A popular name in the eCommerce world, Shopify is an eCommerce solution that allows merchants to sell products via different sales channels, such as social media and an offline point of sale system. Some of its features include unlimited products, free and paid themes, Shopify’s own payment provider, fraud analysis, marketing tools, and discount codes. With its impressive suite of features, Shopify is appropriate for businesses of all sizes, no matter if they receive low or high volume sales.
With that said, Shopify does not offer a free plan and charges extra transaction fees when merchants choose to use external payment providers. While Shopify has a good variety of paid themes, there are only eight free themes.
In this Shopify review, we will explore website builder features, pricing, ease of use, add ons, and more.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a cloud-based eCommerce platform designed to help independent stores start, grow, and run their businesses. Founded by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake, Shopify was built from scratch after the founders failed to find an eCommerce website builder that was good enough for their online snowboarding equipment store. Since they started, Shopify’s mission is to make commerce better for everyone.
Today, Shopify equips both small and big merchants with the right eCommerce tools to conduct their businesses with ease and comfort. Shopify powers over 1 million businesses worldwide, from small start-ups to big brands such as Allbirds, Gymshark, Heinz, Staples, and more.
Facts and Figures
Shopify Website Builder Features
When it comes to creating, managing, and running an online store, business owners can hardly go wrong with Shopify. The eCommerce platform is packed with solid features such as promotion management, image editing, customer reviews, SEO management, and CRM tools. Store merchants can sell directly from their online stores, point of sale, or social media sales channels such as Facebook and Instagram. Shopify also integrates with other third-party apps that facilitate sales processes such as tax calculations and printing shipping labels. While it has a wide variety of customizable themes, there are only eight free themes available.
Setting up a successful online store includes building a website. Shopify offers users many tools designed for this purpose, including a customizable theme editor and image editing tools. Store owners can optimize their stores using modern SEO techniques and establish good customer relationships via Shopify’s form builder. The web analytics dashboard also provides a summarized view of the store’s activity, including total sales, conversion rates, and recent orders.
All Shopify plans come with free-of-charge web hosting, saving users the hassle of looking for a web hosting platform. Customers who want to use a custom domain for their eCommerce store can purchase it through Shopify, while those who already have a domain can also easily connect it to Shopify.
Shopify hosts all stores on fast, global servers without any bandwidth limits. To optimize the store’s online speed, Shopify recommends users to disable theme features that are not in use, write efficient and functional code, and review the image optimization guide.
Using Shopify’s theme editor, store merchants can customize different elements of their stores, including typography, layout, content, colors, and more. Shopify also offers users the option to add custom code, provided that they have some knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Liquid, which is Shopify’s templating language. To help with this process, Shopify has additional resources users can take advantage of, such as code customization tutorials or contacting the theme’s developer for support.
Shopify’s SEO tools enable users to enter descriptive page titles, meta descriptions, ALT tags for images, and other keywords to help search engines index their websites and boost search results rankings. In addition to including social media buttons on product pages, Shopify also supports several online sales channels via social media platforms such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Amazon, and Instagram. Shopify’s abandoned cart recovery feature also increases the chances of a customer returning to purchase a product.
In Shopify, admins can also enable multiple languages by creating separate URLs for translated content. When customers land on a translated URL, the store is automatically displayed in the translated language. While Shopify does not translate languages for users, there are several third-party translation apps that can be downloaded from the Shopify app store.
While Shopify does not have a native form builder, all Shopify themes have an in-built contact form that users can apply to the pages they create. The contact form includes fields like name, email address, phone number, and message. All form submissions are automatically sent to the sender email address of the store.
As an eCommerce website builder, Shopify has a comprehensive content management system. Most of the paid plans come with unlimited products storage. Business owners can also utilize the platform’s in-built image editing tools to crop, resize, add captions, and even draw on images. Rotating images adding them to product variants is also possible.
Users can also make use of Burst, Shopify’s stock photo platform, to add high-quality stock images to their online stores..
Additionally, Shopify has implemented over 70 beautiful and well-designed templates to help users display their products. All templates are divided into collections such as fun and lively, minimalist style, grid-style layout, and more. Users can also browse templates on the theme store according to industries. Nonetheless, there are only 8 free Shopify themes and the paid templates cost roughly $180 each.
