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Elevate your business decisions with jargon-free, fact based expert tips and advice

6 mins

When to choose a Shopify website

Black and white image headshot - greg

Greg Pankiewicz

Shopify logo

Trying to decide which platform for your new site?

When you decide to have a new site built, one of your first questions is, 'What platform shall I use?'

There are plenty of 'out the box' products out there, and one of the most popular is Shopify, particularly if you want to sell online (the clue's in the name).

So, when is Shopify a good choice for your business, and when isn't it?

Why should I choose a Shopify site?

User friendly

Shopify was originally aimed at small businesses wanting to sell online and although its grown into much more than that now, it's still retained its relatively user friendly front end. If you never built your own site before then there's plenty of tutorials and videos. For anyone who's used a ready-made website builder before, you shouldn't have a problem getting to grips with it, although Shopify do use their own terminology quite often.

Quick to set up

As with any website build, getting the right content together is key. But let's say you already have a print catalogue and hold all your product listing on an Excel spreadsheet, you can import it in and populate the site. Logos, pages, navigation are all ready-made and there to be customised to your heart's content (see what we did there? "content'...'heart's content'. Ithankyou).

Lots of website design templates

Shopify remove the 'blank sheet' problem of designing a website by offering hundreds of website designs, which they call 'themes'. You can change theme at anytime or hold multiple themes and then publish different ones as you see fit (for example, to experiment to see which goes down best with your users). Very useful if you don't have much design creativity.

Reasons not to choose Shopify

Hidden costs

Although it starts at 'just' $29 per month, once you start to need anything more than the basics this can increase ten fold (the top package is $299). Additionally, we've found that many bits of functionality that we consider essential are to Shopify, optional premium extras. For example, postage rates to us are an intrinsic part of any e-comm site, but Shopify often make you purchase relatively pricey add-ons to allow you to calculate these. Same goes for bulk discounting rates.
Be aware. Work out what functionality your new site will need and then check if that's included in the Shopify standard packages. Monthly costs can easily skyrocket. Or you can't afford every add-on and frustratingly end with a site that doesn't do everything you want it to.

Lack of custom functionality

Shopify keep the majority of the code on their site locked down, other than the basics. This means they keep tight quality control on the site and ensure everything works. That's great for reliability etc but not so good if you (or your developer) needs to add any custom code or functionality. Again, if you're looking for a basic site then this may not be an issue, but if you're thinking longer term and need to a site that can be molded to your business as it grows, perhaps think again.

Expensive design templates or 'themes'

We all want our websites to look beautiful and blow the e-socks off the competition. And whilst Shopify does offer a number of free themes, they reserve the best for purchase. That means that to get the design you really want, you may have to pay. Ok, so it's a one-off cost, but its another cost on top of your monthly subcription fee. As an example, we recently built a Shopify site and the template we and the client chose was $180. Dependng on the size of your budget, this may be a factor worth considering.

Shopify logo

Is Shopify right for your business?

It could be wrong or could be right - depending on your business needs

You may think as a bespoke design agency we hate out-the-box website builders like Shopify, but we don't. As you've seen, we use it on occasions. But only once we thoroughly understand our client's needs and budget

Shopify could be a decent choice for you if:

  • You have a limited budget and can't afford bespoke designs
  • You don't see your business changing much in the near future so the site won't change much either.
  • You need to get up and running and selling online relatively quickly
  • Additional functionality isn't relevant or likely needed

Shopify could be a poor choice for you if:

  • You have a definite set of website requirements that probably require custom coding
  • You want to be able to change your site without attracting additional monthly subscription costs
  • Design flexibility is important to you
  • You need to offer bespoke shipping rate, bulk discounting etc. This can be particularly be the case for B2B and wholesale companies.

Still not sure? Why not get in touch and we'd be happy to give you some advice

digital development meeting
Black and white image headshot - greg

Greg Pankiewicz

Project Manager

I help manage our clients project's from start to finish. When I'm not busy talking too much, you can find me with my ridiculously small dog or tinkering in my garage on my car collection.

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