Shopify Review (2022) – Is Shopify Right for Your Online Business? (Pros & Cons)
Whether you’re thinking about opening an online store or scaling your business, finding the right e-commerce platform to sell your products is a vital, yet often confusing, first step.
Shopify, everyone's favorite eCommerce giant, boasts multi-channel integrations, a range of features and flexibility in pricing that allow it to be utilized by all types of businesses.
However, is it right for your business?
That's what we're going to look at in this article. We’ll cover all of this and more, so read on to learn more about Shopify and whether it could be right for you as we explore its pros and cons for business owners.
Here’s what will be covered:
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that lets you create your own online store from scratch. Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake founded the Shopify platform in 2004. Originally, it was created as an online snowboarding store to sell winter sports equipment.
In 2011, Shopify became the most popular ecommerce platform.The corporation now operates over 800,000 tores and generates annual revenue of more than $63 billion. More than 175,000 merchants use Shopify to sell more than 3,000 different types of physical and digital goods on their websites.
The company's purpose is to use technology and design to improve commerce for everyone - from merchants to customers.
If you're looking for an e-commerce platform that's easy to use, Shopify is your best bet. Compared to competing ecommerce systems like Magento and BigCommerce, Shopify has been recognized for its ease of use and user interface.
How does Shopify work?
Shopify is a hosted solution. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means that your ecommerce platform is not ‘installed’ on your own computer(s). Instead, Shopify’s software is stored and run on its own servers. You do not own the product; rather, you pay a monthly price to use it, and you may manage your store from anywhere as long as you have access to a web browser and the internet.
The Shopify platform comprises three key elements:a) The Shopify store builder — This is where you will create your online store using one of the available templates. Additionally, you have the option of creating custom themes to create something completely unique.
b) An ecommerce payment processor — Shopify enables you to take credit card payments. This simplifies the checkout process for consumers and eliminates the need to set up an external payment gateway.
c) A full-featured ecommerce CRM — Shopify includes integrated customer relationship management capabilities that make it simple to manage your customers and remain in touch with them via email marketing, one-to-one messaging, and automated email campaigns, among other things.
How much does Shopify Cost?
If you're just getting started with Shopify, the Basic plan costs just $29 a month. A steep learning curve awaits those who have never used a platform before, but Shopify's 24-hour customer support ensures that you don't have to worry. Other merchants and Shopify exporters can assist you on the Shopify forums, which you have access to as well.
LITE ($9 per month)
Shopify Lite is a plan for merchants that want to sell in-person (through POS lite) or add a buy button to their current website. With Shopify Lite, you can see reports, make gift cards, and split bills, as well as many other features. Unlike the other plans, Shopify Lite does not have an online store with a shopping cart. So you can't construct a Shopify website with it. Instead, you integrate it with an existing website or social media page.
BASIC SHOPIFY PLAN ($29 per month + additional fees)
This is best for when you are just starting out as it already provides you with the basics, as per its name. You will be able to launch a website and sell products even with just this plan.
SHOPIFY PLAN ($79 per month + additional fees)
This is the middle-tier plan and is best when your business is starting to grow and you’re looking to expand both the business and your services. You get a few more features on top of what’s included in the basic plan.
Advanced Shopify Plan ($299 per month + additional fees)
This is the best plan for businesses who are scaling as it provides more advanced features that can compliment your growth.
This plan gives you all the features from the Shopify Basic and Shopify plan, with more additional and advanced features.
Key differences between Shopify plans
All Shopify accounts have the standard ecommerce capabilities – you can create catalogs with an unlimited number of products, take credit card payments, sell gift cards, provide discount coupons on orders, and integrate with a broad variety of third-party applications.
However, there are a few critical aspects to keep an eye out for and avoid overlooking by picking the incorrect Shopify plan.
- A standalone online store — You cannot build one using the 'Lite' plan. Instead, you may use the Lite plan to manage inventory, sell on social media, and add a 'buy button' to existing websites.
- Staff accounts — The number of ‘seats’ or staff accounts you have varies by plan.
- Reports — The professional reporting functionality is only available on the $79+ plans.
- Third party real time carrier shipping — Only available as a paid-for add-on, via an annual purchase of a ‘Shopify’ plan, or on a monthly ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan.
- Inventory locations — You may distribute inventory to retail locations, warehouses, and pop-up sites on any plan, however the maximum number of locations per plan varies.
- Transaction / credit card fees — The higher your plan, the lower your transaction fees.
