Pricing – and selecting the right package
While our review is focused on the UK offering, it’s clear that Shopify’s main focus is on their US customers. This started to slowly change a couple of years ago. Shopify is now offering a card terminal for UK businesses and started showing some prices in British Pounds.
Be aware, though, that the billing still takes place in US$ based on the exchange rate on the date your credit card is charged, so the prices below are approximate.
The cloud-hosted software is available as a monthly subscription. Shopify offers Lite, Basic, standard Shopify and Advanced monthly subscriptions. There is also a Shopify Plus, but this is for large and high-volume businesses. The Lite starts at £7 and for the Advanced plan, you have to cash out £235 per month.
|Card processing rates in-store||1.7%||1.7%||1.6%||1.5%|
|Selling online included||Only through social media + embedded “buy” buttons on personal website||Yes, through your online store||Yes, through your online store||Yes, through your online store|
|Number of tills/sales points||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|24/7 email and chat support|
|24/7 phone support|
|Staff POS app PINs/logins||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Sales channel reports||Limited|
|Detailed finance, sales, payments, taxes and web traffic reports|
|Custom reports, customer analytics|
|Card fees, in-store|
The Lite package is for those who do not need a dedicated online store. You can, however, sell products over social media and Facebook Messenger and add embedded “buy” buttons on your personal website or blog. With the Shopify POS app added on top, you are able to sell in your face-to-face shop. You just can’t build an online store with the Lite plan.
Basic is the least expensive option with online store support, 24/7 phone support and a competitive card processing rate of 1.7%. The standard Shopify package offers exactly the same features as Basic, but it throws in professional reports for better analytics and support for gift cards.
The Advanced plan costs £235 – pretty steep for a monthly cloud-based POS subscription. In terms of additional features, the only thing it offers is custom report creation tools, customer analytics and real-time calculated carrier shipping.
|Online selling included?|
|Only via social media + “buy” buttons on your website||Yes, through online store||Yes, through online store||Yes, through online store|
|Number of sales points|
|24/7 email & chat support|
|24/7 phone support|
|Staff POS app logins|
|Sales channel reports|
|Detailed finance, sales, taxes & web traffic reports|
|Custom reports, customer analytics|
Shopify offers a 14-day free trial so you can get a feel for things. We would absolutely suggest trying that out first. But even then, it can be hard to know exactly which package is most suitable for you. You can start out with the Lite or Basic package, then upgrade to the standard package for one month to see if the additional features are helpful (you can downgrade again after a month if you wish).
One last important point: if you have a high turnover, the lowered processing rates with Shopify standard and Advanced might be worth the extra fee alone.
Card processing rates
First off, if you’re using Shopify POS in the UK, you are stuck with one way of accepting cards if you want reasonable card fees: the Shopify Tap, Chip and Swipe (EMV) card reader. It is fully synced at checkout, so works seamlessly. But if you choose another card machine, Shopify will charge an additional fee of 0.5%-2.0%.
The card reader accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay payments, as well as certain debit cards associated with Visa and Mastercard (they do not openly state which). It doesn’t matter where the card is issued or what type the card or payment is – the fees will be the same for them all.
Let’s look at the transaction fees for using the Shopify card reader.
For Basic, you are charged a 1.7% fee per transaction. For the Shopify package, the rate is 1.6 % while the Advanced package charges 1.5% in transaction fees, which in the case of credit cards is pretty competitive.
For a retail store with a turnover of £8,000 per month through card payments, the 1.7% rate will cost you £136 in card fees, and the 1.5% rate £120. The difference of £16 is much less than the difference between the Advanced and Basic packages, so if you are motivated by better rates only, you need a higher card sales volume for that to make sense.
If the monthly card sales is £20,000, the Advanced package will leave you with £300 in fees, and the Basic package £340.
You may have read online about supported payment gateways and similar information, but all of this can be disregarded since this information is only relevant to the Shopify online store.
Who is it suited for?
Shopify POS is developed for retail businesses. If you are running a restaurant, bar or coffee shop, other EPOS systems will suit you better simply because the features included in Shopify’s packages do not cover several important hospitality functions. But Shopify is particularly suited to complex product management with multiple variants of products.
Shopify targets small-to-medium-sized businesses, although they offer a Plus plan for bigger enterprises. To hear about prices for this, you’ll need to contact them directly.
Ease of use
The easiest way to set up Shopify POS is starting on the web, not in the app. The sign-up process takes you through the basic account setup steps you’d expect from any similar service. The whole process takes just a couple of minutes to complete. By the end of it all, we were able to jump into the service with a free trial that did not require us to enter any payment information beforehand.
