What is Shopify?
Shopify is a cross-border e-commerce site platform (ASP shopping cart system) from Canada that allows you to start your business quickly and reasonably. The strength of this system is that it does not require installation of a cross-border EC system, server, or infrastructure, and all functions necessary for online shopping sales can be operated online. (Last update: August 19, 2021)
More and more companies adopt Shopify in Japan
Since the service was released in Canada in 2004, it has supported more than 1 million stores in 175 countries, with a total global distribution of over 10 trillion yen. Since July 2017, Shopify has been in full swing in Japan, and now the management screen can be operated in Japanese, so more and more companies are adopting Shopify for EC sales in Japan.
Source: Commerce Thesis
The Strengths of Shopify
Shopify has no initial cost if you can build your own e-commerce site, but there is a monthly fee. It is well-designed, smartphone-compatible, simple, and highly functional, and is being improved every day because it is a cloud-based (SaaS-type) EC package.
In Japan, the number of users is increasing, especially among individuals, and corporations are also using it. Since there is still very little information about Shopify's features and functions in Japanese, we will provide detailed information about Shopify's features, functions, fee structure, merits and demerits.
Easy to build and sell websites
There is no complicated programming or design knowledge is required to build s Shopify EC site. If you have experience in e-commerce, you can set up an e-commerce site in relatively little time, but if you don't have the know-how to set up an e-commerce site, you may end up with a default design that looks exactly the same as other Shopify sites created by individuals. Most of time, new sellers open their stores and sell with their own unique style by hiring a Shopify building support company.
The best EC cart for cross-border EC and domestic EC
Shopify is an e-commerce cart that is suitable for selling domestically and internationally. It supports multiple languages and currencies, and has official design templates that allow you to create a creative website even if you are not familiar with web development. International shipping can also be done easily by adding a paid app. The most important thing is that you can increase your sales channels. You can connect with shoppers on eBay, Amazon, and other e-commerce malls around the world. One of the sales channel that works particularly well with cross-border EC is social networking. You can reach out to your customers in a variety of ways, such as tagging products on Instagram so that they can buy directly from you, or using Facebook as a place to promote and sell your products.
Set up free/paid design themes
(over 100 types)
You can choose your favorite design from over 100 different themes. Shopify's official free designs and themes are excellent and there are about 10 of them. Because they are official themes released by Shopify, there are almost no bugs or issues, and it has all the standard functions required for an EC site. It is also characterized by the fact that many people start their business quickly by making adjustments as much as they can within the management screen without unreasonable customization. If you have the budget and time, you can also purchase, install and arrange with paid themes that offer more extensive design and functionality.
(Shopify's own payment method)
By linking Shopify Payments to your bank account, sales proceeds are directly deposited into your bank account. You can also check the settlement amount in real time and use the fraudulent order prevention function.
Payment fees are 3.40% for the Basic plan, 3.30% for the Shopify plan, 3.25% for the Advanced plan, and 3.15% for the Plus plan for online transactions with Japanese credit cards. For international or American Express credit card payments, the payment fee is 3.90% for Basic plan, 3.85% for Shopify plan, 3.80% for Advanced plan, and 3.75% for Plus plan. If you choose to use PayPal without Shopify Payment, you will be charged an additional 2% on top of PayPal's payment fee.
Shopify POS (Linkage with physical stores)
If you are selling products in a physical store or pop-up store, you can link product prices, inventory information, and sales information with Shopify. This feature can also be used from an iPhone or Android smartphone application.
Your products sold on Shopify can also be sold on Facebook. You can create a page for your store or brand on Facebook to display your catalog and list your Shopify products. It also includes the function to advertise your site and products to Facebook users from the Shopify management screen.
By tagging product images posted on Instagram with the URL of the product, users can click on the tag to be redirected to the product page on Shopify. This allows your customers to purchase products with fewer clicks.
