Shopify Review - UPDATED Apr 2018
Whether you are just starting your business and want to sell your products, or you already have a business but you want it to go online so that you can sell more of your goods, you will definitely need an ecommerce platform, through which you can set up an online store and start selling your products.
Small companies, startups, artists, designers…everyone who wants to sell something online can benefit from setting up an online store through Shopify for several reasons. The most important one is that it’s affordable and easy to do. Even if you don’t know anything about websites, let alone online stores, you can create one all by yourself and make it fully functional. With Shopify, it’s incredibly easy to do, and it’s even quite fun. Being one of the easiest ecommerce platforms, it’s no wonder it powers over 300,000 online stores throughout the world, and the number definitely keeps growing.
Ease of Use
If you have no idea how an online store works, the mere thought of setting one up by yourself can be terrifying. There are so many things to take care of – design, shopping cart, checkout, payment…But Shopify makes it so easy, even a complete beginner should be able to put out a basic online store in less than an hour. Great ease of use is one of the most important things that make a great ecommerce platform and Shopify pretty much nailed it.
The first thing you need to remember is that you do not have to know anything about coding in order to create a Shopify online store. What Shopify does is give you tools to create an excellent shopping experience. You can add products to your store, organize them into categories, add and galleries, manage orders and inventory and everything else, with little to no effort. When it comes to design, you don’t have to lift a finger, unless you want to, of course. There are preset templates you can use, and you can customize their elements to fit your style and preferences.
One of the main concerns for those looking to create an online store is the visual aspect. You want your store to be impressive in terms of design, and you want it to look modern and professional. Shopify offers more than 100 beautiful templates, some of which are created by renowned desingers. The templates are divided into categories, so if you are looking to sell some jewelry, for instance, you will be able to choose between dozens of themes created particularly for this sort of product.
As we already said in this Shopify review, you don’t need to know any programming language or to have any particular IT skills in order to use this amazing ecommerce platform. However, in case you do know a thing or two about it, you will be happy to know that Shopify allows full access to HTML and CSS of your page. That way, if you feel you might want to edit something, you will be able to fully customize your page.
If you decide to add a blog, Shopify has created a complete blogging experience, with articles, of course, as well as lookbooks, comment sections and more.
The domain name is very important, logically, since it represents your store, your business and your brand in the online world. If you have your own domain name, Shopify will let you use it, alternatively, you can purchase a name of your choice.
Shopify has an interesting feature for those willing to spend a few (“few” is used as an euphemism here) – direct help from experts in the field of setup, design, developing, marketing and photography, who are here to help you make the most of your online store.
Shopping cart is the vital part of any online store and Shopify, as one of the best ecommerce editors in the world, paid extra attention to this feature. Every store made with Shopify comes with 256-bit SSL certificate. What does this mean exactly? SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, technology that makes sure all the data going between a browser and a server remains protected and private. This is particularly important for online stores because people use their credit card information on them and they want to be sure no one is going to mess with that information.
When it comes to shipping, you can work with major carriers like FedEx, UPS and such, and you can even offer free shipping for certain orders – you decide how big and how expensive. Furthermore, you can choose whether your online store will offer fixed rates, weight- or location-based shipping rates or perhaps a tiered pricing system. It’s entirely up to you, like pretty much everything else on Shopify.
Shopify can even help you with taxes, by using your location to automatically calculate all major tax rates that apply in your state and country.
Finally, checkout is offered in as much as 50 different languages, which is impressive and definitely something your customers will appreciate.
A good ecommerce editor always needs to offer all the essential tools for successful management of an online store, otherwise, what’s the point? Shopify again does an amazing job, with a number of features that help you keep track of your business in an easy, stress-free way. You have, for example, a one-click order fulfillment system, an amazing time-saver. You also have integrated dropshipping apps like Ordoro and eCommHub, automated store emails that you can customize any way you want, as well as customer profiles, accounts, and groups, which not only help you learn about your customers and their preferences but also encourages them to keep shopping at your store. For instance, you can offer them to create an account at checkout, so that their next purchase is faster and tailored specifically for them. Alternatively, they can always check out as guests, which is great, since many people don’t like having to go through the hassle of opening an account if that’s not something they want.
Shopify also allows full or partial refunds, as well as automatic inventory updates.
The best thing is that Shopify even has an app that allows you to do all this – manage and update the store, fulfill orders and contact customers – on the go.
