One of the most well-known eCommerce platforms for SMBs, Shopify is a top-rated solution that has everything a merchant needs to set up shop online and even offline.

In addition to allowing you to build an online store, Shopify has social media selling tools and it integrates with marketplaces like Amazon.

The solution also has payment capabilities that enable merchants to accept credit cards directly from Shopify — i.e. no third-party accounts required.

With their payments offering, “payment details are clearly synced with orders, making it easy to see how much you’ve been paid without ever leaving Shopify.”

Credit card rates range from 2.9% + 30 cents to 2.4% + 30 cents depending on your Shopify plan.

Shopify Advantages

  • Fully-hosted, so you won’t have to worry about server maintenance and costs
  • Very easy to use and beginner-friendly
  • A great selection of themes to choose from
  • Low monthly fees
  • Numerous Shopify partners that can provide support
  • Highly engaged community
  • Many options for third-party integrations from their store
  • Support of multi-channel retailing — i.e. online, offline, social

Shopify Disadvantages

  • Additional transaction fees for using external gateways
  • No free plan available (just free trial)
  • Customization limited to theme and platform capabilities
  • Transaction fees
  • No B2B capabilities out of the box
  • You might have to wait for a longer time to get a response from tech support

Reasons to use Shopify

  • Online store
  • Retail POS
  • Buy button
  • Social selling features including Buyable Pins, Facebook Shop, and Facebook Messenger
  • Amazon integration

Shopify Review – all you need to know about Shopify

In simple terms, Shopify is an eCommerce website builder. It allows you to set up your online store and sell whatever you wish (goods and services). You can organize your products, customize the way your store looks, accept payments (online and credit cards), and track and respond to orders. You can do it all within Shopify’s interface.

Shopify is a fully integrated eCommerce solution that provides ready-made online shops you can tweak and customize to your heart’s content. It has the capacity to be feature-heavy and out of the box, but not at the expense of drag times. Payment plans are based on monthly billing, but for anyone running a profitable store, these should quickly become negligible costs.

Using Shopify is quite intuitive and easy to grasp right from the get-go. You just have to sign up, and then you’re taken by the hand through the whole process.

To begin with, you get to choose from over 100 optimized online store designs, meaning you don’t need to have design skills yourself or hire a designer. The designs that Shopify offers are really top-notch and optimized to generate good conversion rates from your visitors.

Various Shopify designs

Does Shopify include web hosting?

The good news is that Shopify does include web hosting, which is another convenient benefit. This means that you don’t need to sign up for any external web hosting service given that everything is neatly handled in just one place. Shopify uses an optimized server structure, built specifically with eCommerce in mind, so you know that you’re getting the good stuff. Shopify is what’s known as a cloud-hosted eCommerce platform.

Who is Shopify best suited for?

Shopify stands apart from other eCommerce solutions mainly due to its multipurpose nature.

  • Shopify is extremely easy to set up and get going, so it can be used by beginners who have no technical knowledge in setting up or running a site.
  • The whole tool is very affordable (more on that in a minute), so it’s an attractive choice for small businesses that are just starting out and want to minimize costs.
  • Shopify offers many template designs/structures for you to take advantage of, so you don’t have to hire a designer, or anyone to help you with the store. You can literally build, style, and launch your online store all on your own.
  • Shopify also offers offline solutions – you can use Shopify in your actual brick-and-mortar store, integrating it with the operation that you have already set up.
  • Finally, Shopify scales really well, so it will be able to grow with you regardless of the number of products you have on offer, the volume of your sales, and the number of customers that have bought from you.

However, if we were to point out the absolute perfect user, the kind of user who will get the most out of Shopify, we’d say that it’s someone who’s just getting into eCommerce and building an online store. People and business owners who are just starting out in the eCommerce space and want to get the best solution possible, while at the same time minimizing the costs as much as possible, will find Shopify to be the most beneficial.

Which brings us to one particularly important part of this Shopify review:

How much does Shopify cost?

Before we list the plans available, we should mention that Shopify offers a 14-day free trial. It unlocks all the features, so you can test the platform thoroughly before committing to any of the premium plans. You can also cancel your trial account at any time.

Here’s the official Shopify pricing table:

Shopify Pricing Reviews 2020 Shopify Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced
Monthly Price – $/month $29 $79 $299
1 Years Price – $/month $26.10 $71.10 $269.10
Savings (%) 10% 10% 10%
2 Years Price – $/month $23.20 $63.20 $239.20
Savings (%) 20% 20% 20%

Which Shopify plan is best to choose from?

