Establishing an online presence for your business is vital now more than ever before; and Shopify is one such tool to help you accomplish this. Whether you’re a business owner rushing to establish operations online or a digital marketer wishing to help clients do the same, finding the right platform is key for a smooth, fast and easy transition to the world of e-commerce.
Online shop creators like Shopify can help your business set up an online storefront, manage marketing and SEO, and take payments/allow online shopping at your store all in one convenient package. However, depending on your needs, it might not be the most effective solution. It is essential that you explore your business’ needs before settling on Shopify as the only solution to take your business online.
When to use Shopify
Shopify was built for e-commerce at its very core. If your business fundamentally could benefit from selling goods/services through the Internet, instead of just being a point of digital contact for physical operations, it is perfect for you.
There’s no need to learn how to code or design your store for the best user experience; Shopify takes care of that for you with its extensive amount of themes and drag-and-drop online store builder. You can easily create an online retail store with checkout, payments and order fulfilment functionality. All you need to do is point, click, type, drag and drop, and it will do the rest behind-the-scenes.
Whether your business has 5 products or 5000, Shopify scales along with your business so you’re never overwhelmed. Through its built-in hosting solutions, it can easily handle traffic and sales spikes. Fulfilling orders, managing customers and integrating your online processes with your existing physical systems is built right in to Shopify. All of this means that your small business can grow from inception right to earning 9-figures of online revenue without breaking a sweat.
But perhaps the most crucial benefit of Shopify is its community and apps ecosystem. Shopify websites are built to be expanded and continually improve over time through community-built apps. Experienced digital marketers, business owners and store creators pour their efforts into creating the best tools to boost your online performance. Apps like OptinMonster (which uses pop-ups to help you get more email subscribers) or Candy Rack (which offers auto-upselling/cross-selling of your products) are available to every Shopify store, with lots of apps available free of charge. Apps provide a huge, exclusive opportunity that shouldn’t be ignored by any e-commerce business.
When not to use Shopify
When the e-commerce element of your business isn’t nearly as important as the physical, real-life aspect, Shopify at its best is not needed and at its worst is a hindrance for your business. For instance, most restaurants don’t sell food online via their website; they do so physically in store or deliver through third-party apps (like UberEATS). For this reason, a full-fledged online store platform like Shopify is both unnecessary and overly complex.
For these businesses, an online presence is required to funnel and convert digital visitors to real, physical visitors. The priority should then be placed on things like non-commerce content like blogs and social media marketing. While Shopify does provide basic functionality to cater for these needs, it’s not as effective as other solutions like Wix, Squarespace or Wordpress.
Shopify’s blog platform is not optimised for SEO and regular creation of content. The platform was built for online shopping instead of content creation. URL structures of Shopify blogs (as opposed to products) will not be easily scraped by search engines (notably Google). Also, customising your content to look the way you want it to (with dedicated blog themes/layout formats) is complex and may be an additional expense.
In comparison, dedicated static website/blog builders like Wix, Squarespace and Wordpress all offer dedicated themes and layouts specifically for blog content and have separate add-ons to increase post visibility. Regardless, if your business does decide to incorporate some e-commerce functionality in the future, they can also cater for this with their e-commerce add-ons (notably WooCommerce).
Here’s the verdict: For businesses that could benefit from true e-commerce functionality, there is no competitor as easy to use, scalable or with a better app ecosystem/community than Shopify. However, if your business cannot benefit from online operations and instead uses its online presence as a funnel for its physical operations, a static website/blog builder like Wix, Squarespace or Wordpress may be far more appropriate for your needs.