Shopify

An ecommerce platform made for you.

Made for: 

Managing online stores from a mobile app, social selling and mobile e-commerce

Not for: 

Customizing websites without coding, low transaction fees or low monthly sales volume

Pricing

 
14-day free trial
 
$29, $79 or $229/mo.
 
Monthly subscription

When looking only at Shopify, the features needed will likely determine your choice between Basic and Standard, while the variable transaction fees will likely determine your choice between Standard and Advanced.

Product Demo

Features

Setup

Tools:
  •  DIY
  •  Drag & Drop Editor (WYSIWYG)
  •  Injectable HTML
  •  Injectable CSS
Design:
  • Templates: 100+ free
  • Stock Photos: Not included
  • Mobile: All responsive themes
  • Embed Shopify cart in another CMS

Website Management

Admin:
  •  Domain Name
  •  Hosting (free)
  • Email: not included
  • Pages: unlimited
  • Storage: unlimited
SEO:
  •  Indexable
  •  Custom URLs
  •  Custom page titles
  •  Meta-tagging

Integrations

Operational:
  •  Social Media (icons & feeds)
  •  Analytics (Google Analytics)
  •  Marketing (Kit, Mailchimp)
  •  Files
  • Other: Quickbooks, Xero, Dymo Labels
Industry Specific:
  • Amazon Store support
  • Local deliveries: PostMates, UberRUSH
  • Inventory management

E-commerce

Rates:
  • Product Count: Unlimited
  • Plan Fee: Included
  • Transaction Fees: 0% (3rd party: 0.5-2%)
  • Credit Card Processing: 2.2%-2.9% + $.30/ea
  •  All Major Cards, Paypal
Capabilities:
  •  Returning customer sign-in
  •  Abandoned cart recovery
  •  In-person purchases
  •  Tax calculator
  •  Shipping calculator

Support

Contact:
  •  Phone (24/7)
  •  Online Chat (24/7)
  •  Email (24/7)
Resources:
  •  Active User Community
  •  Tutorials
  •  Forums

Reviews of Shopify

E-commerce Agency Segments Best Shopify Candidates

 
Client Interview
Overall rating: 

4.5

Features: 

Average: 4 (1 vote)

Ease of use: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Support: 

Average: 4.5 (1 vote)

Willing to refer: 

Average: 4.5 (1 vote)

About the Customer
Jordan Brannon
Director, Coalition Technologies
 
$51 - $250/mo. spend

"The primary type of small business that we see having success with Shopify are direct to consumer businesses."

Recommendations: 

In many respects, Shopify is the gold standard for small business ecommerce. It wraps an easy to use CMS, point of sale solutions and credit card processing into a single offering which reduces complexity and can save business significant money. However, customers should analyze what requirements they have that would require third-party apps and integrations, which will drive up total operating costs. Customers should also consider whether their sales channels align with Shopify's advantages in social selling or if SEO is more of a concern.

Background

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Coalition is a full-service digital agency focusing on small and mid-sized e-commerce businesses throughout the United States. We have a team of over 70 people ranging from design and development through copy, SEO [search engine optimization], PPC [pay-per-click], social media marketing, and so on. We were founded in 2009 out of Los Angeles, California and we’re still headquartered there today. I head the digital strategy team which means I oversee our scoping and our various strategy initiatives for our clients.

Most frequently, we work with the Magento community and enterprise, Shopify and Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce e-commerce platforms or CMS [content management systems].

Solution

What type of client is an ideal candidate for Shopify?

Shopify is primarily catered to small e-commerce businesses although they have increasingly expanded their functionality to be able to support mobile applications and some other forms of selling online or selling through the internet of things. The primary type of small business that we see having success with Shopify are direct to consumer businesses. Also, it tends to typically be dealing with what I would consider more female oriented products. A lot of Shopify’s feature set is built around social selling which tends to have a stronger impact or is more accessible to women. As a result, we see a lot more female focused products being successful there.

Who should possibly avoid Shopify?

