I first started working in the eCommerce space in 2002. It was for a tourism destination. Our offline advertising drove potential customers to our website where they could browse potential accommodations and then call a 1-800 number to book a vacation. And it took us months and months to build what essentially was a digital brochure.
But it was before the launch of TheFacebook or YouTube - so we were pretty cutting edge.
Fast forward to 2006 when I launched my first business, Sweet Peanut.
It was launched primarily as a BtoB business - wholesaling organic cotton baby clothes to retailers. After our first successful season, our next big project was ‘Build the Website’. We found a local Vancouver developer and the cost of the build was about $20K.
Again, it took several months and I needed to find my own payment gateway provider. Connecting the eCommerce functionality and the security of the payment gateway provider again took months and months and was expensive.
Additionally, I had to contact the developers every time I wanted to change the price of a product or the colour of a word.
I think I paid about $100 per hour for each change that they were making. Finally, they trained me on their content management system. Which was a bit clunky and I had to log out of the content management system and into the commerce management system depending on whether I was updating a product page or a static page.
Are you with me still?
We ran this way until 2010 when my payment gateway provider raised their monthly fee. By a lot. Around this time I read a business magazine article about a company called Shopify that made eCommerce easier for small businesses.
Obviously, I chose to do things the hard way and ignore the awesome news I stumbled across and switched to woo commerce and WordPress instead.
Things were easier. Updates were quicker. Plugins with cool features were available. Product uploads were less clunky.
But at its very heart, WordPress was designed for and best suited for blog sites and not eCommerce.
The year was now 2013 and my online sales were now even with our wholesale sales and I looked again at Shopify.
It took me two days and zero dollars (with existing photography) to replicate my previous website in Shopify.
(I'm tempted to insert my favourite 'Say what?' GIF in here)
Instead, I think this is where we just pause to appreciate the heavens opening and the angels singing.
Not only was the site quick to build, easy to run and looked beautiful - but its integrations and functionalities have saved hundreds and hundreds of hours in our business.
With those hours, we launched three more businesses and a non-profit.
Here are the top 10 reasons why we love Shopify.
1. All themes are responsive themes.
No, this doesn’t mean that they always answer you when you call their name. It means your site always looks great on a mobile device. Without you doing anything. If you have spent hours mucking around in WordPress changing the dimensions of pages and testing your changes out again and again on your phone and iPad you will recognize how awesome this is.
2. Easy integration of selling on social channels
Easy connection - easy like just clicking a box easy- to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. We made our first sale on Facebook messager with 24 hours of connecting it.
3. Mobile App
The interface of the Shopify mobile app is intuitive and user-friendly. It is still insane to me how easy it is to run multiple eCommerce businesses from my phone. Re-stock a product, refund an order, upload product etc.
4. Shopify App store
There are literally thousands of apps to add on to your basic Shopify store that can do everything from printing the shipping labels and connecting your bookkeeping to automating the price reductions for your sales and email marketing. (As a side note whenever we would run sales in our pre-Shopify days we had to manually change the price of each product before the sale and again after). Best yet though is the user experience of the app store. Its sorted by function, easy to search and full of helpful customer reviews.
5. Shopify Gurus
The most responsive most helpful customer service I have ever dealt with. Hands down!
6. Domain registration, set up and renewal all handled by Shopify.
That’s right. No more searching on Go Daddy or Hostgator or Bluehost to try and find a domain, register it and set it up and get an SSL. With Shopify, it’s all built-in and set up is easy and intuitive (i.e. even if you are the biggest technophobe out there - you've got this).
7. Such a friendly price
Basic hosting starts at $29 per month and can go up to $299 per month for multiple accounts and added features. (Full disclosure, we were running a seven-figure business on the middle $79 per month plan - so you’re not getting a ‘lite’ version if you’re not paying $299 per month.
8. Drag and drop
Drag and drop page building, product upload and menu configuration. You do not need to be a tech wizard or have any website or coding experience to build a beautiful site. To test this out I had my un-tech savvy 13-year-old son build a Shopify site in 48 hours. (My 75-year-old mother is next).
9. Single log in
At one point in time, I was running three Shopify stores, one nonprofit on Shopify and consulting with three companies. Shopify offers one single login to manage all my businesses and projects.
10. They made selling on Amazon easier than Amazon