Small businesses may be “small” — but they often have very big dreams and, thanks to ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, can still gain global exposure to get the word out about their products and services.
When starting an ecommerce business (or pretty much any business), one of the first decisions is often what tools to use to run the day to day operations.
For small business owners looking to take the jump into launching ecommerce or adding it to an existing business, Shopifiy is a natural choice for many reasons.
Shopify is what’s called “software as a service” (SaaS), meaning that Shopify provides the admin and frontend that makes it possible to manage your store.
It also handles running the servers, software updates, security, and a slew of other things that many small business owners may not want to deal with.
In the growing world of cybersecurity concerns and legal oversight, having someone who knows the ins and outs of security and the law can be crucial.
While you also should double check that your actions are in compliance with any relevant regulations or best practices, it’s good to know that pros have laid the groundwork and set you in the right direction.
This lets you focus on running your business — whether that be designing and developing products, fulfilling orders or customer service.
Shopify, even at its “Basic” level, is still packed with features that let you add and manage products, inventory, shipping and more — all the things that are necessary for most online stores starting out.
In addition, as long as you qualify for Shopify payments, Shopify gives you the tools you need to accept electronic payments, which is pretty much the most important part of any business.
Shopify also has competitive payment processing rates and includes fraud protection and PCI compliance.
Shopify is also tightly integrated with Facebook, Instagram and Google Shopping, giving you easy access for marketing on some of the biggest names in tech.
While Shopify does charge a monthly fee, the fees actually offer a great value when you break down the true cost of lower cost or “free” solutions.
While it certainly is true that there are many lower cost or “free” open source ecommerce solutions out there — most of these end up having hidden costs.
First, keep in mind that you’ll still likely need to pay, at minimum, for web hosting or, if you’re using a free platform, a monthly fee to access the higher tier of features that include commerce.
Although this can be found for as little as a few bucks a month, the mantra “you get what you pay for” is often true.
The web hosting industry has become cutthroat and, to offer the lowest prices, costs have to be cut somewhere — and it typically means you get low quality or overcrowded servers, poor support or low reliability.
Finally, the big advantage of SaaS is the peace of mind of knowing that experts are in charge of things such as server updates, security, compliance, backups, and redundancy.
Shopify also offers a “Lite” plan that not everyone is aware of.
While this is certainly a pared-down version of the full Shopify experience, it does let you sell on Facebook, embed “widgets” in your existing site and also invoice customers for just $9 a month.
However, the advantage is that it’s price point is much lower and you can also integrate with your existing website.
This plan is ideal if you already have a website and are just starting to explore ecommerce to see if there’s a market for your products or services.
Shopify also doesn’t charge a setup fee or require long term contracts, making it ideal for small businesses looking to “bootstrap” a business.
Shopify also offers a variety of tools that you need to run a business — including integrated marketing features, reports and more.
Additionally, the Shopify ecosystem includes hundreds of add-on integrations, known as apps, that let you expand how your store works.
While many apps add fancy features to the frontend, there are also plenty of apps that can help you run your business — including shipping, inventory, accounting and marketing.
One of the nice things about this approach is that you can add or remove these apps as your business needs change — which is a huge advantage for small businesses who often evolve quickly and need to try new things on the fly.
Shopify also offers around the clock support via email, phone and live chat.
In addition to this, extensive online documentation and resources are available that not only help you use the Shopify platform but also grow your business.
However, Shopify also has support that goes beyond that — including a service called Kit that serves as a “virtual employee” of sorts. Kit keeps an eye on your store and can send you tips, hints and even carry out tasks such as running advertising campaigns.
Shopify also comes with a variety of tools, many of which any business owner can use, to create logos, invoices, policies, calculators and more — mostly for free.