- No programming or technical knowledge needed. Just a few clicks and you’ll be able to set up a good looking, functional online shop all by yourself.
- Beautiful, professional responsive themes . You can also tweak them to your liking
- With more 1100 apps you can add more functions, features to your store and customize it to satisfy your every need
- Technically sound support staff will answer all your questions round the clock
- Shopify is costly compared to all its competitors. Extra charges such as transactions costs, app and theme costs add up to the pain
- Mobile loading speeds are not as good as they are for desktops
- Finding a developer to customize designs for your store might be difficult as it uses Liquid, its own programming language. This might also create problems when you want to move to different platform
During the last couple of years, many online store builders have appeared on the market, and picking the right one for your niche represents the first step towards building a great online store. Shopify with more than 400,000 satisfied users without a doubt is the best, and easiest to use e-commerce platform available on the market these days. Small learning curve, a multitude of great features makes it easy to perform e-commerce activity on Shopify.
To kick things off, those who are just starting out can register for a 14-day trial, during which they’ll be able to test out most of the features that Shopify provides to build an excellent e-commerce website. After the 14-day period, users can then choose which pricing solution best fits their needs.
In this Shopify review, I will target some of the main factors that a potential user must know before choosing to conduct his/here commerce business on the platform. These factors include usability, themes, speed, responsiveness, SEO, billing, integration, features, support, and a FAQ.
Because e-commerce platform is all about selling products, let’s get to the core functionality of the platform- adding and maintaining products in Shopify sites. Shopify allows you to quickly add multiple variants of the same product and vary their prices based on the size, material, and color of the product. With options to easily include product details such as weight, price in the product description, possibility to change color, the format of descriptions and with options to add images in multiple angles, Shopify makes it incredibly easy to make product pages and products look good while making them search engines friendly. Additionally, options like uploading products in bulk, easy categorizing of products using collections, creating manual discount collections, options to share products or collections on social media makes store maintenance a lot easier.
Themes are bound to ensure the success of any e-commerce platform, as they are the design language of your site, and one of the main factors that can attract other users. With this in mind, let’s discuss Shopify themes. All designs available on Shopify are bound to be extremely responsive and are created using Liquid, a platform’s language. On installing the Shopify themes, full access to code is given, thus allowing modifications to the design.
Being a search engine friendly website builder, Shopify makes sure that their every theme is contrast tested to have a better display on all devices, generates valid HTML, be accessible with keyboard shortcuts and functions properly on all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE9.
Shopify also allows designers to create new designs and sell them on Shopify Marketplace. Every design submitted to Shopify will undergo a strict evaluation process to make sure it is responsive and search engine friendly.
When it comes to running an online store, speed represents an essential factor, as most visitors tend to be impatient and want to leave a slow loading web store. To stay ahead in this aspect, Shopify uses world class CDN, run by Fastly, to load website fast throughout the globe, at no extra costs.
It all sounds awesome! But let’s see how these cool things translate in numbers. We chose four random sites built on Shopify and ran a speed test using Gtmetrix. Proofs time!
Page speed grade on GtMetrix, for all four sites show around 70, which is a bit more than average. Because websites on Shopify being mostly web stores with loads of images, better image size optimization might make website loading speed better. Among those four sites, the sites with better page load speed tend to have better CSS sprites combining.
As mentioned earlier in designs section, every Shopify theme is responsive. The same four sites tested for page load speed were also tested for their responsive and mobile friendly nature. All of the sites that we have tested were responsive and rendered well on desktops, mobile phones, and tablets. But regarding loading speed on mobile phones, we did see some surprising results.
Below are the results for sites we tested. All the sites fluctuate around 45 on Google Page Speed Insights which seems to be a poor score. However, it is also important to keep in mind that those are e-commerce sites with homepage sizes of 3-4mb.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
No matter how good the store looks, unless it won’t get traffic from search engines, commerce activity won’t start. Shopify offers a multitude of options to improve the on-page SEO of the web store, and the first thing I would like to mention in that category would be the ability of every Shopify theme to generate clean code to make search engine crawling easy. Like all other website and store builders, Shopify also allows you to edit header tags, meta descriptions, titles of every page, product, post, and also has options to avoid duplicate content. Shopify also allows you to edit URLs, generates sitemaps automatically and provides free SSL certificate for every paid plan. Additionally, if you want to use Shopify to review products, it has apps to makes such reviewing process quite easy.
Shopify sounds quite nice so far, doesn’t it? Well, my friend, as a business owner you should know that quality has its price. Shopify is not the cheapest option in the market. And the kicker is not the monthly payment for a premium version of their services, but the transaction charges, credit card fees you are supposed to spend for every product sold using the platform. However, if you are using Shopify Payments, those extra spendings can be avoided. You will get to know more about Shopify Payments in later sections.
There are three main visible plans and one invisible $9 per month plan which offers a buy button which you can use on other outside blogs, websites and social media platforms such as Facebook.
It is important to note the fact that the bigger your plan of choice is, the less the transaction for each product sold through the platform. Also, buying an annual plan can save as much as 10%.
