Facebook Shop

A relatively new addition to the popular social media platform Facebook, Facebook Shop provides a market in which to sell physical products. Rather than creating their own website, businesses (and individuals) can post products on Facebook Shop to be bought by customers, something they can do without having to leave the app.

Facebook Shop promotes the idea that this method of combining social media and shopping encourages discovery and hobby shopping through the Marketplace page which shows an assortment of products for users to explore. There is no limit to the number of products sellers can add, and they are all listed in a catalog that shows each item’s name, description, price, pictures, availability, and inventory among other things. Sellers can also organize their products into categories for customers to browse through. If customers have any questions, they can message the business’s pages with their questions. 

Currently, Facebook doesn’t charge a fee for conducting sales on their platform or take a cut unless businesses choose to use Facebook’s “Checkout” feature rather than another e-commerce software to accept payment. The fee for doing so is %5 per shipment or a flat fee of $0.40 for shipments worth $8.00 or less. Sellers on Facebook Shop can also see commerce analysis in terms of both overall trends and shop performance as well as insight into individual products. As a whole, Facebook Shop provides an easy way to enter the market without creating an entirely new, dedicated website.

Instagram Shop

Like Facebook Shop, Instagram Shop feature is a fairly recent development in the world of ecommerce. The new feature aims to make selling feel more accessible, especially for small businesses. Sellers must set themselves up as a business account and connect their Instagram page to a Facebook page with a catalog of their products for sale. Businesses can then tag their products (physical goods only) in photos, videos, and stories, making all posts an opportunity to market their goods in a more attractive and engaging format than most typical display methods while curating a feel for their store.

When customers clink a tag, a link brings them to the business’s store website where customers can find the product for sale and actually purchase it. Instagram Shop is working towards in-app checkout (they are currently trying a closed beta version in the US) that will have a transaction fee. However, they have not stated what the fee will be yet.

Business accounts on Instagram can also view analysis like weekly interactions, reach, impressions, and follower growth, as well as analysis on the performance of posts, stories, and promotions.

Shopify

Shopify is a subscription based software service that assists businesses in website creation and products sales, shipment, and management. It simplifies the website building process for those without prior experience or coding knowledge, allowing business owners to simply choose from a selection of both free and paid themes (these determine the website’s overall look) then customize the final appearance with drag and drop web design elements. A new “Express” theme was recently designed to help traditionally offline businesses create online stores quickly and easily. Businesses can then post their products along with descriptions (Shopify’s software even supports the use of video and 3D images) and organize them into collections by style, item, etc. Shipping costs and taxes can be toggled on and off from being included in the listed price. The software also gives customers product recommendations.

Shopify websites can be linked to Instagram and Facebook Shop accounts and products can be listed on Amazon and Ebay. Further supporting the expansion of businesses’ markets, the software allows websites to be displayed in multiple currencies and languages.

Loyalty and promotion options are also integrated into the cart for easy discount setup. There are many paygates that businesses can choose to set up on their websites, and checkout and payment can either be done onsite or offsite. A new tipping feature was recently added as well. Once customers place an order, they can track it on Shopify’s package tracking app Shop. If businesses wish to, they can test their order system and place mock orders as if they are customer’s themselves.

Shopify’s own transaction fees are separate from the transaction fees charged by each paygate (although Shopify Payments, if used as a paygate, has no transaction fee) though, so businesses will have to pay an additional 0.5-2% fee depending on the plan they have. There is also a $0.30 credit card fee for online purchases.

The software uses google analytics to provide unified analysis that blends in-person and online sales.

Shopify has three main different prices levels (costing USD $29, $79, and $299 per month), as well as Shopify Plus designed for enterprises and Shopify Lite (which costs USD $9 per month for minimal transformation. The software doesn’t include a domain so businesses also have to either buy a domain from Shopify or a third party. Third-party domains will have to be redirected, but Shopify’s URL structure is not ideal for Search Engine Optimization though.

