Traditionally, when you wanted to sell on line you would setup up a site developed using the popular package Magento. For a smaller site you might use WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin. You paid your £4000 and you had a web site. You will often see the fact that WordPress, Magento and WooCommerce are promoted as free. However, they neglect to mention the cost of developing the site and its ongoing maintenance. This article is to show you that there is cost-effective alternative. So instead of wasting a lot of time and money developing an eCommerce site (and therefore re-inventing the wheel) you can use Shopify to get you to trading on line a lot quicker and without the hassle.
Having a web site is really only the start. Your designer will say, “That’s great we can get you traffic and therefore sales using search engine optimisation (SEO) by getting you to the top of Google”. A few years ago for niche products that was indeed possible. Sadly, this is no longer true. There is far too much competition out there. Most niches have now got several competitors in it and who are probably good at on line sales.
We work with a number of eCommerce businesses and they all spend a significant amount on paid advertising one way and another. There is no escaping that fact.
So how do you save money on the web site so that you can spend it on marketing?
Today the solution is really simple. Use Shopify.com. It can connect with other software to provide you with a seamless, interconnected solution with minimal development costs. Integrate it with your cloud based accounts package and you can eliminate the paperwork.
Advantages to Using Shopify
- Shopify can cost you nothing other than your time to set it up and then hosting is $29/month.
- It takes very little to get you up and running. You simply need your product listings, images and a little design such as your logo and colour schemes.
- Shopify has free plugins for a wide range of functionality such Google Shopping /Analytics /Bing Merchant Centre /Xero /Facebook Shop /MailChimp /Zenstores plus many more for individual pricing, order management, fulfilment – most are free or low cost.
- The system comes with beautiful themes that are responsive and customizable (free & paid for).
- Experts and freelancers on line to provide support.
- Trusted by over 400,000 businesses worldwide.
- No design skills needed. You have complete control over the look and feel of your website, from its layout, to content and colours.
- Create a pdf catalog of your store through Panda Catalog.
- Integration and Automation
- Directly link to Google Shopping/Google Merchant Centre without any coding.
- Automatically transfer accounting info into Xero so that you don’t have to spend time and money doing bookkeeping.
- Automatically transfer emails into MailChimp where they have agreed to marketing so that you can setup automated marketing. This means you can market to your customers whilst you sleep.
- With an additional module (app), provide individual pricing
- Directly connect to eBay shop and manage eBay sales from Shopify. You can also do this with Amazon.
- Analysis tools for SEO. Web Viking SEO is a free and paid for plugin. The basic version provides you with enough information to get the basic SEO right.
- Out of the box, the dashboard in Shopify is very comprehensive. It is easy to see where shoppers have come from, your most popular products, what they have put in their baskets and what they have eventually purchased.
I think the key thing for me with Shopify is:
- Low cost approach to getting going without the on-going need for a developer which saves a lot of time and money.
- Very easy and quick to extend the functionality with proven solutions from a huge range of suppliers which don’t require developer resource.
- Integrates with Xero so that don’t need to do any paperwork. Its all done for you. If you use ReceiptBank to transfer the invoices you receive for your purchasing into Xero then you that’s pretty much all the paperwork eliminated.
- Has a range of plugins to make it very easy to plug into other shopping platforms such as Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, eBay, Amazon and have a Facebook Shop.
I do not have any affiliation with Shopify. We have been using Shopify for a number of years for our online food shop – www.designed2eat-shop.co.uk
I have now helped a number of my clients setup low cost ecommerce sites so that they can try it out without huge commitment or resources. It means with the plugins for Google and Bing we can quickly drive traffic to the site. This generates sales quickly and easily as the plugins take care of maintaining the product feeds to these channels.