Shopify or WooCommerce? A dilemma for most of the E-commerce entrepreneur

Last updated on April 21st, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Suppose you have an idea to start an e-commerce business, and you have already planned every little thing that you require for the same.

But then the essential part comes is the decision of choosing ‘Which hosting provider to choose?’, ‘What domain to purchase?’ , ‘Which platform is more secure?’ , ’Which is Cheaper?’ and even more.

In this post we are going discuss about Shopify and Woo-Commerce, and which e-commerce platform to choose based on your individual needs.

Basically, these two Shopify and Woo-Commerce are most popular and easy to use e-commerce platform available in the market.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform which makes it easy for you to create an online store and sell your product, customize your storefront, accept payment, organize your products and manage inventory, all from a single platform without worrying about the technical aspects such as web-hosting, caching, security etc.

What is Woo-Commerce?

Woo-Commerce is an open source e-commerce plugin built for WordPress. Because of the open-source nature, you can customize every aspect of your store. It also allows you to leverage the most powerful content management system (CMS) and use it to run an online store.

So let’s compare Shopify vs Woo-Commerce to see which one is appropriate as individual’s need.

 

  • DESIGN

Online customers generally don’t trust a site that doesn’t  have the right visual appearance or doesn’t function well as it should. As for our house architecture and design plays a crucial role, same as in websites look and design is everything.

Shopify Designing:

Shopify has an impressive range of themes and comes with more than 54 different store template, of which 10 are free of cost. And all these themes have their own unique variations, which means technically you’re getting more than 100 separate design.

The good thing is that they are all mobile responsive themes, fashionably sleek and clean aesthetic, which make it perfect for the modern era digital world.

All the Shopify themes (even free themes) are designed by professional web-designer, so if you’re looking for some quality themes for your online store then Shopify is best for you.

Shopify themes can be customized easily, you can quickly adjust colors and styles. You can also take help of a developer to use the platform’s specialized ‘Liquid’ language to make substantial changes and make your brand stand out.

You need to pay as high as $180 for the premium ones, but what you get in exchange is a great design.

Ratings: 4.7/5

 

Woo-Commerce Designing:

When it comes to designing in Woo Commerce, the world is your oyster, you just need to have designing knowledge. As it is built for WordPress, in most cases you are able to select any WordPress theme of your choice and make it work in your WooCommerce.

As Woo-Commerce is open-source many third-party also share their themes, which sometimes may not look that good when compared with Shopify’s theme.

To start with WooCommerce its own default theme called Storefront (free) is a really efficient creation that has a focus on all the important elements of an e-commerce store.

As WooCommerce is open source developers from all over the world sell(or give away) some wonderful themes for all sorts of industries and purpose. It is just like shaping up your pot with your own hand, completely flexible and customizable.

Most of the child theme for Storefront are available at $39/theme, there are also themes with a price tag as high as $119.

Ratings: 4.1/5

 

  • Ease of use

No one would opt for the platform that has complex setups and manages things. Ease of use is a straightforward concept means how easy the final product (website) is to use by the intended users.

How easy to use is Shopify?

As Shopify is a subscription-based online tool, you just need to visit ‘Shopify.com’, click the signup button, go through a basic setup, and you’re done.

Even though along the way through the initial setup wizard, Shopify will ask about the nature/purpose of your store (what you’re planning to sell ), and giving you some overall tips to which design/structure to choose and how to set up everything.

Overall, the whole process is very easy and open, and most importantly, you don’t need any design or site-building skills in order to get through it, with no unexpected interruptions.

Ratings: 4.6/5

How easy to use is Woo-Commerce ?

Since Woo-Commerce is not a subscription-based solution like Shopify, therefore you need to handle a couple of things before you ever get to work with it.

Although working with Woo Commerce on daily basis is just simple as with Shopify, but setting up the store isn’t.

Mainly you need to complete the following :

  • Sign up for a hosting account
  • Get a domain name
  • Install WordPress
  • Install WooCommmerce
  • Find and install a WordPress theme

So if you have good technical skills then WooCommerce is the option you can choose for your e-commerce business.

Ratings: 4.0/5

 

  • Customer Support?

You may never know when suddenly an issue takes a birth. So everyone prefers the platform which gives 24/7 customer support.

Shopify’s Support

Shopify is famous for its high-quality customer care. Their every client gets the benefit of 24/7 access to customer service. In case if any queries or issue arrives then they are solved immediately via (email, open chat).

Besides that, you can also get access to an extensive knowledge base that covers some of the common user questions and problem solutions.

Ratings: 4.6/5

WooCommerce’s Support

On the other hand, WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin. It relies on its large community of benevolent geeks because it doesn’t have any official support unless you purchase a WooTheme. But there are plenty of forums with guides and technical step-by-steps documentations out there.

Ratings: 3.8/5

 

  • Pricing?

The question everyone’s been curious about; How much does it cost?

Honestly, Shopify’s pricing is very simple and direct. While WooCommerce’s isn’t. On the one hand, WooCommerce is a free open source software plugin, but at the same time, you have to consider the additional costs that go along with making an online store (like hosting, the cost of a theme, a domain name, any additional extensions, and an SSL certificate). Which also include the hours of time you spend to create a store on WooCommerce.

Shopify delivers you a single, out-of-the-box solution with just a few pricing correspondences. You sign up, then you get to use your shiny new e-commerce store right away since everything you need is included from the get-go (hours of time is saved).

 

  Software Hosting Subdomain SSL Certificate Top-level Domain
Shopify                                      $29/ month Included free $9/ year
Woo-Commerce $0 $5-$100 / month (via 3rd party) n/a $100+ / year (via 3rd party) $9+ / year (via 3rd party)

 

As you can see from the above table that the WooCommerce software is free, but running an e-commerce store costs basically the same as Shopify, if not more.

Last but not the least, every e-commerce platform charge you transaction fees. They will always charge you a small fee (for processing the payment, delivering the money to your account, etc.). Usually, the fee sits around 2%-3% per transaction.

Ratings Shopify & WooCommerce:   4.3/5

 

  • SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.

