To Shopify or not to Shopify? And why shouldn't you? It's an all-in-one, turn-key shopping cart solution after all: it takes care of all there's needed for your store to run smoothly, while you get to focus on those details that will make it stand out from the crowd. Yet, convenience does come with a cost (or several of them): a customization cost, the cost of having only basic discount and shipping cost models, per order transaction fees and so on. So is Shopify the best option for your own online store or not?
There's only one simple way to answer it: weighing its most tempting pros and its most discouraging cons.
Here are 6 of each that our team at our web design company in Toronto, has selected for you:
6 Reasons for Running Your Online Store on Shopify
1. You Get an Impressive Collection of Great Looking Themes to Choose From
And you should, indeed, feel “spoiled” by such a wide collection of themes at your fingertip! Both free and premium.
If you're a start-up, stay reassured: your e-commerce website will still look sharp and professional with a free Shopify theme. This way, you can take off the table the costs of hiring a designer when you plan your initial financing.
As you grow, as a business, you can always jazz up your store with fancy, visually-arresting upgrades.
Note: The time you'd spend looking for a good and “not so expensive” designer you could invest in high-quality photography and other visual assets instead!
And the great thing when you start small and plan to grow your e-commerce business organically is that Shopify makes its theme system ideally accessible for designers. It will get easier for the design team that you'll choose, later on, to fine tune your virtual storefront.
2. It Provides Your Store With Security Features and Top Speed, By Default
“Is Shopify the best option for me?” When asking yourself this question the security and performance factors should weight heavy in your decision-making process:
you expect your online store to be 100% safe for your customers; it should inspire trust so that they get confident enough to enter their card details
you expect it to load fast; online shoppers are remorselessly “stingy” when it comes to the time they'd invest in waiting for a page to load
Well, you hit the nail right on the head with your two-in-one expectation here: Shopify takes off caching, compliance, worrying about hackers etc. off your shoulders.
And it lets you focus on running and growing your business instead!
Note: Money talks and... gets your back covered! It's no news that Shopify's been investing huge sums in software and security engineering.
3. It's an “All-Features-in-One” E-Commerce Platform
Are you quite “greedy” when it comes to the features that you'd want your e-commerce platform to provide you with, right out-of-the-box?
No need to be “reasonably demanding”. And no need to look any further than... Shopify.
It makes the “Swiss knife” type of shopping cart solution that you need for setting up and running your store, fully fledged, in no time:
it has built-in payment gateways support
its themes are easily customizable
it makes implementing Google Analytics effortless
it empowers you to add and to remove your products nice and easy
And there's so much more to this bundle of conveniences that Shopify “spoils” you with as soon as you “unwrap” it!
4. You Can Rely on Its Excellent Customer Support Services
“Is Shopify the best option for my online store?” should turn into “Is there always a Shopify expert to get my back whenever I'm facing a problem?”
Luckily, Shopify's customer service is simply... outstanding! And it's the platform's own users' reviews that support our opinion: there's always an easy to reach Shopify expert ready to help you out... fast.
And this aspect gets particularly critical when you're tempted with tons of upgrades which, at some point, risk to guide you towards a dead end. Then you just need to call someone to... save the day!
5. You Get to Leverage Its Pre-Built Marketing Essentials Toolkit
So Shopify “spoils” you with outstanding customer service. On the other hand, its built-in digital marketing tools aren't out of the ordinary! Yet, they do make the utterly effective essential kit to meet all your online store's marketing needs:
it makes putting together landing pages easy
it's perfectly equipped for SEO: it allows meta descriptions, title tags, it's written in a clean, easy to crawl code
it handles issues of critical SEO importance for you by default (sitemap, Search Console, SSL, canonicals etc.)
In a few words: Shopify's marketing “toolbox” is limited to the essentials, the critically important ones, that it handles to perfection!
6. It “Bundles Up” Tones of Add-Ons In Its App Store
Here's another strong pro to help you come up with a quick answer to your “Is Shopify the best option for my business?” dilemma: The Shopify App Store itself!
It's online store owners' “Wonderland”. An impressive collection of fancy apps that they get to plug right into their online stores.
It's also the meeting point between third-party developers and business owners looking to enhance their stores' out-of-the-box functionality. To make them stand out in their respective industries.
