Gone are the days when we had to invent wheels and shopping carts from scratch. Now, anyone can simply click-click and sell items for minimum to no fees. Through conversations with designers, I came across the following three create-your-own online store sites: Big Cartel, Shopify and Shoply. To give a real opinion on my first impressions of the sites, I decided to sign up for all three using a garment from my own company.
Big Cartel appears to be a friendly site open to all artists selling jewellery, clothing, and even bands selling music. The free option allows you to set up your store to sell up to 5 products with description, price, and 1 image. Furthermore, there are no transaction costs and it easily connects to your PayPal account. In reality you are only able to sell one product half heartedly at the free level – as you only get 1 image. As you can deduce, it’s not as sexy as I would like it to look. Furthermore, the marketing in terms of social media sharing options, SEO and Google integrations are not offered.
Shopify has a CRM-like home page and appears more professional and down to business (not necessarily earth). It immediately wows you with a video that highlights its great features, yet skips over the part where you have to give your credit card information in order to enjoy the 30 day free trial period. I hesitated over giving my credit card information before even trying it out – but alas I respected their effective business model and after a few days of mulling around, I finally signed up. After 30 days, I assume they will charge my card with 25 dollars (the minimum payment) along with a zap of 2 transaction charge upon selling anything.
As you can deduce, it definitely has some sex appeal – they have 50 themes to choose from and allow exporting of your own theme too. I chose a bold Onyx style, which is basically a black template. Shopify has a blogging option that appears right on the selling page. Furthermore, it has every type of marketing and sharing option you can think of such as email marketing, coupons, promotions, website optimization experiments, online promotions, and viral marketing sites. All can be integrated and easily tracked through statistics; of course most of it comes with a price. The price ranges from $25 to $700 a month! I suppose its demographic ranges from a mom and pop shop to a small corporation.
Shoply definitely lives up to its tagline – this is by far the easiest way to set up a shop and start selling. Again, it’s not the sexiest option nor does it leave any options for upping the sexiness yet if you like enormous buttons and have no technical skills – then you’re in luck. I was so dazzled by its easiness that it was days later when I looked into the price and noticed its 6% commission at the free level which may or may not include “basket” fees. The next level was 5% commission at $40 a month. The marketing portion was actually social site integration which appeared to cover the basics.
So which site is the best? Well, if you’re serious about selling then you can’t kid yourself – go big or go home. Shopify roped me in from the beginning – with their soft spoken video, soothing credit card process and cool theme options. The icing on the cake was all of the marketing and social sharing options that were nicely integrated. Let’s face it, your products could be amazing yet no one is going to notice it if you don’t market it properly. Furthermore, I did receive a welcome email a few days later asking on my well being which was a nice added touch. Then again, they do have my credit card information.
Which one would you choose and why? Do you already use one of these successfully? Did I miss a major one that you use with great success?