How To Choose The Best Products to Sell Online

Best Products to Sell Online

You’ve probably landed here on this beautiful wall of text because you’re wanting to start an online store and are wondering, “What are the best products to sell online?”

The short version – it depends 🙂

The long version – keep reading for specific ideas to find the best product for you to sell online.

There are hundreds of articles out there talking about trending products for [insert year here], the best all-time products, rising products, etc., but these resources are typically 100% based on what’s happening now.

So, how do you know what the best products are in general?

Again, spoiler alert: there is no such thing as a best product to sell online!

Sure, there are basic principles to stick to, such as

  • products with a high average order value
  • things that can be drop shipped / don’t require a high-touch in store experience
  • products that can be shipped cheaply and easily, etc.

But with that said, if you look at the brands that are killing it online right now, like Native, Dollar Shave Club, and Tuft & Needle… they break all of those “rules”. Native sells deodorant, Dollar Shave Club built an entire business on super-cheap razors, and Tuft & Needle sells mattresses (a product that typically requires a high-touch in-store experience with high shipping costs).

I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as the “best” anything — instead, I operate from “best for your skills, knowledge, resources, and goals”.

So when it comes to starting your online store, the key is to move out of the “best product to sell online” mindset and into the “best product for ME to sell online” mindset. And that’s a product that fits your skill set, knowledge, resources, timeline, and market demand.

There are several approaches to finding the best product to sell online for you… and that’s what I’ll be breaking down in this post.

How to Find the Best Products to Sell Online (For You)

The Product Research Route (Amazon scraping, Adplexity, etc)

Thanks to platforms like Amazon, anyone can sell something online — and luckily for you, there is a giant trove of product data just waiting for you on the Internet.

One way to figure out what to sell is by looking at other products that are performing well and weighing those against your own wants and needs.

The goal here is to collect data on what’s working already, then reverse engineer an ecommerce strategy to sell it.

For example, let’s say you’re looking on Amazon for bestselling dog toys. You could look at niches within dog toys to niche-down into subcategories, look at best-selling products within those subcategories, see top sellers to identify competitors — the opportunities are endless.

Amazon Bestselling Dog Toys

The bonus here is you don’t have to do this manually — and you’re not limited to Amazon’s data. Spy tools like Adplexity and Jungle Scout can aggregate product data across several ecommerce platforms and even show you competitor’s ads so you can reverse engineer a marketing strategy that works.

With that said, keep in mind that everyone has access to this data, which means you won’t be the only one reverse engineering a successful product. What’s really going to set you apart is choosing a successful product that fits your own criteria and knocking your marketing strategy out of the park.

The Persona Research Route

People are constantly searching for things online. Think about your own behavior — where do you go when you’re looking for the “best swimsuits for speed” or “most durable dog toys for puppies”?

As a business owner, you can use this data to figure out what people actually want and give it to them. In marketing, this approach is known as creating a persona (marketing jargon for a description of your ideal customer).

An effective persona defines what your ideal customer actually wants. Who are they? What problems do they have? How can you solve these problems.

Use tools like Facebook Audience Insights, Pinterest, Google Display Planner, Trend Hunter, and basic keyword research (see here) to create 2-4 personas that outline your ideal customers. Be as descriptive as possible by including things like job title, favorite device, pay scale, main frustrations & problems, end goals, what they do in their spare time, etc. Use this detailed guide by Moz to guide you through the process.

Remember that your personas don’t have to be the end all be all. The focus here is to define your initial target market that’s small enough you can effectively reach them but large enough to get some insight on what products will fit their needs (and to get some initial sales and feedback on those products so you can polish what you’re offering).

Nearly every business started this way (think about how Facebook started by targeting college students). Here’s a podcast episode explaining this concept [skip to the ~ 11-minute mark].

The Sell What You Know Route

Perhaps the most self-explanatory method for finding the best product to sell online is selling what you know. What are you good at? Passionate about? Experienced with? Use that experience, channel it into a need, and sell it.

Take Quad Lock, a bike mount designed by a biker who was unsatisfied with the mounts on the market, so he designed one he wanted and sold it. The founder used used his own experience (biking) and pain point (ineffective mounts for his iPhone) to create a product that others love too.

Keep in mind though, it isn’t just about the product. Quad Lock leveraged reviews and Facebook and Google ads to get the right people to the product. You’ll need to have a proper and realistic marketing funnel behind whatever it is you’re selling.

The Build an Audience Route

Traditionally, ecommerce business owners take a “build it and they will come” approach to product development and selling online. This method takes the opposite approach. Instead of creating a product and finding an audience to sell it to, you’ll first build an audience and bring them a product they actually want.

Both approaches have advantages — again, there is no blanket “best” way or “best” product to sell online. Once again, it depends on your goals.

Building your product first and selling it to an audience could bring in revenue faster (as long as you build a product that actually sells). However, you do run a higher risk of creating a product that doesn’t fit the market as well as it might if you were to build an audience first, learn about them, and give them what you want.

The tradeoff here is time vs. money. If you have the time to build out an audience, nurture them, and build a minimally viable product to get feedback on, this route can save you the headache of launching a product that no one wants (see The $100 Startup). However, if you need to generate revenue quickly, this path might not be the best option.

The Rapid Product Testing Route

If you’ve ever donated to a kickstarter campaign, or if you know anything about Tim Ferris and the 4-Hour Work Week, then you know how successful rapid testing a bunch of product ideas can be.

Ferriss did it with different ads, headlines, and even book titles until he found what worked, and you can take the same approach with your own product development. The goal here is to get a ton of data quickly. What are people clicking on? What are they signing up to learn more about? What’s sticking? Once you have that info, keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.

Again, the tradeoff here is time and/or money. You have to give yourself enough of a runway to actually test and get the data, whether you’re starting a campaign on Kickstarter, offering email and social demos to find that one customer with a new idea, or running multiple Google Adwords campaigns to test which promotions get the most traction.

The Niche / Tailwind Route

Sometimes it’s worth sticking to what’s already working. Similar to reverse engineering products that are performing well and fit your criteria, you can also find a growing niche and/or company and build out products that complement them.

A classic example of this is the cell phone case industry. Before the iPhone blew up, cell phone cases were practically non-existent. But once the iPhone took off, an entire niche industry was born.

This is happening all the time. Think about Peloton — the at home spin bike that’s building an entire submarket that needs attention. There are constantly new opportunities to hop on board with what’s working and complement it with submarket products of your own.

The Supplier / Numbers Route

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to supply a product. Sometimes the best product to sell online could be one that someone else has created. In this scenario, you’d focus on building a killer marketing strategy for the product.

For example, let’s say you have a dentist friend who has a patented a new mouthguard that’s amazing, but he has no idea how to sell it. You could start an ecommerce business with exclusive access to the product at a price that makes sense. He’d be your supplier while you’d focus on getting sales.

Even if you don’t know someone directly who has an amazing product, you could always research suppliers on AliExpress or Alibaba, or connect to people who have great industry contacts in a niche you know well enough to navigate profit margins and create a marketing strategy that gets the products to move.

Alibaba

Either way, you’re removing yourself from the product definition. Instead, you’re looking at suppliers who have already created a killer product and need someone (AKA you) to sell it.

Next Steps / Takeaways

Finding the best products to sell online really has less to do with there being a “best” product and more to do with having a system and approach to finding a product that fits your own needs, skills, and means.

Instead of randomly brainstorming and endlessly searching online for that one big idea, take time to do an inventory of your own needs. Think about your skill set, knowledge, resources, and timeline to launch your product. Then, choose one of the methods above to find the product that best aligns with your defined criteria.

You also want to find the best way to sell – here’s how to choose the best ecommerce platform.

The post How To Choose The Best Products to Sell Online appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Top 0% APR Introductory Rate Business Credit Cards

Getting your business a 0% APR introductory rate credit card could be helpful, especially if you’re planning to make a big purchase that you can’t pay back right away. Unfortunately, credit cards are packed with complicated rules and regulations, and with so many options available, it can be time-consuming to figure out what’s best for your business. A card that works well for Sammy’s Sandwich Shop down the street might not be the right option for you.

That’s where Merchant Maverick comes in! We’ve parsed through all your various options and come up with a list of the top 0% APR intro rate business credit cards. Besides offering that 0% APR introductory rate, these cards also provide savings via rewards and $0 annual fees, allowing you to stretch your dollar further.

So which one is right for you? Read on to find out!

American Express Blue Business Plus

This card leads the pack with a 0% APR introductory rate of 15 months. It also boasts a rewards program of two points per $1 on all purchases up to $50,000 per year, and one point per $1 on all purchases after $50,000. These points (which are worth $0.01 in many cases) can be redeemed via American Express’ Membership Rewards program in numerous ways, including at checkout for major retailers, gift cards, taxi fare in New York City, and booking travel through American Express Travel.

This card’s variable APR after those 15 months are up can run lower than average. It also grants you expanded buying power, which allows you to spend above your credit level without penalty.

However, Blue Business Plus doesn’t provide a welcome offer. Additionally, some redemptions dish out reward points at less than the standard $0.01. Rewards also start slowing down after spending $50,000 in a year, so this card might not be the best option if your business will break that threshold. International travelers should note that this card does carry a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.

Want a full breakdown of Blue Business Plus? Check out Merchant Maverick’s comprehensive review to get the deets.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

chase ink business unlimited

Ink Business Unlimited is a cash back card featuring a 0% APR intro rate for 12 months and no annual fee. Chase has set the cash back reward amount to 1.5% on all purchases—no cap whatsoever. Those rewards can be redeemed via deposit into your bank account or applied on Amazon purchases. Additionally, Ink Business Unlimited also provides a hefty welcome offer of $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Other benefits include additional employee cards at no extra cost, as well as travel and roadside assistance. Chase also provides purchase protection to cover new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account. Once the 12 months of 0% APR run dry, this card offers a variable APR that sits right around industry standard.

Marks against this card include a 3% foreign transaction fee, meaning businesses that require overseas travel may want to think twice before dipping into Ink Business Unlimited.

If you need a further breakdown on Chase’s Ink Business Unlimited, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive review.

American Express SimplyCash Plus

SimplyCash Plus is another cash back card, although its 0% intro APR runs for nine months. It does feature a hefty rewards program for certain categories, however. Purchases at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone earn 5% percent cash back, up to $50,000 per year. Additionally, you can early 3% back on a category of your choosing (airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising purchases, shipping, or computer hardware, software, and cloud computing), up to $50,000 per year. All other purchases will nab 1% back.

American Express’ SimplyCash Plus boasts a variable APR that can clock in at below industry standard. Additionally, its expanded buying power will let you buy above your credit limit with no penalty fees. Other benefits include extended warranty and purchase protection, as well as a range of travel benefits, from baggage insurance to a global assist hotline.

Unfortunately, rewards are redeemed through statement credit only—meaning this card won’t work for those wanting to receive cash back as a check. Besides this, SimplyCash Plus doesn’t provide a welcome offer and foreign purchases are subject to a 2.7% transaction fee.

Need more info on American Express SimplyCash Plus? Head on over to Merchant Maverick’s review.

