Having worked in ecommerce for 13 years, one of the most common questions I am asked is, ‘What platform do you recommend for online businesses?’
Anyone that appreciates the nuanced differences between businesses knows there is no ‘sure thing’ answer to this question.
But in recent years, my response has become this:
Generally speaking, if you want to sell something very simply to friends and family members, go to Shopify. If you have, or aspire to have, a successful, long-term business, then BigCommerce is the better choice.
That’s a strong statement, I know, but I have the data and information to back it up.
Be a Part Of works with B2B businesses looking to take advantage of the $6.7 billion predicted B2B online market. I talk to businesses pulling in upward of $20 million through their wholesale and B2B partnerships –– and I help them find the right solution for their specific needs to get online and better streamline their business for the future.
The number one reason why I recommended BigCommerce to the vast majority of those customers who are considering SaaS comes down to extensibility and customization power at checkout.
Why Checkout –– The Last Impression –– Matters
The best e-commerce websites allow customers to fall in love with a brand and its products.
For this reason, retailers largely understand that homepage and product page design is critical to driving conversion. After all, this is your customer’s first impression of your business, and your first opportunity to convince them to stay, browse, and buy.
But when it comes to buying, a retailer’s checkout far surpasses any other element of the website in terms of importance.
This is the time when you — unknown retailer — present risk to the consumer.
There is a reason that 7 out of 10 shopping carts are abandoned. 20+ years after the advent of e-commerce consumers are still wary of providing sensitive information such as credit card details unless a retailer can prove that it is trustworthy, secure and worthy of the sale.
In my opinion, one of the most important things retailers can do to establish this trust it to keep customers on their domain through the entirety of the shopping experience.
Unfortunately, this is not possible on Shopify, unless you move up to Shopify Plus, their most expensive plan.
BigCommerce customers also follow a similar flow to the above unless they purchase their own dedicated SSL. The difference is that you can purchase your own SSL through any plan level on BigCommerce –– and can only do so on Shopify when you buy into Plus.
Update: BigCommerce now provides a free SSL to all stores on all plan types, meaning someone paying BigCommerce $30 per month gets a feature that Shopify only makes available to customers spending $2,000+ per month.
Checkout Matters Most to B2B + High AOV Brands
It’s surprisingly common to hear B2C retailers often don’t fully appreciate the impact of their checkout design and it’s functionality, but this is not the case in the B2B industry –– where complexity looms large and higher average order values are the norm.
I’d imagine that for any retailer, no matter their audience, the higher your cart ticket price is, the more likely a third-party checkout page or a shared checkout experience is going to scare off your customers. And when that happens, what exactly do you think will happen?
That’s right. They’ll go to the competitor.
Can you afford to make that mistake?
A Deeper Dive Into Checkout Differentiations and ERP Integrations
Let’s look a little deeper at this issue. I’ll use Recurring Billing to show the lack of customization.
While many B2C retailers thinking of recurring billing in terms of subscription boxes, for B2B brands, recurring billing provides an efficient workflow for B2B customers who need to re-order product on a predictable cadence.
This means less paperwork and more goods and services.
Currently, there are no apps in the Shopify Marketplace that will allow you install recurring or subscription billing and use your own checkout.
Bold Commerce, for instance, is one of the companies that offers a recurring billing app, and here is how that process works on a live site.
You go from the store’s cart URL here:
This is how all the apps in Shopify’s recurring billing marketplace work –– each takes your customer to a third-party checkout URL. For small order volumes, this might be OK, but how will your customers feel for orders that surpass $1,000?
Here is an example of BigCommerce’s recurring billing workflow.
Here you are on the domain at the cart level:
This native checkout flow makes it incredibly easily to have card-on-file so you can run refunds via a token –– for instance. This native feature also makes ERP integrations work much more efficiently.
For instance, a lot of our B2B clients want to be able to put credit cards into their ERP or be able to charge from their ERP system so that the CSRs can handle refunds or reconciliation.
Whatever the case, they need to be able to have that data go from the ecommerce platform to their ERP or OMS. Shopify’s jump-off point makes that impossible.
It is the small conveniences like this that win B2B businesses. These organizations are light on marketing, and heavy on product development and production. They do not need additional paperwork or workarounds. Online commerce is supposed to solve that for them –– not add new steps to the process.
It is that type of detail BigCommerce has built-in that makes me trust their vision for the future over Shopify’s, and that is winning them all of my B2B business.