X-Cart Versus Zen Cart

xcart-vs-zencart

If you are launching or moving an ecommerce site you’ll wish to choose which group of shopping cart software best compliments your store’s scope and your height of technical understanding. Maybe you’re available on the market for any platform which includes hosting like Shopify and BigCommerce. These cloud-based carts don’t need you to know any code but offer less wiggle room to make deep customizations.

However, if developing a totally unique online shop is really a priority I suggest thinking about both downloadable and free shopping carts. X-Cart is really a downloadable platform that charges an upfront fee to make use of. It had been produced greater than a decade back by programmers in Russia and it has developed into a sizable platform having a staff well over 100 engineers through its parent firm Qualiteam. Greater than 30,000 users have obtained the licensed CMS to produce online retailers. X-Cart’s simple to use admin keeps improving and it is fully scalable. But based on your set of skills you may want to employ a pro that will help you launch, which could add cost and time for you to your roll-out. Note: X-Cart also provides a cloud-based solution known as X-Cart Next. We’ll be searching at X-Cart’s original, licensed option within the following review.

Zen Cart is free of charge to download, and 100,000 individuals have done exactly that because the cart launched in 2003 after splitting removed from predecessor osCommerce. But to make use of the PHP/MySQL free platform you’ll wish to have a minimum of mid-level coding skills or receive the aid of a developer. Zen Cart arrives with several features which are incorporated with fee-based carts free of charge, nevertheless its insufficient support means you’re subject to a forum: Fortunately, it’s accessible and active.

Do not have time for you to read a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost.

Otherwise, continue reading for for my full X-Cart and Zen Cart comparison. I’ll examine each cart’s features, user feedback, prices, and much more below.

Table of Contents

 Web-Located or Licensed:

While users receive use of complete source code, X-Cart is really a downloadable licensed software that you will purchase upfront. Zen Cart is definitely an free shopping cart software which costs absolutely nothing to download or use.

Software and hardware Needs:

Being an X-Cart or Zen Cart user you’ll result in securing hosting for the website from the provider like Rackspace. Discover more about X-Cart’s server needs here and Zen Cart’s hosting recommendations here. Additionally, X-Cart offers in-house hosting plans.

Prices:

Champion: Zen Cart

With X-Cart’s downloadable version you’ll pay an upfront fee varying from $195 to $1,795 to gain access to this program. Retailers can pick between X-Cart’s Gold, Gold Plus, Platinum and Mobile plans, although for me choosing the Mobile choice is a no-brainer since increasingly more online purchases are now being completed on tablets and smartphones. X-Cart also provides SSL certificates, hosting, development and design work, and fee-based technical support. Take a look at our complete X-Cart review for plan and prices details.

Since X-Cart is self-located you’ll should also pencil in added monthly hosting expenses in addition to additional security, integrations, and charge card processing charges. People that use the liberated to download Zen Cart will encounter exactly the same group of charges. Plus, if you are not really a coder anticipate to budget in having to pay a developer and designer. But if you can to change PHP code, then Zen Cart is the foremost value.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: X-Cart

It’s simpler to set up and personalize X-Cart than Zen Cart, the situation when evaluating almost any downloadable Versus open source. To be able to begin using X-Cart you’ll wish to be comfortable installing software with the aid of an FTP and customizing code to produce a store that both looks great and runs easily. I discovered there to become a slight learning curve with X-Cart also it required a couple of minutes that i can find my way around its admin. But after customizing templates, importing product info, adding integrations, and inputting store settings, you ought to be through nearly all work required to start selling. Other extras can invariably be added in lower the street.

It’s harder to understand where to start after Zen Cart’s installation process is finished. The setup process takes some PHP/MySQL programming skills and it is less straightforward than X-Cart. Zen Cart’s admin is a little a bear that may need a update. Some backend options that aren’t that important their very own drop lower, just like a music genre page, while some aren’t found in the most apparent place and wish some hunting and pecking to locate. But around the plus side, if you are prepared to commit some effort to understanding the areas of Zen Cart which are helpful for you (i.e. adding products and filling orders) the cart will start to become simpler to make use of.

Product Features:

Champion: X-Cart

X-Cart offers sufficient features to help you get going, including configurable URLs and meta data (“clean” URLS are produced to exchange original dynamic URLS,) order tracking, and testimonials. I love that you could sell products with several variations with relative ease through the product option module and I like that traditional, express, and ‘fast lane’ one-page checkout can be obtained. Find out about X-Cart’s features here and find out our full review for additional features details.

Zen Cart offers a few of the same wonderful features you’ll find with X-Cart, including product critiques and downloadable products. A complete list is here now. That stated, although it downloads with increased features than some free competitors like osCommerce, Zen Cart doesn’t offer a few crucial factors that you’ll enjoy with X-Cart: I missed finding one-page checkout along with a mobile version as they are. Since clients are making physical and downloadable purchases via cellular devices increasingly more, not offering an enhanced, fast buying experience might be a real hindrance to finishing sales.

Confused or at a loss for your choices? If you want help sifting through shopping cart software software we’re here to assist. Take a look at Merchant Maverick’s talking to services.

Website Design:

Champion: X-Cart

As I didn’t find X-Cart’s free or fee-based CSS-based templates to become show-stopping, several are intuitive and could be altered to complement the theme and feel of the store. Browse some skin options here. I suggest starting with a reasonably simplistic theme and customizing it with the addition of fresh fonts, colors, and product photography.

To contrast, Zen Cart’s default theme is definitely an eye sore. You could attempt to brighten it up by installing among the several template alterations where you can, for instance, give a slideshow for your homepage or perhaps a sidebar that displays social networking buttons, but for me it’s a far greater idea to employ a professional to create your store or search for any cleaner theme such as this or this. Try Googling “free Zen Cart templates” or click on the disposable template packages on Zen Cart’s plug-ins directory for additional theme examples.

While Zen Cart’s admin area is simple enough to make use of to include products and fill orders when you get used to it, it is also seriously looking for a refresh. I’d a significantly simpler time getting acclimated to X-Cart’s more elegant admin, where one can create coupons, maintain order and inventory info, and rapidly click both to and from your backend to frontend. I additionally like this integrations are housed within “goodies” tab.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Zen Cart

X-Cart offers a number of free add-ons like f-Commerce Go: It’s an additional that integrates X-Cart together with your Facebook business page. You’ll also find several popular fee-based extras, such as eBay and Mailchimp integrations. But when compared with Zen Cart, X-Cart offers far less add-ons.

Zen Cart arrives with sufficient fundamental features to obtain your store ready to go, but it’s likely you’ll wish to integrate a number of its greater than 1,500 extras to help make your store stick out while increasing its functionality. Bear in mind that quite a few users have experienced trouble customizing plugins previously and undergo difficulties transporting add-ons over after making sporadic Zen Cart updates. On Zen Cart integrations within our full review.

Payment Processing:

Champion: Tie

Zen Cart has the capacity to be integrated with Paypal, Authorize.internet, and FirstData, in addition to worldwide charge cards like Solo/Switch/Maestro (United kingdom), and JCB (multi-country). you may also processes checks and cash orders. Select charge cards your store accepts within the admin, including virtually all of the players like Visa, Mastercard, and American stock exchange. Take a look at Zen Cart’s plug-ins to locate several additional payment gateway and credit card merchant account integrations like PAYMILL and 2Checkout.

With X-Cart it’s very easy to integrate with any one of almost 100 gateways, including PayPal and Checkout by Amazon . com. You can process orders purchased with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express in addition to accept checks and cash orders. See the whole list here.

If you want help navigating the payment processor marketplace, take a look at our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison page or call us for any consultation.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Tie

Like other free carts, Zen Cart doesn’t maintain robust support beyond an energetic forum. However I did find Zen Cart to visit beyond a number of its free peers–it offers tutorials and FAQs, a person manual, a wiki that covers installing and upgrading this program, and YouTube videos.

For me, X-Cart’s support is a little an assorted bag–some retailers are pleased with their customer support experience, while some complain that compensated support costs $99 monthly (or $99 per single non-urgent incident should you not opt right into a monthly support plan) and isn’t offered 24/7. Also observe that tickets don’t cover all issues unless of course you have to pay yet another fee, so read the small print before you purchase a ticket. Unsupported topics vary from Search engine optimization to upgrades and gratifaction issues–see the entire list at the base of the page. Make sure to check other free sources for solutions for your questions first, via forums, a understanding base, and FAQs. I suggest going the only ticket route since X-Cart’s compensated monthly support costs almost $1,200 each year.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: X-Cart

We spent hrs researching and compiling user feedback about both X-Cart and Zen Cart and located more negative feedback from Zen Cart users. As pointed out above, we noted that some X-Cart retailers wish its compensated support was available 24/7. For me, X-Cart could de-stress its compensated support model, especially since i have can’t make a slew of companies are pleased to fork over $99 for monthly support when cloud-based carts offer hosting, technical support, better styles and much more features for a lot less monthly that X-Cart charges for support alone.

Zen Cart users complain about its stale styles, counterproductive admin, insufficient one-page checkout (which X-Cart offers) and behind-the-occasions Search engine optimization and marketing features. And a few retailers are convinced that the woking platform can act buggy and also have experienced rocky upgrades.

If you wish to look for other complaints about X-Cart or Zen Cart, make sure to google X-Cart/Zen Cart reviews, X-Cart/Zen Cart complaints, X-Cart/Zen Cart comments, X-Cart/Zen Cart scam, X-Cart/Zen Cart testimonials, etc.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: X-Cart

I discovered lots of positive X-Cart comments online from longtime, loyal users. Vibrant spots for X-Cart include engineers that rapidly reconcile issues, a complete group of as they are features, along with a very customizable admin. Others like its cost, social networking integrations, and PCI-compliance.

Zen Cart users like this it’s liberated to download–no surprise there–and that it is completely customizable and keeps a lively forum. Others appreciate that it arrives with a variety of features and add-ons. But overall, our search switched up more kudos from X-Cart retailers.

Final Verdict:

Champion: X-Cart

Selecting whether licensed ecommerce shopping cart software that needs an upfront payment to download like X-Cart or perhaps an free cart that’s liberated to download but requires more coding competence to produce like Zen Cart will provide you with control of your store’s feel and look. Both X-Cart and Zen Cart require that you get a host for the store and provide you with the actual capability to make serious customizations for your shop. Plus, each comes as they are with sufficient features to begin.

Which suits your company? This will depend in your shop’s scope and values. Some retailers are energized by the opportunity to opt-in for an free user community and therefore are comfortable taking it towards the forums for help when problems appear. If that’s you, Zen Cart could be the right fit. Before committing I’d also recommend searching at competitors like Spree Commerce. If it’s important to bring a developer aboard to produce your store with Zen Cart, my conjecture would be that the liberated to download platform would be the more pricey option within the finish.

If you are lured with a licensed cart that arrives prepared to be included in an entirely unique store I suggest searching carefully at X-Cart, which will keep improving. X-Cart arrives with fresher skins as well as an simpler to navigate admin than Zen Cart. I love that X-Cart also provides one-page checkout and supports responsive styles, since within my opinion both are crucial for the store’s success.

Consider using a free demo of X-Cart’s downloadable version or download Zen Cart to have an limitless trial and find out if either shopping cart software suits your web store.

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Magento Versus Zen Cart

Magento-vs-Zencart

If you are thinking about using free shopping cart software software to produce or migrate a current online shop, odds are you’re whether confident coder or will be ready to employ a professional to build up your shop. Either in situation, you’ll be thinking about two popular free platforms: Magento and Zen Cart.

Launched about ten years ago, Zen Cart is really a PHP/MySQL platform that branched removed from osCommerce. osCommerce was among the first free carts hitting the scene in 2000 (take a look at our osCommerce and Zen Cart comparison here.) Using more than 100,000 users under its belt, Zen Cart’s consistent performance, active forums, and relatively simple to complete installation process turn it into a serious contender which has earned many loyal users. However, many developers complain that although the program is a great candidate for code newbies, its less malleable PHP coding framework shows aging process.

Magento is completely customizable, elegant, flooded with features…and has a steep learning curve. An intricate open cart solution, Magento has been utilized by greater than 150,000 retailers because it launched greater than 5 years ago and it is a finest fit for mid to large-size companies who are able to afford help to obtain their store launched and maintained. I recommend getting a pro developer that has effectively labored with Magento prior to getting began, in addition to a designer based on your developer’s set of skills.

Observe that the next article compares Zen Cart to Magento CE, Magento’s free, free option.

Do not have time for you to read a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost.

Otherwise, keep studying to understand how Magento and Zen Cart perform within our mind-to-mind comparison.

Table of Contents

Web-Located or Licensed:

Both Magento and Zen Cart are free, self-located shopping carts that is free of charge to download or use.

Software and hardware Needs:

Since they’re both free, downloadable platforms, it’s important to find hosting for the Magento or Zen Cart store. Read information regarding Magento’s hosting requirements here and discover Zen Cart’s guidelines here.

Prices:

Champion: Tie

Both Magento CE and Zen Cart are free shopping cart software platforms that won’t cost you a factor to download. However when planning just how much to plan for your store’s creation and launch, bear in mind that it’s important to purchase hosting, charge card processing, (possibly) a design template, security to make sure PCI compliance, and (possibly) a developer and designer. It’s easy to understand the way it can finish up squandering your at least as much to produce an ecommerce site by having an free cart like Magento or Zen Cart instead of a cloud-based option which includes hosting and expenses through the month, like BigCommerce or Shopify.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Zen Cart

When I just pointed out above, free shopping carts will vary creatures than web-based competitors for example Shopify that include hosting, templates, and security as they are. Both Zen Cart and Magento require technical understanding and a minimum of mid-level coding competency to set up and personalize. If it is not after this you you’ll want to locate a developer to obtain your shop ready to go and train staff regarding how to add inventory, manage customers, fill orders, etc.

