I remember when I started doing my homework on which is the best ecommerce platform, one online review described Shopify as “Child’s Play”…
I was immediately intrigued and sceptical and started investigating for myself whether it was true or not. In this in-depth Shopify review I’ll share my findings with you and reveal whether Shopify really is Child’s Play or not. (hence the photo I’ve used in this post.)
I’ll also focus on many of the most common questions I asked and other people seem to be asking relating to Shopify when choosing an ecommerce platform to host their online store. After all, the best decisions are always educated decisions.
There are potentially hundreds of frequently asked questions relating to all aspects of Shopify, but I’ll try and focus on the most important questions. Considering this is a guide for beginners, I’ll also focus on the most relevant Pros and Cons that always make it easier to make the right decision.
I’ll also touch on things like my personal experience with Shopify, how Shopify got started, its amazing success story and its potential for the future in the increasingly competitive ecommerce world.
Table of Contents
Barrier to entry removed with Shopify
My personal journey with Shopify started in early 2017 when I was looking for an ecommerce platform that would empower me with total control of my online store. I knew I didn’t want to spend a fortune on getting a web developer and designer to build my store from the ground up.
I did what anyone in the same situation would do… Ask Google. I put in Best Ecommerce platform?, Ecommerce platform reviews, Top ecommerce platforms, Which ecommerce platform is best for small business?…. and the word “Shopify” kept appearing. I needed to know more. What is Shopify?
At the time, I was simply one of many who wanted to design and run my own online store on a small budget. This is now possible due to the barrier of entry having been removed and with the advent of several different DIY ecommerce platforms.
Gone are the days when it would take many weeks or months and potentially thousands of dollars to have your store designed, built and maintained by web developers and designers. That wasn’t it… you then needed a domain name and your store hosted by a web hosting company.
Now I and over 1,000,000 Shopify users are in the driver’s seat instead of being a passenger in a vehicle that sometimes felt like it wasn’t even mine.
Building a professional online store is now possible in as little as a day depending on the complexity and the number of products in your store. There is no initial set up fee and for as little as a $1 a day subscription to Shopify you can sell and ship your or someone else’s products to anyone, anywhere in the world. When I noticed that they had a free trail, I jumped in straight away because I figured I had nothing to lose.
With Shopify, the first 14 days are still free as a trial, with no credit card required.
There’s also no need for advanced coding knowledge or expert graphic design skills. Shopify is as user friendly as it could be with the aid of its very well-designed platform, it’s predesigned store themes and hundreds of apps for added functionality.
People of all ages and computer literacy have set up their own stores and have become online business owners, literally overnight. Some have even become millionaires in a short space of time.
If you would like to read about an incredible Shopify and Instagram success story, read my article on Aussie Gretta van Riel and how she went from having $24 in her bank account to being a multi millionaire, using the Shopify platform and the power of Instagram.
My Shopify review will cover some interesting facts about Shopify, it’s features and benefits and why I think it’s the best ecommerce platform available today. Specific how to Shopify articles will also appear in future blog posts to help you hit the ground running, from the basics to more advanced things.
1,000,000 plus Shopify stores and growing
Tobias just wanted his own snowboarding equipment online store
Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake and went live with 3 employees in 2006. At the time of writing this blog, Shopify has over 4,000 employees.
Now its headquarters is in Ottawa Canada, with offices all around the world including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York City, Waterloo, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Shenzhen, Melbourne, Vilnius (Lithuania), Tokyo, Bangalore, Stockholm and Singapore.
The idea came out of Tobias Lütke’s frustration at not being able to create a snowboarding equipment online store exactly how he wanted it.
As a computer programmer Tobias set out to create his own ecommerce platform. As they say in the classics, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. It wasn’t exactly an invention, but for many Shopify store owners , it’s more like a God send.
In 2015 Shopify was powering the online businesses of 240,000 people. In early 2020, Shopify powers over 1,000,000 stores with over $50 billion in total sales annually. It is now the world’s second-largest online shopping company. Some forecasters have predicted Shopify will double in size by 2025.
Will Shopify be bigger than Amazon in the future?
Shopify is also now the main driving force behind an exodus of businesses choosing to sell their products independently instead of on Amazon. One of the biggest brands to do this is Nike.
