I was under the same dilemma a few months back on whether I should go with shopify or some other ecommerce platform (woo-commerce, opencart) for my startup satthwa.com. Having a fair bit knowledge of ecommerce stores both open-source and hosted platforms, I decided to go with shopify (against my better judgement) and now i regret it.
I have started quite a few ecommerce ventures before and i have used mostly used open source carts such as opencart and they have worked fairly well. If you are someone which has zero knowledge on how to start your ecommerce store then shopify might be where you start (though debatable) but if you are going to hire or want to do this yourself and have some knowledge, then using shopify can be a big & expensive mistake.
Starting up cost: It’s not cheap, you will be paying Rs.2000/month from the get go and apart from this, you have to pay 2% of the sales which you do. Even if you use your own payment gateway, you will need to pay commission to shopify and then you have to anyways pay transaction fee to the gateway provider. Why does shopify do charge per transaction? Compared to opencart, where you can install it on any server for less than Rs.500 a month and get going without any additional transaction charges. Keep in mind that Rs.2000 only get you the entry level features while on opencart, you get all advance features such as affiliates, order modification, gift cards etc. for FREE!
Average cart experience: It’s not like the checkout is better than other free carts our there, in my experience the conversion would not increase more than 1% overall, if at all. Once you receive an order, you cannot edit it, which is important as in India, you do get customers asking for order modification. GST tax system is a part of the cart but a simple thing such as an invoice is not provided with GST on it, for this you need to install an app which costs $10 a month.
Uptime issue: Shopify promises 99.98% uptime but in the past 2 months, I have faced 2-3 outages, ranging from 2 min to 20 min. This is above their promised SLA and we did not even get compensated for that. These days, if you host with a decent hosting company like Siteground (Aff. Link) where we host all our website, you get near 100% uptime with free SSL on all your website and a host of other free services for 1/3 the cost of shopify.
Paid Extensions: To run shopify like a professional store, you would need to install lot of apps, most of these apps are paid and range anywhere from $5 to $50 a month, this quickly adds if you are using even 3-4 decent apps. A good affiliate app would cost $20-$40 a month and that would also have restrictions on the number of affiliates you can create and would charge you more as the affiliates go up, something like this is inbuilt on other carts such a opencart. Even a simple app with which you can charge additional fee from your customer on COD order is a paid app. They do have a shopify own free version of this but the app is buggy and a lot of people have pointed out the bug but shopify refuses to have it fixed. (https://apps.shopify.com/advanced-cash-on-delivery , Rated 2.6/5)
Blogging feature: Or the lack of them, if you switch from wordpress to shopify blog, you will get a feeling as if you have gone back in time, when blog just started to popup. The features are so basic and is a shame compared to wordpress. Granted that shopify is not a blogging platform but these days a good blog is a must. Let me give you an example, imagine you are writing an article and that article should go to 2 categories, ecommerce & rants. You do not have any option to include this in both, you will need to choose either or. With respect to SEO feature, thats very basic as well. One would argue that you can always use wordpress as your blog and shopify for ecommerce, but then they be 2 different platforms. Imagine you add something to your cart and then happen to click on the blog article to read it, your cart is not transferred to the blog and you just lot a customer.
We have been using shopify for 3 months now, and till this day i think that i should have either gone with opencart or woo-commerce. I hope someone from the shopify team reads this article and taken note.
I would be happy to help anyone who is debating on what platform they should go with, in best interest… please comment with your question on this article and i will try my best to answer each query.