Should You Shopify Your Business? Website, Payments, and POS Review

Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses, more than just a website designer, it offers a robust platform for online stores to advertise their products, manage their inventory and arrange shipping.

You’ll also get an app to take contactless payments on iPhone. And there’s an optional upgrade to take in-person payments with a physical card reader. This is known as Shopify POS (point of sale).

In short, a Shopify subscription gives you access to sales technology including an online store website, customer relationship management, and inventory management. Do you want to determine whether Shopify is truly worth the investment? Before taking the plunge, this review will help you decide based on: your budget, your business, the features of Shopify, and the hidden costs you need to know.

Shopify Review: A Quick Rundown

Based on in-house research comparing Shopify with the best ecommerce platforms on the market, we’ve found the following:

Best suited to
  • Small, medium or large retailers serious about scaling
  • Merchants with a clear inventory set up
  • Mainly online selling (occasionally selling in person)
Sales channels
  • Shopify website (online store)
  • Smartphone app – free or optional Pro upgrade
  • POS (card reader) – optional upgrade
  • Shoppable link (for social media)
  • Facebook shop
Ease of use
  • Requires detailed inventory set up
  • Website editing can be fiddly
  • App is quick to download and easy to use (some sales require manual input)
Support options
  • Online guides
  • Email through webform
  • Webchat (fast connection but assistance may be slow)
  • Request a callback (hard to access)
  • Community discussion forum (active and staffed, but doesn’t always deliver results)
How Popular is Shopify?

Around 28% of US online stores are using Shopify – streets ahead of nearest competitors WooCommerce Checkout (18%) and Wix Stores (16%).

Shopify’s Pros and Cons


  • Sell online, in person or both
  • Integrates with dozens of other apps
  • Don't have to use Shopify hardware


  • Long list of fees
  • Premium customer support costs extra
  • iPhone only for smartphone payments app

Signing up for Shopify is a bit like signing up for Apple. It works best when you go for the full suite of products because they all connect to each other.

However, Shopify isn’t too restrictive. If you want to sell in person as well as online, you don’t have to buy Shopify’s own hardware. It integrates with a wide range of external software, too.

We trialled Shopify’s website builder to see for ourselves how easy it is to achieve the website you want. See below for a walkthrough of our experience building a website.

Shopify Pricing Breakdown

All of Shopify’s price plans come with:

  • A website (you customize a template, and hosting is included)
  • Access to POS Lite (an app that lets you take payments via iPhone)

Below are the current prices for Shopify subscriptions. Note that if you want to use POS hardware (to take in person card payments) you’ll need to upgrade to another subscription on top ($89 per month, per location).

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Shopify Basic


Shopify Advanced

Shopify Plus

Price per month
Paying for 12 months up front
Price per month
Paying for 12 months up front
Price per month
Paying for 12 months up front
Price per month
Paying for 12 months up front

From $2,000

$1 for first month

Transaction fees
Fees charged per sale unless you use Shopify Payments


Transaction fees
Fees charged per sale unless you use Shopify Payments


Transaction fees
Fees charged per sale unless you use Shopify Payments


Transaction fees
Fees charged per sale unless you use Shopify Payments


Credit card rates (online)
Payment processing fees per web sale

2.9% + 30¢ (US)

3.9% + 30¢ (international/Amex)

Credit card rates (online)
Payment processing fees per web sale

2.6% + 30¢ (US)

3.6% + 30¢ (international/Amex)

Credit card rates (online)
Payment processing fees per web sale

2.4% + 30¢ (US)

3.4% + 30¢ (international/Amex)

Credit card rates (online)
Payment processing fees per web sale

2.15% + 30¢ (US)

3.15% + 30¢ (international/Amex)

Credit card rates (in person)
Payment processing fees per in person sale


Credit card rates (in person)
Payment processing fees per in person sale

2.5% + 0¢

Credit card rates (in person)
Payment processing fees per in person sale


Credit card rates (in person)
Payment processing fees per in person sale


Shipping discount

Up to 77%

Shipping discount

Up to 88%

Shipping discount

Up to 88%

Shipping discount

Up to 88%

Staff accounts


Staff accounts


Staff accounts


Staff accounts


On top of your subscription, you’ll have to pay certain charges. For instance, unless you sign up for Shopify Payments, you’ll have to pay transaction fees per sale.

We’ve set out extra Shopify charges below:

Breakdown of Shopify Fees
Website templateFree or $180-$360
Shopify apps (optional)Various (eg. Synder accounting app is $0-$249.99/month)
Billing cycleMonthly
HostingNo charge
Additional bandwidthNo charge
Domain (website URL)Free if you use “”
Custom: $4-$40 per year (estimated)
Smartphone POS app (optional)Free or $89/month per location
Tap to Pay on iPhone100 free per month, then 25¢ per transaction
Hardware purchase (optional)From $49 + tax
Hardware rental (optional)From $100 + tax

For more detail, head on over to our guide on Shopify pricing.