Simple SEO Strategy
You can set H1 tags, title tags, description tags, alt tags for product images, and meta tags for each product page. You don't have to be a professional in the field of SEO or marketing to be able to do some SEO. You can also add paid SEO applications.
Linkage with EC malls
By introducing a low-cost application, it is possible to sell products and link orders to various EC malls, including Rakuten for domestic EC malls in Japan and eBay, Amazon, and Etsy for cross-border EC. When integrating with overseas EC malls, there are a number of applications that cannot be used unless the Shopify registration is for an overseas address. For more information, please consult with our cross-border EC consultant.
Good server specifications
When you are running an e-commerce site on your own server, you may have horrible experiences such as when the DB goes wrong and you receive an unlimited number of orders, recording tens of millions of yen in sales in one minute, but there is no enough inventory. This never happens to our clients. Even when one of our clients conducted a sales promotion campaign worth several hundred million yen, the server works well and did not go down.
Merits and Demerits of Shopify
Features of Shopify
Shopify provides the following features (typical ones) necessary to run an e-commerce site. Some of the features are set up in advance by default. By adding apps, you can further expand the information and services of the site. Everything will be set up online, so there is no need to download the system. It does not matter when and where multiple staff members operate the system.
|Installation or transfer of your own domain name is allowed
|Enable selling in multiple languages and currencies
|Abandoned cart and SEO measure
|Free SSL certificate issuance
|Multiple delivery function
|Specify delivery time
|Real-time delivery tracking
|Survey form function
|Download sales(Photos, illustrations, etc.)
|Marketing analysis functions
|Out of stock display function
|Cash on delivery (for use in Japan only)
|Payment through convenience stores (for use in Japan only)
|Multi-currency sales (for cross-border EC)
|CSV file import/export
|Image editing and resizing functions
|The latest information at Top Page
|HTML code editor
|Unlimited number of registered images, etc.
Shopify offers three different plans. There is no initial cost for any of the plans. Depending on the plan, there are different fees for payment and the number of staff accounts that can be used. If you outsource the Shopify development to j-Grab or other partner company, we or other partner company will pay to Shopify on behalf of you for your monthly fees, additional apps, paid design themes ,etc. Then, you will be invoiced and paid the following month at the end of the month, in addition to the monthly support fees.
About Shopify Plus
There is a service called "Shopify Plus" for companies that sell in bulk. The monthly fee for Shopify Plus is $2,000 and up, and you will need to contact Shopify to discuss your needs.
While the regular plan limits the number of staff accounts that can access your site, Shopify Plus allows you to add an unlimited number of staff accounts.
Wholesale site functions for BtoB
You can build a dedicated wholesale sales store for BtoB. You can create discount codes for each business partner, set login restrictions, minimum order quantity, volume discounts, and minimum order amounts.
Customization of the checkout page
You can customize the checkout page screen, or hide certain products depending on the shipping address.
One account can open 10 stores
You can open up to 10 sites at no additional charge. (Normally, a fee is charged for each site created)
It can be used separately for domestic, international, BtoB sites, etc.
You can set up discounts, promotions, and other detailed settings. You can set up buy one get one free or 10% off for purchases over a certain amount.
Shopify app (additional features)
Shopify has the minimum necessary functions by default, but it often lacks functions by itself, so it is necessary to add functions by adding necessary applications from among paid and free applications. By adding additional applications, it will be possible to configure additional settings such as product reviews, SEO enhancement, invoice issuance, various SNS-linked sales, inventory management, multi-language and multi-currency support, and domestic and international EC mall integration such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Rakuten, etc.
If you want to attract more customers to your website, you can also use the app to send out email newsletters, place ads on Facebook and Instagram, collect reviews from customers, etc.
Most of the apps are in English, which is not a problem for cross-border EC operations, but when focusing on domestic EC, there are only a few apps in Japanese, and it is said that it will still take several years before they are fully developed.Also, if you blindly add too many applications, the site itself will become sluggish and malfunction. You need to carefully select and add only those things that are truly necessary for your e-commerce site.
