A continuous stream of developments makes running an e-commerce business more and more palatable, with opportunities for fine-tuning, diving into a niche, and expanding your reach in the galaxy of online sales. One of the newest arrives courtesy of Shopify, a premier, multi-faceted platform designed to cater to mid- and low-volume sellers whose dreams are much bigger. Shopify offers integration through a subscription-based app, delivering a grand suite of tools to design a website, process payments, track inventory, and source products, among other offerings.
Along comes a nouveau offshoot called “Shopify Collabs,” and its name somewhat gives away its purpose. The ability for smaller online merchants to expand their reach by collaborating and building connections that once took several years to achieve is intriguing, and in the influencer era, it’s even more promising.
Collabs connects creators with merchants and tosses in a new way to make money for both. From the creator’s perspective, this real-time matching adds a head start with far less effort required. They may peruse brands and choose those that look appealing, ultimately striking up a promotions partnership by playing up products on social media sites. A proprietary Shopify tool records sales generated by creators, who then receive a pre-negotiated incentive reward.
The inherent benefits fall equally to both parties, as creators beef up their existing influencer statuses with a streamlined way to profit, and sellers gain a new method of essentially free, targeted marketing and advertising.
Shopify emphasizes the gem of passive discovery, meaning there is no effort required on the part of sellers. Creators/influencers drive their own search for products to pitch by using plug-ins to zero in on a worthy choice that fits their brand. It’s a time-saver for them, and an energized source of fuel for vendors whose focus is mainly on the daily business of selling.
Rather than hit-and-miss attempts to attract attention from someone who will introduce your store and products to large swaths of potential customers, Collabs allows those who are most likely to sing your praises to reach out first and initiate an agreement. Building a relationship with as much closeness as both parties desire, it could generate a surprising revenue jump.
Here are other functions and perks associated with using Shopify’s Collabs:
Shopify Collabs is not yet fully in gear, but most features are up and running, so hop on and begin testing a new version of a growing trend in selling products on the vast online market.
Part 2: The Disadvantages and Limitations of Shopify
Wondering why Shopify might not be right for your online store?
In the first part of this series, The Advantages of Using Shopify, we covered the pluses. Now, let’s talk more about the minuses. Shopify is not without its disadvantages and even limitations.
You may find that there’s a better solution out there for your business. Let’s get started.
Shopify takes a cut.
Yep, that’s right. Shopify works off commission. Except, you’re the one setting up the online store and advertising the products. When you spend countless hours promoting and creating an online business, you would hope to pay a one-and-done monthly payment for Shopify to help with the transactional services. But that’s not the case.
Shopify charges a credit card rate, which varies depending on the monthly plan you choose. If you choose Shopify, be sure to account for those commission cuts into your overall business overhead expenses.
Shopify’s help desk becomes less helpful.
As a new customer of Shopify, you might be met with quality support. They want to help you get your business up and running (so they reap commission and continue to see your monthly payment plan).
However, after some time, you’ll be met with less premium support. While they can’t help guide you through it all, it can be frustrating. Have a payment or app glitch? It’s blamed on “app incompatibility.” And instead of support staff helping you through the problem, they might direct you toward self-help articles. So just be aware: They will not hand-hold you through the entire process.
Shopify charges a transaction fee for 3rd-party payment gateways.
You need an encrypted payment gateway service, which Paypal offers freely with Shopify Payments. However, should you choose to go with a third-party payment provider such as PayPal, you will be charged additional transaction fees. These can range from 0.5% to 2%, depending on the Shopify plan you choose.
Shopify analytics cost extra.
Professional reporting and analytics will cost you extra. So if you want to know anything about your buyers, you will need to invest in a more expensive plan like the Shopify or Advanced plan. For any focused businesses, this is a crucial part of marketing. The Basic plan offers basic simple details, so acquiring the professional report is a must. And that means you will need to upgrade your plan.
Shopify lacks multi-level product categories.
When creating an online shop, it must be easy for shoppers to find products. And keeping a well-organized collection of goods is one of the best ways to do so. When building a shop, it’s wise to add the product type, vendor and other tags within WordPress so items come up in a search result.
However, when you’re unsure what kind of decor or product you’re searching for, Shopify doesn’t offer an easy-to-follow map or other deep hierarchies within its system. Grouping items into collections and displaying them as categories is the best organization you get.
For example, this means you can’t do something as simple as organize specific furniture types like so:
Seating > Dining Chairs > Counter Height Stools
Instead, you’re limited to:
Seating > Dining Chairs
Shopify limits items to 3 variations.
