If you know from the get-go that you’ll also be selling, then Shopify, one of the most popular online store builders surely has popped up on your radar. It’s a browser-based ecommerce solution and a one-stop-shop for you to go online. This means it takes care of hosting and if you want you can also buy a domain name.
You can build all kinds of E-shops with Shopify, from a general store to sell digital goods. It gives you all kinds of tools to build and manage your store while striking a balance with ease of use. It’s actually aiming at small and medium-sized businesses, but you also find more notable brands using Shopify such as General Electric or Tesla Motors.
In 2006, a youngster living in Canada wanted to sell snowboards online. But there wasn’t anything that lived up to his expectations and requirements. So, he created his won shopping cart software and the rest is history – as one might say.
- Pros and cons of Shopify
- Who is Shopify for?
- How easy is Shopify to use?
- Shopify design and themes
- How to manage your ecommerce store in Shopify?
- Shopify integrations
- What marketing and SEO tools does Shopify have?
- Payment options
- Shopify security
- Shopify customer support
- Shopify pricing
- Is Shopify the right tool for you?
Pros and cons of Shopify
Shopify sets out to be the all-in-one solution for people of all walks of life so that they can set up their online store quickly without the help of a developer and concentrate on the business. To get this convenience, you pay this ecommerce website builder a monthly subscription fee.
- Ease of use
- No coding skills required
- Abandoned cart recovery on all plans
- Accept multiple currencies all be it in the top tier plans or with a plugin
- No forever free plan
- Limited blogging tool
- In case you want to migrate, you’re going to deal with some headaches
- Transaction fees for third-party payment gateways
- Learning curve due to its own jargon
Who is Shopify for?
Shopify is aiming at anyone who wants to sell online. This can be a first-time seller or one of the household brands such as General Electric. You can also use it if you’re already running a bricks-and-mortar store and branch out online.
How easy is Shopify to use?
Even though there’s no forever free plan, you can start to test-drive Shopify for 14 days without having your credit card at hand. It has a pretty simple, clean, and intuitive interface.
Following most of what you see in most website builders, you’ll find a menu on the left that gives you access to features or content. The main part on the right is for editing or customising.
If you’re coming from other website builders that use drag and drop, you might need a bit of getting used to its content editor. It’s a more traditional WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor.
Even so, there’s a way around it, you can install one of the many apps available so that you can drag and drop again.
You may find that you have a learning curve since Shopify has its lingo. An example is that they call product categories “collections”.
Shopify design and themes
Shopify has a ton of paid (compared to just) a few free themes. All of them are mobile-optimised. You can browse by categories such as purpose, design style, or industry. If you stay within the limits of what the themes offer, they’re easy to work with.
If you want to go beyond, you can customise the themes yourself, if you don’t shy away from code. Shopify gives you with Customiser a tool to edit the code, for example, change eh colour in the CSS. If this is not your cup of tea, you can commission an expert on the marketplace. Or, you can commission an expert to develop a customer theme for you.
How to manage your ecommerce store in Shopify?
As you see in the menu on the left, most of the navigation is dedicated to managing a store. You have your order management, product inventory, customer management, and discounts in separate sections. Shopify makes it easy to do all the tasks you need to run your shop smoothly.
You can sell all kinds of goods, be it digital, physical, or services. If you plan to sell a recurring subscription, you’ll need to install an app or ask a developer to code this for you.
Shopify has recognised how important abandoned cart recovery is for your sales and so has included it into all plans.
Since no tool can do everything for everyone, Shopify has a Shopify App Store for plugins and integrations. It even includes a page for their so-called experts, coders so that you can customise a theme, plugin, or have something custom built for you.
The apps you find in the store range from dropshipping to sales features to payment gateway to social media integration.
You can even find marketing specialists that help you with SEO for example. All this with their simple Buy Button.
Find an expert
What marketing and SEO tools does Shopify have?
Out of the box, you can connect your Shopify store with social media such as Facebook or Instagram.
It automatically takes the title and the first 300 or so characters of your description and sets them into the fields for the page title and description. It’s easy to then edit them in the tile “Search engine listing preview”. Though, the URL structure isn’t 100% customisable. This means for product pages, it will always add “product”. Google prefers a simpler structure.
Even though you’ll find a blogging tool, it’s fairly limited. You’ll be missing a gallery, or you can group your posts into categories, and there’s also no related posts feature to name a few limitations.
A basic email marketing tool is included with which you can send branded email newsletters. It’s quite a new feature, so don’t expect it to be on par with Mailchimp (yet).
Point of sale
Say if you’re on a fair and you want to sell offline, you can use its Point of Sale (POS) feature. This gives you a “Buy button” that you can also add anywhere online (Facebook, your blog, etc) to let your customers click to buy your products.
Buying offline and online normally creates a gap and you need to sync everythign together. With POS, everything is completely synced to your Shopify backend this means, your reporting, inventory management, prices will all be updated automatically.
Shopify comes with its own built-in payment system. But depending on your location, you may want to use a third party payment gateway’ to process card transactions. And there are over 100 to choose from.
If you use the built-in system, you’re not going to be chard a transaction fee. Depending on your subscription plan, you can expect transaction fees if you use a third party payment gateway.
Shopify’s infrastructure runs on Level 1 PCI compliant servers. Seeing that it has its own payment system, it’s a must for it to accept credit card payments. All plans include an SSL certificate.
Shopify customer support
Should you have a question, you can contact the support team 24/7 via phone or live chat. You can also try your luck and see if your question was answered in the community forum and lastly, there’s a help centre.
You can choose from 3 plans. However, the core features on each plan really only seem to cover the absolutely necessary so that it seems that Shopify heavily relies on its apps which also can be pricy. There are also transaction fees for third party payment gateways that you have to consider…
Is Shopify the right tool for you?
If you’re only concentrating on ecommerce and you’re looking to grow, Shopify lets you focus on just doing your business. It’s even better if you want to sell online and offline.
On the other hand, if you value content marketing and crips, eye-catching design, take a look at Squarespace.