If you’re running an Ecommerce store but feel like you’ve outgrown your current platform then you might be considering some of the most common reasons to move to Shopify. The good news is that it’s surprisingly easy to change from one Ecommerce platform to another, whichever one you choose. One of our most-read articles is our guide to migrating to Shopify.
In this article we’ll give you some of the reasons why you might want to move to Shopify. We’ll also share some of the reasons not to move to Shopify to help you work out if it’s the best Ecommerce platform for your store. Although we’ll be focusing on existing store owners this article should also help you to decide whether Shopify is the right solution for starting a new Ecommerce store.
What is Shopify?
It’s an out-of-the-box Ecommerce solution that gives store owners everything they need to set up and run an online store. Shopify gives you the tools you need to customise your Ecommerce store, add products, process payment transactions and manage your orders. Founded in 2006, Shopify has grown rapidly ever since and today it is the most popular and fastest-growing Ecommerce platforms in the world. It went public in 2015 and a year later is valued at over $1 billion.
13 Reasons to Move to Shopify
There are many reasons why Shopify is such a successful and popular Ecommerce platform. Here are 13 reasons to use Shopify – whether you’re setting up an online store from scratch or making the move from another Ecommerce platform.
1. Shopify has an Amazing Community.
In our opinion this is the single most compelling reason to move to Shopify. Maybe it’s because the majority of Shopify users are first-time store owners, but we’re yet to see a community of entrepreneurs who are as willing to share their knowledge with their peers. This is equally true for experts and entrepreneurs alike. There are some incredibly successful people out there who have the patience and good nature to help new users get up-to-speed on Shopify – and that’s something really quite special.
If you’re an inexperienced Ecommerce business owner then the Shopify community is a great place to learn and hone your skills. You’ll find numerous forums and Facebook groups to help you get the most out of your store, not to mention the comments on the Shopify blog. Whilst Shopify is undoubtedly a great platform – as we’ll explain below – its greatest strength is arguably its users.
If you’re looking for a Shopify community to join there here are some good places to start:
- Shopify’s Ecommerce Forums are filled with filled with developers, designers, store owners, Shopify staff and so on asking questions and answering questions ranging from the simple to the complex. If you’ve got a question about your Shopify store then it’s pretty likely that somebody else has asked the same thing – and hopefully received a satisfactory answer
- Ecommtalk is a Slack community with channels for development, marketing, merchants and more. It’s essentially a set of advanced chat rooms full of Ecommerce experts sharing their wisdom. It’s another great way people can interact, grow their understanding of Ecommerce generally (and Shopify specifically) and share that knowledge with others.
- Facebook groups are a great place to connect with a wider Shopify community. Our favourite groups are Shopify Entrepreneurs (run by Jonathan Kennedy) and Shopify Strategy (run by Phil Kyprianou) and both have well over 10,000 members. There’s a lot of activity on there – lots of which won’t be for you – but it’s a great place to connect with like-minded store owners who are doing similar things to you.
- GitHub is where any developers (Shopify employed and community / shopify experts etc) can share the things they’ve built. It’s a completely free, open resource available to all and helps everyone contribute to the success of others.
2. Shopify’s Documentation is Seriously Good
When you first start using an Ecommerce platform you’re going to have a lot of questions. Shopify’s documentation is phenomenal. Whether you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to setting up your store – or you’ve got a specific, technical question – you should find exactly what you’re looking for.
It’s set out in a very simple, clear format that anybody can use, but don’t be fooled – the depth of knowledge-sharing is very impressive indeed.
3. Shopify Gives you 24/7 Support
If, for any reason, you can’t find what you’re looking for or your store isn’t working properly then Shopify provide a 24/7 support service. Drop them an email, give them a call or use the live chat function to speak to a Shopify expert who will be happy to point you in the right direction.
This is one of the benefits of paying for an integrated Ecommerce solution – it might cost a little more than doing everything yourself, but you can tap into a wealth of troubleshooting expertise when you need it most. You’re probably only going to need to use it once for it to be worthwhile.
If you’re looking for an enterprise solution then it’s also worth remembering that Shopify Plus offers ‘white glove’ account management for a higher tier of support.
This means that your hosting is included in your monthly Shopify subscription. It’s enterprise-level hosting with unlimited bandwidth – and Shopify will automatically back up your store in the event that things go wrong.
