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So you’re probably looking for an eCommerce platform that can handle digital products.
It can be a real challenge to choose the winner between solutions like SendOwl and Shopify. Not to mention hundreds of similar platforms.
For sure, Shopify and SendOwl both have their strong sides, but they also differ in a number of key areas. It could take hours to compare all of the but we’re not going to waste your time by scrutinizing every single feature (you won’t be using all of them anyway). Instead, we’ll tell you everything you need to know before you make your final decision.
So if you’re looking to sell your products on either platform, we recommend you read this first.
Quick breakdown: SendOwl vs. Shopify
To be honest, it’s a bit tricky to compare Shopify to SendOwl.
Shopify is pretty well-known as an all-in-one eCommerce platform for those who want an easy (sort of) way to build an eCommerce store. And it’s not just one service—Shopify offers a whole ecosystem that includes 3000+ useful apps and countless store themes.
SendOwl, on the other hand, gives you nothing more than a product link or an on-site checkout integration. So, unless you’re looking for a way to sell digital products from an existing website, blog, or social media, there’s a really slim chance that you’ll find SendOwl a good fit.
Even though Shopify is a more flexible platform when it comes to eCommerce functionality and customization, you must be prepared to pay extra for each third-party app. For example, to be able to sell digital files from your store, you’ll have to get one of the apps from the Shopify App Store first.
SendOwl, on the flip side, is much easier to set up and use, plus it doesn’t charge any extra fees apart from the monthly subscription.
Going further, we’ll compare only the key features of each platform pointing out all of the potential dealbreakers. Moreover, just to give you some perspective and illustrate how both platforms compare to other options in the market, we’ll include a third platform for comparison — Sellfy.
SendOwl and Shopify are similar (in a way)
Shopify and SendOwl are two different yet powerful eCommerce platforms that allow you to sell products online. Apart from that, both platforms help you promote your products with a few built-in features and third-party app integrations.
But aside from the similarities and the fact that both platforms serve the same goal, there are some key differences worth considering before you choose one of the platforms.
For one, while SendOwl only allows you to sell digital products, with Shopify you can do it only by using one of the paid apps. Ironically, SendOwl is one of the services that you can integrate into your Shopify store if you’re looking to sell digital files.
Why would you choose SendOwl over Shopify?
SendOwl, though not quite as well-known compared to Shopify, is still worth considering for those looking to start an online business.
1. Affordable pricing
They have two subscription plans, with different features depending on your needs:
- The Free account comes with a 5% transaction fee, unlimited subscriptions, a standard checkout page, and marketing tools.
- The Growth Plan ($19/month) comes offers more features including standard usage, checkout customization, and, most importantly, 0% transaction fees.
Apart from that, you get instant access to earnings and the possibility to accept payments from all over the world thanks to payment gateways such as Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, BitPay, Alipay, etc.
2. A simple way to sell digital products
SendOwl is a solution built for selling digital products and online courses. In essence, it’s nothing more than a connecting point between you and your customer.
SendOwl integrates seamlessly with various websites, although you can’t build a site of your own through this solution.
Uploading your products and configuring a conversion-optimized checkout module will take no more than a few minutes. From there, you can choose whether you want to sell from your existing website, social media accounts, or any other platform.
3. There’s a couple of features that can help you sell more
Some of the basic features you get from SendOwl include:
- Cart abandonment
- Discounts, coupons, and vouchers
- Pay what you want pricing
Moreover, SendOwl does a pretty good job at data protection, so you don’t have to worry about your customer’s details being at risk.
Of course, at a closer look, it’s clear that most of the tools were built with beginners in mind, but it’s definitely better than nothing.
The main disadvantage of Sendowl
While SendOwl is definitely a cheaper alternative to Shopify, trust me when I say that it’s far from being the best eCommerce platform out there.
1. If you don’t have a website, you can’t use SendOwl
Looking for a way to sell products from your own website or blog? Go on and skip this one.
For all the rest, I have some bad news:
You can’t use SendOwl.
To use SendOwl, you need to be an established online creator, preferably with a large social media following, a successful blog, or something in between. For this reason, SendOwl isn’t the best option for beginners, despite its ease of use.
2. You’ll have to share income with SendOwl
Despite the gree plan, you can’t really use SendOwl for free.
Let me explain:
When you subscribe to a free plan, SendOwl takes a 5% commission fee for each transaction. This means that if you’re selling a $100 product, SendOwl will take $5 from every sale.
So, if you make 10 sales per month, you can say goodbye to your hard-earned $50. And this doesn’t look “free” to me.
3. Customer support may disappoint you
I bet that any SendOwl user wishes only for one thing when blowing out birthday candles — that nothing “breaks”.
Because the only help that SendOwl offers is a Help Center where you can read up on the FAQs about the most common issues.
Sure, you can reach out to customer support via email. But the majority of user reviews online claim that communication with them is a bit on the slow side.
So, if you’re in a bind and need help ASAP, SendOwl may not be the best platform for you.
Why would you choose Shopify over SendOwl?
Sure, we love Shopify for its popularity.
But, here are some real reasons for you to consider choosing Shopify over SendOwl.
1. You can create a complex online store with Shopify
Of course, we can’t compare Shopify to SendOwl without mentioning this.
