Trying to decide which eCommerce website builder has all the right features for your new online store in 2014?
We've compiled a list of some of the coolest new features of two of the best shopping cart solutions, namely Shopify & Bigcommerce, to help you make the right decision.
Both of these hosted solutions offer exceptional value for money out-of-the-box, and you can check out a direct comparison of all their standard features (including cost, value for money, customer reviews, etc) between the two at Shopify, Volusion & Bigcommerce.
Once you've seen enough, it's easy to get started for free by following along with one of our step-by-step setup guides:
It's worth bearing in mind that just because a feature is new on one system doesn't mean it is non-existent on the other. Where possible we'll highlight whether or not the other platform has similar functionality.
Shopify new features
Shopify has done a good job of improving it's offering over the course of 2013 and 2014 across all it's plans. Although, without doubt, there is a bias towards the enterprise level packages.
They've also listened to what customers want, and improved the flexibility of their offerings. For example, it's now possible to have standalone PoS (Point of Sale) features without requiring an eCommerce store.
1. Abandoned checkout recovery
Cart abandonment is one of the biggest bugbears in the eCommerce world - with around 70% of all online shopping carts abandoned.
Store owners invest a lot of time and money in attracting new customers, getting them interested in buying, only to have them leave half-way through checkout (perhaps their Internet connection went down).
Closing the sale and generating revenue is of critical importance to any eCommerce business, and so Shopify now provides automated follow-up emails to gently remind customers that they have an unfinished purchase waiting.
Email follow-ups are only available on Shopify's professional and unlimited plans, so basic plan users will have to be content with viewing abandoned checkout reports without emails.
Bigcommerce has this feature on their Gold & Platinum plans.
2. Advanced report builder
Understanding the performance of your business is imperative for improving service, refining marketing & Web design, and maximizing conversions.
Analytical data and reports are your eyes and ears when it comes to understanding traffic patterns, visitor behaviour, and conversion rates. That's why Shopify now offers a comprehensive range of standard sales, orders, and tax reports.
In addition, unlimited plan users are able to build their own custom reports by filtering on properties such as Web referrals and customer geographic data.
Bigcommerce also offers a range of reports including customers, orders, and sales tax.
3. Post dated publishing
It's often the case that new content, articles, products, news, and announcements have to be published at a specific time - that may not be convenient for you or your employees.
That's why it is important to be able to set a publication date that let's your content go live at a specific time without you manually having to publish it (think along the lines of an embargoed product announcement).
With Shopify's future publishing, this is a cinch.
Bigcommerce has 'write now, publish later' on their blog, and pre-order facilities on products.
4 New PoS features
Shopify's PoS system allows physical retailers to sell products and process payments in-store, from your iPad, and comes with optional hardware such as a cash drawer and receipt printer.
With PoS establishing itself as the new way to retail in 2014 and beyond, it's no surprise that there are a number of updates in this space.
In particular, you can now:
- sell physical gift cards
- generate barcodes for products and labels
- handle multiple languages
- implement tax overrides for specific products
Essentially, if you already operate some sort of retail enterprise (like a store, craft market stand, etc), then Shopify is your eCommerce platform of choice because it can tightly integrate the online and offline parts of your business.
Bigcommerce offers PoS features via 3rd party apps.
Bigcommerce new features
What makes Bigcommerce such an attractive platform for eCommerce is its consistent efforts to integrate with a huge range of other services and technologies.
This makes it easy to open up entire new marketing and sales channels, enabling you to extend a store's reach and visibility to grow quickly (think along the lines of integrating sales on eBay and Amazon, accounts with Quickbooks online, generating buzz on Pinterest, and much more).
As a result, much of the day-to-day new developments tend to be in the form of apps and integrations to the Bigcommerce core system.
1. One-click App store
Because Bigcommerce's development model relies heavily on plugin apps that enhance the functionality of their core system, it makes sense that they would make it super easy to integrate them.
Their app store allows you to identify the apps you want quickly, and add them with a single click - a huge improvement over the days when you had to sign-up on the 3rd party site, get an API access key, add it to your store, endure a time-consuming custom setup and configuration procedure, and so on.
This wipes out one of the biggest challenges facing Bigcommerce in one go. as a result, more and more people will be attracted to this platform because of its quick and easy integration with the software and services they already use.
Shopify also offers 3rd party integration via their app store.
2. Product quick views
It's a desirable property of any eCommerce solution to be able to deliver the information customers need to make a purchase as quickly and easily as possible.
That why product quick views can help to maximize conversions by displaying product information in an overlay - instead of making the customer navigate to a different page.
This means people can drill down to explore specific products of interest, but continue to browse the page their on once they've finished.
3. Automatic product review reminders
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to market your brand and products, which is why it is super important for online stores to encourage customers reviews.
Bigcommerce offers an automatic follow up email to customers who have purchased a product, asking them to write a review about it. After all, products with more reviews tend to sell better.
Shopify offers similar functionality via apps that focus on remarketing, and other automated follow-ups.
4. Suggestive cart upsells
Cross-selling and up-selling are great marketing techniques used by virtually every eCommerce retailer from Amazon down to mom and pop stores.
But implementing intelligent up-selling features is not always that easy, and often solutions rely on webmasters having to manually specify which products should be up-sold on a per product basis.
Fortunately, Bigcommerce can automate this process to recommend closely related products, based on what customers have already added to their cart. Nice!
Shopify offers up-sell features via their app store.
So those are just some of the latest cool new features that these two market leaders have implement over 2013 and 2014.
But, as with any technology, the pace at which they are evolving and improving is increasing all the time, so watch this space for new developments.
Which platform is your favourite? How does Shopify's features and functionality compare to Bigcommerce'? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.