Shopify Review: Does it live up to the hype?
Do you dream of taking your business online so as to reach a wide audience? Well, you are not alone. With most transactions happening online, so many merchants are considering to have an online store. And the best part is that eCommerce platforms like Shopify have streamlined the whole process.
Previously, starting an eCommerce business involved quite a lot. You had to think about hosting, domain registration, where to get products, how to ship them and not forgetting inventory management. Currently, pretty much everything can be run through eCommerce apps and automation software.
But with website builders cropping up all over, it pays to research every service so every dollar can count. Shopify has so far been on the radar of many folks and with millions of businesses launched off of it, you might be interested to know what they offer.
This comprehensive Shopify review lets you in on what this platform is all about, how it works, the business tools available, subscription plans, pros as well as cons. Sit tight and enjoy the ride.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that gives you the ability to launch an online business. In short, this platform provides you with all the tools you can use to sell physical and digital products to a wide variety of online markets.
Launching an online business begins with a website, when you opt for Shopify, you get everything from domain name to hosting servers. They have plenty of marketing tools that you can use to reach potential clients. This eCommerce cart is also reliable for dropshipping (the art of selling products on behalf of another store without having to keep an inventory).
Shopify and Bigcommerce stand at the top of the eCommerce platform roost because of two reasons; ease of use and existence of multiple features. Running an online business needs a lot of tools, themes, and integrations and when you opt to use Shopify, there is nothing you’ll ever lack.
Here are Shopify’s top features:
In the first days of running your shop, so many things will be amiss. Do you know what that leads to? Shopping cart abandonment. Once some of those problems have been addressed, you would wish to retarget those customers you lost through bad store design or absence of their favorite payment processor.
Shopify’s abandoned cart saver can help you retarget lost customers in two ways. First, you get notification whenever a customer fails to check out so you can manually email them.
Secondly, you can automate Shopify to send emails after either an hour, six, ten or a day. However, the platform advises that you send a reminder email after 10 hours. The automation process is easier and more time-saving than sending emails manually.
Shopify obviously offers an affordable abandoned cart saver as all the plans have it. Unfortunately, you are limited to sending only a single email. Bigcommerce, on the other hand, allows you to send up to three emails on automation. Furthermore, it also allows you to add discount coupons or codes to encourage buyers to complete the purchase.
Shipping rates auto-calculation
Dealing with shipping fees can prove to be quite a problematic area. Charge too much and you’ll have to deal with shopping cart abandonment. Underestimate and your profit will shrink.
Shopify Plus auto-calculates shipping fees for each of your clients based on the weight of the item and the delivery address.
Shopify Point Of Sale
If you own a brick and mortar shop, it’s obvious you would want its records to be included to those from online sales. Through the Shopify POS app, you can use a card to accept offline payments which will all reflect in your online inventory as well. The POS app is available for both Android and IOs stores.
Multiple sales channels
Shopify allows you to sell your products to multiple sales channels like Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, Instagram, eBay, Wanelo and Google Trusted Stores. It costs money to expand into other market places. Integrating with Google Trusted Stores is a bit hectic though.
Cross-selling and Upselling.
Cross-selling and upselling are effective when used in Tandem and Shopify lets you do that. In cross-selling, you encourage a customer to purchase a related product while in upselling, you advise them to consider a higher-end product than the one under discussion.
Other features that make this platform a top choice include Gift cards, blog, reporting and analytics, content management and many more. The more features you use, the bigger your expenditure figure gets.
Shopify has over 900 themes that suit any type of business or industry you can think of. The top choices include clothing & fashion, art & photography, furniture, pet, home & garden, toys, games, food & drinks, toys, electronics, Jewelry & accessories and anything you can think of.
While selecting your choice, you can browse them based on industry or price. There is also an “all themes” tab that lets you preview all of them. If you are a bit blank and need a bit of guidance, you can make your choice based on what’s trending under the “trending” section. Or better yet, sort them out based on popularity or from “high” to “low” so you can know what other people are using.
There are themes designed for minimalists and those with huge or small stores. If you are just getting started and wish to keep your costs down, then you should probably skip to the non-paid ones.
What is the difference between Shopify’s paid and free themes?
Shopify offers both free and paid themes. The free ones are built by an in-house team of Shopify’s top programmers. Most of the time, the premium ones are designed by outside programmers who are not affiliated with the platform but their reputation is flawless.
As such, premium themes will need you to invest in a one-time fee of between $100-$180. You cannot go wrong with any choice-its simply a matter of what appeals to you. In our case, we’d recommend you try the free ones like the majority of other Shopify’s customers.
What defines the best eCommerce theme?
The best eCommerce platform theme needs to be clean, modern, responsive, compatible with many browsers, customizable and SEO-friendly. According to Googlers, the best Shopify themes are Brooklyn, Simple, Annabelle, Venture, Fleur de lis, Narrative, Sports Store, Fashe, Focus, Supply, Minimal and prestige.
