Shopify 101 : How Does Shopify Work ?

Shopify Review

Shopify is an online selling platform, kind of like Amazon, but instead of letting people upload their products on their website, Shopify operates as a SaaS product ( Software as a service ). With Shopify, you can develop, and maintain an online store for your products in less than an hour, even if you're no good at coding!

Click on the Button Below to Make Your Store for FREE.

shopify review how does shopify work

Researching about setting up an e-commerce website, and the name Shopify poped in multiple lists? Now you're curious to learn how it works, or whether or not it is good for your future online store?

At the end of this blog post, you'll be able to understand what Shopify is, how it works, and whether or not it is the right choice for you.

Introduction: What is Shopify?

Let me begin by introducing what it is. Shopify is an online selling platform, kind of like Amazon, but instead of letting people upload their products on their website, Shopify operates as a SaaS product ( Software as a service ). With Shopify, you can develop, and maintain an online store for your products in less than an hour, even if you're no good at coding!

The product receives tons of admiration for making selling online products that easy. In the last, merchands had two routes if they wanted to sell independently. They either had to hire a tech guy or agency to do it for him or learn everything on his own. On the one hand, there was a lot of money that had to be invested, and on the other hand, a lot of time went into the learning curve.

There were a bunch of drag and drop website builders, but none came close to become the preferred choice of vendors to create independent stores. Two prime reasons were high prices, and not the website builders being optimized to make websites and not online stores.

Shopify saw this gap, and filled it quickly with their "e-commerce builder".

For people who wanted to run a separate store, it was like a dream come true. The whole process became a lot straightforward and painless.

Shopify vs Other Platforms


Do you have any friend, that makes jokes without naming any names, but you guys get the hang of who is being mocked?

Well, that's what Shopify decided to do with their comparison section. Instead of manually comparing themselves with other online selling platforms, they placed customer testimonials on their comparison page.

They've placed testimonials from users that migrated towards their platform from Amazon, Bigcommerce, WordPress, Magento, 3d cart and more.

But if we put everything aside, there are a bunch of things that make Shopify a good e-commerce builder -

  • Drag and Drop functionality - I've set up stores for my clients under an hour without writing even a single line of code or custom CSS.
  • Shopify POS - their unique feature that allows vendors to sync an offline store ( physical store(s) ) and manage all sales under one roof.

How Does Shopify Work?

As mentioned above, Shopify is a SaaS ( Software as a service ) shopping cart solution based on the cloud.

You're required to pay a monthly fee, which gives you access to an admin panel. Here, you can add products, enter data about your store, collect, and fulfill orders. You also get to choose from a wide variety of themes to customize the design of your website. Majority of the themes are modern, clean and simple. You can also make major tweaks to the theme for it to fit your website better.

One of the key features that made Shopify popular was their reliable and secure hosting. You won't need to worry about site crash on a sale, or your store being hijacked. Stores report a 99% uptime, which is pretty impressive. You also get a free SSL certificate, which is something you ought to have if you're selling anything online.

In case you run into any problem, you can contact their 24/7 customer support which is available on phone, live chat, and email. They also have a gigantic knowledge base where you'll find answers to most of your questions.

They boast, and they truly are an "all in one solution". A Shopify subscription will enable you to start selling online within hours.

The Pros & The Cons

Every good thing, even coffee ! has some cons. So does Shopify -

Pros

  • Ease of use: One of the biggest reasons people love Shopify is how easy it is to use. The whole thing is built for people who aren't technically sound. You can do tasks such as adding discounts, products without any knowledge of HTML or PHP. The whole design is impressive, and the drag and drop editing tools make it even better.
  • Low cost for starting: Their basic plan starts from $29 a month, and mid-level one is priced at $70 for a month. If you're someone who is already selling offline, this is affordable.
  • Beautiful designs: You can select from a wide variety of free and paid themes. All themes are responsive; i.e. they load well on both desktop and mobiles.
  • Support: let it is midnight or early morning, you can have access to technical support via live chat, phone, or email. So, even if you're a night owl, you can get support without any hassle.

