Shopify is a great platform if you need to get a store setup on the run, the whole process should take you less than an hour.
Once you get your store setup, and you start getting serious about selling, Shopify has a few drawbacks that make it very tricky to go the next level.
Sure, they are apps that work around some of these issues – but as we’ll explain in detail, the apps don’t add the functionality, they are just workarounds, at home, you would call this a band-aid.
1. The checkout URL
UPDATE: Shopify addressed this issue on 7/2017 see more here
When customers proceed to checkout on your site, they get redirected to https://checkout.shopify.com/ and not https://yourdomain.com/checkout.
As Shopify becomes a better-established e-commerce platform, more and more people will come across this URL and recognize to trust it, but we are not there just yet, and for many people this will be the bounce page.
As of late, Shopify allows you to have your domain name on the checkout page if you’re paying for one of their pro plans. But one of the advantages of starting off with Shopify is the low costs, once you start paying for the pro plan, you may as well look @ other e-commerce platforms.
The only thing we have seen that works was to include some messaging on the checkout page, for example, “For your security and to keep our high standards we process our payments through Shopify.”
This solution might improve your conversion rate, but it’s a cheap fix to a much bigger problem, store owners should at least have the option of using their domain for the checkout process even if costs a couple more dollars per month.
2. Product Fields
No two e-commerce vendors are selling the same product, and no two e-commerce owners use the same selling methods, that’s what makes each site unique, or so we would like to believe until you see Shopify stores.
Shopify does not provide an easy way to add product fields; a store that sells Protein Bars will want to add a field for “Nutrition Information,” while a website that sells flashlights will want to add a field for “Batteries Included.”
The only way to do this is by including it in the product description, that is often not intuitive, and not acceptable if you want a page layout that has different areas of information.
What you can do is use meta fields, and if you have long term plans for your website you should consider this before using meta fields.
Besides for the complexity of adding metadata to each item through meta fields, you don’t have access to that data. If you ever want to migrate to another platform or start selling on other marketplaces you cannot just do a product export and get those meta fields; Shopify does not include that data in the product export.
A better solution would be if Shopify implemented a way for store owners to add product fields – we don’t see it happening shortly, but we sure hope it does.
3. Related items
In the modern age, and in most other platforms the ability to add related items is as native as the Name, Price and image of a product.
With Shopify, there is no “Out Of the Box” solution for related items.
Again, if you’re selling purified water, this is a non-issue for you, but if you’re selling picture frames you could be making a lot more money per visitor if they would see the hanging kit that you also sell on the same product page.
Shopify does offer a solution in their documentation to use product tags, once more it’s a cheap fix as tags are essentially meant to help customers find your product through your storefront search.
Another option is to use the meta fields route described above, but you will have the same issues of not having any record or control over that data.
You can also use one of the many apps that will add related items for you, these apps essentially inject their data into your product pages so you’re now using two platforms – not an ideal situation.
Most e-businesses re-platform once every 7-10 years, and that means that a lot users signing up with Shopify are migrating from an existing e-commerce platform.
Owners who spent a lot of time, money and resources building their link relevance will need to create 301 redirects from their old legacy URL’s to the new Shopify URL’s.
There are simple rules that one can add to an htaccess file that will redirect most of the legacy URL’s to the Shopify URL, but Shopify doesn’t provide you with access to the htaccess file.
Instead you have to go into the admin and add redirects for every single URL, one at a time.
If your previous store had more than 100 URL’s, you’re in for a big data entry project 🙁
As with everything else, Shopify has an app that will solve this issue for you, what the app essentially does is submit these rewrites for you programmatically and there’s a lot of setup involved besides for the monthly costs of having the app.
A simpler solution would be to allow the users to write rewrite rules.
5. Product filters
If you’re selling Grills for example, you want your customers to be able to filter all your grills and quickly reach the item they’re looking for. For example, they would want to filter grills that come with a grease pan and grills that require no assembly.
Filtering is a basic function of e-commerce, yet it isn’t Shopify native. Think of the last time you made a purchase on line, did you use filters to find the product you were looking for? Of course, you did.
We’re used to this by now, but the solution that exists is to create collections and assign products to multiple collections and sub-collections, or use an app that uses meta fields or worse yet, inserts the filters as an iframe from their site.
While Shopify is really awesome in the sense that you could have a gorgeous store up and running in less than an hour, we strongly urge you to realize that the strength of it’s simplicity is also the cause for some major flaws. If you’re just getting started and want to get a grasp on selling online, Shopify is perfect for you, yet you should keep it in mind that if you ever become serious about selling online you will need to migrate to a better solution down the road.