Shopify Reviews

Read our expert opinion of Shopify, along with unbiased reviews from 1 real users

Shopify was founded in 2004 by a three people originally intending to set up an online store called "Snowdevil". Not finding a sufficient online commerce solution, one of the members Tobias Lütke, who was a developer, decided to build his own. What follows is a very successful story about how they created one of the best and most successful online website builders for commerce that was valued at over $1.3 billion dollars following their IPO in 2013. You can read more about their history here.

The great thing about website builders is that they require far less technical knowledge to get up and running. You are able to customize one of many fantastic designs, install and configure different functionality such as staff accounts, gift cards, real-time carrier shipping to name just a few. Furthermore, their inbuilt processors allow accepting payments online a breeze. Shopify are easily one of the better solutions for managing your online store.

Editor's note: Our experience with Shopify website builder is mainly through testing using their free, but fully functional developer sites feature. While our experience is very positive, you are advised to also check our readers opinions at the end of this review for greater insight.

Shopify key points

Editor's picks

Editors choice award

Server Location

US

Website Builder Features

E-commerce \ Online Store

Expert Opinion

Shopify Website Builder Review

Shopify Website Builder Plans — Perfect for online stores of all sizes and traffic levels

Shopify offer three main website builder plans, ranging from $29 per month to $299 per month. If you just wish to sell on Facebook, then they offer a lite plan for just $9 per month, and for enterprise users you can contact them for a custom solution ensuring that no matter your needs, they have got you covered.

This review will focus on their three main plans, which you can see a quick comparison of below:

Plan Features Basic Shopify Plan Shopify Plan Advanced Shopify Plan
Monthly Price $29 $79 $299
Online CC Rates 2.9% + 30¢ 2.6% + 30¢ 2.4% + 30¢
In Person CC Rates 2.7% + 0¢ 2.5% + 0¢ 2.4% + 0¢
Transaction Fees (Shopify Payments) None None None
Transaction Fees (External) 2.0% 1.0% 0.5%
Staff Accounts 2 5 15
Number of Products Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
File Storage Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Shipping Label discount Good Better Best
Retail Package + $49 + $49 + $49
24/7 Support Yes Yes Yes
Fraud Analysis Yes Yes Yes
Manual Order Creation Yes Yes Yes
Coupon Codes Yes Yes Yes
Website& Blog Yes Yes Yes
Free SSL Yes Yes Yes
Gift Cards Yes Yes
Professional Reports Yes Yes
Abandoned Cart Recovery Yes Yes
Advanced Report Builder Yes
Real-time Carrier Shipping Yes

As you can see, even the "Basic" plan has an incredible amount of features. Rather than summarize the features now, we will endeavor to cover all the most important ones below.

10 Reasons to use the Shopify Website Builder for your Online Store

We have set out in a fair amount of detail ten broad reasons \ features that make Shopify an extremely powerful choice for your online store. Due to the level of detail within each section, you can jump to the different parts by using the links below:

#1 Easily Build out and Customize your online shopping store

#1.1 Choose from over 100 professional themes by some of world's best designers

Shopify have a small selection of free website themes, but to really unlock the beauty of Shopify you will want to choose one of their premium themes which are more specific to various industries such as clothing, furniture, Toys& Games and Electronics to name just a few.

The professional themes cost in the region of $160 to $180, but compared to a custom website design which may cost anywhere between $5000 and $20,000, especially with all the functionality that Shopify offers, then this is an absolute bargain.

Many of the themes are created and supported by top designers such as Out of the Sandbox, enabling you to get theme specific support and custom modifications if you do not wish or are unable to do it yourself. One of the most popular themes by Out of the Sandbox is their Retina Theme, a screenshot of which is below:

Shopify Themes

Some of the features included with the Retina theme include:

  • Mobile-friendly responsive website design — Make it easy for your customers to buy your products, no matter what device they are viewing your storefront on. Plus, grab that mobile-friendly ranking boost.
  • Search engine optimization friendly — Implement Google Rich Snippets support for optimized product listings.
  • High Definition Retina display — With Retina display support, your products will look great, especially on Tablets, or monitors with higher resolution displays.
  • Built-in styles and color palettes — Choose from four built-in styles for the theme, and customize them with one of the custom color palettes.
  • Free Theme updates and support — Get free updates to the theme, plus theme specific support from the theme creators themselves.
  • Instagram and Twitter feeds — Integrate your social media feeds directly within your website.
  • Slideshows with video — Create stunning slideshows to showcase your products. Make them standout with videos.
  • Disqus commenting system support — Use one of the most popular and powerful commenting systems.
  • Sidebar navigation — Add multiple menus and custom content to your sidebar throughout your store.
  • Quick buy functionality — Increase sales by making it extremely easy for users to purchase your products.

