If you’re starting an eCommerce store, Shopify will be one of the first platforms to consider. It powers over 1 million businesses (source), made over $1.5 billion in 2019, and had over $61 billion worth of merchandise sold through its platform in that year (source). But there’s no shortage of competition with eCommerce platforms — so how can you decide if Shopify is really the best choice for you compared to other options like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Wix, Weebly and more?
To help you answer that question, we put out this question:
For people who have used Shopify for running an online store, what was the experience like for you and would you recommend it to others? All comments welcome, positive or negative.
Of the dozens of responses that Shopify customers (both past and present) sent us, the vast majority were highly positive. Here’s what people like about Shopify:
- Easy to get started with (far easier than other platforms), requiring zero technical expertise. So far, not one Shopify customer has told us that getting started with Shopify was harder than any other platform
- Excellent support, including 24/7 live chat support
- Being a large and popular platform, there are plenty of tutorials and apps for Shopify
As far as cons for Shopify, we have yet to receive any extremely negative comments, but some people have reported it’s not so easy to customize, especially for SEO purposes (e.g. editing URL structures or the robots.txt is apparently difficult). But that’s it so far. So I definitely feel comfortable recommending it to people setting up an online store for the first time.
I’ve published all the good comments we’ve received on Shopify so far. And if you’ve used Shopify yourself, go ahead and submit your own comment on Shopify and I’ll add it to this article.
Shopify is a great platform, but it won't be right for every business. If you're running complex products, B2B and B2C systems, or multi-region eCommerce sites, then it's not for you.
The main benefit of Shopify is that it lets businesses spend more time on their customers, and less time on the website.
For most people most of the time, it's a fantastic system. I work a lot with small businesses and it's biggest bonus over other platforms such as WooCommerce or Magento is that it removes most of the headaches that can tie up time.
It's easy for anyone to process orders, update products and generally manage a store. Small businesses need to be focusing on growth - not on plugin updates or security patches.
- Collections are super easy and flexible to create, letting you organise even a vast product catalogue within a few minutes.
- Pages and blogs are intuitive and easy to update. If you require some additional features then the Appstore is pretty comprehensive.
- Shopify is standardised which makes it's easy for you to connect with other tools such as Klaviyo or Zapier to cheaply and quickly set up more complex marketing tactics that would otherwise be wallet and time draining.
Common complaints about it are that it's limited or technically restrained - which is broadly correct. However, this isn't always a bad thing if it means a company gains more time to focus on its customers instead.
For example, from an SEO perspective you may not be able to customise URL structures or edit robots.txt easily - but these won't usually make much of an impact. Instead, you can create more relevant product collections and spend more time writing content that educates and entertains your customers about your products. This time may have been spent elsewhere on different platforms.
I usually recommend Shopify to young eCommerce brands, as it lets them get up and running quickly and they'll encounter business issues which prevent them from scaling before they will technical ones. With other platforms, startups get bogged down by technical issues that prevent them from scaling, taking up time from growing the business.
--Adam Bastock, abastock.co.uk
In general, I would recommend Shopify to entrepreneurs looking to start a business, as it's easy to set up and get running. While I'm not sure if I'll stick with it for the long run, it enabled me to get going quickly and focus my attention on critical parts of my business like the product and marketing.
Shopify also has the benefit of a very strong ecosystem of integrated applications, so whatever other software you end up using in your business will likely connect to it seamlessly. In my case that's Klaviyo for email along with Facebook and Google Ads - they're easy to connect to Shopify, and as a result I can see exactly how much my email marketing and digital ads are contributing to sales.
--Alex Willen, Cooper's Treats
I run Palace.one on Shopify: Broadly, the platform is works well but is no where as easy to use as they claim.
- The way system organizes products and sends the information to where it needs to go (facebook, google, amazon etc.) is great. You run everything from Shopify and have confidence your products will be listed properly elsewhere.
- Their support is great. Full stop. Their people are always happy to help you.
- Apps provide a way to extend the platform in almost any way you want. So if you decide to engrave a product, an app is there. If you need weird currency support, an app is probably already there.
- Shopify Shipping is great and easy to use and saves you money
- Shop Pay makes something that used to be quite complex (accepting payments) ridiculously easy. And great for your customers to.
- Setting up a store is easy. Customizing it is hard. And over time, as you customize it more, your theme stops being updatable (because you're altered too much) and then you're stuck without updates. Instead, the platform should be more Webflow-like
- To set up a store that is half-competent, there is SO much to set up. Shopify first. Then email flows. Receipts. Reviews. Support. The platform lures you in by its simplicity. But as you use it more, it becomes a beast.
