Is Shopify the Best Ecommerce Platform? (August 2017)

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Lots of people ask us which e-commerce platform is the best suited for a company just getting started with an online store. If we gave you the long answer it would be a little more complicated. However, a short answer to that question is that Shopify should be able to offer all the functionality you need. It’s filled with tools for launching a site within minutes, and you don’t have to worry about self-hosting or buying a domain name from a third party. You’ll find my full review below. For more Shopify reviews from our readers check out the comments area.

In that respect, one could call it the perfect out of the box solution, built with pricing plans that cater to small starter stores as well as shops that are bringing in millions of dollars in sales.

The reason we like Shopify so much is that it’s not like WordPress or Magento, (which are great as well,) but you need some sort of development knowledge to keep your site running smoothly. On the other hand, it’s not like some of the more simplified solutions like WIX and Weebly, where you’re going to have a tough time scaling up.

A Comprehensive Look At Shopify

So you want to start an online store, but you feel overwhelmed by all of the options available to you. Where do you start? Well, Shopify is one of the most well-known web applications that allow users to build their own customized online stores. With a wide variety of creative and eye-catching templates available to choose from, users can feel confident in knowing that their Shopify store will reflect their brand. As an added bonus, the application allows users to sell both digital or physical goods. There are a number of other reasons why Shopify is so great, and they’re all explained below. Let’s take a look.

Shopifys Usability Sets It Apart from Other Similar Applications

Not everyone is a computer whiz, but that shouldn’t mean that having an online store is a privilege reserved only for the tech-savvy among us. Fortunately, Shopify is an easy-to-use application, so easy, in fact, that a user with no prior technical or website building skills can successfully create a functioning Shopify store. That’s not to say that those with CSS or HTML knowledge won’t enjoy Shopify as well. Those who are more tech savvy will enjoy being able to edit coding too, effectively giving them more control over the overall design of their templates and appearance of their online stores.

Also, because the application is a hosted solution, users never need to bother with purchasing or installing software or web hosting. This is one of the big reasons why nearly 400,000 have or are using Shopify today–because it’s so user-friendly.

Shopify Has a Plan for Every Budget

With five different plans to choose from, Shopify is affordable for everyone. In fact, it’s so affordable that it’s known as one of the cheaper avenues for selling goods online. For example, the cheapest plan, known as Shopify Lite, is only $9 per month and allows users to sell an unlimited amount of goods. However, being so cheap, the actual online store will have limitations. Essentially, the more you pay for a plan, the more functions your online store will have. All of the plans, with the exception of Shopify Lite, actually let users host fully functioning online stores with features like unlimited storage for files. Bandwidth is included as well. The other four plans include:

  • Basic Shopify: $29 per month
  • Shopify: $79 per month
  • Advanced Shopify: $299 per month
  • Shopify Plus: fees are negotiable

Shopify’s Payment Options Accommodate Every User

With Shopify, there’s a payment option for everyone. One of the most popular payment options is Shopify Payments, a payment system already a built into Shopify. It’s powered by Stripe, and users never have to bother with transaction fees. However, with this option, there is a credit card rate that essentially means there will be a 1.6% to 2.2% fee for each individual transaction paid via credit card. This rate is determined based on what Shopify plan a user chooses.

In addition to Shopify’s payment system, users can choose a payment gateway through a third party provider when processing credit card transactions. However, this route requires more configuration and tech know-how because a merchant account will have to be set up with whatever payment gateway you choose. Additionally, this route comes with its own share of transactions or monthly fees in addition to the Shopify transaction fees. The affordability of it all comes down to what Shopify plan you’re on and what third-party vendor (if any) you choose to run transactions through.

Another important bit of information worth mentioning in regard to Shopify Payments, however, is that it’s only available to users based on a small group of countries, including the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Ireland, the UK, and Australia. That means for users trying to sell in other parts of the world, a third party payment gateway will be a must-have. However, because one of the things that make Shopify so great compared to others is that it integrates well with other gateways, finding a third party payment gateway to suit your store shouldn’t be a problem. So now that you know more about Shopify’s payment options and gateways, let’s touch a bit on some of Shopify’s features.

