15 May 2012

Review of Shopify, E-commerce hosting solution

After filling the form for a trial account, I received by email my credentials with the homepage url and administration interface. During my first login, I had to fill more details to complete my account creation.

For the trial version, the e-commerce website newly created is protected by a password. After choosing a pricing plan (used after your 30 days trial expires), your customers will be able to visit it, and you will have access to your store's statistics.

A getting started tutorial helps you to create a shopify store by the following steps :

  • Add Products
  • Customize Your Design
  • Add Content
  • Getting Paid
  • Setting Taxes
  • Shipping Settings
  • Domain Names


A contextual help will bring you through these steps and make it simple to set up a basic online e-commerce website in few clicks.

Steps to get my shop online Contextual help


Add product

Create a product with a name, a description, a picture, price, ... Most of those fields are self-explanatory, and make the creation process painless. The currency is automatically chosen with the country set up on your account. You can track the stock level for your product and choose to deny the purchase if this product is out of stock. You can link your product to a collection (category). You can easily duplicate the product and create new variant (color, ...)

Customizing the look

You have a very detail access of the template to customize color, font, background. You can access to the content structure for each page (Example : homepage and featured product, product page, cart page, header, footer ...). You can modify labels, add social media icons, and display the payment methods availables (American Express, Discover, VisaMastercard, Maestro, CirrusPaypal, Google Checkout) on your shop. You can do everything you want to customize the design, but most of the technical aspects are for advanced e-commerce user (aka developer).

Content Management

You are able to create static page (Example : about us) or blog articles (News section). A basic html editor helps you to format your content (justify, bold, alignment, ...) and add media to your page (embed script for YouTube video, upload image only)

Add a produt Add a produt - html editor
Customize theme Create a new page

 

Payment gateway

It's easy to set up a large range of payment gateway (over 50 credits card gateway, and online payment methods). By default, Paypal is chosen with your email account.

Taxes

You can include taxes in your product or applying it during the checkout process based on the shipping country (Useful to apply the right taxes for customer outside your country)

Shipping

Here again, you can set up different carrier shipping rate depending on the country and add a weight-based or price-based rate for each country wanted. You can use UPS, USPS, FedEx or other carriers for your customer with shopify paid account.

Payment gateways Taxes Shipping

 

Add your domain

This final step helps you to choose an existing domain or purchase a domain through Shopify.

Manage orders

You are able to filter your orders and manage bulk of orders. You can export your orders into a CSV file (text separator).

Manage your customers

Similar way, you can filter your customers by money spent, number of orders placed, location, ... and save your filters as Customer Groups

Manage orders Manage customers Opening soon

 

Promotion

You can create discount code for your customer but we did not see any other promotion methods integrated to Shopify.

Manage URLs

You can modify URL to get friendly one.

View your shop

The free default design is really simple. You will be soon willing to customize it (web design skills required), use one of the 10 free theme available, or buy a shopify theme (between 80$ and 180$).

Shopify Appstore

Out of the box, Shopify is too basic. The Appstore make available most of missing features. Some Addons are free, most are offered on a paid monthly subscription basis.

Shopify App store
Final word about Shopify

PRO

  • Contextual help is really useful for newbie
  • Easy to use and organized administration interface
  • Run a new e-commerce website really quickly
  • Avoid software maintenance and server management
  • Complete template control

CON

  • Limited promotion methods out of the box
  • No basic SEO implemented
  • Shopify charge on 1-2% on all transaction

Selling online is not an easy task, even if Shopify work hard to make it smooth. Shopify seems to be one of the most famous hosted e-commerce solution. Using Shopify can help you to test your idea for an e-commerce business. The cost of this solution is too high if you sell big volume. For advanced seller, as the technology evolved, let a professional study your business and consider using open-source platform.

About the author

Consultant, Web strategist, and Drupal enthusiast, I use open source software to build application that connects people and spread ideas. I believe that internet can lead to powerful changes for progressive organizations, and for our future.

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