Businesses that have a strong business-to-business need or highly segmented customer groups may find better value elsewhere. There are also some question marks about the base competitiveness of the e-commerce CMS for Shopify. If you’re not taking advantage of the point of sale functionality or some of the social selling functionality, potentially Shopify may not necessarily be the top of list.

What types of clients go to you or others for help with this website builder? How do they find/choose you?

Where it tends to struggle more is in the search marketing. Out of the box, some of the things that Shopify does to approach categories and inventory, product variance, filtering of products, and blog categories aren’t necessarily the most SEO friendly. So looking at being able to optimize a site to make sure its technical format is supporting a good SEO or PPC campaign may often require a third party like ours. I think, in extending Shopify beyond the platform itself to third party integrations, business solution software is where you typically look at calling somebody for Shopify. If you want a more customized and unique design experience rather than the themes Shopify would offer, an agency like Coalition would be a good fit.

What cost factors should clients keep in mind when considering this tool?

Shopify has some advantages with providing some of its own payment services which can actually offer a meaningful discount compared to other small business focused e-commerce solutions. It covers things like hosting which is one of the advantages to its security in some of the platform type upgrades. All of those are included with the price. When you start looking at Shopify one of the things to consider is how many apps you will need. Shopify spends a lot of time bragging about the size of its app and extension marketplace. That’s one of the things that it’s favorably reviewed for. But a lot of times, those apps are addressing features and functionality that may be present in another platform as part of the base charge. You may be incurring an added software-as-a-service cost with Shopify. So you can go from an $80 plan to spending $300 a month between Shopify and then four or five different apps. A lot of business owners may be surprised by that and may not have considered that fully in the course of evaluating the platform. The other piece is if you’re a growing business and you find your needs drive you to Shopify Plus, the Shopify Plus plan is actually a fair bit more at it's starting pricing point than some of the other competing entities in the space.

Features

What are the features or tools of the platform that have most impressed you?   

The kind of things that we’ve been impressed with come back to its social selling capability. Some of its integrations with the ability to sell products through social platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram have been one of the effective areas. They’ve been a frontrunner in this software-as-a-service category. Shopify is known for its easy to use administrative interface. Its framework, Liquid, is also really easy to learn for developers and is easily managed through the admin panel. Those are some areas where Shopify has some feature advantages and it’s a competitive market.

Shopify’s checkout API and scripts really enable it to offer some more unique functionality and experience. Those are available with Shopify Plus. Looking at some of their various SDKs [software development kits], they allow you to take Shopify beyond the e-commerce store and beyond the e-commerce platform, and perhaps just use it as more of a puzzle piece in your overall omni-channel commerce experience or offering. That’s an area where Shopify may have some advantages to you.

Are there any areas of the software that could be added or improved upon?  

As I noted earlier, it’s SEO is not really well regarded - it’s okay. I wouldn’t call it an advantage necessarily. It offers the minimum that’s required for a software-as-a-service e-commerce platform today. That’s probably one area they could challenge themselves a little bit more or reprioritize a bit. I think integrating with third party software solutions still often requires very expensive third party software-as-a-service apps that can really dramatically increase the cost of owning and managing a Shopify store. Again, that’s not an area I necessarily see as a real good business reason for Shopify not to have integrated that feature set themselves. Right now, Shopify pushes you to the app store where you a have to pay somebody else for it. Those are things that would be advantageous for them to consider offering directly.

Is there any way Shopify makes the deployment process easier? Is there any way they could improve this process?

Shopify has a pretty good, pretty fast time to deploy. A lot of that comes back to the fact that they built in a lot of the base functionality. The necessary edits can be easily managed through the CMS. On things like redirects and migrating catalogs to Shopify, you may encounter some hiccups. So that’s usually where we would work with our clients to make sure that they’re being especially detailed since that can be one of the critical benchmarks to whether or not your migration to another e-commerce platform is successful.

 

Experience: 

Can you speak to the support of Shopify? In what ways do they excel at support offerings, and where could they improve?