Shopify Offers a Variety of Features

With Shopify, many of the features available to a particular user will vary depending on what pricing plan a user has chosen. We’ve already touched on the fact that the cheapest plan is sort of the bare bones. However, all plans from the $29 Basic Shopify on up include the following:

  • Ability to sell digital and physical goods based on categories and shipping rates or methods of a user’s choosing
  • Wide assortment of eye-catching themes to choose from
  • Access to Shopify Payments or payment gateways through third-party providers
  • Ability to integrate with PayPal
  • Access to a blogging functionality
  • Ability to import or export customer data
  • Access to CMS and HTML functionality and the ability to edit both
  • Access to SEO options
  • Ability to integrate with MailChimp
  • Access to discount codes
  • Access to a Buy Now button for other existing blogs or websites
  • Ability to create multiple accounts

The more expensive plans like Shopify and Advanced Shopify come with the following:

  • Access to gift cards
  • Access to comprehensive system reports

The ‘Advanced Shopify‘ plan also offers the following features:

  • Ability to build advanced reports
  • Access to real-time carrier shipping

The most expensive Shopify plan, which is well suited for enterprises and big businesses, comes with the following features:

  • Guaranteed server uptime
  • Access to API support
  • Access to ‘White Glove’ level support
  • An SSL/IP address
  • Access to advanced security measures

Professional, Contemporary Shopify Themes

So we’ve learned about Shopify’s features, its usability, and payment options. What about the themes? Having an attractive theme is key to grabbing shoppers’ attention, so you want to be sure to choose one that reflects your brand. Fortunately, Shopify offers 10 free themes to choose from, and each comes in three different versions. All of the free themes are eye-catching and responsive to ensure they will display well on a variety of different devices.

There are also 48 premium themes that users can pay for. These are priced between $140 and $180, and all of them come in a few different versions as well.

Looking for a specific type of theme? In the Shopify theme store, users can browse through all of the templates using filters. This allows users to view templates based on industry, layout style, home page design, and more. As an added bonus, all of the themes look professional and contemporary.

Access Your Shopify Store on a Mobile Device

With Shopify, users have the ability to access their online stores on their mobile devices, meaning they can monitor and manage transactions from virtually anywhere. Talk about convenience. There are two different apps to choose from, including Shopify Point of Sale and Shopify. The difference between the two is that Shopify Point of Sale allows users to access Shopify at the actual point of sale. This means users can accept credit card payments in person and actually text a receipt to a customer on the spot. It essentially allows business to be done on the go. The regular Shopify app allows users to view their online stores from their phones or tablets. With this app, users can fulfill orders, edit or add more products to the store, or view reports.

Both of these apps are available for download on Apple and Android devices.

Shopify Offers Peace of Mind Security Measures

Another great thing about Shopify is that it takes security very seriously. To prove this, Shopify uses a Level 1 PCI DSS compliant server, meaning that all user and customer data is always safe and secure. For extra security, every Shopify plan besides Shopify Lite comes complete with a 128-bit Free SSL certificate for no additional fee.

Additionally, Shopify regularly backs up user data, so you never need to worry about losing your store if the system crashes. It will always be backed up so it can be restored at a later time.

Also, Shopify understands that security isn’t just on the minds of users, but it’s also a common customer concern. That’s why the company offers security badges with its plans. These are great ways for users to show their customers that their websites are safe and secure.

Support Available 24/7

Shopify goes above and beyond by making itself available to help with support-related matters. With customer support available via live chat, phone, or email 24/7, users have full access to help whenever they need it. At the moment, however, phone support is only offered in countries like the US, the UK, New Zealand, Singapore, and Australia.

The Take-Away

So what’s the final verdict on Shopify? Well, with all of the features, ease of use, pricing options, a convenient and integrative payment portal, great security, and an abundance of themes to choose from, it’s safe to say that Shopify is one of the best-hosted platforms to build an online store. Already more than 400,000 users actively use the application, which alone should speak volumes about how great it is.

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