So how does a designer, or a photographer, or a painter go about setting up an online store? Does he build a website from scratch and start the business through a standalone website? If the user has enough capital to hire a developer or a small studio, he can go ahead and splash it to create an advanced eommerce website. But, what if they don’t have a budget for this? How do they go about selling thier works online without having to spend so much on the website? That is where Shopify comes into the picture.
Now let’s see why he/she should be using Shopify or why not.
Hosting and security
No, you don’t have to even look out for hosting services because Shopify hosts the online store for you and don’t have to worry about getting your domain either, although, you can always integrate your URL with Shopify if you have secured one already. Also, Shopify offers unlimited bandwidth for no extra hidden costs! The user can have a million visitors to his site and he/she will keep them all happy because the site will still be up and running fine. On top of the wonderful hosting it provides, Shopify also protects your site using top-notch security – your site is Level 1 PCI compliant (the same level of security that even the most popular banks and ecommerce sites currently use) and the cart the customer checks out with is SSL encrypted to ensure that credentials remain totally secure.
Design and themes
After getting the domain name and setting up the site on Shopify, the user might wonder how to make his site look appealing for customers, since he didn’t have a clue about coding nor did he have a budget for web designers to spruce up his online store. That’s where the Themes Store comes into play: there are free and paid themes aplenty, for any business category you can think of. Any Shopify user can now go ahead and pick the theme they loved the most and even customize it to great extent without the help of a web designer. Premium themes come at prices ranging from $50-$180.
The App Store
Our user, say Mark, is a great photographer and painter, but when it came to keeping track of his orders, shipments and social media marketing, he’s still a beginner and of course, has more productive things to do than see who ordered what or who paid how much. So, Shopify decided to help out people like Mark by introducing the App Store where they sell free and premium plugin-like apps that take care of stuff like analytics, shipments and orders placed by the customers. All Mark has to do is install the apps on his Shopify site and he’ll be all set to start selling his work.
Here are some great apps that you should try:
1. Exit offers – Tracks abandoned checkouts and even tracks how much money the app has saved you. It is also highly customisable.
2. AfterShip – An absolutely free app that lets you track the shipment status of your shipped products and in the premium variant you can offer this feature to your customers directly without them having to approach customer service.
3. In Stock Reminder – We hate it when a product we look for is out of stock right? But, what if it happens with your customer? You wouldn’t want to lose the customer, of course. So In Stock Reminder will help the customer made aware when the product they were interested in become available again. Easy peasy!
35% of the worldwide internet usage is on either smartphones or tablets. So, how will our user cater to the significant 35% of the population? Is it possible once again, Shopify had sorted it out already? Yeah, seems to be the case, as almost all of the themes on the Shopify Theme Store (even the free ones) are responsive and work like magic on all smartphones and tablets!
Where does Shopify score big?
1. Ease of use
A complete beginner can start selling on his online store in minutes after setting up because Shopify is extremely simple to use. No convoluted customization steps – plain, simple, layman understandable options to prettify the site. It keeps track of your inventory and orders seamlessly. Bar the lingo that is indigenous to the site – Collections, etc. – it should be like cutting through a cheesecake.
2. Integration of other service providers
If you have been using the Internet already for your business you would definitely have heard about MailChimp. So, the cool guys like the ones at MailChimp for instance, got approached by Shopify to build apps that would integrate the plugin and the Shopify site – which would help Mark and get closer to his potential customers. Also, Shopify knows that there are folks out there who spend almost all of their Internet time on Facebook, so they have an app that helps you setup a store on Facebook as well. For others, there are apps that will integrate other social networking sites to your Shopify as well.
3. Autoresponse to abandoned checkouts
Almost all of us are multi-tasking and you can’t expect your users to stay on your site until they’ve checked out with their cart and purchased product. So, what you can do to clinch your potential customers’ deal is to send in a gentle reminder a few days later to notify the customer about the unfinished purchases. There are plugins like ‘Exit Apps’ to do the mundane jobs efficiently and automatically, although you can always manually go and check out the ‘Abandoned Checkouts’ and get back to the customer about their unfinished purchase. This way, you can save hundreds to a few thousand dollars every month.
4. Unparalleled service
Shopify has a customer service base that is boasted by none in the business. If you ever face a roadblock, you can always chat live with the customer service personnel to clarify your doubts or even shoot an e-mail to them. But, where Shopify actually does strike a chord with its users is its 24/7 Customer Care number – one for each country (USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are the countries currently covered) – that you can call and get your issues sorted!
5. Automatic backup
Unlike other self-hosted WordPress/other service providers’ eCommerce sites, you don’t have to search for third-party backup sites to help you backup your data. Shopify has its own backup and does it automatically, periodically. That way, all your data is secure and not going anywhere even if you are facing a data loss on your site.
You don’t have to hire a data analytics person to draw up your weekly/monthly charts. Why? Shopify understands that you have better stuff to do than to draw pie charts and simple graphs and hence, takes the load on itself and chalks out these statistical data for you automatically every day/week/month/quarter/year!
Where Shopify drops a few key points
1. Pricey, pricey!
For small business startups Shopify is a tad heavy on the wallet. Even the most basic plans come at $29/month and will leave you 2% short of all the money you make due to the transaction charges Shopify gets for every transaction made. This shouldn’t be a problem for businesses making thousands of dollars every month but small-time businesses are hurt by these transaction charges. Other plans include – Starter at $14 a month, Professional at $79 a month and Unlimited at $179 a month.
2. Not-so-great chat experience
More often than not you have to wait in a queue to chat with an agent and there is no way to get an alert when your chance arrives. The wait can take from a few minutes to even an hour depending on the number of people waiting ahead of you. Nonetheless, the chat experience is lovely as such with prompt and helpful replies from the agent.
3. Liquid what?
Well, you can be HTML hotshot or CSS csar, but when you come to Shopify, unless you are a Liquid ninja you are going to find your ship in troubled waters. Yes, even for professional web designers who are HTML/CSS experts, Shopify puts a stopper and throws at them their own language – Liquid.
More head to head comparisons
Cons aside, it has been widely accepted by so many designers that Shopify has reinvented the world of ecommerce and we have at least a hundred reasons to give them an Amen. Yes, they may be a bit pricey for some of us, but all good things come at a price, don’t they? But don’t just listen to us: we highly recommend to try their extensive 14-day free trial (no CC needed) and see for yourself if it’s a good fit or not. Check this article for more Shopify reviews.