- Add-ons often necessary
- Additional fees
- Variable customer support
We have been Shopify fans for a while now. In our opinion, it’s been one of the best options for getting started selling online, especially if you’re looking for a fast, easy, and affordable eCommerce option. But does Shopify’s reputations still accurately reflect the platform in 2022? Let’s buckle up for a full Shopify review and find out.
We can start with some of the things that have help earn Shopify “excellent” ratings from us in the past. In this updated Shopify review, we’ll take another look at Shopify’s features, ease of use, stylish templates, and abundant add-ons. We’ll also look at new Shopify social media integrations as well as Shopify dropshipping partners.
Although we like Shopify and often recommend it, we know it’s not perfect. So in this Shopify review, we’ll also cover some problem areas, like transaction fees and missing advanced features, that make Shopify stand out in a less positive way. Overall, will Shopify remain as one of the best fully hosted shopping carts on the market today?
It’s true that Shopify’s basic feature set is enough to get most users started with a fully functional online store. And the lack of advanced functionality is a part of what makes Shopify so easy to learn to use. In fact, most people find they can build and run a Shopify store without knowing much at all about the technology involved in online selling. And you certainly won’t have to touch a line of code, unless you want to. Best of all, Shopify offers a free 14-day trial, with no credit card needed, so users can test out the software and see how well it will meet their eCommerce needs.
Keep in mind, Shopify is designed to grow with its users. So if you’re not satisfied with the relatively basic features Shopify offers, you can fill in the missing pieces by adding integrations and apps. From scalable features to additional sales channels — like Amazon, eBay, Walmart Marketplace, and more — a Shopify store is capable of handling all the growth your company experiences. As anyone who has ever had to switch platforms knows all too well, it’s a good thing that you’re unlikely to outgrow your Shopify experience, thanks to the enterprise-level plan, Shopify Plus, that users can transition to when their sales really go through the roof.
Overall, Shopify has been one of the shopping carts we most frequently recommend here at Merchant Maverick, quirks and all. Keep reading to find out if that’s still true.
With five levels of service, Shopify tiered pricing means that users won’t have to pay for more than they need. You can choose and pay for the plan that fits your needs of the moment and go up or down in service level as your business changes. Most of the advertising you’ll encounter focuses on the three plans in the middle, with an entry-level plan, Shopify Lite, also available for those who want to dip into eCommerce without opening a full online storefront. The enterprise-level plan, Shopify Plus, is aimed at businesses whose annual sales top half a million dollars.
New users can take advantage of a free 14-day trial, with no credit card required. Accounts set up on the free trial will automatically cancel at the end of 14 days; to activate it again, you must purchase a plan. This allows you to play around with the software before you have to make a commitment to any plan level, and you don’t have to set a reminder to cancel before you’re charged. All of Shopify’s plans are billed on a month-by-month basis. There are no contracts to sign. If you choose to purchase a full year-long plan, you can save 10%, and if you purchase two years at a time, you’ll save 20%.
As we outline Shopify’s subscription levels, you’ll notice a Shopify transaction fee that applies in addition to the standard card processing fees charged by your choice of payment gateway. While most other shopping carts do not take a cut of each sale you make, Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, don’t look like they’re going away any time soon. The good news is that Shopify waives those transaction fees if you choose Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) as your gateway. Of course, the bad news is that not everyone wants or will be approved to use Shopify Payments.
All Shopify plans include unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage. Here’s the full rundown of Shopify’s pricing tiers:
SHOPIFY LITE PLAN
The Shopify Lite Plan costs $9/month and does not include an online store. If you use Shopify Payments, the credit card rate is 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions and 2.7% for in-person transactions; if you use another payment processor, Shopify charges a 2.0% Shopify transaction fee.
Here are the features included with this plan:
- Sell in-person
- Add a “Buy” button to your existing websites
- Sell on social media
- Accept credit card payments
- Create invoices
- Live chat and email support
For more information on this option, read our full Shopify Lite review.
