What exactly is Shopify?
Put simply, Shopify is an easy way to create a website which includes an online store to sell your goods. It lets you organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, and track and respond to orders.
In addition, your Shopify site can have all the things you’d expect to see on any website, including text pages, photo galleries, contact forms, social media links and a blog. Shopify sites have your logo and your website address, so they work like any other website which includes an online store.
The Shopify store owner can log in and make changes to every aspect of their site and products. For most things, that’s done without knowing how to code.
Check out Shopify’s plans
Shopify is a paid service, separate from and additional to Unpossible. There are different tiers of the service covered by different plans. You can read all about it on Shopify.com
Reasons we choose Shopify
Unpossible is all about creating online stores for smaller sellers in a way that’s low stress and high value. After we looked at all the options, Shopify stood out as the best platform to do this. Shopify is a great platform for Unpossible merchants for many reasons, including:
- It can grow with you — Shopify has the infrastructure, service and experience to support you, no matter how big your store gets.
- It’s good value — The basic plan is low cost, and the more advanced plans are still good value.
- It’s easy — Store management is merchant-focused and very easy, so you don’t have to be an IT genius to run a store.
- It’s innovative — As a leading, growing business, Shopify is constantly working out ways to help merchants sell more, such as the addition of different payment methods, and sales channels like Amazon and even Facebook Messenger.
- It’s flexible — Shopify is a framework which supports all kinds of customization, which allows developers like us to build sites the way we do.
- It’s flexible and wide-spread — Shopify’s popularity means merchants are unlikely to ever find it hard to locate a developer when they need one.
- It’s helpful — Shopify has excellent 24/7 support, documentation and forums to support you if you encounter any issues.
- It’s hosted by Shopify — Because Shopify is a hosted service, you don’t need any additional hosting to run your shop. No hosting fees, and no hosting, speed, upgrade or security responsibilities.
- It’s really secure — We feel pretty confident that the hardware and encryption software that Shopify use is market leadingly secure and we have never seen it go offline
That’s all great, but how does it compare to the other options for running a small or growing online store? Here’s a rundown of our thoughts.
Shopify vs Big Commerce
Big Commerce is a fully hosted ecommerce store platform, much like Shopify. And it was founded in Australia so yeah we like it. Compared to Shopify, Big Commerce does not have a low cost entry level plan, and less than one fifth the number of stores. It also has no PoS product which Shopify does have, if that’s your thing. Otherwise, on paper, Shopify and Big Commerce both provide excellent offerings for merchants.
We just prefer the Shopify user experience on their site for both merchants and Shopify Partners like Unpossible. But that’s subjective.
Putting all those things to one side, an important reason we chose Shopify over Big Commerce is kind of simple and selfish: because Shopify is bigger, it has more exposure and that attracts more merchants. That actually has benefits for Unpossible clients, too. By going with a bigger player, you can be more confident they will not get merged into something else, they will have a good support process, and developers will be easier to find if you ever need one.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin for WordPress, the world’s most popular website framework. It can turn any WordPress site into a fully functioning online shop. WordPress is free and the basic functionality of WooCommerce is also free. To run WooCommerce on your WordPress site, you will however need to pay for web hosting, and it’s likely you’ll need to pay a designer and coder to set the thing up for you, and you may want to pay to unlock some WooCommerce features, or pay by subscription for some handy plugins. And you’ll need to maintain hosting performance and security. And plugin upgrades, including WooCommerce. And upgrades to the core of WordPress. Did I mention payment gateways?
Hopefully you’re getting the picture here: it sounds great, and free, but it’s complicated and there are costs and potential headaches.
Again, a great product for the right merchant, but not one we would recommend for a small seller looking to get their product to market in a way that looks professional, quickly and at low cost.
Shopify vs Magento
This is getting heavy now! Magento, like WooCommerce is an ecommerce platform which you need to run on your own hosting. There is a popular, free ‘community’ edition, and a less popular, paid pro version. Magento is generally used by big stores with large inventories and is a mature, dedicated ecommerce product. Having built stores with Magento, we generally prefer not to. It’s really complicated to do simple things, both for coders and merchants. The interface which a merchant needs to navigate is complex and just plain ugly. It also requires a top level, fast, fast, fast hosting setup, which is costly to set up and maintain.
In addition to all that, you could apply most of what’s written above about WooCommerce to Magento. Even for large sites now we’d probably recommend Shopify Plus over Magento, unless you have a huge budget, in which case there are other better options, too.
Shopify vs vs Wix, Squarespace or Weebly
Wix, Squarespace and Weebly are the highest profile no-code website builders. Similar to Shopify, you can simply create an account with one of these businesses, pay and launch a website using their easy site building interfaces. On top of this, they now all offer the ability to transform your website into an online store. On the plus side, they offer similar scaling and security to Shopify, and their costs, at first look, are pretty low.
So why not? We don’t like working with these platforms because the ability to customize the online shopping parts of them is not as good as Shopify, and they can be limiting or overly complex to work with. Our merchants are highly likely to feel the same. Also, although the costs look low, be careful that you know what you’re getting and what the growth of your store could mean. They’re also all smaller than Shopify, so again they’re open to ‘small player’ risks which are significant in web services.
The tipping point though, is that Shopify is and always was designed to be an online shop platform, while the others have ecommerce as an addon. Riffing on that is that the Shopify brand is synonymous with online shops, so again there are more developers who work with that particular functionality, and integration with other ecommerce tools will be more widespread.
Our partner link
If you plan on using Unpossible to build your site, there’s no hurry to sign up to Shopify, you can do that while we’re building your site. Whether you plan to use Unpossible, or another Shopify setup service, or DIY your Shopify site, we have a small favour to ask: please use our partner link to go to the Shopify site when you sign up. It won’t cost you a penny, or change anything at all about how Shopify treats you. It simply means that Shopify will give Unpossible a little extra love for sending you their way.
The link is: shopify.com/?ref=unpossible