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Ease of use, unlimited bandwidth, progressive company


transaction fee for all but their top tier offering


Shopify is an excellent choice for your web store

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Casey Dalton : I write reviews of products I deem worthy of review. Generally if I'm reviewing...Member Reputation 335 • 69 active Krits
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Shopify The Most User Friendly Web Store Solution
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Shopify Review - The Most User Friendly Web Store Solution

The ingredients for a web store, or any store:

As a business owner, when you think about your physical shop, the first consideration is location. Will people be able to access it easily and is there built in foot traffic. You'll also consider the way it looks, whether it's inviting or in keeping with your creative vision for what you're selling. You'll think about layout, whether popular products are easy to find, whether you can devise clever ways to engage the customer and keep them around a little longer. You have sales and two-for deals and other enticements to close your customer and you want the customer to feel in some way connected to the store as a comfortable environment… a place they trust that they would enjoy returning to. 

When it comes to our online store, we need to accomplish the exact same things. We also need to consider what's most important to us out of all those (and many other elements.) If we have our priorities clear, things tend to go better. We know where to spend a little extra and where to draw the line. We know how to take action more clearly to strike the balance between these elements within our budget.

How does this translate?

In the virtual world, your shopping cart is your store. Location translates to traffic. You can build your store in cyberspace but who is going to know about it? Of course if you already have a bricks and mortar presence, those customers will. But presumably you want to capture a whole new market with your online store. That's the beauty of it! You now have a way to sell around the clock to (potentially) anywhere in the world. So you need a shopping cart optimized for the search engines to pick up, in order to draw traffic. 

You also want to make sure that your virtual store can manage a lot of customers at the same time. Unlike a physical store, you could potentially have many multitudes of customers viewing the same product and purchasing it, simultaneously. You want to make sure your shopping cart can sustain any level of traffic your store generates. The key factor in determining that is the amount of bandwidth you're allotted by the company hosting your store.

Of course you want ease of use, both for your customer and yourself. Items need to be clearly displayed and the shopping cart needs to be intuitive and bug free so shoppers can make their purchases without a hitch. On the back end, the process of uploading and detailing all your products should be easy to navigate and you'll want to have clear reports so you can track purchases and failures to purchase to keep track of customers and increase future conversions.

If you have a pre-existing site you'll want a design that easily integrates with the look of  it and if you're starting from scratch you'll want to feel well represented, creatively, by the design. In the past, you would have had to pay a designer a fortune to accomplish this all but in the past 8 years or so, turnkey shopping cart solutions have become the norm. These are essentially pre-fab virtual stores which offer you a selection of templates (generally over 100) to choose from and customize for your unique online store needs. 

How do you decide between the turnkey options available?

In this article we're focusing on Shopify, one of the most popular turnkey offerings available today. To begin with, Shopify has recently become accredited with the BBB and has an A+ rating. This is reassuring because many online businesses (and many of Shopify's competitors) don't bother with the BBB. Over 20,000 online stores are powered by Shopify, in 80 different countries. These retailers include some diverse heavyweights like Amnesty International, General Electric, Tesla Motors, the rock band Foo Fighters and the wildly successful game, Angry Birds.

Clearly Shopify knows what they're doing and offers ample design and functionality capabilities to satisfy online stores doing some serious business. They're also an incredibly forward thinking company. Shopify recently acquired Select Start Studios, inc. to accelerate mobile commerce growth strategies. Mobile commerce saw a huge increase in Q4 of 2011 and this trend is just beginning. With more and more purchases being made via cell phone it's reassuring to go with a company who has made a significant investment in the future of M (mobile) commerce.

As far as ease of use goes Shopify is a personal fave of mine. Their programming language, liquid is very intuitive, the back office is easy to navigate and the templates are extremely user friendly for your customers. They're also very modern in feel. Friendly, clean and simple, engendering a sense of trust and fun. At $26 for their basic plan, Shopify's pricing is competitive. I've seen better and I've seen worse. They win points for offering unlimited bandwidth so you never have to worry about growing out of your plan as a result of more traffic to your site or about your traffic suddenly spiking. Shopify is one of the few companies to offer this feature. Most include 1 or 2 GB in their basic plan. They have phone support for all their plans and SSL certification is included in the price which is not the case for most of their competitors.

What's the down side?

The down side to Shopify's basic rate is a 2% transaction fee. That's on top of whatever % your merchant account will take. Their middle tier offerings fare better with a 1% transaction fee and their top tiered offering has no transaction fee whatsoever. I'll be frank. Checking out the forums, the transaction fee is a turnoff for a lot of people. On the other hand, I have to say Shopify is the most user friendly, design savvy option out there so it's worth at least taking Shopify for a test run. 

My Recommend:

It's essential to try the cart or any cart you choose, out for yourself. Even if you have a designer do the preliminary work to set up your store, you will be spending a lot of time in your back office, checking reports, making small tweaks to products and fishing around Shopify's extensive app store for ways to enhance your business. 

Date Reviewed: February 23, 2012, 8:54 am
Reviewed by Casey Dalton
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