What is Shopify?
Shopify is the largest fully hosted ecommerce platform in the world, with over 1,000,000 websites currently using the Shopify platform.
What makes Shopify different from most of its competition is that they allow third-party developers to create apps and themes for the platform and this makes the number of options available larger than any of its competition.
But is Shopify any good? Check out our complete review below to find out!
Total out of 5
14 Day Free Trial, No Credit Card Required
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Shopify Review: Quick Summary
Is Shopify any good? The short answer is… Yes. We do like the Shopify platform as the combination of an easy-to-use dashboard, a decent selection of built-in features and great theme customization means that Shopify is pretty good out of the box.
Combining this with a huge app store and a large online community of theme and app developers, Shopify partners and content creators, it makes Shopify a very attractive option for building an online store.
Shopify isn’t perfect though, we aren’t a fan of the transaction fees and it could include a few more features as standard but overall, Shopify offers a very strong package.
Shopify offers three standard plans, which are:
In many ways, Shopify set the bar when it comes to pricing as nearly all other fully hosted ecommerce platforms are similarly priced but one thing that does help Shopify stand out from the competition is that they don’t have turnover limited packages, which offers much more in terms of flexibility when it comes to choosing a package.
*Shopify do however charge an additional transaction fee for any payments that are not processed by their own Shopify Payments gateway and these are as follows:
- 2% on Shopify Basic
- 1% on Shopify Standard
- 0.5% on Shopify Advanced
This does make figuring out the potential costs of Shopify a bit more difficult and to help out with this, we have created a Shopify fee calculator, which can also help you decide which package might be the best to go for.
There are also additional features available on the larger packages but this is covered more in the features section below.
For enterprise-level ecommerce platforms, Shopify offers a custom package that is built around your business’s requirements.
Shopify recently changed their free trial offering which actually makes it a better option for a lot of prospective stores owners as you get:
- A 3-day free trial
- Your first 3 months for $1 a month
After which, if you are happy with Shopify, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans.
Before we get into the review, let’s take a look at what some of Shopify’s existing customers thought of the platform. For this, we looked at Trustpilot, G2 and Capterra.
1.3 out of 5
4.4 out of 5
4.5 out of 5
The reviews on Trustpilot are definitely a mixed bag as some negative reviews are related to stores using the Shopify platform, rather than the platform itself.
When it comes to reviews of the actual platform, most of the negatives seem to be around support-related issues or payments.
As one of the world’s leading ecommerce platforms, it is no surprise that Shopify comes loaded with features and all the ones listed below are available on the basic Shopify package:
- Sell Physical, Virtual or Digital Products & Services – whatever type of product you sell, Shopify has options to suit but you will need an app to sell downloadable products
- Automatic Taxes – once you have set up your tax information all taxes on your products will automatically be calculated
- Multi-Language – your checkout can be displayed in up to 50 different languages
- Video & 3D Support – add videos and 3D models to your product listings
- Customer Profiles – see customer order history and account information
- Shopify Management App – manage your Shopify store on the go including Order Fulfilment, Inventory Management and contact your customers directly from your mobile device via email or phone
Shopify Marketing Tools
To generate sales on your ecommerce website, you are going to need a selection of tools to not only get customers to your site but also encourage them to buy, so what does Shopify offer?
- Sell on Facebook – allow customers to check out directly on your Facebook page with the Facebook shop sales channel
- Social Share – share to various social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest
- Google Adwords Credit – got $100 towards Google Ads when you spend $25 with Google
- Discount Codes – create discount codes to encourage purchases such as percentage discounts, fixed price discounts, free shipping and buy X and get Y
- Gift Cards – allow customers to buy gift cards for friends and family to be redeemed in your store
- Abandoned Cart Recovery – automatically email customers who have abandoned their shopping cart to encourage them to complete their order
- Multi-Language – checkout is available in over 50 languages and themes can be translated. Shopify Standard can be offered in two different languages and Advanced in up to five different languages
Shopify also offers built-in marketing tools to launch ad campaigns for Facebook, Snapchat and Email Marketing.
Shopify SEO Tools
Marketing tools are great but what about if you want to generate organic traffic from search engines, well to help you with this, Shopify offers the following SEO-related features:
- Auto-Generated Sitemap – submit your Shopify store to search engines such as Google and Bing
- Blog – create blog posts for your site
- Custom Meta Data – set your own metadata such as Page Title and Meta Description
- SEO Friendly URLs – auto-generated SEO-friendly URLs that can also be edited
- Store Speed Checker – get a detailed report of your store’s speed, so that you can see where you can improve
Shopify Payment Gateways
If you are selling online then you need a way to get paid and Shopify most definitely has got you covered on that front! Every major payment gateway such as PayPal, Worldpay, SagePay, Amazon Pay and Klarna are supported, plus many many others.
