Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the world… but is it the best?

In this Shopify review, I’ll cover everything you need to know to make the best decision for your business.

We’ll look at features, usability, pricing, pros & cons, and alternatives—through the lens of someone (me) who has been using Shopify since 2015.

Quick Verdict: Shopify is the world’s leading eCommerce platform and is used by many of the best and largest brands in the world. However, it’s also super user-friendly for new sellers, with intuitive dashboards and drag-and-drop website-building features. It’s an all-in-one solution for eCommerce brands that helps you build something professional quickly.

Overall

4.9

Ideal for

Most businesses

Starting from

$9/month

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Shopify offers a complete suite of eCommerce tools enabling you to host your website, manage your products, accept payments, carry out effective marketing, and understand how your business is performing through detailed analytics. It’s a versatile, all-in-one platform that caters to businesses of all sizes.

Shopify is known for its user-friendly interface and intuitive design, making it accessible for beginners. The platform provides easy-to-use tools and extensive resources to help you get started quickly and make the most of your subscription.

With 24/7 customer support, a comprehensive Help Center, community forums, and educational resources, Shopify ensures users have access to help and guidance whenever needed.

Shopify has three core pricing plans:

  • Basic: $29/month paid annually, $39/month paid monthly.
  • Standard: $79/month paid annually, $105/month paid monthly.
  • Advanced: $299/month paid annually, $399/month paid monthly.

Shopify has three core pricing plans:

  • Lite: $9 per month. Allows use of Shopify’s Buy Button on your external site.
  • Plus: Starts at $2,000 per month. Designed for large enterprise brands with custom needs.

Shopify’s pricing plans are designed to suit various business needs and sizes. While it may be pricier than some alternatives, the extensive features and reliable support provide good value for online sellers looking to grow.

  • User-friendly
  • Comprehensive features
  • Scalable
  • Excellent support
  • Vast app store
  • Transaction fees can be expensive
  • Some SEO drawbacks
  • Content management limitations

  • WooCommerce: Perfect for WordPress users seeking customization.
  • BigCommerce: Ideal for large businesses with extensive product catalogs.
  • Wix: Best for beginners and design-focused users.
  • Squarespace: Great for creatives needing a stylish, easy-to-build website.

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What is Shopify?

Shopify is an eCommerce platform that helps individuals and businesses create and manage their own online stores. It provides all the tools you need to simplify every aspect of running an online business, from setting up your website to processing payments and managing inventory.

Whether you’re a tech novice or an experienced seller, Shopify offers everything you need to start, grow, and scale your online store efficiently. With Shopify, you can focus on what you do best—selling your products—while it takes care of the technical details.

Who is behind Shopify?

Shopify was founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake.

The idea for Shopify came from their need for an easy-to-use eCommerce solution when they tried to sell snowboarding equipment online under their brand ‘Snowdevil.’

Shopify origins

Today, Shopify is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, and supports millions of businesses globally, making it one of the leading eCommerce platforms in the world.

What benefits does Shopify offer?

  • Ease of Use: Shopify’s intuitive interface makes it easy for anyone to create and manage an online store, even without technical skills.
  • Customization: A wide range of themes and apps allow you to tailor your store to fit your brand and specific needs.
  • Scalability: Shopify can grow with your business, providing solutions for both small startups and large enterprises.
  • Marketing Tools: Integrated SEO features, social media integration, and email marketing tools help you attract and retain customers.
  • Customer Support: 24/7 support ensures that you have help available whenever you need it, and a vast community of sellers provides an ever-growing library of tutorials.

Who is Shopify best for?

Shopify is perfect for:

  • Small to Medium-Sized Businesses: Those looking to establish or grow their online presence with a reliable platform.
  • Entrepreneurs: Individuals who want to start their own online store with minimal hassle and technical requirements.
  • Large Enterprises: Companies needing a robust and scalable platform to handle high sales volumes and complex operations.
  • Brick-and-Mortar Stores: Physical stores looking to expand their sales channels to include online shopping.

With its extensive features, support, and flexible plans, Shopify is a great choice for complete beginners through to large-scale brands.

In fact, some of the biggest brands in the world use Shopify, including:

My experiences with Shopify

I first came across Shopify when launching my first eCommerce product in 2015.

