eCommerce

Shopify Review: A review for beginners

Your questions answered in our Shopify review for beginners.

Shopify, one of the worlds leading online store builders, serving over 1.5 million stores worldwide, is an excellent choice if you’re looking to create a fully-fledged, scalable eCommerce website for your business.

What is Shopify?

Shopify, founded in 2006, is a Canadian eCommerce platform that makes it easy for anyone to create online stores and sell online.

The platform makes it easy to sell in multiple places, including web, mobile, social media, online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations, and popup shops.

Is Shopify good for beginners?

Shopify was built with beginners in mind, so anyone with little to no experience can start selling products very easy and quickly.

Does Shopify have a drag and drop builder?

In 2019 Shopify rolled out ‘Online Store 2.0‘, which introduced easier and more flexible customisation options for store owners.

Shopify does not have a drag and drop builder; instead, it uses a modular system that allows users to rearrange content sections with any OS 2.0 compatible theme. This is something that was only possible on homepages before 2.0 was introduced.

Does Shopify have free themes & templates?

Shopify has its own template marketplace where you can download free and premium pre-designed themes for your online store.

Being able to change the look and feel of your website to suit your brand and vision is something that every shop owner desires, and I think Shopify fails miserably here. 

Shopify’s range of free themes is limited, and premium themes are way overpriced.

There are only ten free themes available, and only one of them is OS 2.0 compatible.LAST UPDATED JANUARY 28 2022.

Update: There are now four themes out of the ten that are compatible with OS 2.0

The collection of premium themes is a little more extensive, and 66 out of the 71 available are OS 2.0 compatible. Prices for premium themes start at £185.

There is definitely room for improvement on Shopify’s part, but thanks to OS 2.0, this may not be as much of a problem now that store owners have more customisation options in themes.

Is that all, is there anywhere else I can get Shopify themes?

The Themeforest marketplace has over 1000 Shopify OS 2.0 themes available, so you are spoilt for choice. The only problem with Themeforest themes is that they tend to be bulky, which could harm website loading speeds if not careful.

Does Shopify have plugins?

Shopify does not have plugins; instead, it offers third-party apps that you can connect to your store to add functionalities not available on Shopify.

There are 6,000+ apps that integrate directly with Shopify including accounting apps, product subscriptions, marketing tools, advanced SEO tools, date pickers, dropshipping integrations and much much more.

Do I need web hosting with Shopify?

Shopify is a hosted service; this means that you don’t need to buy web hosting.

You will, however, need to buy your own domain name.

You can purchase a domain name from Shopify directly. If you do not want to pay a premium for domain names, Namecheap offers some of the lowest prices around.

Do I get email inboxes with Shopify?

Shopify doesn’t provide email hosting; however, you can set up an unlimited number of forwarding email addresses.

You can buy email hosting from Google (G-Suite), Zoho (Zoho Mail) or Namecheap if you have a small budget.

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What features does Shopify have?

Shopify provides multiple features to its customers. Below are a few notable features:

Accept debit and credit cards

With Shopify Payments, you can accept credit and debit cards without the need to register with a third party payment gateway.

If you do not want to use Shopify Payments, you can connect your store to over 100 payment gateways, including Paypal, Amazon Pay, WorldPay and Skrill.

Shopify is level-1 PCI compliant, so you don’t need to worry about the security of your customers’ credit card data.

Every Shopify store includes a free 256-bit SSL certificate. All pages, content, credit card, and transaction information is protected by the same level of security used by banks.

Shipping rates and automatic carrier shipping rates

You can set up shipping rates by fixed-price, tiered pricing, weight-based, location-based and offer free delivery.

You can also receive automatic delivery rates from leading carriers such as Hermes, UPS and FedEx and generate and print labels directly through Shopify.

Multiple languages and currencies

You can customise your store to sell in 50+ languages and accept 113 different currencies.

Customers

Customers can create accounts on your store or checkout as guest shoppers.

If they register with you, customers will have their own profiles that will give insights into shopping habits, order history and contact information.

Store management

There’s no limit to the number of products you can sell in your online store. 

Not only can you sell on your Shopify store, but you can also promote and sell your products on multiple channels, including Facebook, Instagram, eBay and Google. (Subject to fees)

You can offer different variations of your products, such as sizes, colours and materials, as well as offer discounts and gift cards.

Inventory management is also included, which allows you to keep an eye on stock levels.

Refund some or all of an order to the payment method used by the customer. Your inventory is updated automatically.

You can organise products by category, type, brand, season, sale, and more.

You can build recurring revenue streams and customer loyalty by adding and managing a subscription app, all within the Shopify platform.

Inventory locations

You can set up multiple locations in your Shopify store so that you can track inventory and fulfil orders at your locations. Your locations can be retail stores, warehouses, popups, drop shippers, or any other place where you manage or stock inventory. With multiple locations, you have better visibility into your inventory across your business.

Shopify POS

With Shopify POS, you can turn any mobile device into a powerful point of sale. You can download the Shopify POS app to any Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. You can sell at events, fairs, popups, brick and mortar stores, and anywhere your business takes you.

Analytics and reporting

Shopify has an advanced selection of reporting tools. 

From the analytics dashboard, you will see a snapshot of how your store is performing. 

