10 Signs It’s Time To Rethink Your Shipping Strategy

Shipping effectively is one of the most complex aspects of online selling, and a topic we focus on frequently here at Merchant Maverick. With so many variables affecting shipping, it can be difficult to know where your business stands. You could be missing out on valuable opportunities for savings or faster shipping without even knowing!

To help reveal some of these potential blind spots, we’ve compiled a list of 10 red-flag indicators. It may be time to rethink your shipping strategy if…

1. You Have Not Reevaluated Your Shipping Strategy Within The Past Year

Shipping rates change as often as teen fashion. If you aren’t up to date on the most recent pricing adjustments, your dollars may be flying right out the door.

And shipping rates aren’t the only elements in flux. Very likely, your fulfillment trends are changing frequently as well. Your customer base and shipping volume will vary from year to year. You may now have more international customers than you did in 2016, and you may be shipping larger items than in previous years.

A shipping strategy is not something you can set and forget. Much like your annual budget, your shipping strategy is something that should be monitored and reconsidered regularly.

If it’s been a year (or more) since you last considered your shipping methods, now is the time to look again!

2. You Use Only One Shipping Carrier

Variety is the spice of life, but it’s also the key to success when it comes to shipping. What one shipping carrier does poorly, another does well. If you sell products in multiple dimensions and weights (and most merchants do), you should be using at least two shipping carriers in your fulfillment process.

The main three shipping carriers are USPS, UPS, and FedEx, and every one has its own strengths and weaknesses. In fact, we’ve written an entire article describing the pros and cons of each carrier. Take a look at that article for more information or view a very brief summary of each carrier’s best qualities below.

USPS: Cheapest Option For Small & Light Packages

The USPS (US Postal Service) is without a doubt the cheapest option for merchants selling small and light products. If your packages weight less than two pounds, USPS will likely ship for the lowest rates — and if packages are lighter than 13 ounces, USPS simply can’t be beat.

UPS: Guaranteed Express Shipping

If you’re an Amazon Prime user, you may have noticed that many two-day shipments are delivered by UPS. That’s because UPS provides dependable, fast shipping with advanced tracking services. If you need to get a package to your customer ASAP, UPS may be the way to go.

FedEx: Saturday Delivery

Unlike UPS, FedEx does not charge additional fees for Saturday delivery. It’s all part of their regular offerings. Delivering products to your customers two days early could be the edge your business needs.

For more detailed information about the pros and cons of each shipping service, take a look at our article: USPS, UPS, Or FedEx: Which Shipping Carrier Is Best?

3. You Don’t Use Shipping Software

If you’re already using two or more shipping carriers, you know that juggling multiple shipping rates can be difficult. Integrating with a robust shipping software can eliminate or diminish a few of the challenges that inevitably come with a diverse shipping strategy.

Shipping software programs, like Shipping Easy, ShipStation, and Ordoro, simplify the shipping process by running rates calculations for you. They also generate packing slips and shipping labels, which you can print in bulk.

What’s more, these software companies typically make arrangements with major shipping carriers to offer discounts on shipping rates. If you haven’t tried a shipping software yet, the discounts alone may be worth it.

Read our article, The Best Shipping Software Solutions For eCommerce Businesses, to learn more about which options may be right for your store.

4. You Don’t Give Your Customers Options

Customers love options. When it comes to shipping speed and price, you should provide customers with at least few different choices.

I recommend giving customers three options: free and slow; cheap and moderately paced (around 5-7 business days); and fast and expensive.

Not every merchant can offer free shipping to all their customers, but I recommend finding some way, however limited, to provide free shipping without breaking the bank. For example, you could try offering free shipping for purchases over a set amount or running free shipping promos. Test your options until you find something that works.

By giving your customers choices, you decrease the risk of cart abandonment. You won’t scare away customers who would rather wait a few days than pay for expedited shipping, and you won’t frustrate customers who need your products tomorrow.

5. You Don’t Get Packaging Materials For Free

If you purchase all of your shipping materials, you could be missing out on big savings.

Many merchants are unaware that the USPS offers free boxes and envelopes to their customers. You can order these packing materials and have them delivered to your warehouse. Keep in mind that these boxes are intended to be used for USPS’s Priority Mail. So, if you’re going to be using these free packaging materials, you should also be shipping via Priority Mail.

If you’re really trying to save a buck and you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, you can take a dumpster diving approach. Contact local brick-and-mortar businesses and ask if you can raid their recycling bin. Retail stores get rid of loads of cardboard and filler material every week, and they might not be opposed to you repurposing some of that waste.

Be creative, and you will find ways to save on the everyday aspects of shipping!

6. Customers Complain About Late Packages

This one is a no-brainer. If customers aren’t receiving their purchases on time, something needs to be done.

Start by considering your order processing system. How long does it take to get an order packaged, labeled, and out the door? Is there anything you can do to streamline that process?

Next, revisit your site’s shipping promises to make sure they’re in line with what shipping carriers can reasonably deliver. Only advertise delivery times that you can guarantee.

If the fault for your delivery delays lies with your shipping carriers, you should consider signing up with 71lbs. 71lbs will automatically file for shipping refunds on FedEx and UPS packages that are delivered even one minute late. This could amount to big bucks for you, which may redeem some of the damage done by late shipments.

7. You’ve Never Heard Of Last Mile Delivery

Last mile delivery services (UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost) let you ship one package through two different carriers, ultimately cutting down on shipping costs.

With last mile delivery, your packages ship first with a private carrier (UPS or FedEx) until they reach your customer’s local post office. The USPS handles the delivery from there.

Letting the USPS handle the last mile of your deliveries will add an extra day or so to your delivery time, but it will also eliminate the residential surcharges that you would have incurred with UPS and FedEx.

You will have to determine for yourself whether an extra day’s delay in shipping is worth the savings. Either way, just being aware of the option is a step in the right direction.

8. You “Wing It” When It Comes To Return Shipping

You work hard to sell your products, so it’s discouraging when customers change their minds about their purchases. Unfortunately, no matter how good your product descriptions and images are, you will always be faced with customers who simply don’t want your products after they’ve been delivered.

With a return rate as high as 20% for apparel and soft good (up to 30% during the holidays!), returns are inevitable. So when it comes to managing returns, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Create a refund policy early on and make that policy very clear. Put it on your FAQs page, on every product page, and on your checkout page.

If you have chosen to offer free refunds, one strategy you may consider is including pre-printed return labels with your shipments. Your customers will simply attach these labels to their returns and drop them off at a nearby carrier office. You will only be charged for these shipping labels when they are scanned.

If you’d prefer not to make returns quite so available to your customers, you can also offer free (or paid) return labels through email when requested.

Regardless, you should have a set plan for returns, rather than scrambling every time the issue arises.

9. You Don’t Include Branded & Promotional Inserts

The way you choose to package your products says a lot about your brand. eCommerce marketers refer to this branding as the “unboxing experience,” and you want your brand to shine as your customers receive their orders.

However, for many sellers, the expense of custom boxes and luxurious filler material is simply too much to justify. If this is you, you may consider instead including a few branded inserts in your packages.

This is your opportunity to communicate with your customers away from a computer screen. Send thank you notes, promotional inserts, or small gifts in every package. Engage with your customers in a more personal way by giving them a tangible piece of your brand.

10. You Spend Too Much Time Filling Orders

Your main job should be managing your business, not filling orders. So, if you spend a large portion of your time packaging and shipping orders, now is a good time to reevaluate your shipping strategy.

Consider integrating with a solid shipping software program and/or hiring additional help to tackle that overwhelming number of orders. Just one extra person working a few hours each week can free you up to take care of more important things, like actually running an online store.

If you’ve tried all of that already and you’re still swimming in packing peanuts, it may be time to go one step further. Look into outsourcing your fulfillment with a professional logistics company. These fulfillment services will store, package, and ship your products. What’s more, they’ll handle all aspects of customer service pertaining to shipping. Of course, convenience comes at a cost, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons of these services as you make your decision.

Take a look at our article, Learn To Delegate: What It Means To Outsource Your Fulfillment, to learn more.

Final Thoughts

Do you resonate with any of the statements above? If so, it’s time to dive back into your business plan and rethink how you do fulfillment. Simplify, streamline, and save!

Find more resources about mastering shipping in our blog or read the shipping section of our free, downloadable eBook: The Beginner’s Guide To Starting An Online Store.

The post 10 Signs It’s Time To Rethink Your Shipping Strategy appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Personal Credit Cards For Business Expenses

credit cards for startups

If you’re launching a new business, you may naturally be attracted to the idea of getting a business credit card to use for your business expenses. And why not? “Business” is right there in the name.

However, there are a number of reasons why you might want to go with a personal credit card instead, especially when getting your startup off the ground. For one thing, the CARD Act of 2009 regulates personal credit cards. By law, personal credit card providers can’t jack up your APR overnight or charge excessive fees for minor infractions. While most credit card companies extend these safeguards to business credit card holders as a courtesy, many do not. Similarly, introductory rates associated with personal credit cards must be offered for the first six months. Not so with business cards.

What’s more, the incentive programs associated with personal credit cards may be more fitting for your needs than the rewards associated with business credit cards. Your startup likely does not yet need a large office, for example, so a business card that offers discounts on office supplies probably doesn’t hold any special appeal.

Let’s take a look at the best personal credit cards for entrepreneurs.

General Cash Back Cards

Most embryonic businesses will want to select a personal credit card with a solid, all-purpose rewards program. The following cards can help you maximize your profits on the everyday purchases you make for your budding business, whether you’re spending on gas for your car, paint for your office, printer paper, or new-client lunches.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

For entrepreneurs who require flexibility in a credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is an ideal choice. It’s a flat-rate cash-back card, so there are no bonus categories — you get cash back on all purchases, and you are allowed great flexibility in how you redeem your rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited
credit cards for startups
Annual Fee $0
APR Variable, 16.24% – 24.99%
Signup Bonus $150 if you spend $500 in the first three months
Rewards Automatic 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Can use your rewards to book travel with Chase
Visit Site

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card has no annual fee, and you also get an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months. (Unfortunately, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.)

When you’re starting a new business, you may find yourself making all manners of unexpected purchases. To this end, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card automatically gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You won’t have to keep track of the categories your purchases fall into; everything is covered. And you can redeem for cash back in any amount you wish — there’s no minimum redemption.

Your redemption options continue from there. Beyond getting a statement credit or a direct deposit to your checking or savings accounts, you can also redeem your rewards by booking trips through Chase’s travel portal, which is great if your startup has you shuttling around. And if you use the Chase Freedom mobile app, you can redeem your rewards at certain participating stores.

If you have other Chase cards, you can also transfer rewards to them to take advantage of their particular redemption options.

All in all, Chase Freedom Unlimited is a very versatile card.

US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature

This is another card with versatility up the wazoo. Want to pick your own bonus categories to fit your startup? The US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card might be the one for you.

US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature
credit cards for startups
Annual Fee $0
APR Variable, 15.24% – 24.24%
Signup Bonus $150 if you spend $500 in the first 90 days
Rewards 5% cash back on two categories of your choice ($2,000 purchase limit per quarter)
Unlimited 2% cash back on an everyday category of your choice (gas, groceries, restaurants, etc)
1% cash back on all other net purchases
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The US Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card has no annual fee, though the introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months only applies to balances transferred within 60 days of opening the card.