I created a line of t-shirts designed for tall men and built my first website on one of the free themes offered—the now-retired Brooklyn theme (RIP).

my shopify journey

I’ve since used Shopify for a number of my own and client’s brands, where we’ve generated thousands of orders across categories such as:

  • Pets
  • Toys
  • Supplements
  • Fitness
  • Home & Garden

It’s been a huge asset along the way.

That was reaffirmed for me when I once tried to build an eCommerce store with WooCommerce on WordPress—it was so much work to create something that looked even semi-modern and stylish.

Honestly, never again.

Shopify makes it so much easier to create modern, professional designs that function well and integrate with other platforms like social media and apps.

For me, it’s really been a no-brainer for every new project.

Key features

Shopify ship features faster than any other software I know.

They host ‘editions’ events every summer and winter to unveil all the new features and updates they’ve added.

So, while it might be quicker and easier to cover the features Shopify doesn’t include, I’ll walk you through the most important features in ten key categories.

1. Store setup and design

Themes and templates

Shopify offers an ever-growing collection of professionally designed free and paid themes to help you create a visually engaging online store.

the choice of shopify themes available to you

Each Shopify theme is customizable, allowing you to adjust colors, fonts, and layouts to match your brand’s identity. Whether you prefer a minimalist design or something more elaborate, there’s a theme to suit your needs.

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Customization options

Shopify provides a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor that makes customizing your store easy, even if you don’t have coding skills. Advanced users can access the theme’s HTML and CSS for more detailed customization. This flexibility ensures your store looks unique and professional but also has the flexibility you need as you grow.

Mobile responsiveness

In today’s mobile-centric world, it’s crucial for your online store to look good on all devices. Shopify themes are fully responsive, meaning they automatically adjust to different screen sizes. This means a seamless shopping experience for customers using smartphones, tablets, or desktops.

2. Product management

Product listings

Adding products to your Shopify store is super straightforward. You can include detailed descriptions, multiple images, pricing, and SKU numbers. Shopify also allows you to categorize products by type, season, sale items, and more, making it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for.

Inventory management

Shopify’s inventory management system helps you keep track of your stock levels. You can set up automatic notifications for low stock and track inventory across multiple locations. This feature is particularly useful for businesses with large inventories or multiple warehouses.

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Variants and collections

You can create product variants for different sizes, colors, or styles, making it easy for customers to select their preferences. You can also organize products into collections, helping streamline the shopping experience. For example, you can create seasonal collections, new arrivals, or bestsellers.

3. Sales channels

Online store

Your primary sales channel on Shopify is your online store, which is fully customizable and integrates seamlessly with all other Shopify features. This is where customers will browse, add items to their cart, and complete purchases.

Social media integration

Shopify allows you to sell directly on social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. By integrating your store with these platforms, you can reach a larger audience and make it easy for customers to purchase products without leaving their favorite apps.

shopify social media integration

Marketplace integration

Expand your reach by integrating your Shopify store with major online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. This allows you to manage listings, orders, and inventory from a single dashboard, simplifying the process of selling on multiple platforms. You can also use Shopify markets to quickly set up and sell globally.

4. Payment and checkout

Payment gateways

Shopify supports various payment gateways, including Shopify Payments, PayPal, Stripe, and many others. This flexibility allows you to offer your customers multiple payment options, increasing the likelihood of completing sales.

Checkout customization

Customize your checkout process to match your brand and improve the user experience. You can add custom fields, adjust the layout, and offer different payment and shipping options to reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions.

a shopify checkout example

Security features

Shopify ensures secure transactions by providing SSL certificates for your store and being PCI compliant. This means your customers’ payment information is protected, building trust and credibility with your audience.

5. Shipping and fulfillment

Shipping options

Shopify allows you to provide real-time carrier shipping rates, set flat rates, or offer free shipping based on order value so you can offer a variety of shipping options to meet your customers’ needs. You can also print shipping labels directly from your dashboard.

Fulfillment services

You can streamline your order fulfillment process by using Shopify Fulfillment Network or integrating with third-party fulfillment services like Amazon FBA. This helps you manage your logistics more efficiently and makes sure your orders are delivered on time.

