Shopify In 2018: What Do Shopify Client Reviews Say?
If you are looking for one of the easiest ways to get started with e-commerce, look no further than Shopify.
Shopify is a leading site for turnkey e-commerce hosting. It offers all the necessary services, including domain registration, site hosting, content management, and payment processing. New clients get a 14-day free trial.
E-commerce is Shopify’s exclusive focus. While it is possible in principle to use the platform to create other types of sites, other companies (and their services) make more sense if selling online is not your main purpose.
The first online store Shopify built was its own. The company launched over a decade ago, selling snowboarding equipment directly to consumers instead of dealing with middlemen or opting for the marketplaces.
Both digital and brick-and-mortar middle-men in existence at the time was out of the loop.
Over time, Shopify turned away from its roots in snowboarding and began to market itself as a hassle-free platform for companies looking to build digital businesses. Ever since then, the company has focused on “making commerce better for everyone.”
How Popular Is Shopify?
Today, Shopify powers over 600,000 stores online, 1 million active users, and over $63 billion worth of goods have been sold via Shopify-powered stores.
Shopify itself has grown from five employees working out of a coffee shop to over 3000 employees working in five North American offices.
Shopify Reviews by Our Community
Overall Rating from 1 Reviews by Shopify Customers
Most Helpful Reviews
Laura Ponka howtocreateapplications.tk
Jun 28, 2014
How Shopify Works
According to Shopify’s website, you can get your site created “within seconds of sign-up.” This is a bit of an exaggeration, but the process is smooth and simple.
Businesses can set up a site quickly using a standard template or spend a lot of time customizing it to the appearance they want. Testing tools let the client perform trial transactions before going live.
Shopify can host an existing domain, or clients can register a domain through Shopify. The most economical option is to request a subdomain of myshopify.com at no cost. Clients can add as many subdomains as they want to the primary domain.
Security and Safety
Security is one of Shopify’s strong points. Accepting credit card payments online requires compliance with the PCI standards, and Shopify meets all levels of PCI compliance.
All client sites on Shopify (assuming that the customer has not implemented questionable practices) are PCI compliant.
Each site comes with an SSL certificate at no extra cost. All Shopify content is encrypted and sent over HTTPS to make sure personal information can’t be intercepted and that content can’t be altered in transit.
Since Shopify is a cloud service, the site’s software is always up to date. Store owners don’t have to worry about backups or software upgrades.
Shopify offers three different pricing plans from which customers may choose. All include payment processing via the Shopify Payments service (which allows customers to accept credit card payments).
The higher-end plans charge more per month, providing several benefits in return:
- Lower credit card fees
- Lower fees on external payment gateways
- More staff accounts
- Shipping discounts
- Reporting features
Credit card processing (via Shopify Payments) is a standard feature, and Shopify does not assess transaction fees on purchases made using this service.
Accepting Credit Cards
Customers who want to accept credit cards (or additional forms of payments) via the third-party integration of their choice, can do so. However, Shopify does assess transaction fees on this type of payment.
Several plans are available, and the ones with higher monthly rates charge less per transaction.
Businesses with very high sales volume can request a quote for an enterprise-grade Shopify Plus plan. This gets them extra support and migration tools but be aware that this option does not come cheap.
Transaction fees are those assessed by Shopify above and beyond the monthly subscription fees required to use the platform itself.
Customers who accept payments using Shopify Payments do not incur any transaction fees (though you should be aware that Shopify still assesses something it calls the Card Rate, which varies depending on which Shopify plan you choose).
The downside to this option is that Shopify Payments only works with the following 6 types of debit credit cards:
- American Express
- Diners Club
Manual Payment Methods and Fees
Transaction fees do not apply to manual payment methods, including cash on delivery (COD), bank deposits, checks, test orders, and draft orders marked as pending or paid.
Transaction fees also do not apply to point-of-sale orders (for those conducting in-person business).
Essentially, Shopify assesses transaction fees only on the orders brokered by Shopify and paid for using a third-party payment gateway. Fees range from 2.4% of the order total + $0.30 to 2.9% of the order total + $0.30.
