If you’re tracking the ecommerce platform and software space at all, you’ve recognized the explosive growth of Shopify compared to many other viable competitors.
One of the common questions that we hear from merchants and third parties interested in the space is why are so many business owners choosing Shopify over other platforms?
Jordan Brannon, Coalition’s president and a long-time innovator in the ecommerce space, summarizes his thoughts in the below video and also details them in this post.
Shopify today is the household name in ecommerce. Part of that is due to its buzzy stock performance and widespread adoption as the go-to platform for many ecommerce businesses.
There are three big reasons why Shopify has done so well and why it’s so commonly deployed as the ecommerce shopping cart of choice.
First is marketing.
Shopify has been one of the most successful and aggressive marketers in the ecommerce shopping cart space over the last five years, and that’s been an enormous contributor to its growth.
Other ecommerce platforms tend to disappear into the background of their ecommerce merchants, often presenting themselves as a behind-the-scenes assistant that ensures things keep running smoothly.
Shopify, on the other hand, has presented itself as a vital part of numerous rags-to-riches stories through aggressive paid, affiliate, and earned marketing opportunities.
That marketing couldn’t have happened at a better time. Right as Shopify’s marketing budget grew (perhaps in part to its IPO), the global economy began to see accelerated growth. Not only were there good times ahead for many retailers, there was a lot of personal opportunity for individuals.
Many were beginning to see pop culture proliferate with get-rich stories that leaned into digital transactions, side hustles, and ecommerce. Shopify doubled down on those narratives as part of its core marketing and was frequently featured alongside Shark Tank investors as being a pivotal path to “do it yourself” and to “be your own boss”.
Tens of thousands of micromerchants (retailers and small businesses that do less than $25,000 in sales annually) flooded the platform, attracted by its low cost, ease of use, and amazing case studies in many of the prominently featured industries (fashion, beauty, health and wellness, CPG, etc). Shopify catered to these merchants rather than focusing on larger established businesses, recognizing that there was very little downside in riding the wave, and seeing that those merchants had a lot of overlapping needs with more established small businesses.
One of the side benefits of that emphasis on the smallest of merchants was that Shopify was also (perhaps intentionally) happening into a future class of ecommerce professionals. In the last five years, I’ve encountered numerous digital marketing managers and marketing directors who first gained experience using the Shopify platform and have remained loyal to it over time.
Because it’s what these marketing professionals know, there is lower personal and professional risk to recommend the platform to the businesses they gradually transition to as they see their side hustle dry up or simply remain a side hustle.
Shopify has undoubtedly benefited from that maturing professional market, and I don’t doubt that it’s contributed to their adoption rates among mid-sized businesses and small enterprises. If everyone on the team knows Shopify and liked it, then why wouldn’t you choose it?
That Shopify’s growth is largely attributable to its marketing isn’t really debatable. Shopify has never outclassed every other ecommerce platform in the market and is unlikely to do so in the coming years. This doesn’t mean that Shopify isn’t a good ecommerce shopping cart software—in fact, we consistently have rated it one of the best overall shopping cart platforms available in our ten year history.
We started building custom Shopify themes in 2010 and haven’t regretted recommending it to many of the merchants we have deployed it for.
Shopify is feature-rich, fast, reliable, and, above all else, makes ecommerce feel easier than many other competitors. Paired with the aggressive marketing and eventual name brand recognition in ecommerce, Shopify is rarely a platform that merchants regret using. Most of our clients score their satisfaction with Shopify highly and don’t anticipate “churning” or leaving the platform any time soon.
One of the final reasons that Shopify is chosen by so many businesses is the rapid growth in ecommerce under what feels like a mandatory timetable. COVID-19 wiped out traditional small brick-and-mortar retail in thousands of cities throughout the United States, and nearly everyone of them had to make a move to ecommerce seemingly overnight. Shopify’s marketing, high performance, and reliability as the ecommerce platform of choice for micromerchants and small businesses had it in prime position to be the major beneficiary of that avalanche.
Based on their expected Q2 2020 earnings, it looks like that avalanche was also a windfall.
We’ll continue to track the ecommerce platform space closely and make thoughtful recommendations of ecommerce shopping carts to our merchants. While we love Shopify, it’s not always the best platform for many merchants and comes up short in some areas. Contact our team or visit the rest of our site if you want to learn more about how and why Shopify could fit your business and how we can build and market your Shopify store.