Capital One Spark Cash Select For Business

capital one spark cash select

This is the second card on our list that runs with a 0% APR for the first nine months. Its cash back rewards program features an unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases. Cash back rewards can be applied to your account as statement credits or requested as a check. Those rewards won’t expire while your account is open and can be transferred between Capital One cards.

You can additionally collect a tidy $200 early spend bonus if you spend at least $3,000 within your first three months of opening your accounts. Spark Cash Select further provides extended warranty and purchase protection, as well as access to Visa SavingsEdge, which may offer up to 15% off on some purchases from participating merchants. You can also get employee cards at no extra cost and Capital One charges no foreign transaction fees.

Drawbacks of the Spark Cash Select include a variable APR that may sit a tad higher than industry standard once those nine months of 0% APR are up. Additionally, the flat rate rewards program may not fit within your business if you spend a lot within categories that can earn higher cash back rates with other cards.

Those who want to dig into the nitty-gritty on Spark Cash Select should take a gander at our in-depth review.

Bank Of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard

To round out our list of 0% APR introductory rate business credit cards, we’ll look out our third entry with a 0% intro APR for nine months. This card boasts 3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and office supply stores, 2% back at restaurants, and 1% back for everything else. You’ll be able to redeem your cash rewards via a statement credit, check, or have cash deposited into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

Besides its reward program, this card’s other benefits include travel and emergency services, zero liability protection on unauthorized purchases, and overdraft protection. Clients of BofA’s Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program can get a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on the base cash back rate. This means you could earn up to 3.75% at gas stations and office supply stores, 2.75% at restaurants, and 1.75% everywhere else. There’s additionally a $200 statement credit bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 60 days.

On the negative side, there’s a $250,000 purchase cap for the 3% cash back categories, after which you’ll earn 1% back. Also, for businesses that require international travel, BofA’s card does carry a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Want to learn more about BofA’s Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard? Visit the Merchant Maverick review of the card.

Final Thoughts

That ends our look at five of the top 0% APR introductory rate business credit cards! Still can’t decide on the best option for your business? Check out our small business credit comparison page to compare some of our favorite credit cards and learn more about picking the best card for you.

The post Top 0% APR Introductory Rate Business Credit Cards appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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When Should Someone Not Use WordPress?

When Should Someone Not Use WordPress

You’re probably here because you’ve heard the buzz about WordPress (Alignable’s SMB Index says WordPress is the most trusted software for small business), but are wondering if there are situations in which someone should not use WordPress for their business website.

WordPress is an incredibly versatile website platform — I won’t hide my enthusiasm for it. But there is no such thing as a “best website platform”. There’s only the best choice based on your goals, resources and preferences.

Most website platforms promote with features and price. But like buying a house – price and features don’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell you if this platform is a good choice for your website.

When evaluating whether or not to use WordPress, you need to think about your needs for a website. Do you need flexibility? Support? A mixture of both?

Here’s how to figure out if/when someone should not use WordPress for their business website:

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional judgements as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Understanding Tradeoffs: What to Know Before Choosing a Website Platform

Before we dive into the no-WordPress scenarios, it’s important to understand how we’re approaching deciding on a website platform.

Think of it like shopping for a house. You should be evaluating your website provider based on what you want, what you need, and what tradeoffs you are willing to make.

When it comes to your website platform, the main trade-off is between maximum convenience and maximum control. Think of it this like buying somewhere to live.

The absolute most convenient place is a hotel room. It’s safe and furnished with room service. But can you repaint the room? Nope.

On the other extreme is raw land. You have unlimited control to do whatever you want. But is it convenient? Nope.

And in the middle, you have a mix. An apartment has some freedom – but you have landlord. A condo has even more freedom… but you have a HOA and shared property.

A house has even more freedom… but you have more responsibility and you have to deal with an existing building.

Here’s a graphic from my post on ecommerce software (that also applies to website software) to illustrate —

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

Using this analogy, WordPress is like owning a house. You don’t have as much control as you would if you just bought raw land and built something yourself, but you have way more control than say, an apartment or condo.

Which means a situation is which you wouldn’t want to use WordPress most likely involves more control (AKA raw land) or more convenience (AKA an apartment/condo/hotel room). Let’s break that down further:

Reasons/Situations Where You Wouldn’t Choose WP:

You Need a Fully-Customized Solution

WordPress’s primary structure is pages, posts, and comments. While the platform does use Plugins (where you can download and “plug-in” third-party pieces of software to make your site look, act, and feel exactly the way you want) that allow the CMS to be turned into literally anything, you should still be operating within the realm of pages/posts/comments if you want to use WordPress.

If you’re looking to build a non-CMS website (think Software as a Service or mega-robust ecommerce platform), then you’re better off building a custom solution. Why?

Because something ultra-specific like the examples above typically require 100% control. Loading up your WordPress site with hundreds of Plugins just to make it close to what you want is just going to slow it down.

This is your raw land example — it’d be easier to build your dream home from scratch than try to manipulate the house you already have or add on a bunch of attachments (Plugins) that may mess with the wiring/airflow/other elements of the home.

You Want Customization But Don’t Want to Handle the Technical

If you’re looking for some customization abilities on your website but don’t want to deal with the more “technical” aspects of managing a website such as self hosting, check out customizations for ecommerce, server management, etc. then a self-hosted WordPress isn’t the best option.

There are two different routes you could go if you want more customization without having to handle controlling the technical aspects of your site.

The first is what I’ll call the 70% Convenience // 30% Control group. These are providers that allow for more control than a totally done-for-you platform (like Amazon, where you have zero customization), but you’re still using their space and rules (in our house analogy, these are the apartments).

These are usually “website builders” like Wix (I reviewed Wix here and you can check out Squarespace here) and Weebly (I reviewed Weebly here. You can check out Weebly here…). They allow you to customize your website and have a custom domain, but the remaining technical elements (like ecommerce integration) are handled for you.

The second group is 50% Convenience // 50% Control. They’re known as hosted platforms and provide as much control as you can have before you have to have your own server.

The biggest advantage here is that you have customer support, seamless “onboarding” and advanced tools. Building a website with these providers is like owning a condominium or leasing a storefront in a mall. The plumbing and “big stuff” is taken care of. You can pretty much do what you want since you do fully own your property. However, you’re going to run into condo association rules and fees.

This would be a provider like WordPress.com which is a hosted version of WordPress or a self-hosted WordPress page builder like BoldGrid. They limit some of what you can and can’t do. For example, you don’t have FTP access to a server, but you can access your HTML/CSS editing and use 3rd party plugins with their business plan.

You can also export your data and migrate it to self-hosted WordPress or another platform with relative ease, making it a good in-between if you want to start with more convenience and migrate to more control in the future.

You Don’t Have Time or Resources

WordPress comes with a learning curve. But given the platform owns 50-60% of the global CMS market share, there are thousands and thousands of pre-made templates, plus designers and developers who know WordPress and are ready to help your firm.

That being said, the trade-off here is time and/or resources. Either you have to take the time to learn the basics of WordPress and keep the software updated like you do the apps on your phone, or you have to know enough to vet these support roles to make sure you’re getting the results you need at a reasonable price.

Not all projects justify this trade-off. A simple website that doesn’t need any advanced functionality or the ability to scale would work perfectly fine as a simple HTML site and may cost you less in time/resources than learning WordPress or hiring a designer and developer to build your WordPress site.

You Have Plenty of Resources

The flip side of having no time and resources is having all the time and/or resources.

This goes back to our first scenario… if you have a team of people and the funds to build and maintain your website for you, you can build whatever you want, including a totally custom website that’s unique to your business and the functionality you need.

With that said, this scenario comes with one big caveat: you’re putting your website in someone else’s control.

Let’s say you have a developer build a totally custom website that only he/she can manage — that takes you out of the driver’s seat and puts that developer in total control. The same applies to a website that only works on one specific platform. A change in mission statement, privacy policy, billing practices, or even simple incompetence can put your business in an insecure position.

If you’re comfortable with putting your website 100% in the hands of someone else, go for it. If not, then you may want to rethink a custom build and brush up on your website management knowledge.

Takeaways

WordPress is like the mid-size SUV of the website building world. It doesn’t fit everyone by any means, but there also good reason that a large plurality has one.

I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to try WordPress before making any decisions here.

If you don’t have time to run software updates and learn a bit of WordPress jargon, then you should go ahead and pay the extra money for an all-inclusive website builder. Sure, you’re trading control for convenience, but that’s fine.

On the flip side, if you’re very adept at working with developers or have the money to pay for custom builds and don’t mind putting your site into someone else’s hands, then you’d want to research more – especially in regards to ecommerce. WordPress may not be the right fit for you. You can check out some interesting WordPress alternatives here.

Finally, if you’re building something super, super simple, then WordPress may simply be too complex for what you’re looking for. You might just need some cheap hosting or even a simple profile on an existing platform.

The post When Should Someone Not Use WordPress? appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Business Credit Cards With No Annual Fees: Your Best Options

no annual fee credit card

Most small business owners don’t have a trust fund to draw from, and are therefore concerned with keeping costs to a minimum. Avoiding unnecessary credit card charges is a no-brainer for frugal business owners, which is why you may be looking to get a business credit card that carries no annual fee. After all, given the plethora of business card options out there that deliver great perks and benefits without charging an annual fee, why pay an annual fee simply for the privilege of using a business credit card?

As it turns out, you can find business credit cards offering all manners of rewards (points, cash back, travel benefits, sign-on bonuses, etc.) that do not charge an annual fee. There are certain categories of cards — top-tier travel cards, for instance — that will be out of reach for you if you stick to your no-annual-fee guns, but these cards aren’t likely to be practical for most new business owners anyway.

Let’s take a look at the business credit cards that give you the most value in each rewards category without charging you a yearly fee just for the privilege of using their plastic.

(For a fuller picture of the business credit card scene as it stands, check out our summary of the best business credit cards of 2018.)

Chase Ink Business Cash

Best Free Business Credit Card for Cash Back

Chase’s business credit cards are well-regarded — by us and by others — for the value they provide to small business. The Chase Ink Business Cash card is no exception. With no annual fee and the ability to earn 5% and 2% cash back on select categories of spending, combined with a healthy $500 cash back signup bonus for those who spend the required amount within the first three months of opening your account, you have one formidable business credit card.

Ink Business Cash At A Glance:

  • Annual fee: $0 (duh)
  • Bonus offer: $500 cash back if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 12 months
  • Rewards: 
    • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone purchases each account anniversary year
    • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases with no earning limit

Many business cards with no annual fee don’t offer a sign-up bonus, but the $500 in cash back you can earn after 3 months is one of the more generous welcome offers you’ll find. While you do have to spend $3,000 on purchases within this time to get the bonus, that shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of businesses.

