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Shopify review. You’ve probably heard of Shopify as it popular in recent times. It’s an e-commerce website builder aimed primarily at small businesses, though they do have solutions for corporate customers and large volume applications. They provide you with the interface, the payment processing and gateway, shipping solutions, marketing and engagement tools – the whole nine yards. The premise of the company is to simplify the process of setting up and running an online store; it seeks to do away with the need for as much of the technical know-how that would otherwise be required to set up shop online.
With Shopify, you can create stores without needing to get web developers involved. But you will have an added advantage if you’re familiar with HTML / CSS and Shopify allows greater template customizability to users with this technical knowledge. You also won’t be hassled with buying or registering domains or installing any software, because it’s a pre-hosted solution. You’ll have to pay a monthly fee for running your business on their platform and these fees can range from $9 to well over $2,000 a month, depending on the different tiers they offer and the features you require. We’ll get into the specifics of their pricing plans later on in the article, so read on.
When you’re running a business that is entirely sandboxed into one platform controlled entirely by one company, you’re going to have to be sure that the company is trustworthy and safe to invest in. Shopify is one of the biggest e-commerce platforms out there, with over a million active users, 800,000 stores based on their platform, and generating over $100 billion in sales over the years, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about in that respect.
Read on to find out what Shopify is capable of, its features, pricing, support, positives and negatives, and everything else you’d want to know before deciding to host your new e-commerce business on it.
how user-friendly is shopify
The whole idea Shopify was built around was to make creating, setting-up, and running an online e-commerce store for the common person without technical knowledge as easy as possible, but we approached it critically to see if that has materialized and if Shopify is really as user-friendly as it markets itself to be. Upon testing the website, we found that, indeed, it is very user-friendly and you can get your store up and running in a few hours even if you have little-to-no technical knowledge, using their templates. Of course, you do have the option to make your store as simple or as elaborate as you’d like, depending on your web design skills. They provide you with comprehensive guides and documentation that are easy to follow to make the process even simpler.
Shopify goes all the way with the number of features it has, and logically structures them to make everything easy to implement. You can design your store with a live preview, which is particularly great for beginners. Even if you’re stuck with something, you can contact their very helpful support team through live chat to get your issues sorted out. In terms of ease of use and user-friendliness, Shopify scores a solid five out of five.
DESIGN & ADDITIONAL FEATURES
It is crucial that your store is well-designed and looks professional and not something that someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing put together if you want to generate sales and drive traffic to your page. If your page is built really badly, your prospective customers are going to be driven away simply because your store doesn’t look’ reliable like other sites do, even if the products you’re selling are of good quality. Presentation is key in the e-commerce business, and you want your store to look visually appealing to your customer as that is virtually the only form of engagement you have with the customer.
In this section of our review of Shopify.com, we take a look at the design and customization features the platform offers and if they’re any good.
Shopify offers a plethora of templates to choose from and most of them look great and professional and rather inviting. It is up to you to choose one that would best suit your theme and the products that you are selling. They are also compatible with mobile devices, which is a necessity in today’s age where a sizeable portion of your prospective customer base will be browsing through your store on a mobile device. If your site isn’t compatible with mobile devices, trust me, you’re going to lose a LOT of traffic and therefore a proportional amount of sales. One of the downsides to Shopify’s template gallery, though extensive, is that not many of them are available freely – in fact, you are limited to choosing from only 10 free templates. But if your budget allows for it, you have hundreds of paid themes to choose from. The paid ones that Shopify offers cost anywhere between $140 – $180 per theme. You might be able to find cheaper templates on external marketplaces like Mojo Marketplace and ThemeForest. Each theme has unique features like slideshows The whole experience of choosing themes could have been a bit more streamlined by organizing them according to industry and product class, though. But overall the templates, both paid and free, are satisfactory.
The editor will allow you to customise quite a few things in the templates, like the colours and the fonts. However, you will not be able to drag and drop elements across the page unless you are good with HTML, CSS, or Shopify’s own development code – Fluid. Like I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to know how to design web pages or to code, but it sure does help if you do. The site will allow you to save up to 20 templates and you can switch between them without losing your content or having to re-format it.
Another great feature is that you can view your site from the perspective of a visitor, so you can make sure everything is in line and looking perfect before publishing it online for the world to see. If budget isn’t too much of a constraint, you can get a theme custom-built to suit your site by one of Shopify’s in-house expert template designers. You can add, remove, or rearrange categories with the click of a button. The best part about the editor has to be the ability to change the colors and fonts so simply. The only real substantial shortcoming I see here is the lack of the ability to drag and drop elements as you would be able to do with competitor Wix’s editor would allow you to do.
