Pros and Cons of Shopify Explained: How to Evaluate the Platform For Your Own Online Store

eCommerce Development
Pros and Cons of Shopify Explained: How to Evaluate the Platform For Your Own Online Store
Article by Maria Martin
Last Updated: September 30, 2022

Shopify has almost 2.1 million active daily users, and this number continues to grow.

This makes it a great place for existing e-commerce businesses to expand and for those looking to establish an online presence.

Despite it being the most suitable e-commerce platform, the pros and cons of Shopify should be considered to make a confident decision.

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What is Shopify?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that helps businesses set up and launch their stores online.

It is a “hosted” solution, meaning it runs on its servers and there is no need to buy web hosting or install software to use it.

The platform is accessible to more than 100 countries.

How Does Shopify Work?

Anyone can build or manage a Shopify store with a web browser from any location, as long as they have internet access.

The platform owns almost 10% of the global e-commerce market, further adding to its potential.

It offers tools and ideas to build and market a business, including payment processing, website templates, email marketing, and blogs. These are included in most Shopify plans.

Apps can also help with customization and connecting social media pages with the Shopify store with a simple buy button.

Understanding how Shopify works can also help online businesses weigh the pros and cons of selling on Shopify. Here’s how the platform works:

Select a Payment Plan 

Shopify has three payment plans. The basic plan is ideal for small businesses, while larger enterprises may use lite and enterprise plans.

Synchronizing your business domain name to your online store.

Brands can use options such as GoDaddy, Hostinger, HostGator, Squarespace, and Namecheap for a domain name.

Choose Themes and Templates

Shopify has different categories to choose from. These ready-made templates can also be edited with a drag-and-drop method.

Optimize Your Shopify Store

The platform offers tools and tips in optimizing your theme so you can add products easily and give your customers a pleasant shopping experience.

Promote Your Business

Online businesses can utilize marketing automation and analysis available on Shopify to reach their target audience.

Pros of Shopify

There are benefits that make it highly desirable among businesses.

Here are some advantages of Shopify:

#1: Easy to Use

Brands should boost sales without overwhelming their audience with difficult navigation, high-end technology, and tedious administrative tasks. Brands can use a clean and intuitive interface for a good user experience.

Shopify’s interface helps manage various sales channels such as:

  • An online store
  • The Facebook pages
  • Buy buttons
  • Instagram (helps make Instagram posts shoppable)
  • Shopify’s shop channel

As Shopify doesn’t include physical management or assistance, a hard-to-navigate interface can create counter-productive results.

#2: Multiple Storefront Themes

Shopify offers amazing storefront themes that help a website look professional and aesthetic. This further amplifies the chances of success and sales growth.

The themes are segregated by industry, including arts and photography, drinks, fashion items, digital products, footwear, jewelry and accessories, furniture, food and beverage, and a lot more.

Filter options are also based on being mobile-friendly and responsive as well as free or paid themes, helping find a suitable theme for the store without much difficulty. Shopify designers can customize these themes to align perfectly with your brand's unique identity and vision, making your store stand out even more.

These filter options include:

  • Template price
  • Industry type
  • Catalog size
  • Features

#3: Diverse Price Plans

Shopify offers five plans:

  • Starter - $5 per month
  • Basic - $29 per month
  • Shopify - $79 per month
  • Advanced - $299 per month
  • Shopify Plus – Custom pricing

If you are based out of the US, the fees will be adjusted to the local currency, equal to the US ones.

It offers a free trial available for 14 days, which can be extended if additional time is required to build your store.

All plans offer core e-commerce functionality, which allows creating unlimited product catalogs, accepting credit card payments, offering discount codes, selling gift cards, and using third-party apps.

#4: App Store and Plug-ins

The Shopify App Store boasts almost 1,200 apps and plug-ins that help with accounting, customer service, reporting, shipping, and inventory.

With these apps, Shopify helps create landing pages and sync marketing campaigns. Brands can create coupon codes, store credits, and limited discounts to attract customers.

This offers technology-based firm scalability.

For example, without an accounting plugin, brands have to manually export sales and transaction figures to the software or send them to an accountant. Apps or plug-ins may help save money on hiring accountants.

Shopify also develops apps with e-commerce sites that specifically cater to websites in different countries.

Some of the apps include:

  • Accounting apps
  • Data capture apps
  • Abandoned cart saver apps
  • Multi-currency selling apps
  • Advanced reporting apps

Shopify also offers email marketing software integrations such as MailChimp, GetResponse, AWeber, and Campaign Monitor.