BASIC SHOPIFY PLAN
The Basic Shopify Plan costs $29/month and includes an online store. If you use Shopify Payments, the credit card rate is 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions and 2.7% for in-person transactions; if you use another payment processor, Shopify charges 2.0% Shopify transaction fee.
The Basic Shopify plan includes everything in the Shopify Lite plan, plus:
- Online store
- Unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage
- 2 staff accounts
- Up to four inventory locations
- Access to API & app store
- Discount code engine
- Gift cards
- Built-in blogging engine
- Up to 20 themes on your store
- Multiple sales channels
- Manual order creation
- Shipping discounts up to 77% from DHL Express, UPS, and USPS
- Shipping labels
- 133 international currencies and up to 20 languages
- Fraud analysis
- Access to Shopify Fulfillment Network
- Free SSL certificate
- Abandoned cart recovery tools
- Shopify POS Lite
- Access to Shopify POS Pro ($89/month)
- 24/7 multichannel support, including phone
The Shopify Plan costs $79/month. If you use Shopify Payments, the credit card rate is 2.6% for online transactions and 2.5% for in-person transactions; if you use another payment processor, Shopify charges a 1.0% Shopify transaction fee.
The Shopify plan includes everything in the Basic Shopify plan, plus:
- 5 staff accounts (in addition to the owner’s account)
- Up to five inventory locations
- Standard reports
- Discounts up to 88% from DHL Express, UPS, and USPS
- USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing
- International domains and pricing
ADVANCED SHOPIFY PLAN
The Advanced Shopify Plan costs $299/month. If you use Shopify Payments, the credit card rate is 2.4% + $0.30 for online transactions and 2.4% for in-person transactions; if you use another payment process, Shopify charges a 0.5% Shopify transaction fee.
The Advanced Shopify plan includes everything in the Shopify plan, plus:
- 15 staff accounts
- Up to 8 inventory locations
- Advanced reports
- Real-time shipping carrier rates (outside of Shopify Shipping)
- Fifteen staff accounts (in addition to the owner’s account)
- Custom report builder
- International pricing (per variant)
Shopify Plus is for enterprise businesses. If you’re interested in learning pricing details, you’ll need to contact Shopify directly. Check out our full review of Shopify Plus for more information on plan features and benefits.
In addition to the monthly subscription fee for the plan you select for your eCommerce business, Shopify users can expect to lay out some money for add-ons and integrations. For more information on that, see the Integrations section below. Beyond that, Shopify users may incur these additional expenses:
- Transaction Fees: As mentioned previously, Shopify stands out from the majority of its eCommerce competitors by charging transaction fees that stack up in addition to those charged by your gateway payment provider. These fees vary from 2% to 0.5% of each sale, depending on the level of service plan you sign up for. The only way to avoid Shopify’s transaction fees is to sign up to use Shopify Payments as your gateway.
- POS: With the exception of Shopify Lite, all Shopify accounts come with built-in access to Shopify POS Lite at no added expense. However, users who expect to use the POS option heavily may want to look into upgrading from the Lite version. Access to Shopify POS Pro can be added for $89/month, and it delivers store management tools and omnichannel features for brick-and-mortar businesses that may make the additional expense well worth it for your business.
IS SHOPIFY LEGIT & SAFE?
In short, yes, Shopify is legitimate and safe eCommerce software. Shopify is a legitimate, publicly traded company that has invested in software and security engineering initiatives. Additionally, the backend processor of Shopify Payments, Stripe, is used by thousands of companies worldwide.
While we say Shopify is light on advanced features out of the box, it’s important to note also that it does come loaded with the basics you’ll need to open and operate an online store, as well as some nice extras.
