Best 4 Shopping Carts For Clothing Stores
Clothing store vendors nowadays have a roller coaster’s worth of pros and cons to deal with. On the up side, who doesn’t love clothes? There’s always a market for nerdy T-shirts, adorable leggings, classy suits, and various types of team or organization-related swag. But then there’s the dark downside, most prominently: will the clothes fit?
To relieve this and other vendor anxieties, shopping carts all over the eCommerce-sphere are adding in all sorts of convenient features. There are customizations, order notes, product variants, Buy Buttons, and themes that showcase clothing in the best possible way. Each cart has a different combination of these features, and each will work differently for a different vendor. With that in mind, here are some of the best shopping carts for clothing stores.
Always a popular choice for stores of any kind, Shopify (see our review) offers plenty of options that will make life as an online clothing store much easier for any vendor. There are plenty of reasons to choose Shopify, but for the purposes of this article we’re going to stick to clothing-specific ones.
What Shopify Offers:
- Lots of themes for clothing stores
- Product customizations using line item properties
- Cart attributes to allow a checkbox feature
- Order notes via an added text box
- Related and recommended products feature
- Size chart option
- External apps for additional features
- A “Shop By” filter
- Every Buy Button you could dream of (HTML, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest)
What Shopify Lacks:
- Simple, HTML-light instructions for each customization
- Gift registry feature
Themes and Sample Stores
To prove its worth as an excellent shopping cart for clothing stores, Shopify showcases nine fashion and clothing stores. These are worth browsing regardless of your experience as a merchant or size as an organization. If you’re a new vendor starting from scratch, looking through the sample stores can give you a sense of what more established businesses might look like.
Whether you’re a newbie or not, scanning Shopify’s samples also illuminates the details that Shopify considers crucial for clothing stores. Do image-heavy themes dominate? Are there clear fashion categories? What do the checkout pages look like? Spend some time chilling with the featured stores, and you’ll get a sense of what Shopify values in a clothing store — and, hopefully, how those line up with your own values for your own store.
Shopify also has an extensive collection of fashion themes. Definitely take a look at these as well and compare to any other shopping carts you might be considering. Again, this is a good way both to see what Shopify offers and to evaluate it against your own priorities. Every vendor has different concerns, so this is bound to be a personal process. Still, some of these concerns are shared by a number of merchants, so I’ll go into a little more detail about some more of the features Shopify offers that are especially helpful to clothing stores.
Product and Order Customization
One excellent feature is the ability to customize products and orders. This can mean a variety of things, and each shopping cart has slightly different jargon. In Shopify’s case, the extensive help center hones in on three different aspects of customizing product orders: line item properties, cart attributes, and order notes. For an online clothing merchant, these features are important because they allow for customizations that reflect the variety of clothes themselves.
Keep in mind that these names are specific to Shopify; when I start talking about other carts the names will change slightly. That said, the types of customization exist across carts, so pay more attention to the details than to the name.
The feature that Shopify calls “line item properties” allows merchants to make products customizable. With this in place, customers will be allowed to add customization information to their order of choice. This means that the shopping cart will be able to differentiate between two or more products that may have the same original product information but two different requested customizations — for example, the difference between Standard Black Hoodie and Standard Black Hoodie with “Skywalker” inscribed on the back.
The steps for utilizing line item properties can get a little complicated. There’s even a warning at the top of the page because it’s complex enough that it’s not actually supported by Shopify’s theme customization feature. In fact, the page tells users they should probably hire a Shopify Expert if they are not comfortable with web design languages.
Of course, you can hire your own expert if you find yourself in such a situation, but Shopify certainly does provide resources for you! And remember, if you’re able to endure the long and arduous process of sorting through all the technical details, you’ll be privy to a feature that is crucial to any online clothing store.
The second of the three similar but not-quite-the-same options is cart attributes. Cart attributes let you include specific custom options in checkbox form such as whether the item should be gift-wrapped, whether the customer wants to donate part of their order to a charity, or whether the customer would like a complimentary mint included in their order. It’s incredibly simple to set up, especially compared to the process of adding customization information.
Order notes provide a text box on your checkout page where customers can enter specific instructions they have about their order. Think your favorite pizza delivery service, where you make sure to type in “no meat” or “extra napkins” or “send a delivery guy who isn’t allergic to dogs because Fido wants a head pat.” Of course, this will look different for clothes, but you get the idea. Luckily, order notes are even simpler to add than cart attributes. All you have to do is check a box saying “enable order notes,” and you’re set!
Product variants are another feature crucial for online clothing stores. Shopify makes it easy to add variants such as size, color, and style. While there can only be three options for the types of variants included, each option can include up to 100 variants.
