Shopify Can Do It - If You Have the Budget
June 01, 2021
Shopify Can Do It - If You Have the Budget
Score 5 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Shopify
Used by small business client doing online retail. Used by owner and possibly employee. Shopping is being used to bring the client's products to a worldwide market. The platform was selected because it specializes in online retail sites, and purportedly can handle large amounts of products. Detailed filtering and searching of products on the website page by the customers was a very important feature.
- Built for online retail. Products are quick to load in if you have a spreadsheet and not too many products.
- Quick setup of a website.
- Low cost to try out, at least at first.
- Shopify uses a plug in for every little function you want to add. It doesn't do even some very basic things you would expect out of the box. Almost everything needs a plugin.
- Plugins can be costly and of inconsistent quality. The price seems low when you start building but then adds up quickly when you really start to try to bring a fully functional website to completion.
- It is not easy to customize plug-ins to your needs and it takes a long time to review all the plugin options to figure out which one might actually serve your needs adequately.
- Shopify was not very friendly for managing lots of products. If you get up over 400-500 it doesn't support them very well, at least not without hiring programmers and putting a lot more money into it.
- It got the store up quickly so the client could start selling. She was previously selling products on Etsy and Facebook and wanted to consolidate everything onto one website, so the main thing Shopify solved was to reduce the store owner's time in managing all her products on multiple sites. Also, we had previously built a website on Wix with all the custom functionality and branding she needed - a truly great, high-end website - but it performed so slowly that it was unusable. So the speed at which Shopify can be set up and then works on the page is appreciable.
- The website was manageable by the client - she could figure the system out herself after a while so she saved money on costs for hiring developers. She did have to hire developers to customize some of the plug-ins but costs are all relative; it wasn't a high investment compared to building a full e-commerce website. With the complexity and size of her product base and the functionality and branding she wanted to have in a website, and the potential of her business, she would have needed to invest well over $10,000 to get to where she really needs to be. In the end she kept the budget under $5000.00.
- Costs kept climbing with plug-ins having to be added with everything. My client became more involved in building the website and began to try multiple plugins, and she did not have the skill base to evaluate the plugins functionalities so she chose plugins that did not do everything she needed, and then ended up paying the plugin developers to customize the plugins. So on one hand, it's pretty amazing to be able to bring up an e-commerce website as quickly as a week or so, but on the other hand if you need anything customized or deeper functionality in regards to product searching and filtering on the web page, and management on the backend, it quickly goes beyond the skills of the average person to manage, and above their expected budget as well. In the end my client really did not get anything close to the functionality for the website we had originally envisioned.
- Shopify was the easiest way we could find to bring the client's products to a global market. We evaluated several other platforms and the functionality simple did not seem to be adequate, so Shopify seemed like the only solution that could do enough of what we needed and still stay within this client's budget. Really the problem in this project was not platform per se but that the budget wasn't large enough. Shopify managed to provide a solution for an ecommerce store with thousands of products on a tiny budget, so in the sense of pure functionality it provided the best value of all the platforms we evaluated. The solution still isn't big enough for this client's business though so, without having insights into this client's post-build sales results, my guess is that because her new website did not make her products easier to sort through, and she likely didn't have much more budget left to invest in SEO and other marketing of the website, her sales probably didn't increase substantially as a result of having built the website. So I think this project all in all did not likely have a high ROI.
- Wix and WooCommerce
Wix was vastly more customizable but not built for stores with lots of products. We built a fantastic website on Wix with everything she needed but it had two fatal problems - the first was that it was just too slow to load on the page, and the second was that the products were not easy enough to manage on the backend. We were forced to abandon it and try other platforms, and found Shopify at least loaded products extremely quickly. Other platforms we evaluated also seemed not to be able to handle a large number of products well. Problems with loading, managing, and customizing the display of products seem common on all platforms at this non-enterprise level, when you have more than 500 products. We selected Shopify ultimately because it can handle a lot of products and perform quickly simply based on early tests and on seeing a competitor website that was successfully functioning on that platform. It did work to get the store up quickly but in the end the store doesn't have the key features (detail search and filtering of products, customized branding) that were required to bring her sales up.
Do you think Shopify delivers good value for the price?
Are you happy with Shopify's feature set?
Did Shopify live up to sales and marketing promises?
Did implementation of Shopify go as expected?
Would you buy Shopify again?
Shopify is good for small stores with small budgets where you don't care much about customized branding. You can do much more with it, as evidenced by the large e-commerce websites out there that are built on Shopify, but costs will climb quickly for customizations so you need to be ready to make a true business investment. On the other hand, if you are able and willing to learn their programming language you can perhaps do some customizations yourself cheaper. That gets quite involved though.