The first decision you will need to make when working with Shopify is whether it is right for you when starting an online business. This decision will depend on the positives and drawbacks of a Shopify store and how they match your company's needs.
Why choose Shopify
One reason to choose Shopify is the speed in which you can set up your ecommerce store and the ease of the process. The interface of the CMS is simple and intuitive with the option to create custom template logic in order to create custom components that you may want to better fit your business's design choices. Plus the detailed sales reports, easily manage customers, orders and products all provided in the CMS.
Shopify offers multiple themes that can help simplify the process of creating an online store. These themes include pre-built components like header banners and grid systems, which can be easily implemented onto the site via the CMS. However, one drawback of these themes is that they can be limiting; for example, if you want to animate parts of the page, you would need custom development, which can often be hindered by the theme when your aim is a bespoke and specific design.
Shopify’s app store has an array of functionality that you can add to your shop. You can add reviews, loyalty programmes, customer wishlists, get in-depth analytics for the product page, print labels and packing slips, integrate with accounting software, shipping programs and social media sites, not to mention all the marketing apps available. With over 1,500 to choose from, whatever you want to do it’s likely there’ll be an easy to install app to quickly add that functionality to the site.
An overlooked positive of shopify is the server management they provide. Shopify hosts stores on its own servers. With 99.999% average uptime, it has handled over 10,000 transactions per minute at its peak. Shopify can handle 1 million page views per minute. Along with its infrastructure you have access to the customer support that includes dedicated server operators that can resolve any problems that arise quickly.
Built with SEO in mind
It is important for your site to rank highly in order for it to be a successful online business.
SEO is vital for attracting new customers to your website as this pushes your site up the ranking of Google search. Shopify's system is built with SEO in mind, offering advanced functionality like updating meta tags, titles, and alt tags. Shopify also automatically generates a sitemap that you can submit to Google to ensure every page of your store is indexed.
Around the clock security which is becoming an ever increasing important feature to a website. Shopify invests millions of pounds into ensuring its platform is secure and adheres to PCI rules and regulations.
Security is critical in building customer trust, and when store owners are taking customer’s credit card details to make purchases it’s important you’re PCI compliant and your website displays “HTTPS” when users come to process their orders. Shopify takes care of all of this for you.
Who is Shopify right for?
Shopify is best suited for businesses that sell products or digital goods online, as the relationship with customers is temporary. However, if your business is a service provider that requires a hierarchical structure of data from customers (for example, an insurance firm), then Shopify would not be a good fit, as the process of taking out an insurance policy has multiple steps and requires a large amount of information, and the relationship would need to be maintained.
A potential drawback for Shopify is it's not free, but in contrast, there are quite a few great options for building e-commerce stores that are free and self-hosted, like Magento, Zen Cart, and WooCommerce. If you're a programmer with some experience building web interfaces, you can go with these free options to build your own custom-designed web store.
With Shopify, you don't need to pay for features like security certificates and payment gateways, which you would need to pay for if you were self-hosting.
If at some point your business alters, meaning Shopify no longer meets your company's needs then this may cause issues. Many users of Shopify complain that migrating to another platform can be difficult and that you can lose some stored information in the process. CSV export is usually the only choice available. This is a common issue with many eCommerce platforms, not just Shopify.
The bottom line
Overall, I believe that Shopify is a great tool for quickly setting up an online store. However, it does depend on what your business is selling. For example, if you're selling tangible goods like clothes, Shopify would be ideal.
If not, you may want to look at alternatives. The native components and themes can create good-looking product pages, which can help boost sales. Although there is a paywall for Shopify, you gain great infrastructure and customer service in exchange.