Shopify Ecommerce Review 2018

Shopify is the best all-round ecommerce platform, and it’s not even close

Shopify Ecommerce Review 2018

The all-around track and field king of the ecommerce circuit


Shopify company logo

A Shopify ecommerce website

Shopify Ecommerce Review
Features
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall
Reviewed by:

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Pros:

  • Phenomenal multi-channel integration
  • Best-in-class sales functionality
  • A completely customizable ecommerce platform

X Cons:

  • Transaction fees
  • Switching templates is more difficult than it needs to be

In a Nutshell

Shopify ticks all the boxes – it’s as near-complete an ecommerce solution as you’ll find.

You have to hand it to Shopify: even with half a million customers and a billion dollar valuation in the bag, Canada’s only ecommerce unicorn (sorry, narwhal) is showing no signs of slowing down.

In fact, they’re only just getting started in their mission to help brick-and-mortar businesses compete with the giants of online ecommerce.

But does Shopify deserve your commerce?

In a word, yes. Read on to find out why, and give Shopify a try.


Shopify Ecommerce Review


Who Should Use Shopify For Ecommerce?

Anyone Looking to Build a Recognizable Ecommerce Brand

Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce solution for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). However, unlike Amazon or eBay product listings, Shopify gives you your own online storefront and hosts it at your chosen web domain. Having your own specialized ecommerce website is an excellent way to gain the loyalty of customers new and old.

Fortunately, Shopify gives you more control over the look and feel of your website than most ecommerce platforms we’ve tested. You can align your website with your brick-and-mortar brand (if you have one), or go for a completely new look. Either way, Shopify gives you lots of control over the end result.

Anyone With Ambitious Growth Goals

Product and checkout pages may be your main breadwinners, but they’d be nothing without the sales channels that bring people to your website in the first place. Blogs, for example, are proven to increase repeat website visits and build trust with people who might not be ready to buy from you. Shopify’s built-in blog creator provides for seamless integration with the rest of your site.

Shopify’s extensive third-party app support also enables you to put all those Facebook likes to good use through laser-targeted social media marketing campaigns. In short, Shopify’s support for myriad content marketing and sales channels makes it easy to get eyeballs on your business.

...Anyone. Period.

Shopify doesn’t cap the number of products and services you can sell through your website, nor does it limit the types. Whether you deal in physical or digital products or services, you’ll be able to sell them through Shopify.

Anyone can – and should – consider using Shopify for the simple reason that you’ve got nothing to lose. There’s a generous 14-day free trial, during which you get access to all of the platform’s paid features. Granted, you won’t be able to start selling anything until you sign up for a paid subscription, but you can upgrade at any time during the trial (and you still won’t be charged for the first two weeks). Conversely, if you decide it’s not for you, you’re free to opt out at any point. Either way, you win.

Shopify Ecommerce Design Options

Shopify provides more than 60 ecommerce-specific themes for your website. Of these, 10 are completely free to use; the rest cost anywhere between $140-$180. That might seem steep compared with the monthly cost of Shopify itself, but remember that most web designers charge ten times that amount for a professionally-designed website. And when you see Shopify’s themes for yourself, it soon becomes apparent that $180 is nothing short of a steal:

Shopify’s website templates

Shopify’s templates respond beautifully to screens of all sizes

These themes are an excellent starting point, but you’ll no doubt want to customize them to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, making simple aesthetic alterations (color palettes, typography, iconography, and more) is easy enough with Shopify’s built-in theme editor:

Shopify’s theme editor

More sensible design choices (we’re noticing a definite theme here…)

One caveat is that any changes you make will be applied to your entire website. Technically, there is a way to make targeted changes to the appearance of specific webpages, but it involves learning how to read and write Liquid (the programming language that powers Shopify).

Needless to say, that’s a big ask when you’re trying to run a business. That’s where the Shopify Experts marketplace comes into play. There, you can hire world-class designers to make modifications to an existing theme or build a unique website from scratch.

