What is shopify and what is it used for?

  • What is shopify and what is it used for?

    Dec 28, 2023

    Introduction

    Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows anyone to set up an online store and sell their products or services.set up Shopify, you can build a fully customized online store without needing to know any code or web development. It handles everything from web hosting and security to payment processing and order management. Keep reading to learn more about what Shopify is, its key features and benefits, pricing options, how to use it for dropshipping, setting up a Shopify store, customizing it with themes and apps, integrating payment gateways, how it compares to other e-commerce platforms, finding Shopify tutorials and reviews, tips for Shopify beginners, and using Shopify for website development.

    What is Shopify?

    Shopify is an online store builder and e-commerce platform that allows businesses and entrepreneurs to create customized online shops, upload products, process orders, and manage every aspect of running an online store. The Shopify definition can be summarized as a software-as-a-service tool for building and managing online retail operations.

    Some key things to know about Shopify:

    Cloud-based e-commerce platform

    Lets you make an online store to sell products/services

    Handles web hosting, security, payment processing

    Offers themes, apps, and integrations

    Used by over 1 million businesses globally

    In short, Shopify is an all-in-one solution for starting and growing an online business that sells products or services directly to customers. With Shopify handling the technical details, store owners can focus on sales, marketing, and operations.

    Shopify Features

    Some of the main features that make Shopify a popular online store builder include:

    Easy store setup - Choose a template, customize it, add products/info and your store is ready.

    Responsive store themes - Mobile-ready themes ensure your store looks great on all devices.

    Secure hosting on Shopify servers - Reliable and fast hosting with built-in SSL encryption.

    Inventory management - Shopify tracks product variants, quantities, alerts, etc. automatically.

    Many payment gateway options - Shopify offers integration with over 100 payment gateways.

    Discount capabilities - Create discount codes and set up sales easily with a few clicks.

    Abandoned cart recovery - Shopify can send automated emails to customers when they abandon their cart.

    Reporting and analytics - View sales, traffic reports, and key data through the Shopify dashboard.

    Shopify POS option - Manage in-person sales channels along with online stores within one dashboard.

    Support for blogging and SEO - Shopify stores can have blogs, tagging, meta descriptions, alt text on images, etc. to help optimize for search engines.

    Lots of app integrations - There are over 6,000 apps and integrations available to extend Shopify’s functionality.

    24/7 customer support - Get assistance from Shopify’s support team through live chat, email, or phone.

    Benefits of Using Shopify

    There are many advantages to using Shopify for starting or running an online store, including:

    No technical skills required - The platform is user-friendly so you don’t need web design or development skills.

    Quick and easy setup - Most stores can be online within a few days with Shopify’s themes and features.

    Cost-effective - Shopify offers affordable pricing plans to fit small and large businesses. The rates are competitive compared to hiring a developer.

    Mobile commerce ready - Responsively designed themes make stores easy to use on all devices.

    Highly customizable - There are endless ways to customize your Shopify store’s design, features, product listings, checkout process, and more.

    Secure and reliable platform - Shopify handles security, hosting, and maintenance so you don’t have to worry.

    Powerful marketing tools - Leverage built-in features like discount codes, email marketing, abandoned cart recovery, and more to boost sales.

    Easy order management - Shopify centralizes orders, payments, fulfillment, and shipping to save time.

    Excellent support - Get help from Shopify’s knowledgeable customer support through live chat, email, phone, and more.

    In summary, Shopify reduces the complexity, costs, and skills required to run a professional online store. The platform empowers entrepreneurs to build businesses that drive sales and engage customers.

    Shopify Pricing Plans

    Shopify offers four pricing plans depending on the size and needs of your business. The main pricing options are:

    Basic Shopify - $29/month

    Shopify - $79/month

    Advanced Shopify - $299/month

    Shopify Plus - Customized for enterprise businesses

    The main differences between the pricing plans are the fees per transaction, staff accounts allowed, integration options, and advanced reporting.

    The basic Shopify plan already provides ample functionality for most small online stores. As your store grows, you can always upgrade to higher tiers for lower transaction fees, more integrations, and advanced features.

    It’s also worth noting Shopify charges no additional transaction fees beyond the monthly subscription costs. There are also ways to save on fees by choosing the annual plan or Shopify Payments.

    Using Shopify for Dropshipping

    Dropshipping is a popular e-commerce business model that involves shipping products directly from a third-party supplier to customers. Shopify has all the necessary features to build a successful dropshipping operation.

    Benefits of using Shopify for dropshipping include:

    Easy integration with suppliers - Seamlessly connect your store to suppliers through Oberlo or dropshipping apps.

    Automation to save time - Apps like Dropified automate product listings and order processing with suppliers.

    Fast shipping enabled - Shopify allows setting up location-based suppliers to reduce shipping times.