It is a discipline of making the content user-friendly and easily understandable by search engines. Any website requires a strong SEO to become popular in the market.

Shopify’s SEO

As Shopify is hosted platform, it offers each of its merchant rapid loading web pages. As a result, online stores stands a better chance of ranking well and leading customers to conversions.

Ratings: 4.0/5

WOO’s SEO

Woo Commerce gives you more SEO-specific option overall, because of the fact that it is built on top of WordPress. But the only problem is that your website’s speed mostly depends on the hosting you go with.

Ratings: 4.0/5

 

  • Payment Gateways

It is a merchant service provided by an e-commerce platform that authorizes credit- card or direct payments.

Shopify Payment

Shopify offers 100+ payment gateways to accept payment from all over the world. It also has its own payment method knows as Shopify Payment, which is powered by Stripe.

Shopify also allows you to get involved with third-party payment gateways, but it will charge an extra 2% fees on each transaction. This extra charge can be reduced to 0.5% by choosing Advanced Shopify plan.

Ratings: 4.1/5

WOO’s Payment

WooCommerce also offers many payment gateways all popular and even has support for many regional and less popular payment service. As there is no restriction on entry, any payment company can create add-ons for WooCommerce and provide support for it. WooCommerce never charges you a transaction fee on your store.

Ratings: 4.0/5

 

  • Uptime & PageSpeed

If your website’s server is down or your website’s page loading speed is not that good enough, then you might face many difficulties like (low search ranking, less traffic).

Shopify

As it is a hosted solution, you don’t need to worry about the uptime of the website. Shopify takes all the responsibility to make sure that your online store is always available. 99.98% guaranteed uptime is delivered by Shopify, and pages-speed of your website depends on the type of theme you choose for your store.

Ratings: 4.4/5

WooCommerce

As WooCommerce is a self-hosted solution its uptime depends entirely on your web hosting service. For maximum uptime, WooCommerce provides a free WordPress theme “Storefront” that offers deep integration.

Page speed of your website varies from the type of theme or template you choose for your online store. Even though there are plugins available in the market to speed up your WooCommerce store.

Ratings: 3.9/5

 

  • Integrations and Add-ons

Whichever platform you use, to grow your e-commerce business you’ll always need third-party tools or services. For example, an accounting software, email marketing tool, analytics tools, currency switcher, etc.

Shopify

Shopify has a collection of many free and premium plugins that extend the functionality of your online store. Shopify’s app store contains both free and paid app.

They have apps for product reviews, discounts, SEO, Multi-country-pricing, edit orders, and more. Pricing for paid add-ons varies and mostly they offer monthly subscriptions.

Ratings: 4.1/5

WooCommerce

As WooCommerce is open source they give you access to more than 50,000 free WordPress plugin. Due to no restriction on entry, there are a lot more integrations and add-ons available for WooCommerce.

They also have paid plugins of the third party to seamlessly integrate with your online store. They have add-ons for performance optimization, payment gateways, lead generation, and many more.

Ratings: 4.5/5

 

  • Scalability

Scalability can make a huge difference for your online store’s profit and growth potential. As your business grows, you may need more resources to handle new challenges and target.

Without scaling, a business can slowly plateau or become outdated — especially in the competitive world of eCommerce.

Shopify

Infrastructure of Shopify can handle your growing business without you having to worry about technical parts, downtimes, backups, updates or security.

Once your business starts growing, you can simply upgrade your Shopify plans. They also offer enterprise services as part of the Shopify Plus plan.

Ratings: 4.3/5

WooCommerce

As WooCommerce is self-hosted platform it makes you responsible for managing and maintaining backups, updates, security of your website. You may run out of resources as your online stores start getting more traffic.

Your WooCommerce hosting costs will increase, but you will have better control of resources, so you can make sure that you’re not paying for resources that you don’t require.

Ratings: 3.9/5

 

  • Security

Security is a major consideration when it comes to running an online store. How secured my data is? Can I securely process credit and debit cards? Can it be hacked easily? Is the platform PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) complaint? These are some question you must be asking yourself as an online store owner.

Shopify

Shopify provides a level 1 PCI DSS compliant. They are responsible for maintaining the security of payments on the checkouts, which means if something goes wrong then you are not at all blamed for the same. With Shopify, you also get free SSL certificate with all their plans.

Ratings: 4.7/5

WooCommerce

With WooCommerce you’re responsible for hosting the website, and if you get hacked nobody’s there you can blame. As its open source, it doesn’t provide PCI compliant. If you want your online store to be secured, you’ll need to pay for the same.

Ratings: 4.0/5

 

Conclusion

POINTS SHOPIFY WOO-COMMERCE
Design 4.7/5 4.1/5
Ease of use 4.6/5 4.0/5
Support 4.6/5 3.8/5
Pricing 4.3/5 4.3/5
SEO 4.0/5 4.0/5
Payment Gateways 4.1/5 4.0/5
Uptime & Page speed 4.4/5 3.9/5
Integration & Add-ons 4.1/5 4.5/5
Scalability 4.3/5 3.9/5
Security 4.7/5 4.0/5
   
AVERAGE 4.38 4.05

Both Shopify and WooCommerce are great e-commerce platforms – although each of them has their own set of pros and cons.

If you are looking for an economical solution, and you want to have full control of your online store, then WooCommerce is the best platform for you.

If you want something that’s completely easy, that has infinite scalability, which doesn’t require any technical knowledge, then Shopify is the better platform for you.

 

10 Reasons Why Shopify is the best option !!

Last updated on May 16th, 2018 at 05:08 am

In our 21st century, no one has time to physically go shopping, instead of that people are getting more and more attracted towards online shopping or E-commerce(in technical term).

And it’s not at all a bad idea if you are thinking of a startup or small business for selling your product online. All you need is a platform, which help’s you to establish your own brand. Shopify is one of that platform that you must have a look.

 

WHAT IS SHOPIFY??

Shopify is a cool E-commerce platform that allows you to set up an online store to sell your products. It is all-in-one web-based platform that let the entrepreneur run their own online store.

Those days are left far behind when people had to worry about setting up a website from a scratch, just to start an e-commerce business. Because Shopify had made that difficult task a cakewalk for us.

