Shopify Review: Why Choosing Shopify And Why Not
A Shopify review of the advantages and disadvantages of the platform. We will discuss Shopify’s unique features, and who is it ideal for.
In our previous article, we reviewed the importance of choosing the right eCommerce platform for online business. We listed the most important factors that a business owner should take into consideration before deciding on such a platform. As promised, we also took a better look at some of the platforms and will share our in-depth experience with them. We will start with Shopify, its advantages and disadvantages, unique features, and why our clients use it. This Shopify review will make it easier to point who is the platform ideal for and when not to use it.
Shopify Review: Quick Overview
- What is Shopify?
- Do any big companies use Shopify?
- Shopify is great! (review of its strengths)
- Don’t use Shopify! (review of its weaknesses)
- What’s so unique about Shopify?
- Consider these too.
- What’s the cost?
- Better hire a Shopify development agency.
- Okay, definitely use Shopify!
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a store management tool that offers an easy way to set up your online business and comes with everything essential. The platform features ready to use templates, apps, and integration options. This makes it an all in one solution to start running a fully operational store quickly without the need to have technical expertise.
In short, the platform is easy to use for new and established businesses. It’s an out of the box solution where all gears work together. The real question, however, is why would you choose it amongst other great eCommerce solutions such as WooCommerce, Squarespace, and BigCommerce?
Like every platform, Shopify has its strengths and weaknesses as well as some really solid reasons why so many people choose it for their business.
The main idea pledged by its creators has always been the focus on the quick start. The less time business owners spend designing and launching their websites, the more time is left for production, marketing, and business growth.
This is the part of the Shopify review where we will take a look at the platform’s advantages, disadvantages, key features, and the big names that use it.
Which big companies use Shopify?
Before we start the actual Shopify review, let’s see who uses it. The platform powers online stores of all shapes and sizes, including a huge number of well-known brands. Amongst Shopify’s most massively successful stores are:
Why you should use Shopify ( review of the strengths)
⏩ Quick and easy start
It takes 3 minutes to have your store ready and feature the first product. Following WordPress’s success with its quick setup, Shopify is now on the same line.
🔝 Leading Platform
Shopify is amongst the leading eCommerce platforms for small businesses and it didn’t take too much time to go there.
💽 Unlimited Storage
All plans offer unlimited storage and an unlimited number of products.
👍 Easy to Use
The platform is easy to use with an intuitive experience so you won’t have to learn complicated technical terminology or to be able to handle the code.
💳 Payment Compatibility
The Shopify payments for your credit card are compatible with PayPal and over 100 other gateways.
🦄 Unique Features
It offers unique for the platform POS system and much more. Later in our Shopify review, you will see them listed.
As a hosted solution, Shopify doesn’t require the trouble of buying web hosting or installing the software. You just need a web browser and an internet connection in order to manage your store.
Offers security and reliability which are essential for online business. Shopify has a strong position in the market which is more assured when you have to place your trust in the platform to handle your sales and personal and financial information.
💨 Fast loading speed
Fast loading speed due to the reliable infrastructure and optimized software and hardware.
When you should not use Shopify (review of the weaknesses)
Yes, we know you would say it was too good to be true. Although we love Shopify, as experts in the field we see some imperfections and we feel obligated to share them with you in this Shopify review. They may not seem like a deal-breaker for most of our clients, but you should still take them into consideration. They might be very important in some cases.
The smallest plan costs $29 per month that is enough for a standard store. There are, however, additional costs for payment processors by the method of percentage. For example, on $2000 you pay around $100 additional for payment processing and the monthly fee becomes $129. Let’s not ignore that some additional features, for example, multilanguage or drag and drop editors for inner pages, will also need subscription fees per month.
🎨 Checkout Styling
The checkout styles offer few base colors and a logo. More customization options will require Shopify Plus.
🎨 Custom fields
Shopify does support custom fields, however, there isn’t the option to change it in the base interface. This requires an additional application that would allow this. And, you guessed that right, this also has a small additional fee per month.
Speaking of multilanguage, some businesses require their stores to offer two language options. This is where things get challenging. There is an additional application that costs about $20 per month, however, the app translates the majority of the text via JS and this might cause conflicts.
🔎 Searching and Filtering
Limited searching and filtering. It sets a challenge to manage filtering by tags. Advanced searching will require another additional app.
📑 Sections for inner pages
Unlike with the homepage, where you can add, remove, rearrange sections without altering the code, this isn’t provided for the inner pages. The good news is, Shopify is currently working to fix that.
