Whether you want to sell physical or digital products online, the Shopify content management system (CMS) and website builder can help. We will take a closer look at Shopify’s features, pricing, and strengths and weaknesses to help you determine if it is the right e-commerce platform for you. And, to give you some options, we will list some Shopify alternatives that may better fit your needs.
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Some complain that Shopify’s interface takes some getting used to, especially if you are new to building websites. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” so the more time you invest in using Shopify, the easier it will become to build an online store with the platform and access all of its features. Here are some of Shopify’s top features that may convince you to choose it for building and maintaining your online store.
Online Store Templates
When using Shopify, content managers should have no problem finding the right template to fit your online store’s desired look and function. The platform has tons of free and premium templates to fulfill varying needs, and most are fully functional, mobile-friendly, customizable, and easy on the eyes.
Shopify Apps and Add-ons
The Shopify App Store has thousands of apps to extend your online store’s functionality. Although many free apps should do the trick, you may find yourself loading up on paid apps that can drive up your costs.
Accepting payments with Shopify CMS is seamless, thanks to over 100 payment gateways. Choose Shopify Payments if you want to minimize your transaction fees and sell in multiple countries with varying currencies.
An invisible store is an unprofitable one. Shopify’s SEO tools can boost your store’s visibility in popular search engines, thanks to its built-in search engine optimization features and additional SEO plugins you can obtain from the Shopify Apps Store, so you get more visitors and sales.
Product Management Tools
Ecommerce shop owners can quickly customize product variations in Shopify according to size, material, weight, color, etc., and the platform also has a robust inventory management system for monitoring orders, tracking stock levels, and updating listings.
Shopify partnered with USPS, UPS, DHL, and other carriers to help its customers ship products. The platform offers many tools to customize shipping to fit your needs, whether you need to print labels, change your rates, and more.
Sell Digital Goods
Content managers will not need shipping if they only sell digital products like courses, eBooks, and the like. You will need a way to sell and deliver them electronically to your customers, though, which is what Shopify Digital Downloads helps you do.
Selling Across Channels
Simply selling through your online store could keep you from reaching your full potential. Shopify lets you sell through multiple channels like Facebook, Instagram, eBay, and Amazon to maximize your reach and sales.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
Online store owners can recover a whopping 15 percent of their customers using Shopify’s integrated abandoned cart recovery feature that can reel them back in via discount codes and emails.
Do you know what your customer retention rate is? What about your sales? Shopify will let you know those answers and more with its reporting tools.
Other Features of Shopify
Shopify’s features are too long to list in one CMS review, so here are some other highlights worth mentioning:
- Email marketing integration with third-party apps like Constant Contact and Klayivo
- Point-of-sale app to accept in-store payments
- Dropshipping through apps like AliExpress or Oberlo
- Integrated tool for calculating taxes
Shopify Pricing Plans
Before we jump into Shopify’s pricing options, it must be noted that there are other costs to running an online store via the e-commerce platform. Premium apps represent a possible expense, as do transaction fees once you start making sales. Keep those in mind when developing your online store’s budget so you can plan accordingly.
Shopify’s cheapest offering is the Starter plan. It costs $5 monthly and lets you sell online through social media and messaging apps. The $29 Basic plan lets you build an actual online store and manage product shipments and processed payments. The Shopify plan costs $79 per month. It gives you everything the Basic plan offers, plus professional reporting and additional staff accounts so your online store can scale. The Advanced plan offers Shopify’s top features, along with custom reporting and low transaction fees for $299 monthly. And, if you need enterprise-grade features for your high-volume store, you can select the Shopify Plus plan. It will set you back $2,000 per month.
Shopify Strengths And Weaknesses
Like any other CMS or website builder, Shopify has its strengths and weaknesses. Here is a list of where Shopify shines and where it falters:
- Template catalog: There is no need to invest a ton of time, money, and effort in designing your e-commerce site from scratch, as Shopify has an impressive selection of free and paid templates to help you jump into selling online quickly
- Selling flexibility: A great way to multiply your sales and expand your brand’s reach is to sell across multiple platforms. Shopify lets you do that via support for various sales channels beyond your store, such as eBay, Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook
- Thousands of apps: Do you want a fully-functioning and feature-rich online store without paying a programmer to give you all the bells and whistles you want? You can get it via Shopify and its thousands of extensions and third-party apps that are typically easy to download, install, and use
- Payment flexibility: Your sales will take a hit if you cannot accept customer payments from varying sources. Shopify offers 100-plus payment options and has its proprietary gateway (Shopify Payments) to solve this problem
- Support: Both beginners and experienced online store owners are bound to run into problems from time to time. Shopify’s around-the-clock support is known to solve such problems swiftly, so your sales or brand reputation will not suffer
- Scaling: Chances are, you want to take your store from small to large over time, so you can grow your brand’s reach and reputation and make your bottom line boom. Shopify’s backend editor and inventory system make scaling a cinch, so you can grow your store to the size you desire without worry
- Learning curve: While Shopify does its best to be as user-friendly as possible, it could take a bit of time for beginners to get used to all of the ecommerce platform’s features
- Fees: You may feel the wind taken out of your sails when you see how Shopify’s transaction fees diminish the amount of cash that actually goes into your pocket. If you do not use Shopify Payments, do not be surprised if you experience sticker shock from high transaction fees. And such surprise could be exacerbated when you factor in other payment gateway expenses as well
- Added costs: Shopify fees are just one expense of doing business that can negatively impact your bottom line. Premium apps are another because while they may add functionality to your online store, using several of them can add up and cut into your profits
As you can see, Shopify’s strengths outweigh its weaknesses. However, if you see a weakness in that list above that makes you wonder if Shopify is right for you, keep reading to see some popular alternatives to the CMS ecommerce platform.
While it may be the most popular, Shopify is not the only e-commerce platform on the block. Here are some Shopify alternatives that you, as a developer, may find to be a better fit.
Fans of the popular site-building platform WordPress may find WooCommerce to be their ideal Shopify alternative. This WordPress plugin lets you run an online store, although it does have a bit of a learning curve. Besides WordPress familiarity, other reasons to choose WooCommerce include tons of templates and plugins, plus customization and scalability.
Wix Website Builder
If you are a CMS beginner on a tight budget and are only looking to build and maintain a small online store as a side hustle, Wix may be your ideal ecommerce platform. Building a store through Wix is easy and cheap since there are no transaction fees and the templates are free. But if you are looking to scale and grow, Wix may not suffice.
You can learn more by reading our Wix Website Builder Review.
Squarespace lags behind Shopify in its app or extension selection, and it takes some time to learn. But if you seek solid SEO, eye-catching design, and a cheaper Shopify alternative, give Squarespace some consideration.
You can learn more about Squarespace’s features and pricing by reading our Squarespace Review.
While Wix is ideal for small stores, BigCommerce is tailor-made for massive ones. Choose BigCommerce for its lack of transaction fees, superb SEO, and impressive amounts of product variants. Skip it for its learning curve and limited app selection.
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