Shopify Review (2017)

by | May 20, 2017 | 0 comments

My Shopify Review…

I’ve been using Shopify for about 3 years now. It’s the first platform that comes to mind when a beginner asks which online store builder to use. In this Shopify review, I’ll cover the basics to help you decide if it’s the right platform for you and your business. 

When it comes to ecommerce store builders, there is undeniably some stiff competition. The big players include Shopify, Bigcommerce and Volusion, all of which have their pros and cons. Shopify offers a powerful platform that allows virtually anyone to get a professional looking website up and running within just a few hours. Shopify is my favorite for the majority of stores, and I would certainly recommend that you try it out for yourself.

Top Reasons to Choose Shopify…

Quality Themes

Shopify not only offers the most themes, but also the best quality themes I’ve seen. This is likely due to them sourcing themes from third party designers. It provides an unparalleled amount of variety.

Apps

Over 1,400 apps are available with Shopify. This is a tremendous advantage since apps allow you to customize and automate your store in more ways than you can imagine.

Shopify Payments

Shopify payments is seamlessly integrated into every store. It provides an easy way to accept credit cards on your website. This is one of the main things that sets them apart. It’s just so easy!

You May Not Like Shopify If…

You want to use your own payment gateway

Shopify has one main disadvantage. They are one of the only platforms to charge additional transaction fees if you use a payment gateway other than Shopify Payments. These fees range from .05% to 2% of each and every transaction. Fortunately, Shopify Payments is a fantastic way to accept credit cards for the vast majority of stores so there really isn’t any need for a third party gateway.

An Initial Overview…

Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Competitive Pricing
  • Shopify Payments Is The Ideal Payment Gateway
  • Beautiful Free and Paid Themes
  • A Massive Selection of Quality Apps
  • A+ Customer Service
  • SSL Certificate Included
  • Secure HTTPS checkouts and PCI compliance
  • Unlimited Bandwidth

Cons:

  • High Transaction Fees (when using a 3rd party payment gateway)
  • A somewhat complex system for creating multi level menus
Pricing

Shopify has a similar pricing structure to most of their competitors. They have a three tiered structure starting with the “Basic Shopify” plan at $29/month. Next is the “Shopify” plan at $79/month and lastly the “Advanced Shopify” plan at $299/month. The $29/month plan provides everything you need to get started. You’re able to upgrade at any time. You can also get a 14 day free trial here (no obligation)

Ease Of Use

Shopify is extremely easy to use. Even a complete beginner can have a store up and running within just a few hours.

Themes

Shopify offers the best themes that I’ve seen from any ecommerce builder. They offer 10 free themes, some of which with multiple variations. They also offer a wide variety of paid themes to meet whatever needs you may have. I love the fact that their themes are developed by different 3rd party designers. I believe that’s what gives them the quality and variety that they all seem to have.

Apps

Shopify has one of the largest app libraries available. Like themes, most are developed by 3rd party developers. Some are free and some paid. I’ve never had a single problem with any of the free or paid apps from their app library.

Credit Card Processing

One of the things that really sets Shopify apart is their in house payment gateway. They call it “Shopify Payments” and it’s a dream come true for beginner and experienced store owners alike. Getting an account takes less than five minutes. Once you have an account set up you will be able to start accepting credit cards on your store with no additional steps. IT’S AWESOME!

Reports/Analytics

Shopify offers what I believe to be the best reporting dashboard of all the website builders. It’s clean and easy to understand while still showing you everything you need to see. Plus, you can always get upgraded analytics through various apps in their app library.

Customer Support

Shopify offers 24/7 customer support through live chat, phone or email. My experiences have all been positive.

Overall Thoughts

Shopify is my favorite ecommerce store builder platform for many reasons. I feel that it is simply better suited for most  stores than other platforms. That being said, there’s a chance it may not be right for your business. If nothing else, I highly reccomend you check it out before you commit to a platform. They have a no obligation, 14 day free trial . This gives you access to the entire platform and they don’t even require a credit card to get started. There’s nothing to lose!

1. Pricing

There are 4 prices you should consider when choosing a platform for your online store.

Monthly Fees

This is the monthly cost to gain access to the platform. The Shopify Basic Plan starts at $29/month and goes up to $299/month for the Advanced Plan.

Credit Card Processing

These are the fees you are charged for processing a customers card on your site. Usually a base rate plus a percentage of the total sale. (ex. 2.9% + $.30 per transaction when using the Basic Shopify Plan)

Transaction Fees

These are the fees charged on each sale. Usually as a percentage. With Shopify you wont pay transaction fees unless you’re using a payment gateway other than Shopify Payments.

Add-On Fees

These are one time or monthly fees charged by theme or app creators for the purchase or use of their products. You will only be charged for the products you purchase. It is very do-able to start and operate a store without purchasing any add-ons.

Shopify Pricing/Plans

Basic Shopify

The Basic Shopify plan starts out at just $29/month and includes more than enough features to get your store up and running. I reccomend that most users start out on the basic plan and upgrade as their store grows or if they find they need additional features.

This plan also has the highest credit card processing rates and transaction fees when using an external payment gateway.

Shopify

The Shopify plan is the middle of the road. It starts out at $79/month and includes more than additional features such as gift cards, professional reports and most importantly abandoned cart recovery. These extra features can be useful and will easily pay for themselves when utilized on a store that is making some sales.

Being the middle of the road plan you will find middle of the road credit card fees and transaction fees. If you are making even a small amount of sales you may consider upgrading to this plan as the lower fees may result in a substantial savings overall.

