News, Events, & What Inspires Us

Carol Schroeder recently shared an article about the 10 best e-commerce platforms (

I developed Bridge Network, an e-commerce platform, that is not included in this article. Here are some things I have learned over the last 20 years of e-commerce development:

1. The article’s ranking criteria includes themes and templates. I believe you don't need an assortment of templates to have a functioning (or successful) e-commerce site. Just look at Amazon. There are millions of 'mini-stores' on it and they use the same template. I believe that themes and templates are very low on the shopper's importance level. I believe that there is little or no evidence suggesting that colorful templates or an ‘add to cart’ button increase purchasing conversion. I do know that studies have shown that clear, simple layouts and buttons increase purchasing. Not only is Amazon an example how ’theme-free' shopping succeeds, but so is the largest social network in the world: Facebook. Facebook does not offer themes or colorful customization and it definitively defeated MySpace which did allow themes. In fact, it can be argued that it was MySpace’s embrace of themes that helped lead to its downfall. Instead of suggesting that themes are a plus, I suggest that the increased use of themes and visual customization increases the likelihood for distraction, confusion, and the loss of sales.

2. I believe some of the providers listed here are tricking customers into signing up and then withholding basic features. Shopify nickels and dimes users for many basic features, such as offering a gift card. A store owner should not have to pay extra or add extra apps or plugins for basic features. I believe that all the crucial features a store owner needs should be built into the platform by default. Specifically, I believe the Shopify charging a minimum of $79/month to offer gift cards—while already taking a notable commission on each sale—is a sign it’s a poor value.

3. I think that many of these platforms don’t include by default the true online money maker for indie stores: gift registry software. Most indie stores are stuck between Amazon and a brand selling direct. This leaves few online orders for small stores. This is where online gift registries come in. Many brides don’t want to register on Amazon because of its bargain-hunting reputation, and many don’t want to register on a brand’s site because it only offers one brand. Indie stores offer lots of brands, gift wrapping, and great customer service—making them ideal for online registries. Bridge noticed this and set about growing the gift registry business amongst indie stores. Hundreds of stores now use our software to offer gift registry software. Bridge will help 7,000+ brides register at our indie stores this year.

4. I believe that Shopify and other platforms on this list are promising great websites, only to give stores largely empty websites. The most important thing for an online store is: massive selection. A crucial factor in creating (and maintaining) a site is how quickly the store can add the brands that it sells and get the brand’s products online. Bridge has a database of 2,200 brands from which a store owner can choose. From this list, we can automatically output up to 60k products on the store’s website from 120 of these brands. (Note: the store has to be authorized seller of the brand). I believe offering websites to store owners with these pre-loaded products is a crucial path to countering Amazon’s massive selection.

5. I believe that SEO tools are very important to a store’s success online, and should thereby come built-in by default. Bridge has built-in tools to help stores list their keywords, as well boost links that lead to their store from manufactures. Since few of these platforms link the stores with their brands in a meaningful way, there are few ways for platforms to boost the store’s SEO organically. Bridge boosts the SEO by integrating the store into a web of real backlinks.

6. I believe that a store owner should be able to set up an online store in less than an 1 hour. Many of the platforms will require weeks and likely months to fill with brands and products. Store owners don’t have much time these days, and they don’t have extra money to pay a web designer for weeks of design and programming time. A store owner can setup Bridge in less than an hour.

7. I believe that we have to bring down the cost of operating an online store for store owners to: free. I believe the way to do this is have store owners partner with brands to sell their products online. By doing so, they can share and offset costs. With Bridge, our brand partners pay for the service and underwrite it for retailers, thereby allowing many of our retailers to use Bridge for free. Retailers use Bridge and sell products from Herend, Vietri, and Juliska and pay us nothing. The brands pay us a small annual fee.

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I also invite you to call me or one of our coaches at 1-212-254-9655.

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best e-commerce platforms shopify bigcartel Carol Schroeder

Shared: July 24, 2019

Jason Solarek picture
Shared by Jason Solarek
at Bridge