Lots of people ask us which ecommerce platform is the best suited for a company just getting started with an online store.
The short answer is that Shopify offers all the functionality you need. It's filled with tools for launching a site within minutes, and you don't have to worry about self-hosting or buying a domain name from a third party.
In that respect, one could call it the perfect out of the box solution, built with pricing plans that cater to small starter stores as well as shops that are bringing in millions of dollars in sales.
You'll find my full review below. For more Shopify reviews from our readers check out the comments area.
The reason we choose Shopify over WordPress or Magento (which are great as well) is that with Shopify you don't need any web development skills at all to keep your site running smoothly. On the other hand, it's not like some of the more simplified solutions like WIX or Weebly, where you're going to have a tough time scaling up.
Shopify is right in the middle, where complete beginners can create products, manage inventory and share promotions, all without having to take a development class. In addition, more advanced designers gain access to CSS and HTML files, and you can upgrade to gain more advanced features as your store grows.
Overall, it's a beautifully constructed ecommerce platform with plenty of themes that look modern and stylish but also simple and minimal if that's what you're looking for.
Shopify was founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke (CEO of the Year in Canada), Scott Lake and Daniel Weinand. Since the launch, the platform has quickly grown from a small player to one of (if not the) leading ecommerce solutions. The company is currently powering more than 220,000 online retailers.
Some of their most notable customers include General Electric, Amnesty International, Tesla Motors, Encyclopedia Britannica, Foo Fighters, GitHub, and many, many, many more. If you are looking for an ecommerce solution with a lot of great features that still remains easy to use for the novice users, then you should definitely give them a try.
Btw, here's a video review of Shopify created by my colleague Joe. 🙂
The Platform's Top Features: Shopify Reviews
I have tested quite a few ecommerce platforms in the past, and I must admit, Shopify has the most thought-out feature set I have ever encountered. Almost everything you need to run your own online store is taken care of by a distinct feature. It doesn’t matter if you are planning to run your store fully online or from a brick and mortar setting, there is something for everyone.
The reason Shopify manages to achieve such a strong feature-set is that they either have a tool built-in, or they let you install it with an app.
For example, taxes and shipping are included in the Shopify interface, yet for most of the themes, you're going to have to find a free app for social media buttons. Both options work, and you often don't have to pay any extra money when opting for an app.
The company has one of the most complete dashboards or control panels I have ever seen. All tasks, from processing orders to managing inventory, are given to you on the backend.
The platform also provides an interface called Shopify Partners, where developers can play around with new websites without having to open up free trials every time. It's like a sandbox interface for those who have several clients and need to present website builds before landing jobs. You can install new themes, customize full websites and seamlessly transition from a Shopify Partners website to a launched site. Not only that, but you gain a commission for every client you bring on board with Shopify.
If you have any familiarity with WordPress, the dashboard actually looks pretty similar to that interface, with the tabs on the left side for you to access quickly. You can also use the dashboard for generating discount codes, or for examining the latest reports. (In fact, the reports on Shopify are my favorite out of all the ecommerce platforms. They're organized, clean and simple, with options like sales by billing address, sales by traffic referrer and gross sales by product title).
If you are looking to sell your products in an actual retail setting, then you can opt for the Shopify POS. This includes everything you need to sell your products offline, both on the software and hardware side. The software includes an iPad app, which makes selling your products in a retail setting much easier. With the app, you can use the credit card reader to swipe the customer's credit card right there. You can even purchase additional hardware from the company such as a cash register, a receipt printer and even a barcode scanner.
Also, they offer a mobile app with which users can:
- Respond to chargeback disputes directly in-app
- Review all inventory changes made to their products in the last 30 days
- Fulfil items by fulfillment service
Shopify also offers one of the biggest App Stores out of all the ecommerce solutions; they provide hundreds of free and paid apps that will enhance your store. These have been divided into different categories such as Marketing, Sales, Social Media, Shipping and Customer Service. Thanks to their formidable content management system (CMS) you can easily create additional pages, as well as pages through which your clients can easily contact you. Furthermore, Shopify makes running your own blog super easy, since everything is handled from a single dashboard.
Thanks to their formidable content management system (CMS) you can easily create additional pages, as well as pages through which your clients can easily contact you. Furthermore, Shopify makes running your own blog super easy, since everything is handled from a single dashboard.
Keep in mind that the entire Shopify feature-set is hard to walk through in a single section, but it's worth mentioning that each of the Shopify themes is responsive with mobile-ready checkouts. The responsive checkout means that your site automatically adapts to the size of your screen, whether it be through a tablet or smartphone. Along with direct Facebook and Pinterest integration, gift cards, discount codes and a decent custom profile, the company has pretty much perfected the built-in features.
In general, if you need a feature that's only in the app store, you can test it out, and move onto another option if it's not working out on your website.
A Whole New User Interface and Design
If you've seen Shopify in the past, you may have noticed that the screenshots in this review look a little strange. As of June 2017, Shopify gave its backend a complete makeover, with purple colors on top of white font and various other modifications. This was done to create more contrast for those merchants in low and high light environments.
All of the screenshots in this Shopify review come from the most recent user interface.
Besides the colors and fonts, Shopify added a prominent new search bar in the dashboard, helping you quickly type in keywords and find what you're looking for without much thought. For example, you might want to find a certain product or customer. In that case, all you have to do is punch in the right words to locate something in a large collection or customer-base.
You'll also find updates to the user profile. This involves more details in the user profile for transparency in your organization. We like it for all companies that want to keep tabs on those logging into the store.
The last main update ties into the third-party apps we love from Shopify. Since Shopify doesn't create all of these apps, they don't blend all that well with the Shopify interface. Therefore, Shopify has created a more standardized programming system, while also releasing development guidelines to fix this problem. It's unclear how long it will take for app developers to adopt these rules, but it's something to keep an eye on.
Something Relatively New: Shopify Sections
Shopify Sections is an exciting new feature that doesn't exactly give your a drag and drop builder, but it comes close. The visual editor offers a wide variety of content sections that you can insert onto your homepage. For example, you might want to place a slideshow, button and product carousel towards the top of that homepage.
It's done with the click of a button. After that, you can adjust the order of those sections by dragging and dropping them in the sidebar. It's a relatively easy way to completely adjust the look and order of the modules on your website. We like it for all experience levels, especially beginners.