All Shopify plans include Shopify POS, gift cards, online sales channels, fraud analysis, manual order creation, discount codes, an overview dashboard, and staff logins, in addition to unlimited products, storage, and bandwidth. And although Shopify includes a well-stocked app store that allows you to add many advanced features and specialized functions, much of what you’ll need to set up a functioning store is built into the software.
Here’s a rundown of what you’ll find out of the box, with the caveat that some features are available only with higher-level plans. Look into each plan before you make your purchase.:
- Shopify Dashboard: The main dashboard is clean, orderly, intuitive, and easy to navigate.
- Products: Adding products is easy. It takes only a few clicks and keystrokes. The interface provides enough detail to be functional and thorough without becoming overwhelming. Adding product variants is a simple process inside the main “add a product” screen. You can adjust prices, SKUs, and inventory for each variant when you add products, or you can edit those variables later when you configure different product weights for shipping and add variant-specific photos. You’ll also find a bulk editor that allows you to manage data for multiple product variants. If you want to add more than three options for a given product (such as size, color, and material) or more than 100 variants total, you’ll need an extension from the app store.
- Multi-Channel Selling: All of Shopify’s paid plans allow you to sell on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Amazon and eBay, through Messenger, and with Buy buttons. You can also take advantage of Shopify’s own POS system or a third-party POS on higher-level plans. Integrations are available for additional marketplaces, like Etsy and Walmart Marketplace.
- Sell Internationally: Shopify supports international shipping and checkout in over 50 different languages. You can set up your store in up to 20 languages and accept 133 international currencies.
- Checkout: Customers can use guest checkout or create personal accounts to make future transactions smoother. You can even host checkout on your own domain if you choose. If you use Shopify Shipping, you can access carrier-calculated shipping rates from DHL, UPS, USPS, or Canada Post. You’ll also get a discount on shipping rates with DHL Express, UPS, and USPS, with the percentage depending on your Shopify subscription. Shopify’s checkout features an automatic tax calculator that is based on your location and your customers’ locations. Users on the Advanced Shopify plan can use calculated shipping options to integrate with a third-party shipping service that provides customers with real-time shipping rates.
- Inventory Management: You can list unlimited products and track them with Shopify’s inventory management and product category organization features. You can list variations such as size, color, and material, though you may need to download a free extension if you want to add unlimited variations. Build your catalog with ease by using Shopify’s bulk import/export feature to facilitate migration from your previous platform or to make bulk edits to your catalog.
- Marketing: Shopify excels at its coupons, gift cards, and discounts features, which are available on all paid plans. Users can create coupon discount codes and coupons, including BOGO, that apply to specific products or categories, and you can limit those to specific groups, a specified number of uses, or a minimum order total. Use customer accounts to learn more about your customers and to group them by factors, such as location, shopping tendencies, and demographics. Abandoned cart recovery tools let you know when a customer leaves items in a cart without purchasing, so you can automatically send an email to encourage them to complete their purchase. Shopify Chat allows you to engage with site visitors via live chat.
- Dropshipping: Shopify makes it easy to start a profitable dropshipping business. For starters, you’ll find a complete guide to dropshipping with Shopify on the webpage. You can integrate your Shopify store with Oberlo and other global dropshipping apps. There’s even a Dropshipping category on the Shopify App Store, with 425 results that include big names like AliExpress, Sprocket, Oberlo, and Printful, so you can work with your top choice of partners, as well as more niche dropship partners in subcategories like print on demand.
- Blog: All Shopify paid plans come with a built-in blogging engine that you can use to improve your store’s SEO, tell stories that increase customer engagement, and help you convert lookers into buyers. Shopify’s default blog is called News, but it’s easy to replace that with a custom name, and you can manage your blog right from your store admin and add it to your main navigation menu. You can even manage your blog’s SEO potential from your admin, using the Search engine listing preview and URL and handle sections.
- SEO Tools: Shopify offers SEO features that include customizable H1s and the ability to write title and meta tags as well as product tags. A sitemap.xml is automatically generated for each store.