All templates utilize responsive design so they scale beautifully on every type of screen and screen size.
All Shopify stores come with an in-built blog, helping merchants build their audiences and generate more sales. Besides writing text, users can also add images and tags to their blog posts. It is also possible to embed social media sharing buttons on the blog.
Shopify’s website analytics feature provides a broad overview of a store’s traffic and recent activity in a dashboard format. It displays the store’s conversion rates, total sales, taxes, and orders. On the Shopify, Advanced Shopify, and Shopify Plus plans, users gain access to acquisition reports, inventory reports, and marketing reports, providing them with real-time data on store performance.
Since Shopify is primarily geared towards eCommerce businesses, it particularly excels in this department. Users can not only upload product images, but they can also ship and fulfill orders using Shopify’s in-built shipping infrastructure. Store owners can view and edit stock levels at several locations, having full control over the way they manage inventory. Developing email campaigns and creating discount codes is also possible through Shopify’s promotion management features. With third-party apps, store merchants can also set up loyalty programs and customer rewards schemes.
Shopify supports both gift cards and discount codes. The discount codes can be activated, deactivated, and edited at any time. While discount codes are applicable as a dollar value discount, a percentage discount, or a free shipping discount, gift cards can be given for free or generated as a one-time code when a customer purchases one.
Shopify helps users manage their product in several ways. Users can start their business by adding product details and uploading product images. If a product has different variants, adding different sizes or colors is also possible. By grouping products together into collections, customers can easily shop and find what they are looking for.
Shopify also provides store owners the opportunity to add other media types such as videos, 3D models, and augmented reality on product pages to increase customer experience and sales.
With Shopify’s inventory management tools, business owners can view their inventory, adjust inventory counts, and create inventory transfers. They can also view the history of inventory adjustments for products and product variants.
A unique feature of Shopify’s inventory management system is the ability to assign and track inventory at multiple locations, such as at the physical store, warehouse, and pop-ups. This feature is useful for businesses that keep merchandise at multiple locations and need a streamlined method of tracking inventory at all places.
Shopify also supports post-sales processes, such as fulfilling orders, creating packing slips, managing orders, and refunding and canceling orders. For merchants in the United States, Shopify also offers Fraud Protect, which identifies which orders could be fraudulent using Shopify’s machine-learning algorithms.
Store owners can also use Shopify’s abandoned cart recovery feature and send automatic emails to customers to remind them to complete the checkout process.
Business owners can improve a buyer’s overall purchase experience by including customer service. Shopify provides store owners the options to add contact forms, a FAQ, and an About Us page. With the help of third-party apps listed in the Shopify app store, business owners can also set up customer rewards and loyalty programs.
Stores can also benefit from a product review section, as it helps customers make better purchase decisions and boosts store credibility. Business owners can choose to add product reviews on Shopify using a third-party app and enable customers to leave reviews on their products. The app can be customized and allows the import and export of reviews as a spreadsheet.
With Shopify Email, business owners can increase engagement with their store audiences. Shopify’s email marketing feature offers ready-made designs with customization options to build unique branding. All email campaigns can be managed and analyzed within Shopify. Store owners can also receive actionable reports that detail open email rates, sales, and other statistics.
Shopify Payments, Shopify’s in-built payment gateway, accepts major credit cards, but this feature is only available in certain countries such as Australia, USA, Canada, and UK. Stores outside the list of countries allowed to use Shopify Payments are required to use external payment providers to process transactions. Depending on which plan customers are subscribed to, Shopify charges extra credit card fees that range between 0.5% to 2%.
Shopify offers four paid plans: Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify. While the Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans are targeted at store owners who want to build a store from scratch, Shopify Lite is better suited for users who want to convert an existing website into an online store. All plans have access to 24/7 customer support and multi-channel selling.
Shopify also offers a 10% discount on annual plans and a 20% discount on biennial plans when paid upfront. Before committing to a paid plan, users can first try out Shopify for 14 days without providing credit card information.
