What Is Shopify? 6 Questions Every Beginner Will Ask

Shopify E-commerce

Welcome to the Ask Phill blog - an area where we love to share both our knowledge and insights into the worlds of Shopify, e-commerce, web design, digital marketing and more. If you're a complete beginner these might be some daunting terms, but thankfully you're in the right place. Here we are going to answer 6 questions that we have heard countless times from Shopify beginners (and occasionally from the experts as well!)

1. What is Shopify?

E-commerce made easy with Shopify

Shopify is a SaaS platform for building professional and distinctive e-commerce webshops. But to the absolute beginner this won’t mean much, so let’s break it down - once again, what is Shopify?

  • A SaaS platform: SaaS stands for “software as a service”. As the name suggests it is a business model in which software is provided for others to use, usually through a paid subscription.
  • E-commerce: Whenever something is bought or sold, or money is transferred over the internet, it falls under the umbrella of e-commerce.
  • Webshop: A website that is primarily designed for e-commerce.

Putting all of this together, we can see that Shopify provides a software, through a subscription service, with which the customer can create a website specifically designed for buying or selling goods and services.

2. That sounds quite advanced. I don’t know anything about web design, can I still use Shopify?

The short answer is: Yes. Shopify is a relatively simple software to use and definitely does not require any previous experience of coding or web design.

There are a number of templates around which you can build your Shopify webshop. These templates, or themes, are designed by professional web designers and look great straight out of the box. Each theme is easily customisable, and even the most zealous technophobe will be able to edit colours, headings and images to make their webshop that little bit more personal.

Themes by Shopify

For those that are more confident with HTML and CSS, Shopify grants you almost limitless control over the design of your site using their own coding language, Shopify Liquid. In fact this is where Shopify really shines in comparison with other e-commerce platforms because their themes can be almost completely reassembled and redesigned, fulfilling even the wildest desires of the customer.

3. What can I sell on Shopify?

A Shopify webshop could list anything from Stroopwafels in Amsterdam to Safaris in Nairobi. From products to services, if there is something you can imagine selling it can be sold with Shopify.

4. I want to build a webshop that is truly unique, but I don’t have the time or expertise.  Can Shopify help me?

Shopify introduced their Shopify Partner Program with this very query in mind. Shopify Partners are affiliate companies that can provide assistance with every step of the Shopify process - from the actual setup of the store itself, to continuous maintenance and marketing expertise.

Once a Shopify Partner has a proven track record of helping Shopify customers to grow their businesses, they can become a Shopify Expert. Shopify Experts can provide professional services in one or more of the following areas:

  • Setup: These experts can get your store off the ground, teach you e-commerce best practices, and migrate your pre-existing e-commerce site from another platform to Shopify.
  • Design: With a Shopify design expert you are not limited to the templates provided in the Theme Store, they can design you something totally unique.
  • Development: If you have a basic Shopify store already setup but you want to improve it with more advanced features, Shopify Development experts can help you achieve this.
  • Marketing: Experts in generating more traffic and a higher turnover using SEO optimisation techniques, email and social media campaigns, and other digital marketing practices.
  • Photography: Professional photographers that can produce exceptional images of your products.

The Shopify Partner and Expert Programs are for those who are willing to spend more money on their Shopify site, in return for more than just a website but a true e-commerce experience.

Shopify Experts

Here at Ask Phill we have worked with a wide variety of different clients across Europe, and have now established ourselves as the leading Shopify Expert in the Netherlands. We are versatile in the work we do, and have a proven record of success in store setup, web design, advanced development, replatforming, app development, growth-hacking, and more - if you want to take your Shopify store to the next level, we'd love to hear your ideas so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

5. Will Shopify grow my business?

In the not so distant past selling products online was a fantastic marketing option for companies looking to generate more sales. Nowadays, however, it’s not an option it’s a minimum requirement, and not only must you sell your products online, you must make yourself visible in crowds hundreds of thousands, even millions, strong. Shopify has features that will help you achieve this.

  • SEO optimisation features can help you climb the search engine results and reach more customers.
  • Reviews from previous customers can be left on your Shopify site, building trust with future potential customers and further increasing conversion.
  • Shopify themes seamlessly convert into mobile and tablet layouts,, allowing customers to connect with you regardless which device they use.
  • Abandoned checkout recovery is available in Shopify, enabling you to reconnect with customers that were close to completing an order.

Shopify App Store

6. How much does Shopify cost?

Shopify breaks down into a number of different price bands, each with different combinations of features available to them.

The cheapest is Shopify Lite, costing only $9 a month. For this price you cannot build a webshop and so it is only intended for businesses that wish to sell products on another site or through social media. For example if you run a blog and wish to start selling a product directly through that blog without having to build a separate website, Shopify Lite will integrate into whichever platform you use for blogging and allow you to start selling. Similarly, it can create a fully integrated Facebook store to allow customers to buy directly through your social media page without having to redirect to another site.

The Basic Shopify package provides everything you need to build a basic e-commerce webshop for $29 a month. Above this is the Shopify package, priced at $79 a month and finally there is the Advanced Shopify package at $299. As you spend more you are given more features, more staff accounts and greater discounts on shipping and transaction fees.

On top of the monthly price plan there are additional fees to be paid - some are one-off and others are recurring payments. The majority of themes are not free, there are a vast number of Shopify apps that can be integrated into a Shopify site but most of these incur an additional cost, and a percentage of every transaction made is taken by Shopify - unless you are using Shopify Payments, in which case Shopify waive the transaction fees because they take the payment processing fee usually taken by the third-party provider.

So the answer to the question “How much does Shopify cost” completely depends on how many features and how many additional applications you wish to run through your site. Handily, Shopify offers a 14 day free trial to allow you to get some sort of idea of which package you would need, before handing over any money.

The path to glory

Congratulations! You have travelled 6 steps further down the path to e-commerce glory. Take this newfound knowledge and let it inspire you to achieve greatness. If you have any more queries please feel free to contact us!

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