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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 –
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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!