Other big brands that have left Amazon include Vans, Ralph Lauren, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Patagonia and North Face. Many of the 52% of Amazon third-party sellers are following suit and setting up their own online stores, with the main attraction being having more control of their products and their business.
Shopify’s phenomenal growth has led to some experts predicting that Shopify has the potential to one day take on Jeff Bezos and his Amazon ecommerce juggernaut. That, put simply, is a massive endorsement that has added to both investor and consumer confidence.
Investor confidence speaks volumes about Shopify
Shopify Inc. debuted on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on, May 21, 2015.
It raised $131 million in its IPO (initial public offering) and had a public listing price of $28. In January 2020 its share price had surpassed $450 and Shopify’s net worth was a mind-boggling $47 billion.
It the last 16 years since Shopify started it has gone from strength to strength and is now used by over 1,000,000 businesses worldwide that have made over $135 billion.
To achieve such growth in a relatively short space of time speaks volumes about the quality of any product or service. This widespread confidence also encourages Shopify to invest more in product development, acquisitions and other aspects of the business.
How does the Shopify platform work?
Shopify is a SAAS platform or Software As A Service in which the software is licensed to a user, in this case the Shopify store owner, as an ongoing subscription.
The Shopify platform is based on a CMS (Content Management System) which allows the owner of an online store to log-in to the back end of the system, make whatever changes necessary and see the changes in the front end in real time.
With Shopify, no HTML and CSS coding knowledge is required and no waiting for designers or developers to make the changes for you at a hefty cost. As part of the CMS, there are many free and hundreds of paid store theme templates and apps available.
Can I have my own domain name with Shopify?
Once upon a time when creating an online store you would have to set up your own domain name separately. With Shopify you can connect an existing domain name to your Shopify store or you can buy a new one via Shopify or another third-party provider.
Custom domains purchased through Shopify start at $11 USD per year. Domains are registered for 1 year and includes automatic setup. Even if you leave Shopify, you keep the domain name purchased through them.
If you’re looking for a cheaper domain name registration, a web hosting company such as Blue Host has free domain name registration for the first year and web hosting for as little as $2.95 per month.
Do I need to buy and register any domain name?
You don’t have to but if you don’t you will have to use the default http://your-store.myshopify.com subdomain that Shopify issues you with. This doesn’t come across as very professional, so it’s definitely best to pay the small annual fee and have your own custom domain for your store, for example www.idontneedaname.com (fictitious)
Because Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform, you don’t need a monthly hosting account for the website.
Can you have more than one store and one domain name on Shopify?
Yes you can, but you can only have one store per admin login. … If you want to sell different products under another domain name, you will need to create another store and another subscription to have your products and domain listed, however, you can use a common email address for both stores.
How much does it cost to sell on Shopify?
This is possibly the part I love the most about Shopify. The fact that you can have and maintain your own professional online store capable of processing online payments and a whole lot more for less than $1 a day ($29/month Basic Shopify plan) to me is just amazing, again taking into consideration how expensive and cumbersome it used to be.
The Shopify Lite plan is only $9 a month. That’s not a typo… NINE DOLLARS!! It does have its limitations, but if it meets your needs as a store owner, then that’s fantastic value. Upgrades to other Shopify plans can be made at any time.
Monthly subscription and transaction fees
NOTE: if you use Shopify Payments, the usual transaction fee is waived, which is definitely a positive for your business’s bottom line.
What free and paid themes are available on Shopify?
There are 8 free store templates with variations and 64 professionally designed paid theme templates on the Shopify Theme Store.
With over 70 to choose from, there is bound to be a theme that will provide with the exact store look and feel you’re after.
Some of the more popular free themes include Brooklyn, Simple, Annabelle, Venture, Narrative and Sports Store.
Free themes are supported by Shopify, but the majority of the paid premium themes are developed and supported by third-party developers… just a heads up in case you need support for the theme.
These themes allow the store owner to customise the template by changing fonts and colors, add a logo and banner, change your store’s layout, add a slideshow and much more.
Paid themes start at about $180. This is a one-off fee. Again, when you weigh up this cost compared to what it would have cost before for a web designer and developer to create it, it’s dirt cheap.
By default, all template themes are responsive, which means your customers will have the best user experience whether they’re shopping on a tablet or mobile device. This is very important as mobile use has now overtaken laptop and computer use and will definitely increase in the future.