The following apps are typical Shopify apps.
Facebook Shop Channel (Free)
You can also sell Shopify products on your Facebook page. You can set up a product catalog on your Facebook page and link your Shopify products to it. Facebook has 2.3 billion monthly active users worldwide, making it an effective tool for attracting customers.
Instagram Channel (Free)
When a user sees a post on Instagram, they can click on the tag displayed on the image to and redirected to the product page. This makes each step of the purchase process much shorter. If you want to place an ad, you will have to pay for it, but this feature itself is free to use.
Ship & Co (Free Installation)
※Charges are based on usage.
Order information from Shopify will be automatically imported into Ship&Co, and then invoices will be issued. Domestic and international shipping companies are supported, which Fedex, UPS, DHL, and Japan Post are available. As soon as the invoice is issued, the tracking number will be automatically sent to Shopify, the status will be automatically changed and the shipping completion email will be automatically sent to the customer.
Kit (Free Installation)
※Charges are incurred at the time of ad placement.
Kit is a tool that uses AI to provide marketing support. When a message is sent to kit via SMS or Facebook messenger, and the AI will create and promote discount codes, develop retargeting campaigns, and suggest ad placements on Facebook and Instagram. With just a few messages, you can reach a large number of customers and increase your sales. This app is recommended for those who don't have time to study marketing or who don't have much time to implement marketing initiatives.
It is used to create a multilingual store. The automatic translation function makes it relatively easy to use. It allows you to link domains for each language, and the SEO measure can also be performed.
eBay and Amazon EC mall integration application ($29.00/month)
After building a cross-border EC site with Shopify, this application is necessary to sell and link orders with the overseas EC malls eBay and Amazon. The language is English, so you will need to work with a Shopify partner to get a lecture on how to utilise it before you can use it. It also requires advanced settings and techniques for the app and e-commerce mall, so please consult us.
Steps to Build Shopify
When building an e-commerce site with Shopify, there is no need to download a system or do any programming. Some simple manuals are available on the web so that you can understand and set up the functions necessary for sales.
After registering an account, you will be able to control Shopify functions from the administration screen. All pages are localized in Japanese, but there are some Japanese translations that are difficult to understand, and some applications may be displayed in English.
You can configure various settings necessary for online sales from the settings screen. Settings such as payment method, shipping, delivery, domain, policies, taxes, etc. are registered on this screen.
Shopify allows you to check your visitors' information and sales in real time. You can check the number of sessions, the media from which the traffic comes, and other details, so you can use this information for marketing purposes. It is also possible to implement Google Analytics.
You can set up paid or free themes for your site. If you have knowledge of website creation, you can edit the code and customize the design to your preferences.
What can j-Grab do for you?
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that is ideal not only for managing domestic e-commerce sites, but also for building cross-border e-commerce sites. It allows you to start and open your shop relatively fast and low cost, but it does not necessarily mean that you can achieve everything you want to do. While the service is easily accessible to everyone, it also has some functional limitations.
j-Grab's skilled technical staff, skilled in building cross-border EC sites with Shopify and domestic EC sites, will take care of your simple EC until full-scale customization. We also provide technical support on your behalf to help you achieve your goals and requirements, and provide companionship support for the smooth opening and operation of your online store.
For individuals and corporations, we offer a plan that includes Shopify construction and companionship support, and we also provide one-stop marketing support for sales and customer attraction once the EC site started operation. If you are transferring from another platform, such as BASE, WooCommerce, or EC-CUBE, we can support you to make the transfer as smooth as possible.
For those who would like to open a Shopify store or list your products on Shopify, those who already opened a Shopify account but sales are not increasing, those who are losing in the price competition and your sales are unprofitable, or those who would like to link Shopify with your own cross-border EC site and succeed in the main website and sub-site strategy, please contact us via contact for any questions or estimates.
Edit: J-Grab Cross-border EC Lab