Shopify Review – Does this e-commerce platform still work?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform run by a company of the same name.Shopify

In our Shopify review, we’ll tell you if building an e-commerce business on Shopify still works in 2019.

E-commerce is growing rapidly thanks to the internet. In particular, the dropshipping business model has exploded in popularity, evidenced by courses like Fred Lam’s Zero Up program.

Dropshipping has a very low barrier to entry, as it’s basically online retail without inventory. All you need to succeed is some market research and a few hundred dollars for advertising.

There are a lot of platforms out there that make the store-building process easier, but Shopify is perhaps the most well-known.

It offers a lot of features to help you start your own store within a day, but is it still effective as an e-commerce platform in 2019?

Read the rest of our Shopify review below to find out.

FAQ

1.) What is Shopify? Shopify is an e-commerce platform that you can start and grow an online store on. It offers tons of tools and features to simplify and automate your business. The company that runs it is also called Shopify, and they are based in Ontario, Ottawa, Canada. They’ve been around since 2004.

2.) Does Shopify itself sell any products? No. It’s simply an e-commerce platform. All it sells is subscription plans. However, you can purchase apps developed by others on Shopify to enhance your store.

3.) Do I need design/development skills to build a store? No. Shopify handles all that, you just build your business.

4.) What’s the difference between Shopify and Amazon? Shopify is a platform you can build your own store on, while Amazon is a marketplace where you can sell products alongside other sellers. Amazon doesn’t give you your own store. Amazon used to have their Amazon Webstore platform which was similar to Shopify, but they closed and let Webstore users migrate to Shopify. In addition, Shopify lets you sell your products on Amazon.

5.) Can I sell in other places besides my online storefront? Yes. Shopify lets you sell online, on mobile devices, social media, online marketplaces, and even brick-and-mortar locations. Selling in person is possible through their Shopify Point-of-Sales app.

6.) Can I use my own domain name for my store? Yes. If you have a domain name already, you can connect it to your store. If you haven’t bought a domain name yet, you can either buy a domain from Shopify or from an outside provider. I

7.) What is dropshipping? Dropshipping is a business model where you list and sell products online but hold no inventory. When a customer purchases one of your products, you buy the item from your supplier and pass along the customer’s order and shipping information. The supplier then packages the product and ships it directly to the customer. It’s just one version of e-commerce, so don’t mix those up.

8.) Do I need a lot of money to start a dropshipping business? No. Theoretically, you can start for free. However, having $500-$1,000 for ad spend is enough to get a dropshipping store off the ground in relatively little time.

9.) What kind of ads do people use to market their Shopify store? Facebook is the most common ad platform for dropshipping businesses. Many people also use Google and other search engine ads. Some try using SEO, but that rarely works unless your store is large and has a long history.

10.) Where do you find dropshipping products? Aliexpress is one of the most common places for people to find products. However, you can dropship products from any supplier that’s willing to.

11.) How many products can I sell in a Shopify dropshipping store? Shopify lets you list as many products as you want.

12.) Is dropshipping the only business you can start on Shopify? No. If you create your own products, you can sell those as well. You can even build a service business on Shopify if you get a little creative.

13.) Aren’t dropshippers just middlemen? Not exactly, although it isn’t the most value-added business model. However, you can add value by providing an excellent customer experience as well as exposing people to products they might not otherwise have known about. Some larger stores like Fred Lam’s Water Liberty partner with charities as well.

14.) Is dropshipping a scam? No. You can build a legit dropshipping business, but it takes time and effort. Dropshipping does have a scammy reputation due in part to the dropshipping courses that promise to get your rich quickly. Also, some stores do scam people with shady marketing tactics or just ripping them off, but there are many legitimate dropshippers out there too.

15.) What countries is Shopify available in? Shopify works in almost every country.

16.) Does Shopify have any educational materials? Yes. In fact, they have Shopify Academy packed with courses covering all aspects of e-commerce. Shopify also has guides, podcasts, forums, a blog, and more.

17.) How does shipping work? You can use third-party shipping services to get orders to your customers. Your supplier will pick, pack, and ship the order.

18.) How do I get paid on Shopify? Shopify has a payment gateway called Shopify Payments that you can link to your bank account. You may also opt for an outside gateway like PayPal, but Shopify charges extra fees for using outside gateways.

19.) How much does a Shopify subscription cost? The basic subscription called Basic Shopify costs $29 per month.

20.) Does Shopify offer a free trial? Yes. Shopify offers you a 14-day free trial. You don’t have to put down a credit card if you don’t pick a paid plan to subscribe to at the end of your trial, meaning you don’t have to worry about being charged when your trial ends. Your store is paused when your trial ends until buy a subscription.

21.) Can you sell products during the free trial period? No. You can set up your store and even list your products during the free trial, but you can’t sell anything without a paid subscription.

22.) What is Shopify’s refund policy? They don’t have one. A fair decision since their service is subscription-based and they give you two weeks for free.

23.) Are there any upsells? Yes. There are two direct upsells called “Shopify” and “Advanced Shopify”. There is another upsell called Shopify Plus, but it’s oriented towards larger businesses such as wholesalers. Shopify costs $79 per month, Advanced Shopify costs $299 per month, and Shopify Plus costs $2,000 per month.

