If you run an e-commerce business, figuring out what platform might work best is a big part of whether or not you’ll succeed. There are many options to set up your online store, but Shopify is arguably one of the most popular.
E-commerce is on an upward tick thanks to more people shopping online to avoid exposure to COVID-19. Emarketer reports a 27.6% increase in global digital sales. Whether you want to upscale your online store’s appearance, or you are starting from scratch, you might wonder if Shopify is the right decision for your brand.
A third-party platform such as Shopify offers both advantages and disadvantages for the average user. Ongoing costs and limitations in customization can both deter users. At the same time, if you don’t have a lot of coding knowledge, Shopify is fairly easy to set up and get your inventory online quickly.
Is Shopify Good for a New Business?
Shopify is easy to use. The WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) environment makes getting an online store up and running easy even for someone with zero coding experience. The brand offers tutorials for those who need a little extra help.
If you do have some web design and coding experience, you may dislike some of the limitations of the platform. such as inability to create product category levels and lack of variations for products with multiple options.
Overall, Shopify is great for a new e-commerce startup, allowing merchants to get online quickly without a lot of technical knowledge. We’ll look at the pros and cons of using Shopify for your online store, so you can determine if it’s the right choice for you.
Pro: Fast Setup
The shopify theme store offers 100 free and premium website templates to choose from. No matter what you sell, you’ll find something to suit your needs. However, you may find other merchants choose the same theme, keeping your store from looking fully customized. Still, it’s a fast way to get your site up and make it look professional.
Con: High-Risk Payments May Be Denied
Shopify’s payment gateway often denies high risk merchants. If you run a business that has a lot of chargebacks for any reason, you may find yourself without a way to accept payment for new orders. Fortunately, you can integrate third-party payment gateways with Shopify and still open a store there without using their point of sale (POS) option.
Pro: Multi-Channel Selling
One of the biggest advantages to opening a shopify store is the ability to sell both in your store and on social media sites. You can cross-list items on Facebook and Shopify, for example. The platform also integrates with Instagram, Ebay and Amazon.
The ability to list across channels expands your reach and helps you reach customers who otherwise might not visit your website.
Con: High Transaction Fees
You’ll pay Shopify every time someone orders from your store. You might not mind this at first, when you have only a few customers, but as your business grows, the fees can add up to a big number.
Your cousin who orders from you once a month still triggers the fee. Previous customers with ongoing orders trigger the fee.
In addition to the $29 per month you’ll pay for a Basic store, you’ll also pay 2.9% plus 30 cent fee on each order. For larger totals, 2.9% adds up. Taking out an upgraded account, means more perks but higher monthly fees and slightly lower transaction percentages.
Pro: Easily Integrate With Other Apps
Because so many merchants use Shopify, the platform integrates easily with other third-party apps. For example, if you need to carefully track inventory or keep track of compliance regulations, Netsuite integrates with Shopify and makes the process simple.
Integration means when the price gets updated in one spot, it automatically changes in the other. The result is increased positive customer experience (CX) and better flow throughout every department.
Con: You’re Locked In
If you create your store on Shopify, it’s very hard to take it to another platform without jumping through severe hoops. You’re in better shape if you integrate with another app, such as Netsuite, because you’ll have everything backed up on there, but you’ll still have to build out a new platform and theme.
Because the fees for Shopify are so prohibitive for smaller brands, you may find you want to leave sooner rather than later, but doing so will either require a big redesign budget or hours of your time.
Pro: Apps to Elevate Your Store
Shopify has over 3,000 apps to help you customize your store without knowing coding. You can probably get your store to function nearly any way you’d like without having to pay out a lot of design or development fees.
For example, you can install apps that stay in touch with new customers and market to them automatically. These apps save you time and help increase customer retention.
Other apps help you process returns, improve SEO, recognize repeat customers and more. You can easily improve your store’s CX without a lot of additional effort.
Con: Cookie Cutter Approach
If you like to stand out from the crowd and be unique, you won’t appreciate the cookie cutter approach of Shopify. You are limited to their apps and themes. You can’t get into the backend to change coding, and with good reason as you could potentially break your store.
The cookie cutter looks can be adapted and personalized with product images, logos and a unique brand personality. Your layout and design might look slightly similar to other stores, but you can still make it your own.
Pro: Top-Notch Security
According to Fundera, Shopify is home to over one million e-commerce stores, but not all are active at any given time. Still, with such a high number of users, they are on top of security, ensuring your sensitive customer data doesn’t get hacked.
Also, if the site does temporarily go down, they have a full team of IT professionals ensuring it gets up and running as quickly as possible. If the issue only affects your store, you can reach out to their 24/7 customer support. Because they serve business clients in over 175 countries and resulting time zones, there is almost always someone available to handle concerns.
How to Get Started With a Shopify Store
If you think you’d like to give Shopify a try, setting up a store is easy. Simply go to the Shopify.com website and choose “Start Free Trial.” The call to action (CTA) button appears in the upper left of the landing page and repeats farther down the page.
Choose a store name that makes sense for your shop. It might be challenging to find one that isn’t already used, but you should select something easy to remember. Imagine you meet someone and tell them your store name. You want them to remember where to go to find it.
It’s best to stick with the Basic package at first until you see if Shopify works for your needs. You can always upgrade at any time if you have a high-volume store or need a premium feature. Once your site is up, add your logo and tagline or any other identifying information. Add your inventory with images and product descriptions. You’ll choose payment gateways, add apps as needed and then take your store live.
The free trial is currently 14 days. You will pay transaction fees during that time, but you would with any payment gateway. You can see how well the system functions for you and if you like your store, simply pay the monthly fee and continue month-to-month.
How Much Does a Shopify Storefront Cost?
There really isn’t an easy answer to this question. Your costs vary based on how many items you sell and the total amount for each order. If you sell $1,000 to a customer, you’ll pay a minimum of $29 for transaction fees.
You can save a little by upgrading your account, but then your monthly fees will be more. Here is the breakdown of their three plans:
- $29 per month fee
- Unlimited Products
- Discount Codes
- 2.9% + 30 cents per Shopify Payments purchase
- 2.7% fee for in-person purchases
- 2% if using a different payment gateway, but then you’ll also have to pay their transaction fees
- $79 per month
- All the perks of Basic Shopify
- Gain access to USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing
- 2.6% plus 30 cent fee per online
- Shopify Payments purchase
- 2.5% for in-person
- 1% for third-party payment systems
- $299 per month
- All the features of Shopify
- Plus up to 15 staff accounts
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- 2.4% plus 30 cents per transaction for Shopify Payments
- 2.4% for in-person
- 0.5% for third-party payment gateways
Should You Try Shopify
Shopify has both pros and cons. Take advantage of their free two-week trial and see what you think. You may pay a little more in fees, but it’s a great way to get your shop online fast and see what works and what doesn’t.
You can always use the trial as a test to see what you want in your online store, what sells and the features you want to integrate. If you love Shopify, then you can go month-to-month to make sure it works for you in the long-term.
About the Author!
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.