Shopify — Most Popular eCommerce Solution

Shopify

Founded in Canada in 2004, Shopify now has over 350,000 merchants, making it one of the world's largest selling platforms. With highly customizable themes, vendors can provide a tailored experience, enforcing brand awareness and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Shopify's technology facilitates selling online, on mobile devices, via social media and in brick and mortar stores with POS hardware. This enables sellers to provide unified, consistent customer service both online and in person.

Product Features

Store Setup

The main Shopify website can be confusing and difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, there isn’t a dedicated setup guide for beginners, although with some digging, there is an "Intro to Shopify" section on their help forum which goes through the first steps of setting a store up. However, this is also complicated to follow and involves clicking backwards and forwards through a lot of links.

Again, the Shopify Youtube channel is well-stocked with eCommerce related material, but lacks a definitive initial setup guide. This won't be a huge issue for people who are tech savvy, but could prove problematic for those who are less technologically inclined.

Shopify offers an "expert" service for effortless setup. Sellers can choose from a directory of trained professionals who are available to help with the setup, design, marketing and product photography. This service starts at $500.

Payment Processing

Payment processing is available through a variety of channels. For stores in United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia, there is an integrated processing service called Shopify Payments which accepts payments from major credit card providers. This service comes with no additional transaction fees.

Payment can also be accepted via Paypal, Amazon, Applepay and over 70 eCommerce gateways including Authorize.net, Sage, Skrill, Worldpay and Elavon. Using a third-party gateway will incur an additional fee per transaction on top of your standard payment processors fee. Shopify also offers manual POS processing hardware and technology, meaning you can take credit card payments on location in brick and mortar stores.

Marketing and SEO Tools

Shopify boasts a full range of eCommerce and marketing solutions. Search engine visibility is enhanced through customizable metatags, automatically generated sitemaps and integrated blogging features.

Full social media integration means optimal brand consistency and easy customer targeting, and one standout feature of Shopify is the ability to sell to customers directly on Facebook from your Facebook page.

Organise a marketing campaign via Mail Chimp to send newsletters quickly and easily. For Google advertising, Shopify offer an ongoing discount where spending $25 on Google Adwords will buy $100 worth of credit.

As well as these features, Shopify provides an impressive range of eCommerce guides and tutorials to help sellers take their first steps in the marketing world.

Bandwidth, Disk Space and SSL Certificate

All Shopify accounts come with unlimited bandwidth, transactions and file storage. Vendors also get a free SSL certificate.

Technical Support

24 / 7 technical support is available via live chat, email, and telephone across all price plans. However, the wait times are often long, with the average live chat and telephone wait being around 5 minutes, and the average email response time being 21 hours. There is also a comprehensive help center and a lively support forum with a community of users willing to share their knowledge and advice.

Design Considerations

The Shopify Theme store is stocked with a range of fully customizable templates, some of which have been created by world renowned designers including Pixel Union and Clean Themes. There are over 100 premium themes available to buy. Free themes are more limited, with only 17 designs to choose from. Shopify templates are fully optimized for integrated mobile eCommerce, making your store accessible across mobile devices and smartphones.

Third party themes can be uploaded directly from your computer and published immediately.

You cannot use templates from other eCommerce platforms on Shopify.

Customer Experience

For beginners, the Shopify website can be a confusing and overwhelming place. The interface is difficult to navigate, and people unfamiliar with eCommerce technology will find it frustrating to sift through the jargon to find what they are looking for. For a website that contains so much information, it is very scattered and badly laid out. Given that they have dedicated considerable effort to providing a wide range of marketing and eCommerce tutorials, their lack of a basic setup guide seems like a strange oversight.

Having said that, there is an absolute mine of marketing information, as well as training sessions to help beginners on their way.

With certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliance, Shopify is a guaranteed secure and reliable eCommerce facilitator.

Specialized responsive checkout technology means shoppers have a secure, seamless encounter, whether they are browsing from a PC or mobile phone.

A large selection of stylish and adaptable themes mean that your shop represents your brand exactly how you want it to, while giving customers an enjoyable and engaging shopping experience. The downfall of this is that the majority of themes are premium and cost extra.