What Is Shopify?

Shopify is part of a group of turn-key eCommerce (aka “hosted eCommerce”) solutions that provide everything you need from end to end (minus the product and business know-how) to set up and start selling your product(s) to the world as opposed to you putting all the pieces together yourself .

It’s sort of like hiring a general contractor to build your house, over being the contractor and hiring sub-contractors yourself. You’re still in control, but you let the general contractor use their expertise to make the project happen. My go-to analogy is with real estate.

There are pros and cons to the approach – which is what we’ll get into. But basically know that Shopify competes mainly with BigCommerce and Volusion – all three of which provide turn-key eCommerce solutions, which in turn compete with non-turnkey solutions.

And these hosted solutions sort of compete and integrate with eCommerce “marketplaces” like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. I wrote more about how Shopify can work with Etsy here and how Shopify competes with website builders like Wix here.

Aside – Shopify also has a “Buy button” functionality that allows you to use shopify website builder as Point of Sale (POS) / Inventory option – and let customers click to buy your products anywhere online (Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress blog, Tumblr, etc). I’ll be looking less at that – and more at Shopify’s full online store package. You can get the Buy button only as part of the Lite Plan, but it competes with PayPal rather than full online store options.

How Does Shopify Work?

Shopify is fairly straightforward – which is sort of their whole selling point. The broad process is as follows –

  1. Pick a Shopify plan that fits your budget and feature needs.
  2. “Point” your domain that you bought from a registrar like GoDaddy or NameCheap to your Shopify store. You can also buy one via Shopify.
  3. Choose a design/template for your store. You can edit a free one via their drag/drop tool or buy a premium one or hire a designer.
  4. Add your products, page content, payment options, etc.
  5. Go get customers! Here’s an eCommerce marketing strategy to get you started.