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Shopify Review

→Last Updated: August 29th, 2013
Shopify Website Builder
Average Rating: 4.4 / 5
Number of Reviews: 18


Shopify Review – An Overview

On the whole, Shopify is an outstanding website builder for anybody with a need for a hosted shopping cart. Whether you’re a seasoned ecommerce veteran or a complete beginner, Shopify is a great solution for you and in this Shopify review, we will explain the ups and downs and just exactly why. Shopify is the one the most popular ecommerce website builders on the market. It’s popularity largely boils down to its beautiful clean interface and its immense ease of use. Shopify uses a seven step guide which takes you all the way from creating a user to making your first sales.

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Shopify Review at a Glance – the Pros and the Cons

Shopify Pros

  • Ease of Use. As a Shopify user, you really don’t need to worry about having trouble setting up your store. Even the trial version comes with a ready store with product samples inside of it. All you have to do is go in and change the text, the images, and the options. For each of those things they give you preset dimensions and instructions.
  • Aesthetics. Shopify is beautiful and there’s no better way to put it. The templates Shopify offers range from minimalistic and professional to over-the-top breathtaking. I found myself at times getting stuck just browsing through templates.
  • Apps. Just like WordPress has plugins, Shopify has apps for literally every business need. Apps range from store locators to automatic Facebook updaters. A great ‘upsell’ app I used shows customers relevant related products in ‘last chance’ offer type styles. I use this on two of my ecommerce sites and it has single-handedly increased my revenue-per-sale by nearly twenty-five percent.

Shopify Cons

  • Template Issues. I have changed templates a few times and occasionally there are some glitches which take a little while to fix. This is a very small problem though as you are relatively unlikely to change template and, even if you do, it’s not too much work to fix.
  • Limited Free Offerings. Shopify has highly competitive rates when compared to other ecommerce website builders. However, there are add-ons that you will may find yourself paying for. Many template cost extra as do some of the apps. On the whole though, as a package I have found that it is by far worth the extra cost.

Getting Started With Shopify

Setting up a trial store with Shopify is a painless process. After signing up for a free account, the website builder creates a trial store for you within a couple of seconds. You are then guided through the store customization process using Shopify’s seven-step solution. The steps are Products, Design, Content, Payment, Taxes, and finally Shipping & Domain.

Step 1 – Products

Right when you start with the Shopify website builder, you will see its benefits. The ‘Add Products’ page is intuitive and uncluttered. You can add as many products as you like to get a feel for how the system works and then move on to the next step. The default template here, which is a free one, is a no-frills template but even it makes any product you upload to it look fantastic. Check out these sites for some examples of beautifully display products in Shopify: CXXVI, Chalkd, Touch Zero Gravity. Though these sites may look complicated, it is an absolute pleasure building and is extremely simple building pages like these with Shopify.

Shopify Products


Step 2 – Design

Once you have gotten a feel for adding products or have finished adding your products, you can move on to the design phase. In this step you can either customize the default theme that the trial store is built on, or you can head over to the Shopify templates section and check out their large selection of ready-built themes.

The template area can be a little overwhelming at first as their really seem to be an endless number of designs. Once you begin scrolling through a bit though, you will see that many of them are not quite repeats, but variations of other templates. At this point it will be highly useful for you to use the template area’s filtering options and decide if you want to look at free or paid templates and from other options such as whether mobile is or isn’t important to you. In each theme you can view demos of the site.

There are many great free templates to choose from but, should you decide you want to look at the paid ones, the Shopify pricing for themes ranges from about $70 – $200. Different templates come with different options so once you’ve narrowed it down to a shortlist, make sure to read through and check that the theme you want has the features you need. Shopify offers many ‘guaranteed’ themes which you can stop using up to a week after purchase and get a full refund.

Once you are happy with your choice, you enter the URL of your site and can apply the theme right away. Themes take a few minutes to load and the reporting mechanism on when the process is finished isn’t great but, truthfully, that’s no big deal. One of the truly fantastic features of Shopify here is, you can upload a theme and preview it without actually publishing it. You can look at several different themes on your actual store and only when you know you will be happy with one, you can publish the theme.

Shopify Themes

In addition, Shopify allows you to publish different themes for your website and your mobile site – another really nice option if you like a theme that doesn’t work as well on mobile. Previewing your site on mobile is also easy – there’s a preview button and well, that’s about it. On a final note for this step, if you don’t like any of the designs offered in the template store, you can contact Shopify and have them design a custom theme exactly to your specifications. This is obviously a premium feature and will cost you. Designers on the site’s platform work for from $80-100 per hour with no guarantee of how many hours the project will take. Generally you can expect this to cost $400-500.

