Shopify review for small businesses It might be costlier than some of its rivals, but if you want to create a scalable ecommerce site, you can’t put a price on Shopify's quality sales features and support. Written by Henry Williams Updated on 2 August 2023 Our Research When recommending the best ecommerce platforms, our expert team of writers and researchers focus on the features that matter most to small businesses. We rate platforms on their value for money – including setup costs and ongoing transaction fees – design features, including store templates; inventory management; payment processing options; help and support, plus customer feedback. Written and reviewed by: Henry Williams Content Manager Our independent reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. The platform behind more than 1.75 million online stores worldwide, Shopify is the ideal choice if you’re looking to create a fully kitted out, fully optimised, scalable ecommerce website without having to spend too much.And out of our top six ecommerce platforms for small businesses, Shopify rightfully earns its place as the second-best online store builder, just behind Wix.This is thanks to its comprehensive range of quality sales features, customisation capabilities, and excellent help and support. We should also mention that Shopify received our highest score for customer satisfaction: 4.6 out of 5. 4.6 out of 5 Website features 4.2 Sales features 4.5 Design functionalities 3.9 Value for money 3.0 Help and support 3.8 Ease of use 3.5 Try Shopify for free However, this sophistication comes at a price (worth paying for sure if you're an ecommerce business looking to grow), and the design features can be a little trickier to use than some of Shopify's competitors. Luckily, the ecommerce giant's wealth of apps means with a little bit of learning, you'll be able to get it to do whatever you need it to.Based on extensive user testing, this review will help you decide whether Shopify is the right ecommerce platform to use for your online store.We’ll delve into Shopify's price plans, pros and cons, and finish off with an in-depth analysis of the factors that matter most to small businesses when building an online store – website features, sales features, design flexibility, help and support, value for money, and ease of use.By the end of this guide, you should have reached a verdict on whether Shopify is the ecommerce solution for you. Whether you want to set up a recession-proof online shop or hop on consumer trends taking over social media, Shopify could be the provider for you. This article will cover: Shopify overview Shopify pricing Our methodology: How did we evaluate Shopify for small business? Shopify verdict FAQs Shopify overview Shopify Ecommerce 4.6 Shopify’s superb features and extensive app market give ambitious ecommerce businesses everything they need to scale rapidly. Try Shopify for free FREE TRIAL 3-day free trial PRICE FROM £19 per month Preempts and predicts what a merchant might need next in all aspects of creating a website Best range of apps and extensions Perfect for dropshipping Summary Shopify is perfect for users looking for that all in one online store solution. Its ability to predict what a merchant will need next when creating a website is a brilliant feature, and its countless apps give you complete control over your business, enabling you to grow through diverse multi channel integration options and automated SMS and email marketing. It is definitely better suited to store owners with complex, larger inventories and because there are fewer built in features, using the platform can get expensive compared to other feature-filled competitors like Squarespace and Wix. Show moreless Shopify was created with one purpose: to help you build an online shop.This means that unlike some of our other top ecommerce platforms – which are website builders first and foremost – Shopify was built with ecommerce considerations factored into every sales feature, every theme, and every design tool.Put simply, you can be sure that every aspect of your Shopify online store has been optimised to help you make sales and grow your business.We’ve already highlighted Shopify’s industry-leading range of sales features, for which we awarded the platform a huge 4.5 out of 5.But it’s also a great all rounder, scoring highly for a number of the key metrics we use to determine our ranking. Its non-commerce website features are genuinely useful and well-designed, and it has the second best help and support on offer out of our top online store builders. It also has the highest customer satisfaction score of 4.6 out of 5, which speaks volumes for its capabilities.The only area it falls down on is value for money, gaining only 3 out of 5 from our researchers, which put it in joint fifth place for that area of investigation alongside BigCommerce. Quite a way behind the likes of Wix, our top ecommerce platform for small businesses overall.Shopify pros and cons Pros Fantastic multi-channel integration. You're given the ability to sell via multiple social media platforms Offers the highest