Shopify Website Builder Review

A top-drawer ecommerce platform perfect for businesses of any size

4.5 stars

The best way to build an online store

Put simply, Shopify is the best ecommerce platform on the market at the moment. It excels across every category of our testing, from ease of use, to customer support, to the all-important sales features.

4.5 stars

The best way to build an online store

Website Features

4 stars

Sales Features

5 stars

Ease of Use

4 stars

Help and Support

4 stars

Value for Money

4 stars
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Pros

  • An unmatched range of top-quality sales and reporting features
  • Remarkably simple to set up, use and edit aspects of your store
  • Allows you to create a great-looking online store
  • Excellent and varied support options

Cons

  • Can become more expensive that rivals
  • Charges transaction fees unless you use Shopify Payments

In this review:

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a platform that allows you to create and manage an online store (sometimes known as an ecommerce website) quickly and easily.

Ecommerce stores have differing, often specialist requirements when compared to other types of website – such as blogs or sites designed to promote business, rather than be the business themselves – and therefore need specialist platforms.

Within this smaller field, Shopify is one of the biggest names on the market. The platform powers over 600,000 businesses around the world, and has helped sell over $72bn worth of physical and digital goods.

Shopify: The Good

Being our top-scoring ecommerce platform, there’s plenty to like about Shopify.

Simple to use

One of Shopify’s biggest strengths is how easy it is to create and manage your store. In a matter of minutes, you can go from initial setup to adding products and editing the visuals of your store. Navigating through the setup is easy and well explained.

You’ll find managing the site easy as well. For example, tracking orders, deliveries and suppliers is all straightforward and intuitive. And, should you get stuck, it’s easy to seek out Shopify’s excellent support pages.

Reporting

Once you’re up-and-running, you’ll want to make sure you can track and analyze all of your sales – and Shopify’s reporting tools are excellent at this.

From the Analytics menu, you’ll find a vast array of reporting dashboards, showing you everything from the total number of sales to sales by traffic source, and even the total sales attributable to different marketing campaigns.

You’re also able to dig deeper into all of the reports for a more detailed view, then export them as CSV files.

Multi Channel Integration

Excuse the marketing speak, but Shopify is unmatched when it comes to managing different sales channels.

Through Shopify Payments – its in-house payment management system – Shopify doesn’t just track plain-old website sales: it also tracks sales that come from social media sites such as Instagram, big online retailers such as eBay or Amazon, and even sales in physical stores made using the Shopify Payments terminal.

This kind of channel integration makes Shopify a tool that can scale with your business, and even help it to grow.

Apps

Alongside its wide-ranging features, Shopify offers an impressive app store which can add extra functionality to your site. With over 1,000 apps on offer, you’ll be able to find everything from product review plugins to customer-facing order tracking and design elements.

There is one caveat, though. With some of the apps, you have to copy and paste code into Shopify’s unique Liquid coding language. This can be confusing at first, but with the excellent Shopify support and a bit of practice, it’ll get easier.

Design

Good shops look nice, and with Shopify, your shop will look amazing. The platform has fantastic design options which allow you to quickly and easily edit the design and layout of your site.

It has a good range of free and paid-for themes, which serve as broad templates for your site – informing everything from the color scheme to the overall structure – which can all be adjusted and tweaked to your preference.

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Shopify: The not-so-good

While Shopify is great, it’s not quite perfect.

Transaction fees

When starting a business, you’ll want to keep overheads as low as possible. Unfortunately, Shopify will charge you a transaction fee on every sale you make, unless you’re using Shopify Payments.

Shopify Payments isn’t a bad system by any stretch, but having to pay transaction fees on top of the quite pricey monthly payments isn’t ideal.

No autosave

This is less of an issue than the transaction fees, but Shopify doesn’t automatically save changes you make to your site.

When it comes to changing finance information, it pays to get this right so that not autosaving doesn’t matter, but when changing the visuals on the WYSIWYG editor, it would be nice to have an autosave.

Can’t change template

One annoyance with Shopify is that you cannot change the website template you use after publishing your site.

While we’ve mentioned that Shopify’s designs are good, you may find that as your business grows you want to change the your website’s template. For example, you might require a theme which can show more products on the homepage. Being unable to change the template means that you need to have a good idea of how your site and business will progress together from the outset.

Shopify Pricing

Shopify starts with a 14-day free trial, during which you’ll be able to set up the basics of your site, including its design and first products. However, you won’t actually be able to sell any products, as your site will remain password protected until you pick one of the three plans on offer.

One thing to bear in mind is that Shopify is typically more expensive than its rivals, such as BigCommerce and Volusion. However, as having the best site will help you make more money, we think it’s worth the extra outlay.

Basic Shopify

This is the cheapest plan on offer and starts from $29 per month. However, you can also choose to pay for one, two or three years instead of month-to-month. Paying for a year upfront will save you $36, while three years in advance will save you a whopping $261.

With Basic Shopify, you’ll miss out on some features, but nothing major. For example, you won’t be able to issue gift cards, or have third-party calculated shipping rates. Your online and in-person credit card rates will also be marginally higher than on the more expensive packages.

One thing to bear in mind is that you’ll be limited to just two staff accounts, so make sure this is enough for your business.

Shopify

This is the middle package, costing $79 per month. You’ll be able to sell gift cards, and your credit card rates will drop from 2.9% online and 2.7% in-person with Basic Shopify to 2.6% and 2.5%, respectively.

You’ll also receive more favorable shipping discounts from USPS, UPS or DHL Express – these can be as high as 72%, compared to the 64% offered on the basic plan.

However, the big advantage over Basic Shopify is in the point of sale functions. You’ll be able to manage register shifts, which will help you balance the cash in your tills on a regular basis, and make sure any staff you employ are held accountable for the cash they handle. It also offers support for barcode scanners, receipt and label printers, cash drawers, and even retail cameras.

If you’re selling stuff in-store as well as online, Shopify is the package for you.

Advanced Shopify

The top-of-the-line package costs $299 per month, and gives you the most favorable rates, discounts and a load of extra features.

For example, you’ll get advanced reporting, third-party calculated shipping rates, up to 74% discounts on shipping, support for unlimited Shopify point-of-sale staff logins, and support for third-party POS apps.

It’s expensive, but if you’re fortunate enough to be running a successful business, Advanced Shopify has all the features you need.

Shopify: The Verdict

If you sell stuff, you should be selling it with Shopify.

You’ll be able to build a world-class ecommerce website quickly and hassle-free thanks to its intuitive and simple-to-understand interface. Once you’ve built your site, you’ll then be able to analyze the traffic you receive and the sales you make with its in-depth reporting tools, which will help you optimize and improve your site to maximize your business’ potential.

Shopify’s multi-channel support is unparalleled, especially its integration with Amazon, eBay and social media sites. Moreover, the fact it can manage offline sales might be a deal-breaker for some businesses.

It does cost more than some rivals, but as the old adage goes, you have to speculate to accumulate – and, frankly, it’s worth speculating on Shopify.

Create An Amazing Ecommerce Site With Shopify Today