Online trade is booming and with it different e-commerce solutions. Today, retailers have numerous store systems at their disposal, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right system is not always easy, and changing at a later date usually involves a lot of effort.
Therefore, it is even more important to deal with the advantages, but also the stumbling blocks of individual solutions in advance. In this article, we share with you our Shopify experiences from more than 10 years of working with this store system.
Want to get started with an experienced Shopify agency by your side? Contact us and we will be happy to help you!
At a glance: What is Shopify?
Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce solutions in the world. The Canadian company of the same name sells a cloud-based store system that enables both beginners and professionals to easily set up and manage a Shopify store. Shopify was founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke from Koblenz.
Shopify test: Important functions at a glance
The store system is a so-called Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution. This means that you do not have to install any software on your devices and do not need your own elaborate IT infrastructure. The software is web-based and is provided via a cloud. Using and managing your Shopify online store is done easily from anywhere in the world via the Shopify website or Shopify app.
As a Shopify Plus agency, we have gained some Shopify experience. In the following, we take a closer look at some important Shopify features for online retailers.
Shopify Themes & Designs
Shopify impresses with its simplicity, so even beginners in e-commerce can quickly build an appealing Shopify store. The basis for an attractive store is formed by the prefabricated Shopify themes, which users select and can customize with the help of the Customizer.
A big plus point is that these templates are responsive, meaning they play out on all devices without any problems. This is especially important for mobile use.
If you are not satisfied with the free selection of Shopify themes, you can choose from the numerous paid offerings or hire experts to program an exclusive theme.
Reading tip: In this post we take a closer look at Shopify themes and show you our favorites!
Add and manage products
Besides the design of your Shopify store, your products are the core. Adding and maintaining products should be quick and easy, leaving more time for other tasks.
Shopify makes it very easy to add products thanks to an intuitive interface. The relevant product information (e.g. title, description, media, price and SEO details) can be added easily and self-explanatory.
By using SKUs and inventory tracking, inventory can be managed efficiently and out-of-stock situations can be prevented. The sale of digital products such as images or templates is not included by default. For this, they require an additional (free) app developed by Shopify.
Customizable products require a custom field where users can enter text for an engraving or similar, for example. Here, too, you have to take the detour via an app or have the source code adapted by experts.
By using categories, you keep your Shopify online store organized. This setting allows you to group products together.
Shopify can then automatically create a page with the included products for each category based on this grouping. This allows you to automate processes and save valuable time.
Tip: Create a "Promotions" collection to group discounted products together and save yourself the hassle of maintaining promotion pages manually.
"The clear layout [of the store] is particularly well received by our customers."
– Linda Dao, Product Manager at GoTiger
Another important factor for your Shopify online store is the selection of suitable payment providers. Different preferences exist in each country when it comes to payment processing. For example, in Germany, credit card payment is less popular than payment on account.
Shopify offers a wide range of online payment providers, making it a very flexible system.
However, the company has also developed its own system called Shopify Payments. This is the official payment gateway of the provider.
Be aware of the fees that apply when using external payment gateways. In addition to the payment provider's fee, you will also have to pay transaction fees to Shopify. If you opt for the in-house Shopify Payments solution, these transaction fees are waived.
Reading tip: Find out everything you need to know about Shopify Payments in this post!
Shipping is another important lever in e-commerce for satisfying customer demands. Shorter and shorter shipping times and cost pressures pose major challenges for retailers.
Shopify offers an efficient system to save time and money. The store system makes it possible to conveniently set up shipping rules for individual products, categories or the entire Shopify store.
In addition, there are so-called live rates. This allows you to connect your store to shipping service providers such as UPS and precisely determine shipping costs during the checkout process. This function is integrated by default in the higher-priced Shopify tariffs. Users of the Basic package will need to contact Shopify Support for this.
Note: Live rates are not available in all countries.
Shopify offers every merchant the ability to view comprehensive analytics and reporting. Depending on which tariff you use, you will have more or less information available.
