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"We'll empower you to easily sell your stuff" that leaves power and agency in the hands of individual companies.

WordPress + WooCommerce, PrestaShop and Magento already do that. Drop $10 to $20/month on hosting on DigitalOcean, install Wordpress, install WooCommerce, buy a cheap theme, buy whatever extra plugins you need, setup your payment system (PayPal and Stripe are supported), and you're off to the races.

And it's better than that, there's people with years and years of experience in modifying and creating plugins and themes so once you have enough $$$ from the basic setup, re-invest into the business and get better developer support for all the GPL'd plugins and themes you're using.

> WordPress + WooCommerce, PrestaShop and Magento already do that. Drop $10 to $20/month on hosting on DigitalOcean, install Wordpress, install WooCommerce, buy a cheap theme, buy whatever extra plugins you need, setup your payment system (PayPal and Stripe are supported), and you're off to the races.

So all the average person needs to set up shop is design skills, software engineering skills, understanding of servers and PII, and the time to do complete all technical tasks while also building up their actual product catalogue.

That's a lot, and goes a long way in explaining why Shopify has a justified usecase.

And manage patches, worry about security, PCI compliance, data loss, etc.

And HA, site monitoring... the list is long.

Can't forget about performance.

I am plenty technical to do this and it still sucks. We moved to shopify from a plumbed-together solution like that and it's a world of difference.

First, shopify is like $30 for a month. I'm $30 for a few minutes. The cost savings are laughably huge. And shopify's better anyway! Their plugin ecosystem is great, the admin tools are built specifically for merchant admin types (as opposed to boil-the-ocean blog admin UI with merchant UI hacked on top of it), so my cofounder/brother, who handled listing and fulfillment and that sort of thing, had a much easier time with it.

Shopify could literally 10x their price and it would still be a great deal. And this is for a lifestyle-sized biz. few $k/mo in transactions. For anyone doing this "for real", it's a rounding error.

Their plugin and theming is a joy on the dev side as well. Great docs, easy to get a sandbox account, theming in Liquid is a joy for anyone who's done jinja/handlebars/etc, their default themes have beautifully documented CSS.

I would, as the developer, literally pay my own money for shopify to be part of the stack just to abstract all that crap away from me. The time savings for me alone justify it.

I wish I had 100 upvotes to give you.

I'm currently converting a homegrown multi-million dollar eccommerce platform to Shopify and it's been a dream. Most of the significant lifting was done in less than 2 weeks.

Their graphql api has just been amazing, not to mention all the other developer services they provide.

OFC, I do feel like I'm coding myself out of a job, as I've spent the last 7 years building and maintaining that system.

Can you talk more about the home grown multimillion part?

Well I'm not in marketing, and I attribute tons of our growth to good marketing - but I was responsible for the development and deployment of our tech stack. Basically rewrote a legacy platform I inherited (.NET 1.0 WebForms yall on a single Windows server with SQL 2003) from scratch. (2 devs and me as lead). Added a headless CMS (they were literally FTPing .ASPX pages up every night to update the home page). Deployed the whole thing with containers on azure and increase site speed and reliability by a few orders of magnitude.

And now I'm switching it all to shopify plus with no regrets. I learned a hell of a lot coding my own ecommerce platform, and would love to work for a company like Shopify.

Have you decided which software you'll be using for fulfilling your orders? Or will you be outsourcing fulfillment?

In the interim we are using our legacy system. I wrote a connector that uses the Shopify admin api to fetch unfullfilled orders and fulfill them.

Long term we are thinking Ship Station or maybe ZenDesks ecommerce offering.

O nice. If you're doing a lot of volume (1k+ orders/month) you might want to take a look at ShipHero. You'll begin running into inventory issues with ShipStation at that volume.

Disclaimer: I work for ShipHero.

you seem to forget about the credit card rates, which are the 2.9% of your sales. I don't know in other countries, but where I live you can get the same conditions than for a physical pos terminal from a bank with around 1% rate. a 2% of your sales can easily grow to something that you can optimize.

I did almost mention those. Negotiating POS rates is in the realm of much bigger shops than I've run. At the 100k/mo mark, that's $2k/mo, which... I'd honestly still take shopify, but yeah, it starts to be worth asking about.

Shopify is a hair more expensive than some competing processors, but when I last dealt with it, they were in league of paypal, stripe, square, etc, so it wasn't a differentiating factor for us, and I suspect that's true for most businesses of our size.

Of course it's not perfect and would eventually be re-engineered, but I'd happily pay $3K/mo to make $100K/mo.

if you take in account that when selling physical items the selling margins are between 15% and 25%, you are paying 3k to make 15K profits, thats a 20% of your benefits. In much cases those 3k could be the difference between a profitable business and one that isn't profitable.