- Reports & Analytics: The reporting options vary by plan level, and this is one of the areas where Shopify can come up a little short on the lower levels. The Basic Shopify plan lets you access your store’s acquisition reports, several behavior reports, and a marketing report. Want more? You’ll need to purchase an add-on or upgrade your plan. On the next level, the Shopify plan includes access to professional reports with more valuable information, including sales of specific items and sales based on time of year. Customer reports on the Shopify plan let you see how customers are browsing your store and purchasing, with reports available on customers over time, first-time customers in comparison to returning customers, and customers by country. On the Advanced Shopify plan, you’ll be able to access information about your most at-risk and loyal buyers. And if you visit the Shopify App store, you’ll find more than 1,100 options for add-ons, all of which include ratings and reviews from users.
- Mobile Store Management: Shopify is continuously adding functionality to the Shopify App. Users leaving reviews on the Google Play store and the Apple App Store say it’s possible to build and run your store using only the mobile apps.
- Point Of Sale: Shopify also offers a point of sale (POS) system for in-person selling. It’s recently added a new retail kit to the mix, which includes a tap and chip card reader and a retail stand for the iPad.
- Flexible Shipping Rates: You can select factors to determine the cost of shipping, whether it’s free shipping, a flat rate, a tiered rate, a weight-based rate, or a location-based rate.
- Automatic Upgrades: Keep your site up to date with Shopify’s newest features, without any effort on your part.
- 99.98% Uptime: With a record like that, you can be confident that your store will stay online through high-traffic seasons.
SHOPIFY TEMPLATES & WEB DESIGN
Shopify offers beautiful web design. You’ll find more than 100 themes available, and all are mobile responsive. Of those, eight are free options created and supported by Shopify, while the rest are priced between $140-$180 and are supported by their respective third-party developers.
Even the theme shopping experience with Shopify is well-designed. You can filter by various factors to determine the best option for your Shopify store and pore over user ratings and reviews for each theme. Keep in mind that you can add up to 20 themes to a single Shopify store. That lets you try out different themes, keep a seasonal version of your published theme, or test changes using another theme. However, you will be allowed to publish using only one of these at a time.
In terms of both form and function, Shopify themes are among the best I’ve seen. They’re professional, elegant, and easy for your customers to navigate. And you won’t need to do any coding to use them. On the other hand, if coding is your thing, there’s a code editor you can use. Along with HTML and CSS knowledge, you’ll need to brush up on Shopify’s proprietary templating language called Liquid.
IS SHOPIFY EASY TO USE?
Ease of use is one of Shopify’s top selling points. The platform provides a relatively sophisticated entrance into eCommerce that almost anyone can learn to use. If you decide to test Shopify’s admin with the free trial, I think you’ll quickly become comfortable with the user interface. Although you won’t find a tutorial video or setup wizard, Shopify provides three suggestions to get you up and running: Add Product, Customize Theme, and Add Domain.
The menu down the top-left of the screen provides your day-to-day store management tools, while the Settings menu contains storewide configurations (such as shipping methods and taxes).
As you’ve picked up on by now, Shopify aims to strike a balance between its trademark ease of use and additional customization capability. Most merchants will find enough features out of the box to get rolling, but advanced functionality with Shopify often requires add-on applications. As an example, if you want to add infinite product options, digital downloads, or product reviews, you’ll need to visit the app store for a free extension. I added all three to my admin with relative ease, but it’s definitely worth paying attention to the associated cost and learning curve for each non-native feature you’d like to implement.
The different theme templates each may come with slightly different features as well.
SHOPIFY INTEGRATIONS & ADD-ONS
Just like shopping for a theme, browsing the Shopify App Store is an informative and well-organized experience. The multitude of reviews and ratings for each Shopify app is particularly helpful — that’s one benefit to having a strong and vocal community of users surrounding an eCommerce platform. And Shopify’s app ecosystem is one of the most extensive I’ve seen. With well over 4,200 add-ons to choose from, it’s almost certain that Shopify will integrate with whatever you’re looking for.