For example, users of the Basic plan can access the following data:
Financial reports (e.g., sales, taxes, etc.)
User behavior (conversion rates, purchase rates, etc.)
"A general big advantage with Shopify is that we have a lot of ways to evaluate and look at things at a glance, whether it's the top sellers or the current sales of the store."
– Anne van Hout, Head of IT & Online at COEUR DE LION
To customize the user experience and add important functionality to your store, Shopify offers so-called Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). In simple terms, these are interfaces that enable interactions between two systems.
Reading tip: In this post, we go into more detail about using Shopify API.
Such Shopify APIs are necessary, for example, to connect apps, shipping service providers or marketplaces to the store or to customize the storefront.
Some online retailers are considering extending the sales experience with traditional brick-and-mortar stores and implementing an omnichannel strategy. Shopify POS provides a point-of-sale (POS) solution that connects the online world with the offline world.
With Shopify's own app, you can sell offline and automatically sync your inventory management, pricing, and reports in the Shopify backend. This means they can be on multiple channels, but manage your data in one tool.
For example, you can use the app to accept payments or even enable card payments with the right hardware in your retail store.
Reading tip: We explain how to implement omnichannel solutions with Shopify in this article!
Shopify provides a functional and easy-to-manage online store from the ground up. However, you may want to add certain features to your Shopify store.
For this case, Shopify comes up with the in-house Shopify App Store. There is probably hardly any store system that provides as many extensions for its own store as Shopify. Whether you want to integrate your email campaigns, social media channels or Google services, or connect dropshipping providers to your store, the App Store has a solution for everything.
While many of the apps are free to use, the majority are paid. Additional extensions can quickly add up to a lot of money.
"With this store system, we can quickly and easily add other systems and functions, such as additional payment methods. This is definitely an advantage for the end customers, because it allows us to offer a wider selection for different countries. In addition, social media channels such as Instagram can be integrated very well, so customers can directly see the images from the social media platform in the store and use them as styling inspiration."
– Anne van Hout, Head of IT & Online at COEUR DE LION
An important point for every online merchant is the customer service, if something does not work as desired.
Shopify offers a help center with an extensive FAQ and detailed instructions. In addition, video content is available in the form of videos and webinars. There is a lively exchange in the Shopify Community.
Shopify support is available 24 hours a day via e-mail, FAQ or live chat (English). In contrast to other e-commerce solutions, Shopify customer service often offers a quick and expert solution.
"Shopify support is always easy to reach, whether via chat, email, or over the phone. The employees there are also interested in solving problems very quickly."
– Niclas Backes Global Platform Owner eCommerce at Sonova
Marketing efforts are essential for any online retailer. Shopify offers some tools to increase sales and accelerate business growth. A few of them, let's take a closer look.
Reading tip: Looking for concrete help for your online marketing? In this article we give you seven tips for online marketing with Shopify!
Discount Codes & Vouchers
Easy to set up discount codes are available for all store owners. These can be set up very flexibly in different forms, e.g. as a percentage or free shipping.
The store system also offers the possibility to provide gift cards for your customers. If you want to go one step further and integrate a loyalty program, you have to go the route of an additional app.
Many retailers struggle with abandoned shopping carts. Figures from Statista show that the number of average shopping cart abandonments is over 60 percent.
Shopify offers options for customer recovery. Through these features, you get in touch with the potential customers who abandoned their purchase.
If you need even more features, such as banners or pop-ups, you can find suitable extensions in the Shopify App Store.
Reading tip: In this article, we show you how to win back lost customers.
A discipline of online marketing that should not be underestimated is search engine optimization, called SEO. In order for your Shopify store to be found on the web, you need to optimize your content.
Your ranking depends largely on your content, but the store system must also meet certain requirements in order to benefit from optimization.
Shopify also convinces here with the simplicity of adjusting various parameters such as title tags, descriptions, ALT tags for images, etc. Common tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel are also easy to connect.
