Shopify Review 2023: Pros, Cons and Alternatives
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Shopify is a market leader in e-commerce website builders. Sellers who use Shopify have access to advanced inventory and order management tools, built-in payment processing and discounted shipping rates. Shopify also makes it easy to list your products on social media and online marketplaces along with your website.
Shopify is a great choice for businesses that sell and ship physical products, especially if you’re a high-volume seller managing multiple warehouse locations and large numbers of orders. But service businesses should seek out a platform with native appointment booking, and smaller businesses may want to look for cheaper options.
Here’s how to decide if Shopify is a good fit for your e-commerce website.
Price when billed annually
Shopify Payments comes standard (see complete rates below). Shopify allows sellers to use different payment processors, but charges additional transaction fees of:
Online marketplace integrations
Shopify’s key features
Shopify’s standout features help businesses sell physical products around the world on all kinds of online platforms. Individual features can vary by plan (see breakdown below).
Shopify sellers can list their products for sale on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Google and Walmart Marketplace. They can choose the platforms that make the most sense for their brand and audience, then manage all of their orders from the same dashboard that powers the rest of their Shopify store.
Sellers will need a third-party app to integrate Shopify with Amazon, and this will likely come with an additional monthly fee. Shopify’s app store includes several options with high ratings from users.
Inventory and order management
Shopify’s built-in inventory management software is sophisticated. Sellers can track and manage incoming and committed stock and move inventory back and forth between stores and warehouses.
The seller's Shopify dashboard shows orders that customers have already placed. They can sort orders according to fulfillment method or delivery location and make edits if necessary before orders ship. To keep customers in the loop, sellers can send email or SMS messages or notify customers through Shopify’s Shop app.
Shopify sellers have access to special shipping rates with carriers that include USPS, UPS, DHL Express and Canada Post. Shopify also includes shipping label printing and up to $200 of insurance per package, which can protect shipments against damage and theft.
Business owners with brick-and-mortar locations can offer local customers in-store pickup and local delivery by the seller's own staff.
Shopify Payments is NerdWallet’s pick for the best payment processor for e-commerce businesses. It comes built in with Shopify’s online store builder.
Shopify Payments charges the following transaction fees on top of Shopify’s monthly price:
Monthly cost (when billed annually)
5% per transaction.
None; Shopify POS is not available wtih the Starter plan.
2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
2.7% per transaction.
2.6% plus 30 cents per transaction.
2.5% per transaction.
2.4% plus 30 cents per transaction.
2.4% per transaction.
Starting at $2,000 per month or quote-based for businesses with high-volume sales.
Quote-based; varies by location.
Quote-based; varies by location.
If you want to use a different payment processor, note that Shopify charges an additional 0.5% to 2% per transaction depending on what plan you have.
Shopify features by plan
Here’s what features you’ll have access to at each level of Shopify pricing.
Shopify Starter: Best for businesses that want to try Shopify
This plan can help you start making sales on social media, but it doesn’t include your own website.
Price: $5 per month. Shopify Payments takes an additional 5% per transaction.
Unlimited product pages.
A link-in-bio tool that you can add to your social media profiles.
Order management on Shopify’s back end.
A simple storefront, but not a full website.
Sales on third-party marketplaces and social media.
Shopify Basic: Best for small businesses
Shopify Basic includes the full Shopify dashboard with its order management features, plus a website and omnichannel commerce opportunities.
Price: $29 per month when billed annually or $39 per month when billed monthly. Shopify Payments takes an additional 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
The functionality included with Shopify Starter.
Two staff accounts.
Shipping discounts of up to 77%.
A drag-and-drop website builder.
Sales on third-party marketplaces and social media sites.
Inventory management tools.
Abandoned cart recovery.
Shopify: Best for businesses seeking automatic processes
This level unlocks Shopify Flow, a set of automations that can make running a large e-commerce business easier.
Price: $79 per month when billed annually or $105 per month when billed monthly. Shopify Payments takes an additional 2.6% plus 30 cents per transaction.
The functionality included with Shopify Starter and Basic.
Five staff accounts.
Shipping discounts of up to 88% and USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing.
Automatic reordering of low inventory and hiding of out-of-stock products.