Of course, this is just the theme specific functionality. We will look in more detail at the functionality offered by Shopify shortly.

#1.2 Brand and customize your online store

Customize ShopifyWhen choosing your template make sure to look carefully at the different settings and options made available to you. While there are some differences, all themes offer an incredible level of customization allowing you to customize every area of your storefront.

For example, add your logo, change the storefront to reflect your brands appearance and colors.

#1.3 Edit HTML and CSS

While Shopify themes allow you to customize your storefront via their intuitive admin. interface, Shopify allows you and your developers to dig down into the code allowing you to customize every aspect of your store, including the structure and layout.

Shopify use a template language called "Liquid" that allows incorporation of tags, objects and filters into the template files that make up the storefront.

This allows developers to incorporate some really fun custom functionality, like add custom messages to customers:

{% if user.name == 'elvis' %}
 Hey Elvis
{% endif %}

This piece of code will print out a custom message "Hey Elvis" if the user is logged in and named "Elvis". But you could easily replace this to say a personalized hello to every user.

#1.4 Mobile commerce ready

The Shopify store include a fully featured mobile commerce shopping cart. This enables customers to make purchases even if there are browsing from their smartphone or tablet.

The mobile checkout is fully secure (we will talk about this more later), and features all the same features and products details as your e-commerce store.

#1.5 Get expert help to customize your store

We mentioned above, that some theme designers offer premium customization services, as well as support generally for the theme.

One of the great things about Shopify is that it has developed its own ecosystem of experts, all conveniently listed in the Shopify directory based on service type, location, and an indication of their starting costs:

  • Setup Experts — If you need help carrying out the initial configuration of the store, or want to migrate your store from another platform, then the setup experts are on hand to help.
  • Designers — Get help tweaking one of the templates, craft a completely unique design, or otherwise customize the appearance of your online store.
  • Developers — Create more complex theme modifications or custom apps.
  • Marketers — If you need help driving customers to your store, or with building brand awareness then these companies can help with SEO, Social Media and other Marketing efforts.
  • Photographers — Create stunning high quality photographs of your products to increase your conversion rates.

With access to all these professionals, all with an inherent expertise of the Shopify Store, there really is no reason why your business can't succeed.

Of course, they all come at a cost. But despite that, you can easily get up an running with one of the fantastic themes, and a bit of hard work yourself.

#1.6 Use your own domain name

It goes without saying, but for your store to fully reflect your brand you will want to use your own branded domain name. If you don't have one, you can purchase it through Shopify.

#1.6 Manage your entire website via a web browser

To manage your website you won't need FTP or SSH programs to upload your content, nor will you have to integrate the shopping store into your existing website. The whole website is managed through just one admin. interface with their fully-featured content management system.

#1.6 Fully-featured blogging platform

Shopify blogging platformWe cannot understate the important of having an active blog on your website when it comes to Search Engine Optimization and online marketing. By implementing a blog, whether for general interest articles, reviewing products, or as a device to show that you are an expert in your field by writing technical articles, you cannot only drive traffic to your website, but also build a loyal audience.

Furthermore, and it is not within the scope of this Shopify Review to go into too much detail, but for SEO here are a few reasons why it is a must:

  • Attract Backlinks — One of the major ranking factors for SEO are backlinks. These act a signal to Google that your website is popular, and thus will be rewarded with higher rankings. Unfortunately, webmasters tend not to provide backlinks to overly promotional product pages. The solution is to create great content, and undertake content marketing.
  • Drive PageRank to your important "Money Pages" — By attracting links to your blog, you can then internally link and promote your most profitable and higher converting products. This will improve your search visibility for those profitable keywords, as well as filtering traffic from your blog to your product pages.

Just remember, for a successful content marketing strategy, your content needs to be engaging, develop a following and generally be non-promotional. This doesn't mean you can't do some heavily promotional posts too, just bear in mind that every type of page has a purpose, wether to go viral on social media, convert visitors to sales, or attract backlinks. A post doesn't have to, nor should it, try to do all three at the same time.

The blogging functionality includes a relatively basic set of tools (compare to say, WordPress), with the ability to publish articles, embed images and videos, and manage comments.

You can sort your posts according to tags, but it doesn't have category functionality like WordPress. That being said, you can setup multiple blogs on your website that will segregate the posts a little better.

