When it comes to e-commerce, you usually have two choices:
- A simple website builder with few features
- A versatile builder with lots of features that’s also difficult to use.
Zoey came from roots of the latter but managed to turn its platform into something simple yet functional.
Where Does Zoey Really Come From?
It was only two years ago that Zoey, the brainchild of founder Uri Foox, went live, and yet, it’s already risen to become one of the most versatile e-commerce builders out there. Zoey has received glowing reviews both from customers and websites and does indeed seem to have attained a high level of quality.
So, what makes Zoey great? Is it the builder, the e-commerce features, the infrastructure? Let’s take a closer look in this Zoey e-commerce review and see what it has to offer.
Find What You’re Looking For
A Descendent of Magento
Zoey’s origins run deep, all the way back to a company known as Pixafy. Pixafy used Magento as a base to build e-commerce sites, and its five-year run under the future founders of Zoey was extremely successful. But they saw Magento’s unnecessary complexities and decided to start a new project aimed at automating and simplifying these issues.
The big brother: Magento.
While they slowly chipped at the big issue, Zoey’s team quickly realized that they needed to take the developer out of the equation. E-commerce should be run by the merchant. Now, while Zoey began on the base of Magento, they’ve evolved into something completely new.
While they’ve hit all the big goals, the team still strives to improve this service as much as they can. Even so, two years in, they’ve created something that can compete with and beat other e-commerce platforms. Efficiency at its finest!
Above-Par Design Features
Like most others, Zoey provides a drag-and-drop web builder, though it seems simple enough for a novice user to get the hang of.
The themes included for free are all responsive — extremely important for a business — and while they’re not as drop-dead gorgeous as themes provided by some other builder tools, they look modern and professional.
The Zoey builder also includes standard design tools such as:
- Snap guides
- Style editors
Live previews let you make sure it all looks great on every device.
One of the Best E-Commerce Platforms
Also, only the most expensive plan allows access to the hard code. Otherwise, you’re restricted to the apps, themes, and builder elements provided by Zoey. For those of you not familiar with HTML or CSS, the code-free design is a major asset.
A downside to this platform is that transferring from another site requires you to pick a theme and essentially reorganize everything. Products and customers are transferred via just a few clicks, but not the layout of the site.
Video above: Finding data is easy. Finding actionable insights in the deluge of data can seem mystifying to store owners. This Zoey video demystifies tactics like segmentation and covers how to use e-commerce analytics productively.
Enterprise-Level E-commerce Features
You’re here because you run a business and the single most important element of your e-commerce builder tool is what it will enable you to do to generate sales.
Well, lucky for you, there are quite a few features here that will do exactly that:
- For starters, Zoey works just as well for physical or digital goods and you can manage everything from pricing to inventory within the platform
- You can organize your merchandise however you prefer and introduce unlimited variations, such as color differences
- Customers can be grouped based on pricing and order volumes. You can also set different access levels to customers, requiring some to enter a password prior to checkout
- There are tools to help you update images, make products easier to find, and cross-sell relevant products
- Discounts and gift cards are easy to implement, so there are a number of ways available to upsell customers through your store
- Customer reviews are enabled to show off how truly valuable and popular your product offering or services are with others
- Multiple currencies and languages are supported if you cater to an international audience
- You can make your store “smart” and offering suggestions based on data provided by your customers
- There are also advanced marketing features included, like targeted email campaigns and abandoned shopping cart reminders.
Are There Any SEO Perks?
Although SEO isn’t a strictly an e-commerce feature, it’s an important part of your online store’s success nonetheless.
Zoey boasts a number of solid SEO support tools including:
- Speed: search engines factor it in when ranking your site. With Zoey’s global CDN and optional in-region hosting, you’re promised “blazing fast speeds”
- Customizing tags: You can customize H1 tags, title tags, meta descriptions, URLs and more
- HTTPS: All sites on the Zoey Business Plan are on HTTPS, another search ranking factor
- Advanced sitemap: You can pick which pages are indexed first and how often your sitemap is updated.
Zoey also offers:
- Afree SSL certificate
- Sitemap builder
- Mobile-friendly layouts.