Shopify’s transaction fees tend to be on the higher side (as compared to its peers). In fact, some of its competitors do not assess any transaction fees.
Alternative Shopify Plans and Options
The Shopify Lite plan is an inexpensive, no-frills plan that allows customers to sell on the platform of their choice (including Squarespace, WordPress, Tumblr, and more) while displaying their products on their Facebook pages.
Users can share their store’s products, use Facebook Messenger to provide live chat support, offer paying customers order tracking, accept payments, and create and send invoices.
Shopify Plus and Buy Button
The Shopify Plus plan encompasses all enterprise-grade solutions for large business and high volume merchants.
The Shopify Buy Button allows customers to display and sell products on any site or blog. It is an embeddable widget that is fully customizable.
Shopify Trials, CDNs, and Email
Customers who are unsure as to which Shopify plan best meets their needs can delay this decision during the fourteen-day trial period and simply get started with Shopify.
Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
Content delivery networks (CDNs) are useful for improving the performance of websites from the perspective of the user. By caching and sending the website from a web server close to the user, the site loads in a shorter amount of time.
The Fastly CDN connects Shopify to users all over the world. Fast response is important to getting and keeping customers on a website, and Fastly’s edge servers and caching keep users from having to wait.
Email is one of the main ways sellers communicate with their customers. While Shopify does not provide email hosting, the hosting plan that all users get does provide an unlimited number of forwarding email addresses.
This means that customers can email an address whose domain matches that of the website.
In order for the seller to save the communications and to respond, they will need to set up email forwarding to an account hosted by a third-party. Applications such as G Suite or Zoho Mail suffice.
Creating an E-Commerce Site
The instructions on Shopify’s site start with detailed information on how to plan an online store before setting up the store. These instructions lead the user through all the required steps, beginning with how to obtain a domain name for publishing the site.
The first steps after setting up the domain are adding products and selecting themes. Static pages can then be added as necessary, along with a menu to link to them.
The Initial Setup Process
Then, the setup process lets the user select payment and shipping methods and specify tax requirements. After constructing the site, the user can test it and place dummy orders to make sure everything is working.
All in all, the store set-up process is straightforward enough that little technical knowledge is necessary. The testing mode lets clients make sure the site is the way they want it before the site is published.
There are two main ways customers can customize the look, feel, and behavior of their website:
In addition to the freely available themes and apps, there are premium options that customers can purchase. Shopify also provides its customers with the ability to create their own themes and apps.
Shopify allows its users to customize the look and feel of their websites with the use of themes.
Shopify themes come in the hundreds.
Clients can opt to use one of the free themes available, or they can opt to purchase and use a premium option.
There are currently over a hundred different themes available, and customers can filter through the options available based on the number of products their store sells, business type, layout style, and so on.
Templates, Layouts, and Styling
A Shopify theme is made up of different layouts and templates, and you can keep or change as much (or as little) as you like. The built-in editor makes it easy for customers to change things on the theme. Customers may also write and use their own CSS and HTML.
One Shopify site can have as many as twenty themes installed, but only one can be published and active (and therefore displayed to visitors) at a time.
If none of the available themes appeals to somebody, they can certainly design their own.
Shopify theme development requires the developer to join the Shopify Partner Program, which allows them to create free development stores that can be used for testing purposes.
Tools for Theme Development
To develop a theme, developers can use any of the three Shopify-provided tools:
- Slate: Slate comes with a theme scaffold (templates, sections, starter styles, and helper scripts) and a toolkit of commands that compile theme files and sync local files to the development store
- Shopify Theme Kit: a full development environment for theme creation (this option is much more customizable than Slate)
- Shopify Online Code Editor: an online editor great for quick fixes and previews
Shopify themes are developed using a templating language called Liquid, an open source, Ruby-based language that was created by the company to load dynamic content onto the pages of online stores.
While themes change the look and feel of a store, apps change the behavior of a store.
Many apps are available through Shopify’s app store. They provide additional functionality in areas such as marketing, sales, shipping, and accounting.
For example, someone might choose to install the Shippo app to assist with the printing of mailing labels and to take advantage of USPS shipping discounts and the Notify Me app in the event that one or more of their products has gone out of stock.
