Disclosure: WHSR is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.
Updated: 2022-05-25 / Article by: Jerry Low
Background: Shopify is a dedicated eCommerce platform that stands out among the online shop builders market as an industry leader with a comprehensive set of eCommerce features and others. It also comes with many advanced marketing features including gift-card system, omnichannel sales, social media integration, and blog & mobile app builder.
Shopify is one of the best fully hosted, eCommerce platforms in the market today. It’s reasonably priced, comes with solid features, supports multiple channels (sell on Facebook, Amazon, etc), and round-the-clock support. This makes Shopify a great all-in-one eCommerce solution that can help businesses to sell more – online via eCommerce and offline through integrated POS Systems. With more than half a million eCommerce stores powered by Shopify it surely has something for everyone, right? Let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer and see if it will suit your needs.
At its heart, Shopify acts as a website builder. This anchor tool that Shopify is centered around offers a graphic user interface (GUI)-driven way of building a website. No additional coding knowledge is necessary. Websites that are built using the Shopify site builder are also hosted on their web servers. To complete the roundup, Shopify has add-on applications that help eCommerce sites work. This gives them additional functionality needed, such as payment processing, inventory management, shopping cart features, handling of shipping, and more.
Try Shopify for Free (No Credit Card Needed) Launch your online store quickly with free built-in store templates and 100+ payment gateways. Try for free for 14 days, no credit card required > Check out Shopify Plans here
The Pros: Why We Like Shopify Online Store Builder?
1. Multiple Sales Channels
Shopify allows users to make use of other potential sales channels to increase sales. Here are some of the supported channels with easy integration of products :
Sell on Facebook – Sell your Shopify products on a Facebook page.
Sell on Amazon – Connect Shopify to Amazon Professional Seller.
Sell on Pinterest – Sell your products through pins directly.
Sell on Mobile Apps – Sell Shopify products on apps you develop.
Sell on Lyst – Sell your fashion products on Lyst platform.
Sell on TikTok – Create TikTok video ads and sell products easily.
Sell in person at brick-and-mortar shops – Shopify helps unify all your products and inventories with its built-in POS system.
2. Shopify “Buy Button”
What is Shopify Buy Button?
The Shopify Buy Button is a shortcut to your checkout process. With this feature, you can embed any product and add a checkout on your site. This gives shoppers direct purchase access to the merchant's product from whatever web page they see the buy button on.
The Shopify “Buy Button” works similarly to “Buy Now” from PayPal. It will link back to Shopify when visitors click on the check-out from your website. Using Shopify Buy Button, you can easily improve your customers buying experience and monetize your website with just a single click.
3. Supports 100+ Payment Processors
Accepting payments from your online store is no longer an issue when you build on Shopify platform. Through Shopify Payments and third-party payment gateways integration, Shopify allows store owners to get paid easily.
Shopify has introduced Shopify Payments to make it possible to facilitate online payments. The advantages of Shopify Payments is that you can manage all of your store transactions within the Shopify platform. It's easy to set up as the payment system is fully integrated with your store.
However, Shopify Payments is only available to stores in the following areas:
The majority of us won’t want to wait in lines (unless we have to) for more than 15 minutes when shopping. Similarly, 50% of customers or more are not likely to return to a website that loads slowly or kept them waiting at checkout.
I'm sure you don't want to lose out on 50% of your potential sales that's why having excellent site performance is important for an online store. I ran a few performance tests on a Shopify website and the results were great.
Overall you can sell most family-friendly products on Shopify. Shopify supports wide range of eCommerce business and let you to handle all sorts of products – from drop shipping to selling your own digital or physical products. Paintings, antiques, handbags, cameras, pottery and ceramics, stamps, t-shirts, wine, furniture, toys, books, car parts, baby items, office supplies, photo prints, and electronic books are some of the common products sold on Shopify stores.
