If you are starting a new online business, or just bringing an existing business to the online world, Shopify is definitely one of the easiest e-commerce builders to help you create your online store.
Shopify is part of a group of turn-key e-commerce solutions that provides everything you need to setup and start selling your products to the world in contrast to you putting all the pieces together yourself. One of the key ideas behind Shopify is that users without much technical or design knowledge can create a store without relying on a design agency or web developer. It lets you organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders all with a few clicks of the mouse. However, people who are familiar with HTML and CSS will be pleased to discover that Shopify gives you a great degree of customization, allowing you a much better control over the design of templates.Before getting down into the details of this online e-commerce platform, let’s take a quick look at its pros and cons
- Over 100 beautiful, professional looking, mobile ready storefront themes. Also allows you to create your own themes
- Comprehensive, flexible e-commerce builder with a large App Store to extend the functionality of your online store
- Gives you a true 24/7 anytime support
- Offers unlimited storage and bandwidth.
- Built-in Speed & Security for Hosting
- Greater ease of use. Everything can be done with a few clicks. Provides great beginner guides and extensive documentation.
- Gives you full access to the code and so you can add new functions via their app market or API (for programmers).
- Scalable and User-friendly. Easy to scale for small and big online stores.
Not every platform is perfect, though, and a Shopify review wouldn’t be complete without covering the cons of using Shopify for an online store. Here are some of the cons of using Shopify for e-commerce.
- Shopify charges a transaction fee for every sale (unless you use Shopify Payment)
- Monthly cost may add up if you integrate multiple Apps
- You need to know Liquid (Coding Language of Shopify) if you want to customize your theme extensively
- Features like domain and email hosting are not included. However, relatively cheap domains can be purchased through the Shopify interface. Email hosting has to be done externally.
- You can’t reach out to customer support via live chat.
Professional looking and mobile friendly themes
Shopify provides you with a Theme Store where you can pick and choose from their collection of premium themes (either free or paid) across different industries so you can dress up your website accordingly. With themes created by world-renowned designers, you’ll love how your website looks on Shopify. Your online Shopify store also includes a built-in mobile commerce shopping cart. So your customers can browse and buy from your store using any mobile phone or tablet.
Full blogging platform
Shopify gives you a fully functional blogging platform along with the store to publish and categorize articles, create lookbooks, encourage discussion, and moderate comments on your Shopify blog.
Every template comes with its own inbuilt settings so you can quickly and easily customize every facet of your storefront. Shopify also gives you full access to the HTML and CSS of your store, making it easy to customize every aspect of your website.
Web-based website builder
You can host your entire website on Shopify. Your online store comes with a full-featured content management system. You can also use your own domain name, or purchase one through Shopify.
Every Shopify store includes a free 256-bit SSL certificate. It is also level-1 PCI compliant, so you don’t need to worry about the security of your customers’ credit card data. All pages, content, credit card, and transaction information is protected by the same level of security used by banks.
You can accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express the minute you launch your shop with Shopify. You’ll get a low credit card rate and no hidden fees. From bitcoin to PayPal to iDEAL, Shopify integrates with over 70 external payment gateways from around the world.
You can improve your average order size by offering free shipping to your customers. You can choose the price point at which free shipping applies. You can also set up shipping rates by fixed-price, tiered pricing, weight-based, and location-based rates. Real-time carrier shipping is also available on the most expensive ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan. Automatic shipping rates from major shipping carriers like UPS, USPS, and FedEx are also available.
Supports Multiple Languages
With Shopify, your online store checkout comes in 50+ languages, and you can always translate your store’s theme to suit your needs.
Shopify offers the capability to set up customer accounts so your customers can login into their private accounts to manage their personal information such as address, credit card information, so it’s easier for them to buy next time. You can learn more about your customers, their shopping habits and find their contact info and order history at a glance. However, the customers can also check out as a guest without creating an account.
Shopify offers you the capability to sort your customers by location, money spent, purchase history etc., so you can better understand where your customers are from and their spending behaviors, so you can market better to them.
With Shopify, you can connect to fulfillment solutions such as Amazon, Rakuten Super Logistics, and Shipwire, or set up a custom fulfillment solution. You can also fulfill one or multiple orders with just one click, automating your daily order management.
Shopify integrates with apps like Ordoro, Inventory Source, and eCommHub, making it easy to set up your drop shipping business.