Inventory locations

Shopify’s inventory tracking system helps you monitor stock levels across multiple locations, such as warehouses, 3PLs, and retail stores. This is especially helpful if you sell in different countries or through different channels, as you can fulfill orders from the most convenient source.

6. Marketing

SEO tools

Shopify has a number of built-in SEO tools to help improve your store’s visibility on search engines for the sweet, free, organic traffic. You can edit meta tags, titles, and descriptions, and Shopify automatically generates sitemaps to help search engines index your site.

Email marketing

Shopify integrates with popular email marketing services like Mailchimp and Klaviyo, allowing you to send newsletters, promotional offers, and product updates to engage with your customers through email marketing campaigns.

Discounts and promotions

You can easily create discount codes and promotional offers to boost sales. You can set up percentage discounts, free shipping, or buy-one-get-one offers and track the performance of these promotions to see what works best.

AI tools

Shopify Magic is a suite of AI-enabled features integrated across Shopify’s products and workflows to make it easier for you to start, run, and grow your business. You can use Shopify Magic to create marketing text and edit and improve images, and a host of new possibilities continue to be added.

7. Customer management

Customer accounts

Your customers can easily create accounts on your Shopify store, which enables faster checkouts, easy order tracking, and access to purchase history. This helps enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty and reduces the administrative burden on you and your team.

Customer service tools

Shopify makes it easy to integrate with customer service platforms like Gorgias and Intercom to manage customer inquiries and support tickets. Providing excellent customer service helps you build trust and encourages repeat business, so this is a big win.

Order management

Shopify’s order management system lets you view order details, update statuses, and manage returns and refunds efficiently so you can track and manage orders from the moment they’re placed to when they’re delivered.

8. Analytics and reporting

Sales reports

Keeping a close eye on your sales is addictive yet essential. Shopify’s analytics provide detailed insights into sales trends, best-selling products, and customer behavior, helping you make informed business decisions in real-time.

shopify analytics examples

Customer insights

Gain valuable insights into your customers’ preferences and shopping habits. Use this data to tailor your marketing efforts, improve product offerings, and enhance the overall shopping experience.

Marketing analytics

You can quickly analyze the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns right inside your Shopify dashboard. With the built-in tools, you can track the performance of email campaigns, social media ads, and other marketing activities to optimize your strategy and increase ROI.

9. Apps and integrations

Shopify App Store

One of Shopify’s greatest innovations, the App Store opens up a world of possibilities. You can access thousands of third-party apps to extend your store’s functionality with solutions ranging from accounting and inventory management to marketing, customer service, AI automation, a good product reviews app, and more.

the shopify app store

Third-party integrations

Shopify integrates really well with third-party services, too. It’s so big that pretty much every major software provider you’d ever need to use will connect with it. Integrating with services like Xero for bookkeeping can be a massive time-saver, helping you streamline operations and enhance your store’s capabilities.

APIs and custom apps

Shopify’s API access is another feature that gives room for maximum customization. It allows you to build custom apps tailored to your business requirements. Whether you need a unique feature or an integration with a specific tool, Shopify’s developer resources make it possible.

10. Support and resources

Customer support

Shopify offers 24/7 support via chat, email, and phone. Whether you’re facing a technical issue or need help with your store’s setup, Shopify’s support team can assist you anytime.

Learning resources

Take advantage of extensive documentation, tutorials, and courses available on Shopify’s website. These resources help you learn how to use Shopify effectively and grow your online business.

Community and forums

Shopify’s community forums are valuable for finding solutions to common problems and learning best practices. Plus, thanks to the sheer size of the Shopify user base, the volume of free tutorials on platforms like YouTube is almost endless.

Ease of use

Like any new tool, Shopify has its own learning curve.

But thankfully, that learning curve is not too steep for a number of reasons:

User-friendly dashboards

Shopify is designed with simplicity in mind, making it accessible even for beginners.

The main dashboard is clean and intuitive, displaying key information like sales data, visitor stats, and order notifications right at your fingertips.

the shopify dashboard

Thanks to the well-organized menu, navigating through different sections, such as products, orders, and customers, is straightforward.

In-platform instructions

Shopify provides guided tutorials and helpful tips throughout the setup process.

