How to Start Your Own eCommerce Online Business with Shopify
Shopify At A Glance
An online store may be a great way to make money, but there is some hard work and effort involved if you want it to be a success.
There are some common mistakes that people make when they try to open a successful online store, and by avoiding these common mistakes you can greatly maximize the chance for success concerning your online store.
Are you planning to sell some products online but you are not sure which platforms to choose?
If you want to start selling things, it’s hard to beat selling them online.
With over two billion global internet users, your online store can reach vastly more people than a local storefront could. You can run that store from the comforts of your home or office, without a lease or license in sight.
All you’ll need is a tool to list your products, manage shopping carts, process orders, and customize everything with your branding. That’s what eCommerce platforms are for—and here is one of the best of those tools to get your online store launched.
Are you still uncertain about which product should you choose to sell?
Or you are not sure how to kick start your business?
You are on the right path!
This is because in this post I am going to walk through you a better knowledge on the online selling platform, Shopify. A platform where you can build your own e-store and start selling.
What Is Shopify?
First of all, what is Shopify?
How well do you know about Shopify?
Or did you know anything regarding Shopify?
Allow me to give you a brief explanation on what is Shopify and how does it work.
Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario that develops computer software for online stores and retail point-of-sale system. It was founded in 2004 and was initially based on earlier software written by its founders for their online snowboard store.
Shopify is also a web application that allows you to create your online store. It provides you with several templates that can be customized to meet individual user’s branding requirement and almost everything you need from end to end despite the product and business know-how to setup and start selling the product.
Furthermore, the system allows physical or digital goods to be sold. It is sort of like hiring a general contractor to build your house, over being the contractor and hiring sub-contractor yourself. You are still in control, but you just let the general contractor use their expertise to make the project happen.
Shopify is idea for you if you want to launch an online shop, or if you already have a physical store, but want to continue to grow your business by selling your products online. It caters to a broad range of industries, such as art & photography, clothing &fashion, electronics, food & beverages and so much more. Basically any sort of gadgets or widgets or physical product that you would like to sell, Shopify can helps make this an easier process for you.
As I have mentioned earlier, Shopify is a simple shopping cart solution for your e-commerce business where you face no concerns over hosting your shopping cart, maintaining servers or presenting your brand and your inventory to potential customer. In this part, we will explore on why you should choose Shopify as your online business’s platform.
One of the best thing about Shopify is that it is really easy and simple to use. It gives you tools to build your online store. For example, tools to insert product images, description or details, tools to manage your inventory, tools to organize your product into categories and there are more to go as long as you move your first step out.
Not only the tools, Shopify also takes care of the coding and web-hosting issues that you face on your e-commerce site. This means you do not need technical expertise to launch an online store with Shopify.
All you need is just inventory. Shopify exemplifies KISS which means Keep It Simple Stupid, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on their business and not on the technical nuts and bolts of website and shopping cart management.
However, “keep it simple” does not mean that Shopify is a bare-bones basic shopping cart. It provides users with Shopify Manual, a collection of guides to help you make the most of your shopping cart.
The manual is very extensive, introducing you to your Shopify user interface, guiding you through the process of information capture and database management. In additions, Shopify also hosts a Help Wiki that built collaboratively between Shopify developers and users.
Shopify Is Hosted
Next, Shopify is hosted.
What do we mean by hosted?
Do you know that with Shopify, there is no software to install on your computer or your server?
Your shopping cart is fully hosted by Shopify. They take care of the usual website logistics issues such as management, payment gateway and hosting. Shopify’s system allows you to organize customer’s information for marketing purposes and keep a close eye on your inventory.
It is also flexible enough to adopt to just about any kind of inventory you can throw at it while relieving you from the burden of hours spent coding and fine-tuning your e-commerce store.
In fact, the saying of Shopify is hosted meaning that the money is in your pocket while the burden is off your back.
Let me explain. Shopify will cost you $30-180 per month, depending on how many products you want to support and which other features you would like to include. If you wanted to host your own e-commerce store, you can buy a server or rent a server.
However, you also have to be careful with the hidden cost including uninterrupted power supply, the regular maintenance and emergency it costs incurred.
Furthermore, you will need to purchase a self-hosted shopping cart software package such as Magento which will cost you $15,550 per year or SunShop which starting at $20 per month for an introductory license, $500 for one-time licensing fee for their premium package with annual renewals at a lower price.
So, why burden yourself with coding and server management while Shopify hosted everything for you with a cheaper price?
You might not be convinced by me right now, but, let me tell you another major advantage about Shopify, which is reliability. Every minute your servers are down is a minute that people cannot buy your product.
Amazon and Google have determined that page load delays of only fractions of a second result in significant loss of revenue. On Amazon, a 100 microsecond delays in load time resulted in a 1% decrease in sales.
As for Google, the difference between a 10-result page which loads in 0.4 seconds and a 30-result page which loads in 0.9 seconds decreased traffic and ad revenues by 20%.
Basically, Shopify is not immune to all issues of lags and downtime, but when Shopify hosts your shopping cart, you do not have to worry about it.
Meaning that Shopify’s team of experts will take a good care of mundane server maintenance and upgrades in order to keep your shopping cart available and loading quickly. If there is anything goes wrong, they have a team of dedicated professionals to fix the emergency problems.