--Joshua Berkowitz, Palace
Before we switched to Shopify, we were originally using Magento, and that proved to be a near-fatal error. After appearing on Shark Tank, we knew that being featured on a highly viewed television show would attract quite a bit of website traffic. In the year leading up to the episode’s air date, we purchased thirty servers, simulated load tests, and invested over $500,000 to make sure the site could handle the massive influx of traffic that would be coming our way. But when the episode aired, the site went down. In the world of eCommerce, uptime means everything! A lot of money was lost that day, and it made what should have been one of the happiest days, one of the worst. Since then, we've switched over to Shopify, and our lives have been made immeasurably easier. We likely would never have had this issue if we had been with Shopify from the beginning. All this to say - patience was definitely learned in a situation where we had to expect the unexpected. We didn’t let that situation sink our company. Instead, we grew our company and surrounded ourselves with excellent employees who would help us continue to grow in the years following.
--Brian Lim, INTO THE AM
We have been using Shopify since 2012 and are really happy with the product they offer. The workflow is efficient and it's really easy to train temporary help during the holidays. I don't have to worry about the hosting or whether or not it's online, it's reliable and trustworthy. I do think it's a little bit of an expensive option, but well worth it in the long run. We have experimented with alternatives, but Shopify has them all beat.
--Robby Sorensen, Finger Puppets
I have my company, Mayflower Wallpaper on Shopify for the past two years and absolutely love it. It is an easy interface, UX friendly, loads of free apps that work with Shopify, their customer service is beyond exceptional, tons of tutorials online. I definitely feel taken care of on Shopify. The monthly fee is low, the shipping rates are better than what I receive with my UPS account.
--Stephanie Beebe, Mayflower Wallpaper
In regards to Shopify - it really is the perfect combination of ease of use, customization, and performance.
I have used alternative providers in the past and ended up spending more time dealing with servers, hosting, and technical issues. Shopify removes all of this headache and allows the business owner to focus on their business.
The quality of the checkout and associated with Shopify Pay, gives customers trust and simple use that results in more sales and a higher conversion rate.
The quantity and quality of apps in the app store also allows for extensive customization, but you can also run a store using only the base Shopify platform.
--Russ Egan, Cut Throat Club
As someone who has operated e-commerce sites on WordPress, Easy Cart, and Magento, Shopify is by far the easiest ecommerce platform to use.
With WordPress, you have to worry about hosting, bandwidth, plugin compatibility. And Easy Cart was a disaster trying to get third-party plugins to work.
With Shopify, you can concentrate solely on growing your business. Shopify just works!
With Shopify, you can put in a few hours of work and have a functional ecommerce website, run targeted Facebook ads, and remarket to customers on Google. With the other platforms, you are looking at thousands of dollars and over a hundred hours of work.
--Brandon Shoupe, awesomedice.com
As an upcoming online eCommerce presence, we found Shopify to be the most user friendly platform for new businesses, as it provides in depth customization options, while addressing technical aspects of developing a website. Additionally, the platform's reduced transactional fees and circumvention of product restrictions makes Shopify a great platform for eCommerce businesses centered around selling a large quantity and/or variety of products.
Shopify's initiation process for listing products is very easy, and provides simple themes geared towards selling numerous products. Furthermore, Shopify integrates a variety of optional applications which can be installed from their app store which facilitates product listing and promotion. Moreover, Shopify allows the website owner to edit the meta title and meta description for each individual product, which is essential for increasing search engine rankings for each product listing.
Considering the aforementioned benefits associated with developing an ecommerce business with Shopify, I highly recommend the platform to entrepreneurs seeking to establish an online business.
--Bill Joseph, Frontier Blades
When I first started out on Shopify, I expected a lot of limitations. Those limitations were put on myself! I did not see how something a person could learn, a person could build, in fact as I learned by trial and error, Shopify always has a solution to your stopping point, making you feel a feeling of accomplishment. While the app store can be a bit confusing to navigate, Shopify offers videos, emails and tutorials that help you learn how to build a store. There are plenty of help documents to aid you as you grow as well any time you need to ask your peers. I love Shopify, I've had it for 4 years and have never had a problem with it. Shopify is a great ecommerce platform! I praised Shopify for putting in so many efforts to help their users in whatever way they could. They've been so easy to use that I never consider going through the learning curves of Wordpress or some other platforms just for the sake of fewer drops in the learning curve. Once again, Shopify gives you freedom to learn, freedom to build, freedom to play, freedom to grow. What more can you ask for from a system you learned by yourself?
