If you are reading this Shopify Review, it is likely that you have read or have at least heard about the kind of success businesses have achieved by launching online stores.
You do not need anyone to tell you about the huge potential and reach that the online medium presents businesses. Perhaps you are already part of a business that has a strong physical presence, with little or no online presence due to a lack of time on hand.
Furthermore, you may have a great idea for starting an eCommerce website, but have been waiting to get hold of a website developer who can create the platform for you.
In any case, you will be glad to learn that it is now possible for you to get your customised online website created to help you start selling your products or services online. And yes, this can be done without you having to write a single piece of code.
A popular online store builder like Shopify could prove to be your ideal partner for fulfilling your online business goals.
If you have been active online and have been reading about eCommerce, you would have definitely read about Shopify or seen its advertisement on some website or even on Facebook.
This company has gained in popularity recently and is regarded as one of the easiest eCommerce store builders around. It offers you a comprehensive tool set with which you can build your site without any technical skills.
In this article, we review the features of the Shopify online shop builder, its pros and cons, the various plans it offers and more.
You can read further to learn if Shopify is indeed the ideal platform to take your existing business online or to maybe start a new business altogether online.
You can rest assured that we provide honest feedback here, based on our experience of using Shopify for building several online stores catering to a variety of industries, such as photography, apparel and electronics.
Visit my tutorial if you would like to learn how to build an eCommerce store with Shopify
The company was established in around 2006 and is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. They started out as a team of five people and today the firm has more than 500 employees working across four different offices in Canada.
Another notable thing about their history is that the first online store they built was for their own business which was created to sell snowboard equipment. In the last decade, this company has served more than 175,000 successful merchants and thereby proved its capability as a leading global eCommerce solution provider.
It has offered an ideal platform for businesses to focus on what they are best at: creating new products and selling them. The rest of the stuff related to online selling; order management, payment gateways and so on is handled by the Shopify tool.
So, let us now take a detailed look at the various features offered by Shopify.
When you are doing business online, any kind of issues or unwanted downtimes for your website can lead to some losses as well as customer dissatisfaction.
So, it is obvious that you would want to get a reliable support from the website builder team that you choose. With Shopify, you get the best possible customer support at any time of the day. They literally mean it when they claim that they are available to you 24×7.
You can get in touch with the Shopify support staff for any technical issue or website-related problem via email, live chat or telephone. If that was not enough, they also offer four different international phone numbers on which you can call them, depending on your region.
This is done to make sure you receive their support without any delays while considering the different time zones. So, you need not worry about going through technical troubleshooting guides to resolve an issue.
You can simply rely on their customer support team to resolve your issue in time, without causing any major impact to your ongoing online business. Of course, they also offer you access to a small set of the most popular questions that get frequently asked by users about the Shopify tool.
This tool tries to keep it really simple with a basic user-friendly interface. Once you look at a few demo videos on how to use the Shopify tool for the first time, you will find it to be a piece of cake working with it.
The fact that you do not have to learn any coding or use your existing programming skills will make you like its user interface even more.
This holds true as long as your aim is to build an online store and not to build any other kind of website. The Shopify tool’s interface may not give you much flexibility for customisation as far as other non-commercial websites are concerned.
You can access the Shopify Theme Store to check out their wide range of professionally and well-designed site templates. This store has more than 100 premium themes (paid ones as well as free ones) that you can use to dress up your website in a great way to leave a long-lasting impression on your customers.
The paid themes vary in price from around $80 to $180. If you wish to make your website stand out and get potential customers to spend more time looking around your site, then it is worth spending money on the paid themes. Also, it is just a one-time investment for your site that could potentially give you great sales in the future.
Another notable thing about Shopify is that professional designers are allowed to come up with their themes and sell it on this platform. The Shopify team verifies these templates and ensures that they are all compatible with the sites built using the Shopify online store builder.
As part of website building, Shopify also offers the standard What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) page editor. It allows you to add basic elements, such as images and text.
However, to be able to add complex elements, for example, forms and Google Maps, you will have to dig into the code and use some programming skills. There is no form builder and so if you want to have a Contact Us form on your website, you need to use a theme with the contact template.
If your theme does not offer a contact template, you will have to get someone who can handle HTML and CSS coding in order to fulfil this requirement.
It also offers a blog manager to handle basic blog creation requirements, such as tags, authors, categories and publish dates. So, from the point of view of a website builder, Shopify does have its set of limitations.
