Shopify is an e-commerce website platform allowing users to create their own online shop to sell products through, as well as point of sale features. The way it was launched is quite an unlikely story though. In 2004, three friends, Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake, were planning on launching an online shop for snowboarding equipment called Snowdevil. However, when looking at the existing e-commerce platforms available at the time they were not satisfied any of them would meet their needs. So Tobias Lütke, who was already a computer programmer, decided they should develop their own e-commerce platform for the website. After two months they did just that and launched the website. Then in June 2006 they decided to launch the e-commerce platform as its own entity under the name of Shopify for other businesses to use for building their website too. By 2014 the platform hosted around 120,000 online retailers. In June 2019 the company reported that over 1 million businesses around the world were using the platform. So, if you haven’t heard of it already, the chances are you have probably used a website built on Shopify. Some big brands who use the platform include: Red Bull, Heinz, Hasbro, Gymshark, The Economist, Penguin Books, Kew Gardens, Team Sky, Nescafe, WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) and even pop stars like Adele and Lady Gaga use Shopify to sell their merchandise.
Is it easy to set up?
Setting up a Shopify website couldn’t be easier. You literally just sign up for an account online, and pick which version you would like to use, from Basic up to Advanced depending on if you want advanced reporting functionality and some other extra features. Once signed up it will talk you through the steps of setting up the shop details, adding your first product and adding/editing content pages too. Like other platforms you can either choose to use a free Shopify provided domain name or if you would prefer to you can register the site on to your own domain name. On a whole it is very easy to use and is intuitive. The admin dashboard is very user friendly and requires little to no coding knowledge at all, making it viable for someone to set up their own website themselves without too much difficulty. However, the platform does allow you to customise the coding of the template layout for example so if you do have coding knowledge it is possible to get more from your website.
What can it do?
One of the added benefits is that you can manage all aspects of the shop through one dashboard. So you can manage online orders, payments, marketing and point of sale all through the same interface. Some of the marketing resources built in allow you to email customers who haven’t checked out with promotional offers to try and close the sale. You can also run marketing campaigns based on the analytics and reports you have built up from past sales. There is also an apps section on the dashboard, which allows you to install new apps to add extra functionality to your online store. For example, you could add a feed to sell your products on Amazon and you can also integrate the store with Trust Pilot which can be configured to send review invitations to your customers automatically after they have purchased a product. There are lots more apps available so it’s good to know that you can evolve your online shop as your business grows.
With our experience of using Shopify for one of our customer’s websites, we personally couldn’t fault it for usability. It’s really easy to get to grips with and has some great features to help manage your online store and orders. It doesn’t quite have the same amount of customisation available as other platforms like Magento, but it is still well worth considering if you are looking to sell products online.