What is Shopify? Let us answer with a story. Back in 2004, a young entrepreneur named Tobias Lutke decided to sell snowboarding gear online. After doing some research, he realized that most platforms for building an online store were either confusing or limited in scope. So Tobias set out to create his ecommerce software, and Shopify was born. Fast-forward sixteen years and Shopify is now the platform of choice for several entrepreneurs and businesses.
Is Shopify easy to use? You bet. But if you have never heard of Shopify or you’re new to ecommerce, it can take you a while to understand its capabilities. Fortunately for you, we’re going to cover what Shopify is, what it is used for, the pros and cons of using Shopify, and so much more.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an ecommerce platform that makes it easy to create an online store. It comes with customizable templates that you use to represent and promote your primary business. With Shopify, you can set up a beautiful online shop without learning to code at all. This ecommerce website builder is simple for everyone to use. Whether you’re looking to sell a product of your own or sell someone else’s products for a profit, you can launch a Shopify store to start selling immediately, even to Instagram and Facebook audiences.
Shopify comes equipped with everything necessary to launch an ecommerce business. Features like domain names, payment gateways, stock control, and reporting are included within the platform. On top of that, you can install apps to integrate various features into your store. From email capturing to product sourcing to live chat, the Shopify App Store has many apps you can use to extend the functionality of your Shopify website.
What Is Shopify Used For?
Shopify is primarily used to sell physical and digital products. You can start a Shopify store to sell women’s clothing, jewelry, home décor items, and even fishing equipment. If you’re looking to sell digital items, then you can use Shopify’s native Digital Downloads app to sell downloadable copies of your products. The platform lets you sell a variety of digital assets ranging from ebooks and online courses to mobile apps and business software. In a nutshell, the sky's the limit with what you can sell on Shopify.
Of course, you’re still prohibited from selling inappropriate and risky items like adult products, firearms, event tickets, etc. Make sure to double-check what you plan to sell is legal, according to Shopify’s terms of service. The easiest way to confirm this is to look for your item on the company’s Restricted Items page. Or you can reach out to Shopify’s customer service team to confirm it with someone directly.
Other things you can do with Shopify:
- Dropship products – Shopify integrates with Oberlo, a dropshipping app that allows you to import products to your online store. The products come from global suppliers who take care of their storage and delivery. Simply put, you display and sell products while your suppliers handle the logistics. Many aspiring entrepreneurs rely on this app to streamline their ecommerce operations.
- Sell on multiple channels – You can also use Shopify to sell on multiple online channels. The platform seamlessly integrates with Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay to reach millions of potential buyers. Shopify also enables you to leverage your following to spread the word about your products and store.
- Sync online and in-store sales – If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you can use the Shopify POS app to sync your offline and online sales. For all it’s worth, the app allows you to accept in-store payments via your tablet or smartphone. Plus, the data it generates is integrated with your Shopify backend to view your overall inventory and sales in one place.
What is myshopify?
myshopify is your Shopify store’s default URL until you purchase a domain name. For instance, if you create a store with the name accessoryden, your website URL will display as the following:
But after you buy a custom domain, the store’s address will change to:
Most store owners prefer to use their own domains and redirect myshopify.com to their custom website address instead of using the default extension. It’s better for branding and makes a business look more professional. If you’re also interested in using a custom domain, you can register one directly through Shopify.
The Shopify domain platform lets you search for available domain names, generate custom domain ideas, and more. You can also use it to manage email forwarding and renew your existing domain names. Setup and configuration are entirely automated, so you won’t need to do much to change your myshopify.com store URL to your new domain name.
What is Shopify Business?
The term “Shopify business” refers to any business that’s using the Shopify platform. Over a million independent companies from a range of industries rely on Shopify to sell their products to audiences worldwide. The platform comes with support for taxes, local currencies, global shipping and tracking, and multi-language stores. By leveraging these features, many Shopify businesses have grown from small one-region stores to popular global brands that reach customers in all corners of the world.
The Shopify business Quad Lock Case is a great example. They created localized versions of their store across the UK, Europe, Australia, and the USA, which resulted in a dramatic increase in sales for the business. Multi-store setups involve more administration – but if managed right, the increased profits and revenue can cover for some extra hands to help manage your business venture.
How much Does Shopify Cost?
Shopify costs $9 a month if you sign up for its Lite plan. However, most entrepreneurs start on Shopify’s Basic plan that costs $29 a month. Well-established businesses may prefer Advanced Shopify or Shopify Plus based on their business needs. The best part about Shopify’s plans is that you don’t have to sign any contracts or pay transaction fees (other than the cost to use an external payment gateway).
