Introduction to Shopify
Shopify is one of the leading cloud-based e-commerce software platforms that is designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Among the many online store builders that are available, Shopify ranks as one of the best that you can find.
But Are They Really That Good?
The features and versatility of Shopify are what makes it a popular choice for people wanting to start an online shop. With this tool, you can create an online store, pick a design theme, customize the layout, upload products, manage inventory, process checkout transactions, adjust shipping taxes and generate sales reports.
Try Shopify for free for 14 days, no credit card is required. Shopify’s cheapest e-commerce software plan is 29.99 per month.
This Shopify review (2018 update) is based on what real people say about Shopify on Twitter, and this will help you decide if you should buy e-commerce software from Shopify, or not.
Shopify has been in business since 2004. The original developers designed this software for their snowboarding business, which needed a better online shopping cart than what was available on the market at the time. Their mission is to make commerce better for everyone.
Fast forward one decade later, Shopify now has over 243,000 active stores with 14 billion dollars worth of sales.
Shopify has a team of over 500, working in 4 offices across Canada. The software is hosted on Shopify’s secure data center in Ontario, Canada.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce software designed to help retailers manage an online store. With this tool, you can create an online store, pick a design theme, customize the layout, upload products, manage inventory, process checkout transactions, adjust shipping taxes, and generate sales reports.
A Constantly Evolving E-Commerce Platform
Shopify is constantly improving its software platform. New features in 2018 are too numerous to list here, but include:
- The ability to offer discounts to specific customers
- Improved affiliate marketing tracking
- Improved sales reporting interface
Among the many online shopping cart programs that are available, Shopify ranks as one of the best that you can find. However, that’s not to say that it has no downsides. If you’re thinking about using Shopify to launch an online store, then do proper research to know about the good and bad before making a final decision.
More specifically, here is what you can expect when working with the Shopify platform.
Review of Shopify’s Top Features
Will Shopify be able to help you market and scale your business? Will it evolve to keep pace with your needs?
Let’s look at its stand out features.
Add-ons and Integrations
Shopify offers several third-party integration options that make it easy to add more functionality to your online store.
Track Conversions and Set Sales Goals with Google Analytics
For starters, it works well with Google Analytics.
Therefore, you can monitor statistics such as:
- Traffic conversion rates
- Traffic sources
- Source versatility
- Audience reports
- Behavior reports
- User flow
- Data freshness (premium feature)
- Funnel analysis
- Filtering and manipulation
Analytics reports can be exported for further analysis or sent via mail to your marketing team or bookkeeper.
Social Media Integration
Shopify provides social media integration on sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Customers can browse products without leaving Facebook and you have the choice of adding “Buy Now” Buttons on sites like Pinterest. Alternatively, simply use one of the numerous third-party social media integration tools that work with Shopify.
Streamlining Your Promotions: Automated Posting to Social Media
Some of these add-ons automate the process of disseminating. So, when you add a new product, launch a promotion campaign, post a new blog article, or share any other bit of news, the message is distributed with just a few mouse clicks across all the social media networks you have established.
What’s more, Shopify integrates with apps such as eCommHub, Inventory Source, and Ordoro, making it easy to set up a drop-shipping business.
Shopping Cart, Checkout, and Payments
Shopify offers all users a free SSL certificate, which is indispensable when it comes to securing your customers’ information.
Support for over 100 Payment Gateways, 50 Languages
The Shopify platform, in conjunction with Shopify Payments, allows you to accept the most major credit cards the moment you launch. However, if you want to accept other forms of payment or integrate with other third-party vendors, Shopify supports over 100 different payment gateways.
If you cater to an international clientele, you can translate your entire checkout process to one of over 50 languages.
Details on Payments Processing
From PayPal to IDEAL to Bitcoin, Shopify offers versatile payment options to allow you to operate a business that caters to customers worldwide. In total, the checkout process integrates with 70 leading payment gateways.
The checkout process is very secure as well. You can accept payments via PayPal, credit card, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. All card transaction information remains protected since Shopify encrypts checkout pages with a 256-bit SSL certificate, which is the same level of security that banks use.
Handling Variable Shipping Rates and Taxes
Sometimes running an online business requires merchants to charge customers for VAT and shipping. Fortunately, Shopify handles state and country taxes automatically based on the customer’s location.