HTML, CSS, JS, etc are the programming languages which are used for appearance and designing your website. Don’t worry if you haven’t yet heard about these names, Shopify still allows you to have full control over the appearance and setup of your store(without having knowledge of those programming languages).

Now let’s know the features that Shopify provides and why anyone should opt for Shopify rather than any other platform.

 

10 Reasons Why Shopify is a better option!!

1)  Hosted Solution

Shopify is completely reliable as it hosts over 500,000 stores. Shopify was the first hosted e-commerce website solution to use a content delivery network.

A CDN is a large network of servers placed across the world to ensure your customers can load your website store quickly, no matter where they are. While choosing an E-commerce platform one of the aspects you must know is the difference between ‘Self Hosted’ and ‘Hosted’.

 

-Self-Hosted

In ‘Self-Hosted’ e-commerce solution you download and run the software yourself. In that you need to set up everything from scratch, also managing the hardware infrastructure and operating system on which your e-commerce website is going to work on.

In case if you need help when your website run into an error, there is no centralized support system you can contact. In terms of security, uptime and managing traffic self-hosted is usually less preferred.

-Hosted

In ‘Hosted’ you don’t have to worry about managing the server, security, uptime, traffics, etc. Every technical aspect is managed by the platform provider. The hosted application can be deployed easily as compared to the conventional software.

These type of applications are managed by the service provider so, they are updated and patched with the most stable version and is backed by continual technical and customer support.

 

2) Supports Multiple Languages

Suppose you have an online store which is selling its product in Canada whose native language is English or French and you are planning to expand your business in Germany, then it would be preferable if your website appears to Germany folks in their native language (German).

Based on the data of Gallup survey of language preferences[PDF] and  Common Sense Advisory surveyed  2,430 web consumers in eight countries :

  • 9/10 Internet users said that, when given a choice of languages, they always visited a website in their own language.
  • 42% said they never purchase products and services in other languages.
  • 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language.
  • 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.
  • 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

Reference

In Shopify, there are many plugins available like ‘Langify’ (manual translate), ‘Panda Language Translate’, ‘Multi Lingo’ it allows the merchant to translate their storefront into multiple languages. Although it is preferred to use the manually translated app rather than the auto-translation app to translate your store.

Having the storefront in customers own native language creates a friendly impression, which in future can increase your business rate.

3)  100+ Professional Themes

“First impression is the last impression”

When any user visits your website the first thing that comes up is the design or look and feel of the store. So it would create favorable influence on the user if your store has a nice quality design and a good theme.

Shopify has a number of feature-rich, beautiful themes which are developed by professional web-designers. The design of your website always plays an essential role when it comes to e-commerce.

Thousands of dollars are being spent by the store owner to get their store designed by professionals. But if you are a Shopify user you get all the themes designed by the professionals for free.

There is a range of free and paid theme in Shopify to find the right look and feel for your online store. Here are some of the examples of Shopify’s themes

  • Narrative (free)
  • Debut (free)
  • Jumpstart (free)
  • Brooklyn (free)
  • Boundless (free)
  • Parallax
  • Empire
  • Canopy
  • Retina

These themes are even categorized according to design or product your store is selling. Shopify makes sure that themes are modern, clean (no bug), easily customizable, responsive design, cross-border compatibility and many more.

 

4)  100+ Payment Gateways

A payment gateway is simply a software application, which conduit between your e-commerce website and the bank that authorizes(or declines) your customer’s credit card payment. It is the final step of the sales process, without it you won’t be able to securely charge your customer when they purchase any items from your online store.

Shopify supports all the well-known payment methods such as

-Credit & Debit Cards              – Cash on Delivery (COD)

-Net Banking                              – Wallets

-Bank Transfer                          – UPI

-EMI’s                                          – PayPal

 

Some of the well-known payment gateways supported by Shopify are:

[Link of all the payment] gateways Shopify supports

You get the ultimate freedom for choosing the right payment gateway options for your customer provided by Shopify. Shopify even has its own built-in payment system powered by Stripe.

Here are some of the reasons provided by Shopify for using their own Payment platform :

  • Shopify plan transaction fee is now free.
  • Lower costs with an online credit card rate of 2.4% + 20p (Basic), 2.1% + 20p (Professional), or 1.8% + 20p (Unlimited), and no hidden charges or extra fees
  • Managing of orders, payments and payouts can be done directly through Shopify.

 

5)  Manage store with your Smartphone

Are you worried about your online store while enjoying your holidays or trip with friends or family?

Not to worry anymore now onwards, because the Shopify mobile app lets you manage your orders, product, staffs, and customers from anywhere just with your smartphone.

Manage Products in-app

→  This mobile app will let you upload your products images.

→  Set the features and pricing details of the product.

→  Adding the products to collections.

Process your orders with few taps

→ Completion of order, refund to customers, or archive orders.

→  Manage tags and notes.

→ Conversion details can be viewed.

Respond to real-time information or queries         

→ See the live sales or visitors traffic

→ Get notified instantly when you receive the order.

→ Get in touch with your staff members.

 

6)  Unlimited Products and Bandwidth

→ There are no restrictions on the number of products you sell on your Shopify store. Which means if you start your store with just 100 products and if you want to add some more 200-300 product items in your store no one will stop you doing that.

→ No one will charge you if your online store is visited by hundreds, thousands or crores of visitors. There is no limitation on the how many online visitors go through your store, and also how many files or photos you upload to the store.

 

7)  Integrate with Dropshippers

Drop shipping is a method in which you don’t have to keep the products in stock. Instead, you directly get in touch with the wholesale supplier that stocks its own inventory.

So whenever you receive an order from the online store, you forward that particular order and shipment details to the supplier and they ship the goods or product directly to the customer.

Oberlo is the app for Shopify users, to easily import and dropship the product.

There are very few platforms like Shopify that provide drop shipping integration. Here are some benefits of drop shipping.

→ Investment is very less as you don’t have to set up an inventory.

→ There is no limitation on items you want to sell, you can offer thousands of items to your customer.

