Shopify Review 2015 – Nutshell
Shopify happens to be one of the most popular hosted shopping cart software in the market. This ecommerce solution is so simple to use with its clean and clear interface. The solution’s step by step guide from beginning to end helps to lead new merchants to set up their online store in an easy to understand manner.
O, Yeah! So easy to understand and use, our Shopify review shows that new beginners do not have to worry about getting lost in the process of setting up their online store. Templates offered are beautiful and professionally done. Pixel sizes for banners are clearly stated. Offers domain registration service. Great selection of apps for merchants to pick.
O, No! While there were a few glitches when it came to changing template, this is nothing serious. However, please note that free templates offered by Shopify are very limited. Subscription pricing is reasonable although the solution takes a cut in terms of transaction fees. Be ready to pay for the apps that you need for your business as some do not come cheap and those offered for free may not be what you are needing for your online business. So merchants may end up paying quite a bundle for the apps that they need.
TEDN Overall Shopify Review 2015 Score: 7.8
Signing up with Shopify for a free trial store was pretty easy. The ecommerce solution generates a trial store within seconds for new merchants. New merchants or sellers are guided each step of the way on what they need to do to get the store running with Shopify outlining the steps on the main dashboard.
Shopify has also revamped their solution. The navigation bar used to be at the top of the page. They have since moved it to the left side of the dashboard for easier navigation.
The process was easy as the Add Products page was clean and not complicated. The default template that comes with the free trial store makes any product that is uploaded look good. New merchants could add a few products to see how they look in their new store.
Shopify Theme Set Up
Changing to a different theme in Shopify is easy. If you can’t find a theme that you like, just click on the Visit the Theme Store button on the top right side of the screen which will take you to Shopify’s Theme Store. Here, you can choose to purchase a theme that you like for your store.
Shopify Theme Store
Useful Tip For Designers : Designers could design their own special and unique theme to sell on Shopify’s Theme Store. Lots of designers do that and it’s quite refreshing to see different styles of themes being showcased there.
Merchants who prefer to use free templates may be limited by the selection of free themes available. So if you want a better template, you’d have to pay for one or have one custom designed.
You could look for the themes based on the industry that you’re in or sort by price, most popular or most recent.
Anyway, you could pick a few free Shopify themes for your store without publishing them as you may want to see a comparison on what your store looks like. Once you’ve decided which theme suits your online business best, then you could just click on ‘Publish This Theme’.
Good design : I like the fact that you could see the theme that you’ve chosen along with the mobile version of it.
Shopify Customize Theme
Not happy with the current theme? Just click on Customize Theme at the top right corner of the page.
Shopify’s customize theme settings are easy to understand and merchants will be happy to see the changes they make on the right side reflected within a few seconds on their template. The right side section lists down the different segments that allow for customization clearly.
You could also see what your store looks like in desktop, tablet or mobile view as you work on customizing your theme.
After you’re done with the design and theme of your store and mobile site, you could click on the ‘I’ve completed this step’ blue link at the bottom of the page. This will prompt you to the next step of building your online store which is adding content in Blogs & Pages.
Shopify Blogs & Pages
There’s only 3 sections for merchants to fill up here. Pages will consist of your company’s ‘About Us’ information along with the ‘Welcome’ text that will greet visitors and customers who come to your store.
Shopify will guide you to create content starting with the About Us page. Again, the design and interface is clear and clean not to mention easy enough for anyone to use.
Once you’re done keying in the relevant information about your company, you can choose to have it published or remain hidden until you launch your store live.
Your welcome page does not need to be long either. Just greet your visitors well and have a short introduction about your company and what you offer.
Shopify also makes it easy for merchants to blog about their store’s products, add company news or just let people know about the updates of the company. What I like about it is the fact that everything is integrated well and easy to use. There’s also a link to Shopify’s Ecommerce Blog which I found to contain plenty of useful information that will be of great help for new and existing merchants. The key is to always keep learning.
