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Monday, January 12, 2015

Website Review: Shopify.com



The first thing you will notice when visiting Shopify.com is that the website offers two different options for using their services. First, you can build an ecommerce business website through their platform and second, you can use their POS (point of sale) software application on your computer, laptop or iPad in your brick and mortar store. This allows Shopify.com to be able to service literally every business out there whether it’s an online business or a storefront.

Shopify was founded in 2004 by three guys who were trying to build a better online experience for their own snowboarding equipment business. Tobias L├╝tke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake started their Snowdevil online business using their own programming code that took two months to build. Two years later, the guys decided to offer that online business format to the rest of the world. Their store platform was featured and praised by several popular tech websites like CNET and TechCrunch. Today, Shopify boasts over 100,000 stores.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial to see if you like what you’re paying for. This gives you time to set up your store and hopefully even get a few sales before you have to start paying your monthly hosting fees. The three monthly packages offered are $29, $79 and $179 and all three offer one GB of file storage, unlimited products and 24/7 support. All three packages also offer a discount code engine and a free Shopify card reader.

If you decide to use Shopify Payments to accept credit card payments, there are no additional transactions fees above the regular credit card fees. However, if you use an external payment gateway like BitPay, then there is a fee rate of 2% on top of the regular credit card fees. Regular credit card fees range from 2.9% to 2.25% depending on the package you choose. Shopify has the ability to accept over 70 different payment types from around the world making your Shopify store truly internationally friendly.

Once you have your Shopify account set up, it’s time to start building pages and entering product. Shopify has a pretty cool app that allows you to integrate your eBay account products easily with one click of the mouse. The nice thing here is that you don’t have to manually enter each product and item description saving loads of time. There are multiple themes to choose from for your ecommerce store, some of them are free and others have a price on them. Shopify even allows individuals to sell their own original theme design to Shopify’s customers, which is a nice way to make a little extra money on the side.

A handy feature for finding just the right theme is the left side column in the theme store that offers store categories so you can be sure that you are picking the right theme to match your products. The pages in front of you showcase your store’s look while you make changes to your theme so you can see if you like the progress you’re making as you’re building your store. The same goes for entering text content. It’s all right in front of you as you build your page’s content. 

The layout of the html editor might remind you a little bit of WordPress if you are familiar with that sitebuilder platform. The dashboard walks you through the steps that you need to take to get your ecommerce website up and running and in the order that you need to do them. That is helpful for newbies in the field of website building. The left column of the dashboard also keeps a list of your customers, orders, discounts and your product inventory. 

In the reports feature of your Shopify dashboard, you can find all the information needed to understand how well your ecommerce store is performing. The page is lined up with chart boxes labeled products, orders, payments, taxes and insights. Under products you will see not only gross sales but the traffic sources for each. The same goes for the orders box. Here you will see traffic sources as well as complete customer information.

Another interesting feature that comes with your Shopify ecommerce store is a built in blog. Here you can update information concerning your products, services or any news events related to your business. This helps you to interact with potential customers in a more personal way affording the opportunity to build priceless client relationships and rapport.

Initially, your Shopify ecommerce store comes with a Front Page or Home, a Blog page and an About Us page, but you have the ability to add as many pages as you like as long as you don’t go over one GB of file storage space. Of course, once you upload your products, the site automatically builds for you a Catalog page which you can personalize somewhat. One downside to personalizing your pages in Shopify is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to upload or choose graphics other than product images. So if you want to add a selfie to your About Us page, that’s not possible.

The App Store is also available for you to add features to your ecommerce website. Some apps are free and some charge a monthly fee to use. There are 159 marketing apps available ranging from discounts and coupon pop-up windows to customer email sign-up pop-ups. There are 171 sales apps available and 68 social media apps for you to enhance your online presence. 

A great feature of Shopify’s ecommerce website help services is the emails that the customer receives when they may feel stuck at a certain place in their website building. It does take a little more time to learn the sitebuilder navigation system than some other sitebuilder programs, but if you get stuck, then Shopify sends you an email where you left off and suggests that you enlist the help of the Shopify manual. It even directs you to the specific page covering the area that it thinks you got stuck on. That’s pretty helpful. 

Shopify caters specifically to ecommerce websites where some other sitebuilders like WordPress and Wix offer websites for virtually any reason, even just maintaining a personal blog. So like KFC, if you do one thing only and you do it right, you will be successful. Shopify offers only ecommerce websites and they seem to do a pretty good job of it.

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