Cons

  • Limited functions: Here is the thing, the platform offers you everything that you'd require to set up and run a store. However, once your business gets big, your requirements become specialized. Since Shopify aims for all the businesses, it doesn't provide a ton of scope for customization in case of functions. This is where you can use add-ons. They get the majority of the task done, but again, they would be an additional cost.
  • Add-ons: As I mentioned, Shopify aims at covering as many businesses as possible. So, you'll find almost no advanced features. But, they're available in add-ons. Some of them are free, but a lot of them aren't. As your requirement increases, you'll have to keep adding these add-ons, which can increase your monthly fee up to 3 times!
  • Transaction fee: Majority of the e-commerce builders don't charge a transaction fee. However, depending on your pricing plan, Shopify charges a 0.5% to 2% fees.
  • Late customer support: In the past, when Shopify didn't have a flood of stores, the support team was quick. Now, you can even get waiting times for thirty minutes! As Shopify grows, it might increase the support team in future. But for now, some customers aren't quite happy with their wait time. But most of the time, you won't need support. There is the knowledge base, forums and a lot of users that'll help you out.

Start Your Online Store for FREE!

Start a FREE Shopify Store

If you're interested in starting an online store, this is your chance. Shopify offers a 14-day trial which would be enough for you to test its functionality, themes, and rest of the things. To get the trial, go to the Shopify homepage, click on the free trial button in the menu, and fill the details.

Before you move on to the page, do keep in mind that your store name is going to be your URL. For example, if you pick "hacknovations" as your name, your URL will be "hacknovations.myshopify.com". It is best to choose one word, or else, if your name is "hello kitty" you'll end up with "hello-kitty.myshopify.com".

Once you create your account, fill up details like name, phone number, and address. You'll then be taken to your homepage where you can start adding products, customizing your new store etc.

How to: Start Shopify?

The 14 Day trial is a good place to start Shopify. You won't need to enter any credit card details, and you get to experience everything inside.

You'll then be able to test every aspect of Shopify. You can do things such as test marketing campaigns, add an add-on, customize your design, and much more. If you feel like you're comfortable with Shopify, you can pick any of their plans and start selling professionally.

Once you sign for the free trial, start by adding products. If you're selling physical goods, enter accurate dimensions and weights. This will help you calculate shipping rates ( if you use Shopify shipping ).

After you add a bunch of products, consider customizing your website to fit your business.

For example, if you sell pizzas, you might like to get your site in the red color scheme, pink if you sell girl products and so on.

You can also play along with the 1500 extensions that are offered in the Shopify app store.

How to: Increase Sales in Shopify?

There are a ton of ways to which you can bring people on to your store and turn them into customers. This includes running paid Google ad campaigns, Facebook ads, influencer marketing etc.

But, another way of doing this is by opening your website to affiliates.

Affiliates are people who'll get customers to your website in exchange for a commission. There are a bunch of plugins that can help you do this with ease.

Start a FREE Shopify Store

Best Shopify Alternatives

Shopify is one of the best services for setting up and managing your ecommerce store. In fact, it is designed to help beginners with its easy-to-use and simple interface but a single service cannot provide all features.

Shopify offers many great features that other ecommerce services are unable to but it is always great to look out alternatives and make a better, informed choice. So, here’s a list of some alternatives to Shopify with their brief description:

Woo Commerce

If you are a fan of WordPress then Woocommerce is the right choice for you. Woocommerce has a free package that is at par with other hosting services are offering in paid plans. It is a web-based ecommerce platform for open sources. Buying its paid plans is also a great option too as it is loads of features.

Woocommerce provides add-on features for as low as $49. This a unique feature of Woocommerce that instead of hefty monthly plans, it gives add-on features for a one-time payment or annually. Other of its great features are no transaction fees, 1-click selling, and a seamless integration in WordPress.

Its downsides being that an individual requires a few technology skills to operate it, and it can be slow at times. Woocommerce is best suited for stores having heavy and diverse content. It has a good rating of 4.5 out 5 stars on Capterra. As mentioned earlier, it has a free plan and add-on self-customizable features for a one-time fee or annual payment.

Big Commerce

Big Commerce is well-known for offering all-in-one solutions to a perfect website. It has a great drag-and-drop editor that allows you to create with lots of freedom and flexibility. It comes with a ton of advanced marketing tools that offer better and improved conversion rates.