→ Nothing to worry about manpower, as it is all handled by the supplier’s side, which eventually frees up your time to concentrate on your marketing strategy, operations, and customer service.

To know more about drop shipping you can read the blog  “A brief Idea About Drop Shipping”

 

8)  24/7 Support

Shopify will always be there to help you and your customer whenever needed. Here’s how

Open Chat

Team Shopify is available 24/7 on live chat. Isn’t that convincing, if you or your customer get immediate answers to your questions and queries.

E-mail

Suppose you have some questions, but there is no requirement of getting that answer immediately. In that case, you can opt for their e-mail support option, just mention whatever inquiries or issues you have in an e-mail and Shopify will be at your service with all relevant information within 24 hours.

Phone Call

Don’t feel like typing up entire queries or problems?? Not an issue!! The “anytime” helping guys are always there, you can call them whenever you are facing a trouble, even if it’s 3 AM!

 

9)  Gift cards

It is a special type of product, whose value (amount) can be used as payment. You can also issue a gift-card to customers for free as a reward for using your store. Your customer can use the gift card to make a purchase from your store both online and in person.

Your customers can even send the gift-card to other users so that they could attract more users to their store. A gift card holds a balance (paid by the owner of gift-card), which could be spent over more than one order.

When making a purchase in your store, a customer can redeem the value of a gift card by entering its unique code at checkout, and if the payment amount exceeds from the amount in a gift card, then the customer will be prompted to choose a second payment method.

Click the link to learn more about Shopify Gift-Cards and how it can boost up your E-commerce business.

 

10)  14-Days Free Trial

You cannot learn swimming unless you jump into the water and try once yourself. That’s why Shopify gives you 14 days free trial to have a personal experience with them. So one should try Shopify platform at least once if they are planning to start an e-commerce business.

Click this image to get started.

It hardly takes a couple of days to start and set up an online store with Shopify.

So why wait and watch other reaching and achieving heights of success from e-commerce business, get a start now by registering yourself in Shopify.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Considerations While Accessing New Global Markets

It is easier than before to leverage global markets today. Social media scales geographic borders, highlighting brands in international markets more easily than ever. Although gaining visibility is comparatively easy, SMBs need to establish a strong foundation in place for long-term scalability in global ventures.

 Merchandise Products for New Markets

Neglecting merchandising process is a huge mistake for those entering new markets. With local elements in creative visualization, customer service and order processing, merchandising needs to be accorded huge importance too. Investing in people and collaboration tools can help entrepreneurs strike good relationships with the new markets.

When merchandising, the top considerations should be:

  • Climate – Be sure to account for the climate of the target market
  • Competition – Look at how the competition has positioned itself with the products they are selling through different channels
  • Consumer Trends – A product that is popular domestically doesn’t always succeed internationally. Do thorough consumer testing and surveys in the region before launching the product there. Most businesses target regions where they have witnessed sales before they launch the product, specifically in that region.
  • Religious Affiliations– Religion in some markets play a huge role in using some products. The products should not be in way marketed to offend religious sentiments

A Sound Cross-Border Commerce Strategy for Success

Some factors need to be respected and aligned with, for consistent success in cross-border commerce for accessing certain geographies for business. Some of those factors include:

  • Hire International Support

Hire high-value team members, in-house or freelance. Outsource the support work to them for competent international support services. Likewise you might need language support in some countries, especially if the local language is something else than English.

Support your lean business when it goes global, maintaining brand standards elsewhere too. Hire competent freelancers only for your business tasks.

  • Double Check Product Restrictions in each Country

While most products are inherently safe to sell across borders, double-check to see if there are any product restrictions in any country.

Some verticals like apparel, beauty and cosmetics, consumer electronics and health goods have particular restrictions by country.

  • Ensure the Technology is Scalable

Make sure that you have an e-store powered by technology that is scalable and not at all cost-prohibitive. One should select a platform that features out-of-the-box attributes required for standard processes in cross-border commerce without having to incur additional monthly costs.

The technology should be able to incorporate basic functionalities that can process discounts, coupons, emails for abandoned carts, analytics, customer groups, shipping, and payment etc. Going global without having the support of a strong technology platform is the onset of a huge disaster. You may be able to sell products, but rising costs, inefficiency in efforts and even result in lower margins would hinder you consistently.

  • Divide Processes and Hire Resources

For SMBs, going global is a big step and as they grow, the workload grows too. SMBs are usually lean and managed by a handful of stakeholders.

One needs to take ownership of the business but one should also understand it is not a one-person job. Do not restrict bringing on help for scaling processes and one can use assistance where the internal team lacks in terms of skills and resources.

While exploring cross-border opportunities, the right manpower and resources in the local areas are extremely important in getting the business major visibility

 

Cross Border Commerce Taxes when selling to the US and China

Most countries embrace a VAT or GST tax system that defines how cross-border commerce works there. It is essential for entrepreneurs to get the tax rules and regulations sorted before doing business in a particular country.

Taxation for cross-border commerce in the US

United States is an OECD country that embraces a final sales tax system wherein sales tax is consumption tax based on the final transaction of the offerings – product or service.

More than 12,000 taxing jurisdictions apply sets of rules for specific products and buyer location. This makes it difficult for enterprises elsewhere to promote trade of their offerings in particular locations.

  • In US tax laws, ‘NEXUS’ describes a situation that showcases an out-of-state business with a physical presence in a US state and is required to pay income taxes and collect sales taxes within a particular state.
  • The Nexus determines the actions that a company needs to pursue in a state before it is supposed to pay taxes. As a foreign seller, exceeding $20,000 turnover or more than 200 orders is a requirement.

For example, if a particular buyer and seller are located in a US state, the seller can collect taxes for the buyer and remit them to the state. This applies even if both parties are in different US states, and the seller has some presence in the form of a warehouse or office in the buyer’s state. If buyer and seller are in different states, the buyer is required to pay sales tax to his state only.

Taxation for cross-border commerce in China

The Chinese Enterprise Income Tax (EIT) is levied on income gained by any Chinese enterprise that has been initiated and managed in China. This fact includes physical presence and even websites of foreign enterprises and any income sourced in the country.

