Shopify has been thriving since it was founded in 2004 to become one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market. Powering almost 1 and a half million live websites as of September 2020, Shopify provides users with unmatched functionality while maintaining smooth and friendly user experience. Its main aim is to help people build their own websites and start selling quickly without dealing with lines of code or hiring professional developers.

Despite the enormous amount of users, whether it is the most suitable option for you is yet to be decided at first glance. For that reason, we have conducted thorough research and written this article with a view to giving you profound insights into what Shopify has to offer.

This review will cover the most essential information of Shopify including its selling functions, ease of use, pricing, design, marketing tools, and more. Feeling excited? Let’s get into it!

Overview

Shopify is an SaaS (software-as-a-service) eCommerce solution, meaning it includes everything you need to create a website. Instead of having to get yourself a host and dealing with technical stuff, you just need to go to the main website and create an account and that’s basically it.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial and you can try out this platform easily without entering credit card information. Once you decide to opt for a plan, Shopify will charge you a monthly fee, and this varies depending on your plan.

No matter how big your business is, Shopify is always an option worth considering. Its scalability is one of the factors that help build trust and reputation among users. With an astonishing amount of add-ons and integrated functions, the eCommerce platform ensures utmost satisfaction even for large stores.

Shopify important updates you should know (September 2020)

Shopify has been continuously updating their functionality. Here are some of the most exciting new features we would like to share with you. For more information, please visit Shopify changelog.

International domain: Merchants selling globally can now use region-specific domains to create localized user experience. You can choose to display your site in different languages and currencies in accordance with the domain. For example, a “.jp” top-level domain will use the Japanese language, and prices will be in JPY.

Note that this feature is only available to merchants on the Shopify, Shopify Advanced and Shopify Plus plans.

Online store speed report: This tool allows you to measure your pages’ loading speed via speed tests. It makes things a lot easier to have a detailed view of your site performance and evaluate the effectiveness of your speed optimization.

Product performance insights on the product page: You can now see specific product sale reports directly from the product page. The information includes how the products are sold over time, where traffic comes from, and who is buying them.

New “Express” theme by Shopify: This is a free theme that perfectly suits food and beverage businesses. Main features include:

  • A home page layout perfect for one-page stores with minimal content.
  • A menu-inspired design that lets customers focus on ordering, rather than product discovery.
  • A collapsible cart drawer and product modals that make it easy for your customers to build an order.

Tipping options: Your customers can show their support for your business via tipping. You can enable this feature with one click, and tipping options will be displayed during checkout. Customers can choose to tip based on a percentage of their total order or a custom amount.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each aspect of this platform.

Ease of use

Just like other hosted platforms, Shopify is fairly easy to use. It’s designed for everyone, from eCommerce experts to total beginners. You don’t need to have experience in creating websites to get yourself a fully functioning online store with the help of Shopify.

While open-source platforms require a lot of steps such as buying a host and uploading the source code to your server, Shopify takes the hassles out of creating a website. It’s not even an exaggeration to say you can get your store up and running in a matter of minutes.

After filling in your email address, a password for your account and a store name to begin, Shopify takes you to the initial configurations.

Shopify initial configurations
Shopify initial configurations

There is hardly a point when you have to spend time looking around to find what you need. Right after creating an account, Shopify guides you through the important steps to make your store fully functional. The main page shows the shortcuts to add first products, customize your theme and add a domain.

Shopify user interface
Shopify user interface

As seen from the image, the dashboard is straightforward with categories containing corresponding sub-sections for easy navigation. Here’s a video showing how easy it is to create a site and navigate to different sections to configure your eCommerce store:

Pricing

You can try Shopify without spending a penny before deciding to provide payment details such as your credit card information. The platform offers a 14-day free trial with full access to its functions. Even if you give your credit card details during this time, Shopify lets you cancel any time without charging as long as you do it within the first 2 weeks.

Compared to some other platforms, Shopify’s pricing plans can be considered rather costly. However this can become a minor inconvenience once your business reaches its potential growth with the help of such powerful tools from Shopify. Here are the 3 plans that it offers:

Shopify pricing
Shopify pricing

The Basic Shopify plan is the cheapest option. With $29 per month, you get all the basic eCommerce functions. If you’ve just started your business or just want to build a simple online storefront for your existing brick-and-mortar one, this is a suitable option.

The next plan, simply called “Shopify”, costs $79 and has everything you need for a growing business. Paying such an amount provides you with additional features needed for your store to reach its potential.

Advanced Shopify costs $299 per month, and comes with the most advanced features. A medium to large business can always grow more, and this plan makes the process even more possible.

Other than the monthly pricing, Shopify also charges different credit card rates for each plan when using Shopify Payments. If you go for Shopify Basic, the platform charges $2.9 + 30 cents per transaction. The fee is reduced to $2.6 + 30 cents with the Shopify plan, and $2.4 + 30 cents with Advanced Shopify.

If you decide to use any payment provider other than Shopify Payments itself, the additional fee per transaction will be 2.0%, 1.0% and 0.5% for Shopify Basic, Shopify and Advanced Shopify respectively.

