Shopify: E-commerce platform review

Shopify helps you sell in person, on social media and through your own online store.

Shopify is a hosted e-commerce platform that helps users create unique online stores. But although digital stores are its bread and butter, Shopify also offers point-of-sale hardware and tools to sell on social media.

  • Choose this provider if you run a small- to medium-sized business and want to start selling online.
  • Consider something else if you operate a business in a high-risk field.
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Details

SolutionsIn-store, Mobile, Online
ProductsPayment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
Monthly fees start at$9/month
Processing fees start at2.9% + $0.30 online; 2.4% in person
Cancellation feeNone
HostingHosted

How does Shopify stack up against competitors?

Shopify is a solid e-commerce platform, even among competitors like Square and BigCommerce. It offers web-hosting, payment processing, point-of-sale (POS) solutions, a website builder, 24-hour support and integrates with over 3,200 apps and plugins. The platform's well-rounded selection of services and features make it one of the better-equipped e-commerce solutions on the marketplace — especially for those new to online selling.

That said, there are a few places Shopify falls short. If you're looking for sophisticated, customizable web themes, Shopify's 12 web themes may disappoint — especially when compared to the likes of Squarespace, which boasts over 100 premium themes to choose from. And as far as fees go, Shopify monthly subscriptions start at $9, which doesn't seem like much but certainly can't compete with free — and that's precisely what WooCommerce offers through its official Storefront theme.

Shopify has some point-of-sale hardware to offer, but for businesses who plan to sell offline, Square's free card reader and comprehensive industry-specific hardware selection are more likely to attract merchants.

No one platform has it all. And the best choice for your business will depend on a variety of factors. But all things considered, Shopify has a lot to offer, including multiple service tiers, a beginner-friendly website builder and round-the-clock tech support.

Shopify’s services

Shopify offers services to meet many of your e-commerce needs:

  • Payment processing. Accept credit cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay with PCI-complaint software and secure 3D checkouts.
  • Point-of-sale software. Process payments and track sales on a tablet or smartphone across multiple storefronts and devices.
  • Point-of-sale hardware. Offerings include card readers, iPad stands, retail hardware packages, barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers and more.
  • Website builder. Create a business name and logo, lock down a domain and build your website with the help of Shopify’s free stock photos and themes.
  • Shopping cart software. All Shopify online stores come with secure shopping carts that integrate with over 100 payment gateways and are Level 1 PCI-DSS compliant.
  • Shopify Shipping. Shopify Shipping offers real-time order tracking, exclusive carrier rates from trusted carriers, shipping insurance and bulk order fulfillment.
  • Shopify Capital. Access business capital of up to $500,000 through Shopify with a simple online application process, no credit check and access to funds within two days of an accepted offer.

Features

Shopify offers services to meet many of your e-commerce needs:

  • Business name generator. Still haven’t found the right name for your business? Use Shopify’s business name generator for hundreds of potential business names in seconds.
  • Online store plugins. Shopify directly integrates with over 3,200 apps and plugins — available through the Shopify App Store.
  • Business marketing. Grow your business with online marketing campaigns through Google Smart Shopping, Facebook Ads and Kit.
  • Free stock photos. Rove Shopify’s collections of high-resolution photo collections and select images for your online store.
  • Custom storefront tools. Integrate e-commerce into games, mobile apps and other custom channels with the help of Javascript SDKs, Unity SDKs and Storefront API.

What apps does Shopify integrate with?

Shopify’s App Store offers over 3,200 plug-ins and services — both paid and free — for your online store. App integrations include:

Marketing

  • Email pop-ups
  • Header bars
  • Affiliate tracking
  • Google Shopping
  • Privy
  • Sales Pop
  • PushOwl
  • PageFly

Sales

  • Product previews
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Product recommendations
  • Loox
  • Ultimate Sales Boost
  • Sales Pop
  • Ali Reviews
  • Yotpo

Social media

  • Instagram galleries
  • Testimonials and reviews
  • Sharing tools
  • Facebook Shop channel
  • Instagram channel
  • Messenger channel
  • Snappic
  • Shoppable Stories

Shipping

  • Delivery updates
  • Shipping rate calculators
  • Shipping label printers
  • AfterShip
  • Tracktor Order Tracking
  • Invoice Falcon
  • Excelify
  • Bold Subscriptions
  • Simplio: Simple Invoice