Some of the most popular paid Shopify themes include Wokiee, Basel, Shella, and Gecko. If you can’t find a paid theme you like from Shopify, then Envato Elements for example has more than 200 templates to choose from. You’re bound to find one here that meet your needs if Shopify’s don’t.
Are Shopify themes a one time purchase?
Yes, you only need to purchase a theme once for your shop. There’ is no ongoing subscription fee or similar payable. Theme updates and support are always free.
Can I edit my Shopify store theme?
Shopify uses a templating language called Liquid, giving the user the option to edit the HTML & CSS. For those that don’t know how, if you need to manually edit the HTML or CSS of your store, or design and create a banner or logo a great place to get this done is Fiverr or Upwork.
The majority of the people or companies offering their services on these websites are professional graphic, web designers and developers. Another option is Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator for creating professional graphics such as promotional banners or logos. Both programs have a 7-day free trial.
Shopify Experts is Shopify’s online directory of ecommerce designers, developers, marketers, and other professionals. You’ll find that the prices of these professional services are considerably more compared to Fiverr or Upwork.
How secure is Shopify?
Online security not only from a consumer’s point of view, but also from a vendor’s point of view is extremely important, and therefore Shopify takes the security of it’s stores very seriously.
Does Shopify have a SSL certificate?
Yes. From the get go, your store and the shopping cart includes a free SSL certificate that uses industry standard 256-bit encryption technology. This usually comes with an annual cost with other ecommerce platforms, but on Shopify it’s absolutely free.
All credit card and order data is encrypted and secure. Shopify is Level 1 PCI compliant which gives vendors and consumers alike the peace of mind they insist on.
What payment types are available on Shopify?
Shopify has made the checkout experience as smooth as possible for customers which is extremely important. The following payments options are available:
Powered by Stripe, Shopify Payments is Shopify’s built-in payment system. It eliminates the need to set up third-party payment providers and merchant accounts.
It allows you to accept all major payment methods immediately after setting up your Shopify store with no transaction fees. All you need to do is turn it on in your Shopify account settings, and away you go. It’s fully integrated, so you can view everything in your Shopify admin area.
Payment methods available include Visa, Mastercard, Amex. PayPal, Apple Pay, G Pay making the whole check out experience as simple as possible.
Shopify payments is available in the following countries: Australia; Canada; Denmark; Germany; Hong Kong; Ireland; Italy; Japan; The Netherlands; New Zealand; Singapore; Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States (not available to US territories except Puerto Rico.)
Paypal is one of Shopify’s default payment providers with no additional setup required. As soon as you open a store, you’re given a PayPal Express Checkout account with the email you used to sign up for your Shopify store. Then you can set up a proper Paypal account for free and link it to your Shopify store.
A feature common to a number of the plans is Shopify’s Buy Button. This is a very handy feature as it allows you to integrate Shopify into a WordPress site for example. This is ideal for people who already have website but want to simply add ecommerce to it.
Afterpay is a similar concept to a Layby. The main difference is that customers receive the product before they have finished paying it off.
To offer Afterpay to your customers, you have set up an Afterpay retailer account from their web site, then go to your Shopify Settings > Payment Providers > Alternative Payments and select ‘Afterpay’.
What currencies are available on Shopify?
When it comes to local currencies, Shopify has also got you covered. It can not only be configured to display the local currency in the shopping cart, but it also calculates local tax rates for you. Because ecommerce businesses sell globally to customers from every corner of the world, Shopify has recognized this by offering various popular international payment options.
More than 50 shopping cart checkout languages are available including Chinese, Italian, French, Danish, Dutch, Spanish, German, Greek, Japanese, Portuguese and Swedish.
How does Shopify calculate shipping rates?
Obviously the cost to ship a pen set from The United States to The United Kingdom compared to a dinner plate set is going to be different based on the weight. Problem? Not at all.
You can set up specific shipping rates based on product weights. This cost is automatically calculated dependent on the destination and added once the customer gets to the shopping cart.
How does Shopify handle the fulfilment of products?
If you’re drop shipping products from AliExpress in China and have an AliExpress Buyer’s account for example, the fulfilment is semi-automated, meaning you need to purchase the product from the supplier. Oberlo helps automate the ordering process by adding the customer’s items and shipping information to your AliExpress checkout, but you still have to place the order to make sure your customer receives it.
