Shopify has been the underdog of e-commerce platforms for quite a while, but it’s becoming clearer that it’s the protagonist in this e-commerce movie. The moment Shopify revealed its true power during its annual partner and developer conference, Shopify Unite 2019, it shook the e-commerce landscape and drew the focus of its competitors.
Let’s take a look at how Shopify is shaping up against its biggest competitors.
Shopify has two types of competitors because of its unique position in the e-commerce space: Its fellow e-commerce platforms and “The Aggregators.”
Shopify’s direct competitors are dedicated e-commerce platforms that you can build and customize from scratch. Here are the biggest e-commerce platforms out there:
BigCommerce is the most similar to Shopify and is a direct competitor to Shopify Plus. As its name suggests, BigCommerce is mainly aimed toward medium to large e-commerce stores, especially B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce.
- It’s one of the easiest platforms to get started with right “out-of-the-box,” second only to Shopify.
- It has the best SEO out of all the platforms.
- You can go headless using BigCommerce for WordPress.
- It costs less while offering more built-in features than other platforms.
- It has a sales cap/threshold. If your sales exceed your current pricing plan’s yearly sales threshold, you will be moved to the higher tier which costs more.
- You can’t access your store via an app. There is no mobile app yet.
- Regular content support is lacking and difficult to produce.
Magento is one of the most established e-commerce platforms. Before Shopify and the other e-commerce platforms, Magento was hands-down the top pick for online businesses.
Even in today’s more crowded landscape, when it comes to open-source platforms for e-commerce, Magento is still the best out there.
- Because Magento has been acquired by Adobe, it’s easier to manage content and analytics through Adobe Experience Cloud.
- Flexibility and customization are better with Magento since it’s open-source. Shopify has an army of designers and programmers that create hundreds of apps, extensions and themes. Magento, on the other hand, has a community that creates thousands of apps, extension and themes.
- It has built-in multilingual support.
- It offers built-in coupon and discount codes.
- There’s no limit for how many items can be placed in the inventory.
- It requires intermediate to advanced coding.
- The CMS starts out free. However, you still have to pay for security and web hosting.
- Pricing details are a bit secretive. To find out the price, you have to request a demo and give out your information.
One of the oldest platforms out there, Volusion has been around since 1999. Volusion even developed the very first online shopping cart, paving the way for modern e-commerce to flourish.
- It offers a great “onboarding process” for business owners to properly launch their store.
- It provides marketing tools out-of-the-box, including affiliate programs, email marketing tools and CRM.
- It has a better payment system:
- Cheaper credit card transaction fees
- Built-in subscription-based payments
- Up to 30 free payment processing system without additional fees
- It lacks basic features such as integrated blogging support.
- It’s not for beginners. Programming/coding knowledge required.
- There is no support for selling digital products.
The Aggregators: Big Tech and Social Media
Though Big Tech and social media earn large sums of money from ads alone, they still want to find more ways to increase their revenue. So, major Big Tech and social media companies are dipping their toes into different pools of income--and e-commerce is one of them.
Amazon became the largest company in the world at the beginning of this year.
While part of Amazon’s success is brought about by CEO Jeff Bezos’ vision of prioritizing growth over financial gain, having a big focus on e-commerce definitely helped big time.
This is also the reason why Shopify immediately was compared to Amazon. When underdogs are rising up the ranks, people always reference the top dog.
However, in the beginning, Shopify was not directly competing against Amazon. Both are e-commerce companies, but they have different purposes and business models. Shopify focuses more on being a platform while Amazon focuses on being the distributor. But recently, that has changed.
Logistics and shipping are inherently very costly, and adding expediency to that equation raises the cost exponentially. It is a gargantuan financial strain for a small company, and only mammoth companies such as Amazon are able to absorb that cost.
But then Shopify managed to do it. Shopify is a company 24 times smaller than Amazon that promises 2-day shipping! And that’s how Shopify became more of a direct competitor to Amazon.
It’s like Shopify intentionally picked a similar dress worn by Amazon on prom night. Shopify didn’t show intentions to be prom queen, but everyone knows--even Amazon--that Shopify wants that crown. (This analogy is perfect because Shopify and Amazon are basically frenemies at this point.)
Amazon is now the largest company in the world... and who did it surpass? You guessed that right! Microsoft was the largest company in the world before it was surpassed by Amazon.
Now, Microsoft is “seriously considering” competing with Shopify in the e-commerce market. According to Microsoft’s corporate vice president of global retail and consumer goods, Shelley Bransten, they are talking about the possibility of branching into e-commerce and challenging Shopify, because, apparently, large companies have requested it.
On a side note, it must be very flattering for Shopify to be explicitly called out by Microsoft as a competitor. One of the biggest companies in the world mentioning them as a potential threat? Talk about how far Shopify has come!
But aside from being flattered, Shopify should also be careful. Microsoft is a formidable competitor.
However, so far, Google is not building fulfillment services. Instead, they are just building a platform to point consumers to where to buy products/services based on their data. It’s kind-of like the Shopping tab from Google search.
Though this will not directly compete with e-commerce platforms, it can certainly change some of the processes of those platforms, as most of them rely on Google’s search algorithm for their stores to be found. We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out.
What does all this mean for your business?
What effects does Shopify’s serious new competition have on your Shopify store? In short, you’ll have to get better. Competition makes everyone better.
That’s the beauty of a free market. You have to be either unique and appeal to a specific niche or simply just better than the competition to succeed. Competition pushes every industry and every business to be the best they can be to be attractive to consumers.
Should you pick or stick with Shopify?
If you want to start an online store and you are searching for the right platform, kudos for doing the research. Explore every platform and take advantage of every free trial. Your online store should live on the most comfortable platform for you.
But if you want our recommendation, pick Shopify. It’s the easiest to set up and operate out-of-the-box, and you’d have plenty of room and tools to help you grow your business.
And if you are already on a different e-commerce platform looking for a different platform to migrate to, we still recommend you pick Shopify – but your decision may be more complex.
Your current platform may have functions or features that you don’t want to lose, but consider that Shopify offers the most well-balanced features for the best value. That makes it ideal for growing stores looking to get the most bang for their buck.
If you’re already a Shopify store owner and looking at other platforms, we recommend you stick with Shopify. As the saying goes, the rising tide raises all ships. This means that the popularity of Shopify and its run on the big leagues will produce improvements to its functions in order to compete well. It will only get better for store owners from this point on since Shopify is gearing up to face huge competition.
Also, because of Shopify’s position on the market, all of its fame and accomplishments will inevitably result in more benefits for its community. Shopify’s net worth is on the up and up, which might just draw in more investors. More investment means more development. More development leads to more features. More features will give more options to store owners to have a better store. A better store will attract more customers. More customers will incur more investment. And the cycle goes on.
All eyes are on Shopify right now, and that’s only going to make Shopify even better for e-commerce store owners.