Shopify is a fantastic Canadian tech startup success story. Getting its start in 2004, and built out of the software from the founders’ online snowboard store, it has quickly become a go-to in the e-commerce space.
In 2015 Shopify went public, and now boasts over 1 million users and more than $40 billion in sales through their platform.
With plans starting at $29/month and a suite of tools to look after shipping, inventory management, POS, payment processing, and more, Shopify has made the barrier to entry for businesses interested in exploring how e-commerce can help them grow extremely low.
So how can you utilize Shopify to either grow your existing business or start a new one from scratch?
This may seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many businesses who sell products, don’t take advantage of the power of online sales. Most products, unless extremely large and heavy (meaning potentially huge shipping costs), can be sold online through Shopify quite easily.
You don’t have to offer all of your products through your online store either. For example, if you sell custom wood furniture and decor, you may not want to sell your large items, such as bookcases, desks, and dining tables through your online store due to prohibitive shipping costs. It may make sense to have items such as your wine bottle rack, coat rack, side table, or floating shelves available for online purchase though.
If you sell smaller and lighter products, such as clothing, art, jewellery, books, music, etc., then it’s even easier to get your Shopify store up and running.
You can even develop and sell online courses. Create tutorial videos and documents, that can purchased and downloaded through your website.
Even if your business isn’t such that selling products would traditionally work, if you have a large enough online audience and community you can still potentially sell business swag such as branded hats, shirts, coffee mugs, etc. If you think outside the box, there’s a good chance you can come up with some ideas for products that may work for online sales for your business.
You don’t have to sell physical products to make use of Shopify and ecommerce. List your freelance services, such as content writing, graphic design, development, etc., and simply disable shipping as an option. The platform will give you an easy payment processing option though. You can also add scheduling apps that will allow consumers to book meetings and appointments with you directly from you site.
Dropshipping is different from a traditional business that sells its own products, in that the business acts as a fulfillment service. The business purchases products from a third party and has them shipped directly to the consumer, cutting out the need to hold inventory, tie up capital and utilize storage space.
The dropshipping model requires little up-front investment, which can make it an attractive business-type. There are downsides to the model though, especially for those new to dealing with the potential complexities of international shipping. The margins also tend to be lower, which means sales volumes need to be higher to make healthy profits. Also, when dealing with third party suppliers and shipping companies, there’s obviously a lot more potential for things to go wrong that aren’t your fault, but that you’ll be on the hook with the consumer for.
The possibilities with ecommerce and Shopify are endless. Be sure to check out our comprehensive Shopify 101 Guide to get your own Shopify store up and running.