China has invested in different rules related to new business dynamics so that it does not lose tax revenue. Online stores are required to register and disclose identification for taxation of e-commerce by the government.

  • In general, VAT is levied in China at 17%.
  • Other taxes applicable to goods sold in China include consumption tax along with taxes mentioned by PwC. One can look for a breakup of taxes from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China website.
  • The State Administration of Taxation administers VAT, while the customs collect import VAT on their behalf.

While importing goods, the taxes applicable as mentioned by Dutycalculator.com include:

  • Duty Rates – Duty rates range from 0% to 100%, with average duty rate levied at 12.47%. Laptops and some electronic products are free of duty.
  • Sales Tax – Imported goods are subject to VAT at 17% or reduced rate of 13% for specific products
  • Minimum thresholds – Duty and VAT are charged when together they take up RMB 50 or the import is exempted from both taxes.
  • Other taxes and customs fees – Consumption tax is imposed on alcohol, petrol, jewelry etc. The rates vary from 1% to 45%. The taxes are calculated based on CIF value and its duty.

In recent years, the importance of cross-border commerce in China has grown drastically thus boosting online trading in logistics, customs, and shop registration. Several barriers have been significantly eased in many respects.

  • The government has launched pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce, in Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Chongqing. The Pilot Zone in Hangzhou tries to reduce online transaction costs by making use of VAT, postal tax and even export tax refund in some respects.
  • The country’s regulations for foreign investment in e-commerce have been liberalized off late. The regulations council has set a deadline in 2020 for China to achieve unified, competitive, and reliable e-commerce market. The government strives to lower the barriers to market accessibility, reduced tax burdens and proper streamlining of registration processes.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has eased foreign ownership restrictions in cross-border commerce according to a note in 2015. To view a detailed report and rules and regulations of promoting cross-border commerce in China, check out the PWC China website.

The Cross-Border Commerce Boom – What will Matter in 2018!

Now we can buy anything from nearly anywhere in the world just by clicking a button on our smartphones. Yes, cross-border commerce is actually booming, and one can expect the juggernaut to continue in 2018 and beyond until the foreseeable future.

Smartphones have made shopping easier. One can expect more shoppers coming out of their self-imposed abstinence from online shopping owing to minimal security concerns nowadays. A Forrester study revealed that cross-border commerce is expected to double by 2021 with staggering revenue of $424 billion expected by that time. Cross-border sales shall include 15% of online purchases too. China’s cross-border market is expected to grow to a whopping 40% in 2021 and the country can easily fuel growth in the domain.

The McKinsey report revealed that most wealthy people in China, buy foreign clothes and gadgets that are mostly not available in China. Baby formula is quite popular here.

Why? Because cross-border shopping helps them in deriving better prices, and good protection from counterfeit goods too. Now that is a major point!

The Leader in Cross-border Commerce and the Future Prospects

The US is touted as the world leader of cross-border commerce trade – including imports and exports. The country has a trusted cross-border market worldwide and known for its product quality too. A DHL survey revealed that 75% of respondents who make foreign purchases selected the US as their ideal destination for online shopping. Now that says a lot about the US as a major cross-border commerce.

How does it augur for other countries though? Pitney Bowes recently disclosed its Global Online Shopping Survey that reported 66% of shoppers who shopped the web locally have made purchases from other countries in their recent past. Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong are top countries with most number of cross-border shoppers. On the other hand, Japan has grown its cross-border confidence tremendously in the recent years.

Smoothening the path of commerce locally!

Although the predictions are fantastic and rightly so, cross-border e-commerce is far from easy, for retailers owing to huge competition and diverse trade laws in every country. A 2016 survey by Paypal revealed 30% of consumers from different countries buying from the US, abandoned their cross-border purchase midway since they were unaware of the taxes or customs fees involved in the purchase. Here is what every cross-border commerce provider should know:

  • The exact kind of taxes and fees incurred through cross-border sales
  • Right communication to local customers in the country about the products.
  • No customers should get lost along the way, so multiple processes should work in harmony – the ordering process on site and payment methods along with calculation of taxes and alignment of government regulations
  • Communication of returns should be in clear words including the fulfillment clauses and delivery mode.
  • The return process should look seamless. For the seller, problems arise from the fact that each of the parties involved has a different level of understanding, motivation, and sense of urgency when it comes to getting the goods from one country to another.

Getting fulfillment right is the key to successful cross-border commerce and retailers know it. According to the Chinese Cross-Border Sellers survey by The Payoneer, 71% said fulfillment is highly important and logistics play a major role in this respect.

If 2018 is the year you plan to initiate cross-border commerce, ensure that the products are available locally with a good distribution in place in an international market. Also, ensure that your logistics partner is clear about the bigger picture. While consumers are driving the demand for cross-border e-commerce, get the right add-ons for your e-stores and the right domain experts to everything runs smoothly at the local level.

What is Page Speed and Why it is important

Last updated on May 16th, 2018 at 05:08 am

People usually get irritated if the website takes too long to respond. No one has got a spare time, especially when it comes to web pages that take much time to get loaded.

When the user gets his/her desired web-page loaded quickly it creates a favorable influence on his/her mind.

Waiting for a website to get loaded be like…

Tech giant Google considers website’s loading speed as a ranking factor and that’s why we should work to reduce our websites loading pace. Slow sites are likely to pay the price in terms of lower search ranking.

Also, nowadays in this competitive environment, page loading speed becomes one of the essential factors for all the websites.

Further discussion is about, why each second is essential for a web-page to get loaded?

 

IMPORTANCE OF EACH SECOND :

Here are some facts and stats from well-known sources :

  • A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
  • A 1 second delay in page load time means 11% loss of page views.
  • 47% of user expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

  • Just guess if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales every year.If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, you could be losing nearly half of your visitors, according to data from Akamai.

It is clear from the above paragraphs that why page-speed is important for a website. Now let’s see what precisely page-speed is and how does it work.

 What is Page Speed?

Let’s suppose you type a URL xyz.com and clicked enter, now the time your web page takes to fully display the content (images, videos, design…) on the requested web browser that is referred as “Page-Speed”.

