Looking to start an e-commerce business and start making some serious cash online?
If so, you're going to need to do a lot of research, testing and optimizing in order to become successful.
Gone are the archaic internet days where you could get away with a poorly designed website and still make big profits online! You'll now need to have all the advantages of modern technology if you're going to make a real, lasting online business.
E-commerce has become a huge global trend in the past few years, and it's only going to continue to rise! It's your chance to get in on the action and start a profitable business using this trend and the infrastructure of advanced technology.
If you've seen some of my other articles on this site, then you'll know that I highly recommend the Shopify platform for getting started with an online business. I've used it in the past to great success, and it has helped me establish a great online income due to its advanced technology, customization and accessibility.
Shopify is a top dog in the e-commerce platform space, and I believe that everyone who's looking to get started in e-commerce should use this platform exclusively!
Now, there are four different base pricing plans for Shopify, and you should consider each one of them before deciding to leap into the platform. It can actually greatly impact your store's profitability, depending on your scale and resourcefulness!
The four base pricing plans are as follows: Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify. You won't want to spend money that you don't need to spend when first getting started, but it's important that you understand the key differences between each plan so that way you'll know when to take the leap into a more advanced Shopify plan!
Keep reading this article to see the individual cost for each plan as well as the features you're getting with each one so that you can make an educated decision about which plan is right for you and your business!
The three main Shopify plans are priced in the image below. Note that Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus are not included, and the reasoning behind this is to not complicate the pricing model for the majority of users looking at Shopify. Shopify Lite ($9/Month) and Shopify Plus (~$2,000/Month) will be covered later in this article!
The most popular plan for Shopify is the basic store plan. With it, you can launch your own Shopify store and start trying to establish a profitable business, all for the low price of $30/month in overhead costs.
If you compare the costs associated with launching an e-commerce store (not just with Shopify, although they are the best e-commerce platform for the majority of users) with the costs of starting a traditional brick and mortar business, you'll see that it's MUCH, MUCH cheaper and faster to get started with e-commerce.
When you take into account all factors associated with starting a traditional business, you'll start to see how fortunate aspiring business owners are in the modern business climate.
When starting a traditional retail business, the costs can creep up to hundreds of thousands of dollars!
However, when using platforms such as Shopify, Wix (for e-commerce), Squarespace (for e-commerce), WordPress (again, for e-commerce), Bigcommerce, Woocommerce, etc. to launch your business online, you're saving a ton of money in overhead costs associated with your new business. Furthermore, the infrastructure of online business is rapidly advancing startup capabilities, and using the internet exclusively to host your store with affordable designs and ship products has been a profitable trend for years, and it's only going to continue to grow!
Furthermore, using strategies such as dropshipping (a massive trend with Shopify users), you can start a profitable business for $100-$500 (if you're savvy and strategize correctly, that is).
Shopify allows users to start an online store for less than $1/day on the basic store plan and, when taking into account the traditional costs associated with business, it's insanely affordable to use their platform to grow an online income!
The $79/month Shopify plan and the $299/month Advanced plan are useful because they provide lower variable costs when using the platform (as your business grows, this will be a simple math equation to determine if it's more profitable to stay on a cheaper plan or scale up to a more advanced plan).
Also, the more expensive plans Shopify offers come with unique features that must also be considered when choosing which one is best for you. You can always upgrade/downgrade your plan as your business needs evolve, so don't feel like you're locked in based on what you choose at the start!
Below I'll be going more in depth on the unique features associated with each plan (including the Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus plans!). First, you should check out this amazing video on starting a Shopify store to get good insight on where to start to get your store up and running! This includes training on all the essential aspects of the website, even including core pages that you don't even house products on. Truly a value packed video here!
Now that you've gotten a main overview of the pricing associated with each Shopify plan, let's delve in deeper and get into the nitty gritty features and capabilities associated with each one!
I left Shopify Lite out of the pricing table above because it's really a niche need for a very specific customer base.
With Shopify Lite you're not able to access an actual storefront for your business, but instead utilize their point-of-sale (POS) software to allow yourself to sell products in app.
It's essentially useful for people trying to sell products offline utilizing an affordable POS solution without the marketing and conversion capabilities of an online store. This means you can use a physical card reader for your services offline and go through the Shopify payment gateway to easily allow revenue to be generated for your products/services.
Furthermore, for just $9/month you also get access to Shopify's industry leading support (they really do beat the e-commerce competition in support, hands down!) and access to the Shopify Buy Button for use on external websites.
The entire premise behind Shopify's Lite Plan is to compete with other companies such as Square to allow low-volume businesses to operate at an affordable cost.