It depends on your requirements. The option that’s the most sensible for anyone who wants to launch a new online store is $29 / month. It lets you in on all the features you might need, and also handles the payments and the technical back-end of your store.

If you want to, you can hook up a custom domain name to your store (either buy it through Shopify or import from a third-party domain registrar). If not, your store is going to be available under something like YOURSTORE.shopify.com.

As part of the $29 / month price tag, you get access to:

  • Shopify’s online store module (the thing you came here for);
  • the Point Of Sale (POS) system (allowing you to collect payments offline through an iPad);
  • the Facebook and Pinterest modules (sell directly on Facebook and Pinterest);
  • Shopify Buy Button – allowing you to add a custom “buy button” on any website (not necessarily your online store).

Here, it’s also worth mentioning the Shopify transaction fees. Whilst not part of the pricing, if you’re not using Shopify Payments, you’ll be charged their subscription transaction fee on every order processed in your store. To learn more about Shopify transaction fees, visit the Shopify site.

Is Shopify really easy and simple to use?

In today’s online space, every tool out there promotes itself as ‘easy-to-use’. The truth is, few actually are. The tough part about being easy-to-use is that a truly user-friendly platform should be usable right from day one, and not once you invest hours of your time learning about it. In that manner, anything could be labeled as easy-to-use.

Shopify’s eCommerce platform doesn’t share this problem. You don’t need to be a Shopify expert to set up shop and anyone can easily launch an online retail store within a matter of minutes. The main traits that differentiate Shopify’s ease of use from everything else out there are:

  • The platform gives you an already working online store structure, so instead of building a store piece by piece, you can just adjust the pieces that are already there (tune them to your liking), but essentially the core of the platform works right away (more on this in a minute).
  • You get to choose from ready-made designs (templates), so you don’t have to possess any design skills either (again, more on this in a minute).
  • The templates are also automatically responsive in design, meaning that your site will be optimized for mobiles as well as desktops and tablets.
  • Online payments are handled for you – no need to actually work with sensitive credit card data yourself. And you can even sell your products directly to your Facebook contacts (among other things).
  • You get your product catalog handled through an easy to grasp module within Shopify (more on this in a minute too).

All of the above adds up to a really reasonable solution – something that’s truly targeted towards novices and doesn’t require any technical skills.

Shopify Support

Having access to tech support is crucial for any business. You never know what kind of problem you might run into.

As you know by now, one of the benefits of using Shopify is the 24/7 phone support that’s available for its customers. Apart from phone support, you can also get in contact with the support team from Shopify through various social media platforms and email. If you’re the type that likes to get quick answers, you can always use their 24/7 live chat support.

Apart from contacting their support team, you can also access useful information through using their help center, where you can choose to read tips or information regarding a certain issue you might be having.

That being said, one of the disadvantages of using Shopify is their response time. Namely, some customers are disappointed about how long it takes for Shopify support to get back to you, which usually entails a 30-minute hold time. This might be due to the growing number of customers they have.

Online Store Designs and Shopify Themes Available

No Shopify review can skip the design talk! Onward! 

Shopify offers contemporary, sophisticated designs – around a hundred of them(!) – so you are sure to find something that suits your style and the personality of your eCommerce store. Additionally, everything is optimized to be viewed on desktop, mobile, and tablets.

If you haven’t committed to a theme yet, you can also check out our more detailed post on eCommerce themes and templates.

When picking your design, you don’t need to pay much attention to what kind of products are on sale within that demo template – this is only example stock, and you can sell whatever you wish through whatever design template you select.

The theme we selected to test in this review is called Reach. It’s a simple, minimalist design yet functional for most purposes.

An example of Shopify's theme "Reach"

Whatever template you decide to go for, you can make adjustments – a couple of tweaks here and there – to make it look exactly how you want.

Shopify’s customization interface provides a range of options neatly displayed one after another, so you can just go through them from top to bottom and fine-tune every little detail about the design.

Shopify template customize

The things worth doing right away are:

  • changing the colors to your default company colors;
  • adding a logo;
  • selecting what should appear on the homepage (screenshot below).
Shopify's homepage

As you can see, Shopify’s eCommerce store builder is very intuitive and easy to use indeed. Instead of giving you a blank canvas, where you’d have to pick the elements one by one, you get a ready-made design and the ability to adjust the elements already there, as well as add new ones through the options panel.

This is a very beginner-friendly approach because it’s not confusing at all, and allows anyone to just jump in and create a quality store design for themselves.

How to edit text on a Shopify page

To work with the text on the pages, you need to go to the Pages section in the dashboard:

Shopify Pages menu

There, you can pick the page that you want to edit and then use an editor screen that you’re likely to find familiar thanks to tools like MS Word or Google Docs.

