Shopify: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
I have had a handful of Shopify projects and I will say they are all different. Each case study requires different levels of customization and set up. That said, I believe Shopify is one of the better ecommerce platforms out today but also has its limitations. I will explain the Pros and Cons of Shopify to help everyone understand if Shopify is the right fit or not. But let’s start with a little bit about what Shopify is, who uses it and what you can sell on Shopify.
Shopify Overview: What is Shopify?
Shopify is a complete eCommerce platform that helps everyday people set up their own online store and sell products on multiple channels. From marketing and payments to inventory management and shipping – the platform handles everything you need to manage and grow an online store.
Who uses Shopify?
Shopify is used by all types of people – from local mom-and-pop shops to tech start-ups and global Multi-Million Dollar businesses. Some of the biggest brands on Shopify include Budweiser, Penguin Books, and Tesla Motors.
What can you sell on Shopify?
Overall you can sell most family-friendly products on Shopify. Paintings, antiques, handbags, cameras, pottery and ceramics, stamps, t-shirts, wine, furniture, toys, books, car parts, baby items, office supplies, and photo prints are some of the common products sold on Shopify stores.
Businesses prohibited from using the Shopify
- IP infringement, regulated or illegal products and services; such as gambling, pharmaceuticals, investment and credit services, virtual currency, and adult content and services.
- Video game or virtual world credits
- Social media activities
- Multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes
- Event tickets
What Makes Shopify a Great Option?
Selling products on multiple channels
Shopify encourages you to make use of other potential sales channels to increase sales. Here are some of the supported channels with easy integration of products:
- Facebook – Sell your Shopify products on a Facebook page.
- Amazon – Connect Shopify to Amazon Professional Seller.
- Pinterest – Sell your products directly through.
- Mobile Apps – Sell Shopify products on apps you develop.
Make money with Shopify “Buy Button”
With this feature, you can embed any product and add a checkout on your site. It’s a great tool to create a custom shopping experience for your visitors. When using the “Buy Button,” you can easily monetize your website or blog with just a single click. It works similarly to “Buy Now” from PayPal as it will link back to Shopify when visitors click on the check-out from your website.
Support over 100 payment processors
Shopify comes with inbuilt payment services like PayPal, Amazon Pay or Apple Pay. Your store will also be able to accept direct payments via credit cards using Shopify Payment, which makes the shopping process smoother for your customers. With over 100 different payment processors able to handle multiple currencies, Shopify makes your customer payment process easier.
Excellent site performance
Many of us refuse to wait in line for more than 15 minutes when shopping. Similarly, 50+% of customers are not likely to return to a website that loads slowly or kept them waiting at checkout. That’s why having excellent site performance is important for an online store.
The performance tests that I’ve run on Shopify websites have been great. For Shopify stores using the basic FREE plan, test results on Google’s PageSpeed Insights show scores in the 90-100% ranges.
Ability to sell both digital and physical products
Shopify allows you to handle both digital and physical products. They offer a free app that you can use to specify the product types for your items.
You can categorize your products as digital and handle those particular deliveries through email or downloadable file via online storage. When dealing with physical goods, sellers can also select the type of shipping and fulfillment for each product. In addition to that, you can start a Shopify dropshipping business easily with Shopify.
Integrate your store with Shopify POS
Do you have a brick and mortar shop and want to expand its presence? Take advantage of Shopify’s POS (Point-of-Sale) system. Once integrated at your physical shop, the data will then be shared between the POS and your online store. With Shopify POS system, you can manage your sales, inventory, customer data, etc. online and offline, on a single platform.
Merchants who choose to subscribe to Shopify POS receive a full POS system, along with its devices such as receipt printer (Star Micronics), APG cash drawers, barcode scanner, and card reader.
Boost sales with Abandoned Checkout Recovery
Shopify’s abandoned cart recovery is designed to help you follow up with visitors who didn’t complete the checkout process. This feature used to only be available on the higher Shopify plans, but they’ve decided to make it available on all plans – an absolutely great benefit to all users.
With the contact information provided by customers, the incomplete buying process will be stored as an abandoned checkout. By default, Shopify will send abandoned cart saver emails to customers in 2 particular time intervals but, you can customize these settings too.
A Few Drawbacks of Shopify
You must know Liquid to customize your themes
The Shopify platform uses their self-developed PHP language called “Liquid.”
All themes are coded in this format, making theme customization difficult unless you know how to code in Liquid or are willing to hire a website developer like Web Talent who knows how to code Shopify themes.
Less versed individuals may be able to navigate the prebuilt templates, but if you are looking to edit theme core files, you should consult a professional. Alternatively, you can opt for a premium theme with support instead to avoid any coding problems.
Advanced features and add-ons can add up
Shopify’s Basic plan only comes with the barest of features that you’ll need to run an online store. Advanced features like reports, fraud analysis, gift cards and real-time shipping rates are only available with the higher-tier plans.
There are many useful add-ons available on the Shopify app market, but they can carry monthly fees. Functions such as the Exit Offers app cost $9.99/mo while Intuit QuickBooks can add $29.99/mo onto your final bill.
However, if a particular paid app can help you save time or reduce the amount of hassle in your workflow, however, it may be a worthwhile investment and shouldn’t be overlooked. Pick your apps carefully and choose the ones that are able to help you in your everyday business.
Shopify doesn’t offer email hosting
Shopify doesn’t provide you with email hosting despite the web hosting being included in all Shopify plans. This means you can’t host a domain-based email address like [email protected].
What you can do is to set up email forwarding. This makes it so that whenever someone reaches out to [email protected], the email will automatically be forwarded to your regular email account like Gmail or Yahoo. The same applies for replying to emails.
To use the email forwarding function, you need to set up a 3rd party email hosting connection before you can reply from your own email account. You can also purchase third party add-on apps such as Zapier to create a custom integration that connects your email provider and Shopify Notifications.
It has a lot of great built-in/out-of-the-box features, tools, and themes to set up your online store in a flash. However, if you are looking for something a little more customized, you might be in for a longer road ahead with undetermined costs and possible limitations.
I would recommend anyone looking to venture into Shopify ecommerce to do their research, properly scope out the entirety of the project, and then choose the right platform that best fits their needs.