I discovered Zen Cart’s admin to become counterproductive, with increased drop downs than needed. Zen Cart’s template system for defining the feel of your shop (its as they are template is particularly underwhelming, so customizing its PHP code is essential) is sensible after committing serious amounts of it, but anticipate to search and peck to locate standard elements like product options and tax settings. That stated, when your store is live you’ll most likely have previously mastered in which the areas of Zen Cart’s admin which are highly relevant to you reside (also known as adding products and managing orders) and may ignore admin tabs like “index listing,” “default page status,” and “option value manager.”

You’ll need to know that some developers describe Zen Cart’s code as sloppy which its periodic software updates can lead to lost design and integration customizations. But overall its PHP-based code helps it to be simpler to get going rapidly, a minimum of when compared with Magento.

Magento’s complex code is notoriously difficult to master, and it is short stack of support tools make partnering by having an experienced pro crucial, particularly if you’re shelling out cash before you’re in a position to start earning it back by finishing sales. Magento’s backend isn’t a lot more streamlined than Zen Cart’s, with confusing system settings and admin pages that aren’t always in which you expect these to be. Intend to spend some time finding out how to add orders and keep your store.

Product Features:

Champion: Magento

Overall, I discovered Magento to provide a better developed, better quality group of features which are crucial for creating effective online retailers. For instance, only Magento is enhanced for smartphones and tablets, that is a must for reducing abandoned carts, especially since a lot of us are browsing and purchasing on cellular devices. Also, Magento arrives with more powerful fundamental Search engine optimization tools. Plus, I love that it may support several store from one admin–that’s a less frequent feature overall in web-based, downloadable, or free shopping carts.

Zen Cart does present some features you will not find after installing Magento, including gift cards along with a (dated) WYSIWYG tool. But Magento’s product comparison feature, coupon system (Zen Cart offers light coupon functionality), wishlists, and uber important one page checkout tend to be more types of extras making it soar beyond Zen Cart within the features department.

For more information concerning the feature teams of both carts, take a look at our complete Magento review here and Zen Cart review here. If you are confused or at a loss for your choices and would really like help sifting through shopping cart software software we’re here to assist. Take a look at Merchant Maverick’s talking to services.

Website Design:

Champion: Magento

There isn’t any doubt that both Magento and Zen Cart can establish completely functional shops, but getting there’s most likely likely to mean dealing with a thick pile of customizations or purchasing a theme. It’s one more reason to utilize a professional if you are not confident nipping and tucking code.

When you can tweak the headers, colors, fonts, along with other fundamental elements of design with Zen Cart’s as they are theme, I counsel beginning having a different skin since its default choice is, to become diplomatic, very dated. Take a look at more Zen Cart free themes to get an understanding of what’s available. Or, you are able to employ a designer to carry out a custom look that’s totally unique, that is things i recommend.

Compared, Magento has been utilized to create what, for me, tend to be more elegant stores (browse some Magento live stores here and Zen Cart live stores here to check.) This minimal free Modern Theme for Magento is miles over the skin which comes standard with Zen Cart in looks and usefulness. Plus, Magento’s template system streamlines customizing skins. Take a look at various other Magento templates here.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Magento

Magento arrives with several helpful features as they are, but you’ll wish to browse its countless free and fee-based integrations too. Take a look at its full plug-in list here by selecting “Community” under “Platform” around the left side from the screen. Extras are sortable by rating, relevance, and cost.

As opposed to Magento, which arrives with lots of more features after it’s downloaded, intend to depend on Zen Cart’s plugins to complete your store’s set of features. Zen Cart offers retailers an enormous database in excess of 1,500 integrations, including admin tools varying from bulk order plugins to advanced login features, language packages, social networking and marketing extras, and prices tools. A thing of warning: We found reports claiming that some Zen Cart plugins really are a bear to personalize and aren’t suitable for new versions.

I love that Magento’s application store lets users leave feedback about plugins which each integration earns a “popularity score.” Individuals factors should in no way be the sole reason you choose to make use of an add-on, but a minimum of the scores provide a frame of reference. Overall, I discovered Magento’s integrations to become more curated, reliable, and helpful.

Payment Processing:

Champion: Magento

While it isn’t suitable for as many gateways as some cloud-based shopping cart software platforms, Magento integrates with an array of gateways and third-party processors including PayPal.

Zen Cart integrates with lots of processors too, including Dwolla and Braintree, and supports plug-ins for a lot of more gateways. Also, when i pointed out above Zen Cart supports gift cards as they are while Magento doesn’t. However, Magento does support one-page checkout and guest checkout (each of which for me are essentials that internet buyers have started to expect) while Zen Cart doesn’t.

If you want help navigating the payment processor landscape, take a look at our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison page or call us for any consultation.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Zen Cart

Magento CE users depend on its active, almost 2 million member forum when questions show up pre and post stores are live, so bookmark the page for reference. Overall, I didn’t have positive interactions with Magento support–answers to questions I sent staff via email or Facebook weren’t clarified. Also, users are convinced that Magento’s documentation is thin, however it does keep growing.

To contrast, Zen Cart offers several additional tools for help which go beyond its 135,000 member forum, including tutorials and FAQs, YouTube videos, along with a wiki since the installation process and upgrades. Or you prefer holding a reference guide with you you may also order Zen Cart’s instructions.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Zen Cart

Retailers and developers have lots to complain about with Magento and Zen Cart. After hrs of research and time spent culling user feedback, we could find out the following common negative trends about each cart.

A vintage complaint about Magento is the fact that it’s slow and clunky. Another common gripe concentrates on the Magento customer care department and documentation, with are essentially nonexistent in the CS edition except for a properly-used forum. Other Magento users aren’t happy that developer charges, security, hosting, and processing charges allow it to be an costly option, leveling out the advantages of that download free pretty rapidly.

Zen Cart users frequently complain about its outdated admin design, lagging marketing and Search engine optimization features, and not seamless version upgrades that may result in lost data. Also, some state that the cart is glitchy, miss good choices for mobile integrations, and wish the opportunity to offer customers one-page checkout. Overall, we found more negatives concerning the better-known and harder to understand Magento.

If you wish to look for other complaints about Magento or Zen Cart, make sure to google Magento/Zen Cart reviews, Magento/Zen Cart complaints, Magento/Zen Cart comments, Magento/Zen Cart scam, Magento/Zen Cart testimonials, etc.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Magento

We collected assorted positive reports about Zen Cart, varying from kudos because of its solid uptime record, great support sources, and broad group of add-ons. Other Zen Cart retailers verify its customizable admin and worldwide achieve.

But we found more users singing the praises of Magento, with lots of programmers building totally unique, effective stores which are scalable, specifically for medium and enormous size e-tailers. Magento users like its meaty attributes, which rivals some fee-based located competitors, and therefore are happy that it arrives with various coupon and promotions options and may support mobile sales and multiple stores.

Final Verdict:

Champion: Magento

Zen Cart gives retailers the opportunity to build relationships an active user community that aims to constantly improve its functionality. It is also fast, lighter, and much easier to navigate than Magento and may take a shorter period to understand. Consider it started 10 years ago, some smarter, leaner free competitors like Spree Commerce and PrestaShop have challenged Zen Cart’s comparatively dated admin and lagging marketing, mobile, and Search engine optimization integrations.

Magento is really a workhorse that may create effective, beautiful stores, however it needs a real commitment. It’ll likely try taking some cold income and also the right team of developers to unveil a effective store, but Magento’s capability to scale enough to aid companies which are big names is definitely an appealing plus: The Harper’s Bazaar and Fiji Water web stores are generally operated by Magento. I additionally found it packed with some of the very features cloud-based carts charge money to make use of. When compared with Zen Cart, Magento is really a fight tested and much more impressive bit of software–if you really can afford it.

Prepared to take both ecommerce shopping carts try it out? Download Magento here and Zen Cart here to find out if either choice is the best fit for the business. Also, take a look at our full Magento and Zen Cart reviews for that full lowdown.

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MailChimp Versus Constant Contact

Mailchimp-vs-Constant Contact

Constant Contact was among the first companies to get involved with the e-mail marketing business. The organization was founded 1995, and started operating in 1998. Up to now, it’s still probably the most broadly recognized ESPs — particularly among individuals who know hardly any about e-mail marketing. Which, to be honest, is most likely most of Constant Contact’s users list.

MailChimp, however, took its begin in 2001. It’s very easy to inform the people behind MailChimp possess a great spontaneity — they’re known as The Brain Surgery Group. And despite rocket science’s status to be complicated, MailChimp really isn’t. It’s set itself apart like a cool, funny brand while still offering the type of features that attract serious Online marketers.

Constant Contact has a respectable 550,000 customers in a wide array of industries. But MailChimp claims greater than six million customers, including some huge names, including TED. We’ve reviewed both services formerly (take a look at our individual reviews for MailChimp and Constant Contact), but let’s check out where both of these e-mail marketing platforms stand out, what sets them aside from one another, and which is the greatest solution for you personally.

Table of Contents

Web-Based or In your area Installed:

Champion: Tie

Constant Contact and MailChimp are generally cloud-based e-mail marketing suites. You may also download mobile phone applications for services on Android and iOS, though it normally won’t possess the full suite of features. Consider them a lot more like supplements as opposed to a substitute. You’re have to a laptop to make use of these types of services for their full extent.

Software and hardware Needs:

Champion: Tie

MailChimp works on Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. It is also compatible with Internet Explorer 9 and above. Constant Contact works together with Chrome, the present form of Firefox and also the 3 previous releases, Safari 7 and above, and Explorer 9 and above. You should also enable JavaScript and pop-ups for services.

I will refer to this as a draw because support is fairly universal. We stated within our Constant Contact review the software has “known issues” in Explorer (around the support site it particularly mentions issues on Home windows XP) — but you aren’t really using Explorer, right? …Right? (Go download Chrome, Firefox, or Safari at this time.)

Specific Size Business:

Champion: MailChimp

E-mail marketing isn’t just something do since your competition is doing the work, too. The thing is to retain customers and also be your company. For this reason MailChimp wins this round.

Constant Contact is a perfect suite for small companies which are just beginning by helping cover their Online marketing. However, it isn’t very scalable. The client support Constant Contact provides causes it to be well suited for newbies, but when you’ve become used to e-mail marketing and wish to increase your time and efforts, you might find you’ve outgrown it.

MailChimp is much better suitable for companies of any size — from single-man (or single-lady) startups to large institutions. The prices structure is a lot more flexible and scalable too. Should you enter into this having a plan and carry it out well, you’ll find MailChimp provides you with the infrastructure to develop without getting to handle the need for importing your database from another service (unless of course you’re already searching to change, obviously).

Features:

Champion: MailChimp

When it comes to pure functionality, MailChimp dominates Constant Contact. Whichever plan you select, you have more value for your money, as they say. Let’s check out you skill beyond just delivering emails.

Features MailChimp Constant Contact
Analytics and Reports Yes Yes
Social Networking Support Yes Yes
Multiple User Accounts Yes Yes*
Autoresponders Yes – compensated plans only Yes – greater tier plans only
Sign-Up Forms (including QR codes) Yes Yes
Subscriber Profiles Yes Yes
A/B Split Testing Yes No**
Send Time Optimizer  Yes No**
Mobile Phone Applications (iOS, Android) Yes Yes

A couple of notes here:

* When you can authorize multiple users using the greater-tiered plans in Constant Contact, you cannot set multiple permissions. MailChimp, however, enables you to designate multiple roles and restricts use of features according to individuals permissions, that makes it a lot more helpful for collaboration.

** Constant Contact does not have built-in tools to evaluate this data, however that doesn’t mean you cannot get it done by hand. You may create two separate drafts of the email and segment your list to transmit one version to every segment, then evaluate your open and click on-through rates by hand. Likewise, you can try your open-rate data to get the best time for you to distribute data according to that. Still, it’s far easier to possess built-in tools that handle it for you personally.

Analytics and Reporting 

Another subject we discussed within our previous reviews may be the depth from the reporting obtainable in both services. Constant Contact’s metrics are fairly fundamental: open rates, CTRs, bounces, opt-outs, etc. You do not get tools to evaluate any A/B testing, Return on investment, or conversions — all available in MailChimp, additionally towards the standard fare. You need to do get Google Analytics integration with, that is useful, but MailChimp may be the obvious champion here.

Constant Contact’s Plus Campaigns

Both ESPs have pretty thorough social integration. However in its Plus Campaigns feature, Constant Contact also gives you some additional features that MailChimp does not have:

  • Facebook: Run sweepstakes, offer digital coupons, and share other downloadable content which you can use to develop your client base.
  • Event Promotion and Registration: Share, register visitors, accept payment and set of metrics in one place.
  • Donations: Run charitable organization campaigns via social networking or email.
  • Trackable Coupons: Digital coupons that the visitors can share and you can track.
  • Surveys and Polls: Get much more data out of your subscribers.

There’s a couple of additional features incorporated in Plus Campaigns, too. You’re likely to pay more of these features in Constant Contact. However, MailChimp can also add these functions through its integrations along with other services.

