Shopify is one of the most popular hosted e-commerce solutions in the world. It is easy to start an e-commerce business with Shopify.
If you have all the details ready, you can start selling from your Shopify store within a few hours after you sign up.
What makes it different from the other hosted e-commerce solutions?
- It is very intuitive to set up and use.
- There are a tons of options to customize your Shopify store.
- Their pricing is transparent and one can now sell from off line store in addition to the online store.
- Best online store builder in the market. Period.
Shopify started in the year 2005 and currently serves more than 100,000 customers. It is based in Canada and it was started when the founders were not able to find any easy to use e-commerce solution for their own business.
- Selling Options
- Shopify Sign up Process
- Theme Selection and Customization in Dashboard
- Product Addition and Management
- Customer Management
- Discount Options
- Gift Cards
- Payment Options
- Checkout Setting
- Tax Settings
- Shipping Management
- Custom Domain Set Up
- Account Management
- Blog Settings
- App Store
- Advantages of Shopify
Shopify currently offers three options for selling products. One option is to sell product only on the online store, another is to sell product only in the offline store and third option combines the two to allow the customer to sell same products in both online and offline store. All of these options have been further segregated into various plans based on additional features offered.
Let us take a look at the various pricing options under these three options.
It is important to mention here that all of the Shopify plans come with free web hosting and unlimited bandwidth. All of the Shopify plans also offer the option of taking payments through Shopify Payments, their own payment gateway. In case you choose to use Shopify Payments, you will not be charged any additional transaction free other than the payment processing fee (depending on the plan chosen). In all other cases, Shopify levies a 2% transaction fee.
Pricing For Online Only Store
The cheapest plan is the starter plan which lets you add 25 products to your store and caps your file storage limit at 1 GB. The transaction fee for Shopify Payments is 2.9% + 30 cents for online payments and 2.7% for swiping.
The next cheapest plan is basic which will costs $29 per month. This option gives you 1 GB of file storage, unlimited products, free Shopify card reader, discount code engine and 24 x 7 support. The transaction fee is 2.9% + 30 cents for online and 2.7% for swipe.
The most popular plan in this category is the professional plan which costs $79 per month. This plan comes with 5 GB of file storage, unlimited products, professional reports, abandoned cart recovery, gift cards, discount code engine and 24 x 7 support. The transaction fees for Shopify payments in this plan are a bit less with a transaction fee of only 2.5% plus $.30 for online and 2.4% for swipe.
Their biggest plan is the unlimited plan which costs $179 per month. This plan offers unlimited file storage as well as unlimited products. In addition to the features offered in basic and professional plan, you have access to advanced report builder and real-time carrier shipping rates in this plan. The transaction fee for Shopify payments is also reduced to only 2.25% plus $.30 for online and 2.15% for swipe.
They also have an Enterprise plan for customers who plan to make sales of over a million dollars in a year. One needs to contact them for pricing on the Enterprise plan.
Pricing For Combined Offline and Online Store
The basic option in this plan will cost you only $78 per month. The features and fees charged are similar to the fees charged in the basic plan for only online store. Similarly, the professional and unlimited plans have the same features as available in the selling online only plan. All of these three plans offer unlimited staff as well as unlimited registers at point of sale. In this category, the professional plan costs $128 per month and the unlimited plan cost $228 per month.
Pricing For Offline Only Store
You can also use Shopify platform for selling only in your off-line store. This option also comes with three different pricing plans namely basic, professional and unlimited. These plans cost $49, $99 and $199 per month respectively. The only difference between these three plans is that the basic plan does not allow gift cards, professional reports as well as advanced report builder and the professional plan lacks the advanced report builder feature. The transaction fees charged for these options are 2.7%, 2.4% and 2.15% respectively.
Shopify Sign up Process
Signing up for a new e-commerce store on Shopify platform is a breeze.
To start the signup process, you need to click on a Get Started button on the home page. This will pop up a form wherein you need to provide your e-mail address, a password and choose a store name. The store name can be changed later.
Once you fill up the details, the next screen will ask you for complete address. Once the address details have been filled up, the next screen asks some general questions such as whether you plan to sell digital products or physical products and whether you have any previous e-commerce experience.
On completing this, you will reach the dashboard of your e-commerce store.
That dashboard of your e-commerce store has the links for every setting up everything you need to start selling and making money.
Theme Selection and Customization in Dashboard
There are a lot of themes available in the theme store, both free and paid. Most of the themes available in the theme store are responsive which means that they will work equally good on mobiles, tablets as well as desktops. You can also upload your own theme. There are a lot of customization options in case you want to make changes only to the default theme.
Product Addition and Management
The next step after theme selection is to add products to your e-commerce store. After all, that is why you open this e-commerce store. There are two options available for adding products. One option is to add each product manually to your store. For each product, you can manage product details (name of product and detailed product description), price, barcode, SKU, inventory policy and option for charging taxes as well as requirement of shipping address.
You can also upload images and unlimited tags for proper categorization of the products. For search engine optimization, you can add a separate page title, meta description as well as choose a customized URL for your product page.
In addition to the option of manual product addition, you can also import products. For import of products, you can import them in a CSV format (example of CSV format is provided in the dashboard). In case you are shifting to Shopify from another platform, there are free apps available to import products from a store based on Magento as well as from an eBay store. These free applications let you import everything including images, categories, videos as well as active, scheduled and unsold items.