Also, Big commerce provides many features built-in making it a better alternative than Shopify as you will not have to pay for a lot of features. In contrast to Wix, Big Commerce has a very strong performing SEO and it is excellent for multi-channel sales. A downside of Big Commerce is that it has only seven free themes available for your store, you will have to additionally buy premium and unique themes.

It offers great features like no additional transaction fees, you can upload unlimited number of products, multi-channel selling, and a good speed for the mobile app by Big Commerce. It works best with almost all kinds of business models making it ideal for everyone to use.

Big Commerce has pricing plans ranging from $29.95 per month to $249.95 per month but Big Commerce has a limitation for earning to each plan. If your earnings exceed the limit of your plan, it automatically upgrades you. It has a good rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Capterra.

Magento

Magneto stands to be one unique ecommerce service provider with its completely free plans. It perfect for taking full control of your online store if you have a team of coders and programmers. It gives richly-featured templates, open-sourced and highly customizable tools and functions.

The platform has its perks when it comes to optimization and customization but since it is free the user needs to pay some other portal for hosting.

Nonetheless, it an amazing alternative to Shopify. The features are limitless with apt SEO tools, API for website services, nearly thousands of advanced customizations and inventory management. The downsides stand for those users who are new and do not have coding knowledge.

The site is perfect for large and well-established businesses who have resources at their aid and want to be in control for all the aspects of their webstore.

Magento offers an Enterprise edition wherein developers from Magento offer support but it has high charges of around $15,000 to $50,000 per year which is not affordable for small businesses to invest. It has the ability to manage large amounts of data and products for a webstore. It has a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Capterra. It is the right platform to switch to if you have a booming business.

3D Cart

3D Cart is a well-known cloud-based ecommerce platform. It has fabulous features like an unlimited product storage space, well-secured stores, supporting 70+ payment options, no additional fees for transactions etc. It bundles in more features than Shopify. 3D Cart gives in-house web designing features like UI, UX and SSL for a nominal fee.

It is known for its versatile functions in ecommerce, multi-channel ecommerce, shopping cart facilities and small businesses support. 3D Cart is amazing in terms of speed as it offers the fastest loading speed in record time. The platform has integrations with Facebook, Mail Chimp, FedEx, Google Partner, Amazon.com, eBay, and Paypal.

It has downsides like there is no search bar to find desired products, the themes look quite old-fashioned, and reports of issues related to upgrading and support.

It has a review and rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Capterra. 3D Cart was ranked first in 2018 in ‘Best of Business.com’. It starts in pricing plans from $19 a month to up to $229 per month. These plans include basic SEO tools, drop shipping options, coupons and subscriptions, personalized products and tracking.

It also offers a free trial. 3D Cart is best for new startups and already existing businesses looking to switch from other ecommerce platforms.

Prestashop

Prestashop is best for users with a limited budget. It is somewhat similar Magento as it offers free set of tools but the expenses needed on hosting and domain name need to be incurred. It does have its own pricing plans for hosting and domain name in partnership with Microsoft Azure and WebHostingHub.

Its best features are no additional transaction fees, it is available in 25 different languages and it supports international trade and sales in multiple currencies.

It has good useability whenseen in terms of its pricing and it is a good platform to choose. These features will help your business grow monumentally and gain more reach. It has few downsides like only one pre-installed theme but the bonus is you can incorporate third-party themes too, and it requires some tech skills to set up the store.

The modules that Prestashop offers make your site a piece of statement even though they are limited as compared to Shopify. It is perfect for businesses that wish to start their online store from an initial investment then grow larger. Prestashop has ratings of 4.3 out 5 stars on Capterra.

Squarespace

Squarespace is a simple and ideal choice for stores with minimalistic products. It has great features and an impressive boatload of design templates and themes. It offers a robust store builder software which can make your page look like you have spent large bills to create it.

It has integrations with Paypal, Stripe, MailChimp, Google AdWords, and Amazon Affiliate Marketing. It is a little bit slower in loading as compared to Shopify making this a downside for it. Squarespace also does not have multi-channel marketing features. It has a variety of pricing plans offering various features.

For example, it offers basic features like free domain name, unlimited number of pages, image galleries, blogs storage space, checkout options, bandwidth and SSL security for $26 per month. It has plans with various other features for $40 and $100 respectively.