Does Shopify Have a Free Plan?

No. Shopify offers a free trial of three days (downgraded from two weeks). You’ll get a taste of the premium features, including the website editor, inventory management, and customer segmentation tools.

After that, your website will be locked and you’ll be asked to pay to upgrade. This isn’t the case with Woocommerce, for example. In our Woocommerce vs Shopify comparison, we go into more detail in these two hold up against each other.

While there’s no free plan, Shopify is currently offering a deal of $1 for the first month on all its plans.

Shopify logo
Want to Enjoy $1 for the First Month?

Shopify Key Features Reviewed

In this section, we’ll look at Shopify’s website builder and its mobile POS app.

DIY Website Builder: Business First, Design Later

Shopify sees your website as a business tool – which it is. Customers come to your ecommerce website to buy things, not to catch up on celebrity gossip (although you can set up a blog). That means many editing tools are found in the dashboard view, not the Editor itself (unlike Wix, reviewed earlier this year).

This is really helpful for making changes across your entire website, rather than editing every individual page, like you would do in the Editor view.

But it reinforces that we’re not here to build a “fun” website with bells and whistles. Though you can easily access the raw code of your theme to shape it the way you need.

lefthand sidebar with sales channels listed, right hand shows multiple text fields to edit online shop messages on your Shopify website
You can change the wording on sold out products from your dashboard.

AI-Generated Product Descriptions: Super Convenient

In a bid to stay competitive, Shopify regularly releases features that save you time selling online. Our favorite of the year so far is Shopify Magic, an AI-powered gadget that spins up a product description whenever you need one.

It can be hard to think of 18 different descriptions for rigid boxes, but now Shopify’s built in assistant will do it for you. All you do is enter some keywords, choose from the available tones of voice (or even suggest your own) and a pristine, error-free paragraph appears within seconds.

lefthand sidebar shows text fields with keywords and tone of voice selection, right hand text box shows AI-generated text
This is the AI-generated description for a bookcase in my choice of "reassuring" tone.

Shopify is also releasing Sidekick, an AI tool for ecommerce. We weren’t able to get our hands on it as it isn’t widely available, but you can sign up to be considered for early access. Sidekick can carry out tasks for you such as adding discounts, writing product descriptions, and rustling up reports.

Sidekick is conversational so you can even bounce ideas off it to help you develop content for your brand.

No Product Dimensions Field

If you need to include measurements for your items, you’d better do this in your text description. There’s no field to include product dimensions on your Shopify site.

POS App: Needs Improvement

Launching its iPhone and Android app for taking payments in 2020, Shopify’s advance into mobile payment is certainly vital (and appreciated). While the app worked smoothly and quickly when I tested it, some users feel it’s too much manual input for a system that should be automated.

On Shopify’s own app store, the point of sale app is rated 2.8/5 and the last four reviews are all one star. For its part, Shopify responded to all negative reviews with suggested workarounds or confirmations of feedback being passed on to developers.

two screenshots of payment app showing checkout screen and payment options limited to cash
It's simple enough to add discounts of any amount to a purchase.

AI in Commerce

Shopify Magic presents a range of AI tools to reduce the need for manual tasks. Alongside Sidekick, an AI commerce assistant which we mentioned above, Shopify is also releasing ‘Smart replies’. This AI tool helps you to respond quickly to live chat inquiries. You’re able to review, edit, and respond to live chat questions.

Shopify’s email tool is designed to help you overcome creative ruts and make it easy to create marketing campaigns without much effort on your part.

You can create branded emails using a drag-and-drop editor, choose from pre-built templates, and automate emails.

Although Shopify Emails was launched in 2020, it’s now almost completely automated and boasts a ton of templates. I liked that you could choose from a variety of templates including announcements, promotions, and newsletters. It was super easy to edit the templates, subject line, and email preview text.

With most of the information filled in for the relevant template, it only took a couple of minutes to modify it and create a professional and sleek email. The ‘send test email’ feature is also handy to prevent any mishaps.

The overview section gives you concrete numbers on how well your email marketing campaigns are performing.

Shopify Payments: A Simple Way to Take Payments Online?

Shopify does a lot to incentivize you into using its native payment gateway. Signing up is the only way to avoid transaction fees (2%-0.15%) you’ll otherwise pay on every credit card payment.

Plus, if you sell subscriptions then you’ll have to use Shopify Payments.

To be eligible in the US, you need a USD bank account in the States that’s set up for ACH transfers.

Who Powers Shopify Payments?

