When it comes to venturing into online business, Shopify is a reliable choice among eCommerce website builders.
It offers visually appealing store designs and a user-friendly interface, along with an impressive array of features and comprehensive support to help establish a solid online presence.
However, it is worth noting that Shopify has gained a reputation for being a relatively costly eCommerce platform.
Let us delve into the reasons behind Shopify’s perceived expensiveness in terms of its services.
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Why Is Shopify So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
The reasons behind Shopify’s relatively higher cost can be attributed to the comprehensive range of services it offers. These include visually appealing themes, the use of the liquid computing language (HTML, Java, and CSS), a wide selection of apps, and a dedicated support team, among others.
While Shopify may come with a higher price tag, it delivers top-notch services in return. Despite charging more than its competitors, the value it provides makes it worth the additional investment.
Now, let’s explore the top ten factors that contribute to Shopify being considered a comparatively expensive platform in the eCommerce industry.
1. Hosted Platform
The primary reason for the higher cost of Shopify is its status as a hosted eCommerce platform. This means that Shopify takes on the role of a virtual assistant, providing comprehensive support for your store.
As a hosted service, Shopify offers a complete package that includes various benefits:
- Assistance in finding a hosting company
- Installation of necessary software updates
- Ongoing monitoring of the website’s architecture and interface
- Streamlined and faster initial setup
- Ability to handle traffic spikes without server downtime
- Guaranteed security patches
- Efficient management of the online store backend
In essence, Shopify takes care of the entire infrastructure of your online store, ensuring smooth operations and reducing the burden on you.
While it may seem tempting to opt for a self-hosted website to save some money, the cost savings may be outweighed by the additional effort required to manage and maintain a self-hosted setup. Handling website management, store maintenance, and data structure independently can be exhausting and stressful.
By choosing Shopify, you can rely on their services and focus solely on managing your online store, purchases, and sales.
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2. Liquid Themes
When it comes to running an eCommerce store, the layout and theme of your website play a crucial role in its long-term success. Shopify offers an exceptional and premium theme service that encompasses a wide range of options.
With over 160 themes available, Shopify provides a variety of choices to suit different business needs. The best part is that all of these themes are highly customizable, allowing you to make changes without having to modify the underlying code.
From the Shopify interface, you can easily customize elements such as colors, design, fonts, and styles to align with your branding. Additionally, each theme comes with a vast selection of free eCommerce photos that can be accessed in the “free images” section.
Given the extensive options and flexibility provided by Shopify’s themes and liquid coding, it is reasonable to expect a slightly higher price for these services.
3. App Store
One of the factors contributing to Shopify’s reputation as an expensive eCommerce service provider is its extensive app store. With over 1,500 apps available, both free and paid, the app store offers a wide range of options.
The app store covers almost every need, offering apps for product sourcing, background image removal, countdown timers, shipping software, customer wish lists, and much more. These apps can enhance the functionality of your website.
However, the drawback is that many of these add-ons come with high prices. For instance, adding pre-order functionality to your website can cost an additional $24.95 per month, while cart recovery feature can be an extra $24 per month.
For beginners, these Shopify apps may not be the best choice as they can significantly impact profitability, with costs eating up a substantial portion of the profit.
4. Development Service
In order to run a successful online store, themes and apps are essential. However, customizing your website can be challenging unless you have coding or programming skills. This often results in additional expenses.
Most customizations involve modifying the code language used in Shopify templates. Making even a small mistake in the code can lead to syntax errors, causing the entire site to crash and resulting in lost revenue.
Unless you are fortunate enough to possess coding expertise, you will likely need to hire a professional Shopify developer, which can be costly. The development fee will depend on two factors: the experience level of the developer and the complexity of your project.
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Experience Level Of The Developer
As a general guideline, the level of expertise typically correlates with the quality of service provided and the associated cost. While some web developers may offer their services at lower rates, around $20 to $30 per hour, it is often advisable to opt for those charging slightly higher fees, around $40 to $50 per hour. By doing so, you can expect to receive decent quality work at a reasonable price.
Shopify also offers theme developers at a rate of $50 per hour, allowing you to access skilled professionals specifically trained in Shopify’s platform.
The Complexity Of Your Project
The complexity of your website is another crucial factor that influences the overall cost of website development. As you aim for a larger and more feature-rich online store with multiple pages, the expenses naturally increase.
For a small-sized store, the average cost of development is around $1,500.
A medium-sized online store, with additional requirements and functionalities, may range up to $2,500 for its development.
