As part of our website redesign launch, we set up Shopify websites for free for a handful of lucky ducks. The giveaway is over, but I have good news for you.
This service turned out to be so popular that we’ve decided to extend it as one of our paid offerings. This is a big deal, as we haven’t had a budget-friendly offering like this for a long time!
A brief personal history of ecommerce
When we first started making ecommerce websites for crafters ten years ago, the software landscape out there was, well, different. The first ecommerce shop I developed used software made by one dude, and the shop owner herself guided me through how to use it. The second ecommerce shop I did, we used osCommerce (which evolved into the separate, and only slightly better, Zen Cart, which we struggled with for ages).
Though we used Zen Cart for many years, it was an exercise in insane frustration for us and for our clients. We had tried a handful of different software programs, and at the time it was the best for what we were doing. Still, we had to fight the software at every turn, and though there were many appealing add-ons, we would add a new one, and it would somehow blow up the old one our client had been using for months, or it would surprisingly make part of the shopping cart break or make other functionality disappear.
When we got stuck, our only recourse was to wail about it in the forums and hope some kindly developer would give us assistance that wasn’t rude or incorrect!
When it came time to upgrade (and you had to upgrade regularly, so your site wouldn’t get hacked or stop working), we had to compare each and every new file with the old file, move over all customizations and improvements we had made to the upgraded file, upload it all, and test the site again each time as if it was brand new. Arduous for us, and expensive for our clients.
Meanwhile, WordPress was only getting better and better, and their upgrading system was becoming easier and smarter. We often found ourselves wishing ecommerce worked better on WordPress, or that someone would make something similar for online shops.
Enter Shopify! My darlings! What a freaking relief to be able to recommend something to our clients that we actually believe is the best ecommerce platform for small business, not just, “the best of the pile of muck that exists at this time,” but something that works well, is easy to use, and continues to improve.
Why you will love Shopify, the best ecommerce platform
It’s hosted software. Shopify is your web host, and you won’t need to purchase a separate hosting account. You won’t be responsible for upgrading the shop software (or hiring someone to upgrade it for you, or, worse, not upgrading it and ending up with a hacked site). Shopify will automatically roll out upgrades, bug fixes, and security improvements. We don’t get complaints from our clients about sites being down or getting hacked anymore.
They value customer support. With other shop software, you may find that there’s just one guy behind it, or maybe a bunch of developers working independently, with just a support forum, rather than customer service. Shopify has a great team. You will be assigned your own account representative that can help you out with your questions, and they can be reached by phone, and are available around the clock.
They’re invested in helping small businesses. Obviously they make money if you make money, but the lovely symbiosis here is that you get all their awesome marketing tips and help, as well as the great documentation (including videos) and customer support. Seriously, check out their blog – it’s packed with great advice, and I’m constantly sharing their articles.
Shopify is very extensible, as they have a large app store where you can add new features when your store grows. For instance, if you decide you want to integrate a POS or accounting software, you may find just what you need in their app store.
The admin is user-friendly. Our clients have an easy time adding their products and managing orders with the simple and clear back end management tool (which is also available as an iPhone app).
Shopify works seamlessly for brick and mortar shops. Using the Shopify POS system, you can keep your inventory straight between your storefront and your ecommerce shop. You can even go on the road to a craft fair and sell products using your iPad.
Shopify is a content management system. Shopify isn’t just your shop, it’s your whole website, including informational pages, and even a simple blog.
Shopify is pretty global. You can use Shopify from most anywhere, and they work with over 70 payment gateways, and allow multiple languages and currencies.
You can choose a theme. You can choose a theme from their theme store and be up and running with a professional design right away, without any knowledge of how to build a website.
You can hire an expert. If you do need some more in-depth customization, they have an Experts directory that connects you with a reputable company to do some work for you.
They allow full customization. Though you won’t need to do this yourself as a shop owner, Shopify allows us to dig into the HTML, CSS, and Liquid code to develop any design we dream of. We can make a Shopify site look any way we want.
This is why we’ve felt for a few years that Shopify is the best ecommerce platform. You are going to love it! Go learn more or sign up for a free trial of Shopify now, and see what you think!