Podcast

Ep. 53 Is Shopify Right for Your Retail Business?

As a Shopify Partner, I’ve designed websites for other small business owners on the Shopify platform. It’s an incredible platform with tons of features that allow anyone to set up an online store. But Shopify isn’t the perfect fit for everyone, so I’m going to share what I like and dislike about Shopify so you can confidently decide if Shopify is right for you.

What is Shopify?

Shopify describes itself as “a commerce platform that allows anyone to set up an online store and sell their products…Shopify is now the leading commerce platform designed for businesses of all sizes. Whether you sell online, on social media, in-store, or out of the trunk of your car, Shopify has you covered.”

Shopify is one of the few platforms that gives you…

1) a website you can build on your own

2) an eCommerce/online shop 

3) the hardware and a POS system so can sell in your b&m store

4) integration and syncing: this is extremely important because whether a customer buys something in person or online, your inventory is managed from one system and syncs correctly.

5) a user-friendly interface

There are many POS software companies that don’t offer an all-in-one solution. Other companies are shifting towards this type of omnichannel retail platform, but in terms of a platform that is ALSO user-friendly, Shopify does it best.

Is Shopify Right for Your Business?

As much as I prefer Shopify, it isn’t the right first for everyone! Let’s breakdown some pros and cons for different types of businesses that might choose Shopify.

Businesses That Need a Variety of Features

Although Shopify is an all-in-one platform, all-in-one does not mean all-inclusive. Shopify can get pricey as you start to add “Apps.” It’s similar to when you add apps to your phone: some are free, but some cost. The more robust the app, the higher the price. 

Micro-retailers on Shopify tend to have 8-15 apps installed to get all the features they need. Sometimes the free versions of the apps will work correctly for your situation, and sometimes you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version of certain apps.

Makers With Online Shops

Shopify is usually a good fit for makers who sell online for the following reasons:

  • Website building is easy: Because Shopify’s platform is a drag and drop style, building a website is relatively straightforward. It’s also pretty affordable to find a designer to make it for you. In general, you don’t need a developer (if you do need a developer, this is where it can get expensive). 
  • Makers tend to have small catalogs: If you’re making handmade products, you most likely don’t make more than 30 or 40 different products. Your library of products is small compared to a brick and mortar store with 100’s or even 1000’s of sku’d products.
  • It’s affordable: Many makers like to sell on their own website OR sell on their website in addition to a platform like Etsy. Shopify’s monthly fees for a maker business is affordable. You could get started for as low as $29/mo.* (*Pricing as of December 8, 2020) There are still processing fees on credit card transactions, but this price point is affordable compared to other options. 
  • Shipping is automatically calculated and easy to manage
  • You can use a mobile credit card reader: so you can sell in-person at market events.
  • You can sell wholesale to B&M store owners: there are apps on Shopify that let you build an area on your site where store owners can place wholesale orders with you. If you have a solid wholesale business or you’re trying to develop that portion of your business, giving brick and mortar store owners a user-friendly place to buy from you at wholesale prices is worth the investment.
  • Social selling: You can integrate Shopify with Facebook and Instagram so you can sell through those platforms. This takes some extra work to set up, but it’s worth it if you have a strong social presence. 

eCommerce Shop Owners

These are the retail business owners who resell products by selling online (they don’t make their own products, and they don’t have a brick and mortar). A good example of this is apparel or fashion online-only boutiques.  

Like the makers with online shops that I just talked about, Shopify seems to be a good option for these retailers.

Brick and Mortar Store Owners

This is where my recommendation can vary depending on your business’ needs!

Do you need an integrated POS system? 

When you add Shopify POS to Shopify’s online plans, you have to buy the hardware (the stand, the cash drawer, the receipt printer, etc.). To add a POS system, you have two options: 

  1. a free plan 
  2. a plan with more options will cost you an additional $89 per month (this is the price on December 8, 2020, and could change in the future), no matter which online plan you choose.

New brick and mortar store owners

It’s going to be easier for you to start and set up Shopify than an existing brick and mortar store owner. You’re starting from scratch, and you would have to the work to get set up and started anyhow, right?

Seasoned B&M store owners

you have the most to consider. You probably already have systems in place like a POS system, loyalty program, gift cards, email marketing, and maybe even an online shop. That’s a lot of changes to make if you switch to Shopify

Some B&M owners build their website and online shop on Shopify but use a different POS. I’m not a massive fan of this because inventory control becomes an issue, and financial reporting can be challenging, too. 

Here’s a list of questions to guide your decision about Shopify as a seasoned B&M store owner: 

  1. Are you comfortable building the website yourself, or will you need to hire someone?
  2. Will it be easy to export data/inventory from your old system and import it into Shopify? 
  3. If you’ve used reports (financial or inventory) from your old system, what happens to that information? 
  4. Does your current email marketing software play nicely with Shopify? 
  5. If you have a loyalty program in place, what about that information, and how do you inform your customers?
  6. Does Shopify integrate with any bookkeeping software you use?
  7. Will you need to scrap your gift card system and start over with Shopify’s gift cards?

So, Is Shopify Right For You?

One of the most significant selling points for Shopify is that it genuinely provides retailers with the ability to provide their customers with an omnichannel experience. Having a seamless experience—whether they buy from you online, in-store, on social media, or in-person—is a huge benefit for you and your customers. 

If you think Shopify will work for your business and you want to try it or check it out, click HERE to try Shopify free for 14 days, no credit card required.  Plus, you can set up your store and pick a plan later—no need to make that decision now.

Resources

Timestamps

  • [02:15] What is Shopify?
  • [02:44] Shopify gives you…
  • [04:51] Is Shopify right for YOUR business?
  • [05:17] Businesses that need a variety of features
  • [07:21] Makers with online shops
  • [11:51] eCommerce shop owners
  • [12:31] Brick & mortar store owners

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