The basic definition says Page-Speed is a measurement of how fast the content on your web-page loads.

HOW?

How can we measure website’s page-speed?

-Several tools are available on the internet, in that you just need to enter the URL, then the tool will analyze the content of webpage by its own algorithms and will give you results out of 100. Results are based on the how fast is the webpage on the requesting web browser.

Here are some well know web-page speed tools available. Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom, GTmetrix and many more.

Let’s know in short how Google’s analyzing tool works.

Gif of “Google’s” website page-speed score

-First, open the link.

-You will be asked to enter the web-page URL.

-Once it is done, then click the “Analyze” button.

-After analyzing it will provide you the results.

 

Score            Review

80-100           Good

60-80             Needs Work

60>             Poor

The results are calculated for both Mobile and Desktop viewing. This tool will suggest you some possible optimizations, for making it more rapid.

Everyone loves a fast site. Here are some ways to speed up your website:

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  Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

Optimize your code (by removing spaces, shortening up the long variables names into a single variable, and other unnecessary characters), you can effectively increase your page speed. Also remove code comments, formatting, and unused code.

 

CSS(Cascading Style Sheets):- It is a simple design language, which is mostly used to make the web page fit to be seen.

JavaScript:It is a light-weight dynamic programming language, whose implementations allow a client-side script to interact with the user and make dynamic pages.

HTML(Hyper Text Markup Language):- It is used for creating web-page, it also describes the structure of web-page. HTML elements are represented by tags<>.

Google recommends HTMLMinifier to minify HTML, CSSNano and csso to minify CSS, Closure Compiler, UglifyJS to minify JavaScript. Alternatively, the PageSpeed Module integrates with an Apache or Nginx web server to automatically optimize your site, including resource minification.

Improve server response time

The amount of time required to load the HTML document of a website from   a server is known as server response time

First, let’s see few factor that affects the server response time:

Poor web hosting  — One of the aspects of running a website is making sure that the website has a good uptime (availability). Slow Load Times, Low Security are also some of the characteristics of poor web hosting.

 

Increased trafficIf your website gets hits more than the capability of the server, it may be possible that user will experience slower response from the server or even error codes such as bandwidth limit exceeded.

 

 

Bloated webpages — It simply refers to the contents of a webpage which are not optimized properly. For ex: Oversized images, non-responsive images (compatible with both mobile and desktop), non-minified CSS/JS files etc.

 

Lack of caching — Cache memory stores data in volatile memory and delivers the content quickly. So if there is an issue in caching the content it decelerates the server.

 

 Ways to Improve Server response time:

While Apache is well known and attractive option, there are many other better options using something else, such as Nginx or OpenLiteSpeed.

There are pros and cons to each web server although Nginx has been known to offer better performance in many circumstances.

Putting in a bit of time, in the beginning, might seem troublesome task, but it will pay off later as you are better able to handle changes in your server needs.

 

Optimize Your Web Servers

Once you have chosen your web-server successfully, the web-server can be configured to increase performance. There are numerous techniques including web server caching, enabling gzip compression and setting cache headers that help reduce load per visitor.

 

 Improve Database Performance

There are various ways of optimizing database performance and it can potentially turn into a large undertaking depending on the current state of your existing database. In order to increase performance, you will need to monitor your database first. You can trace and then load it in SQL server profiler to find out which are the slowest queries. After that, you can concentrate on them.

 

  • Reduce redirects

What is redirect?

Redirects are instructions or methods that robotically take user of one file, to another file or location. Which means your page-speed would get affected.

How does it affect page speed?

“Have you ever asked someone where a restaurant is and when you reach the location you find that, the mentioned restaurant has been shifted to some other location? ” It is just like that.

Redirects cause your pages to load slower because it is a wasted effort to go to one place just to be redirected to another.

Everything has its own pros and cons. There are many good and legitimate reasons to have redirects but it should be kept in mind that redirects cause substantial performance and speed issues.

 Use a content distribution network

content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver pages and other Web content to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server.

 

CDN improves the performance, security, and reliability of a website. CDN is useful for distributing the static content of your websites like images and videos and put them in a location closer to the people you are serving the content.

Optimize Image

As a general thumb rule, larger file takes a longer time to load than the smaller files. Yes, that’s true high-quality images makes the good visual experience on the website, but at the same time it degrades the page speed and agitating visitors eagerly waiting for the web page to load.

Some of the ways to optimize images are as follows:-

-Choosing Image

-Images that you select for your content must be related to the text of the article.

-Good quality, with correct aspect ratio and size large enough to be visible on all the device’s screen.

     –Decrease the size of the image

There are numerous offline and online tools available for image editing, which decreases the image file size.

Adobe’s online image editing application photoshop.com doesn’t have all the capabilities but it covers all the basic of image editing and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Other impressive online image editing tools are PicMonkey, Pixlr, FotoFlexer.

Use Image sitemap, How to handle your thumbnails, Know Which Image File Type to Use for the Right Situations are some ways to optimize the image.

 

Conclusion:

Now I hope, it would be pretty much clear about, why page load speed is an important criterion for your web page, what happens if your page speed is slow, and how you can improve your page-speed.

If you haven’t optimized your Web page Speed yet, start on it today.

 

Which of these techniques are you going to use, to increase your website’s page loading speed?

 

 

How E-Retailers Manage Inventory and Fulfillment Across All Outlets

 

Few retail brands have managed to build empires by making the most of both local and cross-border commerce deals. Global brands do not dominate by fluke. In fact, they have to weave an intricate web of strategy, manage the system and even bring about perfect execution. They are required to deliver goods to consumers exactly when they need it.

Managing inventory effectively and efficiently is one of the prime concerns of all retailers, regardless of time zones or channels. Even if common challenges like language, currency and geographical distance are put aside, it is important to manage the inventory considering cultural differences and overall brand perceptions, making it a complicated affair.

Retailers who deal with cross-border commerce need to understand the complications and recognize consumer needs holistically and geographically too.

Regional Perceptions

Just because a brand boasts of a strong presence in one part of the world, it does not necessarily translate into quick popularity elsewhere.

