What is Shopify and how does it work?
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that allows you to market and sell your products worldwide. More importantly, it helps make daily eCommerce operations a lot easier to handle.
There are a lot of things you need to take care of when managing an eCommerce website. For example setting up a template, adding products, adding prices, promotions, and etc. Shopify makes all of these process easy and intuitive for its users, regardless of how experienced (or inexperienced) you are.
In addition to that, Shopify is great for handling complex tasks such as inventory management or managing an eCommerce store with active sales and customers.
FTC Disclosure: BuildThis receives referral fees from tools listed on this website. But, the opinions are based on our experience and not how much they pay. We focus on helping small businesses and individuals to build websites as a business. Please support our work and learn more in our earning disclosure.
- Selling products on multiple channels
- Make money with Shopify “Buy Button”
- Support over 100 payment processors worldwide
- Excellent site performance
- Sell both digital and physical products
- Integrate your store with Shopify POS
- Extensive self-help documentation
- Useful add-on to widen the store
- Boost sales with Abandoned Checkout Recovery
Shopify Reviews: The Pros and Cons
Shopify is one of the best fully hosted, web-based eCommerce platforms in the market. It’s reasonably priced, comes with solid features and round-the-clock support. This makes Shopify a great all-in-one eCommerce solution that can help you to sell more – online and offline.
Here’s a quick glance at Shopify Pros and Cons:
1- Selling products on multiple channels
Shopify encourages you to get on other potential sales channels to increase your sales. Here are some of the supported channels with easy integrations of products :
- Sell on Facebook – Sell your Shopify products on a Facebook page.
- Sell on Amazon – Connect Shopify to your Amazon Professional Seller.
- Sell on Pinterest – Sell your products through pins directly.
- Sell on Mobile Apps – Sell Shopify products on apps you developed.
2- Make more money with Shopify “Buy Button”
With this feature, you can embed any product and add a checkout on your site. It’s a great tool to create a custom shopping experience for your visitors.
Using the “Buy Button”, you can easily monetize your website or blog with just a single click.
Shopify “Buy Button” works similar to “Buy Now” from PayPal. It will link back to Shopify when visitors click on the check-out from your website.
3- Support over 100 payment processors worldwide
Shopify comes with inbuilt payment services like PayPal, Amazon Pay or Apple Pay. Your store will also be able to accept direct payment via credit card using Shopify Payment, which makes the shopping process smoother for your customers.
Shopify integrates with over 100 different payment processors in different currencies. Making your customer payment process easier.
4- Excellent site performance
The majority of us won’t wait in line (unless we have to) for more than 15 minutes when shopping. 50% 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 50% of your potential sales, that’s why having an excellent site performance is important for an online store. I ran a few performance tests on the Shopify website and the results were great.
I created a Shopify store with using their free plan for testing purpose. My test store scored A+ in Bitcatcha server test result.
I did another test with the Shopify live store. The TTFB (Time-to-first-byte) is less than 300ms. That basically means that the store loads up blazingly fast!
Amazon calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost them $1.6 billion in sales each year. If it’s that severe for Amazon, imagine how you could lose out if you don’t keep your website fast.
5- Sell both digital and physical products
Shopify allows you to handle both digital and physical products at the same time. They offer a free app that you can use to specify the types for your products.
You can categorize your products as digital and handle those particular deliveries through email or a downloadable online storage.
You can also set the type of shipping and fulfillment for each product if you’re dealing with physical goods. In addition to that, you can even start a Shopify drop shipping business.
6- Integrate your store with 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, 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 a comprehensive self-help documentation that you can use to get started. It’s useful for beginners and experts alike for useful 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 helpful guides and tips, you can head to the Shopify tutorials.
8- Useful add-on to widen the store
In addition to the Shopify navie app, 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, compared to its rivals.
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- Boost sales with 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. They’ve recently decided to make it available to all plans – starting from the basic plan. This is absolutely a great benefit to its 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 email to customers in 2 particular time intervals. But, you can customize your own settings too.
1- Customize theme using own PHP language
Shopify platform uses their own-developed PHP language called “Liquid”.
All themes are coded in this format. It makes the theme customization harder unless you know how to code in Liquid or 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’s core files, then you’re safe sticking with their prebuilt themes.
Alternatively, you can opt for a premium theme with support instead to avoid any coding problems.
2- Advanced features at a higher price
Shopify Basic plan only comes with the necessary and basic features that you’ll need to run an online store.
Advanced features like
abandoned cart recovery, reports, fraud analysis, gift cards and real-time shipping rate only available at the higher plan.