Here’s where the versatility comes in: You’ll get 5% cash back on the first $2,000 worth of purchases per quarter in two categories of your choosing. According to US Bank, category options are subject to change on a quarterly basis, but as of January 2018, these categories are:

  • Ground Transportation
  • Select Clothing Stores
  • Cell Phones
  • Electronics Stores
  • Car Rentals
  • Gyms/Fitness Centers
  • Bookstores
  • Fast Food
  • Sporting Goods Stores
  • Department Stores
  • Furniture Stores
  • Movie Theaters

Furthermore, you’ll get unlimited 2% cash back on one “everyday” category of your choosing:

  • Gas Stations
  • Groceries
  • Restaurants

Lastly, all other eligible net purchases earn 1% cash back.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to remember to log in to choose new bonus categories every quarter. Also, the cash rewards expire after three years, you can’t transfer the cash to other rewards programs, and there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. The credit score requirements are pretty steep as well. On the plus side, there are no limits on the total amount of cash back you can earn and no minimum redemption amount.

Capital One Quicksilver

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is a good option for the new business owner whose expenses don’t fit neatly into approved categories.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
credit cards for entrepreneurs
Annual Fee $0
APR Variable, 14.24%-24.24%
Signup Bonus $150 if you spend $500 in the first three months
Rewards Automatic 1.5% cash back on all purchases
50% back as a statement credit on your monthly Spotify Premium subscription (runs through April 2018)
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The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card bears some similarities to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. There’s no annual fee, and you’ll get a 0% intro APR for 9 months. It’s a shorter 0% APR period than that provided by some other cards, however.

This is another card for those who can’t be bothered keeping track of rotating categories of rewards-eligible purchases. The Capital One Quicksilver will see you earning unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no caps on how much you earn and no minimum redemption thresholds.

If you like to have music on while in the office (whether that office is an actual office space or your living room), you’re in luck. From now through April 2018, you’ll get 50% back as a statement credit on your Spotify Premium subscription. Keep on rockin’ in the fee world!

(See what I did there? Do you think that was tweet-worthy?)

One advantage this card has over Chase Freedom Unlimited is that Capital One Quicksilver has no foreign transaction fee. On the downside: the card carries a 3% balance transfer fee.

Discover it – Cashback Match

Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur who makes a lot of purchases through Amazon or wholesale clubs. You might want to consider the Discover it – Cashback Match card.

Discover it – Cashback Match
credit cards for startups
Annual Fee $0
APR Variable, 12.24% – 24.24%
Signup Bonus Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year
Rewards 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, changing quarterly
1% cash back on all other purchases
Rewards are usable at the Amazon.com checkout
Visit Site

In addition to the above, you’ll get an introductory 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months.

With this card, you can get 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories on your first $1,500 spent per quarter. Discover’s bonus categories for 2018 are:

  • Q1 2018: Gas stations and wholesale clubs
  • Q2 2018: Grocery stores
  • Q3 2018: Restaurants
  • Q4 2018: Amazon.com and wholesale clubs

With Discover matching all the rewards you earn over the first year, you should accumulate a healthy supply of cash back. You can put that cash back to use in the following ways:

  • Pay with rewards at the Amazon.com checkout
  • Gift cards with at least $5 added to each
  • Deposit to your bank account or apply to your Discover credit card bill
  • Make a charitable donation

It’s not a spectacular card for the frequent flyer (though there is no foreign transaction fee), but for the land-bound entrepreneur who doesn’t mind keeping track of the rotating categories, the Discover it – Cashback Match card provides plenty of value.

Travel Cards

Not all entrepreneurs need to travel for business, but for those who do, a travel rewards program can be a godsend. The following personal credit cards can help you maximize your current travel spending and earn valuable points towards any future hotel stays, flights, and car rentals you’ll book as your business continues to grow.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

Here’s a great card for the entrepreneur who travels a lot: the AmEx Premier Rewards Gold card.

AmEx Premier Rewards Gold
credit cards for entrepreneurs
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, $195 subsequently
APR N/A (charge card)
Signup Bonus Make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and get 25,000 rewards points
Rewards $100 annual airline fee credit for incidental fees
3 reward points per dollar when you book a flight directly with an airline
2 points per dollar at gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants in the US
1 point per dollar on all other purchases
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Keep in mind that this is a charge card, not a traditional credit card. In other words, you’ll have to pay the entire balance every month.

If your startup has you going to and fro, you’re in luck, because this card’s rewards are tailored to the frequent traveler and will easily offset the $195 annual fee that kicks in the second year. First off, there’s a juicy signup bonus: you’ll earn 25,000 rewards points if you make $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of signing up (terms apply).

The big rewards come when you book flights. You get three reward points per dollar when booking a flight — the only drawback is that you’ll have to book the flight directly with the airline, and airline websites suck (the prices are higher, too). You’ll get a further two points per dollar at US gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.

Another factor for the frequent-flying entrepreneur to consider is that the Premier Rewards Gold has no foreign transaction fee. Of course, American Express is less accepted internationally than Visa and Mastercard, so you’ll want to carry a backup card when traveling.

Capital One Venture Rewards

Here’s another card from Capital One — this one’s a versatile travel card for the entrepreneur on the go.

Capital One Venture Rewards
credit cards for startups
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, $95 subsequently
APR Variable, 14.24% – 24.24%
Signup Bonus Earn 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months (equal to $500 in travel)
Rewards Earn two miles per dollar on every purchase
Use your miles to fly any airline and stay at any hotel
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The Venture card is designed to immediately reward the frequent traveler. Earn the equivalent of $500 for travel after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. After that point, you’ll earn unlimited 2x miles per dollar on all purchases. This means that if you rack up $500 in charges on your card in a given month, you’ll get 1,000 miles that month. Not too shabby!

The Venture gives you a great deal of flexibility in how you use your travel rewards. You can either book flights, hotels, and rental cars directly through Capital One or you can book these things anywhere you like and use the company’s Purchase Eraser tool to get a statement credit for what you spent. This way, you won’t be locked into using a particular airline or hotel chain or booking site.

Unfortunately, if you want to redeem your miles for cash back or non-travel purchases, they will be worth half of what they would be worth if applied to travel purchases. Thankfully, the card has no international transaction fees. Plus, there are no blackout dates, no expiration dates, and no limits on the number of miles you can accrue.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Here’s a travel-oriented card that might be even more flexible than the Venture: the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred
credit cards for entrepreneurs
Annual Fee $0 for the first year, $95 subsequently
APR Variable, 17.24% – 24.24%
Signup Bonus Get 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months ($625 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards)
Rewards Two points per dollar on travel and restaurants
One point per dollar on all other purchases
Get 25% more value for your points when making travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Transfer your points to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs on a 1:1 basis
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with some sweet bonuses. Not only will you get 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, but you’ll also get another 5,000 bonus points if you add an authorized user in those first three months and they make a purchase.

With this card, not only do you get two points per dollar when spending on travel and restaurants and one point per dollar on all other purchases, but you can transfer your points — on a 1:1 basis — to the following airline and hotel loyalty programs:

Airlines

  • Air France/KLM
  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Southwest
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic

Hotels

  • Hyatt
  • Marriott
  • Priority Club/InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Ritz-Carlton

What’s more, your points will be worth $0.0125 apiece if you redeem them for travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There’s no foreign transaction fee, either. You will have to pay a $95 annual fee after the first year, though.

Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

This next card isn’t for everyone, but the well-heeled flight-hopping entrepreneur with something to prove should enjoy the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
credit cards for entrepreneurs
Annual Fee $450
APR Variable, 16.99% – 24.99%
Signup Bonus Get 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first three months
Rewards Admirals Club membership for you and your guests
Earn 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
Earn two AAdvantage miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and one AAdvantage mile for every dollar spent on other purchases
First checked bag is free on domestic AA flights for you and eight companions
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For the entrepreneur with the means to get around in style, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has quite the bag of perks. From the 50,000 AAdvantage bonus miles if you spend $5,000 within the first three months to the automatic Admirals Club membership (a $550/year value) to the AAdvantage miles you’ll be racking up, this card brings significant value the table. However, that value doesn’t come cheap — note the eye-popping $450 annual fee! If you really want that Admirals Club membership, however, it’s a cost-effective way of getting it.

For this card to be worth it for you, you have to be a frequent American Airlines flyer with a burning desire to hang out in AA Admirals Club lounges. If you spend a big chunk of your life in airports and want to get away from the hoi polloi, this card gives you the opportunity to pay for that privilege. You’ll also get 25% savings on in-flight purchases, a $100 credit for the TSA PreCheck program every 5 years, and the absence of a foreign transaction fee.

Final Thoughts

Entrepreneurs deserve a credit card that fits their particular needs. For many, a personal credit card can do the job just fine, and with greater legal protections. If it’s a business card you’re after, check out our piece on the best business credit cards for 2018.

The post The Best Personal Credit Cards For Business Expenses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Thank You Page Best Practices, Ideas & Examples

A visitor has taken some sort of action on your site… hurray!

Before you celebrate too much, let’s talk about your Thank You page.

The Thank You page is one of the most underrated pages on a website. We often focus so much on getting someone to take an action (like purchasing a product, signing up for a webinar, downloading a whitepaper) that we forget how valuable a Thank You page can be, or the effort we should put into it.

A Thank You page, when used correctly, can be a crucial part of nurturing your audience.

But before we dive into some best practices, let’s cover the basics.

What is a Thank You Page?

A Thank You page is where a visitor is taken after completing a desired action on your website. It’s also sometimes referred to as a “confirmation” page because it confirms an action was taken.

A Thank You page can follow up any desired action on your site, from filling out a contact form to subscribing to an email newsletter or purchasing a product on your site.

Do I Need a Thank You Page?

If you have some sort of action you want visitors to take (also known as a “conversion” in marketing speak), then you absolutely need a Thank You page on your website.

This page not only serves as a way to confirm the action was taken successfully, but it also allows you to continue to engage your visitors, especially while they’re still “warm” (sales jargon for they’re more likely to want to interact/do business with you).

A visitor who has just taken an action on your site is incredibly valuable because they’re indicating they’re interested in you and what you have to offer. An effective Thank You page is a way to further that relationship and keep that interest growing.

Plus, saying thank you after your audience does something on your site is just plain polite.

Thank You Page vs. Thank You Message

A lot of forms and landing pages include built-in functionality to display a confirmation message once an action is completed. This functionality generally keeps users on the same page and simply replaces the form/download button/purchase area with a thank you message.

While showing this message is enough to confirm the action, in most cases, it doesn’t do much for continuing to engage with your audience. This is where a dedicated Thank You page can do wonders for your post-conversion opportunities.

By leveraging an individual page instead of a message on the existing page, you have more flexibility and opportunities to increase engagement, share relevant content, and provide additional opportunities to convert.

For more about thank you pages vs. thank you messages, check out this article by Hubspot.

Thank You Page Best Practices

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the details. Here are seven Thank You page best practices you can implement on your own site.

Give Confirmation

The first thing your Thank You page should do is confirm whatever action your visitor just took was completed successfully. For example, if they’ve just subscribed to your weekly newsletter, your page might say something like, “Thank you for subscribing to our weekly newsletter.”

Your Thank You page should also confirm any relevant details relating to the conversion, such as how long it will take you to respond after they’ve filled out a contact form, or when they can expect to receive the whitepaper they’ve opted-in for.

