Shopify is one the most popular e-commerce website builders in the world.
With Shopify, you don’t need to be an expert programmer to set up your e-commerce website. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to program. You can set up your website just by using Shopify’s drag and drop feature.
In fact, you can probably set up a basic e-commerce website with Shopify in under one hour.
This makes Shopify’s platform suitable especially for beginners.
But with so many local Malaysian options for website builders at a cheaper price than Shopify, how does Shopify compare to them?
Is it worth the money to use Shopify rather than a local website builder?
This is a tough choice, but I hope to help you make a decision by taking a look at:
- Shopify’s pricing and explaining how each Shopify plan is different from the other
- Shopify’s key features and how they can help your e-commerce business
- Shopify compared with other site builders (Malaysian and non-Malaysian) as well as free (opensource) e-commerce CMS
By the end of this post, you’ll hopefully be able to make a decision on whether to use Shopify to build your e-commerce website.
In a Snapshot
|What is is: Shopify is a website builder for beginners with no coding or programming skills to set up their e-commerce website.
Pricing: Starts at US$29/month
In this guide:
What is Shopify and What it is Not
Shopify is website builder to help you build your own e-commerce website. You use Shopify to build a website where you will upload your products and customers will buy from.
With Shopify, you will be building your own website. As such, you will be the one designing the website, setting up payment and shipping systems as well as doing the marketing for your site. (If this is not something you want to do, I recommend checking out online marketplaces instead.)
Shopify Plans and Pricing
Now, let’s take a look at Shopify’s plans, how much they cost and what you will get with them.
Shopify starts at $29 (~RM120) a month for Shopify Basic, $79 (~RM320) a month for Shopify and $299 (RM1,200) a month for Advanced Shopify.
What are the differences between the plans and which one should you pick?
Let’s take a look:
|Shopify Basic||Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|Number of products||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Retail Package||+ $49||+ $49||+ $49|
|Manual order creation||✔||✔||✔|
|Website and blog||✔||✔||✔|
|Free SSL certificate||✔||✔||✔|
|Abandoned cart recovery||–||✔||✔|
|Advanced report builder||–||–||✔|
|Third-party calculated shipping rates||–||–||✔|
As you can see, the main difference between the plans is the transaction fees as well as features such as gift cards, professional reports, abandoned cart recovery and so on.
For me, what matters most is the transaction fees.
When you are on a cheaper plan, your transaction fees will be higher. The transaction fee for the cheapest US$29/month plan is 2.0% while for the US$79/month plan it is 1.0% and for the US$299/month plan it is the lowest at 0.5%.
If you are a complete beginner in e-commerce, it would be better to start with the more affordable US$29/month plan and then upgrade your plan as your business grows.
Even though the transaction fees are higher, the price of the plan at just US$29/month would make it much more affordable than the US$79 or US$299 plan with a lower transaction fee.
On the other hand, if you expect high sales volumes, going for the more advanced plan with lower transaction fees will be cheaper on the long term.
For example, if your sales are RM2,000 a month, going for the US$29/month plan would mean you pay RM40 for transaction fees. This brings your total monthly expenses to US$29 (~RM120) + RM40 = RM160.
On the other hand, if you use the US$299 plan instead with a sales of RM2,000, your transaction fees will be just RM10. However, your total monthly expenses will be much higher at US$299 (~RM1,200) + RM10 = RM1,210!
Therefore, choosing a plan really depends on how big your sales volume is.
You can always start off with the cheaper plan and upgrade as you see your sales volumes increase.
Who is Shopify Best For?
Shopify is best for beginners who don’t know how to program but want full features on their e-commerce website.
With Shopify, you can set up everything from your store, cart, payment, marketing and promotion under one roof. This reduces the need to have to look for different programmers to help you set up different parts of the system.
Let’s take a look at Shopify’s key features to show you what I mean:
Shopify’s Key Features
Having said that, let’s now take a look at Shopify’s key features:
Easy Storefront Setup
Shopify’s drag-and-drop feature makes it easy for anyone to set up their e-commerce site storefront.
With this drag and drop feature, you can position your website modules exactly where you want them.
Check out this video to see it in action:
Mobile-Ready E-commerce Website
E-commerce websites created using Shopify will be mobile-ready. This means that your e-commerce website will adjust according to the mobile device it is opened on.
This means that your website will look good whether on desktop or mobile.
By being mobile responsive, you will be able to help smoothen the shopping and checkout experience for your potential customers on their mobile phones.
This is an important feature as more and more people are accessing websites and buying through their mobile phones.
Payment Gateway Support for Malaysian and Other Countries
With Shopify, you can integrate your site with local Malaysian payment gateways like iPay88 and MOLPay without touching any code either.