You can also delve in deeper and check where your visitors are coming from, what products are doing well and what products aren’t, what products are selling through social channels, what products are selling through marketplaces and much more.

You can also use Google Analytics if you want to analyse your store’s performance deeper.

Blog

You know what they say; content is king.

With Shopify, you can create blog posts to keep customers updated about store products; you can create blog posts to showcase products, or you can create blog posts to announce special offers.

SEO

Shopify is SEO ready; you can fully optimise your pages, blog posts and products to help potential customers find your store using search engines.

Mobile App

Shopify’s mobile app lets you update your store, manage inventory, fulfil orders, and contact customers.

See real-time and recent activity, gain insight into your visitors, track sales, and analyse your business performance. This data lives in your pocket and goes where you go.

Does Shopify have a free trial?

Shopify offers a free 14-day trial without the need to enter any payment details.

14-days is plenty enough time for you to determine if Shopify is the right option for you and your business.

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Shopify pricing and fees

Shopify offers four plans, with each unlocking advanced features and tools as you upgrade. As well as paying a subscription fee to use the platform you are also charged for credit card processing fees and transaction fees if you use any payment provider other than Shopify Payments.

The Lite plan, the cheapest plan available, does not allow you to build a store. Instead, it gives you the option to accept payments in person or on a website. 

You can create buy buttons and sell on any platform such as WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr, or anywhere else; you can turn your website into an online store with just a few clicks.

The Lite plan is ideal if you are just starting out or only have a small number of products. You still get access to Shopify admin, where you can manage orders, products, inventory and customers.

Lite plan features include

  • No online store
  • Sell any type of product with buy now buttons
  • Accept payments
  • Product management
  • Order management
  • Gift cards and discounts
  • Online credit card rates 2.2% + 20p
  • Bancontact rates 2.2% + 20p
  • iDEAL rates 2.2% + 20p
  • In-person credit/debit card rates 1.7% + 0p
  • Transaction fee if not using Shopify Payments 2.0%

The Lite plan costs £6.80 ($9.00) per month.

The Shopify Basic plan gives you access to every feature available except for reporting, international domains, and international pricing.

Basic plan features

  • Online store
  • Custom domain
  • Email forwarding
  • SSL
  • Unlimited products
  • Product, inventory and customer management
  • Up to 4 inventory locations
  • Manual order creation
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Gift cards
  • Shopify POS
  • Shopify Payments
  • Fraud analysis
  • Sell in 133 currencies
  • Sales channels
  • Two staff accounts
  • Online credit card rates 2.2% + 20p
  • Bancontact rates 2.2% + 20p
  • iDEAL rates 2.2% + 20p
  • In-person credit/debit card rates 1.7% + 0p
  • Transaction fee if not using Shopify Payments 2.0%

The Basic plan costs £22.00 ($29.00) per month.

The Shopify plan includes everything the Basic plan has, plus standard reporting, international domains and international pricing.

Shopify plan features

  • Everything included in the basic plan +
  • Standard reporting
  • International domains
  • International pricing
  • Five staff accounts
  • Up to 5 inventory locations
  • Online credit card rates 1.9% + 20p
  • Bancontact rates 1.9% + 20p
  • iDEAL rates 1.9% + 20p
  • In-person credit/debit card rates 1.6% + 0p
  • Transaction fee if not using Shopify Payments 1.0%

The Shopify plan costs £59.00 ($79.00) per month.

The advanced plan includes advanced reporting, third party shipping rates and international pricing (per variant).

Advanced plan features

  • Advanced reporting
  • Third-party shipping rates (custom)
  • International pricing (per variant)
  • Fifteen staff accounts
  • Up to 8 inventory locations
  • Online credit card rates 1.6% + 20p
  • Bancontact rates 1.6% + 20p
  • iDEAL rates 1.6% + 20p
  • In-person credit/debit card rates 1.5% + 0p
  • Transaction fee if not using Shopify Payments 0.5%

The Advanced plan costs £224.00 ($299.00) per month.

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Shopify pros and cons

While it is great that all the technical details are taken care of, my only worry with hosted platforms such as Shopify is that if the company were ever to go bust, you could potentially lose your website and business.

This is not something I see happening to Shopify, far from it, but it is a risk that always bothers me with services like these.

Another common problem with hosted services is migrating your store to a different platform. Should you ever want to part with Shopify, you will have to either build your store from scratch or hire expensive developers to migrate all of your products and data to your new home.

The problems above are usually referred to as vendor lock-in that comes with all hosted platforms.

Shopify prosShopify cons
Great supportTransaction fees if you don’t use Shopify Payments
Excellent sales featuresVendor lock-in
Multi-channel sellingVery expensive templates
Easy to customiseCustomisation limitations
Built-in speed and security for hostingNo page builder
Great marketing tools
Good customer support
Extensive app market
Well established company

Shopify competitors

  • BigCommerce
  • ShopWired
  • Wix
  • Weebly
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
  • Big Cartel

Last words

Shopify is one of the best platforms to sell your products. The platform is easy to use, has around the clock support and you don’t have to worry about technical headaches.

Shopify has excellent sales features that are essential for businesses that want to build large scaling online stores.

Try Shopify


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