Prices:

Champion: MailChimp

The prices structures for Constant Contact and MailChimp really are a bit different, and they’re complicated enough that It is best to go take a look at our original reviews of every for that specifics. Meanwhile, here’s the rundown from the major variations:

Constant Contact is entirely list-based. You have to pay in line with the quantity of total subscribers you’ve (important to note: a subscriber on two lists continues to be only counted as you subscriber), and select 1 of 3 tiered plans for that features and additional services you would like. You can include features from greater-tiered plans for the next fee.

MailChimp, however, has three kinds of plans. The Entrepreneur plan’s free of charge (available for approximately 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails monthly).It’s not necessary to go in a charge card, however your emails have a little MailChimp badge incorporated at the end.

Beyond that, you’ve got a send-based option (essentially pay-as-you-go) along with a monthly subscription in line with the number of individuals inside your lists. Unlike Constant Contact, their email on two separate lists counts as two subscribers. The monthly subscription includes a couple of features another two plans don’t, but you can include them for a small fee.

Within our Constant Contact review, we noticed that its services have to do with 120 percent to 150 percent of the items competitors charge for comparable services. You receive more quality with MailChimp (including more reporting options and integrations) at a lower price — but we’ll enter into that later. And also the free choice is very appealing, considering that MailChimp’s most fundamental plan’s $35 per month for approximately 2,5000 subscribers.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: MailChimp

Certainly one of Constant Contact’s selling points is it’s very easy-to-use templates (65 of these, actually). They’re great and also the WYSIWYG editor is fairly intuitive. However, you’re going to need to jump through hoops (or at best screens) if you wish to code your email in HTML yourself.

Finding what you would like within the template menu can be challenging, and mobile options indicate pretty clearly that it is an area Constant Contact hasn’t really stored on. There isn’t any method to even preview your mobile emails. Much more frustratingly, the overall email preview feature is hard to rely on and sporadic, too. And you may easily miss a “save” button and lose a number of your projects.

Quite a few users appear to become at odds with regards to MailChimp’s simplicity of use. Some repeat the email creator is simple to use, while some appear to consider the personalization choices are hard to use unless of course you’ve got a solid knowledge of coding. You receive 12 fundamental templates and hundreds more styles according to individuals templates.

Here’s why MailChimp arrives ahead: You can get a typical email preview along with a mobile preview. You may also observe how the e-mail will appear in various clients. MailChimp auto-saves every 20 seconds, so you aren’t likely to lose your projects.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: MailChimp

MailChimp’s site claims it’s greater than 700 integrations with assorted third-party services. Constant Contact’s list of apps and integrations appears just below 250 during the time of writing.

Are both going to provide the fundamentals. There’s Google Analytics, obviously, WordPress, and Salesforce (in addition to Zoho). MailChimp has more CRM integrations, including Capsule and Contactually. Have e-commerce integrations with BigCommerce and Shopify, too.

By sheer figures, MailChimp may be the pretty apparent choice if you would like lots of integration with all of your data.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Constant Contact

This is when the option of best ESP really boils lower to your demands. From the bat, Constant Contact has won three Stevie awards because of its customer support. It features a phone support option that MailChimp doesn’t, and also the hrs are pretty, too: Phone support can be obtained 7 days per week. Hrs are:

  • Monday-Thursday: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. EST
  • Friday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST
  • Saturday-Sunday: 10 a.m. to eight p.m. EST

And also the phone support is excellent, too. If you want someone to secure your hands and take you step-by-step through everything, Constant Contact is what you want.

Service isn’t perfect, however. Our reviewer had some negative encounters with Constant Contact’s support personnel, too, mostly concerning slow responding time.

That stated, Constant Contact also provides an intensive understanding base that you could consult as needed. There’s decent social networking support, even though you will from time to time you need to be told to email customer support. Constant Contact’s blog is filled with useful tips and there is a online community, too.

Want in addition to that? You have it: Webinars (including free and compensated options) can be found regularly. If you go searching for the greatest-tiered plan, there is also use of a 1-on-one personal coach. Constant Contact even hosts in-person classes that will highlight the fundamentals (for $199, obviously).

MailChimp does not have telephone service. However, their support is usually prompt and professional and also the individuals are knowledgeable. You are able to achieve representatives via email 24 hrs each day. Live Chat can be obtained Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to six p.m. EST (for those who have a compensated account, that’s). Social networking support can also be quite responsive.

Beyond that, MailChimp comes with an extensive understanding base, like Constant Contact, and a range of video training or even a reference of important terms. And there’s your blog, that also offers plenty of tips and information.

In case you really require the extra hands-holding, Constant Contact is the foremost option. In case your search-fu is powerful or else you have a handle on which you’re doing, you’ll get on all right with MailChimp.

Security:

Champion: MailChimp

With programs such as these, security is vital. In the end, it isn’t just your computer data on the line — it’s your customers’, too. These two services are EU Safe Harbor compliant. Both of them use SSL file encryption to safeguard charge card data.

However it shouldn’t surprise you by using roughly 12 occasions the amount of users as Constant Contact, MailChimp is really a bit more transparent about its safety measures.

If you are seriously interested in security or else you anticipate a really large list inside your future, opt for MailChimp. It even includes a documented continuity plan “in situation of nuclear attack on the data center” — something it mentions outright on its security page. Large lists are stored by themselves individual servers to lessen the risk of data corruption. (For smaller sized lists, including free plans, MailChimp uses shared servers.)

Check our earlier reviews, or visit the MailChimp and Constant Contact security pages for yourself, if you would like.

Let’s also talk as it were about junk e-mail. Nobody wants it, and both Constant Contact and MailChimp take quite strong stances against it. You have to make certain that you’re following your ESP’s tos (including incorporating remove yourself from list links inside your emails) as well as in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations and individuals associated with a country where you’re delivering email. Go browse the anti-junk e-mail policies for Constant Contact and MailChimp.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: MailChimp

Watch will have its detractors. MailChimp will get flak from users for that difficulty in building custom templates using HTML and CSS. Some also complain about getting to inquire about users to re-opt-in to receiving emails when transferring lists.

But it is not bad thinking about that among the greatest complaints about Constant Contact is manipulative salespeople. It’s extensively recorded (take a look at our earlier review), and may be described as a switch off.

Complaints of unfair charges when a free account is frozen for spammy tactics really are a common one. You cannot make use of your account even though it is under review, but you’ll be billed for this. You are able to cancel your bank account if you are on the month-to-month plan, but there is not much to complete for those who have a pre-compensated plan. Beyond that, you have complaints of poor usability, bugs and glitches, and merely too little features.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: MailChimp

It’s worth mentioning again that Constant Contact’s customer support has won Stevie awards, and also the fundamental email designer is simple to use. Typically people think MailChimp’s software programs are simple to use, too. Furthermore, MailChimp’s reporting services tend to be more robust also it comes with a totally free option.

It is also important to note that MailChimp beats Constant Contact in G2 Crowd reviews (4. across 103 reviews in contrast to 3.6 from 67 reviews), which its mobile phone applications for Android and iOS tend to be better reviewed.

Final Verdict:

Champion: MailChimp

Constant Contact earned a decent 3.5 stars within our earlier review, but MailChimp earned 4.5 stars, and it’s easy to determine why. With better prices, better quality features, as well as an impressive quantity of integrations, MailChimp is the foremost choice for anybody who would like to boost their e-mail marketing business. If, however, you’re brand-new towards the game and most likely will not be delivering even more than an periodic e-newsletter, Constant Contact provides the type of give you support might take advantage of. But you’re prone to outgrow it in case your efforts remove. Plus, MailChimp’s entry-level package is free of charge, that makes it the safer option to test out e-mail marketing if you are just beginning out.

We like to know what you think. Got questions? Would like to learn more? Take a look at our other e-mail marketing reviews or be at liberty to contact us!

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

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The Advanced Help guide to Running A Highly Effective Loyalty Program

Exactly what do the Walmart Savings Catcher, Macy’s Shop The Right Path, and Delta SkyMiles programs all share? They’re loyalty programs operated by large companies generating huge amount of money annually. These programs offer incentives to customers in return for certain behaviors, varying from frequent or greater spending to social discussing and referrals.
Loyalty program InfographicBy providing carefully marketed incentives, loyalty programs boost sales and feet traffic, increase contact with your company, and open a door for future marketing. Sophisticated, digital loyalty programs aren’t always new, but having to pay between tens to thousands and thousands of dollars of these programs make them unattainable for small companies – until lately.

Loyalty and reward platforms are relatively recent towards the small company space. Numerous companies have embarked to produce top quality, digital loyalty programs at affordable rates. The majority of the companies I’ve reviewed average around 2-four years old the first began in ’09. That being stated, loyalty programs are extremely diverse, and also the rules and abilities of 1 aren’t prone to match another. Regardless of this diversity, most programs are made having a couple of things in your mind. The foremost and primary because you have a company that needs significant feet visitors to stay afloat. Companies for example restaurants, stores, fitness gyms, local niche shops, and ecommerce stores which require frequent visits may benefit a good deal from loyalty programs. Essentially, a properly-rounded loyalty program must do three things: increase repeat business, generate start up business, and provide you with an aggressive edge.

  • Construct it right. Developing a loyalty program that work well for you personally will require forethought and meticulous planning. While adjustments might be necessary after a while, you need to make certain the basic principles of the program are seem. I suggest studying the McKinsey & Co strategies in more detail.
  • Make use of the right draws. Among the best tools any loyalty program can provide is the opportunity to collect specific data regarding your customers. This data may be used to tailor promotions while offering to some customer’s preferences, giving your choices more quality and increasing the likelihood that buyers will revisit.
  • Possess the right reasons. Among the goals of the clients are to earn money. Getting stated that, it can’t be the sole reason if you wish to be effective. Your loyalty program is a superb tool. Utilize it to enhance the client experience, services or products you are offering, in addition to express gratitude for your customers for his or her patronage.

“But let’s say companies used their loyalty programs to help make the service or product better for me personally? Let’s say, rather of paying me for which is generally a similar (and of low quality) experience, they provided the knowledge better?” – Taddy Hall on loyalty programs, The Cambridge Group

(Link)

So, how can you tell if your loyalty program fits your needs? You will find numerous studies which suggest loyalty programs work, and numerous others which claim that loyalty programs don’t. Based on a Stanford Business article, loyalty programs don’t change customer behavior for top spenders, but instead only affect behavior for low spenders whose overall value might not offset program costs. A more modern article from Business Insider implies that companies without loyalty programs grow in a slightly greater rate than companies that do possess a loyalty program. Mckinsey & Company has identified a couple of explanations why loyalty programs neglect to deliver value, citing insufficient differentiation, innovation, and knowledge because the primary causes. Effective programs shared characteristics for example integrated or omni-funnel loyalty encounters, quality data to facilitate targeted marketing, and partnerships with non-competing retailers.

If you’ve didn’t have a loyalty program before, or else you have however it was unsuccessful, my hope may be the tips offered in the following paragraphs will take you better success. Loyalty programs are available in all sizes and shapes, so selecting the correct one for your company is key.

Table of Contents

Choosing the right Program

Steps
Choosing the right program may appear just like a daunting task. Whether you’re a physical merchant or work strictly in ecommerce markets, there’s a numerous possibilities. Prior to choosing a course, there are several preliminary steps you need to take that will help you make a good decision.

  • The First Step. Define your company. Your company type will matter when choosing a course. Some loyalty programs are produced strictly for ecommerce, while some need a location. If you are generating business both on and offline, you’ll find you will find less low-cost options open to you to streamline the procedure. Within each business type you will see limitations according to your company hardware and software. Some loyalty programs operate like a stand-alone product while some require integration. For brick-and-mortar retailers this can typically involve your POS for ecommerce retailers, this can involve your ecommerce platform or shopping cart software.
  • Second Step. Define your objectives. Knowing what you would like is half the fight in selecting, well, anything, particularly loyalty programs. From the three functions listed, that is most significant for you inside a loyalty program? Give me an idea your program to complete? Once you’ve written lower what you would like, begin defining how you need to keep it in check. Some programs permit you to make changes anytime towards the program, other medication is smaller. Just how much detail do you want in reports? Are you currently searching for simplicity or impressive personalization options? Be as honest so that as thorough as the hectic agenda enables.
  • Third Step. Define your limits. It’s important to reconcile what you would like with what you could realistically maintain. Many loyalty programs need a subscription, compensated monthly, though some don’t. Just how much are you able to afford? Are you able to invest in an agreement, as well as on what terms? Creating custom rewards and tiers could be a bit tiresome, as well as time intensive. Determine the length of time you’re prepared to invest in creating and looking after your program.
  • Fourth Step. Define your census. Probably you’ve already defined some, if not completely of those areas, in certain capacity. Your target audience (the shoppers you need to generate), subscriber base (the shoppers you have) as well as your competition (individuals who sell similar products within the same area or space) would be the areas that warrant probably the most analysis. Get just as much feedback as possible from customers about things that they like. This should help you pick which platform works perfect for your company, in addition to assist you in making significant rewards for the customers.