Another advantage is that Shopify automatically generates your sitemap and sets up automatic redirects when you change a URL.
Small downsides, on the other hand, are that the URL structure is not 100% customizable and no subcategories can be created.
Reading tip: Do you need a new coat of paint for SEO, ALT tags and Google Analytics? We've summarized everything you need to know about search engine optimization in our Shopify SEO Guide!
Shopify advantages and disadvantages
When we talk about Shopify experience, it also includes an unembellished look at Shopify pros and cons. In the following, we'll take a closer look at the advantages but also some downfalls associated with this store system.
As one of the largest store systems in the world, Shopify comes up with a whole range of advantages that make the system very attractive.
Probably the most crucial point for many online merchants is the user-friendliness of the store system. If an e-commerce solution is too complicated, you get lost in the minutiae and have no time for the really important things: Your customers.
An intuitive user interface of the store system ensures that you and your employees quickly become familiar with the system. The creation of your store is done with just a few clicks thanks to ready-made themes, and the maintenance of your products hardly presents any problems. The integration of various tools is just as easy with a few clicks.
Huge app store
Another advantage of Shopify is its huge app store, which can meet all the needs of an online retailer. Shopify provides a variety of apps for different areas in its in-house marketplace. Accordingly, expanding your online store is as easy as setting it up.
Reading tip: You want to optimize your online store? We have 13 tips for optimizing your online store for you!
"Before, if we wanted to add a new feature, it took forever because of the complexity of the system. Now on Shopify Plus, we can swap app A for app B and try things out. "
– Larissa Dien, Head of UX & Tech Operations at Asphaltgold
When you run a Shopify store, hosting is included. This means that you don't have to worry about server setup, updates and maintenance.
Shopify also offers the option to buy a suitable domain for your store directly. Alternatively, you can simply link your existing domain to the e-commerce solution.
Additionally, the system comes with a free SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth. This leads us directly to the next point.
Flexibility & Scaling
Shopify offers a wide range of functions by default. Those who still want to individualize their store can do so without much trouble. Either by using the in-house app store, customizing the source code on your own, or by hiring Shopify experts.
The performance of the store system ensures that even fast-growing online stores do not have to worry about growth. The cloud solution enables easy scaling while maintaining the stability of the system.
Reading tip: Learn how to test your website speed with Shopify in this article!
The provider's server structure is excellent, which ensures fast loading times and low downtime. Shopify takes extensive measures to keep the system up-to-date and stable.
The cloud solution ensures that an average of more than 99% server up-time per year is possible. Even for a large rush of visitors, your Shopify store is ready.
"Traffic management was the key point. With our other drops, we always had issues with over-ordering or payments not coming through. With Shopify, these problems were all solved at once."
– Maksim Telkov, E-Commerce Manager LFDY
Community & Support
Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce solutions in the world. It is therefore not surprising that a large community has formed around the store system.
This makes it quick and easy to exchange information with experts, agencies and other merchants.
In addition to the community, Shopify provides extensive help in the form of instructions, FAQs and videos. If you still don't know what to do, you can contact the support 24/7 via email or live chat (English).
Shopify advantages at a glance
Ease of use
Huge app store
Flexibility & Scaling
Community & Support
There are two sides to every coin. Besides all the advantages that the store system offers, there are also a few disadvantages that we do not want to leave unmentioned.
Suboptimal URL structure
One disadvantage that the store system has is the not quite optimal URL structure. Especially from an SEO perspective, this is sometimes annoying. Subdirectories such as /pages/ or /blog/news/ are not optimal. The missing possibility to create subcategories might bother some store owners.
A small downer is the lack of "real" multilingualism. Shopify makes it easy to sell in multiple languages and currencies.
From a technical point of view, however, this is not a real language version via country-specific subdomains, but a language determination via the IP address of the user.
From the perspective of search engine optimization, individual subdomains would be more attractive for internationalization, but they would require some effort to create and add further apps.
