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Shopify vs Drupal - working out the most cost effective ecommerce solution

Posted 21/July/2014 by vicky

Picking the right platform for your ecommerce website is without a doubt a crucial decision. There is nothing worse than spending months and months on developing your online store to realise 6 months down the track your website is not scalable and won’t allow you to implement the functionality you need. An e-commerce site is a big deal, you are essentially relying on your website to deliver your income stream, for many shop owners they are 100% online so the website has to work seamlessly.

To help you compare the options below we will go through a couple of the differences between Shopify and Drupal, the chosen framework here at Neubreed.

Templates – I am sure you have researched many articles on templates vs custom web design but it will be necessary for our comparison as the customisable templates are one of the main selling points of a Shopify website.

OK, so we all know that Shopify has free templates that you can customise, what you can find however is that depending on the template you pick can depend on the functionality available. This is obviously a core difference to having a custom designed website developed on the Druapl framework. Our graphic designers and Drupal developers work with you on establishing the functionality you need from the beginning so you don’t run into any surprises and of course you have a bespoke web design rather than a template shared by others.

Does it really matter if you use a template? The way to think about this, especially if you’re a small business is that it’s hard enough to stand apart from the pack with ecommerce and the level of competition. By not having any unique, consistent branding this makes that job even harder. If you want people to spend money with you, you need to show that you have invested time and money into your business. This makes you look bigger than you are and gives consumers a sense of security that your business is around for the long haul.

Updates – with Shopify you can easily update your content and make edits to the website pages. Whilst you can also make changes and updates with your Drupal site, the great thing about Drupal is we are able to protect the integrity of the website design.

The way we do that is to essentially lock down the layout of images and text on the pages and make those areas editable. By doing this rather than just making all the pages blank and editable, it means the way the graphic designer has professionally designed the pages will always remain, regardless of how many edits you make to the page.

Fees – In addition to the usual fees your bank charges for processing your payments, Shopify also charges you fees for transactions on some of the plans and on all of the plans there are monthly fees. The basic fee with Shopify comes to around $100 more per year to host than it would to have your Drupal custom ecommerce website hosted with Neubreed.

Payments – All fees are billed to you in US Dollars with Shopify.  Having your website developed by Drupal Developers in Australia means you will always be paying in AUS dollars, important when you consider the exchange rate.

Design and Development – If you decide that a template is the way to go with Shopify, you may decide down the track that you really need the help of a graphic designer or a developer to add more functionality. They do provide these services but they can come at the same cost as having a bespoke e commerce website developed on the Drupal framework.

To sum up Shopify is a great tool if you want to test the market with the idea and simply don’t have any money to invest in a custom design. However, in the end there is a strong likelihood that once your online store becomes successful and you decide you need to provide your users with a custom site and additional functionality to make their experience user friendly, you may find in the end it costs you less to start from the beginning with a custom website.