If a goodly portion of your business expenditures goes toward office supply stores and internet, phone, and cable purchases, you’re in luck, because Chase offers 5% cash back on such purchases with the Ink Business Cash. Additionally, you get 2% cash back on purchases at gas stations and restaurants. Both of these cash back options cap off at $25,000 each anniversary year, however. Any purchases in these categories beyond these limits, along with all other purchases, will earn you 1% cash back with no limits on how much cash back you can earn. Nonetheless, the cash back limits on the high-earning categories mean that if your business spends very heavily on these purchase categories, a card that places no limits on high cash back-earning categories may make financial sense for your business (even with an annual fee).

Additional benefits of Ink Business Cash include a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months and the ability to redeem your points for travel, gift cards, or Amazon purchases. To learn more, read our full Ink Business Cash review.

Apply Now

Capital One Spark Cash Select for Businesscapital one spark cash select

Another Great Free Business Credit Card for Cash Back

Here’s another business credit card with no annual fee that handsomely rewards you with cash back: The Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business. This rewards credit card lets you earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits whatsoever on how much cash back you can earn. It’s a good card for business owners who make a large number of diffuse purchases and who can’t be bothered with spending categories.

Spark Cash Select At A Glance:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Bonus offer: Earn $200 in cash rewards after you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 9 months
  • Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases

The Spark Cash Select is a simple card with a simple reward structure. You can earn $200 if you spend more than $3K in the first three months, and you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases with no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn. There isn’t much more to say about this card — either it will benefit you, or it won’t. If you don’t want to be constrained by the amount you can spend on purchases that will be eligible for more than 1% cash back, and if the idea of spending categories gives you a migraine, consider the Spark Cash Select.

Read our full Spark Cash Select review to delve deeper into the card.

Now to spotlight another business rewards card from this credit card issuer…

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business

Best Free Business Credit Card for Travel

If you’re looking for a business credit card with great travel benefits that doesn’t carry an annual fee, consider the Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business card. The card’s beauty is in its simplicity. You’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on every purchase with no limits or category restrictions, so you won’t have to track your spending or concentrate it in certain categories to earn extra miles. You’ll also get a very nice travel signup offer. Let’s take a closer look!

Spark Miles Select At A Glance:

  • Annual fee: $0 (you may notice a theme here)
  • Bonus offer: 20,000 miles (worth $200 for travel) once you spend at least $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 9 months
  • Rewards: Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all eligible purchases

As I said, you’ll earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent with the Spark Miles Select card. It’s a higher rate of miles-earning than you’ll get with most cards, making Spark Miles Select an excellent choice for business owners who make frequent business trips and want their purchases to help defray the costs of their travel.

Another sweet travel perk is the 20,000 miles you stand to earn if you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. These 20,000 points are worth $200 for travel. So long as you make business purchases on the card at a reasonable rate, you’ll be able to access this perk and get more travel bang for your buck. Miles can be redeemed for travel expenses such as airfare, hotels, and vacation packages, among other purchases. You’ll also have access to all the standard business benefits Capital One and Visa get you.

Interested? Check out our Spark Miles Select review for a deeper look.

American Express Blue Business Plus

Best Free Business Credit Card for Rewards Earning

Best Free Business Credit Card with a Long 0% Intro APR Period

Looking to earn points at a solid rate without having to be concerned with spending categories and the like? Have a look at the American Express Blue Business Plus card. For a low, low annual fee of $0, you’ll be earning double points on your purchases. You probably have better things to do than tracking spending categories.

Blue Business Plus At A Glance:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Bonus offer: 10,000 points after you spend at least $3,000 within the first three months
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 15 months
  • Rewards:
    • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases (up to $50,000 per year)
    • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases after $50,000

Until recently, the Blue Business Plus didn’t offer a signup bonus. Currently, however, Amex offers a welcome bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend at least $3,000 in the first three months of having your card. It’s not the biggest welcome offer but it’s a nice one for a business credit card with no annual fee. The main draw of the card, however, is the double points you’ll be earning on the first $50,000 worth of purchases you make per year. All purchases past $50,000 in a year will still earn one point per dollar spent until the new year rolls around. This makes the Blue Business Plus an excellent card for businesses with spending that doesn’t generally fall neatly into certain categories. Businesses spending significantly more than $50K a year, however, may be better served by a card that doesn’t limit the amount of spending that can earn max points — even if that card carries an annual fee. Alternatively, cardholders could supplement their Blue Business Plus card with another points-oriented business card.

Other perks of Blue Business Plus include the ability to spend above your credit limit — good for the sort of business that suffers from uneven cash flow. Another great benefit of the card? Your APR will be 0% for your first 15 billing cycles — longer than the typical intro APR period!

Go check out our full Blue Business Plus review if this card sounds like it might suit you and your business.

Bank Of America Platinum Visa Business Cardplatinum visa business review

Best Free Business Credit Card with a Low Interest Rate

Overall, the Bank Of America Platinum Visa Business card isn’t the greatest business credit card I’ve ever reviewed. It offers a near-total lack of earnable rewards, so if earning points with your business spending is a priority of yours, don’t get this card. However, the Platinum Visa Business card carries one very significant benefit for the business that carries a significant balance on its card from month to month: a lower interest rate than just about any other business credit card.

Platinum Visa Business At A Glance:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Bonus offer: $200 statement credit bonus after making at least $500 in net purchases in the first 60 days
  • Introductory rate: 0% APR for the first 7 months
  • Rewards: Unlimited employee cards at no additional cost (just like every other card in this article)

The $200 statement credit you’ll get if you spend $500 within the first 60 days is a decent bonus offer, but the lack of any other earnable rewards means that this isn’t the most impressive business credit around — a fact that is reflected in my review score. So why am I including this mundane card in this article at all? Because the card carries a 10.99% to 21.99% variable APR. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a business credit card offering a possible APR of 10.99%.

Now, it’s obviously not ideal for businesses to carry a large credit card balance month-to-month over a significant period of time. That’s why this card isn’t for most businesses. However, your circumstances may be less than ideal, and you may not have any other choice at the moment. If this is you, getting the BofA Platinum Visa Business card will save you money on monthly payments due to the card’s relatively low APR. It’s not a good card for earning rewards, but the benefit of a low APR might override all other considerations for certain business owners.

Read our Platinum Visa Business review for more information.

Final Thoughts

As it turns out, if you want a business credit card but don’t want to pay an annual fee, you don’t have to settle — you’ve got many solid options to consider. After checking out the cards above, read our article on the best business credit cards of 2018 to get the big picture when it comes to today’s best business credit cards. Now get out there and keep making purchases like your business depends on it!

The post Business Credit Cards With No Annual Fees: Your Best Options appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How to Advertise on eBay Effectively

How To Advertise on eBay

eBay is one of the oldest and most well established online marketplaces. With millions of active users, it can be an important sales channel for your ecommerce business, regardless of the industry you’re in.

While eBay has been thought of by many as a marketplace that connects individuals, akin to a sort of digital yard sale, the climate has certainly changed in recent years.

eBay has been able to successfully shake the connotation that it’s a forum for used merchandise, collectibles, and heavily discounted new merchandise. In doing so, they’ve been able to diversify their customer and seller bases.

Today, many of the largest retailers and manufacturers in the country use eBay. For many businesses, it has become a particularly lucrative way to sell their products.

Not only has eBay become a powerful sales tool for these businesses, but it’s also one of the cheapest marketplaces for sellers to move their products. Compared to other powerful marketplaces like Amazon, eBay fees are typically 25% less for sellers.

In 2017, eBay opened up a whole new world to their network of sellers: advertising. Their unique set of advertising tools has made it easier than ever for sellers to reach the customers who are prepared to make a purchase.

But, before you can use these advertising tools to maximize your sales, you’ll need to learn how these tools work, and what makes them different from other advertising options you may have on different marketplaces.

Today, we’ll cover the ins and outs of how to advertise on eBay to increase sales. Whether you’re an individual looking to sell a few items quickly, or you’re a brand or distributor looking to establish a presence on eBay, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

advertising services boost the visibility of your listing by 30%.

Most sellers find that new items with no sales history and seasonal items tend to benefit the most from eBay advertising. eBay advertising can also be a great way to increase the sales velocity of some of your best selling items as well.

As with any other form of digital advertising, a strong product coupled with a compelling advertising campaign will ensure the best possible results. Fortunately, eBay makes it easy for you to test and tweak your campaigns until you’ve arrived at the ideal advertising mix for your particular product.

In addition to their performance-based advertising, which is popular with sellers of all sizes, eBay also has a program designed for major brands and manufacturers. This program provides your brand with key ad placements throughout the customer sales journey.

eBay’s brand solutions combine precision targeting, display advertising, and meaningful content to create a comprehensive advertising solution across all platforms, including the eBay app, desktop, and mobile sites.

These tools are particularly helpful for large brands, especially those dealing in big-ticket merchandise. This interactive demo featuring Trifex drones is a good example of how these types of campaigns work.

Google Adwords and Amazon Sponsored Products are good examples of CPC advertising.

CPS (cost per sale) advertising is the type of advertising that eBay uses. With CPS advertising, you’re not charged for impressions or for clicks that don’t result in a sale. The only time you’re charged is when the click results in a sale for your store.

This type of advertising is usually the most expensive form of digital advertising, but it’s also the most effective. If your primary goal is to drive sales for your store, CPS advertising may be a good fit for you.

The other characteristic that separates eBay’s advertising is the way you pay for it. Unlike other ad programs, which charge your credit card for a set number of impressions or for each click you receive, eBay keeps everything in-house, and deducts the cost of your advertising from the sale of each product you advertise.

This helps to keep things simple, and it also makes it much easier for small stores with limited capital to advertise their products and compete with larger sellers. Because of the way eBay’s ad program is set up, it’s also inherently easier for you to scale your advertising as you grow.

To create a promoted listing, you’ll need to log into your seller account on eBay. Once you’re logged in, eBay will redirect you to your seller dashboard. From there, hover over the marketing tab, then select promoted listings.

On the promoted listings page, you’ll see information about any campaigns you currently have running. To create a new campaign, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the button on the right.

Then, you’ll have the option to choose between selecting individual products to advertise, or selecting listings in bulk. If you’re looking to advertise thousands of products at once, all under the same campaign, the bulk tool will be the best fit for you.

Otherwise, selecting the individual listings you wish to advertise as part of this campaign is probably the best fit for you. When selecting products individually, you can still include up to 500 different SKUs as part of each campaign, which helps to save a significant amount of time.

Once you’ve selected the different products you want to include in the campaign, you’ll set the ad rate you’re willing to allocate towards the campaign. You can apply a uniform ad rate for every product in the campaign, or you can select individual ad rates for each product.

eBay makes this process easy for you by providing a trending rate for each product in the campaign. The trending rate is what other sellers in the ad program are allocating towards their advertising. You can control the ad rate percentage by clicking the +/- icons.

Once you’ve set the ad rate for each item in your campaign, all you need to do is name your campaign, select a start date, agree to the terms of service, and launch your campaign.

As you can see, creating an advertising campaign on eBay is a streamlined process that’s much more user-friendly than creating ads on other platforms or marketplaces.

The promoted listings dashboard lets you know how many campaigns you have, how many listings you’re promoting, how many ad clicks you’ve received, how many units you’ve sold, the ad fees you’ll be charged for the sales you’ve made, and your total sales.

