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Shopify review – all-around eCommerce star

shopify review

Shopify is an all-inclusive eCommerce platform, letting anyone build a professional online store. With over 800,000 stores under its belt, Shopify is used by brands and celebrities like Red Bull, Heinz, Kylie Jenner, Taylor Swift, and Kim Kardashian. And after taking a deeper look, it’s easy to see why.

If you’re serious about building your business, finding a suitable eCommerce platform is more difficult than googling “good ecommerce”, and clicking the first link that shows up. Most likely, there are specific plans, ideas, and goals you have in mind.

It just makes sense to have a platform that adapts to you. Not the other way around.

Many platforms claim to do just that, and everyone says they’re “the ultimate solution” for all of your eCommerce-related woes. But Shopify, with its intriguing mix of eCommerce-centered first-party features, and powerful third-party apps is probably the closest to an ultimate platform as anyone’s going to get.

  • Want to sell to Eastern Europe through AliExpress dropshipping?
  • Looking for someone to print merch with your designs on them?
  • Need a way to sell both in-person and online?

Shopify does it all and does it as well as anyone. Will it be right for you?

Only you can tell. But to make this difficult choice easier, for this Shopify review, I signed up my own Shopify account and set up a test site for everyone to see (will show it later!). And while I found some issues, namely with quickly ballooning prices, and limited template selection, I was super impressed with its wide selection of eCommerce tools.

Shopify is hyper-focused on giving you all the eCommerce features you could possibly desire. It’s an easy-to-learn, sales-driven platform, perfect for busy entrepreneurs.

And one more thing before we start. This review is pretty large. So, you can click here to read the full conclusion or follow one of the links in the table below to read what interests you the most.

Overall score4.6A very solid eCommerce solution for businesses
Pricing★★★★On the more expensive side, but still good value for money.
Ease of use★★★★★Foolproof design options.
Templates★★★★Templates optimized for sales. Premium versions expensive, good third-party market.
eCommerce★★★★★Top eCommerce features, top to bottom.
Business Features★★★★★Good basic first-party features, extensive app market.
Performance★★★★Quite solid, still room for improvement.

Shopify pros and cons

Pros

  • Excellent selection of eCommerce features
  • Ability to sell across multiple channels (including Instagram, Amazon, Facebook, and eBay)
  • Easy scalability for businesses of all sizes
  • Diverse app library

Cons

  • High fees: both start up, and transaction
  • Limited design customizability
  • Limited SEO & content marketing capabilities

Shopify pricing

Shopify offers 3 packages, that include website hosting, and all the main eCommerce features. Their prices range between $29 and $299 a month – and that may seem a little bit expensive, especially if you’re on a budget.

Here’s what the three packages are like:

PlanFeatures
Basic Shopify ($29/month)Provides all the essential elements for creating a new online store and charges a 2.9%+30¢ transaction fee.
Shopify ($79/month)More staff accounts, professional reports, international pricing, more shipping options, and lower (2.6%+30¢) transaction fee.
Advanced Shopify ($299/month)Third-party calculated shipping rates, up to 15 staff accounts, and an even lower (2.4%+30¢) transaction fee.

You may think that the prices are a bit too big to pay without even trying the plans. And you’d be right!

So, it’s no surprise to see Shopify offering a free 14-day trial for all of its plans, no credit card required. And no, don’t worry about accidentally getting charged $3,000 after you forget to cancel the trial. The account will just freeze, so knock yourselves out.

In some other Shopify reviews, you may also hear a word or two about Shopify Lite. Starting at $9/month, it’s an option for you to add a product and a checkout link to your already-existing website. It’s not a full-on eCommerce solution, and it doesn’t let you use most of the platform’s key features, so I won’t compare them with the full plans here.

Similar (but opposite) is true with Shopify Plus – it is a much more expensive custom solution for major businesses (probably the option Kim Kardashian uses!).

shopify other plan prices

With those two out of the way, let’s have a look at the three main plans in detail.

Basic Shopify

Starting from $29 per month, this is ‘the’ plan if you’re a beginner. 

