If you want to start an ecommerce store today, you have several options. One of the popular eCommerce platforms you will often read about is Shopify.
But is it the best e-commerce software for everyone?
To answer the question, I will be reviewing Shopify in this article.
In this Shopify review, I’ll uncover many aspects of the ecommerce store builder to help you better understand it and find the right balance for your budget, features and business growth.
I’ll examine its features, pros and cons, pricing model, selling features, and design. I’ll also review the Shopify support system and other aspects that help you decide if it is worth it.
So, let’s get started.
Shopify was launched in 2006 to help businesses sell online and in-person, in retail stores and brick-and-mortar businesses.
Shopify powers over 6 million online ecommerce stores in over 175 countries. You can sell anywhere with Shopify online and POS payment systems.
According to BuiltWith, there are 4 million active Shopify stores in 2023.
Shopify enables anyone to start, manage, and grow an eCommerce business without being techy or knowing anything about writing codes. You don’t have to learn or understand HTML or CSS language to use it.
Shopify is a hosted platform, meaning you don’t have to worry about hosting costs, server-side management, or integrating features that enable your store to operate smoothly.
The platform is built with features that make it effortless to start an online store in less than 5 minutes.
Whether dropshipping, print-on-demand, or selling products from your store and processing online payments, Shopify allows you to take control of your business.
Additionally, you can sell digital downloadable products such as music, files, software, video, and even services through Shopify.
It offers beautiful (free and paid) pre-made Shopify templates to build your store with responsive designs, sell your products, and build your brand. The Shopify app store helps you extend core features, functions, and design capabilities.
Shopify also allows you to start a blog on its platform; this might provide additional SEO benefits, increase SERP visibility, and help customers learn more about your business through updated content.
From adding products, inventory management, and selling to delivery, Shopify has all the tools to ensure your customers get their orders securely and timely.
Now, let’s dive into the Shopify review properly.
Ease of Use – How Easy to Use Shopify?
We will begin with the ease of use. How easily can beginners get on the platform, access core features, build a store, and start selling without much difficulty?
First, completing the Shopify signup process is straightforward; anyone can start and complete the registration process in less than three minutes.
If you’re yet to sign up for a Shopify account, you can get a 3-day free trial and $1/m for the next three months.
This means you sign up for an initial 3 days trial; no credit card. No payment, just three free days of using Shopify.
If you want to extend the free trial to 90 days, the $1 per month for your first three months is another opportunity to test all features against your business needs thoroughly.
One of the questions you will be asked during the signup is to select where you will be selling online. You can choose as many options as you want or skip the steps if you are unsure of your answer.
After completing the signup process, you must confirm the email address you enter. Once you do this, your Shopify store is ready to use.
Within your Shopify admin dashboard, you have all the features to create and manage your store. The menus for the core feature are placed on the left side.
You can access the theme gallery from the admin dashboard, pick a Shopify theme, customize it to fit your brand, and start selling on Shopify in minutes.
Using the Shopify user admin area is straightforward; there’s no steep learning. If you need help, a setup guide panel walks you through all the steps.
In a nutshell, Shopify is designed to let an average internet user build an online store himself without a complex process.
Some features make Shopify what it is today and why millions of merchants choose the platform ahead of competitors like Wix, Squarespace, Big Commerce, Magento, etc.
In this section, I will review some of these features, their uses, and how they can help you grow your eCommerce store to the next level.
Website Design Features
Shopify offers 12 free readymade themes to help you start with minimum cost. As a beginner, these themes will help you save costs on website design.
The paid themes have 125 as of writing. The cost starts from $180 to $360.
When you compare the available Shopify themes to what’s available in eCommerce builders like Wix, Shopify lacks behind in its theme gallery. Wix has over 800 free themes plus more than 150 paid ones.
However, you can sort the Shopify themes database based on features, industry, or catalog size.
For example, you can check the box to search themes with specific features and industries, like a countdown timer, age verifier, electronics, home and garden, pet suppliers, etc.
The free and paid themes are fully responsive, customizable, and can be used to sell digitally. You can customize every part of your Shopify store with the block editor.
All themes are professionally made and offer endless possibilities to make them yours.
Still, if you want to build a custom Shopify theme, there are many helpful tutorials to walk you through modifying existing themes or ultimately building from scratch.