As for payment, even the brand new stores can instantly start accepting all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express), with no hidden fees and with a low credit card rate. The setup is quick and easy, as there are no third parties involved. Basically, you can accept credit cards directly through Shopify, which is not something we get to see very often in other ecommerce platforms. Your dashboard shows your balance and payment schedule, and you even get an e-mail notification whenever there is a new payment.
Furthermore, Shopify integrates a number of external gateways for alternative forms of payment, some 70 of them, including PayPal, of course, and some less traditional ones, such as Bitcoin.
Marketing and SEO
Shopify offers full SEO support, meaning customizable H1, meta tags, titles and more. This is important since it makes your store more visible on search engines. Again, you don’t have to know anything about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in order to reap the benefits of this practice, since everything is clearly explained and easy to do.
For every $25 you spend with Google, you will receive $100 in Google Adwords credits. Shopify automatically generates a site map for your store and you can also encourage customers to leave customer reviews, which is always useful in terms of marketing. In addition, you can easily generate coupon codes for discounts for various occasions, offer gift cards and use the MailChimp e-mail marketing app.
Shopify includes social media integration for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest, and there is even an option of Facebook shopping, where users can purchase your products without ever leaving this popular social media website.
With an online store, you will definitely need analytics to help you learn about your visitors, their number, tendencies, preferences and ways to improve your traffic. Shopify online stores are compatible with Google Analytics, which help you keep track of sales, referrals, even just plain visits to the store. There is also a handy dashboard where you can have a quick insight of all of that. You will be receiving regular product reports, showing which products are hot and which are not so much, as well as traffic/referral reports. The reports can even be exported so you can send them to your accountant.
As you were able to read earlier in our Shopify review, this ecommerce platform has a great selection of gorgeous templates, many of them are designer-made, and all of which are responsive – they will automatically adapt to the screen of whichever device your customers are visiting it from. Depending on your line of business, you can pick a gorgeous template from an appropriate category (by industry). There are templates for clothing and fashion, jewelry and accessories, electronics, art and photography, food and drink, home and garden, and so on.
Templates come with free updates, social media icons, built-in styles and color palettes, and, most importantly, they are mobile-friendly, so that your customers can browse your store and purchase products from their smartphone or tablet.
There are some free templates to choose from, but the real variety and quality lie in the paid templates section. Most of the designer-made ones are there, too. But whether they are free or paid, all templates can be customized, since they come with a full set of settings you can tweak until you get exactly what you want and need. You can upload your own logo, change colors, icons, fonts, add banners, change the layout and more, all that without any coding skills.
Help and Support
As one of the best ecommerce platforms in the world, Shopify also has an amazing help center, with an extensive knowledgebase. That’s where you will find the answers to most of your questions, from how to start an online store to more complex issues. The help page has an excellent, intuitive structure and we can safely say it’s one of the most impressive ones we’ve seen in this business.
In addition to this section, you can also join the forum where Shopify users, developers and experts exchange ideas and issues.
As for customer support, Spotify excels in that department too. You can choose between e-mail support, with an average response time of 14 hours, direct chat with a Shopify Guru, with an average wait time of 1 minutes (there is also an estimate on the current wait time), or you can reach out to them by phone, with an average wait time of 2 minutes. All customer support is available 24/7.
Plans and Pricing
Shopify comes in three different price ranges or plans Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify.
Basic Shopify costs $29 per month and comes with 2.7%-2.9% credit card rates and 2% transaction fees for external payment gateways. It includes two staff accounts, unlimited number of products and file storage, good shipping label discount and +$49 retail package.
The Shopify plan costs $79 per month and it is created for growing businesses. It comes with 2.5%-2.6% credit card rate and 1% transaction fee for external gateways, up to five staff accounts, unlimited products and file storage, better shipping label discount and +$49 retail package, as well as gift cards, professional reports and abandoned cart recovery.
The Advanced Shopify plan costs $299 per month and has some advanced features for scaling your business. The credit card rate is 2.4%, the transaction fees for external gateways is 0.5% and you get to set up to 15 staff accounts. In addition to unlimited products and file storage and +$49 retail package, you also get best shipping label discount, advanced report builder and real-time carrier shipping, on top of everything that goes with the previous two packages, of course.
In addition, there is a Shopify Lite plan, which comes with quite limited features. It costs only $9 and allows you to sell products on Facebook, use Buy buttons and accept credit card payments.
If you want to try out Shopify first and see how it fits you, there is a 14-day free trial.
- Great ease of use
- Good SEO and marketing tools
- Variety of payment methods
- Beautiful themes
- 50-language checkout.
- Some additional features are expensive
- Transaction fees for external payment gateways.