Lower-cost E-commerce with Shopify

If you want to sell a product or service online, you need will need your website to do two things well: (1) promote your company/products, and (2) provide an e-commerce solution so customers can buy what you’re selling. The product catalog, and cart, is a specific piece of software that enables a secure sales transaction. But which one to buy into? There are literally hundreds of shopping solutions to choose from.

In this article, we’re going to focus on businesses with “simple” products. A “simple” product means that it’s a durable good or packaged service without a lot of configurations, nor complex attributes, nor complex back office integrations. If your products fall into this category then Shopify may be an ideal cart for you.

Taking a step back, let’s examine two different approaches to e-commerce solutions:

Hosted e-commerce solution

Some e-commerce solutions are hosted by the company that provides it. You pay a monthly fee and license the solution from them. These types of solutions can start at $10 – $30+/month.  Some of these are available in tiered options that offer more features based on what you want to pay.


  • Lower cost
  • Quicker deployment – ease of use for developers
  • Provider takes care of all software updates, security patches, backups and server maintenance 
  • App store offers many add-ons to increase functionality


  • Limited features and customization
  • You don’t “own” it

Stand-alone (self-managed) e-commerce solution

In this case, you can purchase the software, or download it for free if it’s an open-source solution (example: Magento or OsCommerce). However, you are responsible for hosting it on your server and keeping the software up to date. 


  • Unlimited features and ability to customize
  • Many modules are available for additional functionality
  • You “own” it


  • Higher cost to develop and maintain
  • Longer deployment
  • You have to maintain it (security updates, software releases, bug fixes, backups, etc.)

Large (medium to enterprise-level) e-commerce businesses usually can’t use a hosted solution like Shopify because their products or customer requirements are too complex or they need to integrate back-office accounting, shipping, inventory, and ERP systems. These types of requirements probably won’t be compatible with a hosted solution. Typically, hosted e-commerce providers limit the customizability and features in order to offer their services securely to a wide audience at a low price.

One thing we often see is that a larger organization or business will “bolt on” Shopify to their existing website to manage the ecommerce piece only.

We have found that for many small businesses, Shopify is a great solution.

How we work with Shopify:

  1. We will review the client’s requirements to make sure Shopify is the right solution.
  2. The client will sign up for a Shopify account and send us the access to it.
  3. We will select a base Shopify template and then customize the design based on the client’s brand.
  4. We will import products and content into the Shopify website.
  5. We will add other required features like a blog, email campaign tools, etc.
  6. We create a marketing strategy and set up social media and/or other advertising.
  7. We test and launch the website.
  8. We train the client how to update products and content.

Typical cost for small business E-commerce solutions:

Shopify (managed) $8,000 – $20,000+

Stand-alone (self-hosted)  $20,000 – $50,000+

Later, a client may return to us to update look-and-feel, add features. or for marketing services, but for the most part they are set up to efficiently run their shop by themselves. If in the future the client feels they have outgrown Shopify, then we can migrate their products using a service like cart2cart.com into a more appropriate e-commerce solution.

Shopify allows us to create a unique design on top of their templates. Below are some examples of Shopify websites we have designed. You can see that Shopify allows a good designer to be quite creative within their templates.

shopify design examples

Executionists is a Shopify Expert and Partner. If your small business is trying to decide which e-commerce cart would be most effective, give us a call or fill out our quick estimate form and we’ll be happy to help.




Richard Parr
by Richard Parr
Posted: February 22, 2016