You can adjust the dashboard to show you your results from the last 7, 14 or 31 days. You can also create a custom date range.

Scrolling down past the advertising dashboard will provide you with more information for each campaign you have running.

From the actions tab to the right, you can pause or end your campaigns, and download detailed reports about each campaign, which makes it much easier to track the success of your various campaigns.

free shipping. Free shipping at $49 would be an example of this type of discount.
  • Codeless coupon – This unique promotion allows you to create custom URLs with a built-in coupon for you to share on social media, or with friends and family.
  • Category Markdown – With this promotion, you can create a sale event on an entire category of products, like “25% off all laptops” or something similar.
  • To create a promotion, click the marketing tab from your seller dashboard and navigate to “promotions” on the left-hand side of the page. There, you’ll find info about any promotions you’re currently running and promotions you’ve run in the past. This is also where you’ll create new promotions.

    Click the blue “create a promotion” button on the right of the page. This will trigger a drop-down menu where you can choose between creating an order discount, shipping discount, codeless coupon or a sale event.

    Depending on your goals for the promotion, one of these sale types may be better suited to you than the others. If your goal is to drive sales of an individual product, a no minimum purchase discount is typically best. If your goal is to liquidate inventory, a buy one get one deal may be helpful. Or, if you’re looking to increase customer awareness of the other products in your inventory, a quantity discount could be a good fit.

    Once you’ve chosen the promotion you’d like to run, you can select the products or categories the promotion will apply to. eBay gives you the option of doing this for the specific products you choose, or you can create rules based on categories and filters, and eBay will automatically add any product that fits your rules to the promotion, including new products you add in the future that also fit the rules you’ve defined.

    Once you’ve selected the products you’d like to include in the promotion, you’ll set how long you’d like the promotion to run for, and provide some copy for the offer banner. eBay will display the offer banner throughout the shopping journey of your buyer. Once that’s complete, hit the launch button, and your promotion will go live.

    You can offer a shipping discount on a minimum dollar amount or a minimum order quantity. You can also offer a discount with no minimum at all. The most popular and effective promotion is free shipping, but you may wish to create a flat rate shipping discount instead.

    For example, if you typically charge $12 to ship an order, you may want to consider offering $5 shipping on orders of $50 or more. You can also use this promotion to offer shipping upgrades, such as free or discounted two-day shipping when you buy three or more items from the store.

    Once you’ve defined the type of shipping discount you’d like to create, you can select the products you’d like to exclude from the promotion. You can select SKUs individually, or create a rule to exclude certain SKUs.

    Next, you’ll enter a short description for your promotion. For example “FREE shipping on all Marc Jacobs handbags.” This description will display underneath the promotion on your product pages.

    Next, you’ll schedule the start and end dates of your promotion. You can also set the promotion to begin immediately. Once scheduled, you can select a product image to display next to the promotion if you’d like, or you can leave that field blank, and eBay will automatically pull a relevant picture from your listing into this field.

    The final step before your promotion is created is to prioritize the promotion. If you currently aren’t running any promotions, you’ll skip this step. But, if there’s more than one available promotion for these products, you can choose which promotion displays first to prospective buyers.

    Once you’ve completed all these steps, your promotion is ready to launch.

    First, you’ll define the terms of the discount. You can offer either a dollar discount or a percentage discount when a customer spends a specific dollar amount in your store, or when they offer a specific number of products.

    Once you’ve defined the terms for your offer, you’ll select the items in your store you’d like the offer to apply to. From there, you’ll create a description of your campaign and schedule it.

    Once you’ve completed the campaign, eBay will provide you with a special link that your customers will need to use to unlock this special discount. The deal will not be visible to any eBay shoppers that don’t have access to the link.

    You can include this special discount link in emails, on your website, or in other advertising your store engages in outside of eBay. This promotion is virtually identical to the order discount promotion we covered earlier, with the only difference being it will only be available to a select group of shoppers who have a link to the promotion.

    Next, you’ll define the discount. You can either offer a percentage off, or a dollar amounts off of the total purchase price. With a percentage discount, you’re able to set up to ten different discounts within a single campaign. Let’s say you run a camera store; this promotion would be particularly useful if you’d like to offer 20% off the purchase of a camera and 50% off the purchase of camera accessories.

    When creating a new eBay listing (or when revising an existing one), there are a few small promotional options available to you. You can choose to have the title of your listing bolded, and you can also add a subtitle that will display below your title to describe your item more fully.

    These are small steps you can take to improve the visibility of your listing beyond the advertising methods we’ve already discussed. But, you’ll need to evaluate your listings on an individual basis to see if this makes sense for your products. At $6 for a bolded title, smaller ticket items don’t make economic sense to promote in this way.

    Optimizing Your Listings

    In addition to the variety of advertising and promotional tools eBay makes available to its sellers, you can also optimize your listings to increase your item’s exposure.

    Much like Google, eBay has their own proprietary search engine that it uses to pull up relevant search results for buyers. These tips may be able to help your overall performance in eBay search, which will lead to an increase in views, which should translate to an increase in sales.

    Offering free shipping may be the single most effective way to optimize your listings and search positioning. Plus, just because you offer free shipping doesn’t mean you’re offering free shipping. You can bake the cost of shipping into the price you’re charging for the item.

    How to Advertise on eBay Effectively appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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    3dcart VS Volusion

    3dcart-vs-Volusion

    3dcart VS Volusion
    ✓ Pricing
    Ease of Use ✓
    ✓ Features
    Web Design ✓
    ✓ Integrations & Add-Ons
    ✓ Payment Processing
    Tie Customer Service & Technical Support Tie
    Tie Negative Reviews & Complaints Tie
    Tie Positive Reviews & Testimonials Tie
    Winner Final Verdict
    Read Review Read Review
    Visit Site Visit Site

    Everyone knows starting a business is a challenge, and setting up an online store can be particularly difficult. Not only do you have to find a product and make a business plan, you also have to build an entire website that can operate as your selling platform. This was an almost impossible obstacle for many sellers just a few years ago, but modern software has eliminated many of the hurdles merchants would otherwise have to overcome.

    Cloud-based, all-inclusive store building software programs like 3dcart and Volusion can give you the tools you need to make your idea a reality. And because these software place a strong focus on ease of use, all sellers (even those with little technical knowledge) can get a store up and running in just a few weeks–or less!

    As a fully hosted solution, 3dcart aims to be accessible and affordable for all merchants. Small and large businesses alike can use this eCommerce platform successfully, as is evidenced by the 22,000 current users. What’s more, 3dcart is continually expanding its features and services to fit even more users.

    In the same way, Volusion is a comprehensive shopping cart solution for small to large businesses. Volusion hosts over 30,000 stores and is now offering two versions of their software: the more feature rich V1 and the easy to use (but still developing) V2. Volusion gives merchants the option of choosing between the two.

    So, which of these shopping cart solutions should you choose? Well, it depends.

    3dcart and Volusion both come with unique advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on your business’s needs. To learn which solution is right for your online store, keep reading. We’ll compare the two shopping carts head-to-head in categories such as pricing, ease of use, and web design. Read on.

    Don’t have time to read an entire article? Take a look at our top-rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.

    Web-Hosted Or Licensed

    Both platforms are web-hosted.

    Hardware & Software Requirements

    None. You just need a computer, secure internet access, and an up to date browser.

    Pricing

    Winner: 3dcart

    3dcart and Volusion follow similar pricing models. Both services are billed on a monthly basis, no contract required, with advanced features included in higher level plans. If you commit to a year-long purchase, you can benefit from a discount of 10%. Keep in mind that many software solutions do not offer refunds on year-long purchases, so don’t commit to a full year until you’re sure the platform will work for you.

    3dcart determines pricing levels by the number of staff users and availability of features. All plans beyond the startup plan come with unlimited products and bandwidth. Take a look at a brief breakdown:

    • Startup: $19/Month
      • 1 Staff User
      • 100 Products
      • Sell Up To $10K/Year
    • Basic: $29/Month
      • 2 Staff Users
    • Plus: $79/Month
      • 5 Staff Users
    • Pro: $229/Month
      • 15 Staff Users

    3dcart also makes an enterprise platform available for any merchant with an annual revenue of over $400K/Year. There are also discounts available for charities and non-profits.

    Pricing for Volusion differs between their two versions: V1 and V2. The most notable difference is that pricing for V1 does not include any transaction fees; however, bandwidth on this plan is limited and bandwidth overage fees apply. On the other hand, V2 comes with unlimited bandwidth, but merchants will have to pay transaction fees on all their sales. See both pricing models below:

    V1 Pricing

    • Mini: $15/Month
      • 1GB Bandwidth
      • 100 Products
    • Plus: $35/Month
      • 3GB Bandwidth
      • 1,000 Products
    • Pro: $75/Month
      • 10GB Bandwidth
      • 10,000 Products
    • Premium: $135/Month
      • 35GB Bandwidth
      • Unlimited Products

    V2 Pricing

    • Personal: $25/Month
      • Unlimited Products & Storage
      • 2% Transaction Fee
    • Professional: $75/Month
      • Unlimited Products & Storage
      • 1% Transaction Fee
    • Business: $135/Month
      • Unlimited Products & Storage
      • 0.5% Transaction Fee

    When we compare 3dcart and Volusion, we can see that monthly rates for each pricing level are similar, with Volusion offering cheaper premium level plans. However, Volusion also charges fees in addition to these monthly rates (either bandwidth overage fees or transaction fees, depending on the version). For this reason, we’re awarding the category to 3dcart.

    Get Started With 3dcart

    Get Started With Volusion V1

    Get Started With Volusion V2

    Ease Of Use

    Winner: Volusion

    3dcart and Volusion both claim to be easy to use solutions. Let’s take a closer look at each software.

    3dcart offers all potential users a risk-free, 15-day trial, so you can test out the platform for yourself without handing over any credit card information.

    When you log in, you’ll get to explore 3dcart’s dashboard. 3dcart organizes all features in a toolbar on the left. Use categories and subcategories to navigate the software. Use video tutorials to learn the basic procedures.

    Adding a product to your store is a two-step process.  First, you have to input and save basic product information. Once you’ve saved that page, you’ll be able to add in more detailed product information. For example, you can adjust shipping, inventory, and SEO settings.

    3dcart is relatively easy to learn, though you may have difficulty locating features initially. Some features are buried in places you wouldn’t expect under titles you might not know to look for. Discounts features, for example, are available under “Promotion Manager.” Overall, we give 3dcart a four out of five stars in ease of use.

    Volusion also offers trials of their software. You can sign up for free 14-day trials of both V1 and V2. Let’s start with V1.

    When you log into your trial, you’ll find this dashboard:

    Use tutorial videos to quickly learn your way around.

    As it is with 3cart, adding a product on Volusion is a two-step process. First, add your basic product information. When you’ve saved that, you can add advanced information like SEO and shipping details along with more product descriptions.

    While we don’t think Volusion V1 has the easiest dashboard in the eCommerce industry, it shouldn’t take too long to learn. You’ll find plenty of features available in the tool bar up top; you just have to figure out how to implement them the first few times.