The customer tab on the navigation bar takes you through the various options for managing your customers. There is an option for importing your list of existing customers as well as adding new customers manually.
Here you also choose to enable or disable customer accounts. Enabling customer accounts increases customer loyalty as well as conversion rates as the address details are prefilled on subsequent orders and customers can also easily track the status of their order.
There is also an option for offering discounts on the products in your store. Click on the discount link in the navigation bar on the left side and the options for adding discounts to your products will pop up on the right side.
In case, you have problems in adding discounts, there is a detailed manual on their website which provides complete information in text format as well as video.
If you opt for professional or unlimited plan, there is an option for selling gift cards on your e-commerce store. You can customize the gift card checkout page by adding branding and making changes to the HTML.
Setting Up Payment, Taxes, Shipping and Other Options
The setting tab provides options for setting up payments, checkout process, shipping options, taxes, domain setting, file upload, notifications as well as account management.
The payments tab lists various options you can use for taking payments on the Shopify platform. By default, all the stores have PayPal express checkout selected for payments. In addition to the PayPal, Shopify lets you select from over 70 different payment gateways for accepting credit cards.
Shopify now also lets you accept payments in crypto currencies through Bitpay and Coinbase. You can also take manual payments by way of cash on delivery, money order, bank deposit or a custom solution.
The checkout tab provides various options for managing customer accounts as well as order processing. In this tab you can select the time for charging a customer’s credit card as well as permission for sending promotional emails to customers.
In the tax settings options, you can choose to set up your tax rates depending on your country. If you are in the US, the shipping taxes are calculated automatically by the system if you check the option for charging taxes on shipping rates. There is also a detailed help section in case you have any problems in setting up your taxes.
The options here let you set the shipping rates for standard packages as well as heavy packages. You can also set shipping rates for international shipping. There is also an option to activate carrier calculated real-time shipping rates.
Shopify also provides inbuilt support for fulfillment by Amazon as well as drop shipping.
For fulfillment/dropshipping, Shopify platform has inbuilt support for Shipwire (popular order fulfillment service) and Webgistix (similar to shipwire). There is also an option for custom order fulfillment wherein you can provide an email address where the details of each order are sent. This is perfect option for dropshipping.
Custom Domain Set Up
Setting up a custom domain on the Shopify platform is very easy. You can set up a domain which you already own or you can buy a new domain right from inside the dashboard. Shopify charges yearly domain registration fee and automatically renews the domain each year if you buy domain through them.
For adding custom domain, you just need to change the A record to the IP address provided by Shopify. They also provide detailed instructions for setting up the custom domain name for some of the biggest domain registrars which include GoDaddy, Network Solutions as well as many others.
There is a separate option for uploading any files to your account. You can use this option to upload videos, images as well as any other documents to your online store.
The account settings area lets you change your account type as well as provides an account overview. You can also manage staff members and see the monthly invoices created by Shopify.
You also have the option of closing or pausing your store and changing the account owner of the store through the settings here.
In addition to the store settings, the Shopify dashboard also has the option for setting up your own blog on your e-commerce store. Blogging will help you in attracting more organic customers from search engines. Having an inbuilt option for blogging makes it easy to blog and process orders from the same interface.
It also has a separate app store similar to the Apple App Store and the Google Play App Store. In the App Store, there are a number of apps in various categories. There are multiple free and paid apps in the marketing, sales, reporting, shipping, social media, inventory, taxes, customer service, tools and accounting categories.
These apps provide additional functionality to the Shopify store. For example, you can add a coupon pop-up or exit pop-up through these apps. There are also apps for adding the store to a Facebook page and various other social media settings The apps here can be a one-time charge or a monthly charge. Some of the apps offer free versions and a paid premium version. There are also some other apps which charge on a per use basis.
Advantages of Shopify
The biggest advantage of Shopify platform is that it lets you open an e-commerce store even if you have zero knowledge about any web technologies within a few hours. You just need to add your products and other details such as taxes and shipping info to start selling.
There is extensive documentation available for various options on their website. Their support is excellent. However, the main selling point of the Shopify shopping cart is that it provides a 14 day free trial. For this free trial, you do not even need to provide a credit card to them. Therefore, you can try various options without paying for full 14 days. In our opinion, 14 days is enough time to test out various options on the platform.
Shopify bills you every 30 days and you will have two weeks to pay the invoice. Also, you can cancel your store at any time by sending an e-mail to their support which will provide details instructions on closing your store.
The back office of this platform provides extensive reports on inventory, visitor traffic, sales reports as well as accounting. The back office can also integrate Google analytics as well as QuickBooks. The good thing is that you can access the back office even on your mobile phone.
Shopify platform is Tier 1 PCI complaint which means that it employs 128 bit encryption for online transactions. It also offers free shared SSL certificates to the customers.
The biggest gripe customers have with Shopify is there transaction fee of 2% on top of the credit card transaction fee in case you choose to use any other payment gateway.
There are many other e-commerce solutions which do not charge transaction fee on top of the monthly fee. But the intuitiveness of their platform and excellent support provided by the team keeps attracting new customers to Shopify’s platform and it keeps growing.
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Want to start an online store? However not sure what to promote or sell? Read on to discover ways to find, compare, and validate product ideas so you can build a profitable online enterprise. Read this detailed guide How to Find a Product to Sell Online, which explains step by step, how to find the perfect product.