Shopify vs Print-On-Demand Platforms: Which is better?

In the early of 2017, I heard many and many people talked about Shopify. On the Facebook groups, forums I saw a lot of articles, tutorials and courses around Shopify. It’s hot because it’s powerful and convenient. I agree. But there is something you have to check out before starting with Shopify. I’ve used it since the beginning of 2017 and I have a few things that I want to share.

What is Shopify?

According to Wikipedia, Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. It is also the name of its proprietary e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems.

For me, Shopify is my own store where I can publish any products to and then sell them. You can build your own brand with Shopify. Because it is a platform which provide you any tools & features you need from hosting storage to marketing. You just need to buy a domain (which is your brand) and point to your store.

Many people I know are using Shopify mostly for drop shipping purpose. They buy super cheap products from China then sell to people all over the world with the help of Facebook Ads. It’s quite good because of the very high margin. But I don’t like it because I don’t have time and patience to care about a lot of things. I have to find good supplier and do the custom support. It’s very time consuming. So I stick only with Shopify integrated to POD (Print-on-Demand).

Here is my store earning in lifetime. Not so much because I put a very small work on this store:

How does Shopify work with POD services?

Well, with the growth of Shopify there are so many POD companies want to work with them. Those POD companies develop their own systems to be fully integrated with Shopify. Some of them are Printful, Represent and Teelaunch.

To join these companies, you don’t have to pay anything. Just sign up for an account, install their app on your store, then start publishing your design on those websites. Then your products are automatically publish on your store. When you get a sale, your customer pay for the product, you get money on your Paypal account immediately, then the POD companies automatically charge you an amount to print the product. Then they will print and ship to your customer. You don’t have to do anything in this progress. Just take a cup of coffee and check your Paypal balance.

But when there are some problems, customers will contact you and you have to contact your supplier to solve those problems.

Sound good right?

Yes it’s good but let’s compare with platforms to decide which one you should choose.

How is Shopify when compare with Platforms?

The advantages:

  • You are fully control of your store and build you own brand. Platforms also have store for you but still their domain, you can create your own brand.
  • It is your own website, you can install Google Analytic to analyze your customer’s behavior to improve your SEO and earning. You also can collect your customer’s emails to do marketing.
  • There are tons of apps to serve your needs, help you grow.
  • Great sale channels for your to choose to increase your earnings.

The disadvantages:

  • You have to pay monthly price. Yes because you are provided great hosing and great structure you have to pay a fee to maintain. Besides you have to pay a small fee per transactions. See more here. While with platforms you just signup for an account and don’t have to pay anything.
  • The thing I scared the most is about payment method. Shopify allows some payment methods such as Paypal, Stripe and Shopify Payment. But in some countries (like mine), we can’t use Shopify Payment and can’t register for Stripe.  So we only have Paypal.  And as you know, Paypal is the pain in the ass. They can limit your account with any unusual activities. One friend of mine got limited his Paypal account due to so many orders on Christmas, so some packages were late delivery. Some customers report him and then his Paypal account got limit for 6 months. Then he had to shut down his store.
  • Most of fulfillment companies (POD companies) only allow you to pay them via credit card. So you receive your money in Paypal then use your credit card to pay for printing. Therefore you lose a small amount of money because of the different rate between Paypal and card.

That’s why I do not put much on my store. Because I scare that someday my Paypal account will be limited due to something out of my hand.

I would prefer Payoneer than Paypal. Why? Because I’ve used Payoneer for years and never got any problem. I talked to some Payoneer’s representatives and they said that they are discussing with Shopify to allow Payoneer as payment method. But I don’t know when is the time. I hope it will be happen soon.

I don’t deny the fact that Shopify is very great for your business but if you don’t have much time or money I think you should stick with platforms. And if you still want to work with Shopify, it will be fine. Those disadvantages could be solved.

So as you can see the pros and cons, now it’s time for you to choose which suit you the best. It’s all up to you.

Hope you can be succeeded.


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