Large-scale stores associated with well-known brands often require more intricate designs and extensive customization, resulting in a minimum cost of $7,000.
These estimates highlight that the size and complexity of your desired online store play a significant role in determining the final development cost.
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5. Detailed Backend Development And Admin Domain
While many eCommerce platforms focus primarily on the front end, Shopify stands out by offering exceptional backend support as well. This additional feature adds to the overall cost, making Shopify slightly more expensive compared to its competitors.
The backend of Shopify provides users with comprehensive reports and analytics that are crucial for running an efficient and successful online store. These reports cover various aspects including:
- Store performance on a weekly or monthly basis
- Daily sales figures
- Best-selling products
- Least popular products
- Real-time view of your store
- Daily visitor statistics
In essence, Shopify’s domain and backend work together as a comprehensive tool for online merchants, offering in-depth insights into the workings and efficiency of their stores. This eliminates the need for manual calculations and saves valuable time. While this feature comes at an additional cost, it proves to be a worthwhile investment for those seeking convenience and data-driven decision-making.
Related: Why is Shopify so Hard to Use?
6. Cloud Network
One factor that justifies the higher prices of Shopify plans is its cloud network infrastructure compared to local servers used by other eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce.
With shared server setups, sudden spikes in traffic can lead to downtime, resulting in lost sales and a negative customer experience.
In the worst-case scenario, you may even lose customers altogether.
In contrast, Shopify’s cloud network minimizes the chances of website crashes or downtime, creating a positive impression on customers.
Even during high-demand events like Black Friday or major discount sales, your Shopify website operates smoothly, allowing you to capitalize on increased sales.
While it may involve higher costs, the returns and reliability that Shopify provides make it a worthwhile investment.
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7. Transaction And Processing Fees
Regardless of the Shopify plan you select, there will always be an additional transaction fee if you choose a third-party payment service instead of Shopify Payments.
Unfortunately, the availability of the Shopify payment gateway is limited to specific countries.
Furthermore, credit card processing fees are applicable across all Shopify plans.
However, the higher-priced plans have lower processing fees.
For instance, the basic plan incurs a transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, while the advanced plan has a fee of 2.4% + $0.30 per transaction.
These fees can accumulate and impact your overall profitability, limiting your ability to generate significant profits.
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8. SEO Marketing Tool
Creating a website that is cost-effective but fails to attract real-time views and visitors is essentially worthless. In the end, you may have to close down your online store.
While Shopify may come with a higher price tag, it offers a powerful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) feature that can significantly enhance your website’s visibility and improve its ranking.
By leveraging the SEO tools provided by Shopify, you can attract more traffic to your website. These tools offer a range of features, including advanced analytics, integration with social media platforms, email marketing capabilities, product reviews, and the ability to create discount coupons and gift vouchers.
While availing of the comprehensive SEO toolkit from Shopify may require some investment, it can prove to be a worthwhile expense for driving traffic and ensuring the success of your online business.
9. Same Domain Blog
An important aspect of establishing a successful online business is setting up a blog with the same domain as your store. While many eCommerce platforms like Volusion and BigCommerce offer sub-domains, Shopify allows its customers to have the same domain for their blog.
However, this feature comes with additional charges compared to using a sub-domain. Having the same domain for your blog and store can provide various benefits. It helps improve the ranking of your content and store on search engines like Google, as it conveys more authority and credibility. Having a consistent domain enhances the perceived legitimacy and professionalism of your online presence.
10. Security (SSL + PCL)
Security is a crucial aspect that is included in the pricing of all eCommerce platforms, including Shopify. Shopify offers SSL certification, which encrypts and safeguards customers’ sensitive data such as credit card information, addresses, and phone numbers. It also ensures PCI compliance when credit cards are used for transactions.
While the cost of setting up and running a store on Shopify may initially seem expensive compared to its competitors, it’s important to consider the value it provides. Shopify offers numerous powerful functionalities that can help businesses generate healthy profits at a competitive price. The investment in Shopify’s services and features can lead to a promising return on investment.
What Are Different Pricing Plans Of Shopify?
Now that you have an understanding of why Shopify can be expensive, let’s explore the three different pricing plans offered by Shopify.
1. Basic Plan
This plan is designed for novice merchants and new entrepreneurs. For $29 per month, it provides all the necessary services to set up a fully functioning online website. However, it does not include features like gift cards, detailed reporting, and real-time shipping reports. It also has the highest credit card transaction fees, at 2.9% + $0.30 fee.
