About Shopify eCommerce Software
Founded in 2006 by a small team of Canadian designers and developers, Shopify is a one-stop e-commerce solution that provides you with the ability to quickly launch an online store where you can sell physical and digital products.
Trusted by more than 60,000 brands, including Budweiser, Gatorade, Amnesty International, General Electric, Tesla Motors, Evernote, Foo Fighters, Encyclopedia Britannica, and more, Shopify has everything you need to set up a shop, is easily customizable with powerful features and apps, and offers a flexible pricing structure. Because of this, Shopify’s total combined revenue for all its storefronts grew from $275 million in 2011, to $742 million in 2012, and is projected to reach $1.5 billion by the end of 2013.
If you’re on the fence as to whether or not Shopify is the right solution for you, they even provide a 14-day free trial so you can test it out before making a commitment.
The Problem that Shopify Solves
The reality facing many businesses today is that they want to sell their products online, but the majority lack the technical skills, and often times the necessary capital, to handle the setup, maintenance, and marketing of their own online store. Making your site easily navigable, integrating all the required shipping methods, accepting various forms of payment and currencies, securing your website with SSL certificates and payment gateways, ensuring PCI-compliant hosting, using analytics to track customer traffic—the many tasks involved in running an effective online store can seem overwhelming. Because of this, many business owners will hire expensive web developers to build and maintain their site, or purchase pre-made e-commerce packages that require a substantial skill set, or which may be limited in functionality. For some business owners, the challenge is too overwhelming, and they simply give up.
Despite the problems many business owners face when entering the market, earlier this year Forrester predicted that the online retail market will continue to grow rapidly—from $231 billion in 2013, to more than $370 billion over the next four years. This means that, in order for your business to be successful in today’s marketplace, you must have a strong online presence. But how do you begin? Who can you turn to that can make the process simple, straightforward, and as painless as possible?
Shopify addresses these issues by providing an attractive, simple, do-it-yourself e-commerce platform that supports complex business needs with a wide range of functionality. Because Shopify was founded by both designers and developers, their gorgeous free and fee-based design templates work hand-in-hand with clean coding and simple payment gateway integration. Users are given a solid set of tools to manage orders and customers, including hosting and security.
In order to accommodate the growth of your business, your Shopify storefront is also third-party friendly. This means that it can be completely customized by a designer or developer of your choice, or Shopify can connect you with one of these professionals through their Experts program network.
Shopify’s services come in a variety of flexible pricing options, and depend primarily on the size of your inventory, as well as your total monthly sales. In addition, their Enterprise package supports stores with more than $1 million in annual sales.
How Shopify Works
After signing up for your free trial, you will undergo a seven-step setup process, which consists of choosing your deign/theme, content and products, payment options, taxes, shipping information, and domain name. As you work through each of these seven steps, you can preview a live version of your online store. When you are finished setting up, you’ll then be able to publish it for the world to see.
Shopify offers a collection of more than 100 free and premium themes, some of which were developed by world-renowned designers. Each theme is easily customizable for options such as color, fonts, and layout, so that you can create a unique feel for your site. If you have HTML and CCS skills, you can also edit these parameters, creating an endless number of customization options. Some themes even utilize responsive web design, which means they are mobile-ready. Even if a theme is not responsive, every plan includes a free mobile shopping cart.
You will also have complete control over your site’s navigation, content, and design with your fully featured Content Management System (CMS), which does not require any previous technical knowledge to use. Your CMS also provides full SEO customization, so that you can edit your H1, title, meta, and alt tags, as well as the ability to implement your very own blogging platform. Shopify even automatically generates an XML sitemap for your store, which allows it to be properly indexed by search engines. In addition, Shopify offers PCI-compliant unlimited hosting and site security, a free SSL certificate, unlimited bandwidth, fast sever speeds, and 99.94% uptime. The company also utilizes a Content Delivery Network (CDN), which stores your site on a network of global servers, allowing customers to quickly load your site, regardless of where they’re located.
Each of your products can easily be added, including multiple pictures and other options. Shipping is simple to set up—just choose fixed or automatic (note: automatic is only available with Enterprise and Unlimited plans) rate plans through popular carriers such as UPS, FedEx, and USPS. With the integration of over 70 popular payment gateways, Shopify provides support for multiple currencies and taxes, and the capability to display more than 50 languages.
All plans include social network integration, MailChimp integration for email marketing campaigns, as well as discount codes and coupons to help promote your products (available only with Professional, Business, and Unlimited plans). View and manage detailed customer profiles, monitor performance using built-in analytics, and manage your store on the go via Shopify’s iPhone app. And should you ever run into any issues, 24/7 phone and email support is always available.
Shopify provides a flexible pricing structure in order to address a variety of needs. There are five available plans:
- Starter = $14 per month
- Basic = $29 per month
- Professional = $79 per month
- Unlimited = $179 per month
- For businesses with more than $1 million in annual sales, Shopify also provides a custom Enterprise plan.
Each plan comes with all the standard features, including free setup, use of your own domain, and unlimited bandwidth. However, the primary differences between each package are the number of products you can list, overall storage space, transaction fees, as well as additional features such as a discount code engines and real-time carrier shipping.
When signing up for the free trial, you will not be required to enter a credit card. After your free trial has ended and you choose your plan, you will not be subject to a contract. All plans are month-to-month, and you can cancel at any time.
With more than 60,000 active storefronts, customer service should be at the top of their game, and Shopify’s 24/7 phone and email support doesn’t disappoint.
While setting up a storefront is fairly straightforward, Shopify does provide you with a seven-step setup walkthrough to help ease you into the process. However, in order to take advantage of all that the site has to offer, it’s highly recommended that you do some reading on your own. Luckily, Shopify provides a detailed online manual that addresses almost any question you could have, and also offers a free learning center for all users, which consists of e-books, videos, guides, blogs, and forums. And even some inspirational success stories to boot.
The weekly blog posts are useful, and contain very detailed and practical information that covers a wide variety of topics, including business strategy, marketing, SEO, social media, and more. The e-books are solid, the videos and guides will instruct you on the best methods of online commerce, and cater to everyone, from beginners to experts. And if you encounter a problem that just can’t be solved, Shopify’s Experts program can assign a variety of professional designers, developers, marketers, and photographers to help you out.
- Launch your online store quickly, and without any technical knowledge.
- Powerful set of e-commerce features, all of which are SEO-friendly.
- Use your own domain.
- Industry-leading support base.
- Mobile-ready themes and shopping cart.
- Scalable to accommodate a variety of business needs.
- Powerful, yet simple, CMS to manage your website content (including blogs) and customers.
- 14-day free trial. No credit card required until you sign up.
- A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. With more than 60,000 live storefronts, there are only six closed complaints.
- For Starter, Basic, and Professional plans, you will be subject to 1-2% transaction fees, in addition to the cost of your monthly plan.
- Real-time shipping is only available with Unlimited and Enterprise plans. This means, unless you’re prepared to pay $179 per month, you will have to use flat rate shipping.