Choosing an online ecommerce platform for your startup can be daunting. A Google search can lead to dozens of platforms to choose from, from Shopify to BigCommerce to WooCommerce (for Wordpress), as WooCommerce is the most popular of 'em all in the Wordpress community.

The setup process is generally easy for either platform you choose. The difficulty comes in just after the setup process.

What do you know about running an online store? Do you know the costs associated with one? How about the legal side of running a business? Tax? User privacy? Getting customers/buyers? How about repeated sales? A secure website? Return of items? This can be a lengthy process but this is what is expected from all successful businesses of today.

Enter Shopify

Taken from their website:

Shopify is completely cloud-based and hosted, which means you don’t have to worry about upgrading or maintaining software or web servers. This gives you the flexibility to access and run your business from anywhere with an internet connection.

The perfect solution to get you started quickly within a few hours; maybe even less. Within those few hours, you'll get yourself familiar with how to add products, having a walk through their online video tutorials and, understanding your way around the admin area. You'll also need a bank account and/or a PayPal account if you wish to accept PayPal payments. Don't worry about getting a business bank account at this stage but you'll need to inform your tax government about your proposed business and when you've started trading. This is typically the day you've made your first sale.

After few days of your Shopify store being running, you may notice you will need some extra features. Features as in a "Waiting list" - for when an item becomes out of stock, your customers can enter their email address to be notified when that item comes in stock or, a way to communicate with your customers instantly or directly if they wish to ask you a question while they browser through your store. In most cases, these are at an extra cost from the Shopify apps store. There are both free and paid apps; most times you would need a paid version to get the features you'd expect. Though at a relatively low cost, be expected to pay per month for such app.

Some apps that are free can do the job you would expect but only to get your feet off the ground then you will need to upgrade as the business grows.

These apps do charge a monthly re-occurring fee (some don't) as they are providing a service for you, each month. Apps run on a separate server (computer) which cost developers time, money constant updates providing you with the best service possible. These apps do not live on your Shopify store, sadly. Since you are just getting started, we assume you have a budget or no budget at all, in this case, apps normally provide you with a 7 - 14 days trial; maybe more. Do not feel disheartened should your trial ends and you have not generated enough sales in time. Contact the app developer and ask if they would extend your trial. In most cases, they would. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.

Enter SpreeCommerce

Not for the average store owner but rather for developers, Spree Commerce, Spree, is a fully customised storefront built upon the popular framework Ruby On Rails. What does this all means? If you are looking for a "plug and play" solution, then Shopify would be the right choice. 99% of the time, a developer is not needed as you could start with a free and basic theme. Need to stand out from the crowd? You have two options: a bespoke Shopify theme or a bespoke storefront and this is where Spree Commerce comes in. Be prepared to hire a developer to install and manage your storefront. If you are already a developer, that knows Ruby on Rails, are looking for something bespoke and wants to host your own storefront, then look no further with Spree Commerce.

If a bespoke solution is right for your business and you have the budget (~$1500+), you could easily incorporate the Shopify Advanced features with Spree. Depending on your requested features, you could potentially save a large amount of money if the advanced features are what you are after in an ecommerce solution. Spree is best suited for companies or businesses with a developer team onsite or working remotely. It is a no brainer to use Spree to build a more sophisticated ecommerce system with any feature you desire; from a simple "Waiting list" to a more complex accounting integration that syncs your orders/refunds seamlessly into your online accounting software, ie Xero.

Use Spree if you have a Ruby on Rails developer team or you are a ruby developer yourself that wants more from an online shopping platform. Use Shopify if you like the thought of  a "click to install", quick and a easy setup with no fuss.