August 21st, 2019

Setting foot into the world of opening your own Shopify shop is an exciting time for any new entrepreneur. However, it’s important to make sure that it’s the right thing for you and that you have all of the facts and information before diving into your new business venture. So without further adieu, let’s get down to brass tax.

Pros

Usability

Shopify’s ease of use for businesses and consumers alike makes it an attractive solution to an often complicated problem – eCommerce. When setting up an online store the more that can be automated, streamlined and simplified, the better. Shopify is hailed as being one of the most streamlined

Abandoned Cart Recovery

Shopify’s abandoned cart recovery system is built to help you follow up with users who did not complete a purchase. The feature used to only be available to those paying for the more expensive Shopify plans, however they recently decided to make this feature readily available to all users.

The system works by sending customers an e-mail when they don’t complete a purchase at two different time intervals. Of course, these intervals can be adjusted in the settings to a time period that suits you.

Ability to sell across multiple channels

Shopify is in itself a business, so they’re looking to make money. If you make money, they make money and everyone’s happy. Shopify encourage their users to exploit as many appropriate sales channels as possible to boost sales. They’ve developed a range of simple, easy integrations for multiple social media platforms.

Facebook – Enables you to sell your products on a Facebook page
Amazon – Ability to connect your Shopify account to a professional Amazon account (however this is limited to clothing and accessories)
Pinterest – Lets users buy your products directly through pins
Mobile Apps – If you have your own mobile app, you can now also sell your products through your developed app.

Wide Range of Themes


One of the biggest pulls of Shopify is their wide range of themes that are available to businesses. Shopify’s storefront themes have been designed specifically for eCommerce not just as a one-size-fits-all solution, meaning that you can find a theme that will suit your business, no matter how niche, with relative ease. It’s worth noting however that at the time of writing, there are only 10 free templates available on the platform. Paid templates will cost you anywhere between $140 (£115) to $180 (£148).

Shopify App Store

Shopify’s huge app store is definitely one of the platform’s major strengths. At the time of writing, Shopify have over 3,000 apps available on their store to help with everything from communications with your customers, through to your site’s SEO. The only disadvantage to this is again the cost implication. The app store is home to around 500 free apps, with the remaining thousands of apps coming at an additional monthly subscription fee. After purchasing a theme, installing apps, and the monthly Shopify fee, suddenly the solution isn’t as cheap as you thought it would be.

Cons

Set up

A lot of the features that you’d expect to be ready “out-of-box”, especially with a paid for theme, require an additional app install and further set up. Not only does this mean that you no longer have the added benefits of having all things in one place, you’re also having to pay extra costs for these add-ons because the vast majority of these apps and add ons are free to install, but entail an extra monthly subscription fee. Which brings us onto our next point…

Pricing


Although Shopify’s $29 per month (£24) fee for their basic plan may sound like an absolute steal for everything that you’re getting in all of the pro’s above, the costings very quickly snowball into a much higher monthly investment. We’ve taken a look at the bare minimum apps that you might be looking to use in order for your Shopify store to succeed, and worked out what the real cost of Shopify is, even with their cheapest plan.

 

Shopify Apps

Cost (GBP) /month

Cost (USD) /month

Shopify Subscription

£24.00

$29.00

Image optimisation app

£19.84

$23.99

Shopify Chat

Free

Free

Facebook Feed

Ads Cost

Ads Cost

Instagram Feed

£8.26

$9.99

SEO Plug In

£16.54

$20.00

Shopify POS

Requires £66.16

Requires $79.99

XERO Integration

£49.61

Up to $59.99

TOTAL

£118.22/month

£184.41/month to
unlock other free apps  

$142.97/month

$222.96 to
unlock other free apps  

Image Design

Shopify does not automatically crop all of the images that you upload into the same aspect ratio. This opens you up to the risk of having your products presented in a messy and unpleasing format across your store. The only work around for this is to ensure that all of your images are taken in the same orientation (Landscape/portrait), and cropped to the same size before uploading. There are websites and free programmes available throughout the internet that can help you with this, however it’s an issue that you would expect to be included with a Shopify store, especially a paid one.

Lack of Adaptability

Although Shopify is user-friendly and easy to set up, that ease comes at a price. The available templates are just that – templates. Although Shopify has many customizability options available, templated websites just simply cannot compare to a bespoke site. Bespoke sites provide your users with a truly unique experience with your brand. Every page, button and font choice has been made with your brand in mind and to your spec. Even with the customisable CSS and HTML in Shopify, you just won’t get the same luxury design experience that you will with a bespoke site. All without any hidden costs or unexpected add ons being required.

If you do want to adapt your Shopify template at code level you will need a comfortable knowledge of HTML and CSS with a basic understanding of Shopify’s templating language Liquid. So we would always recommend getting a professional web designer and developer on board to help with any design changes to the template. Because of this added cost, if you’re looking to make too many changes to the site, it may be more cost effective in the long run to have a website designed bespoke by a professional web design agency like Yellowball.

Additionally, because Shopify is an “off the shelf” solution, there are some features that just may not now, or ever be readily available for you to use. This means that you can end up adapting your website design around the template available, as opposed to a website being adapted around you and your brand.

SEO

Shopify has many SEO apps available for optimising your site for search engines, but again you just won’t get the same quality as you would with a bespoke website from an SEO and web design agency like Yellowball. Bespoke sites from an agency allow you to build in SEO practices from the word “go” and take into account factors that affect rankings such as page load speed and page responsiveness.

Ownership

Unfortunately, with an “out of the box” solution, you’re heavily at the mercy of app and plug in developers continuing to update and develop their apps. If a feature of your site were to run into any issues or problems, you’ll need to wait for a Shopify update or for the developers to fix the app as opposed to quickly getting in touch with your agency to get it fixed right away. This leaves yourself open to losing potential customers whilst waiting for features to get fixed due to a bad user experience.

All in all, Shopify is an excellent platform for small businesses setting out for the first time. It’s a flexible, easy-to-use platform that’ll enable you to get your website up and running quickly with a few app installations and code embeds into other sales channels. However, if you’re going to start spending any real money on the platform, you’d get a better ROI out of a bespoke website from an agency like Yellowball.

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