Shopify Review – A Good Choice for UK Businesses?

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Is Shopify, the global King of Ecommerce a good choice for UK businesses?

In my Shopify review, I will be looking at five main areas that are important for any online business which are:

  1. Pricing
  2. Performance and Security
  3. Themes
  4. Features
  5. Ease of use

Now before I get into the review, I want to let you know that this post does contain affiliate links which means that if you click one of the links and purchase their service then I receive a referral commission. However, this partnership does not impact the honesty of my review, if I don't like something then I will say so!

1. Shopify Pricing

As Shopify is based in North America, they charge in USD and this means that the amount you pay in GBP will vary every month due to changes in conversion rates.

Basic Shopify
$29
a month

Unlimited Products

No Turnover Limit

Unlimited Data Storage

2% Transaction Fee

8 Free Responsive Themes

Free SSL Certificate

24/7 Support

2 Staff Accounts

Shopify
$79
a month

Unlimited Products

No Turnover Limit

Unlimited Data Storage

1% Transaction Fee

8 Free Responsive Themes

Free SSL Certificate

24/7 Support

5 Staff Accounts

Professional Reports

Advanced Shopify
$299
a month

Unlimited Products

No Turnover Limit

Unlimited Data Storage

0.5% Transaction Fee

8 Free Responsive Themes

Free SSL Certificate

24/7 Support

15 Staff Accounts

Advanced Report Builder

 

Although the packages are cheaper than their rivals, you do not get an SSL certificate included with your package and you have to buy these direct from Bluepark at £69.99 + vat for one year or £119.99 + vat for two years.

2. Performance & Security

Rather than just taking Shopify's word for their performance, I decided to put them to the test. As with every performance test I do, I used three of the websites from their examples page and ran them through Pingdom's speed test using their London, UK server once a day for three days to get average times and you can see the results below:

Website 1: 3.15 Seconds
Website 2: 2.36 Seconds
Website 3: 1.04 Seconds

As you can see there is quite a spread in performance between the three sites I chose for this test. Overall they averaged 2.18 second load time, which is just above the 2 seconds you ideally want. I did a bit of investigating into the Shopify servers and it seems that they are located in Los Angeles, USA, which does explain why they are a bit slower than their UK based counterparts. Shopify do use a global CDN (Content Delivery Network) to help speed up their websites load time.

In terms of security, Shopify are all geared up for ecommerce and by that I mean that they have PCI compliant servers, which is great if you want to use a payment gateway other than PayPal or Stripe. You also get a free SSL certificate included with every package so your sites visitors will see that reassuring padlock next to your domain name in the search bar.

Payment Gateways

Shopify offer a very large range of payment gateways on their platform and support all the major players here in the UK such as PayPal, Klarna, WorldPay and SagePay.

You may have noticed that Stripe are missing from the above list and the reason for that is that on the Shopify platform, they offer something called Shopify Payments which is powered by Stripe. The Shopify Payments fee structure is pretty much standard Stripe fees but and to me this is a big but!! If you use a payment gateway other than Shopify Payments, you are charged a transaction fee which range from 0.5% up to 2% depending which plan you are on, which is on top of the payment processor fee and is something I really do not like!

3. Shopify Themes

One of the things that Shopify became known for was the quality of their themes and at one point no-one came close to them when it came to design. Over the past few years, the competition have closed the gap but the Shopify themes are still stunning. There are a total of 72 themes to choose from, however only 8 of these are free and the remaining 64 range between $140 and $180.

Shopify Theme Selection

Customisation

I can see that Shopify has put a lot of thought into how their customers can customise their theme. It is a really easy to use system, especially for people who are new to building websites as you can instantly see the results of your changes. It is one of the better systems I have used but as with many ecommerce platforms, there are limits to the amount of customising that you can do to your theme.

One thing I do like is their library of stock images, this is really useful when you are starting out as you are probably not likely to have many high quality images to pad out your websites content.

4. Shopify Features

Out of the box, Shopify is pretty light on features but does give you things such as a built in blog, being able to create some marketing campaigns from your dashboard and create discounts. If you want to add more functionality to your online store then you need to take a look at the Shopify App Store.

Shopify App Store

The app store has a large selection of apps that have been made by Shopify or selected third-party developers. Some of these apps are free but others are paid for, so be careful how much you add to your store as it could end up costing you a lot of money every month.

One thing that is very noticeable when you are browsing through the app store is that Shopify really have captured the market when it comes to dropshipping. There are apps that integrate with nearly all the major dropshipping companies out there. If you are planning on starting this type of ecommerce business, then Shopify is definitely worth checking out.

5. Ease of Use

It seems very obvious to me that the Shopify dashboard has been designed with people who are new to running an online store in mind as the admin area is very simply laid out and easy to navigate. Now while this is great for new people starting out in ecommerce, if you are looking to move your existing store on from another platform, you might find it a little too simple and will need to invest in apps to get it exactly as you want it.

I do really like the analytics area of the dashboard and it is one of the most complete I have looked at. You also have an abandoned cart checker right in the dashboard as well, which is a useful tool to have.

Adding and Managing Stock

Adding a new product is very easy to do and the add product page is nicely laid out with all the sections well laid out so that you don't miss adding any info and editing your products is just as easy as adding a new one.

Organising your stock is a little different to most of the other platforms I have used, instead of the traditional categories, they use what they call collections. I did find organising my stock into collections a bit more difficult that other platforms and there are almost too many options under collection, which can make it a bit confusing to use.

Managing Orders

Shopify has a really nice set up for managing orders, the only thing that I experienced was that I could only update order statuses and print them off individually. I couldn't see any options for updating them in bulk, which could be problematic, especially if you get lots of orders.

Conclusion

I think Shopify is a good platform for those just starting to sell online, especially if you are planning on starting a dropshipping business. However, if you are an already established online store it would be worth comparing Shopify to the other ecommerce platforms out there.

What I Like
  • Free SSL Certificate
  • 24/7 Support
  • The ease of customising your theme
  • Stock image library
  • Simple and easy to use admin area
  • Shopify App Store
  • Analytics
What I Don't Like
  • Transaction fees for using third party payment gateways
  • Limited number of free themes
  • Cost of some apps, can quickly mount up
  • Collections system

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