You can choose to fulfill your orders either automatically (digital products), semi-automatically or manually. You can also completely or partially process bulks orders simultaneously.
Shopify can even store your product inventory in its warehouse and ship your products directly to your customers.
Does Shopify take a percentage of sales?
If you use Shopify Payments it allows you the store owner to accept card payments without having to integrate third parties. This transaction fee is in addition to your monthly subscription fee.
What’s the difference between the Basic Shopify and Shopify Plus plan?
Shopify Plus is the enterprise-grade version of Shopify,. It provides all the main features, but additionally provides many features aimed at big corporations, namely:
- can handle over 10,000 transactions per minute!
- Unlimited staff accounts
- guaranteed server uptime
- API support
- ‘White glove’ level of support via a dedicated ‘Merchant Success Manager’
- dedicated SSL / IP address
- advanced security features.
Because Shopify Plus is a specialised service, there is no set monthly fee like the other plans. The monthly fee is quoted based on your business’s needs.
Check out this list of some of the biggest stores using Shopify Plus…. it’s quite impressive.
What are some of the most successful Shopify stores?
There are literally thousands of big success stories on Shopify, many of which have experienced phenomenal growth in a very short space of time and many started from scratch with no customers at all.
Here are just a few to inspire you:
• Skinny Me Tea
• Colour Pop
• MVMT Watches
• Kylie Cosmetics
What are some of the biggest brand names that have switched to Shopify?
There are many established international brand names that have taken the leap of faith and adopted the Shopify platform. Here are just a few.
- Tesla Motors
- Penguin Books
- Harper Collins
- KKW Beauty
- Candy Crush Saga
What about marketing and store analytics on Shopify?
There are many forms of marketing, but one of the most powerful forms is email marketing because it provides warm leads as opposed to cold ones. Warm leads are people who have usually “opted in”, meaning they have agreed to give you their email address via your store, blog or otherwise.
This might be for example in exchange for a discount coupon, a free gift or a useful downloadable guide. Customers can also be retargeted with relevant products and offers via email marketing as their email address is captured when they purchase one of your products.
Analytics and Reports
Shopify’s allows you to review your store’s recent activity, analyse information on who your visitors and customers are, and analyze your store’s transactions. All plans except for Shopify lite allow you to do this live in real time.
This is all done via the Overview Dashboard. Depending on what Shopify plan you have, you can even tailor your reports. Some of the types of reports you can generate are:
- Retail Sales
Can I use Google Analytics with Shopify?
Yes, not only can you use Google Analytics, but you can also use many of Google’s other apps. Some examples are below:
Shopify’s built-in analytics is capable of producing most of the necessary reports required to optimise your business, but if you need to enhance your store’s analytics, Google Analytics fully integrates with Shopify connecting your web usage data with customer purchases and shopping cart transactions.
A search engine is most people’s first port of call when they’re looking for a product online. Therefore, it makes sense (and cents) to advertise your online store using Google Adwords if you want rank highly for any particular product search word or term. Shopify customers that set up a new AdWords account get $100 in extra advertising.
Google Ads conversion tracking will track actions that people take on your website after clicking on one of your ads. For example, it tells you which one of your Google Ads is generating the most sales on your store.
This is a great way to reach more customers by automatically feeding your inventory into Google Shopping.
What is Kit on Shopify?
Kit is a free app from Shopify Apps that you can use on your store to manage marketing and communications faster and more efficiently. It’s basically a VA (Virtual Assistant). You can create targeted Facebook ad campaigns, send thank-you emails to customers, manage integrated apps and much more.
How do I make money drop shipping on Shopify?
Before I get to that answer, let’s define for the uninitiated what exactly drop shipping is. First of all, it doesn’t involve dropping out of the back of an aeroplane with a parachute attached to deliver a shipment.
Basically it is an ecommerce model in which the retailer holds absolutely no product inventory. The retailer is merely a middleman (or woman) between the supplier (eg. Aliexpress) or manufacturer and the customer. The retailer does not keep any products in stock.