Recently, Shopify has decided to include Abandoned Cart Recovery in their Basic plan.
3- Apps come with pricing
Although you can get a lot of useful adds-on from the Shopify app market, many of them are not free.
For example, Exit Offers app costs you $9.99/mo and Intuit QuickBooks costs you $29.99/mo. You might need to pay extra an $15/mo if you need RetargetApp. While all them are great features, using all of them will definitely increase your overall costs.
However, if a particular paid app can help you save time or reduce the amount of hassle in your workflow, it might be worth it to invest. Pick your apps carefully and choose the ones that are able to help you in everyday business.
4- No email hosting
Shopify doesn’t provide you with any email hosting even though the hosting is included in all Shopify plans.
Which means you can’t host a domain based email address like firstname.lastname@example.org.
What you can do is to set up email forwarding. This makes it that whenever someone reaches out to email@example.com, the email will automatically be forwarded to your regular email account like Gmail or Yahoo. The same goes for replying 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.
Compare Shopify pricing and plans
Shopify plans in a glance – cost and fee:
- Basic Shopify – $29 /mo (transaction fee – 2% and credit card fee – 2.9% + $0.30)
- Shopify – $79 /mo (transaction fee – 1% and credit card fee – 2.6% + $0.30)
- Advance Shopify – $299 /mo (transaction fee – 0.5% and credit card fee – 2.4% + $0.30)
- Shopify Lite – $ 9/mo (sell on social media or website)
Let’s see what each plan offers in details.
|Shopify Plans/Prices||Basic Shopify||Shopify||Advance Shopify|
|Monthly Price||$29 /mo||$79 /mo||$299 /mo|
|Credit card fee||2.9% + $0.30||2.6% + $0.30||2.4% + $0.30|
|Transaction fee / 3rd party gateway||2%||1%||0.5%|
|Abandoned cart recovery||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free SSL certificate||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Advance report builder||–||–||Yes|
|Real-time shipping rate||–||–||Yes|
All Shopify plans offer:
- Unlimited number of products
- Unlimted file storage
- Ability to sell digital products
- Manual order creation
- Website and blog section
- Shipping label discounts
- Retail package if needed (with additional charges)
- Sell through social media channels (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc)
Shopify pricing starts from $29/mo. You can save 10% and 20% on the fee if you choose to subscribe to their 1-year or 2-years plans.
If selling on social media platforms is your main focus, you can kick start with Shopify Lite plan. It starts at $9 /mo and you lets you start selling on social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest.
If you want to learn more about Shopify pricing and plans, here’s a side-by-side pricing and plan comparison.
Shopify Themes – Free and Premium
Shopify has a wide range of free and premium themes at their Theme Store. Most of them are mobile-friendly. For me, the themes look professional and can be use to create great looking stores. Plus, they are sorted into different categories, which lets you find a matching theme for your industry easily.
The premium themes in their repository are somewhat pricey. However, they are highly customizable. Their unique set of customzation options means you can set a wide variety of parameters for your theme.
On the other hand, Shopify has a powerful website editor, which you can take a look below.
If you are confident, you can take a free theme and use the editor (it’s surprisingly intuitive!) to customize it as you wish.
One interesting fact about the Shopify Theme Store is that you can preview your live store on any premium theme before buying.
You can customize the theme while previewing it. You also have the advantage of matching the new theme with your store scheme, which saves you the hassle of needing to readjust the theme before you applying it.
Shopify Apps – To Extend Your Store
The functionalities of Shopify can be extended with the support of over 1,200 apps from the Shopify App Store. Many of the Shopify apps charge a monthly fee but you could find free items to get your work done.
The extended Shopify apps you can get includes accounting, inventory management, marketing, shipping, and fulfillment. With some help from the Shopify app, you could ostensibly automate a huge portion of your business process.
There are many ways that Shopify sales app can add value to a store. Here are a few examples of useful Shopify sales apps:
- Recent Sales Notification Popup – to provide customer buying confidence.
- Product Reviews – to encourage sales of reviewed products
- Discounted Upsells – to generate more sales through upsells and cross-sells at a discounted price.
With the Shopify shipping app, you can automate the fulfillment process. You also can take control and keep track of all of your deliveries. Here are some popular shipping apps:
- Parcelify – Track your deliveries, both local and international
- Store Pickup + Delivery – Offer in-store pickup and standard shipping through a unified checkout
- Aftership – Track all your shipments in one place
If you prefer native apps from Shopify, their team has developed around 15-20 apps that you can use. They are all optional, free and can be used to add an extra layer of functionality to the store. (source)
Shopify Payments and Transaction Fees
Shopify has introduced Shopify Payments. It’s the simplest way to accept payments online.