The Shopify plan is suitable for established businesses. Priced at $79 per month, it offers additional features such as gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, and detailed reporting.
3. Advanced Shopify
Ideal for larger stores targeting international markets, the Advanced Shopify plan is priced at $299 per month. It includes all the premium features, detailed reporting, real-time shipping, and reduced credit card transaction fees.
If these three pricing plans do not meet your specific needs, Shopify offers three more options to consider:
4. Shopify Starter
The Shopify Starter plan is perfect if you want to sell online without setting up a full-fledged website. It costs only $5 per month and provides the necessary checkout page and integration with social media platforms.
5. Shopify Lite
For those who already have a website and want to enhance it with additional features, Shopify Lite is a great choice. Priced at $9 per month, it offers features like customer chat, 24/7 support, and invoice creation. However, it does not set up a complete online store but integrates with existing stores.
6. Shopify Plus
Shopify Plus is a premium plan designed for large, established businesses. It offers top-level features and services to ensure the website runs smoothly without any downtime or crashes. The price for Shopify Plus starts at $2,000 per month, or potentially higher.
By offering these pricing plans, Shopify caters to a wide range of businesses with varying needs and budgets.
How To Grow A Successful Shopify Store
Once your online store is set up on Shopify, the next step is to focus on strategies to drive growth and make your store successful. Here are some effective methods to rapidly grow your eCommerce store using Shopify:
- Create and run advertisements for your store on various platforms based on the target audience you want to reach. Popular advertising platforms include Facebook, Google, and Instagram, but you can also explore other social media platforms.
- Utilize the power of Instagram by building an Instagram shop or page associated with your eCommerce store. This can help you generate more revenue and gain recognition. Leverage Instagram stories to offer discount vouchers, promote sales, and employ other marketing tactics.
- Implement search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to drive organic traffic to your store. SEO is a highly effective growth strategy for eCommerce stores, as it not only increases visibility but also reduces acquisition costs.
By leveraging these methods, you can accelerate the growth of your eCommerce store on Shopify and increase its chances of success.
Is Shopify Worth It? The Pros And Cons
Before making a decision about whether Shopify is the right eCommerce platform for your needs, it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages that come with using Shopify as a service provider.
Pros of Shopify:
- User-friendly interface without the need to worry about servers
- Mobile responsive themes for a seamless experience across devices
- Abandoned cart feature available in all Shopify plans
- Well-suited for dropshipping services
- Automatic tax calculation tools that save merchant’s time
- Wide selection of apps and themes to enhance functionality and design
- Support for third-party integrations to extend capabilities
- Multiple external payment gateways, including its own Stripe-powered gateway
- Search engine optimization (SEO) features to improve online visibility
- Offers a 14-day free trial period to test compatibility with your branding style
Cons of Shopify:
- Limited availability of Shopify Payments in certain countries, requiring the use of third-party payment processors and potentially reducing profits
- Advanced features like fully reporting functionality and multiple currency support are restricted to higher-tier plans
- Customization options are limited unless modifications are made to the code
- No built-in email hosting or marketing automation features
- Transaction and hosting fees are relatively higher compared to other platforms
These pros and cons should be considered when evaluating whether Shopify aligns with your specific requirements and preferences.
Best Alternatives Of Shopify
If you find that purchasing and setting up a business on Shopify is beyond your budget, there are several alternative eCommerce platforms that provide similar services. Consider the following options:
Web.com (Known for its powerful features and inventory management capabilities)
Magento (Ideal for Adobe enthusiasts and developers)
WooCommerce (Enables the conversion of blogs and WordPress websites into eCommerce sites)
Wix (Suitable for beginners and new online stores)
Zyro (Offers a range of pricing plans to cater to different budgets)
BigCommerce (Provides excellent scalability options)
PinnacleCart (Tailored for small businesses)
Shift4Shop (Allows for extensive customization)
These alternatives present viable choices depending on your specific needs and financial considerations.
Shopify unquestionably stands out as one of the leading hosted eCommerce platforms, offering a wide range of exceptional features.
These features, including templates, customization options, app integrations, and various payment gateways, contribute to the platform’s higher cost.
However, investing in these services ultimately leads to enhanced sales potential, higher customer satisfaction rates, and a larger platform overall.
Following the age-old adage that states “you get what you pay for,” it’s worth considering spending a few extra dollars to receive significantly greater benefits in return.