Shopify Ease of Use
Is it intimidating to handle all of the features in Shopify? Not really at all. In fact, we like the feature-set for companies that are just getting started with web design, since a few steps are given to you for getting your site up and running.
So, you could simply stick to the handful of steps offered in the dashboard (adding a product, customizing the look of your website and finding a custom domain,) or you could expand your store with the help of apps and custom coding.
The apps install within seconds, so it doesn't take a genius to handle those. However, if you are more of an advanced developer, Shopify has the tools for you as well. The only area that may be of concern for people with more advanced coding and development skills is that an FTP client is not included with the ecommerce platform, somewhat hindering the control you have over the site. This means that you won't be able to upload and manage files on Shopify's server.
On another note, unlike before, merchants will no longer need to access OpenSRS to change or access information on their Shopify purchased domains.
They'll be able to access it through Shopify itself under the ‘Domains' section. Users will have access right from their admin to:
- change their A records, CNAME, MX records, TXT records, and AAAA records
- more efficiently set up their Zoho and G Suite email accounts
- add subdomains
- enable or disable auto-renew
If you look back through Shopify forums you can see this was a big problem as usernames and passwords to log in to OpenSRS, which is a separate site, were different to their Shopify login which confused merchants.
With your domain area, you also transfer your Shopify domain to a different Shopify store and also transfer your Shopify domain out of Shopify. It's handy to have a look at Shopify's information on DNS setting for this.
In terms of pre-publication, Shopify gives you the opportunity to test your store before it goes public, and the live editor is pretty nice for seeing your changes immediately after a setting is adjusted.
The company is pretty much hell-bent on making their interface the easiest in the industry. What's interesting is that they are walking a fine line, since it's still a platform that can satisfy those with more experience with coding and whatnot. Overall, importing hundreds of products is simple, and making an item from scratch uses quick tools and settings for things like images, videos, titles, pricing, discounts and more.
I don't really see any beginner or intermediate developer having a problem with Shopify. At the same time, most advanced developers are going to be just fine. There's the select few who are planning on scaling up incredibly fast who might get a little bogged down with the Shopify interface.
However, Shopify has enough flexible pricing plans to keep your comfortable for a significant period of time.
Shopify Pricing Makes Sense
Below we've put together a Shopify pricing calculator which can work how much you will be spending each month based on your monthly revenue, whether you use Shopify payments, which would highly recommend due to low processing fees. As well as how you are going to pay for your package. Currently Shopify offer a 10% discount if you decide to pay for your package upfront for the year rather than monthly.
|Basic Shopify||Shopify||Advanced Shopify||Shopify Plus|
|Plan Fee 10% discount for annual plans||$29||$79||$299||$2000|
|Credit card rate||2.9% + 30¢||2.6% + 30¢||2.4% + 30¢||1.6% + 30¢|
|Numbers of products||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Shopify Shipping discount||up to 64%||up to 72%||up to 74%||Outstanding|
|Print shipping labels||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fraud analysis If you use Shopify Payments the fraud analysis tools are included. If you choose an external payment gateway, you need to upgrade to Shopify or Advanced Shopify for fraud analysis tools.||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Website and blog||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free SSL certificate||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Abandoned cart recovery||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced report builder||-||-||Yes||Yes|
|Third-party calculated shipping rates||-||-||Yes||Yes|
Shopify offers four different pricing plans, and the lowest starts at just $9 a month. While their other plans range from $29 (for their basic plan) to $299 (for their biggest plan,) you do have the opportunity to try out a free, 14-day trial before committing to anything.
If you want to sell your products both online and offline, then Shopify has plans that you must call in and speak to a rep to set up. Furthermore, if you wish to only sell your products offline, then they also offer a plan for that, which can be quite handy.
The cheapest offline plan starts at $29/month while the most expensive costs $299/month. Unlike with the other platforms, all plans come with unlimited bandwidth and, with the exception of the starter plan, an unlimited number of products you can sell in your store.
That said, let's outline some of the key difference between the online plans for you to understand which one is best for you:
- Lite – $9 per month for credit cards rates of 2.9% + 30¢, a Shopify buy button (so your site is technically not a real online store,) Facebook selling, POS integration, fraud analysis, manual order creation and shipping codes. One staff account is provided.
- Basic Shopify – $29 per month for everything in the previous plan, credit card rates of 2.9% + 30¢, an actual online store, 24/7 support, fraud analysis, manual order creation, discount codes, a website and blog, and a free SSL certificate. Two staff accounts are provided.
- Shopify – $79 per month for everything in the previous plan, credit card rates of 2.6% + 30¢, an actual online store, gift cards, professional reports and abandoned cart recovery. Five staff accounts are provided.
- Advanced Shopify – $299 per month for everything in the previous plan, credit card rates of 2.4% + 30¢, an actual online store, advanced report builder and real-time carrier shipping. 15 staff accounts are provided.
Each plan allows for an unlimited number of products, unlimited file storage, shipping label discounts and a retail package if needed.
So let's explore the plans a little deeper and what the advantages are for each.
At just $9 per month, Shopify Lite is possibly one of the cheapest options available to people who are looking to sell online. However, the price is so low because it doesn't actually provide you with a standalone website and is technically just an add-on.
In a nutshell what the Lite Plan offers is:
- the ability to display your products, but not sell them directly through the website
- sell products on Facebook
- use Shopify's system to help sell your products offline at events
Embedding products on to your website
When you look at the pricing plans, Shopify's Lite Plan is fairly hidden and it's understandable as it doesn't offer a lot from a customers point of view and also it probably isn't a bigger money generator for Shopify themselves.
Shopify generate a code for the Lite Plan that enables you to place your products on your website.
This code will allow you to display a picture, price and description for your product. There is no restriction to singular products and you can add as many products as you like.
If you already have a blog website for example on WordPress or Blogger then this plan would be useful to you to display your products on.
The button from Shopify is also mobile friendly as well and allows you full customisation so you can edit the colour of the button to match your brand.
This enables anyone to build a unique and customizable and branded website, regardless of the website or platform that it is operating on. This is done through the Shopify Storefront API.