It’s worth repeating that while Shopify does a great job offering the features most stores need, advanced functionality will require add-ons. That’s part of the reason the app store is so extensive. Some of the simpler modules are free, but you may find you also need to integrate with a few software platforms that each have their own monthly subscriptions, even if the initial installation is free.
The takeaway here is to make sure you know which features you need before subscribing to Shopify. While Shopify can seem like one of the least expensive shopping carts out of the box, the total cost can quickly grow to become the most expensive option if you need lots of advanced features. On the plus side, there’s a vast array of ways to expand your store’s functionality gradually, as you grow, making Shopify one of the more scalable eCommerce solutions out there.
In addition to integrations, Shopify offers some great in-house add-on services like Shopify Balance which allows Shopify users to manage all of their small business banking directly online.
Shopify integrates with more than 100 payment gateways, sorted by country. In the US, that list includes top names like Adyen, Affirm, Braintree, PayPal, Sezzle, and Skrill, as well as some buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options such as Klarna. The list is sorted by country, allowing you to verify the availability in your country. You should also check to see whether shoppers remain on your website or are diverted to the gateway’s site to complete checkout. Shopify divides these into “direct” and “external” gateways, respectively.
And, of course, Shopify also offers an in-house payment method, Shopify Payments. This Stripe-powered gateway is currently available to merchants in the US (Puerto Rico is the only US territory where Shopify Payments is available), Canada, the UK, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Austria, New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong SAR. Below are some key features of Shopify Payments, but be sure to check your specific country for feature availability.
If you use Shopify Payments, you’ll see these benefits:
- No Extra Shopify Transaction Fees: The 0.5-2.0% additional fee charged by Shopify is eliminated. You still need to pay regular credit card fees, though!
- Reduced Credit Card Fees: Typically, Stripe and other similar payment facilitators charge 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions. With Shopify Payments, those rates get reduced as you move up the subscription ladder. In-person processing rates also decrease as you move up in plan level.
- Fraud Protection: Shopify Payments provides its suite of advanced fraud and chargeback prevention features.
Shopify stores that use Shopify Payments are also eligible to add additional payment options to their checkout page. The first is a special integration with a buy-now-pay-later service (BNPL), Affirm. BNPL options are becoming increasingly popular, and if you’re not already offering one, this could be your chance to add BNPL to your checkout options with a seamless integration.
The second payment option available to Shopify Payments users is Shop Pay, an expedited checkout option that allows merchants to save their billing and shipping information across Shopify websites, thus drastically simplifying repeat purchases on your site. Both the BNPL and accelerated checkout offered via Shop Pay are secure for merchants and for customers.
SHOPIFY CUSTOMER SERVICE & TECHNICAL SUPPORT
The quality of Shopify’s customer service varies depending on who you ask. Some merchants rave about Shopify’s “gurus.” They say that Shopify provides informed, friendly support. On the other hand, I’ve also read angry comments that condemn Shopify’s support representatives for reading answers from a script. These customers say that the representatives they contacted did not have the power to help. I’ve had good experiences with Shopify myself. When I called with a simple question, I received an informed answer with no wait time.
Of course, there are lots of other ways to locate the information you need on your own. Here’s a quick look at Shopify’s extensive (and I mean extensive) resources for solving problems and improving your eCommerce business:
- Phone: Phone support is available on all plans except for Shopify Lite. There are separate phone numbers for customers in North America, the UK, Australia, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, and while phone support and live chat are available in English only, email support is available 24/7 in 20 languages other than English.
- Email: 24/7 email support is available to all users.
- Live Chat: This option has worked well in my experience, but you’ll need a bit of patience during peak periods.
- Forums: Several separate community forums are available, depending on your needs.
