Us kiwis love a bargain, we love to feel like we’ve got a good deal. It’s why the second hand market runs hot and stores like the warehouse are so popular. It’s also why DIY seems to be in our DNA, as the saying goes. Companies like Mitre 10 and Bunnings do a roaring trade, in most cases overselling to people who are overestimating their abilities – but the lure of being able to do it cheaper yourself proves too much of a temptation to resist.

Which leads me to today’s discussion – why is Shopify so popular with Kiwis?

Think about why hardware stores have taken off. It’s not rocket science, just basic economics. In recent times, hiring a tradie has become a whole lot more expensive. Hourly rates have skyrocketed, projects involve more professionals, more red tape and longer delays as demand increases (spurred on by increasing house prices that encourage homeowners to invest in their biggest asset).

So, the homeowner (suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect) thinks: ‘Hey! You know what I’m going to shortcut the process and save $$$ by doing it myself. I mean, how hard can it be? Buy some supplies and tools, watch a bit of youtube, whack it together in 20 minutes, one hour tops. Easy as.’

In some ways, this sort of empowerment brought on by the great world wide web has been beneficial. Who hasn’t shopped locally for something, only to find it 10 times cheaper on Aliexpress?

But, in some cases, this DIY mentality is proving to be a big mistake, particularly when a big investment, like your home or business, is at stake. Some DIYers end up making things worse (yep, who saw that coming??), needing a professional to rescue them, or they end up reducing the value of their asset and the return they could have enjoyed. But a DIYer doesn’t see that bigger picture – they just relish in the opportunity to stick it to the establishment by saving on the job itself.

What does this have to do with Shopify?

Shopify is a DIY website builder service, like Wix or Squarespace. You can quickly sign up for a free trial and start right away, even the middle of the night, which is normally when you get the urge to register a cheap NZ domain name and start a new online business.

Awesome, no need to contact a local website agency, provide a project brief, pay eye-watering amounts of money up-front, wait six weeks for them to whip up a design, and then another six weeks while they build it, and then another six weeks of iterative changes and testing. Three months (and $5,000) later, your website is born.

It’s no surprise that some switched-on individual thought up Shopify and it’s grown like wildfire around the world. Enterprising business owners are throwing off the shackles of overpriced, locally built websites in favour of our beloved DIY. And, if it means paying less, why not?

But, not all that glitters and all that – There are some gotchas you need to watch out for with Shopify (and any other online website building service).

  • Ongoing payments – Like a lot of online services, Shopify go for the slow pocket leak (formally known as a subscription service) instead of taking it all upfront, which is the more traditional approach to getting a new website. Similar to buying something on hire purchase, the total cost can far outstrip an affordable one-off website price. Do the sums!
  • The cost of add-ons – The website might be DIY but when it comes to adding features (like ecommerce, bookings or accepting online payments) then you need to pay for it, unlike WordPress where you can generally build it yourself. These add-ons can be expensive!
  • The cost of your time – We’ve talked about this topic before, that a lot of business owners don’t value their time. It’s a bit like why flat-pack furniture prices are so attractive; they don’t factor in the hours you lose tearing your hair out because you’re missing three screws! Read more about this in one of our earlier blog posts, warning of the dangers of “free” websites.
  • Lack of UI/UX knowledge – While DIY website builders like Shopify make it relatively easy (if not a bit fiddly) to create website pages using a drag and drop interface, the end result may not be ideal. Without knowledge or experience in what works best in terms of website layout, user-friendliness and best-practice internet standards, you could end up building a website that’s functional, but offers visitors a very poor experience, leading to lower conversion rates, damage to your brand and even a lack of trust in your business.
  • Google/SEO optimisation – Similar to the last point, without an understanding of how Google indexes your site you could be missing golden opportunities to rank higher for keywords that are important to your business. Agencies, like ours, have years of experience in digital marketing, visitor analytics and SEO to help you avoid all the pitfalls common to DIY websites.

Granted, these might not be drawbacks for you, but it’s good to at least be aware of potential downsides.

So, is Shopify right for you?

Is a subscription service like Shopify the best option for your business? It might be, or it might be worth considering one of our website packages. With ecommerce, we did a side-by-side comparison of Shopify with WordPress so you can see how they stack up.

The key is to make sure you go in with eyes wide open. Subscription services like Shopify bank on customers signing up without thinking too far ahead, and then, down the road when you realise that it maybe wasn’t the most economical choice, it’s too late because you’ve invested all that time setting up on their service.

To help you calculate the costs (both long and short term) we’ve created an online website cost estimation calculator, which covers not just the initial design and build but also other services like hosting and digital marketing services.

If you decide that a professional service would be a better use of your time, then check out our very affordable business website packages starting from just $299.

The one big reason Shopify is so popular with Kiwi retailers
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