How To Accept Credit Cards Online

So you’ve realized you want to start selling online. Good for you! The ecommerce market is certainly booming. But before you can start raking in the money, you probably have a few questions, like “how do I make a website?” and “how do I accept credit cards online?” Here’s the good news: There are plenty of software options and payment processors to choose from! The bad news? There are plenty of software options and payment processors to choose from. So how do you choose?

As always, there’s no one perfect solution for everyone. You need to know your business (and where you want to go with it) and have a rough idea of what you need. If you have no idea where to start, never fear! In this article, we’ll cover some of the basic considerations about accepting credit card payments online, as well as types of payment processors and how to accept credit card payments online with and without a website. We’ll also discuss some of our favorite solutions for ecommerce and provide resources to help you learn more.

5 Questions To Ask Before You Start

It’s really important, before you dive headlong into any kind of financial investment in your business, to sit down and make sure that you know what you want and what you need. I say that a lot, but with selling online it’s especially important to look before you leap because if you get any component of your setup wrong, redoing it will cost time and money.

So before anything, here are some questions to consider:

  1. How technologically savvy are you? Simply put, are you even able to build and maintain your website yourself? If you’re not exactly a technological wizard, your priority should be finding an easy-to-manage solution. You can also outsource tasks you can’t handle yourself, such as design or even data entry for the creation of products. Of course, if you have an ambitious idea and no ready-made solution exists, or you need a lot of customization, you might need a developer who can work with software APIs to create what you need. You can find freelance developers to help out as you go, but the more high-tech you go, obviously, the more you should consider having a full-time developer.
  2. Do you already have a website? If yes, do you like your website? Would you rather abandon it for a better site with more features? If you already have a site and don’t want to go through the effort of creating a new site to sell a handful of products, payment buttons or plug-ins are better options. If you don’t have a site or you don’t mind nixing your current site in favor of something better, shopping cart software might meet the brief nicely. But of course, you don’t need a website to accept payments online. We’ll talk about all of these options more below.
  3. What’s your budget? When it comes to numbers, you need to look at both upfront costs and monthly (or yearly) costs. How much can you spend at the outset, and how much do you expect to be able to afford on a monthly or annual basis? Keep in mind the more technically advanced your website, the more you can expect to pay to build and maintain it. Likewise, the busier your site — the more products you have and the more sales you make — the more you can expect to pay. Don’t forget the tangential costs, such as hiring a designer or a developer, or data entry, and of course, the costs of payment processing itself!
  4. What are you selling? Whether you’re offering digital goods, subscriptions/services, or retail products, look for service providers that cater to your industry so you don’t have to find creative workarounds. Many solutions are generalized for a broad array of merchants, but with add-ons and integrations to make them more tailored. You can also find payment processors and software that offer ready-made specialized solutions and service plans, such as micropayments for merchants who sell low-priced digital goods.
  5. How comfortable are you with handling security features? If you want to sell online, you have to make sure your website is secure. That means ensuring your site is PCI compliant. The more involved you are in the payments process and the more sensitive information your website handles, the more of a burden you are taking upon yourself. Fortunately, many payment processors and other software providers offer solutions to keep your customers’ information secure and reduce your PCI burden — in some cases, you may not need to do anything at all.

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions and a list of the features you need and want, it’s time to actually start looking at your options. One of your primary considerations should be finding a payment processor. However, depending on your business model, you might want to first look at what kind of ecommerce options work for you and then select a payment processor from the available options.

We’ll begin by talking about payment processors and go on to look at what other software or platforms you should explore.

Types Of Payment Processors

No matter how you go about finding a payment processor — choosing a standalone, going with the default processor included with your shopping cart, or choosing a recommended partner from a software provider — you need to consider what kind of business model the processor uses. If you’ve been here before and read any of my other articles, you know that I am talking about the difference between third-party payment processors versus traditional merchant accounts.

Traditional merchant accounts are very stable. It would take a clear violation of either your contract or card network rules in order to trigger an account termination, and you’re unlikely to encounter a hold on funds unless you’ve had a series of issues with chargebacks or fraudulent transactions. However, most merchant account providers expect you to have an established business and a monthly volume of $10,000 in credit card transactions. Plus, setting up a merchant account will typically take a few days. It could take longer depending on how many processors are on your short list and how much negotiation is required.

Third-party processors are not quite as stable as merchant accounts. That’s because instead of issuing separate accounts for each of their merchants, everything is lumped together in one giant, communal merchant account. It takes very little effort to apply for an account with one of these processors, and you can often get approved and set up to accept credit cards online within a day. Factor in no monthly minimum volume requirements and third-party processors provide a great way for new businesses to take payments. However, the trade-off is that you’ll face greater scrutiny and a higher risk for account holds or terminations, often with no warning. Check out our article on how to prevent merchant account hold and freezes to learn how to reduce your risk.

While third-party processors are riskier than merchant accounts, they are a great option for new businesses who don’t know what sort of volume they can expect and don’t have an established history. Even for established businesses, there are some advantages: namely, third-party processors offer predictable, flat-rate pricing, so you know exactly how much you’ll pay. The best merchant account providers typically offer interchange-plus pricing, which, while clear and transparent, doesn’t make it easy to accurately estimate processing because interchange rates vary.

It’s up to you to decide which type of processor is right for your business. I do want to point out that some software companies (ecommerce shopping carts, point of sale solutions, invoice platforms, and more) often build white-label payments into their solutions. These solutions can take the form of third-party processors or merchant accounts, so make sure you investigate before just going with the default processor. In addition to their native payment processing services, most ecommerce software providers support integrations with an assortment of merchant accounts and third-party payment processors.

Square is our top-pick for third-party payment processor. In addition to predictable, flat-rate pricing with no monthly fees or contracts, Square offers a whole suite of seamlessly integrated apps to address in-person and online sales at no charge at all. eCommerce transactions process at 2.9% + $0.30 each.

For merchant accounts, we recommend CDGcommerce, which offers flat-rate pricing and an interchange-plus option depending on the merchant’s payment volume. There are no monthly minimums and no contracts, just a $10 monthly fee. Low-volume merchants will pay 1.95% + $0.30 for most transactions, or 2.95% + $0.30 for premium, corporate, or international cards. Merchants who process more than $10,000/month are eligible for interchange-plus pricing with a 0.30% + $0.10 markup.

Does Your Payment Processor Include a Gateway?

If you want to accept credit card payments online, it’s not enough to find a credit card processor. You also need a gateway. As the name suggests, a gateway is an intermediary software program that transfers the payment data from your website to the customer’s bank to be approved or declined (and then routes the money to your merchant account).

Many payment processors offer gateways as part of their services. For example, PayPal, Square, and Stripe all offer gateways bundled with the rest of their services at no additional cost. CDGcommerce offers its Quantum gateway as part of its services for online merchants.

However, some processors will charge you a setup fee and/or a monthly fee for use of the gateway. While it’s fair and legitimate to charge for this service (especially if you’re being offered other discounts or freebies in exchange), there’s no reason for you to overpay, either. Make sure you know how much a gateway service will cost if it’s not offered for free.

While it’s rare to find a processor that doesn’t include some sort of gateway access, they do exist. In the event that you find yourself leaning toward one of these processors, you can find your own gateway. Authorize.net is nearly universally compatible and reasonably priced, which makes it a good option for most merchants. (Worth noting: CDGcommerce’s gateway, Quantum, also includes an Authorize.net emulation mode to maximize compatibility.)

Want to know more about how payment gateways figure into your ecommerce setup? Check out our article, The Complete Guide to Online Credit Card Processing With a Payment Gateway, for more information.

How To Accept Online Payments With A Website

A website is a pretty integral part of selling online (but it’s not 100% necessary — we’ll look at some alternatives in the next section). As mentioned above, the first question to consider is: Do I already have a website? Then ask yourself: Do I like that website, or would I rather start over completely? Fortunately, there are solutions for both of these scenarios. For existing sites, you can implement payment buttons or seek out a plug-in or extension that supports ecommerce.

Adding Payments To An Existing Site

best templates

If you’ve used a site builder such as WordPress, Weebly, Wix, or Squarespace, it’s fairly simple to implement online payments. Simply check out the sitebuilder’s available third-party apps, extensions, and plugins. If you already know which payment processor you want to use, you can search directly for an available add-on. Otherwise, you can browse and see what options are ready-made for you. These add-ons will allow you to securely collect payment information from your customers as well as manage the order fulfillment process. Do your research and go with solutions from your site builder rather than third parties, if possible. Check reviews of any plugins or extensions you add and make sure they are well supported and any glitches are fixed in a timely manner.

If you run a WordPress site, WooCommerce or Ecwid could be good starter options. WooCommerce is actually a free plug-in to add to your site, with a basic theme and your choice of payment processors. It’s a very modular setup, so you can choose from a mix of free and paid extensions that allow you to customize WooCommerce to your needs. That includes payment processors, subscription tools, the ability to create add-ons (such as gift wrap for products), and more. Most WooCommerce add-ons are charged on an annual basis, which could require more of an up-front investment than a monthly subscription, so be aware of this fact.

Ecwid is another plug-in designed for WordPress. However, it also works on an assortment of other website-building platforms, including Wix and Weebly, Ecwid does offer a free plan for businesses with 10 or fewer products, but for higher-tiered plans you’ll pay a monthly subscription fee. Ecwid supports a wide assortment of integrations, including payment gateways. With higher plan tiers, you also get access to expanded sales channels.

Wix and Weebly’s website builders can be used for blogging, personal portfolios, and any other purposes. They both offer online store modules. Online stores from Wix start at $20/month with no transaction fees and your choice of processors. Upgrading to an eCommerce plan is fairly simple from within the Wix dashboard and won’t require any substantial reworking. Simply add the “My Store” module to your dashboard, make the upgrade, and start creating products.

Finally, there’s Weebly. Square actually bought Weebly in the spring of 2018, so it’s possible we could see Weebly start to favor Square pretty heavily in the future. For now, though, Weebly’s online store plans start at $8/month (on a yearly plan), with a 3% transaction fee on top of your processing costs. The transaction fee drops off with higher-tier plans, leaving just the monthly fee.

The other way to add payments to an existing site is to look for a payment processor that supports customizable payment buttons. A good payment button creator will give you power over the appearance of the buttons as well as the settings for transactions. The obvious, go-to solution for many is PayPal, which offers a pretty powerful array of tools. PayPal’s buttons are a good option whether you are selling a single product or multiple ones. You can set up payment buttons to allow products to be added to a cart or to go directly to checkout. PayPal even allows nonprofits to create a “Donate” button for their site, which can be configured for one-time and recurring donations.

An alternative to PayPal is Shopify Lite, an entry-level solution. For $9/month plus transaction costs (2.9% + $0.30), you can accept payments on your website by adding payment buttons. The plan also includes access to Shopify’s mPOS app and the ability to sell on Facebook (we’ll talk about that option in the next section, too.) And it’s worth mentioning that Ecwid also supports the creation of custom buy buttons.

While adding payments to an existing site is incredibly convenient and often requires little work, you won’t get quite as many tools as you would with a hosted ecommerce software solution. Which brings us to the best solution if you would rather build a new site or have no website to start with:

Building A New Site With Shopping Cart Software

eCommerce software apps, sometimes also called shopping carts or shopping cart software, are hosted, all-in-one solutions to online sales. Adding an ecommerce feature to an existing website requires you to choose a platform, buy the domain, and pay for hosting, but with shopping carts, you’ll get everything in a single package: online sales and product management, hosting, and sometimes even the ability to buy a domain name directly. Typically, shopping carts will also help you centralize control of sales across multiple channels, so that if you sell on social media, on eBay, or through another channel, you can handle order fulfillment through a single platform. That even includes buying postage (at a discounted rate) and printing the shipping labels. Some shopping carts will offer marketing tools or integrations with marketing platforms, as well as integrations with point of sale systems.

As far as payment processing goes, some shopping carts have opted to include their own white-label payments as a default part of their services. One such cart is Shopify, which offers its own Shopify Payments service (read our review). However, this is just a white-label version of Stripe. Be aware that choosing a payment processor other than the default can incur additional fees.

Generally speaking, even if a shopping cart doesn’t offer all of the features you want, you can search the app market for available extensions and integrations to get what you need. It’s worth researching the available add-ons as well as the native software features.

There’s a lot to consider and compare with a shopping cart. Obviously, you can use a sitebuilder such as Weebly or Wix, which both offer eCommerce modules. Then there are ecommerce-exclusive platforms, including Shopify and BigCommerce, which make it easy to build your site and customize the design (and even offer blogging so you can centralize control of your website).

If you want a whole lot of freedom and have coding knowledge, an open-source platform such as Magento might be more to your liking. Open-source platforms tend to be chock-full of specialized features (particularly if they have attracted active user communities) and you have almost limitless control of your site. A closed-source, SaaS platform is certainly a lot easier and more convenient for business owners who are just starting out and want to go the DIY route.

If you aren’t sure what you want, we recommend you start by checking out Shopify and BigCommerce, both of which are affordably priced for new businesses and offer extensive customer support resources. They also both offer multi-channel sales manage so you can sell through your own site and through other platforms but manage all of your orders from a single portal.

If you’re still curious about what makes a great ecommerce platform, check out some of our other resources!

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Store (eBook)
  • Shopping Cart Flowchart: Choose the Right eCommerce Software for Your Business (Infographic)
  • Shopping Carts 101: How to Choose a Shopping Cart for Your Business (Article)
  • Questions to Ask Before You Commit to a Shopping Cart (Article)

Managing Services, Subscriptions & Other Recurring Charges

A lot of merchants, from accountants and other professional service provideres to lawn care and cleaning services, could benefit from being able to automate recurring charges. And of course, the ability to automate charges is essential for SaaS providers and subscription-box sellers.

Generally speaking, the ability to accept recurring payments — for monthly services or subscriptions — isn’t a default option for payment processors or shopping carts, which tend to be retail-focused. However, you can find plenty of solutions that will work with your existing eCommerce setup. For example, Stripe and Braintree both offer extensive subscription management tools along with their payment gateway and processing services. Add-on services such as Chargify, Recurly, and ChargeBee work with a variety of processors. Zoho Subscriptions and Freshbooks also offer recurring billing tools. PayPal offers recurring billing tools for its merchants; Square offers “recurring invoices” but not a lot of advanced customization for subscription billing.

Proper research will be very important when selecting a provider that offers all of the features you need, whether you require metered billing for usage-based online services, the ability for customers to upgrade to a higher tiered plan mid-billing cycle, the ability to offer free trial periods and extend them, or a way to calculate taxes. Tools that automatically update expired cards can also help reduce failed charges and therefore improve revenues and reduce customer loss.

