What is Shopify and How to Choose a Plan

What is Shopify and How to Choose a Plan
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In the online shopping cart software market, Shopify is among the best in the business.

Shopify is an easy to use platform that allows you to create an e-commerce website and begin selling products almost immediately. You can create and manage your store directly in Shopify, and depending on your plan, you’ll have access to a number of features that make it easier to run your online and even your in person business. There are a few different pricing plans to choose from based on your desired budget, but once you’ve chosen a plan, it’s easy to begin promoting, selling, and shipping your products out to your customers.

Safe, easy, and secure, Shopify is a cloud-based SaaS. Shopify is a preferred choice for many online businesses because of its relatively low initial costs, user-friendly interface, and host of features and add ons.

Whether you use Shopify already but wondering how you can do better, or you’re looking to get into setting up an online store… read on to learn more about the e-commerce platform. We’ll also share our top tips for getting the most out of your Shopify experience.

What is Shopify?

Shopify began in Canada in 2006 and was the brainchild of Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake. Wanting to sell snowboards online, but frustrated by the difficulty of selling online, they developed Shopify as an easy alternative. Over 10 years later, Shopify has become one of the most successful e-commerce platforms in the world, with over 1 million active websites. It dominates the market, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the market share in 2019.

As a hosted solution, you don’t have to download any software. Through your payment of a monthly fee (the fee varies depending on your plan), you’ll have access to your online store – anywhere and on any device, as long as you have access to the internet.

Shopify is popular because not only does it allow you to create a website for your store, Shopify POS also allows you to sell and take payment both in your online store and in-person (physical stores, trade shows, and more).

It’s an attractive service to anyone looking to build an online store without any knowledge of coding. However, it does give you the option to edit your website’s code, if coding is your thing.

Start With a Free Trial

Currently, Shopify offers a 14-day free trial. During this period, you’ll have access to free Spotify apps, tools to build your store, and promotional tools. To access the trial, you don’t need to offer your credit card details initially and there’s no commitment, so it’s a great chance to check it out.

Shopify plan free trial

Once the trial ends, you’ll need to pay for their services – so get as comfortable as possible with the platform during the trial and try to use as many of the features as you can in order to understand your unique needs. You can also choose to downgrade or upgrade your plan after your free trial if you decide you need less or more features. There are tons of different pricing plan options to suit any need, so let’s dig into each one to find the one that works for your business.

Shopify Plans

shopify plan pricing
Shopify plan pricing

Before choosing a plan, consider the size of your business, your needs, and your budget. It is also important to identify a plan for the future of your business and it may be helpful to plan ahead when choosing your plan so that you can grow into it.

Additionally, Shopify offers the option to buy a domain name. If you’ve already got one, great. If not, you can purchase one for $14 USD/year. You won’t have any email hosting with this option, though, and it’s generally cheaper to go with an external domain registrar such as GoDaddy, Wix, or Namecheap. Alternatively, Shopify generates a free myshopify.com domain name for any store that signs up if you’d like to use that instead. Again, that domain doesn’t include email hosting either.

Once you’ve worked out what your monthly spend budget is and you have a clear idea of what you need out of a shopping cart software, it’s time to weigh your options. Let’s dive in!

shopify plan example
View your orders on Shopify

Lite Plan

Spotify’s most affordable plan, Shopify Lite allows you to use an existing website (even if it isn’t hosted by Shopify) to sell your products using their Buy Button. The Buy Button is a customizable code that you can embed into your website. At $9 USD/month, you’ll also have access to Messenger chats, Shopify POS, and the ability to send invoices to your clients. It’s a good bare-bones plan that will give you everything you need to start selling online.

shopify plan buy button
Buy Button on Happiness Abscissa’s Shopify store

Considerations:

  • No abandoned cart recovery
  • Does not accept gift cards
  • Access to tools for entrepreneurs
  • Ability to create invoices
  • Access to Shopify customer service

Basic Plan

For $29 USD/month, Shopify Basic is a great option if you’re looking to start selling online and want to set up your online store. While you won’t be able to accept gift cards or generate professional reports, you’ll still have access to Shopify’s customer support and unlimited file storage. It’s a good option if you have a large product range.

Considerations:

  • Unlimited products
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Does not accept gift cards (although this feature can be added for a fee)
  • No professional reports
  • Ability to print shipping labels
  • No advanced report builder
  • No real-time carrier shipping

Credit card rate: 2.9% + 30¢

Additional transaction fee (for all online transactions unless Shopify Payments is not activated*): External Gateway: 2%

*When Shopify Payments is activated, there are no transaction fees, although this feature is not available in all countries.

Shopify Plan

Simply called Spotify, this plan will set you back $79 USD/month. It’s got more features than the Basic plan, as well as a lower credit card rate (0.3% lower, in fact). With this plan, you’ll also have access to professional reports to gain valuable insights into your store. You’ll also have the ability to use gift cards with this plan, however, it’s worth noting you can also add this feature to your Basic plan for a fee (which works out to be cheaper than switching to the Shopify plan just for gift cards).

