In this Shopify eCommerce platform review, you will find insightful answers to questions like; what is Shopify? Where and when did Shopify start? Is Shopify secure? How much does it cost to sell on Shopify? What pros and cons are associated with this eCommerce platform and what are people saying about it.
Where Did Shopify Start?
Shopify eCommerce platform “was founded in 2004, by a Canadian e-commerce company Situated in Ottawa Ontario. Its services were initially based on software written by its founder Tobias Lutke for their snowboard store. The company reports that it has over 300,000 merchants using its platform thereby generating about $10 billion”. Source: Wikipedia
Website: www.shopify.co.uk (which is the Shopify Inc. Canada)
Owner: Tobias Lutke
What It Does: Powering over 300,000 + Stores Online
Rating: 9 out 10
How To 14 Days Free Trial Available (No credit card details required)
What Is Shopify
Shopify eCommerce platform is a web dependable application that gives you the opportunity to create your own online store with ease. A solution that gives you what you need to set up your online store with zero technical or coding experience. A complete turnkey eCommerce from end to end.
The core competency within Shopify as my research tells me is their ability to bring e-commerce solutions to both specialist and newbies with ease without the hassle of a middleman or duplicated due process.
This means anyone without much in the way of design or technical skills can build an online store and say bye bye to a design agency.
The platform also makes things much easier for people that are familiar with HTL and CSS because they are allowed to edit both and have a good amount of control over their framework.
How Much Does It Cost To Sell On Shopify
If this is your first time, then you will be pleased to find out that there are five Shopify Plans one can choose from to suit your business needs, Which, to be frank, is quite different from what other competitors are offering as my ongoing research tells me.
The five plans are:
- Shopify Lite = $9 per month
- Basic Shopify = $29 per month
- Shopify = $79 per month
- Advanced Shopify = $229 per month
- Shopify Plus = The fees here are negotiable as they cater for a client with big businesses that attracts huge transactions.
From my findings, it will be good to point out here that there is no such thing as something for nothing within the Shopify e-commerce platform. It is a professional e-commerce platform built for the sole purpose of helping folk achieve their e-commerce dreams with ease and peace of mind.
Among all the plans offered, the ‘Shopify Lite’ plan is the cheapest at $9 per month and obviously not the ultimate plan that can bring you success. If you really want to build a successful online eCommerce store, then their ‘Basic Shopify’, ‘Shopify’ and ‘Advanced Shopify’ plans will be a better suit for you.
On the other hand, if you already have a website like WordPress, Joomla, Wix, etc and you just needed some sort of eCommerce to tweak your website into an online store, then the Shopify Lite plan will be the best option to get.
What Does Shopify Do?
Shopify helps you establish a successful eCommerce store by giving you all the tools to create your online shop with ease. Find out how easy it is to use Shopify by clicking and watching the video below:
Shopify Features and Tools
The Shopify e-commerce platform gives you the following key tools to:
- Track order details placed by your customers
- Build web pages and blog sites so you can reach out to a wider audience
- Enable and create discount codes with the discount code engine
- Properly organize and manage your inventory so you always know when to re-stock.
- Import and export data
- Sell digital and physical products in any category of your chosen thereby making things easier for your customers to find what they are looking for in your store.
- Helps you accept payment from over 70 different payments in various currencies across the globe.
- Create an advanced search engine optimization options (SEO) so you can add keywords that are relevant to your products, page site, and promotions.
- Manage more than one staff login so you can establish who to grant access and what level of permission they will need. Giving you ultimate control of your important business data.
- Enables you to be able to edit HTML and CSS if you know how to.
- Enables you to integrate with PayPal.
- Enables you to integrate with email correspondence software
- Enables you to better understand your customer original location, market behavior, money spent, etc so you can better serve them.
For those opting for the Shopify Plan and Advanced Shopify Plan, here are some extra features you will get:
- Better reports on the levels of activities to enable you properly manage and plan your success
- Abandoned cart recovery functionality which basically means an auto-email sent to your customers who did not complete their order as a reminder to do so. These works in two ways: First it enables you to view the number of customers who actually abandoned their carts and lets you manually send them a reminder email. Secondly, you can tell Shopify to send them auto-email with a link containing the abandoned carts on your online store.
- A gift card
Also if you opt for the Shopify Plus which by the way is the best and most expensive package, you will get the following extra features too:
- Real-time carrier shipping for all items and then some more.
- More advanced report of all level of activities.
Themes And Template Design Options Within Shopify
There are over 100 premium and non-premium themes offered by Shopify e-commerce platform to enable you to dress up your online store and build trust.
First, let us take a look at the premium themes.
Do note that these premium theme range from $80 to $180 and are not a recurring cost but a one time cost so an investment to giving your online store a strong reputation to build trust.
However, you do not need to invest in any premium themes if you are on a tight budget as there are many responsive free themes to get started with.
You can always upgrade to a premium theme as you start to see your sales grow.
Shopify App Store
This feature helps you add more functions to your online shop which ultimately gives an answer to the question of how to sell using Shopify. There is over 1,500 number of apps offered here so you can put more functionalities into your online shop or automate plenty of work processes.
