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 on 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 05/01/2017: This Shopify review was originally published 7/13/2013 and re-published frequently with updates throughout to reflect new features/pricing/opinion. In 2016 through 2017, Shopify has improved on several fronts, especially with a much improved checkout process. Enjoy!
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 provides everything you need from end to end (minus the product and business know-how) to setup and start selling your product(s) to the world in contrast 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.
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 competes with non-turnkey solutions (like setting up your own store with WordPress).
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.
So 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.
Make sense? Cool. Let’s dive into the actual Shopify review.[Continue Reading]