    Dimensional shipping rates - Calculate shipping costs accurately based on weight and dimensions.

    Location targeting - Target marketing towards specific buyer locations.

    Abandoned cart recovery - Win back customers who don’t complete their purchase initially.

    The combination of Shopify’s inventory management, shipping calculation tools, marketing features, and integrations with suppliers makes running a large dropshipping business easier than ever.

    Setting Up Your Shopify Online Store

    The process to get your Shopify store up and running consists of just a few key steps:

    Sign up for Shopify - Pick your plan and domain name, and set up billing. They offer a 14-day free trial to test.

    Choose and customize your theme - Shopify has over 70 free and paid responsive themes to pick from. Use the theme editor tools to tailor your design, content, images, etc.

    Configure your settings and payment - Add business information, payment gateway integration, shipping locations, taxes, discounts, etc.

    Add your inventory and products - Create your product listings with titles, descriptions, images, pricing, variants, quantity tracking, and more.

    Review and publish your store - Preview how your live store will appear on desktop and mobile. Publish it when you’re ready to start selling!

    The simple store setup process lets you build out and customize an online shop to your specifications in very little time. The Shopify backend also makes managing inventory, orders, customer details, and overall operations easy from one central dashboard.

    Customizing Your Shopify Store Design with Themes

    Themes make it fast and simple to apply professional designs to your Shopify store. Shopify’s theme store has a wide variety of free and paid themes to choose from across all sorts of niches and styles.

    Some top things to know about Shopify themes:

    Mobile/responsive design – Themes automatically adapt for optimal viewing on all devices.

    Customizable templates – Edit colors, content, images, and layouts per your preference.

    Regular updates – Designers launch fixes and new versions to improve themes over time.

    Easy theme switching – You can try new themes in the future with just a few clicks.

    Professional designs – Choose modern, polished themes created by top designers.

    If you want total design flexibility, you can also have a custom theme developed specifically tailored for your brand and products.

    Shopify Apps to Extend Functionality

    While Shopify already packs a lot of e-commerce functionality in the core platform, its app store includes over 6,000 additional apps to further optimize store performance.

    Popular categories of apps include:

    Marketing apps - SEO, email marketing, analytics

    Social media apps - Sync store to social profiles

    Customer service apps - Live chat, knowledgebase help guides

    Shipping apps - Automate shipping rates, label printing

    Accounting apps - Integrate accounting software

    Payment apps - Offline payments, subscriptions, invoicing

    Top apps like Oberlo also make running a dropshipping business easier. The ecosystem of apps lets you stitch together a custom Shopify store solution catered to your business needs.

    Accepting Payments with Shopify Payment Gateways

    Shopify seamlessly integrates with a vast array of domestic and international payment gateways. Having a variety of payment options makes it more convenient for customers to complete their purchases.

    Some of the 100+ supported payment gateways include:

    PayPal and major credit cards like Visa and Mastercard

    Alternate payment methods like Amazon Pay and Apple Pay

    Country/region-specific options for worldwide businesses

    Offline payment acceptance with apps

    Bank wire and direct bank deposit

    You can choose one or enable several payment gateways at once. The Shopify dashboard centralizes accepted payments in one location for streamlined administration.

    Shopify Compared to Other E-Commerce Platforms

    How does Shopify compare against alternatives like WooCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, and BigCommerce? Here’s an overview:

    Shopify requires a monthly subscription like BigCommerce whereas WooCommerce is free but requires managing WordPress and servers.

    Shopify integrates natively with Oberlo and dropshipping apps, unlike Wix and Squarespace.

    Shopify offers abandoned cart recovery and integrated email marketing tools compared to more limited options on WooCommerce and Wix.

    Shopify has better responsive themes tailored for e-commerce whereas Wix and Squarespace have more generic website themes.

    Shopify’s transaction fees, support, and uptime are superior to self-managed open-source platforms like WooCommerce or Magento.

    While the other platforms work for some scenarios, Shopify is specifically focused on empowering e-commerce stores with dedicated tools for sales conversion. The all-in-one solution allows focusing time on business growth versus site maintenance.

    Shopify Tutorials and Courses for Getting Started

    Shopify offers many types of tutorials and courses to help users learn the platform:

    Written articles and video tutorials in Shopify’s e-commerce university to guide you step-by-step.

    Discussion forums to connect with the Shopify community for advice.

    Shopify webinars to attend live sessions and Q&As on optimizing your business.

    In-person and virtual workshops are offered in cities around the world.

    Recommended courses on platforms like Udemy and LinkedIn Learning for in-depth training.

    Explanatory tooltips built directly within the Shopify admin.

    YouTube channels like Kevin David and Gabriel St-Germain with extensive Shopify content.

    Between the array of official help resources Shopify provides combined with third-party e-commerce learning programs, anyone can quickly get up to speed on leveraging the platform, even without prior experience.

