Shopify – is an ultimate eCommerce-oriented platform to create digital stores of any size from scratch. The company boasts over a million active users located in more than 175 countries worldwide. Apart from that, 1,400,000+ merchants use the platform to sell goods not only online but also live. According to the recent report, the software powers more than 1,398,365 websites.
Ease of use, flexibility, and a wide selection of features with a focus on eCommerce make Shopify yet the best software to build online shops. First of all, it is good for newbies with no technical skills why experienced users will benefit from extra coding and customization opportunities.
Secondly, the platform delivers literally everything you need to sell goods online. From responsive templates with an integrated shopping cart feature and payment options to an advanced product management system, promotion tools, and marketing instruments – everything is already included in the plan.
Besides, Shopify is an all-in-one solution, which means you also get facilities to host your future store in one place without switching between several platforms. In this review, we will have a detailed look at the platform’s functionality and features that let Shopify become the industry’s top name.
Shopify Pros and Cons
The platform is packed with eCommerce-oriented tools. They include already built-in options as well as third-party pass and services that are easy to install. Software is great for both newbies who do not know how to code as well as experienced users who look for maximum freedom in terms of template customization.
✔ Ease of Use – launching a ready-to-go store will take several hours thanks to an intuitive editor to help newbies customize templates, manage products, connect add-ons, etc.
✔ eCommerce Templates – responsive themes do not require customization, Simply add products and content to start selling right at once.
✔ App Store – choose from a selection of widgets and add-ons to grow your store.
✔ Advanced eCommerce Functions – form dropshipping and abandoned cart recovery functionality to email marketing, reporting, multi-currency support, POS, and Amazon integration.
✔ All-in-One Platform – with Shopify, you can not only build a store in hours but also connect a domain and host it. Also, you get free SSL with each plan.
✘ Some features may call for additional installation.
✘ Transaction fees when using third-party payment gateways.
✘ Support via phone is not available for all countries.
What Is It Good for?
Shopify is good for any user who wants to start selling goods or grow an already-existing eCommerce project. It delivers enough functionality to be used with the website you have or create a new shop from the blank despite its future size. Besides, we are talking of a hosted platform, which means users do not have to worry about the place to store their website files.
With Shopify, users may either start their small local stores or enter some biggest global marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. The tool will work either for non-technicians who are new to the building process and the website builder itself as well as for more experienced web designers and programmers thanks to enhanced editing options.
As a result, we have an ultimate eCommerce instrument to meet any selling need as well as growing online business using extra perks it delivers. Let’s have a look at some real-life examples and shops of different size built on Shopify:
Here we have a minimalistic but catchy design. The website grabs users’ attention with animation and visual effects. At the same time, they do not overload the product page making the navigation pretty fast and easy. A good solution for a small local shop.
This example shows how good product pages may look like with Shopify. Here we have a bigger store with multiple product collections for both men and women. Each item page has a detailed description with catchy photos and videos to ensure the best product overview for the customer. Besides, here we have a 5-star rating and customers’ reviews. A good way to show off positive clients’ feedback.
An example of an online shop built with practically zero customization. We can see a standard Shopify template with only baseline functionality. It includes multi-currency support, integrated shopping cart, and product collections divided into categories. Needless to say, the store runs great on both mobile and desktop.
The above-mentioned examples prove that we deal with a flexible eCommerce solution to create any kind of online store. You may also take a look at more Shopify examples in my compilation. Now, it is high time we discussed technical issues and featured delivered by Shopify.
Is Shopify Easy to Use?
A user is not supposed to have special technical skills or knowledge to get started with his or her first online store. Besides, there is a 14-day free trial for any of the available plans. It is a good chance to test how the system works and if it is suitable for newbies.
To sign in, you will need to indicate some personal data that will be automatically applied to the store details. After you are done, confirm the email and start creating your web store. Users will be able to add new products right at once. Add items, photos, and descriptions with a click.
Then you may customize the template. There are two major options. The first one is to use a ready-made template. The second one is to create a new template based on the pre-designed layout. No matter what you choose, the editing process is very straightforward and simple.
The last thing is to connect a domain. You may use the one provided by default. It is perfect for the testing trial. If you are about to launch a new store, you’d rather think of a unique domain or connect the one you already have. Shopify makes it possible to buy and register a new domain right here on the dashboard.
Now, your shop is ready to go. Don’t forget to look through general settings and customize your shop in accordance with a target audience, location, etc. here we can change language, currency, contact info, and other issues.
That’s it. Now you have a ready-to-go online store with all necessary built-in features to sell goods, accept online payments, and manage your products.
Features & Flexibility
While Shopify is mainly an eCommerce platform, the majority of its features are designed with a focus on product selling. The platform has a comprehensive product management system in addition to integration functionality. It comes with built-in payment methods as well as third-party gateways. In addition, users will be able to connect a blog, manage website SEO, etc.
