Shopify Review UK – Any Good for UK Businesses?

Shopify Review

When it comes to ecommerce platforms, there is no doubt that Shopify is the biggest name in the market.

But what I want to know is if the platform that powers over 1 million online shops a good option for UK businesses?

For my reviews, I like to split them into two parts, firstly I look at the pricing and the features that the platforms offer. Then secondly I look at how easy the platform is to use from getting started to managing orders. Hope you enjoy the review!

Before I get started I just want to disclose that I am a partner of Shopify, which means that if you sign up to their services via a link in this post, I do receive a small commission. But and I cannot stress this enough, being a partner in no way influences my review, if I don’t like something then I will say so! With that out of the way, lets get into the review.

Shopify Pricing and Features

Shopify offer a range of ecommerce packages to suit businesses of all sizes, from a basic package for those just starting out all the way up to Shopify plus which is their enterprise grade setup. Below I have covered the three main packages they offer:


choose your plan

Amount of space

Bandwidth per month

E-mail accounts

MySql databases

24h support

Your Text

Your Text

Your Text

Your Text

Basic Shopify

$29

a month

Unlimited Products

No Turnover Limit

Unlimited Data Storage

Free SSL Certificate

8 Free Responsive Themes

24/7 Support

2 Staff Accounts

Standard Shopify

$79

a month

Unlimited Products

No Turnover Limit

Unlimited Data Storage

Free SSL Certificate

8 Free Responsive Themes

24/7 Support

5 Staff Accounts

Gift Cards

Professional Reports

Advanced Shopify

$299

a month

Unlimited Product

No Turnover Limit

Unlimited Data Storage

Free SSL Certificate

8 Free Responsive Themes

24/7 Support

15 Staff Accounts

Gift Cards

Advanced Report Builder

Shopify plans are very competitive on price and the basic plan is more than enough to get you up and running. You also get a free blog and unlimited bandwidth with every plan, which is great if you want to do more than just sell on your website.

You may also notice that all prices are in $, that is because Shopify is based in North America (Canada to be exact) but they do bill in USD, which means your monthly bill will vary slightly due to changes in conversion rates.

Free Trial

It is always better to try a platform before you commit any money to it and Shopify have you covered on that one. They offer a 14 day free trial and you don’t need to give any information other than your name and email address. If you want to start a free trial with Shopify, then just click the button below.

Free 14 Day Shopify Trial

No Credit Card Required

Customer Reviews

Before I get full on into my review, I thought I would take a look at what some of Shopiy’s existing customers thought of the platform. For this I look on Trustpilot, Facebook and Google.

Trustpilot Logo

1.5 out of 5

FaceBook Logo

No Reviews

Google Logo

No Reviews

After reading through the Trustpilot reviews, it seems many of the reviews are of merchants using the Shopify platform rather than reviews of the platform itself, which is a shame.

Shopify Features

Out of the box, Shopify is a very capable shopping cart and offers their users a good range of features, including:

  • A Facebook store
  • Create discount codes and gift vouchers
  • Sell digital as well as physical products
  • A mobile app to help you manage your store anywhere
  • Product reviews to help SEO

While these are all great features, there are many instances where you want to have more than a basic ecommerce store or require a specific functionality.

Shopify App Store

This is where the Shopify App Store comes into play and with over 3000 apps to choose from, it offers far more than any other hosted ecommerce platform.

The variety of apps is also impressive as they range from marketing to sales to product sourcing to managing your finances. I am sure that pretty much any functionality you could want is in there somewhere!

One thing that really did stand out to me, is the amount of dropshipping apps on there, so if you are planning on starting a dropshipping business, then Shopify should be near the top of your list as I saw apps for most of the major dropshipping networks.

Unfortunately, not all of these apps are free to use as most are made by third-party developers and you need to pay to use them. These costs can be a monthly payment plan or a single payment, depending on the app.