Online store owners can easily adjust shipping rates and vary charges by weight, location, and other specified parameters.
DIY Website and Store Building Tools
To get you started on the path to building your digital storefront, Shopify offers over 100 professionally-designed themes, all of which are mobile-ready.
Other features of Shopify’s website and store builder include a full blogging platform that you can use for more than just blog posts (think lookbooks, product discussions, and so on).
Essentially, Shopify is a complete content management system, but with built-in e-commerce functionality.
Professional Designs and Templates
Like most shopping cart programs, Shopify providers online storeowners plenty of design templates to customize their websites.
There are more than 100 professional themes from which to choose. You’ll still have full access to HTML and CSS coding for your store, though, which makes it easy to tweak the design and website layout to your liking.
Furthermore, Shopify is mobile friendly so you don’t have to do anything extra to make your online store easy to use on tablets or smartphones.
As an added bonus, every subscription (except the “Lite” starter plan) features a website builder to help you launch your online store in no time. You have the choice of buying a domain name and hosting your entire online store on Shopify servers as well. The “Basic” and other higher plans also include a full-featured content management system that allows store owners to manage a blog.
Grow Your Business with Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
All stores built using the Shopify platform support, by default, SEO best practices. This means you can easily do things like customize top-level headers and set title and metadata tags.
Shopify generates the sitemap.xml file, which is helpful for search engine crawlers, automatically. As part of your plan, you’ll also get things like Google Adwords credits, support for product reviews and gift card use on your website, and easy integration with multiple social media platforms to get the word out about your store.
Marketing and SEO Support Features
Shopify is more than just a checkout program that processes sales on an online store. Online merchants have a variety of marketing tools at their disposal when using e-commerce software.
Once customers sign up, you can send them messages of special offers or new products using the MailChimp app.
So, whether you’re sending marketing blasts, newsletters, or abandoned cart notifications, there are customizable email templates to keep your messages appropriate and relevant.
Customer Feedback System
If you’re offering a quality service or product, positive reviews can help to inspire confidence amongst prospective buyers. Taking that in mind, Shopify allows customers to send feedback comments on your e-store, which can help convert people who are on the fence into customers.
As an added marketing function, you can use this shopping cart to optimize your online store to rank well on organic search results. It supports best SEO practices such as the use of H1, title, and meta tags.
Store Management: Full-Featured
Shopify allows you to handle all the details related to your store in one place. Such information might include:
- Customer information
- Fulfillment center information (and integration)
- Order fulfillment
- Inventory management and organization
- Automated email customization
Complete SKU and Inventory Management
Shopify is a great app to use when looking for a software solution that will bridge the gap between online and offline sales. Besides processing online transactions, this e-commerce software can be used as a Point of Sale app on iPad or iPhone to process in-store payments.
The Shopify POS can manage your entire inventory. It tracks stock counts, record sales, and automatically stops selling when inventory runs out.
There’s no limit when it comes to the number and type of products you can sell regardless of the chosen plan. Uploaded products may be sorted according to SKU values, size, color, materials, weight, price, among other categories.
When moving data, you can simply import or export reports on products, inventory levels, sales and more in CVS format.
Manage Your Online Store on Your Smartphone
In addition, Shopify Mobile provides easy access to your store’s backend while you’re on the go – just login into your mobile management app from any Internet-enabled mobile device. The intuitive dashboard allows you to process orders, manage inventory, or email customers instantly right from your phone or tablet.
Top-of-the-Line Security: PCI Compliant
Shopify is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. (Learn more about PCI compliance.) That compliance includes all stores built on Shopify. Level 1 is recognized as the highest level of PCI compliance achievable.
Shopify states, on their website, what this level of compliance includes:
- Maintaining a secure network
- Regularly monitoring and testing their networks
- Continuously operating a vulnerability management program, as defined by PCI standards
- Maintaining the protection of cardholder data
- Implementing and maintaining robust access control measures
- Maintain an information security policy
Shopify is transparent about the compliance and provides proof of their certification on their website.
Do They Provide Quality Web Hosting?
Generally, all-in-one site-building and e-commerce platforms do not mention specifics regarding the web hosting backing pages built using their tools.