24.) Are there any downsells? Yes, there is one called Shopify Lite. You can integrate it with an existing website or blog to add some e-commerce opportunities, but you don’t get a full-blown store. Shopify Lite costs $9 per month.

25.) Does Shopify have an affiliate program? Yes. It’s within their Partner program. Affiliates can earn one-time commissions of 200% of their referrals monthly subscription fees, as well as $2,000 per Shopify Plus referral.

26.) What up with their Partner program? It provides other ways to earn revenue similar to their affiliate program. Partners can earn by creating Shopify apps, themes, or referring people to Shopify like a traditional affiliate program. This program is geared towards creative agencies who want to work with Shopify, but Shopify business owners can become partners as well. It’s free to join.

27.) What is the Shopify Education Partners program? Shopify carefully evaluates e-com and dropshipping courses for accuracy and quality using a long list of criteria. Courses that make the cut are given a Shopify badge of approval they can use to enhance credibility. Shopify Partners update their courses regularly, as they must resubmit their courses to Shopify on a yearly basis to ensure the material isn’t outdated.

28.) Which courses are Shopify Partners? There are only 7 Shopify Partner courses. They are Dropship Lifestyle, Dropship Academy 2.0, The Dropship Club, E-COM Launch, Ecomkers, Ecom Success Academy, and Start & Scale Your Online Store.

29.) What is Shopify’s BBB rating? A+

30.) Is Shopify a scam? No. It is one of the leading e-commerce platforms. Given their size, they’ve had surprisingly little criticism or bad press. They’ve been criticized for allowing a controversial news outlet to have a store, but Shopify cited free speech to defend their choice to give them a store. They’ve also been accused of being a get rich quick scheme by an activist who short sells companies as part of his activism, although that accusation makes no sense.

31.) Comparable Companies: WooCommerce/Wordpress, BigCommerce, Volusion, Amazon

Shopify Review – Overview

Shopify is the name of both an e-commerce platform and the company the created it. Shopify is based in Ontario, Ottawa, Canada.

It was founded in 2004 by 3 people named Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake. Before Shopify, they tried to launch an online snowboarding equipment store. After that failed, Tobias used his computer programming skills to create Shopify as he was disappointed by the e-commerce platforms of his time.

Since then, Shopify’s user base has grown to over 800,000 businesses. They’ve been so successful that Amazon closed down it’s Amazon Webstore e-commerce platform a few years ago in favor of using Shopify.

Shopify hasn’t experienced much bad press relative to similar companies like Amazon. It did get some criticism in 2017 for letting a controversial political publication create and run a Shopify store, but Shopify said closing the store would violate their freedom of speech.

The other controversy was an accusation of being a get-rich-quick scheme. The accusation was made by an activist investor who short sells companies. His criticism didn’t make much sense since Shopify doesn’t sell anything but a platform for people to build businesses on, and people soon dismissed these accusations.

Although you can run any sort of e-commerce business on Shopify, the most common business model is dropshipping.

To learn why so many dropshippers have chosen Shopify, keep reading our Shopify review for more details.

Product

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that focuses on making your store-building experience as streamlined as possible. The platform’s basic plan is called Basic Shopify.

Basic Shopify gives you a full-fledged, customizable online storefront. You can build your entire storefront without writing a single line of code.

All you need to do is find a theme on their intuitive theme marketplace, install the theme, and customize your newly-themed store however you like.

You can then navigate to the “Products” area to create and customize your product and collection listings.

There’s no limit to how many products you can list on your store, so you won’t feel restricted when it comes to building your business.

You’ll also need a domain name. You can get one through Shopify or another domain name provider.

The last step is payment setup. Shopify offers its own gateway called Shopify Payments, but you can choose an external payment gateway if you’d like.

Unfortunately, you’re hit with extra fees if you opt for a payment process other than Shopify Payments. You also don’t gain access to their fraud analysis feature if you pick an outside gateway.

Other than that, the whole process is painless.

Once you’ve created your store, Shopify has a suite of features for further store growth and customization.

One thing they offer is staff accounts. If your business grows large enough, you’ll need to hire a VA or customers service person to handle more mundane tasks while you look for more growth opportunities.

Other features include discount codes, discounted third-party shipping, and more recently, their abandoned cart recovery features that used to be reserved for the more expensive subscriptions.

They even have a Point-of-Sales app if you ever get the opportunity to sell in person.

When you get your store up and running, you’ll need to download apps to enhance the customer experience and increase conversions. Shopify has its own app store with new apps being developed every day.

If you’re new to the world of e-commerce, Shopify’s got you covered too. There are endless learning materials that cover almost everything related to dropshipping, like courses, guides, podcasts, and their blog.

Upsells and Downsells

Shopify’s basic plan has a few upsells. They are “Shopify”, “Advanced Shopify”, and “Shopify Plus”. There’s also a downsell called Shopify Lite.

Each upsell includes everything the preceding product has on top of its new features.