Hosting, Infrastructure, and Add-ons
Zoey provides hosting with the e-commerce builder, so there’s no need to look elsewhere for it. You can choose which data center will be best in terms of store performance, but the CDN makes sure that everyone gets super-fast speeds no matter where they are located.
Why is a CDN Important?
Market research shows a direct relationship between how fast your site loads and how many conversions occur. This is true for micro-conversions (like signing up for a newsletter) or macro-conversions (like sales).
In addition to significantly speeding your site loading time, CDN benefits include:
- Boost in response times
- Increased reliability
- Saves money due to smart operation handling
- Cloud acceleration for worldwide reach
- Included DDoS protection
- Website analytics
- Easing server loads
- Huge performance boost in data delivery
Unlike other hosts, bandwidth is not something you need to worry about. Every plan gets the same speeds and the Zoey team provides continuous monitoring and security over the underlying infrastructure.
Perhaps one of the most attractive parts of this hosting is how easy it is to transfer your e-commerce store from one provider over to Zoey. Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, and Volusion all have easy “switches” over to Zoey.
A Few Problems
Sometimes, you have to sacrifice features like extensive customizability in order to secure a great e-commerce platform for your business, and this is one of those situations.
Here are some of the things about Zoey we think may give some potential customers pause, so pay attention:
It’s Not Cheap
In a rather odd trend, web builders and hosts seem to be suddenly cutting out their most affordable option, alienating a big part of their potential customer base and forcing you to choose a more expensive plan. This is unfortunately what happened with Zoey.
Just so you get an idea:
|Entry Plan||Power Plan||Advanced Plan|
|Features||B2B and B2C on one site
2 Staff Accounts
5 Customer Groups
Email Ticket Support
Payment/Shipping by Customer Group
Pricing by Customer Group
Flexible Discount/Promo Pricing
Basic Quick Order Form
Google Analytics Enhanced eCommerce
|Everything from Entry
5 Staff Accounts
10 Customer Groups
Tiered Pricing by Customer Group
Quantity Increment by Customer Group
CMS Pages by Customer Group
Advanced Quick Order Form
Multi-language & Currency
Advanced Custom Options
Google Shopping Feed
Everything from Power
10 Staff Accounts
20 Customer Groups
Priority Email Ticket Support
Request a Quote
Table Category View
Staff Account Data Restrictions
Single Sign-On Compatibility
- Update, October 2018: Zoey has reduced their prices for all plans and that’s reflected in our updated table.
- In addition, customers who pay a year in advance can receive a discount.
Zoey claims to cater to everyone from startups to large enterprises, but most smaller companies won’t be able to afford even the cheapest of plans for the Zoey e-commerce builder. Part of this is because of the plan costs, but part of it is due in part to the additional costs that arise from using the app library.
So, if you’re thinking about purchasing this builder, do make sure to take into account all costs associated with the platform first.
Limits on Customization
As far as the ability to make your site unique, Zoey could do better. They offer the tools to simplify CSS, and the ability to design and organize your store the way you want is nice, but the overall site design leaves something to be desired. For instance, you have to pick a theme to start, which means you cannot build your store from scratch.
If you want to get into the code, you’ll need to pay for the most expensive plan. Ditto if you want to use custom apps or themes, or make your own.
And there’s no mention of features like parallax or other modern design enhancements. The builder will get the job done, but maybe not to perfection. The robust e-commerce features make up for it, but that doesn’t change the fact that Zoey’s builder falls flat in terms of design capabilities.
(Some) Tech-Savviness Required
The majority of this builder is pretty simple to get the hang of, but to make the most of it, the ideal user will come in with some coding experience.
Looking at the common need for customizability, it is likely you’ll be affected by this limitation.
Why Choose the Zoey E-Commerce Platform?
For those who can foot the bill, Zoey is one of the best choices in e-commerce you can make. It’s not free of issues, but the pros very much outweigh the cons. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an e-commerce platform that provides as much while having such ease of use.
Intuitive Enough for Users of All Levels
While there are a few unnecessary complexities, for the most part, Zoey proves itself rather easy to use. Like most other drag-and-drop builders, it won’t take too long to get a handle on even if you’re new to this sort of thing, and it does what it needs to do.
