Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Some Comments About Shopify

19 July 2006

Shopify has been touted as one of those Rails apps that’s going to change the face of the web. I don’t think so, and my comments about why it wasn’t appropriate for me (for went completely unanswered.

Since others may be considering shopify, here’s my critique:

  1. There’s no easy way to charge tax only in one vicinity, but not others. In the US, if you charge tax in your state, you may not charge it in others. Canada, where Shopify was developed, has both a national GST and a provincial one, so its tax structure is fundamentally different.
  2. There’s no practical way to charge actual cost for shipping. But that’s what I do already (though I ship priority mail and charge for the median zone price for that weight with an estimate of box and packing material weight). In shopify, shipping rates are a function of state. Priority mail rates do not break down by state, but rather by zip code ranges. Frequently, these do not follow state boundaries. Yet, with web services, calculating actual cost should be easy, right?
  3. Most e-commerce sites are poorly designed for people selling one-offs. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a lot (because it is fairly unusual), but sometimes a store consists entirely of one-offs. Like mine.
  4. No API, thus no easy way to develop add-on tools, e.g. bulk info uploaders, especially handy for those of us selling one-offs.

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