Website Platforms: Shopify

The Shopify platform is built for selling products online. Physical products are its foundation, but you can sell digital products using Shopify as well. In addition, it has shipping options, payment gateways, tax features, a built-in online store, and the ability to connect a POS for in-person selling.

Who is it for?

Shopify is for people who want to sell physical products online using a relatively simple platform.

You can also sell digital products or memberships and connect with the Thinkific platform to sell online courses.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, Shopify is an option for your POS and your online store to keep everything connected in one platform.  

Who is it not for?

If you’re not selling anything on your website, Shopify is not for you.

I also don’t recommend Shopify for anything but very basic blogging. If you’re going to do advanced blogging, you may want to do that on a different platform and link to Shopify for the selling part of your business.

A brick-and-mortar store  that has a POS that’s not Shopify may want to consider if a different platform would integrate better with your POS.

And if your business is online courses, I would consider other options. While Shopify + Thinkific is one option, others may not require two platforms.

Finally, if you run a “knowledge commerce” business that requires upselling, generating customer pipelines, and other advanced digital product features, Shopify may not serve you as well as a platform that specializes in those types of businesses. 

Features

Shopify offers an e-commerce platform with an online store, basic blog, email marketing, and POS available for in-person selling. You can keep track of inventory, run sales or add discount codes, and sell gift cards.

Also, you can have more than one inventory location and offer various payment and shipping methods to your customers.

Transaction fees: When using Shopify Payments, there is a schedule of transaction fees depending on your plan. If you use other payment methods, Shopify charges an additional fee per transaction.

Shopify also boasts a giant app store with apps that make it easy to offer memberships, track inventory, share your products to social media, bring your social feed to your website, and more.

Cost range and plans available

Shopify offers Basic, Shopify, and Advanced plans for its online e-commerce plans. These plans range from $29 to $299 per month, depending on your plan and payment schedule.  

Basic e-commerce

Basic plans have limited reporting and do not allow 3rd party shipping rates. Only occasional in-person selling works for this plan. You can have up to four inventory locations on this plan and two staff member accounts.

Shopify (mid-level) e-commerce

The mid-level plan adds standard reports for your store analytics and is more geared toward online or in-store selling. You can have five inventory locations and five staff member accounts on this plan. It also has lower per-transaction fees, better shipping rate discounts, and some features for international selling.

Advanced e-commerce

The Advanced plan moves to advanced reports, up to eight inventory locations and eight staff accounts, and lower credit card rates and transaction fees.

Point Of Sale

For in-person selling using Shopify’s point of sale system

  •  the Lite version of the POS plan is available with the other plans
  • the Pro version is an extra fee

The hardware for Shopify’s Point of Sale system is available at an additional charge.

Enterprise

Shopify also offers a Plus edition of their platform for enterprise-level customers.

Shopify Lite

On the other end of the spectrum, they offer Shopify Lite. Not to be confused with POS Lite, Shopify Lite is a way to add products to your website or blog on another platform.  You can use Shopify Lite as your cart system to accept payments for your products for a minimal monthly fee.  Very few features are included with this plan.

Maintenance and hosting

Shopify is a hosted solution, meaning that your website is stored on Shopify’s servers. Therefore, you do not have to purchase separate hosting for your Shopify website and online store.  

However, the theme and apps you use on your store may require updates to get new functionality added. For example, one theme I worked with added the ability to recommend related products, but an update was required to get that functionality.

Some apps will backup your online store for you, and that is something I recommend. 

You can also export your inventory, products, orders, and customer information to have manual records of all your store information. Of course, if something happened to your store, you would still have to rebuild your website, but you could at least import the significant components to restore your business.

Templates and page builder options

Shopify has free templates as well as templates available for purchase. There are also page builder apps for an additional a monthly cost. You can use code to customize the look of your store as well.

Positives

Shopify makes it easy and accessible to start an online store or add an online store to your brick-and-mortar business. In addition, the app store allows you to add a variety of apps to make sure you have the functionality you want for your website and store.  

Shopify was created for selling. The platform has SEO tools, automatic tax calculation, various shipping and payment options, and email automation all set up to help your customers buy from you.

Watch out for

The apps that are so handy in adding functionality to your store also add up in cost. So while Shopify has a competitive base price, it’s wise to consider how many $10/month apps you can (or will need to) add before the cost exceeds your budget?

The blog and email marketing tools are rudimentary at best. If advanced blogging, email analytics, or email automation are core considerations for your business, I’d recommend using specific tools built for those functions. This of course adds cost.

Also, while it is possible to customize a lot about your Shopify store, some people find the design options, apps, and e-commerce features don’t fit the nuances of their business.  If your business will require custom functionality, design, or complex features, Shopify may not be the right fit.

Summary

Shopify makes it easy to get started selling online. You can get your store up and running without having to worry about a lot of technical difficulties. Especially if you are selling physical products or adding an online store to your brick-and-mortar business, Shopify can be the best option.

Here’s the link to the Shopify platform, if you’d like to explore it.  

If you have questions about the Shopify platform or other platforms, please get in touch or schedule a call.  

Appy

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