Advanced Shopify

The Advanced Shopify plan is top of the line. It includes some additional features such as the ability to add up to 15 staff accounts. However, the bulk of the benefits will come from the lower credit card rates and transaction fees.

Shopify Lite

Shopify also offers a “Lite” plan for only $9/month. However, it doesn’t afford you a storefront. It will only allow you to sell through your Facebook page or Facebook messenger.

2. Ease Of Use

Shopify is has a very intuitive user interface, which is quite impressive considering the sheer number of powerful features they were able to pack into the platform. I’d say a complete beginner could master the necessary functions and get a basic store up and ready to make sales in as little as 2-4 hours.

Everything in Shopify is controlled through the “dashboard”. The Shopify dashboard is similar to the desktop on your computer in the sense that every action to edit your store is initiated from a button on the dashboard. You’ll see the primary dashboard functions on the left side of your screen.

The Shopify Dashboard

3. Themes

The theme you choose for  your store will serve as a base for everything you do. It’s crucial for an ecommerce builder to have a variety of themes for you to choose from. Shopify delivers big in this department.

Shopify doesn’t disappoint when it comes to quality or selection of themes. They offer 10 themes that are completely free to use. Some of them with multiple variations, but for the purpose of this review we’ll leave the count at 10.

In addition to the 10 free themes, they have hundreds of paid themes available in their theme store. I’ve only ever used their free themes, so I’m not going to comment much on the paid variations. However, everything I’ve seen from looking through them has been impressive.

Shopify allows independent designers to build themes for their theme store. I believe this is the reason for the quality and variety. There’s a theme for just about any type of store I can imagine.

I’ve haven’t seen another platform that can stack up favorably to Shopify’s themes. My favorite free themes are Minimal and Boundless.

4. Apps

Another important function of an online store builder is the flexibility to add quality apps.  Apps give you the ability to customize and automate your store so it performs exactly how you envisioned. Fortunately, Shopify delivers big on apps. Their collection of over 1,400 simply decimates the competition.

My experience with most of the popular apps on Shopify has been nothing but great. They have all performed flawlessly and I’ve had no problems integrating them with other third party apps.

A taste of what apps can do for your store…

  • Automatically import products from Aliexpress to dropship from your store with Oberlo. Check out our Oberlo Review
  • Find and import products to dropship with MODALYST.
  • Send abandoned cart emails with Consistent Cart.
  • Increase social engagement with your brand with the many social media apps.
  • Automate shipping and fulfillment with Shopify’s array of shipping apps such as aftership.
  • Save time on bookkeeping and invoicing with Shopify’s various accounting apps.
  • Gain valuable insight and understand your customers behavior with in-depth reporting apps.
  • They even have apps that make it simple to sell through additional sales channels such as Amazon or kik, all through your shopify back end.

5. Credit Card Processing

Shopify Payments Is a Dream Come True!

This is Shopify’s own credit card processing gateway. It’s also one of the main reasons I love Shopify so much!  It’s by far the simplest way to accept credit cards on your website from the day you open your doors. They require only a small amount of information and get your account almost instantly.

  • Setup takes only a few minutes
  • Deposits to your bank account are often next day
  • Payments are directly linked to each sale for easy record keeping
  • Refunds are effortless
  • Chargebacks can be handled easily within the platform

Shopify and External Payment Gateways... (Not Ideal)

Shopify payments truly is a dream come true. However, some of you may wish to use an third party gateway such as Authorize.net, 2Checkout or one of the many other providers available today.

The problem with this is Shopify will charge you a transaction fee on top of what your payment processor charges. These extra fees start at .05% and go up to 2% based on the plan you choose. This is obviously an effort to encourage the use of Shopify payments.

The upside is, they do make it very easy to integrate with most third party gateways.

Shopify Payments is ideal for 99% of stores. If you wish to use an alternative method, you may want to look at other options to avoid additional Shopify transaction fees. 

6. Reports/Analytics

Shopify has the cleanest and most informative reporting and analytics of any ecommerce platform I’ve used. They display all the necessary data about your sales as well as analytics of where your customers come from. In addition there are some mind blowing apps available if you need more in depth reporting of anything that happens on your site.

7. Customizability

Worried about branding your store? Shopify allows you to tweak virtually everything. You can change colors, typography, images and more with the click of a button through their theme editor.

Can’t find a theme that works perfectly for your store? They even allow you to edit the HTML and CSSof your theme. This makes it possible to change just about anything you can imagine. If you don’t know how to do this, there are plenty of freelancers out there that can quickly make changes for you.

9. Reliability

In my years of using Shopify, I’ve never had a single reliability issue. Not even once. I love the fact that they have 24/7 monitoring to maintain a high level of uptime. In adition you never have to worry about any problems due to a spike in traffic to your store. Their hosting ensures that your site remains lightning fast during periods of high activity.

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Uptime

8. Customer Support

A+ In Customer Service

I’ve experiences Shopify’s first class customer service first hand. Whenever I have a question about editing a theme, handling a chargeback or any other problems that plague the life of an ecommerce store owner, they were always available to guide me through the process.

They offer 24/7 Chat, Email and Phone support so there’s always someone there to help no matter your preferred contact method.

Final Thoughts

Shopify is my favorite ecommerce store builder platform for many reasons. I feel that it is simply better suited for most  stores than other platforms. That being said, there’s a chance it may not be right for your business. If nothing else, I highly reccomend you check it out before you commit to a platform. They have a no obligation, 14 day free trial. This gives you access to the entire platform and they don’t even require a credit card to get started. There’s nothing to lose!

Store Setup Tutorial

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