Firstly, you add a drop shipping product image and description to your store and price it so that you will make a profit. When an order is received from a customer via the retailer’s online store for example, the retailer pays the supplier and provides them with the order and customer’s shipment details. The supplier then ships the product(s) directly to the customer.
It’s possible to never see or touch the product you are selling, although it is a good idea to request a sample product first to make sure your customers will be happy.
PROFIT = Your Sale Price – The Price You Paid The Supplier – (and any other related expenses such as advertising)
The retailer will usually ask the supplier to keep the fact that it has been shipped directly from them to the customer as discreet as possible.
The fact that no inventory is held by the retailer is one of the many reasons why drop shipping has become so popular since ecommerce has taken off. This is easily one of the most popular business models on Shopify.
For many it’s a more attractive option compared to let’s say Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) where inventory is purchased before a sale and then stored in Amazon’s warehouse before a sale is even made, Therefore it carries a higher risk and no guarantees of sales.
Here is a handy list containing some of the best drop shipping product suppliers:
- AliExpress (based in China)
- Spreadr (Amazon products)
- Printful (Print on Demand)
- Worldwide Brands
- Wholesale Central
- Sunrise Wholesale
- National Drop shippers
If you would like to know more about drop shipping and Shopify, here’s an excellent webinar on drop shipping.
What is Oberlo and how does it work with Shopify?
Oberlo is a market place app that semi-automates the importing of hundreds of thousands of different products into your store from suppliers and manufacturers such as Aliexpress in China. It removes the need to manually cut and paste product descriptions and images etc.
Oberlo started in 2005 and in 2017 it was acquired by Shopify and offered as a totally free app to all store owners because they realised the importance of making the whole process as easy and streamlined as possible.
Oberlo has an intensive step-by-step guide to selling online called Oberlo 101.
How much does Oberlo cost?
What are Print On Demand products on Shopify?
There are many advantages to Print On Demand (POD). The most obvious one is the fact that as the seller you hold absolutely no inventory. This minimises any financial risk if the product doesn’t sell.
Basically, you create your t-shirt design in a graphics program like Canva, Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, save it in a compatible format (.jpg or .png), add it to whatever products you like from Printful’s wide range, set your product prices, and then put the t-shirt in your Shopify store. When someone buys your t-shirt, the order is automatically printed, fulfilled and shipped directly to the customer by Printful.
You never see or touch the t-shirt itself. It goes directly from Printful to the customer. In other words, you don’t hold any inventory. The products are printed on demand (or sale). Each t-shirt is produced only when it’s sold on your Shopify store, hence the term Print On Demand. Your profit margin on the sale of each product should cover Shopify and Printful’s cut. Here’s a handy profit calculator on Printful’s website.
Product categories offered by include men’s women’s and kids clothing, hats, accessories, home and living and gifts.
Can I ship your own products on Shopify?
You can ship with any carrier, but Shopify has partnered with the popular carriers to make shipping even easier for store owners. If you ship through Shopify Shipping using USPS (United States Postal Service), UPS, or DHL Express in the United States, or with Canada Post in Canada, you’ll be able to pay for and print shipping labels directly in Shopify.
Add multiple orders, return labels, mobile device label printing and other features, and you’re all set to get your products to your customers in a safe and timely manner.
Shipurance shipping insurance is also available for that added peace of mind.
Can I sell products on Shopify using other online sales channels?
Yes. Shopify allows you to broaden your market reach with the ability to sell your physical products on different online sales channels and on social media such as Facebook. Other sales channels include: Amazon; Instagram; Pinterest and Wish.
In addition to this you can add Buy Buttons to your website or blog that connect to your Shopify store. Using Messenger to get sales works in a similar way.
- Facebook – add a tab to allow users to buy your Shopify products (excludes digital products)
- Instagram – sell your products on Instagram by tagging them when they appear in your Instagram posts and stories.
- Facebook Messenger – sell directly via Messenger conversations, provide order and shipping notifications, and respond to customer enquiries.
- Buy Button – this button is a link that allows you to sell products on your Shopify store products on any website, blog or newsletter.
- Amazon – this allows you to manage your Amazon listings and Shopify products in one location.
- Ebay – this allows you to list your products on Ebay using your Shopify store.
- Wish – sell on Wish, list your products and manage orders
What is Shopify POS?