Besides the essential basics required to build a brand-new store – this plan allows you to add two people as staff and assign four real-world locations for warehouses. There are plenty of crucial eCommerce features added here, such as abandoned cart recovery, gift cards, discount codes, and multilanguage website capabilities.

But there’s one thing, crucial to keep in mind not only for this but for all Shopify plans.

Shopify will charge a transaction fee from all of the sales that you make. It’ll be lower, if you use its own Shopify Payments platform, and higher, if you use a third-party option.

Basic Shopify will include a transaction fee of 2.9% + 30¢ USD if you use Shopify Payments. If not, the fee will be 2%, plus whatever the payment gateway of your choice will charge.

So, prepare to pay more than just the monthly $29 fee.

Shopify

For $79 per month, this plan gets you some insightful professional reports, including every single feature from the Basic. If you’ve got a growing business where sales are expected to go in fast, this would be an ideal pick.

Especially when you consider the lower transaction fees. It’s down to 2.6%+30¢ on Shopify payment, and the additional fee for using a third-party option is reduced by double, to 1%.

When choosing a Shopify plan, try to predict your sales, and count the transaction fees you’d be paying. The more sales, the more sense it makes to upgrade!

You also unlock the ability to create reports based on user data. That means understanding their behavior, your traffic sources, and deciphering why people aren’t clicking on that “Add to Cart” button and leaving you their hard-earned money.

Additionally, you can assign different prices for different countries, and get an additional discount for shipping from DHL, UPS, and USPS.

Also, the staff account limits are bumped up to five, and you can assign five warehouse/store locations in place of four.

Advanced Shopify

At $299, Advanced Shopify is Shopify’s most extensive and expensive option for its general audience. Boasting every single feature of previous plans – this plan’s a perfect pick for sellers looking to scale and solidify themselves in their respective markets.

The transaction fees are at their lowest here: with 2.4%+30¢ for Shopify Payments, and only a 0.5% fee for third-party solutions. You can create custom reports and have Shopify automatically calculate your shipping rates.

And there’s also international variant pricing now available.

Compared to the $79 plan, there aren’t that many extra features. The play here is simple: this is a plan if you sell a lot, and want to cut down on your transaction fees as much as possible.

Shopify plans are worth it, if you sell a fair amount of products. The more you sell, the better is the value.

Tip

Shopify's $79 plan will be the best solution for most small-to-medium sized businesses. But this price isn't always set in stone – we do our best to acquire the best coupons and discount codes. See, if there's a discount for you.
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Is Shopify easy to use?

  • Beginning to use Shopify – Starting with Shopify was pretty slick. I signed up for their free trial by just typing in my email, setting a password, and creating a store name.
  • Designing the store – The dashboard makes building a site as simple as possible: all the information was laid out in front of me. And there’s also a series of steps one can follow to get their store up and running in no time.
  • Managing the store – There are a handful of ways you can set up everything about your website, and the products sold on it. Everything’s intuitive and easy to understand.

All in all, Shopify succeeds in making a highly technical task — like ‘creating an online store’ — into an uncomplicated process by streamlining it. From my experience, it’s even less complicated than many beginner-centered website builders.

Shopify succeeds in making difficult things simple. Shopify is a very advanced eCommerce solution, but it sort of held my hand as I went through the process of opening up your virtual shop.

To show you exactly what I mean, I signed up with Shopify and made my very own online store. Here it is! Click the image to see the full thing.

shopify test site

And this is what I experienced when for this Shopify review, I dove deep into the depths of eCommerce.

Getting started with Shopify

Starting to use Shopify was a breeze. All I had to do was to visit the Shopify website, and located a button to “Start free trial”.

Then, I was asked a very simple list of questions, that would be used to tailor Shopify experience to my requirements.

getting started with shopify
I’m selling chairs now!

Then, a bit of personal information, and just like that – I was already in the Shopify dashboard.

shopify dashboard

Visually, this is as simple as it gets. The questions about my experience and goals? They’re now reflected in the start menu right at the center.

If I, for instance, said that I’m just snooping around and need all the help that I can get, I’ll also get be suggested some free 1-on-1 training, and given an opportunity to see the Help Center’s YouTube channel, full of various tutorials.

shopify training

Get comfortable in this menu. After all, this is where you’ll get to add products and build a website.