Managing products with Shopify is very easy. You may add new items right at once. Users will be able to add product title, description, media files, so on. There is a chance to select currencies, set inventory, item dimensions, and specifications.
The core features are that Shopify makes it possible to create up to 100 variations of the same good. As a result, you may create seasonal collections, lists of products to match special offers or personalized deals. A simple functionality makes it easy to organize collections be vendor, product type, or special tag.
Users will have several ways to accept payments online. The first includes built-in Shopify Payment functionality. It is free to use. When we say “free”, we mean zero commissions for transactions. The bad news is that not all countries support this particular payment gateway.
So, you may need another method to process payments. Luckily, the system offers plenty of alternatives that may include some popular ways like Paypal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Besides, you may choose from dozens of third-party options from the offered list. You may sort them out by the payment method for faster navigation.
Apart from the initial online store, Shopify makes it possible to add new sales channels. They will let you sell a product over:
- Facebook – the feature creates a new tab on the existing Facebook page with the ability to look at the items trough or purchase them.
- Instagram – create and publish posts on Instagram that allow followers to buy products right from the social network.
- Messenger – a simple way to make sales directly through the Messenger. The functionality involves shipping notifications, customer feedback, etc.
- Buy Button – have a fully-functional digital store embedded with an existing website (a blog or product review website).
- Amazon – create and manage all your Shopify product listings on Amazon and enter the biggest global marketplace.
To connect any of the above-mentioned, you do not need additional apps. Several other sales channels will call for extra apps to connect. They include eBay and some others.
If your shop requires enhanced functionality, you may visit the App Store and choose any widget you like from 12 different categories. They include add-ons for marketing, product navigation, inventory management, store security, etc. Pay attention that some apps are free to add while others only offer a free-trial period.
A great tool for users who want to sell products not only online but also live. They may include brand’ merchandising or else. The hardware is compatible with iOS and Android devices letting you accept mobile payments on the go.
The key POS features include:
- Support for multiple land-based sites.
- The ability to manage staff and orders from the Shopify dashboard.
- Integration of “buy online” or “collect form the store” feature.
- Set and customize printed receipts.
With Shopify, you can define shipping rates for a particular region. If you run a local store, you can only manage domestic shipping rates. If you have a globally operating marketplace, the system lets you set worldwide shipping rates as well as for a separate country depending on the target audience location.
Marketing & Promotion
Grow your business ad boost customers’ loyalty with integrated marketing tools. Shopify has a built-in email marketing instrument that offers newsletter templates as well as layouts to share upcoming collections, special deals, personalized offers, etc. A great way to grow the mailing list as well as interact with clients directly.
Create discount codes and launch new promo campaigns with a click. Each new campaign can be customized and configured manually. Users may set the type, value, and products it will apply to.
Shopify comes with an advanced analytic system that lets you track sales and orders in different ways. Users will see all reports in a separate dashboard that reflects some of the key metrics. They include total sales, user sessions, average order value, etc. The system automatically generates several types of reports that include not only sales but also acquisition, profit margin, and other data.
Live View is a super feature that delivers store insights in real-time. Apart from real-time orders and sales, you can also observe live visitors and the average daily traffic. Each session is identified and displayed automatically on the integrated map.
SEO and Blogging
The platform has a favorable SEO functionality to create content that search engines would love. The key benefit here is that settings are very easy to manage and configure. No special skills are necessary. Users will be able to edit meta title and description, add 301 redirects, change page URL, and more.
The SEO feature will be very useful together with blogging functionality. Luckily, there is a built-in blogging functionality letting you create new articles and posts, edit preview mode, connect social media accounts, and edit the way posts will look like on various platforms.
Design & Templates
Needless to say, all Shopify themes are responsive and run well on different devices including smartphones and tablets. Users will have about 9 free themes to use on default. They are available in the control panel. Choose the one you need and customize it.
If the template selection looks limited to you, feel free to visit Shopify Theme Store with more stylish mockups to choose from. They are divided into categories depending on the industry and website type. Some themes are free while some are paid costing around $180.
If you look for a way to stand out with your own unique website design, you may start building a new shop from the blank. Simply enter the web editor to work with the custom page overlay. In the left sidebar, you will find all available options. They include a list of new page elements to add including galleries, product lists, blog posts, integrations, etc. Pick the one you need and it will automatically appear on the website.
The dashboard has some baseline web design tools. They include typical options to change colors, edit the typography, and customize a shopping cart feature with a unique image. Here you may also add a favicon to boost website recognition.
Experienced users with enough HTML knowledge will be able to edit the source code and customize the theme the way they want. The system makes it possible to change the existing template or layout as well as add the new one. Besides, the editor provides access to snippets, assets, and configuration source code.