One downside to Shopify is that you are limited as to how many product variations you can offer. For example, if you have a sofa that comes in more than three fabric choice options, you might have to get creative or invest and install an extra app to achieve this.
Shopify has an expensive full point of sale option.
If your business needs a POS system, it’s going to cost you. While many businesses can get away with solely an online shop, many brick and mortar stores and small retailers use tablets, credit card readers, and more mobile charging devices when making sales.
For a full point-of-sale system, you will need to invest in the Shopify POS Pro and all the hardware that goes along with it.
When Shopify is the Wrong ChoiceShopify isn’t always the best choice to create the optimal online shopping experience. Nor is it the best choice for your business.
Here are a few reasons why you should skip Shopify:
Your site needs more customization and design.
Shopify themes are well-designed but might require lots of expensive app integrations and additional tools to get it exactly how you want. If this sounds like you, you might want to check out another platform like WordPress and hire a developer to get it just right.
A hosted platform locks you in.
Shopify is a hosted platform, which makes it easy to have everything all in one place. But should you ever decide to move your products to another hosted platform, carrying over the storefront design, copy and product descriptions, and more will take serious effort. You pretty much are back to square one, recreating a store from the ground up.
We hope this two-part guide helps you decide if Shopify is right for you. If not, check out some of these Shopify alternatives.
Part 1: Why Shopify Is Popular -- Advantages and Features
Shopify is an ecommerce platform designed to help businesses create a webstore where they can sell their products. Compared to other hosted platforms such as WooCommerce and Magento, Shopify has gained popularity for its easy setup and intuitive user-friendly design.
However, just because Shopify is a quality platform and a name you hear often, doesn’t mean it is right for your business. That’s what we’re here to talk about. In this two-part series, we reveal the good and the bad around Shopify so you can make the choice for yourself.
So what makes Shopify so popular? Here are some of the advantages and features that e-commerce businesses love.
Shopify offers secure data encryption.
As a business, protecting your customer’s personal and financial data is imperative. To do so, an online shop needs an SSL certificate and PCI encryption, ensuring a safe checkout. In addition, Shopify comes with the Stripe gateway payment for security.
Shopify makes creating an online shop super easy.
Shopify provides a user-friendly platform, which makes setting up online shops a breeze. This is a real advantage for those not technically inclined, who don’t have time to waste building an e-commerce business. You can create a site within the interface and hit the ground running.
Shopify stores are mobile responsive.
In today’s age, with everyone glued to mobile devices, it’s crucial to have an online store that is mobile responsive. Without a mobile responsive ecommerce site, a potential buyer may get frustrated trying to order and leave. Shopify offers clean and fluid stores for those mobile shoppers to buy your products from home or on the go.
Shopify comes with a variety of built-in tools and integration.
By showcasing sale items, presenting coupons, and offering inventory control, Shopify makes it easy to customize. A plethora of built-in tools and integration features makes online sales go through smoothly with less hassle.
For example, features like abandoned cart recovery remind visitors who wander away that they still have items in a cart. And these built-in tools come in handy to help boost sales.
Shopify offers many attractive themes and designs.
When building a webstore, you will find a variety of aesthetically-pleasing themes and designs in which to choose – all for free! It makes it a painless setup without having to hire a professional site builder. It also means that they are ready to go, allowing a store to go live in a matter of hours or days. Sadly, if you want a Premium theme, it will cost extra. Still, there are many free beautiful and stylish themes to choose from.
Shopify comes with solid Search Engine Optimization.
Each theme is built with fast-loading, clean code that enhances search engine optimization, pushing your site higher in the ranks of Google. This built-in backend feature, along with other tools like Google ad landing pages and PPC social ads, can really capture your audience and make more sales.
As you can see, Shopify offers a ton of advantages for e-commerce businesses and online stores. There’s a lot to love. However, in the next part of this series, we dive into the nitty-gritty of the downsides and why it might not be the best choice for your online shop.
Started in 2004, Shopify originally targeted sales of snowboarding gear. Now it has grown into one of the most prominent sales platforms, hosting more than 325,000 online shops for both individual sellers and huge companies like Google and Tesla.
Being big has its ups and downs. You can count security issues as a down, especially when the etiquette of online security and fraud procedures are still essentially in development. When mega-retailers such as Target joined banking giant Capitol One, food delivery service DoorDash, and even credit reporting agency Equifax as victims to one of a series of massive data breaches exposing various ranges of customer information, each responded in a manner ranging from timely to unacceptably delayed. The public and media outlets took rightfully gratuitous swipes.