Accepting Online Payments Without A Website

Most people equate taking payments online with having a website. That is the most common option, but you don’t actually need your own website. Let’s talk about a few of the alternatives for how to accept credit cards online.

Creating Online Invoices

You could create your own invoices in Microsoft Office and send them out via email, but then you’ve got to keep track of which invoices have been sent and which have been paid — and you’ve still got to deal with waiting for the check in the mail. Online invoicing solutions can eliminate every single one of these hassles.

Generally speaking, invoicing software is cloud-based, so you can access it anywhere. You can customize invoices and send them via email (or generate a shareable link to the invoice). But unlike old-fashioned invoicing, these invoices include a link to pay directly in the invoice. Your customers follow the link, enter their payment details, and bam! You get paid much quicker.

Depending on which invoicing software you choose, you can get some powerful features. For example, PayPal allows you to enable partial payments on an invoice if you are willing to accept installment payments. Square’s invoicing links up with the platform’s customer database, allowing you to send recurring invoices and even store customer cards on file to make getting paid even easier. Zoho Invoice, which starts at $0/month, also allows for a customer database, as well as project management (so you can generate an invoice based on the number of hours worked). Shopify offers invoice creation within its platform at no additional charge as well — and this feature is even available on the Lite plan.

For most merchants, Square Invoices may be the most appealing, as it’s available with a Square account at no additional charge. However, Shopify’s built-in invoicing will work for merchants who want to sell with or without a website. Merchants who need project management as part of their invoicing should look at Zoho Invoice.

Using Online Form Builders

So you don’t have a website, but you still need to collect user information and accept payment. Online form builders offer an easy way to do both. Plus, you can post links to forms on social media or send them out via email.

Off the top of your head, you might think of Google Forms, which is free to use and quite advanced for a freemium software. However, it doesn’t integrate seamlessly with payment processors. Your best option, in this case, would be to use PayPal’s embeddable buy buttons and include the button in the form’s submission confirmation page as a second step. However, you’ll have to manually reconcile the payment records versus form submissions.

Subscription-based form builders will cost you money but offer far more capabilities than Google Forms, including direct integrations with payment processors/gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Authorize.net. Subscriptions generally work on annual or monthly plans, but one option, Cognito Forms, offers an entry-level plan that charges 1% of the transaction amount instead. (Note, that’s in addition to any processing fees.) Other form solutions worth looking into are Zoho Forms and Jotform. Zoho Forms starts at $10/month and includes unlimited forms and up to 10,000 submissions. It integrates with both PayPal and Stripe. Jotform’s paid plans start at $19/month and are limited to 1,000 submissions, but include integrations for quite a few payment processors, including PayPal, Stripe, Square, and even Dwolla. Cognito Forms’ paid plans start at $10/month plus 1% of the transactions and include up to 2,000 form submissions. Integrations include PayPal and Stripe.

And we haven’t even talked about event registration sites. There are a lot of them, but the one many people are likely familiar with is EventBrite. EventBrite allows you to put all the details of your event online and sell tickets — including setting multiple tiers of admission and promotion cards, automatically setting price changes for registration deadlines, and so on. You can even collect marketing data about your patrons, from their zip codes to how they heard about the event. Your event is searchable from within the EventBrite platform, allowing people searching for something to do to discover your event as well. EventBrite does charge fees on top of processing costs, but these can actually be passed onto event registrees, saving you some money at least.

Selling On Social Media

It wasn’t all that long ago that the idea of being able to buy products directly through social media channels was novel and experimental, but nowadays you can create your own online shop through Facebook, or sell on Instagram or even Pinterest.

With Facebook, you just need a Facebook business page to get started. You can choose your payment processor (PayPal or Stripe) and start manually uploading products, all of which have to be reviewed by Facebook before they can go live. An easier option is to link your Facebook shop to an online store builder such as BigCommerce, Ecwid, or Shopify.

Shopify is actually an interesting solution because, while its core offering is an online shopping cart, it offers a “Lite” plan for $9/month that includes access to its mPOS app, buy buttons for a website, and a Facebook store with automated tools to make the process easier. You wouldn’t necessarily have to go through the hassle of building a website with Shopify just to sell on Facebook, but you still get more tools than you would by going through Facebook directly. Check out our Shopify Lite review for an in-depth look at the plan and all its features.

Selling on Instagram requires you to have a Facebook shop (because Facebook owns Instagram) to create what it calls “Shoppable posts.” That shop can be managed directly via Facebook itself, or via Shopify or BigCommerce as one of multiple sales channels. I’d like to point out that Instagram isn’t available as a sales channel with the Lite plan; you’ll need to upgrade to Shopify Basic at $29/month to be able to manage sales via Instagram.

Lastly, Pinterest allows merchants with a business account to create “Buyable pins,” so you can sell from your Pinterest page. Unlike Facebook, where you can manage the buyable pins from the platform, to sell through Pinterest you will need to go through either Shopify or BigCommerce and actually apply for approval before you can start selling.

Shopify Lite is an ideal option if you want to start with Facebook and maybe add buy buttons to a website. You can upgrade to Shopify Basic ($29/month) to get your own site, plus access to Instagram and Pinterest if that appeals to you.

Selling In Marketplaces

Online marketplaces are a good alternative to having your own website if you’re selling retail goods. You don’t have to pay for hosting or invest anything in web design. You simply create your product listings using the tools provided and publish them. Marketplaces allow you to get your products in front of a large audience without you having to build a stream of traffic yourself. However, the trade-offs are that you generally pay more in fees (listing fees, seller’s fees, and payment processing) than you would with your own website, and you have zero control over the design of the site or even how your products are displayed. Generally speaking, you are limited to using whatever payment processing the marketplace offers as well.

A few popular marketplaces include:

  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • Jet (owned by Walmart)
  • Ruby Lane

Accepting Payments Through Virtual Terminals 

The final alternative is a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit, but it can be a powerful tool for some merchants. A virtual terminal is a web portal where you can manually enter credit card information to process a transaction. (There’s the stretch: VTs require an internet connection, so they’re technically online payments.)  Virtual terminals are a necessity for merchants who want to accept payments over the phone (or even by mail).

Some payment processors offer a virtual terminal as part of their software package, others as an add-on. These providers include PayPal, Payline Mobile, Square, and Fattmerchant. However, if you want the best value for a virtual terminal, we recommend Square. You pay only the payment processing costs (3.5% + $0.15) and it is interoperable with the rest of Square’s platform.

Beyond Credit Cards: Alternative Online Payment Methods

Credit cards are the go-to for accepting payments online, but they aren’t the only options. For starters, there are ACH bank transfers, which are generally less expensive for merchants to process. They’re often preferred in B2B environments, but some consumers favor them too.

Offering ACH processing as an additional option, especially if you’re in the B2B space, could win you more customers. According to a 2017 Payment Benchmarks Survey by the Credit Research Foundation and the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), ACH transfers currently account for 32 percent of B2B transactions, lagging behind checks, which took the no. 1 spot at 50 percent. Credit cards account for just 11 percent of B2B transactions. By 2020, the survey estimates that ACH will take the top spot and account for 45 percent of B2B transactions.

Despite this, most merchant accounts or even third-party processors don’t offer ACH by default. Some offer it as an add-on plan, others may require you to look for a supplemental option for ACH acceptance.

ACH is far from the only option as far as “alternative” payment processing now, too. Mobile wallets are bridging the gap between in-person and online payments, and card networks have implemented their own online checkout options for cardholders. The major advantage to accepting these options is that they offer an extra layer of security for consumers. For example, Apple Pay on the web still requires biometric authentication before approval.

Some of these alternative payment methods include:

  • Apple Pay on the Web
  • Google Pay
  • Microsoft Pay
  • Chase Pay
  • MasterPass
  • Visa Checkout
  • Amex Express checkout

Apple Pay and Google Pay are fairly widely supported, but you may not see the other options on this list everywhere.

Two noteworthy providers that offer ACH, as well as other alternative payment options, are Stripe and Braintree. However, both are developer-focused platforms, so you’ll need someone with the technical know-how to implement them. Merchant accounts that specialize in eCommerce and provide a solid gateway might offer these options too.

We recommend Stripe because of its extensive developer tools, customizable checkout, and resources for recurring billing. The company also offers round-the-clock customer support (an admittedly recent addition to its feature set). Plus, Stripe is great for international merchants who want to be able to accept localized currencies in Europe and Asia.

Begin Accepting Payments Online

Starting an online store and learning how to accept credit cards online can seem like a daunting task! There are so many factors to consider, but I hope I’ve been able to shed some light on the process and point you in the direction of some good options. A merchant account can give you security and stability, but it may not be the most cost-effective option for low-volume merchants. A third-party processor can get you set up quickly with predictable pricing that often favors low-volume merchants, but the trade-off is account stability. And of course there’s the matter of compatibility: You need to make sure that whatever payment processor you choose offers a gateway compatible with the software (and sales channels) you want to use.

But you also need to have a good idea of what you can afford to spend up front and on a monthly basis and understand your limitations when it comes to technology and software. If you want to go the DIY route, you’ll need to be fairly tech-savvy. Otherwise, be prepared to outsource tasks to designers, developers, and even admin assistants. Some software solutions make it incredibly easy to do everything yourself, others will require lots of hands-on effort to make them work.

If you’re still not sure where to go from here, we recommend you check out our article: The Best Online Credit Card Payment Processing Companies. You can also view our merchant account comparison chart for a quick look at our favorite providers.

Have questions? We’re always happy to hear from our readers, so please leave us a comment!

The post How To Accept Credit Cards Online appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Is WordPress Easy To Use For eCommerce?

If you know anything about web development, you know about WordPress. WordPress is now the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the world, powering over 31% of websites globally. In fact, WordPress is the software behind the very website you’re currently on!

As an everyday WordPress user myself, I can say with confidence that WordPress is a great CMS for many purposes, including online selling. The software is open-source and popular, meaning that it’s fully customizable and that there are plug-ins available to extend the functionality of the software.

While it’s true that WordPress was originally built as a blogging platform, several eCommerce plugins make it possible to transform your website into a full-fledged online store. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at three of the most popular eCommerce software systems that work with WordPress.

But first, let’s take a look at WordPress as a stand-alone software.

Is WordPress Easy To Use?

WordPress is a very learnable software. The software is fairly easy to use once you get the hang of things. However, this initial learning process may take some time.

This is particularly true if you are new to web development. As open-source software, WordPress is not exactly plug-and-play. In order to get your site online, you’ll have to find your own web host and then install WordPress on your hosting account. In addition, you will be responsible for maintaining your site’s security.

Once you’ve finished setting everything up, you will find that when it comes to daily operations, WordPress is very usable.

As you consider using WordPress for your online store, you’ll have to keep in mind the pros and cons of the software. Here’s a quick breakdown of those advantages and disadvantages:

Pros

  • Open Source: Because WordPress is open source, you have the freedom to modify the software however you choose. In addition, you can choose to sell your modifications to other users!
  • Free: WordPress is free to download and use. However, you should note that operating a website comes with other expenses. Take a look at our “Cons” list for more information.
  • Large User Community: With so many bloggers, sellers, and developers using WordPress, you can expect to find lively community forums in WordPress’s support resources. Get help from fellow users or purchase plug-ins from a wide range of developers.
  • Reliable Software: You can depend on WordPress as a glitch-free CMS.
  • Lots Of Plug-Ins Available: WordPress and third-party developers alike have put out thousands of plug-ins that you can purchase and install to add features to your platform.

Cons

  • For Do-It-Yourselfers Only: When you use WordPress, you will be responsible for managing your web hosting and site security.
  • Some Experience Required: You either must have some experience editing HTML/CSS or you must be willing to learn.
  • Limited Technical Support: WordPress offers some support via email and live chat. However, for the most part, you’re on your own when it comes to technical issues.
  • Common Target For Hackers: Open source software is often the target of security attacks. You’ll have to keep an eye out for any new security patches.
  • Difficult To Estimate Total Costs: Although WordPress is free to use, you will still have to pay the typical costs of operating a website. You’ll need to pay for hosting, an SSL certificate, a theme, and any plug-ins you choose to use.

Now you know a bit more about the usability of WordPress, let’s start talking about our favorite eCommerce plug-ins for WordPress! All three of the following plug-ins are affordable, easy-to-use, and easy to integrate with any WordPress website.

Let’s get started!

WooCommmerce

WooCommerce is a free, open source eCommerce plug-in that is designed specifically to be used with WordPress. WooCommerce fits businesses of all sizes, from startup to enterprise. In fact, WooCommerce has been downloaded over 48 million times, making it one of the most popular eCommerce solutions in the world.

WooCommerce is easy to incorporate into your WordPress site. All you have to do is install and activate the WooCommerce app in your “Plug-ins” tab. Activating this plug-in turns your blogging back-end into an online store admin. Take a look:

In this dashboard, you can manage everything for your online store. For example, you can create products, access pending orders, adjust shipping setting, enter product information, and set up inventory tracking.

WooCommerce provides enough features to handle all the basic operations of online selling. Everything else is available as an extension. Here are a few of the features built-in:

  • Sell Digital & Physical Products
  • Inventory Management Features
  • Shipping Calculator & Shipping Options (Pickup, Local Delivery, Calculated Shipping)
  • SEO Features
  • Coupons & Discounts

WooCommerce offers lots of themes to choose from. Most of these are designed by third-parties; however, WooCommerce also creates its own designs called “WooThemes.” We recommend you stick with these WooThemes as they tend to work best with WooCommerce updates. For the most part, in order to change large aspects of these designs, you will be required to edit the HTML and CSS.

Like WordPress, WooCommerce offers very limited customer support to their customers. You are mostly on your own. Fortunately, WooCommerce does have a detailed knowledge base as well as a supportive user community to help you through any difficulties.

We love WooCommerce for its customizability, its scalability, and of course, its price. To learn more about WooCommerce, take a look at our full review of the software. Or, download WooCommerce today to test it for yourself.

Ecwid

Another plug-in you might consider using is Ecwid. Ecwid is an eCommerce software that lets you incorporate shopping cart widgets–such as buy buttons or a full online store–into any pre-built website. Ecwid is a perfect solution for small to medium-sized businesses that want a simple way to add an online store to their website. Over one million merchants currently use Ecwid for their online selling.

Ecwid is a SaaS (software as a service) solution, which means that although you have to find hosting for your WordPress site, hosting for your Ecwid store is already included. Instead, you’ll just have to pay a monthly price to use the software. This price depends primarily on the number of products you plan on listing. Each step up in pricing also includes more advanced features. Take a look below for a quick breakdown of pricing:

  • Free Plan: $0/Month
    • 10 Products
  • Venture: $15/Month
    • 100 Products
  • Business: $35/Month
    • 2,500 Products
  • Unlimited: $99/Month
    • Unlimited Products

To add Ecwid to your WordPress account, sign for an Ecwid account at ecwid.com. Then, install and activate the app in your WordPress dashboard. Completing these actions will let you make changes to your Ecwid store from WordPress.