Credit card rates and additional fees
Credit card rates and additional fees

If you have a long-term plan for your business, consider annual payment. Signing up for an annual plan saves you 10%, and paying once for 2 years use saves 20%.

Themes

Conversion rate also depends on your store’s appearance. Getting yourself a good theme ensures more chances of a customer coming back for more and thus generates more revenue.

Here are the pros and cons of Shopify themes.

Pros Cons
Sophisticated and contemporary design

Professionally built and mobile responsive

Designated to suit your style and the feature of your e-commerce shop with certainty → they’ll reformat to suit the mobile and tablet screens

Full of features and you can choose from various styles.

Only 9 free themes are provided.

Costs range from $140 to $180, which is quite costly.

Languages are unavailable in ALL themes.

Shopify themes
Shopify themes

Generally speaking, Shopify themes seem tidy, elegant and attractive. They are made by professional designers, so you don’t have to worry about functionality and usability of each one.

Shopify themes
The platform offers a wide range of themes

If you are unsure whether investing around $180 in a premium theme is the right decision, you can get free themes to see how that works out for your store. Of course they will be inferior to paid ones in terms of functionality and attractiveness. However, they can save you quite a lot of time figuring out how to create an eye-catching storefront by yourself.

Having said that, we still recommend switching to a nicely designed paid theme later on when your business generates a decent amount of revenue. The price may be a bit high for new businesses, but it’s not that bad considering it’s a one-time payment and the paid themes are designed by UI-UX professionals.

Apart from the price, you should also consider the style according to what you’re selling and how you want your customers to feel when they see your store. On Shopify’s theme page, you can browse by industry or collections. Feel free to spend your time deciding what suits you the most.

Shopify themes
Furniture, Clothing & more

Note that all themes are freely customizable. You can add a personal touch to any of the themes by changing colors, fonts, social media buttons and more. Once again, Shopify’s ease of use really makes things much more convenient as you can add, remove or move sections by yourself with just a few clicks.

eCommerce tools and features

1. Reporting and Analysis

Shopify offers a decent range of reporting tools, which can be upgraded with higher plans. Basic Shopify gives you a real-time overview of key factors such as revenue, consumer preferences and so on. Further upgrades include detailed sales and customer reports, and Advanced Shopify or Shopify Plus both provide deep analysis with the help of filters.

You can also benefit quite a lot from Google Analytics integration. Connecting your store to a Google Analytics account results in an adequate and flexible combination between the two, where you may find almost anything you need.

2. Product management

Shopify lets you manually add products or import them using CSV files. Additionally, customers, orders and other pieces of data can also be imported. Adding products is simple. Clicking on “Products” right in the main dashboard directs you to the page where you can manage your products. If you haven’t had any, Shopify will show a big button right in the middle to add one.

You can fill in all the information related to your products, including title, description, featured images, videos and so on. SKUs and quantity tracking features help manage your inventory easily and automatically mark out-of-stock products.

Shopify product management
Shopify product management

Here you can also add variations for your products and set different prices for each one. However, note that you can only add 3 variants (size, color, material, etc).

3. Payment options

Shopify offers over 100 payment processors (probably more than any other platforms), including the most popular names such as Stripe, 2Checkout, PayPal or Authorize. This is great news except for the fact that Shopify will charge you a transaction fee (2.5% to 0.5% depending on your plan) unless you use its own payment gateway – Shopify Payments.

The option to accept payment in multiple currencies is only available with Shopify Payments. The system will automatically convert the price according to current exchange rates. You should definitely consider this option if your target market expands overseas and your location is in the list of where Shopify Payments is available.

Shopify payments
You can choose from 100+ payment providers

4. Shipping

Shopify provides high flexibility when it comes to shipping. You can configure your shipping rates (free shipping, flat rate, depending on region, etc). With the Advanced Shopify plan, you can also unlock third party calculated shipping rates, so you can show customers the current courier prices at checkout.

Shopify shipping
Shopify shipping and delivery

5. App store

With a total of 2000+ apps, Shopify is by far the platform with the biggest app store on the market. Basically you can find almost anything you want there.

Shopify app store
You can choose from a wide range of apps

While Shopify has already included most of the functionalities to meet basic needs, the App Store breaks all limits to what you can make of your eCommerce site.

The Shopify team does a good job helping you navigate through the enormous store by letting you browse by categories or collections. They are even passionate enough to create a “Staff picks” section containing apps personally selected by the team themselves.

One of the popularly used features is dropshipping, which is not integrated by default. Thus, you will need the help of the app store if you want this feature. Fortunately, there are a lot of apps for this, and Orbelo is one of the recommendations.

Other than that, you can browse the app store for more marketing tools, order & inventory management, store design tools and more. There are also apps that let you connect to social media platforms in order to further promote your business and increase traffic to your site.

6. Abandoned cart recovery

This is a really useful feature that is integrated by default for all plans. Instead of having to get an app, you just need to go to Orders from your Shopify admin and then click Abandoned checkouts to manage abandoned carts.

