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nopCommerce vs Shopify Comparison 2017 Guide to Picking the Right eCommerce Solution

30 October 2017

Today, it’s easier than ever to set up an online store. Everything is pre-made, from drag and drop interface builders to open source code frameworks that let you fully customize every function you need. As for the nopCommerce vs Shopify – the answer depends. It’s what you really need from the toolbox. Our company has worked with both for a while, and we should say that these products are very different. Furthermore, they keep on updating their features to cover more ground. Here is how they compare in 2017:

Shopify is a template based ecommerce platform to create fully customizable web stores with no coding needed, what so ever. It’s a good solution for a one-man army online shop owner. The kind of person, who may want to run things right from their apartment. Shopify even makes its own hardware for such cases. For example, the Shopify POS. A Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit card reader compatible with Apple iPad that works in USA and Canada.

Shopify comprises a huge collection of themes and prefabs that takes on any need you might have with its drag and drop features. The payment plans are flexible, and there is an entire Shopify app market running with community made extensions for your store’s design. Shopify charges you on a monthly basis as per your chosen payment plan, plus any additional functionality and apps you’ve bought. Basically, you shop for whatever you need for your online shop. For a startup with a simple but unique project, this will work great. For developers who are used to code everything on their own, Shopify would actually feel constrained.

nopCommerce is an open-source ecommerce framework. It’s free, and the tools are powerful enough to let you create any workflow that you require. However, nopCommerce cost is what you’ll pay to your developers to make it happen. Recently, the platform has migrated to Core, and it keeps improving the structure with new custom solutions.

The architecture allows dynamically adding new functional elements to your websites on the go. It’s more of a “do everything yourself” kind of baseline. However, nopCommerce makes effort to compensate what it’s lacking in simplicity by featuring pre-made extensions from its own marketplace. In general, the pros and cons of nopCommerce are the pros and cons of most CRM online shopping carts that let you define your code. It should be said that each site comes with “Powered by nopCommerce” tag at the bottom of the site. In case you’d want to take it down, the nopCommerce pricing to remove the copyright tag is $150.

Here are a couple of demo stores of nopCommerce and Shopify.

Aside from taking a completely opposite approach to creation of ecommerce experiences, here are the most important functional differences that are quintessential to Shopify vs nopCommerce debate.

Key features unique to nopCommerce

Multiple stores with a single root – one of the main aspects that make nopCommerce so powerful, is that you may deploy and manage multiple frontend shops from one place. This opens up an array of opportunities to create mini-stores separately for B2B and B2C. You may also set up shops that are “specialized” in narrow assortments of goods or doing promotional activities.

  • The stores can be connected to a single catalog database so that your customers may use the same login data for each shop within the network;
  • On the other hand, you may specify each shop you wish to single out from the common base and make separate regulations, be it tax rules, products, manufacturers, reports, order filtering, etc.

Multi-currency checkout – customers may choose the currency to pay for your goods. Noteworthy, as this feature is N/A for Shopify. You can only customize the product price displayed to the user. But they will be limited to actually using a single one when making the final purchase.

Languages – nopCommerce lets you work in languages beyond Roman alphabet. Not supported by Shopify in case that’s what you need.

Key features unique to Shopify

Shopify Payments – doing business in certain countries, you can have direct debit card transactions. Shopify overrides all banking fees and only charges you according to its own payment plan. This feature is currently available for United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.

Notable Common features

Here are the specific structural elements that Shopify and nopCommerce both kinda have. Some are closer to identical, while others differ to a certain extent in their execution:

Product variations – You can customize your products as much as you want. Create multiple-color, weight, size and other attributes for your stock. There are also features for on-website product comparison both with nopCommerce and Shopify via the Product Compare App.

Price adjustment – you may create advanced pricing decisions for your items. These can be “call for price” for extra valuable stock items, as well as “donate any amount you like” UI components.

Stock regulation – both frameworks have native means to verify stock counts of different product variations as well as to document and organize all items. You get a clear image of your warehousing by having the status of each order displayed.

