Launching an eCommerce store whether you are stocking or creating your own products or following a dropship model has become very popular in recent years.
The pandemic has only increased the entrepreneurial spirit as many look towards the internet to build businesses from home.
Not so long back, the barrier entry was high. You would either have to know how to build a complicated e-commerce store or finance a professional to do so, (they did not come cheap).
The landscape is very different today with the likes of Shopified, WooCommerce, and WordPress, and other easy-to-use platforms, all helping you to start selling online.
I have tried many of these with earlier ventures. However, Shopio recently gained my attention because of its low-cost model. It seemed an ideal platform for me to test new enterprises and products, fast.
I hadn’t heard much about them, but at just $20 to get started I decided to give Shopio a try.
Here is my opinion on the service and whether I would recommend it to others.
- Shopio Review Summary
- What is Shopio?
- Shopio Main Features
- Service Plans
- Features available on all plans
- Pros & Cons of Shopio
What is Shopio?
Shopio is an easy-to-use e-commerce platform designed for use by non-technical webstore owners.
Its fully-featured, SEO-ready CMS allows one to update, delete, and schedule the publishing of content.
Its range of services and system tools are designed to cater to the spectrum of trading needs of small to medium-sized businesses. It has no setup nor transaction fees.
It also comes with pre-coded templates and themes that can be used to build the webstore via the drag-and-drop system of its website builder.
Relatedly, it provides a one-page checkout that makes it easier for the customer to pay for billed products. These services are packaged into 4 service plans – the Startup, Business, Professional, and Enterprise plans.
The key differentiator between any two plans is the product limit set by Shopio. Each plan comes with a free domain name, a free blog, and a responsive template for mobile commerce.
Shopio is owned by IdeaSoft Yazilim San, itself a company that was established in 2005 in Turkey, but now has offices in California.
Each of the plans available on Shopio comes with a free domain name, a free blog for hosting text content, and a mobile commerce platform for building mobile-friendly (or at least mobile-ready) webstores.
It also supports domain extensions. It is evident that these plans integrate web hosting operations into their core business model. Equally, it provides a website builder for free so that the SMB can custom design its webstore.
Shopio has a competent customer support department that can handle customer concerns and queries.
Regarding the functionality of the webstore, apart from built-in blogs and mobile commerce provided off-the-shelf when one signs up as a subscriber, there are also advanced tax management tools for handling transaction taxes, a shipping calculation system for calculating shipping charges, and a discount management system for setting discount codes and coupons, along with the discounted amount.
Let’s take a look at some of Shopio’s main features.
Shopio Main Features
Assorted Free Services
Shopio offers two key services for free. These services are related to setup and transaction processing. In simple words, there are no transaction fees nor setup fees, hence reducing the barrier of entry to online commerce for customers.
This relates to web hosting, design, and security. To begin with, IdeaSoft has secure cloud servers where it can host webstores running on the Shopio platform.
These servers have an excellent uptime, which ensures that the webstore is online throughout the subscription period. This eliminates the reputation risk posed by website downtimes, which usually scare away customers and cause search engines to de-rank the webstore. Currently, Shopio guarantees its subscribers an uptime rate of 99.95%.
IdeaSoft is a leading provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, and this has been extended to Shopio where this SaaS model allows for upscaling the performance of individual webstores, thus allowing any webstore to handle large volumes of traffic when needed.
In fact, all its service plans are generously packaged in terms of bandwidth, with the cheapest plan providing a 5GB bandwidth that can comfortably handle about 5000 simultaneous visits.
Regarding security, Shopio provides 256-bit encryption for its secure socket layer (SSL) protocol, and this is extended to each and every webstore hosted on the platform.
As expected, each webstore is assigned an SSL certificate, which plays a role in improving the webstore’s online visibility because Google and other search engines now prioritize websites with SSL certificates over those websites that lack this certificate.
The key benefit of this high-level encryption is that transactions are secured, and customers can enter their card data without fearing that this data will be intercepted by man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.
Additionally, Shopio is built using a secured Laravel framework which provides for authentication and authorization of users (the users, in this case, being webstore owners).
Likewise, its backend scripts are stored in a secured database that is protected from SQL injection attacks, while passwords are encrypted using bcrypt encryption.
Additionally, there are HTML filters to guard against cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. There is also protection against cross-site request forgery (CSRF).
About website design, Shopio comes with a catalog of pre-built templates and themes that one can use to design his/her webstore. These responsive themes ensure that the webstore is displayed well on personal computers and mobile devices.
Equally, Shopio gives the merchant great freedom in customizing any of the themes, thus allowing the merchant to add a logo, brand name, and custom images, as well as set the font and color scheme of the webstore.
Furthermore, Shopio allows web developers to build their own custom themes from scratch.
The web functionality of Shopio extends to its product management system which is a hierarchical file system that allows the merchant to create 5 product categories called levels. In terms of file storage, each level is a directory where files are stored.
Each file contains the details of a single product. Its drag-and-drop system allows one to easily create these levels, label them, and populate them with product data.
Additionally, Shopio allows the merchant to import product data from another webstore. This allows for migrations from another e-commerce platform to Shopio.
