What is our primary use case?
I used to use WordPress but when Shopify came out, I switched. I am very thorough with most of their apps — standard apps like Metafields Guru and Shopify integration. I also did a two-way integration between Shopify and ActiveCampaign. Currently, only one-way synchronization is available from Shopify to TickPick, but I created an API that also transfers data from ActiveCampaign to Shopify. In other words, I know Shopify, inside and out.
Most of my clients prefer a themed store. They come to us with specific requirements, saying "I have a hundred products. Here are the categories and payment methods I want to use." Our clients often have requirements involving branding elements, such as colors, logos, and particular fonts. I then suggest a suitable theme and once they approve it, I get to work customizing it.
I customize a theme to match the clients' desired look and feel — I ensure all of the elements and the colors and in place. With Shopify, almost everything is already pre-built, like payment gateways; there are already payment methods integrated. All the customer needs to do is just put in their credential and they're ready to go — no additional apps or platforms necessary.
UPS shipping methods as well as other third-party methods are already integrated. Again, all the customer needs to do is just put in their credentials. Theme customization is mostly the work that I do on a daily basis.
Sometimes a client will have a specific requirement that requires me to use a Bold app. A Bold app allows the user to define currencies, so the client can have their own price defined that is not auto-calculated by a currency calculator. If a client has a particular requirement involving currency, then I use a Bold application to configure it.
In terms of customization, recently, I had a client who sells custom shirts. When his customers go to his product page, they can pick a color from various colored shirts. From there, we can customize even more, including color shades, collar types, cuff types, button types, fabric preferences, etc. This is referred to as an accordion model.
My client wanted the selection page layout to be step-by-step, beginning with the color selection first. After a color has been chosen, the color tab closes and another tab opens for fabric selection, followed by collar-style, and so on, and so on — like an accordion. When you choose a particular style, it appears as an image so the customer can actually visualize how the customized shirt will look. We're talking about some serious customization that we do.
What is most valuable?
Shopify is an easy-to-use, fast-loading e-commerce platform. It's also the most secure e-commerce platform.
Even non-technical people can easily use it to set up a store. Most of my clients (regardless of skillset) do the initial setup themselves. They can add products, integrate payment methods, and configure their email notifications. When they require additional, higher-levels of customization, that's when they come to the freelancers and web developers. Shopify is very easy to use.
As I mentioned earlier, Shopify can be used without any coding knowledge; just drag and drop and configuring, those are the basics. It's a great solution for people who are in the initial phase of their business. They can use it to easily set up a store that includes product info, product pricing, add to cart, payment methods, gateway integration, menus, contact us forms, and inquiry forms. Anyone can set those features up in one day using Shopify. That's a huge benefit for our customers.
You don't have to pay for hosting. Shopify provides their own, very secure hosting and it's really fast. There are a number of great built-in features. In summary, Shopify offers ease-of-use, a secure and fast loading platform, and hosting — It's kind of a combo offer.
Shopify also provides a free plan for one month (you can cancel anytime you wish) so you can try it out and decide whether it's the right solution for you. You can easily set up an online store within the trial month and decide if you can handle your project alone or if you will be needing the help of a web developer. Many of our customers use the trial version to gain some understanding of the solution then contact us to help them take their store to the next level.
What needs improvement?
They don't provide database access. Instead, we need to rely on the apps and most of the apps are paid apps and on a subscription basis for roughly $10 dollars per month. Customization takes a lot of time so database access would make things a lot easier; that way, we wouldn't have to rely on apps.
Many of our clients complain because Shopify is costly and not an open-source. If you want to switch from Shopify to another platform, it's of no use; you can't use any of the assets from Shopify. You'll have to build a new website from scratch.
It would be great if they provided a way in which to expand or transition from Shopify to another solution, like Facebook E-Commerce, but this is not the case. I don't think that would be ideal for them, but it would be great for the customer.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Shopify for four years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The stability is excellent. You can download a backup in just 10 seconds and it's very easy to restore the backup, too. In all of my experience with them, I have never seen a Shopify store crash. On a scale from one to ten, I would give their stability a rating of ten.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability is good. Initially, many clients start with hundreds of products, but over time, they expand to thousands of products. In this case, they need to upgrade from a standard Shopify account to a Shopify Plus account. Compared to the general platform, Shopify plus is expensive. In short, the scalability is absolutely fine — excellent, I should say. Also, you can use your existing setup, even if you add a Facebook, Instagram, or an Amazon store.