Shopify pages edit

How do I add and manage my products on Shopify?

Since you’re reading this review, you’re probably interested in finding out how to use Shopify to add and manage your eCommerce store inventory (or whatever it is you want to sell), so it’s high time we talk about how this is done!

The first thing you should do is configure the general settings of your store. For this, go to Settings from the left sidebar:

Shopify Settings

There, you get to set every piece of standard information, like your store’s name, address, time zone, currency, and so on.

Shopify online payments

The next important step is configuring the online payment options that you’re going to be offering your customers (under Settings / Payments).

Shopify allows you to accept credit cards through various gateways (there’s a good selection of those) and even set up Bitcoin payments if you want to go that route. There are also manual payments available, like bank transfers or cash on delivery.

How to make your Shopify store available to the world

In order to finally launch your ecommerce store and start marketing to actual customers (accepting their payments and so on), you need to unlock it. This is done, again, in the Online Store section of the dashboard:

Shopify store unlock

To fully unlock the store, you’re going to need to select one of the available plans. As we mentioned earlier in this Shopify review, the most sensible one if you’re getting started is $29 / month (entry-level plan). If you ever need more functionality, you can always upgrade later on.

Shopify available pricing plans

And that is basically it! At this point, your ecommerce store is online and ready to use.

Shopify Review Conclusion – Is Shopify the Right Tool to Set up your Online Store with?

Shopify is a renowned online application where you can create an online store. There are a few guidelines you need to follow in terms of what kind of products can be sold, but other than that, if your product isn’t too outlandish, you don’t need to worry about fitting the criteria.

There are a few plans you can get on Shopify, and you also have the option of getting a 14-day free trial. The basic plan costs $29 per month, and, despite its name, there are many perks that come along with it which are completely adequate for beginners in ecommerce.

Shopify is a go-to for ecommerce for a reason – it’s one of the bested hosted platforms, it’s quite easy to navigate through, there are plenty of visually appealing themes to choose from, and you have the option of including many useful third-party integrations that will help your business immensely and improve the customer experience.

There are, however, a couple of disadvantages that might impact your Shopify experience, like the transaction fees that come with third-party integrations or the long response time by tech support that’s been reported by users.

Still, we can say that, overall, Shopify is one of the greatest hosted ecommerce platforms out there. It’s an all-in-one solution that’s bound to make your ecommerce experience easier, especially if you’re just starting out.

A rundown of Shopify’s major pros and cons

No Shopify review would be complete without a comprehensive list of pros and cons. So here are the benefits and drawbacks you can expect if you decide to use Shopify.

Pros of Shopify Ecommerce Platform:

  • Speed and Load Times: When you build an ecommerce site, you need it to be fast and secure – two features that most often come with expensive hosting packages. Even fractionally longer load times can send your paying customers on to the next site, costing you potential sales, and Shopify makes sure they don’t.
  • Security: With Shopify, your site is ultra-fast, while being totally secure for handling sensitive data and processing payments.
  • Great Design: Shopify is largely about great design, and you will quickly find there are plenty of templates available, both free and paid, that will leave your site looking aesthetically pleasing whilst also professional.
  • Beginner-friendly and easy to navigate: Shopify is extremely beginner-friendly, so if this is your first time using a platform of this nature then you don’t need to worry since you probably won’t encounter any problems.
  • A great selection of themes: Shopify has a good selection of themes to choose from, so regardless of your preferences, you’re bound to find one you like.
  • Low monthly fees: Shopify’s monthly fees are more affordable than some other options out there like WordPress.
  • Add-ons and integrations: There are plenty of add-ons available for Shopify, so you can expand the feature set if you need it. That means you probably don’t have to worry about hiring a coder just yet – the easy interface means you can quickly bolt on new features and functions within your site.

Cons of Shopify Ecommerce Platform:

  • The Cost: Shopify costs money, both monthly and in terms of individual transaction processing fees (if you don’t choose to operate Shopify Payments). You need to take account of these when comparing packages to get your store off the ground, especially if you intend to sell in volume.
  • Long response time: Sometimes, the tech support team at Shopify will put you at a 30-minute hold time, which is not that great if you’re someone who likes to get quick solutions.
  • Uniquely Coded: While Shopify can be made to do pretty much whatever you want out of the box, if you do have to explore the back-end, you’re going to be dealing with proprietary coding. In a nutshell, this means that you need someone who knows what they’re doing and has the time to learn how to work with Shopify particularly, to get the job done. This can increase maintenance costs and result in delays in managing your store.

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