Shopify is a web-based, fully-hosted e-commerce platform that emphasizes ease of use. It is reasonably priced and offers a 14-day, no-risk free trial; the account automatically cancels itself at the end of the trial period unless you purchase a plan. Shopify admits that it lacks some of the more advanced features of other e-commerce platforms, but it offers the basics that most merchants need. You can pick and choose the rest through add-ons and applications.

Shopify has a selection of over 53 themes for setting up an online store. These templates are nothing short of beautiful; the quality is amazing. These themes are mobile responsive but only nine of them are free. The remainder are a one-time purchase ranging from $120-$180.

Shopify keeps up with what’s happening with SEO practices, including such features as a customizable H1. You can write title and meta tags as well as product tags. A sitemap.xml is automatically generated for your store. You can even create discount codes and coupons. In the higher plans, you can offer gift cards.

How Does Shopify Work?

Editing Shopify’s themed templates is relatively simple. It utilizes the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, making updating content on your pages quick and painless. They recently introduced a new method for editing theme templates. Called Sections, it is an incarnation of drag-and-drop that lets you arrange the order of the widgets in your storefront by dragging and dropping elements into a toolbar. It is only available on some themes at present but there are plans to extend it to all templates.

If you prefer coding, Shopify has an HTML/CSS editor called Liquid. It is Shopify’s own coding language and what they used to build the themes. It is a flexible code that allows you to feature changes in the admin on your site. There is a learning curve for Liquid, but it is an easy-to-learn coding system and easy-to-use computer language.

Shopify comes with everything you need to get started and set up shop right away. Unless you need all the bells and whistles, Shopify probably has enough features to get you up and running. Additional functions are available through applications.

What Makes Shopify Stand Out?

Shopify offers a wide array of features, some standard and some add-on. Some are only available at higher plan levels, so you’ll want to examine each before you decide which is best for you.

One feature that stands out with Shopify is you can display your checkout in over 50 different languages. Shopify will also calculate shipping rates for UPS, USPS and FedEx. You can adjust the factors to fit your shipping policies, such as a fixed shipping rate, a tiered rate or a rate based on weight or location.

Shopify also offers an abandoned cart recovery feature. When a customer leaves your site while items are still in their carts, an email can be automatically sent to them to encourage completion of the purchase. Shopify will also calculate tax rates based on customer locations and your location.

Shopify lets you include a product review section for your customers to give your products star ratings. They can also write comment-style reviews. You can also use Shopify’s built-in analysis functions to view product reports, traffic reports and export reports. Or you can integrate your site with Google Analytics.

Common Reviews of Shopify

One of the most commonly mentioned positives for Shopify is the speed and security it provides on a global platform level. Shopify provides 100 percent SSL while keeping their sites running fast. The integration with payment providers is seamless, meaning store owners always get paid. Customers report very low wait times for pages to load.

Many reviews sing the praises of Shopify’s customer support. They offer an enormous database of FAQs. If you can’t find your answer there, there is online chat and email support available. If you call support, you get a real person on the other side who is knowledgeable and helpful. And all support features are available 24/7.

Shopify is frequently lauded for its marketing features. They don’t offer all the latest bells and whistles, but they do offer the basics — and they do the basics really well. They have their own app store where you can integrate other features as you see fit.

Is Shopify for me?

If you’re looking for a working online store platform that’s easy to set up and just as easy to use on a daily basis, Shopify will get the job done. It isn’t an expensive system but it can effectively run your entire online business.

The platform is as simple as it gets, so even an extremely novice beginner should have no problems working with this system. You can effectively have an entire online store launched in a matter of minutes – yes, seriously.

Shopify offers everything you may need as the owner of an online store. You can manage your full array of products and inventory, while handling payments, taxes, sales reporting at the same time your store is completely optimized for search engines. You can even integrate your brick-and-mortar store under Shopify. It doesn’t get much better.