If you are a full-fledged e-commerce business with a team of product managers, developers and marketers in tow, this article isn’t for you. If you are a small business e-commerce retailer – pay attention. Shopify is out there kicking butt and taking names providing a tremendous service for would-be retailers.
What is Shopify? Think WordPress for e-commerce websites. WYSIWYG. Template designs both free and paid. A huge catalog of apps that act as your personal website developer (in a sense). And perhaps most importantly, it just works. I can’t underscore that important fact. Is Shopify new? Nope. They’ve been around a few years and have grown leaps and bounds in that time.
Why is Shopify the bees-knees for SMB retailers?
- Price. Building websites is expensive. Paying someone else to build a website is even more expensive. When you consider the expertise required to properly set up a shopping cart and payment system, the cost rises even more. Shopify takes care of all of that and more…
- Simple(ish). As I said before, Shopify is WYSIWYG and relatively straight forward. Not that it is easy, but compared to doing everything from scratch? Fugettaboutit. There are a lot of settings and there is a certain level of technical know-how required, but if you can read instructions, you can build a Shopify website start-to-finish.
- Payment Processing. The money is important, right? Setting up a functioning payment platform for a shopping cart is complicated. Shopify has their own built-in system. AND you can add PayPal, Google Wallet, etc. Does Shopify take a cut of the transaction? Yes. I promise you would pay more to a developer to build a custom payment platform.
- Apps. This is the part that should really get you excited. What are mainstays of e-commerce websites? Customer reviews. Product feeds. Email list management (MailChimp). Social widgets. You name it. Many apps (plugins) are free including customer reviews, MailChimp and a pretty snazzy Google Shopping app. Many others are not, but seem to be affordable.
- Management. One place; one login. Management of your products. Management of your inventory. Management of your customers. Management of your product feeds for marketing. Management of SEO. Management of your website design. Management of website tagging (analytics, conversion tracking, retargeting). Need I go on?
IMHO, the plugins for product feed automation is the creme de la creme. The most recent build out included the Google Shopping plugin and one from Aten Software that handles Bing Ads shopping campaigns and all the comparison shopping engines. The best part? These feeds will be updated automatically any time there are product changes within Shopify. No muss, no fuss.
Is Shopify perfect? Nope.
- It’s a template website option – there are limitations. You can customize A LOT, and even use a custom template built from scratch. But there are limitations. These are mostly easy to ignore.
- The payment processing and parts of the shopping cart are not on your domain. This can cause some issues with Analytics tracking if you’re not careful. Also, if you allow for payment through PayPal, please note: you MUST add paypal.com as an excluded referral in Google Analytics or else those transactions appear to come from “paypal.com”… ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.
All-in-all, I think Shopify rocks. Should Target or BestBuy run out and start using it today? No. But if you are a small business retailer and need a website – Shopify is the bees-knees. ; )