As an added bonus, Shopify provides instructions for adding a size chart to your product pages, a must-have for any clothing retailer. Some HTML knowledge would come in useful when working through this process, but the instructions are clear enough that you should be able to figure it out even if your comfort level with HTML is a little iffy.
If custom orders are overwhelming your store and the above features aren’t enough to manage them, check out the Custom Orders app in Shopify’s app store. For $19.99/mo, this app will not only help you create custom orders more easily, it will also help you manage those orders with custom statuses. Sound like something you might benefit from? Try it out for a 15-day trial!
Recommending related products on the product or checkout page can also increase sales. In this case, perhaps a customer is purchasing a product and you want them to be able to see related products in case one pair of handmade boots isn’t enough for them. Shopify’s got your back.
Once again, however, installation process is advanced, and Shopify again warns the inexperienced away toward Shopify Experts. If you can power through the coding, you’ll have the option of recommending related products from an existing product collection, tag, or metafield. There are also several Shopify-approved apps for related products, although many of these have a monthly fee that might rack up costs.
If a customer is looking for a specific type of product — maybe they know what brand they want, maybe they have a price range in mind, or maybe they are looking for a particular item of clothing — Shopify’s “Shop By” option will help them filter products. It doesn’t require any extra installation; just make sure you have selected a theme that includes the “Shop By” feature. Shopify includes a list of eligible themes for your perusal.
Another benefit of Shopify is its comprehensive Buy Button feature. Shopify offers an HTML Buy Button, Facebook Shop, a Twitter Buy Now button, and Pinterest Buyable Pins. We explore these in more depth elsewhere, but here’s the short of it: By offering all these different Buy Buttons, Shopify grants clothing merchants the opportunity to showcase their products across a wider range of sites than any other shopping cart currently allows.
Pinterest is an especially great site to showcase clothing products because it is so visual and inherently oriented toward fashion as one of its top categories. But even if Pinterest isn’t your cup of tea, the options available to you among these other Buy Buttons will surely land you some more customers and expand your brand’s reach.
Between the theme selection, order customization, and Buy Buttons, Shopify offers a variety of features that are well suited to clothing stores. It’s an excellent shopping cart for a range of merchants — from larger, more experienced vendors to smaller stores and from those with an extensive website to those with an extensive social media presence.
BigCommerce (see our review) is another large shopping cart with clients all over the map in terms of size, scale, and focus. It presents some of the same features as Shopify but often to different extents and often with different emphasis or names. For an overview of BigCommerce as a shopping cart, check out our review, and then read on for specifics for clothing stores!
What BigCommerce Offers:
- Clothing-specific themes and clients
- Easily installed product customizations
- Product variants including color, size, and more
- Extensive product option types, including checkboxes, text boxes, and multiple choice options
- Clear explanations of different these product options and variants
- A “panel” feature that uses a special algorithm to showcase related products
- A wide range of Buy Buttons (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest)
What BigCommerce Lacks:
- An extensive range of cheap fashion themes
- HTML Buy Buttons
Themes and Sample Stores
Like the other shopping carts, BigCommerce showcases clothing stores on its site as examples of some of the best and brightest BigCommerce fashion clients. Take a look through them for some inspiration of your own — and to get a sense of what BigCommerce is doing for clothing stores.
BigCommerce categorizes fourteen themes specifically as Fashion and Jewelry. Two of these are free; the rest range in cost from $145 to $195. The themes are worth browsing to investigate the types of product categorization, image placement, checkout pages, etc. that BigCommerce provides. In comparison to Shopify, BigCommerce’s themes are a little more limited and a little more expensive. Even so, every merchant has different needs and preferences, so make sure to give BigCommerce a thorough perusal.
Product and Order Customization
Remember how Shopify has a whole bunch of different names for different customizations, from order boxes to product variants? BigCommerce classifies most of those under the larger umbrella of “product options.” Impressively, BigCommerce includes even clearer and simpler explanations than Shopify does.
As one example, here’s a handy chart that BigCommerce provides to explain the difference between options and their variants:
BigCommerce lists off a bunch of different product option types, many of which may be useful for clothing stores. They range from color and size to text fields, checkboxes, and multiple choice options. Each product option type gets its own set of instructions for setting it up on your BigCommerce store.
While Shopify has entirely different instructions for cart attributes or order notes, BigCommerce addresses those within the category of product option types. For what Shopify called cart attributes, BigCommerce incorporates a checkbox option. To cover the order notes, BigCommerce offers a text field option. These product options are all simple to set up; no HTML needed.
BigCommerce’s text field product option functions the same way as Shopify’s ability to add customization. Not only can customers use the text field to add comments as they would in an order note, they can also use it to customize the product with text or numbers.