    Volusion V2 is the company’s newest attempt to make an easy to use eCommerce platform. The software is still in development, and while it is missing a few features, the UI is looking pretty good.

    We’d still like to see a bit more work done to this admin. In particular, we’d like to see subcategories added to the toolbar on the left. This would make navigation require fewer clicks, which can really add up for online sellers.

    V2’s “add a product page” is inviting in its simple and colorful design.

    We have experienced some frustration with V2’s simple design, however. V2 tends to railroad users through basic operations, which can be a pain when you don’t need the help.

    For example, when you go to set up a discount, you will encounter this screen:

    You have to select the appropriate options before you’ll be presented the more typical discount creation page:

    I would rather enter my information first into this second page. I don’t find the first page to be particularly helpful.

    Volusion’s goal with V2 was to create a platform that’s easier to use, and they accomplish that goal. Personally, however, if I were to choose a version of Volusion, I would still pick V1. I think it’s worth learning a slightly more difficult software in order to access better features.

    With so many versions of these software available, it’s difficult to directly compare 3dcart and Volusion. As far as ease of use goes, I think 3dcart and V1 are comparable, and V2 is slightly easier to use.

    For this reason, we’re giving ease of use to Volusion.

    Features

    Winner: 3dcart

    To get the best idea of these shopping carts’ features, a good plan is to visit each platform’s website and review the full list. However, if you don’t have time to do that just now, we’ll provide a brief overview of a few special features that each software offers below.

    3dcart offers users lots of features, even at the lowest pricing plan. Here are a few:

    • Sell Digital: Sell digital products alongside your physical products.
    • Checkout Options: Choose either one-page or three-page checkout.
    • Automatic Calculators: Use tax and shipping calculators to generate real-time quotes.
    • Abandoned Cart Saver: Email customers to remind them to complete their orders.
    • Built-In Blog: Boost your brand and SEO with a blog.
    • SmartCategories: Create an “On Sale” category to showcase items.
    • Bulk Import / Export: Migrate platforms or make large scale edits with import and export features.
    • POS: Sell in-person with 3dcart Point Of Sale.

    As you might expect, Volusion’s two versions come with different feature sets. Here are a few V1 features:

    • Abandoned Cart Reports & Emails: Encourage more conversions.
    • Allow Reviews: Let customers leave reviews on your products.
    • Returned Merchandise Authorization (RMA) Tool: Easily process returned products.
    • Sell On Facebook, Amazon, eBay: Sync channels with your store and manage your multichannel orders from Volusion.
    • Content Delivery Network (CDN): Use a CDN to deliver site content faster.

    And here are features for V2:

    • Instant Search: Let customers search products on your storefront.
    • Checkout On Your Domain: Customers will not be redirected to a Volusion subdomain at checkout (available for merchants on the Professional and Business level plans).
    • Shipping Features: Create shipping options like signature-required shipments, discounted shipping, and flat rate shipping.
    • Bulk Import: Use CSV files to import new inventory in bulk.
    • Returned Merchandise Authorization (RMA) Tool: Process returns easily.
    • Dropshipping App: Use Volusion’s already-integrated dropshipping app to fulfill orders without handling merchandise.

    3dcart is well known for their robust feature set. Volusion, on the other hand, is still working on expanding their feature set to better match their competitors’. 3dcart wins this one.

    Get Started With 3dcart

    Get Started With Volusion V1

    Get Started With Volusion V2

    Web Design

    Winner: Volusion

    As hosted software, 3dcart and Volusion work to provide elegant, easily customizable design templates for their customers.

    3dcart users can find 90 free themes in 3dcart’s marketplace, all of which are mobile responsive. These themes are rather middle-of-the-road. They aren’t spectacular, but they aren’t ugly.

    3dcart also has a few dozen premium themes available for purchase. These themes cost $99-$199.

    Sellers can edit these themes in a variety of ways. Tech savvy users can edit the HTML and CSS, and less experienced users can use the WYSIWYG editor to make changes to your store’s language (like buttons, tabs, etc.). 3dcart also has a drag and drop available for merchants who request it, but it isn’t a very strong editing option.

    Volusion features different themes for V1 and V2. V1 has a selection of 46 themes, 11 of which are free. V1 also sells premium themes at $180.

    V2 has a much smaller set of themes–just 14–and all of them are free and mobile responsive. There do not appear to be any premium templates available for V2.

    Theme editing between the two versions is different as well. V1 users are equipped with code editing tools. You can use HTML and CSS editors. There are also a WYSIWYG editor and visual style editor, which you can use to adjust and add blocks of content to your site.

    Theme editing with V2 is much more focused on ease of use. You can use V2’s visual editor to make larger changes without touching the code. Or, if you’d prefer, you can make changes directly to the CSS.

    While 3dcart provides more template options, we think Volusion has more user-friendly editing tools. Volusion wins web design.

    Integrations & Add-Ons

    Winner: 3dcart

    3dcart’s marketplace features plenty of add-ons that offer a variety of features, including order management, shipping, security, social media, dropshipping, channel management, advertisement, and more. There’s also a RESTful API that developers can use to build more customizations and connections.

    Volusion also has a strong app marketplace for merchants on the V1 version. There are over 70 integrations available for shipping, email, accounting, and more.

    V2, on the other hand, does not provide so many options. There are only 22 applications currently available. It’s worth noting, however, that one of those applications is Zapier, which facilitates connections to many, many more integrations. Zapier is a paid service.

    Both versions of Volusion also have APIs available for further development.

    We’re basing our decision for this category on numbers. 3dcart wins!

    Payment Processing

    Winner: 3dcart

    3dcart connects with over 100 payment gateways. You’ll have plenty of options.

    Both versions of Volusion connect with significantly fewer payment gateways. V1 has 30+ payment gateways, and V1 only connects with two options: PayPal and Stripe (if you connect with Stripe, you can also enable Apple Pay).

    In addition, Volusion offers its own in-house payment service for V1 merchants only: Volusion Payments. Volusion Payments lets you process transactions for around 2.15% + $0.30 per transaction with no monthly fee (note: this rate is a ballpark number. Your actual rates may be lower or higher). Volusion Payments requires users to sign a three year contract. If you terminate this contract after the 45 day grace period, you will be charged a $99 termination fee. While we’re happy that Volusion has its own payment services, we are displeased with the way they provide information about the services. Volusion is not very upfront about their fees on their website. We wish they were more transparent.

    We’re giving the category to 3dcart.

    Customer Service & Technical Support

    Winner: Tie

    All 3dcart plans come with personalized support via email, live chat, and phone. Self help support options include a knowledge base, video tutorials, a support forum, webinars, and an e-university. 3dcart’s response times are good for inquiries via phone or web ticket. However, their response times for live chat support are significantly delayed. Essentially, “live chat” is just another way to submit web tickets. It takes hours for support reps to get back to you.

    Customer support is the same for both versions of Volusion. All plans (except Mini on V1 and Personal on V2) come with 24/7 support via phone, chat, and email. Self help resources include a knowledge base, webinars, video tutorials, a blog, and guides. There are mixed reviews only about the quality of Volusion’s customer support. Some have great experiences, others don’t.

    Negative Reviews & Complaints

    Winner: Tie

    Every shopping cart comes with its fair share of negative reviews. Here’s what users dislike about each platform:

    3dcart

    • Poor Customer Service: Users claim customer support is slow to respond to inquiries. Note below in the “Positive Reviews” section that this is not a universal experience.
    • Plain Templates: 3dcart’s templates aren’t bad, but they lack pizzaz.
    • Expensive Add-Ons: The cost of using multiple integrations and extensions can add up.

    Volusion

    • Additional Fees: Merchants on both versions face additional fees: bandwidth overage fees on V1 and transaction fees on V2.
    • Dated Software: Users complain that Volusion’s features are not up-to-date with cutting edge software.
    • Misleading Sales Reps: I have seen a lot of reports of misleading sales tactics. It’s worth noting that Volusion has recently put a lot of work into improving their support system, and they claim higher levels of customer satisfaction.
    • No Free SSL On V1: Merchants on V1 have to purchase their own SSL certificate. These are normally included for free with hosted software.

    Positive Reviews & Testimonials

    Winner: Tie

    Despite these negative reviews, there’s still a lot of good things to say about both of these platforms. Here’s what users love about 3dcart and Volusion:

    3dcart

    • Low Price: 3dcart’s prices are competitive with other leading eCommerce software.
    • Good Customer Support: Some users have positive experiences with 3dcart’s support team.
    • Easy To Use: 3dcart’s UI is easy to learn, no matter what your technical ability level is.
    • Many Features Built In: 3dcart offers a robust feature set right out of the box. You’ll be able to access advanced features without add-ons.

    Volusion

    • It Works: Users like that they can get started right away with all the necessary features. In addition, Volusion users say the software is bug-free, which is a huge plus.
    • No Transaction Fees On V1: Merchants on V1 do not have to pay transaction fees. They just need to monitor their bandwidth usage to make sure it stays within limits.
    • Ease Of Use: Volusion’s UI are very user friendly, especially on V2.

    Final Verdict

    Winner: 3dcart

    It’s a close race, but in the end, 3dcart takes the lead. A strong feature set, low pricing, and high ease of use make 3dcart an excellent eCommerce platform for many merchants.

    Despite the results of this comparison, Volusion may still be the right choice for your business. Volusion’s two versions give merchants a level of choice that 3dcart can’t offer. You may find that V1 or V2 fits your needs perfectly.

    Whichever you choose, we hope you’ll consider signing up for a free trial of the software before you purchase. You can learn a lot from just a couple of hours exploring a software’s admin panel. Click the links below to get started with a trial of 3dcart or Volusion.

    Get Started With 3dcart

    Get Started With Volusion V1

    Get Started With Volusion V2

    The post 3dcart VS Volusion appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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    What is Shared Hosting?

    What is Shared Hosting

    Shared Hosting is a hosting product that shares server resources across several hosting accounts. Shared Hosting is used as an affordable, straightforward hosting solution for the majority of websites.

    How Shared Hosting Works

    Shared hosting is quite literal. There’s no technical meaning – you are simply sharing a server with other websites. A shared hosting server runs resource management software that is configured & maintained by a hosting company. They allocate & manage resources across accounts. The accounts are fully private & do not interact with other accounts.

    Imagine real-world housing for a second. A shared hosting server is kind of like a condominium. Even though each owner fully owns the unit as a property owner – the actual structure & property is shared as commons. Each condo can come with its own amenities & floorplan. The owner can do whatever they want as long as it does not impact the overall building or trash the common property.

    A shared server is configured to operate smoothly & without interruption across accounts. But since resources are shared, the hosting company can (and does) impose limits & rules on each account to prevent any downtime for all accounts.

    What Shared Hosting Is Used For

    Shared Hosting is used for running most of the websites on the Internet. Given the resources of a typical server and the demands of a typical website, most website owners do not need anything else. With a shared server – you know generally what rules & limits you have, and you trust the hosting company to provide those resources to run your website.

    If you know how many visits you receive, and how efficient your website is – then you can pay a locked-in price for those resources.