They have great support. On the customer end of things, it seems to be pretty accessible. Like a lot of competitors in the space, the base Shopify support may not be as technically knowledgeable as some of the advanced or senior support options that are out there. But that’s par for the course. They tend to be available around the clock and through weekends. At the senior level, a lot of the personnel seem to be based in Canada, east coast time, and that can create some challenges if you are a west coast customer on a different time zone. You might not have a good overlap with their senior engineer staff.

 
IT Services
 
51-200 Employees
 
Seattle, Washington

RATINGS

OVERALL SCORE: 4.5
Shopify is a frontrunner in their space. A number of our new clients are on Shopify, and they've had a positive experience in almost all instances.
FEATURES: 4.0
Out of the box with paid apps, you can push it to a five. As a platform itself, given other market players, I would say a four.
EASE OF USE: 5.0
The actual configuration setup and the presentation of the admin panel is very intuitive. The actual Liquid CMS makes it easy for new developers to learn or adapt to Shopify without having to spend a lot of time making mistakes.
SUPPORT: 4.5
WILLING TO REFER: 4.5
We have a lot of experience in the e-commerce space and Shopify has some really distinctive advantages and some areas where it might not be as good of a fit.
Overall rating: 
4.5

Designer for Small & Medium Sized Businesses

 
Client Interview
Overall rating: 

5.0

Features: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Ease of use: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Support: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Willing to refer: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

About the Customer
Jason Curry
Co-founder, Faction Studio
 
$0 - $50/mo. spend

"For anyone in the 6-7 digits or below revenue range, Shopify would be the gold standard."

Recommendations: 

Shopify is referred to as the easiest to use e-commerce provider. It can handle everything from a small online donation portal to an enterprise level store handling many, many SKUs while processing millions in annual revenue. Even outside of it's e-commerce feature set, it's aesthetic and ease of use competes with likes of other top website builders such as Squarespace.

Background

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We design and develop mobile apps for iOS and Android. We also develop websites on Squarespace, Shopify, and WordPress, too. We don’t promote ourselves with doing too much WordPress but we do those as well. My wife and I own the company together. We started about two years ago. We have one other partner, Sean Fournier. He’s someone we have worked with for five or six years. He’s in Connecticut, and Kristy and I are in Brooklyn. We have one other full-time employee here in the city - a different Sean. We do some of the development and design ourselves and we work with contractors to do development as well. We had a bigger company. They’re on Clutch now too, but we sold it in 2013. We did the whole thing where we had tons of full-time salaried people in the office in New York. We didn’t want to go that route again. We’re trying to keep it lean and mean.

How long have you been using Shopify?

We started using Shopify well before, but we began to specialize in Shopify in 2013.

Can you describe briefly the typical situation that a person or company may be facing that would encourage them to use a website builder tool?

They have a pretty big range of potential customers. Anyone who is just starting out could use Shopify because it’s affordable and it’s really easy to get a website up quickly with any of the templates available. You can get something up right away without knowing how to design or do any development. It’s also used by a lot of major brands, too. You can go pretty far without the most premium option. They have a high-end plan called Shopify Plus and that’s what serious e-commerce vendors use, like stores that are selling many millions per year. If you own a physical store, you can have your website with Shopify but then also you do your POS system in your store with Shopify and it’s all integrated.

Features

When looking at the market as a whole, how does Shopify compare?

On the high end, Shopify might compare to Magento. That’s what people that have shops that sell over a million per year can use. I think Magento is the best in that segment. It’s a lot easier to use. It’s a lot more streamlined and more modern feeling. Some of the other ones at the high end of the scale are very cumbersome and clunky. Also, you can’t just do it yourself. For those, you typically have to hire a certified partner developer to design and develop and launch those stores. Whereas with Shopify, even at the high end, you still don’t need to do that. There are other options above Magento like DemandWare, but I’m not too familiar with those. Those are like in the hundreds of millions of dollars range. I knew of a couple of stores that were on Shopify that were selling $10 million a year. I’m not sure at what point above that you need to switch or what the considerations might be for going with a different platform.

What type of client is an ideal candidate for Shopify?