- Shipping discounts — Again, the more expensive the plan, the more discounts you get (However this will still depend on the territory).
- Exchange rates — You can set your own currency exchange rates only on the ‘Shopify’ or ‘Advanced Shopify’ plans.
You can check the complete details of each plan here or check out our article How Much Does It Cost To Build A Website On Shopify for more info.
The great thing about Shopify is that it offers a 14-day free trial so you can see if it's right for you before fully committing.
In a year this is how much your plans will cost (not counting in the free trial):
Price (base price x 12 months)
**This does not include fees for hosting, apps, developers, themes, etc.
These plans do not include the fees for hosting, apps, themes or developers just yet so you will want to consider that as well in your planning. Shopify and other domain registrars, such as GoDaddy, allow you to purchase a domain name starting at $11 per year.
Aside from the Shopify plan and domain fees, there are transaction fees when using third-party payment processors or even Shopify Payments. Users in countries where Shopify Payments is available will find it to be the most cost-effective and convenient alternative.
If you use this, you don’t have to pay any transaction fees at all.
Of course, it's preferable to implement the most popular payment options for your consumers' convenience. Shopify accepts various third-party payments, however fees vary per payment gateway.
Here is how transaction fees will get charged if you opt for Shopify Payments:
- Shopify Basic: 2.9% of your transaction + 30 cents.
- Shopify: 2.6% of your transaction + 30 cents.
- Shopify Advanced: 2.4% of your transaction + 30 cents.
If you choose to implement other payment gateways, you will have to pay for a few more things such as set up, monthly cost and transaction fees.
- Set-up cost: $0 - $250
- Monthly cost: $10 - $50.
- Transaction fees: Can go from $0.00 – $0.25 + 1% – 5% per transaction. You will still have to pay both the fixed fee and the percentage of the transaction.
Themes and apps
If you're just starting out and don't have a lot of money to spend, it's best to go with what’s free on the marketplace. These are still pretty limited in terms of branding and design, but they do the job.
For more customization and features, you can go for paid themes and apps from the Shopify Marketplace, or a customized one made by a reputable digital agency. Prices vary depending on how much customization you want, so look into this before going with an agency.
In your first year, this is the estimate including themes, base plan and domain:
Price (base price x 12 months)
With Paid Theme ($180)
With Custom Theme ($100-5,000)
Shopify's Features Worth Having?
Intuitive interface and ease of use
Probably one of its most redeeming features–Shopify's UI is extremely straightforward and intuitive to anybody who has used a content management system in the past. The platform enables you to customize nearly every aspect of your store's appearance, with or without the assistance of a professional. Their simple-to-use admin panel is ideal for creating and editing pages, goods, collections, and blog entries, among other things.
The interface lets you set up and manage a variety of ’sales channels’.
- An online store: Your main website, which you can host on your own domain.
- Facebook: A tab on your Facebook page where users can browse and buy your products.
- Buy Button: This channel enables you to incorporate ecommerce functionality into any website or blog via 'buy buttons.'
- Instagram: Allows you to make your Instagram posts ‘shoppable.’
- Wholesale: Lets you create a separate, password-protected storefront where you can sell products B2B **Shopify Plus only
There are countless Shopify themes to pick from, and Shopify's own collection is so large that you're likely to discover something you’ll like. Moreover, they're all mobile-responsive, so no matter what device your consumers use to visit your business, they'll still look amazing.
The primary problem here is that just 10 of the themes are free on the platform, and the purchased themes may go up to $200! But don't let that fool you; even the free themes look great and give plenty of customization possibilities to make your shop really special and distinct.
They also make it easy to creating your own theme from scratch, and also allow you to buy one from a third-party developer. If you have no coding experience, don't worry! The process is very simple and easy to learn, even if you've never done it before. Overall, there are tons of options for customizing your store, which is why Shopify has become so popular.
Shipping made easy
Shopify has a wide range of shipping options and apps to help you with the process of shipping. Shipping is an important part of any online business, but it's also very time-consuming. No matter if you're running a dropshipping business or you have your own warehouse, Shopify can provide you with everything you need for all of your shipping needs.
Shopify makes it simple to offer customers shipping options based on location and product weight, and also features a third-party calculated shipping feature that displays different rates for different carriers. Shopify’s shipping apps are also useful; Print Label makes it easy to print your own shipping labels in bulk, while ShipStation allows you to integrate your Shopify store with the ShipStation platform for more advanced shipping functions.