Product management Features
First, Shopify offers a simple and easy method to add products to your store.
If you don’t have products to sell, you can search for products using several options from the Shopify app store. And if you do have products to upload, you can do so from the products management interface.
When you upload products to your store, you can add all the necessary information, including tax information, shipping cost, product images, pricing, SKU, etc. Also, you can indicate if the product is a physical one.
Under the products menu, you have collections, inventory, purchase orders, gift cards, and transfers. These features let you manage many specific aspects of your store products.
You can set your store to target a national or international audience. Shopify automatically sets up your store location in your country of registration.
One of the things you need to know about Shopify product images is that when you upload them, the photos won’t automatically crop to a unified aspect ratio.
But you can solve this issue using an image editing tool like Canva to create your image with a standard aspect ratio before uploading them to Shopify.
Or, better still, use one of the paid image optimization apps in the Shopify store to solve the issue automatically. Shopify also has a built-in photo editor allowing you to crop the images to the required ratio after uploading.
So, the issue with the image ratio isn’t something to worry about.
One of the notable Shopify sales features is the POS (Point of sale), which allows merchants to sell in a brick-and-mortar store, events, pop-up shops, etc. And it does all these while keeping your offline sales data synchronized with your online store.
During the 3 days free trial, you can access the Shopify POS Pro features to see how it works and allows you to sell offline.
The Point of Sale pro features allow merchants to give permission, customize payments receipt, add local pickup, and more.
However, there are hardware and add-ons you must purchase to make the POS payments work. The Shopify POS GO, Tap, and Chip reader are not supported in all countries.
POS Go is only available in the US and Canada, while Tap and Card Reader are only available in the US. You can purchase supported models from authorized third-party hardware sellers if your store is outside supported countries.
Check the Shopify help page for available hardware devices and supported countries.
Depending on where you intend to sell offline, you can purchase Shopify POS Go, which allows you to sell on the floor or counter with a mobile POS machine. It also comes with a barcode scanner and card reader features.
You can also get the Shopify Retail Kit with a card reader and iPad stand. Other POS payment hardware add-on features include a Bluetooth printer, barcode scanner, and cash drawer.
The Tap on Payment feature is also available to give customers the option to pay with a contactless option on their iPhones.
You are good with the Shopify POS lite version if you do not need features like unlimited staff access to POS, receipt customizations, sales notifications, customer data, and tags.
The POS lite and Pro plans come with 24/7 support, order history, cash tracking, split payments, gift card, a retail POS app, and more. If you subscribe to a monthly plan, the Pro plan costs $89/m per location.
One of the major concerns for people who haven’t used Shopify is the SEO aspect. They often ask if Shopify is good for SEO.
The short answer to this question is a big YES, Shopify is good for SEO.
As with most website builders, you can write your product meta descriptions, title, add tags, image alt tags, etc.
Shopify AI helps you write optimized meta descriptions. You need to input your target keyword; product features set the content tone and specific instructions, and then the AI will write the description in seconds.
Shopify gives you control over the robot.txt file; you can set which part or URL section of the website crawlers can access. Additionally, you can add crawl delay rules, set up 301 redirects, generate XML sitemap, ping search engines, etc.
If you want to go further with your store SEO, several Shopify SEO apps optimize your store further and increase search engine visibility. Just like with WordPress, there are apps for varying aspects of SEO.
You have many options, from image optimization to content, blog post creations, and improving page speed to AI SEO tools like ChatGPT.
And if you’re down with Yoast SEO, you can get the 14 days free trial or pay the $19/month fee. This is ideal if you use WordPress and need something you already trust and use.
Shopify stores are built-in with a free SSL certificate, a strong ranking signal in Google. This lets you run your store on a secure internet connection, protecting customers’ financial details from eavesdroppers or cybercriminals.
As per CDN, Shopify integrates with Cloudflare to provide a world-class content delivery network in over 100 countries in 285 global cities.
Content delivery helps load your website pages and files faster for users by serving the request from the nearest server location.
Shopify CDN uses Brotli and Gzip compressions format to reduce file size allowing client browsers faster download significantly. Requests are served on a secure HTTPS/3, and TLS 1.3 further enhances security and performance.
As for file minification, Shopify automatically minifies CSS and JS files and stores the cached file until the files are updated. This allows browsers to increase download speed and improve website performance.