Another major feature of Shopify is the plethora of apps they have available on their app store. You can use these to add additional functionality to your web store like adding Instagram and Pinterest feeds to your store. Many of these apps are available at no cost at all, but there are a lot of paid ones available as well. The only downside to this, is that you can end up paying tens of dollars each month just for a few apps and this is a problem if you don’t have a lot of capital to work with.
Core Features of Shopify
Adding products to your online store is straightforward and Shopify also allows you to add a description, photos and SEO options. You can also sell multiple variants of the same product and prevent you from selling items that are out-of-stock by using their SKU (stock keeping unit) and inventory management features. You can import lists of your products, reviews, or any other data you might have saved in CSV format. This data integrates really well too and this is particularly useful for larger stores that are migrating from other platforms.
If you’re looking to sell digital products like images, music, documents, or videos, Shopify makes this possible using one of their own apps that is free to download. You can create subscription stores or set up recurring payment options, though this is not intuitive and can get expensive as you will need an app or someone to code this for you. If you sell custom products that require specific sizing instructions, for example, you’ll need an app or code to do this.
Some of Shopify’s competitors like BigCommerce makes this very easy and provide this is as a feature out of the box. While assigning categories to your products is fairly simple, creating sub-categories can be tricky and require app or special code. For example, it’s simple to create the category ‘footwear’, but much harder to create sub-categories like ‘heels’ or ‘sneakers’. These are some things you need to wary about when it comes to adding and managing products on your Shopify store.
Shopify includes support for over 100 payment processors including some of the biggest names in the industry, like Stripe, PayPal, and Authorize, apart from their own payment processing system, Shopify Payments. One of the major downsides to Shopify as a whole, is that they charge extra transaction fees ranging from 0.5% to 2% if you don’t use their payment processing system, which is currently only available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. You can also opt to enable manual payment methods that don’t attract any fees like cash-on-delivery or bank transfers.
Shipping and Logistics
Shopify is great with its logistics options, allowing you to set up flat rates, free shipping, or region specific rates for shipping. They also offer discounted shipping labels that can save you money and time, if you know the weight of your products. Alternatively, they connect with logistic providers directly to provide real-time shipping rates directly in the checkout screen (This feature isn’t available everywhere and is currently restricted to some locations like the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.) They also have support for drop-shipping providers like Amazon Fulfillment, Rakuten and Shipwire, all of which you can directly integrate with your Shopify store.
When you run a business, you need to keep tabs on how much tax you owe per purchase and document this for legal purposes. In this department, Shopify is just about average, it doesn’t make it a breeze, but it’s not an ordeal either. If you have a store based in the US, you can have them automatically calculate taxes based on ZIP code. They also have tax solutions that are compliant with European Union (EU) legislation and norms. If you live in other parts of the world, you can always add manual settings for tax calculation.
Alternative Sales Channels
Shopify enables easy and free integration with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon, and eBay, that will allow you to sell your products on those platforms rather effortlessly. You can do all this while only having to manage your sales from your central backend on Shopify. This is a key advantage that Shopify offers that many of its competitors have been unable to offer. You can also sell offline using Shopify’s PoS system that includes hardware like card readers that allow you to accept payments offline on-the-go. If you plan on making a lot of offline transactions, it’d be worthwhile investing in a complete PoS kit that includes an iPad, a cash drawer, card reader and a receipt printer. All your offline sales will seamlessly integrate with your Shopify backend.
Shopify offers dedicated marketing tools to increase traffic and boost sales that will help you grow your business. You are able to create promotional codes and gift cards on some higher end plans. With the help of an app, you can also integrate a loyalty system that rewards returning customers. They also have abandoned cart recovery tools that will help you gain customers who didn’t complete their purchases and abandoned their carts by sending them an email if they don’t complete the purchase within a pre-defined time of either 1, 6, 10, or 24 hours. This option is limited to users on the advance Shopify plans.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Shopify isn’t the best when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), but that doesn’t mean it sucks at it. Some issues with Shopify’s SEO are that the URL structures can’t be customised completely to your liking and that some URLs can be SEO-unfriendly. Another worry is that robots.txt file is pre-generated and impossible to customize. As mentioned earlier, creating sub-categories is hasslesome
which makes SEO harder. Other than that, customizing title tags and descriptions is straightforward. They also have a system in place that will automatically redirect old URLs to new ones to avoid 404 errors.