Overall, for most users, the blogging functionality at Shopify is more than adequate. For a great example, just check out the Shopify blog that runs on the platform.

#2 Secure, yet feature-rich Shopping cart system

#2.1 Encrypted and Secure data

Shopify are Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. This is a legal requirement required by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard when companies handle credit or debit card information.

If you wish to accept online payments from Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit cards, your software and hosting needs to be PCI compliant. For this reason many online stores use third-party processors such as PayPal, Stripe or something other solution to avoid the need to store credit card details directly. Shopify is such an example of a third-party solution.

While not legally required, Shopify also store all confidential customer information such as names, addresses and telephone numbers on PCI compliant servers.

Editor's note: It would appear at this time that Shopify do not allow you to directly store credit card information within your own store, which as caused some backlash from users.

#2.2 Accept all major Credit Card types

When you launch your online store, you will instantly be able to accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Furthermore, you will be able to order the Shopify POS (Point of Sale) system in order to accept payments in person should you also have a physical store.

The system for accepting payments in intuitive, with a sophisticated dashboard available so you can easily track your balance and payment schedule:

Shopify payment admin areaFurthermore, if you live in the US or Canada, you can use the native Shopify POS system hardware (in other countries you will need to purchase hardware from their recommended third-party suppliers). 

We look in detail at the new Shopify POS Android app here.

Shopify Credit Card Fees

Shopify, like any credit card payment processor charges a fee. The fees are shown in the screenshot below:

Accept Credit Card Payments Online with ShopifyIf you choose not to use Shopify Payments, and instead use an external payment gateway there is also a transaction fee. For the Basic Shopify plan this is 2 percent, the Shopify Plan is 1 percent, with the Advanced Shopify plan just 0.5 percent.

There is no fee when using Shopify's own system, which is powered by Stripe.

#2.3 Integrate with over 70 external payment gateways

If you have a specific reason to use your own payment gateway, you will be pleased that Shopify support over 70 different payment gateways, ranging from PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, 2Checkout, First Data or AmazonPayments.

Of course, as we mentioned above, this comes at additional cost with a transaction fee from between 2 percent and 0.5 percent, depending on your plan.

Shopify have a complete list of all the payment gateways they accept here, which is conveniently sorted by the gateways available in each country.

#2.4 Free shipping functionality

According to Shopify, you can increase the size of your order when offering free shipping. By choosing the price at which free shipping occurs, you can encourage customers to make additional purchases so they can qualify.

Shopify made this comment about free shipping:

Customers are more likely to abandon a checkout because of the price of extra shipping charges than they are because of the price of a product that they've added to their cart.

In addition to applying free shipping over a certain order size in monetary terms, you can also configure free shipping for the following options:

  • Free shipping over set weight
  • Free local delivery
  • Free customer pickup

#2.5 Integrate with UPS, FedEx and other major carriers for automated Shipping Rates

If you have signed up for the Advanced Shopify plan, you can take advantage of this power feature. The advantage of using an automated system is significant, with carriers such as UPS and FedEx collecting the packages directly from you, and then delivering them to your customers.

The automation of shipping rates is based on the following:

  • The total weight of the order
  • Default shipping dimensions
  • Use of company name at checkout (i.e. whether they are eligible for business rates)

Of course, the responsibility is on you to ensure that you have entered correct weights for each variant of product to ensure shipping rates are correct.

The following carriers are available:

  • USPS
  • FedEx
  • UPS
  • Canada Post (Canada only)

In many cases for high volume users it is possible to negotiate reduced rates with your preferred carrier. Unfortunately, only UPS reduced rates can be reflected at the checkout.

#2.6 Flexible Shipping Rates

We have already discussed offering free shipping, and automated shipping rates based on the carriers cost criteria. However, Shopify offers a wide range of different ways to charge shipping, including:

  • Fixed price
  • Tiered pricing
  • Weight
  • Location

This enables you to offer cheaper or free shipping for local orders, or reduced pricing when customers order multiple products.

#2.7 Abandoned Checkout Recovery feature

This is probably one of our most liked features, but unfortunately is not available on their basic plan.

The ability to send an email, along with a link to the abandoned cart to users is an extremely powerful way to increase sales. It works by storing information entered by the user during the checkout process, so that you can review the abandoned cart along with basic details about that user.

You can then configure the system to either manually, or automatically send an email to that user after they abandon the checkout to try and induce them into continuing with the purchase.