Additionally, Shopify offers a free 14-day trial that you can use to test out the platform. During the trial, you can set up a proper online store, run marketing campaigns, and if you put in enough effort, make your first sale. What’s more, you can start with a basic plan and later upgrade to one of the advanced plans as your business grows. So you get a lot of flexibility in terms of how you want to set up initially.
Shopify offers several key advantages that make it one of the most desired ecommerce platforms. Here are a few:
1. Robust Shopify Admin
In the Admin area of your Shopify store, you’ll find a whole range of options to evaluate how your business is performing. You can view the number of orders received in a month, figure out your conversion rate, and even get a breakdown of net sales by channel for each product in your store. Shopify is a comprehensive tool for an ecommerce merchant, showing the most valuable metrics that give you insight into the current state of your store.
2. Plenty of Themes
An easy way to attract customers is to make your online store as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Shopify offers a variety of themes to help improve the visual appeal of your storefront. You can filter themes by free or paid, features, and industry. Most of the templates look professional and modern, and they’re also optimized for mobile, meaning that you’ll be able to capture the attention of mobile shoppers. Moreover, you should find themes that support specific features such as a quick buy button, embedded video, and integrated Instagram feed.
3. Apps for Everything
The Shopify App Store is stocked with a wide selection of useful apps. You’ll find image background removers, pop-up creators, email subscription apps, and so much more. While many of these apps require a payment, you’ll also find a bunch of free apps among the listings. Also, it’s not necessary to add an app in the beginning. But once your business starts to grow, consider checking out the Shopify App Store for apps that can help facilitate your goals. For instance, if one of your key objectives is to generate more revenue, you can download a “Related Products” app to upsell items to your audiences.
4. Excellent Customer Support
Shopify has a 24-hour support team that’s ready to answer all your questions – not just by email, but also through live chat and phone based on your preferences. Besides, you can also access useful information through the company’s Help Center. The Help Center has detailed resources on topics very close to an ecommerce entrepreneur’s heart, such as on marketing, SEO, and even product analytics. What else is nice? Shopify offers free online courses where you can gain first-hand knowledge from some of the company’s top-selling business owners. Overall, the support ecosystem at Shopify is incredible, with ample opportunities to learn and resolve issues.
1. Shopify Alone Doesn’t Guarantee Success
Yes, Shopify makes it easy to build an online store, but you still need to put in the work. You need to have precise targeting to get your products in front of a relevant audience. Having the right apps to deliver a memorable experience to your customers will be helpful. Most importantly, the right mindset will allow you to grow. Shopify can’t do these things for you. What it does is lay the foundation for a successful business.
2. Setup Takes a While
While creating a Shopify store is straightforward, you need to spend some time setting everything up and running. From choosing your theme to building product pages to setting up shipping, it takes a while to make your store live and ready for customers. Plus, figuring out how to optimize your store for conversions and sales requires additional resources and experimentation. Shopify is intuitive; it just needs a little time and an action plan on your part.
How to Get Started with Shopify
There are two ways you can take advantage of Shopify:
- Create a Shopify store from scratch
- Buy an existing Shopify business
Here’s what you need to do in each case.
Creating a Shopify Store from Scratch
If you’re more of the DIY type and want to put your stamp on every aspect of your business, building an ecommerce store from scratch may be the ideal option for you. However, it’s worth remembering that Shopify comes with many moving parts. First, you need to design your store, add products to it, and test your website to ensure it looks great on both mobile and desktop. Then, use your marketing chops to promote your store better than your competitors. Once you start getting customers, access Shopify reports to see who is buying your products. You can also have customers subscribe to your email list so that you can remarket them later. With so many things, building your own Shopify store requires an investment of time and effort.
Purchasing an Existing Shopify Business
If you’re looking to break into the world of ecommerce and without considerable effort, then purchasing an existing Shopify business might be the best option. With Shopify’s Exchange Marketplace, you can choose from a range of profitable businesses to start your entrepreneurial journey. Exchange removes many of the fears typically associated with purchasing a website, so you can be confident of owning a business quickly. For example, the platform displays the website traffic for every listing, and because the numbers come directly from Shopify, you can be sure of seeing the real picture. With the purchase of an already running store, you don’t have to spend as much time launching your business – it already has a design, content, and in most cases, products that have been carefully selected to appeal to a specific audience.
Honestly, we’ve only touched on a few of Shopify’s capabilities to understand what it’s all about. You’ll learn so much more when you try the platform out for yourself. Take advantage of the free trial to test its features and then create a real Shopify store to announce your entry into the ecommerce market. Alternatively, consider buying a starter business through Exchange that is already pre-built for you. To really answer, “What is Shopify” it’s best to own an online store using this ecommerce platform so that you can validate everything that the company claims to offer. Your personal experience with Shopify is what truly matters.