If you are reading this, you are probably already thinking of launching your own online store. Shopify is one of the most popular platforms to use in that regard, but is it the best online store builder for -your- needs?
I will give you a short brief on what opportunities Shopify provides, as well as showing you how you can start an online store from your own home, using Shopify.
What Is Shopify?
Shopify was founded in 2004, and have its headquarter in Ottawa, Canada. The company is regarded as one of the most popular, and easy to use, ecommerce store builders around. The platform lets you create attractive online stores, without you having to be a designer or a techie, as you can set up a beautiful store in just a few clicks. According to the company, they have more than 600 000 merchants using their platform.
The stores that you set up using Shopify is also mobile-friendly, as all of Shopify’s store designs are mobile-responsive.
How Does Shopify Work?
Shopify has a 14 days free trial period where you can try it out before deciding on which of the three plans you’d want to sign up for. These are the Basic ($29/month), Standard ($79/month) or the Advanced ($299/month).
Shopify is fairly straightforward to use, which is basically their selling point. The broad process is as follows:
- Pick a Shopify plan that fits your feature needs and budget
- You need to have a domain name, which you can buy, either via Shopify or from other domain registrars like GoDaddy, Sedo, etc. The domain name needs to be “pointed” to your Shopify store
- Choose a template/design for your store. You can choose between free ones that can be edited via their drag/drop tool, buy a premium one, or hire a designer
- Add your page content, products and payment options, etc
- Start marketing your store
Depending on the type of industry you belong to, and the way you want to sell your products, your requirement for features and functionality might vary. If you want more detailed info about the different pricing plans and their specific functionality, you should check out Shopify’s Help Center, which you can easily find on the top right corner of their homepage.
Shopify offers you a 10% discount on annual plans, and a 20% discount on biennial plans when choosing to to pay them upfront. This could be a good idea if you are confident that Shopify covers all needs for your business, and if you are likely to have a store on your site for the next 1-2 years. Otherwise, the safer option would be choosing a monthly plan.
Shopify also has a Lite plan for anyone who wants to sell their products without having to maintain an online store. If you already have a website set up, or if you want to start monetize your social media and sell from there, you can do so by signing up for the Lite plan, which gives you the added ecommerce functionality that you need, like for instance embedding a ‘buy button’ on your site. You also get the chance to sell the products you’ve got ,in person, for example at a trade show or a pop-up store by using the point of sale app that Shopify provides and a card reader.
The Lite plan gives you the core functionalities, such as the ability to take payments, to showcase and sell products from a Facebook shop, chat and track orders. Shopify Lite can plug in into any WordPress site,Tumblr, plus many more where you have an audience. You don’t get the ability to build a store with this feature.
Shopify’s Website Designs and Templates
You can go to the Shopify Theme Store and check out the well-designed and professionally looking themes and templates. The store has over 100 premium themes, both paid ones and free ones which you could use to make your website attractive for your customers.
The price of the paid themes varies from between $80 to $180. Spending money on themes might be worth it as it could make your site stand out, and make the potential customers spend more time checking out your site, which could lead to you making more sales.
All themes come with extensive features including:
- Blogging functionality
- Ability to edit CSS and HTML
- Import and export of customer data
- Content Management System functionality (CMS)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Point of Sale integration
- Discount coupon
- ‘Buy now’ button
In terms of security, there are payment and fraud analysis tools built in, and of course SSL certificates as a part of the deal when signing up.
Shopify also offers the WYSIWYG (WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet) page editor, as a part of the website building, . This allows you to add basic elements, to your site such as text and images.
If you are thinking of adding more complex elements, like for example Google Maps or forms , you’ll have to use some programming skills and dig into the code. As there is not any form builders, and you for example want a “contact us” form on your site, you need to choose a theme with the “contact” template. If you chose a template without one and still want it, you’ll have to get help from someone who can deal with CSS and HTML coding in order to get it on your site.
You can also use a blog manager to take care of the basic blog creation essentials such as authors, tags, publish dates and categories.
Shopify App Store
If you want to extend the functionality and automate different business processes of the store, you can do so by choosing from free, as well as paid plug-and-play apps in the Shopify App Store.
Shopify offers two ways to accept payments, first is Shopify’s own built-in payment system, powered by Stripe, which is available for users based in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore. If you select this you don’t have to worry about any kind of subscription transaction fees above the card rate.
If you are not from any of the countries listed above, you have to use external gateway providers (such as PayPal). As mentioned, only stores that uses a third-party payment provider will be subject to Shopify’s subscription transaction fees, in addition to any credit card fees that are charged by their merchant account provider.
Shopify’s Customer Support Service
Shopify’s customer support team are available 24/7. You can get in touch with the support staff for any website problem or technical issue via live chat, email or telephone. They also offer 4 different international phonenumbers on which you could talk with, and get assistance, depending on your region. This is because of the different time zones, and to make sure that you will receive the help you need, when you need it.
When you are running a business online, you don’t want to deal with any kind of issues that leads to unwanted downtime and loss for your business. Shopify’s customer support team are usually very fast with resolving any issue that may occur to your store. You also have access to a huge database of information and FAQs about the Shopify platform.
Pros and Cons of Using Shopify
- 14 days free trial period with no payment information required. If you choose one of the paid plans during your free trial, then you won’t get charged for any subscription fees until your free trial period has ended
- All themes are mobile-friendly. Having a mobile-responsive store is a huge plus, and it will have positive effects on your sales
- Great customer support
- The interface is very easy to use, you can choose from over 100 premium themes, and you can have your store up and running in no time
- Provides convenience to your customers, as well as offering safe payment solutions
- Using either free or paid for apps from Shopify’s App Store, gives you the chance to extend the functionality of your store
- It could seem a little pricey, especially if you are not confident that your business would be successful.
- If you use a third-party payment gateway instead of using ‘Shopify Payments’, you have to pay the fees for the transaction. That could range from 0.5% to 2% for every sale that you do. However, that is a small price to pay for having Shopify to run and manage the transactions for you
Shopify Review – Conclusion
Having been through the basics of what Shopify provides, it’s time to sum things up. Having used Shopify for my drop shipping business, I have been impressed with how easy it actually is to get your store up and running, and in my opinion, this is the best online store builder around. The interface is very user-friendly and the themes and templates looks very professional.
Of course, the quality it offers comes at a price, but the only way for you to find out if Shopify is worth it, is to try it. The 14 day risk-free trial period gives you the chance to see if this is a platform that you might be willing to pay for or not.Start Your 14 Day Free Trial at Shopify
If you got any questions, comments, or want to share your opinion of Shopify, feel free to leave it in my comment section below.