number of sales features of all the platforms we tested Really supports merchants with the more difficult tasks, such as shipping and accountancy Shopify is an entirely customisable platform – should you require a bespoke feature, it can assist directly within the builder, on the template you choose, or through its app market Cons Not the best for value for money. Shopify imposes transaction fees if you don't use its own payment gateways Limited trial period with restrictive design flexibility Pick your template wisely, as you will need to reformat your entire site if you decide to switch themes once your website has gone live Shopify pricing: Value for Money – 3 out of 5Try free for 3 days Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward GET 3 MONTHS FOR £1/MO Starter Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Price £5 per month Price £1 per month for 3 monthsThen £19 per month Price £49 per month Price £259 per month Features A simple, instant storefrontUnlimited product pagesFast and secure checkout Features Unlimited productsAbandoned cart recovery Features Professional reports and analytics5 staff accounts Features Advanced reportsCalculated shipping rates Online card processing fees 2.9% + 30p for online sales Online card processing fees 2% + 25p for online purchases Online card processing fees 1.7% + 25p for online purchases Online card processing fees 1.5% + 25p for online purchases Visit Shopify to learn more about its pricing plans Visit Shopify As we’ve just discussed, when you compare it to other ecommerce platforms like Wix and Square, Shopify doesn’t get you as much bang for your buck. However, its premium plans compare almost pound for pound with rival ecommerce-specific platform BigCommerce, which Shopify outshines on most metrics.The features offered by each Shopify payment plan don’t differ wildly, so you’re not going to be missing out on vital functionality if you opt for the Basic plan. The main differences are that you’re allowed more staff accounts as you go up the pricing scale, and additional fees and rates applied to payments decrease. However, if you want to enhance Shopify's value for money muscle, you can take advantage of our exclusive Shopify offer. You can get 3 months of Basic Shopify for just £1!For more information on the plans, visit our dedicated Shopify pricing guide. Just note that occasional changes to the plans, as well as one-off deals and offers, can affect the pricing, but you can always head over to the Shopify pricing page for the most up-to-date information.Website features – 4.2 out of 5Shopify also performs well in terms of its website features. It took third place in this area of investigation, behind Squarespace (4.3 out of 5) and category winner Wix (4.5 out of 5).Shopify narrowly misses out on full marks for SEO features because it doesn’t offer any keyword support, unlike rivals Wix. However, the Shopify App Store gives you access to a huge range of over 6,000 third-party apps that can help to optimise your online shop, including SEO tools. Meaning if your store is lacking functionality and requires additional integration, you are covered for a whole range of scenarios.These apps include Seguno, an online marketing tool that helps you retain new customers through CRM. And Oberlo – a highly regarded dropshipping service that allows users to find products to sell on the Shopify platform.When it comes to marketing, again, your best bet is to make use of Shopify's extensive third-party integrations for business promotion. There are plenty of great marketing add-ons at your disposal, unlike other ecommerce platforms such as GoDaddy, which have minimal third-party integrations and a lack of marketing support.Another great website feature from Shopify is that you can instruct the platform to send customised ‘shout out’ messages to customers, which you can set to appear when orders are placed, when an item has been shipped, and when a customer creates an on-site account. This feature is unique to Shopify, and is a great way to ensure your customers have a positive purchasing experience, and will return to shop at your store again.Sales features – 4.5 out of 5Shopify is a great option for ecommerce businesses thanks to its range of sales features. Here's a couple we want to highlight if you're considering Shopify.Products and inventoryShopify gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to your products. You can sell services, digital items (using an add-on), and physical products within all pricing plans, and at no additional cost. There are also no real limitations on how many products you can have visible on your site, unlike other ecommerce platforms like Square and GoDaddy, which require you to install a plugin before you can sell unlimited products.In the backend, Shopify’s inventory makes it super easy to navigate and manage all of your day-to-day product admin. You can also draw sales from multiple channels into the same location. The other great feature is that Spotify gives you an oversell warning to notify you when an item is not available to sell.The only thing we’d mark