iPages vs Shopify
This is blog explores the differences between the iPages eCommerce platform and Shopify. If you're considering working with iPages, we'd really like you to take the time to look through what makes us different from Shopify and Wordpress (along with other platforms!) as we want you to feel confident as we are that iPages would be the best option for your business.
Shopify is a viable option for many eCommerce businesses. However, this blog highlights some of the reasons many people choose iPages; for a custom look, integrated functionality, value for money, in-built optimisation and personal support.
A Custom Look
iPages and Shopify differ in how users can design their website on each platform. Shopify restricts their users to a templated design, whilst iPages provides a custom designed website for each business. We find many customers come to us for the ability to create a customised, and branded design, to ensure that they stand out online.
Let's explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a templated or custom-designed website:
A Custom Designed Website (iPages):
- Advantages: When you get a custom designed website it will be unique for your business. Having a bespoke and unique website will help to show the personality of your business to your customers through the design. It also gives you a website that will stand out and differentiate you from competitors. Custom websites are also scaleable, flexible and managed, giving you the ability to grow and develop the design with your business. Any future expansions can be made and implemented seamlessly with little to no hassle.
- Disadvantages: Custom designed websites will often cost more than a templated solution as the developers and designers will take a lot more time and effort to create the perfect unique website to complement your business. Also, it takes more time to get a custom designed website live as a lot of the design work that comes out of the box with a templated design will need to be made differently to make sure that the website is right for the business.
A Templated Website Design (Shopify)
Advantages: There are also some great advantages to opting for a templated design solution. One of which being that anyone can have access to the template. You don't need to know anything about web design to choose a template from the variety available on Shopify and fill in the empty boxes with your content. And once it's in, the content on a templated design will be easier to change than on a custom designed website, not to mention the initial set up of the site is much faster with a template as most of the design work is already done.
Disadvantages: Templated design websites are generic and boring. Many people will often be using the same template and it takes the unique feeling away from the businesses that use them. Customisation is very limited and keeping brand consistency across the website is much more difficult when using a template. The navigation and layout options that are built into the template may not be suitable for the purpose of the website and could be off-putting for potential customers. Also, many templates will often include outdated or substandard code that can have negative effects on search engine optimisation.
When you have an eCommerce website, you'll need an array of features from order management tools to stock control and marketing tools. iPages comes with all the functionality you'll need to run an eCommerce website whereas Shopify uses apps to add functionality to their templated websites.
There are a lot of free apps in the Shopify app store but more often than not, they cost a small monthly fee to use. Shopify uses apps for for following features, and these are all built into the iPages platform at no additional cost;
- Marketing - To help you attract new visitors to your website, to engage your customers and for. Some examples of Shopify marketing apps are; email pop-ups and coupons.
- Sales - For motivational purposes, for example, increasing the value of orders, abandoned cart emails and for increasing your overall sales. Some Shopify sales apps are; push notifications, ads, up-selling and product reviews.
- Social Media - Using social media for marketing with your website, turning posts into purchases, brand loyalty and growing your following. Some examples of Shopify social media apps are; Instagram shop, social media promotion, social share buttons, social log-ins and social media integration.
- Shipping - For automating the fulfilment process. Some examples of Shopify shopping apps are; drop shipping, warehousing, shipping tracking solutions, integrations with shipping carriers and providing customers with shipping information.
- Inventory - Apps for updating, synchronising and monitoring your inventory. Some Shopify app examples for inventory are; product attributes, variants and back in stock emails.
- Accounting - To help your business with accounting. Some example of Shopify accounting apps are; integrations with Quickbooks, Xero, etc.
- Customer Service - To provide support to your customers, some examples of Shopify support apps are; Live chat, email and phone support, social media support and contact forms.
- Reporting - Shopify has reporting apps to give you insight into what your customers purchasing behaviours are, to help you analyse your sales and growth trends, to help with understanding where your traffic is coming from and to help you make the right decisions to grow your business faster online.
- Tools - To help make your templated website more interactive for your users. Examples of someShopify tools apps are; videos with 360-degree product views, smart search and booking functionality.
- Sales Channels - For increasing sales across multiple channels, examples of these Shopify apps are; inventory synchronisation, selling through multiple channels and selling through social media.
- Finding products to sell - There are even apps on Shopify for start-up business who want to sell something online but don't know what to sell. These apps also include automated fulfilment and shipping.
That is a lot of apps! It can be frustrating getting a website and then needing additional (potentially costly) apps to help you successfully sell online. iPages was born out of a desire to ensure that every small business could have access to all the software needed to succeed online and as everything is integrated, it can work out as a more cost effective route for businesses.