Someone on the lower end - anyone that has a store or makes a product or sells a product.

Who should possibly avoid Shopify?

I think maybe someone at the very high end. I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that. That’s just my opinion. If you have a major brand where you have all kinds of custom systems you want to integrate, you could still do that with Shopify, but I don’t know beyond that if there are other platforms or enterprise options that are better. For anyone in the 6-7 digits or below revenue range, Shopify would be the gold standard.

How would you compare it to Magento?

Magento is very, in my opinion, cumbersome. It’s very big. There’s a lot of code to it and a lot of customizations just to get a basic store launched. It’s very difficult, nearly impossible, for a lay person to launch a Magento site. You have to get it hosted and things like that. They do offer a hosted version but it’s very complicated compared to Shopify. Shopify is very easy - like a website builder but for e-commerce. It’s geared toward people being able to do it themselves without having any design or programming experience.

You used to be a Magento specialist - what led you to switch to Shopify?

The biggest issue we had with Magento is we would custom develop people’s websites but then they would always come out with new releases that would break everything. So anytime they came out with even a minor release, we’d have to get in there and edit the code to make it work. When a full new version came out, they basically destroyed what you had previously coded. It would even screw up code you made by following proper coding principles that they had outlined. That became a really big problem for clients of course because you’d go to a client and say they updated and it’s going to take us five hours and here’s what we charge. It created a lot of issues and a lot of times we had to not charge full price because it wasn’t their fault. It was a problem. The same with themes. We made Magento themes that we sold on ThemeForest and that was just a lot of work anytime a new version of Magento came out. We had to go back and make patches and stuff like that.

With Shopify, it’s not even an issue at all. We haven’t made a Shopify theme. We’re working on one now but haven’t finished it yet. The quality of their themes is great. The quality of their platform is excellent because they’re excellent software engineers. The founder of the company is a very notable Ruby on Rails developer. I think they follow excellent software development principles. Their platform shows that quality, whereas Magento was a total cluster, built on PHP. We did Magento for three to four years and we switched in 2013.

Was there something that drew you to Shopify or was it more wanting to get away from Magento?

It was both. Shopify was always pretty good, but around 2013, they made the platform even better. They came out with some new things. I don’t remember specifics but I remember there was a tipping point where it got a lot better. The same thing happened with Squarespace, too, when Squarespace 7 came out. It was just a really excellent platform and became the clear leader in its market.

Experience: 

What cost factors should clients keep in mind when considering this tool?

It’s pretty inexpensive but one thing they do is take a small percentage of sales. I know in the past some people have taken issue with that. I feel like it’s well worth it for what you get because it’s also a hosted platform. For other options, you may not have a transaction fee but you have to build it yourself, and you have to hire a developer and designer and have to spend more to get it launched. Plus, you then have to pay for the hosting and everything, too. There’s definitely a tradeoff there.

What are the features or tools of the platform that have most impressed you?

I like that you can try out different backend options or different designs that are easy to preview and launch. That’s unique for an e-commerce platform or website builder. Instead of doing some work and switching your site live with a different template or theme, you can have a couple in the background that you can take turns putting live. I think it feels safer to do that. I think their theming is very strong. They have really great looking themes. I think that’s why we’re attracted to Shopify like we’re attracted to Squarespace. I think they’re the best in their market for great design options. And everything is responsive as well, so it works on all devices. Overall, it’s a very easy to use platform for someone that doesn’t have a lot of experience.

Are there any areas of the software that could be added or improved upon?

I don’t think so. They’re a platform that’s been around for so long that I think they worked through a lot of their kinks and made a lot of improvements early on. I think it’s a highly refined platform because it’s so widely used and it’s been around for so long. They take customers’ feedback seriously. They have excellent support, too.

Is there any way Shopify makes the deployment process easier? Is there any way they could improve this process?

It’s very easy to launch something. When you create a Shopify site you get your internal URL that you will launch. Once you register your domain, there’s an easy place to go in and switch it to the live domain and push your store live. That’s pretty simple. I can’t think of anything they can do better.