What is unique about Shopify?
It won’t be a complete Shopify review if we fail to mention its most unique features.
⚛️ Shopify’s EcoSystem
We talked earlier about the Support, however, we didn’t dig deeper into the unique ecosystem of the community.
First thing, Shopify gives the opportunity for thousands of people to make money from the platform.
For App developers
Although there are all the basic functionalities that cover over 80% of the cases when new functionalities are needed, there is the App Store. When a developer decides to create a certain app and sell it through the platform’s shop, they need verification from Shopify in terms of quality of the app, usefulness, and uniqueness. Only then, the app will be approved and added to the store.
This practice is profitable for everyone: Shopify who receives a percentage of the sales, the developer who has access to over 1 M merchants, and of course- the users themselves. They get to use a fully tested and optimized app.
The same applies to the themes. Unlike most platforms, there is a limited amount of themes depending on the type of shop. For example, if you are a developer and want to create a new theme for a baby clothes store, you’ll need to check if another theme for a baby clothes store exists. If so, you will need to find another niche to create your theme for.
In short, the store chooses quality over quantity.
They register as partners and get the opportunity to become experts. The benefits include a platform and know-how to find and attract new clients. They get helped to promote their services. It’s especially beneficial for small agencies. There are, of course, certain requirements.
In conclusion, the Shopify’s ecosystem is an open circle that allows the whole service to expand unlimitedly while everyone takes part in it.
We’re talking PCI Compliance Level 1 that bundles all standards for protection, especially when dealing with online payments. It could be easily compared to the security of banks. This is probably the main reason many business owners tur to Shopify.
⏲️ 3 Minutes To Start
As we mentioned earlier, the quick and easy start is one of the big advantages of the platform. You create a store by submitting an email, password and a name for the store. Once the store is created, the platform asks you to choose the type of service you are selling and your current revenue from a drop-down menu. Then it redirects you to a small form to fill the obligatory information about the address you can get paid to. This takes approximately 3 minutes to do and you can start adding services or products to your store.
🛒 Shopify Oberlo
It wouldn’t be a full Shopify review if we don’t say anything about this. A huge advantage for Shopify users is the pre-installed platform Oberlo that allows them to search and add products they want to sell, directly to their website. It connects your online stores with the right suppliers. This way you might lose control over your products, but you also lose the responsibility to store, pack, and ship them.
The suppliers come from two categories: Oberlo Suppliers and Oberlo Verified Suppliers. The first ones are regular suppliers from all over the world, including giants in the market such as AliExpress. The second group is Verified. They are handpicked by Oberlo suppliers with the best performance in terms of quality and shipping time.
The primary feature is importing from such suppliers while browsing. Oberlo adds a button that automatically imports the products you choose directly to your store. This happens alongside the product’s photos, descriptions, and pricing.
If this isn’t enough, the platform also offers an auto order fulfillment.
In addition, the tool handles everything, including the inventory. This way you will never be left in an awkward situation to sell products that are out of stock.
💳 The Shopify POS system
Another unique thing about Shopify is its fully integrated POS system created specifically for retail. The system works as a standalone product as well as in synch with the platform which takes the role of its back-end. It comes with a bundle of features and support options, all easy to learn and start using.
You can use the system for transactions in a physical store. It handles the process of finding products, taking payment, producing receipts, swiping credit cards. You can manage everything from your Shopify and control your business from any device or browser.
Important Things To Consider
It’s a SAAS (Software as a Service) platform, which means it doesn’t offer its users access to their website’s core database. This might sound like a disadvantage, however, SAAS arrives with a whole pack of benefits.
For starters, you won’t have to deal with constant updates and maintenance. Shopify deals with everything, including in terms of security. Costs and efforts related to upgrades for security, speed, and hosting are also lower or nonexistent as the provider takes care of it.
Next, the software is already installed, set, and configured. Unlike open-source solutions where it’s the user’s responsibility. It all depends on how much control you want to have over the code. If full control isn’t something of great importance and you don’t wish to spend time maintaining every aspect of your website, SAAS is a great solution.
The builder provides a huge set of templates and customization tools, alongside functions that most eCommerce offer through extensions. However, it allows limited design control. Of course, if you hire a Shopify development agency like us or you’re experienced with coding yourself, you can still customize a unique website and add tweaks and functionalities that aren’t included in the platform.
👁️ Visual Editing
The Shopify app store does offer a few solid page builders to boost your website creation process without the need for coding. For example, there is the PRO page editor with Drag & Drop interface and WYSIWYG editor. Most apps offer quick solutions for product page control such as image optimizer and tools for resizing images, adding galleries, videos, and parallaxes.