Shopify POS is the Point Of Sale software for iOS and Android devices. It is used by brick and mortar store owners to process payments, track sales and inventory, implement discount codes, offer customer loyalty programs, process refunds and exchanges and produce sales reports.
The best thing is that it syncs online and POS sales. Compatible hardware such as barcode readers, tills and receipt printers are also available. Shopify POS has proven very handy and popular with retail and pop-up shops. Shopify POS is available from the $29 a month Basic plan and up.
Can I create product categories and collections in Shopify?
Shopify allows you to automatically add a new product to a specific category or featured collection based on each products title and or tag. This is a great feature especially if you need to add hundreds of new products at a time from a CSV file for example. Short cuts like this are what makes Shopify worth its weight in gold.
How many variants can a product have in Shopify?
Shopify is capable of creating up to 100 variants of a single product. Each product can have up to 3 options, for example different colour, size and style. A simple example of how variants work in Shopify is, say you sell business shirts with two options: size and color.
The size option has three options: small, medium, and large. The color option has two options: white and grey. One specific variant from these options is a small, white shirt.
What is abandoned cart recovery?
Let’s admit it… we’re all guilty of cart abandonment at some stage. This is where we add a product to our shopping cart, but then don’t go through with the sale and abandon the cart for some reason.
It may be because of a distraction like your phone ringing or because you were put off by excessive shipping fees, we have all abandoned a cart at some stage. Shopify however comes to the rescue by capturing the email address of the person who abandoned their cart.
You then have the option to either manually email the customer asking them to reconsider their purchase at a discounted price or have Shopify send them an automatic email at different intervals containing a discount code and a link to the abandoned cart.
Statistics have shown that this type of email marketing can recover 2 out of every 10 abandoned carts, which equates to a sales boost of 15-20%. This fantastic feature is available on all Shopify plans whereas other ecommerce platforms will only offer it with their more expensive plans.
“If you build it (with good SEO) they will come?“
Yes they will, but you have to have a solid SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plan. There’s a lot of competition in the ecommerce world, and it’s growing all the time, so to have your product or service rank as high as possible on the search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo your store needs the best possible SEO to stand out from the online crowd. Shopify delivers on this important aspect.
Some SEO is automatic, such as auto-generated canonical tags are added to pages to prevent duplicate content from appearing in search results. Your store’s sitemap.xml and robots.txt files are automatically generated. Themes automatically generate title tags that include your store name in addition to having social media links and sharing buttons for easier marketing.
Shopify SEO checklist
Editing title tags, meta descriptions, blog post URLs, product, collection and web page titles are very easy, but if you need SEO advice, Shopify’s SEO checklist is very helpful. It includes important SEO considerations such as:
- Mapping keywords to content types.
- The proper use of H1, H2, H3 heading tags
- Keeping page titles under 60 characters and meta descriptions under 155 characters
- Writing compelling page titles
- Including a keyword in your page URL
- Ensuring your images have descriptive alt tags and filenames
- Avoiding duplicate product pages and collections
One of the most important SEO considerations is an SSL Certificate (Secure Socket Layer) your online store, and this is added to your store automatically and free of charge by Shopify.
Shopify also creates automatic permanent 301 redirects from all your non-secure URLs to new secure URLs.
Some of the top SEO software programs are listed on my SEO and Marketing Resources page.
What apps work with Shopify?
Shopify is a powerful ecommerce platform, but apps be they Shopify or third party apps, are essential for extending the functionality of your store. More and more Shopify and third-party apps (over 2500 at last count) are being made available to Shopify store owners every month to improve the customer experience, help with marketing, boost sales etc.
There’s an app for just about everything. Some free apps include:
- Oberlo – for importing and fulfilling products;
- Kit – virtual assistant;
- Product Reviews – by Shopify;
- Printful – Print On Demand;
- Klaviyo – marketing automation software;
- Shopify chat;
and many more
Other apps are available for:
- Creating social proof
- Accounting and Finances
- Up selling and cross selling
- Customer rewards
- In house fulfilment
- Inventory management
- Store design
- Sales and conversions
- Trust and Security
- Customer support
Email marketing apps
- AWeber – simple email automation
- GetRepsonse – next level email automation with e-commerce features
- SendinBlue – Email marketing and SMS marketing
- Constant Contact – Professionally designed templates and easy abandoned cart emails
- ActiveCampaign – Email marketing plus solid CRM features
Can you sell digital goods on Shopify?