Note that these pricing lists are simplified for the purposes of this Shopify review. For more information, visit the Shopify pricing page.
Shopify handles all user information, customer data, and all financial details with care and discretion. It is Shopify’s top priority to keep the platform safe from unauthorized access. Shopify is level-1 PCI compliant, ensuring that all credit card information only passes through secure channels. Shopify also uses TLS encryption protocol for all virtual connections, so all of its websites utilize the HTTPS precursor. All stores built with Shopify come with a free SSL certificate.
Shopify has built GDPR-compliant features into the platform itself, including tools that enable users to offer their customers transparency into and control over their personal data. Within the EU, users who are on the checkout page can choose to opt into or out of newsletters, maintaining the privacy of individuals who do not wish to receive promotional materials. The California Consumer Privacy Act has also been in effect since 1 January 2020, giving customers in California the right to request information about where their personal information has been sold or disclosed for the previous 12 months.
Additionally, merchants in the United States can activate a feature called Fraud Protect, which prevents fraudulent chargebacks from customers.
Shopify has an impressive range of third-party apps that boost overall user experience. These integrations are divided into different categories such as shipping, marketing, and finances. Some of these integrations include:
- Google Shopping
- Facebook Marketing
- eBay Connect
- Xero Bridge
As an eCommerce website builder, Shopify boasts an easy to use interface, suitable for users who have minimal coding knowledge. It has a navigation menu on the left that connects to various sections of the stores such as Orders, Products, Customers, and so on. The overall look of the interface is clean and fuss-free, giving customers the visual space to work on building dynamic storefront content. All icons are well-designed and easy to grasp.
However, Shopify’s extensive range of features can make navigating and building a store from scratch overwhelming for new users. Some learning time is required before store owners can fully unlock Shopify’s potential.
Shopify’s mobile apps, Shopify and Shopify Point of Sale, are both available on iOS and Android devices. Store owners can run and manage their businesses no matter where they are in the world. They can upload product photos, set product pricing and details, add product to collections, fulfill and refund orders, and much more.
The apps also provide real-time information and statistics regarding live sales, visitor traffic, and order notifications.
Stores built on Shopify can enjoy the following customer service options:
Knowledge base: Discover written and video tutorials on Shopify’s self-serve help center. Users can also browse articles by categories, such as “Online Store”, “Point of Sale”, “Sales Channels”, and more.
Community forum: The Shopify Community provides a dedicated space to connect with like-minded business owners and obtain community support for issues.
Direct support: Shopify also provides 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, phone, and Twitter. While users can contact Shopify in English, Shopify also offers help via email in other languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Spanish, and Italian.
Shopify is a solid eCommerce solution that equips store owners with the right sales and marketing tools for their businesses. However, it charges additional transaction fees for credit card payments and only has eight free themes. Store owners who find Shopify mismatched for their eCommerce needs may consider alternatives such as:
Shopify is a one-stop shop for all kinds of eCommerce businesses, providing great features such as unlimited products and online storage, free and paid themes, inventory management, order fulfillment, and 24/7 customer support. With an intuitive and easy to use interface, store owners can build their online stores with ease and confidence. Shopify Payments, Shopify’s own payment gateway, does not charge extra transaction fees and also provides security measures against fraudulent orders and chargebacks.
Nevertheless, for stores that do not use Shopify Payments, there are extra fees for third-party payment providers that range anywhere from 0.5% to 2.0%. Additionally, there are only 8 free templates and the paid templates cost $180 each, although this is a one-time fee. These costs can quickly add up for some companies with smaller budgets.
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that lets anyone build their own online store and sell products online or in-person. It also has all the tools needed to manage a business, such as inventory management, promotion management, order fulfilments and even shipping infrastructure. Shopify also has a POS system which enables business merchants to make sales offline.
For stores that use Shopify Payments, transactions are completely free. When using an external payment provider, Shopify charges additional fees of 2%, 1%, or 0.5% for users on the Shopify Basic, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans respectively.
Yes, Shopify offers a 10% discount on annual plans and a 20% discount on biennial plans when paid upfront. Before starting on a plan, users can first try out Shopify on a 14-day free trial.