With the built-in site speed testing tool, you can compare your site speed with other stores in the same category. This can help diagnose performance issues and pinpoint where to make improvements.
In all, Shopify provides features and tools to help with SEO, improve Google Web Vitals, accelerate mobile pages, and give users optimal user experience.
Several apps let you handle many aspects of improving CWV and use AMP pages on your stores. You need to research and find suitable apps that meet your needs.
Payment and Checkout Features
Aside from the POS feature, Shopify offers dozens of online payment options to process payments directly from your store. You can use Shopify Payments or choose from other payment gateway providers.
Here are some of the popular options:
Shopify has over 100 third-party payment gateways allowing customers to pay in more currencies and help you sell internationally.
Shopify automatically creates your PayPal Express checkout account with the email address on file. But you need to log into PayPal to complete the process.
Amazon Pay is also available, and you can choose from a range of service providers and add them to your account.
Additionally, Shopify provides the option to set up manual payment systems like bank deposits, cash on delivery, money order, and custom payment methods.
The best Shopify online payment option for you depends on a few factors. Let’s explore them to get more pictures of how the payment system works.
The Shopify Payment (built-in) is the cheapest and best option if you’re in a supported country. It removes transactional fees on all plans.
Click this link to check if your country is supported for Shopify Payment.
Third-party payment gateways have charges on transactions per sale. The percentage depends on the plan. 5% in the starter plan, 2% in the Basic, 1% in Shopify, and the Advanced plan 0.5%
An additional 1.5% currency conversion fee applies. The Starter plan has an additional $0.30 for online credit card rates.
You must factor in these conditions to choose the right plan and price your products.
Check out Features
There is no complex setup process here; most settings must tick a box.
You can set your preferred checkout language; this is an excellent feature if you sell globally. Aside from this option, every other setting is straightforward.
Here are some things to remember.
- How do you want customers to receive checkout notifications? Email or SMS?
- Do you want customers to log in to complete their checkout orders? Shopify warns this might lower sales conversion.
- First name or last name only, or both? You can set which option you want a customer to fill.
- Do you want to fulfil the order automatically? Thick the option that works best for you.
- You can make customer address optional or a required field on the checkout page.
Shopify App Store
If you’re used to WordPress, you know plugins are what make WordPress the leading CMS builder.
Shopify has an app store that adds more features and functions to its core functions. These apps let store owners do more with their stores.
There are more than 8,000 Shopify apps, more than many of its alternatives can boost. These apps bring more functions to your store or allow it to integrate with other third-party services and tools.
For example, you have apps for dropshipping that work in so many ways. Some dropship apps source products and import them directly to your store based on your specific criteria.
You have apps for specific marketplaces, types of products, locations, product images, etc.
The Shopify app comes with pros and cons.
The pros are that you can do extensive things with your store. If you need a function not built-in to the store, the app lets you have it.
For example, the built-in free Shopify email services might be limited for some users or not an ideal option. You can install your favorite email marketing app to collect subscribers’ info and send transactional emails from your store.
The cons are that these apps can increase the cost of running your Shopify store, add bloat, and hurt performance and SEO.
But these are not something to worry about; you can help by only installing regularly updated apps from the official Shopify store.
All in all, Shopify has done excellent in providing a platform that gives users total control and flexibility to do unimaginable things through third-party apps and makes the store fully customizable.
Shopify has done a lot of testing and work over the past years on its pricing plan and available package. Now you have 5 standard plans with the following entry price:
- Starter – $5/m
- Basic – $39/m
- Shopify – $105/m
- Advanced – $399/m
- Shopify Plus – $2000/m
To save 25% off the prices above, subscribe to a yearly plan instead of paying monthly.
For instance, you save $1,200 on the Advanced plan when you pay for 12 monthly subscriptions upfront.
If you browse the Shopify website outside the US, the currency symbol will be in your local currency. This is an even more convenient way to pay for your Shopify plan with your payment method.
There are things to keep in mind about Shopify prices.
Additional fees and hardware purchases apply if you want to sell in physical stores and use Shopify POS (point of sale). So, when picking a plan, consider extra features you might need not included in the standard price and plan.
There are key differences in the Shopify plan, which you must know to find the right plan for your business.
