Shopify is a heavily marketed e-commerce platform that allows merchants to sell their goods and services without any initial investment. Shopify charges a monthly fee between $29 and $299 per month, depending on the level of features you need. In addition, they also charge around 2% for each transaction that occurs on your website. For an entry-level website, this seems like a great deal, and it is! However, Shopify is a system that is specifically designed to trap their users into using their systems and paying their fees. The longer you use Shopify, the more invested you’ll be, and the chance of them collecting $299 per month for the lifetime of your business increases. As a website design and digital marketing agency, there are very few instances where we would ever recommend an e-commerce system like Shopify, because in our opinion, it sucks. Here are 5 reasons why Shopify absolutely sucks.
1 ) You Do Not Own Your Website.
When you use Shopify’s e-commerce platform, you do not own your website. You may own your images and text, but you do not own the code, the hosting, or the system. Should you decide to leave Shopify, you will not be able to take your website with you, as it is not yours to take. Shopify’s platform is a “leasing” system, and not a pay-to-own system. When you walk away from Shopify, you walk away from your website, and you’ll need to have another one built. A customized e-commerce will range from $7,000 to around $20,000 on average. For the $299 monthly price of using Shopify for 2 years, you could have your very own custom-built e-commerce platform! A platform that you own, control, and can optimize to fit your business needs.
2 ) Development is expensive.
Shopify runs on a proprietary content management system, which means that the cost of customizing your website’s look, features, and functionality can be extremely expensive. For moderate level changes, a Shopify developer will charge between $4,000 and $10,000. For the cost of this development, you could have developed your own customized website! The monthly cost of $299 per month may seem cheap, but should you need tailored features added to your website, it will cost you more than a pretty penny.
3 ) Basic optimizations are impossible.
When you run an e-commerce website, you’ll most likely be needing to make optimizations to your website to help increase sales. Some of these optimizations include your server speed, customer-checkout UX, mobile-device optimizations, and user flow management. There are hundreds of elements that cannot be edited through Shopify, because Shopify actually blocks access to the server-side files needing to be changed. Since Shopify owns your website code and server, you do not have the right to manipulate these items, like you would if you own your own website code and server space.
4 ) Plugins and Integrations are overpriced.
Shopify plugins and integrations are very pricey in comparison to plugins and integrations to an e-commerce platform like WooCommerce. If you’re looking to add a variety of plugins to your Shopify site to help increase conversions or inventory management, then you’re going to be paying far more than the entire Shopify service.
5 ) Conversion optimization sucks.
The purpose of an e-commerce site is to convert users into customers. Throughout the process, there are always issues that separate users from becoming your customers. This could be the speed of your website, a chaotic layout, a confusing navigation, an over-complicated check-out process, or even lack of trust. Shopify makes fixing conversion rates an expensive frankenstein-ed mess. You’re going to need a mix of plugins and custom development, which will both be extremely expensive, and in-turn, may not boost your conversions enough to even cover the costs of fixing one issue.
All in all, Shopify is a platform that is designed for one purpose: the start-up. The start-up business is usually fearful of the lifespan of their business, and don’t want to incur large costs to benefit their business up-front. However, after the start-up period, Shopify actually becomes counter-productive to a growing business. The increasing costs and inability to customize the platform make Shopify a real pain in the behind for a growing brand. Shopify’s marketing is all smoke-in-mirrors, in that you’re actually paying more than you would pay for a 100% custom e-commerce website design, but you’ll do it over time, so it is not as noticeable. For the price of 2 years worth of Shopify Fees, Development, and Plugins, you could have yourself a brand new custom website that you own!
If it sounds too good to be true…it usually is.