Website Builder Review


Whether you are starting a new online store or bringing your offline business online to take it to the next level, Shopify is a one-stop-shop for all the tools you will need to create a successful online store.

Just take a look at these examples and success stories to see how Shopify has helped business owners all over the world.

Summary of Pros

  1. Stunning, professional designs
    The more professional and beautiful looking your website is, the more trusted and credible your business looks. Shopify offers over 100 premium templates. Some of these templates are free, some paid. Shopify also invites professional designers to create templates for Shopify, giving you a broader ranger of designs.
  2. App Store
    Shopify offers a large App Store where you can choose from over 1000 different free and paid apps to extend the functionality of your online store and automate a lot of your business processes. All apps are fully integrated so you can be sure the tools will work on your online store.
  3. 24/7 phone, live chat and email support
    In additional to a comprehensive knowledgebase and discussion forum, you can reach Shopify 24/7 through the phone, online live chat or email. Shopify even provide you with 4 international phone numbers so you can choose the number that fits your region.
  4. Point of Sale (POS) system
    If you have an offline retail store, you can integrate your entire sales system with a Shopify online store. This way, you can use your iPad to manage all your sales transactions under one convenient location.

Summary of Cons

  1. Transaction fees
    In additional to the monthly service fee and the credit card rates, Shopify also charges a 1-2% transaction fee. The fee is to cover the technology it takes for Shopify to power your sales, ie. more sales means more visitors, and more visitors use more bandwidth.
  2. Shopify uses its own coding language
    Shopify uses its own coding language called "Liquid." This means if you want to hire someone to make modifications to your online store, you will have to hire someone who knows Liquid – it won't be as cheap or as easy as finding a normal programmer to customize HTML/CSS or even PHP codes.
  3. No domain registration or email hosting
    Domain name and email hosting are not included in any of Shopify's plans. If you want to use a custom domain and domain email addresses on your online store, you will need to purchase them elsewhere.
  4. Product images
    Shopify does not automatically crop your product images to ensure they are displayed using the same aspect ratio. This can lead to a messy presentation unless you have cropped all your images prior to uploading them to your online store.
Website Builder Review - Shopify

Plans & Pricing

Shopify is not the cheapest option around. Shopify offers four plans: Lite, Basic, Pro and Unlimited.

Shopify Lite

The Shopify Lite plan is designed for people who already have a website – while you are allowed to sell an unlimited number of items, you will be selling them on your Facebook Page or via the Shopify Buy Button on an existing website or blog. With this plan, you also get features like fraud analysis and discount codes. The Lite plan is offered at $9/month.

Shopify Basic, Pro and Unlimited

If you want to set up a full-function online shop, you will need to move higher up the pricing scale. You get more features and tools as you move up the plans, and the credit card rate also reduces.

In addition to the online store (with free SSL certificate), upgrading from the Lite plan to the Basic plan also gives you the ability to add a blog to your online store. The Basic plan is offered at $29 per month.

The Pro plan builds upon the Basic plan with extra features including gift cards, professional store reports and the abandoned cart recovery. The credit card rates (online and in person) are also lowered as well as the Shopify transaction fees.

The Unlimited Plan opens up all the Shopify features on your account, including real-time carrier shipping and advanced report builder. The Unlimited plan is offered at $179 per month.

Note that you don't have to pay for plans on a monthly basis, if you are 100% certain that Shopify is the right ecommerce builder for you, you can opt for an annual term (10% discount) and a biennial term (20% discount). Or, if you want to test out Shopify before committing to even a monthly term, Shopify offers a fully functional 14-day (no credit card required) trial.

Website Builder Review - Shopify


Shopify offers an impressive collection of templates. Some of the templates are free, and some are paid. You can browse all the free and paid templates by category, and as far as we can tell, all templates are responsive.

Shopify offers 12 free templates and each of them comes in two or three different variants.

  • Click to see

Alternatively, you can use one of the hundreds of paid templates, ranging in price from $80 to $180. Shopify templates are created with trust and credibility in mind. There are a lot of full-time Shopify template creators, and you can find them in Shopify's template store. For example, some premium templates are designed by world-renown designers such as Pixel Union and Out of the Sandbox.