Shopify offers a significant number of Apps—over 1,500—so you can add more function, automate a lot of business tasks, and, customize your store to satisfy your every need. Shopify has a total of 644 free apps that can be used to facilitate almost any function an online store needs. Not only this, but Shopify also comes along with a total of 1104 advanced, paid apps, which can be used to add numerous extra features to your online store. Some of the areas that the apps can help facilitate, include, but are not limited to sales, marketing, customer service, shipping, inventory management and more.
Shopify is expensive, and other transaction charges make it even more pricey. Fortunately, it does offer Shopify payment gateway, which can help you save transaction costs if you are from United States, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. For those from other countries, Shopify supports 70 payment gateways to accept credit card payments, and as mentioned earlier by using other payment gateways, there will be Shopify transaction charges+credit card fees of 2.9% + 30cents. PayPal can also be integrated directly into the payment section.
Order section on dashboard displays the list of orders placed by the customer, list of pending orders. Order placed and not delivered is an unfulfilled order. Product shipped to the customer is a fulfilled order. The order section also manages to send confirmation emails about confirmed order to customers. Order fulfilling can be automated, semi-automated or manually done. For automation, all you need is the one-time configuration of delivery with checkout. Additionally, for Shopify users in USA and Canada, shipping can also be automated with Shopify Shipping. Shopify order section also allows you to check details about abandoned customers who add a product to cart and don’t buy which you can use for remarketing process.
The Sales Channels
Shopify has sales channels to let- you sell your products on websites, social media, mobile apps. You can manage them individually through sales channel option in the dashboard.
The Buy Button
This is the basic sales channel with which you can sell products on your website or blogs built on other platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, Squarespace. The button can also be added directly to emails sent through the email marketing campaigns.Buy button can be integrated and customized according to the blog or website theme so that you can maintain the brand of your blog or website
Shopify with messenger option allows you to connect with Facebook account and business page to interact with your customers from Facebook.
Shopify allows you organize your shop on Facebook. There are detailed guides on how to organize the Facebook shop. You can also only use the option to get social media attention if you’d like to.
Point of Sale (POS)
A point of sale (POS) feature is also available. After installing the POS app from the sales channel, you should be able to enable the retail packages. It’s worth pointing out the fact that the bigger package you decide to buy, the more POS staff accounts. POS app is compatible with iPad or iPhone, which will help you manage multiple points of sale, using your phone.
This is yet another of the many great features being offered by Shopify. It represents an official Facebook marketing partner, which will allow you to market your store on the internet, by helping you run Facebook and Instagram-based ads. It also uses dynamic ads, which can increase your ROI, and retargets customers.
Shopify Frequently Asked Questions
IS SHOPIFY SAFE? WHAT SECURITY FEATURES DOES SHOPIFY IMPLEMENT?
Financial transactions using Shopify are safe.A 256-bit SSL certificate ensures security.
DOES SHOPIFY PROVIDES SSL CERTIFICATE?
All paid plans except the $9 buy button, includes SSL certificate
HOW EASY IS INVENTORY MANAGEMENT ON SHOPIFY?
The inventory management system is pretty flexible. Users can automate the management process, by using collections and sorting the products according to their color, price, sales, availability and more. In case you decide to use the inventory ID or barcode system, the inventory management will be even easier, thanks to the automation processes brought to you by Shopify.
IS THE SHOPIFY PAYMENT GATEWAY COOL? HOW CAN I USE MY FAVORITE GATEWAY?
Stripe powers the Shopify payment gateway. It can help get rid of the extra work needed to choose and configure a third party payment gateway provider. Not only this, but by using the Shopify-based payment solution, you will also get rid of the transaction charges, and the card percentage tax. Unfortunately, the Shopify payment gateway isn’t available in all countries, so there may be times when you’ll need to go ahead and configure a third-party system to handle payments.
MY SHOPIFY STORE IS LOADING SLOWLY, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
I AM NOT SATISFIED WITH SHOPIFY. CAN I EASILY MOVE TO ANOTHER PROVIDER?
During our chats with the support team, we found that this is indeed possible. You can export all data in .csv format, which is not truly used a lot these days. Not only this but as the themes are developed using the liquid language, exporting them may be a bit tricky. Because traditional technology isn’t used by Shopify, you can move to another provider, but it won’t be that easy.
DO I NEED TO PURCHASE HOSTING AND THE DOMAIN SEPARATELY?
Hosting is provided by Shopify free of charge, whereas the domain has to be purchased, at $13 for each domain. You can also buy domains from third-party name registrars and point to Shopify name servers.
CAN I ADD BULK PRODUCTS ON SHOPIFY?
Yes, this is possible by importing them in .csv format.
WHERE CAN I FIND ANSWERS TO ALL THE WEIRD QUESTIONS, APART FROM SUPPORT?
The Shopify community is quite significant at this time, and there is a multitude of discussions on topics ranging from silly to advanced. So don’t be afraid to ask the community for help. Shopify also offers an extensive FAQ on some of the most frequently asked questions, with detailed answers.