Can you speak to the support of Shopify? In what ways do they excel at support offerings, and where could they improve?

It’s better than pretty good support. It’s very good support. I wouldn’t say it’s as good as Squarespace’s. They’re not as super responsive but I wouldn’t say they’re not responsive. Squarespace is just exceptional, so it’s probably unfair to compare someone to them. They have a support system at ZenDesk, and then you can email them too and they always get back to us pretty quickly. They get back to you within a couple of hours. They have live chat support, too.

In terms of performance on hosting and SEO, are there any issues there? Any strong points?

Never any downtime. I feel like they’re good with SEO [search engine optimization] - it’s as good as other platforms. They allow you to do like most platforms these days. You do the basic paid SEO stuff you need to do.

If someone used it as a web builder without a focus on e-commerce how do you think it would compare to Squarespace or Wix?

I would say it’s pretty good. I guess it wouldn’t be as good as those. The blog on Shopify is pretty good. I’d rank that pretty high. I think it works terrifically as a CMS [content management system]. It has all the standard good features of a modern CMS. You can use a WYSIWYG view in the editor. You can add and edit content and style it without having any knowledge of development and without any code.

Are the customization options on par with Squarespace?

I think they’re good but I would say Squarespace is probably better.

 
IT Services
 
2-10 employees
 
New York City Metro Area

RATINGS

OVERALL SCORE: 5.0
FEATURES: 5.0
They have an excellent array of features especially related to e-commerce. Their sales analytics are excellent, better than any other e-commerce platform in my opinion.
EASE OF USE: 5.0
I would say that Shopify is the easiest to use e-commerce platform.
SUPPORT: 5.0
WILLING TO REFER: 5.0
We used to be a Magento Gold Partner for a few years. We used to refer people to Shopify even then, too.
Overall rating: 
5

Easy, User Friendly Set Up

 
Client Interview
Overall rating: 

3.5

Features: 

Average: 3 (1 vote)

Ease of use: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Support: 

Average: 3 (1 vote)

Willing to refer: 

Average: 3 (1 vote)

About the Customer
David Ward
President, Meticulosity
 
Internet
 
11-50 Employees
 
Ballston Lake, NY

"Shopify is going to be great for brick-and-mortars that want to also sell online."

Recommendations: 

Meticulosity uses a variety of e-commerce platforms to build online stores for their clients. They like that Shopify is user-friendly, and has a lot of predesigned templates that require very little customization, but their SEO features are not extensive and their URL structures are not very flexible. 

Read Full Review 

Overall rating: 
3.5

Ease of Use

 
Survey Response
Overall rating: 

5.0

Features: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Ease of use: 

Average: 4.5 (1 vote)

Support: 

Average: 4 (1 vote)

Willing to refer: 

Average: 4.5 (1 vote)

About the Customer
President
 
$51 - $250/mo. spend
 
Manufacturing
 
Evansville, Indiana

"I chose the Shopify Website Builder because it was the easiest to use."

Recommendations:

Make it simpler to use.

Experience:

I chose the Shopify Website Builder because it was the easiest to use. I mostly use the site creation features. They have helped me build my website.

Pros:

The ease of use.

Cons:

Nothing

Overall rating: 
5

Gives My Company Credibility

 
Survey Response
Overall rating: 

5.0

Features: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Ease of use: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Support: 

Average: 3 (1 vote)

Willing to refer: 

Average: 5 (1 vote)

About the Customer
Owner
 
$0 - $50/mo. spend
 
Retail
 
Costa Mesa, California

"It's awesome, looks good, and gives my company great credibility."

Recommendations:

Do it. Makes comprehensive sites easy.

Experience:

I chose Shopify Website Builder because it was suggested on Facebook many times to sell on Facebook. I knew I needed to overhaul my site, so I checked it out. I use pretty much all the features, plus apps. It's awesome, looks good, and gives my company great credibility.

Pros:

Easy and fully customizable.

Cons:

Could only be better if it marketed itself.

Overall rating: 
5