Stripe is the card processor behind Shopify Payments, organized under the laws of Delaware.

✔️ Benefits

Shopify Payments is convenient because it synchs with your Shopify dashboard, so you can track charges, refunds, and payouts more easily than alternative providers.

Customers can save their shipping and payment details through Shop Pay (another tool from Shopify). This will save time during checkout for repeat buyers. Yet it has to be said many competitors offer identical features.

You can also accept payment in installments if you choose to activate Shop Pay Installments.

Shopify Payments provides security benefits too, including:

  • 3D secure authentication
  • Automated dispute management
  • Card testing protection
  • Flags proxy IP address users

Its companion Fraud Control app monitors activity that could signal fraudulent purchasing.

Testing Shopify Payments

Shopify includes a Bogus Gateway for testing the checkout process with Shopify Payments. We found the instructions clear and effective in helping us set up dry-run transactions.

❌ Weaknesses

Shopify provides some assistance with chargebacks, but you’ll have to pay a $15 fee. This could be refunded if the customer’s claim isn’t genuine.

Due to restrictions from Stripe and the law, Shopify Payments doesn’t permit several business types, including:

  • Financial services (eg. wire services, crowdfunding or insurance)
  • Real estate investment
  • Mortgage consulting
  • Debt reduction
  • Gambling (including bidding fee auctions, fundraising raffles or lotteries)
  • Adult content (including toys, strip clubs or dating services)
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Telehealth services
  • E-cigarettes
  • Essay mills

And there’s always the possibility of your Shopify Payments account being frozen if any suspicious activity is detected. It may remain locked for a period of time while Shopify investigates the issue. But this risk applies to any online payments facilitator, including PayPal.

There are actually around 100 alternative payment providers in the US to connect your Shopify store to if you’re not sold on Shopify Payments.

Since Our Last Update: January 2024

Shopify has added the following features:

  • Sell digital products: B2B Shopify users can now sell wholesale digital products such as digital downloads and services to their customers.
  • Multilingual sites: Site visitors can now be automatically redirected to the correct language based on their browser location, making Shopify an even more suitable ecommerce platform for stores catering to an international customer base.
  • Checkout flexibility: All plans, Basic, Shopify and Advanced now get to choose for themselves whether they’d like a one-page or three-page checkout stage, whatever suits your store and your buyers best.

Shopify POS: Good for Selling in Person?

Keeping up with competitor Square (created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey), Shopify also has a suite of physical payment processing equipment. Its POS connectivity delivers the to-die-for convenience of synchronizing your website sales with those made in person.

Shopify sells POS hardware but you can use other brands instead.

Unfortunately, Shopify’s POS did not score as highly as Square’s POS, the best POS system according to our research. In our like-for-like testing, Square came out on top with 4.8/5 with Shopify trailing behind at 4.1/5. The main reason was pricing: Square POS has no monthly fee while Shopify POS Pro requires a $89 payment per location on top of your main subscription package.

✔️ Benefits

Handily, Shopify POS connects with a really wide range of POS devices. This will save you from buying extra retail hardware from Shopify if you’re migrating from another system.

There are quite a few ways Shopify connects in-person shopping with online selling, too:

  • Inventory levels synched across physical and online locations
  • Buy online, collect or exchange in-store (pro upgrade)
  • QR codes for products in store so customers can scan to buy online
  • Email customers with abandoned in-store items
  • Pay in store with email gift cards

Now that customers expect greater connectivity between the online and in person buying experiences, features like these will help you capture sales you may otherwise lose.

❌ Weaknesses

Like many card reader devices, you won’t be able to use Shopify POS without an active WiFi connection. But (you guessed it), you’d be able to with Square POS. Toast POS can also process credit card payments offline, but it’s best suited to restaurants.

So if your Shopify-connected device drops offline while you’re out at a trade show, you’ll only be able to take payments in cash. If buyers don’t carry cash, you could potentially lose out on stacks of sales.

However, if you could do with technical support at a special event, you can hire a Shopify expert to assist you all day as part of the company’s hardware rental program. Be warned, it won’t come cheap at all.

Curious about other POS options? Check out our guide to the best retail POS systems for more advice.

How Does Shopify Compare to Other Providers?

We’ve seen how Shopify’s POS lags behind Square, a more established provider of in person sales tech. But the advantage of Shopify is its superiority as an online selling platform.

No other online store comes with the same strength of inventory management features that Shopify has. However, you now have to synch Amazon, Walmart, and eBay sales using third-party apps on Shopify, whereas BigCommerce connects to these directly from its dashboard.

Nevertheless, our test users found Shopify more user-friendly than BigCommerce overall, and were more likely to recommend the former.

Shopify’s integrated AI text generator places it a cut above GoDaddy (which has no AI text generator). Wix released its own AI text generator back in January, but its choice of writing tones is more limited than Shopify’s.