    Going back to the condominium analogy, as long as you know how many people will be living at your condo and what your typical day looks like (which is most people) – the shared structure makes sense.

    Often I’ll see publishers switch away from a shared hosting plan around 25,000 to 30,000 visits per month (that’s when I upgraded). For an ecommerce site, I’ll often see the switch happening around 10,000 visits per month.

    Now – both of those numbers are not benchmarks. Your numbers can vary wildly depending on the exact specifications of your website. It always pays to check your own memory, bandwidth, and CPU usage on your hosting account’s cPanel page.

    It also pays to understand your traffic patterns, your hosting company’s customer support – and how your website runs.

    Shared hosting has some notoriety for crashing under high traffic spikes. But that misses the bigger story. Usually all the accounts on a given server are not spiking at the same time. Unless you are wildly out of proportion with your website – even a good shared host can handle plenty of traffic.

    Back in 2013, I wrote a personal blog post that went viral – in quite a big way. I was on a shared server at HostGator. I gave support a heads up when a big website picked up the piece. I implemented a static cache of the page. My site handled 10,000 visits in an one hour fine.

    Now shared hosting certainly can (and does) crash. Plenty of sites outgrow them – and there are plenty of other flavors of hosting products.

    Shared Hosting Differences

    Shared Hosting exists on a spectrum of hosting products. Here’s how it differs.

    Shared Hosting vs. VPS Hosting

    Shared Hosting offers fewer dedicated resources than VPS hosting. Often they will be the same server – but with VPS, more is pre-allocated rather than shared. It’s kind of like a townhome vs. a condominium. They are both private property within a building. But – with a townhome, everything is allocated (including the land and attic space). With a condominium, a lot more is shared.

    With shared hosting, you have to share all of a server’s resources with the other websites on your server. This means that you can usually get a much better price than VPS – and you can usually get the same performance since the hosting company will work to keep the server load balanced.

    However, a VPS hosting plan will offer more control and more freedom. You’ll know exactly how much your website can handle – because you know that another spiking website won’t affect yours.

    Shared Hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting

    Shared Hosting offers dedicated resources on a single server that is shared with other accounts. Dedicated hosting offers the entire server for your use. You are basically leasing a server with support & top tier connection to the Internet.

    Shared Hosting vs. Cloud Hosting

    Shared Hosting offers dedicated resources on a single server whereas Cloud Hosting decentralizes your website files & databases across thousands of servers everywhere. With shared Hosting, you pay for agreed-upon resources. With Cloud Hosting, you pay for use.

    It’s kind of like purchasing a townhome vs. having some sort of AirBnB subscription where you can stay anywhere, anytime, as long as you pay.

    With Cloud Hosting, you basically have unlimited resources – but you pay for each use. With Shared Hosting, you pay a stable price for stable resources. It’s like an a la carte all you can eat buffet vs. ordering an entree for a single price.

    Confusingly, many hosting companies mix and match the advantages and disadvantages of each. A common combination is to use Cloud Hosting as backup for Shared Hosting for a set price.

    Cloud Hosting is also rarely bundled with customer support. Cloud providers are all the big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Oracle, and Microsoft. It’s a commodity for sale.

    Now – some hosting companies are creating innovative hosting plans that bundle support and pre-purchased credits for a single priced Cloud Hosting plan.

    However, in that case, you are still paying for uses rather that resources. It’s just that you are pre-purchasing the uses.

    What To Look for in Shared Hosting

    Since you are paying for shared resources, shopping for Shared Hosting is simpler than shopping for other hosting products.

    You are really looking for –

    • Server Resources & Performance (memory, bandwidth, processors, etc)
    • Account Rules & Limits (ie, databases, domains, disk space)
    • Customer & Technical Support
    • Account Management & Ease of Use
    • Server Configurations & Software
    • Plan Bonuses (ie, automated backups, etc)

    Shared Hosting Providers

    I’ve used quite a few Shared Hosting providers both for my own projects and for clients. Here’s the main 4 companies that I’ve used & really liked. I receive customer referral fees, but all the data & opinion is based on my professional experience.

    Name Best if you want… Features!
    InMotion …high-performance & independent-owned w/ great support. See Features.
    HostGator …overall value w/ good pricing, support & unmetered features. See Features.
    SiteGround …good support & advanced features w/ plans to grow. See Features.
    Bluehost …name-brand hosting w/ good support, pricing & clean interface. See Features.

    I also created a more in-depth best shared hosting guide with a quiz here.

    Additionally, using a shared host will perform much better if you understand the basics of how servers & speed works. I wrote a Beginner’s Guide to Website Speed & Performance here.

    The post What is Shared Hosting? appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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    What is Cloud Hosting?

    What is Cloud Hosting

    Cloud Hosting is a hosting product that distributes your website data among an entire network of data centers with near infinite resources. Cloud hosting usually charge per use rather than per resource feature. Cloud hosting is provided by the big tech companies like Amazon, Google, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM – but is sometimes resold via traditional hosting brands who bundle customer support.

    How Cloud Hosting Works

    Usually website files live on a hosting server that is leased by a hosting company. A cloud is an entire network of data centers that host website files in a distributed & decentralized fashion. It gets way more technical than that – but basically it’s just raw server resources for rent based on use rather than renting a part of a server.

    Imagine real-world housing for a second. Traditional hosting is like buying a house, townhouse or condominium. You buy it and you can do whatever you want. Cloud hosting is like having access to any house anywhere in the world whenever and wherever – you just have to pay per night for whatever house you use.

    The actual cloud is built by the biggest tech companies in the world. There are not that many. Amazon is the biggest. They are closely followed by Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM.

    Cloud hosting as a product is also something sold by traditional hosting companies. They usually do not have their own clouds. Instead, they pre-purchase and bundle credits on a big tech cloud.

    This product works because none of the big cloud providers give tech support – at all. None. Also, you never really know how much your bill will be. I’ve had a small site on Google’s cloud for over a year. I think it has cost a few dozen dollars – all covered by my sign up credit. But most sites with a few thousand visits per month can run between $10 and $40 per month depending on how big and complex their site is.

    What Cloud Hosting Is Used For

    Cloud Hosting is used for running websites that need varying resources and want unlimited performance. The only time your site will ever go down is if Google or Amazon go down. That happens – but it’s usually only for minutes and it makes international news.

    If you know how many visits you receive, and how efficient your website is – then cloud hosting can be insanely cheap. You can host a site on the cloud directly for pennies. But if you have even a bit of traffic – then your costs will be in the ballpark of traditional hosting…with no real cap.

    Moving to the cloud is usually done by website owners who know & find an advantage in managing their website’s performance. You can get very responsive and very reliable websites in the cloud. But there’s also a tradeoff with complexity, overall value, and cost.

    I’ve had my most maddening consulting work on 100% cloud hosted websites (I’m looking at you Microsoft Azure) when the client absolutely did not need cloud hosting.

    But cloud hosting will also serve a really useful complementary role – especially for storage or mirroring. Some hosts provide cloud credits for automated backups, media storage, and traffic spikes.

    What To Look for in Cloud Hosting

    Since you are paying for use, shopping for cloud hosting is different in many ways.

    You are really looking for –

    • Cloud Setup
    • Customer Support (how much they’ll help with setup)
    • Prices per Projected Use
    • Plan Bonuses (ie, automated backups, etc)

    Best Cloud Hosting Providers

    I’ve used a few Cloud Hosting providers both for my own projects and for clients. Here’s the main 5 companies that I’ve used & really liked. I receive customer referral fees, but all the data & opinion is based on my professional experience.

    Name Best if you want… Features!
    SiteGround …great overall value, high resources w/ great customer support. See Features.
    HostGator …unlimited bandwidth w/ affordable pricing tiers. See Features.
    CloudWays …very high performance w/ great customer support. See Features.
    Google …to run your site on the cloud that runs Google. See Features.
    Digital Ocean …developer-focused platform w/ fast, global deployment. See Features.

    Additionally, using a cloud hosting plan will not automatically solve your website speed issues. I wrote a Beginner’s Guide to Website Speed & Performance here.

    The post What is Cloud Hosting? appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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    QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing And Features

    As an employee, the payroll process seems like a piece of cake. You wait until every second Friday, grab your paycheck deposit, and that’s it! But from the employer’s perspective, payroll is much more complicated.

    More goes into payroll than meets the eye, like making sure your company is set up for payroll taxes, properly recording all of your employee’s tax information, and staying on top of paydays. Luckily, accounting software programs like QuickBooks offer payroll features and provide plenty of resources to help you learn how payroll works and what your payroll obligations are.

    This post will cover the cost and features of each QuickBooks payroll plan and guide you through how to choose which plan is right for your business.

    QuickBooks Payroll Plans & Pricing

    Looking into purchasing QuickBooks Payroll? QuickBooks Desktop offer three payroll plans: Basic, Enhanced, and Assisted. Each option varies by features, automations, and price.

    Every QuickBooks Desktop payroll option is compatible with QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Premier, and QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise. (If you use the Gold or Platinum version of QuickBooks Enterprise, payroll is already included in your subscription).

    Let’s break it down.

    Basic

    QuickBooks Basic Payroll costs $29/mo + $2/per employee (though Intuit usually offers a discount for QuickBooks payroll). This is the smallest payroll plan. With QuickBooks Basic Payroll, you can process your payroll and pay employees by check or direct deposit.

    Basic Payroll also includes:

    • Instant paychecks
    • Pay W-2 employees
    • Pay 1099 employees
    • Free direct deposit
    • Payroll support

    The one drawback of Basic payroll is that it does not include any of your payroll tax forms. You’d have to buy tax forms separately and file them on your own.

    Enhanced

    QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll costs $45/mo +$2/mo per employee (though Intuit usually offers a discount for QuickBooks payroll). Enhanced payroll is QuickBooks Desktop’s do-it-yourself payroll option. You can process your payroll and file your taxes directly through QuickBooks.

    Enhanced Payroll includes:

    • Instant paychecks
    • Pay W-2 employees
    • Pay 1099 employees
    • Free direct deposit
    • E-filing for W-2’s
    • Free tax forms
    • Payroll support

    Assisted

    QuickBooks Assisted Payroll costs $109/mo + $2/per employee (though Intuit usually offers a discount for QuickBooks payroll). This plan is aptly named as QuickBooks processes your payroll for you and automatically files your payroll taxes. QuickBooks Desktop Assisted handles the payroll set up for you as well.

    Full-Service Payroll includes:

    • Instant paychecks
    • Pay W-2 employees
    • Pay 1099 employees
    • Free direct deposit
    • Automatic tax filing
    • Free tax forms
    • No tax penalties
    • Free year-end forms
    • Automatic payroll setup
    • Payroll support

    With this plan, all you have to do is make sure your employee’s hours are entered into QuickBooks and the rest is taken care of for you.

    Which QuickBooks Payroll Plan Is Right For Me?

    When it comes to choosing the best QuickBooks Desktop Payroll plan, it ultimately comes down to how much you can afford and how much work you want to do personally.