Having comprehensive support for Shopify is a must as for the industry’s leader. Judging by the real-life experience, they do care about customers offering several ways to get in touch. Apart from typical options including Live Chat, email, or phone, the platform has a growing social community, a handful of tutorials, and an expanded community.
There are tons of different articles in the local Help Center. Unfortunately, phone support is not available for all countries. You will find numbers that apply only to specific locations that are limited. So, it is unclear how customers from other countries can get in touch, and if there is multi-lingual support for them as well.
Besides, traditional contacting options will work only for general issues like getting started, connecting the payment options, or app, etc. If you want to code something or handle the import/export feature, you would rather visit the Shopify community and create a thread there. Local specialists are very fast to respond. It takes them about 24 hours to come up with a solution despite the issue complexity.
So, if you have a nonstandard question, you’d better use a forum.
Plans & Pricing: How Much Does Shopify Cost?
Users will have different options in terms of pricing to start a new online shop. The choice will depend on the functionality you require as well as overall website complexity.
Shopify Lite plan is the easiest and fastest way to get started. It costs only $9 per month and lets users sell unlimited items. The only problem is that the package does not allow creating a fully-featured online store. You will only be able to sell via Facebook or through physical locations.
The good news is that it provides access to the “Buy Now” button feature. It helps to connect Shopify eCommerce functionality with an already existing website.
The rest of the three plans include Basic Shopify ($29 per month), Shopify ($79 per month), and Advanced Shopify ($299 per month). They all have the same functionality in terms of customization, store management, and seals process. As for the key differences, they include:
- Transaction Fees – the higher plan you chose, the lower your transaction fee is. While the entry plan comes with 2.0% commission, the rest two packages offer 1.0% and 0.5% transaction fees respectively.
- Staff Accounts – if you plan a growing store, you may need more staff accounts to work on the project. With the Basic plan, you will be able to collaborate with only two colleagues while Shopify and Advanced offer 5 and 15 staff accounts respectively.
- Locations – if you do not plan multiple locations, an entry plan is enough. But if you want to manage from 5 to 8 locations simultaneously, you should select plans higher than the Basic.
Shopify Website Examples
Shopify is a flexible eCommerce solution to create shops of different types. It lets sell different digital and physical goods, build stores related to fashion, beauty, and other industries. Here are some examples of professional websites developed with Shopify:
A minimalistic website that sells different pieces of designer furniture.
A UK shop focused on distributing naturally grown and plant-based grocery products nationwide.
The brand offers a collection of exclusive jewelry pieces featuring international shipping.
An easy-to-navigate site where customers may access an expanded collection of bras and designer underwear.
A store focused on selling different devices and accessories with special deals, discounts, and sales.
A typical Shopify website with all necessary features in the pack to sell bags and accessories.
If you crave for more Shopify website examples, check out our ultimate list of top-notch online stores.
Alternatives & Competitors
Shopify is not the only website builder designed with a focus on eCommerce. Users may opt for multi-purpose platforms that let them create projects of any type or opt for more niche-oriented software. Here are some most popular Shopify alternatives to consider:
- Wix – is a website builder to create any site from business cards to digital stores. Although it has eCommerce functionality, Shopify looks more comprehensive with multiple sales channels, advanced product management, and more effective promotion tools.
- WooCommerce – is a good solution only for WordPress users. The plugin works only with WP and requires manual settings, maintenance, and support not mentioning paid extensions, separate hosting, and domain while Shopify has them in each plan.
- Squarespace – is a worthy eCommerce software with all necessary features to deal with the project of any size. However, some features will require additional app installations like Analytics, while Shopify comes with an integrated dashboard, reports, and live view option.
- Volusion – is similar to Shopify in some aspects. While plans cost the same, for that price user may additionally get advanced cart abandonment recovery tools, tax rate calculators, and other instruments for enhanced web store performance.
- BigCommerce – is an ultimate eCommerce software that offers such features as A/B testing, a selection of shipping and store performance apps, various integrations, and extensive marketing opportunities. Although it is more expensive than Shopify, it might be a better option for rowing and scalable projects.
Check out detailed comparisons and Shopify competitors reviewed by our experts.
Is Shopify a Good Website Builder?
Shopify is a perfect software for users eager to start online shops. It works great for projects of any size either you plan to sell a small number of products locally or enter an international marketplace. What’s more, the software is good for beginners and pros.
Users will appreciate the ease of use, intuitive product management system, and intuitive editor. More demanding technicians will like the ability to enter the source code. A rich eCommerce-based feature set lets you handle any task from launching ad campaigns and creating reports to connect various payment options, create multilingual product pages, edit SEO settings, etc.
Flexible pricing policy makes it possible to choose a plan just to get started and then grow your business online by switching to a package with more facilities to run, manage, and maintain your online shop.