It's not really the focus of this review, but Shopify Lite does a great job at bridging the gap that many startup, offline businesses face when trying to start generating revenue.
As mentioned above, the Shopify Lite plan doesn't give access to a fully-fledged and functional store.
However, the rest of the plans mentioned throughout this article, including the Basic Shopify plan at $29/month, all provide the user with a brand-able e-commerce store to use as they see fit!
With the basic plan, you get access to coupon code discounting, fraud analysis, website security, the Shopify app store (huge for becoming profitable and growing your business), Shopify payments w/ a high-converting e-commerce funnel, and the ability to upload as many products and categories to your store as you please!
This is the where the real appeal and power of the platform comes into play, and with Shopify you get a fully functional web store (as well as access to other pages) that acts as the gateway for your customers to browse and shop online - this is why people say that you can "start a business" with Shopify and how so many people have successfully done so!
You also get access to full-time Shopify support, SSL certificates, shipping and fulfillment services, etc.
It really is easy to start a business with Shopify.
One thing to note, however, is that the pricing model of $29/month + 2.9% + .30 selling fees is a bit more expensive than the light plan, so you'll need to factor this into your business model if you're going to have success with the platform.
This plan is suitable for beginner and intermediate business owners to utilize to actually gain revenue and sales online, and become profitable in the process!
The next plan up is the main Shopify plan. At about 80 bucks a month, it's quite a bit more expensive, relatively speaking, than the basic Shopify plan.
However, you may actually find it easier to become profitable with the Shopify plan, if you know what you're doing!
With this Shopify plan you get access to practically every feature that Shopify has to offer, with the ablity to optimize around an unlimited number of products, and take advantage of unique features such as gift card systems, professional reporting features (useful for businesses doing a significant amount of sales volume), and abandoned cart recovery.
In all honesty, if you're moderately business savvy you'll understand the importance of the detailed sales reporting and abandoned cart recovery, as you'll gain much more profits in the long run utilizing these features correctly, which is why the more expensive base Shopify plan can actually make you far more money than the basic Shopify plan.
Being able to capture leads who don't purchase at your web-store immediately and get them to take action on the items they added to their cart but didn't purchase can make you tons of extra cash, and it's a big part of doing more advanced business interactions between you and your potential customers in the modern business climate!
Shopify allows you to do this to extent, but you'll likely want a 3rd party program to help grow profits with email marketing.
For example, utilizing the abandoned cart tool, you can capture contact information for people who came to your webstore, browsed around, and put products into their cart. Using this, you can strategically market to and remind these customers about your brand in the future (this is most effective in the hours and days following their abandoned cart event).
This allows you to get ALOT more sales in the future and become more profitable because of it.
Statistics show that about 2/3 of consumers abandon their cart throughout the checkout process, but that they spend over 50% more on the store when re-marketed to following the initial purchase failure event. This is huge for the smart marketer/e-commerce business owner - are you one of them?
The Shopify Plan is for people doing real volume on their store and getting lots of sales. Once you start hitting a few thousand dollars in sales per month, it'll be far more profitable for you to fully utilize the features in the Shopify plan than stick to the basic plan. While this plan isn't a necessity so to speak, it definitely should be considered by the data conscious and savvy entrepreneurs out there!
Furthermore, the transactional fees on the Shopify plan are lower, giving you a better profitability in the short run due to lower variable costs associated with each transaction!
Here we start getting into serious business owners exclusively!
With the advanced Shopify plan, you'll spend $299/month + 2.4% + .30 per transaction in order to do business - and, while the base of $299/month is far more expensive than both the basic and regular Shopify plans, the transactional costs are lower than both and can save you money depending on how big your operations are.
With Advanced Shopify, everything is Unlimited.
With Unlimited Storage and Products, you can market to your customers with extremely high volume and utilize as many images, videos, etc. that you desire to help sell the products (without fear of having a slower webstore, hurting conversions in the process!).
You also get access to all of the extra features included in the previously mentioned plan, such as gift cards, advanced reporting, abandoned cart recovery, etc.
What really sells this platform is that you get access to 15 user accounts. So if you're running a real business and need 15 high-level employees to access your store and make changes based on parameters you set, you'll be able to do so with this advanced plan.
As you scale, you'll need to outsource and bring on people into your team in order to keep up with the advanced competition that you'll face - this is why this plan is essential for growing operations!
This plan is for people doing quite a significant amount of sales who need the cheaper 3rd party shipping alternatives and lower transactional costs. Furthermore, if you're running a significant operation, you'll definitely need to hire or outsource workers to help get the job done, which is why this plan comes decked out with 15 staff accounts to get you where you need to go!