ShivarWeb Thank You Page

Ex: ShivarWeb

Remember, this is someone who has indicated interest in your business. You want them to feel valued right off the bat and to know that the action they took actually worked. The best way to do that is to confirm all of the details as soon as they finish the conversion.

Include Navigation

One of the worst things you can do on your Thank You page is keep your audience stranded there. These are people who have just indicated they’re into what you have to offer, which means this is the perfect time to keep them hanging around your site!

At the very least, your Thank You page should include your website’s navigation to allow your audience to stick around and explore your site some more.

The Skimm thank you page

Ex: The Skimm

Provide Related Content/Actions

Aside from using your navigation to give your audience an opportunity to stick around, your Thank You page is also a great place to provide related content or additional actions your lead may find interesting.

For example, if they’ve just opted-in to a whitepaper, you could provide related content on the same or a similar subject. This is a great way to continue to “warm up” your visitors (AKA make their interest in you grow) without being overly sales-y.

You could also use this opportunity to lead your users further “down the funnel” (the next step closer to purchasing) by offering another relevant action. For example, Hubspot offers a free session to learn more about their software after you opt-in to download one of their guides.

Hubspot Thank You Page

Ex: HubSpot

If your Thank You page shows when a visitor has already taken a purchasing action, you can still use related content to keep them engaged. The easiest way to do so is to display related items they may also be interested in — Amazon is renowned for doing just that!

Amazon Related Items

Ex: Amazon

Add an Offer/Promotion

Did a customer just enter to win a free product? Why not offer a coupon code to encourage them to purchase something sooner?

Adding an offer or promotion can be an excellent way to encourage warm visitors to convert, or to increase the value of a converting customer by enticing them to purchase additional items.

Keep in mind that your offer should be something relevant to their action and worthy of their attention. You don’t want to come across as spammy over overly sales-y. You want to provide something that feels uniquely valuable to your audience and relates to whatever action they just took.

Get Social

Encouraging people to connect with you on social media is a great way to further connect with a warm audience.

Instead of just leaving links to your social profiles, take it a step further and tell visitors why they should follow you. What can they expect to see if on they follow you? News about your business? Tips and tricks related to the action they just took? Spell out the value and make it clear it’s worth it.

katelyn dramis thank you page

Ex: Katelyn Dramis

You can also use your Thank You page as an opportunity to spread the word about your business. This works particularly well for actions like webinar registrations and offer redemptions.

If your Thank You page is confirming an offer redemption or webinar sign-up, include social share buttons to encourage your converters to spread the word on social media with their friends. They obviously think what you have to offer is worth signing up for! There’s a good chance they’ll spread the word for you, too.

Show Off Testimonials

Even if your visitor has just completed a purchase, your Thank You page can still be a place of reassurance that you’re as great as you say you are.

Use your page as an opportunity to show off social proof, whether it be customer testimonials, the number of social media fans you have, or a quick stat or case study.

Your Thank You page should continue to warm your visitors and encourage them either to purchase down the road or to purchase again. Using social proof to help reassure them that you’re the real deal can help this process significantly.

Encourage Opt-Ins & Account Sign-Ups

A Thank You page is the perfect time to ask your audience to become a regular part of your community and an ongoing converter.

For e-commerce businesses, asking your purchases to create an account after converting can yield far more results than asking prior to purchase (and can reduce cart abandonment).

If your business doesn’t include the opportunity for customers to create accounts, you can still invite converters to be regulars by asking them to opt-in to your email newsletter on your Thank You page. Make sure you specify why your audience would want to subscribe to your newsletter — what is it you’ll be offering that makes it worthwhile?

Conclusion & Next Steps

Your Thank You page can be an amazing tool in your sales arsenal if used correctly. Don’t let all of your focus go toward the conversion — spend adequate time on your confirmation page and yield the benefits time and time again.

Start by taking a look at your own Thank You page. Does it confirm the action your visitor took? Does it offer opportunities to stay engaged with your business? If it doesn’t, start by introducing one way for users to continue to interact with you.

Remember, like all pages on your website, your Thank You page isn’t set in stone. Test one approach to adding some meat to your page (like adding related content or a call-to-action to follow you on social media) and see how it works. Then, adapt!

“”

Team Bio Series — Matt Sherman (Recovering Music Snob)

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For the next stop in our tour of the Merchant Maverick virtual office we’ll be talking to Matt Sherman, our resident head of point of sale. Matt is an old-school sports journalist who stoically watched the print industry implode before joining the MM team. But, apart from his willingness to go down with burning ships, what else does this life-long Oregonian bring to the table? Let’s read on, shall we?

Name: Matthew Sherman

Title: Head Writer for Point of Sale

Hometown: West Linn, Oregon

Current city: Gladstone, Oregon

Education and background: I spent two years at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego before graduating with a BA in English from the University of Oregon. I then spent about 14 years as a writer and sports editor for a pair of weekly newspapers where I had a unique front-row seat to the print industry’s spectacular demise.

Merchant Maverick department/specialty: Point of sale

How did you discover Merchant Maverick?: I have known Julie (one of the site’s editors) for the vast majority of my life, being friends with her older brother and attending the same church/piano recitals she did. When the newspapers and I decided to make a conscious uncoupling from each other, she contacted me.

Proudest professional moment: Covering the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania when one of our local teams qualified was a big highlight.

Favorite Merchant Maverick post/moment/opportunity: I haven’t been here too long but the meet-up in Palm Springs was fantastic. In terms of actual work output, I get a thrill from successfully shaking off requests from pesky vendors. I’ve also liked being able to respond to questions from people who are directly in the market for a point of sale system. With each passing day I feel like less and less of a fraud here.

What do you do for fun?: When you have two young, hyperactive boys, hobbies tend to take a back seat. I write a little bit and enjoy getting together with friends for board games. Evenings are generally spent on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, or Amazon trying desperately to make a dent in an impossible number of good TV shows available right now.

What movie character do you identify most with and why? A few years ago, there was one of those activities that everyone posted on Facebook where you were supposed to pick the 3 movie characters you most identified with. I was a Facebook contrarian even back then and refused to participate with an actual post but couldn’t help but think about it and was always pleased with my answer. Michael Cera’s character in Superbad because he looks and acts very similar to me in high school. Ron Livingston’s character from Office Space because my dream is to also sit around doing nothing. And Jim Carey’s character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind just because.

Favorite sitcom: The most influential show on my life was/is The Simpsons. I loved 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation and currently, I’m a huge fan of The Good Place and Broad City.

Favorite ‘90s song: I’m a recovering music snob who refuses to advance his tastes past the late 90s. I’ll say Paranoid Android by Radiohead with my guilty pleasure being Criminal by Fiona Apple.

Favorite dessert: Tough to go wrong with a good cheesecake.

What are three places you’d like to go?: Germany is pretty high on my list right now. The Riviera has always appealed to me as well and, for somewhere tropical, maybe somewhere like Belize.

If you could travel back in time and talk to anyone, who would you visit and what would you ask them?: I’d be so paranoid that anything I said would dramatically alter the future so I’d probably be pretty conservative. It’d be pretty cool to just hang out for an evening with the Beatles before they got famous or the Velvet Underground or maybe in the SNL writers room in the late 70s (avoiding partaking in the copious amount of drugs that would be present in all of those scenarios.)

Mac or Windows?: It’s probably a major faux pas to admit I don’t have a strong preference. As someone who is fairly computer illiterate and gets irrationally angry about glitches and bugs, I always appreciated the user-friendliness of Macs while being fully aware (via tech-savvy friends) that PCs are superior.

You’re given an unlimited budget at one retail store. Where do you go? What do you buy?: Oh man. I thought way too long about this. I would probably say Home Depot to totally revamp my deck and my entire yard area as long as I could also purchase the labor required to do it considering I still utilize my poor father-in-law for the most menial home improvement tasks.

Matt hasn’t been a part of our weird work-family for long, but we’re sure glad he’s getting more used to us by the day. Anyone who can admit an affinity with Michael Cera is okay by us, and — I speak for the entire MM team when I say that we like a man who’s not afraid to admit he listens to Fiona Apple.

Interested in reading about other members of the Merchant Maverick staff? Check out our team interview series.

Julie Titterington

Julie Titterington is a writer, editor, and native Oregonian who lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley with her husband and two small children. When she’s not writing or testing software, she spends her time reading early 20th century mystery novels, staring blankly at her iPhone, and attempting to keep her kids fed, clothed, and relatively uninjured.

Julie Titterington

Julie Titterington

“”

How Does Shopify Work?

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If you’ve just begun looking into shopping cart software, chances are you’ve run into Shopify (see our review). Shopify is an all-inclusive online selling platform. For one monthly rate, you can create and develop an online store from which you can promote, sell, and ship your products.

Shopify is popular due to its low startup cost and easy-to-use interface. It’s possible to run a complete online store for as low as $29/month, and you can have everything online in less than a week!

Shopify is an excellent solution for many merchants, though it’s not perfect. Keep reading for more information about what comes included in a Shopify subscription, the merits and disadvantages of the software, and how to set up a Shopify store.

Table of Contents

What Does A Shopify Subscription Include?

Shopify is a cloud-based, SaaS (software as a service) shopping cart solution. A monthly fee gives you access to an admin panel where you can enter store data, add products, and process orders.

In addition, you’ll be able to choose from a rich selection of free and for-purchase design templates. These themes are clean and modern, and Shopify provides a variety of editing tools which you can use to make your chosen theme fit your brand.

What’s more, a subscription with Shopify includes secure, reliable hosting for your website. You don’t have to worry about your site crashing during peak traffic or hackers hijacking your transactions. With 99.9% uptime and a free SSL certificate, Shopify has you covered.

Finally, your monthly payment entitles you to comprehensive 24/7 customer support. You’ll be able to contact support via phone, email, and live chat. And you can also use Shopify’s knowledge base to solve smaller problems on your own.

Shopify boasts that they’re an all-in-one solution. With a Shopify subscription, you should have everything you need to quickly begin selling on your very own site.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Shopify?

As you may expect, while Shopify is an excellent option for many merchants, it isn’t for everyone. Here’s a brief list of the reasons merchants choose Shopify, followed by a list of common customer complaints.

Pros

  • Easy To Use: This is by far the biggest reason merchants love Shopify. Shopify is built for the technically illiterate. It’s simple to add products, create discounts, and process orders. Web design is user-friendly — and even easy — with the new drag-and-drop editing tool.
  • Low Startup Cost: Shopify’s relatively low monthly fees make setup affordable. The basic plan costs $29/month and the mid-level plan is priced at $79/month.
  • Beautiful Themes: Subscribing merchants can choose from a variety of free, mobile responsive themes. Premium (paid) themes are also available for merchants who want more options.
  • Good For Dropshippers: Shopify is the platform of choice for many dropshippers. Integrations with Ordoro and Oberlo make dropshipping from your Shopify admin a lot simpler.
  • Lots Of Support Options: You can access technical support every hour of the day through phone, live chat, or email. Self-help options are available as well. Customers like that support is available outside of regular business hours.