Once you get into the more obscure settings, there are a few gems worth uncovering, too. There’s a handy tool that uses “if” commands to apply a discount in almost any conceivable situation. It’s simple to add custom product variations and more as well. It’s intricate where it needs to be, and this works out well.
Zoey’s builder is overall just a very easy-to-use yet versatile tool. Complex for those who need it, simple for those who don’t.
Too Many Features!
We jest. You can never have too many features when you’re attempting to build a high-quality online store. Just reading through their website could take an hour, and there’s a lot to discover hidden in those pages.
From design to e-commerce to infrastructure, Zoey has tons of cool features to share.
It’s also worth mentioning that each feature is unique, helpful, and tailored to businesses that want to build a robust and high-performance store.
You could talk about their extensive app library or the free hosting, SSL, and CDN included with the package. Then there are the SEO tools provided to help customers improve search rankings. There’s plenty to appreciate here.
Handling Payments in Your Online Store
One of the biggest reasons you would opt for an e-commerce platform is the relieve yourself of the need to handle payments on your own.
Generally, this is done either by taking advantage of the platform’s built-in functionality (such as credit card processing) or integrating with a third-party payment gateway so that you can accept more than just credit cards:
Zoey handles all of this well.
Rates, Fees and Administrative Costs, Sales Tax Nexus
Other features include automated calculations, such as shipping rates and fees and sales tax. Different places have different laws, so the more advanced options are capable of handling this if it knows where your business has a presence (important for places with a sales tax nexus — this just means that online businesses might have to tax according to wherever they have a physical presence) or your customer is located.
For those unfamiliar with the term “sales tax nexus” here’s a good definition from TaxJar:
[S]ales tax nexus is generally defined as “presence” in a state. This presence must be significant enough so that a business has to comply with the state’s sales tax law
Presence can include – but is not limited to – an office, an employee or a warehouse.
Video above: Understanding tax issues in the U.S. can be complicated. In this video, TaxJar, a partner of Zoey, provides some insights related to a recent Supreme Court ruling. Other helpful videos can be found in the “Zoey Commerce” YouTube channel.
Zoey ships with some payments-related functionality, and the company expects you to add-on whatever it is you need with the appropriate third-party apps and integrations.
Partners Can Handle Fraud Protection
Finally, if you are interested in fraud protection, know that Zoey does not offer such features built-in — Zoey recommends you work with one of its partners for this.
No Hidden Fees, No Transaction Fees
Setup fees? Nope. Hosting costs? No. Transaction and service fees? No again.
Now, to be clear, some of the app add-ons do cost money. Using third-party services, such as shipping services, may also incur their own extra costs. And, on the cheapest plan, some features like the in-region hosting and file manager can cost extra as well.
But these don’t cost much in comparison to the monthly price itself, and they’re clearly outlined. You know what you’re getting into. But when it comes to dodgy hidden fees, this doesn’t seem to be an issue with Zoey.
What Type of Technical Support and Customer Service is Provided?
If you ever have questions, comments, or concerns, you can get in touch with Zoey’s in-house technical support team. The team is generally available Monday – Friday from 9 AM to 6 PM Eastern Time, and they ask that you get in touch by creating a support ticket.
A knowledgebase is also available for speedy queries.
Zoey Alternatives – BigCommerce, Shopify, or Zoey?
When it comes time to pick an e-commerce platform, it can be difficult to settle on an option and make the final purchase. Many companies are so similar in what they offer.
As such, it might be helpful to focus on the differences. If there is something a platform is missing that is crucial for your business, that is one fewer option that you have to consider.
We are not referring to whether you can add apps to your e-commerce store; we are referring to apps that you can use to manage your digital storefront when you are on-the-go. For example, the Shopify app allows you to manage your orders, products, staff members, and customers from a mobile device, so you are not tied to a laptop or desktop computer.
Unfortunately, neither Zoey nor BigCommerce offers such apps to their users.
Zoey offers more than just themes — it’s website design and build tools are reminiscent of a full-featured site builder. The foundation of your project, however, is one of the many professionally-designed themes that the company offers to all its users. These are easily editable using the provided drag-and-drop editor.