But, this fact is clear to all as Shopify itself has always been marketed as only an online store builder.
Visit this page if you are looking for more Shopify theme ideas.
Most of the themes offered by Shopify for your website are already mobile friendly. So, you need not worry about getting your site converted separately into a mobile-responsive one.
Many online store websites find it difficult to offer a mobile-friendly interface to their customers. However, with Shopify, you get a mobile-responsive store, with built-in mobile eCommerce shopping cart features, which is bound to enhance the mobile shopping experience of your customers.
When your products can be purchased on the go from a mobile phone, your sales are bound to improve consistently. You would not wish for more as a business!
Everything about Shopify is for commerce. Your online shop can be integrated with more than 70 different payment gateways for seamless credit card transactions. This is way beyond what you can expect to get from any other website builder.
The payment processors offered further allow you to accept different currencies. It empowers you to set up online accounts for customers who frequently buy from your store for a more convenient shopping experience.
You can also manage your eCommerce portal from a mobile phone and you can even give limited access to your staff for your online store account. In this way, your staff can handle daily activities like order tracking and inventory management.
In addition, you can showcase your products in several categories which make it easy for the products to be identified by the right kind of customers.
Additionally, you can sort your customers according to their locations and the amount of money they spend on your products. This helps you understand their spending patterns and product choices. Thus, you can prepare better business marketing strategies for different types of customers.
An important aspect of the Shopify tool is that it gives you access to a vast pool of plug-and-play apps (more than 1,000 different paid and free apps). You can extend the functionality of your online store and automate different business processes using apps from the Shopify App Store.
For example, you can use the Yotpo app to write social reviews of your products, use TradeGecko for managing your product inventory and so on.
You can also make use of Shopify’s Point of Sale (POS) system to integrate your entire offline sales system with your online store which you have created using Shopify.
Thus, you can even make your physical store’s customers browse through your vast product catalogue and handle their credit card transactions seamlessly.
Shopify finally allows you to sell your products directly on social media sites, including Facebook and Pinterest, with a suitable “Buy Now” button.
Shopify does not offer any free plans which is totally understandable. With the kind of eCommerce features that you get, it cannot be possible for any site builder tool to offer a free plan. For all the paid plans, you get access to the following common features:
The table below compares the features and pricing of the four Shopify plans:
|Price||Gift Cards||Fraud Analysis||Professional Reports||Other Features|
|Lite||$9 mo.||No||No||No||· No website, blog or online store
· Start directly on Facebook
|Basic||$29 mo.||No||No||No||· Start with a website, blog, online store and even Facebook
· Ability to create discount codes
|Pro||$79 mo.||Yes||Yes||Yes||The same as the Basic plan’s features along with the Abandoned Cart Recovery tool (discussed in the advantages section below)|
|Unlimited||$179 mo.||Yes||Yes||Yes||Same as the Pro plan’s features along with the real-time carrier shipping and advanced report builder|
You can enjoy a free 14-day trial of Shopify without sharing any credit card details to check out its features.
You are entitled to use Shopify’s Abandoned Cart Recovery tool with their Pro and Unlimited plans. This allows you to automatically keep track of customers who added any of your products to their shopping cart and entered some check out details, but were unable to complete the process due to some other urgent work or distractions.
With this feature, your customers are reminded via emails about their pending shopping carts and a direct link to their carts is shared with them. This helps your customers complete the shopping process from where it was left off.
This tool helps to set up default tax rates for your site, relieving you of any tax worries while selling across borders.
It also offers its own payment gateway which is known as Shopify Merchants. This is completely integrated with the Shopify admin and the tool is thus able to offer you the advantage of zero transaction fees.
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It is impossible to customise the structure of your website’s template without touching the code. Also, you may need to hire a “Shopify expert” to do any customisation because code changes involve handling Shopify’s own programming language (Liquid), in addition to HTML and CSS.
You may find the plans offered by Shopify expensive. Additionally, you may also have to add the costs incurred for using the paid themes and paid apps.
If you are looking for a website builder tool for a professional blog or for non-business purposes, then Shopify may not be the best option for you due to some limitations.
However, it is easily one of the best eCommerce site builders available in the market. You need to understand that it is pretty complex to get an eCommerce set up and Shopify does this very easily.
Of course, the quality it offers comes at a price. But then again, it could potentially turn your business into a money-minting source.
We hope that the above Shopify site builder review helps you make an informed decision. Do you have any questions or points to add here? Please feel free to leave your comments below and thanks for reading!
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