Considerations:

  • Unlimited products
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Accept gift cards
  • Access professional reports
  • Ability to print shipping labels
  • No advanced report builder
  • No real-time carrier shipping

Credit card rate: 2.6% + 30¢

Additional transaction fee (for all online transactions unless Shopify Payments is not activated*): External Gateway: 1%

*When Spotify Payments is activated, there are no transaction fees, although this feature is not available in all countries.

Advanced Plan

Shopify Advanced is Shopify’s most expensive regular plan at $299 USD/month. As such, it’s got a lower credit card payment. If real-time carrier shipping is a necessity for you (your shipping costs will be automatically calculated by a third party), you’ll want to choose this plan, as it’s the only one that offers it. With this plan, you’ll also have access to the advanced report builders so that you can customize professional reports.

Considerations:

  • Unlimited products
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Accept gift cards
  • Access professional reports
  • Ability to print shipping labels
  • Advanced report builder
  • Real-time carrier shipping

Credit card rate: 2.4% + 30¢

Additional transaction fee (for all online transactions unless Shopify Payments is not activated*): External Gateway: 0.5%

*When Spotify Payments is activated, there are no transaction fees, although this feature is not available in all countries.

Plus Plan

If you’re a larger business or looking to scale, Shopify Plus offers more advanced reporting tools, larger capacity for order volumes, as well as priority customer service. Intended as a solution for enterprises, this plan will run you considerably more than the fees charged for their other plans, starting at $2000 USD/month. You’ll get a dedicated support team to help launch your store and you’ll also have access to priority customer support – 24/7. This extremely comprehensive plan has you covered with two clone storefronts for internationalization and access to Shopify’s developer system for customization, dedicated API, and cart scripting.

Considerations:

In order to understand how the Plus plan will work for you, you’ll need to provide your contact information so that Shopify can contact you to discuss your options.

According to Shopify’s website, several high profile online stores use these services, such as Heinz and Rebecca Minkoff. It’s a good solution if you have a considerably large business and are looking for a serious, all-inclusive plan. Shopify promises that replatforming with them will only take 3-4 months – or less, as opposed to 12-18 months with traditional platforms. Some more considerations according to their website:

  • Using Shop Pay, you can expect to see up to an 18% higher conversion rate and 60% faster checkout.
  • Built-in AR, video, and 3D media for product pages.
  • Localized shopping experiences depending on currencies and languages.
  • Custom checkout options.
  • Unlimited transactions and 99.99% uptime.
  • Option to add on Avalara tax automation, which reduces that cost of doing taxes.
  • Ability to manage stores, staff, and workflows directly in Shopify admin.
  • Quick and easy integration.
  • No transaction fees. At all.
  • Credit card rates will vary depending on your location.

Notes on Plans

Payment Plans

All Shopify plans offer the option to pay in advance. If you’ve got the cash, you can choose to enter a 1, 2, or 3-year contract with Shopify to pay everything upfront and this allows you to save a bit of money in the long run.

  • Basic: 1 year: $312 USD ($26/month), 2 year: $558 USD ($23.25/month), 3 year: $738 USD ($21.75/month)
  • Shopify: 1 year: $852 USD ($71/month), 2 year: $1518 USD ($63.25/month), 3 year: $2133 USD ($59.25/month)
  • Advanced: 1 year: $3192 USD ($266/month), 2 year: $5640 USD ($235/month), 3 year: $7884 USD ($219/month)

Transaction Fees

Shopify charges a fee on your turnover (from 0.5 – 2% depending on your plan), as well as a payment gateway charge. The payment gateway charge occurs when you use external gateways such as Paypal or Stripe.

If you accept cash on delivery or bank transfers, Shopify will not charge you for these manual payments.

If you want to avoid paying any fees to Shopify, you can use Shopify Payments. We always recommend using Shopify Payments if possible because it’s totally free – there are no fees for setup and you won’t have to make a monthly payment to keep it up either.

Shopify Payments even works if your customers pay with Paypal, Apple Pay, and any other payment method. That’s right… entirely no fees. There’s no reason not to set it up, honestly!

If you are located in one of the following countries, you will have access to Shopify Payments:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • The Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States (Not available in US territories expect Peurto Rico)

If you are not selling from one of these countries, you won’t be able to use Shopify Payments and you’ll have to go with a gateway provider.

There are also a number of businesses that are prohibited from using Shopify Payments, depending on the country. To verify your eligibility, check here.

If you have a generous return policy and you’re not using Shopify Payments, it’s also important to note that your card processing fees will not be refunded to you if a customer returns an item or requests a refund for whatever reason. So if you do allow lots of returns and refunds, you might want to go with Shopify Payments.

What is Shopify POS?

If you’re interested in selling in person, in addition to your online store, you can use Shopify POS – an application available for iPhone and Android at $89 USD/month. The service is an add on to most Shopify plans (already included in Plus and Advanced plans).