For example, a U.S. based retailer might be known to offer quality brand products at low prices. But distribution issues crop up along that forced the retailer to hike prices in another country. The brand promise changes in this regard, and affects the retailer’s identity too.

Successful global brands develop strategies that support their brand promise universally while considering the varied challenges offered by these markets. They may need to chalk out another brand promise or modify its original one based on the new geographical markets.

Real-Time Insights and Transparency

Real-time visibility and insights into the inventory is challenging for most cross-border operations compared to local operations. This is because of wide customer preferences, cultural differences, geographical diversity, and much more. Retail fulfillment does not work in the sense of a one-size-fits-all model, and hence real-time data is pivotal for inventory management. Leveraging Shopify, some ecommerce solution providers have successfully delivered add-ons that aid in ensuring real-time sales insights on more levels than one.

Retailers need to optimize logistics and processes with latest tools and technologies.

  • Lidl, a European retailer consolidated its routine operations across 10000 stores in 26 countries with a robust, centralized IT system to process large data sets in real-time.
  • The synthesis of this data helps the company to fine-tune their supply chain management and also anticipate consumer preferences in any region.
  • Additionally, the central system ensures timely product availability and profitability across borders too. 

Inventory Optimization to Fulfill Demands

Beyond the required visibility into inventory, every cross-border retailer needs to optimize their operations, as one style does not fit all. Brands need to optimize inventory to sell the products effectively across multiple regions at acceptable price points too. How can one manage this?

Size, color, and style pose significant challenges especially when retailers are keen to leverage inventory across multiple geographies.

Brands optimize inventory and refine product assortments based on buying behaviors witnessed in each region. Inventory that does not sell well is promoted elsewhere or to the online channel to prevent extra stocks and price reductions. The sale is likely to happen through, if the inventory is shifted to the region where it sells well. This is tricky in terms of cross-border commerce.

For example,

  • A consumer in Ohio could order a hoodie that is stocked in Vancouver in Canada.
  • The distribution center then ships the product to the customer’s house or a pickup store in the local region.
  • But the shipment is crossing borders and hence as per compliance regulations, the retailer has to include import and export documentation, along with accurate product classification before the sale can be made.

Varied brands now take recourse to automation to expedite the product clearance through customs, and also avoid noncompliance in any measure. This automated implementation reduces costs of cross-border commerce drastically. An automated customs management system enables retailers to classify products and then calculate taxes and duties involved in selling their products beyond borders. The solution could embed import and export documentation aligned with the strict compliant standards.

Streamline your Payment Processes

When setting up cross-border commerce, retailers need to understand transaction taxes for every country with a robust system in place that can ensure that consumers are conveyed about the charges involved transparently including conversion of their local currency, taxes involved and varied cross-border fees.

A brand can meet currency challenges by stating product price in multiple currencies and languages. This is a best practice that can address the labeling problems as well as address some cross-border commerce challenges.

Conclusion

Brands must also evaluate market position when opting for cross-border commerce to any country. Those who are doing well in the U.S. may also face huge challenges when expanding into countries like Australia, India, or even China. Brands need to pay heed to local brand perceptions, implement visibility of inventory, optimize sales processes and also ensure compliance for all sorts of cross-border transactions for maximum success.

Top Five Regulatory Concerns Plaguing Cross Border Commerce in the US

Cross-border commerce in the US is booming steadily with new customers aspiring to jump on the bandwagon to boost sales and orders. With this opportunity, a network of companies and providers have come to ease up the implementation process, in terms of facilitation; logistics, payment processing, fraud identification and much more. Every process for cross-border commerce is daunting enough for retailers especially when they are mostly unaware of regulatory considerations.

Multiple parties have to work in unison to make the process of cross-border ecommerce seamless and streamlined. Every party has different understanding, reasons, motivation, and even priorities before they are completely on board. One of the biggest hurdles of cross border commerce are regulatory issues that crop up owing to the following factors:

  • Inconsistency in regulations:

At the basic level, every online business requires regulation consistency. But the challenges with the growth of ecommerce have continuously baffled regulators causing volatile changes in policies. Even in developed countries like the U.S., it is being debated whether state taxes are applicable on ecommerce transactions. The inconsistency of legal regulations is widespread in its application too.

  • Domestic incorporation:

It is a common tendency in several countries to treat domestic companies differently if they are incorporated abroad. One should incorporate locally if they are keen on selling to customers. Local customers would find such companies reliable too since they are registered locally.

  • Legal limitations to sale:

Every country prescribes the do’s and don’ts of selling and the services to be sold through cross-border commerce. Most countries consider that any transaction with minors cannot be enforceable, and legal adulthood age varies by country too. Product categories have different requirements based on the type of food, alcohol, and antiques. As part of a business, one could be held responsible for not meeting those requirements. If a country enforces a regulation of packaged food to have certain ingredients, date of manufacturing, and expiration date on its label, then it should be made mandatory. If goods are shipped from another country without meeting these regulations, your license of doing business could be suspended in violation of the laws.

  • Clarity of legal frameworks:

One is required to meet local laws but one does find it difficult to find recourse to courts when required. Several countries have a weak legal framework and even if the framework is robust, one can expect endless delays in the overall judicial process. So, even if a company wants to conduct cross-border commerce in a country like the U.S and even fulfill regulations, it might still fail to defend its legal rights succinctly.

  • Compliance Costs:

The compliance costs involved in regulation are borne by businesses for ensuring good practices. There are high costs associated with meeting consumer concerns and privacy risks. Some compliance costs ill-serves responsible businesses, which put in extra efforts and money to address privacy concerns but ultimately get provoked by unwarranted legal requirements.

Conclusion

The above regulatory concerns need to be addressed before implementing full-scale cross-border commerce operations in any country including the US. The regulations, as well as the tax structure, need to be adhered to, for smooth performance of such operations.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Organizing Cross-border Commerce Translations

E-commerce translations are important in the present scenario of cross-border e-commerce since localization is possible only when local languages are considered for product descriptions.

Depending on inventory and its volatility, dealing with translations on your own can be quite a task.

But in reality, one does not really have to go through the hassles today. With automation and translation tools for ecommerce, it is evident that the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has transformed machines to be more human than before.