Survey Your Choices

Once you’ve completed your preliminaries, it’s time for you to start narrowing things lower making a top three list (or even more, if you have time). You should check out the loyalty reviews here on this website to obtain began. For physical retailers, I’d recommend you review FiveStars or Perkville for ecommerce retailers or retailers using both platforms, I suggest you take a look at Sweet Tooth. A couple of areas to seriously consider:

  • Customer Support. Each loyalty review gives information on customer support and overall impressions. If customer support is really a major feature for you personally, pay attention for this area. Some companies offer great products, but horrible interpersonal relations.
  • Prices, Contracts and Cancellation Policies. Before getting associated with any loyalty program, know with certainty ways to get out and just what do it yourself. Contract lengths and cancellation policies ought to be well defined and clearly expressed. A thing of caution: sales people will frequently downplay cancellation policies with vague or dismissive solutions. Never be afraid to inquire about more clearness about this subject, or request their official policy if it is not easily available online. Regarding contracts and prices, some companies are prepared to negotiate on either of individuals terms, therefore it never hurts to inquire about.
  • Simplicity of use. Typically, a great loyalty program ought to be simple for your clients to make use of and simple for you to handle. Some companies perform a better job only at that than the others, but make time to view available demos and tutorials on loyalty software to find out if it will likely be a great fit.

*If you are getting trouble narrowing lower your choices, or would prefer to have another person perform the legwork, you are able to call us for further assistance. *

Program Features

Each program may have its very own group of features open to you, and options and abilities will be different from business to business. A few of the more prevalent features are highlighted below:

  • Point-based programs. A place based program provides extensive value and versatility. Use a point based system to provide different point values for various services or products, and provide bonus or marketing suggests encourage specific actions.
  • Tiered programs. Utilizing a tiered system of rewarding your clients does a couple of things. First, it adds some gamification which provides your clients something to achieve for. Second, it enables you to definitely differentiate between customers and provide rewards according to their profitability.
  • Social Discussing. From Twitter and facebook posts email incentives, social discussing is a superb tool to market your company and special promotions. Most programs have incentivized social discussing (a coupon reward or X quantity of bonuses) however, many provide it without resorting to incentives.
  • Reviews. Not every companies provide the ability for the people to take a look at business from where you are, and also the limitations vary. There are several disadvantages in this selection namely, the possibility backlash from rewarding customers for 5 star reviews.
  • Data reports. Data reports are part of the effective lengthy-term loyalty program. Mckinsey & Co offer tips on how using data acquired through loyalty programs helps boost sales. Data collected from customer behaviors for example purchases, social networking interactions and reward redemptions will help you figure out what works well with each client and interact them in significant ways as individuals or smaller sized groups.
  • Campaigns & Promotions. Additionally in managing your loyalty program, some companies offer the opportunity to manage temporary or targeted campaigns and promotions via email, mobile application notifications, or SMS texting. These functions frequently include tracking abilities so that you can see whether a campaign ought to be repeated later on, or thrown within the scrap pile.
  • Mobile check-in. This selection generally needs a customer to download a particular application on their own smartphone. Mobile scanners such as the one utilized by Belly create a customer’s phone their loyalty card which may be scanned at the purpose of purchase. The iBeacon technology utilized by Perka automates the procedure using your customer’s Bluetooth capacity.
  • Omni-Funnel Features. Omni-funnel refers back to the ability for an organization to provide a seamless experience across multiple platforms. (i.e., beginning my shopping experience on amazon . com.com and finishing it with my cell phone) The amount of loyalty programs with omni-funnel technologies are still fairly small, however, many companies do provide omni-funnel development for his or her clients.

Companies to think about: Search Engine Optimization

Sweet Tooth
sweet-tooth-rewards-logoSweet Tooth can be obtained through Magento while offering a softer, Beta version in Shopify. Their point- based loyalty program has a clean front finish design and it is wealthy in features including social networking along with other interaction rewards, thorough program customizations, and product critiques. Sweet Tooth enables API integrations in addition to omni-funnel development. They’ve great customer support reviews, however the program could be cumbersome because of its complex rule system.

S Loyalty
s-loyalty-rewards-logoS Loyalty can be obtained through Shopify or BigCommerce and it is a place-based program. This program is extremely easy to use and could be setup within minutes. It can be bought in parts or in general package. It isn’t a really robust program, however it will get the task done.

Companies to think about: Physical Solutions

Perkville
perkville-rewards-logoPerkville offers affordable rates for any card free loyalty program. Their features include social networking and referral rewards, in addition to daily data reports. A good option for fitness gyms, gyms and restaurants, Perkville integrates with multiple POS systems and it has a reasonably seamless process. Their transaction limits can be a drawback, however their program has gotten lots of reviews that are positive from retailers as well as their customers.

FiveStars
five-stars-rewards-logFiveStars offers seamless integration with multiple POS systems, along with a well-rounded loyalty program. Features incorporate a customizable loyalty program, additional marketing abilities via SMS text and email, and knowledge reports to trace the progress of the program.

Belly
belly-logoBelly provides a customer facing iPad having a “per visit” loyalty platform. The Belly card is really a universal card customers may use at any Belly merchant location. An excellent choice for retailers with DIY customers, Belly offers social networking interactions, review abilities, a simple out-of-the-box setup, and knowledge reports which may be filtered into multiple groups.

Loyalty Gator
loyalty-gator-rewards-logoLoyalty Gator offers an array of choices for your loyalty program. Based on your subscription plan, you may choose multiple campaigns varying from the point system to some punch card system. Additionally they offer worker loyalty programs and coalition programs for multiple retailers. Additionally to data possession, retailers receive accessibility API to build up additional integrations.

Running A Highly Effective Loyalty Program

Promotion
Before you decide to unveil your program, and for some time later on, advertise it. For those who have an email list, enable your subscriber base be aware of information on this program ahead of time. Many programs offer marketing kits to brighten your doorways and funds registers (or nifty buttons for ecommerce retailers). Make use of the tools you need to tell your friends regarding your program. In almost any correspondence, your clients ought to be informed regarding how to join, how you can earn rewards, and the way to redeem them.

Should you haven’t already, ask your clients what sort of rewards they’d want to see, or make use of the information you’ve already to produce enticing rewards for the customers. With respect to the loyalty program you select, you could possibly get additional help with this out of your marketing repetition or software programs. Rewards ought to be enticing enough to inspire return visits, although not too pricey.

Maintenance
maintenance

Once you have your loyalty enter in place there’s a couple of things you want to do regularly:

  • Train your employees. Unless of course you’re the only real worker, the possibilities your employees may have different responses for your new program. Let everybody know upfront what’s expected of these, and make certain to possess very obvious guidelines to follow along with in situation something goes completely wrong (i.e., will we redeem rewards when the system crashes?). Some companies offer training via tutorials or webinars for the employees, so take benefit of individuals things too.
  • Inquire. Mainly in the beginning, and also at various times all year round, acquire some feedback out of your employees along with your customers on which they consider this program. According to your responses, you may want to have adjustments or re-train staff.
  • Use every chance. Whether it’s a complaint, concern, or compliment, use every chance to interact your clients inside a positive way. Versatility and courtesy go a lengthy means by improving customer relations.
  • Place your data to operate. Most loyalty programs have a helpful approach to data accumulation. Some data reports tend to be more extensive than the others, offering thorough analysis and actionable insights, while some just provide raw data for use at the will. The information abilities of the loyalty program are the best, since the insights attracted from that data may be used to enhance your business in other locations. My advice? Go to whichever you need to make smarter choices regarding your program and business.

Should you not seem like your program is fulfilling all your needs, speak to your customer support repetition. Regardless of whether you need additional tools or perhaps your loyalty program requires a couple of tweaks, contacting your repetition and expressing your concerns can help you save considerable time and. A lot of companies are eager to help you. In the end, your ability to succeed is the success.

Safeguards
Every loyalty programs aren’t likely to please everybody, so be ready for negative feedback, and prepare for foreseeable problems. All loyalty programs have limitations, and so i encourage you to definitely read both good and bad reviews when searching for your loyalty program. A couple of commonplace problems to think about are highlighted below.

  • Mobile Application software. If you are searching right into a mobile application for the loyalty software, it’s essential that you understand how your program interacts together with your customers’ phones. For instance, some mobile phone applications focus on all cell phones, while some only focus on smartphones. Also, apps have a tendency to crash more traditional programs.
  • Ecommerce software. The loyalty software I’ve reviewed for ecommerce can be obtained on 1 of 3 platforms: Shopify, Bigcommerce, or Magento. Though there are several integrations within the works best for the likes of Sweet Tooth, I haven’t seen anyone loyalty program on the 3 ecommerce platforms, therefore the platform you utilize will limit your choices. There’s a couple of software firms that can make custom integrations for the ecommerce store, however these integrations could cost you.
  • Program limitations. Some companies limit your program through transaction or signup limits, based on your subscription plan. Be sensible when selecting plans with these sorts of limitations, and think about future growth when deciding.

Guidelines
Loyalty programs provide essential tools to assist generate business, but the easiest method to stick out is thru customer relations. Most of all, preserve the connection you’ve together with your existing customers. Listed here are a couple of do’s and don’ts worth mentioning about this subject:

  • Don’t hide your loyalty program. This can be a horrible practice. If you notice that rewards are squandering your an excessive amount of, make alterations in your program or discontinue it. Sporadically telling your clients “the product is lower,” “the machine is damaged,” or “we’re full-scale,Inches paints your company inside a negative light, particularly when individuals statements are blatantly false. If individuals statements are true, which is likely to happen, attempt to offer positive alternatives (i.e. another reward, additional points/punches/perks, or perhaps an I.O.U.). Small gestures go a lengthy way.
  • Never be stingy together with your customers. Lavish gifts aren’t expected, but common courtesy is. You shouldn’t provide a “tenth donut free” if my tenth donut would be the tiniest, stalest one you’ll find. Help remind your employees that rewarding your clients is a great factor.
  • Don’t complain for your customers. In case your loyalty program is squandering your money, you shouldn’t gripe for your customers about this. Making your clients uncomfortable will probably turn them off and them.
  • Do smile. Smiling at the customers and which makes them feel appreciated for patronizing your company goes a lengthy means by keeping them. Whether they’re buying or redeeming a totally free reward, the interaction ought to always be an optimistic experience.
  • Do be flexible. Some arguments simply aren’t worth getting. If your potential conflict could be diffused with a small compromise, choose the compromise, particularly if the alternative involves creating a scene or slowing lower service.
  • Do give advance notice of changes for your program. If you are thinking about altering the guidelines of the program, or plan to cancel this program altogether, provide your customers a manages. Email changes, publish an indication, or inform customers once they buy something (Personally, I’d recommend doing the 3, simply to be thorough).

Final Ideas

Getting a loyalty program doesn’t guarantee your company will succeed, but the potential for a effective program can’t be overlooked. Loyalty programs boost profits inside a significant way. Selecting a loyalty program that’s the right fit for the business, creating significant rewards, and preserving the connection between both you and your customers will pave the best way to that success. Make sure to take a look at our loyalty reviews to obtain began with a small company loyalty program, and for those who have additional questions, you can leave a remark or achieve to us!

Phylicia Joannis

Phylicia is really a freelancer, indie author, and Google addict. She accustomed to scout all New York’s free venues in her own free time, however she’s reviewing loyalty rewards software for Merchant Maverick. Her professional background includes technical writing and research, though she’s also fluent in toddler gibberish. When she’s not crying over spilled milk, Phylicia enjoys studying, writing, and performing random Google searches.

Phylicia Joannis

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Would you like to Take Charge Card Payments in your Phone: The Best Guide

How to take credit card payments on your phoneShould you can’t accept charge cards for the business, you’re missing out on potential revenue. Many people don’t carry greater than $20 in money with them at any given time, and those that want credit cards have a tendency to spend more money than their funds-transporting counterparts.

However, charge card terminals and merchant services could be a discomfort to cope with, and costly as well. You need to cope with the vetting process and obtain the gear. For many small companies, this method is simply not practical.

Because of companies for example PayPal and Square, nowadays you are able to turn your smartphone or tablet right into a charge card swiper. But which service if you undertake? What must you consider when deciding?

That is why we’re here: that will help you recognize all the intricacies of taking charge card payments together with your smartphone or charge card.

Source: First Data http://www.firstdata.com/en_us/insights/Terminal_Compare_Infographic.html

Source: First Data http://world wide web.firstdata.com/ en_us/insights/Terminal_ Compare_Infographic.html

Charge card swipers are helpful in a number of industries as well as for companies of any size. A friend owns an crafts and arts business and uses PayPal here to simply accept charge card payments when she’s at conventions along with other occasions. There is a pub right by the house that provides its servers charge card swipers instead of getting to cover everything in the bar. And there isn’t any lack of restaurants within the college town my home which use Square along with other POS systems having a mobile integration to allow them to swipe your card around the place instead of taking charge cards over the telephone when ordering delivery.

Would you operate in one of these simple fields? It may be time for you to consider obtaining a card swiper:

Crafts and arts vendors: Would you sell your wares at conventions, art shows, along with other big occasions? You may be a magazine reseller, a painter, a jewellery maker, a clothing store, or perhaps a makeup seller.

Food Service: Food trucks were one of the earliest adopters of mobile card swipers, but there’s an abundance of restaurants which are with them now. PayPal Here and Square both offer POS systems additionally for their mobile card readers, which is ideal for delivery services.

Providers: If it’s not necessary a brick-and-mortar office or base of operation where customers visit you, or maybe you conduct your business in your customers’ homes (carpet cleaning, plumbers, lawn care, mobile dog groomers, exterminators, etc.), a charge card swiper provides you with versatility in addition to credibility, in addition to added security.

Table of Contents

Comprehending the Costs of Accepting Charge Card Payments

Within the traditional business design, to simply accept charge card payments you would need to generate a credit card merchant account. A free account typically entails an in depth review your credit rating and business. For any business that’s just making its ft, this may not be the best choice.