it down for is that digital products are only available when the relevant app is purchased.Payment optionsShopify supports nearly all major payment options, including Shopify Payments, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and PayPal. However, your location may restrict your access to certain platforms.If you're using Shopify Payments (its own personal payment gateway), Shopify won’t charge you any transaction fees. So, if you're accepting a credit card payment of £100, you'll only pay 2.2% + 20p on top of that payment, which is deducted from the £100 payment before it’s deposited in your bank account.If you're not using Shopify Payments, Shopify will charge an extra transaction fee. In this case, you'd pay an additional 2% of that £100. This will be included in your monthly invoices, and it doesn’t include the credit card rates that'll be charged by the gateway you're using.The other great part about Shopify's payment options is that it's an all-in-one solution thanks to Shopify POS. With the system, you can share across all channels, including online, social media and in-store. It also keeps everything organised as you can manage things like your inventory and marketing campaigns under the same roof. Having an integrated POS systems saves you the headache of having to jump between different software and brands to keep your business running.Multichannel integrationShopify stores can be integrated with various other channels. Under Facebook, for example, you can sell via the Facebook shop tab, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. Amazon, Pinterest, eBay, Buzzfeed, and Kik are also all supported, but only when your currency is set to dollars.Checkout and shippingShopify’s checkouts are the most customisable of any of the ecommerce platforms. You can add your company logo, change colours, and even amend the fonts used to make sure that your checkout matches your business brand to the letter. This is great to build brand awareness and equity, and improve the buyer journey.You can also edit the required information boxes for your customers, including whether you need their full address or just the first line and postcode, whether you need their full name or not, and whether you need their phone number. Most of Shopify’s themes also allow you to attach a discount box to your checkout.This is in stark contrast to the likes of GoDaddy, with its rigid templates and simple designs.Shopify gives you a lot of support when it comes to shipping, integrating with a range of major providers, and allowing you to give customers multiple options. You can manage everything from your shipping dashboard.Shopify only allows US users to download printable labels, but you can buy shipping labels with ready-to-scan barcodes.InternationalisationInternational and exporting businesses are well catered for by Shopify.Let’s start with the themes. If you opt for a theme in any specific locality, Shopify will automatically adjust the checkout and any system messages to the correct language.Your customers are able to change your storefront into either French, German, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, or English at the click of a button.Setting up international shipping functionality is just as easy. Simply go to settings, and add and amend shipping zones and rates to your liking. Taxes and shipping rates will then automatically be adjusted to the customer’s location during purchase. Shopify users can also add and manage 1,000 locations on the ecommerce site.Sales analyticsAvailable with every premium plan, Shopify’s analytics tools are excellent, providing granular data and actionable insights into your customers' behaviour. Using Shopify’s reports, you can improve your marketing, upsell to the most suitable target audience, and create promotional pricing and product bundles.For example, if your online store has a search bar, you can see what terms your visitors are using to search for products in your store, as well as search terms that don't give any results.The ‘online store conversion over time report’ shows you the percentage of visitors that make a purchase over a selected period of time, and provides key insights like time grouping, sessions, added to cart, reached checkout, sessions converter, and conversion rate.What's more, Spotify also allows you to visualize where your customers are coming from and which areas are driving the most sales.All of these granular insights allow you to paint a picture of your customers, and in turn make important business decisions based on product views, sessions, and how many customers reached checkout.Security featuresShopify has excellent security functions. The platform is PCI Compliant, meaning that all stores are maintained under a secure network. Cardholder data is protected, while Shopify regularly monitors and tests networks, implements strong access control measures, and maintains an information security policy.Shopify Payments merchants outside of the US (and not on Plus) now have 3D Secure to verify credit card purchases. This is a 2-step authentication that confirms the