- Comprehensive toolset
- Clean, easy-to-use interface
- 1,000+ apps to choose from
- Multichannel integration
- More than 100 supported payment gateways
- Built-in image editing tools
- Transaction fee if not using Shopify's own payment gateway
- Formatting not retained when selecting different theme
Chosen by more than a million users, Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms and powers 600,000 businesses worldwide. You’re probably left pondering precisely how one company can gain so much traction, what exactly is it that has made it such a well-known and common name in the industry? Likely it’s to do with its well-designed, easy-to-use, and versatile platform that comes packed with a long list of essential features that merchants looking to grab their slice of the online retail business can make the most of. But since this impressive package is available for as low as $9 per month, there’s aren’t many reasons to overlook Shopify, least of all because of the 14 day free trial period where it’s possible to see for yourself what is on offer.
What makes Shopify unique is its approach to its customers: store owners are greeted by a clean, easy-to-use interface that doesn't overwhelm them with too many controls. This comes with a later step as you open the Pandora's box of the software when navigating through the menus located on the left.
The dashboard is where all the information related to your store is displayed, but it’s only there if you want it. All of your sales data can be accessed from the dashboard, but Shopify doesn't overburden the page with lots of information; it gives you the control instead, for example how the total sales data can be revealed by clicking on the relevant link. These flexible details keep the page light and the eyes fresh.
Shopify offers 10 free and 59 paid themes with prices ranging from $140 to $180. The level of customization depends on the user's coding knowledge as with any other ecommerce platform, but non-coders will still love the ease of personalization enabled by the drag-and-drop method. Of course, a more personal touch can be added to the selected theme by either editing the code yourself or letting a Shopify expert do it for you. And you'll need help from a coding expert to add fields to the customer registration form.
This simplicity of use applies to every segment of this ecommerce platform. Novice users will become accustomed to every tool in a very short time and won’t have issues setting up a store thanks to the nicely guided process and the super easy task of adding products. It doesn't overcomplicate SEO, either, but does provide access to basic tools such as a custom URL and metadata editor, complemented by other useful tools such as a blog feature. Since photos are a key selling point of any product, the platform also has built-in image editing tools – a useful and unusual addition.
Adding pages or navigation links to the online store takes very little thought or effort, so even novice users will be able to edit their selected theme quickly with assistance from tutorials. Unfortunately, though, everything needs to be readjusted when another theme is installed, because the interface doesn't preserve the formatting used in the previous one.
A Shopify account will give you access to multiple sales channels to sell your products through, including third-party marketplaces, mobile apps, through social networks, and in person. And since your potential customers will be using both Google searches and marketplaces such as Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and the like, Shopify's best feature – its omni-channel tools – makes integration with these marketplaces possible with everything easily controlled from the dashboard. The system makes it’s a breeze to track sales data, too.
And when the customer hits the buy button, you don't have to be concerned about the payment method: Shopify supports more than 100 payment gateways, including PayPal, mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and alternative payment methods such as Bitcoin and offline cash collection. It's completely your choice which to go with, although the best deal is with the platform's own payment gateway, Shopify Payments.
There is a caveat, though. By choosing a supported payment gateway such as Authorize.Net, Shopify will charge a transaction fee in addition to the regular credit or debit card transaction fees that would be required in a physical store. Shopify Payment, on the other hand, will waive that fee and changes only the disclosed credit card rate, which reduces with the higher-priced plans.
It's a common practice in this industry that if a feature isn't available as part of the core package, then there are third-party apps for that. Compared to its competitors, Shopify stands out with an app store counting more than 1,000 apps, all designed to add new functionality, drive sales, and optimize how you run your online or offline business. Some are free, whereas others require a subscription.
For example, if you are selling digital products, the platform's own Digital Downloads app is required; otherwise, customers won't be able to download the content. The same app enables users to attach files to a product and automatically send updates in the form of a download link.
For products that require shipping, Shopify already has FedEx and UPS integrated into its platform and users need to only enter their account credentials so that the store will display shipping rates in real-time based on the product info.
Contrary to the industry practice of capping a plan at a defined annual sales threshold, Shopify doesn't have such limits. Instead, it provides various incentives to persuade its customers to upgrade. For example, the entry-level subscription of $9 per month for Shopify Lite gives access to all the basic tools that a user might need to set up a store and additionally sell through Facebook, but the complete multichannel integration requires the higher-priced Shopify Basic plan, which costs $29 per month.
This, however, only includes two staff accounts and more are a necessity for a growing business, so users with higher sales will likely be tempted to upgrade to the plan called simply “Shopify”, which will also provide a discount of up to 72% on shipping rates when using USPS, UPS, or DHL; lower credit card rates; and an extra fee of only 1% for using payment providers other than Shopify Payments.
The biggest discounts are included in the Advanced Shopify plan, but this means users will shell out $299 per month. Before committing to a subscription, users have 14 days to test the service without entering credit card details.
You never know what time of day a new challenge or issue will crop up. For everything related to Shopify's ecommerce platform users have access to a great guide right from the dashboard, but to get accustomed to all the controls they will need to go through the “getting started” guides. However, if neither the help documentation nor the free video training in Shopify Academy are of help, then there is always the customer service that can be contacted via email, live chat, phone call, or Twitter – and are all at your service 24/7.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to start your own online business or want a service suitable for high-traffic stores run by enterprises, the versatile, easy-to-use ecommerce platform of Shopify is able to cater to any need. The platform comes with a rock-solid backend, impressive scalability, and powerful tools to build your brand. And it does this by providing all the help you need, be it a how-to guide, marketing advice, or just a customer support agent to solve a technical issue. Not only that but the feature list gets longer as you move up the pricing tiers. The clean design choices and the elegance of immediate access to information whenever you need it are the ingredients of a superb backend service that gives users looking to grab their share across all virtual marketplaces exactly what they need.