Shopify App Store
Ecommerce businesses run their operations based on apps. For instance, you can leverage Oberlo for order fulfillment, Kit to run Facebook ads and order printer to print receipts, invoices, and labels. Mostly, apps are used to perform a specific function but at other times, you can use those that help your site communicate with another store or tool (example-Zendesk or Xero).
The Shopify app store is massively endowed. Furthermore, it integrates with other third-party apps to allow you to run your shop with the tools you love or are familiar with. Roughly, Shopify works with over 3200 apps and that is why it’s one of the best eCommerce platforms.
While it’s clear Shopify takes the crown for having multiple apps, the same feature serves as a drawback. Most of those tools require you to either buy or subscribe. Other platforms like Bigcommerce (while limited in apps) offer most of them as part of the service and thus no need to subscribe.
Shopify falls amongst the most affordable eCommerce platforms for starting an online business. Their pricing plans are:
- Shopify lite
Shopify Lite is a small package that comes at $9 a month and is tailored for individuals with websites. If you run a popular blog and have a couple of products to sell, this package can help you turn your site into a mini-store. Basically, you get a custom buy buttons that let you sell on social platforms.
This means you’ll be able to accept payments and add products to your blog effortlessly. In addition to the monthly $9, you’ll be subjected to a 2.9%+ 30 cents for any transaction processed.
Get this, Shopify Lite doesn’t turn your website into a store. Instead, it just gives it partial eCommerce ability to sell via social sites and add products easily. As such, you’ll still be in charge of hosting and any other website maintenance fees.
- Basic Shopify
Basic Shopify is the most economical choice for most eCommerce beginners. It is ideal for stores that are generating below $16,000 per month. This package comes with a full online store ( website + blog), 24/7 support, multiple sales channels unlimited products, access to staff accounts, abandoned cart recovery and any other primary features of an eCommerce store.
However, it doesn’t come with gift cards, (you can use coupon codes though), advanced report builder and professional report. For a beginner, these don’t matter a lot. Basic Shopify comes at $29 a month and a fee of 2.9%+30 cents for every transaction.
- Shopify (regular for most sellers)
There isn’t much difference between Shopify’s regular and basic plan. Monthly charges for the former are $79 and a fee of 2.6%+20 cents per transaction. What you get for the extra $50 are professional reports and gift cards (which in most cases aren’t enough to justify the extra fifty bucks.)
You can choose the basic plan and resort to tools like Bold Discount App which is a Shopify third-party app that gives you the gift card capability at only $14.99 per month. However, if you shop makes more than $16,000 a month, it would be better to go for Shopify’s regular plan.
- Advanced Shopify
Advanced Shopify is ideal for store owners who make above 7 figures in revenue. You may want this package too if your store needs more than 15 staff accounts, aren’t using in-house Shopify payments and want to show your customers shipping calculations at the checkout.
Even though you’ll be parting with $299 a month, the transaction fee goes down to 2.4%+ 30 cents per transaction. In addition to lower transaction fees, the Advanced Shopify plan gives you better features-including advanced reports in case you don’t have someone to handle analytics.
Shopify Plus is an enterprise-grade pricing plan customized for large businesses. With this plan, credit card fees shrink to 2.15% which is quite amazing. On top of that, you get to enjoy custom features that are not available in other plans.
The features of Shopify Plus include advanced Shopify apps, extra API calls, customizable checkouts, unlimited staff accounts, access to Shopify plus Partner Program, more control on how to run your store, password-protect your wholesale store and access to Shopify Academy where you can learn how to grow your business.
What we are trying to say is, with Shopify Plus, you have the freedom to run your shop according to your own rules. You can expand to different locations, set up wholesale stores and do anything you want.
Shopify has in-built SEO features that drive your store to the top of search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The platform generates robot.txt, sitemap.xml, and canonical URL tags for you. Individually, you are given a chance to supply meta description, alt tags and title tags for your product pages.
All URLs generated are SEO-friendly. On top of all that, this eCommerce platform comes with a blog from where you can do content marketing. Unfortunately, it cannot match what WordPress offers. Nevertheless, considering that other eCommerce platforms don’t allow blogging, this stands to be a nice surprise for Shopify customers.
Shopify Payment Gateways
Shopify supports multiple payment processors for your convenience. We would suggest you have Paypal, Stripe, Credit cards and Shopify Payments as some of your core payment channels.
With third party channels, you’ll be subjected to transaction fees depending on your plan. While that might sound unfair, note that no one will ask for anything unless you’ve made a sale. Furthermore, as your business expands, no extra charge will be levied apart from the stipulated percentage.
While Bigcommerce and Woocommerce might be affordable and convenient in some way, you’ll be automatically upgraded to the next plan and charged more once your sales hit a certain threshold.
Shopify Payments is the best choice for those who live in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Australia, and other supported countries. With this medium, you can not only forget about transaction fees but enjoy faster release of funds to your merchant account.