Cons

  • Limited Functionality: Shopify comes pre-loaded with almost all of the features smaller merchants need to build an online store. However, every business has some specialized requirements, and Shopify typically does not have the features to meet those specific needs. This is where add-ons come in. Many merchants end up needing to purchase a handful of add-ons to make this shopping cart work the way they need it to.
  • Costly Add-Ons: As I’ve said, while Shopify offers almost every basic feature, the software is lacking many advanced features. You’ll have to find these features in the form of add-ons, which are not free. The cost of adding just three add-ons can double your monthly fees.
  • Transaction Fees: Although most shopping carts have dropped their transaction fees entirely, Shopify has retained their 0.5% to 2.0% fees (depending on your pricing plan).
  • Strained Customer Support: While in the past Shopify has been known for responsive customer support, it seems their support team has experienced increased strain this past year. Shopify’s client load is increasing exponentially, and support is struggling to keep up. Hold times of up to thirty minutes are not uncommon.

How Do You Make Shopify Work For You?

The way to get the most out of your Shopify subscription is to play to the software’s strengths. Shopify offers a few feature modules that you can use to boost your administrative power and expedite daily processes. Here are a few of Shopify’s strong points;

  • Shopify Shipping: Shopify’s brand new shipping modules allows you to integrate with major shipping carriers in order to calculate real-time shipping rates. You can purchase and print shipping labels directly from your admin panel. You should note that this shipping module does not let you display calculated rates in your customers’ shopping carts.
  • Dropshipping Apps: Shopify allows you to integrate with a handful of dropshipping applications, including Ordoro and Oberlo. I have seen numerous reports of success with these applications in combination with Shopify.
  • Mobile Management: Shopify offers a mobile app, which lets you manage your store from anywhere.
  • Integrations With Amazon & eBay: Connect your Shopify account with two of the internet’s biggest marketplaces. Process orders from all of your sales channels in Shopify. It should be noted that while we’re glad Shopify has bothered to create these integrations, they have not garnered good reviews with Shopify’s user base. Read our article on the two integrations to learn more.

How Do You Start?

If you’re considering Shopify, take the first step to getting started and sign up for their 14-day free trial. You won’t have to enter any credit card information to access the trial; they’ll just need you to submit contact information and answer a few questions about your business.

During your trial, make sure to test every aspect of Shopify’s software. Add products, create marketing campaigns, change your storefront design, and add on an application or two. Make sure Shopify can handle all of your daily operations. Look for any advanced features you may need, like filtered search, abandoned cart notifications, and pop-up promos.

Once you’re sure Shopify is the right choice for you, choose your appropriate pricing plan, and get moving.

If you didn’t already do so in your trial, you’ll need to begin by adding your company’s basic information. Providing an accurate location will help estimate shipping rates and taxes.

You can then head over to the products section to upload your wares. Make sure to list weight and dimensions for each item as this will help Shopify accurately calculate shipping rates in Shopify Shipping.

As you add your products, you should keep in mind your ultimate vision for the design of your site. Take a look at Shopify’s selection and choose a theme that fits your brand and accommodates the number of products you plan to offer.

For example, don’t choose a theme that does not include drop-down menus if you plan to list 500+ products. With so many items, you’ll need to be able to create subcategories.

As you explore your new platform, don’t forget about Shopify’s vast App store. Shopify offers over 1500 extensions and applications which can help fill in any gaps in features you may find.

And when you run into trouble, you can always reach out to Shopify’s support team. At this time, you can expect hold times of up to 30 minutes, so I would first look into Shopify’s knowledge base before calling.

Final Thoughts

Shopify is an excellent shopping cart for many merchants. Its easy to use interface, reasonable pricing model, and beautiful themes make it one of our favorite eCommerce solutions, and we recommend it frequently to readers.

But as always, I suggest you continue your research before you commit to the software. Head over to our full Shopify review for complete information on the pros and cons of the platform. Then, sign up for a free trial to test out the software yourself. Our reviews are just a place to begin. Your own experience with the software is more valuable than any advice I can give.

Best of luck and happy researching!

Liz Hull

Liz is a recent college graduate living in Washington state. As of late, she can often be found haunting eCommerce forums and waiting on hold with customer service representatives. When she’s free, Liz loves to rock climb, watch Spanish dramas, and read poorly-written young adult novels.

Liz Hull

“”

Top POS Systems For Liquor Stores

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Growing up, as I did, in a conservative household, liquor stores always felt a bit seedy. There was an element of danger to them, as if just opening the door and walking inside (even when of a legal drinking age) would be setting yourself up for negative consequences. Now? I could spend hours perusing an individual store’s selection, reading descriptions on bottles from the scores of local distilleries that have all cropped up seemingly overnight.

Liquor stores are unique businesses with constantly fluctuating inventory and price changes, meaning that choosing an effective point of sale system is extremely important. You’ll need to make sure the system is strong in these areas:

  • Inventory Management: Even a small liquor store will have thousands of individual products – if not more — and keeping track of every bottle or item on hand can be daunting.
  • Employee Management: While you want to trust all of your employees, the fact of the matter is, it’s an industry where theft is often rampant. A POS system that tracks transactions and can be easily checked is crucial.
  • Customer Management: Whether you’re dealing with customers who come in almost daily or those who buy a single bottle of brandy at Christmas each year, a POS system can track preferences and send out individualized promotions to attract return customers and boost profits.

Here are some of the top POS systems on the market for use in liquor stores:

Table of Contents

mPower Beverage

mPower Beverage is a point of sale system specifically designed for liquor stores, so you would expect it to have a leg up on other, broader systems on the market. And you wouldn’t be disappointed. mPower is outstanding at what it does. There is a custom inventory system that allows you to easily review products on hand (and sales history) on one intuitive screen while also predicting inventory needs in the future. Purchase orders can be created within the program or directly by the vendor, whichever you prefer.

mPower also offers a built-in loyalty system that keeps track of money spent and can be customized to give different rewards for purchasing different products. The program is searchable, making it easy to track repeat customers; it can store personalized information about individuals, and offer store credit. There are more than 70 different reports offered as well, and permissions can be assigned to individual employees — a definite bonus in an industry where turnover is high. mBeverage can even create custom reports if a client needs something even more specific. Integrations are a nice feature with mBeverage, which offers Beverage Media, BottleCapps, Drizly, Drync, MiniBar as well as QuickBooks for accounting

Lightspeed Retail

Lightspeed Retail (read our review) is one of the more versatile retail POS systems around, and with a flexible pricing structure, it’s likely they have all the features your liquor store will need to thrive. Lightspeed has a strong inventory system, allowing for data to be imported via a CSV or Excel file. Stock can be ordered directly through the POS and you can create a single purchase order for multiple vendors.

Lightspeed offers terrific reporting capabilities, allowing for real-time analysis. Its employee tracking lets you see who is ringing up what products and cuts down on the potential for fraud. Its gift card system is also top notch, storing customer information and predicting future purchases.

As a bonus, Lightspeed can be exceptionally mobile, allowing employees to walk around the store and pull up descriptions of various spirits that can be programmed into the system. With its own integrated payments system and multi-store functionality, Lightspeed is an all-in-one solution.

ShopKeep

ShopKeep (read our review) isn’t the cheapest system on the market, but there’s a reason why we have it rated 5 stars. If you’re looking for fantastic reporting and inventory management, it’s difficult to do better than this POS. All inventory can be imported in just minutes, and alerts can be set up for when a product is running low.

Shopkeep has excellent reporting, with an easy-to-read layout to assess what items are selling well and which ones should probably be nixed. Employee hours and permissions can all be viewed remotely and organized on the back-end, and sales histories for each register are tracked.

ShopKeep’s mobile app is also outstanding, allowing you to check on sales in real time and manage multiple locations from the palm of your hand. The POS integrates with many of the standard accounting programs and can be customized to meet the needs of your business. Again, many of these come at an added cost, meaning that you might be able to find exactly what you need for a cheaper price. However, ShopKeep certainly has the functionality to meet even the most complex liquor store’s needs.

KORONA.pos

KORONA.pos (read our review) is a cloud-based system that is intended to fit the needs of most small to mid-sized businesses. The retailer will work with a business to set up a POS specifically designed to handle whatever that business might need and there are a handful of functions that are tailor-made for liquor stores. KORONA has the capability to handle millions of products. That may be a bit more than your single store is processing, but it shows KORONA’s commitment to inventory management. There is a nice feature that runs automatic inventory audits and can identify discrepancies quickly. When you run a full inventory count, KORONA creates intelligent count sheets automatically.

Security is also a strong suit for this POS. Every transaction is saved and can be monitored, and suspicious transactions are immediately flagged. Its reporting capabilities are robust and can identify products that are cutting into the business’s profit margin. KORONA offers a strong number of integrations and, with an unlimited free trial available and low starting price point, it should be a strong contender for most liquor stores.

talech

talech review

talech (read our review) is another competitively priced POS that can be customized to meet the needs of a business owner. One of the best things about talech is its customer management. This POS can upload customer information and then create custom marketing campaigns.

As you would expect, its inventory management is also top-notch. You can generate your own barcodes, saving you valuable time and eliminating the need to buy an additional scanner. Price changes can be added to categorized groups. Products, categories, and discounts can also be synced across multiple locations, which is a huge benefit for liquor stores as prices are constantly fluctuating. With talech, you can make your own purchase orders and get alerts when inventory is low.

For security, the POS offers a manager swipe card, making it possible for only the person in charge to void orders or perform other administrative actions. For integrations, talech is teamed up with OneSaaS to offer more than 30 different programs.

Final Thoughts

Managing and maintaining a profitable liquor can be a tricky proposition. There is a large amount of inventory to keep track of with prices and discounts that need to be updated daily. There are also many instances of theft in the industry, making security of the utmost importance. But, fortunately, a good point of sale system can alleviate a lot of that stress. Many systems can meet your basic needs, but we believe the apps on the list will provide you with a good jumping off point.

Know of a good liquor store POS we didn’t mention? Use any of the systems above? Let us know in the comments!

Matt Sherman

Matt Sherman recently walked away from a 14-year stint in the thriving print media industry where he spent the bulk of his time as the sports editor for a pair of weekly newspapers in suburban Portland, Oregon. He is the father to a pair of energetic boys and can easily be distracted by Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go.

Matt Sherman

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Shopify vs. Squarespace: Online Store Options Compared

Shopify vs. Squarespace – they are two of the most well-known brands in the online store / website builder industry. I’ve written a Shopify review here and Squarespace review here. But how do they compare directly to each other?

First, a bit of background. Over the past few years, online store software costs have plummeted, and the technology to get a website from idea to reality has blossomed.

Whether you’re using a text editor and uploading to the Amazon cloud, hosting your own site powered by WordPress + WooCommerce or using a drag and drop website builder, there’s never been an easier time to create an online store. It’s no longer 2002 where every storeowner had to know PHP, HTML, CSS and a bit of Javascript.

All-inclusive ecommerce builders have been particularly interesting. Companies like Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Shopify, and BigCommerce – not to mention platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon – have brought ecommerce to everyone regardless of their coding skills.

On the wide spectrum of ecommerce store building solutions, they all live on the end that is all-inclusive and provides everything you need to get started and grow your website.

That is in contrast to solutions where you buy, install, and manage all the “pieces” of your website separately. That’s not a good or bad thing. But it is something to be aware of when you’re choosing one of them as a solution since it affects your website both long and short term.

In the long-term, it affects your versatility, functionality, and, of course, your brand. In the short term, it can certainly add/take away a lot of headaches. That said, just like choosing a physical house or office, there is no such thing as an absolute “best” or “top” choice. There’s only the right choice relative to your goals, experience, and circumstances.