As well as building a storefront for your store you can also create advertising material such as sponsored content and lookbooks.
Shopify is one of the only ecommerce platforms that offer you the ability to sell digital products. Again this is a fantastic opportunity if you have a blog site and want to sell help guides, audiobooks or books for example.
Even if you are a massive company with a huge turnover there are some great advantages of selling digital products that you should look into which include:
- No overhead costs
- No physical or warehouse storage needed
- No inventory issues, you can sell as many or as little as possible
- No shipping costs internationally
- High mark up as there is next to no production cost
Selling on Facebook
If you already have a good following on Facebook and you aren't that interested in creating your own store from scratch then Shopify Lite is a great option.
However, it's worth touching on here that you unable to sell digital products on Facebook.
Despite this its a fantastic chance for your following to shop your products on the high visible shop section that Facebook now offers.
When you consider that around half a billion people access Facebook by mobile alone, then it's a wise investment to set this up.
Also, you are able to chat directly with your customers with Facebook Messenger via your online store or on your Facebook page. Customers can purchase products directly within the chat and can also track their orders.
Live chat is particularly important if you're targetting millennials as 71% of 16-24 year olds demand a quick response now via live chat and messenger apps.
Using Shopify Lite for inventory management
As we touched on earlier, Shopify Lite gives you the ability to process payment and manage your inventory if you sell your goods in a physical store.
Shopify Lite allows you access to the Shopify admin area so you can create orders manually. You can also accept card payments using your chosen card readers and Shopify will update your inventory automatically.
Other points of note
It's worth noting that Shopify Lite is the only plan that only offers email and live chat support. The other plans all offer phone support.
Dropshipping is available through the Shopify Lite plan. Dropshipping is the practice of taking orders but having the fulfilment side being handled by a third party.
Is Shopify Lite suitable for me?
Shopify Lite is ideal for the following merchants:
- want to add ecommerce to an already existing blog or website
- you have developer skills to access the Shopify Storefront API to customise your site
- want to sell on Facebook
- happy with just live chat and email support
- need a backend system to manage your inventory and payments
- have digital products to sell, preferably with an international audience
Basic Shopify Plan
The next plan up is the Basic Shopify plan which starts at $29 a month. Which unlike the Lite plan allows you to create a standalone webstore.
Already you get so much more on the package and some of the key features include:
- 2 staff accounts
- unlimited number of products
- unlimited file storage
- 24/7 phone, email and live chat support
- fraud analysis (which detects fraudulent activity on your account
- offer discount codes to your customers
- a blog
- abandoned cart recovery (contact visitors who have left their details but didn't complete purchase)
- Free SSL certificate (so you are secure on HTTPS)
We will cover templates in more detail in the section, but it's worth highlighting what templates are available on each package.
With the basic package, you have access to 10 free website templates and at the time of writing 58 paid ones.
The theme below is probably the most used on the site and is called ‘Brooklyn'. Although it is very attractive, it is very overused and if you want to set your self apart from the rest then you might want to look at the paid themes which start at around $100.
Despite this, most of the free website templates offer the following functionality:
- header slideshow to highlight multiple products
- dynamic product grid which changes based on how many products are being shown
- slide out cart which enables visitors to add to their cart without leaving the website
- embed a YouTube or Vimeo on your homepage to showcase your story
Within the app store, you can filter down to a very specific choice, to ensure you are getting the best fit. These filters include:
- price (free or paid)
- products (small to large inventory)
- layout style (wide, grid, collage)
- product page (tabs, image zoom, high def images)
- homepage (slideshow, video, collection)
- navigation (sidebar, horizontal, slide-out)
- marketing and social media (popup, promotion banner, Instagram feed)
- industry (clothing, sports, electronics)
Your store comes with a built-in blog which is a fantastic tool to help you build up your audience and enables you to generate more traffic to your site and in turn increase sales.
A blog can help you create a community around your store and get people to buy into what you are trying to achieve.
Very similar to WordPress it allows you to display a certain expert from the post, as well as adding tags and the ability to edit the search engine listing for SEO reasons.
You also have the ability to have a different URI for your blog and you are able to edit this to whatever you want when you set it up.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
Abandoned cart recovery allows you to identify people who add products to their cart but did not complete the purchase. This used to be only available on a higher price plan but Shopify has now made it available for the basic plan.
You can either send these people emails manually or opt for the automatic option where Shopify send it on your behalf.
This is a fantastic tool in turning those visitors into converters and is why Shopify is seen as the number 1 ecommerce platform. If you look at their competitors then this feature isn't available on a package of this price.
You are able to track within your abandoned checkouts screen then which visitor was sent and email and which then completed their purchase.
The fraud analysis from Shopify helps you identify any fraudulent activity on your account which would otherwise incur chargebacks to your account.
Shopify provides indicators of whether an order could be fraudulent. The indicators can include:
- AVS checks – has the credit card passed these?
- did the customer provide the correct CVV code on the back of the card
- does the IP address of the order have previous fraudulent activity
- did the person placing the order try one or more cards?
If you're on the Shopify Plan or higher such as Advance or Plus, then you will receive a fraud analysis of each payment which looks like this:
Other points of note
It's worth noting that Shopify's basic plan has no point of sale capabilities. So if you have a physical store you may want to look at a higher package.
Is Shopify Basic suitable for me?
Basic Shopify is fantastic for sellers who:
- do not have a massive budget or are perhaps just starting out
- do not need POS capabilities, perhaps you don't own a physical store
- have the ambition to start blogging and want to build a community around their store
- want the ability to recover abandoned carts at a competitive rate
The next plan is the Shopify Plan which starts at $79.
This plan has all the features of the basic plan but also includes the key features:
- point of sale functionality
- professional reporting
- gift cards
- lower credit card and transaction fees
Point of Sale
On the Shopify Basic plan, you have access to the Shopify point of sale system.
This gives you access to:
- register shifts
- the use of hardware including barcode scanners, receipt printers and shipping label printers
- staff pins so that each member has a secure and unique login
- adding third-party software apps to the POS system
The POS system is designed for both the occasional seller at pop-ups, events and fairs as well as the seasoned seller who has their own store and multiple members of staff.