- Help Center: Access the primary knowledgebase and documentation as well as phone, email, and live chat options.
- Academy: Free training courses with videos and full transcripts are available.
- Encyclopedia: Definitions and overviews of eCommerce terms and concepts are available in Shopify’s searchable business encyclopedia.
- Guides: Multi-chapter PDF guides on specific topics.
- Developer Docs: API documentation and other resources for the technically-inclined.
- Webinars: Sign up for live broadcasts.
- Podcast: The Shopify Masters Podcast features interviews with successful store owners.
- Blog: As you can imagine, the Shopify blog is well-maintained and informative.
- Changelog: Stay on top of new and updated features available for your store.
- Free Tools: Content templates, calculators, and other free resources accessed from the main website.
- Experts: From developers to designers to marketers, Shopify experts are available for hire.
- Social Media: Check Shopify’s Twitter account for advice and assistance.
- YouTube: The dedicated Shopify Help Center channel has dozens of video tutorials posted.
SHOPIFY USER REVIEWS
Shopify has overwhelmingly positive reviews on most comment boards and third-party review sites. For example, with more than 3,800 reviews on G2Crowd, where Shopify maintains a 4.5/5-star rating, 2,525 reviews give the software 5 stars, while fewer than 300 rate it less than 4 stars. Shopify Inc. has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 2012 and maintains an A+ rating there. On the BBB website, most of the Shopify complaints recorded came from customers who had difficulty with purchases made from a Shopify-powered website and not actual store owners complaining about their experience with the software.
NEGATIVE SHOPIFY REVIEWS & COMPLAINTS
The most common complaints I’ve seen about Shopify include these:
- Limited Functionality: Because Shopify aims to keep its functions basic and easy to grasp, there are a few missing elements in the features list. The necessary add-ons are almost certainly available in the app store, but the more you add the more introduced problems you may experience with the software.
- Costly Add-Ons: To make up for a lack of functionality, merchants may have to enlist add-ons, which can make Shopify higher priced than competing shopping carts.
- Poor Customer Service: As I’ve mentioned, opinions on customer service are widely varied. For every frustrated customer bashing Shopify’s service, there’s one singing its praises. Take that how you will.
- Transaction Fees: Payment processing fees are unavoidable. But Shopify stands out for its added transaction fees that can take between 2% and 0.5% of each sale you make through the platform. Yes, you can avoid the added fees if you use Shopify Payments. But that’s a limiting factor many vendors chafe at. And international merchants may be operating in a nation where Shopify Payments isn’t an option.
- Poor Service With Shopify Payments: I have read many reviews blaming Shopify Payments for withholding vendors’ payments. Additionally, Shopify Payments reserves the right to discontinue services for any merchant it deems a risk. This has led to quite a bit of frustration among merchants. Read more about the pros and cons of Shopify Payments.
POSITIVE SHOPIFY REVIEWS & TESTIMONIALS
Shopify has far more positive reviews than negative ones. Users give the platform high satisfaction ratings overall. Here are the most commonly voiced positive reactions:
- Ease Of Use: As I’ve said before, ease of use is Shopify’s niche. You can get a store up and running in less than a day. It’s a great approach for startup and mid-sized businesses alike, even if you have minimal experience with creating a website.
- Beautiful Themes: A professional-looking site inspires trust in your customers. Shopify helps by providing some of the best-looking themes I’ve seen from any eCommerce platform. Users have noted that although they have to learn a new language to edit themes, Shopify’s proprietary language is easy to learn and use.
- Good Customer Service: Reviews of customer support are mixed, but at least Shopify offers a phone line and 24/7 availability. Those two simple facts alone separate Shopify from the majority of its competitors when it comes to service. Users also praise the free self-help resources and paid Shopify Experts.
- Extendability: The extra cost of add-ons aside, users appreciate how well-connected Shopify is with the eCommerce software world as a whole.