--Natalie Cecconi, The Running Outfitters
I initially tried to set up my online store with Woocommerce but it turned out to be a nightmare and I ended up deleting my entire store and starting over with Shopify. Using Shopify has really simplified the process for me and is super easy to use. Little to no overhead and has a very generous free trial period so there is no risk and a lot of payoff. Overall, it was the best experience I had in starting a website. I would recommend it to anyone. I know Woocommerce is free but when I used it, I would pay more on extensions for for it to get it to the level of functionality you get with Shopify. And Shopify is easier to navigate around.
--Jeff Baldelli, Sweat and Gear
Shopify is easy to use and allows people with no coding experience to create large ecommerce shops online. The ability to manage inventory this easily is a game changer, and eases some of the worries people might have about selling beyond their stock. Shopify's customer service team is also really responsive and helpful, so it's straightforward to troubleshoot.
However, Shopify isn't great as a holistic website builder beyond their ecommerce function, and so I'd always recommend business owners to consider using a different platform for their content and blogging. The shop creates untidy URL structures, and so it isn't the ideal platform for business owners to self-serve on their SEO, I would suggest to any ecommerce store owners using Shopify to speak to a professional SEO about creating the very best URL structure.
--Matt Caspell, LinkedIn Profile
I've worked for a number of different online companies and have experience using most of the big e-commerce platforms. Shopify is by far my favorite, it's beauty is in the simplicity. You can spin up a great store in no time at all but also with the eco-system of apps, easy to use options, and the ability to custom code you can customize it as much as you need to.
The analytics are not fussy, the data easy to understand and very helpful and you don't need to worry about traffic spikes or server problems as this is all handled by Shopify. I'd personally recommend it to anyone.
--James King, Music Streaming Awards
Shopify's solid structure makes it really easy to get an e-commerce store up and running quickly - the biggest advantage for us is the integration with point of sale in our physical stores. Shopify enables seamless integration with all of our stock, in-store and online.
There are restrictions, which is to be expected with an off-the-shelf platform like Shopify. The main ones we face are with the somewhat rigid templates that can be limiting when it comes to high-performing optimisation for search engines - something you might want to consider if SEO is a fundamental part of your business strategy.
Overall, we'd recommend Shopify mainly due to accessibility, specifically its ready-made e-commerce structure (even if it does mean implementing SEO is slightly more tricky than with other e-commerce platforms).
--Laura Blackwell, Vape Town
I would recommend Shopify for any entrepreneur who wants to sell online and in a physical store as it allows you to start without coding and no software or hosting services requirements. Shopify will continue to be the leading ecommerce solution for all shipping options, payment processors, SEO performance, costs, and much more. I like how it is easy to use; products can be arranged with a live preview. You do not need to be very techy at all! There is a lot of modern template design to choose from and ready for a mobile version. I would say that Shopify’s SEO is useful and intuitive. Personally, Shopify lets you do more as compared to other ecommerce tools in the market. The only drawback I know is the price as it starts at $26 per month. Overall, Shopify is a good investment because it is straightforward and can help you create a custom solution to meet your ecommerce system needs.
--Tim Clarke, SEOBlog
I used Shopify to help a friend set up their clothing store down in Puerto Rico. It’s actually a great platform especially if you are not tech-savvy enough for setting up your own website.
I can divide the uses/recommendation of that platform in 3 ways:
If you are a tech-savvy person: If you are a front-end dev or something along those lines then I won’t recommend using it for yourself. You can create something similar for a fraction of the cost if you know how to.
If you hire someone to run your website: If you have the idea but you are full of work from other sources you can run a website hiring a third person. You can get a dev for creating a web from scratch or buy a plan. This is more of a pick your poison decision. It all depends on how trusty is the person you need to hire. If you will delegate that portion of the job, let me recommend getting Shopify and hiring someone to run it. This can help in a transition if the person hired needs to move on.
If you want to run it yourself: But you haven’t the time to learn then Shopify is the right tool for you. You can set up a great looking website in no time, and it’s usually cheaper than hiring a dev to create a site from scratch. Even if you find someone cheap, you will rely on them and the cost could be more than hiring Shopify. There is a reason it’s one of the most used tools for creating online stores, it’s good and reliable.