There are many defining features of the POS system and how that ties into your online store:
Payments – POS allows you to offer store credit instead of refunding the customer with the payment method they used. With the gift card feature with the Shopify Basic plan, you can accept this in-store as well as online.
Checkout – Attach notes to orders to keep track of special requests. Customize your receipts so you can promote your brand, your online store, store opening hours and promotions. Additionally, the tax is automatically calculated based on your location
Discounts – Coupons or codes you have created online can also be used in-store. Create specific in-store discounts and run reports to see how well they have performed
Store Management – View all past orders made online or in-store, which can be categorised by the customer, product or date. Save time on your accounting by integrating the POS system with Quickbooks or Xero
Customer Management – Create customer profiles and analyse their shopping habits as well as contact information and location. Collect email addresses in store to use for your email marketing
Products – Track your inventory across your physical and online channels so you stay on top of your inventory. For retail stores, you can also offer wholesale prices and loyalty programs
Hardware – Download the Shopify POS app on your Apple or Android device. All hardware included is free of charge and comes with a 30-day returns policy
Analytics – View, analyze and export sales reports by location, a specific staff member or customer. Export product reports to see what's selling and what isn't
Mobile – Look up your customer profiles on your mobile and contact them directly through the app. Add products through the app and also take new product photos
Gift cards are great for bigger companies who are already a recognised brand.
Customers can come to your website and purchase a gift card for a friend or family member. These are great for birthdays and Christmas. Additionally, you can also issue gift cards as a reward to your customers.
Anybody can access the overview dashboard that you see below however with the Shopify plan you also have access to the following which you wouldn't get on the basic plan.
- Sales reports
- Profit reports
- Customer reports (5 out of 7)
Sales reports allow you to information about the orders your customers have placed based on channel, time or by a member of staff.
These reports are extremely powerful for your marketing as it can tell you which areas are bringing in the most sales allowing you to focus on them.
You also have the ability to customize your sales reports by adding the following features:
- average order value
- ordered quantity
- returned quantity
The average order value is particularly important as this can inform you about where you should set your free delivery threshold. Let's say your average order is $80, try putting your free delivery at $100 and watch your average order value increase.
Profit reports are fantastic as they calculate the total cost of your products and work out your profit based on your margins.
You can view profit reports based on a number of factors including:
- SKU number
- POS location
- discounts and refunds
I particularly like the profit reports based on discounts and refunds. Let's say you run a campaign of 10% off your whole site, the report will be able to inform you what the margin is after the discount has been applied.
The customer reports really dive into your analytics and can give you invaluable insight into the behaviour of your customers. The reports include:
- Customers over time
- First-time vs returning customer sales
- Customers by country
- Returning customers
- One-time customers
These reports can help you to turn those one-time buyers into coming back to your store. From your dashboard, you can see how much they've already spent and whether they will accept email marketing from you.
Other points of note
You have 5 staff account for your login as opposed to the 2 you had on the basic plan.
Is the Shopify Plan suitable for me?
The Shopify Plan is a great choice for the following sellers:
- you have, or expect to start getting a high volume sales
- have a recognised brand to start taking advantage of gift cards
- require more in-depth reporting on your customer buying habits and profits
- have a physical store or sell at events
Advanced Shopify Plan
The next plan is the Advanced Shopify plan which comes in at $299 a month.
As well as the features in the plans above this also offers you:
- advanced report building
- third-party calculated shipping rates
You also will receive smaller fees on credit card transactions, in-person rates and a significant discount on payment providers other than Shopify payments.
Advanced report building
The advanced report builder in Shopify allows you to create custom reports and the ability to filter and edit the default reports that you would have in the other plans.
You firstly have the ability to choose which sort of report you would like and then you can edit and filter the columns within that report and share with members of your team.
All of your custom reports are then saved in the Reports section of your Shopify dashboard so that you can easily access them whenever you like.
Third-party calculated shipping rates
With this feature, you are able to use your carrier account to apply calculated shipping rates at the checkout.
You also have discounted shipping labels provided by either USPS or Canada Post.
You have access to the shipping rates of FedEx, UPS, USPS and Canada Post. Within your shipping admin area, you can add a percentage markup to the price that's calculated to cover packaging costs.
You can decide which services of a particular carrier you want to offer such as Expedited Parcel, Priority and XpressPost.
Other points of note
There is a big jump in the number of people who can access your Shopify account from 5 to 15 in the Advanced Shopify plan.
Is the Advanced Shopify Plan suitable for me?
The Advanced Shopify plan is very suitable for the following sellers:
- have a very high level of online transactions
- require advanced reporting with a particular focus on the business elements such as profit and margin
- use carriers to ship products and want a discounted rate
Lastly, there is Shopify Plus which is for the very big businesses, you can see them listed below.
It offers all the features you would expect on the Advanced plan with a particular heavier focus on security, fulfillment and APIs.
The price on Shopify Plus isn't set and is negotiable as the website is tailor-made for your specifications. Usually, prices start at around $1,500 – 2,000 a month.
You will be given a dedicated account manager when you set up your account which will help you with the onboarding process, as well as managing your account throughout your journey and offering support.
Shopify Plus allows you to integrate 20 channels within your Enterprise dashboard.
You use over 100+ payment gateways to accept payments for these which includes Shopify's one field checkout option.
If you have a large number of sales especially in peak times such as Black Friday then uptime will be of the utmost importance to you. Shopify Plus can process over 10,000 a minute and has a 99.98% uptime in doing so, with unlimited bandwidth.
If you have your own custom app solution or you want one of Shopify's technology partners to bring your idea to live then Plus can cater for you. In total it supports 1,500+ professionally built apps.
Is Shopify Plus suitable for me?
Shopify Plus is for enterprise businesses that meet the following criteria
- an extremely high volume of sales
- have a bespoke CRM system and need Shopify to speak to it
- want to automate workflows for the team
- have peak sales periods and need guaranteed uptime and security
- want an account manager to be able to speak to whenever
If you want to learn more about this, check out my full guide on Shopify pricing.
Shopify Reviews: Templates and Design
One area where Shopify really excels at is its themes and design. The company offers some of the most professional looking themes of any ecommerce platform. As of this article, the company has around 21 free themes for you to choose from. On the other hand, you can pay for a theme, and select from over 100 options. The nicer ones start at around $100, but you may be able to locate a few that are cheaper.
