Shopify Review – Is This the Platform to Use?

Shopify is perhaps one of the world’s best known ecommerce applications that enable you to build an online store. It gives you a range of customizable templates so that you can create something that fits with your brand image, and you can use it to sell both digital and physical goods. The site has been designed for those who are not expert web builders or designers, as Shopify seems to understand that store owners are experts in their niche, rather than in the web design niche. Hence, it is an incredibly user friendly platform, and is one that does allow you to manipulate the CSS and HTML code if you know how to do that, so that you can further customize your store.

Shopify is hosted, which means you don’t have to install any software on servers, nor do you have to pay separately for hosting services. Rather, everything happens ‘out of the b ox’, as Shopify calls it, which means that everything you need to build your store and run it is available in one single space. According to Shopify, some 200,000 stores are now hosted through them.

What I Liked about Shopify

What I Didn’t Like about Shopify

Shopify Features

Shopify has different features in its different plans. However, from the Basic Plan ($29) and up, you will always get:

Professional and unlimited plans give you a few more features, including:

Lastly, if you sign up for unlimited, you also get:

Shopify Templates

Shopify comes with 12 free ‘themes’ or templates as standard. Each of these are available with either two or three variations, which means that there are actually 36 different options to choose from. All of them are really good and they are fully responsive. Hence, your site will always be visible, even across mobile devices.

Shopify also offers a number of paid for templates. You have around 100 to choose from and more are added every once in a while. The cost is between $100 and $180, which is cheaper than other sites. These paid for templates are also fully responsive.

Shopify App Market

Shopify has excellent core functionality, but they also have a really good app store. Here, you can get both free and paid for apps, enabling you to really turn your store into something interactive and cool. Some of the apps you can get include:

Shopify aims to be ‘out of the box’, but that doesn’t mean they offer you everything you could possibly need. But because they are committed to at least offering you the opportunity to get everything you need, they enable you to access a wealth of third party apps, free and paid for, on their App Store. Some of the most popular ones are Aweber, Zendesk, Freshbooks, and Xero.

Shopify eCommerce

Shopify is made for ecommerce but the best thing about it is the POS (point of sale) kit. This enables you to sell both through a physical location and online, although only through an iPad. Essentially, the kit comes with a barcode scanner, a card reader, a receipt printer, and a cash drawer. You can also purchase these elements on their own, but the package is more affordable. Card readers are always useful as well.

You can use Shopify’s POS tools in a range of ways. For instance, you could set up a market stall or other type of pop up store at an event, for instance, and make sure your inventory and stock count is synced. You could also have a permanent store as well as an online store, and the POS kit will make sure your inventory and other details are kept up to date.

However, if you want to use the POS kit with different staff members, you have to pay for it. Shopify Retail, as it’s called, costs $40 per month on top of your plan.

Shopify Pricing

A number of different options exist in terms of your plans. They are:

Shopify, currently, is one of the cheapest selling platforms out there, or at least their Lite package is. At just $9 per month, you are able to sell as many goods as you would like. However, you cannot create a really good, fully functional site with this plan. Rather, what you can do is sell through a personal Facebook page, use Shopify in a physical location, and use the Shopify Buy Button, which means you can sell through other pages.

The Buy Button is very popular and resembles the ‘Buy Now’ one you would see on eBay, for instance. On eBay, it links to PayPal directly and you can then save it. On Shopify, it links back to Shopify itself. This means that, if you already have a site, such as a blog or social media account, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Rather, you can instantly and easily link people to your Shopify site.

Once you go higher than the Lite plan, you really get to see Shopify in action. What you get from the Basic onwards is an online store that is fully functional. You will get unlimited bandwidth as well as site store. A hidden gem is the ‘Starter’ pack at $14, for which you are able to sell no more than 25 articles. Unfortunately, there are no details about what would happen if you exceed that.

Some of the things that you may need to look into a bit more include:

You can also look into the enterprise grade ‘Shopify Plus’. This is perfect for big businesses and corporate users, larger than smaller enterprises. These can choose things, such as fulfillment, APIs, and security.

Then, there is the fact that Shopify offers payment plans. Although their prices are listed monthly, you can also pay for a full year and get a 10% discount, or you can pay for two years and get a 20% discount. However, it is not recommended that you sign up for those unless you’re 100% sure that you will stay with Shopify, since you won’t get your money back.

Pricing wise, Shopify is pretty equal to other similar site builders. The exception is the Lite plan, which is much cheaper than any other type of plan. While it doesn’t offer much in terms of functionality, it is actually very popular because of the intriguing features that it does have.

Shopify Support

Shopify offers a really good customer support solution. They can be reached around the clock, 24/7, 365 days per year, via telephone, chat, or email. This is something that does set them apart from the competition. Some, for instance, don’t offer telephone support, and others don’t offer round the clock support. That being said, Shopify is not unique in offering good solutions, with BigCommerce offering a similar level of support.

Additionally, Shopify offers a really good forum. This is the place to go for more technical questions, such as wanting to know how to code certain parts of your website. That is because the Shopify staff are highly trained on Shopify but not on the development aspects. Forum members, by contrast, are real users who are able to provide you with much better advice overall.

The Final Verdict

It is quite easy to see why Shopify is such a well-known solution out there. If you want to have a hosted, all-in-one solution for your online store, then Shopify is probably the best one out there, particularly if you have both a physical and an online store. It is very user friendly, reasonably affordable, and comes with strong templates.

However, there are some significant disadvantages to Shopify as well, including transaction fees associated with third party payment gateways. Additionally, the abandoned cart saver is nothing but basic. Luckily, you can get a two week free trial with Shopify right now, so you can try it for yourself and see whether or not it is right for you.

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