cardholder's identity, and protects both the buyer and the merchant from fraud.Having 3D Secure can help merchants to be compliant with upcoming regional regulations. Orders that are verified with 3D Secure benefit from a liability shift, so that if there is fraudulent activity, the onus is on the credit card issuer, not the merchant.AccountingShopify deserves full marks for its accounting services, with a number of invaluable tools and features that make what is often the most painful part of running a business so much easier.With Shopify’s invoice generator, simply fill in the required information and create an invoice on the spot. You can save, print, or email it directly to your clients. It uses a professional layout, which includes all of the necessary details for clean, consistent, and accurate billing practices. This can save you tons of time.Although Shopify automatically calculates most taxes, you can override tax rates to control how much tax you charge for a particular product, and to handle exceptions and exemptions. You can also specify unique tax rates for shipping destinations or tax-exempt customers.And, if you do need additional functionality, Shopify supports more than 40 other accountancy apps. Impressive.Design flexibility – 3.9 out of 5Shopify’s range of themes is limited, but they are well designed and attractive for visitors to view. You can choose from 10 free ones, with an additional 50 available at a cost of between £115 and £187.Each industry theme comes with a curated selection of the features Shopify believes will be the most useful for a business operating in that sector.However, if you compare the number of free themes to the likes of Wix, Shopify certainly misses the mark. Wix has over 500 free ecommerce website templates for its customers to use, and when you compare that with Shopify's 10, you certainly feel slightly robbed.Unlike other ecommerce platforms like Wix, Shopify does allow its merchants to change their theme at any time, and any information such as navigation buttons and products will be reconfigured in your new theme. However, non-product imagery and self-coded elements will have to be redone.What the users said: It doesn't pretend that building an online store is simple. For ecommerce, you have to be professional and know lots of inventory things, prices and variants. I like with Shopify that it's just all out there, ready to fill it in, and you can run a real business if you want and if you are up to it. Want to get a good deal on Shopify? We get you 3 months for just £1/ Try now It only takes a minute. Help and support – 3.8 out of 5When it comes to help and support, Shopify shows an average performance. It has a fairly typical number of help features, however, its higher price point compared to the likes of Wix and GoDaddy means we've marked it down slightly in this category.If you request help within the editor, Shopify takes you directly to an extremely useful knowledge and help centre, which is clearly presented and easy to use. You can filter or refine your search depending on what you’re looking for, and Shopify uses a combination of visuals and text to aid your understanding.However, the article which appears as the first search return isn’t always the one that’s most relevant to your query, so it’s worth scrolling down a little if you don’t immediately find what you’re looking for. This is a hassle and is far from helpful if you need straightforward answers to your query quickly.It is worth bearing in mind that specialist advanced support and a dedicated support agent are available with the Shopify Plus plan.Value for money – 3 out of 5Shopify finishes in joint last place in this category, alongside BigCommerce. The platform is considerably more expensive than the likes of Wix, Squarespace, and Square.In fact, Square tops our list of the best free ecommerce platforms as it allows you to sell online for free, whilst using Shopify will set you back at least £19 per month to sell on the platform with its Basic plan.The caveat is that you can test out Shopify's plans with a free 3-day trial, and from this, you should be able to understand why its plans are on the dearer side.If you are serious about scaling, the quality of Shopify's sales features is worth the expensive price tag.Ease of use – 3.5 out of 5Based on user testing, Shopify scored a fairly average 3.5 out of 5 in this category.The platform uses consistent typography and simple, understandable language. Its icons are also easy-to-identify, which makes it less of a hassle to create the online store you want. It also features an undo button, which is great for those moments you add a feature, element, or design component that you immediately regret.The reason Shopify suffers in this category is due to the sheer volume of third-party apps and integrations. It can be slightly overwhelming for users, particularly as to make the most of Shopify, you'll need to install add-ons and understand how to use them. Want to find out how Shopify fares going head-to-head with an open source ecommerce giant like WordPress.org? Visit our Shopify Vs WordPress.org review. Our methodology: How did we evaluate Shopify for small businesses? Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward BEST ALL ROUND BEST SALES FEATURES Wix Shopify Squarespace Square Online BigCommerce GoDaddy BEST FOR All-round ecommerce platform for small businesses BEST FOR Best range of apps and extensions BEST FOR Best for ease of use and great design BEST FOR Best value – start selling for free BEST FOR Best sales features BEST FOR Creating a simple online store Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.8 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.6 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.6 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.3 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 4.2 Overall Score Based on our in-depth research and user testing 3.9 Pricing £7.50-£119 per month£6.75-£107.10 with code “GET10!” Pricing £19 – £259 per month, billed annually£1/month for 3 months Pricing £17-£35 per month, billed annuallyUse code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans Pricing £0-£64 per month Pricing $29-$299 (around £23-£240) per month Pricing £12.99 per month (first term savings available) Try Wix Try Shopify Try Squarespace Try Square Visit site Try GoDaddy For more information about how Shopify squares up to its direct competitors, visit our dedicated guide to Shopify alternatives.We’ve ranked Shopify as our second best ecommerce platform for small businesses, based on extensive user testing and assessment of the six key factors that matter most to you – the small business owners.Those six key factors are:Website featuresSales features Design flexibility Help and supportValue for moneyEase of use.Each factor was given a score out of 5. Those six scores were then combined to get the overall score.Shopify achieved a massive 4.6 out of 5 score overall, only 0.2 behind first-placed Wix. It also came top for customer satisfaction, second for sales features, and third for website features.Let's take a close look at how Shopify performed in each of these categories. Shopify verdictIf you’re looking to build an ecommerce empire, look no further than Shopify.It's perfect as an all-in-one solution, with particularly impressive sales features, and will give you all the support you need to optimise your online store and grow sales. That's why we awarded it our second-highest overall ecommerce platform score of 4.6 out of 5, and our highest customer score of (also) 4.6 out of 5.If store design is your primary concern, Shopify might not be for you, as it offers a limited range of (free) themes and limited design flexibility compared to rivals such as Squarespace and Wix.But near-limitless customisability isn't far away thanks to Shopify's huge range of apps – making it a particularly strong option for scaling businesses that want to get a successful online store up and running quickly.But don't just take our word for it, try Shopify for free today! FAQs Does Shopify have a free trial? Yes, Shopify has a 3-day free trial, which allows you to create and publish an online store. However, you won’t be allowed to sell products or services until you sign up for a paid plan. Is Shopify worth it? This depends on your ambitions and vision for your online shop, but essentially yes. While it might be pricier than a non-ecommerce specific builder, its rich sales features are all but essential for businesses that want to build large scaling online stores. More simplistic ecommerce platforms simply don’t offer the support, sales functionality, and analytics capabilities that you need to manage the selling and shipping of lots of products. Can I trust Shopify? Yes, Shopify is PCI compliant, and SSL certificates are built into every Shopify website. This means all cardholder data is protected, and that strong access control measures are maintained. What are the disadvantages of Shopify? Unfortunately, Shopify isn't exactly cheap. You could pay up to £259 per month, which explain why it scores just a 3 out of 5 in our research for value for money. It also falls behind competitors for its help and support offering as its help centre isn't as user friendly as other website builders. How much does Shopify take per sale? Shopify will charge you a variable fee which ranges from 1.5% to 2% depending on your Shopify plan, as well as an additional flat fee of 25p. Startups.co.uk is reader-supported. If you make a purchase through the links on our site, we may earn a commission from the retailers of the products we have reviewed. This helps Startups.co.uk to provide free reviews for our readers. It has no additional cost to you, and never affects the editorial independence of our reviews. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Written by: Henry Williams Content Manager Henry has been writing for Startups.co.uk since 2015, covering everything from business finance and web builders to tax and red tape. He’s also acted as project lead on many of our industry-renowned annual indexes, including Startups 100 and Business Ideas, and created a number of the site’s popular how to guides.