Here’s a look at Ecwid’s dashboard within WordPress:

Alternatively, you can choose to manage your store from Ecwid’s own dashboard. Since the two programs are now connected, every change you make in Ecwid will be reflected in your WordPress site. Here’s Ecwid’s dashboard:

We recommend using Ecwid’s dashboard to manage your online store. We think Ecwid’s dashboard is more intuitive and easier to use in general.

Using Ecwid will give you access to many of the necessary selling features. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Buy Buttons
  • Multi-Channel Selling
  • Real-Time Shipping Rates
  • Promotions & Discounts
  • Sell Digital Products
  • Mobile Management App

Ecwid supplies users with one Starter Site theme that you can use to develop your storefront using drag-and-drop tools. There are also third-party themes available as well as HTML and CSS editors for more in-depth customization.

As is typical with SaaS solutions, Ecwid provides technical support through several channels. Your pricing plan will determine how you are able to reach customer support, whether that is through email, live chat, or phone. Everyone has access to a knowledge base and community support forums. Remember, Ecwid can only help with issues related to their software. They do not provide WordPress support.

Ecwid is a great solution for any merchant who’s looking for a simple way to sell products on their website. The app is easy to use with WordPress, it’s affordable, and it works. For more information, read our full review or sign up for Ecwid’s free plan to try it out.

Selz

Selz, selz review

Selz is another SaaS shopping cart solution that plugs into any website. Like Ecwid, Selz offers users both ease of use and versatility. Selz gives merchants the option of adding eCommerce features to any website in a variety of ways. You can choose to add an online store to an established website, embed buy buttons for select products, sell directly on social media, or set up a fully hosted online store.

Selz is designed for startups, artists, writers, and musicians, and the platform currently serves over 100,000 merchants worldwide. Ease of use is Selz’s strongest feature, which is wonderful for many beginning merchants.

On the other hand, sometimes Selz’s ease of use can be a limiting factor for sellers who are looking to grow. Selz does not offer many advanced features or integrations. Nevertheless, many sellers find that Selz fits their needs perfectly.

As a SaaS solution, Selz charges a monthly fee for the use of their software. There are four plans to choose from. These plans are organized by the number of products you plan to list. Additional features are available on higher level plans. Here’s a quick overview of pricing:

  • Free Plan: $0/Month
    • 5 Product Maximum
    • 2% Transaction Fee
  • Lite Plan: $19/Month
    • Unlimited Products
    • 2% Transaction Fee
  • Standard Plan: $29/Month
    • Unlimited Products
    • 1% Transaction Fee
  • Pro Plan: $49/Month
    • Unlimited Products
    • 0.5% Transaction Fee
    • No Transaction Fee If Using Selz Pay

To add Selz to your WordPress site, you’ll have to create a Selz account and then install and activate the Selz app in your WordPress dashboard.

Then, head back into your Selz dashboard. Using this dashboard, you can create products and discounts, process orders, and manage shipping settings. In order to test your setup with WordPress, you should add at least one or two products.

Now, you can decide how you’d like to add eCommerce to your site, whether that’s via buy buttons or an entire online store. When you make your decision, you’ll just have to follow Selz’s instructions to add products to your WordPress site.

During my testing, I decided to add my entire Selz store to WordPress. I looked into Selz’s instructions, but I had a bit of difficulty locating the correct buttons. I eventually figured out that WordPress’s new Gutenberg editor was complicating the process. Selz has not yet updated their support documentation to provide instructions for this new WordPress version. When I switched back to WordPress’s older Classic Editor, I was able to quickly integrate my store.

While both WooCommerce and Ecwid give you access to store management features within your WordPress dashboard, this is not the case with Selz. In order to add new products, process orders, etc. you will have to log back into your Selz dashboard.

Selz offers the basic features you need for online selling. Although Selz focuses mostly on the basics, they do include a few advanced features such as abandoned cart recovery and digital downloads. Take a look at a few of Selz’s features:

  • Sell Anywhere
  • Sell Physical & Digital Products
  • Real-Time Shipping Rates
  • Pay What You Want
  • Discounts & Coupons
  • Multi-Currency Capabilities
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery

When it comes to web design, Selz users are all set. There are 25 beautiful, image-focused designs to choose from, and they’re all free. Users can customize these designs by using the drag-and-drop editor or the HTML/CSS editors.

Support is available for all Selz users in the form of 24/7 live chat and email. There is also a Help Center full of useful documentation for users who prefer a do-it-yourself approach. As always, you’ll have to keep in mind that while Selz representatives love to help you use their software, they can’t help when it comes to WordPress difficulties.

Selz is a perfect solution for makers and startups who want to get their online stores started quickly. In particular, Selz works well for merchants who want to offer lots of digital products. If this sounds like you, head over to our full Selz review for more information. Or, you can take a look at Selz yourself.

Final Thoughts

So, is WordPress easy to use for eCommerce? We certainly think so, especially when you use the right eCommerce plug-in.

Take a deeper look at any of the three options we present above, and don’t be afraid to test out the plug-ins before you commit. All of these eCommerce solutions offer a free platform (or free download) so you can integrate the software with your WordPress site without paying a dime. And if you decide it isn’t a good fit for you, it’s easy to deactivate the integration. In fact, it just takes a few clicks.

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to our reviews or sign up for one of these shopping carts and get testing!

The post Is WordPress Easy To Use For eCommerce? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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5 Shopping Carts For Starting An eCommerce Business In Canada

best canada ecommerce platform

Are you a Canadian seller looking to set up an online store? Or are you an American merchant hoping to sell products in Canada? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll be covering the top 5 eCommerce solutions for Canadian sellers. Each shopping cart included here provides the logistical features that Canadian merchants need for their online stores. What’s more, all of the shopping carts in this article are of top quality, each one earning a perfect five-star review.

Here are a few of the Canada-specific features we’ve looked for in each of the eCommerce solutions presented below:

  • Calculate tax rates for Canada
  • Display prices and accept payment in CAD
  • Integrate with Canada Post for real-time shipping rates
  • Support multiple languages, such as French

We’ll kick off the list with a couple of our favorite Canada-based shopping cart solutions, and then we’ll move onto some American software solutions that also work for Canadian merchants. Let’s get started!

Need a payment processing service? Check out the best and worst Canadian merchant accounts providers. Don’t have time to read an entire review? Take a look at our top-rated eCommerce solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, superb web templates, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.

Review
Visit Site
Review
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Review Review
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Best Choice For Small to enterprise businesses with little technical skill Small to large businesses with some technical skill Small to large businesses with some technical skill Small to large businesses with advanced technical skill Large B2B businesses with some technical skill
Based In Canada Yes Yes No No No
SaaS Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Beginning Pricing Structure $29/month + 2.0% transaction fee $19/month for 75 orders $44.95/month Free $299/month
Free Trial Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Ease Of Use Easy to use Moderate learning curve Moderate learning curve Steep learning curve Moderate Learning Curve

Read on for more details about each eCommerce solution.

Shopify

Based out of Ontario, Canada, Shopify is our first recommendation for Canadian merchants seeking an easy to use shopping cart solution. Shopify is the perfect example of an SaaS (software as a service) solution, which means that Shopify handles the technical aspects of running an online store. For a monthly fee (plus transaction fees) Shopify provides hosting, web security, and technical support.

Shopify is designed for merchants with little to no development experience, so it’s perfect for smaller merchants who want to get their products to market quickly. However, that does not mean that Shopify is limited to exclusively these merchants. The software is scalable, so large or enterprise level businesses can also use Shopify to their advantage.

Pricing for Shopify is relatively low, and all plans include unlimited storage, bandwidth, and products. You can subscribe to their Basic Shopify Plan for just $29/month (+ 2.0% transaction fee). For more advanced features, you’ll have to subscribe to a higher level plan. One step up is the Shopify Plan at $79/month and the next step is the Advanced Shopify Plan at $299/month.

Pros

As one of our favorite, most versatile solutions, Shopify has a lot to offer merchants. Here are a few of the biggest perks of using Shopify:

  • Ease Of Use: Shopify is known for their simple UI. Uploading products is a breeze, and you can make changes to your storefront design with a drag-and-drop tool.
  • Elegant Design: The Shopify marketplace comes stocked with beautiful, responsive, ready-to-use themes. Ten of these themes are available free of charge, and the rest cost between $140-$180.
  • Good Customer Service: 24/7 customers support is available on all pricing plans via email, phone, and live chat. Some users report excellent interactions with support reps, although other users have a different experience (see Cons below).

Cons

Despite all of its positives, Shopify is not a perfect solution. There are still many ways Shopify can continue to improve. Here are a few of the things users complain about on online forums:

  • Limited Features: This is the biggest complaint users have about Shopify. While Shopify includes all of the basic features sellers need to initially set up their store, there are not many advanced features available. In order to access more advanced features (like B2B selling options, single page checkout, etc.), you’ll have to purchase the appropriate add-ons. This leads us to our second complaint.
  • Add-Ons Add Up: Although Shopify’s plans are affordably priced, costs of using Shopify for your online store can quickly add up once you start using extensions. Extensions and add-ons from the Shopify marketplace are billed monthly.
  • Poor Customer Support: This contradicts the “pro” I mentioned above. Reviews are mixed when it comes to customer support. Some users have great experiences. Others end up frustrated.

Canada-Specific Features

Because Shopify was created by Canadians, you can expect the software to offer enough features to support Canadian sellers’ specific needs. Here’s how they handle Canada-specific selling:

  • Multi-Lingual Features: Have your storefront, checkout, and emails display in multiple languages. Shopify has also recently introduced a beta for a multi-lingual admin. Languages currently supported include French.
  • Multiple Currencies: Display pricing in multiple currencies using a drop-down currency picker. Accept multiple currencies.
  • Shopify Shipping: Use Shopify Shipping to calculate and display shipping rates for multiple carriers, including Canada Post, UPS, USPS, and DHL.
  • Tax: Set tax rates for countries and provinces.

Get started with Shopify by signing up for a free 14-day trial, no credit card required.

Read our full Shopify review

Visit the Shopify website

LemonStand

Founded in 2010, LemonStand is an SaaS eCommerce solution with headquarters in Vancouver, BC. Like Shopify, LemonStand provides merchants with hosting, customer service, and site security.

One notable trait about LemonStand is that their design templates are completely customizable. The design is all open source, so if you have the proper know-how, you can change nearly every aspect of the look and feel of your store.

Pricing for LemonStand is based on the number of orders you process each month. We like this pricing model because all features are included with all plans. However, merchants who process many orders each month with very narrow profit margins might be turned off by this pricing model. You can begin with the Starter plan ($19/month for 75 orders) or move up to the Growth plan ($69/month for 300 orders) or Professional plan ($199/month for 1000 orders). There’s also a Premium plan available for even larger sellers.

Pros

We deem LemonStand a 5-star solution, and it seems many users would agree. Here’s what current users praise most frequently on comment boards and review sites:

  • Customizability: If you have the technical experience, you can do a lot with LemonStand. In particular, you will be able to change many aspects of the look and feel or your storefront.
  • Progress: LemonStand is constantly working to add new features to their software and improve existing features. This progress is encouraging.
  • Good Customer Service: LemonStand’s representatives are helpful, courteous, and timely.

Cons

LemonStand isn’t a perfect solution, however. Here are a few of the complaints I’ve found:

  • Missing Features: LemonStand is constantly adding new features, in part because the software is still missing some advanced functionality. Users are hopeful that these gaps in features will be filled soon.
  • Technical Skill Required: Web design with LemonStand requires at least some knowledge of HTML and CSS. If you don’t have that knowledge, you should be able to hire someone who can take care of design issues for you.
  • Lacking Documentation: LemonStand provides documentation as a form of self-help technical support. Unfortunately, some of that documentation is not very detailed. Documentation can occasionally be difficult to follow.

Canada-Specific Features

Here’s how LemonStand supports Canadian merchants:

  • Canada Post: LemonStand integrates with Canada Post so you can provide real-time shipping rates.
  • Taxes: Use tax classes to define tax rates by location. Alternatively, you can integrate with Avalara for more detailed tax calculation.

Surprisingly, I was not able to find any information about displaying your storefront in multiple languages and currencies. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are unavailable (especially since LemonStand is a Canadian based company). Comment below if you have any information on the matter.

Test out the software for yourself with a free, commitment-free 14 day trial. Or, read our full review for more information!

Read our full LemonStand review

Visit the LemonStand website

PinnacleCart

PinnacleCart was developed with the intention of helping merchants promote and sell their products, regardless of technical ability. As SaaS software, PinnacleCart gives you the ability to add and edit products, process orders, create marketing materials, and customize your site design. And although PinnacleCart is not a Canadian company, they do provide many of the logistical features that Canadian merchants need.

Pricing for PinnacleCart is based on traffic and storage. All features come included with every plan. These features include unlimited products, daily backups, phone and email support, and an SSL certificate. Pricing is available in three tiers: $44.95/month, $94.95/month, and $199.95/month.

Pros

Pinnacle Cart is another five-star solution. Find out what makes it great:

  • Ease Of Use: Once you conquer the initial learning curve, using your PinnacleCart admin should be second nature.
  • Customer Support: Users are happy with the support they receive from PinnacleCart.
  • Good Marketing Features: Use widgets to market your products on any website, and integrate with social media to further your reach. PinnacleCart’s SEO features are also generally well praised.

Cons

Some PinnacleCart users, however, may have a different experience. Here are a few cons we’ve noticed:

  • Learning Curve: Users who are new to PinnacleCart (and new to eCommerce in general) will have to overcome a slight learning curve when they first begin using the software.
  • Difficult Customization: Some users have trouble customizing their design.
  • Not International Friendly: PinnacleCart does not offer many languages or currency options. In addition, users have some difficulty accepting payments outside of the US and Canada.

Canada-Specific Features

Although PinnacleCart is not the best solution for cross-continental selling, they offer plenty of features for selling within Canada:

  • Canada Post: Add real-time shipping for Canada Post.
  • Automatic Tax Calculation: Use flat-rate tax options to set up tax rates by state and province. Integrate with Avalara Ava Tax or Exactor Tax for more detailed tax estimates.
  • Accept Multiple Currencies: List your prices in multiple currencies and accept payments in multiple currencies.
  • Add French Language Options: Choose to display your site in multiple languages.

Try out the platform for free for two weeks, no need to hand over any credit card information. For more details on pricing and features, view our full review.