Shopify abandoned checkouts
Shopify abandoned checkouts

Here you can view payment events from abandoned checkouts. Shopify notes all payment events in the history of the abandoned checkout each time a customer fails to pay for a cart. You can get the information about their unsuccessful checkout here in case your customers contact you for help with payment details.

This feature also helps you figure out why carts are left unpaid by looking at the similarities. You can also choose to automatically or manually send emails containing checkout links to your customers to get them back to their abandoned carts.

Wondering how that works out for you? Shopify even lets you evaluate the effectiveness of cart recovery by email reports. Go to the Marketing section from your admin dashboard and you will be able to see orders that are completed via reminder emails.

SEO & Marketing

Most (if not all) eCommerce stores rely heavily on SEO & Marketing to sell products. No matter how much time and money you invested in developing your website, bad Search Engine Optimization and improper marketing can always hurt your sales since customers are the core of all businesses.

Fortunately, Shopify’s SEO is quite effective. It is adequate, intuitive and can help you rank well when utilized properly. Once again, Shopify’s ease of use comes in handy as you can access most built-in functions without a hitch.

You can easily access Shopify’s built-in SEO & Marketing options

As seen from the image, adding title, meta description and images to your pages is easy and straightforward. Shopify also lets you create custom URLs and 301 redirects every time you change the URL so as to avoid 404 errors.

Site speed is decent. Especially if you choose a simple and light theme, fast loading speed is not so hard to get. You can also structure your site by categories, which not only benefits your SEO but also helps users navigate seamlessly.

Having said that, there is still room for improvement. Certain URLs bear a mandatory string, which isn’t good for SEO. For example, product pages have ‘/products/’, and posts are stuck with ‘/posts/’ right after your domain name.

Additionally, Robots.txt file and Sitemap isn’t available for modification, making Shopify SEO a bit frustrating if you’re serious about site optimization.

Things aren’t that bad, however. Those were just some minor inconveniences that are outweighed by the amount of benefits you can derive from Shopify. Don’t forget the huge app store with endless SEO possibilities, and other tools to help you gain more traffic such as:

1. Blogging

If you want to write blog posts related to your business, the good news is that Shopify does have a blogging feature. However, there isn’t too much to expect, as this is not the main focus of the platform. It only gives you some basic functionality to write posts, meaning you may find it lacking if you already know how other platforms such as Weebly or Wix work.

The features you may miss the most includes blogging analytics, social bookmarking, categories (you have to stick to tags). If your site is centered around contents with a bit of eCommerce sprinkled, perhaps Shopify is not for you.

Having said that, Shopify blogging features still somewhat satisfy those with simple needs and goals. You can start writing right away without having to install any apps. Adding tags, editing titles and keywords is easy and simple. There are also SEO parameters for you to customize and increase your chances of appearing in the first search results.

2. Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect to your customers. Shopify gives you a built-in email tool to promote your products and share updates.

You can choose from different email templates to have an easy start while still maintaining professionalism. Of course emails are editable so you can add a personal touch of your own. All of this is processed within your admin panel, including reports of campaign effectiveness.

Shopify email marketing
You can easily connect to your customers

Security

When it comes to security, apparently there’s less to worry about when you opt for a hosted eCommerce solution instead of building a store with open-source platforms. You don’t even need to do anything – Shopify takes care of all tasks regarding security in the background.

With SSL Certificates for every Shopify site, all data transferred between you and your customers is encrypted. This helps increase trustworthy as sensitive information such as credit card details is completely secure. Additionally, Shopify is also PCI compliant, meaning it follows security standards for processing credit card and debit card details.

Support

Shopify has a support team available 24/7 for phone, email and live chat support. This is also a great advantage over its open-source rivals. The dedicated support team delivers valuable service regarding both information quality and response time.

Other than that, you also get to access its community forum, help center and other video tutorials. The ultimate form of support is hiring professional certified Shopify experts to ensure maximum problem resolution and seamless business operation.

Shopify Review – Recap

Shopify has outperformed almost every other eCommerce platform in our research. In summary, we suggest using Shopify to create your eCommerce store as it’s a highly flexible platform with a large app store, reasonable pricing plans and an impressive range of built-in features.

Shopify has a great sales potential, ease of use and satisfaction rates, making it a great option for newcomers and big sellers. According to our recent data report, our customers have been flocking to Shopify because of its outstanding features and we have also received positive feedback on this platform. Most of the migration we have completed so far are:

See our tutorial below to get an idea of how LitExtension can move your store to Shopify perfectly!

By the way, we have GREAT NEWS for you! If you want to move your online store to Shopify, we have created a migration app helping you to transfer 100 entities to Shopify for FREE.  Although the number of entities are limited, we believe that it would help you grab an overview how your store when it’s built on Shopify!

Thank you for keeping up with the Shopify review at this length. Should you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to leave us a message via live chat on website or an email via contact@litextension.com

In the arena of eCommerce solutions, it is obvious that there are competitions among platforms to win customers’ heart. We have also put Shopify in battle with other notable shopping carts. Check it out if you want to get to know more!

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