Shopify - A Complete E-commerce Product Review

Shopify – A Complete E-commerce Product Review

Is Shopify good? Read on

Businesses are moving online at a pace faster than ever. The online stores give them the opportunity to cater to customers all around the world. However, not all store owners have the knowledge and recourses of setting up an online store on their own. In this blog post, we answer, is shopify good? What are Shopify capabilities and how does it support e-commerce owners.

Read complete review : Shopify – A Complete E-commerce Product Review

There are a variety of aspects that might need your attention before your business starts generating revenue. The store needs to offer a streamlined experience while also adhering to modern security protocols.

This is where Shopify comes in. The host e-commerce platform offers easy solutions to these problems. With Shopify you do not need to build your online store from ground zero. The group of turn-key ecommerce solutions provides everything you can possibly need without losing the control over the end product.

You can choose from a wide range of templates and start tweaking the look to match your requirement.

However, what we want to analyze today is if Shopify worth the hype. In this detailed review we will cover what we like about the hosted ecommerce platform and also what failed to impress us.

What Shines On The Shopify Platform

Shopify-Speed & Security Feature

Building your own e-commerce website can be a huge challenge. For starters, you will need it to be incredibly fast to offer your customers a streamlined shopping experience. Secondly, it needs to adhere with modern security standards that make the transactions more secure.

If we believe the latest surveys, a streamlined shopping experience is imperative for your website. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, the customers are more likely to abandon their carts. The only reason why people decide to shop online is the convenience factor. If your website takes ages to load, you are just complicating the process for them.

Then comes the need to have all the security features in place. You need to provide an extra layer of security to process your customer’s payment details. This kind of information is incredibly sensitive and requires you to be PCI compliant. Of course, you can always route the payments to a third party site like PayPal. However, experts have found that too is a major reason contributing to cart abandonment. Customers are more likely to finish the transactions if you handle the payments on the same platform.

The Shopify platform comes with built-in features that promise both speed and security for your online store. The company has made huge investments in software & security engineering. Therefore, Shopify stores are seamlessly quick to load. It even provides 100% SSL and has managed to integrate payment providers well into the platform.

Excellent Customer Support

Shopify Customer Support

One of the downsides of setting up an online store on your own is the unavailability of help. People often run into problems and have no one to turn to. It’s usually just expensive developers and unresponsive online forums.

With Shopify however, you get the solutions to your problems fast. They have an extensive database of FAQs that have answers to most of your problems. If that fails, you can always contact the backend team via email or phone. The experts on the other end are highly knowledgeable and prompt to help you with your issues.

This essentially means that you do not have to worry about anything and leave it to the pros. This allows you to devote the same time and recourses on other aspects of your business.

Marketing Abilities

Shopify Marketing Capability

No one is going to show up on your online store if no one knows about it. This is why you need to market your products well in order to bring customers to your store. Shopify comes with some excellent marketing tools that can help you advertise your products to a larger set of audience. Shopify’s strategy here seems to be completely customer oriented. It doesn’t come with the most extensive variety of tools but focuses on getting the basics right instead.

It comes with the right tools to enable its users to build a SEO optimized website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) essentially allows you to organically fetch new customers for your store. The code is clean and 100% crawlable. You can add custom tags and meta descriptions for your products that will help to increase traffic at your store. With tools such as Email marketing and Google AdWords you can generate marketing campaigns to attract more customers. It also enables you to create landing pages that can work wonders for these marketing campaigns.

These marketing tools make it one of the most ‘well rounded’ package when it comes to ecommerce platforms available today.

Design

Shopify Design

 

Shopify has hundreds of sophisticated themes built in to the platform. This means that you are likely to find what you are looking for in their template. They have ensured that every theme is optimized for viewing on computers, tablets and even mobile devices.

If you do not like the default themes however, you can always tweak some elements to suite the style of your ecommerce store. For instance, you can add a logo and change the default color to match its design. Shopify’s online store builder is incredibly easy to use. Its tool for building a homepage is the most convenient one we have come across so far.

This is exactly the reason why Shopify is the preferred choice for most new ecommerce businesses. Instead of giving them a blank canvas, it provides them with templates that can be customized individually. However, if you are not satisfied with the built in themes, you can always hire a professional. The platform’s theme system is available for developers who can help you build a high end ecommerce store.

Shopify App Store and Buy Button

Shopify App Store

It is exceptionally hard to keep a track of all the third party plug-ins available for the Shopify platform. But what makes it better is the dedicated app store. It accommodates all the features that a storeowner could possibly need. You can choose from a variety of free and paid plug-ins that can make your job easier.