It has an excellent review of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Capterra. Squarespace is the ideal site for businesses having limited number of products and not many resources for programming and developing.

Big Cartel

Big Cartel has become popular among small businesses and artists for its cost affordability. It provides functions like unlimited bandwidth, tracking function for inventory, HTML customization and all the essential features. It has integrations with Facebook, Paypal, and Google Analytics.

While it lacks many features that Shopify has, it is a god alternative to it in terms of affordable prices and the bare essential features. It falls short on features like the platform does not offer call support or live chat, also it does not have a function to search the inventory and Paypal charges huge fees on your webstore hosted by Big Cartel.

One great feature about is that it offers a free plan for stores having products less than five.

It is highly useful and recommended for small companies but it is not a great choice for large and heavy business. It is wallet-friendly with pricing plans ranging from $9.99 per month to $29.99 per month which is worth every penny for the functions offered by the platform.

It leaves out all the hassle and hard work taken to do things in coding. It has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on g2.com (Capterra does not have a review or rating for Big Cartel mentioned).

Volusion

Volusion is a British-based ecommerce store hosting site. It is cloud-based too. It offers some great features like a library of templates, zero transaction charges, a single page checkout function, and an integration with eBay. Volusion also offers a great help and support center.

It is trusted by over 200,000 businesses for their online store. It also has a mobile app that let’s you manage your store anytime and anywhere. With regards to features, Volusion offers many better ones than Shopify. On the other hand, Volusion will need some coding skills so an investment in that could be a downside for those who do not know coding and it relatively has the slowest loading time among many platforms.

In terms design as well, Volusion beats Shopify with its vast selection of templates to choose from. It has a rating of 3.8 out 5 stars on Capterra. It is the most ideal for small and medium sized businesses. Volusion also offers a free trial. It pricing plans are based on how many add-ons and plugins you connect to your online store. In short, the pricing plans are customizable ranging from $15 to $135 per month.

Wix

Wix is a greatly used tool for its simple and pleasing interface. It offers two methods to go about in the process of setting up your site i.e. ADI and Wix Editor. ADI acts like an assistant that helps with auto-fill suggestions and the Wix Editor lets the user take complete control for editing and customizing.

It has some great features like theme options which are very customizable, a 100+ nifty templates to choose from, a great editing tool and it includes an automated marketing feature too. The Wix Appstore has more than 280 apps for every possible ecommerce tool to its users.

It is a great alternative to Shopify with integrations of many more features than it has; some add-ons and a basic, easy-to-handle interface.  Wix also offers free video tutorials for new users and learners. Only downside being, it has a poor SEO performance score and a considerably weak integration with Amazon.

Wix has a rating on Capterra of 4.4 out of 5. It was featured in ‘Top 20 Website Builder Software (2020)’. It offers a free plan and paid plans begin from $23 per month. It is best for beginners and existing users alike.

Weebly

Weebly is another free alternative to Shopify. Though it does not high-end technical features like other ecommerce stores it is a great option for starters.

It provides a free domain name on a free trial period, is quite affordable and your website will be launched within minutes. It has many free customizable templates and useful tools to choose from. It has paid plans for very low prices ranging from $5 per month to $38 per month when billed annually with many useful features and domain name. It has a rating of 4.3 out 5 stars on Capterra.

It is best for creative and solo entrepreneurs who wish to build an online presence. It will be difficult to manage high volume stores on Weebly.

With so many alternative options to chose from, it can be confusing. It is best to frame your requirements for an online store and align them with the ecommerce services to choose the best one and find your right pick. SO much said, hope this article helps you in the right direction for choosing your ecommerce portal.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, Shopify is a good place to start for small and mid-sized merchants. They've got a decent pricing model, awesome themes, advanced add-ons, and easy drag and drop interface. All this combined made it one of the most popular e-commerce builders out there.

The best way you can learn Shopify works is by giving it a test drive. Head over to the Shopify website and sign up for a free trial!

Shopify is an online selling platform, kind of like Amazon, but instead of letting people upload their products on their website, Shopify operates as a SaaS product ( Software as a service ). With Shopify, you can develop, and maintain an online store for your products in less than an hour, even if you're no good at coding!

Click on the Button Below to Make Your Store for FREE.

Try Shopify Today

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