What is Shopify
Shopify could easily be the most popular and the perfect solution for any business looking to take their online presence from basic and simple, all the way up. With its services available for varying monthly rates, you can create your own store with everything it needs in a matter of minutes.
To make it more specific, Shopify is an easy-to-use and scalable subscription-based eCommerce platform that lets businesses of various sizes and categories sell their goods online. With Shopify you can build your own store or leverage the features within any site (or even blog), including social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram using the Shopify Buy Button to start selling right away.
How does Shopify work?
One of the reasons that Shopify has been so popular and successful is the flexibility that it brings to the table for eCommerce merchants, or those that aspire to become one. There are multiple ways through which you can sell your products using Shopify. These are:
1. Setting up a Shopify store
Shopify's intuitive and easy-to-use interface means that you can have an eCommerce website up and running in minutes. You can choose from a wide range of available templates that match or are close to your business model, tweak it a bit using the drag-and-drop feature to customize it the way you want and just start adding products that you want to sell.
And the best part - Shopify is completely cloud-based, which means you can manage your store wherever you go simply with an internet connection and a device to access it.
Shopify’s website builder allows you to search and select from available domain names using its domain generator or choose a custom domain name from over 50 options. Once the domain name has been selected, the next step is to set up your inventory management system, payment system and shipping system, which are all possible right on Shopify’s platform.
Shopify simplifies the process of setting up your eCommerce store by providing you with all these tools and technologies in one place. It's easy to learn and use, without the need for any prior coding experience, which would otherwise take time away from running your business.
2. Selling on social media platforms
With internet users spending an average of 147 minutes per day on social media platforms, there is a huge potential for online sellers to make a killing. Taking a cue from this trend surely, developers of popular social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok started making it possible for sellers to integrate their Shopify store with these platforms.
Selling on Facebook and Instagram is fairly simple. You can either add a Shopify Buy Button to your post about a product and sell directly through it or you can integrate your Shopify store with these platforms. For the latter, you simply step into FB or IG, synchronize your entire product inventory and choose a payment method.
3. Selling in person
Shopify’s Point of Sale or POS app makes it possible for you to sell your products in person, even when you’re on the move. Which means, all you need is a mobile device (phone or tablet) on which the app is installed, the Shopify POS hardware and you can literally sell anywhere, including open markets and pop-up stores.
As a seller, you will have the option to adjust the cart by being able to remove a product, club several products into one order and even add a special discount to it before processing the payment. Not only that, the app even provides you with the ability to manage and track your orders as well as inventory throughout all sales channels that you have activated.
The app automatically syncs all your sales to the Cloud so you can see what's selling and where it needs to be stocked up on inventory for more efficient business practices. With Shopify’s POS integration, even retailers with presence across multiple sales channels can make their inventory management much easier than keeping individual tabs on every channel.
4. Omnichannel commerce
In the fast-paced and technology-infused consumer culture that we can see now, it would be a tall order for retailers to break through the stiff competition if they don’t spread their wings. Going omnichannel is the best way to reach out to maximum number of shoppers and translate to more sales opportunities, which in turn will lead to better profits.
Shopify made it possible for sellers to sync with more than 80 online marketplaces, including popular platforms like Amazon, Walmart Marketplace, eBay, Etsy and so on. With this one move, sellers instantly found themselves at a huge advantage of being in front of millions of shoppers that visit these online marketplaces every day to buy their favorite items.
For just $10 per month, Shopify’s Multi-vendor Marketplace app is a great tool for merchants to increase not just traffic, but sales as well by expanding their presence in front of a wider customer base that could be looking for products they are selling.
Add unlimited number of products, connect with an expansive network of reputed marketplaces and add an unlimited number of sellers to earn commission as an admin. The Multi-vendor marketplace comes with a whole lot of features that allow merchants to control how sellers operate and sell, thereby making it easier to improve customer experience.
How much does Shopify cost?
Shopify is a great way to set up and run your online store, but how much you pay will depend on the features that are included in those plans. There are three pricing plans with varying features: the Basic plan for $29 per month, Shopify plan for $79 per month and the Advanced plan for $299 per month.
