Why Shouldn’t you Build a Site on Shopify? A complete Guide
According to a recent report, Shopify has more than 100,000 merchant websites. This statistic is a clear sign that it’s a popular e-commerce platform that anyone can use to create an online store. However, there are glaring reasons why you should not build your site on Shopify.
After helping optimize sites for hundreds of customers who preferred Shopify to other open-source platforms such as OpenCart (my favourite and the best), Oscommerce, Woocommerce, and many more, we can confidently advise you not to use Shopify to create your online store.
Quick research online reveals that a majority of the people who rely on this platform are not happy for a number of reasons that we will discuss in this article. But before we dig deeper into that, it is important to note that Hong Kong has the most vibrant and promising e-commerce industries in the world. As you embark on setting up your online store, take the time to do extensive research to know which products or services to offer.
More importantly, we strongly recommend that you hire an SEO and digital marketing agency such as SEO Hero that has years of experience and a clean track record.
With that out of the way, let us look at the 6 primary reasons why should not build an online store using Shopify. Enjoy!
Reason 1: Vendor Lock-In
This is the number one reason why we don’t recommend that you create an online store using Shopify. Unknown to most people is that Shopify is a hosted platform. What does that mean? It means that you do not have to worry about finding a hosting company for your site, install any software or worry about getting an active SSL certificate.
Well, to the naked eye this is great since it eliminates the hustle of finding a hosting company and installing software. All the technical details are already done for you, but there is an imminent risk of losing your online store to Shopify if the company ever decides to close shop.
Another challenge associated with the hosted platform is that migrating your online store to a different platform will not be easy. All the company provides is CVS of your products, the rest such as the design of the store, blog posts, store policies and any other page you create on your site will have to be created again from scratch.
These challenges are commonly referred to as vendor lock-in and are associated with all hosted platform. They are really important if you want to become the next Amazon or AliExpress.
Shopify is not a free platform; there are different plans with the cheapest one starting at $9 per month, and the most expensive, ve is $29. Once you pay the said amount, you will get access to a few advanced features that are often bundled together to make the deal enticing enough.
At surface level, the plans look affordable and great but once you start l, looking at the features and the cost of having them in a different site, you will soon realize that they are not worth the money. Irrespective of the plan you choose, it will be very expensive for you to launch the e-commerce store using Shopify. It just does not make any economic and financial sense to spend thousands of dollars on a new online store that you are not even sure whether it will be successful.
It is also important to note that you will be forced to incur high transaction fees if you decide to use any third-party provider accept Shopify Payment. Another financial challenge that will just “eat” your profit is that irrespective of the Shopify plan you go for, you will be required to pay credit card processing fees.
The challenge escalates even further if you decide to add functionalities such as loyalty program or an order tracking system. Shopify will charge you for purchasing and installing the application from Shopify’s marketplace.
Reason 3: Expensive Themes
The most successful online stores in Hong Kong and abroad have awesome themes that are appealing to the eye. Customers are able to find what they are looking for quickly and without any issues. Shopify is aware of this fact and has 71 themes that you can install in your store to stand out from the crowd.
The first problem is that there are only 71 themes so there is a high likelihood that your online store is using a theme that is already been used or will be used sooner or later by another business to set up a site on the platform. Woe unto you if your competitors have the same theme, it will be very difficult for you to get a firm footing.
The themes are also very expensive, the last time we checked, the price ranges from $140 to $180. This price range is very high compared to premium WordPress themes that cost $80 on average. The free themes are not bad but their features a,nd customization options are very limited compared to the premium themes.
Reason 4: Expensive Apps
Users are allowed to install and use third-party apps to improve the functionality of their store. For instance, there are automation apps that can promote your site and improve user experience. Most of these apps, despite being very superb, they are free. But the most useful apps are very expensive.
To help you better understand what we are trying to put across, picture this, if you decide to use an app that adds recurring charges to your online store and enable subscription, you will be required to pay an extra $39 per month on top of the other normal Shopify fees. A pre-order functionality will cost you an extra $24.95. Can you imagine paying such a high monthly fee as a new online store owner?
Reason 5: Steeper Learning Curve
Shopify comes with very many terms that are different and difficult to understand compared to the industry stand. For example, product categories are referred to using the term “Collections. Another challenge is that when setting up your online store, you will find yourself repeatedly switching from the front-end to back-end due to the many options such as payment gateways which are located in the back-end while the theme customization options are in the front-end interface of your online store.
Well, Shopify makes it easy for users to do certain simple modifications such as uploading a log, setting the font, and colours. However, if your advanced customization is done to better your site, you have no option but to hire a Shopify designer. If you cannot afford that, you will have to spend hours and money learning how to code yourself.
Simply put, Shopify customization options are very limited compared to sites such as OpenCart which is very customer-oriented. If you want custom fonts and complete control of how products are displayed, and similar, then Shopify is not the best option for you.
Another example, if you want to customize your preferred Shopify theme, you will need to learn and master Liquid, Shopify’s own language that is used to create themes. It would be easy to find solutions to problems with your theme if Shopify used programming languages that are common such as PHP.
Shopify is not the ideal platform to use for creating an online store. There are more customer-oriented and functional platforms that you can use such as OpenCart, WooCommerce, osCommerce, and the like. OpenCart, for instance, offers users unlimited control over their online store, the set-up process is easy, and the premium features are utterly affordable, especially to a new business, a venture with limited financial muscle. Another major advantage is that they are open-source which means you will be granted, full access to all your files and complete backup of both database and folders.
What’s your take on Shopify? Let us know in the comment section.