Shopify: Review of Benefits for Your eCommerce Store
Author: Robert Haney
Online shopping is growing at a rapid pace. Global online retail sales are estimated to reach 8.8% of total retail spending in 2018. In the US alone, about a third of Millennials are making many of their purchases online. Their spending tops $600 billion annually, accounting for 28% of all daily per-person consumer spending according to Forbes.
These trends make now the best time to start your online business. But the question is, what eCommerce platform you should use? In our experience, the Best eCommerce Solution is Shopify. Our Expert Web Designers got together to review the platform and lay out the Top 10 Benefits for your eCommerce business.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a Software as a Service (SaaS) hosted eCommerce solution that performs as an online store builder for your business. As a SaaS, there is no software you need to install on your computer to get your online storefront up and running. They provide your business with a “one-stop-shop” for all your eCommerce needs. They handle web hosting for your online store, payment processing, shipping options, inventory control, customer management and more.
Top 10 Benefits of Shopify for Your Online Business
Our Shopify Expert eCommerce Website Designers have created online stores for small businesses to large corporations using many of the popular eCommerce platforms. In our experience the best option, especially for small to medium sized businesses (SMB) is Shopify. The ability to have most of the needed components for your online store in one place saves time and money. We have highlighted the Top 10 Benefits for your business:
- Shopify Pricing
- Shopify Grows with Your Business
- Shopify Payments
- Product Categories and Variants
- Theme Store
- Shopify App Store
- Shopify Reports
- Mobile Store Management
- Shopify Support
Shopify Pricing vs "Free" Platforms
There are platforms available that are promoted as a “free” option for eCommerce. However, the reality, like most of life, is that nothing is truly free. While the platform the site is built on may be provided for free, there are still costs associated with getting the online store operational. Examples of costs include, Web Hosting ($5-$15/m), Payment Gateway ($30/m), Additional Third Party Plugins (if needed), and a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) for security ($5+/m). The free option has quickly ballooned to $40-$50 a month on the low side.
Shopify Pricing varies depending on the features and options they offer. Shopify’s plans are divided into three levels; Shopify Basic - $29/m, Shopify - $79/m, and Advanced Shopify - $299/m. For our purposes, we will focus on the basic Shopify plan as it meets the needs of many of our clients. Included in the monthly cost is web hosting of your site (at speeds that often exceed the basic shared web hosting plans available from most services), a payment gateway, and a SSL certificate.
The true benefit of Shopify here is the amount of time it saves you. Researching, purchasing, installing and testing payment gateways and SSL certificates can easily take you several days if you are unfamiliar with the technical aspects of setting up a website. Allowing Shopify to handle this part of your online setup can allow you to setup a basic eCommerce site in as little as a day.
Shopify Grows with Your Business
As you grow your business online, Shopify grows with you. With even the Basic Shopify Plan, you can have unlimited products for sale on your store. Shopify also lets you grow your online presence by easily listing your products through other Sales Channels, including Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest and adds a Buy Button to sell on Blogs.
Selling in person is easy with the POS app for iOS and Android. This allows you to take your online store with you wherever you are. Whether you sell at a market, fair, pop-up shop or trade shows, the app allows you to have full access to your store, POS system, and inventory at any time.
Shopify offers the ability to integrate with a traditional store front with their Shopify Retail Package. The Retail Package allows you to incorporate the system in store. Some of the features for your business include:
- Connection to additional retail hardware: receipt printer, cash drawer, barcode scanner
- Swipe card readers
- Staff Accounts
- Register Shifts: Balance cash drawer to hold employees accountable
- Unlimited Staff Access Pins
- Saved Carts / Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Gift Cards
Shopify Payments is the built-in payment system included in your package. Through the platform, you can accept all major credit cards, so long as your customers are located in their service areas (United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia).
Using Shopify Payments allows you to avoid any transaction fees and offers competitive credit card rates (2.44-2.9% + $.30). The credit card rates are based on the package you choose and can be changed at any time as your business grows.
You are not required to use the included payment processing. You can choose third party providers to accept payments from your customers. This includes PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay or choose from over 70 credit card payment providers that include both direct and external providers. If you choose a third party provider, you will be charged a transaction fee. The fees vary depending on your store’s transaction volume, any recurring app charges, and the payment provider you choose.