The Basic plan is ideal for small retailers and new businesses that are looking at stepping into the online space to grow their business and earn bigger profits. Although, on the downside, it might turn out to be a bit more than you can chew if you have an inventory with premium products with higher price tags.
Even with super useful features like 24/7 support, unlimited products, point of sale and up to 17% shipping discount, that 2.9% + 3 cents for online transactions (2.7% + 0 cent for in-person sales) would definitely eat into your projected markup and lower the profits.
As a small business owner, an abrupt business growth can overwhelm you, especially when you’re not prepared to handle all the tasks and responsibilities that come with it. This plan is ideal to deal with all the possibilities in such a scenario.
Shopify introduces built-in eCommerce automation to automate manual tasks and build workflows with this plan, besides offering features like professional reports, USPS Priority Mail Cubic® pricing, up to 88% shipping discount and a lower card rate of 2.6% + 30 cents for online transactions (2.5% + 0 cent in person).
If you’re just starting out, it might not make sense to invest in features that will only bring small returns. But as your business grows and starts generating more revenue each month than you anticipated, then consider adding these extra tools into your workflow to keep track of more data so you can optimize on what works best.
For medium to large enterprises, growth is pretty much inevitable, although in varying degrees. But, if you’re the ambitious kind that aims at achieving an unusual growth rate, then this is the plan for you as it comes with just the features that are right for the job.
A custom report builder to fit into your reporting requirements, third-party calculated shipping rates, a low 0.5% third-party transaction fee if not using Shopify payments, custom pricing for international markets, and custom duty & import tax estimate and collection at checkout are some of the extra features that this plan offers.
The cost of this option would sound excessive for smaller businesses, but it’s worth the investment if your business generates monthly revenues that go beyond $20,000. Initially, you would be investing more money up front with this plan than other options may provide, but you’ll gain back the extra you splurged pretty soon when the highly reduced fees begin to save money for you.
Besides these three main plans, Shopify also has on offer a Starter plan and Shopify Plus.
As the name suggests, this plan has been designed for starters who want to make money by sharing and selling their products through social media platforms and messaging apps like Instagram and WhatsApp. It’s as simple as adding an image of your product along with a description and waiting for shoppers to buy them.
You don’t even have to create a brand name or a website. And with Shopify handling the checkout process, every transaction is safe and problem-free.
Plus, with all the necessary features like order fulfilment, analytics and customer support that come with this plan, it’s perfect for independent sellers who don’t have a steady line of products or just want to sell on the fly.
Shopify Plus ($2000/month)
Billed as “enterprise-grade solutions for high-volume businesses,” Shopify Plus is a plan that is both highly scalable and cost-effective, which is why it is subscribed by leading brands like Heinz, Steve Madden, Gymshark, Bombas, Jenny Craig and Staples out of some 10,000 odd subscribers across the globe.
Shopify Plus makes buying and selling online very simple and convenient, thanks to some brilliant features like built-in augmented reality capability, 3D product view, product videos, automated workflows that you can customize as a seller and a lot more.
Not to mention, as a Shopify Plus subscriber, you can avail from a curated list of learning material to help your business grow, including online courses and playbooks/checklists prepared by Shopify’s eCommerce experts. Check here for more on what Shopify Plus has to offer.
Why is Shopify so popular?
In 2020, Shopify took up 8.6% of the U.S. retail eCommerce market, close behind Amazon Inc. and recording a growth of 86% or $2.9 billion over 2019. As an eCommerce platform and website builder, the Canadian firm went on to solidify its position particularly during the Covid lockdown when millions of consumers had to resort to online shopping for almost everything.
Shopify’s popularity arises from the fact that it makes both buying and selling a lot more convenient than its competitors, besides its partnership with majority of the marketplaces, including top names in the list.
This advantage is further augmented by over 7000 Shopify apps through which sellers can connect their Shopify store with marketplaces like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat for better conversion and functionality. Here’s the complete list of Shopify apps that you can use to further customize your eCommerce store.
Shopify Payments gateway is an integrated part of every plan, which means sellers don’t have to worry about connecting with a third-party payment processor. Although, they do have the freedom to choose a third-party payment system if they wish to, and they might have to since Shopify Payment is available in only 17 countries and regions so far.
