Shopify: FAQ

Thinking about Shopify for your new store?

Shopify is a great eCommerce solution but it is still makes sense to do your due diligence and understand the platform before building.

Here are my answers to common Shopify questions.

What exactly is Shopify?

Sounds like a deceptively simple question, but it is worth asking.

Shopify is a specialised eCommerce and hosting solution, creating an eCommerce platform for you to build an online store.

Shopify is different from many other eCommerce solutions in that it is hosted for you, meaning you usually only need a domain name and DNS service to get started with your own storename.com.

It also includes a blogging function which acts as a CMS similar to WordPress but that is more of a feature of the eCommerce system, rather than the objective of the solution.

When was Shopify founded?

Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake in Ottawa, Canada. The group started the platform after trying to build a way to make selling snowboards online easier. Friends, family and an angel investor funded the company for $450,000.

How does Shopify work?

Shopify is pretty simple to use.

Once you have an account, you can log into the platform to add more pages, products, adjust settings or manage orders and stock.

How much does Shopify cost?

Shopify’s charges a monthly fee and a transaction fee.

Monthly fees are fairly stable in that they do not change often. Currently the prices are $29, $79 and $299 a month depending on the level of package.

For those who want simple eCommerce functionality without a storefront, you can use Shopify lite for $9 a month.

Transaction and credit card processing fees range from 2% – 4.9% depending on whether you use a more expensive version of Shopify and how the transaction is made.

For example, transactions through Shopify payments do not incur a transaction fee. However, if the payment is made using a credit card then a credit card fee of 2.4% – 2.9% may apply.

Full details on each package and fees here.

Who uses Shopify?

Shopify is used by startups, small brands and big brands. Examples of bigger brands include:

  • Penguin books http://www.penguin.com/
  • K-Swiss https://kswiss.com/
  • Obey Clothing https://obeyclothing.com/

Who is Shopify best suited for?

Shopify is strong on simplicity and ease of use.

For a lot of regular people and brands Shopify is an amazing solution. This is because you can run the basics of your store yourself or with a non-technical team.

However, Shopify sacrifices heavy customisation in return for this simplicity. If you are looking to create a significantly complex store for a large amount of products, you may want to look more at Shopify Plus (premium version) or another platform.

Why should I use Shopify?

If you need:

  • An easy to use platform that you can maintain yourself
  • A library of hundreds plugins that you can use to upgrade your store
  • Access to hundreds of themes to build your store’s look quickly
  • A hosted solution so you don’t need to fiddle with server uptime and details

And you don’t have:

  • A developer or technical resource
  • Web designer
  • Complex eCommerce requirements like highly customised interactive pages

Then Shopify would be a good solution for you.

Which Shopify theme should I use?

There may be research out there on the best Shopify theme to use but this would be general information taking into account all store types, not your particular target market and industry.

Instead consider themes that:

  • Have easy build functions, like sections
  • Are made by a reputable theme developer so you can get support
  • Are simple and minimalistic, rather than visually complex

You can find themes on Shopify’s theme store here or ThemeForest.

What Shopify apps should I use?

You will need a range of apps depending on your budget. However, the following are recommended as essential:

  • Simpler order processing (Order Printer)
  • Returns management (Return Magic)
  • Security (Shop Protector)

I have written a guide on which apps I recommend here.

Is Shopify GDPR compliant?

So GDPR requires you, and the suppliers you share information with to be GDPR compliant if you are dealing with data of EU citizens.

It is impossible to make a full legal determination Shopify has taken many steps to be GDPR compliant where they handle data on your behalf. However you will be responsible for how your compliant your individual store is.

Does Shopify accept credit cards?

Yes.

Fees range on how the credit card payments are accepted. If you use Shopify payments, there will be no transaction fee but a credit card processing fee of 2.4% – 2.9% will apply.

Are there any risks of using Shopify?

Shopify is generally a secure platform. Certainly more secure than most in that your shopping website is hosted on Shopify’s servers and not your own.

Why do some Shopify stores fail?

This question is the same as asking why any online store fails.

From my experience, I’ve only seen stores fade away as owners turn their attention to other projects or invest less in marketing their store. The technology aspect of their store has not been a deciding factor.

How can I promote my Shopify store?

There are no Shopify-specific promotion techniques that aren’t techniques applied to all online stores.

In general, you can promote an online store through:

  • AdWords / SEM marketing
  • Facebook / Instagram advertising
  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Affiliates
  • Partnerships
  • Email marketing
  • Listing on market places like eBay and Amazon

How do I measure my store’s performance?

Shopify provides a fairly extensive dashboard where you can see:

  • Transactions
  • Revenue
  • Popular products
  • etc

Together with Google Analytics and Search Console, you should have all the analytics you need to measure your store’s performance.

Where can I get help  with my store?

You can get expert help with Shopify by contacting either the Shopify help desk or contracting a Shopify expert on Shopify’s expert directory.

How do I get started with Shopify?

To get started, click here to sign up for an account or get access to a free trial.

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