This is an enterprise level solution for companies who want to focus more on marketing and design optimization rather than order fulfillment.
Don't even think about using this plan if you're just getting started!
This plan comes with zero transactional fees but with a high base cost of around $2,000 per month!
This plan is for companies as big as sports teams or globally recognized brands doing insane volume. It's really more of a marketing and e-commerce conversion rate optimization powerhouse rather than a simple webstore and order fulfillment center, and as such it's really not for beginnner to intermediate entrepreneurs at all. It's for the big players only!
Some of these associated costs listed below are really just costs of starting a business - online or offline.
While they will require an extra budget in order to really see true profits with the platform (and your online business), the way Shopify has structured many of these fees for the savvy entrepreneur makes it much cheaper than starting an e-commerce business with other companies (or starting a physical, offline business in general)!
While there is a small fee associated with using the Shopify Payment Gateway for collecting sales, there is no actual additional processing cost for going this route!
Shopify users have the option of setting up Paypal or other processors on their store in order to increase the amount of payment options that the customer has. However, for most of these other processors, additional costs will be incurred (usually about 2-3% + .30 for processing using these 3rd party services).
What this means is that it's more profitable for you to use Shopify Payments in the sense that you'll have lower variable costs per transaction, but you must also consider the potential benefits of using 3rd party services to allow customers more freedom for their payments (this generally increases conversions slightly, which could end up being more profitable than the additional incurred costs).
These processors should definitely be tested on your own store with your unique audience, in order to determine what checkout process is more profitable for your business!
The Shopify App store provides users with a plethora of business benefits for an additional cost (although, many of these apps are free).
The usage of some apps on your store is inevitable, and it's up to you to browse the store to find neat apps that can increase conversions, lead to higher customer value, provide unique data and insights, and help with order fulfillment.
Apps such as Oberlo are a must-have for Shopify dropshippers, and the usage of other apps that help with backend email marketing, abandoned cart retention, shipment tracking, advertisement optimization, store conversion rate optimization, etc. are all really essential tools to help you squeeze the most value out of your store as possible.
Really, these apps act as business supplements that can really make or break the profitability of your business, depending on who your customer is and how they shop. I definitely recommend you include some apps with your store, and keep in mind that this will creep up the total monthly cost of your operations in the process (although, getting features provided by Shopify apps on other platforms will likely cost you much, much more).
Doing business correctly is hard and requires great strategy and positioning on your part - Shopify makes it easier with their Shopify apps, but it will require further investment on your part!
Shopify has a theme store where you can purchase more premium themes for your store front.
These can improve conversions and add a certain level of professionalism and individuality to your business, something that is essential for your long-term branding and business outlook.
Furthermore, you may need to outsource to Shopify experts (paid Shopify developers) to help with some more technical aspects of setting up specific pages on your site for functionality and design purposes!
There are free themes as well as paid themes, and if you're just starting out it's probably best to utilize a minimalist theme centered on conversions, I quite like the Minimal, Simple and Brooklyn themes myself, and these are all free to use with your base Shopify subscription.
In the future, as your revenue starts to grow, you may want to look into paid themes and designers to establish yourself as a unique brand, and focus on conversions in the process.
Likely your biggest expense (unless you rely on long-term SEO strategies or other free traffic methods), will be your advertisement costs in order to get people onto your store and browsing for particular items!
This is really where key concepts of business come into play, as you'll need to play around and find optimal ways to find customers at a consistent rate for an amount that is less than the revenue generated from their purchase activity on the store. If you can master this, then you'll have a really solid income and business for years to come.
This isn't really a cost associated with the platform, it's a cost associated with doing online business period.
All in all, the Shopify platform is my #1 recommendation for beginner, intermediate and even advanced e-commerce users to utilize to grow their online business on.
It's got industry leading conversion rates across all successful stores, as well as outstanding support and forward thinking visions to help you achieve profits in your business for years to come.
While there are other platforms out there on the market that can help you start a business online, none of them make it as cheap or as easy as Shopify, which is why it's my favorite e-commerce platform.
I also recommend that you look into platforms such as Clickfunnels to really explode your profitability with Shopify.
Having a dedicated sales funnel and being optimized for conversions is becoming increasingly difficult, which is where landing page creation software really comes into play. You can use both Clickfunnels and Shopify together to be way ahead of the competition in your product's space. Using great email solutions such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp is also recommended, but it will certainly cost you more than using the base platform alone!
For more on starting affordable online businesses, I recommend you browse around this blog - I'm always researching and posting valuable content surrounding the online business sphere, and you can definitely take advantage of some of my research to help you make a well-established, long-term online income!