On the other hand, you can pay for a theme, and select from over 100 options. The nicer ones start at around $100, but you may be able to locate a few that are cheaper.
The Shopify Sections functionality (for dragging and dropping certain sections with the theme) is live for most new themes. Therefore, if you're starting a new site, you shouldn't have any problems getting Shopify Sections. Unfortunately, that leaves all the currently running sites in the dark with Shopify Sections.
However, Shopify claims that all online stores will get Shopify Sections by the end of 2016, which is hopefully going to be the case.
As we talked about above, CSS and HTML modules are given for you to make more advanced customizations to the themes you buy. In my experience, the free themes aren't as easy to customize, and Shopify probably does this to get you to purchase premium options. The theme selection includes categories like clothing, electronics, food, toys and much more. I've had my eye on Shopify for quite some time now, and the company seems to share new themes on a consistent basis, and the designs are looking more and more modern.
My main concern with a theme design is how quickly people can checkout and get through the shopping cart process. The Shopify themes have both two and three step checkouts, and you can try out tools for things like social and guest checkouts.
Once you've found the right theme, you can easily customize the look and feel to your heart's desire, simply by opening the template editor and editing your theme until you feel like it’s exactly what you are looking for. On the other hand, the new Shopify Sections feature is sure to speed up your editing, since it's a rather simple drag and drop editor.
If you have created a theme that you would like to use for your store, then you can upload your own template.
Go to the Theme page and scroll down until you find the Upload Theme button, then just add your own theme.
For more information on what themes are available on each package, visit the pricing section of this article.
None of the Shopify themes have Shopify branding. In fact, it's not that easy to find any trace of the Shopify brand on your own site. This is a wonderful thing for beginners, since it's not going to affect your search engine rankings, and people will think you designed the website yourself.
Shopify Reviews: Inventory
Inventory management is an important part of running your store, and Shopify has you covered in this area too. Once you are ready to add inventory to your store then all you need to do is press the Products tab in the sidebar on the dashboard. You will then automatically be taken to the following page:
As you can see in the image above, everything from product title to description and price is customizable. In addition, you can give each product a distinct SKU, as well as a barcode.
Transfers, Inventory, Collections and Gift Cards are seen as tabs in this area as well. I like the Inventory tab because it features all of the items in your store, all organized into a clean and manageable list. The product page also offers several options for things like SEO, shipping and the imagery that users are going to see when landing on this product page.
Shopify Reviews: SEO & Marketing
If you have an amazing store but your customers are unable to find it, then chances are you will be very disappointed with the sales figures. Shopify offers great features for both SEO and Marketing. Thanks to the built-in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features, your site will easily be found on all major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
What's cool is that even though the SEO settings are automated, you can go to each product page and customize your own target keywords, URLs and more.
If you really want to customize your store further, the company offers customizable H1, title, and meta tags. Also, the URLs are all SEO friendly. Shopify has partnered with Google in order to occasionally give you advertising money for a new AdWords account. I certainly wouldn't base my decision on which ecommerce platform gives me money to advertise on Google, but I guess it's a nice bonus.
The gift cards are extremely user-friendly, and you don't have to go out to find a third party app for better gift card features. It depends on your payment plan, but once you get everything activated it allows for gift card codes in the checkout area.
The discount codes are generated on the backend as well.
To help boost your marketing, Shopify created a discount code coupon generator to promote your products on different social networks.
Along with selling options on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, your marketing game is in good hands with Shopify. However, you should know that social media following and sharing buttons are only in the app store. Yes, you can create an online shop through Facebook, but the buttons are in the app store.
Also, Shopify has also introduced products tagging on Instagram, that allows you to link directly to your product page.
Finally, the email collection form is pretty simple. It certainly does the job and integrates with the major email options like MailChimp, but many ecommerce stores tend to look towards the app store to find something more suitable.
Read this post if you want to learn more on which is the best ecommerce site builder for SEO.
Shopify Reviews: Payments
Traditionally if you wanted to accept payments you would have to use a third-party payments processor like Stripe, PayPal, or others that would charge a certain fee per transaction. Shopify has created their own payment processor called Shopify Payments (Powered by Stripe). If you decide to sign up for this program then all transaction fees will be lifted regardless of your plan.
We covered credit card fees in the pricing area earlier, but it's worth noting that you do have the option to integrate with over 70 different payment gateways. These include accepting payments from credit cards, Google Checkout, PayPal, and many more.
The gateways all come with their own transaction fees. Since these can get a little confusing, I strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with these before signing up, as you might otherwise be surprised at just how much you'll have to pay.
In short, Shopify has one of the biggest lists of supported payment gateways out there. This doesn't mean you'll use them all, but it opens up more opportunity for people from all over the world. It also gives you a chance to research which of the payment gateways are going to work for your particular business.
There are a number of reasons why people choose Shopify payments, however, it does have setbacks as well, below we explore them a bit more.
Transactions Fees – while it's to be expected that you will experience processing fees when using Shopify payments, you won't have to pay the extra 0.5%-2% transaction fees for other payment methods
Integration – Shopify payments are available immediately and don't need to be integrated, so you can begin accepting payments immediately
Security – the payments service from Shopify is highly secure and detects fraudulent transactions. You have the options in your checkout to add a verification system by address and value to ensure that the payments are genuine
Saved details – when customers visited your website they are able to save their shipping and billing information to ensure they your checkout process is fast which in turn leads to a high conversion rate
Processing Fees – you are rewarded with lower processing fees dependent on the higher your monthly package and the more sales you turnover every month
Chargebacks – if your customers file too many chargebacks then Shopify can keep funds back from you, or worse block your account
Suspicious activity – if suspicicous activity has been noted on your account then again Shopify can hold payments back from you. These then may be escalated and you may not receive your money for a while pending a dispute
Availability – Shopify's payment option isn't available in every country and you can see the full list of countries here. Despite the supported countries you may be refused to use the service if your business is seen as “high-risk” as Shopify have the right to terminating your service with any notice
Overall though the pros definitely outway the cons and it's low transactions fees and instant integrations mean that it is a great option for ecommerce companies of any size.
Shopify Reviews: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
In May 2018, GPDR took effect and brought in new regulations in regards to how companies handle the personal information of their European customers.
In preparation for this Shopify have already done some fantastic work to protect their customers. These include:
- Updated their terms of service to now include a data protection addendum which explains how Shopify will handle your European customer's information
- Information has been modified in regards to how cookies are stored on your storefront
- Changed the marketing opt-in which allows you to have it as unchecked for your store
- Produced a 16-page whitepaper on how Shopify will approach the legal requirements
Shopify have also worked out a way where you can request that the details of an individual customer can be deleted from all of your apps. You will see the option below within your customer privacy area that allows you to delete it.
The app store interface has also been updated so that it shows what specific information your apps are storing on your customers. Shopify recommends that you speak with a lawyer in regards to data protection so that you are clear on how this will affect your business.
Shopify Reviews: Mobile
What's great about Shopify is that you can also manage a lot of your operations from the mobile app. Some of the tasks that you can do on the app include:
- Take and upload product photos
- Edit product details such as pricing
- Add products
- Fulfill orders as well as offering refunds or archiving
- Purchase and print shipping labels
- Few conversions stats
- See live sales information and view real-time traffic
- Receive order notifications (see below)
- Contact members of your team
The app is supported on both iPhone and Android as is available in English and Dutch. The fact that you can fulfill orders is a fantastic option for events or fairs that you are attending. The app also integrates with 3rd party tools such as Amazon and Etsy so users can effectively manage their sales and inventory over multiple platforms.
Shopify Reviews: Security
Security is taken very seriously when you run an ecommerce site. Therefore Shopify has its shopping cart hosted on a Level 1 PCI DSS compliant server. In other words, your data, and the data of your customers is secure. In addition, all pricing plans (besides Lite) offer 128-bit Free SSL certificate at no added cost.
While data security is very important to retailers, many also worry about their store always being available, and Shopify provides their customers with a 99.94% uptime guarantee. Furthermore, the company creates secure backups of all your data, so even if your store should crash, it will be backed up for restoration later.
Security badges come with your plan, considering those are some of the only ways you can show to your customers that your website is secure. That, along with the “https” mention and padlock in the URL area of your browser.
Some other things that come into play with security include vulnerability management and access control. You get to specify which users are able to access certain content on the backend. So some people might get a little access, while others might get admin access, and others might get no access.
Finally, the vulnerability management area helps out with catching problems from malicious hackers to fraudulent transactions. You get to monitor what's going on with your site and Shopify assists in identifying criminal activity.
Shopify Reviews: Customer Support
If you find yourself in need of support, then Shopify has one of the best teams in the industry. Regardless of which pricing plan you decide on, the company has 24/7 full customer support, which includes phone support as well as chat and email support. Another great form of help offered by Shopify is the access to a sizeable support system directly through their website, including user forums, tutorials and FAQ’s.
If you are just beginning your journey as an online seller, Shopify has created something called Ecommerce University. Here users gain access to eBooks, videos, and guides, with the idea of helping customers learn the ins and outs of running their own web store.
Overall, you have the ability to either speak to a professional or learn about the system yourself. Obviously, some people hate waiting on the phone for a support rep, so we feel like the forums, courses, and videos are enough for you to figure out your own problems if you'd like. So, the support team has something for everyone (they're super knowledgable about fashion or jewellery stores), and in my experience, they're pretty darn responsive.
From videos to podcasts and success stories to a huge encyclopedia of ecommerce terms, the Shopify online support seems to improve on a regular basis. Heck, the last time I did this article I don't recall them having an ecommerce podcast.
A Note On Development Requests
When working with an online platform, app or software, it's nice to have access to the developers or at least some sort of feedback system for letting them know what features you would like to see in the future. In addition, we like to see the developers actually respond to the requests with new features being released on a consistent basis.
I consider this a type of support since a company that doesn't listen to customers is bound to lose them because of this lack of communication.
Shopify thrives in this department, seeing as how they regularly share blog posts about the feature requests they have listened to and implemented. For example, many ecommerce professionals worry about images slowing down their sites since media is usually what causes this problem.
Well, Shopify responded by optimizing and updating all previously uploaded images on Shopify, while also providing file modification instructions for future image optimization. This not only helps with SEO, but it speeds up the user interface for all Shopify merchants.
Shopify Frequently Asked Questions
Is Shopify Good to Use?
Shopify is arguably the best ecommerce platform. When we looked at the top 6 ecommerce platforms on the market, Shopify came out on top with a score of 10/10.
Checkout out our review of the top 6 ecommerce platforms today.
Is Shopify Secure?
Shopify is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. In fact, Shopify meets all of the 6 categories of PCI standards which include:
- Maintaining a secure network
- Maintaining a vulnerable management program
- Regular monitoring and testing networks
- Protection of cardholder data
- Implementing strong access control measures
- Maintaining an information security policy
Can I make money with Shopify?
Absolutely! Shopify has a tonne of success stories and especially with Shopify Plus, looks after some of the biggest ecommerce companies in the world.
How much does it cost to set up Shopify?
You can find a list of all the pricing packages higher up in the article. If you are just starting out however it would be best to either start on the Lite package which is $9 a month or the Basic package which is $29 a month.
Does Shopify have good SEO?
It does indeed. Shopify is a great platform that allows you to do the following steps that can help your website be seen by Google:
- Add keywords to product pages
- Optimize your site structure
- Submit a sitemap
- Hide pages to emphasise your crawl budget
There is a list of SEO tools on the Shopify App Store that can also help with these tasks.
Is Shopify safe for customers?
As Shopify is a SaaS platform anytime a security update is performed in the backend it updates all of the websites on the platform. This is opposed to a service such as Magento where a new patch would need to be uploaded manually.
Who is the Shopify ecommerce platform built for?
Beginners, intermediates and advanced users (the ones looking to speed up the development process by not spending much time on coding or more complicated processes). I also like it for generalist bloggers or content creators who would like to sell digital goods and should start the Lite plan. The Shopify Lite plan is ripe for converting a regular business site into an ecommerce one. It's also nice to see a homepage builder (Shopify Sections) that has draggable elements.
I would gladly recommend Shopify to anyone if nothing else then at least give their 14-day free trial a try. I'm certain you will not be disappointed.
So what do you think of Shopify? Let me know what's your opinion by in the comments area, which is dedicated to Shopify reviews.
I did a lot of research on what type of backend support was best for my website before launching FabStitches. I knew that starting a small business like mine was going to be a day and night hustle. I needed something that would take care of the other business aspects so I could focus on my products and my craft. Shopify was beyond doubt the best choice. It has truly made my life simple to say the least.
In regards to Shopify.. Back in January, we migrated over from a highly converting xhtml based hand coded site that had been serving us well for several years.. Our google serps were outstanding, we had top 5 placement for about 10 different keywords and were pulling tens of thousands of unique visitors per day. Due to google’s threats of Mobilegeddon, and their warning that sites which did not conform to mobile, (ie: responsive design) were going to be dropped from the search results sent us scrambling for a platform that would give us a responsive architecture without worrying about the hassles of coding a responsive design from scratch. I read every review I could find for all the available platforms.. actually went with a alternate only to ditch it half way through the setup process and switched over to Shopify. I was reluctant, worrying how this would affect not only our search rankings, but our conversion rate as well. Since making the move, we’ve had many challenges. I’m not a fan of theme based all inclusive CRM platforms to begin with, but with shopify, performing any sort of sustainable SEO at code level, seems all but impossible.
I’ve found it extremely difficult get any traction in googles organic results. There’s some great functionality and I believe some good intention over at Shopify, but personally I’m still not sold on the design, and don’t really care for it much.. it’s a beast to get it to convert.. and our search ranks have suffered tremendously.
Not a fan at this point... hoping it will turn around for us... I’ve always got my eyes open for an alternative, but thankfully we’ve had 19 years of building a solid loyal customer base and have been able to get by without
As a business owner Shopify is one of the most valuable resources I have. It has helped triple our e-commerce business and grow our online presence all while being extremely user-friendly and intuitive. The back-end reporting helps provide valuable insight in the decision making process as well as their robust App Store has a solution for anything we have wanted to add to our users experience on the site. I would highly recommend Shopify for any business that is looking to grow their e-commerce presence without paying through the nose for a firm to design it and maintain it for you.
The Shopify platform delivers tremendous value at a reasonable cost. We chose this platform over others because it offers great functionality out of the box. Additionally, Shopify has a great network of developers who are constantly adding apps and features that users demand from their eCommerce experience. This allows businesses to improve their site without incurring additional costs of paying developers and designers to keep up with the latest eCommerce features and trends.
I started off using Square when it first came out. But I wanted something more robust that would help me with ecommerce and POS as I grew my ecommerce platform. Shopify makes everything seamless and has a number of apps that help me do other things like marketing. It's not as inexpensive as Square for POS, but it also is way more powerful. The customer service has also been great. I hate calling for customer service, so I use their Chat feature and always get an answer to my questions or issues.
We have been using Shopify Plus for almost 2 years. We moved over from NetSuite at the end of 2015 and have been very happy with the product. While the cost for Shopify Plus is rising dramatically, we need the versatility of a secure dedicated shopping cart, customer support, customization and API connections for our inventory platform Seller Cloud. I would recommend Shopify to anyone opening an E-Commerce business.
We switched twice in three years- first from Netsuite to Magento, both of which were very complex to build our site on, and then to Shopify, which has proven to be a great decision. We were able to save thousands of dollars a year in developer fees and even I (the owner) have been able to easily create pages and content for our site with little technical knowledge.
Shopify is easy to use, intuitive and scalable as my business has grown! The base themes are a solid foundation that can be personalized and the premium ones are top notch. As the community of stores has grown the number of developers building apps has increased exponentially which has allowed me to add on functionality I would have had to get built from scratch.
Our experience with Shopify: 3 stars.
If you use a free theme you get ancient navigation, you will pay for a SEO manager app (staff will recommend this app for $20/month to close from indexing your pages or collections), you will pay even for a wish list. The basic plan for $29 will make you pay even more than their plan for $79.
Surprise! Your store can be suddenly disconnected from "Shopify Payment" because Shopify will want to know your suppliers' contacts.
We give a bad score Shopify for anti fraud.
Shopify does not fit for starting or small businesses. Probably it will work well for big stores.
We've been on Shopify now for 2 years with no issues. We had one of the experts build the site, but we put 350 items on it ourselves and we maintain it as well. My husband takes care of all of the new products and installing everything and believe me he is absolutely NOT a computer genius, and if he can do it, anybody can. Thanks Shopify.
Indosole is a growing footwear company based in California and Bali, Indonesia. We use Shopify to power both our front-end website and our back-end Ecommerce sales and service. Shopify is a perfect fit for us as it can adapt to the needs of our business in our growth phase and has all the downloadable reporting and statistics that we need to monitor our business and cash flow. Plus, we have enjoyed using Shopify's Capital program which provides direct deposit loans at an affordable interest rate. Love it!
As a business owner with a background in Graphic Design we really appreciate Shopify's great looking existing store theme's. Shopify allows us to focus on our core business and not only shows off our Poseidon Surf brand visually but allows us to sell a multitude of products with ease. Another benefit is that many of our staff and new staff is familiar with Shopify which makes product updates even easier.
1.) The back-end admin user platform is very friendly.
2.) The whole site is very reliable as far as up times goes.
3.) 3rd party apps are very useful and integration is very easy.
4.) Front end of themes tend to have a clean layout making it simple to navigate.
5.) Integrated shipping couriers like UPS and DHL makes it quite easy to choose best shipping options.
1.) Support for 3rd party apps is almost non-existent other than the forums and when in the forums asking for help (at least for my issues), responses were scarce.
2.) Couldn't have access to certain information on our own sales data for 3rd party apps thru API.
3.) The blogging sites although allows us to blog in an easy manner, the back end doesn't show data on those visitors making it difficult to gauge blog's engagements.
I chose Shopify because it was very easy to get started on this platform and launch a polished, fully functioning eCommerce store within a week. The vibrant community of developers and designers who create useful apps and beautiful themes are always innovating, which lets me continually refine the website and add the latest eCommerce features. With Shopify’s intuitive UI and awesome analytics, this is a very excellent solution for small businesses to showcase and sell products online.
For most part Shopify works good for us. But I am having difficulty changing the menu options as I need drop downs and need to reorganize my website.
