When we say anyone can build an e-commerce store, we aren’t just hyping you up. Creating a website that’s built for sales is no longer a feat that only master developers are capable of. With Shopify, you can be ready to cut the ribbon on your online store in as little as a day. So what is Shopify exactly? And what makes it stand out from the endless amounts of website builders out there these days?
We’ll introduce you to the online business solution and guide you through all the pros and cons of using it in this article.
Table of Contents
- What Is Shopify?
- Shopify Pros: 6 Things That Make the Platform Great
- Shopify Cons: 2 Things To Consider Before Buying In
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that you can use to create and manage your own online store—with a custom domain—without starting from scratch. Every Shopify plan offers users an all-in-one experience, with everything from website templates to payment processing options ready for you to set up and use.
You don’t need any coding knowledge to make the website creation process easy with Shopify. The platform’s website builder allows you to create a custom, professional, and attractive e-commerce site in less than a day. It’s a great fit for beginners who are just getting their first e-commerce business running—though it’s also robust, scalable, and well-designed enough for seasoned, enterprise-level sellers to love, too.
By giving you just about everything you need to become a successful online seller in one subscription, Shopify makes it possible for you to build your own brand without the hassle, instead of relying on external sites like eBay or Amazon to sell for you.
So what exactly makes Shopify the e-commerce solution to beat? To answer this, we’ll dive deeper into our initial question (“what is Shopify?”) and introduce you to six specific features and characteristics of the platform that make it a great place to sell both physical and digital products.
1. Shopify Store Setup
A major reason why so many business owners choose Shopify is because setting up your online shop on the platform is incredibly easy. You can do so in just 12 simple steps!
Since you won’t be starting with a completely blank slate, all you really need to do is upload your product listings, customize your website content for your brand, and keep your account and payment information up-to-date. Shopify takes care of the more complex parts of website-building for you. The platform even activates your free SSL certificate by default, so you won’t have to spend hours on Google to figure out how to manually secure your storefront.
To make website setup even easier, if you buy a custom domain name straight from Shopify, it’ll instantly activate for your account. But even if you purchase from a third-party platform like GoDaddy or Google Domains, you can follow Shopify’s simple step-by-step process to connect your domain within minutes.
2. Shopify Themes
A big part of setting up an e-commerce website is designing it. If you want to attract customers and gain their trust, your site needs to be a place they want to shop in the first place. Everything from your homepage to your product pages needs to be organized, appealing, and true to your brand.
Design is where Shopify excels. The e-commerce platform offers Shopify themes that are beautiful and mobile-friendly. You can find lots of free themes (and premium themes) made for your industry—including templates that are perfect fits for clothing, games, and sports retailers.
Shopify themes excel in ease of use, too. Store owners can drag and drop different page elements to fit their needs, and your page will remain structured and beautiful as can be.
When you’re ready to customize your template for your brand, just use Shopify’s free social media icons and color palettes. Or, if you want even more flexibility with your visuals, you can use Spark to create professional-looking, branded graphics, videos, and animations within minutes to captivate your visitors. Then, upload your designs to Shopify to use as headers, product images, and more with ease.
Tap the image below to start remixing your first website banner!
Your Spark designs can be made with custom sizing, so they’re a perfect fit for whatever Shopify theme you choose.
3. Functionality and Performance
Your Shopify store is complete with an abundance of features that can help you make your Shopify store as user-friendly as possible, for both you and your customers. Through this e-commerce solution, you can:
- Get detailed analytics and reports
- Customize your mobile-friendly checkout process
- Create customer profiles for easier marketing
- Access Shopify POS (its point-of-sale system) for in-person events
- Sell products on multiple sales channels, including Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram
This already goes beyond basic necessities for e-commerce websites, but if you’re looking to really impress, Shopify won’t let you down. The Shopify App Store offers over 1,000 plug-ins (including tons of free ones) that you can use to integrate chatbots, bookkeeping tools, social media apps, customer retention tools, and much more onto your site.