Read our full PinnacleCart review

Get Started With PinnacleCart 

Magento

Until now, we’ve discussed exclusively SaaS platforms that favor ease of use over customizability. Magento is the opposite. As one of the eCommerce industry’s most popular open-source software, Magento is highly customizable and scalable, and it’s perfect for merchants with greater developing skills.

Another advantage to Magento is that it’s totally free to download. However, that doesn’t mean Magento costs $0 to implement. Because Magento is open-source, you will be responsible for finding hosting, maintaining security, and hiring developers (or being your own developer) to design your site and add necessary features. There is no Magento support available. Your only options are to resolve issues on your own or pay a developer to fix things for you.

As you might imagine, Magento is more difficult to implement than the SaaS solutions we’ve discussed above. However, Magento’s strong feature set and customizability make it a good option for fearless merchants.

Pros

Take a look at the advantages that come with Magento:

  • Features: Magento provides a robust feature set right out of the box. Add even more advanced features through integrations or develop your own extensions with the available API.
  • Strong User Community: Magento is used by 240,000 merchants around the world. Join a wide community of sellers and developers. Find solutions in Magento’s community forum or hire a Magento developer for select jobs.
  • Scalable & Customizable: Use Magento to build the online store system that your business needs.

Cons

As you might expect, Magento comes with its challenges. Many of these challenges relate to ease of use. Take a look:

  • Steep Learning Curve: Many sellers find Magento difficult to learn. You will need to have some experience with coding or be able to hire a developer.
  • Expensive: Although the software is free to download, there are always expenses related to operating an online store. Be sure to consider web developer costs as well as the expense of hosting, adding integrations, and maintaining security.
  • No Customer Support: You can use self-help support routes or hire a developer. Magento does not provide customer support for their open source software.

Canada-Specific Features

Magento is built for merchants worldwide. The software includes many international selling features, which benefit Canadian sellers.

  • Languages: Choose from many, many available languages. Set up multi-language store views so that you can feature multiple languages without creating multiple sites.
  • Accept CAD: Accept CAD. Implement “dual currencies” to accept both USD and CAD easily.
  • Taxes: Manually add tax rates and rules, or integrate with AvaTax for more detailed (and easier) tax calculations.
  • Canada Post: Use integrations from the Magento Marketplace to add Canada Post shipping calculations to your store.

Magento does not offer a free trial because the software itself is totally free to download. Test out the software by downloading it for free, or read our review for more information.

Read our full Magento review

Zoey

If Magento sounds great, but you’re turned off by that “steep learning curve,” you might look into Zoey. Zoey offers the functionality of Magento paired with an ease of use that rivals Shopify. Sound perfect, doesn’t it? The only downfall: the price. Zoey is designed to be a B2B eCommerce platform with B2C capabilities. It is therefore intended for merchants beyond the startup phase, and the price reflects that.

Nevertheless, we think Zoey is a fantastic option. In particular, we love Zoey’s robust drag-and-drop storefront design tool, which lets all merchants make changes to their sites with zero coding. In addition, we love Zoey’s extensive feature set that includes strong capabilities for wholesale selling.

Pricing for Zoey is divided into two tiers: Entry ($299/month) and Power ($499/month). A step up in pricing includes more staff account permissions, the ability to list more SKUs, priority customer support, and more.

Something important to note: Multi-language and multi-currency features are only available on the Power plan.

Pros

There’s a lot to love about Zoey. Here are just a few of those positives:

  • Easy Setup: It’s easy to get your store up and running. Zoey also offers migration services to make the transition from another eCommerce platform easier.
  • Feature Rich: Zoey comes with lots and lots of features already built-in, so you won’t have to use so many add-ons.
  • Drag & Drop Editor: Zoey’s drag and drop editor gives you control over your site’s look and feel. You can use it to change many, many aspects of your storefront.

Cons

However, there a few drawbacks to using Zoey. We’ve compiled a few potential issues:

  • Pricey For Smaller Sellers: Zoey’s monthly subscription rates are significantly higher than any of the other solutions in this list. These rates are likely too high for merchants who are just starting out.
  • Limited Customizability: Although Zoey is similar to Magento in its features, it is not similar in customizability. Since Zoey is not open source, you will not be able to customize every aspect of your store. So, if you want any additional features, you’ll have to add them via integrations or wait until Zoey releases those features in an update.
  • “Heavy” Platform: If you add on lots of extensions, your platform can get a bit bogged down and not run as smoothly as you’d like.

Canada-Specific Features

Zoey provides sellers with multiple international sales tools, which Canadian merchants can use to their advantage.

  • Multi-Lingual: Sell in 80+ languages.
  • Multiple Currencies: Display prices in 168+ currencies and accept payments with 50+ international payment gateways.
  • Taxes: Zoey includes tax support for many countries, including Canada.
  • Shipping Integrations: Zoey does not offer a direct link to Canada Post, which is unfortunate. Access Canada Post with a shipping software extension like Ordoro or ShipStation.

As you’d expect, Zoey offers a 14-day free trial, no credit card required. Test the platform out for yourself or learn more with our full review.

Read our full Zoey review

Get Started With  Zoey

Final Thoughts

We hope you’ve found one or two shopping carts that might fit your business’s needs. Take a look into our full review of each potential eCommerce solution to learn the details about pricing, features, and customer service.

And when you have a better idea of what each shopping cart provides, we always recommend you take advantage of a free trial to test out the software yourself. Test out your daily operations, and try to “stump” the software with complex products and promotions.

Best of luck in your search for a Canadian-friendly eCommerce platform! There are lots of great options out there, you just have to find the one that works for you!

Need a payment processing service? Check out the best and worst Canadian merchant accounts providers.

The post 5 Shopping Carts For Starting An eCommerce Business In Canada appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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A Guide To Shopify Templates And Design Tools

Shopify is a cloud-based, SaaS solution for online sellers. This ecommerce platform allows you to build a full website, add products, create promotions, and sell from your own site.

Shopify is an incredibly popular solution, hosting online stores for over 500,000 merchants; this popularity is due primarily to Shopify’s simplicity and ease of use. Sellers of all skill levels can set up and operate their stores on Shopify.

What’s more, Shopify is well known for its excellent web design. The platform offers a wide selection of modern and elegantly designed website templates.

Like everything this company does, Shopify’s responsive design is intended to be easy to use and accessible to merchants with little to no experience in web development. Keep reading to learn more about Shopify’s design templates, design tools, and best practices for your own designs.

How Do Shopify Designs Work?

Shopify uses a theme marketplace to provide design templates to their users. Every merchant has access to Shopify’s theme marketplace, which includes 63 themes made to fit a variety of industries and online stores.

When you find one you like, you simply download the whole package and enable it on your site (in some cases, you will have to purchase the theme). You can then tweak your site with a few of the available design tools. We’ll talk more about those design tools later. First, let’s talk about the kinds of Shopify templates available.

Types Of Shopify Templates

Free Shopify Templates

10 of Shopify’s 63 themes are free to download. Those themes are a bit simpler than their premium counterparts. However, many merchants will find that the free themes fit their needs just fine.

Here are a few of our favorite free Shopify templates:

Premium Shopify Templates

If the free themes don’t strike your fancy, take a look at Shopify’s premium themes. These themes are a little more complex, and they are typically priced between $140-$180.

Here are a few examples of Shopify’s premium templates:

Buying Shopify Templates

If you do choose a premium design, purchasing the template is a simple process.

Just go into the theme marketplace, and select the template you’d like to buy. Then, click the “Buy Theme” button located under “Try Theme.”

You’ll be redirected to your admin where you can confirm the purchase.

Then, you can enable your brand new template on your site.

Available Design Tools

Once you’ve found your template, it’s time to start customizing your store. Shopify provides a variety of tools for different levels of customization. Here are a few of the tools you can use to change up your site.

Easy-To-Use Tools

  • WYSIWYG Editor: Use a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor to quickly update copy and add content to your site, without touching the code.
  • Theme Editor: Use Shopify’s built-in theme editor to make a few simple changes, and preview those changes in real time. You can use this tool to adjust the backgrounds, images, colors, and fonts of your online store.
  • Sections: Sections is Shopify’s new drag-and-drop block design tool. Sections lets you make large-scale changes to your site by adding content blogs and rearranging widgets. This tool is currently only available with select themes. However, Shopify is continually working to expand its availability. View the Sections editor below.

Advanced Customization Tools

While the above tools are great for merchants who simply want to tweak their existing designs, they do have their limitations. If you want to alter your templates more than these easy editors will allow, you’ll have to go deeper.

Here’s how you can best customize your website design:

  • Code Editor: In order to make dramatic changes to your site, you’ll need to really get into the code. Shopify uses the Liquid templating language (Learn more about Liquid). You can also edit your site’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Hire A Shopify Expert: If you want to make changes to your code, but you don’t have the skill to do it, look into outsourcing your customization to Shopify Experts.

Shopify Template Designs & Best Practices

When you select a Shopify theme, you get every template that comes with it. You will have a pre-designed template for your About Us page, storefront, blog, checkout page, etc.

As we’ve already discussed, while most of the design elements are determined by the theme you choose, you can edit a few elements of your online store’s design using available tools.

Here’s what you can do to make sure your site meets with industry best practices on every page:

Shopify Store Templates

Before we get into best practices for your storefront design, let’s take a look at one of Shopify’s preset storefronts. This image is taken from the free Brooklyn theme.

Shopify does a lot right with this preset. And, with a little work, you can make this design even better. Here are a few of the most important factors to keep in mind as you customize your design.

Prioritize Site Navigation

Excellent site navigation helps your customers locate the products they’re looking for, hopefully reducing your store’s bounce rates. One of the best ways to improve site organization is by implementing a navigation bar with a drop-down menu at the top of your site.

This navigation bar should include categories and subcategories (which you can display using a drop down bar). Everything in your navigation bar, from titles to promotions, should be clickable.

Not only does a navigation bar aid your customers, but also it improves your online store’s overall SEO. Listing your categories and subcategories on every page gives Google more keywords to grab onto, helping your site rank better on organic search results.

Focus On Images

Studies show that image-focused responsive design inspires more engagement. Design your homepage to feature your products and your brand with engaging, high-quality images.

Keep Information Above The Fold

Make sure your most important information is displayed at the top of your page, so customers will see it before they scroll. This includes contact information, promotions, shipping information, and your shopping cart icon.

Shopify About Us Templates

The About Us page is your space to shine. Share your story with your customers, and let your brand’s personality come through. Scroll down for a few more tips for your About Us page.

Connect With Customers

Your About Us page should be a place where you build a relationship with your customers. Make sure to welcome customers to your site and don’t be afraid to use flattery. (“You won’t settle for anything but the best!”)

Tell A Story

Every business has a story. Use your About Us page to put your history on display. Show your customers that you are regular people and demonstrate your business’s growth to date.

As you write your About Us page, be sure to use your brand’s own voice. Include all the personality of your brand.

Consider Including Alternative Media

Got a video you’d like to share? This is a great place to put it! Consider using videos, images, and testimonials on this page, as well as links to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and others.

Shopify Blog Templates

We love that Shopify offers built-in blogs with all their themes and designs. Maintaining an active blog is a great way to build your brand, promote your online store, and harness some extra SEO power. Here’s a look at Shopify’s blog template for the Brooklyn theme. See below for more information on blogging best practices.

Post Regularly

The most important part of having a blog is actually using that blog. Develop a publication schedule and stick to it! Posting frequently and regularly will show customers that your online store is still in business, and it will indicate to Google that your site is active.

Write Relevant & Useful Information

While your blog is an important part of your business’s marketing strategy, your articles should not read like advertisements for your products. Write articles that are interesting, useful, and entertaining to your customers. Each article should have some value for its reader. Keep in mind your customers’ needs and interests as you write.

Shopify Thank You Page Templates

The Thank You page is the page your customers will see after they finalize a purchase. Shopify gives you an excellent starting place with their predesigned Thank You page. However, you can still do more to optimize this page.

Think Upsell

Now that you’ve secured a purchase, it’s the perfect opportunity to encourage more purchases. Consider displaying related products in the sidebar of your Thank You page. You could even provide a discount code for future purchases at your store.

At the very least, make sure customers can easily return to browsing with the easy “Continue Shopping” button that Shopify has already included.

Final Thoughts

If you’re already a Shopify merchant, you’re only a few steps away from a beautiful baseline for your online store. Just take a tour through the theme marketplace, test out any responsive themes that pique your interest with a demo, and settle on one that fits your website design plans.

Then, customize, customize, customize, until your site works exactly the way you need it to!

Are you already using Shopify’s design tools? Do you have any favorite themes? Let us know in the comments below which theme you’re using and how web design is going for your online store.

The post A Guide To Shopify Templates And Design Tools appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Shipping Software For 2018

It’s 4:30 on a Friday and you’re knee-deep in packing peanuts and cardboard boxes. You’ve got twenty orders to pick, pack, and ship before the post office closes, and you keep misplacing your packing slips.

There must be a better way.

If your storage space is covered in packing materials and you record all your shipping information in spreadsheets and Post-It notes, it might be time to try something else.

In the era in which an app solves everything, it makes sense to turn to software solutions to soothe your shipping woes.

Shipping software solutions integrate with most popular eCommerce software programs and can help simplify your day-to-day operations. They let you calculate accurate shipping rates and print shipping labels and packing slips in bulk. They can even grant you discounted shipping rates.

These programs are typically available as SaaS solutions that range in price from $25/month to $99/month — a small price to pay for the shipping issues they resolve.

It’s clear you should subscribe to a shipping software, but with so many options available, how do you choose?

We’ve tested out a handful of shipping solutions, examining price, ease of use, and customer service. Keep reading to learn more about the best shipping software for 2018.

1. ShippingEasy

With a near-perfect score of 4.5 stars, ShippingEasy (see our review) is our top-rated shipping solution for eCommerce businesses. This software is true to its name: it’s easy to learn and use and customer support representatives are ready to help with any potential hiccups.

Best For…

Businesses of all sizes. It works especially well for eCommerce merchants who run their own online stores.

Pricing

Pricing for ShippingEasy is simple and affordable; plans range from $29/month for 500 shipments to $99/month for 6,000 shipments. Each step up in pricing includes more monthly shipments and higher level customer support.

ShippingEasy has a free plan available for merchants shipping fewer than 50 shipments/month. For high volume sellers, ShippingEasy also offers enterprise options. Read more about ShippingEasy’s pricing in our full review.

Features

As I mentioned above, we found ShippingEasy to be highly user-friendly. You can easily import orders, create shipments, set shipping parameters, and buy and print postage, shipping labels, and packing slips.

We also like how many features come included with ShippingEasy. And we especially love the fact that ShippingEasy’s partnership with USPS lets you benefit from lower shipping rates. You can save up to 46% on shipping rates when you sign on for one of ShippingEasy’s paid plans.