If businesses don’t wish to design a whole new website, they can use Shopify’s software to simply add a buy button to any type of website (like Squarespace or WordPress, for example).

Boutir

Boutir is an “all-in-one” minimalist shop interface and design mobile app targeting South East Asia. Each store is assigned a unique URL for their site which is both app and web accessible. Establishing a store on the app does not require any design or technological knowledge, and they advertise a three minute set-up time. Businesses can upload products and customers can place orders through a comprehensive transaction system. Selling pages can be incorporated in any website, Facebook page, or blog post. The app offers the option to include loyalty-based promotions, shipping and order discounts during checkout. If a customer leaves items in their cart, they’ll receive follow up encouraging them to finish their transaction to reduce abandoned carts. Other than this reminder, there is no communication channel with customers which is one drawback. After orders are placed, the app supports delivery status checks. In addition to the typical commerce features, Boutir also hosts a blogging platform.

The app provides each store with analytics reports integrated from Google Analytics. For the benefit of business owners, Boutir also holds free online workshops and sells HKD $50 hour long professional e-commerce phone consultations.

There are multiples price levels for businesses looking to sell on the app. There is a free option, but it is limited to 20 transactions a month and 3 product categories so more serious sellers will likely have to pay more for the HKD 988$, 2488$, or 5988$ per year options. Businesses can also choose to pay by month, but for year-long purchases are cheaper. Boutir doesn’t have transaction or listing fees, but there is a 15% commission on online ads spending.

Shopline

Shopline allows businesses to bring themselves online to the market of e-commerce.  It advertises itself as an “omni-channel platform” with “cross-border services” that makes establishing an online storefront a breeze. Businesses design their website using base themes and drag and drop elements, and a set-up workshop is offered for those who want. Businesses can apply for a free custom domain or, if they already have one, utilize free domain transfer services. They can also upload information from an Instagram Store with a  one-click import.

The platform has a complete product and order management system. Customers have the ability to leave custom notes for purchases and split orders, and store owners set up loyalty and spending level-based discounts. Businesses can also view reports of customer information, order histories, and product transactions, as well as see important metrics of their sales like daily traddice, sales, new orders, top products, and delivery stats. Shopline also offers integration and access to other marketing tools and trackers like Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, and Instagram. Shopline also has their own online marketing academy and does Search Engine Optimization.

Multi-language and multi-currency switches mean businesses can sell globally more easily, and this international ease is supported by multiple delivery options (both local and overseas) and multiple payment options (including both domestic and foreign credit cards).

There is zero commission and no transaction fees. The only costs are the flat monthly or annual fees, and the annual plans are 10% cheaper than the monthly plans. Depending on the option, the year-long plans are priced at US $310, $910, or $1780.

Eventbrite

Eventbrite is a platform that assists with the selling of tickets for events. Sellers can collect registrations and sell tickets directly on their own websites or apps with custom payment forms or sell on the Eventbrite website itself.

Organizers can set up private or public events in three different categories: classic, new, and Eventbrite Music. Some features are available only for certain types (for example, add-ons like merchandise and parking passes are available only for Eventbrite Music and new).  Once organizers have created an event, they can send out order forms to communicate and collect information from attendees, create custom order confirmation, enable waitlists, manually add attendees to the guest list, and allow ticket/event transfers. They also have the ability to set a refund policy and choose payment options (including currency). If necessary, events can be canceled or rescheduled.

Eventbrite also works with promotional tools like social media integration and email invitations to allow organizers to increase awareness of their events. Customers can also browse for events on the Eventbrite website themselves (where they are all listed, each with a custom URL link), and when they register, they are automatically sent messages with necessary information and updates.

Organizers can look at all their orders as well as their Eventbrite data in real-time, including at total sales and relevant analytics, with customized reports.