Some apps are available free of charge, while others are available for a flat rate or a monthly fee.
Developers can create their own apps, or they can use app extensions and embedded app libraries to extend an existing app.
Like those who want to create themes, developers must first join the Shopify Partner Program and then create free development stores that can be used for testing purposes.
The specifics of a custom app may vary, but Shopify has an accessible API to which the app may call. Shopify also ships a library that helps developers handle authentication and authorization, a difficult task to handle in code.
Shopify offers numerous features to help website owners manage all aspects of their stores.
Shopify allows customers to track the information they have on their customers, including:
- Names and contact information
- Order history
- Communications records
Shopify’s inventory management solutions can help customers:
- Set up and organize your products (including product variations, such as color or size)
- Assign unique identifiers to everything they sell
- Track details on your inventory so that they can see what sells well and what doesn’t
Shipping and Fulfillment
Once items have been sold, Shopify can integrate with third-party shipping services for things like paid postage or with cloud vendors for delivery of digital files.
Support and Uptime
If you have issues with Shopify, there are several things you can do.
Customers who are having issues with Shopify have several options to choose from in terms of getting the help they need.
Shopify Support Wizard
First, Shopify has a Support wizard where the customer can provide the details regarding the issue at hand.
This wizard is essentially a fancy search engine that returns documentation that the customer might find helpful. If nothing helpful or useful comes up, the customer may then contact a Shopify representative.
Customers may request personal help via email, phone, or live chat 24/7. Shopify tracks all issues and includes things like status information so that the customer knows when their problem is being worked on and what has or has not been done.
Finally, Shopify provides publicly-accessible online forums that let their clients discuss issues and ask for suggestions.
Uptime and Downtime
When it comes to e-commerce, uptime is important. After all, an unavailable site means that customers cannot purchase items. This issue is something that directly affects a business’ bottom line.
Shopify are incredibly transparent with a wide array of performance statistics on display.
Shopify promises its customers a 99.98% uptime.
At any time, customers can check the status of Shopify’s infrastructure, as well as how the platform is performing.
The Shopify Partners program consists of e-commerce experts that have partnered with Shopify to provide solutions to Shopify’s customers.
Shopify encourages both freelancers and agencies to join the Shopify Partners program. Perks of being a part of the program include:
- Earning additional revenue
- Reaching a wide audience with your product
- Gain additional traffic to your business
- Discounts on products for business development, project management, product design, and testing
Alternatives to Shopify
While Shopify is certainly a major player in the e-commerce platform arena, there are other options worthy of consideration available. These include:
- 3D Cart
- Big Cartel
- Magento Commerce
Just to get an idea of pricing, here is a table of starting prices for each of the below alternatives:
|3D Cart||Big Cartel||BigCommerce||Magento Commerce||WooCommerce|
|Starting Price (Cheapest Plan)||From $19.00/month||$9.99/month||$29.95/month||PUI (Price upon enquiry)||Dependent on extension|
|Free Trial?||Yes – 14 days||Yes – Unlimited||Yes – 15 days||No||Yes – 14 days|
3D Cart is a full-featured, e-commerce platform that emphasizes the SEO-readiness of all websites built using its product.
3D Cart’s offerings are more limited than Shopify’s, but you are certainly not missing anything essential for launching your online store.
Features of 3D Cart
Furthermore, 3D Cart does not assess transaction fees and comes standard with features like:
- Dedicated SSL certificates for securing your site
- Blogging functionality
- Support for gift cards
- Reporting and analytics
- Support for over 160 types of payment methods
- More themes available (all free of charge)
Essentially, 3D Cart is the more customizable option, while Shopify is the more extensible option.
BigCartel is an e-commerce platform aimed toward artists and makers.
Creative types can use BigCartel to easily launch an online store on a budget. BigCartel is cheaper to use than Shopify. It is one of the few sites where small vendors can launch and maintain a store completely free of charge.
Full Customizability and More
Sites built on BigCartel are fully customizable, regardless of whether the customer used a theme or not.
Other BigCartel features include:
- Real-time statistics and analytics
- Search engine optimization
- Order management
- Promotional tools
BigCartel also offers mobile apps so that its customers can conduct sales in person (for example, at fairs and festivals).