Inventory

  • Bulk product edit
  • Restock alerts
  • Point-of-sale software
  • Omni Importer
  • ShippingEasy
  • Syncee
  • eBay Marketplace Integration
  • Stocky

Accounting

  • Tax and invoicing software
  • Data Export Reports
  • Report Pundit
  • QuickBooks Bridge
  • Sufio: Professional Invoices
  • OrderMetrics

Reporting

  • Sales analytics
  • Data exporting
  • Better Replay
  • Seguno
  • Lucky Orange
  • Data Export Reports
  • Conversific: Store Analytics

Store design

  • Photo resizing
  • Currency converters
  • Announcement bars
  • Better Replay
  • Seguno
  • Lucky Orange
  • Data Export Reports
  • Conversific: Store Analytics

Sales channels

  • Pinterest Buyable Pins
  • Shopify Messenger
  • Amazon
  • Ultimate Sales Boost
  • Booster Apps
  • Tapcart
  • ReferralCandy

Shopify pricing and fees

Try Shopify with a free 90-day trial — no credit card needed. After the trial ends, sign up for one of three paid plans: Basic Shopify, Shopify or Advanced Shopify.

Accepting payments through third-party software comes with a transaction fee of between 0.5% and 2% (depending on which Shopify plan you choose). You won’t pay this transaction fee if you use Shopify Payments.

Your customers can use all major credit cards on your Shopify store. Online credit card transaction fees range from 2.4% to 2.9% plus $0.30. For each in-person card transaction, you’ll pay a fee of between 2.4% to 2.7%.

Monthly cost

$9

$29

$79

$299

$2,000

Credit card rates

2.9% + $0.30 online; 2.4% in person

2.9% + $0.30 online; 2.7% in person

2.6% + $0.30 online; 2.5% in person

2.4% + $0.30 online; 2.4% in person

2.15% + $0.30 online; 3.15% + $0.30 for international and AMEX orders

Transaction fees

None for Shopify Payments; 2% for third-party processors

None for Shopify Payments; 2% for third-party processors

None for Shopify Payments; 1% for third-party processors

None for Shopify Payments; 0.5% for third-party processors

None for Shopify Payments; 0.15% for third-party processors

Staff accounts

1

2

5

15

Unlimited

Number of products

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

File storage

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Do I need Shopify Plus?

With Shopify Plus, you may save in credit card and transaction fees depending on your sales volume. (Your exact rates will vary depending on the size of your business.) The additional savings on shipping may also be worthwhile.

Logistically, you may need many staff accounts, an advanced report builder or real-time carrier shipping. Consider all of these factors when deciding whether to sign up for Shopify Plus.

How much technical experience do I need?

Shopify is designed for users to set up an online store without any technical background or expertise. You don’t need special skills or equipment — only a computer and Internet access.

Setting up shop through Shopify typically takes a few days — although most users report needing to tweak their website in the following weeks as they get up and running. If you get stuck, Shopify support is available 24 hours a day by phone, email and live chat. And Shopify offers an extensive library of merchant resources, including forums, a blog, how-to guides, podcasts and even a business encyclopedia.

For more information, read our guide to selling on Shopify.

How do I contact Shopify support?

Support for Shopify merchants is available 24 hours a day by:

  • Phone. Merchants in North America can call 855-816-3857 to speak with a Shopify rep.
  • Email. Fill out a secure online form on Shopify’s website for a response within one business day.
  • Live chat. From Shopify’s website, open up a live chat window to connect with a Shopify rep.
  • Twitter. Tweet at Shopify for a direct response from the support team.

What design options does it have?

Shopify comes with a variety of free and paid themes to help you create a sleek, functional website. Choose from four free website themes, or upgrade to one of Shopify’s eight premium themes. Premium theme prices range from $160 to $180. Both free and paid themes come in two to four different styles to help you customize your website.

Free themes include:

Reinventing Coffee Theme On Shopify
Summer Collection Theme On Shopify
Adventure This Way Theme On Shopify

Pros and cons

Pros

  • App integrations. With a robust library of over 3,200 app and plugin integrations available, the Shopify App Store connects you with the tools you need to increase your website’s functionality.
  • Sales channels. Sell through Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Shop, Amazon and eBay.
  • 24/7 support. Phone, email and live chat Shopify support is available around the clock.
  • Shipping discounts. Receive competitive rates from USPS, UPS and DHL Express with discounts of up to 74%, depending on your Shopify service tier.