Step 3 – Content

Lest you thought Shopify was just an ecommerce website builder, in this step of the Shopify review you will see that it is also quite a bit more. Once you have added products and selected a theme, you move on to the next step of the program which is adding additional content like an ‘About Us’ page, a Homepage and a fully functioning blog that you can use for news, press, blog articles, and anything else you want to put on the site. Again here, the winning feature of Spotify is how clean and intuitive this all is to use. You don’t need to be a developer or web expert to figure this out. Everything is labeled, clear, and clean.

shopify pages

Step 4 – Checkout & Payment

Whereas setting up products, design, and content is easy with Shopify, setting up checkout & payment is an absolute pleasure. In the Checkout & Payment screen you will find that Paypal Express is already set up in your trial store. If you want a different or additional methods of payment, they are all available in the menu. If you want to accept credit cards, use Google Checkout, or even use offline methods such as wire transfers or money orders, none of those take more than a minute to set up.

After setting up the payment options you move on to the customer checkout settings which are equally as easy to configure. There is an area where you will need to fill in things like a refund policy, privacy policy, and terms of service. This worried me at first as I thought I would need to contact lawyers and so forth, but Shopify has a “generate” button next to each field which automatically inserts a reasonable and legally sound policy. Just make sure to read it through to make sure it is actually in line with what you want.

Step 5 – Taxes

I won’t elaborate too much on setting up taxes but, as most things with Shopify, it is not hard to do. The system will detect what country you are in. All you have to do is choose whether you want to include taxes in the price of the product or charge taxes on shipping. Adding new destinations automatically updates the rates for each destination.

Visit Shopify

Step 6 – Shipping with Shopify

You can only use real-time shipping costs with Shopify if you are using their biggest pricing plan. The other pricing plans and the free trial version allow you to configure your shipping rates by weight, size, domestic, international, and so forth. This is highly customizable though, of course, the real-time rates are the most convenient.

More About Shipping with Shopify

Step 7 – Choosing a Domain Name

The final step in the seven step process is setting up your domain name which can be done under the preferences tab. Shopify offers a convenient domain registration service for relatively competitive prices. If you do not want to use Shopify’s domain service, it is just as easy to buy your site through GoDaddy or any other provider and hook it up to your Shopify review account. The website’s service shows you whether or not domains are available and, if they aren’t suggests lists of alternatives. Once you have completed all seven steps, your store is up and running. It’s as simple as that. At this point you can either choose a payment plan or move forward with the website’s trial service. Their free trial is 30 days long which is more than enough to figure out whether or not you want to continue using it.

Shopify Review – Pricing Plan

Shopify is not the cheapest ecommerce website builder, but the rates are not exorbitant either and you get a lot for your money. The high point of Shopify’s pricing is that all plans come with unlimited bandwidth, the ability to use your own domain, and a “discount code engine” which I found significantly increases conversion rates. The downside of their pricing plans are that, unless you are on the ‘unlimited’ plan, they will charge a percentage of your transaction fees. For those who are unsure about how they would like to continue, Shopify have a no-frills package for only $14 per month if you want some more time to get oriented with the software.

shopify pricing

shopify apps

Shopify Apps

I could spend hours looking through Shopify’s ‘App Store.’ This feature of the website builder is one of its best. Much like with a smartphone, Shopify has apps which you can add to your platform for additional features and tools. If you find an app you like or need you buy or subscribe to it and its functionality is added to your website. This is highly easy to use. What’s great about this and is different from other solutions is that you don’t need to buy big bundled packages of features. You just find what you need specifically and add it. Some apps are free and some aren’t. Many of the premium ones come with free trial periods. The down-side, of course, is that they are not free. Some apps are a one-time cost and some are even a pay-per-use model so make sure you read what you are getting. The bottom line though is that while you are paying for these apps, they are good. And if you are getting people to your site there is a good chance they will help you make sales.

Shopify Review – Conclusion

Shopify is an excellent solution all-around. It is versatile, robust, and highly customizable. Users don’t need any prior experience in building websites and your final product will be one that makes your friends say ‘wow’ and ask you how much you paid to have a site like that developed. The Shopify team have put a ton of time into developing their solution, and it shows. The step-by-step guides make setting up a store easy and fast. The only criticism I have of Shopify is that between the pricing plan, themes, and apps, it can get pricey. However, I have found that my finalized stores that use Shopify are worth the money and that every dollar I put into this solution gives me more back.

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