Shopify is a hosted e-commerce software solution that enables people without web design experience to setup online stores in literally just a few minutes. For $24 a month plus 2 percent of transactions, it’s possible for just about anyone to enter the world of e-commerce.
While there are many e-commerce platforms to choose from, Shopify gets high marks from Tim Ferriss, author of the best-selling book “The Four-Hour Workweek”. Earlier this year Ferriss conducted an informal Twitter survey of more than 50,000 people who recommended it almost unanimously.
Apparently celebrities including Pamela Anderson, Foo Fighters and organizations such as Pixar and Amnesty International depend on it for their e-commerce needs.
So how does the average Joe or Jane setup shop? The first step is to signup for a free 30-day trial of the Shopify service, which takes just a few minutes. You will need Visa, Mastercard or American Express to setup your account, and your card will be charged at the end of the trial period. When you signup, your online store is automatically created on the system with its own URL. If you want, you can later customize your URL to point to your own domain.
Keep in mind Shopify does not provide access to products – you’ll need to arrange your own agreements with wholesale suppliers and/or drop shippers in advance. But once you get that piece in place the shopify.com backend system has a full set of tools that lets you customize navigation, upload product images, and specify pricing and checkout options.
While PayPal is the default payment processor, you can also use Google Checkout and a variety of credit card payment gateways or create your own custom payment method, such as COD or Money Order. To get your products out to customers, Shopify integrates with a number of fulfillment services, including Amazon, Shipwire, and Websgistrix. You can also setup custom fulfillment with individual drop shippers.
The basic plan also includes marketing tools to help you track site stats and get started with Google Adwords, Yahoo and MSN. You can also take advantage of viral marketing partners Text Link Ads, King of the List, and ReviewMe! Shopify also has tools to help you promote your site through digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
With its myriad tools and user-friendly interface, Shopify has everything you need to get setup as a merchant on the web. So what are you waiting for? Setup your Shopify account and get selling today.