Other features include:

  • A Free Endicia Account
  • Shipping Status Updates & Real-Time Tracking
  • Individual Or Batch Shipping

If you’re worried that ShippingEasy might not integrate into your eCommerce software, fear no more! ShippingEasy integrates easily with the biggest names in eCommerce, including 3dcart, Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify, Volusion, and WooCommerce. View all of ShippingEasy’s integrations.

ShippingEasy also has a good record when it comes to customer service. Their support representatives are knowledgeable and helpful.

Takeaway

With so many positives to ShippingEasy, it’s hard to find any downsides. You should note, however, that ShippingEasy still has room to grow when it comes to simplifying their daily operations. In particular, users would like to see improvement in expediting the data entry process.

Otherwise, ShippingEasy is an excellent option. Take a look at our shipping software reviews to learn more about the software or sign up for a free 30-day trial.

Read our full ShippingEasy review

Visit the ShippingEasy website

2. OrderCup

OrderCup (see our review) is one of our favorite shipping software solutions. OrderCup offers an easy to use interface, multi-carrier shipping options, and discounted shipping rates. And best of all, OrderCup provides users with reliable and responsive customer support, so you can get answers to your pressing questions quickly.

Best For…

Merchants who ship between 500 and 12,000 shipments a month and who only need up to 12 users on the platform. With five tiered pricing plans, OrderCup is accessible to many merchants.

Pricing

As I mentioned before, OrderCup separates pricing into five tiers. To add a little fun to the pricing, OrderCup has named each tier after a Starbucks drink size. Plans range from Short to Trenta, and each step up in pricing includes more sales channels, more monthly shipments, and more users.

The Short plan begins at $20/month for 500 monthly shipments, and Trenta costs $180/month for 12,000 monthly shipments.

For more information, view OrderCup’s pricing page.

Features

OrderCup’s dashboard is well-organized and quick to learn. During setup, you’ll be able to integrate your hosted shopping cart. Your online store’s orders will be automatically transferred to your OrderCup dashboard.

Then, you’ll be able to connect with your favorite carriers and start processing orders.

OrderCup’s feature list includes everything you’d expect from a multi-carrier shipping software. They have made arrangements with several carriers, including the USPS, DHL, UK Mail, and DX to offer their customers discounted shipping rates. You’ll also be able to integrate with worldwide shipping carriers across Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Here are a few more features you can expect from OrderCup:

  • Automate Your Shipping Process
  • Print Return Labels To Include With Shipments
  • Bulk Import Orders Using CSV Files
  • Schedule Shipment Pickups
  • Integrate With Third-Party Fulfillment

OrderCup integrates with many eCommerce solutions, including Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, and Volusion. Integrated marketplaces include Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Check the full list for more information.

Out of all these features, OrderCup users seem to be most enthusiastic about OrderCup’s support team. Support representatives are responsive and patient, often spending up to an hour on the phone with users to make sure everything is working properly. Users also praise OrderCup’s Canadian shipping options; it is easy to ship to and from Canada.

There are few negative comments about OrderCup online, though we have seen customers complain about having to pay extra in order to access phone support and get priority attention for their technical issues.

Takeaway 

OrderCup is one of our favorite shipping software programs, scoring an excellent 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you think this software might be the right fit for your business, we recommend you try it out. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial in minutes.

But if you’d like a bit more information before you proceed, take a look at our complete review. We include in-depth information about pricing, customer service levels, and more.

Read our full OrderCup review

Visit the OrderCup website

3. Ordoro

Ordoro (see our review) is a shipping and inventory application designed for SMBs. Known for its drop-shipping features, Ordoro is particularly popular among Shopify users.

Best For…

Small to medium-sized businesses. Merchants who are planning to dropship can benefit especially from the software.

Pricing

With Ordoro, you have two options. You can use Ordoro to handle just your shipping, or you can have Ordoro handle shipping, inventory management, and dropshipping. Ordoro sets up their pricing structure differently, depending on which features you choose.

In my opinion, it’s best to use Ordoro for shipping only. Paid plans for shipping begin at $25/month and go to $129/month. Each step up in pricing includes additional features and monthly shipments. There’s also a free plan available for merchants shipping fewer than 50 orders/month.

Pricing for shipping and inventory management is structured much differently. The lowest plan costs $199/month for 700 orders. This plan includes drop shipping features. Plans can go as high as $499/month for 4,000 orders. For more information, view Ordoro’s pricing page.

Features

Ordoro comes with a minimalistic user interface. You can easily link your shopping cart to your new Ordoro account during setup. Then you’ll be able to sync your inventory and push new orders automatically to Ordoro. You can create shipping labels and packing slips one-by-one or in bulk.

Ordoro’s best feature is without a doubt their dropshipping functionality (available with shipping + inventory plans). You can set select items to ship directly from your supplier, and you can automatically split orders to dropship from multiple suppliers.

Here are a few more features that come with Orodoro:

  • Process Orders From Multiple Sales Channels
  • Integrate With USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, Canada Post, & Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime
  • Best-In-Industry Shipping Rates (Up To 67% With USPS)
  • Tracking Number Automatically Sent To Customers Upon Shipment
  • Inventory Management (If You Choose To Purchase It)

Ordoro integrates with a wide variety of eCommerce solutions, including Shopify, BigCommerce, FBA, 3dcart, Magento, WooCommerce, and more. See if your preferred vendor is on the full list.

Ordoro users have a lot of good things to say about the platform. In particular, they praise Ordoro’s technical support options. Customers report that a real person will be available to answer your support concerns. On the off chance you can’t reach anyone, Ordoro’s knowledge base is detailed and well organized. You might find the information you need there.

I’ve seen a few negative reports of Ordoro. Some customers cite trouble syncing their Ordoro account with other software programs (namely Shopify and FedEx). Other customers complain that while Ordoro’s interface is easy to navigate, that simplicity is due to a lack of features.

Takeaway

In our opinion, Ordoro is best suited to small businesses, especially those that engage in a lot of dropshipping. To learn more about Ordoro, read our full review, or try out the platform yourself by signing up for a free 15-day trial.

Read our full Ordoro review

Visit the Ordoro website

4. ShipStation

ShipStation

ShipStation (see our review) is arguably the best-known shipping solution, partly due to the company’s excellent marketing campaigns and partly due to the numerous integrations they offer with major eCommerce vendors.

Best For…

Small to mid-sized businesses, particularly those which sell online.

Pricing

Pricing for ShipStation is on par with industry standards. You can choose from six pricing tiers, ranging from $9/month for 50 orders to $145/month for unlimited shipments. ShipStation does not offer a free plan, but they do offer a free 30-day trial of their software.

Features

When it comes to ease of use, ShipStation prioritizes functionality over aesthetics, which is perfectly fine by me!

If you have any trouble learning your way around, ShipStation provides video tutorials to help you figure out the admin. In general, we think that ShipStation is highly usable, though it may take some time to get the hang of the advanced tools.

ShipStation offers the basic collection of features, including the following:

  • Integrations For USPS, UPS, FedEx, & DHL Accounts
  • Discounts On USPS Priority & Express Mail
  • Stamps.com Account Included
  • Batch-Print Hundreds Of Shipping Labels & Packing Slips
  • Print A Return Label To Include In Your Shipments

ShipStation really shines when it comes to integrations. Check out this full list to see which eCommerce platforms, shipping carriers, and payment solutions integrate easily with ShipStation. Happily, it integrates with the most popular eCommerce solutions, including BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, Volusion, Miva Merchant, and PrestaShop.

ShipStation’s customer service is available by email. They also provide live webinars, a knowledge base, and a community forum.

We see only one potential issue with ShipStation: it’s lacking customer management features. You cannot add identifying characteristics to a customer’s account, and ShipStation does not always recognize a customer when they make a second purchase on a different sales channel. However, for most users, this difficulty is not a deal breaker.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for an efficient, reliable shipping solution, ShipStation may be the way to go. Once you invest some time into learning the system, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of a feature-rich shipping solution.

Learn more about ShipStation in our full review or take it for a spin with a 30-day free trial.

Read our full ShipStation review

Visit the ShipStation website

 

5. ShipRush

ShipRush (see our review) is an affordable software solution that is designed to make shipping selection efficient. ShipRush displays rates from multiple different carriers on the same page in your admin, allowing you to quickly and easily choose the most cost-effective shipping rates. What’s more, ShipRush offers support for many different types of shipping, including individual package shipping, freight shipping, and LTL shipping. Keep reading to learn more about the merits of ShipRush.

Best For…

Merchants who need to ship freight. I would recommend ShipRush primarily to smaller businesses, as the pricing model is designed for three users (though more can be added on at an additional expense).

Pricing

ShipRush’s pricing model is simple. It is divided into two options: Web and Desktop.

ShipRush’s web option is based on a monthly payment model and costs $29.95/month for up to three users (additional users can be added on three at a time for an additional $29.95/month).

On the other hand, the ShipRush Desktop version can be purchased annually for $795/year per workstation.

Features

You can test out ShipRush for 60 days by signing up for a free trial. Once you sign up, you’ll be presented with this dashboard.

The dashboard is a bit austere, but we don’t mind much as ShipRush has proved itself to be very functional.

Once I got over the initial learning curve, I was able to calculate shipping rates and print shipping labels and packing slips easily.

Here are a few other features that ShipRush users benefit from:

  • Discounted Shipping Rates (Save Up To 60% On USPS Rates & 21% On FedEx Rates)
  • View Rates From Multiple Carriers On One Screen
  • Send Notifications To Customers When Orders Ship
  • Dropshipping Support
  • Print Scan-Based Return Labels

For the full list, head over to ShipRush’s website.

ShipRush integrates with over 75 eCommerce platforms, payment processors, shipping carriers, and accounting and CRM software apps. These integrations include 3dcart, Ecwid, LemonStand, Big Cartel, Shopify, FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

ShipRush has a lot of positives. Customers especially like the quality customer service and the relative ease of use. One downfall potential users should note is that merchants who maintain a large inventory (thousands of products) may have a hard time with the software. Creating shipping rules for all these different types of products could be more effort than it’s worth.

Takeaway

ShipRush is a great software for many businesses. It’s affordable, functional, and reliable, and you can test it out for yourself using their free 60-day trial.

For more information on ShipRush, take a look at our complete review of the platform. Otherwise, keep reading for more shipping options.

Read our full ShipRush review

Visit the ShipRush website

6. ShipHawk

ShipHawk (see our review) is a bit different than the alternative shipping software we cover above. While those software programs provide easy to use interfaces and hundreds of features, ShipHawk focuses its energy on one thing: an algorithm. ShipHawk is a complex shipping calculator, designed for large businesses and businesses that ship oversized or unique items.

Best For…

Larger businesses. ShipHawk’s cheapest plan is targeted at merchants who spend up to $500K on shipping annually. ShipHawk is also good for merchants who ship uniquely shaped or oversized items.

Pricing

ShipHawk offers three pricing tiers. With each step up in pricing, you’ll be able to ship more parcels and freight and have access to more advanced features and technical support.

The Starter plan starts at $250/month and is for merchants who spend up to $500K on shipping annually. Then there’s the Pro plan, which begins at $2K/month and is intended for annual shipping expenses up to $2M; finally, there’s the Enterprise plan, for an annual spend of up to $25M. Enterprise begins at $4,500/month.

As you can see, ShipHawk is not a cheap platform. It is designed for high volume shippers who need a high volume platform.

Features

In order to test out ShipHawk, you can sign up for a free demo of the starter plan. I didn’t find ShipHawk to be as intuitive as other shipping software apps I’ve tested. However, given time, I was able to figure out a few features. And as a whole, the dashboard seems well designed.

As I’ve mentioned before, ShipHawk works a bit differently than most shipping software when it comes to features. While ShipHawk does offer some of your typical features, they primarily advertise the calculator behind the software. ShipHawk will help estimate expenses for hard-to-ship items.

Here are a few of the more notable features:

  • Get Quotes From Multiple Carriers
  • Real-Time Tracking Updates
  • API: Integrate With Shipping Carriers & Shopping Cart Software
  • Set Up Automatic Shipping Rules
  • Provide Shipping Options To Customers

ShipHawk advertises that you can integrate with most software solutions through their API. You can expect to find pre-built integrations with a few shipping carriers and shopping carts, including DHL, FedEx, UPS, USPS, Magento, Shopify, and more.

Customer feedback regarding ShpHawk is very limited. However, after some time searching the web, I was able to find a few comments. Customers primarily love ShipHawk’s customer service and robust calculation abilities. I myself was a bit disappointed with ShipHawk’s support material. There did not seem to be enough tutorial information to help me set up the program.

Takeaway

ShipHawk is not the right fit for many of our readers. However, if you ship thousands of products each month and you need access to freight and individual shipments, ShipHawk may be right for you. Test it out with a free demo and read our review for more information.

Read our full ShipHawk review

Visit the ShipHawk website

Get Started!

If you’re tired of losing yourself in packing peanuts and misplaced notes-to-self, try out one of these software options. You’ll find that shipping is much less of a chore when order processing and fulfillment is automated, organized, and synchronized. With many solutions beginning at $25/month, shipping software is a small investment that could do a lot for your business. Click one of the buttons above to get started with a free trial, or search our site for more quality shipping software reviews.

Good luck, and happy shipping!

The post Best Shipping Software For 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Shopping Carts For Global eCommerce

selling internationally

Online sellers are always looking to expand–expand their product catalogs, expand the reach of their marketing, and expand across sales channels. And when it comes to expansion, there’s no bigger project to undertake than international growth.

Successfully going global is only possible if you have the appropriate resources in the form of products, market, and software. And while finding a market and products is up to you, we here at Merchant Maverick can help when it comes to choosing the correct software.

International sellers demand more from their shopping cart setups than do domestically-based merchants. You’ll need your shopping cart to be able to display your site in multiple languages and currencies. What’s more, you’ll need to be able to handle complicated taxes and shipping functions. Your eCommerce software should either come with these features already built in or be able to integrate with extensions to fill the gaps.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing four carts that offer merchants the features (and integrations) they need to sell internationally. These software companies maintain a global focus, giving you multiple options for global success and staffing a diverse team of developers from all across the world. If you need the power to create a multilingual site — and a multilingual support team on hand at the moment’s notice — look no further than this list.

Keep reading to learn which eCommerce software programs we recommend for global expansion.

PrestaShop

prestashop logo

With PrestaShop, international is the name of the game. PrestaShop is behind 270,000 stores worldwide. They have headquarters in Miami and Paris and employ over 100 employees who are proud to speak a variety of languages.

PrestaShop is open-source software that is free to download, highly customizable, and offers loads of add-ons. With a strong international user community supporting the development of the software, you can expect new releases and extensions regularly.