Multiple payment options
One of the best things about Shopify is that it offers multiple ways to accept payments.
Shopify Payments is available for all Shopify stores, and is the only gateway that's integrated with your online store, checkout, and order management. You can sign up for Shopify Payments in any country where it is available. You can also choose from a variety of third-party payment gateways to use with your store, including Amazon Payments and PayPal.
You can also accept standard credit card payments, which incurs a small transaction fee as a well as flexible payment solutions in the form of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Litecoin.
SEO and Marketing
It’s important to build brand awareness from day one to maximize your chances of success.
Shopify comes with some powerful SEO tools, which help you optimize your online store for search engines. This is critical since a lot of people use Google to find products they want and don’t end up at your store unless you rank highly in the search results.
Shopify also includes a blog section where you can write and publish your own blog posts. It includes templates to guide you through the process, and you can use it to drive traffic back to your store by including links in your content that people can click on to make purchases. There’s also built-in social sharing buttons so readers can easily share your content with their networks.
It’s also easy to set up email marketing campaigns with Shopify. You can send abandoned cart recovery emails, welcome emails when customers make a purchase, and special offers based on previous purchases.
Other Shopify features that integrate well with marketing include analytics tools and abandoned cart recovery popups that appear when someone abandons their shopping cart.
Shopify allows you to easily integrate your online store with hardware and software so you can accept payments in person, at events, pop-ups, and more. With the Shopify POS mobile app, your sales staff can take orders from wherever – so whether customers come into your store or purchase online, you can meet them wherever and whenever they want.
This way you can reach more customers and give them a seamless shopping experience.
Shopify also offers a free card reader with every plan, so you can accept card payments easily and securely without having to pay extra fees.
All payment information is recorded and stored by Shopify on their secure servers, which means that you don’t have to worry about data or security leaks.
If you have a physical store (or are thinking about opening one), then this functionality could be really useful, because it allows you to track all your sales channels in one place – both online and offline.
Amazing Customer Support
Shopify’s customer service is second to none. They offer 24/7 support by phone, email, or live chat.
These methods of communication are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which is pretty impressive when you consider how many other companies don’t offer any kind of round-the-clock support at all.
The methods of contacting Shopify are similar but have some small differences. For example, if you contact Shopify via live chat then they’re going to get back to you as soon as possible. The response time for emails could be around 24 hours depending on what time you send it and what time of day it is. The nice thing about the phone call option is that you can speak to someone immediately, but the downside is that the wait time for a callback can be very long. If this is an option that interests you then just keep in mind that there may be a significant delay before they call you back.
Now, whether you want information about themes or are looking for video guides that cover specific topics, Shopify has got you covered. There are also loads of articles on the blog, classes and resources which are super helpful when it comes to understanding how to use the platform.
Extensive app store
What gives Shopify an edge over its biggest rivals is the size of its app store. It currently has over 7,000 apps and the number keeps growing. This makes it bigger than those of all the other eCommerce platforms combined. The apps cover almost every feature you could ever want on your eCommerce site such as payment processing, shipping, storage and fulfillment, email marketing, customer support chat bots and more.
However, not all Shopify apps are free. You need to pay for some of them and the price of your store can quickly escalate if you’re purchasing loads of extensions. It’s not that expensive but it’s worth being careful in the app store as the cost can soon add up.
TIP: Make sure you have a good idea what you need before you start looking at Shopify apps.
The range of apps is impressive and varied and it’s easy to find what you’re looking for with a quick search. If there isn’t an app available for something specific you need then there are plenty of developers out there who can create a bespoke one for you. However, this means that your costs could go up so keep this in mind when choosing your eCommerce platform.
If you're in the business of selling products online, then your website is one of your most important assets. If your shop is hacked, the ramifications may be dire. That's why it's essential to keep that asset safe from hackers and harmful attempts.
Shopify provides strong protection for all its stores, including automated daily backup services. It's easy to restore your data at any moment because it is automatically backed up every day.
All Shopify stores run on Level 1 PCI certified servers, and SSL 256-bit encryption is enabled as standard. As a result, no third parties will be able to see any of your customers' private information, including credit card details.
Add-ons can make Shopify costly
Shopify offers a lot of great apps and plugins that you can use to expand the functionality and convenience of their platform. However, these apps and plugins may get pricey. If you install even just three or four paid apps with monthly membership fees, you may easily end yourself paying $100 or more every month.
