Has anyone used Shopify to develop an ecommerce website?
If Yes, could they share their experiences of the platform, the challenges they have faced on the platform and on balance would they recommend it for a fledgling eCommerce business.
Yep I use Shopify, I converted over from an old osCommerce self hosted store about 16 months ago. No complaints, it is very easy to use and the many templates look good and are easy to work with. Can be a little pricey but i'm happy that I no longer need to monitor my webservers and that is now someone elses problem :-)
Volusion also seems to be quite popular, I looked at a few options before I moved from old trusty osCommerce, at the time Shopify was good. I am also keeping a close eye on Squarespace.com - they recently added ecommerce although initially very US centric so not quite usable in AU yet, but worth watching.
Hope that helps.
I use Shopify for some simple web stores that I run. It is an easy way and completely cost effective way to set up and start selling if you don't have any previous technical knowledge.
Previously I have installed my own versions of OpenCart and Magento as well, but in the end I chose shopify simply because I have very simple needs and the hassel and cost of maintenance was more then it was worth. If you have your own technical team and desire a lot of customisations you may want to have your own installed solution, however if you don't have those resources, it's easier to just "outsource" it to a company like Shopify.
Also if building your own store may push your launch back a few months, you may want to go with Shopify to get your products on line and on the shelves earlier, may not be worth losing sales while you wait for a full fledged store to be built.
As for the look and feel, you can have a look at the predesigned templates that can be free to a few hundred dollars and if they suit your needs I'd recommend that.
Other solutions you may want to research is bigcommerce and volusion for hosted solutions and prestashop and opencart for self installed versions as well.
Shopify just today announced their own POS product too, which is pretty damn exciting for anyone with a presence in either online or retail looking to use a single, modern platform to manage their stores - http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/28/shopify-launches-point-of-sale-system-to-unify-online-and-brick-and-mortar-retail/