So, let’s do just that. Here’s show Shopify handles the design, and the store management tasks.

Designing the online store

The menu on the left-hand side if where you’ll get a chance to do manage all of your pages, and blog posts. But it’s the “Themes” menu, where you want to be if you wish to edit how your Shopify website looks.

For your debut, you’ll get a theme called Debut (fitting!) and a pre-made site, including several sections you would commonly see in an online store.

shopify editing theme

Everything’s controlled by the menu on the left. I could easily hide and rearrange everything.

There I also had an opportunity to add new sections as well. There weren’t many – only 16 options in total, including maps, blogs, images with text (your classic suspects).

Within the sections, you can also add content, which will depend entirely on your section.

For instance, the Testimonials menu will only let you add more testimonials.

shopify review testimonial

And the gallery element, unsurprisingly, only lets you add images.

shopify editing gallery

But there is also an opportunity to add “custom content” which basically allows you to make some sections of your own. This is where you do those less-common moves, like combining galleries with video, or collections with blogs.

shopify editing custom elements

Then you can also edit your website’s fonts, social media buttons, color scheme, and other similar site-wide changes.

shopify color scheme

And that’s honestly it!

Do you want more?

Well, apart from what I just changed, other edits on your website can be done in two different ways:

  1. Editing your website’s code (difficult!)
  2. Finding a theme that best suits what you want from your website (easy!)

The code editing part is what allows the power users to bend the website to their will.

editing code on shopify

But for the regular Joe and Jane, it’s the templates they’ll need to use to give the website a bit of extra sparkle.

shopify themes

For some, that could be a bit of a bummer. Shopify is not the place for pixel-perfect editing. It’s for fast and efficient editing, instead.

Managing the online store

The real fun begins when you actually work on managing your store: that means adding products.

This is where this Shopify review gets a bit more interesting, and the platform’s muscles starts to show a bit. The “Products” menu on the dashboard lets you quickly add a product, manage your inventory, as well as set up collections and gift cards.

shopify editing product

And once you’re done writing just about everything about it (weight, customs info, price, stock, vendor), you’ll also get to give it an inviting search engine look.

shopify product seo

The marketing menu will be your mission control center for all the campaigns you might be planning.

shopify marketing menu

And of course, there’s a dedicated “Discounts” menu, where you can set up just about any type of discount you can think of.

adding discount code
I went for something simple.

You can also do some blogging – the editor is rudimentary, but as with most things Shopify, it’s snappy, and it just works.

shopify blogging

And…that’s it! Again! Really, this is the gist of using Shopify. You will be given a lot of limits of what you can do.

But the things you can do will be placed in neat, easily accessible zones. And so, it could a pretty good trade-off for many people. If you’ve come here to sell, not to design, all of this has to sound pretty good.

Shopify templates

  • How many themes? – Shopify lets to choose between 73 themes. 9 are free, others are paid. Third-party options are available.
  • How much are they? – Shopify’s own premium themes are anywhere from $100 to $200.
  • Are they any good? – The themes are sleek, modern, and most importantly, optimized to sell. You can change quite a lot, but there’s no pixel-perfect editing.

Shopify doesn’t offer hundreds of templates, like some other website builders might. Instead, they focus heavily on delivering quality over quantity.

And so, on Shopify’s own Themes shop, there are only 73 options available to choose from. Out of them, only 9 are free.

shopify templates

There’s a chance you’ve probably seen websites looking just like that all over the internet. When the world’s premier selling platform only gives you 9 free picks, everything tends to look a little bit…samey.

Don’t take it the wrong way, though. The templates are fine. Good, even!

They put the product and the images right in the center, and everything about them is laser-focused to increase your sales. But if you wish to get a slightly less common look, you may want to check out the premium options.

There are 64 of them, and compared to the free options, they do look even a tad more modern and refined.

