September 15, 2020
There are approximately 1 million Shopify merchants worldwide that draw in 319 million unique visitors monthly. These visitors place around 65.5 million orders monthly. Overall, Shopify customers spent $63 billion since the platform was first launched in 2004.
This huge market share and popularity make taking a closer look at Shopify worthwhile. What can it do? Who is it for? Is it worth its price? What are the alternatives?
eCommerce Usage Distribution. Source: Built With
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that allows anyone to set up an online (or offline) store and sell their products without software programming. No app installations or hosting services are required.
It’s designed for businesses of all sizes. Whether you sell online, on social media, in a store, or out of the trunk of your car, Shopify will help you.
Shopify offers a variety of options:
Because the platform is so popular, finding tutorials that solve most common problems is no sweat. A quick search will get you detailed step-by-step instructions for anything from creating a shop from scratch to SEO optimization guides.
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The platform requires virtually no developer’s skills to be set up, so it makes sense to ask if it allows users to infuse their shops with a unique flavor.
Taking a look at top Shopify stores reveals that although the available storefronts look slick, the platform is not built on their customizability.
The power of Shopify lies in a quick and effortless setup. Store owners can choose from various themes that suit their brand vision, and with a few clicks implement the ready-made look. On the downside — only some of the themes are free, and any extensive customization requires proficiency in Shopify’s Liquid code.
There is the possibility of using the Shopify engine for an existing website, it’s called Shopify Lite. It costs $9/month and allows people to sell items on Facebook or directly on their blogs. It’s also good if you’d like to easily set up an in-person Point of Sale, or have a tool for invoicing. But most of the store owners will opt for the full Shopify package.
Every new Shopify store owner starts off with 14 days of a free trial. Then there are three basic options:
The plans differ in terms of available staff accounts, warehouse locations, report granularity, shipping discounts, currency exchange fees, available languages.
Large companies may prefer one of the higher plans that offers some additional features: like Advanced Shopify or even Shopify Plus for huge stores (costs start from $2.000/month) that we cover further in this post.
Shopify is praised for its hands-off experience and it ranks quite well among its direct competitors: BigCommerce and Wix. On Trustradius it scores 8.7 out of 10 points. Overall, it looks like people feel they’re getting enough for their money, and although each of them has had some issues with Shopify, there are definitely some users that are delighted with the platform.
For a convenient overview, let’s distill the reviews into a neat list of pros and cons.
Shopify and Shopify Plus work the same way, but Shopify Plus can handle much more than a regular Shopify plan. Mostly large enterprises opt to use this plan. The price varies depending on what you need but overall, the higher price will get you:
The majority of users who chose Shopify feel they’re getting enough value for their money — hence the good reviews. Setting up a shop is quick and doesn’t require extensive technical skills, and selling enough product to cover the Shopify costs is a matter of good marketing.
A better question would be: who Shopify is for?
It’s for the store owners that wish to quickly set up a basic shopping experience for their customers and then focus on marketing, rather than innovative functionalities and website features. Because of this, Shopify doesn’t claim the entire eCommerce market, and customizable, open source alternatives like Magento or Saleor occupy a good chunk of it.
We’ve already mentioned Shopify competitors that offer similar possibilities (BigCommerce, Wix), so let’s look at the major open source alternatives that require a bit more technical knowledge but offer a world of possibilities.
Summing up, Shopify is for anyone who looks for basic store functionality, and doesn’t mind quite a generic look and customer experience. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Shopify users are pretty much stuck with this solution for better or worse, and will have to continuously pay fees for using the platform. In short: Shopify gets the job of providing a functional storefront done, and in a quite a hands-off process at that.
But anyone who wants to:
Should consider going with one of the open source options.
Also, here’s a list of all posts we’ve written in this topic so far: