eCommerce: Shopify Review
Shopify is one of the best fully hosted, eCommerce platforms in the market today. It’s reasonably priced, comes with solid features, supports multiple channels (sell on Facebook, Amazon, etc), and round-the-clock support. This makes Shopify a great all-in-one eCommerce solution that can help businesses to sell more – online via eCommerce and offline through an integrated POS Systems.
Overview: What is Shopify?
Shopify is a complete eCommerce platform that helps everyday people set up their own online store and sell products on multiple channels. From marketing and payments to inventory management and shipping – the platform handles everything you need to manage and grow an online store.
Who uses Shopify?
Shopify is used by all types of people – from local mom-and-pop shops to tech startups and global multi-million dollar businesses. Some of the biggest brands on Shopify include Budweiser, Penguin Books, and Tesla Motors.
What can you sell on Shopify?
Overall you can sell most family-friendly products on Shopify. Paintings, antiques, handbags, cameras, pottery and ceramics, stamps, t-shirts, wine, furniture, toys, books, car parts, baby items, office supplies, and photo prints are some of the common products sold on Shopify stores.
There are a number of businesses prohibited from using the Shopify platform, including:
- IP infringement, regulated or illegal products and services; such as gambling, pharmaceuticals, investment and credit services, virtual currency, and adult content and services.
- Video game or virtual world credits
- Social media activities
- Multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes
- Event tickets
To find out more, read Shopify ToS Section B-5. Prohibited Business.
Real stores built with free Shopify themes
The Pros: Things I Like About Shopify
1. Selling products on multiple channels
Shopify encourages you to make use of other potential sales channels to increase sales. Here are some of the supported channels with easy integration of products :
- Sell on Facebook – Sell your Shopify products on a Facebook page.
- Sell on Amazon – Connect Shopify to Amazon Professional Seller.
- Sell on Pinterest – Sell your products through pins directly.
- Sell on Mobile Apps – Sell Shopify products on apps you develop.
2. Make more money with Shopify “Buy Button”
With this feature, you can embed any product and add a checkout on your site. It’s a great tool to create a custom shopping experience for your visitors.
Using the “Buy Button”, you can easily monetize your website or blog with just a single click.
The Shopify “Buy Button” works similarly to “Buy Now” from PayPal. It will link back to Shopify when visitors click on the check-out from your website.
3. Supports over 100 payment processors worldwide
Shopify comes with inbuilt payment services like PayPal, Amazon Pay or Apple Pay. Your store will also be able to accept direct payments via credit cards using Shopify Payment, which makes the shopping process smoother for your customers.
Shopify integrates with over 100 different payment processors able to handle multiple currencies, making your customer payment process easier.
4. Excellent site performance
The majority of us won’t want to wait in lines (unless we have to) for more than 15 minutes when shopping. Similarly, 50% of customers or more are not likely to return to a website that loads slowly or kept them waiting at checkout.
I’m sure you don’t want to lose out on 50% of your potential sales that’s why having excellent site performance is important for an online store. I ran a few performance tests on a Shopify website and the results were great.
I created a Shopify store using their free plan for testing purpose. My test store scored an A+ in BitCatcha’s server test results.
I did another test with the Shopify live store. The TTFB (Time-to-first-byte) is less than 300ms. That basically means that the store loads up blazingly fast!
Amazon calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year. If it’s that severe for Amazon, imagine how you could lose out if you don’t keep your website fast.
5. Sell both digital and physical products
Shopify allows you to handle both digital and physical products. They offer a free app that you can use to specify the types for your products.
You can categorize your products as digital and handle those particular deliveries through email or as a downloadable via online storage.
You can also set the type of shipping and fulfilment for each product if you’re dealing with physical goods. In addition to that, you can start a Shopify dropshipping business easily with Shopify.
6. Integrate your store with Shopify POS
Have a brick and mortar shop and want to expand its presence? Take advantage of Shopify’s POS (Point-of-Sale) system. You can integrate Shopify POS into your physical shop and the data will then be shared between the POS and your online store. With Shopify POS system, you can manage your sales, inventory, customer data, etc, online and offline, on a single platform.
Merchants who choose to subscribe to Shopify POS will receive a full POS system, along with its devices.
You get a receipt printer (Star Micronics), APG cash drawers, a Socket Mobile barcode scanner, and a card reader (Shopify’s proprietary machine powered by Swipe).
7. Extensive self-help documentation
Shopify offers comprehensive self-help documentation that you can use to get started. It’s useful for beginners and experts alike with helpful information such as definitions for technical terms as well as setup guides.
I was able to understand some simple definitions and settings by reading their online help centre. For more guides and tips, you can head on to Shopify tutorials.
8. Useful add-on to widen the store
In addition to what Shopify offers as default features, you can also visit the Shopify app market to get other useful add-ons (either free or paid) to beef up your store.
The wide range of apps that Shopify has to offer makes them one of the more versatile eCommerce platform in the market.
You can extend your store with over 1,200 Shopify adds-on.
All of them are available from the Shopify app store that helps you to better manage different aspects of your online store such as inventory, customers, shipping, marketing and more.
9. Boost sales with Shopify abandoned cart recovery
Shopify abandoned cart recovery is designed to help you follow up with visitors who didn’t complete the checkout process.
This feature used to be only available on the higher Shopify plans but they’ve recently decided to make it available on all plans – absolutely a great benefit to users.
With the contact information provided by customers, the incomplete buying process will be stored as an abandoned checkout.
By default, Shopify will send abandoned cart saver emails to customers in 2 particular time intervals but, you can customize these settings too.
The Cons: Things I Dislike About Shopify
1. Customize theme using own PHP language
Shopify platform uses its self-developed PHP language called “Liquid”.
All themes are coded in this format. It makes the theme customization harder unless you know how to code in Liquid or are willing to hire a developer who knows how to code Shopify themes.
Several Shopify reviews from developers mention that Liquid is an easy-to-learn language and I am personally comfortable messing around with the code. However, unless you want to edit theme core files, then you’re safe off sticking with their prebuilt ones.
Alternatively, you can opt for a premium theme with support instead to avoid any coding problems.
2. Advanced features at a higher price
Shopify Basic plan only comes with the barest of features that you’ll need to run an online store.
Advanced features like reports, fraud analysis, gift cards and real-time shipping rates are only available on higher-tier plans.
3. Apps come at a price
Although you can get a lot of useful adds-on from the Shopify app market, many of them are not free.
For example, the Exit Offers app costs $9.99/mo and Intuit QuickBooks costs $29.99/mo. You might need to pay an extra $15/mo if you need the RetargetApp. While these apps offer great features, using all of them will definitely increase your overall costs.
However, if a particular paid app can help you save time or reduce the amount of hassle in your workflow, it might be worthwhile as an investment. Pick your apps carefully and choose the ones that are able to help you in your everyday business.
4. No email hosting
What you can do is to set up email forwarding. This makes it so that whenever someone reaches out to , the email will automatically be forwarded to your regular email account like Gmail or Yahoo. The same goes for replying to emails.
To use the email forwarding function, you need to set up a 3rd party email hosting connection before you can reply from your own email account.
Shopify Pricing and Plans
Shopify plans at a glance – cost and fee:
- Basic Shopify – $29 /mo (transaction fee – 2% and credit card fee – 2.9% + $0.30)
- Shopify – $79 /mo (transaction fee – 1% and credit card fee – 2.6% + $0.30)
- Advance Shopify – $299 /mo (transaction fee – 0.5% and credit card fee – 2.4% + $0.30)
- Shopify Lite – $ 9/mo (sell on social media or website)
Let’s see what each plan offers in details.
|Shopify Plans/Prices||Basic Shopify||Shopify||Advance Shopify|
|Monthly Price||$29 /mo||$79 /mo||$299 /mo|
|Credit card fees||2.9% + $0.30||2.6% + $0.30||2.4% + $0.30|
|Transaction fees / 3rd party gateway||2%||1%||0.5%|
|Abandoned cart recovery||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free SSL certificate||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Advance report builder||–||–||Yes|
|Real-time shipping rates||–||–||Yes|
All Shopify plans include:
- Unlimited number of products
- Unlimited file storage
- Ability to sell digital products
- Manual order creation
- Website and blog section
- Shipping label discounts
- Retail packaging if needed (with additional charges)
- Sell through social media channels (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc)
Shopify pricing starts from $29/mo. You can save 10% and 20% on the fee if you choose to subscribe to their 1-year or 2-years plans respectively.
If selling on social media platforms is your main focus, you can kick start with Shopify Lite plan. It starts at $9 /mo and lets you start selling on social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest.
* Please refer to Shopify’s official website for best pricing and plan accuracy.
Designing Your Online Store with Shopify Theme
Shopify has a wide range of free and premium themes at their Theme Store. Most of them are mobile-friendly. To me, the themes look professional and can be used to create great-looking stores. Plus, they are sorted into different categories, which lets you find a matching theme for your industry easily.
The premium themes in their repository are somewhat pricey. However, they are highly customizable. Their unique set of customization options means you can set a wide variety of parameters for your theme.
On the other hand, Shopify has a powerful website editor which you can take a look at below.
If you are confident you can take a free theme and use the editor (it’s surprisingly intuitive!) to customize it as you wish.
One amazing fact about the Shopify Theme Store is that you can preview your live store on any premium theme before buying.
You can customize the theme while previewing it. You also have the advantage of matching the new theme with your store scheme, which saves you the hassle of needing to readjust the theme before applying it.
Extend Your Store Functionality with Shopify Apps
The functionalities of Shopify can be extended with the support of over 1,200 apps from the Shopify App Store. Many of the Shopify apps charge a monthly fee but you can also find free items to get your work done.
Some of the Shopify apps you can get cover the areas of accounting, inventory management, marketing, shipping, and fulfilment. With some help from the right Shopify apps, you could ostensibly automate a huge portion of your business process.
There are many ways that Shopify sales apps can add value to a store. Here are a few examples:
- Recent Sales Notification Popup – to increase customer buying confidence.
- Product Reviews – help build customer trust.
- Discounted Upsells – to generate more sales through upsells and cross-sells at a discounted price.
With the Shopify shipping app, you can automate the fulfilment process. You also can take control and keep track of all of your deliveries.
Here are some popular shipping apps:
- Parcelify – Track your deliveries, both local and international
- Store Pickup + Delivery – Offer in-store pickup and standard shipping through a unified checkout
- Aftership – Track all your shipments in one place
If you prefer native apps from Shopify, their team has developed around 15-20 apps that you can use. They are all, free and can be used to add an extra layer of functionality to the store.
Shopify Payments: Accept Online Payments Easily
Shopify has introduced Shopify Payments to make it possible to facilitate online payments.
If you are using a 3rd party payment gateway, you will be charged a transaction fee of 0.5% – 2%, depending on the plan you are subscribed to.
Your transaction fees can be waived to 0% if you choose Shopify Payments to process all of your sales.
The advantages of Shopify Payments is that you can manage all of your store transactions within the Shopify platform. It’s easy to set up as the payment system is fully integrated with your store.
However, Shopify Payments is only available to stores in the following areas:
- United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Shopify SEO, Security, and Analytics
Built-in SEO features
The basics and essentials of SEO are covered in the core area of Shopify. However, you will need to gather as much knowledge as you can about SEO to gain good results.
Here are the built-in features they offer. Please note that more features can be added on via apps from the app store if necessary.
- Editable page title, meta description, and URL
- Automatic canonical URL tag to prevent duplicate content
- Automatic but controllable sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
- Editable image file names and alternative tags
Shopify store security
Shopify features Certified Level 1 PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant shopping carts and hosting services and is committed to providing faster and secured shopping experiences.
Payments processing and data protection are some of Shopify’s biggest concerns and they always try to use the latest in web security technology to keep their users safe.
Shopify store analytics
Shopify has built-in Store Analytics that can benchmark your online store performance or you can integrate it with Google Analytics if you want.
Shopify also provides the following reports depending on the level of the account:
- Financial Report
- Overview Dashboard
- Sales Report
- Customers Report
- Acquisition Report
- Behaviour Report
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Shopify charge transaction fees?
Yes. Shopify transaction fees are plan dependant:
- Basic Shopify — Using Shopify payments – none – 2% for external payment gateways
- Shopify — Using Shopify payments – none – 1% for external payment gateways
- Advanced Shopify — Using Shopify payments- none – .05% for external payment gateways
- For usage of all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club debit and credit cards), you’ll need to set it up by going to the accept credit card section and selecting Shopify payments.
Can I sell on Facebook using Shopify?
Yes. Create a “Shop” tab on the Facebook page and connect it with Shopify to fetch and show products. Customers can check out directly on Facebook if you’re eligible to use Facebook Checkouts.
Can I sell on Amazon using Shopify?
Yes – with Shopify, you can now sell on Amazon.
Connect Shopify to your Amazon Professional Seller Account. You can create, manage and process the listing of products from the Shopify Dashboard.
What types of customer support do I get from Shopify?
Shopify offers 24/7 support by chat, email, and phone. The customer service number for Shopify is 1-888-746-7439.
There is also extensive self-help documentation and video tutorials provided by Shopify.
Does Shopify offer any backup solutions?
Yes. However, you need to do it manually.
There are a number of steps you need to follows to export a series of CSV files from your original store.
Alternatively, you can look for automated solutions from the Shopify apps store such as Rewind.io.
Who Should Use Shopify?
It doesn’t matter if you have a brick and mortar store or are just starting out a brand new eCommerce store, Shopify could be the ideal choice for you. While it is true that there may be challenges along the way, creating an online store with Shopify is definitely worth your investment (time and money).
Do I recommend Shopify? Yes. Especially if you are looking to grow your online presence and grab a slice of the lucrative online eCommerce market.
For business owners, Shopify offers flexibility and the ability to grow your business. From creating your product page to delivery or download, Shopify has everything you could ever need.
Here are the reasons why I like Shopify:
- Shopify Basic plan has everything you need to start an online store – $29/mo only
- Expand your sales channels to social media platforms and accept payments from 100 different gateway in different countries
- Excellent website speed and server performance
- All-in-one eCommerce solution to track your business – online and offline
- A wide range of Shopify apps to extend the functionality of your online store to help your business grow
With Shopify, you have every chance to increase your sales by integrating with their latest technology
How to begin with Shopify?
It’s okay to have a risk-free mindset. No one is ready to invest in something before trying it. That’s why Shopify offers a 14-day trial. It’s completely free to use and you don’t even have to fill in your credit card details.
Disclaimer: I receive referral fees from some of the tools listed on this website. However, these opinions are based on my experience and not on how much they pay. I focus on helping businesses and individuals build websites that are profitable to them.