Ecommerce has been the undisputed business force of the past two decades, and industry analysts are bullish about its future for the years to come. From prams and cradles to funeral caskets, everything sells online. A few e-commerce platforms have gone big, and are now the platform of choice for sellers and shoppers alike. A few names that make it to any top 5 e-commerce platforms list are Amazon marketplace, eBay, and Shopify.
Let’s Talk About Shopify
Shopify offers cutting edge e-commerce platform service and does so with an easily navigable learning curve. A hardcore businessman can set up a Shopify store as conveniently as a seasoned web designer. Whatever you want to implement, right from the storefront design to functional widgets, you’re always just a few clicks away from getting things done. Shopify’s storefront design range is sensational. Dozens of majestic e-shop templates are available for your picking. These templates are mobile responsive, so you’re covered for mobile commerce. Want something absolutely unique? You can either customize an existing Shopify template, or pay for an absolutely tailored design. Then, Shopify is flexible, scalable, and future proof. Shopify users get access to several value adding plugins and widgets, can create new functionalities using the APIs, get free and premium third party plugins to enhance existing store capabilities, and easily shift subscription plans to accommodate the needs of your growing e-commerce portal.
On the flipside, there are some caveats with Shopify that potential subscribers would want to be aware of. For starters, Shopify charges a transaction fees per sale you make. This fee varies between 0.5% and 2%, based on the Shopify Plan you choose. However, transactions done using Shopify Pay are exempted from this fee. Secondly, your monthly bills could soar if you use some of the high end apps for integration with Shopify. For instance, FreshBooks, an accounting and bookkeeping add-on, costs $30+ per month. Of course, these add-ons are pretty good, and add value to your business. Thirdly, making quick customizations in Shopify themes can be tricky because it uses a technology called Liquid (proprietary for Shopify). So, invariably you’d need to hire a Shopify developer to get things done.
Shopify has been a stellar success story ever since it broke upon the e-commerce platform scene in 2006. This Canadian company has cemented its place as a highly sophisticated e-commerce platform with high end features that enable and empower sellers. A few questions, though, that any seller looking to go online would have are:
1. How easily can a store be set up in Shopify?
2. How does it enable me to sell more?
3. Can I make my store different from those of my competitors?
4. Can I manage advanced marketing and sales campaigns using this?
5. Why should I choose Shopify instead of other e-commerce platforms?
6. Which Shopify subscription plan is ideal for me?
Well, this review intends to answer these questions and tell you all you need to know about Shopify.
Easy to Use, Intuitive, and Fully Loaded
Ease of use is one of the fortes for Shopify. The learning curve is easily navigable, in spite of the massive range of tools, functionalities and options it provides. It’s possible to set up a web store within one hour using Shopify. This ease of usage extends way beyond the templates and layout customizations, and cuts across core ecommerce aspects such as product page creation, setting inventory management rules, categorization of products, creating discount codes and promotional offers, integrating a blog with your e-store, and handling order tracking along with customer service.
Shopify helps you set up payment processing integrated with more than 70 merchants, and supporting several currencies. Your Shopify e-store lets your customers create their accounts in the store, where they can update their personal information, add credit cards for quick payments, and create wish lists. Customer accounts allow you to create segments, and help you understand your business and customer preferences better. If your business has a staff, you can create employee logins easily. It’s pretty special how you can use all these functionalities without confusing yourself, because it’s all too intuitive!
Shopify Store Themes – Professional Designed, Responsive, and Customizable to the Core
Shopify offers you more than 100 themes to choose from, for your e-store. Some of these are paid themes, priced between $80 and $200, suitable for businesses that want to create a unique identity for themselves. As a beginner, you can trust the free themes, because they are professionally designed as well, and there are enough of them to suit all kind of businesses, right from tech to medical, and multi-retail to apparel. Shopify gives you all the flexibility you can ask for in terms of customizations and fine tuning.
Not only can you use a drag and drop styled theme customization interface to create your web-store, but can also edit the HTML and CSS to change the design from the core. If you have a web developer on-board, this gives you massive leverage in terms of making your web store beautiful and totally attuned to your market. Another thing; all these themes are responsive, so your web store will be absolutely accessible from mobile devices.
Top of the Line Site Security, and Lightning Quick Page Loading
Ecommerce stores have their tasks cut out in terms of site security and loading speeds. Not only should ecommerce websites be 100% safe and secure for users to indulge in financial transactions, but also the pages need to load in the blink of any eye. Shopify has you covered on both fronts, thankfully. Shopify web security experts keep the platform fully secure and hack proof, enabling you to do what you do best – that is, sell some good products.