Yeah, that is the issue we have. Something like Stripe at 2.9% you don't think twice with a high margin SASS product, on 15% margins and enough volume though it makes sense to go through some pain to setup with a cheaper processor.

This isn't necessarily a fair comparison - card not present transactions have always had a much higher rate than point of sale transactions due to the increased risk of fraud. There's an open-ended question of if new entrants like Apple Pay can bring down those card not present fees thanks to their integration into your apple id, but tbd.

at least in europe with 3d secure authentication, it's easy to get rates under 1% for a new business. If you have big volume is easy to go downwards from that.

I get that using stripe or paypal it's easier sometimes, but for woocoomerce and alikes you usually have plugins already developed to use other payment platforms.

For 40 hrs/wk at $60/hr, is $10,000/mo.

If Shopify means they hire this guy for a tenth of the time, they save $9000.

They would have to be moving 300k/mo for hiring a full time to even break even.

In any case you can do what everyone else does, bake the fee into your prices and call it a day - it's not like you can compete with Amazon on the low-prices front anyways.

2.9% is the rate for their $30 a month plan, their $300 plan is 2.4% which leaves you within 1% from most of the cheapest payment processors while getting a ton more 'value' IMO.

In europe it’s even 1.8% on their $300 plan.

They let you choose among a wide range of processors

It`s important to note that they add a 2%/1%/0.5% transaction fee on top of your processor fee with Basic Shopify / Shopify / Advanced Shopify plans, respectively.

I'm always curious to see Shopify compared to something like Square's ecosystem.

"Just combine these 6 things and it's just as easy as a single tool that does it all for you."

Is this satire?

No, it's the standard response from some open source people for any proprietary end-to-end solution. The most famous example was this response to the launch of Dropbox:


some open source people

Hey now, stop with the name-calling :P I work on and use proprietary end to end solutions for ecommerce (but not Shopify).

Woocommerce wins for me because it lowers development costs and costs are lower overall. My perspective is definitely someone who has developed ecommerce sites, not solely as a non-technical user, and for me it's very advantageous to lower costs by using and modifying GPL'd plugins and themes.

I guess Shopify has 4000 employees and enough cash and enough direction to come out of box with a good UX and good defaults and that's good enough for nontechnical users.

I'm a technical user, and good UX and good defaults are something I often spend money on.

I’m a technical user, and if I needed to sell goods online I’d use Shopify. It’s precisely because I’m a technical user: I know all the things you you have to worry about, and I’d rather not. There surely a scale where it makes sense to roll your own e-commerce platform, but it’s substantially higher than people seem to think.

Yup. I've taken some MBA classes, and one (in retrospect obvious) thing I latched onto is the idea of opportunity cost: you can never do everything you are capable of doing, and each thing you do comes at the expense of something else. So, focus on doing the things that (depending on your goal) are most fulfilling and/or most profitable.

Amusingly, grasping that concept was a big factor in my decision to put my MBA degree on hold...

There is one other reason to do things: you cannot trust anyone else to do it. Fullfilling and/or profitable are hopefully the only ones that apply, but sometimes you have to do something because the risk is too high...

I’m not sure that applies to the Shopify argument here, but maybe you didn’t intend it to.

Hopefully - for Shopifys sake - it doesn't apply.

An example of how it could apply is if shopify were to "go down" often thus driving your customers to your competitors that roll their own solution that has good uptime.

What a gem, thx.

Do this, and this, and this, and that, and this, and that and this, and in a few days, you're halfway to this readymade offering that would have you up and running in minutes. I don't understand how anyone can type that out and not realise halfway through how ridiculous they're being.

Even for technical users / developers, their time is better spent than fiddling around with 10 different tools.

> Even for technical users / developers, their time is better spent than fiddling around with 10 different tools.

This might or might not be true. Fiddling with 10 different tools often gives you are much larger level of control. If you need some control that you get with 10 different tools that the single source doesn't do then you are stuck with 10 tools. The downside of course if you now need to fiddle with 10 different tools.

Make the correct decision for your situation.

I've set up ecommerce sites quite a few times and it was honestly 1 to 2 days of "work", install + configure and then the rest was customization which clients pay for and are patient for. We were ready to sell product within a day basically and then iterate from there based on client needs.

I guess I wasn't clear enough in making my point: Wordpress + Woocommerce can be setup very quickly and with minimal fuss and they can be as heavily customized as you want and rival whatever plugin-heavy Shopify sites are out there.

Someone who knows how to do all of those things, already knows that they know how to do all of those things. Nobody who uses a one-stop-shop like Shopify is duped into thinking it's something revolutionary. Either it's not something they know how to do on their own, not something they think is worth the trouble to do on their own, or not something they could afford to pay someone like you to do.

