Aight, so y’all have finally blown up my inboxes enough with this question and it’s probably the best time to finally sit down by the computer and get this all out. I promise not to make this a complicated article for you either. The question of which is better to build your site on between Wix, WordPress, Squarespace or Shopify for the Caribbean comes down to only 1 thing…Our geography!
That’s right folks…I know you were probably looking for a much more in-depth answer but that’s really all there is to it. Our geography dictates which platform is better since all of the platforms except for 1 have more options available to us in the Caribbean and that’s what I am going to be focusing on.
So before all of your favourite web developers and coaches sound the alarm, light the torches and come for me…allow me to put this disclaimer out there. All platforms listed are really good in their own way. I have no issue with any platform you decide to choose to build your website on. It matters not to me folks.
Swear up and down by Wix…Great! You are a Squarespace fanatic…More power to you! Only want to sell products and all the experts around the world scream Shopify…I hear that too. Love WordPress? Dope!
Every platform is great and has its respective pros and cons. However, in the Caribbean…we should only be using 1 platform by default, due to many of the limitations and hoops we have to jump through. Also, all of these platforms except for 1 force us to drain our Forex reserves, which can ultimately lead to much bigger problems in the long run (Check this article out to see Why Using Paypal is bad for the Caribbean).
So what is the best platform for us to use in the Caribbean?
The answer is WordPress!
Let’s break down why this is specific to the Caribbean and why when you are Googling, you see so many different answers about what the best content management system is.
The Best Platform According To Google
When we use the term “the best”, keep in mind that this is all subjective to the writer. Their best is relative to many factors but the most important factor that never gets mentioned is their geography. The reason being is because many of the options that lead the writer to say it is the best option are usually region-specific.
What may be the best for that writer living in the US, will gain a completely different response from someone living in a country that does not have access to the same features that make the platform great.
Many of you have a product-based business and upon doing your homework, keep hearing that the best platform for selling products is Shopify. Now, Shopify is a great platform.
Easy to use, quick to get set up, good templates to choose from and their E-commerce plans start from $30usd/month.
The issue for us here in Trinidad and Tobago is that when using Shopify, you need to use Paypal as your main processor. Using Paypal requires you to have very specific accounts in place to receive your money.
If you decide that you want to use a different processor, your options come down to First Atlantic Commerce and their Webgold’s Shopify Plugin, which will cost you $280usd/year (for the plugin) and you will also need a merchant account from your bank. The merchant account costs $100usd per month and F.A.C fees are 3% (USD) plus 0.25c (USD) per transaction.
Wipay had released their Shopify integration but at the time of updating this article (April 5, 2021), I see that the integration has been put back into coming soon mode.
Social Pay does have a workaround for Shopify that you can check out here (Social Pay Shopify Workaround).
If it wasn’t for this workaround, Shopify would be extremely hard to recommend because as a business owner, using Paypal as your main payment processor would mean that anybody in Trinidad with a Linx Visa Debit Card would be unable to shop on your website. If you are in another Caribbean country, if your fellow countrymen or others in the region paid you through Paypal, we would be draining our Forex reserves.
So what about Wix or Squarespace? These platforms unfortunately do not have any integrations from Caribbean processors, which limits you to using Paypal/Stripe.
Wipay is working on their Wix release and Social Pay’s workaround can work with Wix & Squarespace but again, it is not a full integration and there are limitations that some of you may not be comfortable with.
The only way to guarantee that you won’t have any issues with using these platforms and getting paid in the Caribbean is by having a US account.
Even though I have spoken at length about Paypal only depositing to Visa enabled accounts (Credit card or Visa Debit), Paypal also reserves the right to NOT enable your account to receive funds in the Caribbean. This is something I am seeing a lot of and it is getting harder to guarantee that everyone will have the same experience.
There are many people across the Caribbean that even with the right accounts, Paypal refuses to allow their accounts to receive funds.
If you cannot receive funds from Paypal, it makes using platforms like Wix/Squarespace an absolute NON STARTER!
This has nothing to do with Wix or Squarespace as a platform, as I mentioned above, they are both good but limited in the Caribbean. It makes no sense to use these platforms if you cannot conduct business on them.
If you are using them to simply blog or display business info but not conduct e-commerce, that’s cool. At that point, you can begin to compare if Wix, Squarespace or WordPress is the best fit for you.
You can also check out Fygaro which allows you to build a website, send invoices, build payment links and is also used whitelabled from banks like Republic Bank and FCB.
Fygaro will require you to open up a merchant account and use F.A.C as a payment processor or you can use Paypal. If you are someone who doesn’t mind going the route of using F.A.C, than this may be an option for you.
What Makes WordPress The Best For The Caribbean?
The reason why WordPress is simply the best option for the Caribbean is because of its open-source nature. It allows any of our companies across the region to build tools and implement them without much hassle.
Ultimately, the Caribbean people benefit because we now have access to tools that will allow us to do e-commerce and build our businesses online.
So when you ask me, “Hey Keron…I need a website, what’s the best platform to use?”
My answer is always WordPress by default, not for any other reason than it is simply the most flexible for us in the Caribbean with more solutions that cater to our market and most importantly, all of our Caribbean payment gateways integrate with WordPress without any problems.
Let me tell you a little secret, without calling any names. The companies who build out our e-commerce solutions for us to use in the Caribbean are all scratching their heads when people decide to use Squarespace, Wix or Shopify, simply because of how restrictive it is for our market.
It forces you to use Paypal, drain our Forex and alienate the local consumer base because many of them won’t even be able to use their bank cards to shop on your platform.
We are in the midst of a pandemic that requires us to now be able to minimize the human touch and cash-based transactions. Simply choosing the wrong platform and wrong payment processor will severely limit your business.
Now if you are someone reading this saying hey, I may live in the Caribbean but all of my customers are abroad. Cool! This won’t affect you much if you have set up a US-based account to receive all your money.
However, if you are someone who even though your customers are all outside of the Caribbean and need to receive those funds into your local bank account and Paypal has been screwing you over, then you also need to rethink the platform you are using.
The good news is folks, we have more of our own tools and platforms coming out that will help us out tremendously.
If you want to build a website, WordPress is the most flexible and powerful CMS on the market but has a learning curve. The good news is that there are people who can coach you or build on these platforms easily and you will have access to all of the e-commerce solutions that were built for the Caribbean.
If you want to host your store on a marketplace, check out Planting Seeds and a really great one is coming soon (announcement will be on the Digital Age Show lol).
So again…Wix, Squarespace, Shopify are not bad solutions at all…but in our market, WordPress offers the flexibility we need that will minimize much of the headache with getting paid online…and if your business cannot get paid online during these pandemic times, you will find it harder to survive than ever before.
If you are looking to learn how to build your own E-Commerce or Blog website with WordPress, you can also check out my course on how to do this (WordPress From Start To Finish).