“Shopify” expands on the Basic Shopify’s offerings with many new features. The most noticeable is the fact that you can have up to 5 staff accounts. “Shopify” also lets you make gift cards for your store, generate professional store reports, and they give you some better shipping discounts. In addition, “Shopify” let you do register shifts, similar to a brick-and-mortar retail store. These shifts let you hold your staff accountable for the register’s money and balance your cash drawer.

And if you use the POS app, “Shopify” gives you unlimited staff PINs.

Advanced Shopify builds on its predecessor by adding 10 new staff accounts, an advanced report builder, shipping rate calculations from third-parties, and even more shipping discounts.

Shopify Plus is for much larger businesses, and it delivers with a whole new suite of features. For example, you can create up to 10 stores if you sell internationally, tailoring each store to its market.

Shopify Plus can process 8,000 orders per minute per store, further helping it’s high-volume e-commerce clients.

There’s also automation tools for flash sales and other special events so you can make thousands of sales with minimal effort.

Customization is improved too. In Shopify Plus, you can use JavaScript and CSS to customize your store to your heart’s content. Perhaps you could implement some features to boost conversions.

You can also customize your workflows, increasing automation in your business.

They’ve advanced the API as well, allowing for much more app integration.

If you’re interested in expanding into wholesale, Shopify Plus gives you a wholesale channel that serves as an extension of your main storefront. It only takes minutes, and you can streamline your operations by integrating your retail channel with your wholesale channel.

You have to contact Shopify if you’re interested in a Shopify Plus plan. They let agencies contact Shopify on behalf of their clients too. Something to keep in mind if you’re running a marketing agency.

Shopify Lite doesn’t give you a full store, but it integrates with existing websites, blogs, and social media to add an e-commerce element. It works great if you want to monetize or boost income from one of these sources.

For Facebook, Shopify Lite gives you a “Shop” section for your audience to buy your product. It also lets you handle customer support through Facebook Messenger.

As for websites and blogs, Shopify Lite lets you add “Buy” buttons to your site with just a few clicks. This feature works with WordPress, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace.

Pricing

Basic Shopify costs $29 per month, Shopify costs $79 per month, and Advanced Shopify costs $300 per month. If you opt to pay for a year upfront, you get a 10% discount on whichever plan you choose, while opting to pay for two years upfront earns you a 20% discount.

As for their credit card processing fees, you’ll be charged 2.9%+$0.30 per transaction with Basic Shopify, 2.6%+$0.30 per transaction with Shopify, and 2.4%+$0.30 per transaction with Advanced Shopify.

If you use a payment provider other than Shopify Payments, you’ll be charged 2% per transaction with Basic Shopify, 1% per transaction with Shopify, and 0.5% with Advanced Shopify. These transaction fees are charged on top of the credit card processing fees.

Shopify Lite costs only $9 per month, making it an inexpensive way to integrate an e-commerce store into your existing website, blog, or business.

Shopify Plus’s pricing structure is a little more complex than the other Shopify plans. It starts at $2,000 per month

Shopify Plus charges credit card fees of 2.15%+$0.30 per transaction, with another 0.25% fee per transaction tacked on if you use an outside payment processor.

Now you can see why Shopify Plus is meant for bigger businesses.

Affiliate Program

Shopify has an affiliate program, but it’s within their “Partner” program. To become an affiliate, you need an active website relevant to Shopify and examples of how you’d market Shopify to your audience. They also ask for your digital marketing experience, but this experience isn’t mandatory to be an affiliate.

According to Shopify, affiliates can earn a one-time payment of 200% of each referral’s monthly subscription fee after discounts and credits. Half is paid in the first month, and half in the second month so if a referral cancels, you can still earn some money. Shopify Plus referrals earn you $2,000.

But that’s just affiliates.

You can also sign up as a Shopify Partner. This program is oriented more towards creative agencies that want to work with Shopify, but I think you can become one if you just run a Shopify store.

Instead of one-time commissions, Partners can earn 20% of their referral’s monthly subscription price for Shopify Lite through Advanced Shopify, while Shopify Plus referrals earn them 10% per month.

Shopify Plus Partners get the same deal, except they now earn 20% per Shopify Plus referral.

Partners can earn additional revenue through developing apps and designing themes for Shopify. App developers earn 80% of the revenue from the apps they create, with 20% going to Shopify.

Theme designers can choose to earn either 50% or 70% of the sale price of their theme. If a designer opts for 50%, they’re responsible for any theme bugs and can only sell their theme through Shopify, but Shopify helps answer support questions.

If a designer opts for the 70% rate, they take on the responsibility of answering any support questions that come their way. They can sell their theme through personal channels like their own website, but not on any open marketplaces.

Recap

Yes, Shopify still works in 2019. In fact, it still looks like the best platform for building a dropshipping business.

There’re endless features and tons of support, not to mention the learning materials they provide. The subscription price isn’t too bad either.

Shopify’s got some competition nowadays, but it still reigns as the king of e-commerce platform.

If you want an even faster start in the dropshipping game, you should consider investing in a course to cut the learning curve. One of the best programs on the market is Ecom Success Academy by Adrian Morrison. Before you buy Ecom Success Academy, read our full review of the program here.

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