When I was trying to find an eCommerce solution for my wedding dresses store, I tried Shopify for 30 days and then been a paid customer for 10 days before I canceled my plan (NOT in a negative manner). Have something to say about them so I come up with this brief review, which, hopefully can be helpful to those who are in search of a fine way to build online stores.
What I like about Shopify
- Beautiful. Anyone who has used Shopify would agree that it’s the a beautiful and graceful eCommerce solution. People behind it are working their heart out. The free themes available for you to choose from for your store are eye-candies, simplistic and highly brandable. They SHOULD make more of them, though. Currently there are only about 10 free themes. If you want more, you’d have to pay. Commercial themes at their theme store cost about $100 – $300.
- Proactive and personal support. I got emails offering to help from their support team every once a few days ever since my trial sign-up. Friendly, helpful and very personal. Of all the companies that I dealt with, Shopify is the only one that proactively asked me if I needed any help, REGULARLY. WiredTree comes second by asking for my feedback every 3 months. Magento Go comes last by offering unparalleled ridiculous support.
- Very easy to use. It only took me a few minutes to set up the whole store with an attractive look and add the first product. The control panel was intuitive and texts (tab names, section titles, field names, etc.) were straightforward. I didn’t have to think to do something. It’s simply there when you need it.
- Unlimited bandwidth. I specifically asked about this offer in one of the emails I exchanged with Chris, my client representative at Shopify, and he assured me that this was as TRUE as it’s promised. I never had the chance to have an online store that got hit by 100,000 unique IPs per day so I don’t know. But I sure like it. Who wouldn’t.
- Premium yet affordable. While it may seem that a month-to-month SaaS eCommerce solution would cost more than buying a permanent license that could be hosted on your own server, it may not seem so when you scale up. When you hit the mark of 20,000 unique IPs per day and got over 20,000 products in your store, Shopify’s offer of $179 / month for unlimited bandwidth, storage and SKUs is simply irresistible. With licensed shopping cart software that’s hosted on your own server, you would worry about security and upgrade (it can be painful, believe me) which take time and money. However with Shopify, you don’t have to worry about them at all because underneath details are all taken care of. You get a store that’s silently self-evolving without your custody.
- They refund. This is the single most valuable thing in any business. I was charged for the first month before I realized that I would be charged after the end of the trial period (30 days). After corresponding with my support staff Chris, I was able to get my money back without a hassle.
What I don’t like about Shopify
- First off, they didn’t make it clear that I would be automatically signed up with paid membership and be charged for a month after my trial period ends. After talking with Chris, it seemed that the terms were in there, in fine print, and I needed to click to open the complete, tedious terms and conditions to find it. Well, I believe it would definitely be much more customer-friendly to get the text in the sign-up page in large print, like what Microsoft did with Office 365 so I know I have to cancel my trial contract to stop them from billing me when it ends.
- Shopify doesn’t have effective product filtering. Or they probably have it but it takes quite some work to have it up for my store. For instance, the left side “Narrow Your Choices” product filtering at Zappos Women’s Clothing. I asked Chris about this and he said they had it and could give me an example store that had it. He never did.
- Custom made products that are made to order are not well supported by Shopify. For example, a store that sells custom tailored wedding dresses where customers can freely select any of all the possible combinations of options: “Color”, “Size” and “Belt Color”. With 15 possible colors, 15 sizes and 15 belt colors, there would be a total of 15 x 15 x 15 = 3375 distinct combinations of product options (“Color”, “Size”, “Belt Color”) for each wedding dress. The problem with Shopify is, they treat every product as in the inventory rather than custom made, therefore I have to add all 3375 distinct combinations of product options one by one for each of the products. It’s simply an unrealistic job.
All after all, Shopify is among the top 3 most usable and beautiful online store solutions out there after I tried many of them. I would definitely recommend it to people I know and would very probably use it for some of my future ecommerce projects.