Let’s Argue: Shopify Limitations Could Affect Your Business Too

Shopify is an easy choice for many looking to implement an eCommerce solution for their business. Indeed, its functionality allows to comfortably run an online store, with features covering the majority of day-to-day needs. However, as convenient as the platform is, it has a number of shortcomings that may limit your growth potential, and possibly affect your business in a negative way.

Some of these issues are mainly a concern for the companies that have outgrown Shopify’s limitations. Nevertheless, this information should be taken into account by anyone working with Shopify or planning to incorporate it into their eCommerce business.

To avoid being caught off-guard, make sure you familiarise yourself with these restraints and plan your business growth accordingly.

Checkout template

Shopify offers built-in hosting and payment methods. Similarly, it offers a built-in checkout template. Unfortunately, the template doesn’t allow to modify its functionality, redesign, or customize it in any other number of ways.

Payment gateway lock-in

To secure its imposed commission-based model, Shopify has introduced payment gateway service. This is not an optimal practice since by the standards of the modern eCommerce industry a well-sorted procedure should not be monopolized. Single-choice options have a limited benefit for the community in the long run, as they restrict innovation and encourage exploitation. Borrowed from Stripe, this gateway service is only provided, but not controlled by Shopify.

This has led to multiple disadvantages for SME trying to withdraw their monthly revenue. Just try to search for the phrase ‘shopify holding my payment’ and see for yourself why people are facing away from eCommerce with Shopify.

No product category levels

Today it is commonly accepted to have simple page hierarchy – something like Women > Accessories > Handkerchief. Not the case with Shopify, and, understandably, this has been a constant source of frustration. Some stores tend to compensate this with on-site search, however, it doesn’t cover the full functionality. A proper level hierarchy is still necessary. A well-ordered hierarchy makes it easier for shop owners to manage the store flow and for customers – to navigate and buy.

If poor navigability doesn’t convince you, there is a much more substantial threat of losing SEO performance. Following a logical hierarchical structure for SEO is essential. With Shopify, the problems appear in the form of rigid category hierarchy, leading to page duplicates and discoverability issues.

Multi-storefront management

Linking multiple domains back to a single site usually causes no problems, but if you need to reverse this and, say, manage multiple storefronts with different warehouses – you won’t be able to do it with Shopify / Shopify Plus.

This makes it difficult to manage multiple brands, catalogs, and B2B service offerings, not to mention your complete inventory if you happen to store and ship from various warehouses. This is one area where it would be really difficult, if not impossible, to overcome on Shopify / Shopify Plus if you’re a large-scale eCommerce business with various brands and stores managed simultaneously.

Inventory and logistics

Shopify provides software as a service which allows you to put up an eCommerce store. It is not a full-service eCommerce provider by any stretch. To manage the other parts of your business, you will need to synchronize shipments, inventory, and fulfillment with one or more separate companies.

Are you looking to have the flexibility to scale your business up or down, depending on real-time demand? Looking to save time and money with well-sorted inventory management and logistics? If your answer is Yes, you may want to consider partnering with a service provider that explicitly offers these features.

Subscription items

Shopify’s CEO himself has said that the Shopify platform isn’t ideal for selling subscription-based products. These may include items such as monthly boxes or kit style items such as meals or crafts. He’s also gone on to announce that he doesn’t see this as a space Shopify will be entering in the future.

There are numerous apps on the market that address this issue and grant Shopify the capability of a subscription-based eCommerce site. However, they add an additional layer of complication to the store, which increases the probability of app and theme conflicts.

All that said, Shopify typically can handle “whatever of the month” type subscriptions a bit better. 

You may still require some additional adjustments to assemble and ship items each month, but collecting payment, including for multiple plan lengths, can typically be done using Shopify’s existing variant features.

Products or services that require scheduling

While there are apps available that let you add scheduling capabilities to Shopify, the platform itself isn’t great at handling scheduled tasks, especially, the more advanced features such as enabling appointment cancellation.

While there are some workarounds, we are yet to see a solid universal proprietary solution.

Bottom line

Whether you are making your first steps in eCommerce, or represent an accomplished company looking to expand your online/offline operations, you need to choose tools that best serve your purpose. Shopify, while being a popular choice, is a platform that, in a number of ways, has the potential to become a limiting factor to your business. 

By all means, if you end up using Shopify or any of the alternative solutions, as a business owner, you need to stay well-informed about the possible issues, plan your operations in advance, and make timely adjustments to stay ahead of the competition.


Found this information useful? Looking to implement Shopify in your eCommerce business without hassle? Let us help you! Any additional questions? Feel free to get in touch to book a free consultation or schedule a call!

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