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Find Out If Shopify Is The Right Choice For Your Business.
Shopify Review - The Best eCommerce Cloud Platform
Last Updated: 22/04/2022
Author: Tony Cooper
Shopify Website Builder Review
Are you looking to get your first eCommerce store up and running? Shopify will probably be your first port of call as it has an easy to use interface and a minimal amount of configuration options to get started. Unlike say, Magento, which has a bottomless pit of setup options.
If you only plan on selling a few products, or digital products, or want to take subscription-based payments, you might be better with Wix, and you should read my Wix review before making a decision.
Alternatively, if you want dedicated UK support and access to a client manager, consider reading my EKM review.
Whichever eCommerce platform you decide to use to start your business, you might like to consider a We Build Stores pay monthly website plan, which will help you build a professional-looking website at a fraction of the traditional website design cost.
Contact me if you need help choosing your platform.
Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, offering a suite of eCommerce services for small to medium-sized businesses, although larger corporations can also easily run their operations on the Shopify Plus platform.
Shopify merchants can sell online using the web, mobile, social media, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops. Shopify also allows businesses to manage their inventory, finances, customers, shipping, and analytics all from one platform.
In this comprehensive Shopify review, I will take an in-depth look at all that Shopify has to offer and highlight the good and bad points so that you can make a well-informed purchasing decision.
At A Glance Features
Year Established: 2006
Websites Built: 4 M
Trial Offer: Free Trial
Basic £24 Pm
Shopify £69 Pm
Advanced £259 Pm
Ease of Use:
One of the main reasons people love Shopify is that it is so user-friendly. Even if you have no prior experience with website building or eCommerce, you will be able to create a beautiful shop on Shopify. The platform is highly intuitive and easy to navigate.
Another great thing about Shopify is that there are many beautiful themes from which to choose. Whether you want a simple, clean look for your shop or something more flashy and unique, there is a theme out there for you. And, if you can't find the perfect one, you can always hire a designer to create a custom theme for you.
Lots of Apps:
Many apps are available to help you customise and optimise your shop. No matter what features you want to add there's likely an app to help you solve the problem.
Excellent Customer Support:
One of the best things about Shopify is customer support. Whenever you have a question or run into a problem, you can easily reach someone who can help. They also offer 24/ seven support, so you're never left stranded.
While Shopify offers many customisation options, there are limits to what you can do. If you want complete control over the look and feel of your shop, for example then Shopify might not be the right platform for you.
However, you have to consider the trade-off against using more server resources and increased development costs by using a more advanced self-hosted eCommerce platform like Magento.
Too often web development "experts" criticise the Shopify platform without considering the increased costs of an alternative, which can be considerable. At a typical rate of £65 per hour, a single Magento developer can quickly get into eye-watering financial territory that a small business simply could not afford and managing a small development team will require you to reach into very deep pockets.
Requires Some Technical Knowledge:
While Shopify is user-friendly, it still requires some technical knowledge to set up and use effectively. If you're not comfortable with technology, you might find Shopify a bit daunting, but there isn't anything else easier to use.
Yes, Wix uses drag and drop technology but inadvertently hiding layers or forgetting to group items means that Wix is arguably even more complicated to use than Shopify for Noobs.
Just as you can't have great graphic design skills and prodigious Photoshop chops overnight, it takes time to learn the Shopify eCommerce platform.
Who Should Use Shopify
Is there a typical Shopify user?
There isn't a "typical" Shopify user as the platform is so versatile and used by businesses of all sizes in various industries.
However, if I had to narrow it down, most Shopify users are small to medium-sized businesses looking for an easy-to-use eCommerce platform that doesn't require a lot of technical know-how.
Shopify is also a popular choice for businesses selling products through brick-and-mortar locations and online, as it provides a seamless way to manage inventory and customers in one place. You can also add Point Of Sale (POS) terminals to aid with your stock control.
Additionally, many entrepreneurs who are just starting choose Shopify because it offers a low barrier to entry and has scalable plans so that you can easily upgrade as your business grows.
Although Shopify uses its own "Liquid" programming language, it's not too dissimilar to HTML and CSS, so if you're familiar with coding, you can easily change your shop's design and functionality. Liquid is a template language created by Shopify and written in Ruby Rails and is used in all Shopify themes.
Shopify is a good choice for businesses of all sizes and industries who want an easy-to-use platform with plenty of features and integrations.
Who Should Use Shopify?
