Shopify Agency San Francisco

Are you looking for a Shopify agency?


Matter of Form is a digital agency based in San Francisco. The agency has a particular focus on designing and developing eCommerce websites for global brands, as well as SMEs and more niche businesses. In particular, we are Shopify experts with countless builds on the platform under our belt.


What is Shopify?


Do you have a product to sell and are looking to launch your business and brand into the digital sphere? If so then Shopify might be the answer to your eCommerce needs.

Shopify is a one-stop shop eCommerce thoroughbred, and an incredibly easy solution to selling products online.

Shopify, with minimal hassle  – depending on your requirements regarding design and UX and UI – allows you to upload your products, organise and sell them. With just a few clicks of the mouse you can accept credit card payments and manage shipping, inventory and returns, to name but a few.

There is little doubt as to why this platform – founded in 2004 by people who were frustrated with the complicity of existing platforms – has become the market leader for eCommerce solutions.

Here are some facts from Shopify to help put their platform into a bit of context:

  • The platform is now used in 175 countries
  • As of 2018 there have been $46bn dollars in sales
  • 600,000 active stores
  • Its business model means it makes more money when its customers succeed
  • Toby Lutke, Shopify’s founder, dropped out of high-school at 16
product listing page dress grid

Why Shopify?


Of course there are other possibilities to investigate when choosing an eCommerce platform. The likes of WooCommerce (the eCommerce plugin for WordPress), Magneto and BigCommerce. Each has their pros and cons and undoubtedly one will fit your business/brand the best.


Shopify as an eCommerce solution – Positives


  • There are over a hundred modifiable and well-designed themes that you can select from in order to fit with your brand. Additionally, there is an ever growing app store that will allow you to tweak the functionality of your website. This will help your brand truly stand out online.
  • Hosting & Maintenance
    • Shopify handles all of your hosting and maintenance meaning all required upgrades you might be using are handled on your behalf. Owing to Shopify being built on a Ruby on Rails framework it is very easy for them to make changes to the platform should any problems occur.
    • Some of the worlds biggest online retailers were previously paying upwards of $1 million to ensure their websites remained functional despite the amount of traffic. What sets Shopify Plus apart is that this price is rolled into the subscription making it accessible to every type of business, no matter how big or small.
  • Speed
    • Seamless Sales
      • Shopify provides a world-class Content Delivery System powered by Fastly. Fastly is a Points of Presence (POP) operator who has started installing fewer but more powerful POPs in strategic points around the world. This means the speed of Shopify allows customers to render immediately anywhere in the world but particularly in the U.S, U.K, APAC region and Southern Africa.
    • Shopify offers all of it’s customers, regardless of which plan they are on, unlimited bandwidth meaning should you have a sudden influx of visitors to your site after a product launch or some media coverage; your site will be able to cope.
    • You’re site is an extension of your brand and should it not function to its optimum, it will ultimately effect your image and subsequently your brand/business.
      • (Example taken from Shopify) For instance, Death Wish Coffee won an advertising slot during the 2017 Superbowl, which had an audience of 111.9m across the world. For two hours there was an influx of traffic to the site racking up close to an astonishing $250m, which equates to $2,003 every minute. During this time the site stayed live despite the extraordinary upturn in traffic.
  • Scalable/Customer Service
    • As proven by the example above, Shopify offers an enormous amount of peace of mind thus allowing its clients to get on with what is important to them. Customers can rest easy with the knowledge that there is an expert on hand 24hrs a day should you need to contact anyone. As mentioned before, it’s in Shopify’s interest to ensure their customers are doing well as they stand to earn a small percentage of their profits.
    • No matter how small a company starts, given that most businesses aspire to expand and grow to new heights it’s essential that there is breathing room for them to be able to; as quickly or as slowly as is necessary. Shopify provides this flexibility.
  • Written Content / Content Marketing
    • Given that this is not one of the key pillars of Shopify, they have done a huge amount in recent years to improve this offering as they have recognised how important content marketing is towards growth. However, this aspect of the platform is relatively basic, this will be explained in more detail in the upcoming negatives section.
  •  Security
    • Security for any business is a high priority and as one would expect from a world leading eCommerce platform, all measures that can be take; are, and it is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant meaning all of the vendors on the platform are the same. However merchants are expected to maintain the following standards:
      • Website and server vulnerability checks by Approved Scanning Venders (ASVs)
      • Company Security Audits
      • Self-assessment questionnaires (SAQs)
  • Reporting
    • An essential ingredient to any eCommerce store is the ability to track the activity in your store, from sales to inventories to traffic. Shopify has an in-house analytics program but also allows the capability to link up with Google analytics providing the merchant more than sufficient means to track the activity in their store.


