Shopify empowers any budding entrepreneur to build an online store and sell their products worldwide. Shopify’s research reveals that the platform supports more than two million full-time jobs, and is used by more than one million merchants (as of October 2019).
Shopify’s continued success and growth demonstrates that the e-commerce landscape is fertile territory for new online businesses and existing digital stores looking to expand.
How fertile? While 2020 and the pandemic may have made a negative impact on retail businesses the world over, research by eMarketer shows that e-commerce sales grew by more than 27% throughout the year. And it’s worth an estimated $4.89 trillion in 2021.
While the growth rate may drop slightly as social distancing eases and shoppers can return to brick-and-mortar stores, Ethan Cramer-Flood (eMarketer’s forecasting writer at Insider Intelligence) said consumers will continue to “maintain many of their newfound digital behaviours”.
But if you want to grow your store, Shopify isn’t the only game in town. Other e-commerce platforms enable you to build a presence, establish your brand, and expand your customer base. Top alternatives include:
So, with those other options on the table, why should you migrate to Shopify from another platform?
In this post, we’ll explore:
- Shopify pros and cons
- Top Shopify apps and features
- A step-by-step guide to migrating to Shopify
Read on to find all the information you need if you’re considering switching to Shopify.
Should you migrate to Shopify?
Shopify has advantages and disadvantages like any other e-commerce platform. But there are more of the former than the latter, which is why the platform has enjoyed immense success since it was founded in 2006.
Here are the most important benefits and drawbacks of Shopify:
1. A fully hosted solution
Breathe a sigh of relief if you’re not particularly tech-savvy: one of Shopify’s biggest perks is that it’s a fully hosted platform.
Don’t worry about paying for server hosting or server maintenance. The team behind the scenes handles all that for you.
2. Take advantage of an extensive app store for a bespoke online shop
Shopify boasts a massive app store packed with more than 3,200 apps for merchants. You’re guaranteed to find at least a few that streamline your work, help you reach a bigger audience, and make complex tasks (like accounting) a little easier.
The right combination of apps can help you free up time and make running your online shop less stressful.
You can add three types of apps to your store on Shopify:
- Public apps — Listed in the App Store (others may only be available on the developer’s site)
- Custom apps — Exclusive apps built for your Shopify store only, and are unavailable on Shopify App Store
- Private apps — Available to your store only and unlisted on the App Store, usually made by an external developer
Browsing the Shopify App Store is easy thanks to extensive filters. Choose from apps built to help you with:
- Store design
- Shipping and delivery
- Customer service
That’s just a small taste of the App Store’s categories.
3. Transparent pricing for no-nonsense budgeting and peace of mind
Migrating to Shopify is a big decision whether or not you’re happy with your current platform, and the cost is one of the most common concerns.
Fortunately, Shopify makes it easier to organise with its transparent pricing plans. You can choose from multiple subscriptions to suit your budget and expected revenue. And you can try Shopify for free with a 14-day trial.
That’s a valuable option for any store owner curious about the platform: experiment with the range of features, apps and get a feel for Shopify before you decide whether or not to take up a paid subscription.
4. User-friendly interface suits all store owners
You don’t need to be familiar with e-commerce platforms to get started with Shopify, and most users will find it easy to use.
The drag-and-drop functionality is ideal for creating your own storefront and customising it to match your branding. That reduces the amount of time wasted trying to get to grips with the interface.
It’s also generally simple to navigate, allowing you to find the features and resources you need quickly.
5. 24/7 support
Shopify’s support team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can speak to a representative whenever you run into an issue.
You might work on your store outside of standard business hours, or travel between time zones often. Round-the-clock support caters to your routine in any case.
And you can connect to community members on the platform’s help forums if you need assistance but can’t (or don’t want to) contact the support team.
6. Plenty of customisation options
Shopify is simple to start using and configure — but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time tinkering with it.
The platform’s theme store provides you with more than 70 professional templates to download and try. You’ll need to pay for premium themes, but free ones are also available if you want to save as many pennies as possible.
As each template includes its own settings, you can customise your e-commerce store’s design courtesy of the simple editing tool.
7. Boost your SEO and marketing
An effective SEO strategy is crucial to make your store and products more visible. On Shopify, you can add keywords to match consumers’ queries, implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to deliver more reader-friendly content to mobile users, and a sitemap is generated automatically for you.
You can also create discount codes to incentivise shoppers and sell your products across various social channels.
We’ve covered Shopify’s positives — now let’s look at a couple of its negatives:
1. Pricing could be a barrier for some businesses
While Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, it’s not a free service. You’ll have to pay for one of the following plans:
- Basic Shopify — $29 per month (recommended for new e-commerce businesses)
- Shopify — $79 per month (same as Basic, but with professional reporting)
- Advanced Shopify — $299 per month (for scaling e-commerce companies that need more in-depth reporting)
- Shopify Plus — $2,000 per month (see below)
Costs can add up more than you expect over time when you consider subscription fees, premium themes, and transaction fees (unless you have Shopify Payments).
