If you’re looking to start a new business online, you may be thinking about using Shopify as your online store builder. In this review, we’ll show you everything you need to know, so you can decide whether it’s the right choice for your business.
In this review…
- What is Shopify?
- Shopify examples
- Shopify templates and themes
- Shopify apps and features
- Customer service
- eCommerce functionality
- Shopify marketing and SEO
- Shopify app store
- WooCommerce vs Shopify
- BigCommerce vs Shopify
- Shopify Trustpilot reviews
- Review of Shopify: Final verdict
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an easy website builder for those wanting to start a business. Over 1,000,000 stores online use Shopify to market and sell their products, including some big name brands such as Kylie Jenner’s ‘Kylie Cosmetics’.
By 2022 it’s expected that global ecommerce forecasts have made over $4.97 trillion, with Shopify’s users turning over around $200 billion! If you’re looking to start an online store, but don’t have any web building experience, Shopify could be the right solution.
Here is an example of one site built by Shopify called Flourist. Florist is one of our favourite Shopify sites as it is well designed and shows how you can incorporate a blog and a gallery into Shopify to give greater exposure to your brand.
Shopify templates and themes
Whether you’re operating a bread-making company or are a t-shirt wholesaler, there’s a template and a theme on Shopify for you. You’ll be able to pick the perfect template theme you can use to market your store to your customers from one of Shopify’s 200 themes online.
Browse by your shops niche, whether that’s sports, apparel, food, health, or beauty and you’ll be able to pick and use one of Shopify’s free or premium themes to structure your store around. On average their themes cost around $140-$180 and can be fully customised to suit your needs.
Shopify’s templates are all modern looking and responsive depending on what device you are using. After you’ve picked your theme it is super easy to use Shopify’s drag and drop tools to customise the theme, add in photos, and build webpages as you desire.
Shopify has a 14-day free trial which you can use to start building your online store. Once you’re ready to go live you can opt into one of Shopify’s three payment plans. Although Shopify’s plans aren’t cheap, they do pack a ton of features in and you do get your bang for your buck.
In each of its plans, Shopify will provide you with free unlimited web hosting, unlimited web bandwidth, and will allow you to upload and sell unlimited products on your site. Although Shopify is guilty of upselling, as if you want to build a site through the platform, you’ll need to register a domain name, which will cost you approximately $14 per year.
Check out the table below which sets out each of Shopify’s individual plans.
|Basic Shopify||$28 per month||Includes all the basics for starting a new business: Online store. Unlimited products. 2 Staff accounts. 24/7 support. Sales channels. Online credit card rates 2.2% + 20p In-person credit card rates 1.7% + 0p|
Abandoned cart recovery features. Gift cards. 4 retail locations. Manual order creation. Shopify POS liteAccess to Shopify app store. Additional 2% fees using all payment providers
|Shopify||$79 per month||Includes basic Shopify features plus everything you need to start a new business:Professional reports1.9% + 20p online credit card rates. 1.6 + 0p in-person credit card rates|
5 retail locationsAdditional 1% fees using all payment providers
|Advanced Shopify||$299 per month||Includes all Shopify features, plus all the advanced features needed for scaling your business: Advanced and customisable report builder. Third-party calculated shipping rates. Additional 0.5% fees using all payment providers|
Up to 8 retail locations1.6% + 20p online credit card rates. 1.5 + 0p in-person credit card rates
Shopify Apps and Key Features
Shopify is the leading ecommerce website for a reason. It offers the most robust and diverse sets of features throughout its plans you can use to build, market, and manage your online shop through.
Shopify have thought of everything right from the small online shops, to the big multinational market places. But one of the best things about Shopify starts with how easy it is to use the software.
It is a super easy to use yet powerful tool, that admittedly can be overbearing sometimes with the number of features it throws at you. When going through all of its functionality you can get a little lost at where to start, which is not ideal for those who aren’t the most computer literate or have experience designing a website before.
