Shopwired Review - A Viable UK Alternative To Shopify?
Shopwired eCommerce Website Builder Overview
Established in 2012 Shopwired has quickly grown to become one of the best eCommerce solutions for UK users. Its huge range of features and ease of integration are easily on a par with Shopify; It also uses many common integration libraries like prettyphoto which keep it ahead of the development curve. It has Facebook and eBay shop integration tools which are perfect for long-suffering small UK businesses who have been struggling to get their products in front of this user audience.
Shopwired has an extensive tour, which will take you through all the features of the eCommerce platform and there are plenty of free templates for you to choose from so you can get up and running quickly without having to spend a fortune on website design.
Bespoke design is available at £1,195 +VAT, so you'll need to budget for that if you want something that is going to stand out from the crowd. It's going to be worth it though because standard templated design is so overused these days. Those serious about doing business need every advantage they can eke out over the competition. I found the existing free templates to be of a very high standard, so for those on a budget you could easily start up with a free template and move to a bespoke design when the sales (and revenue!) start coming in.
The entire platform is hosted on Amazon Cloud Services, so you'll get blazingly fast server speed and the reliability and efficiency that comes with using the CloudFront Content Delivery Network.
Themes And Templates
There is an extensive range of themes for you to choose from and you can easily modify the templates if you want to. For example, you could easily turn a standard jewellery theme into an aromatherapy store if there was nothing else built specifically for your market needs.
Both Shopify and Bigcommerce charge extra for their themes at the cost of between £75 -£150 so making all of their themes completely free of charge gives Shopwired a significant market advantage.
All of the themes are organised into categories so you can find something to suit your business quickly and the process of installing a new theme is as simple as "install new theme". You can also keep the old themes installed in case you want to go back
A big advantage of Shopwired over Shopify is that Shopwired uses standard CSS to control the look and feel of the site, so any capable developer will be able to modify the CSS quickly and easily to fit your needs. The standard buttons and payment icons can all be easily overwritten if you wish to do so. Anyone with development expertise has access to all the files they need to produce a custom shop which would save you the custom setup fee. (Although of course, you'd lose your valuable time which is what cloud-based software is so good at saving you). You can also duplicate a theme if you want to produce a slight variation and see what it is going to look like.
All of the content is easily editable and intuitive. The shop name is changed in your theme customisation page. If you have the text ready, you could be up and running with a new store in just a couple of hours. All of the colours can be changed via a colour picker, and as it is fully mobile responsive you don't have seperate files to manage and develop.
If your goal is to get your store up and running quickly with the minimum of fuss and without developer help or support, then Shopwired does the job fantastically. There are enough customisation options available to help you make something that looks great and stands out from the crowd. And you can do it without developer knowledge, as long as you can use a Word Processor and have basic computer skills you can build a great store using this product.
When I did my EKM review I came to the conclusion that If you wanted to produce something unique and radically alter the design then you'd be better off with something like Lemonstand which is designed for that purpose. Shopify or Bigcommerce can be modified to an extent but you'll need developer help to do it and that, of course, all adds to the overall cost. Shopify uses a "Liquid" templating system, so you'll need particular expertise for that job. Lemonstand uses open source tools like Bourbon and Neat and so again it is specialist assistance required. However with access to all the CSS files you need and the ability to be able to directly code the HTML via "advanced mode" Shopwired has addressed all of those issues.
Adding pages is a simple exercise, and you can add as many pages as you need:
Categories And Products
Adding categories and products is very simple, and you get the option to hide categories while you populate them with data. You can clone products to make adding lots of them a breeze, and there are advanced options for adding product SKU's, weight (for calculating delivery charges) and gift wrapping. It's possible to build a custom list of product options for example engraving messages, sending personal messages or uploading images to be printed on a T-shirt. It's a comprehensive system which will support all but the most demanding of store owners.
Apps And Tools
It was at this point in my review of Shopwired that I was suddenly hit with the realisation that this eCommerce solution has been completely thought out for UK users. One of the badly missing features in all other eCommerce solutions including Shopify is the ability to be able to handle recurring payments or subscriptions and that has been solved here using the stripe payment system. There are also handlers for custom VAT, Postcode shipping for UK users and several reviewer systems which are beginning to become crucial for eCommerce retailers these days.
There is also support for Kashflow accounts, UPS access point, Facebook and MailChimp for email marketing. The link up with Amazon means that selling on Amazon with your user account is a feature in the pipeline and there are also gift card features and many other tools relevant to UK sellers.
Shopwired excels here because it supports all of the major UK payment gateways and you won't have to go finding a developer to integrate with your ideal payment gateway. Shopwired supports Paypal, Sagepay, Worldpay, Nochex, Cardstream and Payment Sense. You can also accept payment via PayPal, PayPal Express, Pay by Amazon, and allow your customers to submit an order and pay offline. You can also accept telephone orders and enter them into the management system.
Everything is hosted on Amazon Cloud Services so expect excellent response times and uptime. There are no bandwidth or excess storage charges which are where some solutions like Volusion and 3dcart are going wrong. Shopwired guarantee 99.9% uptime and 24/7 server monitoring. Security is one of the big hidden bonuses you get with using cloud-based eCommerce services because the network is monitored by professionals to keep miscreants at bay.
The pricing for Shopwired is competitive at the entry level and excellent value for money at the Premium level. No transaction fees, unlimited customisation, no excess bandwidth fees and unlimited support from the Shopwired experts. This product is underpriced in my opinion and is very good value for money.
Perhaps the main reason you would want to choose this company to host your site for you, Shopwired has excellent customer service. Perhaps the only drawback I could find is the lack of an online support forum although they may well address this in future as the userbase grows. Managing an online forum is extremely labour intensive.
UK Users may also want to see my EKM review:
Is Shopwired an alternative to Shopify? I'd go as far as saying it is the ideal place to start and a replacement for Shopify for any UK eCommerce retailer. Shopify is good but it can't satisfy all UK specific needs. Shopwired addresses all of the pain points that a UK retailer needs to do business: VAT, (Taxes) Delivery (shipping) as well as integration with UK specific accounting packages and payment gateways. I recommend it highly as the place to start your eCommerce journey.