With 1-click integration, you can set up your e-commerce website to start collecting payments using online bank transfer from local Malaysian banks or credit cards.
Here is the full list of major payment gateways Shopify supports in Malaysia:
Shopify stores are Hosted
When you sign up for Shopify, you don’t need to worry about hosting anymore. All Shopify stores are hosted by Shopify.
This means you won’t need to worry about your website maintenance and any of the more technical backend stuff.
If you ever encounter problems with your website, you can always contact Shopify’s 24/7 support via live chat, call or e-mail.
Integration with Local Malaysian Logistic Solutions
Shopify easily integrates with local Malaysian logistic solutions such as EasyParcel.
Shopify POS will enable you to collect payments offline also. This is especially useful if your business is both offline and online.
The Shopify app store is probably one of the best features of Shopify.
The App Store is where Shopify has worked with hundreds of vendors to come up with 1-click integrations to services that can help you with things like marketing, sales, product sourcing, analytics, logistics and so on.
There are hundreds of services for you to choose from!
Some popular apps include:
Shopify Messenger. With the live chat feature, potential buyers will be able to ask you questions live.
Oberlo. Oberlo enables you to dropship from AliExpress.
Google Analytics. With Google Analytics integrated, you will be able to track what your website visitors are doing.
However, do note that you may need to pay fees for the services you integrate. These are not included in your Shopify plan.
Shopify vs. Other Website Builders
Now, let’s take a look at how Shopify compares with other local Malaysian website builders available.
With these comparisons, I hope to help you answer the question:
Is this the best website builder I can get for my money?
Let’s take a look:
Shopify vs EasyStore
EasyStore is the cheaper, local website builder alternative. It is a sister company of Exabytes.
Let’s take a look at how EasyStore compares with Shopify:
|Shopify Basic||EasyStore Basic|
|Cheapest Plan||$29 (~120)/month||RM32.5/month|
|Transaction fees||0.5 – 2.0% if not using Shopify payments||0%|
|Number of products||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Domain||Not included. Need to buy separately.||Not included. Need to buy separately.|
|Drag and Drop Builder||Available, intuitive||Not Available|
|Logistics||Can connect with most Poslaju, GDex, NinjaVan, Skynet, EasyParcel etc||Can connect with most Poslaju, GDex, NinjaVan, Skynet, EasyParcel etc|
|Payment Gateways||iPay, MOLPay and more||iPay, MOLPay and more|
|Marketplace Sync||Available for a monthly fee||Included in the monthly fee|
|App Store||Available, hundreds of apps||Available, less than 100|
As you can see, the biggest advantage that EasyStore has over Shopify is its price.
At US$29 (~RM120) a month, Shopify costs almost four times more than EasyStore.
The question is: is Shopify’s higher price justified?
In my opinion, Shopify’s price difference is justified thanks to its drag-and-drop website builder feature and its hundreds of apps available in its app store. This means that you will be able to easily change the layout of your website and it’s likely that the app you want is already inside Shopify’s app store.
EasyStore, on the other hand, has limited theme features and does have a drag-and-drop website builder feature. This will make it difficult for you to make basic customizations to your site layout.
EasyStore’s biggest advantage over Shopify, however, is its marketplace sync. Whereas in Shopify you will need to pay for an app to help you sync your website products to online marketplaces, for EasyStore, this feature is included in the plan.
Shopify vs SiteGiant
SiteGiant is one of the pioneer website builders in Malaysia.
Let’s take a look at how SiteGiant compares with Shopify:
|Shopify Basic||SiteGiant UniCart Basic|
|Cheapest Plan||$29 (~120)/month||RM590/year|
|Transaction fees||0.5 – 2.0% if not using Shopify payments||Not stated|
|Number of products||Unlimited||500|
|Domain name||Not included. Need to buy separately.||Included|
|Drag and Drop Builder||Available, intuitive||Available, chunky|
|Logistics||Can connect with most Poslaju, GDex, NinjaVan, Skynet, EasyParcel etc||Not available for cheapest plan|
|Payment Gateways||iPay, MOLPay and more||iPay, MOLPay and more|
|Marketplace Sync||Available for a monthly fee||Not available for cheapest plan|
|App Store||Available, hundreds of apps||Not available|
As with Shopify, the biggest advantage SiteGiant has over Shopify is its price.
At just RM590 a year for its cheapest, it’s around 50% off of Shopify’s basic plan.
However, should you go for it just because it is cheaper?
For SiteGiant, the cheapest plan is the most limiting plan across all website builders in Malaysia.
Unlike EasyStore where you can upload an unlimited number of products, SiteGiant’s cheapest plan limits you to just 500. This means that once you have more than 500 products, you will need to upgrade to SiteGiant’s next plan which will set you back at RM1,090 a year (almost the same as price as Shopify’s basic plan).
