What is Shopify?

Shopify is a standalone e-commerce platform for businesses of all shapes and sizes. With a Shopify store, you get a website and all of the backend tools a seller needs to manage products, customer orders, shipping notifications, refunds—the whole shebang.

Who Uses Shopify?

There are 56,859 Shopify websites in the UK (BuiltWith, 18th Jan 2021). That's a 10% market share of e-commerce websites in the UK. It's a diverse ecosystem: from hobbyists making a bit of extra coin to big household names such as Gymshark and Red Bull. Shopify's catalogue of success stories is an excellent source of inspiration for budding shop owners.

How Much Does Shopify Cost?

Shopify has three plans:

  • Shopify Basic, at $29 per month;
  • Shopify, at $79 per month; and
  • Advanced Shopify, at $299 per month.

We tend to recommend the piggy in the middle. At $79 per month, you get up to 5 staff accounts, competitive credit card rates, and professional reporting.

In addition to the plan, a seller pays a fee per credit card transaction. You can integrate a third-party payment handler such as PayPal and Stripe, but if you stick with Shopify's native payment gateway, you're looking at a charge of 1.9% + 20p a pop on its middle-tier plan.

Shopify Themes

The platform takes care of the backend admin, but how do you customise your website and get your store on brand? Enter Shopify Themes.

A Shopify theme is a bundle of files that describes your website layout, appearance, and user experience. You can select from many off-the-shelf themes that usually have enough options to brand your store.

If you need more from your theme or want a completely bespoke one, you'll need a developer with Shopify experience to code it for you.

Alternatives to Shopify

With 146,667 stores and over 26% market share in the UK (BuiltWith, 18th Jan 2021), WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce platform in the wild. It's no surprise, being a free plugin for the world's most popular website platform, WordPress.

In our experience, WooCommerce is a good fit for a company that isn't solely an online retailer but can still benefit from having e-commerce functionality at its disposal. For example, a company offering local services might use WooCommerce to take payments for appointments.

BigCommerce and Magento are two alternatives worth mentioning, both feature-rich and mature platforms. They aren't as easy to use as Shopify and can require more work and money to perform well at scale.

Why is Shopify the Best E-commerce Platform?

It's simple to use, rich in features, works reliably out of the box, and hits home for a polished customer experience.

Getting Started with a Shopify Partner

Some web design agencies, such as ourselves, are registered Shopify Partners. Hiring a Shopify Partner to help you launch your store brings a few advantages:

  • A quicker route to launch
  • Expert guidance on product structure
  • Tips for improving conversion rates
  • Help with configuring settings such as shipping zones and local pickup
  • Hands-on support to get your staff up to speed
  • Aftercare to ensure your first sales go smoothly

Drop us a line if you're on the lookout for an experienced Shopify Partner.

If you're confident in all things online and you'd like to have a stab yourself, head over to Shopify to get started with a free trial.