Shopify is trusted by millions of businesses in over 170 countries to deliver a user-friendly, high-converting e-commerce experience.
We love working and developing with Shopify because it makes it so straightforward to set up your own online store. An easy-to-use backend system, useful plugins and even a point-of-sale option for in-store purchases make it simple for e-commerce managers and small businesses to sell sell sell!
On top of that, Shopify is built to scale. From small businesses to multi-million-pound operations – Shopify serves them all.
As we did with WordPress we wanted to share our honest thoughts on some of the disadvantages of using Shopify as your e-commerce platform. Some of our clients have over £250,000 running through their stores each month and prefer Shopify, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best platform for you.
So let’s get into it, shall we…
Pricing can seem high
At first glance, the pricing for Shopify does seem high, especially if you’re just starting out. Especially compared to some other hosting payment plans, which can be as little as £1 per month, and might be better suited for a small business.
However, if you have more traffic and sales on your site you’ll need more robust hosting, security and server and then the prices will go up anyway. In this case, these Shopify pricing options are compared to what you might spend on hosting with another platform e.g. Magento or WooCommerce.
It’s also important to bare in mind that each tier offers varying levels of features such as reporting and transaction fees. We usually recommend the middle tier at £49 (per month) to our clients to help them save on the fees but access much better reporting and analytics for their site. However as you’ll learn further on, it might be better to pay £259 (per month) …
Shopify Plus is very expensive
Yes, it starts at £2,000 (per month) which is a lot more expensive than the standard plans shown above. There are a lot of benefits to using Shopify Plus, however, do bear in mind it’s typical that users of this are making millions through the site already and therefore that kind of price probably seems reasonable.
You do get a lot of additional features and more hands-on support with Shopify Plus, but this is a huge decision to make given you could go to £24,000 per year just on your web platform alone.
The transaction fees on top of all that
This is actually the biggest complaint and disadvantage of using Shopify we hear about and discuss with clients and partners.
There are two parts to it really:
- Shopify charges a fee for each transaction you process through their payment gateway. This covers the additional security, fraud analysis and payment system. Some clients of ours don’t want to use that payment gateway and prefer to use something like PayPal or Stripe…
- This leads me to the next point – if you do use a 3rd party payment gateway, Shopify will charge you to transact through that too!
With this in mind, depending on how many sales are running through your site on a monthly basis, you could find that the £259 per month with lower transaction fees is actually cheaper overall than paying £19 per month and higher fees.
The monthly cost of plugins can add up
Shopify does rely on plugins for certain functionalities on the website and its pricing model for them is different to say the WordPress marketplace. For many of the WordPress plugins, you will pay a one-time, higher fee of say £200 – 500 to essentially own that plugin. Then you receive one year’s worth of updates for it but after that, you’re under no obligation to update it unless you want to.
The difference with Shopify is that it wants to make sure all of its users are using the latest version of each plugin (which is great), however, it does mean each one has a monthly fee. The price is a lot lower say £5 – 15 but then your monthly payments increase (on top of those costs we already discussed).
Shopify is not open source
A disadvantage of using Shopify is that it’s not open-source software therefore our developers do not have full control over every aspect of the build. If you’re looking for an e-commerce site that is very custom and bespoke, then working with Shopify probably isn’t the right choice for you.
Magento does offer this, however, it’s important to note that it’s a more complex e-commerce platform.
You cannot choose your server
Whilst the monthly fee you pay for using Shopify includes hosting and server costs, this does come with a disadvantage. You cannot move the site and put it on your own server, to increase its speed or quality.
Compare this to a platform like Magento, through which you could pay more to access a faster server to speed up your site.
For most people (especially in UK and US) this never causes any issues, however, there are occasional reports that in some countries the Shopify servers can be a little slower.
You cannot edit the cart or checkout process
Whilst this doesn’t make a difference to most e-commerce clients of ours unless you pay for Shopify Plus you cannot edit the cart or checkout process. Many big companies such as Gym Shark even use this set-up, so it is pretty common.
If you’re looking for a more bespoke or unusual cart of checkout option then chances are Shopify is not for you.
Read more: How much do Shopify experts cost?
The quality of plugins varies
As with most marketplaces, the plugin quality can range dramatically from high-quality options to some poor ones with no reviews or positive feedback. This is a bigger problem when you need a plugin for a specific purpose and there’s only one option which doesn’t do the job as well as you’d like.
Whilst it’s not a huge disadvantage of using Shopify, this should definitely be a consideration when considering the features and functionality of your site.
SEO functionality could be better
Whilst Shopify does do SEO basics pretty well (meta information, image compression, site speed etc), other than that you’ll need a plugin to help support additional SEO functionality and updates.
Using a plugin for SEO is quite common on most platforms, however, Magento in comparison has a better out-of-the-box SEO option. Again, it is another plugin cost to consider.
Shopify isn’t for everyone and that’s ok
We hope you have found this helpful in understanding what the disadvantages of using Shopify are – of course each platform has its own pros and cons.
Whilst we love building high-converting e-commerce websites on Shopify but we know it’s not for everyone. So, depending on your needs and objectives hopefully, now you understand a bit more about the drawbacks of Shopify, and whether or not it’s the platform for you.
If you’re already working with a Shopify website and are looking to improve your conversion rate, you might be interested in this blog we wrote in partnership with our friends over at Site Visibility – How to Run a Successful Shopify Store: What the Experts Do Differently – read it here.