Checkout & Payment
After you’re done writing all the content, the next step will guide you to set up the checkout and choose your payment gateway. Don’t worry if you if you do not know where to configure that if you did not follow the steps. Just click on Preferences > Checkout & Payment
Every trial store comes activated with PayPal Express Checkout by default. So if you have your own choice of payment gateway, make sure you edit and change the default if you’re not planning to use PayPal Express Checkout.
Accepting credit cards was quite simple and the ecommerce software was smart enough to detect your country so it will propose the payment gateway that is used in your country at the top of the drop down list.
And of course, if you need additional payment methods, there’s always Google Checkout.
For those who prefer to accept offline payment, they could easily choose from the Offline & Custom Payment Methods selection which accepts COD (Cash On Delivery), Money Order and Bank Deposits.
Note : Don’t panic if you don’t know what to write. Just click on the Generate buttons next to each policy and edit the contents to fit your company. Pretty easy right? Click on ‘Update my policies’ when you’re done to save it.
Setting Up Tax Rates
Next step would be to set up your tax rates. Again, you’ll be able to find it under Preferences > Regions & Taxes.
The solution is smart enough to detect your country based on your IP address so all you have to do is to select the option on whether you want to include taxes to your product price or even charge taxes on your shipping price. It’s easy to configure based on the state that you are planning to ship to. If you’re going to ship to multiple destinations, just click on ‘Add A New Destination’ to include in the relevant tax info. You could even enter in a Federal Tax Rate to charge.
Setting Up Shipping
The next step would be to set up your store’s shipping. However, for merchants who wish to use USPS, UPS, FedEx or other carrier that uses real-time shipping rates are required to sign up for Shopify’s pricing plan.
For those who do no wish to use any real time shipping rates, you could configure your own shipping rates based on your product weight or product pricing rate. The solution come pre-populated with sample shipping rates for both local and international destinations so all you have to do is to amend the rates accordingly.
Configuring Domain Name
The last step in setting up your online store would be to add in your domain name. You could do so by going to Preferences > DNS & Domains
While some merchants may prefer to buy their own domain names from external sources, I like the fact that Shopify offers a domain registration service for new merchants. You could check whether the domain name that you’re interested in is available or not. The solution will also offer several alternate domain name suggestions if the initial name is no longer available.
After completing these basic 7 steps, you could launch your store by picking any of the available plans offered by Shopify. And with a generous 30 days free trial period, it’s enough time to have an online store built, tested and ready to go.
Plus Point : All of Shopify’s plans come with unlimited bandwidth.
The number of SKU’s and storage depends on the plan of your choice.
Warning : Do be aware that while Shopify’s rates are quite reasonable, the company does charge a percentage of transaction fees for merchants who sign up for their Basic, Business & Professional Plans. Only the Unlimited Plan ($179/month) is exempt from any transaction fee charges.
Shopify App Store
Now one of the main reason why the interface is so clean and uncluttered is because new merchants have not gotten any apps yet from the Shopify App Store. This is basically where all the additional features, tools and software are located but they are broken into small chunks adding as a plug in. So if you need it, you buy or subscribe to it. Kind of like using Apple’s App Store.
Pros : Pay for what you need to use. Find it first and see whether it fits your business needs. Some apps come with a free trial period. Others may not. Some of the apps are offered FREE but these are usually limited.
Cons : You need to pay for what you need. It could be on a monthly basis or a one time payment. Check your budget and get the ones you need for your business. Some apps are PAY PER USE (so watch out!). You may discover that it’ll be quite a bundle which you need to pay after selecting really good apps for your online business.
Shopify is an excellent shopping cart for new merchants who are starting their own online business due to its easy to use features and clean interface. It is ideal for those who do not know much about programming as the steps provided are easy to understand. I like the fact that this ecommerce software guides the user in a step by step manner in helping them to set up their online store.