Ecommerce capabilities online shops for artists and creative entrepreneurs are a necessity in a post-pandemic economy. Even a year after the major shutdown, some creatives have yet to launch online because of the struggles of learning and implementing an online store.
I’ve managed to ease into a new day job where online store management is a big portion of my day-to-day thus teaching me a few things about selling online. Over the years, I have worked with WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. I have designed and redesigned my website numerous times and learned the right and wrong things to do. I’ve even broken my site, had it hacked, and I even erased the entire thing.
I recently looked into Shopify for my creative business after using the full business version at my day job and noting the ease of use. I looked to see what options there were for small businesses and kept seeing the $30 price point per month so I never thought to consider Shopify. That was a business expense risk I was not willing to take.
However, scroll past the three package options and you will find the Shopify Lite plan!
This post reviews the pros, cons, and my recommendation for artists and creative entrepreneurs who are looking to start or upgrade their online store to Shopify Lite.
PROS OF SHOPIFY LITE
Centralized Product and Sales Management
What I had been looking for was a “one-stop-shop” as I had been selling through two different WooCommerce WordPress sites and sending invoices through different services. Shopify Lite allows me to point different products I have loaded into my account and point certain items to two different websites. It also allows me to accept credit cards, send invoices, and get mobile when I need to for art fairs with the POS app.
The other big piece that I was excited about was the inventory and product management. Managing artwork inventory can be difficult. But Shopify Lite allows me to manage product level counts and removes quantities as they sell both online and at in-person pop-ups. I also have the capabilities to turn off specific counts for items, so I don’t have to track numbers for each item. This is great when you add framing options to prints or sell digital downloads. The product load pages are also easy to use and update quickly.
The cost of all of the functionality of an online shop is totally worth $108 annually. Shopify Lite costs $9 a month which is a low expense for such a great sales channel. There are obviously some transaction fees that Shopify takes per transaction, but the rate is fairly standard.
There are additional apps that you can connect to your Shopify Lite store and create as big of an e-commerce experience as you want. The app I would definitely recommend is Shopify POS so you can sell at art fairs and pop-up shops. Additional apps I have tried allowed me to create a price tag and scalable barcode system so when I have my next event, I have professional and scalable barcodes to ring customers up.
Features & Customization
There are a wide variety of features that Shopify Lite allows you to do
- Overview dashboard
- Finances reports
- Customer profiles
- Order management
- Product management
- Mobile POS and hardware accessories
- Email carts
- QR code product details
- In-store inventory
- Gift cards
- Split bill
- Custom discounts and discount codes
In addition to all of the functional features, there are a number of themes that allow you to customzie your ecommerce shop and make it look branded and unique.
Starting with Shopify Lite is a low-risk investment that gives you the ability to scale as your business grows. In addition to having an online store, you have the ability to download the POS app and sell in-person, purchase hardware (such as a register drawer, scanner, and receipt printer), and upgrade Shopify when you need more features. The scalability factor allows it to grow with you alongside your business.
The tech support team is fantastic when it comes to helping you get situated with Shopify. They literally can talk you through any issues you have and have great customer service.
CONS OF SHOPIFY LITE
Obviously, with a smaller, liter version of Shopify, you get fewer options than the larger shop packages. So this is potentially a con if the features you need are in the larger, more expensive Shopify options.
In addition to fewer features, some apps that you can link up to Shopify won’t connect with the Lite version.
Putting Products on your Site
With Shopify Lite, you do not get a fully hosted online store. You get to create a “buy button” (or website code) to embed into your already existing website to sell the item. While this is a great feature for artists who already have a site, at first, this seems a bit tricky to manage if websites are a challenge for you. Once you learn how to make that code and put it on your site, it’s very easy to maintain. What this means is that your online store will exist inside your already live and existing artist website (rather than having a separate online store hosted by Shopify).
If you need help with managing this, then book a consultation with me and I can show you how it’s done!
POS App Updates
I’ve noticed the Shopify POS app tends to update on Sunday mornings. If you are doing a weekend pop-up show and you didn’t update your app, you may have Bluetooth connectivity issues with any hardware or devices you have. Depending on the size of the update, you may not be able to check out customers until the update is complete. After an update, other wireless devices and hardware usually need to be re-synced to your phone or tablet again. The first time this happens, it can take you a while to figure it out and you may need to call support to walk you through it. Once you learn the process, it’s easy to replicate when updates happen. This issue, however, doesn’t affect the online experience.
Please note that updates are important and necessary for your website, apps, and software. Do not skip or ignore updates as they fix critical bugs that prevent hacking, increase security, and provide updated features. You will likely experience similar situations with whatever POS system you implement.
While the cost of Shopify Lite is $9 a month, the version that provides the most functionality is another $21 dollars on top of that. Some themes and additional apps that connect to Shopify will only work for the version larger than the Lite.
RECOMMENDATION OF SHOPIFY LITE
From one artist to another, I would highly recommend Shopify Lite to artists needing to find a way to easily create and maintain an e-commerce shop at an affordable amount. There is a free trial period, so sign up and play around with the features and as mentioned above, I would be happy to meet and consult with any artist or creative entrepreneurs as you begin to build out your shop. What is nice about Shopify is the scalability so by starting out on the Lite shop, you can grow your capabilities and functionality just by upgrading your plan when the expense makes sense for you.