Other than that, this plan does not allow you to sync with logistics or marketplaces. If you want both these features you have to upgrade to the more expensive RM1,090 a year plan.
When placed side by side, SiteGiant’s UniCart Basic plan is a limited and restrictive option compared to Shopify’s basic plan.
If you even want the most basic options available, you will need to upgrade to UniCart Pro. At RM1,090 a year, the UniCart Pro plan is slightly cheaper than Shopify’s Basic plan and comes with logistics and marketplace sync. However, none of SiteGiant’s plans come with access to an app store.
Without an app store, you will have to hire a programmer each time you want to integrate with a service outside of what is already made available by SiteGiant.
Shopify vs Free (Opensource) E-commerce Solutions
All the website builders we have seen above are paid e-commerce solutions. However, that is not the only option available.
A popular alternative to paid website builders is free ones. These include solutions like WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, and OpenCart. Most of these free CMS come with full features that make it easy for you to set up your e-commerce website from A to Z.
So you must be wondering:
If there are free e-commerce solutions to help you build your e-commerce website, should you even pay to get one?
To answer your question, let’s take a look at the differences between Shopify and free CMS solutions:
|Shopify||Free E-commerce CMS|
|Pricing||$29 – 299/month||Free|
|Payment Gateway Integration||One-click integration for available gateways.||Usually, require plugin installation. Plugin purchase mostly required.|
|Drag and Drop Website Builder||Drag and drop builder available.||Drag and drop builder usually not available, but can be bought at a fee.|
|Support||Access to support 24/7. Problems are solved quickly.||Non-official support in the form of open source community.|
|Hosting||Website is hosted by Shopify. Cost of hosting is included in monthly fee.||Does not provide any hosting. You need to host the website yourself.|
|App Store||Has an app store offering one-click integration with hundreds of services.||No app store. Normally has marketplaces that sell plugins for service integration.|
The biggest advantage that free solutions have over Shopify is that well, it’s free.
The downside is that almost all free CMS also do not come with a well-developed drag-and-drop website builder. This means if you want to make changes to your layout, it will be slightly harder to do it on a free CMS when compared to a platform like Shopify.
Compared with a more intuitive platform like Shopify, you will need some amount of technical skills to set up your e-commerce website with a free CMS.
To make matters worse, all free e-commerce CMS solutions don’t come with 24/7 support. If you encounter any issues, your best bet is to post your question in a forum and wait for people to reply. To be an effective user of free e-commerce CMS solutions, you must be willing to learn and test.
In the end, if you don’t know how to set it up, you will need to pay someone to set it up for you.
Also, free CMS does not mean everything and everything will be free. If you need features that are not included in the base version, you will need to pay for plugins, extensions, and customizations to come up with a website that is good enough. This can add up to a few hundred or thousand RM extra.
From a payment point of view, most free CMS is developed outside of Malaysia so though they come ready with payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe, they don’t come with Malaysian ones like iPay88 and MOLPay.
To integrate a payment gateway into your website will mean either buying a plugin or getting a developer to do it for you. In Shopify, you can integrate these for free.
Finally, on Shopify, your e-commerce website will be hosted by Shopify so you don’t have to worry about the backend technical and maintenance stuff. These are taken care of by Shopify. For free CMS to work, you will need to buy and manage your own hosting.
Personally, I love both Shopify and free e-commerce CMS.
However, I only recommend free CMS to people who have at least some amount of technical skills or you will spend too much money getting people to help you with this and that.
For people who can’t be bothered learning how to build a website and just want to get started selling, I highly recommend using a website builder like Shopify.
Well-Known Websites in Malaysia that Use Shopify
Shopify’s websites are beautiful, responsive and easy to manage. Here are some examples of popular websites that use Shopify to power their online businesses to give you an idea of how your site can look:
FitGear is a Malaysian brand that sells high-quality activewear at affordable prices.
Check it out at www.fitgear.shop
Storming Gravity is a Malaysian brand that products that make life more convenient.
Check it out at www.storminggravity.com
The Verdict: Is Shopify Worth Paying $29 – $299 a month for?
Shopify is the best, full-featured e-commerce website builders in the market.
Starting at just $29 (~RM120) a month, it’s well worth the price thanks to its drag-and-drop website builder feature, payment gateway availability and access to hundreds of services through its 1-click integration app store.
Even though free e-commerce solutions have zero initial setup costs, you are likely to need to add many paid extensions to your website to make it function the way you want it to. The costs of these extensions can add up and you may end up needing to pay a few thousand RM to have a fully functioning site.
With Shopify, all the necessary features are available and you can get started selling right away.
All the features that Shopify provides make it worth the price.
Which Shopify Plan is For You?
If you’ve decided to get started with Shopify, your next question might be:
Which plan is the best for my needs?