Establishing charge card payments having a service like Square or PayPal Here far less complicated, and almost anybody can perform it. There’s a trade-off with this convenience, however.

Charge card companies assess a little fee to retailers for processing payments. With merchant services and card swipers, the price is made in and deducted instantly, which means you don’t need to bother about having to pay yourself to it. With a free account, you normally get lower rates (one to two percent) due to the decreased risk. Most card swipers charge 3 % or even more (but much more about that later).

It isn’t only the standard charges you need to be worried about when you wish to simply accept charge card payments. You will find costs hidden everywhere, so let’s address a few of these issues:

Internet Availability

Typically, smartphone and tablet card swipers need some kind of Internet connectivity, using a cellular signal or Wi-Fi. I’ve labored enough vendor rooms to state that this is often a problem. Wi-Fi systems at hotels, convention centers, along with other venues could be slow or hard to rely on, especially if you have many people in it. Cell signal during these places can also be hit-or-miss, and also the best carriers vary by region.

Most smartphones nowadays can handle becoming Wi-Fi hotspots, so that you can make your own Wi-Fi. However, this method depends on your phone’s data plan. The greater transactions you are making, the greater data you utilize.

Compatibility

You should also make certain that the products are suitable for the credit card readers. PayPal Here and Square don’t support Home windows Phones, for instance. I finally upgraded from my Home windows Phones for an Android device so it’s stopped to matter for me personally, but it isn’t just Home windows you need to be worried about. There are specific tablets and smartphones running both android and ios that can’t be utilized using these card readers, meaning you’re going to need to change your device — something which can cost you between $500 and $1,000 when you get a brand new flagship device.

It’s not necessary to go down that path, though. I’ve used a classic hands-me-lower mobile phone that labored on Wi-Fi simply to take payments. The thing is, look into the listing of compatible devices prior to committing to 1 service over another.

Also observe that you’re likely to will often have to allow location services in your phone.

Card Compatibility, Manual Entry Charges, Location

My pal, the main one together with her own small business, has two card swipers. The two works 100 % of times (and oddly enough, each appears to operate best having a specific device), therefore we have experienced to type in greater than a couple of card figures.

You’re typically likely to pay more for by hand entering charge card figures due to the and the higher chances — the credit card does not have to physically show up to accomplish the transaction.

Likewise, you’re usually likely to pay more for accepting worldwide cards, and you aren’t going so that you can accept payments outdoors the U.S.

Taxes and Tips

Unless of course you reside within the five U.S. claims that don’t charge florida sales tax, you are more often than not responsible for having to pay florida sales tax for the business, that is usually between 6 and 10 %. Some states also assess local sales taxes on the top from the base rates. Between your charge card charges and florida sales tax, that’s between 7 and 13 % of the revenue from one purchase gone.

Several mobile charge card swipers enables you to add florida sales tax towards the base purchase without requiring you to definitely calculate it, that is handy if you are not keen on math or simply want the transaction to visit more rapidly.

As a substitute, you are able to build the florida sales tax in to the listed prices, which a number of your clients might appreciate.

Finally, based on your industry, you might want to make sure that the charge card swiper you utilize enables your clients to include some advice.

Time to obtain your Money

The ultimate cost to think about for charge card swipers is much more of the convenience fee than anything — it’s time before you access your hard earned money. PayPal Here makes your available funds very quickly for those who have a PayPal bank card, while some may require two full working days before depositing funds inside your account. On the top of this, each service have a slightly different insurance policy for limits and holds. Should you exceed a particular threshold for any single transaction, or total transactions for any certain period (typically seven days), you might find that the service will place a hang on your bank account, that could slow lower payment up to thirty days. Due to the greater risk, services like PayPal and Square tend to be suspicious, despite the fact that you’re managing a perfectly legitimate business.

If you are inside a high-risk industry or have a superior amount of business, you’re most likely best acquiring a free account and taking advantage of certainly one of their mobile solutions.

You’re also likely to want to bother with refunds and chargebacks. For instance, if, for reasons uknown, someone complains to their charge card company and there is a chargeback, PayPal will assess a charge on the top of whatever cash is instantly deducted from your bank account for that chargeback, and PayPal seller protections aren’t readily available for PayPal Here transactions. Square, however, doesn’t assess a chargeback fee, however it may withhold the sum chargeback of your stuff, and frequently the procedure could be a extended one — two months or even more.

Features to consider inside your Mobile Charge Card Readers

Features-wise, you can at any rate expect the fundamentals to stay consistent across smartphone charge card swipers: you are able to swipe cards, by hand key them in, and issue receipts. It’s the small stuff that may ultimately set one company in addition to the rest. A few of the things you might want to consider include:

Record-Keeping for money and Checks

Sure, you can handle your money intake that old fashioned way and allow your bank cope with checks. However, many charge card swipers, for example Flint (which doesn’t really need you to swipe cards, but more about that later) enables you to create digital receipts for money and appearance transactions too.

Important to note: PayPal initially had the opportunity to handle mobile check deposits, but later dropped it, claiming that buyers have discovered “other methods to pay.” While it is true that checks are decreasing, you may still find lots of people using them. A friend, who sells Mary Kay, still deals largely with checks instead of charge cards.

POS Integration

Based on your requirements, you might like to locate a service which has easy POS integration. Square and PayPal both their very own POS systems that complement their mobile solutions. This really is ideal for those who have, say, a mobile food truck in addition to a physical restaurant.

E-Commerce Integration

Likewise, search for easy integration by having an online shop, for those who have one. With sites like Shopify and BigCommerce, you are able to typically integrate with PayPal, which is fantastic for centralizing your accounts. However, this could get tricky based on in which you sell. Amazon . com, for instance, doesn’t accept PayPal payments, and eBay heavily favors PayPal because, well, it owns PayPal. Square really provides you with a choice of building your personal e-commerce store having its own service.

Accounting Integration & More

Would you make use of an accounting service like QuickBooks? If that’s the case, you may prefer the opportunity to transfer your computer data from your card swiping plan to your accounting software. Flint and Square both offer this ability.

Invoicing

Should you choose custom orders, offer services, or provide goods to some business, you’re very acquainted with invoices. With a few services, including PayPal, you will get invoices through them and send these to clients via email. The greatest benefit to this is just that you will get your hard earned money faster because there’s you don’t need to cut a cheque and send it through email.

Voids and Refunds

It’s unfortunate, but you will desire to make accommodations to process refunds and void transactions. Sometimes your finger slips on the key and also you don’t notice until afterward, and often the client just changes their mind. Make certain to know using these functions in whichever service you select.

Card Readers Design

Possibly probably the most ingenious options that come with the PayPal Here readers is its two-part design that enables you to definitely switch a triangular lower and stabilize the readers.

Regrettably, which include depends upon the headphone jack being on the left side from the phone. On my small Universe S5, guess in which the headphone jack is?

Around the right.

Pointless to state there’s greater than a little bit of clumsiness attempting to balance a telephone having a 5.1-inch screen inside your hands whilst stabilizing the credit card readers while swiping the credit card. Particularly when you’re dealing with limited table space. It’s worth searching in the card readers and also the device it’s mounted on and ensuring the look matches your needs.

Permissions for Multiple Users

Would you have several employees? A buddy who helps out when you are working occasions? The opportunity to give permissions to multiple users is useful here. By using it, you are able to enable employees (or perhaps your buddies) to simply accept payments without providing them with full access for your requirements. This really is great if you have multiple booths at occasions, or you send multiple employees on location and every you need so that you can accept payments.

The Main Players

Since we’ve reviewed what you ought to know before you begin even searching at taking charge card payments together with your phone, let’s take a look at a few of the greatest names in the industry and also the pros and cons to every.

paypal-here-logo

PayPal is considered to be a huge in e-commerce. It launched its card swiper service this year. Right from the start, the PayPal Here readers is totally free whenever you order it in the website. To keep your a card readers at Staples or Office Depot, and PayPal will compensate the cost directly with the application, that is readily available for android and ios.

Beyond that, PayPal and PayPal Here offer:

  • Online Invoicing
  • Send digital receipts or print receipts
  • Custom reporting on sales figures (exportable to .CSV file)
  • Cash and appearance payment recording
  • Multiple user permissions

Important to note is always that PayPal offers both its very own POS system for iPads as well as an e-commerce integration for websites. Plus, PayPal may be the preferred approach to payment on eBay (in the end, eBay owns PayPal). PayPal also offers partners offering additional services, which makes it well suited for retail, restaurant, along with other service environments.

Based on PayPal’s site, it’s ready to eat for that October 2015 switch EMV (cards with special chips baked into them for further security), and promises that PayPal Here users can accept EMV cards in addition to touch-enabled cards and NFC payments.

Swipe Rates:

PayPal Here minute rates are just 2.7% per swipe. Keyed in transactions are 3.five percent plus $.15. Add yet another 1 % for worldwide cards. With PayPal, your hard earned money can be obtained to invest practically immediately. If you possess the PayPal business bank card, the different options are it anywhere, not only online.

Square-POS-Logo

Square really was the very first player to create taking charge card payments on the smartphone possible, launching in ’09. Square’s readers can also be free whenever you join the application, or perhaps your can buy one at Target, Walgreens, Best To Buy, Apple Stores, and a number of areas. The Square application can also be suitable for android and ios.

Square also provides features for example:

  • Online invoicing
  • Send digital receipts or print receipts
  • Custom reporting on sales figures (exportable to .CSV file)
  • Record cash and appearance payments
  • Multiple user permissions

Square also provides its very own POS system, Square Register, plus an e-commerce store solution. The Square readers also offers an offline mode, which enables you to definitely accept payments when no internet signal can be obtained. Better still, there isn’t any added cost for offline swipes.

Square also offers announced its EMV-compatible readers, which you’ll pre-order for $29 here.

Swipe Rates: 

Square’s minute rates are 2.75 % per swipe. Manual transactions are 3.five percent plus $.015 per transaction. Square takes 1-2 working days to deposit funds with respect to the time the deposit is initiated.

Flint-mobile-logo

Flint’s mobile charge card payment solution doesn’t depend on extra hardware. Rather, it uses the smartphone’s camera to scan charge cards. The application doesn’t really have a photo record from the card and things are encrypted for security.

  • Record cash and appearance payments
  • Coupon generation (with Passbook compatibility)
  • Multiple user permissions
  • Send e-receipts
  • Custom reporting (downloadable to CSV or text files)
  • QuickBooks integration

Flint doesn’t have a POS system, however it comes with an integration to simply accept payments in your website along with a custom invoicing feature.

So far as EMV goes: transactions using Flint are processed as “card not present,” so EMV is basically irrelevant.

Scan Rates: 

Flint’s minute rates are less than Square’s or PayPal Here, for a price of just one.95 % per transaction for an atm card (scanned or keyed in), and a pair of.95 % for charge cards (scanned or keyed in). Deposits from Flint take 1-a couple of days to process.

LevelUp-logo

LevelUp is yet another less-conventional option to PayPal Here or Square. Rather of card readers, it uses QR codes. This specific option mandates that both retailers and consumers possess the application placed on their phones.

With LevelUp, you receive the next features:

  • Custom reporting
  • Discounts, coupons, and loyalty programs
  • Send digital receipts

You will find less features with LevelUp, but it’s unique for the reason that unlike other available choices, additionally, it works together with Home windows Phones. Additionally, it has support for NFC and iBeacons. You may also select from 50+ integrations along with other companies services.

LevelUp includes a zero-chargeback insurance policy for merchant.

There isn’t any e-commerce support, but LevelUp does offer bar code scanners for retail locations. In addition, there’s a tablet POS option.

Scan Rates:

Rate processing for LevelUp is really a flat 1.95 %, with next-day deposits.

Spark-pay-logo

SparkPay is Capital One’s mobile card readers solution. It provides most of the same features as other mobile card readers, however in this situation, it provides both a totally free option along with a compensated monthly service. Using the monthly service plan, you receive lower swipe rates, so if you possess the greater volume to warrant the main difference on price, you are able to really save a little bit of money.

Features include:

  • Mobile couponing
  • Custom reports
  • Send digital receipts and print receipts.
  • Multiple user permissions

SparkPay hasn’t yet announced its EMV solution — however it promises it will likely be offering compatible card readers.

Swipe Rates: 

For that free plan, the minute rates are 2.7 % per swipe (2.95 % for American Express) and three.7 % for keyed-in transactions.

For that compensated plan ($9.95 monthly), the rates drop to at least one.95 % (still 2.95 % for American Express), and a pair of.95 % for keyed-in transactions.

Funds is going to be available within 2 working days.

payanywhere-logo

PayAnywhere is Wells Fargo’s card swiping service. Additionally for you to get your readers free of PayAnywhere, you will get them in select stores. If you purchase a readers, you need to do get a $10 credit deposited inside your account following the swipe.

Features include:

  • Print receipts and send e-receipts
  • Automatic florida sales tax calculation according to where you are
  • In-application and web reporting
  • Inventory control
  • Support for multiple users
  • PayPal support

PayAnywhere also offers a store solution that provides a free tablet — as lengthy while you process more than $5,000 monthly. Otherwise, it’s a $79 monthly should you fall under that quantity in sales.