Here are a few that I loved. This one looks perfect for a fashion-centered store.

shopify template 1

And this one is a serious Amazon doppelganger – for all the right reasons.

shopify template 2

And here’s another theme that would look great on a full-blown multi-category shop.

shopify template 3

Of course, the issue with them is that they cost money: and quite a lot of it. $180 for a theme is nothing if you’re a decent-sized company, but possibly plan-stopping if you’re a single entrepreneur looking to get by.

For that, there’s always an alternative option: and it’s third-party themes.

Third-party themes

Shopify allows you to upload and use any theme of your choosing, as long as it complies with the platform’s own guidelines.

This, combined with Shopify’s popularity and expensive first-party themes, leads to a lively third-party market. Platforms such as ThemeForest or TemplateMonster offer thousands of templates you can pick from.

shopify third party themes

You’ll notice one thing pretty immediately. Compared to the first-party themes, these are very cheap.

Are they any good?

Well, it depends. Keep an eye on the reviews people share online, and look for the experiences, closest to yours.

There are no solid guarantees that these themes will work will all the newest Shopify features and apps, something certain if you’ll drop $200 on the official thing. That being said, there are still many well-proven options you should absolutely love, and for a fraction of a price…why not?

Shopify gives you plenty of theme options: thanks to both itself and a lively Shopify community. The styles are fully optimized for selling, and it’s up to you, whether you wish to go free, invest a lot of money into Shopify’s own creation, or aim somewhere in between with a third-party option.

Shopify eCommerce features

  • Versatile eCommerce platform – Shopify gives you opportunities to sell anything, any way that you want. In-person sales, dropshipping, digital products: anything goes.
  • Shipping and payments – You can pick between 100+ payment gateways or keep everything in-house by using Shopify Payments. Additionally, Shopify works in hand with top shipping providers to give you extra options.
  • eCommerce apps – There are tons of helpful plugins in the app store for all your eCommerce needs. But they’ll probably cost some extra bucks.

I’ll go straight to the spoilers: Shopify is the most feature-rich eCommerce solution out in the market.

But without proof, these words are just bites of empty information on your screen, so let’s have look – is it exactly what are you looking for? Let’s break down a few of its core eCommerce features and see how does Shopify work.

Payment options

Shopify has its own payment gateway — called Shopify Payments — which lets you sell in 10 major international currencies (US dollar, Canadian dollar, pound sterling, and Euro all included). It also helps your users easily checkout via all major credit cards, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

shopify simple payments

It integrates smoothly with Shopify, and signing up is easy.

However, Shopify Payments isn’t available worldwide. For USA, it works perfectly fine, but for vendors from many other countries, an alternative checkout option is required. Luckily, Shopify offers a massive selection of other, third-party gateways, which you can use, as long as you pay the 0.5-2% transaction fee.

Among these options, you’ll find some other popular payment gateways, such as 2Checkout, PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe.

Shipping options

Shipping can be tricky – more so when you’re just getting started or operating on a smaller scale. 

And so, Shopify’s got it all covered in terms of shipping. It was pretty easy to manage rates, locations, and labels all from the same platform.

Also, Shopify has partnered with various shipping companies, such as DHL and UPS, as well as the United States and Canada postal offices, giving you a fair amount of shipping outlets to choose from.

And depending on the plan you choose, you’ll get discounts on your parcels – giving an additional incentive to upgrade. You can also use the shipping calculator to see how much it would cost to get a parcel to a particular address with a specific plan.

shopify shipping calculator
Louisiana to South Dakota for $3.33. Not bad!

Alternatively, if you plan on using only USPS, and wish to have the most budget-friendly shipping experience possible, I suggest a simple free app called Pirate Ship, which will scour the seas for the lowest possible shipping rates.

shopify pirate ship

That’s arrrr-guably the most budget-conscious option out of all, so definitely check it out. Before we move on, on behalf of myself, I would like to apologize for my last sentence.

Abandoned cart recovery

You might have a product so good, users quickly add it to cart, bringing them one massive step closer to paying.

But then, 60% of people just…go away, leaving their full carts empty in the middle of the store (rude).

This is where abandoned cart recovery comes to aid.

