For many young entrepreneurs, setting up a new business can be a daunting task. However, these days with the advent of technology most businesses have moved online, be it shopping, real estate or even buying chai. Online retail and e-commerce are now proven and viable options for businesses. So how does one go about setting up a business online, and what are the factors to keep in mind while doing so?
One of the simpler ways of putting together an online retail store is by using online store creators such as Shopify.in and Zepo.in. Both these sites have a variety of features and packages that are vibrant, interesting and user friendly. This means, that anyone with a relatively decent knowledge of computers and the internet can avail of these facilities. Nonetheless, deciding which site is better for your purpose is important and in this post we shall examine the features of each site and help you come to your decision.
Ease of use
In terms of ease, both Shopify and Zepo have a step by step guide to help you start. Each site has features which help you understand every aspect of the process, from how to run your store to customer payments and so on. However, whilst each feature is described in detail with examples on both sites, it has to be said that in terms of presentation Shopify has a simple visual elegance to it which makes it much easier to navigate. This point is exemplified by the fact that one of the first things that Shopify talks about is having a beautiful storefront. They do understand the importance of presentation in this day and age of modern shopping, even if it is on a digital medium.
Both sites boast of a wide range of services ranging from how to run your store in terms of payments, apps, to make running the store easier and on so on. Both Zepo and Shopify offer a wide range of inbuilt services such as email notifications, integrated social media marketing and SEO friendly CMS and 24×7 support. Both offer facebook stores and support external apps. When it comes to features, they are pretty much at par with each other
Shopify and Zepo understand that their users might need some help setting up and running the stores. Both sites have extensive help resources. Zepo lists down a long set of questions and FAQs under various topics to guide the seller. However, there are too many documents to go through and this makes it a bit confusing. On the other hand Shopify simplifies everything with videos, and step by step manuals, in a fun way.
Payment & Shipping
Two extremely important details in running a business are managing the financial side in terms of handling payments, and keeping your customers happy in terms of ensuring that your delivery reaches on time. Both Zepo and Shopify offer payment options with a host of credit cards. Shopify also offers services such as multiple languages, taxes and currencies. However unlike Zepo, they do not offer cash on delivery as an option which might be a bit problematic in the domestic market.
For shipping operations, both websites have tie ups with courier giants such as FedEx. Zepo also has the ZePost logistics solution which enables you to simplify your delivery schedule by giving you the ideal rates for shipping, and making sure that this process simply happens with a click of a button. On the other hand, Shopify offers fixed-prices or weight based rates and automatic carrier shipping rates.
Both companies seem to be quite in control of payment options and shipping and eventually it comes down to what you as a consumer need on a priority.
Shopify and Zepo offer a host of pricing options. Shopify offers monthly payment options starting from a basic package at Rs.818/month to Rs.9939/month for unlimited access. Within these pricing options they offer a variety of features such as file storage, products, gift cards, customer support and more, depending on the package you choose.
Zepo also has a variety of payment options starting from a basic package of Rs.949/month to an unlimited package of Rs.4749/month. Once again, the features available vary according to the package although the number of combinations they offer can get a bit confusing.
Both Shopify and Zepo also offer a 14 day free trial, which gives the user a chance to judge whether the product works for them or not.
The most dynamic part of the online world of shopping is the interaction with customers. These days, having a brand also means talking to customers and providing them with an overall holistic experience rather than just selling them products. For this purpose, social media, blogs, feedback from customers, all become essentials for the seller
Shopify seems to have a lot of clarity on this front. The features they offer range from detailed customer profiles, customer accounts, customer groups, blogs and much more. Zepo on the other hand offers a social media front in terms of FB, Pinterest, etcbut does not go much deeper than that.
Samir Kazi, who runs GadgetBucket, and is one of India’s most promising homegrown e-commerce merchants, has a store on Zepo which he says he is extremely satisfied with. He had switched to zepo from Buildabazaar, a similar service. He finds Zepo to be cheaper and with many more features. He has not yet tried Shopify because he has not been approached by a representative of the company. This makes us wonder if Shopify is losing out on potential customers by not being aggressive enough with their sales approach?
On the other hand Nate Shivar writes that whilst Shopify might have some niggling areas of complications such as their customization setup, blogging software being not up to speed, and so on, it still has some great features such as built in speed and security for hosting and all the necessary tools and features you need to run a good business.
It is a bit of a difficult choice between Zepo and Shopify. Both sites encompass an all in one e-commerce solution. While Shopify does seem to have a much more clear perspective, it falls short in a few areas such as pricing. It is a lot more expensive than Zepo. Zepo provides a great service but there is so much information on the site that it could get very confusing for a first time user.
But when you actually get to the bottom of things, Zepo is the better solution if you are looking to showcase a local brand and need a service provider with a better understanding of the local feel and Indian market. For a more International market however, Shopify might fit the bill better.
That being said, being an entrepreneur is an exciting and challenging experience and having tools such as these sites can give you a good head start. However, one must take into consideration all factors, and feel comfortable with the tools they use. So do make an informed choice.