The 5 key hosting and security components are:
- Unlimited bandwidth means your store’s sudden traffic spikes won’t affect page loading
- Level 1 PCI compliance keeps customer data secure
- Security upgrades keep the store in sync with latest web safety standards
- Globally distributed servers keep your store’s uptime close to 100%
- You can choose a free Shopify hosted domain, use an existing domain, or buy a new domain using Shopify
Despite being highly integrated with payment processors, Shopify ensures that your site’s pages (including payment pages) load super quickly. The average wait time a user allows a web page is 4 seconds, and it’s even smaller for ecommerce pages. This is where end to end managed ecommerce platform Shopify makes a strong case as a ‘pay, and forget the trouble’ solution.
Responsive Customer Support and Rich Knowledge Base
Compared to creating your e-store using self help platforms like WordPress and WooCommerce, Shopify is a more customer friendly experience. This is because you always have Shopify’s top class customer support to turn to whenever you find yourself stuck. Shopify’s customer support mechanisms are multi-pronged, and reachable 24×7 via phone, live chat, and email.
With a business to handle, you don’t want to get stuck with technology troubles, do you? Shopify takes good care of that. Also, the knowledge base of Shopify is mind-blowing, with details feature use guides, FAQs, and several online forums and discussion boards that are always flowing with discussions around the latest tools, tips, tricks, and techniques that help users leverage Shopify for doing business better.
Shopify’s Ecommerce University is nothing short of a practical course for businessmen and entrepreneurs to learn the basics and advanced ecommerce means and methods. Additionally, Shopify’s screenshot rich tutorial resources help you manage the tech housekeeping, if the need arises.
Stunning SEO Options that Make Your Store Google (and other search engines) Friendly
Shopify’s SEO functionalities are rich testimony to the powerful nature of this ecommerce platform. Whereas most website builders and e-store builders barely offer you anything apart from the basic meta, title, image tag creation and keyword specifications, Shopify takes things further. For instance, it creates 100% crawlable and SEO friendly code straight up. Creating awesome landing pages with Shopify is a breezy affair. These are other features like sitemap, search console, duplicate content prevention, a frond end code editor, etc. Managing AdWords campaigns for your e-store can be done right from Shopify, which is a massive convenience factor. Shopify’s SEO tools are easy to us for the first time website creator, and potent enough for your in-house SEO expert to leverage for making your store Google friendly.
A Stellar App Store That Solves All Kinds of Business Problems
Most ecommerce platforms offer their app store to help store managers enhance the functionalities of their ecommerce websites. Shopify does it smarter than most. For starters, it leverages the app store to offer hyper specialized apps, such as Pict (helping you sell digital visual content), and Chimpify (integrating MailChimp with your Shopify website). Some of these apps are free, and some are paid. This means that when you need any specialized marketing and selling functionality, the app store becomes a place where you can find it in the form of an app. Shopify even has a dedicated team of business developers that focus on bringing more developers on-board, so that Shopify users have the largest possible selection of apps and tools that help solve distinct business problems.
Shopify Payments significantly simplifies payment processing for your web store. This is a payment processing method that integrates with the store, and eliminates the need to add any merchant accounts and third party gateway accounts. Shopify Payments becomes the one stop payment processing solution, delivering security, conveniences, and speed to users as well as sellers. Shopify Payments lets you accept all major debit and credit cards once the store is set up, track pending payout balances and track payment schedules, view order level payment details, recover lost sales from charge backs (Shopify compiles chargeback responses), and makes you exempt from the transaction fee.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
It’s statistically proven that the cart abandonment could pull down any e-store’s sales by more than 60%. This puts into perspective the need of an abandoned checkout recovery feature, which Shopify provides. Shopify’s basic plan lets you find out details of such potential orders, and helps you plan on subsequent strategies. The details you can easily access are – the checkout#, customer name, timing, and cart value. The advanced plans come with tools to help you trigger emails to these potential shoppers, motivating them to complete the sales. By automating the abandoned checkout recovery process, this feature can keep the lost sales impact for your store down.