The best way to avoid Shopify costs is to use as many free apps and plugins as possible. Most of the time, these plugins will do what they need to do without any extra fees. Of course, there are some limitations to free apps, so it’s important to know your needs and figure out which is best for you.
If you do decide that you want to pay for an app or plugin, be sure you only get what you need. You can always add on more features later if needed but only paying for what you need will keep your costs down.
It’s also worth noting that too many apps can slow down your website–another con.
Few Free Themes
The free themes on the Shopify app store are nice, but they lack the pizzazz and flexibility that most brand owners might want. If you have limited needs and you’re just starting out, a free theme offers a standard layout, which is pretty good if you have limited needs and if you’re just starting out. However, when you think about how many other stores are using it, you might choose not to.
You can find some great and simple free themes on the Shopify app store, but as soon as your business starts to scale and get competitive, you might want to invest in a paid theme that offers more customization options.
Shopify Payments is not widely available and there are transaction fees if not used
One of the biggest advantages of Shopify is that their platform is extremely flexible. Their range of payment gateways is one of the most extensive out there, so you’ll be able to accept payments from almost anywhere in the world.
But if you like the idea of being able to accept payments from anywhere in the world, there are a couple of catches:
Shopify Payments can only be used on online stores and apps, not in person. If you want to accept payments for your physical storefront, you’ll have to use an alternative payment gateway. Alternative payment gateways are subject to a transaction fee, which is taken out of your sales total before you get paid — this varies from zero percent (if it’s a third-party provider) to 3% (if it’s PayPal).
Also, Shopify currently only accepts payments from “trusted locations.” That means you can only accept credit card payments if you live in certain countries (currently the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia, and more).
Pages have a URL structure that’s not ideal for SEO.
One of the key reasons people choose Shopify is the ease with which they can create and set up ecommerce stores. However, many users are unaware that the platform operates a URL structure policy which affects their ability to use SEO to its full potential.
Shopify pre-defines each page’s URL, meaning that once your store is set up, you can’t change it. This is a major problem if you run an established business with long-tail keywords you want to include in your URLs. Some SEO experts even advise against using Shopify for ecommerce projects altogether because of this reason. The platform makes it easy to get started but hard to progress, something that should be considered carefully by business owners before deciding on Shopify as their ecommerce store platform of choice.
Who is Shopify Best Suited For?
There is a reason why Shopify is a favorite (even amongst our developers and clients!). It has all the features of an advanced ecommerce platform, from sales to site design to customer care and more, yet makes it easy for users of all levels to manage their online stores and grow their business. While its apps do add to the price point, Shopify also provides plenty of useful free ones.
Shopify is a great option that can suit the needs of a variety of different users: new entrepreneurs, experienced business owners, and those who simply want to move their existing ecommerce store on to a more professional platform. Knowing that every business has different needs and requirements, they feature a range of starter, professional, and advanced plans.
Conclusion: Is Shopify the right choice for you?
If you're an eCommerce novice with no coding or technical experience, looking to build a store on your own terms, then Shopify is certainly worth considering.
Another bonus is that Shopify’s popularity means it has grown a strong community, with plenty of third-party developers adding to its feature-rich ecosystem.
Looking back, here are its benefits:
- Beginners will find it easy and straightforward to use.
- There is no requirement for technical skills or coding experience (although you can use this if you know how).
- Themes are mobile-friendly and responsive.
- Abandoned cart saving functionality is available on all plans
- It’s a great option for anyone interested in dropshipping.
- The Lite Plan’s ‘Buy Button’ allows you to use Shopify to add a shopping cart easily to any website or online business presence
- There are several add-ons available, as well as a huge community of indie developers and specialists willing to assist.
- Support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- There are a plethora of learning tools and tutorials provided.
Overall, Shopify is a great choice for anyone serious about building an online store. It is one of the most comprehensive platforms out there, giving you everything you need to get started in e-commerce, while developing the skills and experience called for to run a successful business.
We do hope that you’ve learned something from this article and feel free to get in touch with us, your Shopify Experts at Webinopoly if you need any services such as creating, designing and developing your first Shopify store.
Webinopoly is an Award-Winning Digital Agency and are experts in Design, Setup, Development, and Marketing. We house trusted and top-notch Shopify experts who can help entrepreneurs like you build your online business. Our services range from building your Shopify store to theme customization, website development, migration to Shopify, SEO, and marketing.
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