Regarding product pages, Shopio allows one to theme it by setting its color scheme, design layout, and appearance using the design template.
This also allows for custom-sizing the product photos, as well as displaying unique product data such as product color and dimensions, which is quite important for a clothing store as it shows the viewer how the cloth looks like and its size.
Another unique feature of this product management system is its integration with the tax management system of Shopio.
This allows the merchant to display the different tax rates that apply to the same product in different nations (or tax jurisdictions).
As mentioned, Shopio allows for secure transaction processing, and a key process here is checking out the shopping cart, which requires the customer to pay for the items bought.
Basically, checking out is equivalent to paying the cashier in the brick-and-mortar business. Shopio provides a one-page checkout that makes it easier for the customer to pay for the billed products.
This is important as an easy checkout increases the likelihood of the customer paying for the product, thus minimizing the rate of terminal cart abandonment (i.e the customer leaving the webstore without purchasing even though (s)he was willing and capable of buying the products).
As mentioned, Shopio comes with an in-built blogging platform that features all the necessary blogging tools, including an extensible content management system (CMS).
This CMS has been tailored to serve the content marketing needs of the webstore. As expected, it allows one to write dedicated product reviews and publish them.
The CMS also allows one to easily update, delete, and hyperlink posts. Moreover, one can schedule when pre-written posts – that have been saved as drafts in the CMS – are to be published.
Moreover, the CMS allows one to enable or disable the posting of comments by readers.
Search Engine Optimization
Another unique function of this blogging system is to boost search engine optimization (SEO) of the webstore. As expected, it features a tagging and labeling system that prioritizes keywords, including long-tail keywords.
There are also forms provided alongside the text editor where one can input metadata that is to be used for SEO.
SEO metadata, along with keywords, increases the chances of search engine spiders crawling the webstore, and then using the metadata and keywords to improve the ranking of the webstore on the search engine results page (SERP).
This guarantees better online visibility of the webstore in organic search results returned by Google and other search engines.
Shopio provides SEO functionalization for each page in the webstore.
It allows one to set the meta-title, meta-tags, descriptions, keywords, and customize the URL for any page. It also automatically creates XML sitemaps that can be submitted to search engines.
For the merchant, this makes it easy to have the webstore verified by search engines. Additionally, Shopio supports URL redirection, as well as allows one to integrate the webstore with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
This SEO support plays a key role in marketing the webstore using search engine marketing, where an improvement in SERP ranking increases the online visibility of the webstore.
Marketing and Analytics
As mentioned, Shopio allows the merchant to integrate Google’s Analytics and Webmaster Tools with the webstore, and this provides for traffic monitoring and tracking of visitors.
The most conspicuous benefit of this analytics is a display of sales performance of different products so that one knows which products sell well and which ones are turning into dead stock.
Likewise, one can follow the sale trends, thus allowing the merchant to plan a targeted marketing campaign.
Shopio also comes with a robust discount and coupon management system that allows the merchant to generate coupon codes and set discounts for a selected assortment of products.
This system allows the merchant to set the discount as a specific amount, or a percentage of the sale price. Additionally, it supports bundling of products into packages that can be sold to select groups of customers, and this reveals that it supports segmentation of customers into groups, as well as prioritization of specific customer groups.
Shopio provides customer support through 3 main channels – phone support and live chat support are provided during office hours, along with email support.
There is also a support center and knowledge base that contains documentation on how to solve common problems or avert them entirely.
Shopio has published a manual on how to set up, run, and theme a webstore. It also explains how best to use the CMS platform, and take advantage of its flexible hosting plans for upscaling.
As mentioned above, there are 4 service plans. The key differentiator between any two plans is the product limit set by Shopio. This product limit also sets the file storage space and bandwidth allocated to the webstore.
Understanding this allows one to easily comprehend how upscaling should be matched to the size of the webstore. This size is determined by the number of items that the merchant intends to upload in his/her webstore.
The 4 service plans are explained below. To start off, one must know that none of the plans charges any transaction or setup fee. Equally, each service plan comes with a 14-day free trial after which one is charged the subscription fees.
Even so, any subscription fee paid is not refundable after one cancels the subscription. All subscription plans are priced on a per-month basis.
This is the basic subscription service. It allows one to set up a webstore that can have a maximum of 100 products, and the allocated bandwidth is 5GB.
The maximum file storage size is 5GB. This plan comes with a free webstore domain, support for mobile commerce, online customer support, a built-in blogging system, advanced tax management, hard-coded support for payment gateways, and a calculation system for shipping and carrier rates, as well as discount and coupon engine for offering sales.
This subscription plan allows one to set up a webstore that can have a maximum of 500 products, and the allocated bandwidth is 10GB. The maximum file storage size is 10GB. It comes with all the features of the Startup Plan.]
This subscription plan allows one to set up a webstore that can have a maximum of 2500 products, and the allocated bandwidth is 25GB. The maximum file storage size is 25GB. It comes with all the features of the Business Plan.
This subscription plan allows one to set up a webstore that can have an unlimited number of products. Its bandwidth and file storage size is unlimited. It comes with all the features of the Professional Plan.
Features available on all plans
Pros & Cons of Shopio