Shopify is different. The web hosting backing Shopify sites offers robust features, including the following:
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Email forwarding
- Level-1 PCI compliance
- 99.98% uptime
- 24/7 monitoring
- SEO tools
- Responsive mobile commerce
- Secure shopping cart and payment gateways
- User-friendly design options
One of the perks of a Shopify store is the Dashboard that allows you to track data on:
- Key sales
- Customer visits
The Dashboard is an integral part of the Shopify analytics experience — without detailed data, you won’t be able to determine what is working and what is not for your website.
As such, Shopify offers you an easy-to-use dashboard that is your one-stop shop for all these details.
Choose From 3 Shopify Plans
Shopify offers many different types of plans at every pricing level, but true to its commitment to making the whole process as easy as possible, small businesses will want to focus on its three primary plans:
- Basic Shopify is an entry-level plan that is a good choice for those just getting started in the world of e-commerce. While the feature set is somewhat limited and the transaction fees you incurred are highest with this plan, you will still be able to get your feet wet.
- Shopify is a mid-range plan great for growing businesses. You get a larger allocation of resources, additional features, and lower transaction costs.
- Advanced Shopify is for those looking to scale up their businesses significantly. It is a large, feature-rich package…with the price tag to match.
Comparison Table of Shopify Plans
|Basic Shopify||Standard Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|Credit Card Rates||2.2%||1.9%||1.6%|
|Transaction Fees (external)||2%||1%||0.5%|
|Gift Cards and Professional Reports||Not included||Included||Included|
All three plans include an unlimited number of product listing capabilities, file storage, along with 24/7 support, fraud analysis, and discount code capabilities.
Shopify also offers enterprise-grade solutions, as well as an ultra-light plan for those who want to sell only on Facebook.
Is Their Customer Service Any Good?
Shopify offers 24/7 support and multiple ways to get in touch with the customer service team.
When in need of technical assistance, you can make a call, open a support ticket, or chat live with a customer care representative.
To find answers to frequently asked questions, simply visit the Shopify Knowledgebase.
An example of a knowledgebase article on how to integrate Google analytics. Screenshot via Digital.com
It has plenty of articles and video tutorials that help beginners to make the most out of this digital e-commerce tool. Alternatively, you can browse Shopify discussion forums for more insights on common topics.
E-Commerce Help: Quality Video Tutorials on YouTube
Do check out their YouTube Channel — it’s full of inspiration and tutorials. You’ll want to know what’s on offer there before signing up.
What are Some Good Shopify Alternatives?
One of Shopify’s biggest competitors is BigCommerce, which is another major player in the e-commerce platform arena.
BigCommerce vs. Shopify
BigCommerce compares itself readily to Shopify, claiming that they offer more features at a lower cost. However, we find that the cost of either option is comparable, and both are equally well-designed. BigCommerce does, however, had an advantage regarding features offered.
Shopify offers a more significant number of add-ons (including things like payment integrations).
Magento vs. Shopify
If you are willing to put in some sweat equity, you can opt for Magento, an open-source e-commerce platform. You’ll be responsible for getting everything up and running, including setting up the required back-end infrastructure, but the platform itself is free.
Is Shopify a good e-commerce software? Shopify is by far one of the most well-rounded e-commerce software solutions for retailers who want to offer top-notch services when managing an online store. However, this tool is not entirely perfect. Some of the few complaints that customers have raised include:
- Transaction fees apply when using external payment gateways, with rates going as high as 2% per transaction. However, take note that Shopify Payments are exempt from transaction fees.
- Shopify doesn’t offer a one-page checkout process.
- Lower plans do not offer real-time carrier shipping.
When it comes to positives, Shopify offers users many reasons to smile. Some of its best features include:
- More than 100 attractive free themes.
- Full control over HTML and CSS to personalize your online store.
- Domain registration and full web-hosting services (if you’re not technically-savvy and don’t want to mess around with those).
- SEO and mobile friendly functions.
- Built-in blogging and email marketing capabilities.
- Level 1 PCI compliant network infrastructure, which is crucial if you want to accept payment via credit cards online.
- Extensive customer support.
- Seamless integration with third-party apps.