Selling tickets through Eventbrite is always free if the tickets are free themselves, but organizers are charged a fee each time they sell a paid ticket (the price of which depends on the organizer’s package). However, if organizers wish to, they can pass along the fee costs to the event attendees and the fee will be added onto the ticket price. With the essentials package, the fees are 2% + USD $0.79 per paid ticket and with the Professional package, the fees is 3.5% + USD $1.59 per paid ticket. The pricing for the Premium package is custom. Higher level packages include benefits like one-stie staffing support, rental equipment, and product training. There are alternative payment processors for non-profits.

GoBuddy

GoBuddy provides intelligence collaboration software with a full online business suite that integrates e-commerce, events ticketing and appointment bookings, online webinars and upselling bundles. It particularly helps individuals, micro and small businesses to launch their business online at the lowest possible cost and be part of their buddy community that aims to foster collaborations and co-generate cross-selling together. 

It’s an extremely simple-to-use tool that separates clearly between landing pages and online business web pages. Users can use website builders like Wix and Squarespace for their landing pages, while all business web pages can be powered by the software. Users can gain access to all the sales data in the portal, and can easily optimize their marketing and performances across different services offered in their online business. This is a great way to save large setup and operation costs.   If a business doesn’t already have a website, they can purchase website setup from GoBuddy from HKD $2000. In addition to selling on their own webpages, sellers can list their products on GoBuddy’s free-to-use marketplace.

There is no limit on the products listings and events ticketing. For online activities, there is no time limitation and the software comes equipped with basic video conferencing tools so businesses don’t have to pay for professional video conferencing platforms. Guests can join online events directly from online too without the hassle of downloading an app either. All businesses are shown data analytics and insights, and they have an unlimited time right to this information in their GoBuddy account. 

For checkout, GoBuddy provides businesses with multiple local payment gateway options, and after customer pay they are automatically sent receipts, reminders, updates, and other  important information. 

Bundling will enable customers to put their products on sale with events ticketing, or other way around. GoBuddy is also offering a great service for users to access GoBuddy’s merchant ecosystem to cross-sell their products and services among each other. This is the true value that GoBuddy believes for fostering collaborations. 

There are three different price tiers available to most businesses: basic (free), builder (HKD $99 per month), and business (HKD $349 per month). Paid plans will unlock more features such as cross-sell, online payment options, discount creation and market visibility.  Businesses can get in contact for customization or enterprise level solutions. 

Businesses can also always add on digital marketing (which can cost HKD $70-250 per month) or social media management (which costs HKD $2000 per month and includes the premium digital marketing plan). Always free though is the option to schedule a 15 minute demos of how to use GoBuddy.

BigCommerce

Big commerce is a software ecommerce platform. It has among the most built-in features of any ecommerce platform out there as well as exceptional Search Engine Optimization, however, it has a steeper learning curve for beginners. While users can choose from customizable, premade themes that automatically format to desktop, mobile, and tablet screens, the tech terminology during the design process can be difficult to understand and the editor can be difficult to navigate. On the other hand, it may be more challenging for businesses to design their stores, but this is because almost every feature is already built-in so users aren’t reliant on downloading apps to add on extra features they desire. If businesses prefer, they can still build their site on WordPress.

Businesses can sell physical, digital, and service-based products on their sites, and customers can pay with dozens of digital wallets like Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal One Touch and more. If needed, customers can later initiate returns and refunds through their accounts. Sellers can also integrate with amazon, ebay, facebook, instagram, and brick and mortar stores and, after doing so, easily switch between storefront. 

Among the features offered, businesses can create subsets of customer groups for marketing and custom pricing, decide bulk pricing, and set up quote management. For user ease, BigCommerce also automates sales taxes, accepts many currencies, allows cross-border shipping, and has multi-language translation. Additionally, businesses are provided with impressive data reporting tools.

