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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
Get Started With Shopify

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 than rivals
  • Charges transaction fees unless you use Shopify Payments

In this Shopify review:

How Does Shopify Work?

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.

Best of all? You can have a taste of Shopify for free, thanks to a zero-cost 30-day free trial that Shopify offers.

Shopify

StarRatingScore

Notes

Overall rating4.5 starsShopify is great in all of our categories — especially when it comes to its range and quality of sales features.
Website features4 starsShopify's websites are incredibly easy to customize and make your own. It's templates and use of third-party apps make editing and changing every aspect of your site very straightforward.
Sales features5 starsIf you need to sell products across multiple platforms, Shopify is the ecommerce builder for you. It can integrate more sales channels than any other ecommerce platform and it'll let you sell everything from physical products to services and digital products.
Ease of use4 starsWhile Shopify has loads of complex sales features, accessing them is easy thanks to its straightforward navigation and easily digestible explanations.
Help and support4 starsIf you happen to get stuck with Shopify, it has an almost unparalleled range of support options. It has 24/7 phone and live chat support, while also offering customer forums and video tutorials. Shopify also has tools such as ‘Rewind' which can restore your site to an earlier version in case something goes wrong.
Value for money4 starsShopify is a little bit more expensive than some other ecommerce website builders on the market but, given the quality of its sales features and its wide-ranging abilities, Shopify proves to be good value for money.

 

Shopify is Easy 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.

Shopify Has Powerful 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.

Find out more – Shopify Point of Sale Review

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

Shopify has a Large App Store

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.

Designing a Website with Shopify

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.

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. You can add this feature in with the Rewind app, but it should be standard.

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.

See how easy it is to build a website with Shopify

Shopify 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.

Shopify Alternatives

While we think Shopify is the best ecommerce platform on the market, there are some very viable alternatives.

For example, BigCommerce runs Shopify very close to the top spot. Like Shopify, BigCommerce offers great multi channel integration and the ability to sell different types of products. It isn't quite as easy to use as Shopify and doesn't have as many help and support options. However, it is cheaper than Shopify, particularly at the higher reaches of their pricing plans.

There are other alternatives, such as Squarespace, which aim for a slightly different type of ecommerce business. Squarespace is best suited for smaller, boutique online stores that need a great-looking website without the need to sell a massive scale.

Let's take a look at how Shopify compares to its rivals:

Scroll horizontally to view the full table if you're on a mobile.

Shopify

BigCommerce

Squarespace

Volusion

Wix

Weebly

Shopify logo smallbigcommerce logo smallSquarespace logo smallVolusion logo smallWix logo smallweebly logo small table
Test score4.5 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars3.5 stars
VerdictThe best ecommerce platform with unmatched features, great websites and a scalable platform.Runs Shopify close with great sales features, but small knowledge base and weaker website design let it down.Can't match the scalability of the first two, but you'll get a great-looking, easy to use sales website.A good alternative to BigCommerce with better web design. Can be confusing to use, though.Like Squarespace, Wix isn't as scalable for big businesses, makes creating a sales site easyHas some advantages over Wix when it comes to sales features, but Weebly's overall platform isn't as compelling
Cheapest Ecommerce Plan (per month)$29$29.95$26$29$20$25
Priciest Ecommerce Plan (per month)$299$249.95$40$299$45.90$46
Number of extra sales channels1031300
Physical Product Sales
Digital product SalesApp required
Service SalesApp requiredApp required
Try it TodayVisit ShopifyVisit BigCommerceVisit Squarespace*Visit VolusionVisit WixVisit Weebly

* Save 10% on Squarespace with code ‘TECH10'

Shopify Review — How Much Does Shopify Cost?

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.

Shopify BasicShopifyShopify Advanced
Cost (paid monthly)$29$79$299
Cost (paid annually)$312$852$3,192
Domain included
Staff accounts2515
Abandoned cart recovery
Gift cards
Online credit card rates2.2% + 30c1.9% + 30c1.6% + 30c
In-person credit card rates1.7%1.6%1.5%
Shopify POS app
Hardware peripheral support
Compare PlansSee DealsSee DealsSee Deals

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.

The Basic Shopify Plan

Best for new stores

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.

The Shopify Plan

Best for fast-growing businesses

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.

The Advanced Shopify Plan

Perfect for big businesses

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.

Find out more about Shopify's pricing plans

Compare price plans and Shopify Deals

Shopify Review Verdict — Is Shopify the Best Ecommerce Platform?

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.

As one user in our testing said:

“If a website looks great but actually trying to use it and buy something can be such a nightmare and it can really put customers off. So I think if it looks great but functions incorrectly then your destined to fail. I would have confidence in Shopify to assist in both areas to function well and to ultimately assist my business where it should.”

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.

Get started with Shopify today

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