PrestaShop’s biggest downfall is that you’ll need developer skills in order to best use the software. What’s more, PrestaShop’s customer support costs a bit more than you may be willing to spend.

PrestaShop comes with a robust feature set built in. Here are a few of the ways PrestaShop is especially good for international sellers:

  • Set Currencies & Automate Exchange Rates: Set your shop to accept a wide number of currencies.
  • Multi-language Product Sheet: Quickly import product information in multiple languages.
  • International Forum: Find support from other users in a variety of languages.
  • PrestaShop Translation Product: Users can assist in translating new versions of PrestaShop.
  • International Add-Ons: Purchase and download extensions from international developers to further broaden your store’s functionality.

For more information on PrestaShop, check out our full review or try one of PrestaShop’s easy-to-access demos.

WooCommerce

woocommerce logo

WooCommerce is one of the most widely used eCommerce solutions around. While the stats are uncertain (WooCommerce claims a part in 28% of all online stores, while BuiltWith says Woo is behind 42%), what is certain is that Woo is enormously popular in the eCommerce world.

WooCommerce is free, open-source software that plugs directly into WordPress.com. It is highly customizable and scalable. WooCommerce’s Achille’s heel, as with many open source solutions, is the unfortunate combination of limited customer support and a moderate learning curve. WooCommerce also follows a Core+Extensions model, which means that built-in features tend to be rather basic.

Despite these obstacles, WooCommerce is an excellent choice for international sellers. With employees located in 19 different countries, you’re sure to find support in a range of languages. And given the many international developers contributing to the project, international features are well within reach.

Here are a few of the international selling features that WooCommerce offers:

  • Calculated Taxes: Set tax rates for the countries and regions in which you sell your products. Show taxes based on your customer’s shipping address and billing address and your store’s base address.
  • Supports International Transactions: Accept multiple currencies with the right payment gateways.
  • WooCommerce Translation Project: Users help make WooCommerce available in multiple languages.

For more information, take a look at WooCommerce’s tips for selling internationally. Or, head over to our review and download the software for free.

Magento

magento logo

If you’re looking into open-source solutions, but our first two suggestions don’t quite meet the mark, you should take a look at Magento.

Magento is used by developers worldwide and supports a user base of 250,000 merchants. With such a wide base, the Magento marketplace is always growing. You can expect a steady release of new extensions and payment gateways from Magento’s global developers.

As an open-source software solution, Magento comes with similar advantages to PrestaShop and WooCommerce. The software is free to download, highly customizable, and scalable. Magento includes a robust feature set and boasts an international user community.

As you might expect, the trouble with Magento lies in its usability. In order to best utilize the platform, you’ll need to have confidence in your developer skills. The software comes with a steep learning curve, and there is no phone number to dial for technical support.

Regardless, Magento is a great shopping cart for merchants who are looking to expand internationally. Here are a few of the reasons you should consider Magento:

  • International Forum: Get help from a community of 150,000 developers. These developers can also help you create extensions that work for your target countries.
  • Extensions: Take your pick of a vast marketplace of extensions. You’ll find extensions for international payment gateways, currencies, and shipping carriers.

For more information on using Magento to sell globally, take a look at the company’s advice on making your site global ready. To learn more about Magento in general, head on over to our full review or get started now by downloading the platform for free.

Shopify

shopify logo

If you’re in the eCommerce industry, you’ve heard of Shopify. This Canadian SaaS solution is famous for its usability and clean design. And over the past few years, Shopify has skyrocketed in popularity. The platform now hosts over 500,000 stores worldwide.

Shopify is the only hosted solution we’ll be including in this list. In general, if you’re looking to build a website that reaches customers around the world, open-source is your best approach. With so much opportunity for customization and growth, you’ll likely find that an open-source solution better fits your international store’s needs.

However, like we’ve discussed, open-source comes with its own challenges, including limited usability and technical support. And so, if you want to take a global approach but aren’t sure you can handle the technical challenges of open-source, Shopify may be the way to go.

Here are a few of the international selling features you can benefit from as a Shopify user:

  • Multi-lingual Checkout: You can set your checkout to operate in over 50 languages. You’ll need to translate the rest of your theme on your own.
  • Non-US Taxes: Set up tax rates for other countries. You can also set your store to charge taxes on shipping rates.
  • Numerous Payment Gateways: Take your pick from over 100 payment processors in order to accept payments worldwide.

For more information on Shopify, take a look at our full review or get hands-on experience by signing up for a free 14-day trial.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, one or more of these shopping cart options has piqued your interest. As always, I encourage you to take your research further. Read our full reviews, look up comments from current customers, and take advantage of every trial and demo you can get your hands on.

You might also read our article, The Most Important Questions To Ask Before Shipping Internationally, and download our free eBook, The Beginner’s Guide To Starting An Online Store. In this fifty page guide, we unpack everything you need to consider as you approach online selling.

But for those of you who are already planning your global expansion, I wish you the best of luck and bon voyage!

The post Best Shopping Carts For Global eCommerce appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Wix Versus Shopify

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

This is actually the dawning of age Disruption, and the majority of us find ourselves one of the Disrupted. As wages remain stagnant, decent benefits become ever harder to secure, and temporary work becomes the permanent reality, the cultural centrality of at-will employment lessens on an hourly basis. With couple of legal or institutional norms left to provide us from economic uncertainty, Doing The Work Yourself appears more rational than ever before. And believe to DIY rather than leverage the cyber-commons to market things online?

Because of the recognition of these two platforms, I figured it might be useful to check and contrast Wix and Shopify, two most prominent online services utilized by individuals and firms to bring in the eCommerce dough. However, some background info.

Table of Contents

A Fast Take A Look At Wix

wix pricing

Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Wix (see our Wix review) began in the year 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan. Getting grown to get probably the most broadly-used DIY website builder available on the market, Wix now boasts 110 million users all over the world — several unquestionably boosted because Wix is free of charge to participate.

A Fast Take A Look At Shopify

Shopify (see our Shopify review) may be the colossus from the eCommerce industry. Launched by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake (and in 2006), this Ottawa-based company presently hosts over 500,000 online stores and it has helped generate $46 billion in sales.

The 2 platforms possess a fundamental difference of emphasis, however. Wix is really a website builder with sophisticated eCommerce abilities (among additional features), while Shopify is really a dedicated eCommerce platform with website building features. This distinction should become apparent when i guide you through my comparison.

Web-Located or Licensed

Both Wix and Shopify are web-located.

Software and hardware Needs

All it’s important to use Wix or Shopify is really a computer, a web connection, along with a modern internet browser. Worry not, friend.

Prices

Here’s something which reveals the variations between the two platforms’ particular target audiences. While Wix has five compensated subscription plans available, you may also generate a free account. As long as its not necessary a web-based store, your personal domain, or any other advanced features, this can be used free account in perpetuity.

However, with Shopify, you are able to join without entering your payment info, but following the 14-day free trial offer ends, you’ll have to select from between three compensated plans. Basically, Wix is perfect for the hobbyist and also the casual blogger in addition to serious online sellers, whereas Shopify is about supplying an eCommerce platform—everything else is of secondary importance.

With Wix, you receive the next with a forex account:

  • Full Use of Wix’s Design and Editing Platform
  • 500 MB Storage
  • Limitless Pages
  • Free Hosting
  • Free Wix Domain — your URL is going to be [your Wix user name].wix.com/[your website name]
  • Wix Brand Ads

If you would like more from Wix, you’ll need to spring for just one of Wix’s five compensated plans:

Connect Domain Plan

  • $5.00/month (annual plan)
  • $4.00/month (2-year plan)
  • $3.50/month (3-year plan)
  • $7.00/month (monthly plan)
  • 500 MB Storage
  • 1 GB Bandwidth
  • Connect Your Domain (rather of “wixusername.wix.com/sitename”)
  • Free Hosting
  • Google Analytics
  • Premium Support

Combo Plan

  • $10.00/month (annual plan)
  • $9.00/month (2-year plan)
  • $8.50/month (3-year plan)
  • $14.00/month (monthly plan)
  • The suggestions above PLUS:
  • Free Domain (for just one year)
  • 3 GB Storage
  • 2 GB Bandwidth
  • Removes Wix Ads

Limitless Plan

  • $14.00/month (annual plan)
  • $11.00/month (2-year plan)
  • $10.00/month (3-year plan)
  • $16.00/month (monthly plan)
  • The suggestions above PLUS:
  • 10 GB Storage
  • Limitless Bandwidth
  • Site Booster Application (annual plan only)
  • Form Builder Application (annual plan only)
  • $300 Ad Vouchers (annual plan only)

eCommerce Plan

  • $17.00/month (annual plan)
  • $15.00/month (2-year plan)
  • $14.00/month (3-year plan)
  • $20.00/month (monthly plan)
  • The suggestions above PLUS:
  • 20 GB Storage
  • 20 GB Bandwidth
  • Online Shop

Very important personel Plan

  • $25.00/month (annual plan)
  • $22.00/month (2-year plan)
  • $20.50/month (3-year plan)
  • $30.00/month (monthly plan)
  • The suggestions above PLUS:
  • 20 GB Storage
  • Limitless Bandwidth
  • Exclusive Very important personel Support Line – Priority Callback
  • Instant Response
  • Professional Site Review

Observe that while Combo-level plans and above incorporate a free personalized domain for just one year, you’ll need to pay to resume it beyond that — the typical rates are around $10 each year. If you would like your personal personalized email that suits your domain, Wix offers that (through G Suite) for $4.08 monthly. In addition, Wix has over 200 feature add-ons obtainable in the Wix Application Market, quite a few these apps are premium services and wish their very own compensated subscription.

Shopify, by comparison, has three primary subscription packages to select from:

Fundamental Shopify

  • $26/month (annual plan)
  • $23.25/month (2-year plan)
  • $21.75/month (3-year plan)
  • $29/month (monthly plan)
  • Charge Card Rate for Shopify Payments: 2.9% + 30¢
  • Charge Card Rate for Shopify POS: 2.7% + 0¢
  • Transaction Charges for Shopify Payments: None
  • Transaction Charges for Exterior Payment Gateways: 2%
  • 2 Staff Accounts
  • Limitless Products
  • Limitless File Storage
  • Shopify POS Retail Package: yet another $49/month
  • Shopify Shipping Discount: “Good”
  • Print Shipping Labels
  • 24/7 Support
  • Fraud Analysis
  • Manual Order Creation
  • Discounts
  • Website and Blog
  • Free SSL Certificate

Shopify

  • $71/month (annual plan)
  • $63.25/month (2-year plan)
  • $59.25/month (3-year plan)
  • $79/month (monthly plan)
  • The suggestions above PLUS:
  • Charge Card Rate for Shopify Payments: 2.6% + 30¢
  • Charge Card Rate for Shopify POS: 2.5% + 0¢
  • Transaction Charges for Shopify Payments: None
  • Transaction Charges for Exterior Payment Gateways: 1%
  • 5 Staff Accounts
  • Shopify Shipping Discount: “Better”
  • Gift Certificates
  • Professional Reports
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery

Advanced Shopify

  • $266/month (annual plan)
  • $235/month (2-year plan)
  • $219/month (3-year plan)
  • $299/month (monthly plan)
  • The suggestions above PLUS:
  • Charge Card Rate for Shopify Payments: 2.4% + 30¢
  • Charge Card Rate for Shopify POS: 2.4% + 0¢
  • Transaction Charges for Shopify Payments: None
  • Transaction Charges for Exterior Payment Gateways: .5%
  • 15 Staff Accounts
  • Advanced Report Builder
  • 3rd Party Calculated Shipping Rates

Shopify, like Wix, sells custom domains. Shopify’s domains cost $14/year for any .com and a little more for other domain types. Shopify also offers an application store of their own, featuring more than a 1000 feature add-ons, both free and never-free.

Furthermore, Shopify provides a service known as Shopify Lite just for $9/month. However, this plan of action doesn’t range from the online shop, that is, in the end, what many people consider once they consider Shopify. It will permit you to sell products in your social networking accounts, another website, or personally (presuming you receive Shopify POS for $49/month). Lastly, for businesses which make over $a million in sales each year, there’s Shopify Plus. It’s packed with advanced features, but you need to contact Shopify to even obtain a cost estimate, which means you know it’s just for the greatest outfits.

Having a free plan available along with a cheap $5/month plan since it’s opening compensated subscription, Wix is clearly the cheaper of these two platforms. Plus, Wix’s least expensive eCommerce-enabled plan’s $17/month when compared with $26/month for Shopify (annual plan prices), therefore if cost is an essential factor for you personally, Wix may be the champion. Obviously, you need to consider what you’re really getting for the money, and Shopify’s advanced eCommerce system might provide you with more bang for your buck.

Simplicity Of Use

Wix and Shopify both try to be as accessible as you possibly can, and both largely deliver. We’ll begin with Wix. The conventional editor combines simplicity of use with nearly infinite versatility. All of the tools you have to add features to your website can be found via buttons across the left from the editor. When you wish to include something, you simply choose the element, click on the Add button, and drag it wherever you would like it. It’s as easy as that. Many website builders restrict where you’re in a position to place elements, forcing you to definitely stack your elements like blocks and restricting you against placing things more precisely. Wix enables you to place anything anywhere (though if you want assist with precision placement, Wix provides options like “Snap to Objects” that will help you.

This method to website building means you need to be conscious of methods things can look on cellular devices, and that’s why the editor has dotted lines that demarcate the boundaries of the smartphone screen.

wix

If you’d rather not need to invest in this degree of fine-tuning, Wix comes with an even simpler website building model for you personally: Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence). When you begin building your Wix website, you’re given a choice of using either Wix’s standard editor or Wix ADI. Pick the latter, and you will be motivated to point the objective of your site and also the features you would like incorporated (a web-based store, your blog, etc). For those who have a current online presence, Wix ADI will pull your articles on the internet to include to your site. You’ll then be given some design/color/font options. When you make these choices, voilà! An internet site is going to be produced for you personally! After that, you are able to direct the AI to create specific changes aimed at your website for you personally, or it can be done yourself, utilizing a simplified form of the Wix editor which fits similar to the “arranging content blocks” model I pointed out earlier. It makes sense an editor that provides you less freedom but that makes it even simpler that you should create a beautiful website. Wix enables you to pick the editing model that works well with your purposes. Should you need assistance, 78 tutorial videos walk you thru pretty much every part of the website building process.