Besides, Shopify Emails can also be used to send at least 10,000+ emails for free. However, a $1 fee may apply to every additional $1,000 emails sent.

#5: Dropshipping

Dropshipping refers to taking an order and having the supplier deliver goods to the customers. While your e-commerce site works as a middleman, you do not store or fulfill any products.

The platform offers a wide range of dropshipping apps and integrations such as Spocket, Ali Express, and Modalyst all being catered to.

#6: Customer Support

Shopify has a dedicated support team available through live chat, email, or a hotline. The support numbers are listed for the US, UK, New Zealand, and Australia.

Customer support is available 24/7 in more than 20 different languages, depending on the region.

Further queries can be cleared by posting a question in the forum, which helps you with a detailed answer from the developer.

#7: Multiple Payment Methods

Transactions are also made easy by Shopify’s multiple payment methods and third-party app support.

These apps and additional payment methods offer easy and fast processing of transactions. They also help with quicker selling and reaching the global market.

#8: Support for a Wide Variety of Businesses

Shopify accommodates multiple businesses regardless of their nature, which could include a retailer or a wholesaler.

The platform, however, prohibits stores from selling objects such as event tickets, pyramid schemes, pharmaceuticals, and adult content.

After setting up and optimizing the store, brands should specify the product type they want to sell.

#9: Discounts and Marketing

Discounts and marketing tools improve SEO rankings, social media sharing, and other automated tasks.

This helps with the following:

  • Generating discount codes
  • Selling products on Shopify, Pinterest, and other social media sites
  • Improving SEO by adding relevant keywords to product descriptions and web pages
  • Creating blogs that improve SEO rankings

Using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which improves the content delivery speed to mobile shoppers. This improves the SEO prioritization for Google and the overall shopping experience.

Getting an automatically generated sitemap, which Google uses to analyze web page content.

#10: Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus offers more options and additional functionality.

These include:

  • Hosting and managing 10 stores using one account
  • Guaranteed server uptime
  • An enhanced API access
  • Access to more apps and integrations
  • Sophisticated options to sell in multiple currencies
  • Sales automation tools

#11: Shopify Point of Sale (POS)

Shopify powers over 100,000 merchants with features such as point-of-sale. Its functionalities and hardware differentiate it from competitors.

Apart from selling online, it also helps sell in physical locations with hardware such as barcode readers, tills, receipt printers, etc.

It helps keep reports such as:

  • Sales reports
  • Customer reports
  • Search data reports
  • Marketing reports
  • Abandoned cart reports
  • Finance reports

Cons of Shopify

Besides the pros, Shopify also has a couple of downsides.

Here are some of the disadvantages of Shopify:

#1: Limited Themes

Shopify offers only 10 free templates. If brands do not choose a free theme, they must pay a one-time fee for a premium theme.

Extensive customization can be accessed by hiring an expert.

#2: Difficulties With Content Marketing

Promoting businesses with content marketing is crucial. Blogging, social media, and SEO content form a strong foundation for content marketing.

However, blogging with Shopify may not be great as it still lags in many areas. It requires including tags, has a redundant editor, and leads to inflexible blog layouts.

Moreover, integrating a third-party extension for Shopify might not be as easy either.

#3: No Email Hosting

Shopify doesn’t support email hosting, so brands can only use web hosting to launch the online store. The emails from customers can be forwarded to your email address through a third-party email hosting extension.

#4: Difficult Exiting

Shopify isn’t simple when exiting. The lock-in features hinder taking your store elsewhere.

If brands decide to leave the platform, they can only take their CSV report with them.

#5: Need for Apps

Certain Shopify apps require payment. However, without these apps, brands have to manually enter data rather than export it, which can be time-consuming, tedious, and prone to errors.

You may also hire a professional, which requires additional costs.

#6: Pricing

The plan starts at $29 for a basic one and increases up to $299 for advanced plans.

Additional expenses include transaction fees associated with online selling and subscription fees for apps. Shopify retail package may be used to improve physical store management.

Stores that use Shopify payments have no transaction fees. However, this option is limited to only a few countries. Stores in other countries may use a third-party app such as PayPal, Amazon Pay, and others.

Pros and Cons of Shopify – Key Takeaways

Shopify is one of the most simple and easy-to-use platforms for large- and small-scale businesses.

Offering multiple tools while helping build aesthetic websites, Shopify helps brands set their offerings apart from the competition, amplifying revenue and awareness.

Businesses built on Shopify experienced a 50% increase in sales in 2019, and its positive impact continues to grow.

However, as businesses’ requirements fluctuate, it is essential to weigh Shopify’s pros and cons before making the final call.

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