With the Standard plan, the cost USD $29.95 per month with a 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee for debit and credit cards. The Plus plan costs $79.95 each month with a 2.5% + $0.30 processing fee. And the Pro plan costs $249.95 per month with a processing fee of 2.2% + $0.30. Each plan has a yearly income threshold, and if businesses exceed the threshold, they have to upgrade their plan. There is also an Enterprise level plan for VIP service, but businesses must contact BigCommerce for price quotes.

Businesses can also purchase launch services (including: Solutions Architecting, Data Migration Services, Implementation Project Management, and Enterprise Launch Coach) and success services (including: Technical Account Management, Enterprise Account Management, Education Services, Enterprise Growth Coach).

Wix

Wix assists with website creation for both businesses and other purposes. The website builder asks users first who they are building the website for (themselves, a client, their workplace, or someone else) and then what kind of website they would like to create (options include business, blog, portfolio, fitness, and more) so it can pre-optimize the site before presenting it for customization. -Choose who you are building a website for (self, client, company you work for, someone else), and what kind of website (so it can pre-optimize for you, not just business, can be blog portfolio fitness events etc.) After the Wix generates the base template, businesses choose a theme and design, curate their homepage options, and use drag and drop elements to customize the look. They can also choose from an array feature that they would like to include on their site, from a chat to cookings to a blog to an instagram feed. Wix shows how websites look in on mobile and desktop so businesses can accordingly make adjustments for each format. Additionally, if users already have a website or Google Place listing they would like to use the information from, they have the option to import it. Users can either go through this process with Artificial Design Intelligence taking the lead on site design before making adjustments at the end, or they can do it all themselves. If users still need assistance, Wix provides a getting-started walk-through.

Using Wix websites, online shops can sell an unlimited number of products (both physical and digital), track payments, set shipping rates, receive online payments, and sell on Facebook and Instagram. The Wix app also allows for mobile management of sales.

The Wix dashboard shows an overview of the whole website and its metrics, and online stores can add apps that assist with business like marketing helpers and Search Engine Optimization.

There are several price levels, and they differ for whether the created website includes an online store or not. There is a free plan, but it is limited and users cannot launch an online store or connect to Google Analytics. For websites without a store, there are USD $13, $17, $22, and $35 per month plans. Businesses planning on running a store, however, will have to pay for a plan costing $23, $27, $59, or $500 per month. These prices are based on year-long subscriptions as it is cheaper to make a long term purchase than to pay for Wix’s services by the month.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce provides the service of turning WordPress websites into fully functional e-commerce stores. In fact, it is the most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress. Using WooCommerce, businesses can design an entirely new store, build off an old store, or add just a single product.

If users have a website already, WooCommerce can accommodate with any design or theme it may already have, but users have the additional option to switch to WooCommerce-optimized themes. Using WooCommerce, businesses design their shop, cart, checkout, and my account pages first before setting up the locale, compiled information on the business origin, currency, and preferred units for sales. They also have the option to add extensions like payment gateways, shipping extensions, accounting extensions, bookings, subscriptions, EU VAT numbers, and more. As WooCommerce works with WordPress, WooCommerce-created websites can simultaneously use other WordPress plugins such as YoAst Search Engine Optimization and WooCommerce Multilingual.

On WooCommerce, businesses can sell practically anything from physical products to digital ones to services to bookings, and they manage order, track sales, and monitor store activity. This can all be done both online and through the WooCommerce app.

WooCommerce also has a neat tax module that assists with tax rate calculations based on store location. With WooCommerce Payments, customers can pay directly without leaving the store, however, this payment method is currently available only to U.S.-based merchants.

Using the website builder is free and it is open-source, however, there are fees starting from 2.9% + USD $0.39 per transition for U.S.-issued cards, and businesses have to have a domain and hosting service, both of which they have to purchase, to utilize its services. Themes, plugins, extension, and develops can all have associated fees as well. In addition to monetary costs, setting up and maintaining the system will cost time. WooCommerce requires installation and doesn’t handle updates in the background for you like other e-commerce solutions so focusing on your business isn’t quite as effortless.

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