That means you do not have to look for a developer each time you want to add a new feature. You could just visit the dedicated App Store and buy a plug-in. Chances are it will cost you significantly lesser and will work seamlessly with the platform.

Then comes the game changer that puts Shopify way ahead of the competition – The Buy Button. It might get confusing for some players to sell products on multiple channels other than their websites. For instance, brands that have presence all around the web can integrate the buy button on social media platforms. This enables their customers to make purchases directly from Facebook, Instagram or even Pinterest.

Dealing With Cart Abandonment

Cart Abandonment is a serious issue for ecommerce platforms. Even giants like Amazon are facing huge losses due to people abandoning their process midway. One of the more sophisticated features that come with Shopify is the cart abandonment saver.

This feature allows you to view the list of people who abandoned their carts while shopping at your store. You can then manually send them a mail reminding them of their products in the cart. Alternatively, you can even instruct Shopify to do that for you. The people then receive a link to their carts which allows them to continue the transaction from where they left it.

Interestingly, this feature was only available in the premium plans of the platform. However, recently Shopify made this a standard feature in all its plans worth $29 or more.

Google AMP Support

Google AMP Support

Another distinguishing feature of the Shopify platform is the support for Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP. AMP is Google’s solution for people who had troubling accessing the internet on slow connections. It speeds up the load times on mobile devices by stripping certain code of your store’s web pages.

It will ensure that your customer’s on slower connections do not find browsing your store frustrating. The pages along with product images load up fast which translates to a more seamless experience for them. This makes them less likely to leave their transactions midway which reflects in your revenues.

Another benefit of implementing AMP technique is SEO. Google prioritizes AMP pages on search results and shows them on top. Customers searching for products similar to yours are more likely to end up on your store than your competitors. A paid application on Shopify’s dedicated App Store allows you to build AMP pages for your products. Since, AMP pages can amount to significant benefits, we strongly recommend investing in the app.

A Few Things That We Didn’t Like About Shopify

Search Functionality

Shopify Search Functionality

Image: A perfect example of how Google uses Fizzy Search functionality.

One thing that absolutely failed to impress us was the search functionality in Shopify. People have minimal attention spans and do not intend to browse for the desired product by going through your entire library. This is why it is imperative for you to implement the search functionality that makes the job easier for your customers.

However, the Site Search in Shopify is a bit of a letdown. Without the Fuzzy Search, it tends to make things a lot more frustrating for the customers. Fuzzy Search is the ability to return relevant results even if the search argument does not match any products. Without the functionality, the users that make typing errors might not get the desired search results. Eventually, your products are not visible to them and you end up losing potential customers.

This is especially concerning for businesses that sell a wide range of products on their store. The users might not take out time to browse their entire range and end up abandoning the process.

‘Unique’ Customization Setup

Shopify Customization

 

We mentioned earlier in the pros that the customization options are one of the biggest reasons to choose Shopify. However, it all changes if you happen to be the kinds who like to tweak everything. What we are trying to say is it can be incredibly annoying for someone who needs to personalize it too much.

This is because Shopify uses a unique setup for its customizations. On the other hand something like WordPress customizations are built using PHP. People wanting to make small changes without doing a full-on customization find it hard to use. Since PHP is a common language, there are tons of online forums and support channels that can guide you. On the other hand, the Shopify setup is a bit more foreign for some.

The Shopify customizations are still easy to learn and come backed by a prompt support team. However, many first timers might need to hire professional help to make changes for their online store. Meanwhile, a WordPress website will need minimal changes in its PHP code that can be done by people on their own.

Content Marketing

Another con of using Shopify is content marketing. While the available features might be enough for beginners, the pros might not be completely satisfied with Shopify’s feature list. We say that because Shopify has focused on getting the basics right rather than offering the most extensive set of tools.

With its built-in tools like SEO, you can always market your products to a larger audience. It is especially useful in building a brand image and educate the customers about your services. However, people who have previously used WordPress might be spoiled for their own good.

It comes with a blogging tool that gets the job done but fails to impress on the optimization front. Do not get us wrong however. The features are definitely a tad bit better than most of its competitors but nowhere close to WordPress’ abilities.

An alternative for Shopify can be adding WooCommerce to WordPress. It will allow you to have a greater control over your marketing and grow customer base.

