July 8, 2019

Choosing an ecommerce platform can feel overwhelming due to the abundance of companies that offer it, each with several plans and long lists of features. Adding to the confusion, some companies offer ecommerce solution while others call themselves ecommerce platforms; some are open source and others are hosted. What’s the difference, and which one do you need?  

If you already have a website and want to add an online store to it, you want shopping cart software. If you want to create an online store website from scratch, though, an ecommerce platform is likely a better fit. Open source programs are great options if you’re a developer or you have one on staff; otherwise, you want hosted ecommerce software because it’s easy to set up and use, and it includes web hosting, a shopping cart, and tech support.  

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an e-commerce solution that makes it very easy for anybody to get a store up and running in hardly any time at all. The platform runs off of a tiered pricing format, so you can start off small and expand when the necessity arises with just a few simple clicks. They are also a fully-hosted solution, which means that you don’t have to worry about things like spending extra on your own web hosting, and there is never a worry for platform software updates. Essentially, all of the things that can potentially create massive headaches are taken care of for you. This equates to a huge savings of time and money. I can also tell you from my personal experience that their customer service is top-notch. The couple of times that I’ve had to call them I was able to get a customer service representative on the phone within 2 minutes. How often do you find that level of support anymore?

Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake. It was coded by Lütke, which at the time was looking for a suitable ecommerce solution for a snowboarding equipment store they were going to open. Not impressed by what was being offered at the time, he took it upon himself to code their own solution. As he states “to make a long story short, after trying a series of existing online store software packages I got so disgusted with the quality of the whole lot, that I wanted to do something about it just to spite them.” After two months, they got their store up and running.

Growth of Shopify has been tremendous, especially from between 2010 and 2012 when they went from 40 employees to over 100. As of 2012, they boast of running over 30,000 stores on their platform. They generated buzz the “old-fashioned way” by contacting various blogs and using word-of-mouth. Their business strategies and ability to fulfill a gap in the market has helped to make them the successful business that they are today.

Why Choose Shopify?

Shopify is the best ecommerce platform for small businesses because all its plans include unlimited bandwidth and storage, support an unlimited number of products, and include 24/7 customer support. It’s also easy to use when you’re creating your website, and the checkout process is intuitive for your customers.

Shopify has three main plans. Basic Shopify costs $29 per month, Shopify costs $79 per month, and Advanced Shopify costs $299 per month. Additionally, it offers Shopify Lite for $9 per month for retailers that want to add a buy button to an existing website or sell on Facebook and Messenger, and Shopify Plus for high-volume merchants that need enterprise-grade ecommerce software.

You can use Shopify Payments for your credit card processing, but this software is also compatible with more than 100 payment gateways such as PayPal, Authorize.Net and Stripe. However, if you use one of these external payment gateways, Shopify charges an additional transaction fee, which costs 0.5 to 2 percent of each sale, depending on your plan.

Shopify offers more than 25 free templates, and additional options are available for purchase. It comes with a built-in blog but also integrates with WordPress, so you can blog on the platform you prefer. One thing that’s unique about Shopify is that you can also use it as your in-store POS system by adding its Retail Package to your plan, making it a great choice for small businesses that have both online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Works For Any Skill Level

The most important thing about Shopify is its ease of use. The reason why this is important is that it opens up the doors for anybody without technical knowledge to be able to run their own online store. They make it easy to add products, keep track inventory, and take customer orders. You only need the assistance of a Shopify developer to fine-tune your store and improve its performance.

Fully Hosted

Because Shopify is fully hosted, you do not have to worry about attaining your own web host, dealing with any form of software installation, or performing upgrades to the software (which includes high-priority security updates). Basically, any technical aspect that in normal circumstances could create a wall for people not to run their own online store, is eliminated with Shopify.

Listing Products

Creating product listings is a very easy process. There are enough product information fields that support pretty much anything you want to sell, all while keeping the interface simple to use. Some of these product fields include different colors, different sizes, attaching multiple photos to each product, inventory tracking, and shipping costs. There is also a bulk upload function, allowing you to create products using a CSV file.

Storefront Design

Getting started with your design is made easy with the use of free templates, and all of these templates can be easily modified to your liking. And aside from the free templates, there is also a large third-party community of designers right on Shopify’s website.

Time = Money

Because the software is so easy to use, you automatically save time and money. You don’t waste time fiddling around with software updates, web hosts, and hard-to-use interfaces. Everything is laid out for you and built from the ground up to keep things simple.