But the biggest standout would definitely have to be the strong customer support that Shopify offers to its subscribers, which is 24/7, 365 days a year. And it’s not just the round the clock availability, because their support teams comprise of highly attentive and competent members that are always ready to help out their patrons.
You don’t have to take my word on face value. Just take a look at the Shopify customer support reviews on Glassdoor, which run up to over 1800, with 92% approval rate from CEOs and 89% recommendation rate to friends from the reviewers.
Besides their reputed customer support, there is also a strong and vibrant Shopify community where you can find answers to any questions that you may have or simply connect with members to be updated about updates and anything new that’s worthwhile to learn.
Shopify has made a contribution of a whopping $319 billion in global economic activity, which is more than I can say about the sheer size of sales that happen over this platform. I mean almost 11,000 peak checkouts per minute is not a mere feat by any standards, and Shopify did achieve that.
Is Shopify good for beginners?
With all the high-end features and customization features that are available on Shopify, you might think that the platform presents a steep learning curve. While in reality, it’s completely the opposite.
Shopify doesn’t require you to have any prior coding experience or skills at all. It’s easy to follow and user-friendly enough for anyone to create an eCommerce website with a top-notch and professional design, complemented by all the necessary features like payment system, inventory management, order fulfilment and even shipping to get started in a matter of minutes.
Part of the platform’s endevaor to make the experience better for newbies is clearly evident through a collection of facilities like PCI Compliant web hosting, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited email forwarding, CDN infrastructure backed by Fastly and Cloudflare, SEO tools and analytics that are available on all plans.
Shopify makes it further convenient by allowing you to set up dropshipping so you can choose a supplier that holds and ships the products you want to sell, while letting you control the price your customers would see on your store and not the wholesale price that you’ll pay to the supplier.
And, as a beginner, if you’re concerned about the fear of buyers abandoning their carts, Shopify takes care of it through abandoned checkout recovery, which is (for now) available only for the online store sales channel, the Buy Button sales channel and the Shopify Plus Wholesale channel. Shopify POS and third party sales channels are excluded from this facility.
Shopify is also perhaps one of the few platforms that come with valuable built-in features like marketing tools, discount options on shipping, 133 supported currencies and a huge list of marketplace apps to make your selling life much more easier than you would think.
And if that’s not convincing enough for you to be sure about subscribing to it, there’s always Shopify’s 14-day free trial to see if it’s the right fit for your business.
How to create your Shopify store in minutes
Setting up a Shopify store is pretty easy, as you may have guessed by now. The platform has merchants in 175 countries that use it in over 20 languages, which means you’re pretty much covered.
Just sign up on Shopify’s website to create an account either through your email or continue with Apple, Facebook or Google. Of course, you can also start with a free trial by just entering your email address.
In case you haven’t thought of or aren’t sure of a business name yet, Shopify’s business name generator is there to the rescue, so you can find a name that’s both unique and available for you to claim the domain for it. You can search by your business category if that will make it easier for you.
Fill in the information like phone number and address that you would like to associate with your business and you’re good to go to the next step. After the sign-up is complete, you’ll have your own admin dashboard that will let you customize your new store, complete with a theme, color scheme and logo that will speak your brand message.
Adding products to your new store would be next in order, where you will be able to add and update all the information on your products, including name, description, price, variants and availability through the admin. You can even edit your product information and add or remove tags for them to make it easier for buyers to find them.
Since we reckon it’ll be more convenient for you to watch rather than read a long barrage of paragraphs, here’s a detailed video tutorial for beginners on how to set up a Shopify store from scratch to finish.
The most important part of setting up your Shopify store, which literally precedes everything else is to prepare a checklist so you don’t miss out on anything to create something that all your energy and resources will be directed at. This 14-point eCommerce checklist to create your Shopify store can be really resourceful in that process.
Remember, no matter how much Shopify may sound like the perfect answer to a hassle-free eCommerce operation, there’s still the possibility that it may not be ideal for your business. Be very sure that it can serve your requirements without you losing more than you invest before you decide to go for it.
And if you’re still not sure, our eCommerce experts at 0707 Agency are always there, not just to guide you with a transparent and reliable consulting on eCommerce design & development, but be there by you in setting up and maintaining your Shopify store as long as you want.