When it comes to the up-and-coming eCommerce platforms in the past 10years in its growth in market share, Shopify has been on fire. With a SAAS infrastructure that takes away the complications of security and connectivity to a payment provider, combined with a website builder solution - it makes setting up an eCommerce store all that much easier to set up and manage. Small Business needs a shopping cart application for their online store, Shopify has a plan for any eCommerce business - but it isn't all without challenges - here is a quick summary.
Low Monthly fees - when it comes to just having a shopping cart with no frills, it can be a low-cost solution.
Relatively easy to use - It does require a small amount of technical know-how such as setting up an account, installation of Shopify Apps, and configuring various areas of your online store.
Fully Hosted - when it comes to an SSL, Database security, and is fully certified to have a Payment Gateway provider to your shopping cart.
Theme selection - For mobile responsive themes, call-to-action themes, the availability is plentiful. Ranging from free Shopify themes to Shopify premium themes - adding your brand to a theme that fits your requirements has never been so easy.
Shopify Partners - Shopify have Shopify Experts and Shopify Partners in order to support its community, knowledge base, Shopify Apps, and configuration of Apps. If you need assistance there are many ways to obtain it.
Third-Party Integrations - with the Shopify API, integrations with other systems are available using its REST API. The Shopify Partners and Shopify Experts are trained and use this access to build Custom Shopify Apps or Shopify Private Apps for stores if the Shopify App Store does not have support for a particular system.
Omnichannel capable and International - If you are looking to integrate Amazon, eBay, and other marketplaces, Shopify has integrations for these additional channels. The addition of languages, currencies and regional considerations fit well within the Shopify platform.
Social Media friendly - considering that Social Media is a requirement for most businesses today in sharing the experience with their audience, it is important to consider integrations with Facebook Messenger Live Chat, Instagram feeds and Product Review feeds back into your online store.
Email Marketing - Integrated into the platform, and being able to reach subscribers has never been easier. You no longer need the likes of Mailchimp to reach out to your audience.
Inventory Management - An important feature where you need to keep control over your sales, to not over-sell or have triggers to re-order some of your products - this feature is built-in and has additional Apps to help you control your inventory.
Shopify Operating Costs - while the monthly fees seem very reasonable compared to hosting your own server, the cost creep comes in operating the sales through Shopify Apps that help your conversions as well as transaction fees that can range from 2.9% + 30 cents to 2.4% + 30 cents.
Short Free Trial - Shopify has a 14-day free trial and it is hard to really get a store up and running from starting up with a free trial account and setting up all your products, your SEO, and all your Graphic Design into your chosen Shopify theme.
Limited Customization - Capabilities do scale between an entry-level Shopify store to Shopify Plus. While these capabilities give you additional advantages to growing your business within the Shopify architecture, there are limitations restricted to Shopify Themes and API throughput.
Shopify Domain - if you want all the capabilities and management of a domain, don't purchase and manage your domain within Shopify - stick to the likes of GoDaddy given if you want to change or manage your DNS you will have to transfer your domain as well as your DNS hosting from Google to the likes of GoDaddy. Interruptions might occur in the process and it will be tougher to manage.
No B2B capabilities - while other platforms have a dedicated solution for B2B, Shopify can only support B2B through a Custom Shopify App which involves the use of Shopify Tags and account validation so as to present the discounted products to the end-user. However, the B2B features to grow your base becomes a challenge when it comes to reporting, handling Net-30+ payment, and general account management.
Technical Support - Given the size of the client base of Shopify getting support in a timely manner is really based on your Shopify Plan (Shopify Plus has much greater access) and the Shopify Partners you enlist. The higher your sales volume, the larger the risk associated with any defects and management of promotional activities (sales, discounts, coupons, loyalty points, etc.) which to offset that risk, the right support to ensure your execution must be in place.
Creating a Website
During the 14-day trial, select a good Shopify Theme and use the website builder for your website design, and make it mobile-friendly. Building a website focuses on your brand, your marketing using the SEO tools within the Theme. An online business web design efforts usually focus on the conversion of their finished goods. At the conclusion of your 14-day trial selecting a paid plan or if you are finished before the end of the trial, and are ready to transact, the paid plan selection is a requirement.
What type of business is NOT optimized for Shopify
While the diversity of Shopify can cover most businesses, the key area which is not optimized for is B2B - the ability to promote and sell to other businesses and associated incentives to grow your sales within that target audience. An eCommerce website has different styles to have a particular value proposition, marketing message, promotional features (buy in bulk, monthly sales discounts, alternate payment methods). The alternate payment methods bypass the source of the revenue stream that Shopify enjoys on transactions at the checkout. Because Net-30+ and wire transfers would bypass this, Shopify is not encouraging this business model.
If you are considering the Shopify Platform for your business, and have your data structure, your business processes, and business model - you will most likely see if this eCommerce platform is for you. With web hosting services being easy, configuring a buy button, the easy website creator, easy checking of stock levels, and a very strong SEO set of features. The features a business needs online are vast, and if it is structured, determined to make a move - you can then identify what you will need to be successful. If you are in need of a more robust investigation of the viability of Shopify, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we are Shopify Experts and have expertise in several eCommerce platforms.