Available on all plans, it’s a great way of boosting sales and squeezing out some extra revenue from your traffic. Shopify will give you a list of people that left their carts, so you can see exactly who it is, and what did they oh-so-nearly buy. And then, you can contact them, and suggest reconsidering.

abandoned cart list

Automated email software, such as MailerLite, makes this process even easier, offering plenty of email templates, and going a lot of dirty conversion work for you.

Of course, I don’t suggest you just go in empty: offer a discount while you’re at it, and you might convert some holdouts into customers.

shopify abandoned cart email

Point of sale (POS)

If you’ve got a brick-and-mortar business and need something more than just a website – Shopify’s POS might be just the thing for you.

You can use it to sell your products offline, i.e., in physical locations like farmer markets and pop-up shops.

shopify point of sale

The best thing: it comes fully combined with the online store. 

That means the inventory gets automatically tracked, all the sales register in your Shopify system, and it’s very simple to accept card payments, offer discounts, or loyalty programs.

There’s a Lite version that comes along — at no additional cost — with all Shopify plans.

shopify point of sale plans

Withholding a portion of your sales, it boasts a robust order and product customer management system. It’s not ideal, the inventory management is relatively barebones, and there are some staff restrictions as well.

Shopify offers a Pro plan that helps solve all that, it costs an additional $89 a month while removing the staff restrictions and expanding the inventory management system to its max.

And in addition to that, there is plenty of hardware to aid the physical selling experience even further.

These peripherals integrate smoothly with Shopify’s POS, and you can buy them in bundles or one-off.

shopify point of sale hardware

Overall, it’s a very solid hybrid selling experience. If you actively sell both in-person, and online, Shopify POS is a solution that combines both, and reduces headaches to a minimum.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a popular way of selling online where orders are processed and fulfilled by a third party — like AliExpress, Spocket, Amazon, Or Etsy — in place of the store owner. 

In there, you simply act as an intermediary, who sells the product to the customer, and keeps a portion of the profit.

shopify dropshipping explaied

And for me, Shopify is ‘the’ platform for it. Namely, because of several great platforms, that work together with Shopify to help smaller businesses do sales without keeping a massive inventory.

In fact, one of the platforms was recently acquired by Shopify – and to me, it’s far and away the best Shopify dropshipping option out there. It’s called Oberlo.

shopify oberlo

This platform focuses mostly on AliExpress, so if that’s the source of your choice, that’s the one to pick.

And there’s a free plan available for all Shopify users as well. It’s restrictive, but still rather solid, with a product limit of 500.

shopify

The two premium plans cost $7.90 ad $29.90/month respectively, add bulk orders, shipment tracking, multiple staff accounts, and several other eCommerce features.

Print on demand

If you’re a designer or an aspiring lifestyle brand, this means that you have a lot of great visuals that you want to sell as complete, finished products: posters, shirts, hoodies…mugs…shoes? You get my point.

Actually, this is the part of eCommerce where I have the most experience. After all, I did spend my early 20s selling various shits and posters to people across the world!

And oh, how do I wish that I knew of services like Printify when I first started.

shopify printify

Printify is a print-on-demand service that will automatically takes your orders, print out a custom product, and send it to your customer.

You don’t have to do anything, except choose your printing partner, add the designs, select the products, and set the prices for a solid profit margin.

Printify has a free option, that’s perfectly capable to handle most small business needs: but if you sell more, the $29/month plan will help you save more on the products, making it pretty good value.

shopify printify pricing

Selling digitally

Shopify also makes it possible to sell digital goods/services via your online store: think things like music, ebooks, audiobooks, or courses.

And while there’s no baked-in feature for that, Shopify has a first-party Digital Downloads app allowing anyone to sell digital products via their store.

shopify digital download price

Though keep in mind, Shopify’s default recommendation isn’t the best-ranked app out there – with 3.4 stars out of 5, it’s above average at best.

The disappointed users cite that sometimes their customers do not receive the files they paid for.

But there are also plenty of other plugins that are rated much better and appear to work as advertised – such as Easy Digital Products.

shopify easy digital products

There is a free plan, too: but it will limit you to a mere 3 products and 100MB of storage. If that’s not enough, you can always upgrade to a bigger plan. At a cost, of course.

shopify easy digital product pricing

eCommerce apps

You might’ve already noticed – if Shopify can’t do something on its own, there’s for sure going to be a paid or free app for it.