After I set her up she is pretty much running the site by herself.
--Adam Wood, RevenueGeeks
After working with a few platforms in the past, we quickly realized that there was no platform that could match what Shopify has to offer. Since then we have worked exclusively with Shopfuy for all our clients.
I can talk on and on about Shopify but if I had to outline one point it would be this one:
Shopify lets a brand focus on what matters. The Shopify team is working 24/7 on building a growing platform that has all the features and tools a brand needs to offer an optimal ecommerce solution. A brand can rely on Shopify for this feature and constant improvement, while they shift their focus on user experience, brand building and scaling their ecommerce channel.
We have found that brands that have tried to build similar ecommerce solution without Shopify have spent a lot of resources and time just to achieve what Shopify already handles effortlessly.
Of course, Shopify comes with some of its own limitations. However, so far most have solutions and workarounds and the positives of the platform outways the few drawbacks
--Michael Chammas, Makro Agency
I have got 9 years experience using Shopify CMS.
I am an enthusiast Shopify user and deeply satisfied by both the product and the service they provide to assist their clients. I have to say that when I first launched my business, I tried to make it myself using osCommerce CMS, and that was a nightmare for me as I had to learn to code PHP (I was not a programmer but I already knew a little bit HTML), while I got hacked by a young hacker. OsCommerce CMS had a backdoor then, easy to protect or hacked, but I was a newbie in tech back then. I gave up trying with osCommerce CMS after being hacked while my online business was not even set up.
That's when I looked for off the shelf online boutique and discovered Shopify CMS. It was so easy to set up and launch and so cheap to start with, that I got seduced immediately. I was not aware of all the features back then as I knew so little about eCommerce and online payments, but I learn through Shopify CMS and thanks to Shopify helpdesk and community.
Each time I have required some help from the helpdesk (very often when I started), they could help me in 24 hours and get to the point. This is important as when you start you are eager to get set up and running live fast, Shopify team is very supportive to help you being online and running as fast as possible. I do not require much of their help now, but this is very cool to know that someone is available as soon as you could ever need some help..
I 100% recommend it to anybody that wants to start its online business. Without this CMS, it would have been much harder for me to set up and succeed in my business idea. While I launched my business in France back in 2011, I moved my business to Mexico and have 3 full-time employees, thanks in big part to Shopify CMS.
--Nicolas Tranchant, vivalatina-shop.com
We're a boutique sustainable swimwear brand who is still relatively new to the online marketplace. We first chose to go with Shopify given it was recommended to us by fellow business owners and seemed like the most comprehensive but simplest way to kickstart our online brand. It's been easy to work with as complete newbies, but also, we love that it has the capacity to grow with us as our store grows.
I understand some small businesses starting out might find it expensive, but it really does take most things into account and there's heaps of ways you can build out your site and customize it through apps to meet your exact needs. One downside from an online retail perspective, is that there doesn't appear to be a simple way to process an online exchange through the online admin (it requires a little work around).
--Ambre Bonne, Triffid Swim
We've been in the online pet food game for a while now, and running our online subscription and pet food delivery service through Shopify is no-brainer. Especially since they recently added a great update that facilitates online subscriptions!
It allows plenty of flexibility for those looking to branch out and work with developers for a truly customized solution, or an out-of-the-box way to get your biz set up fast without the bells and whistles. We've found their support to be good and there's plenty of Shopify experts and marketers available to help you take your store to the next level. In the age of online shopping, to have the kind of control over your own online store that Shopify allows is something you can't underestimate.
--Melissa Smith, Raw and Fresh
As the marketing lead for an online e-bike retailer, I owe a lot of our customer success to Shopify's powerful features.
I've had some prior experience with the Wix and Squarespace e-commerce site builders. While those can be great solutions for small online stores and projects that call for particular user experiences, Shopify is pretty much the ultimate platform for tracking actionable retail analytics.
I'm a big fan of the ability to build customer profiles. They provide a clear look at our customers' buying habits, painting a detailed picture of who they are what they prefer. The data lets us create personalized experiences for various customer segments. E-bike riders who've shopped with us before can expect to receive targeted updates and promos they will appreciate rather than a scattershot deluge of impersonal emails. This has led to plenty of repeat business.