- PayPal Express Checkout
- Amazon Pay
Now you may notice that Stripe is missing from the list. This isn’t an omission, it is just that Stripe is available in the form of Shopify payments, which is available to every seller. With Shopify Payments, you get fraud analysis on every transaction and the rates are different for the three packages mentioned above.
- Shopify Basic – 2.9% + 30¢ transaction fee
- Standard Shopify – 2.6% + 30¢ transaction fee
- Advanced Shopify – 2.4% + 20¢ transaction fee
These are really competitive rates, especially as you don’t have a monthly recurring charge for using the gateway like you do with some credit card processors.
Shopify Shipping Options
Shopify offers a lot of options when it comes to shipping, including:
- Set Custom Shipping Rates – these can be based on rules that you create such as fixed price, order value or weight-based and location-based pricing
- Offer Free Shipping – if you don’t want to charge your customers, then you can offer free shipping on all orders
- Offer Local Delivery – if you offer local delivery, you can set custom rates
- Local Pickup – offer a click-and-collect service for local customers
- Shipping Integration – connect your store to your account with shipping providers such as FedEx or UPS
- Fulfillment Integration – connect your store to fulfillment services such as Shopify Fulfillment Network, Amazon, Rakuten Super Logistics, and Shipwire
On the Shopify Advanced package, you can also get third-party shipping rates calculated at the checkout from your chosen shipping partner.
Shopify Reporting & Analytics
All Shopify stores get access to the following reporting and analytics:
- Product Reports
- Traffic Sources
- Google Analytics
- Day, Week and Monthly Reports
The Shopify Standard and Advanced packages also include advanced reporting, with the Advanced package including a custom report builder for more detailed analytics.
Shopify App Store
As you can see, Shopify comes with a good selection of features as standard but it doesn’t stop there!
This is because Shopify has created its very own app store and what makes this different from many other hosted platforms is that they have allowed third-party developers to create and sell apps through their app store and this has created a huge selection, over 3,000 the last time we checked!
These apps cover a huge number of categories from product sourcing to marketing and order management. This means that if you need a specific feature for your Shopify store, then there is probably an app out there to help.
A popular selection of the Shopify apps are the ones that offer Dropshipping Integration with popular companies such as Ordoro, Inventory Source, and eCommHub.
Unfortunately, not all of these apps are free to use. Many offer a free trial or a free package that limits the amount of features/resources you get and the pricing does vary depending on the app. These costs can be a monthly payment plan or a single payment, depending on the app.
Shopify Website Builder
Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce platform, which means that it includes a website builder but is it any good?
Shopify Theme Selection
The first thing we are looking at is Shopify’s theme selection and this is one area where Shopify has always been strong as there is a large number of themes to choose from (including some free themes) and they are available through:
- The Shopify Theme Store
- Marketplaces such as ThemeForest
- Direct from developers
This means that there are over 1,000 themes to potentially choose from for your store but we recommend using a fast-loading Shopify theme!
Shopify Theme Customization
Theme selection is one thing but being able to customize your theme so that it fits your business and brand is another and this is another area where Shopify is very strong as they have one of the best theme customizers in the industry and as it is a full site customizer, you can customize the:
- Home Page
- Info Page
- Product Page
- Collection Page
And they use a section-based builder, which includes a set of standard sections but this may be expanded with additional apps and all sections have their own customization options.
There are also options for your store’s header, footer and theme options such as fonts and colors, which is all done through Shopify’s live customizer, which allows you to make and preview customizations without it affecting your live store.
You can also preview your store on desktop, tablet and mobile to make sure that everything is displaying properly before you publish it to your live store.
It is also one of the only ecommerce platforms that allows you to quickly and easily create custom templates that can be applied to individual pages on your site, which gives users a lot of control over their site.
Shopify Pages & Blog
The final part of the website builder we are going to be looking at is what Shopify is like when it comes to adding pages and blog posts to your site.
You can add an unlimited number of pages to your Shopify store and you can choose to create simple pages using the basic text editor or as mentioned above, you can create templates for your pages, which is great for creating good-looking info pages for your store.
Shopify also comes with a built-in blog and even though the editor for the blog pages is quite basic, it still works well and you can easily add images, embed videos and do basic formatting (such as header tags and bulleted lists).
Unfortunately, the standard Shopify blog doesn’t allow you to use any of the sections that are available in the customizer, which is a shame as this would allow you to make some awesome blog posts but the standard blog is still pretty good.
But there are a range of page builder apps that can be used for your blog posts, should you want to enhance them beyond what you can do with the standard blog editor.
Shopify offers 24/7 support to all users via their help center and while they don’t actively display their contact details, it doesn’t take too much digging to find out how to contact them.
Simply type a word or question into the query bar, scroll down and click the get help button and it will show you all the ways you can contact Shopify.
Outside of contacting their support teams, Shopify also has a very good selection of documentation and videos to help you and you will probably find your answer there.