However there are a handful of businesses prohibited from using the Shopify platform, including:
IP infringement, regulated or illegal products and services; such as gambling, pharmaceuticals, investment and credit services, virtual currency, and adult content and services.
To sell physical products, the first thing you need to do after setting up your store is adding products that you actually have inventory of. To do this, login to your Shopify Dashboard click on ‘Products' then select ‘Add Product'. The Add Product screen is a very powerful utility for your store.
Aside from the basics such as product name and descriptions, you can also set collections, vendor, and tags here. This helps keep your products organized.
Another way of adding products would be the dropshipping method. You'll need to visit the Shopify Market and select a dropshipping app such as Oberlo. Using that, you can browse and add products from the app interface instead.
When you add a product to your store, you can uncheck the shipping checkbox to indicate that you are selling a digital product or service instead of a physical product.
Shopify offers a free app, named Digital Downloads, that you can use to upload and sell downloadable digital products such as digital art, video, audio clips, or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). When a customer purchases the digital product, they receive a link to download the file.
6. Shopify POS
Have a brick-and-mortar shop and want to expand its presence? Take advantage of Shopify's POS (Point-of-Sale) system. You can integrate Shopify POS into your physical shop and the data will then be shared between the POS and your online store. With Shopify POS system, you can manage your sales, inventory, customer data, etc, online and offline, on a single platform.
Merchants who choose to subscribe to Shopify POS will receive a full POS system, along with its devices.
You get a receipt printer (Star Micronics), APG cash drawers, a Socket Mobile barcode scanner, and a card reader (Shopify's proprietary machine powered by Swipe).
7. Extensive Self-help Documentation
Shopify offers comprehensive self-help documentation that you can use to get started. It's useful for beginners and experts alike with helpful information such as definitions for technical terms as well as setup guides.
I was able to understand some simple definitions and settings by reading their online help center. For more guides and tips, you can head on to Shopify tutorials.
8. Useful Add-on to Widen the Store
In addition to what Shopify offers as default features, you can also visit the Shopify app market to get other useful add-ons (either free or paid) to beef up your store.
The wide range of apps that Shopify has to offer makes them one of the more versatile eCommerce platform in the market.
You can extend your store with over 1,200 Shopify adds-on. All of them are available from the Shopify app store that helps you to better manage different aspects of your online store such as inventory, customers, shipping, marketing and more.
9. Shopify Abandoned Cart Recovery
Shopify abandoned cart recovery is designed to help you follow up with visitors who didn't complete the checkout process.
This feature used to be only available on the higher Shopify plans but they've recently decided to make it available on all plans – absolutely a great benefit to users.
With the contact information provided by customers, the incomplete buying process will be stored as an abandoned checkout.
By default, Shopify will send abandoned cart saver emails to customers in 2 particular time intervals but, you can customize these settings too.
The Cons: Things We Dislike About Shopify
1. Customize theme using own PHP language
Shopify platform uses their self-developed PHP language called “Liquid”.
All themes are coded in this format. It makes theme customization harder unless you know how to code in Liquid or are willing to hire a developer who knows how to code Shopify themes.
Several Shopify reviews from developers mention that Liquid is an easy-to-learn language but personally I don't feel comfortable messing around with the code.
Unless you want to edit theme core files, then you're safe off sticking with their prebuilt ones.
Alternatively, you can opt for a premium theme with support instead to avoid any coding problems.
Shopify Basic plan (more about Shopify plans & pricing) only comes with the barest of features that you'll need to run an online store. Advanced features like reports, fraud analysis, gift cards and real-time shipping rate only available on higher-tier plans.
Also – Although you can get a lot of useful adds-on from the Shopify app market, many of them are not free. For example, the Exit Offers app costs $9.99/mo and QuickBooks Connector costs $25/mo. You might need to pay an extra $15/mo if you need the Retarget App. While these apps offer great features, using all of them will definitely increase your overall costs.
Of course – if a particular paid app can help you save time or reduce the amount of hassle in your workflow, it might be worthwhile as an investment. So pick your apps carefully and choose the ones that are able to help you in your everyday business.