Ease Of Use
How Easy Is Shopify To Use?
Shopify is designed to be easy to use, even for those with no prior eCommerce experience.
The platform offers a wide range of features, yet the interface is straightforward. Even complex features, such as setting up shipping rates or managing inventory, can be efficiently completed without any headaches.
The standard Shopify plan will likely suffice for most small businesses just starting an eCommerce store.
Overall, I would say that Shopify's ease of use is one of its major selling points and gives it a leg up on some of its more complicated competitors; however, there are a couple of essential points to look out for.
The user interface is split into two distinct sections. You have the back end management (orders, products, inventory etc.) at the top of the menu and front end management underneath (themes, navigation) but it's not made immediately clear that this is how things are separated.
Once you understand how the internal site navigation works, your Shopify experience will become a lot easier!
The second point is that you don't link menu items to folders in the traditional way, so you will first need to set up your "collections" of products before you can point to them, and this fools even experienced developers the first time around.
Generally, you will find Shopify easy to use, but it has its quirks, so again, be prepared to put in some learning time.
Using Shopify As A Blogging Platform
You already know that blogging increases your search engine visibility and is one of the best ways to rank your website higher on search engines, right?
The inbuilt Shopify blogging platform is a scaled-down stripped-back acoustic version of WordPress, and it certainly does not have the number of blogging features that WordPress has.
But if your goal is to gain traffic as quickly as possible with as little time spent on the technical side of things, then the Shopify blogging ecosystem will be perfect.
Over the years, there has been a lot of discussion about whether to have the Shopify platform deal with eCommerce and then build a separate WordPress site on a subdomain for blogging purposes.
Don't do this.
For a start, the blog on the subdomain will not pass as much link juice as it would if it were a folder on the main domain, and secondly, you are getting yourself involved in maintaining a self-hosted platform that will require maintenance and upkeep.
Much better to spend that time writing another blog post!
The Shopify blogging platform is not the greatest, but it does the job and with some app add ons and developer help, you can make it look nice.
It's preferable to use that time on your blog rather than spending it on technical support.
Shopify As A Blogging Platform
The Beardbrand Shopify Blog Is A Great Example
Getting Started - Shopify Templates
I would estimate that around 50% of all Shopify websites use the free "Debut" template theme that was available with the earlier versions of Shopify because it is visually simplistic and sufficient for almost any type of business.
There are currently eight free themes available and they all include the following features:
Customisable content sections
Drop-down navigation support
Free theme updates
Preset Styles and colour palettes
Free stock photos by Burst
The free themes are a great starting point for your store, but I'd suggest that you invest in one of the many available commercial themes because they offer more advanced features.
For example, the "Warehouse" theme that we used for Henry's Ladders has a beautiful "mega menu" where you can add images to the navigation menu and customise it.
Another of the warehouse themes' great features is that you can use drag-and-drop sections and blocks to create custom pages throughout your store without special coding.
Warehouse comes with flexible, well-designed blocks for images, products, videos, quotes, and a lot more, and that's why I think investing in a quality premium theme is worth the money.
Using a premium theme will save you a fortune in developers' fees in the long run.
One of the neat features of Shopify is that you can customise your theme and get it the way you want and then only pay for the theme once you have published it to your site.
Shopify Free Themes
Shopify Graphics And Image Manipulation
Dealing with images and graphic design is generally where the novice website designer comes unstuck so let's have a quick discussion about how Shopify handles images.
First of all, for product images, Shopify uses the 1:1 aspect ratio or a square for the layman.
The image aspect ratio is the calculated ratio of the image width to its height.
For example, a product photo with dimensions of 250 x 500 has an aspect ratio of 1:2. If the Shopify image has dimensions of 300 x 900, the aspect ratio is 1:3.
The image aspect ratio is important because it controls how to display the image on different devices.
An image with a 4:3 aspect ratio will print as a square, and a 16:9 aspect ratio will print as a rectangle.
Product images should be at least 1200x1200px. This will ensure that they appear clear and sharp on high-resolution devices like Retina displays.
Collection images should be at least 1024x1024px. This will help them load quickly on your site while still providing a high-quality image for visitors to see.
Blog images should be at least 800x800px.
Logo images should be at least 400x400px.
The hero image that goes in the slider should be 1200x310 px
Bear in mind when creating your site that from the outset you need access to product images in the same aspect ratio, if you mix and match the sizes then your store will look like a bomb site.