It is important to also point out that the app store does not only contain marketing and sales tools, but it also contains tools that enable you to solve administrative problems like bookkeeping and accounting apps, fulfillment, customer services, shipping, and tracking.
Some of these apps are free but some come with a cost and they occur separately from the cost of your plan so keep an eye on this. Although as your business starts to grow and you begin to see good results, these costs won’t matter as they actually support your success.
How To Sell Using Shopify
Selling by using Shopify involves two major ways which are:
- You can use their online channel to sell your products on the internet
- And you can use their Shopify POS (Point of Sale) apps to sell in any retail setting using your iPad or Android which gives you access to huge market coverage.
Shopify allows you to process payment in two different ways:
- To use Shopify Payment system powered by Strife; or
- You can use an external payment gateway like PayPal etc all well integrated with Shopify
- You can now integrate your Instagram marketing with your Shopify online store and sell product by simply tagging them on your post. Check out how to set up Instagram marketing on your Shopify on this site.
Shopify Payment and Transaction Fees
By using Shopify payment system to process your sales, all transaction fees will be waived. Only credit card fees will be paid which is just to enable Shopify to collect money from goods sold to your customers as and when they made purchases.
You can expect a credit transaction fee of about 1.6%to 2.2% plus a few cents extra but again this depends on what plan you are on. These rates do not differ much from usual purchases made anywhere else in your daily life outside of Shopify.
Again, these rates depend on your plan, The bigger your plan, the lesser the credit card transaction fees you pay.
Shopify has their payment system powered by Strife. This works well in all countries available on their platforms like Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ireland, Puerto Rico and Australia.
However, you can use other payment gateways to process your sales such as PayPal etc as Shopify integrates superbly with over 70 different payment processors out there. This helps those outside the available zone to find a suitable payment gateway that works with their country and still process sales from anywhere.
Shopify Point of Sales
This particular sales feature makes Shopify a giant among its competition. The POS kits and options enable you to sell not just online but through offline physical stores with an iOS and Andriod device.
Watch the video below to see how it works.
This is very helpful if you want to sell your product offline or host a pop-up store. You can still process your sales away from your computer whilst keeping your stock count in check and automatically synchronized.
Is Shopify Secure?
Shopify does not muck about when it comes to security. Their shopping cart is hosted on a Level 1 PCI DSS server complaint meaning your data, your customer data and your other important business data is secure.
There is also 99% uptime guarantee and a very secure backup mechanism in place to ensure all your data can be recovered should any unforeseen circumstances occur.
When it comes to anything eCommerce, be it a major player or small market share in the industry, security is always at the forefront of their business aims.
Shopify Customer Service Review
The first thing I look into before reviewing any products or services is the customer service center or help and support center as you may call it. I have had many vendors and product owners approach me for help to review their products or services but when I start asking complex questions regarding their customer services/support, some of them tend to shy away.
Now that said, let us take a look at Shopify customer service and see how you can get help and support to getting started:
First, they have an open live chat with an average of 2 minutes to get someone to start answering your questions. They have experts in all aspects of the business which means all your technical hiccups and questions has some with answer waiting to chat live at the other end.
I tested this personally and it didn’t take more than two minutes for a lady to pop in and ask ‘how can I help’ just after she introduced her self.
The second way to get help is by email. I would suggest using this as a second alternative or if you are having difficulties that will need more detailed information in order for them to ascertain how they can help you better.
The last method is by direct telephone. This is another great way to get additional help and also speak to a real human being who will be more than willing to help you.
Pros of Using Shopify
With so many Shopify reviews out there with more pros than cons, I would like to emphasize here that every attempt has been made to portray a true state of facts which my findings led me. I also noticed that what works for Mr. A may not work for Mr. B and with that said, please read on to find out among these pros to see if any resonate with you when you do try to use Shopify for your online store:
- Very secure hosting and built-in high speed. Page speed is 4 seconds max meaning your customers won’t have to wait too long. Speed and security at a global level are their ultimate and all their site are SSL 100% provided and well integrated with many payment providers meaning you get paid right away and your customers don’t have to wait for slow page load on.
- Shopify ‘Lite’ plan, pioneers one of the cheapest ways to start selling online using a hosted and secured solution.
- Shopify app store will significantly extend the character of your online store with great functionalities. This is made easy with their most advanced app store which in itself is an invaluable tool for pushing your online store beyond more than just a built-in feature.
- Shopify’ robust eCommerce platform provides enhanced abilities that include partial-refunds, SEO friendly meta descriptions that help as well as improved search filters.
- Third party hosting is not required with Shopify.
- Uploading products from a CSV file or migrating your store from a host to another platforms’ is very easy within Shopify.
- A 14-day free trial allows you to test the waters, get used to things before committing any payment. No credit card details or any payment details are required to get the trial out.
- Most importantly, there are no PCI compliance concerns which is a requirement of any merchant that takes any credit card payments. Shopify gets around all the problems of going through assessment and audit which must be passed if you are operating as an individual.