In order to expose customers to products they might be interested in buying, BigCommerce includes optional panels: ‘Related Products’, ‘You May Also Like’, and ‘Similar Products’. The ‘Related Products’ panel displays up to five products that are either manually selected by you or automatically generated based on similar names or descriptions.
The ‘You May Also Like’ panel also suggests products based on similar names or descriptions. The ‘Similar Products’ panel displays the category of the current item, along with a link to that category of products (it doesn’t show the actual products, just the category.)
These panels are a huge plus for BigCommerce because including them is a simple process; much simpler than the equivalent process in Shopify. BigCommerce gives you an easy check box — one click and your related products are sparkling all over your site. On the contrary, Shopify makes you wade through layers and layers of HTML or else pay for an app to get the same result.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce offers Buy Buttons on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. There’s no HTML button readily available, and all three social media buttons are still in trial mode, but this is nonetheless a big plus for anyone hoping to stay with BigCommerce. If you want to develop your social media presence and make it easier for customers to purchase your products on social media sites, BigCommerce is good plan to stick with, even if it might take a little longer than you’d like to set up full camp on social media Buy Buttons.
All in all, BigCommerce and Shopify are very close competitors. BigCommerce might be a better choice if HTML is not your strong suit but you want to go for top-notch customizations; Shopify might be preferable if you want all the Buy Buttons a merchant could ask for. BigCommerce is still an excellent option for clothing stores of all sorts — just look closely to determine what your needs and preferences are.
Like Shopify and BigCommerce, Volusion (see our review) has plenty going for it for clothing stores and beyond. It’s similar to its competitors in many ways — similar showcases and custom fields — but probably falls closer to BigCommerce in terms of the type of customizations available. As always, every merchant has different needs, and Volusion offers a whole lot for many clothing store merchants.
What Volusion Offers:
- Inventory Control Grid to facilitate product management
- Up to 15 easily installed customizations in a convenient Admin Area
- Ability to easily combine customizations as needed
- Question submission box
- A versatile text box option
- Product options such as a drop down selector and checkbox
- Doogma Designer — a handy app to fully customize products
What Volusion Lacks:
- A template filter specifically to examine clothing stores
- HTML customizations
- Buy Buttons beyond Facebook Store
Themes and Sample Stores
Volusion showcases nine stores in its Apparel & Accessories section. You can scan through them to see what past clients have gone for, gain some inspiration, or simply compare against Shopify, BigCommerce or any other shopping carts you may be investigating.
Unfortunately, Volusion doesn’t filter its eCommerce templates by type of store, so there’s no way to determine which templates would be most friendly to online clothing stores. Some templates are free and some are quite pricey — up to $895 for a paid theme.
Product and Order Customization
In a unique twist on product customization, Volusion has a fancy schmancy tool to keep product options organized. It’s called the Inventory Control Grid, and it allows merchants to enable and manage products that have complex characteristics. More specific instructions demonstrate how to set up the typical product and its variants like size, color, etc.
Volusion permits up to 15 kinds of custom fields that can be edited in the merchant’s Admin Area. One of the most relevant to clothing stores is the text box option. As with BigCommerce, customers can use the text box to enter customization information. The example Volusion gives is one of offering optional custom monogram embroidery — a process that involves both a checkbox and a text box, but is much easier to work through than Shopify’s HTML-heavy instructions.
The other 14 custom fields cover everything from setting up questions to ensuring whether or not a certain field is required. For each field, Volusion gives clear instructions how to proceed based on the setup within the store — no HTML magic needed! If you prefer working in HTML, read through the instructions closely because some HTML characters are not valid in certain sections.
If customizations are your jam and you have way more needs than Volusion offers in its custom fields, you’re still in luck! In its app store, Volusion offers Doogma Designer, which allows customers to use a variety of customizations to essentially design their own product. It’s an extra cost, but offers an extra level of customized quality.
Unfortunately, Volusion does not offer Buy Buttons like Shopify and BigCommerce do. However, you can still make use of social media to promote your store. Facebook Store is available through Volusion, but instead of using a Buy Button to check out within the page or app, customers will be redirected to your main storefront.
As should be evident, Volusion has some truly excellent features. The Inventory Control Grid is a real winner, and the Doogma Designer app, which is not available through Shopify or BigCommerce, can really give a customize-happy merchant an extra boost. However, if Buy Button availability is important to you and your business, Volusion might not be the best way to go. Again, weigh your options and priorities carefully!
3dcart (see our review) offers many of the same features as the previous three shopping carts. Many a clothing store should be eyeing this one! Its pricing plans are organized by number of products (as are Volusion’s), which makes it easy for clothing vendors to quantify which plan is most worth their time and effort.