  • Click to see

Each template has its own set of customization options and some templates seem to have more customization options than others. Generally, you can edit the color of page items, the fonts, header and footer, as well as various other aesthetic options for individual pages.

One thing missing, though, is a drag-and-drop editor that lets you tweak your template and design your storefront by simply moving things around with your mouse. If you want to advanced customization, you will need to do so via the template's HTML/CSS codes.

The only problem is, Shopify uses ".liquid" programming, a templating language most users don't know.

So, if you want to hire someone to make modifications to your online store, you will have to hire a Shopify Expert who knows Liquid. Or if you want to attack the codes yourself, Shopify does provide a Liquid variable reference that you can use.

Website Builder Review - Shopify


Editing your storefront design and adding products is very easy because the editor's interface is clean and straightforward.

New templates and apps can be installed with a simple click via the theme store and app store.

You can also easily add a blog and content pages to your storefront.

In addition, the admin homepage also outlines the main steps you need to take to launch your online store: adding products, setting up a custom domain, customizing your storefront. Adding products is simple – just enter details like product description, pricing, options (ie. size, color, etc) and then upload product images.

Website Builder Review - Shopify

Features & Apps

All Shopify plans, except Shopify Lite, comes with the following features:
  • The ability to sell physical and digital products
  • Credit card processing via Shopify Payments (powered by Stripe) or a third party payment gateway (ie. PayPal)
  • Blogging functionality
  • Create site pages
  • Import and export of customer data
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) options, including adding keywords to your products and site pages
  • Integration with MailChimp
  • Discount codes
  • A Buy Now button that you can use to sell products on an existing blog or website
  • Point of Sale (POS) integration
The Pro and Unlimited plans gives you more advanced features:
  • Gift cards
  • Abandoned cart recovery
And features that are exclusive to users on the Unlimited plan:
  • Advanced report building
  • Real-time carrier shipping

Abandoned Checkout Recovery

This tool is similar to the Abandoned Cart Recovery offered by BigCommerce – it lets you send a reminder email to people who have abandoned their carts. This feature is offered in the Pro and Unlimited plans.

But unlike BigCommerce, Shopify's tool is a little on the basic side, you are only allowed to send one email whereas BigCommerce lets you send multiple reminder emails, and you can also easily add a discount code in the email.

Shopify App Store

While Shopify already includes basic functions, if you need more, you can find an extensive collection of apps in the Shopify App Store. These apps let you add more functions to your online store and automate a lot of your business tasks.

For example, in additional to sales and marketing tools, there are tools that help you manage your inventory, shipping, customer service, bookkeeping, and more.

Mobile ecommerce

Shopify includes built-in mobile ecommerce features so your customers ca browse and purchase from your online store directly from their mobile devices.

In addition, Shopify also offers a mobile app in both Android and iOS that lets you view all vital information about your online store, such as sales statistics and customer data, from your mobile device.

Website Builder Review - Shopify

Shopify Buy Now button

The Shopify Buy Now button lets you add embeddable products on your blog, an existing website or even in an email.

With this button, you don't need to have an online store, you can easily market and sell to customers from any website. The button allows you to use Shopify's secure checkout for all purchases via the button. You can even customize the colors and layouts of the button to match your style.

The Buy Now button is included in all Shopify plans.

Point of Sale (POS)

Shopify lets you manage both your offline and online sales and inventory control in one, centralized location – your iPad.

Your iPad is used as the main sales device in your offline store. The Shopify POS system works by plugging the Shopify Reader directly into your iPad. In other words, Shopify turns your iPad into a payment terminal or cash register and all your sales records, customer tracking and inventory tracking are automatically synchronized with your Shopify online store.

Shopify has created a video to show you more about this feature.

However, note that there is a "swipe" fee – this means every time you swipe a credit card using the POS system, you will need to pay a transaction fee. The fee is 2.7%, 2.4% and 2.2% of the transaction value for the Basic, Pro and Unlimited plans, respectively.

Adding staff accounts

Shopify allows you to give your staff members access to your Shopify store.