    To help you determine which QuickBooks payroll plan is best, here’s a side-by-side comparison of all three QuickBooks payroll plans:

    Basic Enhanced Full-Service
    Pricing $29/mo $45/mo $109/mo
    Payroll Support ✓ ✓ ✓
    Payroll Processing ✓ ✓ ✓
    Payroll Checks ✓ ✓ ✓
    Direct Deposit ✓ ✓ ✓
    W-2 Employees ✓ ✓ ✓
    1099 Employees ✓ ✓ ✓
    Tax Forms ✘ ✓ ✓
    E-filing ✘ ✓ ✓
    Automatic Payroll Processing ✘ ✘ ✓
    Automatic E-Filing ✘ ✘ ✓
    Payroll Setup ✘ ✘ ✓
    Year-End Forms ✘ ✘ ✓

    If you are comfortable running payroll and handling taxes yourself, the Basic or Enhanced plan might be best. If you don’t feel good about running payroll yourself or don’t have enough time to do so, the Assisted plan might be a better choice.

    Make sure to check your budget and see which payroll plan you can afford as well. If you are a small startup with a tight budget, you might have to stick with the Basic plan and spend some time learning how to run payroll. If this is the case, don’t worry. We’ll teach you everything you need to know about processing payroll in the rest of this post.

    Where To Buy QuickBooks Payroll

    There are a few ways to purchase QuickBooks Desktop Payroll: on Intuit’s site or through one of QuickBooks’ resellers.

    Office supply stores, like Staples or Office Max, often sell the software. Retail stores like Walmart and Best Buy — and even online giants like Amazon — also carry QuickBooks Payroll software. Often, the software is bundled with the purchase of QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Premier, or QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise.

    If you are a QuickBooks Enterprise Gold or Platinum user, then your QuickBooks subscription already comes with payroll support.

    QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Troubleshooting & Support

    Every QuickBooks Desktop payroll plan comes with tech support at no additional cost. When you sign up for payroll, QuickBooks sends you an email containing several of the main support options. However, there are a few additional support options.

    Here are all of the ways you can contact QuickBooks Payroll Support:

    • Phone: Call the QuickBooks Payroll phone support number at (800) 450-8459.
    • Payroll Checklist: QuickBooks created a payroll setup checklist to help you gather all of the information you need to set up payroll before you begin the process.
    • Payroll Guide: There is also a QuickBooks Payroll Getting Started Guide that covers everything you need to know about setting up payroll, running payroll, understanding your payroll tax obligations, and provides additional employer resources.
    • Payroll New Customer Center: I highly recommend taking a look at this resource before setting up your QuickBooks Payroll, even if you aren’t new to payroll. First-time payroll software users and users mitigating from other software can both benefit from the guides, videos, and other resources in the Payroll New Customer Center. You’ll also find FAQs and help articles.
    • Contact Form: Within the Payroll New Customer Center there’s a contact option where you can search existing resources for answers to your question or problem. If the answers are inadequate, you’ll can then contact support directly.
    • Help Centers: There is a Basic and Enhanced payroll help center and an Assisted payroll help center. Both features dozens of how-to articles with detailed instructions. The help centers also help troubleshoot issues with QuickBooks Payroll.  Here’s are some common QuickBooks payroll problems and how to resolve them.
    • QuickBooks Community: There is also a QuickBooks Community where users can ask questions and receive answers from other users and QuickBooks’ own team. This is a good spot to look if you’re having issues with QuickBooks Payroll, as someone may have had the same issue before.

    Final Thoughts

    Now that you know what each payroll plan is capable of and exactly how much each plan costs, you can make an informed decision on which QuickBooks payroll plan is right for you. If you still aren’t sure, take advantage of the free 30-day payroll trial to see if QB payroll is right for your business.

    If you do decide to use QuickBooks, be sure to check out our QuickBooks Desktop Pro 101 series to learn how to set up QuickBooks payroll, run payroll, use direct deposit, and more.

    The post QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing And Features appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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    7 Shopify Dropshipping Apps

    Dropshipping is the sweetest gig in eCommerce, and sellers and advertisers everywhere sing its praises. They claim all you have to do is select the most profitable dropshipping products, and the dollars will roll on in. And while we are skeptical of these claims (check out our article 7 Reasons To Rethink Drop Shipping), for some merchants — particularly those who have done their research, found a dropshipping niche, and sell products in a traditional way as well — dropshipping really does work.

    Just run a quick search on YouTube, and you’ll find dozens of videos from bold teenagers who have made tens of thousands of dollars running dropshipping sites. If you look closer at some of these videos, you’ll find another commonality: most of these dropshipping success stories came about on the Shopify platform.

    Shopify (read our review) is one of the most popular shopping carts in the eCommerce industry, especially for US and Canadian merchants. Shopify specializes in ease of use and simple, sleek design.

    As a SaaS (software as a service) platform, Shopify manages the technical aspects of operating an online store, including the hosting and site security. You’re only responsible for designing your site, adding content, and fulfilling orders. Shopify users benefit from simple daily operations and 24/7 access to a support team.

    And if you choose to dropship with Shopify, your business operations will be simplified one step further. By following the dropshipping model, you essentially outsource your whole fulfillment process to your suppliers. When a customer places an order on your site, instead of picking, packing, and shipping the product yourself, you place an identical order with your supplier. The supplier will then ship the product directly to your customer. The product never reaches your hands.

    If you’d like, you can go about this dropshipping process manually. For every order on your site, you head over to your chosen marketplace–often sellers use AliExpress–and place the order again.

    Or, you could make the process more automatic with an app from the Shopify marketplace. Shopify dropshipping apps let you connect your store to one or more supplier marketplaces. Products will be easier for you to add to your site, and the fulfillment process will be much simpler (in some cases, you just need to click “Place Order” to fulfill).

    In this article, we’ll be covering seven of the best dropshipping apps for Shopify users. We’ve rated these apps based on their popularity and overall star ranking on the Shopify marketplace. Take a look at each individual app for more information on their pricing, features, and pros and cons.

    To learn more about dropshipping with Shopify, take a look at the official Shopify dropshipping guide. This series includes plenty of great insights into how to start dropshipping on Shopify.

    Get Started With Shopify

     

    1) Oberlo

    Oberlo is one of the most popular dropshipping apps for Shopify, which is why we’re including it first. The Oberlo app approaches dropshipping in two different ways. They allow users to link their Shopify accounts to AliExpress, and they provide their own product catalog from which merchants can select and sell products.

    With this app, sellers are able to quickly add products to their Shopify stores and easily place orders with suppliers.

    Pricing

    Oberlo prices their services based on the number of orders you want to fulfill each month. The highest-level plan will also give you access to advanced features and multiple user seats. Take a look at pricing below:

    Starter Plan: Free

    • Up To 50 Orders/Month
    • Shipment Tracking
    • Order Monitoring

    Basic Plan: $29.90/Month

    • Up To 500 Orders/Month
    • Shipment Tracking
    • Order Monitoring

    Pro Plan: $79.90

    • Unlimited Orders
    • Multiple Users
    • Multiple Sales Channels
    • Advanced Features

    Features

    Oberlo includes features that allow for automation of dropshipping fulfillment. Take a look at their full feature list on Oberlo’s website or view my abbreviated list below:

    • Import Dropship Products: Find and add products from AliExpress and the Oberlo Marketplace.
    • Fulfill Orders Automatically: All you have to do is click “Order Product” and then confirm.
    • Automatic Updates: Oberlo automatically transfers inventory and price updates from your chosen marketplace (Oberlo or AliExpress) to your Shopify store.
    • Edit Product Listings: Customize product titles, descriptions, and images.
    • Order Tracking: Find out where your shipments are in the delivery process.
    • Multiple Users: Available on the Pro plan. Let multiple employees access your Oberlo account at the same time.

    The Oberlo app has received significant praise for its ease of use and ability to streamline the process of uploading new products to a Shopify page. Some users have reported difficulties with getting the app to transfer orders from their store to their suppliers. However, these complaints are very much the minority.

    In Short…

    Oberlo + Shopify is one of the most popular combinations for dropshipping merchants. If you haven’t looked into Oberlo yet, you should do so now. Check out Oberlo’s page in the Shopify marketplace and then take a look at Oberlo’s website for more information.

    2) Spocket

    Spocket is a dropshipping marketplace that lets you add products from US, European, and Canadian sellers. Spocket vets these dropship wholesalers to ensure that they offer quality products and customer service. You can benefit from discounts on niche products in the Spocket marketplace and features like automated order fulfillment.

    Learn more about Spocket below:

    Pricing

    Spocket offers a free plan for merchants who choose to include dropship 25 or fewer products. If you’d like to list more products, you’ll have to subscribe to a paid plan.

    Free Forever

    • Unlimited Orders
    • 25 Products
    • Real-Time Inventory Update
    • Currency Exchange
    • Global Pricing

    Pro: $29/Month

    • Unlimited Orders
    • 250 Products
    • Real-Time Inventory Update
    • Currency Exchange
    • Global Pricing
    • Premium Products
    • Branded Invoicing

    Empire: $199/Month

    • Unlimited Orders
    • Unlimited Products
    • Real-Time Inventory Update
    • Currency Exchange
    • Global Pricing
    • Premium Products
    • Branded Invoicing

    Features

    Take a look below at a few of the features that come included with every Spocket plan or view their webpage for more detailed information:

    • Products Ship Quickly: You can expect products to ship within 5-7 day (or 2-5 days locally). This may not seem fast in relation to Amazon Prime, but compared to many dropshipping suppliers, it is speedy.
    • One-Click Fulfillment: Place orders with your suppliers with just one click.
    • Discounted Products: Spocket offers a 30%-60% discount on all products to give you a higher profit margin.
    • Branded Invoices: Customize your invoices and add your logo.
    • Inventory Updates: Make sure you only sell products suppliers have on hand.

    Merchants are big fans of those branded invoices; your customers will receive a branded insert in their shipments with your store’s logo. Merchants also like that Spocket is easy to use and features many desirable products. Some merchants, however, are discouraged by the amount of “Premium Products,” which you must pay to access. Spocket can also be difficult to contact at times, especially in their role as a supplier.

    In Short…

    If you’re looking to find good products quickly, look no further. Spocket has done much of the grunt work on your behalf. Sign up for a free plan to take a look at what they have to offer. Visit Spocket’s page in the Shopify marketplace or view Spocket’s website to learn more.

    3) Spreadr

    Spreadr is different from the above apps because, in addition to providing a connection to a marketplace, Spreadr allows merchants to bring in affiliate income.

    Use Spreadr to import products from Amazon to your Shopify store, and either dropship those products or market them in exchange for a commission.

    The best part of Spreadr’s affiliate program is that you don’t just get a commission on the products you market. You will also receive commision on all products visitors click on or purchase when they come through your site.

    You should know, however, that you cannot use Spreadr to fill an entire online store. To qualify for this app, you must first fill your site with original content, whether that be products, posts, or reviews.

    Pricing

    Spreadr offers their application at one flat rate: $5.00/Month.

    Try out the app for free with a 7-day Free Trial.