Shopify can also be one that is functional by almost anyone. You’ll begin within the dashboard in which you have quick access to every facet of your eCommerce site. In the links around the left from the dashboard, you will see and manage your orders, add products, see the details and buy good reputation for your clients, view site analytics, generate discounts, add apps in the Shopify Application Store, and make additional sales channels so that you can sell your product or service on Amazon . com, Facebook, Buzzfeed, and much more.

shopify

So far as customizing the feel of your eCommerce site goes, you are able to download a totally free theme (something like a Wix template), purchase a premium theme in the Shopify Theme Store, and edit your present theme. It ought to be noted that, naturally, Shopify has numerous more eCommerce-specific styles than does Wix.

When you attend edit your theme, you’ll discover that your articles — products, images, slideshows, and so on — is arranged in stacks that you could reorder when needed, much like Wix ADI. Creating, rearranging, and editing your articles is easy.You need to haven’t much problem creating a beautiful online shop using the Shopify editor.

A couple of facets of the editor aren’t as seamless, however. For instance, after i attempted to include a roadmap from Google Maps to my Shopify store, I had been forwarded to acquire and enter a Google Maps API key, which is an inconvenience. With Wix, you simply set the address you would like the map to focus on and add it. Overall, though, they are two very user-friendly platforms, so that your decision about who to choose most likely won’t hinge on simplicity of use.

Features

Both Wix and Shopify provide an impressive variety of features. Since Wix is really a general-purpose website builder, it naturally includes a broader number of available features than does Shopify. Wix provides you with a high-notch blogging tool, photos from Bigstock, many social networking integrations, a forum feature that allows you to setup your personal membership-based network, an excellent form builder, and far, a lot more. Wix’s eCommerce system has enough features to fill a quite sizable page online, including order tracking, inventory management, worldwide shipping and tax rates, coupons, pop-up marketing sales tools, invoicing and accounting — other great tales. Actually, you may also produce a Shopify store and plop it on your Wix site!

Additionally for their standard online shop, Wix has some good feature packages tailored to a particular industries. There’s Wix Restaurants, an element set together with a menu element, a table reservation system, along with a full online ordering system which assists both pickup and delivery. There’s Wix Hotels, with a full reservation management system, multilingual booking for worldwide visitors, along with a feature that will get your website for auction on TripAdvisor. There’s Wix Music, which is a perfect tool for bands to setup digital distribution of the music. In addition, there’s Wix Occasions, a bundle that provides you all you need to manage and monetize a celebration. Truly, there’s little that Wix can’t do.

While Shopify is, obviously, centered on eCommerce, there is a great blogging tool too — a terrific way to showcase what you need to offer. It’s no afterthought, either. You may also do such things as schedule posts ahead of time and add tags. There’s also image galleries along with a e-newsletter signup form. The majority of Shopify’s features, however, are based on the internet store! Shocking, I understand.

Listing all Shopify’s online shop features will make this short article pretty ungainly, so I’ll list the highlights for you personally. You receive automatic shipping rates, abandoned cart recovery, as well as an automatic tax calculator that considers your location and also the location of the customers. Unlike Wix, Shopify lets your clients setup their very own accounts together with your store (though it doesn’t pressure these to create accounts) to create future transactions simpler and to provide you with valuable data relating to your customers’ shopping habits. You will find fulfillment center options and dropshipping apps, together with social networking integration, product variations, and digital revenue. Basically, if you are establishing a web-based store, there isn’t any contest: Shopify may be the platform for you personally. However, Wix includes a better attract certain industries, like restaurants and property management.

Integrations and Add-Ons

Both Wix and Shopify have extensive repositories of third-party integrations prepared to be connected to your website. The Wix Application Market has 248 apps to select from, both free and premium. These apps vary wildly from live chat apps, business tools, form builders, marketing tools, video players, booking apps, eCommerce apps — choose a feature, and you’ll likely find multiple options in Wix’s Application Market.

To not be surpassed, Shopify’s Application Store has more than one 1000 apps prepared. Marketing, sales, shipping, accounting, social networking — if it is eCommerce-related, you’ll probably think it is within the Shopify Application Store. Shopify even has product sourcing apps in situation it’s not necessary almost anything to sell and therefore are searching to market the other party’s products!

One key Shopify integration you may remember in the prices section is by using Shopify POS, something that allows you to accept charge cards to create sales wherever there is a purchase to make. It integrates seamlessly together with your Shopify store and it is an excellent tool in case your store has both a web-based along with a meatspace component. Wix, however, doesn’t have POS system of their own. You are able to integrate your Wix store with Square POS, only on iOS devices and just in a few locations. Advantage: Shopify.

Payment Processing

Shopify has significantly more payment processing options than does Wix, offering over 100 to Wix’s 15. However, with platforms, you’ll only have the ability to use a few of the available payment options, as the majority of options are location-specific (certain payment gateways are just obtainable in many places). One awesome factor about Shopify is they their very own in-house payment gateway: Shopify Payments. Make use of this, and Shopify won’t charge any transaction charges. Use another payment processor, however, and they’ll (the speed depends upon your subscription level). Wix, by comparison, charges no transaction charges, regardless of what payment processor you utilize.

Observe that both Wix and Shopify allow you to accept offline payments too.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team

Wix includes a telephone number for direct support, available Monday-Friday from 6 am to five pm PST. They likewise have an assistance ticket system along with a healthy assortment of FAQs and support articles within their help center, but, alas, no live chat.

Shopify’s customer care is much more robust, with 24/7 phone, email, and live chat, together with many support articles. Again, advantage: Shopify.

Negative Reviews and Complaints

Wix and Shopify have a massive quantity of users, and together with which comes a higher amount of complaints, as you may notice in the comments published to the reviews of these two platforms. Wix will get lots of stick for poor customer support, slow/buggy sites, and unpredicted billing charges. Others have complained that Wix sites aren’t mobile-responsive — that’s, it normally won’t adjust instantly to suit the screen of the device.

Shopify also sees lots of complaints regarding customer support, and also the transaction charges (billed whenever a payment processor apart from Shopify Payments can be used) are very unpopular. Others have complained that Shopify doesn’t adhere to the legal needs in a few countries where they nevertheless sell their product. And others have experienced security problems. Overall, these issues have introduced lower the Trustpilot scores of these two companies — Wix’s Trustpilot score presently is 4.1 while Shopify’s Trustpilot score is 3.4.

Positive Testimonials and reviews

Wix and Shopify have ample fans too. Many users rave about the caliber of Wix like a design tool, while some really praise the oft-belittled customer support. Shopify users love the simple intuitiveness from the platform, along with the well-designed templates. Suffice to state, there’s no popular consensus regarding Wix or Shopify!

Final Ideas

You’ll observe that in many of these groups, I haven’t announced a champion. That’s since these two platforms don’t entirely share exactly the same audience, though there’s certainly a large amount of overlap. What it really comes lower to is that this: if you are building a web-based store, or you possess a physical store by having an online component (or the other way around!), Shopify is what you want. Shopify handles eCommerce unlike any other. However, if you are creating a website with no online shop, or maybe you’re intending to sell restaurant orders, hotel reservations, or music online, Wix is the greatest option. The treatment depends on which your plans are for your own personel particular slice of cyber-territory.

Thankfully, both platforms can be used as free on the trial basis, so that you can explore without risk. Go on and try them! That old world is dead, and it is not returning. Embrace the ” new world ” before it slips your grasp! (The ” new world ” is very slippery, careful.)

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is really a author, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from North Park. A local Californian who enjoys the shore, Jason nevertheless would rather do his surfing on the internet, the raddest wave of all of them. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

“”

What PayPal’s Bitcoin Integration Method for Online Retailers

Bitcoin1

There’s quite a bit happening around the PayPal front right now (take a look at our lately updated PayPal review here) — it’s not only getting ready to spin removed from its longtime parent company, eBay, but PayPal now enables its retailers to simply accept Bitcoin payments.

For individuals who have no idea about Bitcoin, it’s an online currency, sometimes also known as a cryptocurrency. Bitcoins aren’t printed or minted. Actually, they merely ever exist as records of transactions, collected inside a virtual wallet. They’re processed more than a network, and also the entire platform is open-source, meaning it’s very easy for anybody to get involved with the procedure and begin earning Bitcoins. Take a look at our help guide to accepting Bitcoin to learn more.

PayPal initially announced support for Bitcoin in September of 2014 using a partnership with Braintree, confirmed within the SEC filing from April 2015. (Also worth mentioning: eBay initially purchased Braintree in 2013. Using the approaching split, Braintree will come under a brand new entity known as PayPal Holdings, that will oversee eBay’s payments segment from the business.) Furthermore, PayPal has partnered with three major Bitcoin processors: Coinbase, BitPay and GoCoin.

What Bitcoin Acceptance Method for Retailers

The takeaway is the fact that PayPal, clearly among the greatest names in online payments, clearly thinks that Bitcoin may be the coming trend. Let’s take particular notice at what it really method for retailers, whether you possess an online shop, a brick-and-mortar location, or both.

Who Controls Bitcoins

Banks don’t control Bitcoins like they are doing other currency. Actually, Bitcoins are unregulated, that is a benefit: Not one institution controls the woking platform, and thus unlike national currencies, a financial institution simply can’t print more (resulting in devaluation and perhaps inflation).

Bitcoin can also be semi-anonymous. Every transaction is distributed to some Bitcoin address and put into an open register (known as the blockchain), but the master of that address isn’t known. You are able to setup multiple Bitcoin addresses, further obscuring your data. This is actually the Internet we’re coping with, which means you should absolutely learn on how to safely handle Bitcoin payments and safeguard yourself.

However, though, additionally, it means there isn’t any way of recovering Bitcoins in fraudulent transactions. It’s like cash in this way (except, obviously, that Bitcoins don’t really possess a physical form). And Bitcoins aren’t safe from cost fluctuations, either. By penning this, just one Bitcoin is equivalent to $236.61 U.S. dollars, but prices spiked greater than $600 within the summer time of 2014, have arrived at $1,100 formerly.

Payment Charges

Among the key benefits of Bitcoin is always that the payment processing charges tend to be, reduced than individuals assessed by banks along with other institutions. In some instances, there aren’t any transaction charges whatsoever.

However, that’s a specific item if you use the Bitcoin network, no intermediary like PayPal or Braintree. In September, Coinbase announced on its blog that retailers using Coinbase via Braintree to simply accept Bitcoins would pay a set 1% fee — which continues to be a great deal under the two.9% + $.30 normally assessed by PayPal and Braintree.

If the transaction charges are going to remain low (or nonexistent) as Bitcoin gets to be more popular remains seen, however if you simply have knowledge about Bitcoin and transaction charges, we’d like to learn about it! Drop us a line within the comments.

Time for you to Process Transactions

Because Bitcoins aren’t controlled like other currency, time to process transactions is shorter — nearly immediate in some instances. You are able to send money in one continent to a different within ten minutes, for much under a wire service with no worries about frozen funds. PayPal works nearly immediately too, causeing this to be an excellent fit for retailers who would like their cash immediately.

Mobile Payments and Bitcoin

An advantage of Bitcoin being digital is the fact that it’s perfectly suitable for mobile apps. For those who have a Bitcoin wallet application installed, you are able to send money or make payments utilizing a QR code or NFC. Which means retailers whose systems are established to handle both Bitcoin and mobile payments can readily accept payments at brick-and-mortar locations plus online stores.

The way forward for Bitcoin

In the realm of retail, PayPal’s Bitcoin integration means merchants convey more payment options with almost no try to do on their own part. However, PayPal (by extension, its subsidiary Braintree) is way from the only method to accept Bitcoin. Actually, Stripe, Shopify and Square all offer Bitcoin integration. Menufy, a web-based ordering system for restaurants, also enables restaurants to simply accept Bitcoin.

Like a number of other technologies, like mobile wallets, NFC, and beacons, Bitcoin continues to be hovering around close to digital scene for quite some time. There are many proponents who choose what Bitcoin means — namely freedom by means of a really digital, mobile presently. It certainly has the ability to alter the way we consider spending cash on the internet and e-commerce generally. But at this time, it isn’t prevalent.

That certainly looks going to change. Much like Apple finally backing NFC payments with Apple Pay has resulted in an uptick in mobile payments, PayPal offering Bitcoin integration may be the catalyst that pushes Bitcoin in the forefront on the web stage.

Melissa Johnson

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

Melissa Johnson

“”

Spark Pay Versus Shopify

shopify-vs-spark-pay

Shopify is really a broadly popular cloud-based shopping cart software which is used by greater than 175,000 big and small e-tailers within the U.S. and abroad. Its elegant simplicity, gorgeous styles, and accessible customer support earned Shopify an almost perfect ranking on Merchant Maverick (see our full review here.) Types of stores presently using Shopify include include Tattly and Good As Gold.

But Shopify has lots of solid competition. Other web-located carts are used to produce killer stores, and something towards the top of the heap is Spark Pay (formerly AmeriCommerce, a good eCommerce cart which Capital One acquired to higher meet the requirements of the small company customers.) While Spark Pay is less popular than Shopify, it’s created many beautifully designed stores, appeared around the 2012 Corporation. 5000 list, and snagged a CODiE Award this year. Notable stores using Spark Pay include Kellogg’s Store and USA Hockey League.

Spark Pay and Shopify offer full teams of features and integrate with assorted payment processors and add-ons. Plus, each cart includes a history of consistently increasing the UX of the admin backends. But exactly how do these competitors compare when it comes to prices, user feedback, and style? We check out the intricacies of both shopping carts within the following comparison.

Don’t have enough time to see a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost. Otherwise, continue reading for that full scoop on Spark Pay and Shopify.

Web-Located or Licensed:

Spark Pay and Shopify are generally web-based, cloud-located shopping cart software solutions.

Software and hardware Needs:

Spark Pay and Shopify are fully web-located. Nothing apart from a safe and secure web connection and updated internet browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) are needed to gain access to the cloud-based software. While all os’s and browsers are supported, installing the most recent technologies are usually a good idea.

Prices:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay and Shopify both offer free 14-day trials that don’t need a charge card to gain access to. Neither charges set-up or cancellation charges or insists upon sign an agreement. Both could be cancelled anytime.

Information regarding plan prices have been in my complete Spark Pay and Shopify reviews, however i&#8217ll address the popular features of each cart here.

Spark Pay charges $24.95/month because of its starter Steel plan and Shopify charges $29/month because of its comparable Fundamental plan. (Shopify also provides a $9/month Lite plan, that provides Facebook integration as well as an embeddable Buy Now button, but doesn’t present an online shop of their own.) After that, plans diverge a little more. Spark Pay has 5 plans, varying from $24.95 to $299/mo. Shopify has 3 primary plans, weighing $29, $79, and $179/mo. Custom-tailored Enterprise sized plans can be found by each, with variable prices.