Some apps are free and some of them come with a price tag on.
Is there an app perfectly tailored to your online store's needs that you're searching for?
you could search for a developer to build if for you
but not before you've dug through the wide collection of add-ons already available in the Shopify App Store
Note: by far the most intriguing add-on that Shopify “tempts” you with” is its Buy button itself:
the idea of selling your products outside your online store might be... puzzling you at first
and still, it provides you with so much flexibility: you get to sell your products wherever on the web without the need to actually set up an online store
“Is Shopify The Best Option for My Business?” 6 Reasons To Doubt It
1. It Limits Your Customization Options
Out-of-the-box convenience does come with a price when using Shopify as your e-commerce platform! And this price is given by all the restrictions imposed on your site's architecture.
And implicitly by the customization limitations deriving from there!
It's true, though, you can still hire a good developer to tweak things on your store, yet... this comes with a risk, as well: that of messing up the core code.
A major con, indeed, when you expect to get unlimited freedom for fine tuning your e-commerce site's functionality to your liking!
2. Customization Does Come, But At a Cost
And your legitimate question, “Is Shopify the best option for me?” becomes “Is Shopify, in fact, a restrictive, risky and costly e-commerce solution?”
On one hand, you have a huge community of third-party developers ready to get any “tweaking job” done for you.
Yet, on the other hand:
Shopify comes with its proprietary code language, Liquid: so the chosen developer(s) will need to know Liquid to be able to customize anything about your store; they can't “get away” with using PHP when “maneuvering” templates
needless to add that overly specialized developers are more expensive
you can't make just small tweaks: you need to engage in full customization processes
getting your hands (or your developers' hands) dirty in Shopify's base code does interfere with the software's warranty
by tweaking your Shopify's store base code you run the risk to ruin it and to find it challenging plugging in future add-ons (which call for the out-of-the-box Shopify code to work)
3. Its Built-In Blogging Features Are Simply... Unremarkable
Can you imagine your content strategy without a blog?
Unfortunately, Shopify's out-of-the-box blogging capabilities could be better. If compared with Wordpress's, for instance, they seem... basic.
So, if you have big plans for your blog:
to turn it into a true organic traffic “magnet”
into a “channel” for informing customers about your products and about your brand's values
into a tool for increasing social shares
… and for building customer communities
… then Shopify's blogging software is not built to properly “fuel” your plans.
Just make sure you're prepared for this inconvenience!
4. It Can Handle Basic Discount Scenarios Only
Don't expect Shopify to cope with all your upsell scenarios, with all those complex discount models that you might have in mind.
For it can handle “one discount per order” models only. So, it's pointless to put together all kinds of complex (“buy one get one free”, multiple discount codes per order etc.) types of structures.
Not only that Shopify's not built to handle them, but you might be tempted to “adapt” your discount models to this inconvenience. To create several variants of a product, each one with its own price.
Don't! You will only end up messing your inventory system!
5. It Charges a Per Sale Transaction Fee
These fees add up to your monthly store plan and come on top of the credit card fees.
And from this point of view Shopify can be discouraging both for a start-up business owner and for one already selling in a high volume on his/her online store:
as a start-up, you don't know, from the start, how much you'll end up selling on your e-commerce website
as a business already selling in high volumes the calculation of these transaction fees changes, so fees will start to add up gradually
In short: you can't avoid transaction fees, no matter how much you're actually selling on your Shopify store; still, if you want to save a percentage point you'll need to increase your sales to make those “savings” count.
6. It Can't Handle Complex Shipping Cost Models
Unfortunately, it's true! Since Shopify's built primarily as a shopping cart solution for small to medium-sized business, it's designed to handle basic, single orders only.
In other words, it's not well equipped for all the complexities that wholesalers' orders involve:
calculating real-time shipping cost
orders that include multiple product sizes, multiple boxes
In conclusion: Shopify's out-of-the-box shipping models can handle basic shipping needs only. If you're dealing with more complex ones on your online store, you might consider having a third-party app developed for you!
The END! What do you say? Have we succeeded, through our Shopify pros and cons list here, in helping you find the answer to your valid question: “Is Shopify the best option for my business?”