What is Shopify?
Shopify has become one of the most important ecommerce platforms available. Despite its success, people still ask us "What is Shopify?" In simple terms, it is a cloud-based ecommerce store platform used by businesses and entrepreneurs all over the world to set up online shops. From the platform, it is possible to build a fully customizable website, an online store, and a blog without having to code. The staggering numbers prove that Shopify is the ecommerce solution of choice. There are currently more than 800,000 businesses powered by the platform, with more than 1,000,000 active users generating revenues of over $63 billion.
Shopify simplifies the process of getting your goods and services to the digital marketplace. It serves an increasingly growing market, ranging from solopreneurs through to major businesses to governments.
With versatility second to none, it is easy to build a store quickly from a theme and powerful enough to create a highly customized international, multilingual enterprise-level ecommerce operation.
The platform offers a selection of free professional store themes to kickstart your ecommerce aspirations. There are also themes that you can purchase. You can easily customize colours, imagery, and fonts with a few simple clicks. No design skills are required to get started. Further, all themes are fully responsive, which means that your customers will get a consistent experience regardless of how they browse your store. As we all know, nothing abandons a cart faster than shopping on a site that is not responsive to your mobile.
Shopify Payments allows you to accept credit cards instantly and without third-party accounts. In addition, the platform supports over 100+ external payment gateways. Regardless of how you want to get paid, it is likely to be supported by this platform.
Shopify's comprehensive dashboard is intuitive and allows you to easily and instantly get a holistic and detailed view of your business. This allows you to better understand sales, orders, inventory and audience to better tailor your products and marketing and grow your business.
Shopify Integrates with Facebook and Messenger
If all of the above is not enough to pique your interest, get a load of this—Shopify is fully integrated with Facebook and Messenger. Customers can easily browse your products and collections using the new and always visible Shop section on your Facebook business page. It is now really easy to sell products on Facebook. More than half a billion people around the world access Facebook solely from their mobile device and the Facebook Shop has been designed with mobile users in mind. You can add your products and services to your Facebook business page with just one click. Product details, product images, and inventory will automatically sync as soon as you make an update. And it gets better. You can personalize the shopping experience with Messenger chat support on your online store and Facebook page. Customers can ask you questions in Messenger, buy your products directly in a chat, and track their orders and shipping updates in real time. The great thing about incorporating Messenger into your sales process is that you create a personal connection with each customer. All communication stays in one thread. The data shows that 40% of customers buy more if the marketing and sales outreach is personalized. There are many reasons to use Shopify on your Facebook business page.
Shopify's Pros and Cons
Here is a summary of what we see as the best features of the Shopify platform:
- It is cloud-based. The merits of being cloud-based go without saying. You just need a web connection.
- Ease of use. Everything is done in few clicks. There are great beginner guides and extensive documentation.
- It has a wide range of themes and tools that can be used to create a website and set up your online shop quickly and easily. The quantity and quality of themes is exceptional.
- It has integrations with most of the top marketing tools.
- It has seamless integration with Facebook and Messenger.
- Shopify payments offer vendors an easy way to set up a credit card clearing system and accept all sorts of different payment methods.
- Flexibility. Although knowledge of coding is not required to open your online store, basic knowledge of HTML and CSS can help you customize your shop. Shopify is built on Liquid and those with HTML and CSS experience can pick it up easily.
- You can use plug-ins to extend and customize online store functionality.
- It works with PayPal as well as a number of other payment platforms such as Stripe, 2Checkout and Authorize.
- It works with many different currencies.
- “Buy now” buttons can be placed into websites.
- You can use other sales channels. You can sell directly on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. You can also connect your Shopify store to Amazon or eBay.
- Shipping is a breeze. Shopify connects your store with various carriers such as FedEx and UPS and provides accurate shipping costs at checkout. Note: live shipping rates are only available in some countries.
- Shopify offers enhanced security.
- There is even POS (point of sale) hardware if you want to sell the old fashioned way.
- It has a huge community of users that often act as support resources.
- Shopify has award-winning customer service. There are 24/7 support teams available to answer your questions.
- Shopify offers a 14-day free trial.
Here is a summary of what we see as the cons of the platform. Spoiler alert! Everybody hates additional fees and Shopify has a few if you want a highly customized shop. If you keep it simple, most of these fees can be avoided. Bottom line: a higher quality store will generate more revenue, so it is a matter of pay less/earn less or pay more/earn more.
- You need to make a financial commitment of at least $26 per month for the long term. This is for the basic subscription which is a good place to start. WordPress users can integrate Shopify Lite for only $9 per month.
- Some things cannot be edited or customized without Shopify Plus. And you guessed it, it is a bit pricey.
- There is a pretty limited supply of free themes to choose from.
- Some of the cool plug-ins require subscriptions to third parties. And you guessed it, they can be pricey.
- Higher end reporting is only available with mid-tier plans.
- Some of the coolest features such as "abandoned cart" are only available with the more expensive subscriptions.
- Currently, you cannot operate multiple stores under one account. Fingers crossed, this is expected to change.
- If you do not use Shopify payments, the additional fees can add up.
- Setting up multilingual stores is not easy or cheap.
- On-page SEO could be better organized.
What does Shopify cost?
As you would expect, there are a range of fees based on the subscription level you choose. Prices start around a US$29 per month for a small store and increase accordingly.
- Basic Shopify: $29 per month
- Shopify: $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
Shopify Lite allows you to sell on social media and costs $9 per month. The enterprise level subscription, called Shopify Plus can cost thousands of dollars per month. If you do not use Shopify payments then there also transactions fees ranging from .5% to 2%.
If you use Shopify Payments to offer credit card payments and to be frank, you should, then there is a fee assessed of 2.4% to 2.9% per transaction, plus a small flat fee per transaction. You are going to have to pay the credit card fee anyway and the flat fee is so small (30 cents) that the transaction fees are essentially break even and running the payments through Shopify will save you a lot of headaches.
You can register for a free 14-day trial of Shopify to test it for yourself. Inbox Communications has an active ecommerce consulting practice and we would be happy to answer any questions you might have or build your Shopify store.