Cross-border commerce & machine translation

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence indicates the simulation of intelligent behavior in machines for rendering complex tasks, and with reduced human supervision.

Machine learning is an intrinsic part of AI, wherein algorithms break down data, learn from it and then make fact-based predictions. These machines can be trained likewise to perform complex tasks.

Now coming back to international e-commerce, sellers are forced to handle manual work, match product categories, features, sizes, and so forth on a daily basis. But in recent years with big data analysis and AI, product tagging is now handled on a much larger scale owing to raw descriptions that aid AI to localize entire content, map the category, extract features or even transform sizes.

Now some vendors have introduced machine learning and machine translation, as previously humans were prone to make multiple critical errors despite companies hiring professional and trained translators. Now machines are taught to convert sizes based on diverse brands. Size conversion accuracy is now nearly pitch-perfect too. Mixing human expertise with machine learning has helped in accurately localizing product listings and maintaining consistent quality.

Role of AI & automation in international commerce!

Automation has benefitted retailers in a huge way, as many spend less time on managing catalogue and more time on clearing chinks from their business strategy, thus delivering great buyer experience.

  • Reliable automation solutions with rules and exceptions: Automatic solutions may work automatically, but creating a reliable automation-based solution is quite complex. Experts suggest that automation is not a straightforward task since one must make sure the machine understands specific rules and exceptions on a consistent basis. For example, machines shouldn’t avoid translating brand names. Otherwise, one is sure to experience hilarious effects since the brand name will be translated into different languages and named differently in diverse contexts.
  • Recognize exceptions to avoid problems: The role of AI is to teach the specific tool to recognize exceptions and avoid any faulty translation. To account for such scenarios, a human brain can teach the machine to perform the above task efficiently, correctly and precisely. A perfect blend of both machines and humans is necessary for optimal ecommerce translation. Humans carry wide knowledge but machines are fast and consistent. Technology combined with human factor can produce great results for the industry.
  • Identify right words based on SEO: The machine should also identify the right words to deliver ideal listing translations. Simply recognizing words and phrases or combining them will not suffice. The products should also contain keywords that would help in its sales too. Some things are referred to, by different words. The word you decide for use makes a huge difference considering conversion rates. For example, some online buyers might search for ‘trousers’ while some might search the same thing with keyword ‘pants’. Depending on location and language used, one of them might win over the other. Thorough e-commerce data analysis could establish the right keywords that will maximize sales of a given product.
  • Titles are of huge importance: All searchable terms on a platform owe much to the efficient titles. Use of big data techniques to examine the titles would help in correlating words/synonyms with revenue. Selecting the right words can boost transactions in more ways than one.

Using an AI-based e-commerce translation service

An ideal AI-based translation solution will leverage an AI-based, natural language processing solution to deliver affordable and automated translation efficiently. Some plugins connect to the domestic marketplace account, extracting product categories, titles, product descriptions and feature lists.

The process involves analysis of product to be localized, structure assessment, extraction of localizable components, inferences of important attributes etc. The elements of the product are localized according to the marketplace needs, length limitations, category, and sellers’ preferences.

The custom process can be fully automated with translation software tools that are based on adaptive machine translation.

Additionally, the translation systems learn from human feedback in a self-improving loop, and with time will need minimal human intervention.

Automatic translation has its own share of benefits in terms of speed and efficiency. For merchants who thrive on cross-border commerce in international markets and who need to change inventory on a regular basis, slow translation also entails losses in sales potential.

Conclusion

If you think literary descriptions of a product will guarantee successful sales, it is time to reconsider. Lengthy, full-sentence descriptions are useless without product attributes. Buyers are always looking for great product offers. The attributes and keywords form the core of strong and optimal e-commerce translation.

Automatic translation solutions might not be the norm for cross-border commerce in many e-stores, the immense growth in machine translation solutions will help boost revenue for many, who jump the bandwagon soon. A cross-border trade partner can also optimize translation processes and costs with efficient return-on-investment too.

Top mid-market considerations for cross-border commerce

Last updated on December 6th, 2017 at 02:26 pm

For mid-market brands, it is tough to prevail in many global markets since they are saturated with similar products. In this case, a full market evaluation before launch of cross-border is required, to identify competitors, take note of their activities, take note of what they fail to do and even understand the direction of the market and its perfect fit.

Winning globally for most companies is to acquire market share and retain customer interest consistently. Here are the top mid-market considerations for cross-border commerce that will ensure its success:

  • Make Technology an Enabler of Success

Automation is the key to be lean in international selling, with enough team time and space for promoting innovation.

Here are a few workflows for automation:

  1. Email Marketing – Create audience segments, and revisit them seasonally to ensure the pitch is aligned with brand messaging and as per the regional sensibilities.
  2. Product Information Management – Invest in a streamlined product information management (PIM) system to manage local content that will increase as you scale your operations. Be sure to include a repository for product information, content and media. Keep each country’s product catalog and content separated from each other.
  3. Order Processing – Do not let countries and markets get disintegrated into silos. Invest in connecting channels with strategic planning across the organization. One can even invest in ERP solutions or Shopify to get the order processing streamlined.

  • Defining Key Domains – Product Delivery, Logistics and Shipping

The core foundation of cross-border commerce is ensuring product delivery in-country. Logistics should be a vital function that needs to be addressed right from the first day. Mid-market merchants do it themselves, using warehouses or ship from a warehouse. Some use an affiliate, for the same.

Shipping shouldn’t affect profit margins. Hence it is important to localize management efforts with a dedicated resource on the ground within the region. When evaluating hiring personnel, do check how professionals understand building global teams. A key stakeholder in the place with global experience is useful in this regard.

Managing global resources from long distances means that there should be constant communication between stakeholders about the product, the brand’s tone, marketing message, vision, and the like so that specialists can mitigate any issues with localization with brand experience.

The in-country team needs to be conveyed about company’s top-level goals and how the market can help meet the goals.

Conclusion

Adequate localization, key stakeholders in-country, a local logistics provider with affordable shipping, and other regional factors need to be in place for mid-market organizations who are looking for success in cross-border commerce.