With Shopify POS, you’ll be able to track cash, generate daily sales reports, create printed receipts, adjust stock, coordinate inventory, and more. Ideal for small – medium sized businesses, it makes running both an online store and a brick-and-mortar store easy.

Additionally, with service, you’ll have access to one card reader, with others available to add on for an additional fee.

shopify plan pos example

Shopify Best Practices

If you’re still wondering how to get the most out of your online store with Shopify, here are some top tips to help.

What Should I Sell?

Maybe you haven’t exactly nailed down what you want to sell in your store yet. We have some suggestions. According to a Shopify study, the top 5 most popular products selling on Shopify sites in 2020 are as follows:

  1. Peel-off face masks
  2. Nail polish
  3. Exercise bands
  4. Water bottles
  5. Blankets
shopify plan product example
Shopify has said that water bottles are the fourth best selling product across Shopify stores in 2020

They also note yoga accessories, kayaking products, and board games as also being successful.

Shopify allows you to sell more than just physical products. You can sell digital products (more on this below), services and consults (dentist, therapy, coaching), memberships and subscriptions, experiences (tickets), classes and lessons, rentals, and much more. Basically, anything you can dream up – as long as it’s legal. If you have any concerns about what you want to sell on Shopify, reach out to customer service.

Templates and Themes

Shopify makes it quite easy to design your website. Its successful drag and drop editor makes designing a website a breeze. Additionally, you’ll be able to edit the site’s code as well. Have a look through their themes and templates and choose the one that fits the best with your brand. Once you’ve done that, have fun editing your page to personalize the experience.

Take Advantage of Shopify’s Customer Service

With any Shopify plan, you’ve got access to their customer service and free technical support. Don’t hesitate to reach out! With phone, email, live chat, video tutorials, webinars, and community forums, there are many avenues to check out if you’re in need of some help with your website.

Shopify’s community forum allows users to communicate and share tips

Shopify’s customer service is really top-notch. They even offer free e-commerce courses through Shopify Compass – where users can learn from experts. In addition to this, Shopify users have created numerous Facebook groups for support. There are tons of ways to get your questions answered.

Selling Digital Products

If you’re wary of dealing with pesky shipping fees, try selling digitally. Shopify gives you the option to sell digital products the same way that you would for physical products, without the hassle of having shipping eat up some of your profits.

You can sell original MP3 files, videos, ebooks, PDFs, digital prints, and much more. Simply disable the shipping option on these products and they’ll be available for download.

Add Ons

In addition to the plan you choose, you can select add ons to enhance your Shopify experience. We’ve already touched on a couple above, but here’s a breakdown of a few of them… there are over 3500 add ons, so we can’t possibly go over all of them. Have a look through more on the Shopify App Store.

  • HubSpot CRM – This free add on helps you to organize and track your leads and gives you key insights about your customers, such as abandoned cart data.
  • Sendinblue for Shopify – Analyze your email lead statistics with this free add on.
  • Spocket – If you’re a US or EU dropshipper, this add on is a great option for you. It works to reduce shipping costs by sourcing products that are as close as possible to your location.
  • Free Shipping Bar – This add on displays a free shipping banner on your Shopify store, making it easy to display your free shipping offer. It’s also fully customizable.
  • Plug in SEO – SEO is easy with this add on. Acting as an assistant, this app covers all essential SEO.
Shopify plan app store
The Shopify App Store offers a variety of free and paid add ons to elevate your Shopify experience

Marketing For Your Store

Use Social Media

When marketing your products, social media can be a really important tool to gain a customer base. Here at SH1FT, we’re experts in social media marketing, and we can build you a strong social media marketing plan that is sure to help your business stand out.

Be sure to post regularly to update your customer base on products, sales, and new launches. Social media is also a great way to nurture your existing customer base and help stay connected with them.

And, if you need some help gaining followers on your social media accounts, we can help too!

Shopify Blogging

You probably already know how important content marketing can be for boosting your brand’s SEO ranking. Shopify understands that too, that’s why you have the option to keep a blog on your online store.

Within your admin panel, you have the ability to create, edit, and publish blog posts. If you have a preexisting blog hosted on WordPress, you can use the BlogFeeder app to link it to your Shopify store. You might find that the Shopify blogging experience is lacking in features if you’re used to using another hosting site such as WordPress.

Create Ads

Run ads on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram. If you can identify where your target audience spends the most time, choose to spend most of your ad budget on that platform. If you can’t identify a platform, it’s always a safe choice to go with Facebook and Google, as they’re generally the most popular.

For additional help with creating ads, you can chat with our helpful PPC agency.

Try It For Yourself

The best way to see if Shopify will work for you is to test it out. With the 14-day free trial, you can get a pretty good idea of what Shopify is all about.

Whether you’re a small business just starting out, or a large enterprise looking to scale, Shopify has a plan for you and your budget – from $9 – $2000+!

Are you ready to grow your revenue?

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