What 3dcart Offers:
- Searchable theme templates
- A variety of ways to present product variants, such as a drop down selector, clickable button format, and matrixed checkboxes
- Easy setup for the above customizations
- Gifting features such as gift wrap, gift registry, and personalized messages
- Wish lists
- Related product suggestions
- An external HTML Buy Button
What 3dcart Lacks:
- A “clothing” category for themes
- An extensive and affordable selection of themes
- Buy Buttons other than HTML
Themes and Sample Stores
As far as clothing themes go, there’s no predetermined category for fashion in the template archive. On the bright side, 3dcart’s theme templates are searchable. A quick hunt for “fashion” or “clothing” or “apparel” returns some themes for you to look through.
In addition to the free and premium theme options clients can select, 3dcart offers web design services for a cost ranging from $2,499 to $6,499. This is not an unusual feature — the other shopping carts mentioned here also include it — but 3dcart seems to put extra effort into promoting it. It even lists third-party experts who will do web design, development, marketing, and photography for you.
Another plus: even though the templates aren’t categorized, 3dcart’s client list is! Just select “Fashion & Apparel” and enjoy browsing through the six samples showcased. Just as with any other cart, this is a great way to get a solid sense of what 3dcart looks like on a practical level for clothing stores.
Product and Order Customization
3dcart offers ten different product options that clients can use to provide customizations for their products. These options have less to do with the product variants themselves (color, size, etc.) and more to do with the way those variants are presented on the site. For example, you can choose to have a drop down selector, a clickable button format, or matrixed checkboxes. There are also two different options for inputting text, depending on how much text you wish to allow. If web design is not your strong suit, you’re in luck. The set-up process is simple for all of these options.
Related products are easy enough to add to any product, but it has to be done manually. There’s no convenient algorithm (like the one BigCommerce offers) to do the work for you. Still, it’ll help you showcase clothing items that customers might find interesting, which is a definite plus.
3dcart clients have a special gift wrap feature as well as one for gift registry. When gifting a purchase, customers can include a gift message, using a text box to input their words of choice. 3dcart also includes a wish list option so customers can save products they are interested in.
3dcart offers a wonderful selection of customizations along the same lines as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Volusion, but it’s the simple set-up process that is really going to sell potential clients. 3dcart is pretty solid in this field, although the Related Products adding instructions might prove to be a bit of a headache.
Although 3dcart does not partner with any social media Buy Buttons, it does offer an HTML Buy Button for installation on the external site of your choice. This particular button is nowhere near as simple as Shopify’s in terms of installation, but it’s not too tricky a process to set it up. Just make sure you are reading the instructions closely; there are several steps.
The clear-cut product options and customizations that 3dcart offers are a big sell for clothing stores. Its extra focus on gifting ability doesn’t hurt either! However, you may have to shell out some money for quality themes, and some of the customizations might be hit or miss in terms of set-up. Give it a trial run, and see if it works for you!
Every shopping cart listed here has some top-notch features for online clothing stores. Shopify is probably the most comprehensive in what it offers, but BigCommerce comes in a close second. The largest difference between the two is that BigCommerce is just a little slower on the uptake when it comes to Buy Buttons. As far as customizable features go, the two carts are neck and neck.
Overall, Shopify is the way to go if your clothing store hopes to develop or already has a large social media presence — those Buy Buttons will come in useful. It’s also great for merchants who are more comfortable with HTML, since this potential complexity is Shopify’s main downside when compared to other carts, like BigCommerce.
BigCommerce is more easily accessible than Shopify in terms of how to actually install said features, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s an especially strong choice for vendors who want the benefit of customizations and Buy Buttons but who are less fond of dealing with HTML. Just be prepared for fewer themes that err more to the pricey side.
Volusion, while toward the bottom of this particular list, is still a great option if Buy Buttons aren’t important to you and if you potentially have a little extra money to spend on apps and high-quality themes. Even if you don’t have the additional cash, Volusion still has a range of quality themes and easy-to-install customizations. You just aren’t likely to access their highest level of service for the cheaper price. However, Volusion is right up there with BigCommerce’s ease of use even if it’s a bit behind in features.
If Shopify is all tied up in the race with BigCommerce, 3dcart is probably most comparable to Volusion. It’s a great choice for clothing merchants with a definitive product stock (whether 10 products or 100 or 100). It’s probably a better choice than Volusion for smaller businesses because of the extra features that pile up for Volusion, but there’s room for any type of vendor at 3dcart.
No matter which shopping cart you go with, you’ll be privy to a plethora of features that will help you as an online clothing store. Get those customized clothing items going, and may business boom!