The Bottom Line

While Shopify doesn’t have a free plan, it does provide a 14-day free trial with no credit card required. It has a comprehensive onboarding process to help you make enough to cover your plan cost by the time the trial ends. Many sellers find the basic $29 per month plan more than sufficient to handle their store’s needs. It includes up to two staff accounts, shipping discounts, POS access (via Shopify POS Lite, which works fine for small events) and abandoned cart recovery.

There are two other plans, priced at $79 and $299 per month. The more expensive the plan, the lower your transaction fees and credit card processing fees. Additionally, these plans have an even larger discount on shipping.

Who should use it

Shopify is best for omni channel sellers, as well as sellers who want a user-friendly way of building a dropshipping business thanks to its numerous dropshipping integrations.

Shopify Pros & Cons 2022

Pros
  • Free 14-day trial
  • User-friendly site setup
  • The most dropshipping integrations
  • Omnichannel selling
  • Offers POS functionality
  • Customers can pay in four methods with Klarna, Afterpay, Sezzle or Shopify Payments
  • 6,000+ app integrations
  • 24/7 customer service
Cons
  • No free plan
  • Sellers must purchase a custom domain name or import one
  • Limited selection of free theme
  • Limited customization freedom
  • Higher-tier plans are pricey

Shopify At a Glance

According to Shopify, more than 1.7 million businesses have made over $200 billion in sales with their Shopify websites.

You can get started with Shopify by taking advantage of its 14-day free trial. After that, you’ll need to purchase a paid plan.

Shopify offers three primary plans that all include e-commerce functionality, 24/7 support, Shopify POS Lite, a free SSL certificate and free shipping label printing. Here’s a breakdown of top feature differences among the three plans:

  Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Online Credit Card Rates 2.9% + 30 cents 2.6% + 30 cents 2.4% + 30 cents
Price $29 per month $79 per month $299 per month
Staff Accounts 2 5 15
Inventory Locations Up to 4 Up to 5 Up to 8
Reports Standard Advanced
Transaction Fee if Not Using Shopify Payments 2.0% 1.0% 0.5%
Shipping Discount Up to 77% Up to 88% Up to 88%
International Pricing
International Domains

Shopify also offers a Shopify Lite plan for $9 per month. You can use Shopify Lite to add Buy Buttons on an existing website created with another builder like Weebly, Wix, WordPress or Squarespace.

You can save money on any Shopify plan by paying upfront. Shopify offers a 10% discount on annual plans and 20% on biennial plans.

Large entities like Staples, Heinz and Lindt build their websites on the Shopify Plus enterprise platform. All enterprise solutions are customized, so you must contact Shopify directly to discuss available features and pricing options.

Other Benefits

Shopify is built for e-commerce. The platform includes popular features that most online businesses need to sell online and manage their e-commerce stores.

  • Sell physical and digital products. The Shopify platform supports sales for both physical and digital products; buyers can download digital products directly from a Shopify site immediately after purchase.
  • Unlimited products. List as many products as you want.
  • Unlimited bandwidth and storage. Shopify doesn’t limit site traffic or file/image storage.
  • Shopify analytics. Access key online store performance metrics through your Shopify Dashboard; the $79 plan also offers standard reports, while the $299 plan offers advanced reports.
  • Track and manage inventory. Set up inventory tracking and monitor product counts.
  • 24/7 customer support. Shopify offers support via phone, email, live chat, social media, a community forum and an in-depth online Help Center.
  • Accept recurring payments for subscriptions. You can sell subscriptions on your website and accept recurring payments via Shopify Payments, PayPal Express or Authorize.net.
  • Mobile apps. Shopify offers apps for iOS and Android that allow you to manage your store from anywhere.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO). Shopify plans include built-in tools to help you optimize your site for search.
  • Blogging. Add a blog to your online store to boost SEO and extend customer engagement.

If you don’t find the features you’re looking for within the Shopify platform, you will likely find the functionality you require via one of over 6,000 apps that integrate with Shopify.

Fine Print

Overall, Shopify is a terrific option for setting up your online store. However, there are a few limitations and subtler facts about the platform you need to understand upfront.

Site Costs Can Add Up

Online shop plans range from $29 to $299 per month and transaction fees from 0.5% to 2.0%. The bad news is this may not be where your costs end.

Shopify offers only nine free themes. If you’re looking for more design flair, you can purchase one of the dozens of Shopify premium themes for a one-time payment ranging from $160 to $180.

You may experience additional costs by linking to various apps. While Shopify integrates with thousands of apps that can extend your site’s functionality, many of these come with added fees. The total bill for maintaining your online shop can creep up on you.

Limited Customization

When working with an all-in-one site builder like Shopify, you give up some design flexibility that you get with self-hosted platforms like WordPress. What you lose in customization, though, is gained in ease of set-up.

Beginners Should Expect a Learning Curve

If you’re accustomed to a drag-and-drop editor or have never used a website builder, you may experience a modest learning curve setting up your Shopify website. Shopify uses a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor that’s a bit dated as DIY website builders go, but it’s still relatively user-friendly.

Shopify Is Only So-So for Blogging

While you can add a blog to your Shopify website, Shopify isn’t the best website builder for bloggers. Shopify doesn’t provide blog analytics or archive functionality. Also, there is no blog-only search function.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a blog on your online store; blogs can increase traffic from organic search and help you engage with your customers. But, if your primary business is blogging, and you only plan to sell a limited number of products, you may want to set up a WordPress blog and then use Shopify Lite for e-commerce functionality.

How Shopify Stacks Up

  Shopify Squarespace Wix
Cost $29 to $299 per month $16 to $49 per month $0 to $45 per month
E-Commerce On all plans On all plans except Personal On Business and e-commerce plans
Number of Templates 70+ 100+ 800+
Free Trial 14 Days 14 days 14 Days
Unlimited Storage Yes Yes No
Free Version No No Yes
Free Domain Free myshopify.com domain; must purchase a custom domain Included with first year of annual plans Included with first year of all paid plans

The Shopify website builder was created for e-commerce, while others like Wix and Squarespace only offer e-commerce functionality on certain plans.

Wix e-commerce plans range from $23 to $49 a month, which is cheaper than Shopify’s $29 to $299 monthly fees. All Wix e-commerce plans limit storage space while Shopify storage is unlimited, giving Shopify the advantage for larger online shops. Also, you must buy the Wix Business VIP plan to get unlimited products; you can post unlimited products with all Shopify plans.

Squarespace offers e-commerce functionality on its Business, Basic Commerce and Advanced Commerce plans, which range from $18 to $40 per month, giving Squarespace an edge over Shopify on pricing. Like Shopify, Squarespace offers unlimited bandwidth and storage. Squarespace wins in terms of stunning visual design, but Shopify integrates with a lot more e-commerce-related apps, making it a more robust online store builder.

Is Shopify Right for You or Your Business?

Shopify works best for small businesses that want to create a true online shop instead of merely building a website with limited e-commerce functionality. You can sell both physical and digital products in your Shopify store. With unlimited storage, bandwidth and product posting, Shopify will scale beautifully as your business grows.

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