I had my first rodeo with Shopify in February 2016. Prior to that? I used another common platform called wordpress with woocommerce (the ecommerce component) installed. My first thoughts on Shopify was that it was expensive in comparison to what I was previously using. Little did I know at that time that it would become my preferred platform going forward. Also that it would be the platform that ended up being part of my life changing experience.
I first heard about Shopify in 2014. If I recall correctly it was through some various articles online. However, I barely paid attention to it. But a year later I kept hearing about it more when I saw some e-com sites being sold on Flippa and Empire Flippers. Heck, even I sold a few businesses on those market places in late 2015.
Maybe not so coincidentally that’s when Shopify started to take it’s grip on the E-commerce space forever. Which also coincided when Facebook decided to come out with their newest pixel which would become the leading weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. The two went hand in hand when Shopify added an easy to do pixel integration.
The result? A supercharged e-commerce platform made for anyone without the need to deal with maintaining plugins, bad shared servers, coding, security, and all the other headaches I had dealing with woocommerce. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy WordPress but there’s too many things you have to think about. Whereas Shopify makes it ridiculously easy out of the box to throw in your products and descriptions and begin selling instantly. I actually was able to setup a full single product store in less than 15 minutes with logo and domain attached ready to sell.
Could I do that with WordPress + Woocommerce? Not a chance. To be fair I’ve been dealing with Shopify for a long time now so I know their dashboard very well. But even if I wasn’t experienced, all you would need is a day’s worth of work to have your brand setup and ready to sell product.
But lets get into the details of why it’s superior.
Out of the box Shopify already comes with some beautiful converting themes such as Brooklyn. Great for a store with a single product or a few. Need more? Supply is a solid theme to start with and had it’s hand in generating 600,000 USD in sales for me before I switched over to a premium paid theme. The reason why I think the free themes do well is because they aren’t overloaded with unnecessary features. They’re simple and work well especially for customers browsing your site on mobile devices.
To top it off, these free themes are extremely easy to plug and play your desired logo, text, images, and colors. Not complicated like many premium themes out there. Shopify really hit the nail here.
How about the dashboard? It’s as easy as it gets. Your home dashboard displays your visitors and sales beautifully on desktop and through their more than convenient mobile app.
Adding products in Shopify is a dream come true. It’s so easy compared to what I used to have to deal with in woocommerce. Simply create the title, description, and add your images. If you need to create options and variants this is also 100x easier than woocommerce (I’d rather not think about it). Should you need to create a more custom product description, you can use the html editor without hesitation.
As for customizing things like shipping. Shopify does a solid job here too. Setup your rates or carrier calculated rates with ease for both domestic and global. Should you require more shipping flexibility here, there are many apps in the shopify app store you can choose from. I have yet to need more customization there so I cannot speak on it.
Adding your own domain is easy too. You can either purchase it through shopify or you can use a service like Godaddy to purchase your domain and easily connect it to your shopify store. Conveniently Shopify will add an SSL (secure socket layer) for you which is pretty much a standard requirement for security purposes nowadays. It’s when you see the “Https:” vs “http:”
Lets say you need to add staff members to your store. Shopify has 3 standard plans and then a more enterprise level (Shopify Plus). The basic plan allows you to add a small limited amount of staff members. Should you need more you’ll need to at least be on the Shopify plan or the advanced plan. Once you choose the appropriate plan for your business you can choose to set permissions. Plenty of flexibility here in terms of what your staff can or cannot access.
As for payment processors… Shopify has it’s own unique white label service that uses STRIPE to process payments at a lower rate than if you used STRIPE itself. Keep in mind though, you most definitely should read over what they allow you to sell through their own payment gateway called Shopify Pay. If Shopify Pay is a good fit for your brand there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t use it unless you can find a merchant account that can beat Shopify Pay. Which is pretty hard to do considering Shopify charges a percentage for external gateways if you’re not using Shopify Pay. Most recently, you can even use Shopify Pay for paying shopify bills and apps.
Should you need to use a 3rd party payment processor. You can do this easily by disconnecting Shopify Pay and selecting from a large variety of options. Most commonly if I cannot use Shopify Pay, I’ll use my own merchant account typically with authorize.net Of course I also use Paypal. Whether you love them or hate’m they definitely increase conversions. Also Amazon pay isn’t half bad either if you’re certain you have a unique product that isn’t sold on their platform. The last thing you want to do is send your customer to Amazon instead.
Then there’s reports. Ahhh yes. What everyone wants to know. The data! Shopify lets you easily run reports and gives you a easy to understand dashboard. Of course like ANY platform out there it’s going to say different things than what google analytics may say. But if you’re looking for a quick overview of what your traffic is doing and where they’re coming from it’s still light years ahead of woocommerce. Should you need some more advanced reporting, you’ll need to be on the Shopify plan at minimum.
How about customer and order management? Shopify also shines bright here. It’s extremely easy to export orders or even modify orders after a customer bought. Let’s say a customer input the wrong email or shipping address. You or a staff member can easily go in and change it to the correct one. Staff can also go in and update tracking numbers or this can be done automagically through shopify apps such as massfulfill. In fact one of my favorite stacks is Order Export Pro + Massfulfill. Csv file gets sent to supplier, supplier gets it and updates a csv with tracking numbers. Then it gets uploaded in Massfulfill to updater all orders in bulk with tracking. Which fires off the shopify order shipped email with tracking. Flawless victory.
Need a blog still? Shopify also lets you run a blog. Easily setup your posts and categories “just like wordpress” I air quote that because while it can do that… it’s not quite the flexibility you’d have in wordpress by any means. But the fact remains, I run a few blogs and two of them are actually on Shopify. Reason? Because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up wordpress and worrying about site speed and servers. I sacrificed wordpress blog capabilities for the convenience and speed that shopify offers. Any regrets? Not really. This one is ran on shopify in case you’re wondering though.
Finally we must address price. Pricing for Shopify varies based on the plan you choose. It also varies based on how many paid shopify apps you have on your store as well. It’s likely to be more expensive than you think it may be but in my experience it has been well worth it to not have any technological headaches to worry about. I’ve personally been on all plans which are Basic, Shopify, Advanced, and PLUS. Your choice should be based on where your business is at or where you intend to be at. If you’re a brand new there’s no reason to go higher than basic. If you’re experienced you’ll want to be on the Shopify plan at minimum.
If you need the most flexibility (such as customizing checkout), power, and know that you’re going to be grossing over 1 Million USD you may want to consider Shopify PLUS which by the way starts at a minimum of 2,000 USD per month in case you’re wondering. This can easily be offset though because of the reduced rate in processing fees.
Overall Shopify is like having my bestie or ride or die for any e-commerce business. If you’re looking to get into ecom or already a veteran than I highly suggest you choose Shopify. It’s only going to get better as a publicly traded company as they invest into new technologies, infrastructure, and even warehouse fulfillment centers around the United States. Even if you don’t trust all the gurus out there, there’s a good reason why they push Shopify. It’s because it’s the best out there. There are countless wannabes and copycats but nothing compares. Even comparing to the likes of other large commerce platforms such as Magento, Wix, Squarespace, Bigcommerce to name a few. I’ve tried those as well out of pure curiosity. Just like when I tried Shopify for the first time. However, none of the “competitors” can touch what Shopify has been able to accomplish. If you can even call it a competition.