2. Content management can be problematic
Shopify has an in-built blogging system, but it can be a little more complicated and limited than you may be used to if you’ve published posts via WordPress. You might feel compelled to use a separate CMS instead for the best results.
What else do you need to know about Shopify?
Let’s look at few more key elements of Shopify:
Remember when we mentioned Shopify Plus earlier?
It’s an e-commerce platform built specifically for enterprise-level companies selling products in high volumes.
Shopify Plus offers:
- More extensive automation to streamline processes further
- Quicker performance
- The flexibility to manage vast traffic and sales numbers
- A bigger variety of customisation options and control
- Powerful multichannel capabilities
Growing businesses branching out into global sales and expanding their product catalogue, for example, may find Shopify Plus caters to their evolving needs better than standard Shopify.
Experiment with code
Customisation isn’t limited to experimenting with themes and apps. You can adjust code yourself — or find someone to do it for you instead.
Dabbling with code means you can go deeper into personalising your store or build one from scratch. You can also generate unique apps for your store through Shopify’s APIs and developer tools.
Use Shopify Fulfillment Network
Shopify Fulfillment Network is available to merchants who qualify for the service only.
You’ll send your products to a nearby fulfilment centre, and the warehouse staff will pick, pack, and ship them to customers. That leaves you free to focus on running your business without setting up a packing centre in your living room or office!
How to migrate to Shopify
You’re migrating to Shopify to upgrade from your own e-commerce site or to switch from another platform.
How do you do it?
Prepare for migration
Bear the following points in mind when migrating to Shopify:
- Implement URL redirects for pages that may have been bookmarked by your loyal shoppers. Those pages will still be available after you migrate but only if you set up redirects. You’ll find the URL redirects options in your store’s account settings.
- You can’t migrate customer passwords from other platforms: only customer records transfer across, rather than customer accounts. But you can use Bulk Account Inviter to notify customers about activating their accounts with Shopify Plus.
- You may need to remove certain protocols like http: from URLs to make sure you can access images, theme files, and other assets.
Transfer content and data
Migrating product information, blog posts, details on purchase histories, and other types of content and data is part of the process.
You can copy and paste content from your previous site, use migration apps available in the App Store, take a manual approach with CSV files, or make an app using the Admin API to handle it.
Make post-migration arrangements
Check that your product information has been imported properly, such as meta descriptions and images.
Start organising your catalogue into relevant categories to help customers find what they’re looking for. Experiment with drop-down menus, links, and more.
Customise your site for maximum impact
After migrating to Shopify, don’t overlook your store’s presentation: dive into the Shopify Theme Store and explore your options.
You can buy a premium theme or use a free one. Adding a theme to your store is quick and easy, but try a paid theme before you buy it to avoid disappointment!
Transfer your domain or buy a new one
You can either transfer your existing domain to bring customers to your new Shopify store, or you can buy a new one through Shopify. You’ll need to make this your primary domain so it’s what shoppers see on results pages and social media.
Manage your shipping processes
Get your delivery costs and methods organised before you start processing transactions through your Shopify store.
Add your shipping address to see how much you should charge for shipping, define what regions you’ll deliver to, and decide whether you’ll use fulfilment services or not.
Requirements for charging sales tax varies from location to location. Shopify lets you apply shipping taxes to products to suit customers from different areas, based on the relevant regulations in their area (Shopify calculates them automatically).
Shopify recommends investigating accounting apps in its App Store to help you manage your taxes.
Choose your payment provider
You can take customer payments through Shopify Payments or a third-party option, such as PayPal or Apple Pay.
Once you decide which works for you, set up your store’s checkout. Make sure customers have all the information they need to complete transactions properly.
Check your order process
Try some test orders to understand what customers will go through when they buy your products.
Make sure it’s easy to find goods, order them, and make payments. Check that confirmation emails are well written, simple to understand, and delivered promptly.
Reach out to your customers
Get in touch with existing customers and let them know how to set up accounts, ready for purchase.
You can send invites through a dedicated app in the Shopify App Store, or use the Bulk Account Inviter (remember, though, it’s only available to Shopify Plus users).
How to make migrating to Shopify faster and easier
Our guide to Shopify migration will help you get your store up and running — but you don’t need to do it all yourself.
Mercury Assets’ experts will help you create outstanding Shopify stores that boost conversions.
We can handle Shopify app development, UX design, digital store maintenance, and writing unique code for your store.
Get in touch with Mercury Assets now to set up the best Shopify store for your e-commerce business!