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Rating Shopify on key features

You may have heard that “Shopify is the gold standard in e-commerce”. (From me, I’ve said that!) And I want to just reiterate that from the outset of this comparison. It really is the preferred platform for e-commerce and let’s explore exactly why that is. However, that doesn’t mean it’s without flaws and I’ll point some of those out too.

To give you background, I’m a web designer with 15 years of experience. My services used to be exclusively for service providers using WordPress doing design and development and I’ve also offered Squarespace website design. About 5 years ago I switched to Shopify and working with product-based businesses. Over the years, I’ve talked to clients about their own platforms too, when discussing why they want to move off of them. 

So let’s dive in, shall we?

I’ve come up with a rating system based on factors that are most important for your business:

  1. Price
  2. Sales Channels
  3. Inventory & Product Management
  4. Page Building and Design
  5. Expandability 

Let’s rate Shopify, shall we? 

Shopify is an all-in-one solution for ecommerce. 

$39/month for the Basic plan. 

Price

The Basic plan is Shopify’s cheapest plan and it’s now $39/month (up $10/month from previous pricing). As with most subscription plans you can save money by paying yearly. This price covers a lot and is what most of my clients and students in my course, Shop School use. 

There is no transaction fee on sales! There is still a credit card processing fee.

For the Basic plan you get:

  • Hosting and a myshopify.com domain. (You’ll want to connect your own domain which varies in price, but typically around $15/year.)
  • Shopify security and fraud analysis 
  • Unlimited products
  • Ability to sell gift cards
  • Shopify 24/7 support
  • Discount codes
  • 1000 inventory locations
  • SSL certificate (so your domain is secure)
  • Basic reports and analytics 
  • Up to 77% shipping discount with DHL Express, UPS or USPS
  • Shipping labels 
  • Shopify tax calculations and tax liability tracking
  • Shopify POS Lite (sell in person at markets)
  • Sell internationally with language translation, currency conversion and international pricing

To summarize, you get everything you need to sell online and in person with the Basic plan for $39/month. Your other cost will be your domain (≅ $15/year). 

Rating: 4.5/5. 

I went down 0.5 because of the price increase, but this is still a really good price for what you get. But naturally, I liked the old price better. 🙂

Sales Channels

Shopify can’t be beat on sales channels – you can sell your products in more places than anywhere else. This means that your inventory is in one place – on Shopify – and available to purchase on all of these different channels.

Here are your options:

  • Online Store: that’s your website
  • Shop: Shopify’s app
  • Point of Sale
  • Facebook: Sell directly on Facebook or just have your products tagged and linked to your online store
  • Buy button: you can add Shopify buy buttons to your own website on WordPress or Squarespace (I don’t really recommend this though). 
  • Instagram: Sell directly on Instagram or link your products
  • Shopify Inbox: have conversations with your customers in their messaging app and they can buy directly there too
  • Handshake: Shopify’s wholesale marketplace (US only)
  • Tiktok: Create ads, track results and manage orders from TikTok
  • Pinterest: Publish Product Pins and add your product catalog
  • Amazon: Sell on Amazon from your online store

Rating: 5 out of 5

Shopify has the sales channel market totally covered.

Inventory and Product Management

Don’t overlook inventory and product management – this is a key part of your product business. 

You can set up inventory tracking, view your inventory and adjust inventory levels with Shopify. You can view the history of inventory adjustments and transfers as well. 

With Shopify, you can have up to 1000 inventory locations. You can track the quantity on individual products and continue selling when out of stock if you choose to. 

If you need more refined inventory management, like tracking raw goods, there are a variety of Shopify apps (mostly paid) to choose from. Check out https://apps.shopify.com/materials-inventory https://apps.shopify.com/airpower and https://www.trunkinventory.com/.

Now with product management, it’s important to have flexibility and customization options. With Shopify, you can create multiple product templates to display different information and design. Let’s say you sell coffee and tea. You could have a template for coffee products and a template for tea products. Your coffee template could have a “Coffee FAQ” section, a coffee brand comparison chart, subscription feature and so forth. Your tea product template would share different information that’s relevant to your tea products. 

With Shopify, there’s many different ways to expand upon the customization features for products.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Page Building and Design

As a designer, I can tell you that the design of your online store really matters! Your store needs to look good and professional in order for potential customers to even consider shopping with you. 

Shopify uses themes, which are edited in the customizer. Themes are separate from your inventory and product area in the Shopify dashboard. So you can change themes and edit your theme without affecting your products.

Shopify’s theme editor and customizer has improved significantly in the last year. Some themes have a lot less flexibility than others and some have more available section designs than others. 

There are free themes by Shopify and a growing collection of paid themes in Shopify’s theme store. It’s easy to try paid themes in your own store before purchasing. You’re able to customize colors, fonts, add your own logo, choose your header style and then put together sections to build out all of your pages. 

There’s still a learning curve with designing on Shopify and it sometimes requires creativity to put together different sections to achieve the desired layout. Although if you’re interested in more flexibility and available sections, then I suggest looking at paid themes. The paid themes are more stylish and trendy now. Themes are a one-time cost. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

This is an area that is currently improving but I still think has more room for improvement and ease. 

Expandability

If you want to add a feature to your store (say a bundle builder, for example), can you? With Shopify, the answer is yes. There will be an app or a way to customize your theme/store to come up with a solution for just about anything. 

Take a peek at the Shopify app store to get an idea of all of the things you can add to your store. 

https://apps.shopify.com/ The possibilities are endless.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Shopify really shines with the amount of quality apps and integrations.

Quick summary of Shopify:

  1. Price 4.5/5
  2. Sales Channels 5/5
  3. Inventory and Product Management 5/5
  4. Page Building and Design 4/5
  5. Expandability 5/5