Lock-in

For all the cons listed here, this isn’t the one that particularly applies to Shopify. In fact, it is a major factor that keeps people from using any e-commerce platform. Lock-in essentially means that if you ever plan to move from the platform to something else, you could essentially lose all your data.

The only thing that you might be able to retrieve is the product information in a CSV export file. There is not much you can get except for that. The procedure is similar for all hosted ecommerce platforms including BigCommerce, Volusion and the others.

What that essentially means is that you will have to plan for the future. You cannot make decisions on the basis of what is in front of you today. There might be budget constraints that might be influencing you to go ahead with Shopify. Alternatively, it can also be the convenience that it brings along. However, you cannot decide to leave the platform once it is up and running.

You have to analyze how your business might grow/change in the future and what features that you believe are necessary to implement those changes.

Initial setup

Shopify Initial Setup

Shopify might be the easiest option available for someone looking to set up an online store. However, it is not as easy as they advertise it to be. This is why someone wanting to promptly make money right off the bat is going to be disappointed. In all honesty, things have gotten better with the release of Shopify 2 though.

Store Owners need to have some technical knowledge on setting up an online store. This is essential to understand how the set-up will affect the functionality of your store. It takes a little insight into the process to help Shopify do it right for you. This is because Shopify might give you options but it is your decision that will affect the outcome.

This is particularly true if you want to redirect your Domain Name correctly. The internet is full of questions from the people who have been finding it incredibly hard. Of course, one easy solution to that is registering a domain name using Shopify. However, if you happen to be someone that already has one, then you will need to ask your Domain Registrar to point your domain to Shopify servers.

PricingShopify Pricing

Let us get this straight. Setting up your online store on any hosted ecommerce platform is going to cost more than building it from ground zero. There is an array of costs involved with Shopify.

Firstly, Shopify charges anything in between $9 or $299 per month. All the packages carry different set of features, with the Advanced ($299) packing the most. For the $9 plan, Shopify only offers a Buy Now button that. There is only a small percentage of businesses that would go for this functionality. The most basic set of features come in the $29 plan.

Then there is the credit card fee. It is not significantly different from other hosted ecommerce platforms. A standard percentage of fees are levied on the amount of transactions. Shopify also has its own POS and processing network. This eliminates the need of a third party processor like PayPal or Authorize.net. However, there are some lock-in issues with their POS network and we strongly recommend you explore all your choices.

Eventually, Shopify ends up being a little more expensive than Volusion and a tad bit inexpensive than BigCommerce. All the competitors have their pricings neck to neck which means you need to weigh in the pros and cons to make your final decision. Come up with the strategy and the tools you will need to implement it. Then search for those tools in the feature list of all the hosted ecommerce platforms.

Is Shopify Worth It?

Well that is certainly a question that you need to answer for yourself. This is because you need to weigh in all the pros and cons and contest them against the price to see if you can reap in the benefits worth it. For instance, if you sell a digital product on your blog then Shopify probably isn’t the best for you. You could make do with a PayPal button or a WooCommerce Plugin on your WordPress site.

However, you might need to deal in an array of products with inventory and the right marketing tools. In such cases, Shopify makes up for the perfect choice for you.

So, is Shopify good for me?

It’s perfect if you are a startup that has just begun contemplating the idea of an online store. You might not be sure of what to expect as far as the customer response is concerned. Moreover, it might just be a great deal of help if you aren’t the technical kinds.

There is a good chance that you are none of those things. Maybe you want to make extensive changes to the default templates and tweak them to your content. In that case, you would better benefit from a WordPress website.

Which Shopify plan is best to choose from?

There are three plans along with the Shopify Lite plan costs $9 a month. The prices of these plans are $29, $79 and $299 per month.

The $29 plan is the most basic of them all. It comes with 2 Staff accounts, SSL certificates, Cart Abandonment Recovery, 24/7 support and more. This plan makes the most sense for someone who is stepping into the ecommerce world. However, one major downside to this plan is that it attracts 2% transaction fees.

The $79 plan comes with 5 staff accounts and adds the ‘fraud analysis’ functionality. The Fraud Analysis helps you to identify fraud transactions to avoid chargebacks.  For instance, if there are more than 5 payment attempts, Shopify will let you know if it seems to be a fraud transaction. Additionally, you can avail professional reports with this plan and also offer gift cards for your customers.

The $299 Advanced Plan has 15 staff accounts and comes packed with all the goodies you get in the $79 plan. In addition to that, with the Advanced Report Builder, you can use Shopify’s data to build relevant reports from them. This plan can also calculate the third party shipping charges from services like FedEx, UPS and more.

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