    Shopify Reviews and Reputation with Users

    Shopify is hugely popular among entrepreneurs thanks to its positive reputation with store owners. The platform has over 1 million merchants globally from small to large enterprises.

    Some quantifiable signs of Shopify’s stellar reputation include:

    4.9 out of 5-star average rating on independent review sites like TrustPilot based on over 70,000 merchant reviews.

    Shopify has an ‘A’ rating from the Better Business Bureau demonstrating responsiveness in addressing user concerns.

    Nearly $185 billion has been transacted by customers through Shopify stores to date indicating strong business results with the platform.

    Shopify ranks #1 recommendation from online business owners among e-commerce solutions.

    Beyond the numbers, Shopify merchants commonly praise factors like ease of use, stunning designs, robust app ecosystem, high sales conversion, and helpful 24/7 customer support. The overall verdict from reviews is that Shopify simplifies turning ideas into entrepreneurial success stories.

    Tips for Shopify Beginners Just Starting Out

    If you’re new to Shopify, keep these tips in mind:

    Start with the cheaper basic Shopify plan - Upgrade your monthly pricing tier later once your store starts seeing substantial sales volume.

    Stick with a free theme at first - Get used to running your store before spending on a premium theme. You can switch themes later on.

    Limit your initial app integrations - Identify must-have apps first, don’t install too many apps too early since your needs may change.

    Manually manage orders initially - Don’t rush to automate fulfillment until order volume necessitates it.

    Consider dropshipping to avoid inventory/shipping initially - Leverage suppliers to ship products to reduce overhead costs.

    Analyze competitor stores for ideas - See what products, marketing approaches, and themes popular stores in your niche use.

    Follow Shopify experts and e-commerce influencers - Stay on top of new methods to boost sales by learning from those already successful.

    Focus most on marketing to drive traffic and sales - A beautifully designed store matters little without promotion driving customers to purchase.

    Following a “crawl, walk, run” strategy by keeping things simple early on reduces the chances of beginner mistakes down the road after your operations mature.

    Using Shopify for Web Design and Development

    Beyond its famous store-building capabilities, the Shopify platform can also power entire websites. Developers can leverage Shopify’s hosting, themes, and customization options to create versatile web projects.

    Some examples of using Shopify for web development include:

    Building marketing sites for brands, artists, influencers

    Launching content-focused sites like blogs, magazines, newspapers

    Hosting online course platforms or membership communities

    Making lead generation sites for consultants and agencies

    Creating pickup/delivery food ordering experiences for restaurants

    Since Shopify can integrate online payments, deliver dynamic content, manage users, and apply advanced custom logic, it can adapt to a wide range of web development needs. You have full control to customize Shopify stores into full-fledged web applications.

    Conclusion

    In summary, Shopify empowers entrepreneurs of any skill level to start, promote, and manage an online business. The all-in-one platform makes turning your ideas into profitable e-commerce ventures easy with beautiful store-building options, secure and scalable hosting, and endless customizations for growth. Backed by a reputation for enabling entrepreneurial success stories, Shopify gives you flexibility and support at every step of your journey.

    FAQs about Shopify

    Does Shopify offer a free trial?

    Yes, Shopify offers all new users a 14-day free trial on the basic Shopify plan to test setting up a store without paying initially.

    Can I use my own domain name with Shopify?

    Absolutely, you can connect your own existing domain name to your Shopify store or purchase a new one directly through Shopify to attach.

    Does Shopify allow physical product inventory tracking?

    Yes, Shopify has built-in inventory tracking that automatically adjusts when customers purchase products or you add new stock.

    Can I edit HTML or CSS code with Shopify themes?

    While the platform is beginner-friendly, advanced users can fully edit theme code HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Liquid and more for maximum control.

    What types of products can I sell on Shopify?

    Shopify stores support physical, digital, subscription and service-based products making it suitable for nearly any type of small business.

    How do taxes and shipping rates work with Shopify?

    Shopify automatically calculates applicable taxes and dynamic shipping rates based on customer location and order details to display accurate costs.

    What types of payment can I accept?

    Shopify allows accepting credit/debit cards, alternate mobile payments, bank transfers, checks, COD, and external payment apps.

    Can I blog and optimize for SEO with Shopify?

    Yes, Shopify lets you author blog posts, tag products, customize site metadata, alt text on images and more to boost SEO.

    How much do Shopify themes cost?

    Shopify offers around 10 high-quality free themes along with dozens of premium themes across niche designs ranging from around $140-$180 typically. Custom theme development is also an option.

    Is Shopify secure for storing customer data?

    Shopify is a highly secure platform supporting level 1 PCI compliance, automatic SSL encryption, and advanced fraud analysis to protect merchant and customer data.

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