Theme Selection

Shopify has a selection of over 70 themes available in their Theme Store but only 8 of these are free to use and the others range from $140 – $180.

You can also use themes from outside of the Shopify ecosystem and marketplaces like themeforest.net have a great selection of paid themes that you can choose from.

Payment Gateways

If you are selling online then you need a way to get paid and Shopify most definitely have got you covered on that front!

Every major payment gateway such as PayPal, Worldpay, SagePay, Amazon Pay and Klarna are supported, plus many many others. You do need to pay attention when choosing your gateway as most of the list that appears when you search for UK payment gateways are actually for European merchants.

Now you may notice that Stripe is missing from the list? This isn’t an omission, it is just that Stripe is available in the form of Shopify payments, which is available to every seller. With Shopify Payments, you get fraud analysis on every transaction and the rates are different for the three packages mentioned above.

  • Shopify Basic – 2.2% + 20p transaction fee
  • Standard Shopify – 1.9% + 20p transaction fee
  • Advanced Shopify – 1.6% + 20p transaction fee

These are really competitive rates, especially as you don’t have a monthly recurring charge for using the gateway like you do with some credit card processors.

Do Shopify charge transaction fees?

Yes and this has always been one of my gripes with Shopify! You are paying them a monthly fee to use their platform, then they take a cut of your sales as well, I am not a fan of this. Transaction fees apply to all of their standard packages except for the enterprise level Shopify Plus. Your fees do reduce as you move up through the packages and they are:

  • 2% on the Basic Shopify package
  • 1% on the Shopify package
  • 0.5% on the Advanced Shopify package

Now I do need to tell you that these charges only apply when you use a payment processor other than Shopify Payments. This can make the likes of PayPal quite expensive to use, especially when you are only doing low volumes of sales.

Shopify Support

Shopify offer a 24/7 support system but from my experience it wasn’t that straightforward to contact them. Rather than give you a contact number, email address or live chat, they send you through their help centre.

This is where all the documentation on the Shopify is and if you can’t find the answer you were looking for then you have to do a little more digging to find out how to contact a real person. It would be nicer if it was easier to contact a real person!

There is also the Shopify community forum, which is great place to ask questions and get really well informed replies as there are people in there who are very knowledgeable about the platform. This is often where people go when they are really stuck.

Web Hosting

To have a really good ecommerce platform, the web hosting that powers the online stores needs to be up to scratch. So how do Shopify stack up. Searching the Shopify site throws up some impressive information:

  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • PCI Level 1 Compliant Servers
  • Global Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • 99.98% Uptime
  • And most important Blazing Fast Servers

This all sounds great but I don’t take companies on their word! So I took it three of their customer examples websites and ran them through Pingdom’s speed tool using their London server. I ran each site through the speed tool once a day, for three days to get enough data to get some nice results. So how did Shopify do?

Website 1: 1.39 Seconds
Website 2: 2.36 Seconds
Website 3: 1.04 Seconds

With an average page load time of 1.6 seconds, Shopify sites are pretty fast. Considering the majority of their sites are hosted in Los Angeles, USA, this is impressive and shows how good their CDN is. Having a load time of sub 2 seconds is very important when it comes to ecommerce as visitors simply are not prepared to wait for sites to load.

The load times across the tests were also very consistent, with half a second being the biggest disparity.

How Easy is Shopify to Use?

Now it is time for the second part of my review, where I look at how easy I think Shopify is to use.

Ease of use plays a big part when it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform, the reason for this is that you want it to be as easy as possible to run and manage your website.

When I am reviewing how easy a platform is to use, I look at 5 main areas and they are:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Navigating the Dashboard
  3. Customising your theme
  4. Adding and Managing Products
  5. Managing Orders

Getting Started

To get started with Shopify, simply go to their Start Free Trial page, enter your name, email address and business name and that is pretty much it.

They will ask you what stage your business is at and also ask you to input your business information. If you are just testing the platform out, then any old info will do.