Absolutely! To enable your customers to download digital products such as PDFs or .jpgs, you need to install Shopify’s free app called Digital Downloads. Once your customer has purchased a digital product from your store, they can either download the product via a download link on the checkout window or via an emailed link.
Even better, your customer will get a notification if the digital download they purchased has been updated. You may be thinking, what’s stopping multiple downloads if multiple links are provided? Shopify has this covered by allowing you to set a download limit for each digital product.
The maximum file size for digital downloads is 5GB, but there are third-party apps which allow you to sell or offer digital downloads larger than 5GB.
What digital goods can I sell on Shopify?
Can Shopify generate sales reports?
For Shopify, Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus plans a range of sales reports can be generated. These are essential to gauge how your store is performing and what needs to be actioned or improved. Sales reports include:
- Sales over time
- Sales by product
- Product variant SKU
- Average order value over time
- Sales by product vendor
- traffic referrer
- billing location
- checkout currency
- customer name
Other reports include:
- customer reports;
- abandoned cart reports;
- marketing reports;
- search data reports;
- finance reports.
Can my Shopify store have its own blog?
Yes. A lot of people underestimate the marketing power of a quality blog that is linked to an online store. It’s the perfect place to expand on the features and benefits of a particular product or an explanation of how a product is meant to be used, a detailed review or a case study.
Another advantage of having a Shopify blog is that your store and blog are conveniently located and hosted in the same place on the same platform. This saves a lot of time if you constantly manage and maintain both your sales and marketing content yourself.
The distinct disadvantage of a Shopify blog compared to let’s say a WordPress blog is the level of functionality. Put simply, Shopify’s blog is simple in its layout and limited in its functionality, whereas the majority of the best and most complex blogs use WordPress.
Having a blog hosted on the Shopify platform also helps your SEO. These three letters (SEO) are easily the most important three letters associated with the success of your store, especially if you’re just starting out with a new store and you’re concentrating on organic traffic instead of paid traffic.
It is a known fact that businesses that blog regularly attract considerably more traffic compared to those that don’t. More traffic to your website equates to increased sales. Once again, Fiverr or Upwork are great places to find blog writers who can write your blog posts for you if you are not confident as a writer or simply don’t have the time.
Fiverr and Upwork also have people that can help you improve your store’s SEO. As your business grows, you should seriously consider outsourcing certain tasks so you can focus on the most important ones.
Can I link my WordPress Blog to my Shopify store?
Yes you can. Simply include a Buy Button link anywhere on your blog, and your customers will be taken to your product on your Shopify store.
Does Shopify work on mobile?
Yes. The free Shopify mobile app is responsive for iOS and Android provides a built-in, mobile commerce shopping cart, allowing your customers to purchase your products wherever they may be.
Not only can your customers make purchases on a mobile device, but you can also manage your store from your tablet or smartphone. Most of the functions that are available in a web browser are available in the app such as fulfilment or orders, adding and editing products, reports etc.
Shopify POS app
In addition to the Shopify app, there is also the Shopify POS (Point Of Sale) app for physical Brick and Mortar stores. It allows you to process orders and credit card payments, send receipts to customers, track inventory, make refunds, produce gift cards and much more.
Shopify Ping app
Ping is a free messaging app allows you to manage and respond to customer messages.
With your store and customer conversations in the one place, communications and making sales Is streamlined. Customers can buy products directly from the chat using Apple Pay.
All that back and forth between apps is a thing of the past because all of your messages are in the same place in Ping. It even integrates with Facebook Messenger and Shopify Chat.
Is Shopify’s customer service good?
Shopify is a subscription-based service, so they realise their customer service has to be very good and always available to keep you the subscriber happy. Shopify’s Help Center page offers a wealth of information such as:
- Initial setup and selling
- Migrating to Shopify
- Managing your account
- Shopify community
- Selling on Shopify and other sales channels
If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for via their Help Center page, then customer service by email, phone or live chat is available 24/7. Incredibly, some other ecommerce platforms don’t offer any phone support. 888-746-7439 is Shopify’s best toll-free number.
Do I need a business license to sell on Shopify
In The United States, it depends on your location as to whether you need to operate as a business online with a license. If you do need a business license it is very likely that you will also need a resellers sales tax certificate to collect sales tax.