But Shopify does streamline a lot of services for you, with a clear dashboard, that is easy to navigate to where you need to be, and also lets you automate a lot of processes so you can get on with running your business. And if you do get stuck, there’s a wealth of information online in Shopify’s help centre you can access and use to troubleshoot any issue you may have to overcome your problem which leads us nicely on to Shopify’s next great feature, which is its customer service.
Shopify’s support service is one of the best in the game. Although it might take slightly longer to get hold of someone on the phone, you’ll still be able to schedule a call back at a time convenient to you, while also using their 24/7 live chat feature and their email support address.
Many online web builders don’t offer such comprehensive support, and it’s great to have this extra reassurance that you’re in safe hands should your online store encounter any issues you need to resolve in the middle of the night so you can keep making sales. Although annoyingly, to resolve your issue and speak to an online customer service representative, you have to go through the online help FAQs first which can be a bit painstaking at times.
But what isn’t painstaking is how easy Shopify makes it for you to set up an online store. I’ve already spoken about designing your website using Shopify’s themes and templates, but you can also easily use the store builder to drag and upload products to your store.
Here you can make product variations, add different varieties of products, sizes, colours etc. and upload photos of each onto your site, and organise them by category using Shopify’s smart collections tool to sort each product into price, type, or style. Shopify will also automate manage your inventory management, tracking all your stock, incoming and outgoings, and will alert you when you’re low on a particular stock, and stop selling when one item might run out.
Shopping cart functionality
One of the best features of Shopify is its shopping cart functionality that provides users with a secure payment portal that they can use to check out and pay for their products. The service offers a free SSL certificate which puts up a secure firewall between your store and the customer, preventing anyone else from gaining access to your customers’ information.
Shopify is a highly flexible service which your customers can use to pay through 100 different payment gateways, from bitcoin to PayPal, Shopify integrates pretty much with them all.
As a business owner, Shopify’s abandoned checkout recovery service will also let you recover lost sales by mailing customers a link to their abandoned checkouts, a clever marketing ploy that you can use to boost sales. You can also use Shopify to offer refunds, issue, and redeem gift cards, build CRM customer profiles to learn more about your customers to develop marketing strategies to gain more sales.
Shopify Marketing and SEO
On the subject of sales, you can use Shopify and its app integrations to build a robust marketing and sales strategy that can bring in new customers. You can firstly use its built-in SEO functionality, to add meta tags to your products and services to help you rank higher on Google, and design killer SEO product descriptions to hook in more viewers.
Particularly for small businesses, Shopify offers social media integration allowing you to post photos with shopping tags on Instagram, helping you push your products to a wider audience.
But to see how well your marketing strategies are doing, you’ll need to utilise Shopify’s robust analytics tools, that can help you gauge your sales, tax, and profits. All your information is neatly displayed in your dashboard, enabling you to see how all your finances are doing in one neat place.
The Analytics software will also allow you to gain a better insight into your store’s growth and can help you predict how well your store will do in the coming months. A great tool for small businesses looking to keep tabs on how much they are earning.
Shopify App Store
Plus Shopify’s app store has a whole host of applications that you can use to streamline your business functionality dropshipping applications, accounting application integration, and even marketing apps.
For example, you can download and integrate apps like MailChimp into your Shopify store to help you reach out to wider customers, or you can install chatbot applications to contact and engage with your customers when they’re on your website. Ultimately Shopify offers the best and most well-rounded tools to help you start your business journey off to a flying start. But how does it stack up against its competitors?
WooCommerce vs Shopify
Shopify is the Rolls Royce of ecommerce stores, but WooCommerce isn’t far behind Shopify in our estimation as a great option for those who wish to operate their online stores through WordPress. However, Shopify nudges it for functionality over WooCommerce as Shopify provides you with all the ecommerce features you’ll need in one place without having to work on multiple different platforms like WordPress as you would have to in WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is a better platform for those who have greater experience building and designing websites, and for that reason isn’t the best per se for small businesses or startups who have little experience working in ecommerce.