    Features

    Because Spreadr’s services are available at one rate, all merchants can expect to access the same features, no matter what. Take a look at Spreadr’s site for more info, or view my list below:

    • One-Click Upload: To upload a new product, just copy-paste the Amazon product URL and click “Add.”
    • Customize Product Descriptions: Make changes to product descriptions, optimize for SEO, and customize product titles.
    • Commissions: Make up to a 10% commission on all purchases (including purchases customers make on products you don’t list).
    • Use Amazon For Dropshipping: Instead of collecting commision, you can choose to use Amazon as a dropshipping source. Or, you can collect orders and fulfill them yourself.
    • Seamless Look: Amazon products appear on your site just like your own products. The only difference is that instead of an “Add to Cart” button there will be a “View on Amazon” button.
    • Locally Stored Product Information: Store product images and information on your Shopify website in order to resize images and display information faster.
    • Enable Auto-Sync: Automatically update price and inventory levels to match Amazon.
    • Bulk Import: Import thousands of Amazon products in minutes.

    Spreadr users love that the affiliate program is quick and easy to implement. While some merchants have a bit of trouble setting up their site, the vast majority are able to get things working very quickly.

    In Short…

    Spreadr is a great way to start Amazon dropshipping on your Shopify store or to just make a buck from commissions. Try out a free 7-day trial by signing up on their page in the Shopify marketplace or read more on the Spreadr website.

    4) AliExpress Dropshipping

    This app from Appfreaker does exactly what you might anticipate. AliExpress Dropshipping for Shopify lets merchants easily import items from AliExpress and order those items through a semi-automated process.

    The app also includes a Chrome extension that allows you to import products and edit product information as you browse.

    Keep reading for more information on dropshipping with AliExpress, including pricing and features.

    Pricing

    AliExpress Dropshipping is available through a subscription plan, but you can try it out for free with a 7-day trial.

    Take a look below at a breakdown of pricing for the application. Pricing is based on the number of items you list on your site, and each step up in pricing gives you access to more Shopify dropshipping suppliers:

    Basic Plan: $5/Month

    • 5,000 Items
    • Unlimited Orders
    • Products Imported From AliExpress

    Standard Plan: $10/Month

    • 10,000 Items
    • Unlimited Orders
    • Products Imported From AliExpress PLUS
      • Alibaba
      • DHgate
      • Banggood
      • Tmart
      • LightInTheBox
      • MiniInTheBox
      • Sammy Dress
      • GearBest

    Pro Plan: $20/Month

    • 20,000 Items
    • Unlimited Orders
    • Products Imported From All Of The Above

    Features

    View all features on Appfreaker’s website or view a shorter list below:

    • Search Products: Search and import products within the application. Begin selling those products quickly.
    • Fulfill Orders: Take advantage of AliExpress Dropshipping’s semi-automated process. You just need to click “Order Product” and then enter payment information. Your customers’ shipping info will be imported for you.
    • Automatic Daily Updates: Update your products pricing and inventory levels as the information changes on AliExpress.
    • Chrome Extension: Take advantage of the single click import.
    • Edit Product Info: Edit product descriptions and images to better match your brand.
    • Pricing Rules: Set rules to update pricing in bulk as you import products.

    Users comment frequently on how they’ve received good support from the platform. They often name specific representatives, which makes me believe they were encouraged to leave a review by the company. Nevertheless, these reviews seem to be genuine. Negative reviews include complaints that the user interface is outdated and that suppliers are slow to fulfill orders. Some customers also cite trouble with getting the app to autosync pricing information.

    In Short…

    AliExpress Dropshipping is not a perfect application, but it is a good one for those who want an easier way to import and sell AliExpress items. Take a look at the Shopify Marketplace for more information and to sign up for that free 7-day trial, or view their website.

    5) Importify

    Importify allows you to connect your Shopify site with the most popular marketplaces. These marketplaces include Amazon, Aliexpress, Etsy, Walmart, and DHgate.

    You can use a Chrome extension to import products, and you’ll be able to customize product info like images, variants, and descriptions.

    If you subscribe to Importify’s Gold Plan (see pricing info below), you’ll get access to semi-automatic fulfillment for Amazon, AliExpress, and DHgate.

    Pricing

    Importify is available on a subscription model. You can try out the software for free with a 1-day free trial. (A single day is the shortest trial period I have ever seen, and I can’t imagine you’ll get a good feel for the software in that time, but at least it’s something?)

    Take a look at pricing information below. Note that the higher up you move in the pricing tiers, the more features you’ll be able to access.

    Basic: $14.95/Month

    • Import Products From Less Popular Marketplaces
      • (Take A Look At Importify’s Supported Websites)
    • Shopify To Shopify Importer
    • Product Customization
    • Pricing Automation
    • Free Chrome Extension
    • 24/7 Customer Service

    Premium: $27.95/Month

    • All Of The Above PLUS
    • Products Import From AliExpress & Amazon

    Gold: $37.95/Month

    • All Of The Above PLUS
    • Semi-Automatic Order Fulfillment From Aliexpress, Amazon, DHgate, DropshipperUS

    Features

    As always, you can view a full list of features on Importify’s website. Take a look at my favorite features below:

    • Product Customization: Make products your own by editing product info like pictures, variants, product titles, and descriptions.
    • Price Automation: Set smart pricing rules so that your products are automatically priced at import.
    • Chrome Extension: Filter marketplaces to find the best products with fast delivery from trusted sellers.
    • Order Fulfillment: Available on the Gold Plan. Take advantage of semi-automatic order fulfillment.

    Customers appreciate Importify’s responsive customer support. They also love that Importify gives you the ability to take your pick of multiple suppliers and marketplaces — particularly useful if you have fairly niche products that may be hard to find in one place. The biggest downside to the software is that in order to access AliExpress and Amazon, you’ll have to subscribe to a Premium or Gold Plan. What’s more, semi-automation is only available on the Gold Plan. This could make Importify one of the more expensive options, depending on your business’s needs.

    In Short…

    I have some concerns with Importify, mostly that you have to pay more to access AliExpress and Amazon, and only the highest level plan offers semi-automatic fulfillment. You can find these features available at a much lower cost with many of the applications I’ve already included in this list.

    On the other hand, Importify allows merchants to list products from multiple marketplaces, which is a feature that’s a bit harder to find with other applications. So, if you are an eCommerce vendor who wants to include products from many different marketplaces, Importify may be the way to go. Visit the Shopify marketplace and Importify’s website for details.

    6) Advanced Shipping Manager

    Advanced Shipping Manager does just what its name implies. With this app, you’ll have advanced control over your dropshipping process.

    Advanced Shipping Manager specializes in two areas: suppliers and shipping. Like other apps, Advanced Shipping Manager connects your Shopify account with many supplier and wholesalers. In addition, Advanced Shipping Manager gives you extensive control over shipping methods and markups.

    Keep reading to learn how you can take control of the shipping aspect of your dropshipping business.

    Pricing

    Advanced Shipping Manager is available at one flat rate: $85/month.

    Sound like a lot? I thought so too, but Advanced Shipping Manager guarantees that you will see a return on your investment within your first month on the software, or they’ll refund your first month’s subscription.

    Features

    Advanced Shipping Manager has quite a few features built into their software. I recommend you head over to their website for the full information. I have included a summary below:

    • Origin Zip Code For Items: Create specific shipping rules based on origin zip code, courier, and markups. You can also offer free shipping.
    • Dimensions: Set dimensions for your items to better calculate shipping rates.
    • Ship Individual Items Alone: Mark fragile items as “Ship Alone.” Set shipping costs appropriately.
    • Multi-Box Items: Set weights and dimensions for large, multi-piece products that ship in multiple boxes (like a sectional sofa).
    • Shipping Tables & Real-Time Shipping Rates: Calculate rates any way you’d like.
    • Dropshipping Markups: Set markups for products that are dropshipped.

    Advanced Shipping Manager does its job well. Sellers report that the app gives them excellent control over shipping, and software is easy to set up and use. The only potential disadvantage is that the Advanced Shipping Manager’s flat rate is significantly higher than you’ll find elsewhere. (You should note, however, that that is my own personal concern. I have not seen any users complaining about price.)

    In Short…

    If you aren’t scared off by the $85 price tag, and you’re looking for a way to better manage your shipping, give Advanced Shipping Manager a shot. There’s a lot you can do with the application, and it just might solve your shipping woes. Learn more by going to the Shopify Marketplace and/or visiting Advanced Shipping Manager’s website.

    7) Modalyst

    Modalyst is a Shopify dropship integration that lets you upload products from three different marketplaces onto your Shopify site. You’ll have access to the Modalyst marketplace (which is the main purpose of the app), and you’ll be able to use a Chrome extension to upload products from Shein and Wish.com.

    When you upload a product, you’ll instantly add inventory information, images, product descriptions, and pricing to your store.

    Read on to learn if this app is a good integration for your store.

    Pricing

    Basic Plan: Free Forever

    • 25 Product Limit
    • Unlimited Orders
    • 5% Transaction Fee

    Pro Plan: $45/Month

    • Unlimited Products
    • Unlimited Orders
    • Access To Shein.com, Wish.com, Modalyst Marketplace
    • 2% Transaction Fee

    Premium Plan: $150/Month

    • Unlimited Products
    • Unlimited Orders
    • Access To Shein.com, Wish.com, Modalyst Marketplace
    • 1% Transaction Fee

    Features

    See Modalyst’s website for a full list of features. Read my own summary below:

    • Shein.com Integration: Get free standard shipping to the US on orders over $49. Learn more about the Shein.com integration.
    • Wish.com Integrations: Order forms are automatically filled out with customer info. Learn more about the Wish.com integration.
    • One-Click Add: Add products to your site quickly and easily.
    • Real-Time Product Updates: When your products are updated in your supplier’s website, they’ll be updated on your site too.
    • Customize Products: Edit product descriptions, pricing, variants, and images.
    • Pricing Rules: Set rules to price items as you add them.

    Modalyst users appreciate that the app is easy to use, and they report having good experiences with customer support. The main complaint I’ve seen is that some customers have experienced inconsistencies with Wish.com, stating that there are occasional discrepancies between Wish.com’s price listings and what you actually pay.

    In Short…

    Before you make a paid commitment to Modalyst, I recommend you sign up for the free trial. That way, you can browse through Modalyst’s marketplace to get a better understanding of the selling potential for your site. Sign up for a free plan in Shopify’s app marketplace, or view the Modalyst website for detailed information.

    Final Thoughts

    When it comes to Shopify dropshipping, you have quite a few options to choose from, and each dropshipping app claims that it will help you get rich more quickly and easily than the next.

    As you research Shopify dropshipping apps, take every developer’s claim with a grain of salt. Read customer reviews on each application, and sign up for any available free trial.

    We recommend that you start your research with the apps we’ve included in this list. They have all been thoroughly tested by the Shopify community, and have emerged with high praise. Test one or two of these Shopify dropshipping apps, and see what a good extension can do for your ecommerce website.

    Get Started With Shopify

    The post 7 Shopify Dropshipping Apps appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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