Cons

  • Limited staff accounts. Even Shopify’s Advanced service tier limits staff accounts to no more than 15 users.
  • Processing fees. If you opt for a third-party payment processor, be prepared for processing fees of 0.05% to 2.0%.

Shopify reviews and complaints

Shopify is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating. As of October 2020, it only receives 1.2 out of 5 stars based on its 73 BBB reviews. On Trustpilot, Shopify has a TrustScore of 1.4 out of 5 based on 773 reviews.

A majority of merchants on the BBB criticize Shopify for closing their accounts due to the high-risk nature of their businesses. Other reviews mention transaction holds and ongoing charges after having closed their Shopify accounts.

How do I sign up with Shopify?

To start your free trial, go to Shopify’s website:

  1. Enter your email address. Click Start free trial.
  2. Create an account password and enter the name of your store. Click Create your store.
  3. Tell Shopify more about the products or services you sell. Select your level of revenue. Click Next.
  4. Enter your full name, residential address, phone number and business website (if you have one). Click Enter my store.

What other products will I need?

Shopify offers plenty of features to get your business up and running, but you’ll need a couple other services before you can sell online:

  • Payment processor. If you don’t want to use Shopify Payments, you’ll need to sign up for payment processing with a third-party provider.
  • Checking account. Business checking accounts provide a secure place for transaction funds to be deposited.

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What is Shopify?

Shopify is an Ottawa-based e-commerce platform that helps you sell online and in person. It was founded in 2004 and started out as an online platform used for selling snowboards. Today, over one million businesses around the world use Shopify’s online store builder, payment processing and point-of-sale solutions.

Compare merchant services providers

Name Product Products Monthly fees start at Processing fees start at Hosting
BigCommerce
BigCommerce
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$29.95/month
2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
Hosted
BigCommerce is an all-in-one e-commerce platform created to help you sell more.
Helcim
Helcim
Payment processing, POS software, POS hardware, Website builder, Inventory tracking
$20/month
1.92% + $0.08 per transaction
Hosted
Conveniently packaged into three service tiers for in-person and online sales.
Square Online
Square Online
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
None
2.9% + 30¢
Hosted
Create an online store with beautiful layouts to help drive business.
Shopify
Shopify
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$9/month
2.9% + $0.30 online; 2.4% in person
Hosted
Shopify offers both e-commerce and in-person POS systems designed to help you build a new online store from the ground up.
Shift4Shop
Shift4Shop
Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$29/month
None
Hosted
Helps businesses build online storefronts while offering a variety of service tiers bundled for businesses large or small
Shopify Plus
Shopify Plus
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$2,000/month
None
Hosted
A customizable solution for enterprise-level e-commerce stores.
X-cart
X-cart
Website builder, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
Free
None
Self-hosted
X-Cart is an e-commerce platform that can handle your store as it grows to an enterprise-level business.
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Bottom line

Shopify is a great tool for businesses, and its built-in tools can help merchants grow their stores. But enterprise-level shops will be better off using Shopify Plus and high-risk merchants may want to explore Shopify alternatives.

Frequently asked questions

Will I be locked into a contract when I sign up for Shopify?
No. You can sign up for a 14-day trial that you can cancel anytime. Paid Shopify plans are month to month, and you can cancel without penalty whenever you’d like.

Do I need to buy web hosting for my Shopify store?
No, Shopify’s plans include web hosting. The exception is Shopify Lite, which you need to host on your own website.

How does Shopify integrate with Pinterest and Facebook?
Your social media fans can buy your Shopify products straight from Facebook or Pinterest. They don’t have to leave the social media platforms to complete their purchases.

Is Shopify PCI-complaint?
Yes, Shopify is Level 1 PCI DSS compliant.

How does applying for Shopify Capital hurt my credit score?
Shopify doesn’t conduct a credit check when assessing a merchant’s funding application. To be eligible for a Shopify Capital loan, your business must be located in the US, your business must have a low-risk profile, you must be actively processing payments and you must process a minimum volume of sales that corresponds with the loan amount you’ve applied for.

What high-risk businesses are ineligible for Shopify?
Shopify doesn’t provide a list of ineligible merchants or businesses on its website. It simply states that businesses with high chargeback rates may be assessed as high-risk merchants, putting them at risk of Shopify closing their stores.

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