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I’ll get right to the point. Shopify has lost my trust. Here’s how.
This week, Shopify had a data breech. Though it is currently small in scope it looks like this may be the final factor to really take into account while I consider the benefits and issues I can face if I decide to migrate American Bogan™ away from Shopify onto a WordPress site.
This website is built with WordPress and hosted on DreamHost (Affiliate Link). Originally, it was under a different domain existing on Squarespace. Migrating away from Squarespace onto WordPress was a project that was more complicated than it needed to be, and highlights the risks involved in subscribing to a full website building platform instead of a building a site on a real webhost’s infrastructure.
Fact is, I have been mulling it over for a bit, now, based on little things that have been popping up. Shopify’s data breech will most likely the final factor.
Beyond the data breech, which all providers are at risk for from multiple attack vectors, I am noticing how much each Shopify based store is used to promote Shopify, without necessarily informing their users about it. Some people are fine with this. I am not.
ConsentMatters and #PrivacyMatters
You can see “Powered by Shopify” links in the footers of Shopify based websites, for example. Some users leave it because they do not know how to change it. Other users can remove “Powered by Shopify” (Google Search) through Shopify’s backend to read “Powered by Clown Farts and Dick Blisters,” but it does not change the actual hyperlink. The average user won’t necessarily know how to change the hyperlink through editing the theme’s code, but they can look up how to change it on the backend.
Problem is that any text you change it to, using Shopify’s backend, will still link back to a campaign-tracked back link to Shopify. Back links remain a classic SEO component. Nearly every Shopify store is coded with, what amounts to be, a hidden back link that isn’t easy to get rid of for most users.
One can argue that isn’t an issue BeCaUsE iTz ShOpiFy’s SeRviCe aNd PLatForm, and that is an absolutely correct and valid argument to make. In the end, it IS Shopify’s platform. Not yours.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t care about Shopify’s willingness to platform MAGAt oriented shops. Trump’s campaign, and Breitbart’s webshop come to mind right away. To be fair, Shopify also hosts shops whose values are much more in line with mine; however, by using hidden backlinks in the footers of websites, Shopify is giving their subtle endorsement of that particular web-shop’s policies and politics, as far as I am concerned.
Beyond the monthly hosting fees and transaction fees (depending on your payment processor), Shopify’s SEO is benefiting from those sites by using them for their SERP-enhancing backlinks.
The biggest factor, however, comes down to trust in the platform and control over my own content. In a nutshell, if I lose trust in one service provider, how easily can I migrate to a new one? As a corporation, my trust in Shopify has always been tolerant at best, and nearly non-existent at worst. This data breech, how they’ve responded to it, their use of un-disclosed backlinks, and their willingness to give a platform to (and use those backlinks to gain additional benefit from) the MAGAt cult, and multiple other minor limitations and factors, which I will get into below, have really started to pile up on top of each other.
I’ve already seen how complicated of a process it was for migrating my website away from Squarespace when it was primarily a blog and portfolio based site. I am now looking at rebuilding a fully functional e-commerce shop because the products, themselves, won’t easily migrate away. Printful, the main print-on-demand vendor (Affiliate Link) I am using, cannot re-connect one shop to another and push all product data back to the new platform.
Once the migration and rebuild is done, several things become possible:
- I can have daily, weekly, and monthly backups of the entire website and can restore them at anytime. Shopify does not have backup functionality available for users. This is an enormous risk.
- WordPress has more than a few free themes that include backlinks in their footers. No big deal. If I decide not to dig into PHP and CSS code snippets to change it, I can always install a different theme that doesn’t include backlinks in their footers.
- SEO can be improved greatly — Shopify SEO is notorious for its poor implementation.
- Not that any product I create needs more than three options and 100 variations, but they’d be unlimited under WordPress.
- I can create multiple pages and blog posts to look pretty much how I want. With Shopify, the homepage is where most of the ability to alter the design is, at least for the free themes. Separate pages and blog posts are rudimentary, at best, and are very basic in design.
- If Dreamhost ever lost my trust, migrating to another WordPress installation on a different host will take, at most, a day if I am feeling lazy. Two if I am feeling exceptionally lazy.
- I can add on a support forum or other social features, up to and including a full blown social media site, if I really feel up to the challenge.
- Speaking of social features, both platforms allow for guest-checkouts. You can order a product without creating an account. With WordPress, I can help increase the overall security of my customers by requiring a social media account to checkout. That way, no user password is ever stored on my servers.
- Product reviews are already built into a WordPress based shop
- All of this for about $30 less per month.
Things that I will be giving up are minor, to me:
- If I want live shipping rates, I can only use one fulfillment vendor. With WordPress and WooCommerce, I cannot have products from Printful and Printify in my shop and use live-rates from both vendors. I’d have to stick with complicated shipping tables, or just use flat rates and price accordingly. I do, however, have to pay Shopify an extra $20/month just to turn on live-shipping if I don’t want the full $80/month plan.
- Shopify does have multiple channels available to sell through, integrated nicely by default, and you can add more. If I want to create Facebook ads, I can do it from within Shopify but they are limited in scope, and not always very efficient. I’d have to do them by hand, through Facebook.
- That’s not really an issue, since half of my stuff gets hilariously auto-rejected by Facebook’s algorithms, anyway.
- Shopify has integrated a rudimentary abandoned-cart email function. I’d have to find an effective one under WordPress (Adrianfeliciano.com uses a free one that is already more functional than Shopify’s),
What I’ll be giving up, realistically, is only the convenience of a well integrated e-commerce backend and a highly competent front end, for the ability to fully own and control all of my website’s content on a webhost that I trust (Affiliate Link) where I can build it to be whatever I want, to help better protect the privacy and security of my customers by having backups and the ability to improve on our security posture, and to reject a platform that tacitly endorses and benefits from dangerous, anti-American, ideologies.
What do you think?
Given the line of thinking in the post above, would you still consider Shopify for your e-commerce shop? Please me know in the comments below. You can leave comment after securely logging in using your Social Media account. It helps to greatly reduce spam on this website.
About my current webhost
In case you’re curious, this website is hosted by DreamHost, my current favorite webhost, on their dedicated WordPress plan, DreamPress (Affiliate Link).
I chose them after migrating away from Squarespace and comparing different WordPress hosting plans on Hostgator, SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, and Pressable among several others.
For a variety of reasons, I refuse to touch GoDaddy.
American Bogan, my e-commerce shop, is also hosted under a second DreamPress plan after I decided to migrate it away from Shopify. The combined monthly costs for two Shopify stores on the basic plan ($39.99 x2) plus another $20 each (to allow Shopify’s live shipping rates to connect to Printful) is more than three times what my DreamPress Plus websites cost at $29.95 each!
I now have multiple automatic backups enabled for safety and security and can access far better SEO tools, something that Shopify does not offer unless you install separate apps that each charge you yet another monthly fee.
I also have a shared hosting account with DreamHost. On it, I am currently hosting three websites: one for Zoe’s chainmaille and scalemaille webshop, her best friend’s handcraft shop, and one for Artemis’ official website.
I can host as many websites on my shared-hosting plan (Affiliate Link) as I wish without worry.
DreamHost has been the right combination of price, storage, un-metered bandwidth, expertise, and support for me. I swear to God, I learn something new every time I have to contact Customer Support with a new question!
If you’re looking for a good webhost, please consider DreamHost (Affiliate Link).
I’ve been very happy with them for a few years, now!