Value for Money
iPages and Shopify can be compared in terms of value for money. Both platforms offer users a monthly subscription which covers hosting, use of particular functionality and any sales fees. Shopify have 5 different monthly packages, whereas iPages offer 2 different rates:
- Lite version - £7.00/month (gives you tools for selling on Facebook, ability for accepting credit card payments, buy buttons to add to existing websites like blogs or podcast)
- Basic Shopify - £22.54/month (discount code engine, fraud analysis tools, the ability to upload an unlimited number of products, website and blog with Shopify, SSL certificate, manual order creation, shipping labels, unlimited file storage, 24/7 support)
- Shopify - £61.41/month (all features in basic Shopify, abandoned cart recovery tool)
- Advanced Shopify - £232.44/month (all previous features, advanced report builder, third party calculated shipping rates)
- Shopify Plus - varied depending on requirements
- eCommerce Starter - £39.00 a month (gives you Unlimited Products, Product Variants, Attributes & Customisation, Order Management, Gallery, News, Web Stats and Customer Reports, Contact Form, CRM, Calendar, Statistics, E-campaigns Features)
- eCommerce Professional - From £99.00 a month. (all previous features and Purchase Order Processing and Stock Control.)
iPages eCommerce Starter is comparable with the Shopify standard package (£61.41) in terms of features and is therefore a most cost effective means of using all of these tools
Additionally the iPages eCommerce Professional contains features beyond Advanced Shopify, at a fraction of the cost.
iPages does not offer a package comparable to Lite or Basic as, through experience we have found that businesses require our Start feature set to really succeed online, and where users have come to iPages from Shopify experience has been that the additional apps and work required to make these low-cost options work, does not actually make them financially viable in the long term.
iPages and Shopify differ in how they enable users to complete their search engine optimisation. It is important to remember that within search results, there is no platform-bias i.e. Google does not pay attention to which platform you are on, only how well you have optimised your website. Shopify and iPages both allow users to edit their on-site SEO fields (meets descriptions, title tags etc) however, iPages offer a great level of support and coaching to help clients complete these.
Shopify will automatically generate meta descriptions and also lets the users edit both the title tags and meta descriptions for every page. The automatically generated SEO gives users a good starting point for them to optimise it more.
Shopify also uses URL mapping. If a page URL on Shopify is changed, a 301 redirect will be automatically created to that page that lets search engines know that the page has moved and helps to keep the ‘link juice’ (the power or equity passed to a site via links from external or internal sources. This power is interpreted as a vote of recommendation toward your site and is one of the most important factors in determining your site's search ranking - The Daily Egg) related to it.
Keyword optimisation can be done with Shopify, but the users are expected to do it themselves. This could be difficult if they’re not experienced with keyword optimisation and could have negative effects on SEO if done incorrectly.
With iPages, all of the pages give users the option to add a Page Title, Meta Keywords, Meta Description, Custom Head Text and Custom Body Script. Also, iPages offers expert SEO optimisation so that users, who may have limited knowledge on optimising for search engines, can have their SEO done for them professionally.
iPages offers professional keyword optimisation with blogging services and product descriptions to help your businesses rank with the searchers who will be most relevant to your business.
The iPages SEO is built-in, fast, and structured with no additional costs.
Both iPages and Shopify provide users with support on how to use their software platforms. Shopify support comes in the form of online live chat, email support and calls. iPages provide live chat, online support pages, email and phone support along with offering expert advice from designers and marketing staff. Being family run, iPages pride themselves on building lasting relationships with clients, and so support is not just about giving an answer - it's about understanding the real problem that someone is conveying. It's the personal nature of our support which sets us apart from Shopify.
Shopify provides their users with live chat, email and 24/7 phone support. The quality of the support will depend on the template in use and how it is being used, for example, if a business is using a standard free Shopify template, the support can be quite good but users with a third party templates will be forced to rely on the designers of the template and the support can be pretty awful.
- The Shopify live chat has an average wait time of 3 minutes.
- The Shopify email support has a response time of 10 hours.
- Calls to Shopify can be instant but could take a while depending on how many people are calling at the same time.
Whilst on the whole Shopify support enables customers to resolve their problems quickly and easily, you can find some complaints online about late responses and unhelpful staff.
iPages has a very large collection of support pages that cover how to use the platform extensively, if users are having trouble with the platform, the solution is often in the support pages. If the user can’t find the answer they’re looking for, there is also phone and email support that is offered.
The iPages phone and email support are more personal that Shopify as we take the time to learn about your business so that all the support will be tailored to your business, giving you unique support for your business.
Also, training sessions are offered to new users of iPages aimed to teach users to update their website so nobody goes in blind and confused. The iPages support is hands on and personal. We care about smaller businesses and are happy to help you to succeed in selling online.
Can we help?
We hope that the brief comparison above helps give you an understanding of how iPages compares to Shopify. If you have any further questions, we'd love to hear from you and, feel free to leave comments below.