Shopify Mobile App
With Shopify Mobile on your smartphone, you can update your store, manage inventory, fulfill orders, and contact a customer. Your products, inventory, orders, and customers are automatically synced between Shopify Mobile and your online store. In short, you can quickly see items that need your attention, and track trends in your business.
Marketing & SEO
Shopify helps potential customers find your store using search engines. It supports SEO best practices like customizable H1, title, and meta tags. You can also optimize your product pages for search engines with product specific meta tags, titles, and URL handles. Plus, a sitemap.xml is automatically generated with your products, webpages, and blog posts.
Discount codes and coupons
You can run sales and promotions by offering coupon codes that save customers money. You choose whether the discount is for dollars off, a percentage off, free shipping, etc.
Your customers are able to purchase a gift card for someone from your store, or you can use gift cards as store credit.
Social media integration
All Shopify websites include social media integration, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Engage your customers and encourage sales with the option to leave SEO-friendly product reviews on your website.
With Shopify, you can notify your customers of upcoming sales or new products with the MailChimp email marketing app. You can customize your automated store emails with the design and language you want using hundreds of attractive email templates.
Sell on Facebook
Shopify integrates with Facebook so your fans can browse your products and make a purchase without leaving Facebook.
Inventory management is an important part of running your store, and Shopify has you covered in this area too. You can manage your entire inventory with Shopify. Track stock counts, and automatically stop selling products when inventory runs out.
Shopify gives you the capability to offer different variations of your products, such as multiple sizes, colors, materials, and more. Each variation can have its own price, weight, and inventory. In addition, you can give each product a distinct SKU, as well as a bar code.
Organize products by category, type, season, sale, and more. Use smart collections to automatically sort products based on vendor, price, and inventory level.
Add multiple images for your products, so you can show off your product from all angles. However, there is no way to automatically ensure that product images are displayed using the same aspect ratio. This can lead to the messy presentation of stock unless you have cropped all your images before uploading them to Shopify.
Supports unlimited products
There’s no limit to the number or type of products you can sell in your online store with Shopify. It also supports the selling of digital products. So, your customers can order and download your digital products right from your online store.
Shopify App Store
Shopify offers you an extensive number of Apps so you can add more functions to your online shop, and automate a lot of business tasks. The tools are not just sales & marketing tools, they also include additional tools that help you manage administrative tasks such as inventory management, fulfillment, shipping, customer service, bookkeeping, etc.
As part of your monthly plan, Shopify will host your online shop for you and gives you an unlimited amount of bandwidth. You’ll never be charged based on the number of visitors or traffic to your store. All your business information, including products, customers, orders, and inventory, is also backed up in the secure data centers every day.
99.99% up-time and 24/7 monitoring
Most studies show that people will only wait up to 4 seconds for a site to load before leaving and this gets even tighter for e-commerce sites. But with Shopify, there is no need to worry about downtime, since it allows you to turn that side of the business over to the pros and let them worry about the whole range of issues that come with hosting an online store.
Shopify lets you control your business with an iron fist. An actionable dashboard of your sales, orders, and traffic helps you make the right choices for your business. You can Analyze and gain insight into your store’s growth and can see which products are selling and which ones aren’t. Reports can be exported for further analysis in your favorite spreadsheet tool, or can be sent to your bookkeeper or accountant. It also integrates with Google Analytics, so you can track sales, visits, and referrals.
The Shopify support team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by email, live chat, and phone. You can also find commonly asked questions, user guides, and tutorials in the Shopify Help Center.
There are five Shopify plans to choose from:
- Shopify Lite – $9 per month
- Basic Shopify – $29 per month
- Shopify – $79 per month
- ‘Advanced Shopify’ – $299 per month
- Shopify Plus – fees are negotiable
You get more features and tools as you move higher up in their plans, and the credit card rate and transaction fees rate also reduce. However, Shopify, like all hosted platforms, is going to be consistently more expensive month to month than a self-hosted store you run yourself. If you have some technical know-how and a smaller shop, Shopify pricing will be expensive. But if you want to focus on running & marketing your store, then Shopify’s pricing will actually be a pro.
Shopify is a very strong e-commerce online shop builder. It’s competitively priced, easy to use, and its templates are strong. No matter how fast your business and requirements grow, with Shopify you don’t have to be afraid of moving to another platform and restarting everything from scratch. So, if you are looking for an all-in-one e-commerce solution for your online store, and you are looking to grow and add products and you have a little bit of technical know-how, then Shopify will be a great fit for you.