Before we answer the question “What is Shopify,” we need to start with a definition of e-commerce. An e-commerce website is, in essence, an online store. It’s where your company promotes, sells and ships products to customers. E-commerce websites are very quickly becoming the new brick-and-mortar, with 19.8 million Canadians shopping online.
That’s a fascinating story but what is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce website platform. It allows you the functionality to create your online store. Building an e-commerce website is going to be a much different experience than building a regular website as it requires the storage of highly confidential client data and integrates payment, shipping and tax options, as well as cart functionality and product pages. These website elements are specific to the online experience that almost 20 million Canadians have come to trust for their shopping needs.
Shopify is one of the easiest, most user-friendly and adaptable e-commerce website platforms in the world and they offer 24/7 customer support through email, live chat, or phone. But that’s not all. According to Hosting Tribunal:
- Shopify is the 3rd top e-commerce platform in the world and has achieved 20% of the market share
- There are over 425,000 websites built using Shopify
- Shopify supports over 600,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world
How Does Shopify Work?
Shopify works like any other website platform. If you’re interested in building a website with Shopify, you’ll want to start an account, pick a theme for the look and style of your website, and then build out your new e-commerce website from there. A few things you’ll need to do:
- Create your website architecture – your store plan/layout, your navigation and menu, product pages, etc.
- Page & product development – Shopify doesn’t have a ton of options for page layout and if you want a dynamic and highly visual page you’ll need some customization work
- App integration – in WordPress, these are called plugins and refer to special functionality add ons you can integrate into your store to customize it to your individual needs as a business.
Shipping, tax and payment set-up – there’s an internal system built-in with Shopify websites for safe and secure payment options, and pricing, payments, shipping and taxes can all be set-up to your specifications
Another great benefit to creating a Shopify website is that the subscription costs include:
- SSL certificate – a requirement of websites that ensures information security
- Hosting costs – the cost associated with having a live website on the web
- Domain costs – the cost associated with owning the URL for your website (for example, at Alpha Strategy our domain is: www.alphastrategy.co)
The Shopify help desk team is always available to move you through the process to launch, but depending on your time, resources, and vision you may need to outsource web development help for layout planning and building, integration, setting up and customization of the elements in your online store. If you’re looking for a reputable, affordable and marketing-focused web development firm then… ahem!
What Does Shopify Do?
By empowering you with the tools you need to create a digital storefront, Shopify gives you plenty of opportunities. Often, an online store requires less overhead costs, less employee/management, and more flexibility and customer reach than a physical store could ever match.
You have the ability to significantly increase your revenue especially if you pair your real-life physical store with an online version through Shopify. Through your online Shopify store you can:
- Create promos, discounts, storewide sales or special offers
- Ship to anyone, anywhere in the world, and don’t have to rely on local shoppers
- Target your audience on a bigger scale for more high-quality customer leads
- Market your storefront through integrated strategies like online newsletters, Google ads, and social media visibility
A Note On E-Commerce in 2020
For many businesses trying to navigate the new world during and post Covid-19, accessing customers and maintaining “business as usual” has been a struggle of varying degrees. For some businesses, creating an online store can be a huge advantage. Do you sell seeds or gardening supplies? Offer food deliveries like grocery boxes or meal services? Do you own a clothing store but currently don’t have a website set up for sales and shipping of stock?
A Shopify website can help you move your inventory out of the virtual door while your physical door remains closed. It can also integrate with existing WordPress sites to offer basic “buy now” functionality if you have specialty items you want to move.
Any way you slice it, if you’ve been holding off on an e-commerce site or thinking one over, there’s no better time than the time we have now to develop and position our brands and businesses to take advantage of the digital global marketplace.
We’re not just tied to Shopify, although we prefer it for most of our clients. Learn more about why we also like to work with WooCommerce for WordPress.