Shopify is a hosted eCommerce platform (also called an out-of-the-box solution) that lets you create an online store from scratch, manage your orders, etc.
As soon as you sign up you can customize your design, add your products, set prices, and payment methods, as well as integrate external services. So if you’re looking for a complete eCommerce solution, then be sure to check out Shopify.
2. There’s a whole ecosystem of app integrations
Shopify has one of the biggest app marketplaces among all eCommerce solutions.
In essence, it’s a collection of premium and free applications that can extend and improve the functionality of your online store. The best thing about such an impressive list of apps is that you can sell pretty much anything on your store—from tangible items to subscriptions and digital downloads.
3. A huge selection of store themes
When compared to SendOwl, Shopify really stands out with its selection of store themes and its store design capabilities. At the time of writing, there are nine free themes available and about a hundred paid ones (in the range of $160-$180 a piece).
Shopify’s theme store has a wide range of collections and industries for you to choose from, so it will be easy enough to find something that fits your potential business model.
4. There’s a ton of educational material on how to set up a Shopify store
Shopify markets itself as easy to use platform. And while there’s some truth to that, it doesn’t mean that there is no learning curve involved.
With so many things to consider and think about, starting an eCommerce business with Shopify can get a bit too overwhelming. But thanks to Shopify’s popularity and significant user base, there are plenty of resources available (free and paid) to help get your Shopify store up and running.
The main disadvantage of Shopify
This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a few noticeable dealbreakers.
1. You can’t sell digital products without integration
Perhaps, the biggest difference between SendOwl and Shopify is that you can’t actually sell digital downloads on Shopify without installing an app.
Sure, there are a lot of integrations that can help you with that. But it doesn’t change the fact that Shopify was primarily built for selling physical products and dropshipping.
2. Not everyone can afford to use Shopify
First of all, Shopify doesn’t have a free plan.
Plus, several hidden costs can empty your pocket real quickly. For example, suppose you use any payment provider other than Shopify Payments (not available in many countries). In that case, you will be charged transaction fees of 2%, 1%, or 0.5% for the Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, respectively.
And finally, most apps on the Shopify app store are not included in the monthly plan price and must be purchased separately. These apps are often necessary to add extra functionality, such as advanced order tracking or marketing features.
3. Your Shopify store will depend on third-party apps
Despite the fact that a lot of great eCommerce stores are built on Shopify, most (if not all) of them function only thanks to the app integrations chosen by the store owner.
This creates several issues:
First of all, there’s the cost factor. The monthly fees for most of the apps can vary from just a few dollars a month up to $100 a month.
Another thing is that some of the apps might conflict with certain store themes or other apps. And if it happens, Shopify support won’t be able to help you, as you’re using an external service.
Plus, there’s also a risk of coming across a rogue app that can cause major disruptions to your store.
4. Shopify is NOT easy to use
As I’ve already mentioned there are tons of Shopify tutorials, and Shopify experts online that can help you build an online store. However, the fact that there’s a such high demand for this kind of information only proves that Shopify isn’t as beginner-friendly as it claims to be.
Here’s what an ex-Shopify user EfikZara has to say:
“I used to have a Shopify store, but it’s not as user-friendly as Sellfy. When you’re selling something like digital products, I think it should be straightforward so that your customers can get what they need.”
The question isn’t Shopify vs. SendOwl — it’s why not Sellfy?
By now, you should have a clear understanding of what both solutions are really capable of. If you’re looking for a simple way to sell digital downloads from an existing website, SendOwl is worth considering. However, if you are planning to build a complex (and more expensive) eCommerce business, Shopify will suit your needs better.
But before you make your final choice, I’d like to introduce you to Sellfy.
Smooth setup and more built-in features
When compared to SendOwl and Shopify, Sellfy gives you the best of both worlds.
What started as an eCommerce platform for selling digital products has turned into an absolute leader in that niche. But don’t get me wrong, Sellfy has all the necessary features for selling physical products as well as subscriptions. Plus it’s renowned for its effortless setup and no learning curve. In fact, Sellfy takes ease of use to a whole new level — you can literally build an online store in less than 5 minutes.
You get everything you need to promote your products
Let’s face it, both SendOwl nor Shopify don’t have an impressive list of built-in features.
Sellfy, on the other hand, has everything you need to launch and grow your online business without having to pay for third-party apps. That includes email marketing, discounts & coupon codes, upselling, cart abandonment, and even pay-what-you-want pricing, and more.
You don’t have to pay for store themes
All of Sellfy’s pre-designed store themes are free to use and 100% customizable. But even if you don’t feel like choosing any of the themes, you can use Sellfy’s store customizer to design a completely new store from scratch — no coding, just drag and drop.
There are no transaction fees on any plans
Unlike Shopify, Sellfy allows you to sell unlimited file storage, use built-in marketing features, build and customize your store, and even use built-in print-on-demand service and video streaming without transaction or integration fees on all plans.
You can sell from anywhere you want
Looking for a way to sell from your own website? SendOwls isn’t the only way.
With Sellfy, you can easily embed the “buy now” or shopping cart button, or the whole store on your website. It won’t take more than a few clicks.