It's no secret that Shopify is my bestie. I used them for nearly a year, after putting it off for months and months. I will fully admit that Shopify can feel spendy, especially when there are free options like Etsy or WooCommerce around, but I stand by the idea that once you get on Shopify you're like…I am stupid for waiting so long.
So, I'm here to help soothe the panic of paying ~$27 a month (lowest plan, plus taxes) by showing you how I got the most out of it:
1. Use flat rate shipping prices and base it on zones – Living in New York, I'd put different weights into USPS' online calculator and get quotes for shipping it to…90210 (I grew up in the 90's, okay?). Then I did it for my Grandma's address in Florida. Then I created tables in Shopify, based on weight, and had that as my shipping rate. So anything west of Illinois got one price, and anything east of it got a cheaper price. It wasn't much different, I think $7.95 and $9.95 for up to 3lbs, but it was enough to cover my costs and my customers felt they weren't getting bamboozled by shipping.
And yes, there were times I took a hit on shipping, but it wasn't ever enough for me to need to tweak the system. I'd also use a shipping discounter (ShippingEasy) to get better rates and give me a better buffer zone…which has a Shopify integration, btw.
2. Max the ish out of their free options – Pinterest and Facebook stores are a godsend, okay? Take the time to actually tweak those to work correctly in the beginning, though, and it can become completely passive marketing. I added Alt tag plugins for my images so that my images on Pinterest included product descriptions and calls to action to actually go to my site to purchase. (It sounds ridiculous, but if you don't tell someone what to do, they won't know they're supposed to)
3. Apps apps apps – My favorite apps were always free ones, and there's a ton available in their marketplace that will max out the things your site can do. MailMunch, Receiptful, Alt tags, Product Reviews, and Persistent Cart where my top apps. I cannot emphasize enough the need to have product reviews available on your products. When is the last time you bought something on Amazon without first looking at the reviews? Did you buy it even when there weren't reviews? Product Reviews should be something you don't see as scary, but more as a way for your buyers to keep it real (and for you to get feedback!)
4. Keep your theme simple – There are tons of beautiful themes out there that rightfully cost a pretty penny. My favorite theme, Brooklyn (I know, I know), was incredibly simple…and free. Visitors should never say that your site is beautiful, because that means they're not paying attention to the one thing you want them to focus on: the products. Bells and whistles are fun little things to have, but remember that your website is simply a platform for your products, and should never be the front and center point of focus.
5. Remember it's just one part of your business – Your ecommerce site is important, totally, but it's only one aspect. Remember to keep in mind that the more ways you drive traffic to it (blogging, which…while I love Shopify, I hated their blog format. Use a standalone blog somewhere else), the more robust it can be, but it should never be the only point of interaction people have with your brand.
That's like being a tiny island in an ocean. At the very least, make an archipelago…make multiple points of interaction with blogging, social media, newsletters, press, AND ecommerce so that you are always staying top of mind. Creating all of these points of entry will create more revenue, and suddenly Shopify isn't so scary.