Published on 03/04/18, by Ben Archer
There is a dearth of options when it comes to creating, hosting and running an online store. Over the last decade, all in one software as a service eCommerce solutions that allow you to set up an online store to sell your goods have become very popular. They give you a platform to merchandise your products, customise a storefront, accept credit and debit card payments and track and respond to orders – all with a few clicks of a mouse.
Shopify are at the forefront of this market. With over a decade of experience they have seen phenomenal growth and as of 2017 report to have over 350,000 merchants using their platform with total gross merchandise volume exceeding $15 billion. A large majority of these retailers are small brands selling product from home or by themselves.
Remarkable.net, on the other hand is a commercially driven full service web agency offering cutting-edge, bespoke ecommerce integrations and solutions tailored specifically to each client’s needs. Projects range in scope from stand-alone static websites to industry leading ecommerce sites with integrated point of sale and warehouse management systems. Remarkable also integrate fully with any legacy systems already in place such as SAP or ERP software.
Remarkable and Shopify aren’t necessarily direct competitors. Shopify target new and part time businesses, with many of their merchants solely using their platform to promote services or making less than $1,000 dollars a month. Conversely, Remarkable predominantly target medium to large sized eCommerce based companies where we can act as an outsourced IT team utilising our experience to create the best bespoke website possible for each client’s specific needs.
A quick look at pricing plans will tell you all you need to know about our positioning. Shopify’s regular “DIY” platform ranges between $9/ month to $179/ month, while Shopify Plus starts at $999/ month. Remarkable, on the other hand charge a fixed fee to develop the custom platform and then offer ongoing support in the form of a monthly retainer to manage the day-to-day maintenance and updates. These costs can of course be spread over a period, so that cash flow can be managed. When it comes down to choosing a platform, it depends on what stage your business is at, your budget and your long-term goals. Both platforms have pros and cons which we will evaluate to help you decide what works best for your business.
Both platforms are built with customisation in mind. The difference here is Shopify offer a standard platform that is customisable whereas Remarkable create a custom platform designed to client’s specific needs. All of Shopify’s custom options are predefined and therefore offer less customisation in the long run. There is an infinite amount of themes available and users can change fonts, images and have a wide range of plugins available to do specific tasks such as countdown sales timers or social media plugins, but that’s it. If you want to do something advanced, or create a unique experience it can be very challenging. Shopify also lacks on custom reporting; there are several predefined reports that you can add filters or dimensions to with Shopify pro but you can’t create unique reports.
Remarkable’s customisation starts at the project initiation phase to ensure the solution meets the client’s requirements and carries on until we have built a system the meets the client’s goals. Every aspect of the project, from the languages used to write the application to A/B testing requirements or simply creating a custom report are customised to ensure we are meeting the client’s end goal. Remarkable also offers integrations with any 3rd party applications so the scope of a project is potentially infinite and you can ensure a cutting-edge, future proofed end product.
Overall the two platforms offer different objectives, Shopify was built to get your store online fast with as little effort as possible, not to create a unique experience.
Ease of Use
Generally speaking, there is a trade-off between ease of use and customisation. Software as a service platforms like Shopify have a spectrum with ease of use at one end, and customisation at the other. As mentioned, Shopify doesn’t have the most customisation options, but the trade off is a very easy to use platform with little potential for error and a vast support network if you do encounter problems.
Remarkable’s platforms are more towards the other end of the spectrum. Our systems are not hard to use, they just have a lot more functionality and therefore more possibility to confuse. We do however include the client at every step of the development process to ensure they are happy with the usability of our systems. We also offer a full training and support program with dedicated developers on hand to help if needed and go as far as offering our employees to work at client’s offices for a set time period a week if necessary. With a larger scope, custom eCommerce platforms will inherently be harder to use initially but will allow for a much more tailored experience and ultimately better performance.
The checkout is the most sensitive part of an eCommerce website. Shopping cart abandonment alone costs retailers billions of dollars which is why the ability to optimise and customise the checkout is important.
Shopify’s standard program host checkouts on their own domain meaning there is no customisation options at all. The visuals or the checkout will be different to the rest of the website because of this and there’s nothing you can do unless you upgrade to Shopify Plus at $999/ month. Even with Shopify Plus, which allows you to host the checkout on your own domain you can’t customise specific elements of the checkout and are stuck with their standard checkout based on best practises. Customer buying behaviour differs greatly on a shop by shop basis depending on the industry, price-points and a number of other factors so not being able to customise the experience detracts from the overall performance.
Remarkable, like the rest of the website offer a fully customisable checkout designed specifically with your business in mind and offer ongoing optimisation support to increase conversion as much as possible. We offer integrations with abandoned basket services, different payment providers, different delivery services and optimisation services. The scope for optimisation is endless as new technologies and theories are developed and we help clients make the best of them with in-depth A/B testing strategies to find what works best for your business.
Many of the issues Shopify has revolve around customisability, which impacts areas like the checkout, conversion optimisation and user experience. It can be difficult to make your Shopify site exactly how you want it. Remarkable on the other hand, offer a fully customised web experience that can meet a client’s vision exactly. Ultimately, the two platforms meet different needs. Shopify is perfect for new or part time businesses who are struggling to bring their products to market or service providers wanting to advertise. You can set your website up quickly and see if there is demand for your product or services without incurring much cost. At this early stage of your business you want to concentrate on your products rather than customisation and conversion rate optimisation.
Once you have an established business you can migrate to a bespoke eCommerce provider such as Remarkable.net. We offer the ability to fully integrate with any existing systems and will create a website to meet your business needs. We don’t just create you a website, we integrate ourselves into your day-to-day processes and help you grow as a business. We offer a full range of services such as support, design, marketing and insights to ensure we are best equipped to help you where necessary.