Shopify Expert marketplace

Shopify Experts puts a world of design expertise at your fingertips

Shopify Ecommerce Ease of Use

Ecommerce platforms don’t get much simpler than Shopify.

Shopify page creator

Add a few images and product specs, and you’re good to go

On the analytics side of things, Shopify is pre-configured to track useful metrics like first time and returning customer rates, sessions, and conversion rates. The data automatically populates an easy-to-read dashboard, complete with customizable filters and an impressive live map of where your sales are coming from in real time. Here’s how it all looks within the Shopify user interface:

Shopify analytics

Shopify’s UX designers deserve a pat on the back for this

Equally, you can configure custom reports to hit your email inbox for even greater convenience. Setting these up couldn’t be easier, but it does come at a price: while basic user behavior and marketing reporting are included in Shopify’s Standard service tier, you’ll need to be on the Advanced subscription to access Shopify’s most insightful sales reports.

Shopify Ecommerce Value for Money

Shopify offers its platform through four pricing tiers, with monthly, annual and biennial payment options:

Pay-as-you-go
($/month)
1-Year Prepaid
($/month)
2-Year Prepaid
($/month)
Basic$29$26.10$23.20
Standard$79$71.10$63.20
Advanced$299$269.10$239.20
Shopify PlusCustom quoteCustom quoteCustom quote

And here are the main feature variants at each tier:

FeatureBasicStandardAdvancedShopify Plus
Staff Accounts2515Unlimited
Abandoned Cart Recoveryx
Gift Cardsx
Third Party Shipping Rate Calculationxx
Advanced Report Builderxx

At $23.20/month, the cheapest Shopify subscription (Basic, 2-year prepaid) costs more than its lowest cost competitor, Wix ($15/month). That said, Wix doesn’t make it as easy to update your inventory, and lacks useful features that Shopify includes as standard.

At the upper end, $239.20 for an Advanced Shopify account represents great value for money, especially if you need detailed ecommerce reporting for your site. This tier also supports third-party calculated shipping rates, so you can give your customers more delivery options at checkout.

One big consideration is the number of staff accounts you need. After all, what good are fancy features if not everyone on your team has access to them? Shopify’s Basic tier offers enough to run a small ecommerce operation, but if you’re set on building an empire, you’ll want more than two staff accounts.

The service tier you start off on might not be as attractive a year from now when your team has doubled in size. Thankfully, shifting to the next tier is easily done via your account dashboard. Check out Shopify’s pricing plans for yourself.

Where Does Shopify Fall Short?

It’s a fantastic all-rounder, but is Shopify a no-brainer? Not necessarily. Here’s why:

Transaction Fees

Shopify charges transaction fees for every sale you make through the platform. These apply in addition to fees levied by your credit card processor:

Shopify transaction fees

Ouch

The good news is you can avoid being double charged by using Shopify’s own credit card processor, Shopify Payments. Shopify Payments charges a single transaction fee of between 2.4-2.9% per transaction, which covers all Shopify card processing and ecommerce services.

Fiddly Template Migration

As pretty as they are, swapping between Shopify's website templates isn't the smoothest experience. Any adjustments you've made to the default layout of your current template disappear, forcing you to reformat your entire site if you decide to switch themes after your website has gone live. Better pick wisely.

Shopify Ecommerce Review: Expert Verdict

Shopify wants to be the world’s number one option for selling online. If its rising market share is anything to go by, many businesses think it already is.

If the glowing tone of this Shopify ecommerce review didn't make it obvious, we agree. For our money, Shopify is the best all-round ecommerce platform. Whether you deal in physical or digital products or services, Shopify’s superb sales features give them every chance to sell well. Aside from a few design inflexibilities and transaction fees that are higher than we’d like, there’s little else to fault with the way Shopify does business.

Try Shopify for free today.