Indeed – during this Shopify review, I found a wide variety of useful eCommerce apps available on its app store. Some were built by Shopify itself. And then, third-party developers try to fill in the gaps and do some things better than the platform itself ever could.

Put these together, and you get probably the best eCommerce app store out there.

shopify app store

Separated in categories (marketing, productivity, places to sell, store design, etc.), and in collections (for just starting out, for selling in-person, for scaling, etc.), there are apps for nearly anything.

No joke: Shopify literally has nearly 150 apps just for different ways of setting up live chat on your store.

shopify live chat apps

Sadly, the app market is so big, it also has a room with an elephant in it. Here’s what it says:

While you might be tempted to download every high-rated app under the Sun, remember that a lot of them will cost extra. Make sure to keep your expenses in track.

Similar to point of sale, dropshipping, digital downloads, and print-on-demand apps I mentioned earlier in this Shopify review, many apps will offer either a limited free plan or a free trial.

And in order to make the best out of them, you have to pay.

Let’s have a look at a few other great options: and see just how much they would attack your wallet:

TaxJar will prepare and file tax return information in minutes, as well as do automated tax reports, and handle your returns. If you’re not a spreadsheet type of person, this can be a lifesaver, keeping track of all your expenses and taxes.

It’s free for the first 30 days, and costs $19/month after that.

shopify taxjar

Bundle Products and Discounts will let you easily make product bundles, and offer combined discounts. It’s free for the first 14 days, and $7.49/month after.

shopify bundle

And a PDF invoice printer allows your users to automatically receive and manually request custom invoices, complete with your branding.

Hey, this one’s free of charge!

shopify pdf invoice

Overall, Shopify is a king of eCommerce features. I’ve only scratched the surface here – with an extensive in-house platform, and a lively community of developers, this is a one-stop shop for all things selling.

Sadly, the community has its own bills to pay.

And so, prepare to pay extra for some of those amazing features.

Other Shopify business features

  • Email marketing – Shopify has a solid built-in option and also has some solid third-party picks as well.
  • Analytics – with a strong two-tier in-house solution, Google Analytics capabilities, and third-party apps, Shopify has a lot to offer.
  • SEO and content – with rudimentary blogging at best, Shopify is not a blogging platform. Third-party comes to rescue again.

As the age-old proverb goes, starting a store is only half the battle, the other half is…marketing? This old proverb book I purchased is eerily recent.

Joking aside, once your shop is up and moving, you also need to attract visitors and get the data required that’ll nudge them towards making a purchase. And so, I sniffed out some handy stuff that you and I could use.

Email marketing

Shopify comes with an in-house solution for email marketing, allowing you to contact and entice your leads with custom emails.

shopify email marketing

As per usual, there are some third-party options you can choose, if the built-in app does not please you.

For example, there’s Klaviyo, a freemium plugin that’s specially created to aid email marketing efforts.

Boasting quite a few pre-built templates, Klaviyo provides precise targeting, in-depth analytics, and better audience segmentation – granting greater freedom as well as results compared to Shopify’s native email marketing solution.

shopify klaviyo

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO — or Search Engine Optimization — is the process of maximizing a store’s chances of ranking on the top of Google’s search results. Which is where you want to be if you’re looking to sell.

You won’t be given total freedom to do anything, but there are still tools for adding titles and meta descriptions to all pages of your store.

shopify seo titles

And there’s even a little search engine result preview.

shopify product seo

But there are still some awkward things:

The URL structure has this annoying ‘products’ folder in it that’s unremovable, meaning you can’t fully customize the URLs. You can’t touch your store’s robots.txt file as well.

And so, if you’re serious about your URL structure, and wish to have everything set up in your very own, special, optimized way…

You guessed it.

There’s an app for that.

SEO Optimizer is an option many people pick to save themselves from various SEO-related troubles.

shopify seo optimizer

Sadly, it’s also a premium pick. The free, version, however, will still give you an SEO audit, and help to optimize images, so they’re completely SEO-friendly.

shopify seo optimizer dashboard

The paid plan will cost nearly $30 a month, and offers full SEO, meta tag optimization, as well as fixes broken links, and helps you get into Google’s snippet results.