Don’t you think it is a good thing for them to take hours of works while the frustration is off your shoulders? Shopify has the infrastructure to handle your business reliably and affordably.
The Shopify App Store
Like many other successful products in the tech world, Shopify has spawned an entire community of designers and experts who have developed tons of apps that you can use to add to your e-commerce package. Even though Shopify comes with a ton of features built-in, but no platform can possibly accommodate all the features needed by store-owners.
So, Shopify took a page from Facebook, Apple, Android and started an App Store. It would be a real long story to cover the wide array of apps available to amplify Shopify’s functionality, so, I have sorted out 3 apps that are currently at a remarkable 100% approval rating in Shopify’s App Store.
The first one would be Yotpo Social Reviews. It takes advantage of the social media markets to connect your shopping cart to your reviews. It automatically prompts buyers to leave a review and integrate into you site.
Additionally, you can connect positive reviews from any sources on the web to Yotpo and consequently to your cart. This generates shopper confidence and qualified traffic to your store.
The second one is the Product Options which allows you to customize the Shopify inventory and categories interface so that you can easily and quickly manage how your inventory is displayed.
This addresses what limitations exist in the built-in Shopify interface, allowing a better customization and description so your customers can get exactly what they want.
Lastly, SEO Meta Manager which does exactly what the name implies.
It helps you to control how your products are displayed and appear in searches across the board and raise your brand visibility, driving page views and revenue. Not all platforms have the scale to pull this off correctly, but Shopify does.
They have a business development team that specifically works on developing new apps and bringing new developers to solve problems. You can simply put “low cost” and “award winning” as the results for Shopify’s philosophy and model.
This is the reason why people love it in the first place and Shopify’s philosophy is to make it simple for you to run your business.
Shopify VS BigCommerce VS Volusion
I appreciate and understand that your decision is an important one, as you don’t want to spend time building out a business with one of them and then realizing that you may have to switch to another e-commerce builder.
Shopify VS BigCommerce
Most people are generally very sensitive to pricing. We are trained to nickel and dime, clipping coupons and saving as much as possible. We do that all the time too, just like our second nature. However, when we look at picking an e-commerce builder to grow a business, we consciously steer away from making our decision purely based on price per month.
Choosing a builder because it is cheaper and saves you a few dollars every month is a very short term way to think and grow a business. Instead, you should be thinking of value. Even though a plan may have a higher price point, if you are getting tremendous value out of it, it is well worth the money.
Shopify’s plans start at a monthly price of $9 for a Lite plan and moves up to $29 for Basic, $79 for Pro and $179 for Unlimited. Note that to build an online store, you will need to sign up to the Basic, Pro or Unlimited plans. The Lite plan only gives you access to some selling tools but not the online store builder.
As for BigCommerce, it offers 3 pricing plans which are $29.95 per month for Standard, $79 per month for Plus and pricing varies depending on requirements for Enterprise. With the Enterprise Plan, a dedicated BigCommerce team will help you with the set up, data migration and you will get priority support.
Let’s be honest here, design does matter. How many time have you found a website that looked confusing, didn’t inspire trust or credibility and you just left the website without giving it a fair chance?
Trust me, we do that all the time. Have a good looking, professional and inviting storefront is the first step to welcome your prospective customers to increase the chances of making a sale. It doesn’t matter if you have the best product in the world, if your store looks mediocre at best, people won’t pay the attention that you deserve.
Shopify’s themes are very impressive and updated. They look professional and inviting. Shopify uses independent professional designers to create those themes to make sure the designs are always fresh and modern. They can make your store look credible and welcoming. All the free templates from Shopify are responsive.
The contrast between Shopify and BigCommerce in this field is kind of obvious. This is because only 2 out of 16 from the free templates in BigCommerce are responsive. Others are categorized as outdated.
Shopify and BigCommerce both allow you to connect an extensive range of payment gateways to your store. The number available varies by country but you will find that both BigCommerce and Shopify support the major ones such as WorldPay, PayPal and QuickBooks. Shopify however offers more compare to BigCommerce.
Normally speaking, connecting third party payment gateway can be a fiddly process which sometimes involves a contract or monthly fees, so users who are not in the mood for that sort of thing might prefer to use one of the out of the box options provided by both BigCommerce and Shopify.
In the case of Shopify this means using either PayPal or its Striped-powered Shopify Payment option. With BigCommerce, this means using PayPal, Stripe or Square.
Shopify VS Volusion
Volusion’s pricing is similar to Shopify with options ranging from $15 to $135 per month. But Shopify gets the edge mainly because of the facts that Shopify has a more inclusive feature set across respective price points which include unlimited products, the starter price is slightly lower and they do not charge bandwidth overage fees.
Even though Volusion offers merchants a respectable number of theme from which to choose, but they are generally a slight notch below Shopify in terms of font usage, page flow and overall design.
Integrating with more than 70 payment gateways including all the major players, Shopify works with a wide variety of processors. In-house processor Shopify Payment launched in August of 2013.
While it isn’t compatible with quite as many processors as Shopify, Volusion integrates with several domestic and international gateways. Volusion Merchant Service charges 2.15% per transaction and a $3.41 per month PCI compliance fee on top of that.
You will also need to purchase your own SSL certificate which will cost a minimum of $89 per year for Volusion’s certificate. If you want one from a more established and trusted site, you will have to pay extra.