--Jonathan Frey, Urban Bikes Direct
I have been using Shopify for my online business for almost two years & I have had an incredible experience! The main reason why I love Shopify is because of it’s no server costs policy! The Shopify’s server is maintained by themselves & it’s free for an initial 14 days. Also, it’s very secure & reliable which promises increased customer engagement & more purchases. Apart from all this, Shopify is excellent at managing large inventory efficiently and also easy to use. Lastly, a new update yet the most amazing one is its new tipping feature. Shopify lets merchants enable the tipping feature or add a customised text which let’s one ask for donations. This way, whoever would want to tip, can! I would definitely recommend it to others.
The biggest concern nowadays is the pricing plans; Shopify is pretty customer-oriented in this aspect and offers three different pricing plans. The Shopify Basic is $29 per month with 2.9% + 30 cents per online transaction. Shopify Main is $79 per month, with 2.6% + 30 cents per transaction and Shopify Advanced costs $299 per month, with 2.4% + 30 cents per transaction. Choose the one that aligns with your business policies!
--Julien Raby, Thermo Gears
Choosing Shopify in the early days of founding our company was one of the best decisions we made. It’s quick to set up your eCommerce business that integrates the back-end (payment, inventory, shipping) and the front-end needs (website, secure payment portal).
As of late, we also learned that Shopify supports filing claims for damaged or lost shipments. If you have experience trying to do this on the USPS website, you will quickly learn how streamlined Shopify’s process is in comparison.
No platform is perfect. Shopify is meant for physical goods than digital goods. Updating your website to your exact needs can take time. And especially as your company grows and your need for further customization grows, you may want to move away from Shopify or integrate Shopify with another option.
But if you ask me, it’s pretty close to perfect for small businesses, especially if you are just starting out.
--Ashley Lim, Mansa Tea
Shopify is truly for those that aren't really technologically savvy and because of that, there are a lot of restrictions baked in to make things simple for the user. Creating a truly custom Shopify theme requires a lot of custom code - this is something that most Shopify users won't be able to do. The biggest negative, in my opinion, are the restrictions that present themselves when trying to perform technical SEO changes on a Shopify website. Shopify makes it really hard to add or change HTML tags, image alt text, canonical URL's, etc. Furthermore, users are unable to edit their own robots.txt and sitemap.xml files which is a very crucial part of SEO. There are ways around these issues (most of the time), but it requires a lot more work to perform these tasks.
--Tanner Scott, Ranksey Digital Marketing
I have used Shopify to build three of our ecommerce stores and I love it!
What WordPress has done for blogging, Shopify has done for ecommerce. As a complete one-stop shop, it has everything you need to build a successful store online, including fully functioning product pages, add to cart buttons, a checkout funnel, an easy route to add payment platforms, categories, legal pages, a blog, you name it!
Much like WordPress Shopify open-sourced its code allowing clever tech people to create useful platforms to enhance the experience, so if you want to add a high converting theme, Facebook tracking, a more in-depth abandoned cart app, customer reviews, and lots more you can, with a few clicks of a button.
All in all a great platform!
--Jo Barnes, Your Lifestyle Business
My experience with Shopify has been incredible, especially considering the cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness that the platform has to offer. One of the most amazing things about Shopify is that it enables its users to integrate other platforms on their e-store such as Amazon, eBay, and Facebook. This means that if you have a social media store, or other online stores, they can be easily integrated into Shopify to enhance your business management.
Another great thing about this integration feasibility is that then the reports that are generated as a result are also inclusive of the sales, revenues, export reports and more from the integrated platforms as well. Shopify generates the reports accordingly.
But, to top everything off for me, the 14-day free-trial period really impressed me. The reason is simple - I was new to Shopify and was unsure if I’d want to continue with it as a platform for running my e-commerce store. However, the 14-day period gave me enough time to test the user-experience and features Shopify has to offer. It helped me to clarify all doubts and concerns that I had.
So, if you’re someone new to Shopify and are currently looking for an e-commerce platform to run your e-store, I’d highly recommend this platform to you. It offers a lot more than just letting users deal with their online store.
--Peter Rossi, Byrossi
My experience with Shopify has been great since the day I started my online store on this platform. It provides more than 170 themes for the website and it is easy to use as well. It also gives you access to the codes for customization and with the customization option, the users have full control over their online store and its backend functions. It was easy for me to manage my online store and add and remove products. What made it easy for my business to grow with Shopify was that the platform gave me multiple payments and checkout options. The best thing about this platform is that it integrates with other social media websites well to broaden the spectrum of marketing and sales.
--Klaus Meire, Viirastus