The Benefits of Shopify: Pricing, Competition, and More
If you’ve considered starting an online store, chances are you’ve heard of Shopify. But in a crowded eCommerce marketplace, it can be difficult to know which platform is right for you and your business. Today we’re tackling the features and benefits of Shopify, as well as how it stacks up against its competition.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an eCommerce solution that allows practically anyone to start an online store. In addition to providing templates to build your site, it also offers hosting and payment processing, making it a complete solution for your online presence. You can also use it to sell both physical and digital products.
One of the greatest benefits of Shopify is that it requires no web development experience and can be set up in a matter of minutes. There are also a variety of plans to fit every budget and every level of customization.
Shopify Features & Plans
The features you’ll have access to depend on the plan you select. Currently, Shopify has four major plans ranging from $9 to $299 a month (plus per-transaction fees).
Shopify Lite Plan
Shopify Lite is for the simplest and smallest of online businesses. Rather than having an online store, it allows you to simply embed a button on your existing website, blog, or social media account. It will then take your customer through a generic checkout process. The Lite plan also gives you access to Shopify’s point-of-sale app to make sales in person.
Basic Shopify Plan
The Basic Shopify plan allows you to build an online store to sell your products. This plan (and all the plans above it) include unlimited products, bandwidth, and online storage, access to a point-of-sale app for selling in person, and the ability to create discount codes. It also comes with an SSL certificate, which is crucial for providing your customers with a secure checkout experience.
You can check out a full list of the base benefits of Shopify here.
The Shopify plan adds a few new features in addition to those that you already receive with the basic plan. One of the most notable additions is the ability to sell gift cards. You can customize your gift cards with any design and denomination you choose.
You’ll also get further reporting capabilities with the Shopify plan. While these may not seem important in the early days, as your business grows, you’ll find yourself searching for more metrics and statistics to inform your business decisions. Some of the additional metrics you’ll receive access to include:
- Product sales
- Sales tax collected
- Habits of new vs. returning customers
- Geographic and demographic information
Advanced Shopify Plan
In addition to all of the features of the lower plans, the Advanced Shopify plan gives you further customization options for your store.
You can build custom reports to share with stakeholders or business partners. You can track referral sources like social media, affiliate links, and paid ad campaigns. You can even create reports from scratch to highlight exactly the metrics your teammates are interested in.
Shopify 3PL Integration
One of the other major benefits of Shopify’s advanced plan is the ability to integrate with a third-party fulfillment and shipping company. This way, customers will receive live shipping rates for each item they purchase, rather than estimates that may change. They will also have additional options for shipping, like overnight or express.
Offering calculated shipping is a major benefit of Shopify when used to its fullest extent. It will likely lower your overall shipping costs, while strengthening your relationship with your customers by providing them with more accurate shipping prices.
Shopify’s fulfillment integration means you can partner with whichever 3PL partner you like. You can also pair the advanced plan with Shopify Shipping to save even more money when shipping with USPS.
Other eCommerce Platforms
Now that you know the benefits of Shopify and how far it can stretch your dollar, you’re probably wondering how the competition stacks up. Check out the pros and cons of Shopify’s two strongest competitors.
WooCommerce is one of the most used eCommerce platforms in the world. It is great for businesses that want to add eCommerce capabilities to their existing WordPress site. There are thousands of plugins and loads of documentation in case you get stuck.
However, WooCommerce requires a separate host, which also means additional costs for you and your business. It also often requires updates and maintenance from a web developer to keep your store running,
Magento is another popular eCommerce solution used by a number of notable companies. It is known as being one of the best solutions for larger businesses because of its scalability, flexibility, and functionality. With a sophisticated product import system, no SKU list or customer base is too large.
On the other hand, Magento is relatively expensive for its features. It also is less user-friendly than some of the simpler platforms and requires a developer to make any major changes. Furthermore, Magento’s versions can go out of date quickly and may no longer be supported, causing site functionality to fail.
Choosing an eCommerce Platform
Choosing the right platform for your business can seem overwhelming, but the answer truly comes down to just a few key questions:
- How large is your business?
- What features do you require?
- How much are you willing to pay?
- Where do you see your business in 1-3 years?
Once you can answer these questions, you should be able to make an informed choice on which platform is best for you. Make sure that your solution can scale with your company so you won’t have to go through the process again in six months.
Brandfox & Shopify
Brandfox is a preferred Shopify partner, which means that we have helped our clients launch dozens of Shopify sites over the past few years.
We recommend the Shopify Advanced plan. While it is the most expensive, it offers a huge opportunity to save money on shipping by offering live shipping rates negotiated by your 3PL partner.
If you decide that Shopify isn’t the right fit for you, we also support online stores on a variety of other platforms, including:
- Google Express