Using an online store builder is like leasing and customizing an apartment in a really classy development instead of buying and owning your own house. You’re still in control of decor, cleaning, and everything living-wise – but you leave the construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner. That point is key because there’s usually a direct tradeoff between convenience and control.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

Shopify, Squarespace and other options like BigCommerce and Weebly as a group compete with options like WordPress (which provides the free software to build a website that you own & control – see my WordPress setup guide here) all the way to options like typing actual HTML code into a text file.

The last preface I’ll mention is that Squarespace is an all-around website builder with ecommerce capability.

Shopify, in contrast, is strictly an ecommerce platform.

This focus puts Squarespace behind as an advanced ecommerce tool and Shopify behind as a general website builder tool. With their respective free trials, you can quickly see the differences.

Try Shopify for Free

Try Squarespace for Free

Make sense? Awesome – let’s dive into the comparison.

Side note – if you want this comparison in a BuzzFeed-style quiz, you can take my online store builder quiz here…

You can also look at my posts on –

Otherwise, we’ll look specifically at pricing, onboarding/user experience, design features, technical features, ecommerce features, marketing features, and customer support.

Disclosure – I receive referral fees from all the companies mentioned in this post. My opinions & research are based on my professional experiences as either a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

Pricing

Comparing pricing between Shopify and Squarespace is fairly straightforward if you have a clear idea of your needs. This comes from the fact that Shopify focuses on *only* online store owners whereas Squarespace markets to everyone.

The short version is that Shopify is more expensive. But there’s a few caveats to look at.

Shopify Pricing

Squarespace Ecommerce Pricing

The first caveat is credit card fees.

Squarespace syncs with Stripe and PayPal. Their fees are 2.9% + $.30 per transaction.

Shopify has their own payments gateway that charges lower per transaction fees. But – if you use a non-Shopify gateway, Shopify charges an additional transaction fee that Squarespace does not have.

So why is this important? If you already have a gateway (ie, Authorize.net for your physical pop-up shop) and you want to use them with Shopify – then Shopify’s transaction fee kicks in. But – if you want to use Shopify Payment’s for your online store – you can save a bit of money on transaction fees. Those fees add up. If you have revenues of $100000 – a 0.4% reduction in fees could equal $500 per month.

The second caveat is value pricing.

On front-end features alone – Squarespace is significantly cheaper than Shopify, especially on their Advanced plan, which compares almost directly with Shopify’s Standard plan.

See Shopify’s Plans here.

See Squarespace’s Plans here.

But – like I mentioned in the introduction, it’s hard to compare their pricing tables directly since they are really different products for different audiences.

It’s a bit like comparing the pricing of a motorcycle vs. an SUV.

Sure, the motorcycle is much cheaper and it gets you from A to B. It has wheels, an engine, and it drives on the road just fine. But it’s also meant for a certain type of driving.

It all really comes down to what you need for you project – two wheels that will get you where you need to go or a vehicle that has plenty of room along with lots of features. So let’s look at other differences.

Aside – if you’re curious, Shopify’s $9/mo Lite plan isn’t applicable since it’s more of an inventory/payments software than an online store builder software. You can upload products, manage them, and accept payments, but you can only sell them via other platforms such as a Facebook plugin or a button on an existing website. Same goes with Squarespace’s Business Plan. It’s meant to do a website that happens to have a couple things for sale – not really a full online store solution. I’ll set both those options to the side for the moment.

Onboarding & User Experience

No matter how intuitive and simple a piece of technology is, there’s always that moment of “what am I looking at and what do I do now?”

Onboarding is the process of guiding you past that point. In theory, a huge selling point of online website / store builders is that they have a near-zero learning curve. They have a straightforward process from website concept to website reality.

On this point, Squarespace and Shopify both do alright but in different ways.

Shopify has a quick path from free trial signup to site launch. They have guided tours and a very straightforward setup. They also have customer support outreach focused on getting you up and running quickly.

Shopify Backend

However, Shopify also has many more features, apps, and technical options available that can present a challenge. The most daunting hurdle is linking your domain name to your store. It’s not difficult but is daunting at the mention of “setting your CNAME” (in fairness, you don’t have to direct your domain if you purchase via Shopify for a bit more per year than via a 3rd party).

Since Shopify functions as a platform for payments, offline inventory and more – their website store setup is actually on the second menu of their main dashboard rather than front and center.

Squarespace has a ridiculously fast sign up to live site process. Their backend is fairly intuitive for basic websites. However, they to have a “Squarespace jargon” to get used to. They like to appeal to developers and freelance designers – so there are advanced tools that can clutter simply launching a site.

SquareSpace Onboarding

Their support emails and tours are structured well. But since their software is made for all types of websites, the ecommerce features are a bit buried (and limited) from the perspective of an online store owner.

I would not rule either provider out on onboarding/user experience. But their differences are sort of like a restaurant with a waiter (Shopify) vs. a fast casual restaurant with a menu above the cashier (Squarespace).

If you want more help and more customization, then Shopify is your choice. If you want to quickly see and order from the features, then Squarespace is less daunting.

Design Features

Part of the overall value of website builders is simple, straightforward design – no web designers necessary.

But good design is hard. And it matters – a lot. A lot of people can spot a good looking website but have a harder time figuring out how to get there. Using a template for a foundation and then customizing it is a good way to get the site you want without paying for a custom design.

Both Shopify and Squarespace use templates (aka “themes”) for design. But they are very different in customization options.

Shopify has a solid drag and drop design feature. You can create any layout element you’d like and drag it into place. You can click and edit any portion of any web page – including both content and design.

But – Shopify does not combine design and content. You have to get your design right – and then add content in a separate area (ie, it’s a template).

Since you can edit HTML/CSS with Shopify, you can build any design possible. There are few, if any, limits to any design that you see on the Internet. Additionally, Shopify has a drag and drop template editor.

Shopify Drag Drop

Squarespace has a hybrid approach. They famously have beautiful pre-built designs.

Squarespace Designs

They also have drag and drop – and pretty intuitive editing.

But – they also combine design and content with their editor. This approach has tradeoffs. On one hand, you can edit the design for specific pages. On the other hand, your design can go “off-base” pretty quickly – especially with content for hundreds of products.

The other drawback with Squarespace is that their off-the-shelf themes require *a lot* of really good imagery. If you don’t have access to high-quality photography, their themes are not going to work well. Many of Shopify’s designs are fine and functional regardless of product imagery.

They both have large marketplaces for premium designs (in addition to professional designers).

If you are a fan of raw functionality – then you’ll appreciate Shopify’s approach to design. If you want your site to look amazing off the shelf, love to edit details, and have access to good imagery – then you’ll appreciate Squarespace.

Ecommerce Features

The absolute core features of an ecommerce store are a –

  • product database
  • shopping cart
  • checkout page
  • payment processor
  • order database

That is it.

But, especially in 2017 (and 2018 and beyond), there is a *lot* more than can (and should) go into an ecommerce store. There’s everything from selling via Facebook Messenger to syncing with Amazon FBA to integrating with eBay – not to mention features for executing on marketing fundamentals.

Even for advertising products, there’s selling via Buyable Pins, Google Merchant, Twitter cards, and more. There’s remarketing and coupon codes. There’s A/B testing. There’s inventory synchronization with vendors like AliExpress. And there’s order synchronization with shippers like UPS and USPS.

And that’s all a drop in the bucket.

Obviously, not every store needs every feature. If you are trying to sell a couple T-shirts or a couple specialty products – you certainly don’t need them all. But if you want to grow and expand, you’ll need your options open.

For ecommerce features, Shopify wins hands down, though Squarespace does make it simple to sell your product. Squarespace has a few advanced features (like abandoned cart recovery), but it’s nothing like Shopify.

Shopify not only has more features directly integrated into their platform, but they also have a well-established app store that includes free and paid apps to extend your store with every feature you could possibly need.

Shopify Integrations

That said, this section is a bit unfair to Squarespace, because, again, they are a general website builder that includes ecommerce. Shopify is strictly an ecommerce platform.

If Shopify didn’t “win” on ecommerce features it would be a surprise. Technically, Squarespace competes more with the likes of Weebly and Wix or WordPress who are also website builders that provide core ecommerce features.

In short – if you need core ecommerce features integrated in a simple, straightforward way, then Squarespace is fine. If you actually need a full suite of ecommerce features to grow, then Shopify is hands-down better.

Technical Features

Technical features are all the web development best practices that don’t really “matter”…until they matter a lot. I’m talking about generating clean URLs, editable metadata, allowing page-level redirects, etc.

On this point, Shopify does very well – and not just compared to Squarespace, but compared to any hosted platform.

Traditionally, hosted platforms presented a risk for web designers, developers, and marketers who wanted to work on the technical aspects of the site.

I know that I flinch anytime a prospective client tells me they are on a hosted platform of any kind.

But Shopify and Squarespace perform well in general. Many skeptics of hosted platforms note that they actually take care of the technical features well. You still don’t have FTP access to your server, but you do have access to change things via their Liquid editor (Shopify) or Developer Mode (Squarespace).

Where they differ (especially for me) is in their potential for technical features. And again, here, Shopify’s app store is their “killer” feature. Even if a feature is not native to Shopify, a non-developer can usually add it.

On the flip side, Squarespace has a lot of native features that simply “work” – and a process of continually adding & revising existing features.

Both Squarespace and Shopify have inherent limitations as hosted platforms (ie, when you leave, you a lot of your data), but Shopify does a bit more to eliminate the weaknesses and capitalize on strengths as a hosted platform.

Marketing Features

In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character says “if you build it, they will come.” Sadly, that is not true about websites. Like any business, you have to actively promote and market your online store for anyone to show up.

Marketing features like custom metadata, open graph information, Schema markups, email signups, share buttons, landing pages, etc all make marketing your site a lot easier.

For marketing features, both Shopify and Squarespace both do really well. They support header scripts. They integrate with many products. They add meta data, product schema and open graph tags automatically.

But like design & ecommerce features, there’s the same catch. For an ecommerce store owner, Shopify has many more (and higher quality) built-in features plus a better, more developed app store.

Squarespace has core marketing features built-in, but with more limits.

Support & Service

Customer support and service are difficult to judge. Like I’ve said in most of my reviews, a single customer can never really know if they happened upon a disgruntled rookie or if the company is really that bad.

That said, there are ways to look at a company’s investment in both customer services and support.

For Shopify vs. Squarespace, I think the clear “winner” is Shopify. Shopify not only provides more channels for customer service (phone, chat, email, forums, social media, etc), they also have an incredibly extensive help center.

The help center not only tackles technical issues, it also tackles customer success issues (aka problems with making money).

Squarespace has email support, and limited chat support – but no phone. Their knowledgebase does not have the attention or the depth that Shopify has.

Comparison Conclusion

So Shopify vs. Squarespace – which one is a better fit for your project?

If you plan on running a growing online store and want all the features possible, then you should go try Shopify.

Go try Shopify for free here.

If you want a simple store – or a general site with a beautiful look, then Squarespace might be a good fit for you.

Also – bookmark my post on creating an ecommerce marketing strategy here.

Good luck!

“”

Using Amazon . com and eBay Integrations With Shopify

Our impartial reviews and content are supported partly by affiliate partnerships. Find out more.

Omnichannel and multichannel are two greatest words in eCommerce. Even though I frequently roll my eyes at these buzzwords, I must admit that multichannel selling is indeed a, lucrative trend.

Research has shown that adding a sales funnel for your online shop can considerably increase revenue. Actually, stores that sell on only one marketplace additionally for their online shop notice a 38% rise in revenue. And retailers who sell on two marketplaces generate 120% greater than individuals without any marketplaces.