One of the biggest threats to online businesses are hacking attempts and DDoS attacks that could bring your severs (and by extension, your sales) to a grinding halt. Shopify handles this effectively by employing state-of-the-art DDoS protection and security systems like the Level 1 PCI compliant servers. They’ve also enabled 256-bit SSL encryption for every Shopify store, regardless of the plan you’re subscribed to. They also have a backup system that can restore your store to normal in the unlikely event of a hacking attack or security breach. However, they do recommend manually backing up your store using CSV files from time-to-time. This process can be a tad bit inconvenient and time consuming, so there are alternative approaches that deal with this problem, with one of them being, using an app like Rewind to automatically backup your products, their descriptions and pretty much your entire store so that you’ll be even less likely to suffer in the case of a hacking attempt or accidental deletion of products or listings.
Examples of websites built with Shopify
Check some of these Shopify stores out to get an idea of what your store could look like:
Pros & Cons
- The whole process of setting up and running a store on the platform is easy and user-friendly from the get-go.
- The templates they offer can be customized to a good extent without having any programming knowledge. If you can code, you’ll have complete control over your themes.
- They offer thousands of free and paid apps that can increase functionality and add features to your store.
- They are mostly an out-of-the-box solution for anyone looking to set up an online store.
- Their support staff are accessible through live chat around the clock and are very helpful.
- Shopify stores are scale-able and can accommodate business of any size, no matter how small or large.
- They have great logistics with dropshipping integration.
- They offer a 14-day free trial.
- Shopify can get expensive depending on which plan you choose and their plans aren’t always the cheapest. Setting up a store will definitely require you to dedicate some capital to it.
- They charge extra transaction fees if you use payment processing systems other than theirs, and their system isn’t available everywhere.
- As highlighted earlier, Shopify isn’t terrific when it comes to handling SEO.
- Some apps and features are paid and can get expensive.
- Setting up multilingual stores can be hard.
pricing & plans
Shopify offers great customer support with round the clock assistance through live chat and telephone on their website irrespective of which plan you choose. Their support staff are knowledgeable, helpful and always ready to help which is something that really adds to the quality of the product and streamlines the experience. When you’re running a business entirely based on a single platform, customer support needs to be top-notch and Shopify doesn’t fail to deliver in this department. If you opt for Shopify Plus, their enterprise-grade solution, you’ll have access to a dedicated support team that will walk you through the entire process of setting up and a priority service team that is accessible 24/7. Since this is a customized plan, you’ll have to contact the Shopify team themselves to get more information and a quote.
Does Shopify charge any payment processing fees?
Yes, there are two kinds of charges that are applicable – one that is paid to Shopify and the second that is paid to the payment processor or the gateway you use. The gateway charges are waived if you use Shopify’s own payment processor. The charges depend on your pricing tier, but range from 0.5% – 2%. Refer to the pricing table above for details.
Can I upgrade or downgrade from my existing pricing tier?
Yes, Shopify makes it very easy for you to do this and your existing funds will be crediting towards your new plan.
What is the Shopify Exchange Marketplace?
It’s a marketplace that allows you to buy and sell existing stores. You can view the revenue, profit and asking price of stores that are listed for sale. You can also use this for inspiration and ideas when creating your own store.
Can I backup my Shopify store?
While Shopify suggests that you do this manually using CSV files, I would recommend using apps such as Rewind that will do this for you automatically.
Shopify is a great tool that will help you (or anyone for that matter) set up and run an online store with ease by handling all of the different facets of running e-commerce websites, right from product listing to logistics and marketing solutions, while keeping everything seamlessly integrated and synced throughout your backend system. Many businesses have leveraged the power of Shopify to net millions of dollars and you can too!
If you’re someone looking to set up an online business that sells physical or digital goods but have been flustered by simply thinking about how to get everything set up so you can get going, then Shopify is the ideal tool for you. You can set up a beautiful online store with no technical know-how in a matter of minutes using this tool. Using their powerful logistics, marketing and inventory management tools, turning your store into a profitable business should be a walk in the park. Shopify definitely excels in most areas when compared to its competitors like Wix and BigCommerce, and is the better option if you’re in the market for a one stop solution for setting up your e-commerce website.