Shopify is the hottest hosted shopping cart out on the market right now. The latest Shopify update added new features, integrated a point of sale solution and redesigned the admin layout. I wrote this Shopify review to help you determine if their shopping cart is the best for your online business.
The shopping cart was founded in 2005 and now hosts over 165,000 online stores – that is a little over 16,000 new stores being built each year. With all of the competition out there, those are some incredible numbers for Shopify.
WHO IS SHOPIFY GOOD FOR?
Shopify is ideal for individuals and businesses looking for a flexible shopping cart that is capable of selling anything from physical to digital products. Furthermore, it is a good choice for anyone looking for a quick store launch process and fairly easy options for customizing your store.
Their shopping cart is a perfect fit for small to medium online stores that are open to using Shopify’s payment gateway in order to waive transaction fees.
SHOPIFY REVIEW – PLANS AND PRICING
When compared to other shopping carts, Shopify is a competitive solution. Shopify four plans range from $14/month all the way to $179/month (see all Shopify plans in detail).
For $14/month, you get an all-in-one shopping cart solution with unlimited bandwidth, a gigabyte of storage and the ability to sell 25 products. The more expensive plans offer unlimited bandwidth and products. A complete, 14 day free trial, is also available without any contracts or commitments to stay beyond the trial period.
SHOPIFY REVIEW – 7 PROS OF USING SHOPIFY
Here is what I found to be the pros of using Shopify to build an online store:
1) SHOPIFY IS EASY TO USE:
One of the main reasons of why many businesses choose Shopify is because it is the easiest hosted shopping cart for building an online store. Both the admin dashboard and the customer end are user-friendly and feature improved navigation options.
As with all new things, learning the ins and outs will take some time. Thankfully, learning how to work with Shopify is a breeze and does not require a technical background.
Furthermore, Shopify gives you simple tools to:
- Add products with multiple variations – color, size, etc.
- Add product tags and various search engine optimization settings to rank higher on search engines.
- Publish products at a specific date and time.
- Create multiple product collections to organize your inventory.
- Configure tax settings using multiple options.
- Configure flexible shipping rates and options.
- Integrate with fulfillment and drop shipping services.
- Point a custom domain name to your web store.
- Accept payments through various payment gateways.
- Translate your online store in multiple languages – English, Spanish, French, etc.
2) SHOPIFY APP STORE:
On top of the already built-in features, Shopify has an extensive app store that has various other features that may easily be integrated. Categories include marketing, sales, social media, customer service and store reporting.
While many of these external apps are free to use, others may require a monthly subscription fee. For instance, installing the “ReCharge” app enables you to sell subscription-based products using recurring billing whereas adding a live chat app enables you to communicate with customers and answer any presale questions.
3) RESPONSIVE THEMES AND DESIGN OPTIONS:
Shopify has 30 free themes and the option to purchase premium themes. All of their themes are responsive across multiple devices – smartphones, tablets and laptops. Furthermore, most of the themes are professional right out of the box.
The theme editor page is the place where you can also upload a custom store logo and icon.
4) THE SPEED AND SECURITY OF SHOPIFY STORES:
Since Shopify is a hosted shopping cart, you do not need to purchase a separate hosting account. However, I do recommend purchasing your own domain name through NameCheap (custom domain names help brand and differentiate your online business).
It is important to note that speed matters. Studies show that websites that load faster tend to rank higher on search engines and are more appealing to potential customers. Nobody likes slow websites, customers want to order fast and be on their way.
My ecommerce store loaded in under two seconds during separate visits. It was tested from multiple locations – Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
Additionally, Shopify keeps your online secure using a 256-bit SSL certificate. Also, Shopify backs up your online store on a daily basis to avoid any data loss – just in case something goes wrong.
5) GREAT TECHNICAL SUPPORT:
Any experienced store owner can tell you exactly how important technical support really is. Having multiple support options is vital, especially for first time shop owners. Honestly, even experienced developers run into problems and find themselves calling technical support.
Shopify’s technical support is one of the best. Their team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. You can get in touch with a Shopify Guru via phone, live chat and traditional email ticketing. On top of human support, Shopify has a very active support forum.
I called their support team several times throughout the day and was amazed by their quick response times. The Guru was very knowledgeable and pointed me to several easy to follow guides and tutorials that would further answer my question in detail.
6) PEOPLE LOVE SHOPIFY:
Reputation goes a long way and is something that I take into consideration when signing up for something; especially when that something is going to affect my business. Thankfully, the individuals and businesses that use Shopify love and trust their service.
Hosting over 165,000 says a lot about Shopify. If you are still not convinced that Shopify is one of the best ecommerce software platforms, here is what actual customers are saying about their shopping cart:
7) MULTIPLE STORE LANGUAGES AND CURRENCIES:
Nowadays, we are all expanding our businesses to advertise in the international market. However, if your website is in English and does not have a reliable translation option, you are wasting your money advertising in other markets.
Thankfully, Shopify’s store checkout comes in over 50 different languages. In addition, multiple currencies are also available.
SHOPIFY REVIEW – 3 CONS OF USING SHOPIFY
Here is what I found to be the cons of building an online store with Shopify:
1) TRANSACTION FEES:
Although these transaction fees can be waived by using Shopify’s payment gateway, they are still going to be a problem for the ones that plan on using a different gateway. Depending on the plan selected, transaction fees can get as high as two percent. These fees can definitely lower your profit margins.
2) LIQUID TEMPLATE LANGUAGE:
Shopify themes use the custom liquid template markup language. While it is easy to learn, some users may not want to waste their precious time learning this.
3) CHEAPER PLANS LIMIT FEATURES:
Some of their cheaper plans limit the ability to edit themes, set up real-time shipping rates and access to the abandoned cart recovery tool. To gain access to these features, you would have to choose a more expensive plan. This may be a deal breaker for some.
2 SHOPIFY ALTERNATIVES
For the ones that find any of the Shopify cons listed above as a potential deal breaker, here are two Shopify alternatives:
1) Bigcommerce – This shopping cart is versatile, offers an extensive feature lineup and is competitively priced. Bigcommerce plans start at $29.95/month and offer unlimited features (see all Bigcommerce plans here).
SHOPIFY REVIEW – IS IT WORTH THE INVESTMENT?
With all of the options out there, finding the perfect solution is going to be difficult, but not impossible. However, I can say that running an online store for $14/month is going to be worth the investment in my books.
On top of being cheaper than most other shopping carts, Shopify is flexible for selling different product types, offers a quick store launch process, has easy store customization and includes an extensive app store for even more features.