Logo Design Gallery
Shopify eCommerce Overview
As an eCommerce business owner, you know that generating sales is key to growing your business. And while there are several ways to create sales, using the right tools can make a big difference.
Shopify offers a huge range of powerful sales tools that can help you increase conversions and boost your bottom line.
Product bundles allow you to offer multiple products for sale as a package deal which is a great way to boost average order value and generate more sales. And with Shopify's product bundling tool, it's easy to create and manage your bundles.
Offering discount codes is a fantastic way to encourage customers to buy from your store. Shopify's discount code tool makes it easy to create and manage discount codes. You can set up codes for percentage or fixed amount discounts, free shipping and buy one get one (BOGO) deals.
With Shopify's gift card tool, you can easily create and manage gift cards. You can also choose to have physical or digital gift cards.
Shopify's shipping tool makes it easy to set up and manage free shipping for your store. You can also use Shopify's shipping tool to print labels and track your shipments.
Dropshipping is a great way to start an eCommerce business with little up-front investment. And with Shopify's dropshipping tool, it's easy to set up and manage your dropshipping business. You can connect with suppliers, add products to your store, and fulfil orders with just a few clicks.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
Recover lost sales and boost your bottom line. With Shopify's abandoned cart recovery tool, you can easily set up and manage your abandoned cart recovery campaigns. You can also choose to have automatic or manual recovery campaigns.
Customer reviews are a great way to build trust and credibility with potential customers. And with Shopify's customer review tool, it's easy to add customer reviews to your product pages. You can also choose to display customer reviews on your homepage and other store pages.
Shopify's product management tool makes it easy to add, edit, and delete products from your store. You can also use Shopify's product management tool to track inventory, create variants, and manage pricing.
Use Shopify Payments, Stripe payments, or connect to a third-party payment processor.
Shopify's multi-channel integration tool allows you to sell on multiple channels, such as your website, Amazon and eBay. With Shopify's multi-channel integration tool, you can manage your inventory, orders, and product listings from one central location. You can also use Shopify's multi-channel integration tool to track your sales and performance across all of your sales channels.
Shopify's digital selling tool allows you to sell digital products, such as ebooks, software, etc. With Shopify's digital selling tool, you can easily add digital products to your shopify.com shop and manage your sales. You can also use Shopify's digital selling tool to fulfil orders and track your sales.
Shopify's POS system is a great way to sell in-person. With Shopify's POS system, you can accept payments, track inventory, manage orders, etc. You can also use Shopify's POS system to manage your shop from one central location.
Unlike some other cloud-based eCommerce platforms, Shopify allows users to edit their shop's HTML and CSS, meaning they can make changes that will directly impact their shop's search engine ranking.
Users can control their shop's title and meta tags, vital factors in determining a website's search engine ranking. Shopify also allows users to create custom XML sitemaps, which helps search engines index a shop's pages more efficiently.
Another great feature of Shopify is that it automatically generates canonical URLs for products and collections, ensuring that search engines don't penalise a shop for duplicate content.
Shopify also offers built-in blog functionality, which is another excellent way to improve a shop's SEO. Shops can attract more inbound links and organic traffic from search engines by regularly publishing high-quality content.
Shopify provides users with everything they need to optimise their shop for search engines. With its powerful features and easy-to-use interface, Shopify is the perfect platform for anyone serious about improving their shop's SEO.
Shopify Customer Support
Shopify has excellent customer support, and they are quick to respond to questions and issues. They are also very helpful in solving problems. Shopify's customer support is top-notch, and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a good eCommerce platform.
Social media support
In-depth knowledge base
Basic – £24 per month
Basic is the first step for those new to website building. You can create a fully customised website with no restrictions.
Shopify – £69 per month
Best for growing businesses.
Advanced – £259 per month
Best for scaling businesses that require advanced reporting
Shopify Review Summary
So I've given you all the Shopify details, and now it's time to sum it all up!
Shopify is great for eCommerce entrepreneurs looking for an easy to use, all-in-one platform.
The most significant advantage of Shopify is that it is incredibly user-friendly and easy to set up.
You don't need any technical skills or knowledge to start with Shopify as all the hosting is done for you, making it the perfect platform for those just starting in eCommerce.
Another big plus is that Shopify offers 24/7 customer support, so you're never left in the dark if you have any questions or need help with something.
Overall, I would highly recommend Shopify to anyone looking to start an online store. It's a great platform that offers everything you need to get started and grow your business.
Over to you to go and create your digital masterpiece!
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