3. No Email Hosting
Shopify doesn't provide you with email hosting even though web hosting is included in all Shopify plans. This means you can’t host a domain-based email address like [email protected]
What you can do is to set up email forwarding. This makes it so that whenever someone reaches out to [email protected], the email will automatically be forwarded to your regular email account like Gmail or Yahoo. The same goes for replying to emails.
To use the email forwarding function, you need to set up a 3rd party email hosting connection before you can reply from your own email account.
Shopify Plans & Pricing
Since Shopify is intended as a rapid eCommerce site builder the costs involved are also more than your average web hosting or site builder-based platforms. For most people, their mainstream plans are what you want to be looking towards and there are three flavors of this:
Basic Shopify – $29 per month (transaction fee – 2% and credit card fee – 2.9% + $0.30)
Shopify – $79 per month (transaction fee – 1% and credit card fee – 2.6% + $0.30)
Advanced Shopify – $299 per month (transaction fee – 0.5% and credit card fee – 2.4% + $0.30)
Shopify Lite – $ 9 per month (sell on social media or website)
The lowest tier in their standard plans clocks in at $29 – which isn’t cheap for hosting or a website builder. However, Shopify plans all come with eCommerce features, so along with the basic builder you get a whole range of associated tools
Unlimited number of products
Unlimited file storage
Ability to sell digital products
Manual order creation
Website and blog section
Shipping label discounts
Retail packaging if needed (with additional charges)
Sell through social media channels (Facebook, Pinterest, etc)
Shopify Lite vs Basic: Which is Right for You?
There are significant differences in both price and features if you compare Shopify Lite vs Basic. Both were introduced for specific user groups to help those with varying needs solve pain points more accurately.
Shopify Basic rings the till at $29 and marks the starting price for Shopify's regular plans. This price may be a little steep for some folks. In addition, it assumes that you need a full-blown eCommerce website with all the bells and whistles.
Those bells and whistles are part of the reason why regular Shopify plans cost much more than Lite. Remember that’s you’re getting a complete website builder with eCommerce support and extensive integration compatibility with multiple other channels.
However, this isn’t always the case, which is where Shopify Lite steps into place. If you aren’t interested in developing your whole online business around Shopify, the Lite plan meets specific needs at a fraction of the price.
For only $9/mo, you can integrate the Shopify “Buy” button and access its POS Lite features. That includes financial reports, product and order information, inventory management, and more. Of course, this assumes you have an existing website or will be building one.
The plans aren’t in conflict with one another, so it shouldn’t be a case of which is better. You’ll need to know your usage model to gauge if Shopify Lite or Basic is better for your situation.
Shopify Standard Features
Although Shopify is an eCommerce store designer it also considers that some developers will still be using it to build one on behalf of clients and that’s a neat thing to remember. Signing up requires a little more detail than I’m used to but I guess it’s helpful for an online store to gather a lot of this information upfront.
There are a few free themes available, but similarly to BigCommerce, there are a whole lot of premium (expensive) themes available and you can even build your own and upload it. However, the focus remains very much on selling and that’s where I think Shopify has done exceptionally well. Shopify has good integration with third-parties such as various online tool providers
If you’re a seller, you’ll know that offering your customers multiple payment options is a good thing. Shopify has many payment options available such as credit cards (through multiple gateways) PayPal and even BitCoin! There are also the more traditional options like bank transfers or Cash on Delivery if you’re into that. Uniquely, there are Shopify Payments that can be fully integrated with your store. That way everything runs through Shopify with no need for gateways or anything else.
You’re also future-proofed in the sense that Shopify has included a built-in mobile eCommerce shopping cart. This way your prospective customers can shop and pay from your store right from their mobile devices.
Shopify offers a ton of built-in templates in their themes directory – some are free; while some, usually the more complex ones, cost $200 – $400 to use.