- You can only sell via social media, messaging apps or through embedding a buy now button on the website in the starter plan.
- The number of staff varies from plan to plan. The Basic program allows two, 1 in Starter, and you get up to 15 in Advanced. So, if the staff number is part of your requirements, go through the list before subscribing.
- Shopify POS is only available in the Basic and higher plan.
- Reporting is another significant difference you will see in the Shopify plan. As the plan goes up, so does the in-depth reporting you get.
- You also get more shipping discounts on higher plans. However, check your country for availability.
- You get lower transaction and credit card fees in higher plans.
Well, whatever plan you pick, you can access the features in the image below.
Shopify Plus is an enterprise plan aimed at big ecommerce websites with advanced features, and requirements, that demand more resources.
It has additional benefits, features, and tools to run enterprise-level stores. Here are some of the Shopify Plus features and benefits:
- Manage all accounts from a single Shopify Organization admin location
- Support for other API calls and custom apps. You need to contact support to work it out.
- Add unlimited Staff accounts.
- Access to advanced Shopify apps and channels like the B2B, Wholesale Channels, Launchpad, and more.
- Customize the checkout page and have control over branding.
- Shopify Plus owners can set different staff permission levels for apps, reporting and management.
- Shopify Plus allows merchants to add up to 100 themes to try on their stores.
- Use Shopify POS Pro on up to 1,000 locations at no extra cost.
Check this page for more details on features and access levels for Shopify Plus users.
Shopify Customer Supports
Shopify provides 24/7/365 customer support through live chat, email, and phone calls.
Mostly, customer support is provided in the English language; the availability of other languages depends on your store location.
Apart from the customer support channel, Shopify regularly adds to its help documentation and extensive video tutorials providing practical solutions to commonly encountered problems. Before you engage the customer’s rep, check through the help library for an immediate solution to your issues.
If you think the standard Shopify support team does not adequately address your issue, you can log into the community forum and share your issues; hopefully, someone more knowledgeable will answer.
For more programming-related issues, getting direct help from the community is somewhat better than a Shopify customer care rep.
Overall, I don’t see where Shopify lacks in customer support. Though there are always opportunities to improve, Shopify has done well.
Pros and Cons of Shopify
This section is helpful if you’re ready to take Shopify for a spin with a $1/monthly plan for the next 90 days.
In this Shopify review, you must know about the pros and cons.
Pros Of Shopify
- Shopify is a self-hosted platform limiting the barrier to entry.
- Very easy to use, even for beginners.
- Cart abandonment recovery is available for all plans.
- Save time on automatic tax calculation features.
- Selling in over 100 global currencies.
- Shopify Payments reduce transaction fees and are available for all plans.
- Sell conveniently on any website, social media platforms, ecommerce store, offline, and in-person stores.
- Use Shopify apps to extend store functions (Though many of the apps cost money, some offer free access)
- Free built-in email marketing functions let you send up to 10,000 transactional monthly emails.
- Promotes your store in up to 2o languages.
- Get a Shipping discount (the discount percentage is based on the Shipping country.)
- Sell offline, in physical stores, and anywhere with Shopify point-of-sale machines.
- Availability of free trial and extended $1 per month for three months.
- It’s easy to scale your Shopify store as your business experiences growth without compromising performance.
- Shopify store owners don’t need to worry about security, updates, and performance; Shopify’s built-in features and infrastructure handle these.
- Shopify provides free and paid responsive store themes to create beautiful storefronts.
Cons Of Shopify
- Comprehensive store reporting should be available for all plans.
- Built-in Shopify Payment is not available for all countries.
- Support content could be improved to include screenshots where necessary.
- Free 12 themes are insufficient compared to competitors like Wix, Squarespace, etc.
- Some functions could be built-in to save additional costs on app purchases.
- If you’re not using Shopify Payments, the 5% transaction fee on the Starter plan is too much.
FAQ – Shopify Review
I have listed some commonly asked questions about Shopify that you may find helpful.
Is Shopify really that good?
Yes, Shopify is excellent and highly regarded as a top e-commerce platform due to its user-friendly interface, scalable and suitable for businesses of all sizes, extensive app store (8,000+), mobile responsive themes, integration with various payment gateways, and shipping options. Shopify also integrates with third-party services and marketing automation tools.
