What is Shopify?

Shopify Web Design - A Good eCommerce Option?

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a Canadian owned eCommerce platform that allows its customers to create a website with an online shopping store. Shopify is used in over 175 countries by over a million different businesses. There's no doubting it's popular.

Shopify provides its users with a range of themes, these can then be adjusted to incorporate your online branding and logo.

Shopify is what is known as a hosted SaaS (Software as a Service) eCommerce solution. Meaning, it's a pre-built platform that runs off of their own servers. As a hosted solution, this means that Shopify will install all updates, look after your hosting and install SSL certificate etc.

Shopify Basic costs $29 monthly (and 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction). The Shopify plan is $79 monthly (and 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction). Advanced Shopify is $299 monthly (and 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction). There is also a more enterprise version called Shopify Plus which starts at $2000 a month. Shopify does offer a fourteen-day free trial. In addition, you can pay annually or biannually and this entitles you to a 10% and 20% discount respectively.

At just $9 a month for Shopify lite, this does represent one of the cheapest options out there for a hosted solution.

Who is Shopify aimed at?

As a Shopify eCommerce agency in London, we feel in a good position to answer this question. Shopify is aimed at a large and diverse target market (it does not state exactly who on their website), it is a relatively cheap solution that allows you to be up and running, selling your goods or services relatively quickly. It is also perceived as an easy-to-use platform, that allows non-technical people to run their own online shop without the need to hire a web design agency or employ in-house developers.

If you are non-technical and do not have the budget to employ internally, then again, Shopify provides around the clock support if you run into any issues that are included with the payments you make.

Shopify is also aimed at businesses or individuals that don't want the hassle of sorting out their own hosting platform, as well as applying maintenance and security updates.

Shopify Apps

According to Shopify, they have over 3,200 apps available in their store. These apps allow you to add additional functionality to your Shopify Store. Some of these are free, others you need to pay for. The Shopify app store categorises all the available apps which help you to quickly locate apps that are relevant to your needs. Some apps offer a free version, however, they can include extra functionality that you need to pay for. Costs for apps can really vary - ranging from $20-45 up to $6,666/month for the Jioukou Group Buying app.

At ID Studio we have worked a lot with Shopify, some apps that we believe are worth mentioning include:

Fera Social Proof – This one of our favourite apps, its main purpose is to help try and convert your site visitors into actual paying customers. How often have you been semi tempted to make a purchase and browsed elsewhere without making a purchase? Sometimes all people need is a gentle, subtle push to complete the transaction and Fera is the tool for this. Some of the key features it offers includes:

  • Use social proof to convince visitors
  • Show reviews
  • Learn from customers and optimise
  • Notifications when purchases are made
  • A customer has just added this product to their shopping cart…

Conversio – Wouldn’t it be great if we could make customers buy more than once? Even better, why not try and make them lifetime purchasers? This is a great email automation tool, allows for:

  • Cross-selling
  • Reviews
  • Send great-looking newsletters / powerful email marketing with follow-ups
  • Include testimonials.

AutoCommerce – We are all familiar with Amazon, and if you are a regular customer it is highly likely that you appreciate how effective their recommendations can be. AutoCommerce works from a similar philosophy, straight off your Shopify website and best of all, it is free!

SEO Manager – The makers of SEO Manager state that they built the app specifically for Shopify, they must be doing something right as it is the number one SEO app for Shopify at the time of writing this blog. They have an impressive client base too, Red Bull, Pringle, David Blaine. So what can it do for your website and business? Listed below are some of the core features:

  • Google result simulator
  • Allows for SEO editing such as page titles
  • It has an SEO scanner and stores results
  • It allows you to control your site map
  • 404 management
  • Google speed test integration to name but a few!

Lucky Orange – This app allows you to see what customers are doing on your website. This is in the form of heat maps showing you where people are hovering, where people are clicking, how long they spent on your website. It also plays you a full video of what your site visitors have done on your website! This is great for optimising your website UI and UX. The basic plan is $10 a month, this should be ample for most and is a great price to learn more about your customers. It can be summed up as an invisible camera on your site visitors’ shoulder whilst viewing your website.

In cart Upsell – It is a great upsell plugin, you can add in deal notifications with ‘one-time deals’ with easy to add upsells. It comes with powerful tools allowing for great customisation, it is not in your face and doesn’t put off your customers. The basic option starts at $19.99 a month.

Big Brands using Shopify

Shopify has some well-known brands using their platform, these include:

  • Hasbro, the world-famous toy retailer
  • Heinz, the worlds famous food producer created a site during the lockdown to help people buy their products
  • Penguin books
  • Red Bull the energy drink selling its online stock
  • David Beckham sunglasses
  • Kew Gardens, selling their fine art and prints
  • Lindt the Swiss chocolate company

Some Shopify Reservations

Being a specialist Shopify eCommerce agency, one of the biggest gripes I have with Shopify is if you don’t use their Shopify Payments, you will pay an extra transaction fee for each of your sales. In addition, you are charged credit card transaction fees on all the Shopify plans. 

There are also complaints about the way Shopify enforces their URL structure, with subdirectories such as blog/pages that are not great for SEO or as flexible as some people would like.

If you are not a programmer or have little web design skills, you will find it hard to customise your website any further than adding your logo, changing your fonts and colour scheme. It can be quite obvious to some people that your website is based on a template and looks quite similar to a lot of others out there.

Shopify also uses their own programming language for their themes, known as Liquid. You will need to understand Liquid to make more advanced changes to your website, such as customising the layout of your online store.

ID Studio's eCommerce Team

ID Studio is an experienced Shopify eCommerce agency based in London. If you would like to discuss a Shopify project, eCommerce build or anything in this article, feel free to contact me, Michael anytime.