Why Distributors Shouldn’t Use Shopify or BigCommerce

4 minute read

Why Distributors Shouldn’t Use Shopify or BigCommerce

Developing an eCommerce website is becoming a priority for many manufacturers and distributors, and a user-friendly site with a secure and reliable infrastructure is the only way to offer your customers the service they expect – and deserve.

The secret to successful eCommerce sites is understanding your target audience’s needs and online behavior and then using that information to continuously improve your product quality and your site for a better user experience.

Shopify and BigCommerce are commonly used eCommerce platforms, but they aren’t for every business – especially if you’re a distributor. Both platforms allow users to add and edit products, create categories, and design a checkout process, but they have significant limitations for distributors.

Limitations of Shopify

With Shopify, you need little technical knowledge to build your eCommerce website; unfortunately, this means that Shopify is limited in how you can customize your storefront.

  • You can only create up to three options (e.g., size and color) and 100 variants (combinations of size and color) for each product, which is prohibitive when you offer highly configurable or customizable products. Yes, there are apps you can add to get around this limitation, but why add another layer of complexity (and cost)?
  • You can’t customize your store checkout. Shopify allows some changes, such as changing colors and fonts, adding a custom header with your logo, and changing the writing to fit your brand, but those are all the changes you can make.
  • You can’t create a password-protected side of your store for retail customers. (Without a third-party app.)
  • If you’re based in America and sell internationally, this limitation is huge: every order processed through your store must use U.S. dollars. You can add a Shopify currency converter app (for an additional cost) so your shoppers can see what the item costs in their native currency, but that’s it – once your buyer starts the checkout process, the currency figures revert to U.S. dollars.
  • Most problematical for distributors is the lack of pricing flexibility. Shopify doesn’t allow you to require minimum order amounts and doesn’t allow you to offer discounts.
  • You have to pay transaction fees on every sale, which will affect your bottom line.

So while Shopify appears inexpensive, you can see how the addition of numerous apps to get the customization you need can quickly become costly.

Limitations of BigCommerce

BigCommerce doesn’t charge transaction fees, but it has other limitations you should evaluate before choosing it as your eCommerce platform:

  • The dollar amount of sales you can process is dictated by the plan you choose. On the Standard plan ($29.95/month), you can sell $50,000. The Plus plan ($79.95/month) allows you to sell $150,000, and the Pro plan ($249.95/month) allows you to sell $400,000. If you make more than $400,000 in sales each year, you’re charged an extra $150 a month for each additional $200,000.
  • The standard version doesn’t allow you to segment your buyers, so everyone has to shop through the same portal – so there’s no way to have different pricing for your various customers unless you upgrade.
  • BigCommerce offers only six free themes. If you want something customized, you have to pay; premium themes range from $170-$250.
  • This is a big miss for a lot of companies: BigCommerce has no mobile apps to help you manage your store – it’s desktop/laptop or nothing.

Finally, both Shopify and BigCommerce require integration with your ERP to be customized, which means incurring the expense of initial setup and then continued maintenance as your ERP system and the web commerce system update functionality.

As someone who sells products online, it’s important to do your due diligence when selecting the service you’ll use to connect with your buyers. Sniperdyne gives you built-in integration between ERP and eCommerce so you can save money while improving your customers’ experience.

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