Hosted solutions have often been looked down on by purists but unless you want to sort out your own server then this is almost certainly an advantage rather than a disadvantage. In our experience Shopify provide extremely reliable hosting that will cope well if you experience a spike in traffic or find that business is going even better than expected – all with minimal downtime.
Some of the specific benefits of going with a hosted Ecommerce solution like Shopify include:
- CDN (Content Delivery Network) integration which hosts site files all over the world (instead of in one location) which improves site loading speed
- SSL (Secure Socket Layer) which encrypts store traffic and lets customers know that they are safe to proceed with a purchase – more on that at paragraph 5 below
- Automated hosting environment updates and management are provided as standard – these are essential to keep your site secure and running over the long-term
If you’re considering a non-hosted Ecommerce platform like Magento or OS Commerce these features typically add hundreds of dollars per year to your running costs. They also take several hours or even days of work and are a significant hidden cost and risk.
5. Shopify is Very Secure
One of the biggest barriers that Ecommerce stores face is credibility when it comes to security. Whilst customers are much less concerned about internet security than they were a decade ago, we still tend to feel more comfortable making payments to bigger, well-known stores than to companies we’ve never heard of.
Running your store through Shopify helps to maintain that credibility. You’ll have the option of around 70 payment gateways (including PayPal and credit cards) and, crucially, Shopify is SSL and Level 1 PCI compliant. This means that your customers’ data is just as secure with your store as it is with their bank.
In practical terms this also means that security-savvy shoppers will see the green lock icon, which increases customer trust in the store and therefore increases your conversion rates.
6. Shopify’s Pricing Structure is Transparent
Shopify isn’t necessarily the cheapest Ecommerce platform out there – hosted solutions never are – but it is completely transparent about its pricing. With plans starting from $29/month it won’t break the bank for start-up companies either.
In paragraph 4 above we explained some of the ‘hidden benefits’ of Shopify. If you’re going for a non-hosted solution then you’re looking at anything from $100-$600/year for SSL and $70+ for CDN (depending on your traffic) PLUS all the time and work installing them.
As you can see from the image below, Shopify are also completely open about their credit card rates. If you’re already running an Ecommerce store and you’re thinking about moving to Shopify then you should have a good idea of how many transactions you’ll be processing – which will help you to work out what your monthly fees are likely to be. Then there is the very real possibility of down-time and lost sales which is likely to be much higher on a privately hosted store.
7. Shopify is Mobile-Friendly – And Responsive Checkout is the Best
Responsive, mobile-friendly design isn’t anything new. It’s been industry standard since about 2012 – and today if you’re running an Ecommerce store that isn’t optimised for mobile users then you’re probably missing out on a lot of sales.
However, it’s important not to think of responsive design as a box that needs to be ticked. You don’t just want an Ecommerce store that is accessible to mobile users; you want a store that is optimised for mobile users, and that is a very different thing. Shopify’s themes are all very good (more on that below) and generally speaking the mobile optimisation is excellent.
Shopify’s Responsive Checkout is free and available to all Shopify users – and in our opinion it’s easily one of the best checkouts out there. Security is very important when you’re handing people’s bank details, but so is the design and functionality of your checkout page. Shopify have gone to great lengths to ensure that their users have the very best checkout at their disposal. It’s clean, minimalistic, professional and very reliable – exactly what you need to ensure that your customers complete their transaction.
You should note that the standard package checkouts all follow the same layout / functionality which allow basic branding of your checkout page. Shopify Plus customers have the option to customise their checkout pages completely.
8. Shopify Makes Store Administration Easy
From adding products and managing your inventory to organising your collections, Shopify is known for being easy to use. One of the best reasons to move to Shopify is that you can run a very successful online business without having to master a complex platform such as Magento. Shopify gives you a powerful and professional Ecommerce solution that can be mastered very quickly and easily, giving you more time to focus on growing your business.
9. Shopify Gives You Access to Multiple Sales Channels
Until now most online retailers have concentrated exclusively on developing and improving their store. They have then used other channels such as social media to market their products.
However, it’s important not to be too one-dimensional in the way that you think about your store. Shopify give you access to multiple sales channels which gives you the flexibility to sell your products in various ways.