Swipe Rates:

The swipe rates for that mobile solution are 2.69 percent (including American Express). For that Storefront solution, that rate drops lower to at least one.69 percent (including American Express) along with a $12.95 monthly service charge. Money is deposited within one working day.

innerfence-logo

Inner Fence falls somewhere in the center of the spectrum so far as charge card payments go. It isn’t strictly a mobile charge card payment provider although not fully a free account provider, either. Inner Fence can also be interesting for the reason that it supports iOS, Android, Home windows, and Mac — you will find, which includes Home windows Phones.

Features include:

  • Florida sales tax calculator
  • Print receipts or send e-receipts
  • Web reporting
  • Multiple user permissions

Yes, Inner Fence functions as a full-scale POS when combined with a Home windows or Mac computer.

Swipe Rates:

So far as prices goes, Inner Fence is quite pricey at $39 monthly plus 2.9 % plus $.30 per swiped transaction. Money is transferred on the moving 2-day basis.

Final Ideas

Accepting charge card payments doesn’t need to be a terrifying prospect, even when you’re running only a small-time business. You can aquire a mobile charge card swiper free of charge oftentimes, even though you will not spend the money for lower charges connected with traditional merchant services, the expense continue to be readily manageable. What you ought to consider would be the hidden costs — not always within the providers, but those that originate from utilizing a data connection, or requiring Wi-Fi. How quickly you receive your hard earned money ought to be a high priority.

Got questions about how to consider charge card payments in your phone? Need to know more on how to accept mobile charge card payments? Tell us!

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

“”

Searching in the Sell On Etsy Mobile Payments Application

I spend considerable time at conventions and humanities-and-craft fairs, helping a buddy sell her merchandise. It’s a great chance to satisfy other vendors and talk shop, which isn’t only a great resource of suggestions for new merchandise, but additionally a great way to compare notes regarding how to run a business.

That’s just how I discovered about Etsy’s branded card swiper. Among the vendors in an event had one of these simple vibrant orange special gems. I was intrigued, therefore i put down for more information.

What’s Etsy?

Etsy is definitely an online marketplace focusing on vintage products, homemade goods (costumes, jewellery, clothing, interior decor) and crafts and arts. It was once solely for hand crafted goods and craft supplies, consider 2013, Etsy has permitted mass-created goods, that has upset some sellers because they’re now rivaling cheaply manufactured mass created goods. Management claims it is not the situation, however, many sellers were — and still are — unhappy with how occasions performed out.

Nevertheless, Etsy hosts greater than 1.4 million sellers and almost 20 million active users, with revenues just shy of $200 million.

Among the big advantages of selling on Etsy is having the ability to setup your personal shop having a URL around the Etsy domain. It’s a great deal simpler than building your personal store online, particularly if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, and also the Etsy name gives you some credibility. (That stated, Etsy may also suspend or close your shop without any warning whether it thinks you’ve violated its policies, and there is not much that you can do about this. This will help remind you of complaints against Square.)

An additional advantage to selling on Etsy, if that’s your niche, may be the listing charges: just $.20 per listing and three.5% per transaction. That’s much better than eBay, that charges 10% from the final value, or perhaps Amazon . com, which charges even greater charges than that in line with the product type you sell. Amazon . com also doesn’t presently possess a craft or niche marketplace, though we all know that it is a minimum of thinking about a Hand crafted at Amazon . com platform.

In comparison, let’s say you sell by yourself site, your charges is determined by which payment method. PayPal Here charges 2.9% plus $.30 cents. On other platforms, for example BigCommerce and Shopify, vary based on which plan you select. You might only pay a regular monthly fee (between $14 and $80 monthly, or even more), or else you may pay a regular monthly fee along with a transaction fee, which may be as low as 1.5% or around 2.9%.

The Way The Card Readers Works

Based on Etsy, in regards to a third of their sellers don’t just sell online — like me and my pal, they attend conventions, craft fairs, along with other occasions as vendors. Prior to the Etsy readers, that meant these sellers needed to depend on Flint, Square or PayPal Here to simply accept charge card payments, or work on a money-only basis.

Etsy’s readers works exactly the same way as other mobile card readers: open the application with an Android or iOS device, plug the readers in to the headphone jack, and go into the necessary info. It’s all pretty straightforward.

The credit card reader is directly built-into your Etsy store. Rather of just punching in the quantity of a purchase, you are able to select something that has already been indexed by your store, and Etsy will instantly update the inventory. You may also just enter a sum if what exactly the same thing isn’t listed online.

All the sales created using the credit card readers count toward your Etsy sales. Customers who buy personally may also make you reviews for the Etsy store.

But the good thing may be the rates: Card swipe charges are simply 2.75% per swipe — that’s exactly the same cost as Square. (PayPal is 2.7%, for that record Flint is 1.95% for debit or 2.95% for credit.) Manual records using the Etsy readers are simply 3% plus $.25, when compared with 3.5% + $.15 for Square and PayPal manual records. The normal Etsy transaction fee, 3.5%, doesn’t affect goods offered personally, which means you cut costs.

Obviously there are lots of features provided by other apps the Etsy application doesn’t have, for example invoicing, coupons, discounts, QuickBooks integration, etc. However for someone already using Etsy or searching for any simple all-in-one solution for selling hand crafted products, it’s virtually unbeatable.

There doesn’t seem to be any kind of needs to get qualified for any readers, for example getting a collection quantity of sales. The application itself, known as Sell on Etsy, is free of charge to download from Google Play and also the iTunes Store.

The reviews on the internet Play are promising: a 4. across greater than 2,300 ratings. The iTunes comments are less glowing. The newest version does not have enough reviews to show a rating, however with all versions combined, it features a 2-star rating from 790 reviews. Many users complain of glitches and crashing within the newest form of the application, but Etsy has had time to reply to a number of these complaints.

The money out of your in-person sales are put into your Shop Payment account and it is transferred to your money every Monday (unless of course you request payment sooner). In PayPal, your money is available quickly, as well as in Square they sometimes take 1-2 working days for that transfer to undergo.

Also, Etsy’s readers is presently only accessible within the U.S., though Etsy claims it intends to expand the service.

If You Work With the Etsy Card Readers?

Etsy is offering competitive rates on its card readers, which is ideal for sellers. The truth that it waives its online transaction fee is unquestionably a motivation, much like the rest of the features you’ll get in the Etsy branded readers. I love that there’s a listing integration, especially, since keeping inventory could be a discomfort.

That stated, Etsy isn’t a industry for everybody. Despite the onslaught of mass-created merchandise, it’s still largely referred to as the site to visit for hand crafted goods and crafts and arts, so you have to be sure your goods match that image. Etsy also provides extensive risks, and also you don’t always have lots of control of what goes on for your store. That’s a large problem if this sounds like your sole or primary supply of earnings.

The Etsy branded readers is actually only an attractive option should you already sell on the website and therefore are pleased with your merchandise. For those who have intends to open your personal store beneath your own domain (and you ought to, especially if you wish to scale your business!), you’re most likely best choosing another mobile card swiper. You are able to compare our top-reviewed services here. Or check out some tools to construct your personal simple selling website here.

And even if you’re pleased with Etsy, make sure to support your data, from product photos to descriptions, prices, and purchasers figures, somewhere secure.

If you are a new comer to accepting charge card payments on the mobile phone, take a look at our comprehensive guide. If you’re thinking about creating a web-based shop on Etsy or any other platform, we encourage you to check out our shopping cart software reviews and compare services.

That stated, this Etsy-branded card readers could alter the game for online sellers who should also sell personally. Can we see more branded readers later on? Maybe. It’s certainly worth keeping watch.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

“”

What’s Enterprise eCommerce Software?

enterprise ecommerce software

To put it simply, enterprise eCommerce software programs are software that enables large organizations to market online. The Finish. Just kidding! There’s a little more into it than that. For just one, today’s enterprise commerce solutions aren’t just for multi-million-dollar corporations — not even close to it. Since most software programs are cloud-based and completely scaleable, eCommerce solutions like Shopify Plus are thought enterprise software, despite the fact that lots of small companies use Shopify, too.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll take particular notice at enterprise eCommerce software and assist you in finding out if one of these simple solutions might work with your company.

Are You Currently an “Enterprise” Business?

Being considered “Enterprise” has hardly any related to the amount of employees you’ve, the amount of customers offered, or perhaps your internet revenue. These could be fair indicators, when you are a company has more details on the dwelling of the business.

You may be a company if…

  • You are offering several type of service or product for your customers
  • The different departments of the business make use of the same…
    • Pool of monetary sources
    • Pool of technical sources
    • General management team

In case you really would like to get technical, the majority of retail companies might be considered enterprise-sized if their annual revenue exceeds $7.5M. (This can be a very general example, not supposed to have been utilized as a metric.)

What’s Enterprise Software?

This can be a bit simpler to define. Enterprise software, also referred to as Enterprise Software (EAS), is usually an application system made to serve the varied needs of a big business. EAS brings each department under one umbrella, enabling a far more seamless communication platform. 

Enterprise software supplies a centralized, company-wide solution for accounting, eCommerce, order processing, or other business need (or combination thereof). This kind of software programs are suitable for multi-location/multi-server companies, and it is cost has a tendency to reflect the bigger budget of “enterprise-sized” companies.

This kind of software might be cloud-located or installed, or perhaps a hybrid. All the major eCommerce Enterprise software programs are cloud-based, however.

Types of enterprise software:

You will find all kinds of enterprise software made to handle diverse tasks varying from order processing to crm. Consider the main focus want to know , is on enterprise eCommerce software, I’ll provide you with some eCommerce types of enterprise software:

What Enterprise eCommerce Software Does

When eCommerce software – also known as “Shopping Cart” software – graduates in to the enterprise arena, several important perks are usually incorporated.

  • Offers unlimited everything (quantity of products, product variations, online storage, bandwidth, traffic, etc.) 
  • Includes premium web features like custom SSL certificates, SSO (single sign-on, in which a single login provides you with use of several service), and Google Reliable Store tags
  • Order and inventory management
  • Payment gateways convey more competitive rates and charges
  • Multi-funnel and multi-store features
  • Integrated Reason for Purchase (POS) features
  • Crm (CRM) features
  • Personal account managers, assisting in training, and tech support team

“White Glove” Customer Care

Among the main reasons to choose a company plan’s the high level of customer and tech support team incorporated using this type of package. Most eCommerce developers provides you with a passionate account manager who will help with such things as onboarding assistance, demos for the team, and priority tech support team. 

Enterprise eCommerce Software Scalability

Enterprise-level software is made to become a fundamental element of your company regardless of how much it grows — consider it as being a framework that may support any weight.

When I pointed out earlier, the scalability of contemporary cloud-based (web-based) software means which you can use some edition of eCommerce software even when your company is closer in dimensions to some lemonade stand than to Zappos. For instance, having a solution like Shopify or Magento, bigger companies rich in sales volumes will most likely pick the “Plus” or “Enterprise” package, while a startup will choose regular Shopify or even the Magento Community Edition.

When compared with starter editions of eCommerce software, enterprise-level plans are specifically scaleable — that’s, suitable for fast-growing companies — because they typically allow unlimited products, bandwidth, and support, letting your resource usage expand as big as the business grows. 

Seamlessly Integrated Systems

Enterprise eCommerce software can help you unite all of your business’s departments, making everything run smoother. For instance, CRM functionality aids the HR and marketing departments, while inventory control features inform the warehouse, S&R, and offer chain departments, and integrated POS systems provide the sales teams better tools for everyone the client.

These functionalities aren’t always absent in lower plans, however, an enterprise plan is about scale, so things are included at as high an amount since you need.

When all of these functions are under one software roof, your important business information is updated in tangible-time and you may avoid the glitches that often occur when attempting to integrate disparate software systems.

Enterprise-level API

Though enterprise-level software suites are usually created with a single developer, API integrations for third-party developers can extend the functionality to satisfy highly customized needs.

Types of eCommerce API integrations:

Global wholesale sourcing

E-mail marketing

Shipping

You may also make use of an API to integrate your company eCommerce solution with whichever Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), accounting software, CRM, or any other software your company already uses. (Note that most CRM functions are nearly always incorporated only at that degree of eCommerce software, but importing your computer data out of your previous CRM option would be usually super easy.)

Conclusion:

You have been neighborhood. You will know you can’t make major decisions in line with the “guess and check” method. You’ll need a solution you will not outgrow, one which won’t hinder preserving your loyal subscriber base or perhaps your corporate identity. Quite simply, you are prepared to accept leap into a company-sized eCommerce solution.

While you take a look at software options, make contact with someone each and every company who are able to show the terms for his or her enterprise search engine optimization. Most shopping cart software providers won’t have qualifications that you’ll want to satisfy, but it’s still smart to contact somebody that can assess your company needs and put you in contact with the proper group of features, in the right cost.

Take a look at our shopping cart software comparison to determine how various eCommerce software programs like Shopify and Bigcommerce compare.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon type of wants an apple iphone 7, but she’s not necessarily prepared to lose the headphone jack.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

“”

Effective Means of Loyalty Programs

customer-loyalty-methods-strategies-concepts.jpg

The Numerous Faces of Loyalty Programs

There are many different ways available to produce a loyalty program. Have a quick look in the Google Play or iTunes application stores and you’ll see a large number of apps made to influence customer loyalty. Choices vary from coupons and discounts to games and point systems. Both ways has its own merits and drawbacks, and never all methods work nicely for each business. In the following paragraphs, I’ll be breaking lower a few of the more prevalent methods, along with a couple of less frequent ones, as one example of how both ways works.