BigCommerce is a major competitor of Shopify. The company is well-aware that it supports just a fraction of the online stores Shopify does. It strives to gain market share by providing more value (the company offers more features to its customers at a lower cost).
BigCommerce has some impressive statistics.
Some of the biggest perks of opting for BigCommerce over Shopify include:
- No transaction fees
- More native features that do not require the addition of add-on apps
- Better product catalog system
Where BigCommerce seems to lags behind Shopify, according to publicly-available reviews, is in customer service and marketing assistance.
Magento Commerce is a flexible e-commerce platform that comes with a free-to-use, open source variant, as well as a paid, cloud platform edition.
The biggest perk of using Magento (besides it being free if you have opted for the open source version) is that it is fully customizable. No matter what features a customer what want, a developer can make that feature happen.
On the flip side, such flexibility can be problematic for someone who does not have the technical skills needed to manage such a complex platform.
Magento Commerce is powerful and feature-rich, but it is not an easy solution to get up and running, nor is it easy to manage and maintain.
For those who are interested in building an e-commerce store using the WordPress platform, consider WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is an open source e-commerce platform built exclusively for users of WordPress, and it is fully customizable.
WooCommerce is extensible, flexible, and powerful. We think of it as occupying the middle ground between Shopify (super easy to use, some limitations on what you can do due to the platform itself) and Magento (super extensible and flexible, but requires the assistance of a developer).
The Pros and Cons of Shopify
Having covered the basics of Shopify, what are the pros and cons of this e-commerce platform?
- Shopify does many things right, making it a good choice for businesses who want to set up a solid e-commerce site but don’t want to build it from scratch.
- Businesses can set up everything necessary for online sales without requiring programming or web design skills. All the steps are well explained. Many customization options are available to make the site look distinctive and professional. With 99.98% uptime and no bandwidth limit, availability won’t be a problem.
- The hosting features help to ensure broad outreach. All the themes are mobile-ready and internationalized. Search engine optimization is built into every site.
- The app store offers many extra features to run a more successful online business.
No service is ideal for everyone, and some aspects of Shopify may keep it from being a business’s best choice.
- It offers less flexibility than a self-managed website. Businesses that want the broadest range of options may want to spend the necessary money on custom development with a CMS.
- There’s no good way to export a site and move it somewhere else. The Liquid language isn’t widely used outside Shopify, so it will have to be rewritten. A business that later wants to migrate to a CMS will have a fair amount of work to do.
- Checkout redirects from the merchant’s own domain to check out shopify.com. Some people have expressed concern on forums that seeing the domain change may scare buyers away just as they’re about to pay.
Shopify’s target market is small to medium businesses that want a turnkey solution to e-commerce. It serves that market very well. Shopify allows for customization of its product via themes and apps.
Other hosting services and e-commerce platform allow more control over the site, but they require more development and maintenance work. Shopify provides a very good e-commerce experience for a reasonable cost and a small amount of effort.
Additional material by Gary McGath.
Shopify Frequently Asked Questions
- Does Shopify provide hosting?
Shopify provides e-commerce hosting for all of its accounts. Depending on the plan, you can use your own domain name or have a shopify.com subdomain. If you are interested in hosting a non-Shopify website, you a probably better off with a different host. But if you want to run a Shopify-based website, Shopify provides all the tools you need.
- What is an e-commerce website?
An e-commerce website is a virtual store on the internet. Typically, e-commerce websites have a range of products, a shopping cart, a checkout function, and a way of making payment through the website.
- How do I create an online store?
To create an e-commerce store, you will need to choose a platform. Shopify is just one option, but there are others, such as Magento. Once you have the platform set up, you can create products, add photos, and set prices.
- Does Shopify offer a free trial for its plans?
Shopify offers its customers a 14-day free trial where customers can work with Shopify’s interface and see the various features. This free trial period does not require you to enter your credit card information.
- What security features does Shopify implement?
Shopify implements a 256-bit SSL certificate to ensure that financial transactions taking place on your website are secure. In addition, Shopify is Level 1 PCI Compliant which means that your customer’s credit card data is stored and processed securely.