That being said there are some things WooCommerce does very well in comparison to Shopify, for example, WooCommerce is better priced, being free to use and all you’ll have to pay for is its hosting and domain registration services. Shopify is slightly more expensive, yet again, you pay for the convenience, having all your hosting and ecommerce features included in one payment plan allows you to spend less time hassling over your different services and have everything sorted and ready to use.
What about functionality?
Well, WooCommerce outdoes Shopify as it doesn’t charge transaction fees. But Shopify enables your customers to pay through a wide variety of payment gateways, enabling you to enable a wider variety of customers to pay for your goods online.
Plus from a marketing point of view, WooCommerce relies only on external marketing plugins, which are limited to the vast array of marketing services that are built into Shopify’s ecommerce tools.
And Shopify wins again for its overall feature range, its added abandoned cart recovery services, unlimited products, and its gift card, discounts, and refund systems make Shopify the better platform, despite WooCommerce having full customisation control. Shopify’s efficiency, pricing plans, and general features make it the better ecommerce site all-round compared to WooCommerce, despite this WooCommerce is still a very formidable platform tailored to larger businesses.
BigCommerce vs Shopify
BigCommerce and Shopify are both priced exactly the same and are on their face, very similar ecommerce platforms. Although one bonus of BigCommerce’s pricing is that its base plan provides you with professional reporting functionality, built-in currency conversion, and real-time carrier shipping quotes, all of which you won’t get in Shopify’s base plan.
But BigCommerce’s plans lack some of the features you can find in Shopify’s plans too, as you’ll get Shopify’s abandoned cart feature in its base plan whereas you’ll have to pay $79.99 to get the same feature with BigCommerce. Shopify does let itself down though, by taking transaction fees from each of your sales, unless they are through Shopify’s Payments system.
BigCommerce, on the other hand, has 0% transaction fees on all of its plans. When it comes to efficiency and ease of use though, BigCommerce is built purely for efficiency and has all its ecommerce applications and features built-in already.
Meanwhile, Shopify relies heavily on its app store to provide you with its ecommerce features, but that’s not all a bad thing as this gives you greater customisation to build a store that is truly your own. But like WooCommerce, you have to be a bit experienced in web design and technology to get the most out of BigCommerce as the software does throw a lot of features at you which can be slightly overwhelming.
Granted Shopify does also unload features on you, but it has a great user-friendly dashboard you can use to build your website. And again, Shopify’s huge app store may also make it better for functionality as, despite BigCommerce having everything you need built-in, you don’t get the same freedoms to customise your site.
Yet BigCommerce might provide the better value for money solution over Shopify and this is a real bonus for small businesses, as BigCommerce provides more features in its starter plan which is the same price as Shopify’s.
Plus with BigCommerce’s built-in features, you get what you see on the box, and unlike Shopify, you won’t be paying for additional features from its apps in the Shopify App store. It’s a hard toss-up between the two, with BigCommerce perhaps being the better priced, more value for money service, yet Shopify providing the easier to use and feature-rich ecommerce platform.
Shopify Trustpilot reviews
Shopify is actually very poorly rated online, scoring only 1.5/5 on Trustpilot. And its reviews don’t sing its praises either with multiple users citing its customer services as “poor” and “being on hold for over 25 minutes.”
But the service is not without its plaudits with others saying email response and its live chat features were pretty responsive, while its app store and wealth of features enabled multiple users to fully customise their sites.
Plus many also liked the scalability of the platform with one user stating its “so easy to use and is designed to help you grow” showing that it is an easy to use platform for the growing small business.
Review of Shopify: Final Verdict
Shopify provides you with a wealth of features for a great value, that although might not compare to the value you’ll receive through BigCommerce, you’ll still have what is in our view the best tools at your disposal to build a stunning ecommerce site that can help you get more sales.
Did this review of Shopify help you? If so, recommend DigitalSuperMarket.