Where Shopify itself has the main tools, the community helps the pros.

Blogging

Blogs can be a great marketing medium for online stores. You can use blogs to increase your overall traffic by educating potential buyers, and solidify your brand’s social presence as a result.

To help you do that, Shopify provides a built-in blogging solution with all their plans. It allows you to adjoin a blog to your store, create/manage posts, and perform basic optimization.

I’ve covered these tools earlier, but I’ll just repeat what I said before: blogging on Shopify isn’t all that. The editing options are limited, and even the whole interface is a little bit behind the times.

shopify blogging

Now to be fair, I’m not asking Shopify to emulate something like WordPress – a complete blogging-centered platform. Shopify is not a blogging platform, after all.

But what should you do if you want both supreme Shopify eCommerce, and some good blogging, all in one package?

Brace yourselves. Third-parties are here again.

DropInBlog is the perfect option for this specific scenario.

dropinblog shopify app

You click once, and DropInBlog gets installed onto your store.

It automatically picks up your store’s colors, fonts, layout, and some basic formatting. So you don’t spend hours in front of a PC to match your store’s and blog’s look. The entire editor is very SEO-focused, and keeps offering a lot of tips and tricks on how to improve the content for search engines.

Plus, you can embed products in a post – something you can’t do with Shopify’s native blogging solution.

shopify dropinblog editor

But sadly, there’s only a 14-day free trial, with the two premium plans costing around $25 and $50 respectively.

That being said, it’s not the only blog-related Shopify app out there, as there are over 40 such options available. You might just find something that suits you or your wallet better.

shopify blog apps

Analytical tools

Understanding your clients via analytics is a crucial aspect of running any kind of successful business. And unsurprisingly, this is where Shopify shines.

It has an in-depth analytics dashboard. And it’s not just the regular “this many users go to this kind of page” stuff. We’re talking in-depth eCommerce analytics, seeing metrics such as conversion, return rate, sales from specific sources, and much more.

analytics tool shopify

These can come real handy as you scale and optimize your store. 

For example, if I see a product getting tons of clicks – I can promote it using paid ads or place it at the top of my product pile. Increasing my sales as a result.

Sadly, not all plans have the same level of analytics. The $29 Shopify Plan won’t give you advanced sales, profit, and customer reports. For that, you’ll need to upgrade to the $79 regular Shopify plan or higher.

However, everyone gets an opportunity to integrate the website with Google Analytics. It’s a powerful, free solution, that collects a lot of data. For some, it may even render in-house Shopify analytics useless.

Or rather, it would, if it had your sales figures. For that, you might want to check out some third-party options (of course). One of my favorites is Report Pundit.

shopify report app

It works even on the cheapest Shopify plan.

There are over 80 pre-built reports & dashboards available, and you can even contact the team live on chat to solve any of the issues that might appear.

Of course, it’s paid: costs $15 a month. But that’s a smaller fee than the $50 premium you’d have to pay moving from Shopify Basic to regular Shopify. And if analytics is your only draw to that, this might be a great solution.

So weigh out your options — which are: Shopify’s native analytics, Google Analytics, or a third-party app — and pick the most suitable one.

Shopify customer service

Shopify provides reliable customer-support, which you can contact via chat, phone, and email.

I tested out their promptness by asking a question regarding one of the paid plans. And from the resulting experience, I’d say their support is top-notch.

This was the question I asked:

“Hi, I was wondering – If I start with ‘Basic Shopify’ then upgrade to the ‘Shopify’ plan after 3-4 months, will I be able to access the professional reports for the previous 3-4 months, i.e. the duration I was on the Basic plan?”

And after waiting for about 8-10 minutes, here’s the response I got:

shopify support chat

The reply is on-point. Quick and concise.

But that’s only one of the options available on the Shopify Help Center. This is where you’ll also find an eye-watering list of helpful information on how to use Shopify. Everything easily accessible, and explained in a simple list form.