You can see a screenshot below of the information made available to you, along with the status of whether you have sent an email to the user and whether it was successful:

abandoned checkout shopify

After configuration, it really just comes down to the ingenuity of your follow-up email as to whether you can persuade the user to return. You could for example offer an incentive, such as a coupon code or free shipping.

#2.8 Target users worldwide with over 50 languages

The online checkout comes in over 50 languages, and with all new Shopify themes being required to support multiple languages you can make a truly global e-commerce store.

#2.9 Apply taxes automatically based on your customers location

Not only can you display your website in your user's preferred language, but your shopping cart will automatically apply all relevant taxes depending on your customers order location. The checkout can handle both country and state level tax rates.

#3 Manage your store, customers and deliveries with ease

The client and order management side of Shopify is extremely easy to use, allowing you to maintain customer profiles, manage orders, as well as integrate with Dropshipping services too.

#3.1 Detailed Customer Profiles

The customer account screen at Shopify is very intuitive. You can easily find all the information required about your customers, including shopping habits, contact information and order history:

Shopify customer management

#3.2 Customer Account Creation encourages repeat shopping

The customer account creation in Shopify has a few features we really like. Firstly, on the issue of account creation you have three options:

  • Accounts are disabled - With this option, users will need to manually enter their checkout details such as delivery address every time they visit your store.
  • Accounts are optional - Some users do not like having their information stored online, and as such this option provides the best of both worlds. Furthermore, as you will read below, you can always send an email to the customer inviting them to create the account at a later date.
  • Accounts are required - Only customers who create an account may complete an order. This is great for wholesale or members-only stores. Note that this is an invite-only option, and as such the option to register on the storefront is completely removed.

A screenshot of the account configuration screen is below:

Customer account settings shopifyIf your user chose not to create and account, or if you have set accounts as required and you have an existing list of customers you need to invite to create an account you can do so easily within Shopify. 

You can either trigger to invite customers individually, or in bulk. You can also fully customize the invite email that is sent.

#3.3 Sort, filter and group your customer lists

Management of your customer lists is easy with the ability to sort, filter and group customers.

#3.3.1 Sorting

You can sort your customer list based on name, location, number of orders, last order and total spent simply by clicking on the heading of the appropriate column on the customers page:

Shopify Sort customers

#3.3.2 Filtering

You can filter your customers based on money spent, number of orders, date an order was placed, date the customer was created, whether they accept marketing, the date an order was abandoned, account status, tags and country location:

Shopify filter customers

#3.3.2 Grouping

Once you have carried out a search, or have filtered your list of customers by certain criteria, you can group those customers. You can then use these groups to apply special promotions or discounts.

#3.4 Complex Shipping options

When it comes to planning your delivery strategy, Shopify provides you with a wide range of options:

#3.4.1 Connect to fulfillment centers

If you live in the US, there are some truly great fulfillment solutions available, that enable you to ship your product to a third-party warehouse who will then do all the shipping and storage on your behalf. While this may seem an expensive solution when starting out, compared with hiring your own staff and renting your own warehouse, this can be extremely appealling and will scale as your business grows.

With Shopify you can connect to fulfillment solutions such as Amazon, Rakuten Super Logistics, and Shipwire, or set up a custom fulfillment solution via email nofitications or custom API integrations. It should be noted though, that the Amazon fulfillment is only available in the US.

Amazon fulfillment shopify

#3.4.2 Utilize Dropshipping services

Dropshipping is where your store does not hold any inventory or stock. When your customer creates an order, you automatically place your own order from your supplier and the product is sent direct to your customer.

Shopify integrates with apps like Ordoro, Inventory Source, and eCommHub to enable you to create a completely hands-free stock and delivery solution.

Despite the appeal, margins for dropshipping can be quite low, so you may need to provide added value in other ways. A great post about dropshipping at Shopify can be found here.

#3.5 Manage orders with one-click order fulfillment

When an order is placed, and payment notification is received, you will then need to arrange for the product to be delivered. As noted above, you can either do this manually, or via dropshipping or via a fulfillment center.

Whatever method you have chosen, you will then need to mark the order as fulfilled. This can be done in just one click to make your daily management process extremely simple:

shopify-fulfilmment-one-click

#3.7 Easily refund orders

Refunding an order in Shopify is extremely easy. The refund process is even integrated with the inventory management system, so that your stock is automatically updated (if you choose that option).

If you use Shopify Payments, then the amount is deducted from your next payment if sufficient funds are available, rather than deducted from your account.

shopify refund order

#3.8 Easily manage your store on your Smartphone

All aspects of the order process can be managed on Shopify's Smartphone app. We will discuss this more in detail later in this review.

