What is Shopify? (Plus Important Pros and Cons)


Starting an online store has never been easier, and chances are if you are looking to start an eCommerce business, you’ve heard of Shopify.

And with good reason. Shopify had over 200 million buyers last year, making it the world’s 3rd largest platform for online sales (trailing only eBay and Amazon).

It’s kind of a big deal. 😉

But what is Shopify exactly? What does it do? How does it work? And most importantly – is Shopify for you?

This article will cover in detail everything you need to know about Shopify in 2020 and beyond. 

What is Shopify?

Shopify was created in 2004 by three Canadian co-founders who were frustrated by their online shopping experiences while purchasing snowboards. They decided they wanted to simplify online shopping and created a platform that is both simple yet sophisticated, and also extremely scalable.  

Shopify is to online sellers what wordpress is for bloggers – an easy-to-use platform that enables you to run your website the way you want. This means that if you want to sell a product online, instead of hiring a developer to create a website from scratch, and having to figure out how to take online payments, you can use Shopify where everything from themes, designs, payment options, and analytics are built into the system and are immediately available. 

In short, it gives you easy access to make your own online shopping cart, without any coding knowledge. 

This is incredibly powerful for eCommerce business owners. It saves you the tremendous cost of having to build a website from the ground up, and its simple user interface means that you can start running your website yourself from day one. 

What Shopify is NOT

Although Shopify is tremendously powerful it doesn’t mean that it is a one-stop solution for your business. You still need to bring customers to your actual site, which means you need a marketing plan. 

The best way to drive traffic to a Shopify store is through paid and organic marketing. Paid marketing being Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram Ads, etc. And organic marketing being SEO, blogging, and social media content. 

If you are interested in growing your eCommerce business with next-level Digital Marketing strategies, call us to speak with a Digital strategist.  

What are the pros and cons of using Shopify?

Pros of using Shopify: 


  • Great pre-built in themes and tools


Building an online store from scratch can be difficult. Getting the look and feel of your website to match your company’s branding is often time-consuming and tricky. 

Your Shopify subscription comes with a free theme built in, ready to be customised and shaped to your liking. While the free theme is great, Shopify users also have the choice to use one of countless other themes which are a better fit for their brand’s vision. 


  • Detailed, yet easily accessible, analytics

After having run a Shopify store for at least a few months, you’ll find tons of useful analytics at your fingertips. Even Shopify Lite, the most basic plan, has access to an overview dashboard where you can find key sales, orders, and online store visitor data, finances reports to access detailed reports regarding bills, fees and much more, as well as product analysis to get an insight into how well your products have been performing over the past 3 months. 

The more you pay for your Shopify service, the more detailed analytics you’ll get access to: everything from inventory reports, behaviour reports and even custom reports are available for the more premium Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus plans. 


  • Shopify is a cloud-network service


Server based websites are more complicated in that you have to buy or rent your own hardware to host the server. A cloud based service like Shopify is much simpler and, of course, is much more reliable – meaning your website is far less likely to crash when you need it the most. 


  • Shopify is great for small and big businesses alike – and is highly scalable


With such a wide range of plans available, Shopify is a great option for small and bigger businesses alike. As your company grows, you can easily upgrade your plan without disrupting the day-to-day operation of your website through point-and-click scaling. Bigger brands purchasing the Shopify Plus service can sell in up to 5 languages, enjoy more discounts, have up to 8 retail locations, 15 staff accounts and much more. 

Shopify also has its own app store, which can be used to add a wide range of extra capabilities onto your existing website and customize it to your brand’s exact needs. 


  • Ease of use

At its heart, Shopify has made building a business easier than ever. Websites are automatically mobile friendly, there is a whole website called Shopify Compass ready to help you learn as you grow, and abundant customer support. 

Cons of using Shopify


  • Still quite a steep learning curve


Despite having plenty of learning resources and simplifying the process of building your own business, there’s still a lot to learn. Those with incredibly successful and quality Shopify websites didn’t make them in a day; it takes hours and hours of practise and experimentation to get there. But those who put in the time are almost guaranteed to find success using Shopify. 


  • To be truly successful, it needs to be paired with other digital strategies

A Shopify website is only as good as how many people find it. If you really want people to buy your products, you’re going to need to know how digital strategies like SEO and SEM work in order to truly capitalise on Shopify’s capabilities. 

Final thoughts on Shopify

Due to a seamless UX, rich reporting features, and an endless amount of plugins and themes, Shopify has earned itself a spot on the eCommerce hall of fame. 

If you are interested in starting an eCommerce business Shopify is one of the best platforms on the market. And remember, if you need to grow that business, be sure to reach out to a Digital Strategist to see how First Page can help.