Shopify’s recent breach raises questions of whether there has been transparency at all. The company has not responded to media inquiries for further details on how many customers were affected and what level of data was exposed. Shopify ultimately confirmed the breach more than a week after it happened, explaining that two “rogue members” lifted customer data from at least 100, but less than 200, merchants.
Information released indicates that only names, addresses, and order details were accessed. But follow-up reporting and information from merchants shows the last four digits of credit cards were included in the breach.
We know you’re devoted to building a successful online business. So do the various entities offering platforms for running e-commerce sites. One of the most prolific is Shopify, which may hold the distinction of having the catchiest name of all.
Aside from its branding, Shopify is a leader for some very good reasons. Founded in the earlier days of e-commerce, this Canadian-based company has fascinating roots. Originally designed to hawk snowboarding equipment, it evolved over the years – largely due to solid planning and a strategic approach to marketing that works, as well as a reliable platform that’s amenable to customization.
For these reasons, Shopify continually rates at the top of sites committed to reviewing online platforms. While competitors have their unique strengths, let’s focus for now on the Grandaddy of all e-commerce platforms.
The beauty of relying on a platform such as Shopify means you are addressing multiple issues at once. It’s a comprehensive model that ties together page layout, product display, ordering mechanisms, payment, and satisfaction monitoring all in one fell swoop. For some, this may be a drawback; often proprietors prefer more hands-on control over their business. Yet for novices to mid-level sellers who lack the training and time to coordinate functions separately, Shopify can be the e-commerce guru’s best friend.
Another daunting fact about online shoppers: if they encounter issues with your site one time, that may be their last visit. It’s best to be prepared.
Though it should be obvious, there are perks to going with a leader. Providing timely and satisfactory customer service requires accessing timely and satisfactory customer service. Using Shopify places you in the center of a three-party pyramid, with Shopify as a base level, your store in the center, and your customers on top. Shopify’s customer support option is available 24 hours a day. Should that top level experience issues with your site, your ability to respond with immediate solutions increases dramatically as long as you are available to receive a communique. This is perhaps the best argument for entrusting a ready-made platform in general, and Shopify in specific. Shopify enjoys an outstanding reputation for its devotion to helping users navigate through a variety of fixes.
Want some backup for our glowing reviews of their service and offerings? No problem. See what we mean here, a highly respected national rating site for e-commerce platforms.
The “e” in e-commerce is most often associated with remote transactions. But that’s not the entirety of how vendors may offer wares. Shopify makes it possible to sell to customers in person through Shopify Payments, a point-of-sale app option allowing payment processing using a smartphone. Who loves this? How about artisans who spend untold hours at flea markets, fairs, and farmers’ markets, behind tables and racks stocked with their goods. Cash boxes are still a thing, but why not accommodate the impulse shopper who came armed only with plastic? And for merchants operating small indoor stores, this app is a lifesaver, often replacing outdated bank processing systems.
Shopify Forecast: High Visibility
If this isn’t your first go-round with e-commerce, you’re painfully aware of how much of an obstacle competition can be. Your best efforts to craft a compelling message and excellent mix of product offerings may be in vain if no one can find their way to your site. Marketing is no less important in the online sales universe, which is why it’s critical to find a platform that offers clean SEO code. That’s sort for “Search Engine Optimization,” or the likelihood that a potential customer looking for your goods can find you relatively quickly.
Shopify’s built-in code is branded “crawl-able,” which means it delivers hits based on a variety of search criteria which may not be in an exact order. This may seem like a small thing, but to get a feel for its importance, experiment yourself by looking for a specialized item in your favorite search engine. Notice the limited returns you get, and how they omit sources you know offer these items. It’s a simple matter - they can’t buy from you if they can’t find you.
Based on its longevity, comprehensive offerings, and favorable reviews, it’s easy to see why Shopify reigns supreme as one of the most trusted and used online sales platforms. Its ease-of-use reputation and competitive pricing makes it a logical choice for beginners, intermediates, and even seasoned e-commerce specialists.
But don’t take our word for it: peruse through this list of 40 fabulous online sales sites using Shopify services. The best sales tactic is eye-witnessing a fully functional vendor who has turned to Shopify for its operations. See something you like among these sites? Or something you’d love to customize and build upon? Give Shopify a dry run and take your first step toward establishing yourself as a player in e-commerce.
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