There is also the Shopify community forum, which is a great place to ask questions and get really well-informed replies as there are people in there who are very knowledgeable about the platform.
Web Hosting & Performance
The quality of a platforms hosting can make a huge difference to how well a customer site performs and on paper, Shopify sounds great as they offer the following on all packages:
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- PCI Level 1 Compliant Servers
- Global Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- 99.9% Uptime
- And most important Blazing Fast Servers
But what does this mean in the real world?
To find out, we put them to the test by taking 5 customer example sites and running them through Uptrends performance tool using their New York server once a day for five days and testing on both desktop and mobile, which not only tells us how quickly they load but also how Google’s PageSpeed Insight scores them and you can the results below:
Mobile: 3.60 Seconds
Desktop: 3.07 Seconds
Shopify performance in our testing was ok, we would have preferred seeing load times of under 3 seconds and preferably closer to 2 seconds but they still outperformed some of their main rivals.
A Google score of more than 50 on mobile would also have been nice to see but the desktop scores were very good.
To see how Shopify performed against its rivals in terms of speed and performance, check out our Fastest Ecommerce Platforms post.
How Easy is Shopify to Use?
Getting Started with Shopify
It is very easy to get started with Shopify as it only requires an email address, store name and to create a password, once completed, you will be asked a couple of questions about your business, niche, trading status etc.
If you want to upgrade to a paid plan, this can easily be done by going to Settings → Plans and Permissions in the Shopify dashboard.
The main Shopify dashboard is very easy to use and this is very much down to the main sidebar navigation menu as this is not only clearly labeled but also easy to navigate and it isn’t overloaded with options.
The general interface is also very clean and uncluttered and this just adds to the overall user experience.
New users to Shopify will also be greeted by a short tutorial to help them get up and running on the platform and while this isn’t bad, it also isn’t great either as it is very limited in terms of what it prompts users to do.
It isn’t all bad news though, as Shopify has created its own academy called Shopify Compass (there should be a link to this on the home page of the dashboard) to help you started and this is a series of videos that takes you through all the steps you need to do, to get your store ready to go live.
The 27 introductory videos are very well presented and include some useful tips and tricks to help get you started with Shopify or you can check out Shopify Tutorials such as ours that are also useful sources of information.
It is definitely worth going through the course and checking out some of the other courses available as there is some really good information on there.
Adding New Products
Adding a new product is really simple. They haven’t gone overboard with options on the single-page layout and this makes the workflow of adding new products to your online store really easy.
They have also broken the page down into clearly defined sections, including:
- Title and Description
- Media (images & video)
- Options (for creating variations)
At the very bottom of the page, you can also edit your metadata such as title, description and URL.
Organizing Your Inventory
Organizing your inventory in Shopify isn’t as straightforward as it possibly could be. Unlike the category system that most ecommerce platforms use, Shopify has developed its own collection system and it takes a little getting used to.
This is because there are a couple of different ways you can set up your collections, the first and simplest way is to do this manually and this works very similarly to a normal category as you create a category and then manually add your products to it.
The second is automated and this works on rules that you create using tags. This can be a little confusing to start with and it is definitely worth reading the documentation on this to fully figure out how this works and if it will work for your website.
One thing that isn’t immediately evident is how you create a sub collection as there is no option to do this on the create collection page. Instead, this has to be done in the navigation section of your online store and you set up your sub-collection using your website menus.
Managing Your Inventory
To help you manage your inventory quickly and effectively, Shopify includes an inventory page under the products section and this allows you to update your stock quantity, without having to go into each product and edit it individually.
If you want to make changes to the pricing, SKU code or any other field from the product, then you can select the products you want to edit from the product overview screen and then click the edit product button, which allows you to make updates in bulk.
Shopify’s order management system isn’t bad but it definitely isn’t as good as some of its competition and this is mainly down to the bulk options as they are somewhat limited to:
- Changing fulfillment status
- Print basic packing slips
- Export orders
The main thing missing is the ability to print a full order invoice but you can add this functionality by installing an app and while Shopify does a free one, the paid options offer much more in terms of features and customization.
Is Shopify a Good Ecommerce Platform?
This is because it offers users an easy-to-use platform to build an online store, whether you are experienced or completely brand new, with a good selection of standard features and a great theme customizer.
But Shopify isn’t perfect, we aren’t a fan of the transaction fees, the collection system isn’t the best and it would be nice to see more features included as standard but overall, it offer a very good option for online stores.
A final plus point with Shopify is that it is one of the few ecommerce platforms with a large online community including theme and app developer, Shopify partners and content creators, meaning that if you do get stuck, there is usually some info out there to help you out.
So there it is, our full review of Shopify. A very good ecommerce platform that is loaded with features and very easy to use but does have a couple of flaws. Definitely give it a try for yourself to see if it is the right choice for you!