Product Categories and Variants
When setting up your online store, you can divide your products into specific collections. This makes your customer’s user experience better by grouping similar products together for easier searching. You can group items by type, on sale, color, size, seasonal or any way you see fit.
You have two options when setting up collections, Automated and Manual Collections.
Automated Collections uses defined selection conditions to automatically include matching products. You can set as many selection conditions you want, and specify if products must meet all or some of the conditions to be added to a collection.
Manual Collections include only products that you place into each collection. When you add or remove a product, you must update the collections that you want it to be included in.
If you have different versions of a product (size, color, etc.) Shopify allows you to set up Product Variants. This makes it so you do not have to create individual products for each version of a product. Each product can have up to 100 variants.
Getting your eCommerce store up and running is made simple with Shopify Themes. You can choose between ten free template designs included in Basic Shopify Plan, or upgrade to one of the 51 paid premium themes that range from $140-$180.
All the themes come optimized for mobile devices. This means that your store will look great when customer visit your store whether on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device.
All the themes are customizable to better allowing you to change the look and feel as well as how it behaves. While the design templates can be used “as-is,” it is important to customize it to match the style and aesthetic feel of your unique brand.
While opting for a theme is a simple solution to easily setup your online store, hiring a Shopify Expert Design Partner, has many advantages. An eCommerce website design company can customize and setup your website allowing you to focus on what you do best - running your business. A seasoned website builder has the experience to design and setup stores in any industry; which will ultimately save time, so you can work on selling your products and generating profits.
Shopify App Store
While the platform comes with many features built-in, there are even more ways to customize your online store. The Shopify App Store offers over 2000 third party free and paid apps, that can be added to your store. The app store is one of the greatest benefits for users. They can add functionality to your store or integrate it with other programs. Some of the categories to choose from include:
- Product Sourcing
- Customer Service
- Social Media
- Advanced Reporting
- CMS Integration
Shopify generates analytics and reports for every plan that you choose. These analytics and reports allow you to review your store’s recent activity, gain insights into your visitors and their shopping habits, and analyze your store’s transactions.
The number and depth of reports will vary depending on the plan that you choose. You can also find additional apps in the App Store that offer more specific reports.
You can design an amazing online store, offer the greatest products ever created, and never get a single customer. Why? Because no one knows about your store. Of course, the answer to this problem is to market your new store. But how should you do that? The best place to start is Creating Content that online shoppers will find useful. The best way that we have found to do this is by starting a Blog.
Shopify comes with a built-in blogging engine. Blogging about relevant topics around your store is a great way to drive traffic to your store by improving your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Creating quality content, by writing blog posts, that answer your potential customers questions begins to establish your brand as an expert in your industry and improves your online reputation.
Shopify has many ways to help optimize your Blog Posts to improve your Search Engine Result Page (SERP) Rankings. They also offer tutorials on how to format your Blog and suggestions on how to get started.
Mobile Store Management
Running a business can require you to always be available no matter where you happen to be. Thankfully, there is an app that goes wherever you go. The Shopify App puts managing most aspects of your online store in the palm of your hand.
With the mobile app, you can manage your orders and inventory, view your sales and traffic, and even add new products to store right from your phone. This makes running your business more convenient to your lifestyle and schedule. You no longer need to worry about what’s happening with your online store when you leave your computer.
Another area that Shopify surpasses many of its competitors is their Customer Service. To start, the Support Team is available 24/7 by email, live chat, and even phone. No jumping through hoops to talk to a real person on their schedule. They understand that running a business means always working, so they are there no matter when you need them.
In addition to their personal support, they have a wealth of knowledge available through their online community, video tutorials, webinars, eCommerce University, as well as extensive documentation in the help center.
There are many eCommerce Solutions available for your online business. Many of these solutions have notable features and benefits to help you meet your business goals. After years of experience, our developers agree that the Shopify eCommerce solution offers the greatest amount of benefits for our clients.
The powerful platform offers a user-friendly interface, that is easily navigated, requires a short learning curve, presents your online store in a professional and secure platform, and offers an extensive range of useful features.
Capitol Tech Solutions is proud to be a Shopify Expert Design Partner. If you are considering starting an online business or are looking for a better eCommerce Solution for your existing online store, contact CTS today to learn how Shopify can start benefiting you today.