Customer Service – I have seen in review after review people praising Shopify for exceptional support but I have had a mixed experience so far. I had setup two separate trial accounts, one a few months back when I was initially checking out the software and one just recently in order to to do this review. When you sign up with Shopify you get an email pretty soon after from your assigned Shopify guru that is supposed to help you get started. My first experience was less than stellar. I had sent a few emails and most were ignored. This second time around my experience was much better. I got an answer to all of my emails and the response time ranged from 18 – 36 hours. I was satisfied with the under 24 hour responses but I wouldn’t call a 36 hour response exceptional. The one caveat I will give here is that since I didn’t have a live store, I never dealt with their actual support system, just the Shopify guru I was assigned. See this www.onbuy.com for more information about On Buy .
Lot’s of Apps… Expensive Apps – I have the apps in both the things I like and the things I am on the fence about section. I know, kind of confusing, but the truth is, I am impressed that they have an open API and the ability to develop apps that can enhance their platform but they are going to cost you. Most are a monthly fee, which I really don’t like. I would much rather pay a flat fee and own it then be stuck paying for it month after month.
Things I Don’t Like
Search Engine Friendliness – The main feature that I found to be lacking was the ability to fill out the meta tags for each item and page. I asked my Shopify Guru about this and his response was “We don’t have meta tags built in because their use is limited. You totally can add it with apps like Meta Tagger and MetaFields if you think you’d find value in them.” First of all, editing the Meta Description on every single page of any ecommerce platform or web site should be a basic feature, I shouldn’t have to pay extra for an app to do something so simple yet critical. Secondly, the fact that he didn’t understand or recognize the the Meta Description is vital since it usually ends up as the description in the search engine results was pretty poor. The meta description tag may not help with rankings in any way but it is your chance to write copy that will get people to click through to your store.
Cost and Transaction Fees – I don’t like the way Shopify has their packages setup. Their cheapest package is $29 a month which isn’t bad except for two things. They charge a 2% transaction fee and they don’t include important features like coupon code engine or calculated shipping. If you want to get the coupon feature you have to upgrade to the $59 a month plan and if you want calculated shipping it’s $99 a month. Pretty steep for fairly standard features especially since I consider the additional $6 a month app for managing the meta tags a must (s super basic and standard feature). It’s real tough to charge appropriately for International shipping if you can’t automatically calculate the shipping cost. I also don’t understand why any shopping cart solution would or should charge a transaction fee unless they are also processing the credit cards for you. It’s hard enough to get an online store off the ground, you don’t need them taking a cut of every sale you make.
Shopify announced a brand new iPad app today to make it easy for iPad users to shop on Shopify stores. The app is called Catalog by Shopify and it lets customers shop for over 5 million products sold by it’s customers all in one place. If you are currently a Shopify customer you don’t need to do anything to get your product included in the app, it will happen automatically.
It looks pretty impressive but probably doesn’t mean a whole lot for the average Shopify store owner. With 5 Million products and hundreds of stores competing for eyeballs, it will be very hard to get noticed unless a LOT of people install the app. Still, it’s a nice perk for using their service and you have to think at some point, if the app proves popular, Shopify will allow it’s users to pay to be seen more prominently.
I also think that one of the more exciting possibilities for an app like this is for Shopify to offer it as a separate app that allows it’s customers to setup their own iPad app separately from the main Shopify app.
If you aren’t familiar with Shopify, they recently made my short list of Ecommerce platforms that I am interested in reviewing.