Similarly, if you opt for a BigCommerce or a Shopify cart, you will have access to competing options. Both Shopify themes and BigCommerce themes are great options that can easily be customized, though the changes that you can make are more limited than what you could do with Zoey.
For businesses conducting a high volume of transactions and want a plan that can scale accordingly, there is BigCommerce Enterprise and Shopify Plus. Both are custom options that, for the right price, will get you everything you need to conduct a major business online.
While Zoey does not offer a comparable feature, this does not mean that you cannot use the platform for a large number of transactions, especially since Zoey was never geared to those seeking the most basic, most inexpensive options around anyway.
Other Alternatives to Consider
Some other names mentioned in conjunction with Zoey’s are Squarespace and Magento. How do these options compare?
Squarespace is a well-known provider of an all-in-one, drag-and-drop website builder that also ships an e-commerce plan for those who want to sell online.
The e-commerce add-on is full-featured, but it is definitely an option geared towards those operating on a smaller scale. Squarespace is a good place to start, but know that with sufficient growth, you may end up outgrowing your plan and having to move elsewhere.
As a derivative of Magento, Zoey and Magento have a lot in common (especially when it comes to feature set and functionality). However, Magento offers many different products and there are several variants of its e-commerce platform, each offering a slightly different set of features:
- Magento Open Source (formerly Magento Community Edition) is the free, open source version of Magento that requires you to do all the infrastructure-related work in terms of getting it set up (as well as the usual front-end set up)
- Magento Commerce (formerly Magento Enterprise) is the paid, software-as-a-service implementation of Magento. This is the option that is most similar to the premium versions of Zoey, BigCommerce, and Shopify.
It’s Not a Completely Fair Comparison
In a way, you really should not compare Magento and Zoey. Zoey occupies a niche in between the open source version of Magento and the very expensive, very premium version of Magento. The biggest differences, we think, come from going from Magento Open Source to Zoey.
Especially as a small business owner, there is something to be said about offloading the work needed to manage your infrastructure and getting the back-end of your online store up and running.
A Great E-commerce Builder for Mid-Sized Businesses
It’s a shame that Zoey.com is not priced for the first-time online store creator. For those who can afford it, though, it’s certainly a great choice to consider. More expensive e-commerce platforms can’t compare, and you’ll certainly get more bang for your buck.
Frequently Asked Questions
“Zoey, tell me about yourself.”
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, you need to do your research. Take a look at some of the quick answers provided to the basics below.
Does Zoey support all browser types?
While not all, Zoey does have a brief list of browser types and versions which they support without any problems:
- Chrome – Latest version as Chrome automatically updates
- Safari – Version 9 and later – no Safari PC support
- Firefox – Version 43 and later
- Internet Explorer – Version 11 and later
Any other versions are not guaranteed.
Does Zoey offer abandoned cart recovery?
Yes, they do. Zoey’s abandoned cart recovery is advanced with additionally built-in marketing features to ensure your customer finishes the checkout process. There are many customizable features to ensure your abandoned cart recovery flow is optimal to your buyers’ needs.
Can I add additional shipping methods with Zoey?
Absolutely. Zoey offers a menu-option called ‘Set-up’, under which you must select the sub-menu ‘Shipping’. There you have a list of available shipping methods to add with a single click, no coding required.
How do I add/remove payment methods?
Again, head over to your ‘Set-up’ menu on the left-hand side of your Zoey dashboard. To add a payment, select ‘Add Payment Methods’ on the top right. You will be presented with a list of available payment methods and a setup button. Configure your selected payment method by entering the necessary details and you’re good to go.
To remove a payment method, simply select the disable option, located on the right-hand side of the payment method in the list.
Zoey is certainly doing well for itself in just two years. The company provides for B2B and B2C businesses have a robust app store and offer tons of great e-commerce features. The builder isn’t as customizable as it could be, but it’s better than other, more simple e-commerce solutions. All in all, a solid choice.
What if I already have a website and just need B2B order-taking capability?
Zoey recently launched an “Order Portal” theme for those who don’t need a full website but instead need a streamlined order taking capability. You can read more about this option here: Zoey Launches B2B Order Portal Theme Option for Efficient Orders