First and foremost, Shopify gives you a professional online store. This is undoubtedly the heartbeat of every successful Ecommerce business. However, this isn’t the only way to sell your products. Shopify Point of Sale (POS) allows you to run your business everywhere – which is ideal for those of you who get out and about. If you’re selling at a street market or in a pop-up shop then Shopify POS gives you the ability to process transactions using your iPhone or iPad. There’s also a range of hardware which you can use to print receipts and take cash payments.
Shopify POS has been around for a little while now and is a nice feature. Even more impressive, though, is the way that Shopify have responded to demand from their customers to introduce a range of online sales channels.
The Shopify Buy Button allows you to embed your products on any website – whether it’s another site that you run or a site owned by a third party. The fact that you can now sell your Shopify products on a WordPress website is a huge deal. You can also integrate your Shopify store with your Facebook page – effectively creating a Facebook shop. We’re seeing more and more developments that help to reduce the number of steps taken for a customer to complete a purchase. This is great news for store owners because it helps to increase your conversion rate and make sure that your marketing is effective and efficient as it can possibly be.
Shopify have introduced an entry-level ‘Lite’ package – costing only $9/month – which gives you access to the Buy Button and Facebook Shop without needing a Shopify store. If you’re keen to dip your toe in the water then this is a very inexpensive way to do so.
In addition to the sales channels directly integrated with Shopify, store owners can also use third party apps like BrightPearl, Veeqo and Stitch Labs to push their inventory to Amazon, Ebay and other platforms too – all while keeping stock levels and orders perfectly synchronised.
10. Moving to Shopify Need not Affect Your SEO Rankings
This is a very important consideration for store owners who are considering making a move to a different Ecommerce platform. If you’ve built up a strong SEO profile over the last few years then the last thing you want is to lose all that organic traffic that you’ve worked so hard to obtain. This is often cited as a reason for staying with your existing platform.
The good news is that moving to Shopify need not affect your SEO performance. Historically there were some concerns about moving across to Shopify – along with concerns that it wasn’t the strongest platform from an SEO perspective. We’ve written extensively about SEO for Shopify elsewhere, but most experts are satisfied that it’s as good for SEO as any other hosted platform. You shouldn’t necessarily expect an improvement to your SEO performance simply by moving to Shopify (unless your old store was particularly slow or poor for mobile users) but equally it shouldn’t harm your rankings if the migration is handled well.
There are always differences when you move from one platform to another. It’s quite likely that Shopify’s URL structure will be different to your previous store. However, there are various apps to help you manage the transition – not to mention Google Analytics – and with 24/7 support on hand to help there’s not too much that can go wrong. If you have strong rankings which you must keep then we encourage you to contact a Shopify Expert with experience in web marketing and SEO.
11. An Excellent, Carefully Guarded App and Theme Stores
An early criticism of Shopify was that there weren’t many themes that you could purchase. However, by maintaining a high bar to entry Shopify have ensured that the market isn’t flooded with low-grade themes. Today there is an excellent official Theme Store with a wide range of themes. It’s not easy for developers to get their themes accepted by Shopify, which means that you can trust that you’ll be getting a professional standard theme with good documentation and a reliable support service.
Likewise, Shopify’s App Store has been a real success. Most apps are available for a small monthly fee and help you to ensure that your store has the unique functionality that it needs to maximise your sales. You don’t need apps to run a Shopify store, but most successful businesses find that the additional outlay is worth it.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for then you can always commission a developer to build or customise the App or Theme that you need. Shopify have thought of that too.
12. Shopify Experts
Running a successful Ecommerce store takes a huge amount of hard work and skill. Not many of us have the ability to design, develop, market and run an online store. The reality is that we’re going to need help in at least one of these areas at some point within the life of our business.
Shopify’s Expert scheme is not dissimilar to the App Store and Theme Store. It serves as a marketplace to connect store owners with experienced developers, designers, marketers, photographers and growth hackers who have the skills to help you get your store looking and functioning how you want it to. Not anybody can become a Shopify Expert – there is a careful vetting process. You can also read reviews from other store owners before approaching an expert.
The quality of Shopify’s experts is a good reason to move to Shopify. If you’ve got an established store which is generating decent revenues then you’re much more likely to be in a position to pay for help than if you’re just setting out. Knowing that there’s an available pool of highly skilled experts – in addition to high-quality documentation and a supportive community – might just give you the reassurance that you need to take the plunge.
