There are a lot of options for running an online store – Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce solution that I’ve used to run several online stores & consult with clients since 2009. Here’s my Shopify review – with 6 pros and 6 cons of using Shopify for your online store.
You can check out Shopify’s current Plans & Pricing here.
EDIT 01/12/2018: This Shopify review was originally published 7/13/2013 and re-published frequently with updates to reflect new features/pricing/opinion. From 2016 through 2018, Shopify has improved on several fronts, especially with a much-improved checkout process. Just in the last year, they added same domain checkout – previously a big disadvantage.
But first, a bit of intro.
There’s a lot of options for running an online store, and your choice of best eCommerce platform can have just as big of an effect on your business as choosing a building or location for a physical store. It’s not the end all of the business – but it certainly can make or break your business – and can either expand your opportunity or severely kneecap your business.
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is part of a group of turn-key eCommerce (aka “hosted eCommerce”) solutions that provide everything you need from end to end (minus the product and business know-how) to set up and start selling your product(s) to the world as opposed to you putting all the pieces together yourself (see Shopify’s plans here).
It’s sort of like hiring a general contractor to build your house, over being the contractor and hiring sub-contractors yourself. You’re still in control, but you let the general contractor use their expertise to make the project happen. My go-to analogy is with real estate.
There are pros and cons to the approach – which is what we’ll get into. But basically know that Shopify competes mainly with BigCommerce and Volusion – all three of which provide turn-key eCommerce solutions, which in turn compete with non-turnkey solutions (like setting up your own store with WordPress).
And these hosted solutions sort of compete and integrate with eCommerce “marketplaces” like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. I wrote more about how Shopify can work with Etsy here and how Shopify competes with website builders like Wix here.
Aside – Shopify also has a “Buy button” functionality that allows you to use Shopify as Point of Sale (POS) / Inventory option – and let customers click to buy your products anywhere online (Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress blog, Tumblr, etc). I’ll be looking less at that – and more at Shopify’s full online store package. You can get the Buy button only as part of the Lite Plan, but it competes with PayPal rather than full online store options.
How Does Shopify Work?
Shopify is fairly straightforward – which is sort of their whole selling point. The broad process is as follows –
- Pick a Shopify plan that fits your budget and feature needs.
- “Point” your domain that you bought from a registrar like GoDaddy or NameCheap to your Shopify store. You also buy one via Shopify.
- Choose a design/template for your store. You can edit a free one via their drag/drop tool or buy a premium one or hire a designer.
- Add your products, page content, payment options, etc
- Go get customers! Here’s an eCommerce marketing strategy to get you started.
Is Shopify Worth It?
It depends! That is a maddening answer, I know. But it’s true. Shopify is a tool. It might not be for you. If you are selling a single digital product on your blog, then Shopify is probably not worth it. A PayPal button or a WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress site would work. But if you need to run a multi-product ecommerce store with inventory, marketing tools, customer records, etc – then Shopify is absolutely worth it…if the pros / cons balance out for your based on your goals, resources, expertise, etc.
Make sense? Cool. Let’s dive into the actual Shopify review.[Continue Reading]