When it come to taxes payable, it’s always best to check because it will differ from state to state in The United States and from country to country elsewhere around the world.
Can I buy an established Shopify store?
Yes. For those that want a head start and don’t want to go through the entire process of setting up a store on their own, Shopify has introduced Exchange Marketplace for those wanting to buy established stores.
You can either choose to buy a cheap store that you feel has a lot of potential and build it up over time, or you can spend more on a well-established store and brand and see a cash flow immediately. There are hundreds of stores to choose from. The only limit is your budget. Prices start at as little as a few hundred dollars to over $1,000,000 for a store that has a monthly revenue of $210,000. In this case. In 5 months it will have paid for itself.
All Shopify stores for sale on the Exchange Marketplace are vetted meaning each store’s revenue and traffic data are not only disclosed but verified by Shopify. This helps the buyer make an educated decision and minimise any risk and nasty surprises. It’s a bit like buying a brick and mortar store… you need to see the all the books over a certain period to know if the numbers add up and if it’s a worthwhile buy.
- Free 14-day trial (no credit card required)
- DIY and easy to use interface on
- Over 1,000,000 stores (excellent consumer proof)
- Very good inventory system to help you manage your store
- Staff accounts — these allow you to give different members of your team different permissions
- Plans, that include the abandoned cart function start at just $9 per month
- Excellent for drop shipping products from Aliexpress, Spocket and many others.
- Zero transaction fees when using Stripe
- Many online and POS payment gateways available
- Can be integrated with many other sales channels including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay
- Ability to anticipate market needs and respond quickly with helpful products.
- Professional well-designed, responsive, mobile (iOS and Android) friendly free and paid store templates
- Hundreds of free and paid apps available
- Buy Button for extending the reach of your store to other websites
- Exchange Marketplace
- $200 start-up loan available
- Additional apps need to be installed for things such as product reviews, digital downloads, count down timers, custom fields etc.
- One-off and ongoing costs of additional apps can add up very quickly
- 100 product variants possible, but only 3 product options available
- Full reporting functionality not available on all plans
- Transaction fees payable if you don’t or can’t use Stripe
- Abandoned cart email limited to one email only
- Gift cards — these are only available on the $79 ‘Shopify’ plans and up
- The Shopify blog is very basic and has many limitations
- $9 Shopify Lite plan is a great price, but has very limited features
- Custom reports available in the most expensive Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus plans only
The final word on Shopify
In this blog post I’ve focussed on frequently asked questions and the most important things people need to know when considering what ecommerce platform to choose for their online store. Afterall, as I mentioned in the beginning, an educated decision is always the best decision.
I haven’t made any comparisons between Shopify and the other popular ecommerce solutions available in this blog post, but if you would like to see how Shopify stacks up against it’s closest rival Woocommerce, go to my article Shopify vs. Woocommerce – who wins the ecommerce platform battle in 2020?
On October 13, 2019 Shopify announced that their ecommerce platform was powering over 1 million merchants. This all happened in a relatively short time frame. Based on the quality, cost and ease of use of the platform they offer and growing consumer and investor confidence, I’m sure the two million mark will be reached even quicker to further cement its position as the number one ecommerce platform available.
All ecommerce programs have their respective pros and cons, and many of these can be quite subjective, but overall, Shopify’s pros far outweigh its cons.
In addition to the pros I have covered, the fact that Shopify listens to their users and is constantly updating and improving the platform is definitely a big positive. One of their objectives is clearly to make ecommerce available to the masses. Loans are now being offered through Shopify Capital, This gives new wannabe merchants $200 when they join Shopify and link a bank account.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was looking for an ecommerce platform that would empower me with total control of my online store and with Shopify I sincerely feel as if I have found that.
I personally can’t imagine using any other ecommerce platform, but I’ll let you be the judge by giving Shopify a spin for free (14-day Free trial no credit card required).
I’m confident it will also meet all of your ecommerce needs, as it caters for businesses of all sizes and people of varying levels of computer competency.
Get started on that side hustle or full time online business you’ve been contemplating for years. Speaking from experience, it has never ever been easier or more affordable to start and operate your very own online store. Put simply… It’s Child’s Play!