Shopify is one of the most robust and flexible ecommerce website builders. But is it right for your small business? Find out in our honest review - and try it yourself for free!
In this review we cover:
Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce website builders for small business owners the world over. It's already trusted by over 600,000 stores in over 175 countries – from tiny start-ups to Kylie Jenner's multi-million dollar cosmetics empire.
In our comprehensive study of the UK's six best ecommerce platforms, Shopify came out on top for taking a retail business online.
And (if the name isn't a giveaway), Shopify also just happens to be an expert in building successful online stores, so you get a reliable, professional solution for your online sales. That means not worrying about frustrated customers or struggling to get to grips with the software yourself.
If you'd like to see what Shopify has already done for businesses like yours, you can check out some Shopify success stories here, or read on to see customer testimonials of how existing members are finding it.
So, whether this is your very first venture into online sales or you're taking the exciting step of setting up your brick-and-mortar store online, we found Shopify to be one of the most user-friendly ecommerce website builders we tested.
In this in-depth Shopify review, we explain everything you need to know to decide if this leader in ecommerce really does have everything you need to help grow your small business, including an honest discussion of the pros and cons and full features explained.
Overall, the decision has to be yours – including whether you'd like to take Shopify up on their completely free 14-day trial, so you can try Shopify out for yourself with no strings attached.
✔ Over 100 stunning templates
✔ Comprehensive ecommerce features
✔ Over 1,200 action-packed apps
✔ Flexible and scalable ecomm builder
✔ 24/7 support
✘ Transaction fees (unless you use Shopify Payment)
✘ Programmers need Liquid know-how to customise code
The ecommerce experts
Shopify specialises in ecommerce websites, so it has a theme for most business types (whether you’re selling dog T-shirts or furniture fit for a king). You can pick from over 100 professional templates, so you can find the one that feels right for you.
There’s also a bursting App Store with tools to help you take your ecomm site to the next level. It's got apps on everything from accounting and shipping to marketing and social media management, so you can automate some of the business areas you enjoy least.
Shopify was designed for beginners, and is nice and intuitive to use, but it’s always good to know that if you ever get stuck, Shopify's customer service is on hand 24/7 on the end of the phone, via live chat or by email.
Of course, it has its quirks
Just like most ecommerce website builders (except BigCommerce), Shopify charges its merchants a transaction fee of between 0.5% and 2% (depending on the plan you choose), which is separate from your monthly subscription.
These fees are quite normal to cover the technology and bandwidth used to power your online sales. It breaks down to between 50p and £2 for every £100 you make, but at least Shopify's fees are transparent.
You can get around this by processing your payments through Shopify Payments – if you do, all transaction fees are dropped.
Most businesses like to use hosted ecommerce platforms such as Shopify to get away from doing the grunt work of coding the thing yourself. But if you do fancy editing your site through HTML code, you’ll want to make sure you know Shopify’s own coding language called “Liquid”.
Few programmers do, so if you don't understand it yourself you could have a tough job finding someone who does. Shopify does offer Shopify Experts to help out, but they’re a tad pricier than your average coder. That said, you may never feel the need to code your site yourself, so maybe this won’t even affect you.
An ecommerce expert at an affordable price
Website builders aren’t free, but considering how much time you’ll save and all the sales Shopify can help you make, many small businesses have found Shopify worth the investment.
It’s a well-built, ultra-reliable ecomm builder that’s designed to have you up and selling in no time. Shopify provides everything you need, plus 24/7 live support, so you’re always in good hands.
Shopify pricing reviews
Shopify offers three plans: £22 a month for the Shopify Basic Plan, £60 a month for the regular Shopify Plan and £230 for the Advanced Shopify Plan (we’ve converted from dollars to give you a better idea).
If you get a year’s subscription, you cash in on a 10% discount, and for two-year plans, it’s 20%. That means if you go for the Shopify Plan, you’ll save around £100 for the annual subscription, and £150 for the 2-year deal.
Here are the original Shopify prices in dollars:
Want to find out which is the right package for you? Just click the image above, and check out Shopify's full and easy break-down of credit card rates, transaction fees and features included.
Is Shopify worth the investment?
First things first, Shopify isn’t the cheapest ecommerce platform out there. But it does provide a great value for money investment (even more than some cheaper rivals).
You’ll get the full package to selling online: a professional online shop front, the flexibility to grow your business, 24/7 support and no hidden fees (unlike many other ecomm builders).
Shopify is also buckets cheaper than hiring a freelance web designer and will save you even more in time, hassle and unexpected costs.
Robust tools like Shopify are the secret behind many small businesses' growth. For an affordable monthly subscription, you can win back your quality of life and effectively scale your business.
Keen to try Shopify for yourself? It comes with a 14-day free trial, so you can see what it does for you, commitment-free.
Ease of use ★★★★★ (5)
Templates ★★★★★ (4.5)
Customer support ★★★★★ (5)
Value ★★★★★ (4.5)
Super user friendly:
“Shopify is by far the most user friendly system I have come across and the customer service experiences I have had with the centre in Ireland have been amazing.”