Each feature also comes with clear instructions, and there’s plenty of documentation available.

Plus, the drag-and-drop editor makes designing your store a breeze, eliminating the need for coding skills.

the shopify website builder

Community content

If you use a more niche platform with a smaller user base, it can sometimes be hard to find answers to your unique questions.

However, thanks to how big the Shopify community is, it’s very rare you’d ever come across a challenge that someone else hasn’t already conquered and created a tutorial around.

All in all, Shopify is arguably the most user-friendly eCommerce website builder available.

Support

Shopify’s support is multi-faceted, offering multiple ways to get help when you need it. Here’s a breakdown of the support options available:

  • 24/7 Customer Support: Shopify provides round-the-clock live chat, email, and phone support. This means you can get assistance at any time, regardless of your location or time zone.
  • Help Center: The Shopify Help Center is a comprehensive resource filled with articles, guides, and tutorials covering every aspect of using Shopify.
  • Community Forums: We’ve covered this quite a lot already, but suffice to say—the community is very active and supportive, offering valuable insights and tips.
  • Shopify Academy: For those looking to deepen their understanding of eCommerce and Shopify, the Shopify Academy offers free courses and webinars. These educational resources cover a wide range of topics, from beginner setup tutorials to advanced marketing strategies.
  • Shopify Experts: If you need specialized help, you can hire Shopify Experts. These are professional freelancers and agencies who specialize in various aspects of eCommerce. You can find and hire experts directly through the Shopify Experts Marketplace.
  • Documentation and API Support: Shopify provides extensive documentation and API support for developers. This includes detailed guides on building custom apps and integrations, as well as access to Shopify’s developer community for additional support.

Shopify’s diverse support options are more than enough to ensure that you have the help you need, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned eCommerce professional.

Pricing

Shopify offers several pricing plans to suit different business needs and stages. Here’s a breakdown of the available plans, their prices, and the best scenario for each:

1. Lite

Gives a basic Shopify account with access to a buy button to be used on an external site not hosted on Shopify.

  • Price: $9 per month
  • Best For: Beginners or small sellers who want to add eCommerce functionality to an existing website or sell on social media.

2. Basic

This Basic plan includes everything you need to create a full online store, including website building, product listings, payment processing, and basic reporting.

  • Price: $29/month billed manually, $39/month billed monthly
  • Best For: New businesses or solo entrepreneurs just starting to sell online.

3. Shopify

The Shopify plan offers slightly lower percentage fees and gives access to five additional users.

  • Price: $79/month billed manually, $105/month billed monthly
  • Best For: Shopify stores with a higher volume of sales and a growing team. Usually more cost-effective beyond around $20,000/month in revenue.

4. Advanced

The advanced plan includes everything in the Shopify plan plus even cheaper fees, extra staff accounts, and extra checkout functionality, including customs and tax calculations.

  • Price: $299/month billed manually, $399/month billed monthly
  • Best For: Larger businesses that require advanced reporting and lower transaction fees. Usually more cost-effective beyond around $150,000/month in revenue.

5. Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus offers dedicated account management, higher-level support, and a suite of advanced features tailored for large businesses with significant sales volumes and complex needs.

  • Price: Custom pricing starting around $2,000 per month
  • Best For: High-volume enterprises needing a scalable and highly customizable solution. Usually more cost-effective beyond around $200,000/month in revenue.

Additional Costs

  • Transaction Fees: If you’re not using Shopify Payments, there are additional transaction fees ranging from 2.0% to 0.5%, depending on your plan.
  • Apps and Themes: While many apps and themes are free, some premium ones may have additional costs.