#3.9 Fully customizable email templates add that personal touch

All emails relating to the order process are fully customizable, both in terms of design, content and language.

#4 From SEO, Marketing to Product Review functionality, Shopify's powerful features will help your business grow

Shopify has a powerful set of features to enable you to successfully promtoe your website. From the basic SEO meta data, such as Titles and descriptions, to SEO friendly product reviews fully optimized with Schema markup.

Not only that, but there are tools for Social media, Email marketing, direct selling on Facebook, as well as the option to use Discount Coupons.

#4.1 Optimized for the Search Engines

Shopify offers all the basic functionality you would expect from any website, including the following:

  • Title tags, meta descriptions and URLs for your pages
  • ALT tags for all images, customizable image file names
  • Auto-generated sitemap.xml and robots.txt files
  • Auto generated canonical URL tags
  • Plus many more basic features

We won't go into detail on these points, but suffice to say, these points will help your store rank better in Google. Of course, this is all very basic stuff, and what you see with any website these days. Where Shopify really comes into its own, is with the community apps, and the Themes SEO optimizations.

As just one example, because there are many SEO apps in the Shopify App store, the "plug-in-seo" app has full support for Structured data, as well as automatic checks which suggest improvements to your site.

#4.2 Promo and Coupon Codes

Promos and Coupons can act as a great incentive for something to purchase a product, especially if they are part of a limited time offer. Shopify has some rather good options when it comes to coupons and promotions, with a vast array configurations.

Discount codes can be designed to offer the following:

  • Set price discount
  • Percentage discount
  • Free Shipping

Furthermore, you can configure the coupon or promotion to be valid between certain dates, for a certain number of times, or only apply to set order amounts, as well as to specific products, items or collections.

Furthermore, you can extend the functionality of the coupons with apps, such as "Coupon Pop" which will allow you encourage users to subscribe to social media (i.e. discount in return for subscribing), and can be set to show for specific visitors such as traffic source, or set to display on certain pages.

#4.3 Gift Cards

shopify gift certificateGift cards can be a great way to increase sales, especially around the Christmas period. You customers will be able to purchase a gift card for someone easily via your online store. Gift cards can also be used as an incentive or reward for buying certain products, or for providing credit by way of refunds.

The gift card system is simple to setup. The customer purchases a gift certificate in the same way they would by a product from your online store. When the order is marked as fulfilled, the customer will be sent a personalized email containing their unique URL, which they can use to view their certificate. Their certificate will contain an amount, and unique certificate code as shown below:

#4.4 Social Media Integration

All online stores include social media integration, including Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbler. Becuase the visual aspects of such integration depend on the theme, you should check each theme carefully before choosing to ensure the integration is sufficient for your needs.

In addition to the default theme settings, there are also many apps in the Shopify App store that can be used to increase the social media functionality of your store.

#4.5 $100 worth of Adwords Credits when you spend $25

As soon as you sign up to Shopify you will be awarded $75 free credit, which to use requires you to pay $25 credit yourself. If you do not live in the US, then you may wish to check the exact Adwords credit offer, as it may vary depending on the country you reside in.

Google Adwords is an advertising system that allows you to promote your store. The great thing about it, is that you only pay when they click to visit your website, or call.

You can target your adverts locally or globally, and choose the specific times that your adverts may be shown. Many more targeting options are available too. You can read more about Adwords here.

Editor's note: We are currently in the process of writing this review:

#4.6 Product Review functionality

#4.7 Email Marketing

#4.8 Directly Sell on Facebook

#5 Manage your store, customers and deliveries with ease

#6 Manage your store, customers and deliveries with ease

#7 Manage your store, customers and deliveries with ease

#8 Manage your store, customers and deliveries with ease

#9 Manage your store, customers and deliveries with ease

#10 Affordable, yet scalable pricing and plans

What people are saying

Find out what people are saying about Shopify below, or alternatively, if you have experience with them yourself, feel free to leave your review.

Review type: Website Builders

Overall review score

Recommended: Yes

9.8
Support
10
Features
10
Speed
10
Uptime
9
Value
10

We have one of the bigger Shopify Plus stores, and it has really allowed us to scale. I love the app integration and how there really isn't anything we can't do. I also love a lot of it you can do on your own without pricey app developers. It has been a pretty awesome couple of years with them. Plus, they have been able to handle tremendous traffic.

There have been a couple of issues with uptime, but it is never down for very long.

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