In this category, Shopify may be the obvious champion. Its $29 plan can be a couple of dollars greater than the competing plan from Spark Pay, but almost every other plan’s considerably less, all while supplying a lot more overall convenience. Including limitless products, limitless bandwidth, and limitless online storage at each subscription level. They are three of the Big 4 points of comparison for each shopping cart software, the 4th being Transaction Charges. This is actually the only reason for similarity backward and forward carts, as neither charges transaction charges.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay&#8217s admin includes more functionality than most retailers will require, although not a lot of extras that the store is going to be bogged lower. To obtain began, you’ll make use of a wizard to include information regarding your shop, select a template, set tax and shipping rates, and employ a style editor to change your store’s fonts, colors, and (if preferred) fundamental page structure. Soon you’ll anticipate to incorperate your first product. The newest form of the admin includes a standardized UI pattern that’s enhanced for cellular devices.

It didn’t take lengthy that i can get my bearings within the Shopify admin, with four steps to accomplish before you start selling, published in the forefront around the dashboard: adding products, customizing styles, establishing a domain, and entering tax and shipping info.

For me, after using both tools I discovered Shopify’s live theme editor to become more intuitive and accessible than Spark Pay&#8217s theme editor. Plus, with Shopify adding groups, products, and customer data is easy. Your nav menu could be rearranged via drag too. Overall, I love that Shopify comes as they are with what’s important and enables you to pick the functionality that’s most useful via its application store.

Though we provide the win to Shopify within this category, I wasn’t whatsoever displeased with the simplicity with Spark Pay.

Features:

Champion: Spark Pay

Both Shopify and Spark Pay offer an array of as they are features: see our Shopify review and Spark Pay review for that full lowdown. Spark Pay is phenomenal for the reason that it offers all features on all plans no matter its cost. So rather of sifting through lists to make certain your plan features a e-newsletter or Google Analytics integration, for instance, Spark Pay customers garner accessibility cart’s total suite of features, which simplifies the sign-up process. Another primary Spark Pay distinction is its multi-storefront feature that allows you to maintain several shop at any given time from one admin (additional stores are $39 each to include on.) Plus, Spark Pay offers one-page checkout, gift cards, and multi-language support as they are, while Shopify doesn’t.

Note that gift cards are offered on Shopify’s Pro and Limitless plans, and you may go for plug-ins for many any feature that doesn’t come immediately with Shopify via its application store, although doing this could cost extra.

Shopify introduces new features on regularly. And That I like this Shopify provides a mobile application so that you can keep your store everywhere via tablet or smartphone. (Spark Pay offers 31 Mobile Responsive themes to be sure that your store displays properly from the device, but hasn’t introduced a downloadable application to higher manage your store on the run.)

Website Design:

Champion: Shopify

I love that Spark Pay&#8217s skins could be customized via its Live Design Theme Editor that allows you to edit widgets and drag layout elements. If you’re a coder you’ll have the ability to gain full use of each template’s CSS and HTML (Shopify enables you to edit raw files through the &#8220Template Editor&#8221 within the admin too.)

Shopify features its own form of an active theme editor. You are able to follow together with alterations in a preview window before they’re printed and modify other elements of design instantly without requiring to refresh the pop-up window.

Even though many of Spark Pay&#8217s themes are eye-pleasing and fresher than what’s provided by competing carts, there are less of these than&#8217s provided by Shopify.

Templates are among Shopify’s most powerful selling points, with superbly designed free and premium options. It’s difficult to really ruin Shopify’s styles while making customizations, consider there are plenty of good options to select from, the probability is good that you simply won’t have to execute heavy changes to obtain selling to begin with. If you’re launching a brand new business and don’t cash experience building online retailers, you almost certainly want something which&#8217s simple to tweak which looks great. For me Shopify and Spark Pay have what must be done, but Shopify ends track of a narrow lead within this category.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay offers some helpful add-ons to go with its set of features, having a couple of free and lots of premium options including Quickbooks, LivePerson, and Amazon . com Ads. However the amount of extras offered in Shopify’s application store blows Spark Pay out from the water. You’ll find countless marketing, reporting, shipping, social networking, and inventory integrations, including tools for strengthening product options and loyalty programs. Shopify also keeps a well-reviewed iPhone application. But beware: as pointed out above the price of plug-ins can also add up fast.

Payment Processing:

Champion: Shopify

Spark Pay is suitable for a large number of domestic gateways, including Authorize.net and Chase Paymentech and most 50 processors including PayPal. Shopify integrates using more than 70 gateways. Like Shopify, Spark Pay offers a free account. But don&#8217t worry- I won&#8217t point out that I distrust &#8220Persolvent&#8221 purely based on its absurd name for a A Merchant Account provider. You&#8217re welcome.

Overall, I’m more impressed using the new Shopify Payments. The processor approves sales instantly, displays payments in tangible-time, and includes chargeback recovery for all of us-based retailers. Registering cancels the transaction charges Shopify tacks onto its less costly plans. On Shopify Payments here.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Shopify

While my encounters with Spark Pay customer support happen to be mostly positive, If only there is a method to interact with the tech team after 6pm. You are able to submit emergency tickets if trouble does show up throughout the weekend or overnight and study a forum, watch older video tutorials, and check for solutions inside a Understanding Center.

Shopify’s customer care team is among the very best in the biz. You’ll find a variety of methods for getting info, together with a Understanding Base, discussion forum, wiki, and Ecommerce University (that is basically only a couple of blogs on eCommerce topics.) Plus, customers located in The United States, the United kingdom, Australia, and Nz can call a delegated regional telephone number.

Watch will claim that they can offer top-notch support. However the proof is incorporated in the user community. Granted, users who’ve had unfortunate encounters are far more prone to leave feedback than users who’d positive encounters, but we are able to still consider the volume, severity, and customary styles one of the reviews for a concept of the likely trouble spots. The following two sections covers a few of these details.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Spark Pay

An intensive online search of user interactions and comments about both Spark Pay and Shopify switched up an extensive selection of complaints about both carts.

Spark Pay merchants are unhappy about its poor resolution rate for intricacies, however the recent acquisition by Capital You can (or might not) impact this. The possible lack of 24/7 phone support is another sore point of these reviewers. Other users want the opportunity to integrate with a lot more worldwide payment processors, but still more grumble about all of the extra charges for bandwidth overages, etc.

Many Shopify retailers detest the transaction charges Shopify contributes to its least costly plans (as pointed out above, the firPercent to twoPercent fee is waived should you join Shopify Payments) and don’t like this add-ons can rapidly make an inexpensive payment more costly. Others don’t like this clients are redirected towards the Shopify domain (checkout.shopify.com) to do purchases because it could (theoretically) result in abandoned carts. Additionally you won’t locate one-page checkout with Shopify (it’s an element Spark Pay has offered since its beginning) or discounts within the Starter and Fundamental plan. Spark Pay includes all features on all plans, making the sign-up process more straightforward and convenient.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Shopify

Retailers have ample good stuff to report about both Spark Pay and Shopify. Spark Pay customers cite the cart’s dependability with little downtime, regular software updates, and customizable styles. Others like its as they are reporting and powerful product management tools and discover its multiple storefront feature useful and simple to use.

But overall Shopify users reported a larger selection of positives, centering around stellar customer care encounters and general simplicity of use. Others love Shopify’s styles, its mobile application, auto backups, and healthy uptime record, as well as its limitless bandwidth.

While both carts stand out with positive user feedback, Shopify&#8217s depth and breadth of positives simply outweighs Spark Pay.

Final Verdict:

Champion: Shopify

Shopify and Spark Pay both got their start in 2005 and earned almost perfect star ratings within our reviews, placing greater than any competing cart.

For me, Spark Pay offers a effective suite of features that’s a great fit for established firms that don’t always require a simplified interface, but enjoy an intuitive admin nevertheless. I’ve found Spark Pay to be considered a well-built cart supported by a whip smart group of engineers. Plus, through the years it’s been making plans to become a bit more hip and welcoming to newbies. And it is multi-storefront feature is indeed a draw for retailers that run several online stores but wish to man the ship from one backend.

Shopify is easy to make use of, and it keeps improving upon that success. It markets itself to first-time retailers while offering a $9 starter plan for those who would like to test the waters. Despite the fact that I’d want to see a plumped up attributes which includes one-click checkout and multi-language support (and transaction charges dropped permanently) Shopify’s 24/7 support, number of integrations, mobile application, and beautiful styles provide the advantage over its competition.

Prepared to discover for yourself? Consider using a free demo of Spark Pay and take Shopify for a trial run for fourteen days and find out which shopping cart software may be the right fit for the online shop.

The publish Spark Pay Versus Shopify made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Newest Methods to Identify CNP Fraud

protected EMV credit card

The shift to EMV technology isn’t just affecting payments in-stores&#8212due towards the elevated impossibility of fraud in-stores, so many people are expecting that you will see a rise in card-not-present (CNP) fraud. We’ve already spoken about how exactly business proprietors can avoid fraudulent purchases for the current moment. But don’t get too attached. New, supposedly safer methods are coming.

We’re conscious of how difficult it’s to maintain ever-altering technology, so we’ve got your back. Here’s the safety technology you&#8217ll be listening to within the next couple of years.

3D Secure

This type of security is working for multiple banks, however the obvious leaders are MasterCard’s SecureCode and Visa’s Verified by Visa. The name is really a mention of the their three domain model: the acquirer domain (the merchant), the issuer domain (the financial institution) and also the interoperability domain (we’ve got the technology employed for the acquirer and issuer domains to speak to one another).

3D secure adds an additional security step during checkout, thanks to a card provider. The service utilizes a plug-directly into identify cards from participating banks and, if this finds one, it opens a pop-up window asking the client to go in a pre-set password to ensure their identity. This may a couple of things: first the possibility fraudster must know another, hard to collect, bit of information to charge the credit card. Also, when opening the pop-up window, the financial institution could see when the user is applying a proxy. On top of that, the issuer generally covers the price of any fraudulent purchases making it although the 3D secure system.

Sounds a good buy, right?

Well, 3D secure has existed for some time, and many individuals the U . s . States haven’t heard about it. There’s grounds for your. The safety programs happen to be slow to become adopted by online stores because of their badly considered technology and poor customer education.

Probably the most apparent issue is that 3D secure technology confuses customers. A great deal. Pop-up home windows, in the past, haven’t been employed for good purposes. Naturally, users will be suspicious once they locate one that’s requesting some kind of banking password along with other private information. Worst, from the merchant perspective, some customers may be so confused they abandon their purchase altogether.

We’ve got the technology has additionally become critique for asking people to create passwords at inconvenient occasions (a person who just really wants to buy their stuff isn’t prepared to produce a secure password), which makes it too simple to change forgotten passwords, violating user’s privacy by permitting organizations to determine the transactions, departing apparent vulnerabilities within their software, and pawning off liability charges onto customers.

Clearly, 3D secure systems have a methods to go. Nevertheless, 3D secure has already been beginning to become adopted by many people ecommerce websites, and, typically, we’ve got the technology does its job. Meanwhile, the manufacturers understand the requirement for fraud-proof technology, and therefore are focusing on making these programs more user-friendly and secure.

CAP/DPA

Hey&#8212remember the way i just stated issuers will work on making 3D technology safer? MasterCard’s Nick Authentication Program (CAP) and Visa’s Dynamic Passcode Authentication (DPA) programs are members of their solution.

CAP/DPA is essentially EMV for online transactions. The concept is the fact that banks will issue just a little hands-held EMV terminal known as a CAP readers (though a good phone application may be within the works too). To authenticate their identity, the client uses their nick card and PIN, and so the readers will produce a one-use password. Although this had been developed mainly for banking, issuers have recognized the potential of integrating it with 3D secure software&#8212the one-use password may be used along with 3D secure&#8217s pop-up service.

Issuers have previously began moving out CAP readers within the United kingdom for internet banking, and unsurprisingly, we’ve got the technology wasn’t quite as much as snuff. The United kingdom CAP visitors poor-quality and also have technological issues that fraudsters may potentially exploit in several ways.

Another apparent problem: in the usa, we don’t have nick-and-PIN cards yet. No PINs means not a way to ensure the consumer, which&#8217s not so secure whatsoever. However, because CAP/DPA is basically a method to bring EMV technology, a technology which has already proven very secure, to CNP transactions, theoretically it’s a very viable choice to lessen fraud online. However, we’ve got the technology isn’t there with regards to the CAP readers or American’s charge cards.

We’re going to need to wait a couple of years with this one, guys.

Tokenization Standard

However, tokenization is a kind of security you could implement at this time (and also the payment card industry encourages you to do this). Although this isn&#8217t going that will help you root out fraudulent transactions, it can help safeguard against data breaches. Should you don&#8217t utilize it already, this really is one you’ll certainly be thinking about, since MasterCard, Visa and American Express have announced their intention to create tokenization a worldwide standard online as well as in-store. Let’s be truthful: soon, you most likely won’t have the ability to neglected.

You’ve most likely heard about file encryption, and you’ve most likely heard about tokenization, however i wouldn’t be amazed should you didn’t be aware of difference. Here you go: file encryption works just like a secret code. You utilize a vital to secure and decrypt the information. Anyone who will get your hands on the encrypted data with no answer to interpret it’ll just visit a mess of figures. It really works very well&#8230 unless of course the interceptor finds the important thing, by which situation file encryption is totally useless. And you’ll be able to discover the key. However, tokenizing several is irreversible because there’s no link between the initial number and also the token. There’s no master key that may turn back tokenizing process.

Theoretically, when a customer enters their charge card number and verifies their identity (possibly though a procedure employing 3D secure), their charge card number is going to be substituted for a token number sent in the payment processor. The entire factor works exactly the same way casino chips do&#8211when you, the merchant, are speaking to money providers lower the road, everyone can treat time like it’s the customer’s real charge card number. Since everyone knows the token is connected with this particular customer which particular transaction, you&#8217re all on exactly the same page. But just like a poker nick, outdoors of this particular transaction, the token won’t work any longer. There’s you don’t need to store customer’s real charge card number whatsoever, and since each transaction features its own token, the information is basically useless to the fraudsters who steal it.

Clearly, tokenization isn’t a perfect solution. You may still find occasions once the customer’s real card data must be joined and transmitted (which means you can’t give up all of your other way of file encryption), the customer’s identity still must be verified to begin with, and tokenization won’t safeguard against account takeover.

What Exactly&#8217s the purpose?

That’s why we’re speaking about multiple forms of security: not one of them are 100% effective on their own. Theoretically, these types of security works together. 3D secure protects against application fraud, CAP/DPA protects against phishing and account takeover, and tokenization protects against information thievery.

There should never be one fool-proof method to finish fraud. We can’t cover the cost of a totally hack-proof system. But maybe, by using a couple of different, very secure methods, we are able to get close. Although individuals methods haven&#8217t quite showed up yet, they&#8217re searching promising.

The publish Newest Methods to Identify CNP Fraud made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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