How are customer service and technical support?
Their customer support is available 24 hours a day — from any country — and it's very good. If you tell them what you require, they will help you find the app that is suitable for you. Their support is very good. If the website crashes or if something unexpected happens, just reach out to them and they will respond quickly and fix the issue. I would give their customer support a rating of nine out of ten.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I also have experience with Magento, WordPress, WooCommerce, and Kajabi.
When compared to all of the above solutions, Shopify is the fastest, easiest to use, the most secure, and it features the best customer support. On the other hand, Shopify doesn't provide database access and customers find it a little bit expensive.
WordPress and WooCommerce are very slow and their security is not as good. The good thing about WordPress is that it's a free, open-source platform. In terms of customization, it's very flexible; you can do whatever you wish because it's PHP code. Whatever you want to do with WordPress or WooCommerce, you can do it for free, without an app.
Kajabi is very specific and exclusively for members, trainers, and teachers; t's mainly for landing pages. It's not free like the others and it's strictly designed for marketing purposes. Click funnels and other marketing tools are already built-in. It also doesn't allow for any kind of customization. There are predefined templates to list products and integrate payment, but that's about it.
Kajabi is a very simple platform. Just create a basic page, including the products and an add to cart function, and you're set. Keep in mind, it doesn't provide any kind of third-party integration.
Magento is quite robust. It also provides excellent flexibility. You can do whatever you want to do and It's also free; however, Magento is complicated to handle from the backend; It is slow as well — customization can take a long time. Magento also doesn't offer customer support.
Magento stores product information in 500 files, whereas Shopify, WordPress, and WooCommerce store all product information in just one file. This makes it a little complicated to make changes or customizations.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
A basic plan, to begin with, is good.
I have a basic plan. The basic plan starts at 29 USD per month. Depending on the client's requirements, they can choose either the basic plan or the premium plan. Based on how many products the user has, Shopify will make a suggestion as to which plan will be best.
My clients definitely see a return on their investment with Shopify. With Shopify, you don't have to pay for hosting in advance. For all other platforms, including Magento, WordPress, and WooCommerce, you need to purchase external hosting. All external hosting plans range from a minimum of three months to one year.
With Shopify, you don't need a specialist to configure the domain name, etc. All you need is a basic plan and you're ready to go. If you don't like the results, you can close it at any time. In summary, it definitely saves our customers a lot of money.
By using Shopify, you're saving money on hosting fees and services. This is one of the biggest advantages for my clients.
What other advice do I have?
With Shopify, you don't have to do anything: log into your Shopify account, choose a default theme — the free one —, create a logo, create as many pages as you want, put in content, set up the products and the store is up and ready.
A lot of my clients make good money using this solution, but it comes down to the products, service, the target audience, the pricing, and the competition in the market. Shopify has nothing to do with that; If the products and services are good, then our clients will make money.
Before choosing Shopify, make sure you know exactly what your requirements are. If you have requirements that require a lot of customization, then expect to pay more because only standard features are included within the basic plan. If your products are unique, like custom t-shirts and clothing, then It can get expensive. If you start with the basic plan and partway through, you realize you need the more specialized tools that are included in the paid plan, you can't just switch without losing all of your progress. For this reason, You need to be sure what your requirements are.
Whenever I start working with new clients, I ask them to write a list, detailing the exact number of features and the number of products they wish to sell. This way, I can determine what type of account they'll be needing.
The loading speed on Shopify Plus is a little slow, but that's due to the number of products.
Often, my clients have multi-currency options that they want to be included. I tell them that these features will require the use of apps that will cost extra and if they're fine with that, then we'll move ahead. Many customers don't want to pay for extra apps, which can be a problem. Specific requirements require the use of specific apps.
All in all, I like Shopify, but I hate the app — it doesn't allow for full control. If you want to add something additional into the app, it requires way too much time. Sometimes I feel that it would be better if it was an open-source, like PHP coordinator.
On a scale from one to ten, I would give Shopify a rating of seven.