shopify ecommerce

Is Shopify the Best E-commerce Platform?5 min read

One of the most important decisions when launching a new E-commerce website is what platform it will use. There are countless E-commerce solutions, so picking the right one can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the pros and cons of the various options. Shopify is a commonly used platform, but it is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. It, like any other platform, has advantages and disadvantages.  The question isn’t whether Shopify is the best E-commerce platform, but rather is it the best option for you and your needs? Let’s take a look at the good and the bad of using Shopify for your E-commerce website.

Below are three advantages to utilizing the Shopify platform for your e-Commerce website.

  1. Shopify is “easy” for all of the basics, as long as you’re willing to stay within their ecosystem. Since Shopify is so widely used, most shipping platforms, payment processors, CRMs, and other systems that set you up for a successful E-commerce website do support them. If all of the software that you would like to integrate with your E-commerce store support Shopify, it is usually a smooth experience without too much technical prowess required. Shopify is designed with a less technical audience in mind, so most of the basics are achieved through a visual, “point-and-click” interface.
  2. Custom designs are still possible if having a unique design language for your website is important for you and your brand. While Shopify has a wide range of templates to choose from, both from their own designers and outside designers, you may still value a completely custom design built specifically for you. With Shopify, you have all of these capabilities, so you don’t have to compromise on the look and feel of your website.
  3. Payment processing is included. Since Shopify is built to make everything as simple as possible, they have their own payment processing solution available out of the box. Payment processing can be complicated with other systems, so having everything go through Shopify is as quick and easy as it gets to get you up and running as fast as possible.

A common theme with these advantages is the simplicity Shopify brings to the table, provided you don’t require anything outside of what they support. You can sell a wide range of products, have flexibility with the design of your site, setup integration with various shippers, and start receiving payments quickly and easily.

Of course, as with any system, there are disadvantages to using Shopify.

  1. It is difficult to leave their ecosystem. Shopify is a proprietary platform, so if you ever want to move your website elsewhere or need functionality that isn’t part of what Shopify offers, you are essentially stuck and may need to start from scratch with a more standardized web product that can be hosted anywhere and has unlimited custom possibilities. Depending on how long your site has been running, it can be expensive to create a new website that replicates functionality you’ve gotten used to while adding new functionality, so this is an important thing to consider before moving forward with Shopify.
  2. Shopify can have higher ongoing costs than a custom website. There can be higher per-transaction costs if you don’t use Shopify’s payment processor. Shopify wants you to use their payment processor, but should you want to use another system you’re already using in other areas of your business, you’ll have to pay additional fees. Their payment processing fees are comparable to other processors, but should you want to use your own, then on top of their fees, you’ll also pay Shopify 2% of each transaction. That can definitely add up, so you’ll want to make sure you use their payment processor if at all possible. If your website is built on WordPress using WooCommerce, or other custom solutions, you can use whatever payment processor you want without additional fees or penalties. In addition, Shopify uses a tiered monthly plan approach where the basic level, currently at $29 per month, likely has some features you’ll want or need in order to conduct your business. The next level up is $79 per month, which is a bit more expensive than even premium hosting options elsewhere. To the last point, once you’re in the Shopify ecosystem, it can be hard to leave, so be prepared to pay these costs and potentially higher as time goes on.
  3. You are limited to how much customized functionality you can have because Shopify is proprietary. Other solutions like WordPress and OpenCart have an unparalleled ability to be customized to fit your exact needs. Perhaps you’re running on older accounting software that you want integrated into your website that Shopify doesn’t support, and moving off of that is a project in and of itself – with the right developer, chances are you can integrate it. There are countless situations where custom functionality can result in more efficiency or better service, and the possibilities with a more open solution are endless.

In short, the primary setback with Shopify is the limitations of whatever their ecosystem allows you to do, versus near-unlimited possibilities using more custom solutions. Sometimes this can mean a higher cost up-front to develop exactly what you need, but perhaps, long-term, the cost is lower thanks to being able to utilize standard hosting technologies at a lower cost than Shopify’s monthly fees.

Shopify may be the right platform for you, but it is important to think about the future of your business and these other factors before deciding to go with any solution for your E-commerce website. We have decades of experience helping businesses make the right decision and execute their online presence.
When you work with Sharp Innovations, you can watch your business thrive in the digital landscape. We have a multitude of web development services to suit your personal business needs. Contact us today for a free consultation and to see how we can get your E-commerce website up and running today!