Shopify comes as a fully-hosted solution. You won’t have to pay a hosting service, install and configure your CMS. It’s all taken care of so you can start building your pages. Again, it’s all about how much control you need to have over your website.
💡 Intuitive Experience
The platform is amongst the easiest to use and designed to be beginner-friendly without the need for technical knowledge. At its core, it aims to let you use your focus on your business rather than building your website. The Back-end part of the administration is highly intuitive. Taking care of your products and customers is simple. The base functionality is clean and stylized and you can still add other functionalities into the admin panel when you need them.
Shopify comes as an all in one solution with a full set of marketing tools, advanced functionality, shopping cart module, inventory management, payment gateway options, automatic tax handling, etc. In fact, it’s an ecosystem like Google Play and has an app store for you to choose amongst thousands of free and paid additional functionalities. Whether you want to add tools for shipping, customer service, or social media, Shopify is flexible.
📈 SEO Performance
High- performance SEO and benefits. A good mix of the SEO benefits of the platform itself and some marketing and SEO knowledge on your side will do the trick. The software offers the ability to edit meta tags, place products and descriptions in a very well optimized and user-friendly way. In short, it gives you all the tools to climb the rankings, however, it takes effort and mostly relies on the developer and different applications.
The platform grants 24/7 professional support of Shopify gurus who are an official source or tech support. The platform also has a community of experts to give you a hand in case of issues, as well as app developers and Shopify theme developers.
What Does It Cost?
- Basic – $29/month ($313.20/year) + credit card rate
- Shopify – $79/month ($853.20/year) + credit card rate
- Advanced – $299/month ($3,229.20/year) + credit card rate
- Plus – $2,000/month ($24,000/year) + credit card rate
The starter plan of $29 monthly is the cheapest and simplest option for smaller stores that are just checking the soil of the market. It’s necessary to say that there are limits to this option in terms of store-building and won’t grant you access to most of its features, so you won’t be able to create a fully operational store. The plan, however, doesn’t set limits to the number of products. It also gives you access to the Shopify Buy Button that links Shopify with your existing website on any platform, including WordPress.
The Basic plan of $29 monthly already allows the creation of a hosted fully functioning store and the more you go up to the pricing scale of the plans, the more functions you will take advantage of.
As we talked about earlier, additional functionalities cost additional fees per month. The final monthly price depends on what exactly you will need for your store.
Will You Need To Hire a Shopify Development Agency?
All themes are visually pleasing, customizable, and responsive for mobile devices. The store offers all free and paid templates by industry, type, and style. Some offer additional features like parallaxes and video backgrounds.
Make no mistake, although the platform is beginner-friendly and suitable for small store owners who don’t have a developer in their team, that doesn’t mean professionals can’t put their know-how to great use.
After all, it’s one thing to use a provided template, it’s another to be really distinctive and unique.
In fact, the more front-end coding and designing experience you have, the greater will be the result in the end. To be able to have full control over the custom design of the components will get you closer to reach uniqueness and fortify your brand on the market.
Additionally, since the service doesn’t offer the usage of plugins, coding experience will let you add many cool tweaks and functionalities that the default Shopify toolset hasn’t included yet. And in case you don’t have much experience in coding, you could always hire a Shopify development agency to customize your Shopify store for you.
Will paying for Shopify and hiring a developer make the creation of your custom online store more expensive in comparison to other eCommerce platforms?
No, not really. For example, the basic Shopify plan that costs $29 monthly would be enough for that matter. Since the back-end, products, checkouts, and transactions are inaccessible for users and handled and maintained by Shopify, the only code that can be modified is the front-end. And this is all a developer needs in order to customize the design, everything else is safe and secured. In that case, you will only need the developer’s services once, until (and if) you decide to re-design.
Definitely use Shopify
To sum up everything in this Shopify review, if you’re looking for a fully-hosted out of the box solution, this AIO tool is for you. The platform is suitable for selling both physical and digital goods with minimal maintenance. Shopify offers a built-in link product options variants support for each product so it works for both small stores and ones with a huge inventory.
It covers all basic and many advanced tools you need to kick off your project and expand it further. It’s also ideal for beginners who want to build their own store without outside help and don’t require to have control over the core data.
We definitely love the platform, our clients would also agree with this Shopify review and would recommend Shopify as a great choice they made.
We hope you enjoyed our Shopify review and aid you in your search for the right platform.