Shopify is among the dominant platforms for online sellers, and they’ve lately introduced new methods for retailers to include marketplaces for their system. The Shopify Application collection now includes integrations with Amazon . com, eBay, Facebook, Pinterest, and Messenger. With the addition of these integrations, sellers can manage their marketplace and website sales within the Shopify dashboard.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll be discussing two most lately integrated marketplaces: Amazon . com and eBay. We’ll discuss how these integrations work, discuss their merits and flaws, and assess how you can (or might not) assist you to sell more.

Table of Contents

Shopify & Amazon . com

Amazon . com is definitely an apparent first-step with regards to marketplace selling. Boasting over 95 million unique visitors each month, Amazon . com offers retailers huge possibility of expanding their customer bases.

In The month of january of the year, Shopify introduced their house-grown Amazon . com integration. Retailers are now able to connect Shopify accounts to Amazon . com with only a couple of clicks. This connection gives retailers the opportunity to monitor inventory, sales, and customer interactions in one comprehensive dashboard.

Exactly What Does It Decide To Try Integrate?

To be able to integrate Amazon . com together with your Shopify account, you simply need a couple of things:

  • A Shopify Account
  • An Amazon . com Sellers Account ($39.99/ month + additional selling charges)

Making the bond between Amazon . com and Shopify is simple. Once you’ve subscribed to your Amazon . com Sellers Account, you are able to sign in to your Shopify account, visit the “Sales Channels” panel, and click on to set up the combination. Then you’ll need to consume a couple of prompts to permit the bond to talk about information across platforms and ensure developer access for Shopify.

Once that’s accomplished, you can sync your product or service and inventory across both platforms. Having a built-in integration such as this, it simply doesn’t take much for connecting your Shopify and Amazon . com accounts.

So How Exactly Does This Integration Work?

Not every integrations work exactly the same way. Some only sync inventory or relay order information others do a lot more. Here’s exactly what a Shopify-Amazon . com integration will help you to do:

  • Create New Amazon . com Listings In Shopify’s Dashboard: This selection presently is only for select groups. These groups are:
    • Clothing, Footwear & Jewellery
    • Health insurance and Household
    • Beauty and private Care
    • Home and Kitchen
    • Patio and Garden
    • Sewing, Arts, and Crafts
    • Sports and out of doors
    • Games and toys
  • Incorperate Your Shopify Products To Existing Amazon . com Listings: In case your goods are already on Amazon . com, it is simple to incorperate your own purports to the listings. This works best for all groups.
  • Sync Product Information: Send your products details, variants, and pictures from Shopify to Amazon . com.
  • Set Cost And Inventory For Amazon . com: Try listing unique prices for items that show up on Amazon . com. Which means that marketing exactly the same product for $15 in your site and $20 on Amazon . com. You may also keep the inventory separate in situation you fulfill individuals orders using different ways.
  • View Revenue In Shopify Reports: Use Shopify’s reporting features to trace selling on Amazon . com.
  • Sync Inventory To Your Shopify Dashboard: Shopify could keep a tally of all of the products you sell on channels.
  • Fulfill Amazon . com Orders From Shopify: Have your orders import to your Shopify dashboard.
  • Receive Notifications In Shopify About Amazon . com Orders: Manage customer interactions on Shopify’s platform.

User Response

Within my initial research from the Shopify-Amazon . com integration, I had been hopeful that this is an easy solution for a lot of retailers. However, when i investigated current reading user reviews, I began to feel more reluctant.

The Amazon . com integration, because it is indexed by the Shopify Application Marketplace, has received 77 reviews in the last year by having an average rating of twoOr5 stars. To be able to comprehend the causes of that relatively low overall rating, I just read a number of of individuals 77 reviews. Generally, here’s what users are saying concerning the integration:

  • Tiresome To Produce Listings By hand: Customers say that it requires a lot of time to upload products to Amazon . com and enter details.
  • Poor Customer Support: I have seen numerous complaints regarding customer support, although it is unclear whether clients are complaining about Amazon . com or Shopify.
  • Doesn’t Work: I have seen plenty of reviews proclaiming that the combination simply doesn’t work. They are saying the systems don’t sync correctly, and also the application appears like it’s still in beta testing.
  • Useful After Setup: Some state that after you’ve set everything up (and become beyond the initial learning curve), the combination could be a helpful tool. You are able to eventually utilize it to simplify day-to-day operations.

Even if I checked out the couple of five-star reviews, there have been indications of trouble. One positive review stated the integration might seem to be damaged because changes may take a complete 24 hrs to update. Good golly! In my experience, this type of lengthy update time is the effect of a damaged integration.

In A Nutshell

I believe, these overwhelmingly negative reviews hold lots of weight. It’s disheartening to determine that so couple of have experienced success using the platform. However, basically would sell on Amazon . com and Shopify, I’d consider this integration a choice. It’s not even close to ideal but still in need of assistance of a lot work, however it may solve a couple of problems a minimum of. Here’s wishing Shopify revisits the combination soon and resolves these problems.

Shopify & eBay

Amazon . com is clearly probably the most popular marketplaces for all of us-based retailers, however it isn’t the best platform for everybody. Retailers who sell used or collectible products would possibly benefit more from your integration with eBay. Using more than 169 million active eBay buyers, eBay comes complete with possibility of expansion.

Fortunately, Shopify and eBay have sellers’ backs. Just recently, eBay released their new, built-in integration for Shopify with the objective of simplifying the mix-funnel selling experience.

By using this integration, you can sync inventory information and process orders on a single platform. Keep studying to uncover much more about this application and discover if you’re able to make money from it.

Exactly What Does It Decide To Try Integrate?

It doesn’t take much to integrate eBay and Shopify. Unsurprisingly, you’ll need:

  • A Shopify Account
  • An eBay Account
    • Dues from $24.95/month to $349.95/month

Once more, if you have these two accounts setup, making the bond is straightforward. You just need to add some marketplace beneath your “Sales Channels” tab after which select “Add sales channel” around the following page. You will subsequently be in a position to click on the “Connect” button, that will redirect you to definitely your eBay account where one can complete the bond.

So How Exactly Does This Integration Work?

eBay’s integration is comparable to Amazon’s in lots of ways, although it appears eBay’s application includes less features. Here’s the things they promote concerning the connection:

  • Immediately Sync Inventory Information: Send information like product title, description, item specifics, cost, and quantity from Shopify to eBay.
  • Import eBay Orders To Shopify: Process all of your orders on Shopify’s dashboard.
  • View eBay Messages From Shopify: Manage customer interactions out of your Shopify workspace.

User Response

Since its release in October, eBay’s integration has gotten 39 reading user reviews in Shopify’s marketplace. A lot of individuals comments are negative, producing a 2.5/five star average.

Confusingly, these reviews incorporate a healthy mixture of both 5-star reviews and 1-star reviews. It’s baffling the way the users list is really so divided about this one application. Listed here are a couple of from the comments I have seen recur in individuals reviews:

  • Plenty Of Bugs And Kinks: Users report glitches and hiccups within the integration. It seems that one was launched just a little prematurely.
  • Easy To Setup: In comparison, plenty of users are absolutely loving how easy it’s to set up the applying.
  • Mixed Overview Of Support: Customer care seems to become a mixed bag. Quite a few users have experienced positive encounters with eBay support representatives (especially, it appears, one repetition named Matt), yet others have experienced difficulty contacting anybody.

In A Nutshell

The eBay-Shopify integration isn’t perfect. I truly really wish i could say otherwise, however it appears that Shopify must put more work to their marketplace integrations. However, once more, if you want to connect eBay and Shopify, it may be worth a go. An undesirable connection is preferable to no connection, right?

Final Ideas

Shopify has excellent intentions in connecting marketplaces for their platform. Regrettably, execution of the goal continues to be somewhat missing to date.

We’re likely to keep our eyes on these integrations within the coming several weeks. Hopefully Shopify as well as their partners continuously enhance the functionality and dependability of those connections.

Have you ever used a Shopify marketplace integration? Tell us about this within the comments below.

Liz Hull

Liz is really a recent college graduate residing in Washington condition. As recently, she will frequently be located haunting eCommerce forums and securing with customer support representatives. When she’s free, Liz likes to rock climb, watch Spanish dramas, and browse poorly-written youthful adult novels.

Liz Hull

“”

The Very Best Business Charge Cards for 2018

Our impartial reviews and content are supported partly by affiliate partnerships. Find out more.

best business credit card

Charge cards are an excellent means to fix many business financial targets. Whether you are interested in earning points or cash return, easily monitoring your spending, consolidating business expenses one source, or enhancing your business credit rating, a charge card might help.

But which charge card is the best for your company? You will find a massive quantity of charge card offers available (your spam can verify that), and everybody uses a slice of your company. How can you sort the wheat in the chaff?

We’re here to assist! At Merchant Maverick, we’ve spent considerable time evaluating charge cards to get the best available alternatives. Charge cards aren’t one-size-fits-all, so we’ve selected the very best cards for a lot of small business, whether you need to earn points, cash return, or travel miles.

Continue reading, or make use of the table of contents below to visit the sections that appeal to you.

Table of Contents

Best Business Charge Cards for Earning Points

With cards of the type, cardholders generally earn some point per $1 spent. However, most charge cards offer additional points on purchases in a few groups. To obtain the most for the money, you’ll wish to look for a card that provides extra points for purchases your company already makes.

Points could be redeemed for a lot of different rewards that will vary based on the program connected together with your card. For instance, you could possibly redeem what exactly for money back, gift certificates, purchases from select stores, travel, or any other uses. Usually, points count $.01 each, but they could be worth pretty much for the way you decide to redeem them.

Here are our two top chioces for earning points: Chase Ink Business Preferred and Business Gold Rewards from American Express OPEN. Have high sign-on bonuses and versatile reward points earning systems which will make them appropriate for a lot of companies.

Chase Ink Business Preferred American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards
Visit Site Visit Site
Annual Fee $95 $175 (newbie $)
Signup Bonus 80,000 points 50,000 points
Tier 1 Rewards 3 pts./$1 for travel shipping internet, cable, and make contact with social networking and internet search engine advertising 3 pts./$1 for just one category of your liking (airfare advertising shipping gasoline stations or computing devices, software, and cloud-computing)
Tier 2 Rewards 2 pts./$1 for that 4 groups remaining from Tier 1
Tier 3 Rewards 1 pt./$1 on other purchases 1 pt./$1 on other purchases

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred is frequently reported among the best charge cards for small company. After doing our very own research and evaluating it towards the competition, we agree. This card is a superb option for a lot of reasons.

Highlights:

  • 80,000 bonuses should you spend $5,000 inside the first 3 several weeks of opening your bank account (points equal $800 cash return, or $1,000 when put on travel expenses)
  • 3 points per $1 allocated to travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases created using social networking sites and check engines in your first $150,000 price of purchases during these groups every year
  • 1 point per $1 allocated to other purchases
  • Points count 25% more if redeemed for traverse Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Variable APR of 16.99% – 21.99%
  • $95 annual fee

Offering 80,000 bonuses, the Chase Ink Business Preferred charge card has got the largest sign-on bonus associated with a business charge card we surveyed (rivaled only by another Chase card, the Marriott Rewards Premier Business charge card). At $.01 a place, that’s an added bonus equal to $800 cash return.