By registering staff members, you are assigning separate accounts for each of them. You can set staff account permissions (ie. control what parts o the admin the staff member can access) and let your staff access your Shopify admin without giving them access to your sensitive information.

Website Builder Review - Shopify

Working With Products

Importing and exporting product data

Shopify allows you to import product data from Magento, eBay and CSV. You can also export product data as a CSV-file.

Product presentation

Shopify allows you to add a product images and videos on your product pages. Shopify also offers zoom functions to enhance your product presentation.

However, Shopify does not automatically crop your product images to ensure they are displayed using the same aspect ratio. This can lead to a messy presentation unless you have cropped all your images prior to uploading them to your online store.

Payment gateways and options

Shopify lets you accept payments with PayPal, Shopify Payments, money orders and more.

While every ecommerce builder requires you to sign up with a 3rd party payment gateway, but Shopify has eliminated this requirement by offering Shopify Payments – their own payment gateway, powered by Stripe. This built-in payment option waives all Shopify transaction fee; however, this payment option is only available in the US, UK, Australia and Canada at this time. Also, while the Shopify transaction fee is waived, there is still a credit card rate that you need to pay (the exact rate depends on the type of plan you are on).

If you want to use a third-party payment gateway to process credit card transactions on your online store, Shopify lets you choose from over 70 payment gateways. Note that using a third-party payment gateway requires a bit of configuration and you will need to set up a merchant account with the payment gateway provider. Also, Shopify will apply a transaction fee on top of the transaction fee that the payment gateway charges.

Website Builder Review - Shopify

Domain & Email

Shopify doesn't include any custom domains or domain email hosting in its packages.

When you create an online store with Shopify, you are given a free, Shopify-hosted sub-domain that looks like

While it is perfectly fine to use a sub-domain, a custom domain name is strongly recommended for your storefront. A custom domain name will strengthen your brand and enhance the trust and credibility of your business.

If you want to use a custom domain, you can purchase one from Shopify through the account admin panel.

And because you purchased the domain name, you have the option to keep the domain name after cancelling your Shopify store, and/or transfer it to another service provide without paying any additional service charges.

If you already have a domain name (ie. purchased from another domain provider), you can hook it up to your Shopify store. All you need to do is login to your domain provider account and make the necessary DNS modifications to your domain records. In other words, if you want to purchase a domain from elsewhere, you need to make sure the domain provide lets you make DNS changes easily.

Shopify does not offer any email hosting services. That said, you won't be able to create any custom domain emails accounts such as accounts.

But, you are allowed to set up an unlimited number of forwarding email addresses for free. Emails sent to an email forward will be redirected to its destination email automatically. In other words, all forwarding email addresses must be forwarded to an existing email address, ie. your existing Gmail email account. If you want to set up an actual custom domain email account (one that allows you to send and receive emails), your other options is to consider using a third-party email hosting provider, such as Zoho mail or Google Apps/Gmail.

Website Builder Review - Shopify


Shopify offers a comprehensive knowledgebase and documentations where you will find a lot of answers and step-by-step assistance. They include screenshots so you can see exactly what to do.

If you need further assistance, Shopify also offers 24/7 support via phone, live chat and email.

Shopify also has a community forum where you can find a lot of previously-asked and answered questions. This forum works well because not only can you get answers from Shopify's support team, you can also get real input and tips from other Shopify users.

Website Builder Review - Shopify


There are many reputable ecommerce builders that give you all sorts of tools to build and launch your online store, and Shopify is certainly one of the easier, more straightforward ecommerce builders to use.

Shopify caters to a broad range of industries, from arts & photography to clothing & fashion, food & beverages and much more, offering both stunning templates powerful tools and advanced apps to help you set up and maintain your online store.

Shopify is not the cheapest option around. If you are looking for something a little bit cheaper and a little bit easier to setup – then check out BigCommerce.

But if you are looking for an all-in-one ecommerce solution for your online store, and you have a little bit of technical-know-how, the Shopify will be a great fit for you. You will not be disappointed with their high-end solutions, flexibility to grow, 24/7 support and pricing transparency.