You can also find some helpful tutorials, going from the most basic stuff, to some real professional topics:

shopify tutorial 1
shopify tutorial 2

Shopify has perhaps the most in-depth list of learning resources in the market. And while you can just talk to live support, and solve any of the pressing issues, you can also find all the required information to make the best out of this massive platform.

And so, with all these features, both in-house and third party, I can easily deduce that Shopify can help you do pretty much everything that you’re looking for.

Shopify performance

For the final episode of this lengthy Shopify review, I tested the platform’s server performance. The gig here is simple: I uploaded the test website that I made to GTMetrix, which measures its structure, load time, and overall performance.

These are the results:

shopify performance

Overall, Shopify performance is not bad, even if it could be improved. The entire website loaded in under 4 seconds, which is just over Google recommended ideal speed for online businesses. It also took just under 2 seconds for the website to load visually, meaning your visitors won’t have to wait forever on a white loading screen.

It’s not ideal, and I do wish that Shopify loaded just a bit faster, but it’s still rather solid, and similar to many other similar platforms.

Alternatives to Shopify

Each business is unique, and so are its needs. And by now, you might not be considering Shopify for your online business. Maybe it’s the prices of the platform. Maybe it’s the prices of the platform, plus the additional themes and plugins. Or maybe you want something with a different approach at site customization.

Regardless, here are some top alternatives to Shopify:

Wix

Wix is perhaps the best general-purpose builder out there. It’s less eCommerce-focused than Shopify, but its versatility still makes it a pretty good place to build an online store.

Rivaling Shopify’s app store, Wix hosts a varied app marketplace as well. Plus, there’s an extensive template library with over 700, entirely free picks. And you can use one of their robust editors — called ADI and Classic Editor — to make these templates your own.

eCommerce-powered plans start at $23 a month: and while they’re less powerful than Shopify’s, it’s also a much friendlier pick to your wallet.

Squarespace

Squarespace is a small business owner’s dream – as it combines analytics, eCommerce, and blogging tools in one multi-purpose website builder.

Visually, the templates offered by Squarespace are minimalist, yet genuinely quite stunning. Some of them, just like Shopify’s, are also focused entirely on selling your products.

It’s a simple business solution, suited for the entrepreneur who wants to do it all. eCommerce plans start at a low $18 a month.

Weebly

Shopify’s price puts you off?

Try Weebly – perhaps the cheapest all-in-one website builder with eCommerce capabilities. Backed by the payment gateway giant Square, this platform lets you build a fantastic online store for $12 a month.

It’s a simple, all-inclusive website builder, focusing on function over form – and your products, above all.

Sure, there aren’t many sales and marketing features as on Shopify, but for simple, budget-conscious selling, this is the way to go.

Shopify review – final verdict

In Shopify, everything’s all about eCommerce. And it does the basics incredibly well: building a website is a breeze, so is adding products, and setting everything up, just to start selling.

It’s not perfect, and there are issues, namely related to limited website design options. But with the third-party templates and apps, these flaws get covered up almost completely. With the right apps, and the right template, Shopify is going to be your perfect business tool, no matter what you wish to do.

Shopify is not a platform for careful pixel-perfect designing or heavy blogging. It is a platform for helping you make the best out of your online business.

And sure, it can get expensive. And really, it’s the question for you to answer. If you think that advanced business tools and supreme simplicity are worth the bigger price, Shopify is certainly the way to go.

Shopify FAQs

Is Shopify good for beginners?

Yes, Shopify is a great option for beginners and users of all levels. It has a user-friendly and intuitive interface. There’s no need for coding knowledge, and there are heaps of beginner guides available.

Who should use Shopify?

Generally speaking, larger online stores looking to scale should use Shopify. Anyone who needs powerful e-commerce functionality and control should use Shopify for their online store.

Can I sell digital goods in my Shopify store?

Yes. With the free Digital Downloads app, Shopify users can sell digital products easily on their website. Upon purchase, customers can download their file immediately through a link sent via email.

What do people sell on Shopify?

Shopify is used to sell just about anything, thanks to plenty of first and third-party tools. It can also be used for both online and in-person shopping, and it’s a popular option for fairs and festivals.

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