If you’ve looked into eCommerce store options any time in the last few years, you’ve heard of Shopify. With around a quarter of all eCommerce stores now using Shopify, it’s one of the single biggest platforms for online sales.
Shopify’s there for a reason — it’s far easier to use than most other options, making it a more accessible choice for eCommerce beginners, while still maintaining a vast degree of high-end flexibility. That said, Shopify isn’t a perfect platform, with certain disadvantages that entrepreneurs have to contend with.
Whether you’re planning on expanding into eCommerce or looking for a new platform, this blog is about exploring Shopify’s key advantages and limitations, particularly for entrepreneurs more familiar with Direct Response marketing approaches.
While Shopify can be used for a Direct Response-style funnel, the platform is primarily designed for a more standard eCommerce approach. As such, the platform isn’t necessarily the perfect choice for Direct Response, particularly for those without a large capacity for coding and web design work.
Why Use Shopify for eCommerce?
There’s a great reason why Shopify has become so dominant — it can be shockingly easy to use, even for people with absolutely no technical experience or expertise.
On a basic level, Shopify is more or less a plug and play eCommerce system — pick a theme, add your products and copy, add a logo and some custom colors for the site, then just add tax, shipping and similar details. Sign up to Shopify Payments, and you’re even ready to start accepting payments from your clientele.
While Shopify’s ease of setup is almost unparalleled, the platform offers infinitely more than an easy way to get started. As an extremely versatile, almost totally customizable platform, Shopify lets users build the exact kind of eCommerce store they want to see.
Whether it’s changing the way that products are displayed, highlighting extra details in product feeds, crafting unique landing pages, or just about anything else, Shopify can almost always make a difference — with some limitations.
Shopify’s Drawbacks for eCommerce Specialists
If you’ve explored Shopify’s support forums, you’ve likely seen one of the most prevalent issues with the platform: app upsells in place of solutions.
While Shopify’s app store allows users to expand Shopify’s customizability even further and include otherwise unavailable features and options, support requests often get a single kind of answer: “buy this app”.
With apps typically requiring monthly fees, it’s hardly uncommon to see Shopify sites where app fees far outstrip the initial cost of operating Shopify. Depending on your team’s level of technical proficiency, getting the best out of Shopify can cost a lot more than you expect.
While Shopify’s regularly-updated feature list frequently makes technical complaints obsolete (an update in July this year finally added robots.txt editing abilities, solving a long-standing SEO issue for the platform), there’s still some platform-wide issues worth being aware of.
Site speed is a fundamentally crucial metric for digital marketing of any kind. A single-second delay almost invariably damages conversion rates, with Amazon estimating that a 0.1 second delay typically dropped conversions by a full percent — a loss that quickly mounts up.
Given that, the fact that Shopify’s back end can quickly get bloated with code from abandoned apps creates a real problem. While Shopify’s simple setup and ease of use can be attractive to entrepreneurs, getting the absolute best results from the platform takes just as much technical expertise as other eCommerce options.
By Richard Parkin