Once you have done this you get taken through to the Shopify dashboard, and it looks just like the image below.

Shopify Dashboard

As you can see, they do give you a start up guide to follow so that you can get your site up and running. To me though, this guide is a little on the light side as there are a few quite important steps that are missed out here. Even when you add in the couple of sections that are further down the page.

I would have liked to have seen sections to help you set up your payments gateways, delivery methods and website pages as they are all very important parts of building an online store.

Navigating the Dashboard

Not being able to find your way around your websites admin area can lead to a lot of wasted time, let alone frustration. You won’t have that issue with the Shopify dashboard.

It is really well laid out with just the right amount of options in the admin side bar. I didn’t encounter any issues when testing the platform out and even someone completely new to running a website would be up to speed in no time.

Customising Your Theme

One of the things that helped separate Shopify from its competition in the early days was how easy it was to customise their themes so that you could have a really good looking website, without having to hire a web designer. But is that still the case?

I have to say that it is still really easy to customise a Shopify theme. With a little work, you can turn one of the basic free templates into a really professional looking website, without too much stress!

Shopify Theme Customisation

All of your theme customisation is done using the left sidebar and you can add and remove sections as you please so that you can give your store the look and feel that you want.

You do get access to a library of stock images available through Shopify, which is a really nice feature and allows you to pad out your site with some high quality images when you are just getting started.

Another nice feature of the Shopify customiser is that you get to view to website on desktop, tablet and mobile and it is always worth going through these to make sure your site looks great on them all.

Adding and Managing Products

Once you have got your site setup and designed, you need to start adding your products but how easy is it to do that with Shopify?

Well, adding a new product is really simple, the add product page is well laid out and easy to follow. This will save you a lot of time when you are adding all of your inventory to the site. Some platforms fall into the trap of offering too many options to add a product but Shopify have got the balance just right.

Editing your products follows pretty much the same process as you click on the product and it brings up all the information from when you created the product in the exact same layout. If you need to manage your stock levels, you don’t have to go into the products edit page, instead they have an inventory page where you can add or remove stock quantity with a couple of clicks.

The only issue I have with the Shopify product management is when it comes to setting up your hierarchy. With most platforms, they use a simple category structure so you can do something like:

  • Men’s Clothes → Tops → T-Shirts

You want to create something this as not only does it make it easier to organise your products but also for your customers to find them! The problem is, Shopify do things a little differently, they use Collections. This is similar to normal categories but different.

It does take some getting used to as it offers you lots of options and I would suggest reading through the documentation on this so that you can use it properly, otherwise you could end up with a very confusing online shop!

Managing Orders

When you are testing a platform out, you want to know how easy it is to manage your orders. Not just printing them off and shipping them out but how do you change the status of an order, how do you cancel one and how do you issue a refund.

I did think that the Shopify order management process was pretty easy to use, the one thing I didn’t like was that I couldn’t update the order status or print the packing slip off without actually going into the order. Not being able to do this in bulk could mean a lot of wasted time, maybe there is an app you can install that adds this functionality?

Conclusion

So is Shopify any good for UK Businesses?

Yes, it is definitely a platform that you should consider as it offers a good range of features, has good design tools and is easy to use. The only real drawback is the transaction fees but this evens out with the tiered pricing that many other platforms offer.

If you are planning on starting a dropshipping business then Shopify should be very near the top of your list due to the amount of apps available that allow you to integrate directly with your suppliers.

The Good:

  • Easy to use admin area
  • Nice theme selection
  • Good theme designer to help you customise your site
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Stock Image Library
  • The App Store

The Not so Good:

  1. Transaction Fee’s – I just think they are unnecessary
  2. Collections – one of the more complicated ways to organise your products

So there it is, my full review of Shopify. A good ecommerce platform that is loaded with features and very easy to use but does have a couple of flaws. Definitely give it a try for yourself to see if it is the right choice for you!

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