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Pros & cons

  • User-Friendly Interface: Shopify’s intuitive design and easy-to-navigate dashboard make it accessible for users of all skill levels. The drag-and-drop editor allows for quick customization without any coding knowledge.
  • Comprehensive Features: From inventory management to payment processing, Shopify offers a complete suite of tools for running an online store. This all-in-one solution saves time and simplifies operations.
  • Scalability: Shopify can grow with your business. Whether you’re just starting out or running a large brand, Shopify’s plans and features scale to meet your needs, making it suitable for businesses of all sizes.
  • 24/7 Customer Support: Shopify offers round-the-clock support via chat, email, and phone, ensuring you have access to help whenever you need it. This is particularly valuable for resolving issues quickly and minimizing downtime.
  • Extensive App Store: The Shopify App Store offers thousands of apps and integrations to enhance your store’s functionality. Whether you need advanced analytics, marketing tools, or additional payment options, there’s likely an app for it.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: All Shopify themes are mobile-friendly, ensuring a seamless shopping experience for customers on smartphones and tablets. This is crucial in today’s mobile-driven market.
  • Cost: While Shopify offers a range of plans, the monthly fees can add up, especially when factoring in transaction fees for non-Shopify Payments gateways and the cost of premium apps and themes. This might be a concern for very small businesses or startups with tight budgets.
  • Limited Customization Without Code: Although the platform is highly customizable, some advanced customizations require knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Liquid, Shopify’s templating language. This can be a barrier for those without technical skills.
  • Content Management Limitations: Shopify’s blogging and content management features are not as robust as those of dedicated content management systems like WordPress. Businesses that rely heavily on content marketing may find these limitations restrictive.
  • SEO Limitations: Along with the blog limitations, SEO can also be hampered by the lack of control over aspects like URL structure and duplicated URLs. These can be remedied, but changes to a theme’s code are sometimes required.

Shopify has many pros, but it also has some real cons that are worth considering when deciding whether it’s the right platform for your business.

Alternatives

Shopify is the biggest—and, in our opinion, best—eCommerce website builder on the market.

However, it’s not perfect for everyone, and some solid alternatives are definitely available.

WooCommerce

shopify alternative woocommerce

WooCommerce is a free, open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress, one of the most popular website builders in the world. It provides a customizable and flexible platform for those already familiar with WordPress. It eliminates the SEO issues with Shopify by giving you complete control, but with that comes a steep learning curve—particularly if you want to design something visually appealing.

  • Best For: Perfect for those already using WordPress for their website or businesses looking for a highly flexible solution extendable through plugins and custom code.
  • Pricing: Free to use, but costs can accumulate with premium themes, plugins, and hosting services.

Big Commerce

shopify alternative big commerce

Big Commerce is a robust eCommerce platform designed for growing and large businesses. It offers advanced features and scalability, making it a strong contender for enterprises with extensive product lines.

  • Best For: Businesses with large inventories and complex product options.
  • Pricing: Plans start at $29.95 per month, with advanced plans for larger businesses going up to $299.95 per month.

Wix

shopify alternative wix

Wix is a versatile website builder known mostly for its ease of use and range of design options. Its eCommerce functionality has improved a lot over the years, making it ideal for individuals and small businesses looking for a cost-effective option for a visually engaging website.

  • Best For: Beginners or small businesses on a budget looking for a quick setup.
  • Pricing: Plans for a basic website start at $14 per month, and eCommerce plans start at $23 per month.

Squarespace

shopify alternative squarespace

Squarespace is a popular website builder known for its eye-catching templates and user-friendly interface. It’s a good choice for creatives and small businesses looking for a simple yet on-trend online presence.

  • Best For: Design-focused businesses like artists, photographers, and designers who need visually appealing websites with some eCommerce features.
  • Pricing: Plans start at $16 per month for a basic website, with eCommerce plans starting at $26 per month.

Conclusion: Is Shopify worth it?

In short—Absolutely!

Shopify offers a great set of features that make it the standout eCommerce platform.

The user-friendly interface makes it easy to get up and running, while excellent customer support and extensive resources like online courses ensure you’re never left in the dark.

The comprehensive tools for store setup, product management, and marketing mean it caters to businesses of all sizes.

And while it may come with a higher price tag than some options, the value provided in terms of scalability and functionality is well worth the investment.

Put it this way—there’s a reason millions of brands use the Shopify platform to power their business.

Ready to get started? Start your free trial with Shopify today!

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Ben Donovan

WRITTEN BY

Ben Donovan
Ben is the founder of Brand Builder University and has a passion for helping normal everyday people create financial freedom by building successful eCommerce businesses. He lives in Manchester, UK with his wife and 2 children and loves to play sport and watch continual re-runs of The Office (US version, obviously).
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