When you want to create an online storefront for your business, there are many different platforms that can provide you with the tools you require to create this kind of website. Because of how many options are available to you, it’s important that you know what to look for when searching for the ideal eCommerce platform. Likely the most popular of these platforms is Shopify, which is an eCommerce platform that provides businesses of all sizes with the tools that they require to build an online storefront and sell products.

Among the most beneficial aspects of using Shopify is that they will provide you with every feature and service you need to create a website where you can sell products in a single package, which means that you don’t need to worry about putting the pieces together on your own. The Shopify platform is cloud-based, which means that it can be readily accessed as long as you have an internet connection.

Keep in mind that Shopify provides businesses with site hosting and SSL security automatically, which ensures that you don’t have to waste time searching for the best solutions to match your Shopify website. If your business uses the dropshipping method where products are sent directly from the manufacturer to the customer, Shopify may be the right platform for you. The same is true if you manage or own a small boutique. If you have a larger business with an extensive product catalog, your costs for managing a storefront with Shopify will quickly increase, which is something you should be aware of when choosing your eCommerce platform. This article offers a detailed review of Shopify and what you can expect when using it.

How Does Shopify Work?

how does shopify work

Using Shopify is easy once you understand how the platform works and what it takes to create a storefront with the tools that are provided to you. Because Shopify is considered to be a hosted solution, the website you build can run on servers that are maintained by Shopify, which saves you the hassle of purchasing web hosting from a third party. Instead of purchasing a copy of the Shopify software, you will be tasked with paying a monthly fee that gives you access to the software in question. While it’s possible to extensively customize your storefront, the features that are immediately provided to you include email marketing tools, a blog, templates, and a payment processor.

When you want to set up an account with Shopify, your first goal will be to select the account that’s right for you. Shopify offers three distinct plans that you can select from, which include Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify. These plans are priced at $29, $79, and $299 per month respectively. No matter which plans you select, you’ll be provided with an online storefront, 24/7 support, and the ability to sell an unlimited number of products. Keep in mind that Shopify asks for fewer fees from each transaction if you purchase a Shopify or Advanced Shopify plan.

To get started, you can try Shopify for a period of 14 days. All that’s required for you to begin your free trial is to create a store with an email address, password, and store name, all of which you’ll be asked to enter after you select the “Start your free trial” option. Setting up your account is very simple because of the intuitive UI. From your account dashboard, you can add your first product and select a plan whenever you want to.

If you’re wondering how plugins work on Shopify, you can find nearly 4,000 plugins in the Shopify App Store. Around 1,500 of these plugins are free, all of which allow you to extend the functionality of your online storefront. The best aspect of using plugins to improve your website is that they are typically very easy to install. If you believe that the Shopify platform is right for you, keep in mind that you don’t need to understanding coding languages in order to use the platform.

However, Shopify accommodates both CSS and HTML, which means that knowledge of these languages can help you get the most out of the platform. If you want to further customize the theme you choose for your website, it’s important to understand that Shopify doesn’t use the standard PHP language that WordPress uses. Instead, it uses a coding language known as Shopify Liquid, which can take some getting used to. The Shopify Liquid language is based on the Ruby language.

Shopify Pros

shopify pros

Before you start using Shopify as your eCommerce platform of choice, you should know more about the pros and cons that come with using this platform. There are many positive aspects of using Shopify to build your online storefront. For instance, Shopify is known for its security and speed. Two of the most significant challenges that occur when running a storefront include making sure that the storefront is secure when payments are made and making sure that the website always loads quickly. Shopify offers both speed and security, which is evident by the inclusion of complete SSL, fraud analysis, and other built-in features.

You’ll also notice that you have many options when using Shopify. No matter the type of online storefront you’d like to build, Shopify provides users with more than 100 themes, full customization for the online store, integrated payments, and analytics tools that allow you to track the performance of your online store. Every feature you require to build a robust store can be found on Shopify, which isn’t the case with the majority of other eCommerce platforms.

Another notable benefit of using Shopify is that they provide great customer service that’s available 24/7. When you have an issue with your storefront, you’ll be provided with quick yet comprehensive solutions by the customer representatives who work at Shopify. The support options available to you include phone support, email support, chat support, and FAQs. The marketing resources you’re provided with are also expansive. Some of the marketing essentials that are included with Shopify include numerous SEO options, clean code, and Google ads.

As mentioned previously, the Shopify App Store contains thousands of add-ons and plugins that will help you create an online storefront that matches your business. This store is easy to use and is comprised of nearly 1,500 free plugins for you to try out. If you want to sell a product outside of your website, Shopify gives you the ability to do so with the “Buy Button”, which allows users to complete the checkout process with just a few clicks of a button.

Shopify Cons

shopify pros and cons

While Shopify can be beneficial for any company that wants to create an online storefront, there are still some negative aspects to be aware of. The main issue with Shopify is its pricing structure. While there are three basic plans with different prices, Shopify also collects fees from each purchase on your store.

These fees differ with each plan, which can make it difficult to calculate your total costs. The different price levels include a $29 plan, a $79 plan, and a $299 plan, all of which must be paid as a monthly subscription. Along with the monthly price, the additional pricing elements that you should consider include the platform transaction fees, credit card fees, and plugin fees.

While pricing is the major con, customizing your website can be difficult because of the need for Shopify Liquid expertise. If you have experience using the Ruby coding language, Shopify Liquid shouldn’t be too difficult to learn. Another drawback to using Shopify is the content marketing services they provide. Today, content marketing is more important than ever, which is why even online storefronts should be outfitted with a blog. Even though blogging software is included with Shopify, the functionality isn’t great. However, if your website is mainly an online storefront, Shopify may be enough for your content marketing needs.

Shopify Themes

The key to building a website on Shopify is to select a theme that will represent your brand and the products you sell. While themes can typically be customized extensively, you’ll still want to have numerous options at your disposal. At the moment, Shopify provides customers with nine free themes to select from alongside nearly 100 paid themes. Each free theme comes with a couple of variants, which allows you to select an option that best matches your brand.

Keep in mind that every theme offered by Shopify is responsive, which means that it can be accessed on any device without issue. If you opt for a paid theme, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100-$180 for the theme in question. The free and paid themes can be found on the Shopify theme store, which allows you to sort themes by industry, layout style, home page style, and visual features. If you have a good idea of the type of theme you would like, these sorting options can help you make the right choice.

Once you’ve chosen a theme for your storefront, you can set up the sales channels that you’ll use to sell your products. The main channels available to you include:

  • The online store on your website
  • Facebook
  • Messenger
  • Amazon
  • Instagram
  • The buy button

Conclusion: A Robust E-Commerce Platform with Room to Grow

Shopify is currently a robust eCommerce platform that still has plenty of room to grow. If you decide to create an online storefront with the Shopify platform, you’ll have access to practically any feature you need to make sure that customers can purchase products on your website without issue. Since each theme available through Shopify is responsive, you won’t be required to perform any extra coding to accommodate mobile and tablet users.

While Shopify is a great eCommerce platform, its pricing structure can use some work to become less confusing. The content marketing tools available through the platform could also improve. If content marketing is important for your brand, it’s possible to pair your WordPress site with a WooCommerce plugin, which can provide you with extensive marketing options.

When comparing Shopify to WooCommerce, the latter has many more plugins and themes. However, Shopify is better for businesses that want to scale in the future. If you’re searching for an eCommerce platform that will allow you to get your storefront up and running with ease, Shopify should be able to meet all of your needs.

Bryan Miller of Bryt Designs Long Beach Web Design, Development, & SEO
Author
Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. He is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine. Feel free to send Bryan a message here.

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