Mobile Commerce Readiness
M-commerce is the next big wave, with every year witnessing an increasing percentage of shoppers shifting from desktop browsing to mobile browsing. Shopify has you covered on this front. With Shopify Theme Store’s mobile responsive theme, you are assured that your desktop-designed web store will look equally awesome when viewed on mobile devices via web browsers. Plus, there are advanced mobile shopping cart settings that let you deliver your store experience to users directly on their mobile phones. For sellers, the Shopify app (compatible with Android and iOS) is a truly powerful tool, helping users customize and manage their stores on the move, apart from keeping a check on the sales and other important sales parameters.
Empowered to Drive Sales, Marketing, and Promotion Activities
Shopify excels as a wholesome sales and marketing oriented ecommerce platform, offering a massive range of awesome features that help you sell more and create brand equity.
- Email customizations: Shopify helps you customize and automate email marketing campaigns for customer groups. The email editor helps you quickly create attention grabbing emails, and with variables such as customer name, billing address, etc., you can customize the contents.
- Promotional deals and discount Codes: The discount and coupons engine is powerful, and potent to handle any kind of discounts you want to offer. From $ discounts to % discounts, from site wide discounts to product-category specific discounts, from usage limits to customer focused promotions, Shopify empowers you to manage all kinds of promotional activities in a hassle-free manner.
- Shipping Service Integration: Shopify can integrate your web store with 100+ shipping service provider 3rd party interfaces, such as Aftership, Shippo, and Shipstation, helping you take care of businesses that necessitate sophisticated shipping management via 3rd party apps.
- Digital Product Sales: Shopify’s digital downloads app is all you need to sell any kind of digital products; no wonders, it’s regarded as the most wholesome ecommerce solution.
- Gift Cards: In the Unlimited and Pro plans, Shopify provides gift card support, with features such as expiry date setup, email notifications, bulk management of gift cards, etc.
Shopify offers 3 subscription plans – Shopify Basic, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify. By opting for a 1-year or 2-year subscription, you can save up to 20% on the cost. All these plans offer multi-channel sales, such as Pinterest Buy, Twitter Buy, Facebook Buy, and POS. Unlimited product pages, unlimited file storage, 24xx7 support, manual order creation, fraud analysis, SSL certificate, website and blog – all these features are included in all the plans. The Shopify (mid-range) plan offers additional features such as gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, and professional reports. The Unlimited plan comes with an advanced report builder and real time carrier shopping, and is suited for expansive e-stores.
To Whom is Shopify Ideally Suited as an Ecommerce Platform?
Shopify is the ideal E-commerce sales platform for businessmen and entrepreneurs who want to focus on their products and strategic aspects rather than investing time in managing anything related to the underlying technology that helps them sell via e-commerce. Anybody can open any kind of e-commerce portal using Shopify ; it’s evident from the massive range of niches that existing Shopify stores are spread across. Shopify is always updating its functionalities, and began to offer a POS system in September 2013. This means that you can use a mobile tablet device as a point of sale terminal, integrating your physical store with the Shopify e-store. Shopify does the remarkable job of keeping things simple for e-commerce newbies, and enabling well established players to really flex their muscles and transform their e-stores into highly automated sales machines.
There are 3 distinct advantages of using Shopify for creating your e-store. Firstly, the premium responsive themes are so stunning that your e-store instantly creates a healthy brand image in the visitors’ mind. Secondly, its app store is ultra powerful and potent to help you realize any kind of business function relevant for your e-store. Thirdly, Shopify is highly integrated with shipping services and other selling platforms and checkout channels, right from Facebook Pay to Point of Sale, which makes your business absolutely integrated.
If you’re looking for something basic and free, more attuned to experimental ecommerce, then Shopify is not for you, though you can use its 14 day free trial to play around. However, if you’re serious about taking your ecommerce store big, Shopify is the vehicle that can take you there.
- Fully functional tool for managing ecommerce business
- Wide functional opportunities
- Many quality web templates
- Variety of premium templates you can buy separately
- Powerful drag and drop editor
- Powerful marketing tools for promotions management
- Unlimited web hosting
- SEO friendly
- Great collection of applets in Shopify AppMarket
- Lots of tutorials and video on how to work on Shopify
- Not easy to use
- High cost
- Commission from sales - up to 2%
IS IT WORTH TO USE THIS WEBSITE BUILDER?
Definitely - yes. Since this is one of the most powerful online ecommerce platforms if not the most. Shopify will be an ideal solution for online store with huge selection of products, categories, discounts, sales statistic and other attributes of the big ecommerce project.