When thinking about a loyalty program for the business it’s vital that you realize that despite a complete group of features, a course can’t replace quality goods and service, nor will it produce your passion and drive. It’s your decision to animate your program making it something dynamic and fitting for the business. That being stated, what effective loyalty programs do is help make your job simpler. Consider installing a wall-mounted having a drill versus a normal screwdriver. Neither can accomplish anything without you, only one helps make the job simpler compared to other. I really hope you’ll continue studying to find out what method (or methods) might be the next drill.

The Buy “X” get “Y” Method

customer loyalty programs for small business

Merits. A Buy “X” get “Y” approach to loyalty offers simplicity. In case your customers create a specific buy a certain quantity of occasions they get a reward in exchange. Multiples of 5 are typical purchasing parameters, and also the reward is frequently exactly the same product offered free of charge or for a cheap price (i.e. buy 10 donuts, get 11th free). This easy approach to tracking loyalty can increase repeat traffic and it is tied straight to revenue, as your customers need to still buy “X” to get their reward. Using a punch card program helps both you and your customers keep an eye on purchases and rewards. While the action of really punching an actual or digital card is typical, it isn’t necessary. As long as you’ve got a method in position for counting “X” and offering “Y” this program is functional, whether it is punches, points, or purchases.

Example. Pinkberry provides a simple loyalty program for purchasers who join the rewards card. After every tenth purchase, cardholders obtain a free yogurt. Simple! Pinkberry also provides a totally free yogurt on the cardholder’s birthday. Rewards expire after thirty days, and customers who register with their email will get additional marketing offers.

Downsides. This process can be quite bland and generic, so you’ll have to be just a little creative to be able to differentiate your program. If you’re utilizing a digital program, discover what type of features are for sale to you that will help you stick out out of your competitors, particularly if they will use exactly the same loyalty method. Good quality features to think about are marketing features where you can offer double punches, or additional rewards. Tiered systems will also be a terrific way to diversify your program and encourage continual use. Getting an incredible service or product likewise helps. If you’re an espresso shop encircled by coffee houses, try being bold with unique customer support, personalized products, or daily promotions. You’ll should also consider features that provide you additional control over your program, for example punch or reward expiration, to help keep costs lower.

Industry Match. This process is well-liked by companies that sell exactly the same products repetitiously, for example yogurt and occasional shops, vehicle washes, salons, and pizza shops.

Tiered Structures

Merits. Tiered structures are an easy way to distinguish between frequent and infrequent customers and reward individuals customers accordingly. There’s two common kinds of tiers: status tiers and reward tiers. Status tiers give customers a particular rank, which rank qualifies them for several rewards or benefits. Reward tiers simply offer elevated rewards with elevated point or punch accumulation. Ideally, a 2 or 3 tiered structure provides a small reward at the end tier, probably the most appealing reward or rewards at the very top tier, along with a obvious path backward and forward. This process is effective along with point programs in addition to digital punch card programs. Additionally, it enables more versatility with rewards. You may make acquiring rewards at the end tier relatively simple without having to pay out an excessive amount of for rewards. This will make recurring visits more desirable to customers without having to be too pricey for you. Additionally, it enables you to definitely offer more significant rewards at greater tiers. A person who only stops from your cafe from time to time might not take care of a reward naming a glass or two after them, however a customer who visits multiple occasions each day might.

Example. The My Starbucks Rewards program offers three status tiers for purchasers who pay utilizing a registered Starbucks or Teavana card. Every time a customer pays having a physical card or through the mobile application, they accumulate a star. Every registered card user starts in the welcome level, and rewards increase with every tier. To be able to upgrade to another tier, customers must accumulate a particular quantity of stars inside a year. The truly amazing factor concerning the way these tiers are system is that particular rewards, for example free in-store refills, could be enjoyed anytime.

Downsides. The tricky part about tiers is discovering that magical balance between value and price. It isn’t impossible, however it certainly requires more thought and legwork. Gathering apple from customers and employees to discover what rewards could be most appealing isn’t any easy task. Additionally working out what rewards won’t be too pricey, setting the parameters for every tier, and training the employees to condense this program right into a short, simple reason behind your clients. In case your customers’ status is tiered, there’s even the possibility to isolate lower tiered customers in case your balance is a touch skewed. So, unless of course you really can afford for somebody to complete the legwork for you personally, tiered structures require additional work, but some extra focus on the leading finish will yield better recent results for your company.

Industry Match. This process can be useful for many business types, whether or not they offer specialized products or a multitude of services or products.

Software Match. Perka offers status tiers additionally for their mobile punch card program, an excellent combination worth thinking about if you’re searching into mobile-based programs. Check out the Perka review for more information.

Point Systems

Merits. Probably the most versatile and popular way of loyalty programs may be the point system. It can be useful for simple programs having a static point/dollar ratio, and in addition it works best for more complicated programs with different point/dollar ratios or point/product ratios. With respect to the limitations of the software, point systems could be stable and consistent or dynamic and altering.

Example. The Walgreens balance rewards program offers its people $5 of in-store gift certificates for each 5000 points accrued. Points could be earned on a number of products, for example prescription refills, in addition to certain actions, like exercising, taking bloodstream pressure tests or any other healthy choices. People receive exclusive offers, and rewards are tiered.

Downsides. Really the only downside to some extent system originates from misuse. Point systems can be quite accommodating, but utilizing a complex point system whenever a simple program is the perfect fit for the business could be harmful. The inverse often happens.

Industry Match. Because of its versatility, point systems are a good fit for just about any industry.

Software Match. If you’re searching for search engine optimization, Sweet Tooth provides a great loyalty program via Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento. This program can hold simple in addition to complex point programs, so make sure to look into the Sweet Tooth review. For physical solutions, Perkville, Fivestars, and Belly have significant point-based programs. You may also browse the comparison article, Fivestars versus. Belly, to determine how one stacks facing another.

Cash Reward Methods

Merits. Cash reward methods are extremely unique and appear not the same as one program to a different. The finest draw for purchasers is it offers something which everybody values: cash. It’s not really a preselected reward or listing of rewards a person needs to select from. Cash return offers are big winners within the eyes of consumers. There are various ways to carry out it: cash return on select services or products, cash return for purchases over a specific amount, cash return on every purchase, or a variety of other combinations.

Example. Walmart’s Savings Catcher program is really a prime illustration of a money reward program. Walmart shoppers can be found the chance in order to save the main difference between Walmart’s prices on the product as well as their competitor’s marketed prices. Could it be dangerous? Yes. But Walmart has been doing a fantastic job using the program to date. This program has contingencies which make this program manageable and lower risk. First, there’s a time period. Shoppers have 7 days to scan their receipt to be able to be eligible for a savings. Second, Walmart compares the prices towards the marketed prices of the competitors. So, if Dove soap is usually cheaper at another store however the cost isn’t marketed, shoppers don’t obtain the difference. Third, when customers redeem cash, guess where they stand? Walmart.

Downsides. There’s a very good reason the reason why you don’t check this out method very frequently within the loyalty category for small companies. It may be devastating otherwise done carefully, as well as an alternate method with lower risk will frequently be a more sensible choice. The price of noncash rewards is frequently less than the price of cash rewards, and developing a system that actually works for your company is very tricky.

Industry Match. Just the bold may enter here.

Compensated Memberships

Merits. Compensated memberships are most generally observed in wholesale stores like Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s club, however they may also be used in small companies. Basically, customers pay a charge to patronize your company, or receive additional discounts and promotions. The truly amazing factor about compensated memberships is this fact method can offset costs before customers buy things. Compensated memberships for companies that sell a distinctive service or experience will get additional advantage to be exclusive.

Example. The Sally’s Beauty Club offers member-only discounts on products on the internet and in shops. People pay an enrollment or renewal fee of $5 each year. After enrollment or renewal, people get a $5 coupon they are able to redeem on purchases through the finish of later, so customers who purchase their membership possess the chance to have it back immediately.

Downsides. Compensated memberships could be a major switch off for purchasers when they don’t begin to see the added value, but when costs are lacking, you won’t have the ability to remain in business. Locating the balance backward and forward can be quite difficult outdoors from the wholesaler / retailer market.

Industry Match. This process could be effective for companies rich in demand, affordable products, or companies that provide unique services or encounters.

Coalition Programs

Merits. I have faith that coalition programs have untapped potential among small companies. Two heads are superior to one, and teaming up with the proper partner can change lives for your online business. What one thinks of most may be the brilliant pairing of groceries and gas. The 2 don’t frequently compete, plus they both offer necessary products. The truly amazing factor about coalitions is how they complement each other while remaining separate. A sea food restaurant can get together having a pancake house, a smoothie shop and a health club can get together, as well as an auto shop can work with a vehicle wash. I’ve only seen a couple of software packages offer the opportunity to facilitate a coalition program for small companies, however it has great potential.

Example. Lately Macy’s, Rite Aid, ExxonMobil, along with other brands launched a coalition loyalty program known as Plenti. Points could be accrued across these companies, and rewards could be redeemed in multiple ways, with respect to the business. For Rite Aid, customers who bring home 200 Plenti points will get $2 in savings using their company companies inside the coalition. This program sticks out since it enables people to redeem more significant rewards. A Macy’s shopper may require a fish tank of gas greater than a tshirt, so getting that choice for spending reward points increases the need for this program.

Downsides. Among the primary downsides for any coalition program is managing it. Concerning aren’t lots of possibilities software-wise, many programs are restricted to shared gift certificates or certificates, or discounts.

Industry Match. Coalition programs are perfect for chains, shopping malls, and noncompeting local companies.

Gamificationgamification-badges-online-games-rewards

Merits. Gamification is a technique that provides a little bit of fun or interaction for your loyalty program. This is often as easy as a meter calculating the space prior to the next reward, or perhaps an actual, interactive game. Gamification makes your loyalty program more intriguing and encourages people to complete an action, for example buying, to carry on the interaction.

Example. For some time a minimum of, the internet food delivery website GrubHub used Tasty Rummy to inspire return visits. After every third order, customers could play a round of Tasty Rummy, an odds game where customers needed to select 1 of 3 cards to win a prize. A few of the prizes incorporated free food or drinks, but even though you didn’t win, you’d obtain a clever quip or joke for the trouble.

Downsides. There’s hardly any downside should you keep gamification simple. Interactions that provide something to expect to another time around will go a lengthy way, whether or not the rewards are extremely small. If you’re utilizing an odds game, however, that is one little tricky. Nobody loves to play a game title they think is rigged against them, therefore if your clients never win anything, it’s game over for the loyalty program.

Industry Match. Gamification is ideal for ecommerce companies, food and restaurant chains, and companies that are looking to include some extra fun for their program.

Conclusion

As the methods described in the following paragraphs offer efficient ways to improve the caliber of your company, applying a course that work well requires a mix of creativeness, industry-specific understanding, and quality customer relations. When selecting a loyalty program for the business, consider what you’re offering, who you’re offering it to, and just what methods perform best for connecting together. Many methods work harmoniously along with other methods, so that your loyalty program doesn’t need to be restricted to only one. Loyalty software programs are still a comparatively new space for small companies, however the choices still improve. Take time to evaluate which works well with your company, and compare several program to determine what you could reasonably maintain. It’s also smart to take a look at companies concentrating on the same business structures to determine what labored (or didn’t work) on their behalf. The Merchant Maverick Loyalty Software section is a superb spot to read reviews from retailers and business proprietors across industries. Best of luck!

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Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.

There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.

Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.

Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.

So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

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Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,

There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).

Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am – 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.

To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

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Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses. CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.

CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.

CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

Flint-mobile-logo

Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.

Flint has only two rates:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Yep, that’s it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.

One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.

This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.

If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.

Runner-Up: Payline Data

payline-data-logo

Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

  • $5 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.50%
  • $0.10 per transaction

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

  • $20 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.20%
  • $0.10 per transaction

We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.

Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 – which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.

Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

shopify-banner

Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.

All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.

Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopify’s App Store to browse offerings.

Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify “Experts” page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.

For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.

Runner-Up: Ecwid

ecwid-logo

Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical “free trial period” for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).

Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.

Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or “pop up shop” operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.

In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

shopkeep-logo

ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).

ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.

Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).

Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.

Runner-Up: SalesVu

salesvu-logo

SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.

Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).

Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.

SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.

You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.

There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, you’ll get a 30% discount.

There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.

One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available). 

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.

QuickBooks Pro’s list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model — and it is nearly always available at a discount. While there’s no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.

One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what it’s supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While that’s far from a resounding recommendation, it’s also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

stitch-labs-logo

Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere. 

Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.

In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number to reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.

Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,you’ve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

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TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).

The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.

TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discount if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.

Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isn’t the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.

For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

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Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.

Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons including  PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

invoiceable-logo

Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isn’t just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.

Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.

That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. It’s leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably won’t need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose – after all, it’s free.

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

zoho-logo

User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The “building blocks” which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.

You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
  • Standard: $12/user/month
  • Professional: $20/user/month
  • Enterprise: $35/user/month

24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.

You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

clevertim-logo

Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.

Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is also  customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.

Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

bookingbug-logo

BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, it’s designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be “the only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business types” –  and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.

Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.

One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.

There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBug’s receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the company’s commitment to customer service.

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

bookeo-logo

Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)

Bookeo’s pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.

One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isn’t much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.

Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeo’s promotional website.

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

mailchimp-logo

At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out. 

Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.

MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and you’re on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

AWeber_EMDlogo_blue

AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options. 

AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.

In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeber’s investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.

Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

trello-logo-blue

Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed ‘cards’ which are then pinned onto ‘boards.’ At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3×5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.

