If you’ve ever visited Shopify’s website, you know that ease of use is their number one marketing claim. But does that claim have any merit? Is this app as intuitive as they say?
As software reviewers who have tested over 40 eCommerce solutions over the years (many of them repeatedly!), we can confidently say that Shopify is indeed one of the most user-friendly shopping cart solutions on the market. In particular, Shopify is well designed for merchants with very little technical know-how.
Shopify makes it easy to set up an online store, add products, and tweak your site’s look and feel so that you can focus your energy on building your business instead of building your website.
In this post, we’ll give you a breakdown of a few frequently used features and design tools, complete with screenshots of Shopify’s admin panel. Keep reading to see if Shopify’s usability fits your experience level and business needs.
Signing Up For Shopify
The best way to experience Shopify’s usability is to actually take the software for a test drive. Shopify offers a totally free, no commitment required 14-day trial, which you can sign up for at any time. To create your account, all you have to do is provide your email address and answer a few questions about your business’s size and industry.
You’ll then be sent an email with login information, and you’ll be able to access your Shopify dashboard:
While Shopify does not provide a formal tutorial, they do list a few setup steps on your initial dashboard page. You can either choose to complete those actions now or find them on your own later.
We recommend you play around a bit with the “Add Product” and “Customize Theme” pages to get a general feel for Shopify’s functions. To start setting up your online store, head over to the “Settings” tab on the bottom left.
From the Settings tab of the app, you can add payment processors, tax information, and shipping preferences. You’ll also be able to make changes to checkout, sales channels, account permissions, and more.
Correctly collecting sales tax for online orders can be tricky business. Every state, county, and municipality has its own rules and regulations regarding sales tax, and trying to comply by all those rules can be maddening. Shopify makes this process a bit easier by keeping all those important calculations in one place.
In the setup process, you can decide how you collect taxes for shipments, including international shipments.
When it comes to domestic shipping rates, you can ask Shopify to handle all the tax calculations based on your business’s location(s). Input your State and zip code, and Shopify will present a range of tax rates based on all the locations in which you have tax liability (called “nexus”).
If you’d like to see those taxes more specifically, click on that range (highlighted in blue) and see details for each city.
Select Shipping Options
There are a variety of ways Shopify merchants can go about calculating shipping rates. You can, for example, integrate with your favorite shipping software app (like ShippingEasy or ShipStation) or you can subscribe to Shopify’s highest pricing plan to use your own negotiated rates with popular shipping carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx. One of the most popular options, however, is to simply use Shopify Shipping to calculate rates and purchase and print shipping labels.
Shopify Shipping provides connections withÂ DHL, USPS, andÂ UPS.Â You can purchase shipping labels online and have those labels print in bulk from thermal or desktop printers. And now, you can even purchase those labels from your mobile device. What’s more, Shopify Shipping has partnered with shipping carriers to provide you with discounted shipping rates, depending on your Shopify plan.
To start using Shopify Shipping, click “Edit” under the “Shipping Zones” option on your Shipping page in settings.
You’ll then be redirected to this page where you can select carriers (such as USPS) and services (such as Priority Mail). These options will then be automatically available to your customers, and you will be able to purchase and print shipping labels for these services. Pretty easy, huh?
So far, I can only see one potential issue with Shopify Shipping and, depending on your business, it could be a big one. Shopify Shipping will only display calculated rates accordingÂ to the dimensions you list for your “Default Package.” That means that all shipments, no matter their actual size, will be treated as the same size.
If you sell products that are a wide range of sizes, calculated rates with Shopify Shipping might not be the best option. You may instead consider integrating with a third-party shipping solutionÂ to handle that aspect of your fulfillment.
Connect With Payment Solutions
To process payments, just select your preferred payment processor or payment gateway from the drop-down menu on the correct page in Settings.
Shopify also offers their own payment gateway, called Shopify Payments. If you choose to use Shopify Payments to accept credit card payments, Shopify will waive their transaction fees (which range from 0.5%-2.0%, depending on your pricing plan).
Note: I have seen many complaints online targeting Shopify Payments. Merchants say that while it’s easy to be initially accepted to the processor, your account may be canceled further down the road when Shopify gets around to reviewing your site. I’ve also seen complaints that say Shopify Payments withholds money from merchants. Keep these complaints in mind as you look into your options.
Creating new products is a simple process. Head over to the “Products” tab and click “Add a Product.” You’ll then be taken to a page like this:
Here you can input basic information like price, inventory totals, and images. You can also write product descriptions on this page and use tags and categories to organize items. Toward the bottom of the page, you can add shipping information, like weight, and list tariff code. You are also presented with the option to add variants.
If you choose to add product variants (size and color, etc.), you’ll be redirected to a new page where you can enter variant-specific information such as weight, inventory, and price. Notice, however, that there is no field available to enter product dimensions, which may result in less accurate shipping calculations.
Once you’ve added this information, the basic “Add a Product” page will change to reflect new variants. You will now be required to edit all weights, prices, and shipping information on variant pages instead of the main product page.
You can either manage inventory on individual product pages or in the “Inventory” tab in the admin.
Set quantities for each variant, and set low stock notifications to make sure you always have items on hand when customers want them.
Use Shopify’s “Discounts” tab to create coupons and discounts for your site. You can make these discounts specific to select categories or products, and you can set minimum purchase requirements. You can also make discounts only available to certain customer groups and set active dates for the promotion. Discounts can be fixed amounts, percentages, free shipping, and Buy X Get Y.
You can also promote your store through order confirmation emails, abandoned cart notifications, and other email marketing strategies. Use HTML design tools to modify the email templates that Shopify provides.
Editing Site Design
This app is designed for sellers who have little to no technical experience. Shopify works to make all of their customization tools accessible to beginners, including website design. You don’t have to know a lick of code to edit the look and feel of your site (although it certainly wouldn’t hurt!).
Most merchants begin the site design process by selecting a theme from Shopify’s vast marketplace. There, you can find a range of mobile responsive themes that are priced between $0-$180. It’s a good idea to start out with a free theme and move on to a more sophisticated theme once you get the hang of the editing tools.
Shopify provides a few options for editing your theme. The easiest option is Shopify’s drag and drop feature: Sections.
Using Sections, you can add and rearrange blocks of content. For example, you can add a featured products display, a map, and an image gallery on your homepage. Then, just drag those elements around until the site looks how you envisioned.
Sections is currently only available on select pages and with select themes.
If there ever was a long answer to a short question, this article is one of them!
In short: Yes, Shopify is very easy to use!
Get Started With Shopify
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