“I've had more sales in a month than I ever did over several years on my other website.”
– K C
“We use Shopify for our online store and it is fantastic. If we have any issues the gurus are more than happy to help.”
– Charlie Clarke
“The platform provides so many features for a measly $29 per month fee. There is nothing better.”
– Dan Wiseman
How does Shopify compare?
“You might get more bells and whistles with Magento Enterprise or some other full custom built out website but really for $30 per month it would be difficult to top Shopify.”
Easy to use
Like all ecommerce web builders, you can expect a small learning curve as you get the hang of it, but it shouldn’t take more than a few hours.
Shopify was built for complete beginners, so it’s easy for everyone to get to grips with. Here’s Shopify’s own how to video to show you how it all works:
24/7 customer support
If anything happened to your website or you just needed some tech support while getting set up, it's good to know help is on hand 24/7 – through phone, email or live chat.
Shopify has an industry-leading support team (not everyone provides the personal touch of having an expert ready on the end of a line, and trust us, it makes a difference).
There's also a well-rated online support centre with a comprehensive database of helpful documents.
This isn't just one-line answers to FAQs; you get screenshots which properly explain most of the issues you could experience.
And failing that, you can always head to the Shopify community forum, and join discussions on what it takes to build a successful business or even get feedback on your latest store creation.
Shopify isn’t just an excellent platform for selling your products – it kits you out with everything you need to tackle all the admin, marketing and analytics to help you really see your sales grow.
Here is a break-down of the main Shopify features:
- Detailed listings – Let your goods shine with full product descriptions (images, details and all that jazz)
- Create categories – Help your customers track down what they need
- Happy customers – Boost sales with discounts
- Start conversations – Add blogs to your web pages
- Stay in the know – Track your orders (and customers)
- Offer customer accounts – Logging in makes repeat sales easier
- Staff login – If you have colleagues, they can access what you grant them
- Detective work – Understanding your customers means better marketing
Over 100 Shopify templates
Some small business owners have just the thing in mind for their online store. And some just want a tried-and-tested shop theme that's been designed by a pro.
With over 100 free and premium templates to choose from, Shopify members stand an excellent chance of finding just what they want, whichever camp you fall into.
Just like in real life, the impression you create when customers first enter your shop can make or break a sale. That's why it's great to know you can rely on a template that will make it easy for your customers to order from you – and feel excited about coming back for more!
We were also impressed by how flexible the Shopify templates are (unlike with Wix, where you're locked in).
As the sales start flooding in, you're free to upgrade your template to a paid theme if and whenever you like.
Here are just a few of the Shopify themes to choose from – you can click the selection below to discover even more:
Abandoned Checkout Recovery
With two in three online carts getting abandoned, many people think the Abandoned Checkout Recovery feature is an absolute must for winning back your customers.
Whereas many ecommerce website builders will reserve this diamond feature for its premium-paying customers, we like how Shopify offers it as standard, regardless of the plan you go for.
How does the Abandoned Checkout Recovery work? Any customers who pop one of your amazing products in their online shopping cart but forget to checkout will get an auto-email reminder to prompt them to complete the sale.
As it's completely automated, it may well pump extra money into your account without you having to do a thing.
Over 1,200 Shopify Apps
The generously-stocked Shopify App Store lets you add more functions to your online shop. These tools go way beyond your general sales and marketing apps; the main benefit is being able to automate lots of the fiddly bits of running an ecommerce business.
Of course, Shopify already includes all the basic features you'll need as part of your package, but with add-on apps, you can turbocharge your shop performance with bonus features like a live chatbot and an automated stock management process to free you up.
Here are just a few of the Spotify apps that are trending right now (just click to search for more):
Free mobile ecommerce shopping cart
In today's world, you need to be mobile. That means having a mobile-friendly version of your site, so customers can find your website and buy your products straight from their phones.
Shopify even has free Android and iPhone apps, so you can manage your shop on the go – check how your sales are looking, keep an eye on your inventory, fulfill your orders and more.
Shopify's Point of Sale (POS) system
If you ever take your business offline, Shopify can help here too. It has its very own Point of Sale (POS) system which means you can easily take payments from a pop-up store, say, and sync them with your online store.
This is a really unique perk that you won't find with many of the online store builders out there.
One of the most robust and professional ecomm builders
As a website builder that specialises in ecommerce, you'd expect Shopify to pack a punch when it comes to helping businesses succeed online.
And having tested Shopify alongside the UK's six best ecommerce platforms, we're pleased to say it delivers everything we'd expect – and more.
Here are the three main reasons why Shopify got a whopping 4.8 (out of 5) stars – one of our highest ratings to date:
- Premium store templates – Shopify offers some of the most professional themes, which is so crucial for building trust with your customers and sealing those all-important sales online
- Unbeatable flexibility – You're free to swap themes whenever you like, mix up your packages, and add on almost any tool you could dream up from the 1,200-strong App Store
- Expert support – Shopify provides a shopping cart you can rely on, plus 24/7 customer support and further help from a community of professionals who have integrated their designs and tools with the software