If you are using 3rd party payment gateway, you will be charged a transaction fee of 0.5% – 2%, depending on the plan you subscribed.
Your transaction fees can be waived to – 0%, if you choose Shopify Payments to process all of your sales.
The advantages of Shopify Payments is that you can manage all of your store transactions within the Shopify platform. And, it’s easy to setup as the payment system is fully integrated with your store.
However, Shopify Payments is only available to stores in the following area:
- United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Shopify SEO, Security, and Analytics
Built-in SEO features
The basics and essentials of SEO are covered in the core area of Shopify. However, you are required to gather as much knowledge as you can about SEO to see some good results.
Here are the built-in features they offer. Please note that more features can be added from the app store if you need it.
- Editable page title, meta description, and URL
- Automatic canonical URL tag to prevent the duplicate content issue
- Automatic but controllable sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
- Editable image file names and alternative tags
Shopify features Certified Level 1 PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant shopping cart and hosting service that is committed to providing faster and secured shopping experience.
The payment processing and data protection are Shopify’s biggest concern and they always try to use the latest web security technology to keep their users safe.
There is a drawback, however, whcih can be seen in the site speed. eCommerce websites are usually heavy and data-hungry. Because of that, your online store might not consistently have good speed unless you take the steps to improve it.
Wolfram Muller of PressKitHero.com was able to cut down his Shopify website’s load time by half by doing a lot of tweaks and improvements.
Shopify store analytics
Shopify has a built-in Store Analytics that can benchmark your online store performance or you can integrate it with Google Analytics if you want.
Shopify can provide the following reports depending on the level of the account:
- Financial Report
- Overview Dashboard
- Sales Report
- Customers Report
- Acquisition Report
- Behavior Report
Doesn’t matter if you have a brick and mortar store or just starting out a brand new eCommerce store, Shopify should be your top choice overall. Besides some of the challenges you may encounter that I’ve stated above, creating your 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.
As a business owner, Shopify offers the flexibility and the ability to grow your online business. From creating your product page to delivery or download, Shopify has everything that you’ll ever need.
Here are the reasons why we like Shopify:
- Shopify Basic plan has everything you need to start an online store – $29 /mo only
- Expand your sales channels to social media platforms and accept payments from 100 different gateway in different countries
- Excellent website speed and server performance
- All in one eCommerce solutions to track your business – online and offline
- A wide range of Shopify apps to extend functionality to your online store as your business grows
With Shopify, you have every chance to increase your sales by integrating with their latest technology
How to begin
It’s okay to have a risk-free mindset. No one is ready to invest in a platform 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.
You can follow this link to setup your online store immediately with Shopify.
Shopify Reviews: Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Shopify transaction fees?
Shopify transaction as below:
- Basic Shopify — Using Shopify payments – none – 2% for external payment gateways
- Shopify — Using Shopify payments – none – 1% for external payment gateways
- Advanced Shopify — Using Shopify payments- none – .05% for external payment gateways
- For usage of all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club debit and credit cards), you’ll need to set it up by going to the accept credit card section and selecting Shopify payments.
How can I sell on Facebook?
With Shopify, you can now sell on Facebook.
Create a “Shop” tab on the Facebook page and connect it with Shopify to fetch and show products. Customers can check out directly on Facebook if you’re eligible to use Facebook Checkouts.
Find out more on Shopify Facebook shop.
How can I sell on Amazon?
With Shopify, you can now sell on Amazon.
Connect Shopify to your Amazon Professional Seller Account. You can create, manage and process listing of products from the Shopify Dashboard.
Can I sell digital products like eBooks or videos?
With Shopify, you can sell both digital and physical products.
What types of customer support do I get?
Shopify offers 24/7 support by chat, email, and phone.
The customer service number for Shopify is 1-888-746-7439.
There is also extensive self-help documentation provided by Shopify.
Does Shopify offer any backup solutions?
Yes. However, you need to do it manually.
You will need to follow a number of steps to export out a series of CSV files from your original store.
Alternatively, you can look for automated solutions from the Shopify apps store such as Rewind.
We spent great efforts to maintain accurate information on all offers presented.
However, this information is provided without warranty. Users should check the service provider’s official website for current terms and details. BuildThis.io receives compensation from the tools listed on the site.
Looking for an alternative? Here are others popular website builders.