If you are thinking of starting a new e-commerce project this year or looking to update/refresh an existing website, then Shopify should be top of your list as a sales platform for many reasons, but here are our top 5:

1: Ease of use

The Shopify admin backend was updated recently to become one of the easiest-to-use website management tools around today. Within a hour of familiarising yourself with the software, you can easily switch between your product catalogue, recent orders, customer reviews and monthly accounting reports, like you’ve been using the platform for months. Likewise, the frontend design of any Shopify website is so customisable, that you can have a bespoke website built to meet you and your customers’ unique preferences and style.

On top of it all, if you ever need support or perhaps you have a more in-depth question, Shopify provides excellent online documentation, alongside a series of useful blogs, where you will find answers to all the questions you may have. And finally, let us not forget the 24/7 support available from Shopify’s own team of “gurus” who are an invaluable font of knowledge.

2: Multiple sales channels

Shopify no longer calls itself simply an “e-commerce” platform, rather it has become a fully-fledged “commerce” platform – opening your business reach across an array of different platforms. These range from the physical point-of-sale hardware options, available for your classic “bricks and motor” or “pop-up” shops, through to engagement via touch-screen tablet apps and integration with social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and even more specialised audiences such as Houzz and Kik. You can even sell on Amazon via your Shopify account.

With so many options currently available, we can assume that this will only grow over the coming years and it is all so easily accessible via the Shopify software, that there is no real excuse not to get exposure on these shopping channels.

3: Cheaper and better than the alternatives

Often one of the biggest barriers to opening a new e-commerce shop is the upfront design and development fees, followed  by the endless cycle of web-hosting fees, secure server certificate annual licences and highly specialised developer fees thereafter. The “go-to”choice of e-commerce platforms for a lot of businesses over the past few years has been Magento, which has a reputation as a leading e-commerce software solution. However most Magento projects face a setup fee of around £20,000, plus the burden of high-spec dedicated hosting costs each month in the region of about £500 upwards. Then there is the issue of an annual licence costing around £15,000 – it’s enough to put off even its most ardent supporters!

Because Shopify is a SAAS (“software as a service”) solution, every Shopify website comes hosted, with a secure (fully PCI compliant) infrastructure already in place and constantly upgraded in the background. All this for a tiny fraction of the cost of alternatives. A basic Shopify  subscription is currently just $29 per month (see pricing).

Shopify is a dedicated commerce platform with a sole purpose – helping you to sell more and grow your business. Platforms such as WooCommerce, the WordPress e-commerce bolt-on, are just that; bolt-ons to another platform designed for a different purpose (in this case blogging) – rather than a specialised, focused solution.

And one last thing… Magento 2 has recently been launched, alongside the notification that Magento 1 has a limited support shelf-life. So all those Magento websites will now need to be rebuilt to keep secure. Just what the business owners did not want to hear!

4: Fully secure

We talked about this a little in the point above, but it is such an important consideration we felt it merited its own discussion. Every Shopify online shop is built and maintained on the same certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant infrastructure.

What is PCI DSS Compliance?

“The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is an information security standard for organizations that handle credit card and debit card information. Defined by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, the standard was created to increase controls around credit card data to reduce credit card fraud via its exposure. If you want to sell online and accept payments from Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover credit cards, your software and hosting needs to be PCI compliant.”

Today nearly all banks will insist that any e-commerce website is hosted on a PCI compliant server, if they are to agree to you selling online. For a self-hosted e-commerce solution this can mean automatic monthly security audits via a service such as TrustWave, followed by the frequent expense of server security patches being applied by a top server admin engineer (they do not come cheap). With Shopify this all comes as standard, plus they now even include an SSL certificate for your domain at no extra charge – which also helps your Google ranking.

5: Future proofed

Quite possibly we saved the best news to last; Shopify has a cycle of new feature updates and maintenance that just takes care of itself, in the background without you needing to think!

With the shape of commerce changing so fast in the last few years, it used to be almost impossible to keep your e-commerce website aligned with new technology. Any Shopify website is given access to new technology in a well-managed and orderly process, where all the groundwork is taken care of for you by their extensive team of developers. This means when Apple come out with a newer version of ApplePay or Google change their search algorithm, you can rest assured that Shopify are on top of it. You can stay one step ahead of your competition simply by following the excellent Shopify blog, in the knowledge that your e-commerce shop is totally future-proofed.