November 30, 2018
Let's start by saying that Shopify is an incredible platform. Its had great success with hobbyist entrepreneurs who are starting off their careers selling online. Their simple interface makes it a breeze to set up a new store, import products. The ability to link to PayPal and Stripe is straightforward.
It has an App culture similar to how Apple's system works. Easily connect third party services with a few clicks and subscription fees are just added to your monthly statement. Its super easy to get the basics set up and running, and to be honest in the web development world time to launch is a significant factor in most projects. So Shopify clearly has its advantages.
But for us, this is where the benefits stop. What happens if your business runs a specific set of rules? How are deliveries made, how is stock managed? What happens when you grow beyond the simple click, buy, post, e-commerce that Shopify offers?
Anything beyond a basic store requires additional third-party apps. As Shopify host the platform this is the only method to get around some of the limitations Shopify has. There are thousands of third-party apps that add additional functionality, but they come at a price, literally a price. Another monthly fee to enable some incredibly basic functionality. On top of the fee, your store is now relying on a single developer, based god knows where who you've no direct relationship with. What if he goes out of business, what if their service goes down? What if they don't maintain the app addon to reflect any software updates needed?
Another significant issue we've found is the quality/reliability of the app from the beginning. While most are decent, they're not all created equal.
Now as part of the Shopify ecosystem there is the ability to develop private apps just for use on your own stores. This will give the website owner far greater control over aspects of the project, but again this comes at a huge additional cost, time. Having a developer program basic functionality that would be considered standard in other platforms. And as we know the more time spent is directly related to the amount of money it costs.
Shopify does have a powerful theme building language. It simple coding language allows layouts to be built quickly and robust. However, it can be quite limited at the same time. Specific areas of the store are locked down and can't be easily modified. The majority of Shopify checkout pages look near identical and in our experience, the ability to change a checkout for higher conversions isn't always possible.
We're aware that there are some huge stores using the Shopify platform, but seriously wonder how much bespoke customisation has been done to make it work, were there better solutions?
For us, the Shopify platform seems to have attracted a new "type" of business over the recent years, and its not the type of business we want to be associated with.
There are many courses showing how to retire by thirty, drive a Lamborghini and live in a luxury mansion. How to become an entrepreneur and dropship junk from aliexpress direct to your customers. Build a cheap DIY Shopify website, with no business skills, or legal understandings of the process. It just isn't that simple, and the majority of the people involved will just lose money.
Run unverified of vetted ads on Facebook / Instagram targeting people you believe may be interested in purchasing poor quality, untested, items from Ali Express. Whos responsible when things go wrong with the item? You or the drop shipper?
For many in the e-commerce industry this practice is just tarnishing what Shopify does. In our opinion, Shopify has its place. It's ideal to test a market or product before scaling to a better system. It's a simple quick cheap method to prove a proof of concept regarding a product or brand. But beyond this, there are far more powerful systems. But more importantly your store is unique, your customers are unique, and we've found that with so many Shopify stores similar, you'll only ever be as good as your competitor when we want you to beat them.
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