What is the disadvantage of Shopify?
One disadvantage of Shopify is the transaction fees imposed on each sale through external payment gateways.
Shopify offers its payment gateway, Shopify Payments, which doesn’t have transaction fees; using a third-party payment provider, such as Stripe, 2Checkout, or PayPal, will cost additional fees on top of the regular credit card processing fees. This can affect your profit margins, especially for businesses with high sales volumes or larger transaction values.
While Shopify provides a wide range of themes and customization options, making extensive design modifications can require coding knowledge or the assistance of a developer. And lastly, while Shopify does offer a robust app store, some of the more advanced features and functionalities may require the purchase of premium apps, adding to the overall cost of running your online store.
How much can I make from Shopify?
The money you can make from Shopify depends on various factors, including your business model, product selection, marketing strategies, industry, and overall execution. Shopify provides a platform and tools to create and run an online store, but success and profitability ultimately rely on your efforts and market demand for your products.
Some Shopify store owners have achieved significant success and generated substantial revenue, while others may need help to make a profit.
Conducting market research, developing a solid business plan, and implementing effective marketing strategies to maximize your potential earnings are essential.
The success and profitability of your Shopify store will depend on the uniqueness and demand for your products, your ability to attract and retain customers, and your overall business acumen.
Is Shopify better than Amazon?
Shopify and Amazon are fundamentally different platforms that serve different purposes. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows individuals and businesses to create their own online stores and have more control over branding, customization, and customer experience.
It provides a range of features and functions for entrepreneurs looking to establish and grow their independent businesses.
On the other hand, Amazon is a massive online marketplace that offers a readymade platform for sellers to reach a vast customer base. While Amazon provides unparalleled reach and exposure, it also comes with limitations and restrictions on branding and control over the customer experience.
The choice between Shopify and Amazon depends on your specific goals and requirements. Shopify may be better if you prioritize independence, control, and customization. However, if you seek the advantages of a massive marketplace and access to a large customer base, Amazon can be a compelling choice.
What are The Best Alternatives to Shopify?
There are several alternatives to Shopify; however, the best Shopify alternative is WooCommerce. While not a hosted platform like Shopify, WooCommerce provides excellent features and functions required to create ecommerce businesses.
If you’re looking for a hosted platform like Shopify, the best alternative is BigCommerce. It has broadly all the features and functions you will find in Shopify and even more.
Is Shopify Good for Beginners?
Yes, Shopify is an excellent ecommerce software for beginners. It is designed to be user-friendly and accessible to those without programming or technical knowledge. It offers an intuitive user interface, an easy setup process, and a wide range of customization, themes, and apps to help beginners quickly create online stores.
Additionally, Shopify provides extensive documentation, tutorials, and customer support to assist beginners in navigating the platform and resolving any issues they may encounter. The platform’s user-friendly admin dashboard makes managing products, orders, tracking, and inventory simple.
Is Shopify worth it for a small business?
Shopify is worth it for a small business. It offers a range of features and benefits that can greatly benefit small businesses. Shopify provides an easy-to-use platform for creating and managing an online store, allowing small businesses to establish an online presence quickly.
It offers customizable templates, secure payment options, inventory management tools, and integration with various third-party apps and services.
Shopify’s scalability allows small businesses to grow and expand their operations as they succeed. It also provides dedicated customer support and extensive resources to help small business owners get solutions to any challenges they may face using the platform.
Shopify’s features, ease of use, and support make it a practical choice for small businesses looking to establish and grow their online presence.
If you’re in between which Shopify plan is right, I have given you sufficient information to make the right choice in this Shopify Review.
It’s extensive and comprehensive and shows many aspects of the ecommerce platform you will need to make informed decisions. If you care about Shopify SEO and its comparison to Woocommerce, you may see our Shopify vs Woocommerce SEO in this guide.
Talking about which Shopify plan is right for you?
For beginners, the Shopify Starter plan is ideal; it’s cheaper and offers quick and easy ways to start selling online, on social media, and your website. But if you need to create your ecommerce store, the Basic plan is the best option.
Except you’re already selling and can cover the monthly or annual cost, the Shopify and Advanced plan suits businesses already doing well.
If you still have many questions about the Shopify Review you would like to know, leave your comment below, and I will get back to you.