Compared to other cards that provide less bonuses, however, Chase charges a yearly fee of $95. The organization does not waive the annual fee for the newbie.

Using the Ink Business Preferred card, it’s very easy to accrue multiple points at any given time on standard business purchases. Card users earn three points per $1 on all purchases produced in these groups:

  • Travel
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable, and make contact with services
  • Advertising purchases created using social networking sites and check engines

There is a catch, though. Card users only receive three points on their own first $150,000 price of purchases in most these groups combined every year. Next, all purchases revert to 1 point per $1 purchased before the next anniversary year comes around.

Should you perform a fair quantity of traveling, Chase offers one more reason to make use of a lot of it Business Preferred card: every point redeemed for travel count 25% more. For instance, the 80,000 bonuses count $1,000 (rather from the standard $800 you obtain for money back) when employed for travel. Retailers may also redeem points for other uses (including cash return and gift certificates) through Chase Ultimate Rewards or pay with points through stores for example Amazon . com.

American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards

The American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards bank card provides more point-earning versatility than most business charge cards. Since you pick the category you need to generate the most points on, this card could be personalized to maximise your savings.

Highlights:

  • 50,000 bonuses should you spend $5,000 inside the first 3 several weeks of opening your bank account (a savings of approximately $500, for the way you utilize your points).
  • 3 points per $1 allocated to a category of your liking (airfare, advertising, shipping, gasoline stations, or computer software and hardware) as much as $100,000 each year
  • 2 points per $1 allocated to the 4 groups you didn’t pick to get 3 points as much as $100,000 each year in every category
  • 1 point per $1 allocated to other purchases
  • Charge card—no interest (some purchases could be compensated with time via AMEX’s Pay With Time feature)
  • $ annual fee for that newbie, $175 subsequent years

Should you charge a great deal in your card and are curious about accumulating points, American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards may be the card for you personally. This card lets you decide to earn three points for each dollar spent within the following groups:

  • Airfare purchased from airlines
  • Advertising (on select media)
  • Shipping
  • Purchases at gasoline stations
  • Computing devices, software, and cloud-computing purchases

Cardholders earn three points per $1 put in their selected category as much as $100K in purchases each anniversary year, then the purchases count some point. Each one of the groups that aren’t selected count two points per $1 (up to and including $100,000 cap per category per anniversary year). Purchases within the category caps (and all sorts of other purchases) count the conventional some point per $1 spent.

Upon register, American Express offers 50,000 bonuses (should you spend a minimum of $5,000 within the first three several weeks). That’s the same as about $500, but can cost pretty much for the way you choose to make use of your points. American stock exchange waives the annual fee for the newbie next, you will be billed $175 each year, that is a little pricier compared to annual fee for many other business charge cards.

Observe that this can be a bank card, not really a traditional charge card. You can’t hold an account balance. You have to spend the money for whole amount whenever your statement arrives. However, American stock exchange has extended payments (known as Pay With Time) on some purchases.

Best Business Charge Cards for money Back

Rewards points programs can provide your company significant savings, however for some companies, they’re more trouble than they’re worth. Using the following cards, rather of getting points in your purchases you just earn back a small % from the investment property.

If you wish to skip the reasons of the rewards programs and just earn money back, consider Capital One Spark Cash Select or American Express’s SimplyCash Plus. Of all the options we examined, both of these cards provide the greatest sum of money back.

Capital One Spark Cash Select for Business American Express SimplyCash Plus
capital one spark cash select
Visit Site Visit Site
Annual Fee $ $
Signup Bonus $200 cash return
Tier 1 Rewards 5% cash return on office supply stores and wireless telephone purchases
Tier 2 Rewards 1.5% cash return on all purchases 3% cash return on a single group of your selecting (see above)
Tier 3 Rewards 1% cash return on other purchases

Capital One Spark Cash Select

With 1.5% cash return on purchases–instead from the standard 1%–this card is ideal for retailers searching for a great way to save cash.

Highlights:

  • $200 cash bonus should you spend $3,000 inside the first three several weeks of opening your bank account
  • 1.5% cash return on all qualified purchases
  • % opening APR for that first nine several weeks, a variable APR of 13.99% – 21.99%
  • No annual fee

This card doesn’t administer a yearly fee, which implies that your initial savings (and sign-on bonus) aren’t negated with a hefty yearly charge.

Capital One’s Spark Cash Select card is extremely straightforward: you obtain 1.5% cash return on all qualified purchases made using your card. Should you spend $10,000 around the card, for instance, you’ll get $150 cash return.

This card is definitely an excellent option for small companies, if your business is a touch bigger, you may want should also think about the Capital One Spark Cash for Business, which earns 2% cash return on all purchases and it has a greater sign-on bonus.

American Express SimplyCash Plus

This card is yet another wise decision for companies strictly thinking about saving cash. With 5% and threePercent cash return choices on certain purchases, it can save you more income than you’d otherwise have the ability to, especially if you are conscious about charging the best purchases for your card.

Highlights:

  • 5% cash return on office supply stores and wireless telephone services for that first $50,000 spent
  • 3% cash return on the group of your selecting (airfare, hotels, vehicle rentals, gasoline stations, restaurants, advertising, shipping, or computing devicesOrsoftware programOrimpair computing) for that first $50,000 spent
  • 1% cash return on other purchases
  • % opening APR for that first nine several weeks, a variable APR of 13.24% – 20.24%
  • No annual fee

Using the SimplyPlus Cash card, you are able to receive 5% cash return on purchases from office supply stores and wireless telephone services. Additionally you receive 3% cash return from the group of your selecting. You will find the groups you choose from:

  • Airfare purchased from airlines
  • Rooms in hotels purchased from hotels
  • Vehicle rentals purchased in select vehicle rental companies
  • U.S. gasoline stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases to promote in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computing devices, software, and cloud-computing purchases made from select providers

Presuming your company constitutes a significant quantity of purchases in one of these simple groups, the SimplyPlus Cash card is a superb method to conserve your funds. Both 5% and threePercent cash return perks maximize when you spend $50,000 in every category per anniversary year, then all purchases count 1% cash return. All purchases in other groups will also be worth 1%.

SimplyCash Plus doesn’t provide a sign-on bonus, but it carries no annual fee.

Best Business Charge Card for Frequent Travelers

Travel is definitely an costly a part of operating a business, so utilizing a charge card that provides savings and perks on travel expenses may well be a wise decision. Lots of travel charge cards provide you with perks for implementing specific services (just like a particular air travel), but we’ve selected the 2 that provide you the best results whatever the services you decide to use.

To accrue points for travel, you will be hard-pressed to locate a card having a better program than Capital One Spark Miles for Business. Or, in case your business frequently stays at Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, or SPG hotels, the Marriott Rewards Premier Business charge card offers many different ways to earn points.

That stated, remember that Chase Ink Business Preferred points count 25% more if redeemed for travel. So, based on your requirements, that card may be worth thinking about too.

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business Marriott Rewards Premier Business
Visit Site Visit Site
Annual Fee $ $99
Signup Bonus 20,000 miles 80,000 points
Tier 1 Rewards 5 pts./$1 spent at participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG hotels
Tier 2 Rewards 1.5 miles/$1 on all purchases 2 pts./$1 spent on airline tickets, vehicle rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, as well as for internet, cable, and make contact with services
Tier 3 Rewards 1 pt./$1 on other purchases

Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business

For frequent travelers, Capital One’s Spark Miles Select for Business is a superb choice. Every point need to be redeemed for travel expenses.

Highlights:

  • 20,000 bonus miles should you spend $3,000 within three several weeks of opening your bank account (the same as $200 in travel)
  • 1.5 miles per $1 allocated to all qualified purchases
  • Variable APR of 17.99%
  • $ annual fee

Cardholders receive 1.5 miles for each $1 spent on all purchases. That’s greater compared to amount granted by most charge cards and an excellent incentive to make use of this card for those purchases.

Additionally towards the miles earned for purchases, Capital One grants cardholders 20,000 bonus miles for signing on, as lengthy while you spend a minimum of $3,000 inside the first three several weeks of opening your bank account. That’s a similar of $200 for travel. This card also doesn’t carry an annual fee.

Miles could be redeemed for many travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, travel packages, along with other purchases.

Like Capital One’s other card, the Select card is the best for smaller sized companies. If you’re planning to make use of the credit card a great deal, Capital You have another travel card known as Spark Miles for Business. With this particular card, retailers earn two points per $1 spent along with a greater sign-up bonus, but need to pay a yearly fee of $95 (that is waived for that newbie).

Marriott Rewards Premier Business

This card will not be worth much should you not intend to remain at the participating hotels, however the Marriot Rewards Premier Business charge card provides more generous rewards than a number of other travel charge cards.

Highlights:

  • 80,000 bonuses should you spend $3,000 within three several weeks of opening your bank account
  • 5 points per $1 allocated to participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and SPG hotels
  • 2 points per $1 allocated to air travel tickets, vehicle rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, as well as for internet, cable, and make contact with services
  • 1 point on other qualified purchases
  • Variable APR of 16.99% – 23.99%
  • Annual fee of $99

Cardholders who spend a minimum of $3,000 within three several weeks of opening their account will get 80,000 bonuses. Except for the Chase Ink Business Preferred charge card, this is actually the greatest bonus provided by any charge card we surveyed. That stated, this card charges a yearly fee of $99 (which is not waived for that newbie), therefore the points are, essentially, worth a little under they’d be when the annual fee was waived.

As you may expect, Marriott Rewards Premier Business charge cards grant you points for spending cash at participating Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and SPG hotels. You can observe the participating locations through the rewards websites from the particular hotels (Marriott here, Ritz-Carlton here, and SPG here).

This charge card sticks out from a number of other travel cards because, additionally to points earned from hotel purchases, you are able to gather extra points using their company purchases. Particularly, you are able to earn two points per $1 spent during these groups:

  • Restaurants
  • Air travel tickets directly purchased with the air travel
  • Vehicle rental agencies
  • Office supply stores
  • Internet, cable, and make contact with services

Other purchases count the conventional some point per $1 spent. Points could be redeemed for several perks, for example free stays, discounts, or room upgrades at Marriott hotels. Points may also be used in the SPG program for similar perks using their company hotels.

Bianca Crouse

Bianca is really a author in the Off-shore Northwest. Like a product from the digital age, she likes absorbing considerable amounts of knowledge and figures she may as well transfer. If not looking in a screen, she’s most likely foraging for food outdoors, playing games, or harassing somebody with theories about this movie she just viewed.

Bianca Crouse

Bianca Crouse

Bianca Crouse

“”

Shopify versus. Volusion Ecommerce Platform Comparison

Shopify and Volusion are two best-known “hosted” ecommerce platforms on the web.

Ecommerce options exist on the spectrum of convenience and control. Both Shopify and Volusion are right in the center of the spectrum simply because they bundle all of the technical areas of a web-based store – hosting, speed, security, inventory, shopping cart software and payment processing – and bundle it right into a single monthly cost. This contrasts with solutions like WordPress + Woocommerce in which you buy, operate and keep each bit from the store but additionally have true 100% control of your site.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

But just like a self-located ecommerce website, Shopify and Volusion also bundle in your website in your domain in which you have full charge of product, prices and customer experience. So unlike managing a store on Etsy, eBay or Amazon . com – you control the build, design and content of the store.

Even if this area of the spectrum has lots of tradeoffs – services like Shopify and Volusion are a great choice for many storeowners. Therefore the question becomes – Shopify versus. Volusion?