backend data screenshot

Shopify as an eCommerce solution – Negatives


  • Payment
    • Shopify charges a transaction fee on each sale that you make. The amount depends on which plan you use – the more expensive the plan the less the fee is. However bear in mind that your payment processor – if you use one – may charge an additional fee on top of this.
  • Apps
    • Most of the worthwhile apps offered on Shopify require a monthly fee meaning if you integrate several into your web store, you could start racking up quite a hefty bill. This said you have to be sensible when taking into account the cost of apps, ask yourself what are they doing. If the answer is ‘making my life easier’ or ‘improving the functionality of my site’ then it is probably money well spent.
  • Shopify Liquid Setup
    • If this sounds baffling then it probably will be. In order to fully customise your Shopify theme you will have to have a good knowledge of the Shopify Liquid Setup – this is the language the templates are written in. As opposed to the standard HTML and CSS scripts that most websites are written in, Shopify uses its own script called liquid. Essentially this means that less people are as versed in this medium as others and should you require any quick changes to your site you will need to hire an expert Shopify developer who is familiar with this language. Because it is more niche this probably means that you will be paying more than you would for a WordPress or BigCommerce build.
  • Content Marketing
    • As mentioned before Shopify have improved this offering vastly over the years and it is acceptable however you are limited in options as to what you can do.


explore hyperlink eCommerce

Which Plan is best?


Shopify offers four core plans and a lite version. Depending on the size and offering of your business, one of these plans should have you covered pretty well.


  1. Lite

Although not one of their core offerings, this plan is designed for people who want to imbed a ‘buy’ button into existing pages – for instance a blog or selling on Facebook.

In this case you would need a fully functioning website already in place including hosting and domain to name but a few.

  1. Basic Shopify

With this you will get a fully functioning eCommerce website and blog which includes features like fraud analysis tools, 24/7 support, discount engine tools, SSL certificate, manual order creations, shipping labels and the ability to upload unlimited products.

Generally speaking this plan suits everyone who wants a fairly basic ecommerce website. If you don’t already have a site that you can pair with the Shopify Lite plan – this is for you

  1. The Shopify Plan

This is quite a jump from the Basic Shopify version but with it you will get almost every feature that Shopify has on offer.

On top of all the features provided in the basic plan, additionally you get abandoned cart recovery, which is one of the most effective ways of obtaining customer information and chasing up people who have nearly converted.

Considering the average eCommerce store loses up to 75% of its customers to cart abandonment this is a phenomenal tool to have.

Given the unlimited storage and unlimited products combined with abandoned cart features and lower transaction fees, this plan is ideal for businesses looking to scale up relatively quickly.

  1. Advanced Shopify

In addition to all the features from the lower plans Advanced Shopify takes your online store to the next level.

Reporting is a key part of Shopify and with the advanced plan comes advanced reporting features that allow you to track individual products to collections to customer flow to name but a few. This allows companies the ability to test and project.

  1. Shopify PLUS

As the jewel in the crown of Shopify plans, the plus version provides everything previously mentioned and more. If you are an enterprise level company – regardless of size – and you need to focus your resources on areas like marketing, the fully hosted Shopify PLUS will allow you to do this by taking care of the management side of the business.

With the capacity of being able to handle thousands of orders every minute as well as being able to edit every detail of the site, Shopify PLUS is ideal for a big company with high traffic, high orders across all methods of payments.

Shopify features are constantly changing, for more information view our Shopify blog posts by following this link.


How customisable is Shopify?


Whilst the backend of Shopify cannot be accessed (although features can be added to it), the entire front-end is entirely customisable allowing you to build an completely bespoke site that truly reflects your brand.

By using a Shopify PLUS theme you are able to quickly tweak functionality and design layouts through HTML, Liquid, CSS and JavaScript.

Having a unique website is important, however it is also important to remember that User Experience is key, as well as the power of familiarity. Take a look at Amazon, one of the reasons why they do well is because not only is a relatively simple website to navigate around, it’s also relatively straightforward in terms of design. With this Amazon sees conversion rates of Prime members of about 75% and non prime members of 13%, this is astronomically higher than the average of 3.5%. This demonstrates that functionality is as important as customisation.

However standing out from the crowd is important in any marketplace and thanks the having access to the front-end of Shopify, there are many ways in which you can place your business on a pedestal.

This said there are elements of Shopify that currently are not customisable – the checkout process being one. As a leading Shopify design agency in San Francisco, Matter of Form will be able to help you give your brand the online home it needs.


Who uses Shopify?


One of the best indications of who diverse a platform can be is by looking at their clients. The list of global and local brands that use Shopify is long and distinguished. Here are some examples of the most well known (and you can almost guarantee that none of them are using templates).