It's not revolutionary, but even with the stated two days of work in the original comment, you probably are spending a couple years worth of dollars compared to just using Shopify ignoring the time to find said developer, maintain the relationship if something goes wrong, etc. if you are just trying to get an idea off the ground.

So someone could avoid paying you for setup and maintenance by paying an extra $15 bucks a month to Shopify?

Seems like a pretty obvious choice for a small business.

There's also a %tage of sales where the 'build vs buy' argument makes sense in the other direction. Obviously, most sellers of physical goods have better reason to focus on growing revenue and promotional activity, not cutting costs. That break-even point (I think) is some where around $250K/yr revenue, but that calculation depends on margins and the relevant industry matters (from a future planning perspective).

I'm not a huge fan of Shopify. Their default setup and theme requirements are abysmal.

But it's light-years ahead of WordPress+Woocom.

Neither of these are well set to run a proper ecommerce without heavy customizations though.

> WordPress + WooCommerce, PrestaShop and Magento already do that. Drop $10 to $20/month on hosting on DigitalOcean, install Wordpress, install WooCommerce, buy a cheap theme, buy whatever extra plugins you need, setup your payment system (PayPal and Stripe are supported), and you're off to the races.

My wife is starting a fashion business. This is a hill too high to climb for a non-technical user. She was up and running in 30 minutes with my credit card and Shopify earlier this week. We don't have time to maintain an instance, troubleshoot Wordpress theme and plugin incompatibilities, etc. That's time better spent on sales funnel optimizations, manufacturing product, and customer support.

Would we consider more advanced ecommerce systems? Sure, when she hits $1MM/year in annual revenue. Until then, Shopify earns their keep (and margin) by taking care of the mundane. Make dollars, don't pinch pennies.

See: "Dropbox is just ftp + git" [1]

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9224

I don't know, these options look just as much as "swipe credit card, get started" as Shopify's options: https://www.siteground.com/woocommerce-hosting.htm?afcode=d5...

* Until then, Shopify earns their keep (and margin)*

That's fair. For business stuff I've swiped the credit card and paid for support as well. If the Shopify experience is easier than WooCommerce, etc. then I get it.

I already had a $5 DigitalOcean droplet running for experimentation and stuff but really wasn't doing much with. When my wife wanted a e-commerce store for her craft/jewelry business, I figured why pay $20+ per month for Shopify or Weebly when I can just install WordPress and WooCommerce and be good to go. So I spent an hour or two getting it set up and had the basics going.

But she hated the web-based admin interface and it was way too cumbersome to get anything customized, products added, etc. In the end it just wasn't worth it and she's now on Weebly. Shopify and Weebly have their own faults and can definitely be a pain if you want to do anything off the beaten path, but for the non-technical user who just wants to sell things I see the value over a self-hosted Wordpress install.

That's fair, the UX for Woocommerce does need a bit of technical hand-holding. Could be improved on, though it seems like the pressure from Shopify will force some improvement on that front.

And who needs Shopify fulfillment?

Just set up 10-20 warehouses, hire a few hundred workers, train them, get an HR rep, IT, finance, and support, and you're off to the races!

Kids are so lazy these days, with their long hair and their rock'n'roll music.

I don't think it's worth a downvote but what you list out is one of the worst examples of "why use SaaS? this convoluted self-assembled mish mash of randomness already exists" I've seen.

former Magento employee here...what you're describing is a TON of upfront technical investment for an e-commerce merchant who is just getting started. The platforms you've mentioned are ideal for merchants who are starting to hit $5M to $10M in annual revenue and need to innovate on their storefronts in order to continue achieving growth.

For someone at the beginning of their ecommerce journey, Shopify is the BEST way to start making money almost immediately.

This comment should be preserved in amber for when future generations ask, "What was HN?"

Which of those does the logistics and fulfilment part, which is really the heart of the article and the killer strategic step for Shopify?

Maybe if you have a dev at hand who’s willing to help. You really can't expect a non technical user to follow all of that. Shopify really simplifies all of that into an hour and a credit card. Without Shopify you'll be saving at best 10-15$ per month which is not worth it when you take into account maintenance, basic security, programmers charges etc. Not to mention if something borks you'll have to wait for your developer to have time to tend to it.

I'm sure if you surveyed Shopify customers, many of them couldn't handle any of that, nor could they afford to pay for bespoke services to handle that.

And there may be a split between the most successful and least successful customers of Shopify, but Shopify gets to make money off both.

Shopify is only $30/month for its basic plan. I can't imagine a situation where somebody with a successful online store would be sweating that $10. I also can't imagine a store that would be successful at $20/mo on WooCommerce, but not at $30/mo on Shopify. I say this as somebody with several past and current Shopify stores.

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