Marketing tools – you’ll be able to present your clients with discounts, gift cards, coupons and other special offers. All the relevant functionality is there. Both nopCommerce and Shopify give you an option to run your blog and forum. With Shopify you’ll find non-native apps for this, however content heavy directories aren’t really suited for it. You will have to run the blog externally. Otherwise, it will undermine the overall site performance. To be fair, the most common complaint in the average nopCommerce review also happens to be performance due to scaling and site pre-load.

Multiple-Vendors and Drop Shipping – in nopCommerce you can host all the vendors you want under the hood of your website network and make all the sales on your own behalf. When the sold item is ordered, the purchase request is automatically emailed to the vendor. Each vendor can be granted a separate administration profile to help review their reports and shipment details.

Shopify itself features an app that turns your online shop into a multi-vendor marketplace. This model is a bit different in its approach to the above. Multi Vendor Marketplace is inviting all vendors to enter your online store as sellers and trade on your platform for a commission.

SEO – fully covered in nopCommerce and Shopify. All directories are optimized with general search engine terms. Complete access to keyword tags and URLs. Both have XML sitemaps. As for the HTML sitemap, in Shopify it’s available via Sitemapper.

Payment methods – both solutions pack an extensive array of options. Please refer to the official documentation to see the full supported lists of payment modules for Shopify and nopCommerce.

Shipping prices – there are standard options available, however with Shopify, you have to get an app to further diversify the functions. For instance, there is no per item rates option, and you can only set up general shipping rates.

Taxes – fully customizable options for different store items. You have everything you need to deal with legal aspects of your business. You get to set up the rules and exemptions as per your needs. With Shopify you will need additional scripting to set up VAT-included prices.

Shopify Architecture Concerns

As for the pros and cons of Shopify – you need “easy to use” and Shopify delivers. However, the more pre-made scenarios the solution can cover for you, the harder it gets to nail every outcome you might want and then fully optimize it. For instance, you can’t set up subcategories in your dropdown menus on the main page, and you need a workaround to make it happen. Some essential Shopify features are built into specific templates, and so you have to choose the one you need carefully.

Additionally, with App Store software star ratings and user reviews comes the issue of publisher’s detachment from the primary product. There are good apps, there are bad ones and some middle ground. All available to you. The whole idea puts the reliability of such model under question. First of all, mixing a huge amount of Shopify apps can mess with your store theme. This is due to adding HTML and JavaScript that may fight your native site code. Some apps also make additions in the Liquid code that Shopify is made with, and then don’t properly remove them. Think about this when running short test launches of different apps and then taking them down. Look for modifications in directories the app has been using in order to properly remove the traces. You may also download the backup of your theme before trying anything new.

Secondly, a big patchwork of apps can take down performance. Big loading times will frustrate your users, causing them to leave. Screen how well the creator’s customer support is working before getting a new app in case you need their help.

While you should be aware of these downsides to Shopify, it remains one of the best “average user-friendly” products out there. In context of this review, it’s not really “nopCommerce does all this better”, it’s “build your online shop from scratch and manage things on your own.”

Our verdict

With all the above, the answer to what’s better and what’s worse lies in what’s the best fit. Shopify vs nopCommerce compare poorly as they fulfill very different kind of goals.

If you need to create a single limited-niche web store with no coding expertise, then you should choose Shopify and skip to working with your strong suits such as marketing/sales. You will build the layout of your website with your bare cursor.

If you plan on building a huge business with multiple stores and intricate customized logics that you can scale when expanding your enterprise, then you’ll definitely want to stick with nopCommerce features. For this solution, you will need to hire a team of tech specialists. Plus, it will cost you more time and money in the beginning, but further allow to seamlessly grow.

Pricing, on its own, is a matter of perspective. On one hand, accumulating Shopify apps can gradually blow up your expenses. On the other, getting professionals isn’t exactly free either but can be cheaper and more efficient down the road.

Transaction fees for Shopify also add scaling considerations as they can take a big toll on huge revenues. This aspect can be taken to the minimum with varied options in different payment plans.

Taking your business online means learning from scratch which is not very easy. Here, we’ve tried to compare the key aspects of each platform. If you’re new to ecommerce, we hope that this guide will help you choose the right foundation for your future sprawling online store.

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