13. Shopify Plus – An Enterprise Level Solution
One reason not to move to a hosted solution like Shopify is the concern that you’re simply going to outgrow it. Traditionally this has been a very serious issue. If you were running a successful store then it was probably going to be cheaper and easier to use an alternative platform or even have a developer build a bespoke solution for you.
Shopify Plus is still a fully-hosted solution, but with unlimited bandwith and no transaction fees it is specifically geared towards high-volume stores. It’s not cheap, but running an enterprise level store never is.
Whilst the percentage of Shopify users running Shopify Plus is relatively small, it should reassure store owners who are evaluating the reasons to move to Shopify. Even if you’re starting out on a $29/month package, Shopify’s clear range of pricing solutions and high-end service means that you won’t need to move again if your store really takes off.
What are the Reasons NOT to Move to Shopify?
We’ve given you 13 reasons to move to Shopify, but clearly making a decision of this magnitude is never that straightforward.
Here are some of the reasons not to move to Shopify. Some are specific issues with Shopify and others are simply generic reasons why you might be better off staying put with your current Ecommerce solution.
- Moving Ecommerce platforms is expensive and time-consuming. If you’re already running a store then you might be better off staying put and investing time and money in your existing store. Moving to Shopify isn’t a silver bullet – if you’ve got problems with your current store then they’re probably still going to be there when you move to Shopify.Andrew Youderian has produced an excellent case study outlining his experiences of moving from Magento to Shopify. However, whilst it was clearly the right move for his business and he is very happy with the results, there have been some critical comments from readers. They have justifiably raised the argument that a responsive, up-to-date Shopify store will always outperform an old Magento store which isn’t optimised for mobile users. There is also some feedback suggesting that investing $50,000 in any Ecommerce store will always lead to dramatic improvements in performance – regardless of the platform that you’re using.Before moving to Shopify it’s important to consider whether the reasons for your move are inherent systematic ones – or whether you should stay put and work on improving your current store.
- Some customers won’t appreciate the change. This is a slightly flawed argument but depending upon your customer demographic it might be very relevant.There are a few potential snag areas when transitioning any site from an old version to a new. Moving platform in the process adds a few more considerations. We can’t list them all here but one of the things you might consider a snag when moving to Shopify is that you can’t automatically move customer account passwords – they’d have to make new ones. It’s a relatively small issue, but if you have a lot of regular customers – particularly those for whom changing passwords is a big deal – then this is something to consider. It takes a lot of work to win and keep long-term customers and the last thing you want to do is lose business because of the design and functional changes that you’ve made.You’ll need to think carefully about the implications for long-term customers to help smooth the transition for them while benefiting from the new things Shopify offers.
- Shopify isn’t for everybody. For some users, the simplicity of Shopify is a huge draw. Others are looking for something more complex. We’re all different and have different requirements – and ultimately the only way to work out if an Ecommerce platform is right for you is by trialing it.
- Shopify Might Be Expensive. Again, this will vary from business to business, but before making the switch you should do some sums and work out how much it will cost you to run your store on Shopify. Don’t just look at the monthly rates – think about the ‘hidden’ costs such as transaction fees on credit card sales and ongoing charges for Shopify apps. If you’re able to find a cheaper, equivalent solution then this might be a better option but remember that other platforms, particularly private hosting, have their own hidden costs too.
- Shopify is an ecommerce platform first and foremost. Which means if you’re planning on building a site/store with a lot of community features, articles, and advanced blog functionality you may need to look more carefully at whether Shopify meets your needs in that area. For the vast majority of typical stores it’s fine, but some with more demanding needs may find content management lacking.
Should I Use Shopify?
This isn’t a question that we can answer for you. It’s certainly our favourite platform – and the one that we most frequently recommend. However, each Ecommerce business is different, and whilst Shopify is a very strong all-round solution it might not be the best option for you.
We can only recommend that you do your research, speak to other store owners and do a 14-day free trial. That should give you a clearer idea of whether or not you should use Shopify.
Have you moved your store over to Shopify? Got a question about moving Ecommerce platforms? Why not drop us a comment – we’d love to hear from you.