Through intuitive software and innovative features, Shopify has become the best ecommerce website builder.
Ten years ago, there was no clear leader in ecommerce websites— and then Shopify arrived. Shopify brought intuitive software and innovative features. Today they are the industry leader and the best website builder for ecommerce.
Shopify has come to dominate ecommerce software by constantly innovating and improving— while always remaining clear and easy of use. It’s a magical balancing act that’s unusual in the world of software.
The App Store is it’s biggest differentiator. The Shopify core covers what 80% of online stores will need and the app store covers the other 20%— that way the core doesn’t get bloated with features most stores don’t need. Shopify is not the only ecommerce website builder to offer an app stores but they have significantly more apps than any competitor
Besides the app store, Shopify has continually launched innovative features like Shopify Payments, Shopify POS and Shopify Augmented Reality that push the industry forward— at a pace competitors rarely keep up with.
Beyond features, the thing I most often hear from users is that they love that Shopify is so easy to use. It’s clear, simple and intuitive.
Ecommerce stores require a credit card processor to accept credit cards. For a long time, processors were 3rd parties like Paypal or Braintree— but in 2013 Shopify released their own credit card processor: Shopify Payments.
At first, Shopify Payments was just a way for stores to get up and running quickly. With none of the hassle of setting up a 3rd party credit card processor, stores could start accepting orders immediately. It all just worked.
Since then Shopify has doubled down on innovating around Shopify Payments. For example, Shopify added Multi-Currency which lets customers pay with their local currency— a major benefit in certain regions and a unique feature to Shopify (Multi-Currency is only available to Shopify Plus users currently— but I can imagine it being rolled out everywhere eventually). Shopify also launched Shopify Pay which lets users save their payment details between Shopify stores for a quicker checkout.
Most people will use Shopify to build an ecommerce website but Shopify also let’s you sell on additional marketplaces like Amazon, Instagram or even in-person with Channels.
It’s all part of Shopify’s vision of where they see ecommerce going.
Ecommerce website builders are notoriously clunk and complex. Their interfaces bloat with long lists of settings, confusing navigation and abstract langauge.
For example, remember Volusion’s product editor from earlier in the review? Remember how long the page was? And how many options are difficult to comprehend?
Shopify includes 10 free themes for all stores. All ten are modern, fresh and reflect the conventional look and feel to most ecommerce websites: big photos for showcasing products and plenty of whitespace. Some Shopify themes have differences in features— for example some offer product filtering, video and wide layouts while others do not.
Brooklyn is Shopify’s most popular free theme:
There are three main Shopify plans to choose from: Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify. (There’s also a cheaper Shopify lite plan that’s a bit hidden on the pricing page— but it’s not really for building a full website.)
When To Use Shopify
Shopify is what I recommend to anyone building an online store. But is there cases when I wouldn’t recommend Shopify? Yes, I see two cases.
Case #1: I recommend Squarespace over Shopify if you want an ecommerce website and a content website. Shopify is great for ecommerce but it’s not great for maintaining content— the WYSIWY editor isn’t as user-friendly and powerful as Squarespace’s drag-and-drop page editor.
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