise solutions are among the newest developments. It is a logical next step in the evolution of SaaS as some of the first starting ecommerce businesses of the last decade grew up to become large enterprises.
Bigcommerce offers “Bigcommerce Enterprise”, Shopify offers “Shopify Plus” and SEOshop offers “SEOshop Premium”. They all have dedicated support and account managers. Call them up if you need to find out more.
What Ecommerce Software is most Europe-Ready?
What Ecommerce Software is most Europe-ready? Shopify, SEOshop or Bigcommerce? When looking at the outcomes of the research that went into writing this and the previous blog post, there are quite a few interesting points to make.
- In terms of Sales Taxes, Bigcommerce seemed like a candidate set to “win” Ecommerce Income’s Europe and international-readiness trophy. The Avalara integration looked indeed promising. But upon closer inspection, what European merchants need most, is a simple solution to distinguish between customers that need to pay VAT and those who don’t need to pay the sales tax. This is offered by SEOshop and can’t be easily configured in Bigcommerce.
- SEOshop simply blows away the competition with its native multi-languages feature. Even after a lot of workarounds, Shopify – the platform with the most apps and great third party developers – looks still a lot worse (not even discussing the costs).
- When it comes to Trustmarks, SEOshop has ready integrations with the two trustmarks researched. That helps a lot to start selling quickly in those European countries that value trustmarks, such as Germany, the biggest European economy. Shopify also has some trustmark options while Bigcommerce is more focused on US symbols of trust.
- Multiple stores is only offered by SEOshop.
- For payments, shipping and scaling up, it really depends on your business’s needs.
In short, when taking the outcomes regarding sales taxes, multiple languages, trustmarks and multiple stores in relation to operating in Europe, SEOshop easily beats the competion.
Ecommerce Income recommends SEOshop for online businesses seeking to conquer Europe!