Get an online shop up fast with Shopify
These are scary times and there are a lot of bricks and mortar shops out there who have never tried to sell their products online and suddenly feel like it might be their best hope.
This post will discuss one of the quickest ways to get up a branded online shop, complete with payment processing and product and order management - Shopify.
Shopify allows you to sell either physical or digital goods, has over 1,000,000 active users and (so they claim) has generated over 183 billion dollars in sales. So if you invest your time in getting a shop up with Shopify, it won't be time wasted - they don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
It has pretty nice themes to choose from (the look and feel of your online shop) and allows you to customise colours, logos and of course upload your product details (images, promotional descriptions, variations).
There are some free themes (8 at the time of writing) and lots of others that you might choose to pay for. Even the free themes work quite well across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
Pricing for a brand new online shop starts at $29 per month and there is a free trial.
This allows you to build your shop and launch it and it will give you tools to start pushing your products out to other 'channels' like Amazon, eBay and Facebook. You will of course also need to set up accounts with these channels if you want to use them.
One interesting option is Shopify 'Lite'.
This is only $9 per month and it is great if you already have a website that you are happy with. In this case it allows you to place a 'Buy Button' on your website from your product page that uses Shopify's online purchasing system.This also gives you access to Shopify tools for stock management, tracking and fulfilling orders.
This 'Lite' version will even let you sell products via your facebook page.
Shopify will process payments securely for you using their own payment gateway but of course they will charge a percentage of the transaction to do so (2.4% > 2.9% + 30c at time of writing). You can also use one of a hundred other payment processing partners instead if you would prefer (ie PayPal, Stripe, Eway etc).
If there are more custom features that your shop needs that are not included with your account you can look in the Shopify 'Apps' store. Here you can find developers who have created additional Shopify functionality that you can install at the click of a button. These will add to your monthly bill however.
One other feature that makes Shopify stand out a bit from it's competitors is it's 'POS' (Point of Sale) option. This allows you to set up a physical shop (popup or permanent) and sell stock out of your Shopify inventory. All you need is an IOS or Android device and a willingness to install their app and read some help tutorials. There is some optional hardware available for this if you need it but Shopify will guide you through this if it is something you are keen on.
- You get a fully branded online shopping environment without needing to understand, user interface design or code.
- The end result can be quite professional
- Lots of inbuilt online shopping features ready to go at the push of a button
- Proven and solid platform that is maintained for you
- Despite the fact that there is no coding needed to get going it still does have a learning curve that can be a bit steep for some people. If it is beyond you, a good web developer could help get you up and running in quick time if you have your content ready to go.
- No ready audience. Unfortunately you can't just build a website and expect people will just find it and start ordering. You will need a marketing strategy to let people know it is there and some patience before you see significant results.
- Not all features come with the standard account. For example if you want to sell gift cards you will need to jump up to the $79 permonth account type.
- Shopify is not appropriate if you want a really bespoke system with lots of custom functionality. You will likely need a website agency to help with that.