- Do I need to purchase an SSL Certificate for my online store?
All of Shopify’s e-commerce plans include an SSL certificate. However, if you use the “Buy Now” button on your own site, you may need to purchase one. Contact customer support for more details.
- What type of support does Shopify offer its customers?
Customers who need help resolving issues with their store can contact the company 24/7 through email, chat, and phone. They can also get help by posting the question on the community forum or taking a look at the various user guides and tutorials in the Shopify Help Center. For customers interested in learning more about general e-commerce concepts such as crowdfunding or drop shipping, Shopify has an eCommerce University.
- Who owns Shopify?
Shopify was founded by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake. Tobias Lütke is the CEO and was the original developer behind the project. The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015.
- How many products can I put on my online store?
All of Shopify’s plans allow you to put an unlimited number of products on your e-commerce site.
- Does Shopify allow me to add products to my existing site?
- Is it possible to use Shopify to power an online store on social media sites?
Yes, Shopify can be used to create your own store on multiple social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. For example, with Facebook, you can feature products and add an option to purchase your products on your Facebook account’s business page.
- Does Shopify offer a way to sell different variations of a product?
Shopify was designed with product variations in mind. So if you have a product available in three colors, six sizes, and two materials, Shopify will let you create a product listing that includes all of those variations.
- Am I able to integrate discounts or promotions on my online store?
Yes, it is possible to create various discount codes for all Shopify plans. However, if you are interested in giving away physical or digital gift cards, you must have the Shopify or Advanced Shopify plans.
- Are Shopify themes free?
No, not all Shopify themes are free. However, out of over a 100 themes there are 6 free themes you can use for your store’s website.
- Do I have to purchase a domain name from Shopify?
No. You can either purchase a domain name through Shopify or from another host.
- Is it possible to create an online store that also features a blog with Shopify?
Shopify not only gives you the tools you need to create a shopping cart and interface for your customers to view items, it also gives you a complete content management system. The CMS allows you to create a dedicated blog as well as static pages to add to your online store.
- Am I able to receive payments via credit card?
Yes. In addition to its own payment gateway, Shopify supports a wide range of other gateways such as Authorize.net and PayPal. However, if you choose to use an external gateway, you will incur additional transaction fees.
- Does Shopify support integrating in-person sales with online store sales?
Shopify offers a point-of-sale (POS) solution that enables you to sell both online and in person all from a single account. You even get a free card reader to accept credit cards in person using your favorite mobile device.
- Do shoppers at my store need to create an account to complete the checkout process?
Shopify allows shoppers to create accounts, but it isn’t required.
- Can I build a custom theme or have a designer build one for me?
If you have the skills, you can build your own theme or modify one purchased from the theme store. If you want help, Shopify has a search tool to help you find a Shopify Expert that fits your project and budget. To make modifications, you’ll need to select a plan that gives you full access to the template files in order to implement a custom theme.
- Are Shopify themes responsive?
All of Shopify’s themes are responsive, meaning that customers will see an appropriate interface regardless of whether they are using their computer, tablet, or phone.
- Does Shopify have features to support multiple languages?
If you sell to customers who do not speak English, Shopify provides the tools and plugins necessary to translate your online store’s pages and products into different languages.
- Does Shopify provide shopper statistics?
Shopify gives you a integrated dashboard that includes a wide range of statistics that include the number of sales and traffic. You can also get reports on various products you sell and understand which products sell the most. The reports also give you insights on the visitors to your website such as where they came from or how they found your store.
- What is Shopify payments?
Shopify payments is Shopify’s own payment gateway. If you use it, you’ll be able to start accepting credit cards at your store right away, without setting up any accounts with third party payment processing providers.
- How do you set up an online store?
You can set up an online store by choosing a hosted platform like Shopify, or installing software on your web hosting account. For example, you could use WordPress with an e-commerce plugin, or a dedicated shopping cart script for your Windows or Linux server.
- What is Shopify UK?
Shopify has a UK website at www.shopify.co.uk. The company has 22 different regional websites, including options for the United States, Indonesia, Ireland, India, France, and Canada.