With all of these benefits, it’s evident that Shopify 2.0 is an asset that any serious online store should leverage. If you’re still on the fence on whether to settle for this e-commerce software over another option, then take advantage of Shopify’s free trial. The trial period lasts 14 days and you don’t even have to provide your credit card details when signing up.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Purpose of Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce platform to help you take your store online. It allows you to sell your products from a highly-organized online platform where you can manage inventory, accept credit card payments, and track orders, among many other things.
Do I Need to Install Shopify?
No, there’s nothing to install since Shopify is an e-commerce software that’s cloud-hosted directly on the company’s highly-secured servers. This means that it will work across all operating systems and you won’t need to maintain any web servers or fiddle with the backend of things in order to set it up.
Can I Use My Own Domain With Shopify?
Yes, you’re encouraged to use your own domain name since that brings across a level of professionalism to your customers. Take the following steps to set up your domain on Shopify’s servers: 1. Sign-in to your Shopify account, 2. Go to Online Store, 3. Click on the “Domains” section in admin panel to register a domain
What Currencies And Countries Are Available In Shopify?
Shopify is available in almost all countries and all currencies.
What Languages Does Shopify Support?
Email communications, checkout system, etc. are available in most languages. Only the administrative panel is in English.
What Happens When I Get A New Order?
If you get an order, you’ll get notified through email or text. After which, you can sign in to your Shopify account to check the details of the order such as where to ship your products. Once the order has been delivered, you can change its status to “Shipped” within Shopify. If you have a payment gateway integrated, you’ll have control on how money changes hands between you and your customer.
What Payment Methods Can My Customers Use?
Shopify allows all kinds of payment including credit card, money orders, and cash-on-delivery.
How Much Will It Cost To Set Up Shopify?
You can set up Shopify in minutes with free 14-day trial version. After the completion of the trial, Shopify provides you with different plans for different needs. Just select one that caters to your business requirements.
What are the best Shopify alternatives?
Shopify is a leading, if not the leading, e-commerce software platform but if you need to shop around and compare online store builders the best Shopify alternatives are Bigcommerce, 1ShoppingCart, 3dcart and Volusion.
Shopify Plans & Prices
Shopify offers a range of plans for starting your online store, from their Basic plan where you can sell with your own online store, Pro plan to take your business to the next level and their Unlimited plan where you get to experience the best of Shopify. For latest and most up to date prices visit Shopify’s website.
|Plan name||Transaction fees||Number of products||Monthly price|
|Basic Shopify||0 - 2.0%||Unlimited||29.99|
|Shopify||0 - 1.0%||Unlimited||79.00|
|Advanced Shopify||0 - 0.5%||Unlimited||299.00|
Best Shopify alternatives
People share their opinions about companies on Twitter each and every day. We monitor tweets about Shopify and apply a sentiment analysis algorithm that classifies these tweets as positive or negative. Every review is from a real person opinion. We use this information and output an approval rating score, which is based on real people, positive and negative, opinions about Shopify on Twitter
Shopify Review on Twitter
Shopify vs Competitor Ratings
David Herrmann (@herrmanndigital)
MAJOR Shopify outrage. EVERYTHING is down. FML
Juli ▲▲▲ (@mucha_ficcion)
Working atm in a @Shopify #ecommerce #website with a #template built by the people at @WeThemeTeam great #CS highly recommended! Thanks,
Thanks @Shopify for hosting the Toronto Meetup. Fantastic night!
Very Funny T-Shirts (@vfunnytshirts)
Re-Launching using @Shopify has been awesome! Such great tools for businesses like ours! #funnytshirts #shopify
The Retail Champion (@RetailChampion)
The latest The #RetailChampion Daily! Thanks to @artistsmakers @Shopify #getunstuck #trends
Galen King (@galenking)
Uh oh! What the heck?!! @Shopify sites are telling me to authenticate with Google. Not good. What’s going on? /cc @ShopifySupport
Christopher Stewart (@SpeedyLVFoodie)
I am in love with the @Shopify blog. Such amazing information.
Stephan Peralta (@stephan_peralta)
Had an awesome time connecting with merchants at the @shopify booth. Gotta love seeing brands leveraging digital. https://t.co/TWsBelm6QE
Build a Business You Love [Marie Forleo B-School Giveaway] — https://t.co/ZkBckp852t @Shopify
For more information about Shopify, including reviews from regular users like yourself, check out our sister website WhoIsHostingThis.com. The more information you get, the better.