Choosing the platform on which to build your e-commerce store is certainly a crucial business decision. Your choice can ultimately affect the number of your customers, sale conversions, profit margins, and overall productivity.
There a lot of factors to be considered in arriving at the appropriate option for your business. Among the important considerations are affordability, compatibility, appearance, and functionality.
Shopify is one platform that can meet these requirements. Its ease of use is especially helpful for online business newbies or for those who want to take the selling aspect of their physical stores online. Shopify offers a balanced mix of visually appealing features and purpose-driven functionality, making it a top choice among e-commerce store owners.
Admittedly, no single platform can be perfect at all given aspects. Shopify does offer some advantages that make it a practical solution, although it may have a few downers. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of choosing Shopify for your online store.
Benefits of Choosing Shopify
Here are some of the reasons why choosing Spotify guarantees that your e-commerce website is in good hands:
Most platforms offer free design templates but what sets Shopify apart is the quality of its designs. Even the layout and design schemes it offers for free are eye-catching, interesting, and professional. When compared to those offered by its competitors, the selections provided by Shopify are more appealing.
Shopify offers more than a hundred beautiful premium themes that are flexible enough to be customized according to the branding needs of specific industries. A template editor allows you to modify the designs and variants as you wish. You can start off with a free theme and upgrade later on by purchasing from Shopify’s marketplace.
Although Shopify comes with built-in features, its functionality can be extended by integrating additional applications or plugins. Shopify offers one of the largest selection of e-commerce plugins (over a thousand!) that can be conveniently downloaded from the App Store. These apps are fully integrated into Shopify, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
The selections are extensive and you can be sure to find just about any plugin you need for your business transactions. Among the most valuable tools offered are accounting, bookkeeping, inventory management, reporting, analytics, shipping, email marketing, product reviews, and customer support services.
The apps are intended to automate primary business tasks so the store owner need not worry about micro-managing the nitty-gritty details of running an online store. This gives entrepreneurs more time to focus on running the business.
Reliable Customer Support Services
Building an e-commerce site on your own can be pretty overwhelming especially when you’re not the most tech-savvy online shop owner. You would want to have a safety net to run to in case you get confused or stuck at a particular phase of site development. One of Shopify’s best strengths is its customer support services.
Some platforms don’t offer a customer support while others have forums that are unresponsive. With Shopify, you can be sure to get answers to your questions immediately. Shopify offers email, live chat, phone support and a database of FAQs to correctly address your queries and concerns. You can be assured that you would get reliable customer service at any time of the day.
Having discussed the advantages, let’s cross over to the other side of the fence. As expected, no product can perform perfectly at all aspects, and Shopify is no exception. Here are some of its weak points:
The monthly rate for using Shopify varies according to the chosen plan. Users may choose from the packages it offers: Basic, Pro, Unlimited, and Plus. While the Basic plan comes in relatively cheap at $13 per month, the features offered are limited and you will find that you can’t build a fully functional and complex store site that covers all nooks and crannies.
Aside from the monthly dues, Shopify also charges platform transaction fees based on certain percentages of the user’s monthly sales. The only way to avoid these fees is to subscribe to the Unlimited plan, which may be heavy for startup businesses at $107 per month.
Because the built-in payment system only allows sale transactions from a limited number of countries, you may need a third-party payment gateway (for which Shopify collects transaction fees) that vary according to the user’s chosen plan. Even when you’re using Shopify Payments, you still have to worry about credit card rates.
In addition, there are the add-on fees. While Shopify offers an extensive variety of plugins and apps to extend the e-commerce site’s functionality, a lot of the valuable apps aren’t available for free. Some apps may charge a one-time purchase cost but most also collect monthly service fees. The total monthly costs for add-ons alone can add up, depending on the types and numbers of plugins you need to run your business.
While Shopify is generally user-friendly for novices, its programming language is quite complex. It uses its own codes called Liquid to modify or customize website appearance. Unfortunately, Liquid coding is not as straightforward as HTML and CSS editing. Therefore, even programmers skilled at the latter languages may find making changes to the website challenging.
This means that if you don’t want to stick to the basic themes, your next viable option is to learn the coding language yourself, or to hire a Shopify expert whose services are likely to be more expensive than those of a regular programmer.
Should you decide to migrate your e-commerce site to another platform, be warned that the transfer process won’t be simple. Cancelling a Shopify account means losing all of your store’s information save for your product data, which you can salvage through CSV export. However, even the CSV file isn’t guaranteed to import smoothly into other platforms. Other than that small slice of information, you can pretty much consider everything else as lost.
Admittedly, the same disadvantage exists on other platforms. Still, it can be considered a huge drawback as you can’t plan future e-commerce store platforms without the hassle of going back to square one.
Overall, Shopify is a practical and reliable e-commerce platform to choose. It offers amazing features both beginners and professional online entrepreneurs can conveniently use. It is one of the top-rated e-commerce site builders and selected by hundreds of thousands of users, developers and site owners alike.
If you’re curious to try out Shopify but need further convincing, you can always opt for the 30-day free trial. This allows you to test the platform’s basic features to help you decide whether this is the best online store builder for your business.