Automated rewards for customers that meet certain requirements, like total spend.
Fraud detection that flags suspicious orders.
Shopify Advanced: Best for businesses that sell internationally
If you sell products abroad and want to collect taxes and display shipping rates to your international customers, you’ll need Shopify Advanced.
Price: $299 per month when billed annually or $399 per month when billed monthly. Shopify Payments takes an additional 2.4% plus 30 cents per transaction.
The functionality included with Shopify Starter, Basic and Shopify.
15 staff accounts.
Shipping discounts of up to 88%.
Collection of duties and import taxes during the checkout process.
Display of shipping rates at checkout.
Shopify Plus: Best for high-volume or B2B sellers
Shopify’s enterprise plan is designed for large businesses that need advanced automations, advertising tools and checkout features.
Price: $2,000 per month and up.
The functionality included with Shopify Starter, Basic, Shopify and Advanced.
B2B features like customer-specific price lists and reordering.
Shopify Advertising, which helps you identify and market to audiences similar to yours.
Shop Pay, a Shopify-designed app where customers can save their information for faster checkout and order tracking.
» MORE: 10 ways to make money on Shopify
Standout features for businesses that sell and ship
Shopify offers essentially everything that an online store could want — inventory management, order tracking, discounted shipping rates, omnichannel commerce and more. And most of these features are included with the Basic plan, which is available to sellers of all sizes. Few other online store builders offer so many features at a comparable price level.
Built-in payment processing
Shopify Payments earns high marks from NerdWallet for its 24/7 support, integration with accounting software and its fees, which are on par with its competitors. With this competitive option available, you can skip the work of having to choose a payment processor.
Increasingly powerful features for growing businesses
Upgrading from one Shopify plan to the next doesn’t just get you additional staff accounts and reduced payment processing rates. It unlocks advanced ordering features — from abandoned cart emails to import tax collection to in-house advertising tools — that may become useful as your business grows from a small one to a medium or large one.
No free version
There’s no free version of Shopify. Further, its free trial only lasts three days, which means you’ll have to decide pretty quickly if Shopify is the right fit for your business. Currently, you can extend a free trial to three months for a nominal cost, but to do so you need to opt for monthly billing, which is more expensive than annual billing.
Shopify Starter, which costs $5 per month, may be a good option for small sellers that only want to sell on social media — but it doesn’t come with a website, which may mean it’s not the right choice for businesses that need a unique home on the internet.
Limited native features for service businesses
Shopify is better suited to businesses that sell physical products than those that sell services. To take appointment bookings, for instance, you’ll need to turn to a third-party app, which may charge an additional fee.
Limited staff accounts
Shopify Basic only includes two staff accounts, which could impact the way you run your business day to day. To take advantage of Shopify’s many features, the two employees running your e-commerce store may need to focus on it nearly full time. For comparison, Shopify competitor Squarespace offers unlimited accounts even with its entry-level e-commerce plan.
Alternatives to Shopify
Square Online: Offers a free plan
Square Online’s free plan is a great choice for brick-and-mortar businesses that already use Square to take payments, and it can be a good choice for other e-commerce businesses too. You can use the free plan to list unlimited products, facilitate deliveries and create coupons. You’ll have to upgrade for a custom domain, QR code ordering and abandoned cart emails. Read NerdWallet’s review of Square Online.
Squarespace: Better for service businesses
Squarespace is an easy-to-use online store builder that’s a good choice for companies selling services or digital content. Unlike Shopify, Squarespace can facilitate native online appointment booking, including reminder emails and intake forms. Users can also set up “member areas” where subscribers can see online courses or other types of exclusive content. Read NerdWallet’s review of Squarespace.
Shift4Shop: More B2B features
Shift4Shop is a more advanced B2B e-commerce platform than Shopify, which is just starting to roll out B2B features. You can use Shift4Shop to offer customers their own accounts, set up wholesale and custom pricing, and accept a wide variety of payment methods.
Plus, Shift4Shop is free for businesses that process more than $500 in credit or debit card sales each month with its built-in payment processor, Shift4. Shopify’s B2B features, on the other hand, are only available with Plus, which starts at $2,000 per month. Read NerdWallet’s review of Shift4Shop.