The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user

Trello’s simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Trello provides email support (via support@trello.com) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability – of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool – Trello scores extremely high.

You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.

Runner Up: Basecamp

basecamp-logo

With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that – simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.

This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.

Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they don’t provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.

Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase software’s functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website

If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think you’ll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

shipstation-logo

ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.

Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. There’s a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If you’re not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offers a full refund, no questions asked.

The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.

One of ShipStation’s biggest selling points is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

shipworks-logo

ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping information from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.

Cost per month is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:

  • $14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
  • $29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
  • $49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month

The price for shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine the monthly bill. How much you pay for licensing is based on the number of online sales channels you use with ShipWorks.

Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty of screenshots.

As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isn’t directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

sweet-tooth-rewards-logo

Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.

Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.

Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.

Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.

Runner-Up: Belly

belly-logo

Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.

Monthly subscription costs range from $99 – $199, and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs for the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.

Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.

Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

wix

Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).

The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wix’s store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.

All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.

Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications

There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

Jimdo-Logo

With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.

Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.

While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a website’s store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.

This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

The post Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Square Versus Credit Card Merchant Account

square-vs-merchant-account

In 2009, a singular company known as Square introduced around the world pay-as-you-go processing, only using a smartphone along with a card readers connected to the audio jack. By doing this, Square altered the instalments game. Before that, most retailers, restaurants, along with other companies needed to open traditional merchant services. Artists along with other small vendors typically needed to accept cash or check only.

Now, in the tail finish of 2015, everything looks a great deal different. Most credit card merchant account providers did away with multi-year contracts rich in early termination charges and began presenting transparent, highly competitive processing rates.

Should you&#8217re a brand new business trying to determine whether to obtain a credit card merchant account or go for Square, the choice could be a complicated one. While Square is really a standardized service that utilizes a &#8220third-party credit card merchant account&#8221 (a shared credit card merchant account along with other people that use the service), traditional merchant services vary in features, prices, and car loan terms. The best choice really depends upon the character of the business: new companies come with an simpler time establishing a Square account. Small companies will dsicover the streamlined, all-in-one solution that Square purports to become more convenient, too. But medium-sized as well as bigger companies might chafe under Square&#8217s prices structure. Nor will all companies find the key they need with Square, making a free account the greater option for many.

Application &amp Account Stability

With Square, there&#8217s no application fee and anybody is thanks for visiting open a free account. Square asks you a little bit of fundamental details about your company and verify your identity, but there aren’t any credit report checks involved. You&#8217ll be up and processing inside a couple of days.

Acquiring a merchant account is really a more involved process. The applications are frequently quite streamlined, but you may expect the procedure to consider longer. Thing about this happens because the processor&#8217s underwriting department will scrutinize every facet of your company to determine precisely how likely they’re to come across chargebacks, claims of fraud, and anything else that processors hate to cope with. You may have several back-and-forths having a representative before getting a free account.

In this way, Square has got the advantage for any small or start up business. There’s a significant trade-off, though: Square&#8217s &#8220come when you are&#8221 approach implies that its underwriting department won&#8217t hesitate to slap a hang on the first considerably (or suspiciously) large transaction until it decides you&#8217re not really a risk.

Merchant services, because there is a more intensive vetting process, are less inclined to do that for you. That&#8217s not saying they won&#8217t ever hold your funds, but good merchant providers try everything they are able to to reduce the opportunity of this.

If you’re just getting began and want a free account rapidly, Square is perfect for you. For those who have a little more time for you to look around, or else you are actually worried about account stability, you&#8217re best using a credit card merchant account.

Cost

Like a small or perhaps completely new business, every cent matters. Which means obtaining a fair rate for payment processing is important.

Square charges 2.75% per swipe (more for manual or offline transactions). There&#8217s no contract, no hidden charges. You pay for that transactions. There&#8217s no messing around with various rates for various cards or kinds of transactions.

Merchant services vary more within their prices structures. Interchange-plus is easily the most transparent and frequently cheapest-cost model, however, many processors depend on tiered prices. Factors like the chronilogical age of your company, the kind of industry you&#8217re in, as well as the kind of cards you process all factor in to the rates your credit card merchant account provider will give you.

That stated, merchant services typically provide you with better rates than Square will. The larger volume you need to do, the greater rate you&#8217ll get. (Square has volume discounts, however it&#8217s a reasonably recent development and never well marketed whatsoever.)

And when you process lots of an atm card instead of charge cards, a free account is going to be significantly less costly. Square doesn&#8217t separate debit and credit — and that means you don&#8217t take advantage of the low interchange charges on an atm card. However, Square doesn&#8217t charge a per-transaction fee, either. For those who have lots of small tickets, this really calculates to your benefit.

Understanding credit card merchant account prices could be more difficult than Square&#8217s super-simple payment model. And when you pursue a free account, you&#8217re gonna need to compare different plans. Pretty much every credit card merchant account provider charges a fundamental fee every month, too, varying from $5 to $35 monthly generally. For sporadic or low-volume users, this may be an unwelcome expense. However if you simply perform the math, having to pay the fee every month still enables for savings generally in comparison with Square — all aside from the cheapest-volume and tiniest-ticket companies.

A free account might also include additional charges. Included in this are statement charges, gateway charges, PCI compliance, and much more. They change from business to business, so make sure to seek advice from each option you&#8217re thinking about.

If you wish to understand much more about charge card processing rates and the way to draw effective comparisons, take a look at our guide here.

Contracts &amp Easy Switching

Square was the first one to offer pay-as-you decide to go processing, and that is still certainly one of its greatest draws. There&#8217s no fee every month, no application fee, no early termination charges for departing, with no lengthy-term commitments. You are able to stop using Square anytime, and begin up again later if you want.

Merchant services vary a lot more within their contracts. It&#8217s still (regrettably) present with encounter 1- to three-year contracts, most of which auto-renew unless of course you provide proper notification, typically a minimum of 3 several weeks ahead of time as well as in writing. Some have early termination charges, or ETFs, (usually within the $300-400 range) should you cancel your contract before that. Even though you don&#8217t possess a lengthy-term contract or ETF, you’ll probably still need to provide formal notice if you are planning to change.

We are able to&#8217t stress enough how important it’s to see an agreement carefully prior to signing. Inquire before you decide to accept anything, and make certain you receive any statements about waiving the ETF or auto-renewing clause incorporated within the contract. You have negotiating power, even while a brand new business.

Like Square, the most popular MSPs also provide month-to-month contracts without any early termination fee, which means you don’t need to accept Square just to avert being locked right into a contract. But you’ll have to consider the price of getting a regular monthly fee with a free account, which could considerably boost the effective rate for low-volume companies.

Equipment

For small companies, the simplicity Square&#8217s setup is effective. Whatever you really requirement for a barebones setup is Access to the internet, a card readers, along with a compatible smartphone or tablet using the free Square Register application installed.

The issue comes lower to costs. An EMV-compliant nick readers from Square can cost you just $30 you will get NFC abilities and EMV for $49. That doesn&#8217t incorporate a receipt printer (yet another $200-300 expense) a tablet stand (the price varies), or perhaps a cash drawer (cost varies). For reference, Square&#8217s ready-made retail kits will cost you between $400 to $600+, not counting a tablet. However, their email list of supported devices are quite small, especially in comparison with the choices a free account offers. (Browse the lists for Android devices, iPads, and iPhones, correspondingly.)

Credit card merchant account providers for example Helcim can provide you with an EMV-compliant terminal having a built-in receipt printer for less than $200. That again doesn&#8217t cover a money drawer or other equipment, like a scanner — nor will it incorporate a POS. But it can save you some cash by choosing a free account which has a good deal with an EMV terminal/receipt printer.

Merchant services offer a benefit for the reason that most enables you to bring any existing equipment you’ve along with you, plus they&#8217ll reprogram results using their system. A lot of Square&#8217s equipment — the readers and also the Square Stand it particular — work just with Square, so if you choose to switch, you&#8217ll need to buy new equipment. For those who have multiple registers or perhaps multiple locations, the expense start accumulated.

Just watch out for merchant services that provide terminal leases: These more often than not set you back more over time. You&#8217re best just purchasing a terminal outright, particularly if you choose a “future-proof” one outfitted with EMV and NFC, since it should last for quite some time.

Your final note about equipment: Square is super convenient for mobile setups, if you have employees who’re on the run or vend at occasions, you’ve all you need to operate. Credit card merchant account providers vary a lot more broadly within their mobile choices. Many are great many are perfectly sufficient but still some don&#8217t have mobile support whatsoever.

In individuals cases, you&#8217ll need to select a processor like Square like a backup whenever you&#8217re on the go. Or, you are able to opt for Inner Fence and pay your merchant&#8217s charges on the top of Inner Fence&#8217s rather exorbitant costs. For apparent reasons, we don&#8217t suggest that route. Given there&#8217s no contract or lengthy-term contract or monthly charges, it&#8217s not to recommend Square like a mobile solution if you want one.

Versatility

With Square, you&#8217re locked into while using Square Register application and Square-supported integrations. There&#8217s some big names among the list of available apps, however the selection continues to be limited. Credit card merchant account providers provide you with much more versatility with what equipment and software you select.

However, that versatility has a trade-off: value. The help Square offers free of charge, or in a minimal cost, really are a spectacular value&#8230if you intend for their services. Let&#8217s check out the entire suite:

  • Square Register (POS): Free
  • Analytics Dashboard: Free
  • Inventory Management: Free
  • Worker Management/Time keeping: $5 per worker monthly
  • Square Payroll (California only): $20 monthly + $5 per worker compensated
  • E-mail Marketing: $.10 per email OR $15 monthly for 500 contacts
  • Appointment Booking: Beginning at $30 monthly
  • Online Shop: Free

In comparison, opening a conventional credit card merchant account enables you to employ almost any POS, inventory management, accounting, loyalty, booking, or customer keeper you’d like, including software that is much more effective and advanced than anything provided by Square. While there are several compatibility limitations despite merchant services, you’ll have much more choices for integration than Square provides. Some software might be incorporated free of charge with a free account, but typically you’ll have to purchase it individually.

So far as eCommerce goes, Square&#8217s offering sounds great. There&#8217s only one little niggling detail: it&#8217s not your personal website or domain — your shop is located on Square&#8217s domain, that makes it more similar to selling on Etsy or eBay. If you like, you are able to construct your website with your personal domain one of Square&#8217s a couple: Weebly or Bigcommerce.

Should you&#8217ve already built your website elsewhere, you&#8217ll need to either switch hosting providers/shopping cart software software or find another payments processor. Given just how much work will go into listing products online, switching providers or software could be a massive inconvenience. Some sites provide an &#8220import listings&#8221 feature, though, which could pull data from marketplaces for example eBay or Amazon . com.

However, if you go searching for a free account, you normally obtain access to a totally free gateway that you could connect to whatever eCommerce software you select. Then you definitely make use of well-done Search engine optimization and proper compensated advertising and may create a lengthy-term presence. Should you choose switch lower the road, it&#8217s simply dependent on connecting the brand new gateway. There&#8217s no guarantee of 100% compatibility, but you will have a greater quantity of options.

For small startups that don’t require the more complex software, and first-time spent online sellers who would like to test the waters, Square frequently offers the less expensive. However for companies that require an element-wealthy POS, comprehensive customer management, and extensive eCommerce choices, a free account is the only method to integrate using the necessary software. So if you’re just beginning out, you may still find great, feature-wealthy choices for little if any cost. MailChimp, for instance, provides a free email arrange for entrepreneurs with less than 2,000 subscribers. Appointy includes a fundamental free service, in addition to a Pro Plan that starts at $19.99/month (billed yearly).

For companies that don’t mind being locked into Square’s software ecosystem or even the small group of integrations, it’s difficult to beat Square on value with the much offered for little or very little. When it comes to versatility, however, a free account provides much more choices for system personalization.

Customer Support

You won’t ever obtain the same degree of service from the company like Square because you will having a traditional credit card merchant account. Credit card merchant account providers typically provide you with a dedicated account manager who are able to address problems you&#8217re getting and supply support when needed. Square&#8217s customer support has improved considerably in the last couple of years (initially the organization didn&#8217t even offer phone support), however it still can&#8217t come near to the type of care and concern you&#8217ll achieve with a home online merchant account providers providers.

That stated, not every merchant services stand out within the customer support department. Seek information to check out warning flags. Watch out for independent sales people and deal directly using the corporate offices whenever feasible.

The caliber of services are a vital factor out of all companies we review, and if you&#8217re unsure, take a look at our top-rated processors.

Conclusion

Will we recommend Square for retailers? Yes. Will we recommend traditional merchant services? Absolutely. So which is much better? That&#8217s difficult to say.

With regards to payments and payment processing, there’s nobody-size-fits-all solution.Age your company, its size, your industry, as well as the way you operate every day all factor into selecting a repayment processor. There are several apparent details: Obtaining a Square &#8220merchant account&#8221 takes much less time — however, you sacrifice stability. Customer support will be better having a highly regarded payments processor. With Square, you don&#8217t obtain a choice with what software or hardware you utilize merchant services provide you with many selections.

Of course, the choice comes lower as to the&#8217s vital that you both you and your business. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks. Should you&#8217re still unsure what&#8217s the best choice, achieve to we and us can point you within the right direction!

Have questions? What happen to be your encounters with Square or perhaps your credit card merchant account provider? Leave us a comment — we&#8217re always pleased to listen to our readers!

The publish Square Versus Credit Card Merchant Account made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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