  • Gym Shark
  • Kylie Cosmetics
  • Red Bull
  • Tesla Motors
  •  Penguin Books
  • The Economist
  • Budweiser
  • Almond Surfboards
  • Studio Neat
  • Tattly
  • WaterAid
  • Lady Gaga Official Shop

Why choose Matter of Form to help make your dream a reality?


Put simply, we care. Every business we work with becomes an integral part of us not only throughout the process of designing, developing and delivering a website, but beyond as well.

But we recognise that caring isn’t enough.

We are a recognised Shopify Partners and have developed a strong reputation as a leading eCommerce agency. With considerable experience building eCommerce sites for a variety of world leading brands are teams are genuine experts in their respective fields.

Our clients’ businesses are special to them and we recognise that in order to produce something that they can be proud of, we must get to know their business as well as they do. All of our teams, from design to UX, work in-house, thus streamlining the process and making it easy for us to communicate about different projects as and when is necessary – an aspect that is essential in delivering projects on time.

Ultimately, all of us at Matter of Form love what we do. We take an enormous amount of pride our work and nothing short of excellence is acceptable. Over the past decade, as an expert Shopify development agency in San Francisco, Matter of Form has built up unparalleled experience in a variety of sectors and industries.



    • Depending on the complexity of your design this can vary. Shopify is a very intuitive platform and as a result the simple themed designs are very quick to set up.
    • Our services from discovery to delivery typically take between 2-3 months depending on the length of the design process and complexity of the final project.
    • Are you looking to start selling your products online? Yes… well Shopify is a good place to start. Whether you are a charity or selling bespoke jewellery, wholesaling Indian spices or acting as an intermediary between seller and buyer; this platform caters to everyone.
    • Thanks to Shopify’s intuitive design a wide selection of stock templates and themes, there will be a design that fits your brand. If however you want to take it to the next level then our Shopify design agency, Digital Diffusion, can tailor your website to best reflect your brands vision and identity online.
    • Shopify plans vary between 29$ and 299$ per month and the different plans will suit different businesses. There is also Shopify PLUS, which costs $2000 per month. Our team of Shopify certified experts can offer you advice specific to your business, get in touch now by clicking here.
    • When it comes to our fees, they vary enormously from project to project. We are looking to bring big agency expertise to smaller clients and as such we understand financial constraints.
    • Typically a build will range from £10k – £40k, depending on your requirements.
      • £10k will give you a basic customised website with no external integrations such as accountancy, shipping or stock management.
      • 40k will give you a fully customised website with enhanced functionality including design and content. Integrations such as an international store and multi currency options as well as management systems that will enable you to keep track of all aspects of your online business (accountancy, shipping, stock management etc.).
  • Discovery Phase
    • Maintaining your brand identity is at the heart of our methodology. Before we start designing or developing anything, our team will sit down with you to go over your business and objectives and particularly; to get a strong understanding of your brand. Once we are satisfied that we understand the direction you are heading and what it is you want to achieve, we will start creating some template designs
  • Proposal / Quote
    • We will issue you with a preliminary quote for the whole project, from design to delivery. Details each phase of the project and includes our recommendation of the design and UX, front end development and eCommerce configuration
  • UX / Wireframing
    • We’ll put together a skeleton design (wireframe) of your website so you can approve the site structure. This will be be a balance between optimum user experience and SEO
  • Creative Brief
    • You will constantly be in touch with our creative team in order to design a concept that will really bring your brand or products to life online. It is important to us that you are able to have as much or as little input, into the design as you wish
    • Once the design concepts have been agreed we role it out across all other page templates and return to you for any tweaks or changes in order to ensure that your exact requirements are met
    • Developing a website is an iterative process and we are only satisfied if we achieve what our client envisaged
    • Once the brief is met on desktop, we will roll out the designs across all platforms including tablet and mobile, before sending the site live
  • Front End / Back End
    • Our team of developers are well versed in all the latest technologies (e.g. html, CSS styling, JS and Ajax framework). Our front-end developers cover what the user sees and interacts with. Following this back-end configuration of the platform onto CMS allows you to manage and process your orders, products and other eCommerce processes allowing the site owner to not require further developers down the line
  • Retained services
    • We take enormous pride in the business’ and brands that we work with. We want to see them continually develop and grow and in order to guarantee this, we offer a retained service whereby we set aside an agreed amount of time per week or month to ensure everything associated with your website, from content to code, is as up-to-date as possible. This service gives our clients complete peace of mind and enables them to concentrate on making their brand or products as good as they can be
    • The service includes:
      • Daily backups of your database and all of the content on your website.
      • 24/7 protection of your website for malware, viruses and hackers
      • Updates of your plugins and Shopify core files, ensuring there are no vulnerabilities and guaranteeing that performance is maintained
      • Quick fixes to site bugs and other glitches
      • Hosting on our secure server
      • Content Management