- Shopify allows you to easily and quickly create a landing page which puts them ahead of other competitors out there.
- Their themes are made available in a way that any designer or developer can customize to suit their shop or clients need.
- Regarding taxes, Shopify helps you configure how much tax to charge based on country jurisdictions. This means when a shopper inputs their address after purchase etc, the proper tax rate will be applied to the final bill.
- Having the Shopify payment system as a gateway payment processor which is powered by Stripe means you do not have to pay any transaction fees.
- Very competitive pricing mostly if you use Shopify payment system.
- Excellent help and support. For example, there are lots of positive reactions to Shopify’s customer support which is a rarity in today’s eCommerce industry. Many shopping cart providers cannot boast of this but Shopify seems to be doing pretty well on that.
- Full control over HTML and CSS
- A great track record for server up-time
- Up to 165,000 active Shopify online stores, increasing as we speak which means it is a safe bet that the company is doing a pretty good job of keeping their online shop owners happy.
- Setting up shop which includes adding products, setting up payment and shipping options works painlessly fine.
- They offer eCommerce detailed reports in Advanced and Shopify Plus plans which enable you to see monthly performances and raw data to help you scale up your success. This can do wonders for your business if you happen to add Google Analytic to your marketing toolkit.
- The cheapest plan is the ‘Shopify Lite’ for $9 but this cannot let you build a fully functional online shop with all the features you need. Unless you go for the Basic Shopify and upwards.
- You cannot avoid transaction fees if you use a third-party gateway payment processor. But then what eCommerce business doesn’t attract transaction fees these days even if its outside of Shopify?
- With the Shopify Payment powered by Stripe, this means you can sell from certain countries like the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. Selling from other countries outside these means you will need a third-party payment gateway. The good news is that Shopify is properly integrated with a great number of other gateway payments outside the aforementioned countries.
- Starting with a small online store will seem more expensive with Shopify to start with, but will become more affordable as you start to see more sells over time. BigCommerce may sound like a good idea in terms of starting cost but lacks the many features found in Shopify which may limit your result.
- Shopify is not a get rich quick scheme meaning if you expect to become successful in your online store in 20 minutes then be ready to be disappointed. You have to put in the time and effort because they do it right and they do not cut corners as you will surely see good results.
- Shopify has a built-in software for blogging but it may not impress those who are more familiar with WordPress.
Shopify Vs Competitors
The major differences between Shopify and other e-commerce platforms out there are as follows. (Please note that the list below is not all there is as I am working on a more detailed comparison article which is coming soon.)
- First, you don’t only pay for the plans on monthly basis. They also allow you to pay on an annual or biennial basis.
- Shopify does offer a 10% discount on an annual and a 20% discount on a biennial plan when you pay at once or up front.
- With the volume of uncertainties associated with many businesses today, most folks with a low budget do choose the monthly basis until they are certain that their business will survive long term. Shopify makes things easy for folk starting out fresh.
- Another big difference between Shopify and other competitors out there can be found within the Shopify Lite Plan which whilst you are not getting the full hosted online store, it still does allow you to make use of a handful of vital Shopify tools for an unbelievable low monthly payment. Other competitors don’t offer this.
Who Are Shopify Competitors?
Below is the list of Shopify competitors. And this is an open list as I will be updating it from time to time just as new competitors do pop up:
What People Are Saying About Shopify
Let us take a look at the general trends and opinions of people regarding what Shopify is and how it works.
Google Search Term on Shopify
From the above statistics, you can see for the past 5 years, there has been a tremendous growth in search activities relating to Shopify. Also, the recent spike in search from 2012 to date and ongoing is enough to tell you that your online store is on to something big with Shopify. If you are still considering, now is the time. Source Google trends
Yahoo Trends on Shopify
Even on Yahoo ask and answers the topic is not left out as people are always talking about Shopify and sharing their experiences. Source: Yahoo Answers
What Experts At Wealthy Affiliate Are Saying About Shopify
Now, these are real-time comments and bear in mind that Wealthy Affiliate is one of the most reliable and reputable places to get one on one help on how to make money online. The community is great with expert help and the live chat is the best I have ever seen.
Go here and find out more about what experts are saying about what does Shopify do and is Shopify the best option for your online store?
I will be comparing Shopify with other major players in the market soon on my upcoming posts so keep an eye out. If you are already on Shopify basic plan and looking for ways to improve your sales, help is here. You can read up how to increase your business sales on Shopify and there is a 21 free video training course designed by Mr. Ezra Firestone on how to do just that successfully.
In the meantime, if you are still considering which eCommerce platform to join and help jump start your online store business, I would recommend you give Shopify eCommerce platform a trial especially now that they are offering a 14 Days Free Trial.
Drop me a comment with any questions below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
This review is to help you understand the pros and cons of the product before making any decision. Some links on this post are directed to other posts here while some are directed to the product page. The whole intention is not to make sell but to help you make informed decisions via thorough and insightful research as above. Therefore any purchase made through the link will not cost you any extra but a little commission will help us continue to do more research to provide you with valuable information.