Shopify is a simple shopping cart solution for your ecommerce business: with Shopify, you face no concerns over hosting your shopping cart, maintaining servers, or presenting your brand and your inventory to potential customers. Moreover, Shopify has auxiliary apps available to you to assist in the entire ecommerce process from inventory management to shipping to customer contact management. In this post, we will explore five reasons why people love Shopify, and what you need to know about its advantages.
1. Shopify Is Easy to Use
The number one reason Shopify is great: Shopify takes care of the coding and web-hosting issues you face on your ecommerce site. This means you do not need technical expertise to launch an online store with Shopify–you just need inventory. Shopify exemplifies KISS–Keep It Simple Stupid–allowing entrepreneurs to focus on their business, and not on the technical nuts and bolts of website and shopping cart management.
However, “keeping it simple” does not mean that Shopify is a bare-bones, basic shopping cart. In addition to 24/7 phone support, email support, and an extensive FAQ page, Shopify provides users with the Shopify Manual, a collection of guides to help you make the most of your shopping cart. The manual is very extensive, introducing you to your Shopify user interface, guiding you through the process of information capture and database management, discussing the how-tos of inventory display and use of discounts, sales, collections, links to and from your website, as well as the obvious issues such as payment and shipping. Additionally, Shopify hosts a Help Wiki built collaboratively between Shopify developers and users. With all these materials available to you, it is possible to get your shopping cart up and running in only a few minutes; less than a day depending on the level of customization you want to pour into it.
2. Shopify Is Hosted
With Shopify, there is no software to install on your computer or your server. Your shopping cart is hosted by Shopify. They take care of the usual website logistics issues such as management, payment gateway, and hosting. Their system allows you to organize customer information for marketing purposes, and keep a close eye on your inventory–and it is flexible enough to adopt to just about any kind of inventory you can throw at it, all while relieving you of the burden of hours spent coding and fine-tuning your ecommerce store. In addition to all of these technical benefits, you also have to consider the bottom line: no software to update, no servers to maintain, no hosting costs, and hours of effort saved on your part all translate into cash. Depending on how valuable you view your time (I imagine you value it as one of your most precious resources), the fact that Shopify is hosted is money in your pocket and a burden off your back.
Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down: Shopify will cost you $30-180 per month, depending on how many products you want to support and which other features you would like to include. If you wanted to host your own ecommerce store, you can buy a server, or rent a server. Buying a server is cheap (in the ballpark of $500 to $2500) compared to renting a dual-processor, managed HTTP server (between $400 and $1000 per month according to practicalecommerce.com). However, you also have to consider the “hidden costs” including uninterrupted power supply and the regular maintenance and emergency IT costs incurred. In addition, you will have to purchase a self-hosted shopping cart software package such as Magento ($15,550 per year, or just under $1300 per month) or SunShop (starting at $20 per month for an introductory license, or a one-time $500 licensing fee for their premium package, with annual renewals at a lower price). There is certainly a price range available for self-hosted carts, but unless you enjoy tinkering with computers, and have extensive server and coding experience, Shopify is plainly cheaper and easier because it is hosted.
If the mere cost of Shopify, versus self-hosted solutions, did not convince you, then consider the major advantage of a hosted shopping cart: reliability.
Every minute your servers are down is a minute that people cannot buy your products. Amazon and Google have determined that page load delays of only fractions of a second result in significant loss of revenue: on Amazon, a 100 microsecond delay in load time resulted in a 1% decrease in sales. For Google, the difference between a 10-result page which loads in 0.4 seconds, and a 30-result page which loads in 0.9 seconds (a mere half second difference) decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20%. The bottom line is that web-users are impatient.
Naturally, Shopify is not immune to all issues of lag and downtime, but when Shopify hosts your shopping cart, you don’t have to. This means that Shopify’s team of experts take care of mundane server maintenance and upgrades in order to keep your shopping cart available and loading quickly. And should anything go wrong, they have a team of dedicated professionals to fix the emergency problems, taking hours of work and frustration off your hands. Their client list attests to their reliability: General Electric, Amnesty International, CrossFit, Tesla Motors, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Foo Fighters, GitHub, and some 50,000 more. Shopify has the infrastructure to handle your business reliably and cheaply.
4. Customizable Design
With 50,000+ other stores hosted by Shopify, the last thing you want is for your customers to feel like they are on a generic ecommerce website found 50,000 other places. Shopify is highly customizable, including a number of templates, customizable options, and for those with the bravery and know-how, Shopify’s website boasts that no HTML or CSS is off limits. There is no reason that your brand and ethos should not feature prominently in your design.
5. The Shopify App Store
Like many other successful products in the tech world, Shopify has spawned an entire community of designers and experts who have developed apps you can use to add to your ecommerce package. Shopify is not the most feature-laden shopping cart solution on the market, but the App Store more than makes up for this–it is the indispensable “added value” that pushes Shopify above its competitors. I cannot begin to cover the wide array of apps available to amplify Shopify’s functionality; but I can give you a brief introduction to the three apps currently at a remarkable 100% approval rating in Shopify’s App Store.
First, Yotpo Social Reviews takes advantage of the social media market to connect your shopping cart to your reviews. It automatically prompts buyers to leave a review, and integrates into your site. Additionally, you can connect positive reviews from any source on the web to Yotpo, and consequently to your cart. This generates shopper confidence and qualified traffic to your store.
Product Options allows you to customize the Shopify inventory and categories interface so that you can more easily and quickly manage how your inventory is displayed. This addresses what limitations exist in the built-in Shopify interface, allowing for better customization and description so your customers can get exactly what they want.
Finally, SEO Meta Manager does exactly what the name implies: helps you control how your products are displayed and appear in search engines such as Google. This app also offers support for your home page and blog, so you can optimize your appearance in searches across the board and raise your brand visibility, driving page views and revenue.
Shopify Apps means that you can get exactly the package and functionality that you need, with your inventory, in your market, for your customers, to work on your terms.
Though we did talk about Shopify’s cost versus some self-hosted cart solutions, the fact that Shopify is relatively low cost did not make our list of the top five reasons to love it–you already know that low-cost can mean high-cost later on. Nor did the fact that Shopify has won numerous awards and recognitions for its growth and functionality, though an excellent track-record of success should get your attention. Simply put, “low cost” and “award-winning” are results of Shopify’s philosophy and model, which is the reason people love it in the first place. And Shopify’s philosophy is to make it simple for you to run your business.