We love Shopify for our e-commerce website for the ease of customizing our products on the web. The integration of apps within Shopify is extremely easy as well as the support from Shopify - we always talk to a live person, very quickly. We are constantly receiving great feedback from our customers regarding our website.
Shopify offer great templates
Shopify give fantastic customer service
Shopify genius's go beyond the norm to assist when there is a problem and do speak in normal ( non tech) language in order to educate their consumer.
I selected shopify for their ecommerce/pos platform. Their support has been well beyond my expectations and the ease of use of their e-commerce and pos systems has been surprising. It has been a great one-stop shop for all my needs and they regularly update and improve their services.
I am very happy with the Camilla design. It was easy to personalize and add features to. Super simple to navigate which is a huge bonus for our customers and conversion rate. As astore owner its nice to not have to worry about EVERYTHING, this template takes care of you
Our company has used Shopify since the inception of our website. Their support chat is invaluable to our team – we contact them daily with questions on how to be more effective and productive. Their advice is knowledgeable and most importantly, quick, so we can get to our next task as soon as possible.
I think the sales are badly affected by the presentation of the checkout page - it appears that you can only pay by PayPal, there's no mention of credit card payment, even though c/c payment is a possibility. I know that this puts people off, it would be so easy to put some c/c logos on that page.
We are very happy we chose to use Shopify for our eCommerce business. With all of the data and reports just a click away, we are able to make decisions quickly and confidently. Their customer service team is also amazing.
Shopify's platform is worlds beyond where we were before. The payment processing and ability to provide great customer service with the simple platform has made the transition into a larger online presence a breeze. Shopify's customer support is always willing to help even with the smallest details.
Shopify has been a pivotal tool for my clothing line. We are now able to take a step back and let our eCommerce software work for us and worry only about our marketing. Growth comes fast with Shopify at your back.
Shopify is the best! Easy posting, inventory control and the ability to post directly to social media is a big plus! The guru's are always patient and go above and beyond to make sure my questions are answered any my problems are solved.
Shopify has been a great asset to our business. We really love the back end and how user-friendly it is. Wouldn't change Shopify for any other service. Its been great for keeping us organized. Also, always very helpful whenever we run into any issues.
Shopify platform offers a super simple solution where you can create a beautifully designed store and launch your online business in a matter of minutes, with unlimited traffic bandwidth and unlimited quantity of products, and with the possibility to launch your business globally, using any of the payment gateways that accept multiple currencies. The only inconvenience is that you will need to install additional applications to your store where you will have to pay a monthly fee, so you can really integrate all the necessary capabilities to optimize your conversion rates and get the best experience to your customers, although some of them are free of charge. Customer service is fantastic as well. I really recommend it for small-medium businesses and any eCommerce entrepreneurs!
We have switched from Big commerce to Shopify Plus earlier this year and we loved the platform. It is very easy to use and much more app integration. With Shopify Plus you can have multiple countries website under one account. We have a dedicated success manager that we can throw any Shopify related question to and their support team is always on line and fix problem super fast. Overall, very good experience and our store already see good growth rate after switching the platform
After spending so much money and endless frustration’s with other platforms. We are so excited to have discovered Shopify!
Shopify provides the everyday person with a professional online selling platform. It’s fast and easy to build an online store with little to no coding knowledge. I would recommend Shopify to any one aspiring to enter the world of e-commerce.
Shopify has allowed me to be able to run my own
e-commerce without fear of a web master leaving and the place falling apart, the platform is that easy, and with such amazing integration! I believe that is one of the keys to my success, I can practically run it from my IOS, from adding products on the spot to refunding a customer or taking an order. I also appreciate how fast your tech support works on the rare occasion that I need help.
I have brought many people to Shopify who want to start their own business, it is simply the easiest, and most efficient platform for entrepreneurs.
I actually loved using Shopify. It was a very easy to use platform with tons of options and modification capabilities.
I had a small online shop with Shopify but decided to take a break for a while so I switched over to Etsy where the cost for hosting is very minimal.
Shopify is a great platform that will easily grow your business! It's easy to use, and constantly evolving.
We've used Shopify to sell over 50,000 orders to fans in all 50 states, as well as the point-of-sale software in our 30A store locations. Shopify is comprehensive, professional, affordable and easy to use. Shopify is the best e-commerce platform on the market.
They try to provide you with all the tools so you can create a web site that looks good and works.
From Credit Card Processing to Layout.
Also their Chat will help you anytime with any questions you may have.
I have been fairly happy with Shopify. The price is reasonable. The support has been excellent (and my Canadian speaking skills continue to improve). My biggest problem has been trying to improve my SEO. Anything Shopify can do to help me with that would be much appreciated. The Kit app has been somewhat helpful, but I get lost in the setup on my end on some of the Kit options/suggestions. My geek skills are on the low end.
As a first-time e-commerce store owner, I've found Shopify to be simple, easy and relatively quick to setup and to use. I have not used any other e-commerce platforms before, but my first experience of the Shopify platform was simply the best, and I would definitely recommend Shopify to first-time store owners. You could easily and effortlessly expand your Shopify store to suit your business, whether it's to tailor and customise a Shopify theme or to extending the features of the Shopify platform. The Shopify support staff are really helpful and knowledgeable of the platform, so if ever you are stuck or need clarification on anything, they are always available to assist you, so you needn't be afraid to explore the platform at all. My advice to first-time e-commerce and Shopify users is to take a little time to familiarize yourself with the platform, ask a lot of questions, and browse the Shopify blogs and forums, to see how others are using the platform. In my opinion, Shopify is one of the best and easiest e-commerce platforms to use, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!
With Shopify, we've been able to create 3 customized web sites; NaykedApparel.com, NaykedPromos.com and NaykedWholesale.com that target three different demographic groups with unique buying habits. Shopify has enabled us to quickly and without a lot of coding experience, create unique shopping experiences that have resulted in increased sales for all 3 sites.
Shopify is easy to use and very intuitive to figure out. Whenever one calls them, one gets a real live person on the phone fairly quickly. The people who answer the phones are native English speakers and talk you through your questions quickly, clearly and accurately. I would have switched to Shopify years ago if I had realized how much simpler it could be. I have been very happy with their service and services.