How does Shopify transaction fees compare with those of other platforms?
BigCommerce is Shopify’s biggest competitor and it’s easy to see why. First, they don’t charge transaction fees; rather, they watch as your bottom line grows and after some time, they forcefully upgrade you to the next plan so you can pay more per month.
Wix is quite a newbie-friendly platform and doesn’t levy transaction fees. However, to enjoy eCommerce services, you need to subscribe to a monthly plan and their packages are a little higher than Shopify’s. Furthermore, your payment processor might ask for transaction fees at their own rates. Due to the lack of a transparent system, you might end up losing a lot.
The scenario happens at Volusion. They don’t have transaction fees but rather, you pay monthly for bandwidth which might become costly as your client base grows. So the bottom line is, you are safer with Shopify’s clear-cut charges. At least you won’t encounter unpleasant surprises along the way.
Shopify could be successful because they take their clients’ concerns seriously. You can reach them at any time of the day via the live chat button, email, phone calls, and social media. But that’s not all, their help center is loaded with tutorials and FAQs that you can turn to for quick answers.
Their support staff are trained to provide helpful and exhaustive answers within a reasonable time frame. In comparison to other stores, Shopify offers a better (if not the best) customer support.
Shopify Frequently Asked Questions
If you are new to Shopify, there are a few things that will make you scratch your head. To ease your transition, here are a couple of frequently asked questions you need to familiarize yourself with.
What are the most commonly used Shopify apps?
Apps breathe life into an eCommerce store. Everything from product listing, buying, and selling to order fulfillment are run through apps. The most common Shopify apps are:
- Candy Rack
- Digital Downloads
- Form Builder and many more
How much do I need to start and maintain a Shopify store?
There are three Shopify plans; Basic plan at $29 a month, regular plan at $79 per month and advanced Shopify at $299 per month. This means you need around $100+ per month to successfully run and maintain your store. How much exactly you would spend depends on the apps you use.
Does Shopify take a cut of the pay?
Yes, they charge a fee of 2.9%+ $0.30 per transaction for the basic plan, 2.6%+$0.30 per transaction for the regular plan and 2.4%+$0.30 for Advanced Shopify.
How long does Shopify hold your money?
After a transaction, Shopify will likely hold your money for a period of 24-72 hours before you can see it in your bank. The duration, however, varies depending on the country and payment gateway.
Should I hire a Shopify developer or do it myself?
There are a few factors in play; first, if you have money and want this to be done fast and properly, then it would be great to use a Shopify expert. However, if you are tech-savvy, don’t have the cash to hire a developer or just want to learn how to do it on your own, then you can build it yourself. There are many tutorials online that will show you how to build a Shopify store from scratch.
What are the best payment gateways to use with Shopify?
We know you don’t want to hear this but PayPal is supported in many countries and you would lose customers if you don’t include it. The next best choice is Stripe. Shopify Payments is inarguably the finest option for those in the US, UK, Canada, and other supported countries.
How many apps can one have on a Shopify store?
There is no limit to how many apps one needs to have. However, there is no point in having two apps that do the same thing. Additionally, if several apps popup at the same time when a buyer visits your site then that is problematic.
Strive to have only a few useful apps-those that deal with customer loyalty, analytics, communication, shipping, inventory management, abandoned cart recovery, newsletter app, and customer support.
Does having many apps slow down my Shopify shop?
Pros of Shopify
Here are the pros of Shopify:
- Multiple paid and free themes
- They thoroughly scrutinize apps before launching them
- You don’t need technical skills to get started
- You get 14-day free trial to play around with
- Built-in hosting
- You can sell any product-no limitations whatsoever
- Can comfortably handle massive traffic
- Multiple language integrations
- You have access to unlimited payment gateways and processors
- Thousands of apps at your disposal
- Top-level data encryption
- Guaranteed server uptime
- Scalable to some level
Cons of Shopify
The cons of Shopify include:
- Running costs might eventually skyrocket depending on the number of features needed
- You need to have a grasp of the Liquid coding language to edit themes
- Limited abandoned cart feature
- a bit technical to integrate with Google Trusted Stores
While Shopify positions itself as friendly to newbies, it’s got advanced services and tools that cater to bigger businesses. For beginners, its pure bliss to realize that pretty much everything has been simplified.
Shopify takes care of hosting, reviews all their apps before launching and you don’t need any coding to change anything. For advanced developers, the platform leaves some room for you to refashion some tools.
We could go on and list many reasons why Shopify is the best eCommerce platform but none of that matters. What matters is the number of stores built on it. There are millions of them. If you check out various Shopify testimonials, you’ll realize that it’s working fantastic for so many people.
If you are unsure if it’ll meet your demands, then take advantage of the 14 days free trial to experiment. They won’t ask you for a credit card until the timeline expires. If you enjoyed this Shopify review, do share so others can benefit too. All the best.