Reading tip: How to sell internationally with Shopify, we show you in this post!
All e-commerce solutions charge fees for using payment processors such as PayPal or Stripe. However, those who do not process the payment through Shopify Payments will face additional transaction fees.
Shopify disadvantages at a glance
Suboptimal URL structure
Shopify fees and prices
With the selection of a suitable store system, you will inevitably incur costs. These costs are made up of various factors.
Shopify offers a total of three different tariffs in different price categories. Before you decide on a rate, you can test Shopify for 14 days. If you pay annually, you save another 25 percent.
"By converting the store system, we have a monthly cost saving of up to 60% compared to the store solution we were using before."
– Nils Dehn, e-commerce project manager at B.O.C.
In addition to the pure costs for using the software, you should also include additional fees in your cost calculation.
Shopify charges fees for the use of payment gateways for credit card payments, for example. If you also operate a retail store, you should expect to pay a certain percentage of fees here as well, depending on the tariff.
If you do not process your payments via Shopify Payments, transaction fees will be added once again.
Shopify Starter and Shopify Plus
For the sake of completeness, we would like to point out the two tariffs Shopify Starter (5 EUR/month) and Shopify Plus (from 2,000 USD/month).
The Starter plan is an extension of your existing website. If you want to sell on different channels, such as social media or messaging apps, this tariff might be interesting.
Shopify Plus is the enterprise solution of the e-commerce platform and is aimed at large customers.
Reading tip: We have summarized more about Shopify prices and the comparison to other store systems for you in this article!
Shopify Experience: Possible alternatives
Although our Shopify experiences have been consistently positive, we would of course also like to point out alternatives. Besides Shopify, there are a lot of other e-commerce solutions. Well-known Shopify alternatives are, for example, WooCommerce, which is based on WordPress, Shopware, Magento or Adobe Commerce Cloud and many more.
Reading tip: In our big store system comparison, we took a closer look at five systems!
In the following overview, we have summarized different Shopify alternatives.
|Short portrait||Enterprise solution with better scalability and customer service||Free open source store system based on WordPress||Open commerce platform with modular customization options||Open source platform for the B2B and B2C sectors|
|Suitable for||Large online retailers||Technically skilled traders||Stores of any kind with some technical know-how||Traders with programming knowledge|
Conclusion: For whom is a Shopify store suitable?
Shopify is the right e-commerce solution for merchants who want to open an online store easily and quickly and are looking for a system that grows with them.
The store system impresses with its simplicity and allows merchants to operate a functional Shopify store with many features without much technical know-how and programming knowledge. At the same time, the system offers the possibility for savvy merchants to make individual adjustments.
"The objective was a lean store with little internal IT effort. We quickly came across the Shopify and Shopify Plus solution. After two or three workshops and a validation of the solution with our developers, we finally decided on this solution from Shopify."
– Ulrich Tietze, Head of Product Enterprise Application at Lensit
The Shopify ecosystem with its in-house app store offers a suitable solution for every need. With Shopify POS, you can easily expand your online business to include a brick-and-mortar store.
In short, Shopify is a versatile e-commerce solution suitable for merchants of all sizes.
Do you need support in setting up and customizing your Shopify store? Contact us and we will be happy to help you!
FAQ - Frequently asked questions about Shopify experience.
Who is Shopify worthwhile for?
Shopify is suitable for online retailers of all sizes - from small business owners to established players. For large merchants, a powerful enterprise solution is available with Shopify Plus.
Which store system is the best?
From our years of Shopify experience, we can unreservedly recommend Shopify as a store system. However, which store system is best for you as a merchant depends on your individual requirements.
What Shopify alternatives are there?
Besides Shopify, there are many other e-commerce solutions such as Shopware, WooCommerce, Magento, OXID or Wix. We compare some of them in our blog and share our Shopify experiences.
How reputable is Shopify?
Shopify is a publicly traded company with audited software and security. Several million merchants around the world rely on the store solution, which also enjoys a high reputation in Germany.