The number of available online store building tools is increasing by the day, and deciding on which option is right for your business can be a pain.

Let’s admit it, comparing the pricing, templates, SEO performance, payment processors, and shipping options of all the leading e-commerce solutions can be pretty tedious – we’ve definitely been there!

If you’ve surfed the net for “how to set up an online store,” one of the popular store building tools you’ll constantly come across is Shopify. For sure, Shopify excels in many areas.

But if you’re looking for more details to know if this platform is the best fit for your online store, you’re in the right place.

In this detailed Shopify review, we’ll explore what Shopify is all about, how the platform works, the templates available, including if the platform is a good bet.

We’ll also touch on Shopify’s different pricing plans, what to expect from each plan and the best package for a new business owner.

Before we go further, let’s quickly see how Shopify came into existence.

The Shopify Platform: How It Came To Life

Shopify began life way back in 2004 when German-born entrepreneur, Tobias Lütke with friends, Scott Lake and Daniel Weinand created an e-commerce solution to sell snowboards online.

The youngsters who were living in Ontario, Canada soon realized the potentials of the coded platform – that it could be useful and sold to other businesses.

Now fast-forward to 2020 and Shopify has become the leading e-commerce tool with over 1 million stores worldwide and it generated $319bn worth of sales between 2016-2019. Not only that, but the company also has offices around the globe with more than 3000 employees.

At this point, it’s crucial we say this: 

In your search for the best-hosted solution for your store, one of the vital things you MUST consider is a platform’s market share and user base. These two matters a lot because we’ve seen instances in the past where similar services closed down, leaving their users in a lurch.

Business owners on the failed platform are left to scramble to other platforms (and learn the ropes of how those new ones operate) at very short notice.

In the case of Shopify, their large market share and user base significantly reduce the possibility of bankruptcy. This, in turn, makes the prospect of the company folding up in the near future unlikely – which means you can run your store there for as long as you want with no worries.

Also, the large number of stores hosted by the company should indicate to you that the platform is safe as well as legitimate.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way,

Keep reading to make the most profitable choice for your online store that won’t drain you of your hard-earned profits or limit your sales potentials!

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an e-commerce online store builder. It lets you set up your own online store and sell whatever you want (goods, services, or digital products). 

In addition to that, you can organize your products, track and respond to orders, and accept payments (online and credit cards), all within the platform’s interface.

The main aim behind Shopify is to allow users without design or coding skills to build a store online without needing a developer. However, people with HTML and CSS skills can also access both on the platform.

Shopify is easy to understand right from the get-go. To start, all you need do is to sign up and you’re practically led by hand through the entire set-up process.

All in all, Shopify is a top-rated solution that provides a ready-made online shop anyone can easily manage and tweak to their heart’s content. 

Shopify: How It Works

One of the many advantages of Shopify is that it includes web hosting, which means you don’t need to buy any external web hosting service.

The application features an optimized server structure, created solely with e-commerce in mind. This is one of the things that let you know you are getting the good stuff.

With Shopify, the major things you require to launch and market your online store and even a physical shop – like a payment processor, email marketing tools, and even a blog – are provided straight ‘out of the box’ and all technical hassles are taken care of.

And that’s not all. This hassle-free platform offers customer support tool (e.g. live chat) and enables you to open additional marketing channels (for example, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and eBay).

For all this service, you pay a monthly fee, and you can manage your store from any location as long as there’s a reliable internet connection.

Shopify Templates: Are They Any Good?

Shopify offers 9 free e-commerce themes or templates and each theme comes in 2 or 3 different variants which translate to a decent number of designs. That being said, the number of bundled templates on Shopify is quite small in comparison to those on other online store builders like Wix and Squarespace

However, the bundled templates are visually appealing and highly responsive too, meaning they’ll display properly on all devices. And if you don’t find the free templates attractive enough, you can use a premium or paid-for theme. 

There are 64 premium themes and just like the free themes, each comes in a number of variants and is fully responsive. The premium themes range in prices from $100 to $180

Pricing Plans

The pricing plans of Shopify are billed on a month-to-month basis. Before we list the 5 available plans, we should state that Shopify offers a free trial of 14 days.

This unlocks all the features on any chosen plan, so you can thoroughly assess the platform before committing to it. You can cancel the trial account at any time. To activate it after it expires, simply purchase the plan.

The company offers a discount but that is if you buy the 1-year or 2-year plan. For a full-year subscription, you get a discount of 10%, while the 2-year plan will net you a savings of 20%.

Here are Shopify five plans with their monthly costs:

  1. Shopify Lite:  $9
  2. Basic Shopify:  $29
  3. Shopify:  $79
  4. Advanced Shopify:  $299
  5. Shopify Plus:  fees are negotiable

Let’s take a quick look at the breakdown of the features of the pricing plans mentioned above plus the best plan for a new online store.

Shopify Lite Plan – $9

The Lite plan does not come with an online store. If you’re using Shopify Payments, you’re charged 2.7% for in-person transactions.

Credit card rate is 2.9% plus an extra $0.30 for online transactions and if you’re using another payment application, Shopify charges a transaction fee of 2.0%.

Some of the features on the Lite Plan include:

  • Sell in-person
  • Sell on Facebook
  • Chat and email support
  • Sell with the “buy button” feature on existing websites

Basic Shopify Plan – $29

This plan includes an online store. The credit card rates and in-person transaction charges both for Shopify and non-Shopify payments are the same as the Lite plan.

The way we see it, the Basic Shopify plan is the most cost-effective and sensible plan for a new store owner. Are you wondering why? Well, here’s your answer:

This option lets you in on the most important features your store might need and it’ll handle your payments including the technical back-end of your online store. Besides, at $29 per month, it shouldn’t break the bank of your fledgling business. 

If you wish, you may buy a custom domain name (either through Shopify or a third-party registrar) so your store won’t have a name that looks like Newbusiness.shopify.com. 

The features in the Basic Shopify plan include everything in the Lite plan in addition to:

  • Two staff accounts (plus the owner’s account)
  • 24/7 support
  • Basic Shopify POS features
  • Unlimited products, bandwidth, and storage
  • Discount code engine
  • Shopify Shipping and a few more.

Shopify Plan – $79 

The Shopify plan has a credit rate of 2.6% plus $0.30 for online transactions. In-person transaction charges are 2.5% and if you use a different payment processor, you’re billed a 1.0% Shopify transaction fee.

In this plan, you’ll see all the features contained in the other plans plus perks like:

  • Gift cards
  • 5 staff accounts (including the owner’s account)
  • Professional reports
  • Full Shopify POS features

Advanced Shopify Plan – $299 

For Shopify payments, each credit card rate is 2.4% plus $0.30 for online transactions. In-person transactions are fixed at 2.4%, while for other payment platforms; Shopify charges you a 0.5 transaction fee.

Here, you get the juicier features like: 

  • Real-time shipping carrier rates (including those outside Shopify’s preferred shipping partners)
  • 15 staff accounts (plus the owner’s account)
  • Advanced report builder and many more.

Shopify Plus

If you’re launching an enterprise business with the aim of selling more than a million dollars a year, you may want to look at this plan. It has special pricing and you’ll have to get in touch with Shopify for that. 

The Takeaway

The popularity of Shopify stems in part from the fact that the user doesn’t require any technical knowledge to use it. There’s also the user-friendliness, attractive templates, and of course, the huge user base which inspires confidence.

Overall, the e-commerce platform is one of the best-hosted solutions both for online and brick & mortar businesses.