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Square Online


Best For

Advanced sales features

Best For

Creating a good-looking website with excellent sales features

Best For

Selling digital products or portfolios

Best For

Multichannel selling

Best For

Value for money

Best For

Getting online quickly

Price Range

$5-$299/month (paying annually)

$1 for first month

Price Range
Price Range
Price Range


Price Range


Price Range

$20.99/month (first year)

$26.99/month (afterwards)

Key Features
  • Website design tools
  • Sell products or services
  • Order tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Self-hosts its sites
  • Shipping discounts
Key Features
  • Around 900 design templates
  • Loads of website functions
  • Sell on Facebook, eBay, Amazon, and more
  • Tools to boost search engine visibility
Key Features
  • Stunning templates
  • SSL security
  • Unlimited product listings
  • Members area and subscriptions
Key Features
  • Unlimited products, file storage and bandwidth
  • Sell on Amazon, Walmart and eBay
  • Limited product filtering
  • Limited inventory locations
Key Features
  • Pickup and delivery
  • Order fulfilment
  • Sell on social channels
  • Accept PayPal (on Plus plan)
  • Connect with Square card reader
Key Features
  • SSL security
  • Email marketing
  • Take appointment bookings
  • Social posts
  • Phone support
Free Plan
Free Plan
Free Plan
Free Plan
Free Plan
Free Plan
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Free trial
Still stuck on which online store tool is best for you? Check out out easy comparison guide

The best website builder for you ultimately depends on what you’re looking for from a platform. If advanced sales features and inventory management are your top priorities, we recommend a sales-first platform like Shopify or BigCommerce. These will better support your needs than a more design-focused platform like Squarespace.

On the other hand, if you’re a photographer, designer or other creative just looking to showcase your work on a fittingly stylish website – Squarespace or Wix may be more suitable than Shopify, with all its sales-oriented bells and whistles.

If budget is your number one concern, we’d recommend starting with a platform that offers a free trial or even a free plan, such as Wix or Square Online. Smaller businesses or solo entrepreneurs may benefit from this approach too, before taking the plunge on a pricier subscription.

What Kind of Business is Shopify Best for?

Shopify is an online selling platform best suited to more confident or established business owners. We wouldn’t recommend its premium plans for beginners because the costs involved mean you need a healthy stream of sales to make it worthwhile.

If you’ve already got your inventory set up and sorted (with product types, names, images, and unit pricing), then you’re ready to get started with Shopify.

Beginner sellers can look into Shopify Starter, a $5-per-month subscription that lets you add “Shoppable links” to your Instagram, Facebook (or similar) profiles. You’ll pay 5% transaction fees with Shopify Payments on this plan, and won’t get a website included.

Our Methodology: How Do We Know What to Recommend?

We regularly test website builders (such as Shopify) so that every review is based on first-hand experience and real opinions. We round up some test users and ask them to carry out the same set of tasks under timed conditions. Their feedback is recorded and feeds back into the full research for the product.

We make sure to compare features to similar website builders and POS systems on the market, too. That way we can confidently recommend where to find the business tools you need for the right price.

Verdict: Shopify to Scale

You’ll get on well with Shopify if you’ve got a clear business plan, and you’re ready to scale up your retail business. Remember you can access a three day free trial to get a feel for its dashboard and website editor.

For convenience (and reduced selling fees), you can add Shopify Payments to your online store. Powered by Stripe, Shopify Payments still lets you offer your customers alternative payment methods such as PayPal, in addition.

As we’ve seen, Shopify POS is a good addition to your digital sales channels if you occasionally sell at events or in person at a fixed location. It’s highly secure, though it won’t work without WiFi.


Is Shopify worth it?
Shopify is a somewhat expensive online selling platform, so it’s not worth it for low-level retailers with less than $300 in sales per month.

But if your sales are growing – your products are in demand, you regularly refresh stock, and you’re looking to scale up your business – then Shopify is a good investment.

What are the disadvantages of Shopify?
  • Pay transaction fees (between 2% and 0.15% depending on your subscription, unless you sign up to Shopify Payments)
  • Pay card payment fees (variable based on card type and subscription)
  • Very few free website templates
  • POS does not work without internet connection
Can you really make money with Shopify?
You should consider your budget carefully before signing up with Shopify. After all, you want to ensure you’ll make a healthy profit after you subtract the costs of your Shopify subscription, card fees, transaction fees, and any extra website fees (such as apps, templates, and domain costs).

If your products are in high demand, and you’ve done enough market research to ensure this trend will continue, then yes, you can make money with Shopify. Ensure you thoroughly research Shopify’s pricing options to make sure you’re not paying for features you don’t need.

Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.