Alternatively, you can also build your own themes with its own functionalities. Shopify uses Liquid, an open-source template language in Ruby, to create their themes. An extensive list of cheat sheet is provided for those who wish to build Shopify themes from scratch.
Here are some examples of Shopify themes
Who Should Use Shopify?
Shopify is used by all types of people – from local mom-and-pop shops to tech startups and global multi-million dollar businesses. Some of the biggest brands on Shopify include Budweiser, Penguin Books, and Tesla Motors.
Death Wish Coffee is among one of the thousands of unique small businesses that make up the Shopify ecosystem. I’ve found that most Shopify users are small to medium businesses that offer niche products and that’s a very good thing since it reflects well on the level of support and commitment that Shopify offers to them.
Final Thoughts on Shopify
It doesn't matter if you have a brick-and-mortar store or are just starting out a brand new eCommerce store, Shopify could be the ideal choice for you. While it is true that there may be challenges along the way, creating an online store with Shopify is definitely worth your investment (time and money).
Do I Recommend Shopify?
Yes. Especially if you are looking to grow your online presence and grab a slice of the lucrative online eCommerce market.
For business owners, Shopify offers flexibility and the ability to grow your business. From creating your product page to delivery or download, Shopify has everything you could ever need.
With Shopify, you have every chance to increase your sales by integrating with their latest technology.
Alternatives to Shopify
Shopify is an excellent eCommerce solution, but it isn’t by any means perfect. Despite a fantastic outlook, factors including price, features, or even suitability have some users shopping for a Shopify alternative.
It's okay to have a risk-free mindset. No one is ready to invest in something before trying it. That's why Shopify offers a 14-day trial. It's completely free to use and you don't even have to fill in your credit card details.
Frequently Asked Questions on Shopify
Is a Shopify Store worth it?
Shopify stores are worth it in many cases, depending on your skills and requirements. It’s beneficial for those who prefer to focus on business instead of struggling with technical details like website building and handling payments.
Can Shopify be trusted?
Shopify is safe and legit. The company, Shopify Inc is a publicly traded company listed on NYSE.
What does Shopify do?
Shopify is a complete commerce platform that lets you start, grow, and manage a business. At its heart, Shopify acts as a website builder. This anchor tool that Shopify is centered around offers a graphic user interface (GUI)-driven way of building a website. No additional coding knowledge is necessary.
Is Myshopify.com a legitimate website?
Myshopify.com is a legitimate website owned by Shopify. The domain allows new Shopify customers quick access to their Shopify store via the custom URL. Once you’ve purchased a custom domain, you can then transfer your store.
Is Shopify good for beginners?
Yes, Shopify is good for beginners. The graphic design interface allows beginners to quickly build and deploy websites and eCommerce stores without coding or other web technologies. It also includes everything necessary for the purpose, providing an extremely streamlined experience.
How much does Shopify take per sale?
Shopify fees will differ depending on a few conditions. For example, the Shopify plan you’re on, the payments method used for transactions, and even geographic location. Please refer to screenshots below and our review for more details.
Is Shopify owned by Facebook?
No Shopify is a publicly traded company and is not owned by Facebook. However Shopify has partnered with Facebook since 2015 to provide merchants the multi-channel commerce solution.
Why I should not use Shopify?
Despite a fantastic outlook, factors including price, features, or even suitability have some users shopping for a Shopify alternative. Online store builders Big Commerce and WooCommerce are two key contenders to Shopify.
Can I use my domain name in Shopify?
Yes you can use your own domain name that matches your brand for your Shopify online store. You can buy a domain name from Shopify or from any third-party domain provider. To assign a domain name to your Shopify store, go to Domains page in your Shopify admin dashboard.
Do I need a business license to sell on Shopify?
No there is no requirement of having a local business license to setup an online store or sell on Shopify. The platform is user-friendly and extremely easy to start with, which is why it's such a popular choice for small businesses looking to start up an online store.
About Jerry Low
Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.