Even as you choose add-ons for your site, Shopify stores are still built to perform well—which is important, given that most mobile shoppers will leave your site if it doesn’t load in three seconds. And just in case Shopify’s optimizations aren’t doing the trick, the platform offers online store speed reports to help you figure out what’s holding your page back.
4. Shopify Payment Processing
Let’s be honest—at the end of the day, what you really want from your online store is to make some cash. To maximize your profits, you need to make sure your e-commerce platform offers fair transaction fees and allows payment methods that make your customers’ lives easier. Shopify checks both of these boxes, which means it’ll help you meet your financial goals as a store owner.
Since you’ll be running and marketing your own store yourself, transaction fees are generally much lower than what you’d find on platforms like Etsy (which charges 20 cents per listing every four months, plus 5% per sale) or Amazon Handmade (which charges 15% per sale). In fact, if you use Shopify Payments—which actually saves you the hassle of setting up a third-party payment processor—you’ll only have to pay standard rates for credit card payments and pay no transaction fees at all.
Shopify Payments credit card rates range from just 2.4% (for advanced Shopify plans) to 2.9% (for basic Shopify plans), plus 30 cents per sale. You can accept most major credit cards, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. If you do choose to accept payments from other popular providers (like PayPal), you’ll just have to pay an extra 0.5-2%—which still keeps you under Etsy rates.
Shopify can also get you massive shipping discounts, and even automate shipping rate calculations with advanced plans, so you’ll be able to charge customers less and convert more.
5. Marketing Features
Shopify’s marketing features make the website builder incredibly well-suited to online sellers. Using the e-commerce platform, you can:
- Create customer profiles to better target your audience
- Boost your search engine optimization (SEO) with a built-in blog, meta descriptions, and more
- Launch email marketing campaigns straight through Shopify
- Send emails to recover abandoned shopping carts
- Create discount codes for your customers
- Get rich analytics about your sales and every campaign you run through Shopify
You can even connect your Facebook and Instagram accounts to your Shopify account to create ad campaigns from the backend of Shopify.
Need some help creating visuals for your ads? Use Spark’s free Facebook ad templates to create fast, eye-catching graphics that help your Shopify store get results. Tap the image below to customize your ad design!
6. Customer Support
One final reason why business owners choose Shopify? The platform offers 24/7 support with all pricing plans. Whenever you experience technical difficulties with your store or just have a question, you can chat with a team member in real-time. This is huge for small businesses that don’t have developers or website managers on standby, especially during big online sales events like Cyber Monday.
If you don’t need live support, you can also access a community forum and help center at any time.
Shopify is definitely an impressive e-commerce solution, but there are a couple things you should consider before you officially set up shop on the platform.
1. Limited Customization
While Shopify does offer quite a bit of customization capabilities, a pitfall of many drag-and-drop tools is that there are always limits to how much you can change—especially if you don’t know how to code. For example, you usually can’t add sections to product pages.
However, this is a fairly small price to pay when you’re already getting beautifully constructed themes that are scalable and follow the basic principles of design. By using Spark templates throughout your store, you can still make your e-commerce site stand out even more—without turning to more developer-friendly platforms like Magento, WooCommerce, or WordPress.
2. Shopify Pricing
What isn’t a small price to pay is Shopify’s subscription fees. Depending on what you’re looking for from an e-commerce site, Shopify costs can be fairly high for a website builder. You can expect to pay $29 per month for a basic plan, $299 per month for an advanced plan, and at least $2,000 per month if you need an enterprise-level Shopify Plus plan. But again, Shopify is an all-in-one package, so you’re also paying for less of a hassle and plenty of extra features that are especially helpful for the less tech-savvy.
The good news is, Shopify offers all new users a 14-day free trial, so if you’re still not sure if it’s the platform for you, you have some time to play around with its features and make sure it’s a perfect fit.
Start exploring the e-commerce tool with this Shopify review in mind. By the end of your trial, you can figure out if it’s exactly what you’re looking for, or if you want to take your store (and your Spark graphics) somewhere else!