Everyone has heard of Shopify. It is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms. And it’s easy to understand why — the word “shop” is right in its name.
Being popular, however, doesn’t mean it is right for you.
With so many options available for your ecommerce business, choosing Shopify hosting without checking into its pros and cons can cause a headache down the road.
Here are some points to consider before clicking “Start Free Trial” with Shopify.
The Limit Does Exist!
If you’re taking the route of owning your own online store, you’re putting yourself in the driver’s seat. One issue that doesn’t often come up when we compare providers is vendor lock-in.
When we leave our cars in a parking lot, we’ve made a decision about what spot to put it in. You don’t have to wait on anyone to get back on your way.
When we use a valet service, someone else gets in our driver’s seat, drives our car to a spot we’ll likely never see, and some even move the seat position. Rude!
Vendor lock-in is a lot like a valet service. If Shopify goes down, you can’t move your site easily or quickly. If your site is tanking in performance, it is not fast or easy to move your store to a different provider.
You can’t even move it to a different server within Shopify. You’re stuck.
If you want to move to a completely different platform, you can certainly import customer lists and sales data. As for the look and feel, you have to create it from scratch. You’re reliant upon a provider who uses a closed source system.
Related reading: WooCommerce vs Shopify: Key Differences and How to Choose >>
Another difficulty Shopify presents is that if they change their policies or fees, you’re stuck again. New fees? You just have to pay them. There’s no opting out. If they change their partner rules, there is the possibility that you may lose the functionality of apps you like and pay for — without any control.
Are you willing to trade control for an easier experience?
It Was My Understanding There Would Be No Math!
Speaking of easier lifts, Shopify isn’t actually as easy as they appear to be. If you start a free trial, you can see for yourself.
The brief questions you’re asked aren’t meant to customize your site. It’s actually just data collection. Unlike a platform like StoreBuilder, which uses an intelligence engine to help set up your site using a wizard, Shopify makes you do virtually everything yourself.
There’s an initial checklist that’s small. Then there's a much larger to-do list that appears once you finish the first one. Every section on every page has something new to configure.
Starting to understand why everyone’s sites look the same?
While their launch process won’t actually make you do math, it’s certainly not the 1, 2, 3 DONE experience you thought you’d have going in.
Cookie Cutters Are For Bakers, Not Businesses...
Shopify was dynamic when it broke into the market. Nowadays, lots of stores running off of its platform … kind of look the same. It ’s easy to use a template and just start adding products, but for users, it all starts to feel stale the more you hit the same look and feel over and over again.
Making your ecommerce site stand out is important. You want customers to come back. When your ecommerce store provides a unique impression, people remember where they bought products from.
Shopify has a handful of themes available. Of the roughly 100 themes available, only a small fraction — 10 or so — are free. In contrast, WordPress has a library of over 11,000 themes and WooCommerce has roughly 2,500 themes between ThemeForest and WordPress.org.
You could of course make your own theme … but if you’re just starting out, that’s a heavy lift.
Want to customize your page? That isn’t part of Basic Shopify. That functionality comes from apps like Sections Anywhere Advanced Page Builder, which adds on $49/month to your total bill.
Sure, you could upload your logo and change the colors of your background. Ultimately it’ll still be the same Shopify store — and customers can tell.
Another option is hiring a Shopify partner to design your store and transform it into one that doesn’t look like anyone else’s. Want to guess what that means? $$$.
The Advertised Cost vs The Real Cost
All this talk about upcharges brings us to a core issue with Shopify’s pricing structure.
Shopify’s pricing starts off at $29/month for its basic plan. That’s pretty enticing for someone just starting out. When you begin to dig down into the details, you’ll notice that $29/month can end up costing a lot more.
Basic Shopify lacks some of the most important features an ecommerce store needs to be successful.
For starters, the basic plan does not include reporting. If you want “standard” reporting, you’ll have to upgrade to Shopify, and more detailed reporting requires subscribing to the advanced Shopify plan.
Your sales data is crucial for understanding more than just your net revenue. You need it to help plan for future quarters, develop customer profiles, and guide marketing.
If you’re not using Shopify Payments, you can take 2% off of your revenue right off the bat. The Shopify transaction fees are built into each of its plan tiers — and it gets lower the more you pay monthly.
Your online credit card payment processing costs start at 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction. If you’re selling in person, it starts off at 2.7% per transaction. You can avoid this by using Shopify Payments — but there are drawbacks to that, too.
Shopify Payments forces you to adhere to their Terms and Conditions, and there’s a long list of products that are prohibited. Before you decide to add this option, go through the list and make sure you can sell your products in the first place.
Related reading: 8 Best Online Payment Methods for Ecommerce Stores >>
There are also only 17 countries that can utilize Shopify Payments, while credit cards are unrestricted.
Most problematic of this option is their ability to freeze your account funds at any time. If a customer initiates a chargeback or there is any suspicious activity, you’re not getting paid that period. Depending on the nature of the incident, it can take a day or two, or in rare cases it may not be resolved for months.
Did you think the most popular website builder did everything for you? Unfortunately that’s not the case.
Just like WooCommerce and WordPress have plugins, the Shopify platform has apps. And the ones you’ll need most are NOT free.
Shopify’s core offerings can get you started, but if you want a dynamic, powerful site you will need to start looking for apps. Their partner network has an app for just about everything.
Whether its page-building, product reviews, or an advanced marketing solution you’re looking for, the monthly fees for the better options can really stack up.
Make sure you’re looking at the pricing if you select apps. Free might be “Free Trial” if you’re not paying attention. That base $29 becomes nearly $100 if you use a couple of apps. Prices range from $3 to $29.99 monthly. There are even apps that cost $2000 a month.
What cost $2,000 a year on WooCommerce (hosting and extensions) would cost almost $7,000 a year on Shopify.
Well, What Else Have You Got?
While Shopify has the catchy name, WooCommerce powers roughly a third of all stores on the internet. There’s a great reason for that.
- WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin that you can host anywhere, like with Nexcess.
- WooCommerce extensions and plugins are much, much cheaper than Shopify apps. And because it's open source, there are thousands of options available.
- There are no transaction fees when using WooCommerce.
- There are a ton of free themes for WooCommerce, with over 2,500 specifically for WooCommerce alone. Astra is one of the most popular. There are great premium themes too.
- The process of learning WooCommerce is super easy, and WP101 courses make it even easier.
- Customizations are a breeze with page builders like Beaver Builder, which starts at $99 per year and renews at a 40% discount. (That’s right, it gets cheaper).
WooCommerce is a great way to make a gorgeous online store, be in control, and ultimately keep more of your revenue.
Related reading: 10 Reasons to Choose WooCommerce >>
How Do We Get Started?
Many people are put off by the idea that WooCommerce is somehow harder to navigate than Shopify. That’s why Nexcess developed Managed WooCommerce Hosting.
We’ve created a solution that handles the technical end of things and provides 24/7/365 support — while still keeping you in the driver’s seat.
What’s more is that even our Managed WooCommerce plans come with Astra Pro, Nexcess Sales Performance Monitor, Plugin Performance Monitor, a built-in CDN, iThemes Security Pro… and more!
Our starter plan starts at $19 per month, which includes one store, 30 GB of storage, and up to 500 orders per hour. Upgrade to our creator plan ($79/month) and we include Beaver Builder Page Builder, double the storage, and up to 3 stores.
Ready to see why better is built in with Nexcess Managed WooCommerce? Check us out today.