As I covered in the earlier section on plan and pricing, the simplest answer to this is: it depends on how big your business is.
The bigger your business in terms of products sold and potential sales volume, the more advanced the Shopify plan you should go for as your transaction fees will reduce so as to reduce your overall expenses.
Generally speaking, if you are a 1-man show, or you are just getting started in e-commerce with less than RM10,000 in sales, you should start with the $29/month Shopify Basic plan with 2.0% transaction fees.
When your business grows large enough for you to need at least 5 staff to handle your orders and sales of RM30,000 and above, it’s time you go for the $79/month Shopify plan with 1.0% transaction fees.
Then, finally, if you are banking in a few hundred thousand RM a month and need at least 15 staff to handle your online sales, you can go for the $299/month Shopify Plus Plan with 0.5% transaction fees.
Frequently Asked Questions about Shopify
Can I accept payments through online bank transfer from Malaysian banks?
Yes. Shopify comes with 1-click iPay88 and MOLPay integration so you can accept any online bank transfer payments through your Shopify website.
Do I need to know programming to build my Shopify store?
No. You can use Shopify’s drag-and-drop builder to set up a basic store yourself.
What if I need to customize my store? Do I need to know programming?
If your needs go beyond setting up a basic store and you want to customize your site, you will need to be good at Shopify’s programming language Liquid.
The good news is that there are many Shopify Experts you can hire to get this done for a nominal fee.
Setting Up Your Online Shopify Store
If you are ready to set up, the good news is, it’s pretty easy.
Step 1: Sign up for Shopify’s 14 Day Free Trial
The first step you need to do is to sign up for Shopify’s free 14-day trial. This gives you ample time to check out all of Shopify’s features
Just enter your email to get started with the trial.
Step 2: Provide the basic details for your store
Once inside, you will be prompted some questions about yourself and your store. This will help Shopify decide on the best route forward for you:
Step 3: Add Products to Your Store and Customize your Store Theme
Once you have answered the questions, you will be shown the Shopify dashboard. Here you will get to see all the features available. On the homepage, you will see the action items you need to take to get started.
The first step is to ‘Add a product to start selling’ and the second one is to ‘Customize your online store to match your brand’.
Click on the ‘Add Product’ button to add a new product to your store. When you do, you will get to this page where you can add all relevant information about your product including a title, description, images, weight and so on.
Once you filled up all the product information, click on ‘Save product’ at the end of the page to add the product to your store.
You can keep adding as many products as you have.
Step 4: Choose and Customise your Store Theme
Once you have added your products, the next step is to choose and customize your theme. As I’ve mentioned before, there are free and premium themes available.
To explore the free themes, click on ‘Explore free themes’ and to explore the premium themes, click on ‘Visit theme store’ at the bottom of the page.
You can start with either theme types.
If you want to customize your theme, you can click on the ‘Customize’ button on top, which will lead you to this page:
You can edit how your homepage looks and how your products are showcased on the page and so on. The best thing about the customizer is that it is all drag-and-drop so you can do it yourself.
Step 5: Buy a Domain Name
Once you are happy with how your store looks, it’s time to make things official by buying a domain name.
Buying a domain name gives your store a more professional feel and people will be more likely to buy from you than if you used a free domain name with another company’s extension on it.
Here are some tips for choosing a domain name:
- Choose domain names with 2-3 syllables to make it easy for people to remember. This means names like PetStore, MyPetStore will be fine. But KajangPetSupplies will not be a good choice.
- Use easy to spell words so people don’t make mistakes spelling them.
- Don’t use a domain name that is completely different from what you are selling. For example if you specialise in dog supplies only, don’t use the word ‘cat’ or ‘horse’ in your domain name or it can confuse your customers.
- As much as possible, try to go for a .com instead of .co, .net and so on. This is because most people online still think about the internet in terms of .com. If your business is based in Malaysia, you can go for .com.my or .my also. But if you want to serve customers outside of Malaysia also, I would not recommend going for .com.my or .my as this would give your customers the impression that you only ship to Malaysia.
Once you have added products, customized your theme and bought your domain name, you’re good to go!
However, if after doing all this you still need some help with your store, don’t forget to check out our special offer for Shopify store setup and customization services at the end of this post!
Conclusion: Get Shopify to Set up your Online Store Quickly
Shopify is the best website builder for e-commerce stores available in the market today. Starting at just $29 (~RM120) a month, you can set up everything from your storefront to your payment gateway as well as your marketing strategy all in one place.
It’s especially useful for beginners who don’t know how to code or don’t have a lot of money to spend to get started selling.
You can set up your store within an hour and start selling. However, if you want to make some advanced customizations to your site, you can always consult a Shopify Expert to help you do so at a nominal fee.