I’ve reviewed Shopify here and Volusion here. I’ve used both like a customer so that as an advisor to customers of both.

Both are excellent companies by having an excellent product. And like several my other ecommerce and hosting reviews, there’s no such factor being an absolute “best” – there’s only the best choice for you personally according to your circumstances, goals and sources.

Here’s how Shopify comes even close to Volusion across 6 variables that many customers take a look at – and what you need to consider with Shopify versus. Volusion.

Skip to conclusion here.

Aside – I built a Buzzfeed style quiz for ecommerce platforms that grades the standards together with your goals. You should check out the quiz here.

Also, a fast disclosure – I receive referral charges from companies pointed out on this web site. All data and opinions derive from my experience like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Cost

Ahh – cost. It’s both simplest and many complex method to compare two products.

Rapid story on cost is the fact that both Shopify and Volusion work on a regular monthly cost structure having a ~2 week free trial offer. They likewise have a really similar “sticker” cost with tiers at ~$29/mo and ~$79/mo or more.

Shopify Pricing for Shopify Review (2016)

Volusion Pricing

That stated, their plan structure is simply different enough to create a direct comparison a little difficult.

The primary tradeoff originates from charges.

And you will find 3 various kinds of charges to think about.

First is the monthly store fee. This fee may be the “sticker” cost. Both Volusion and Shopify are usually exactly the same. Volusion is slightly cheaper, they also don’t include each and every feature on lower tiers that Shopify does.

Second is the store transaction fee. Shopify doesn’t charge transaction fees if you are using their charge card processor. Otherwise, their transaction charges are identical.

Third is the charge card processing charges. If you are using a third party processor like Authorize.internet, PayPal or Stripe – then you’ll pay anything they charge. If you are using Volusion, you’ll need to use a third party processor. If you are using Shopify, you should use Shopify payments for just two.9% + $.30 – about industry average.

If you are considering using a third party processor (ie, for cost or staying with your present provider), then Volusion is going to be comparable – or perhaps slightly less expensive than Shopify each month.

If you’re available to going “all in” ‘with Shopify, then you’ll save a lot of profit charges based on your revenue level.

In either case – cost isn’t the deciding factor for Shopify versus. Volusion. Rather, I’d take a look at additional factors.

Customer Care

Customer care is among the most undervalued advantages of choosing a located ecommerce platform.

The entire charge of a self-located ecommerce website is wonderful until it will get hacked and you’re having to pay $$$ to some developer or you are within the WordPress forums wishing someone points you within the right direction.

Both Volusion and Shopify have customer care included in their monthly cost. You obtain access to a variety of channels on – from phone to talk to forums to email tickets.

All customer care is customized since both operate on proprietary platforms.

At register – both of them come with an “onboarding” sequence along with a consultant to assist with any issues.

Volusion Onboarding

I’ve had good encounters with and you will find a few variations that I’ve observed –

  • Volusion has more thorough and instructive DIY education. They’ve videos and screenshots for small changes around the Dashboard whereas Shopify may have text instructions.Volusion Support
  • Volusion results in as increasing numbers of beginner-friendly because of onboarding and high consultant walk-throughs
  • Shopify has more thorough and instructive content on running your overall business. They invest considerable time and sources in situation studies, lengthy-form guides, tutorials, and helping your company succeed beyond just applying a brand new feature.
  • Shopify also offers a far more well-developed network of third party developers and marketers who focus on Shopify. They’re also known as “Shopify Experts.” It isn’t effortlessly, but it’s a much better beginning point for advanced help than the usual Google or UpWork search.
  • Shopify has *many* more integrations along with other 3rd parties along with other platforms. And frequently, individuals other platforms will really provide support for that Shopify integrations. This really is crucial for labeling providers, fulfillment providers, bookkeepers, etcShopify Integrations

Overall, I’d state that beginners will probably find Volusion’s support system to become less daunting. However a growing store will probably find Shopify’s support system to become handier. Quite simply, Shopify has a little more of the learning curve to understand their system, but once you understand it – that you can do more by using it.

Customer Focus

Shopify and Volusion both serve companies that vary from really small retailers selling niche products to multi-billion dollar brands. Have enterprise plans (I authored about Shopify Plus here) plus they have customer care teams educated to help absolute beginners.

That stated – there’s a significant difference between your companies when it comes to sources and mission. Shopify did an Dpo in 2015 to be a perfectly-funded public company. Their platform should serve all retail companies both on and offline – however with an emphasis on startups or online-first companies that are looking to grow offline.

Shopify runs their very own payment processing service as well as has their very own Point-of-Purchase (POS) system to ensure that small offline retailers sell offline an internet-based from inside exactly the same system. These were the first one to unveil “buyable buttons” on Pinterest and Facebook to ensure that retailers could sell inventory directly anywhere online – not only from customers who examined through the merchant’s website.

Shopify’s backend (which I’ll cover within the next section) reflects this focus. These products / orders / customers / inventory area is outside of the “website” area. The concept is your website is just one of numerous sales channels. You are able to certainly run your site as the only sales funnel in Shopify – however the choices to sell elsewhere happen to be built-in.

Volusions’s focus appears to become more about stores with an existing large offline operation – and want to grow online (almost overturn of Shopify).

That’s not necessarily a bad or perhaps a good factor – it’s only a choice. Their backend and terminology is centered on the storeowner that has a current retail business and requires to create it on the internet. There is a robust inventory system having a concentrate on the operations of the ecommerce store as opposed to the marketing of the ecommerce store. They’ve straightforward functionality to create on team people to handle listings and inventory.

Volusion Admin Control

Both Volusion and Shopify are fantastic platforms for startups to enterprise. However, Shopify’s focus is on getting an extensive platform that is useful for any kind of store. Volusions’s focus helps existing storeowners sell better – and manage across channels.

User-ambiance & Onboarding

Associated with Customer Focus would be the problems with user-ambiance and “onboarding” (ie, obtaining a new customer for an active storeowner).

Both Volusion and Shopify have excellent onboarding processes and user-friendly management areas.

The primary difference is when each backend is structured. Volusion includes a single Dashboard in which you manage everything – your product or service, inventory, websites, settings, billing, etc.

Volusion Dashboard

Shopify breaks out products/customers/orders as well as your website into separate areas. Furthermore, Shopify has their very own lingo.

For instance, rather of “product categories” – Shopify has “Collections.” Rather of a “website” – Shopify has “Online Store” that is among your “Sales Channels.”

Shopify Backend

To have an absolute beginner, it requires a couple of more minutes to determine Shopify’s lingo and structure when compared with Volusion. That stated, once Shopify’s lingo clicks, it will provide a little more versatility for daily operations. Shopify’s inventory setup, their product filtering and template editor are faster and much more versatile – when you figure them out.

For those who have never operate a website before and just possess a promising small to mid-size product collection, then Volusion will probably be preferable than Shopify.

If you would like more lengthy-term versatility, you’ll likely appreciate Shopify’s system more when you tackle the training curve.

Method of Features

Both Shopify and Volusion have the majority of the tools (marketing, Search engine optimization, inventory, order, etc) a web-based store will have to be effective. They differ though in the way the each approach adding additional features.

Shopify takes the “platform” approach. They’ve essential features that storeowners will require built-in. However for features that does not all storeowners need – they concentrate on ensuring storeowners can also add feature extensions for their store when needed. There is a large and active Application Store that does not has only well-known extensions (ie, MailChimp) but additionally lots of indie apps for each situation (ie, apps for worldwide tax and shipping features).

Shopify Apps

Shopify’s template editing language, Liquid, also enables developers to include features straight to an outlet if required. Shopify also offers a good “CMS” to handle non-product content (ie, blogs, pages, etc).

Shopify Blog Post

Volusion comes with an Application Store for extensions too. However, Volusion includes a bigger concentrate on building plenty of features straight into their software to ensure that there’s you don’t need to add extra time.

For instance, take selling on Amazon . com or importing your Amazon . com listings for your store. Both Shopify and Volusion could make these functions happen.

Volusion builds the feature to their backend. Should you not require the feature, it adds some clutter and technically enables you to “pay” for something aren’t using. However if you simply require it, it’s already there also it simply works.

Volusion Amazon Integration

Shopify doesn’t have it built-in. However, they are doing come with an application extension (produced by Shopify, readily available for free) that you could supplment your store if you are an Amazon . com seller.

That stated – the switch side from the platform/built-in tradeoff is when Volusion doesn’t have an element built-in – they’re unlikely with an application to supply the functionality whatsoever.

For instance, if you’re applying bulk 301 redirects and wish to monitor 404 errors to find out if you missed any URLs – Shopify comes with an application will require proper care of that however, you won’t have the ability to it whatsoever in Volusion.

It’s exactly the same situation for drag editing, membership shopping and lots of other advanced features. Most storeowners don’t needOrwould like them. However if you simply do, you are more inclined to have it in certain form or fashion in Shopify than Volusion.

Shopify Apps

The final example this is actually the “content management system” – Shopify includes a decent one to have an ecommerce platform. Volusion, though, is decidedly missing.

Volusion CMS

Again – a CMS isn’t by itself an enormous deal. But it’s vital that you consider which needs are critical for your store.

Overall, for those who have fairly core ecommerce needs and just want something to exist and also to work – then Volusion will probably are more effective.

If you would like more versatility (without going the self-hosting route), then you’ll convey more use of features with Shopify.

Aside – for this reason I suggest carrying out a 2 week free trial offer with Volusion and Shopify simply to click around and discover for yourself.

Method of Design

Both Shopify and Volusion make use of a system of styles / templates for design. You decide on basics theme after which edit it to appear as you desire.

As the finish result is identical, they are doing have a slightly different approach.

Shopify includes a well-developed “Theme Store” which, similar to their Application Store, has many free and premium styles produced by companies, individuals, and Shopify.

Shopify Themes

Shopify’s backend enables you to definitely make changes towards the theme. It can be done via drag or via  a hybrid method of editing. Small customizations (colors, logos, etc) require only a click while bigger changes (layout, widgets, etc) require editing Shopify’s custom Liquid language. Here’s Shopify’s drag tool.

Shopify Drag Drop

Volusion includes a Theme Store that’s quickly growing. They’ve just added a brand new batch of new styles. However, still it lacks the variety of Shopify. Their cost points for premium styles are often greater too. That stated, Volusion theme editing options include both selecting small customizations and editing the HTML/CSS. It’s a far more straightforward editor that you will get with Shopify.

Volusion Templates

Overall, I believe most storeowners will discover more versatility with Shopify’s method of design. However, if you wish to edit HTML/CSS directly without learning a brand new language and/or wish to download template designs (instead of your development store) – then you’ll like Volusion better.

Shopify versus. Volusion Conclusion & Next Steps

So Shopify versus. Volusion – who is the perfect fit for who? For those who have time – I’d really recommend carrying out a free trial offer (no charge card needed) with and merely clicking around.

Obtain a free 14-day free trial offer with Volusion here.

Obtain a free 14-day free trial offer with Shopify here.

Personally, i such as the versatility and options of Shopify. They’re likely a much better fit for many online storeowners. Take a look at Shopify here & my Shopify Review here.

However, if you are a old store and wish a less complicated experience, you’ll prosper with Volusion. Take a look at Volusion here & my Volusion Review here.

If you’re undecided – then take my Ecommerce Platform Quiz here. It will require your requirements and let you know who is the greatest option for your web store.

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