According to Backlinko, Shopify powers more than 1.5 million websites on the internet today. Shopify has emerged as one of the largest e-commerce store builders on the internet. Many people love the wide range of options, the ease of setting a store up and the built-in e-commerce functionalities.
So, should you also set up your e-commerce store on Shopify? To answer your question, we would like to share some facts. We are not denying that Shopify is one of the best e-commerce store platforms out there. It is, but still, there are some glaring concerns that you need to know before you choose it for your e-commerce venture. Let’s dig deep.
Vendor lock-in is one of the most important reasons you should not choose Shopify for your e-commerce development. Vendor lock-in happens because Shopify is a hosted platform. Some people may argue that because Shopify is a hosted platform, you as a store owner need not worry about finding a hosting company or SSL certificates. While this is true, it is just one side of the coin. As it is a hosted platform, if Shopify ever chooses to ditch you, you could lose your store permanently.
The store migration problem is another reason we are saying that with Shopify, you face the problem of vendor lock-in. If you ever choose to migrate your store from Shopify to a different e-commerce platform like WooCommerce, you will realize the headache of the process. Shopify only provides you with a CSV file of all your products and nothing else.
So you have to recreate everything right from the store’s design to your store policies and other pages on your store on the new platform. No easy migration here, my dear friend.
Those who think that Shopify is a cheap platform are in for a rude surprise. While it is true that Shopify offers a basic plan of $29/month, it’s far from the full picture.
Shopify does provide a host of e-commerce features with a basic plan, but there are transaction costs involved irrespective of the plan you choose unless you use Shopify Payments.
Apart from the transaction costs, you will also have to dish out credit card processing fees on all Shopify plans. The processing fees do go down slightly if you go for an expensive plan, but you need to pay credit card processing fees.
Another cost that you need to consider is when you need to add some extra functionalities to your Shopify store. For instance, if you want to add an advanced order tracking mechanism, you will need to install an app from the Shopify marketplace and that is not free.
When you consider all the costs, Shopify is not that cheap.
An attractive design matters; we all know that. Shopify covers this department as it has well-designed themes that will help you build an attractive store.
When it comes to Shopify themes, there is a catch. There are only 71 themes in the official Shopify store. You might argue that 71 is a big number, but understand that your store could be using the same theme as your competitor’s store. The low range of themes available in the official theme store creates brand differentiation problems.
Another issue with Shopify themes is that they can be quite expensive, ranging up to $180. This amount is very high compared to some of Shopify’s competitors, like WordPress.
You can find some free themes in the marketplace. But you won’t find great customization options with the free themes.
Many third-party apps will add all the desired functionalities to your Shopify store. Whether you want to boost your marketing and promotion efforts, or add automation. you will certainly find an app for that.
The sad part is that most of the useful apps on the Shopify platform are expensive. For instance, if you want to enable subscriptions to your Shopify store, you will need to buy an app that costs $39.99/month. This is in addition to the other Shopify fees you are already paying.
As a new business that has just started a Shopify store, such expenses can prove prohibitive.
Shopify is not a drag and drop platform like WordPress. So while you can set the colors and fonts of your store, you will need to hire professional Shopify developers for more customization options. And those developers can be costly, especially for a new Shopify store.
If you want to do all the heavy lifting yourself, you will need to learn Shopify’s coding language called Liquid.
Moreover, Shopify is not the correct platform if you are a customization freak who wants total control over how the store looks.
Content is the king, and you know you can’t win a war without the king. Content marketing plays a pivotal role in establishing your brand’s authority and has proven to be an effective way to get more conversions. However, when we talk about Shopify and content marketing, we have a problem. The built-in blogging tool of Shopify is not that great.
While Shopify does allow you to operate a blog, create social media integrations and even optimize it for SEO, the blogging tool does leave a lot to be desired.
Here are a few points that Shopify needs to address to improve its blogging tool:
- No useful elements like galleries in the blogging tool
- It is difficult to add related posts
- Inflexible blog layouts
- No categories, so users must use cumbersome tags
- Forget product embedding into blogs
To be fair, there are workarounds. For instance, adding a few of the missing blogging features is possible by installing some Shopify apps. One could still use the blog as a subdomain that operates on an external platform. However, these extensions have their own set of problems.
Advanced vs. Basic plans
With Shopify, there is a huge gap between the features offered in basic plans and the ones offered in advanced plans. For instance, if you need access to features like advanced report builder and third-party shipping prices, you will have to purchase the advanced plans.
Even necessary features like retail sales reports, customer reports and profit reports are not available in the basic plan. To access these features, prepare to shell out anywhere between $79/month to $299/month. As an e-commerce business, these reports are necessary. Shopify limits you as an e-commerce business owner by not providing such basic requirements.
No Email Hosting
While Shopify does provide web hosting, it does not provide email hosting. What’s the problem? Well, without email hosting, you cannot have an email ID that has your shop name. Again, a very basic feature that should have been provided. Now, some may argue that Shopify does provide the email forwarding function. This means that whenever someone sends you an email, the email will go to your personal email account. But, even to use the email forwarding function, you need to integrate a 3rd party email hosting connection.
Steeper Learning Curve
Shopify comes with a steep learning curve as it has a lot of terms that are different from the industry standard. For instance, while other e-commerce stores use the term product categories, Shopify uses the term collections.
We are not saying that you need to devote a lot of time learning Shopify, but these small terminology differences make things difficult for e-commerce store owners. Another issue with a Shopify store is that you will need to often switch between the back-end and the front-end of the store—options like policies and payment gateways are located in the back-end while other options like theme customization are on the front-end of the site. It’s a hassle.
Is Shopify the best?
E-commerce development with Shopify is not all doom and gloom. In some cases, the cons of choosing Shopify outweigh the pros, and it is better to go with other e-commerce app development platforms. Shopify is especially pricey for small businesses and startups, and there are far cheaper options available in the market. You need to assess the requirements of your project and make the right call instead of just choosing it automatically.