If you take this route, or already have a Shopify POS store, this is a great place to start adding products. We found the product management from this page to be exceptionally responsive and never had any issues with adding products, keeping track of sales or creating categories and collections to help any customers that may want to view our shop online.
Straight off the bat, the mobile POS app provides a login screen for previous Shopify POS users to access. Everything syncs up perfectly from the desktop version we signed up to earlier, and we were able to log in straight away.
The POS app on a smartphone does offer limited information when compared to the desktop backend. Whilst we could easily add items and attach photos, it didn’t seem possible to add a description to each item, and the descriptions for items could not be displayed in the app either. The iPad app, on the other hand, is more feature-rich and closer in line with the backend we mentioned above.
Everything else about the Shopify POS application works smoothly. The interface has a sleek blue and white colour scheme that’s easy on the eye, and the entire app uses symbols and menu systems that are universal across the majority of iOS and Android apps, so it’s very easy to understand.
Making a sale
If you wish to sell an item in-store with only an iPad as opposed to adding external hardware like a barcode scanner, you can quickly tap on the items your customer wants to purchase to create a shopping cart. The checkout button is visible at all times so it’s easy for you to prepare your customer’s purchase, cancel an item or edit their cart at any point.
The payment types available will depend on your own in-store setup, but with credit card and cash as the default payment types, it’s quick and easy to make exchanges. Cash transactions can be completed quickly. You can note the amount a customer has handed you and the app will give you a summary of the change due whenever necessary. Shopify POS will then make a note of the sale.
Payments with the Shopify card reader
With credit and debit card payments, things are a little different. Check out as usual on the Shopify POS app and select card as the payment option. The amount to be paid will be visible to the customer on the card reader display. The customer completes the transaction via chip and PIN or contactless tap (swipe is available as a backup), and the payment will be registered with the system. It’s an easy, seamless experience.
Summarising the order
Once your order has been completed and if your device is connected to the internet, your order will automatically sync up with your account. Shopify will track the transaction, and by default, an email will be sent to you with details of the transaction (unless you have deactivated this feature). Besides this, you don’t need to do any further work with your orders except for one last thing. Even if you made a sale in-store, Shopify will automatically list your item as unfulfilled, but it’s easy to head to your order page and bulk-select all of the sold items and fulfill them with the click of a button. You could do this in your spare time or at the end of the day before cashing up.
It doesn’t matter either way, as long as you complete the action. It’s mostly there as a reminder system for when an order is placed online – in this case you should post your item before fulfilling it. We’ll talk more about the online store integration later.
It is fairly easy to remedy any mistakes made while creating an order, but it would be nice if the Android version of the app had a better system for removing items – we found that currently, we would be forced to the checkout page before being able to do this.
The iPad app has a better experience overall when compared to Android tablets or phones. It’s definitely filled with the kind of features that would otherwise be exclusive to the desktop software found on the Shopify website. The Android version, however, is more limited. It works well, but it’s not the comprehensive experience you may have hoped for.
If you plan on using the Shopify POS app for your retail shop, we recommend picking up an iPad for a better experience.
What about offline performance? Not great
Offline support for the Shopify POS app is unfortunately very blotchy. While offline functionality is (sort of) available, it doesn’t always work and there are too many issues that could potentially kick you out of the service until you connect to the internet again.
For example, if your iPad restarts or the Shopify POS app gets closed, you will need the internet to sign back in to the application. Without internet access, you’ll be shut out. We had trouble making sales without internet access too, although it is possible to make transactions without the internet on iOS. With Android, it seems to be different – we couldn’t even progress to the checkout page without an internet connection, and what made it worse was that we couldn’t edit the items in the shopping basket until we could connect to the checkout page either. This could make offline sales very confusing.
When the offline mode does actually work (mostly in the case of the iPad) things are stored locally so that you can sync up your data once you’re back online. However, it is impossible to create new customer profiles whilst without internet, so if you have a loyalty program running, you’re going to have to throw out a lot of apologies if your internet cuts out.
- Product management. Shopify was developed for a complex online shop, so you probably get all you need there. In addition to categories and subcategories, you can add variants such as sizes and colours. You can make your own collections for further organisation too. The last step is to add pricing and quantity information, alongside SKU number. Product information can quickly be edited at any time.
- Inventory management. Shopify will help you track stock levels. You can set up product tracking in the admin section of the backend. If the quantity reaches zero, the product will not be available for sale in your online store. Through your retail app, though, the product will be available for purchase as it is assumed that if the customer comes to you with an item for checkout, you had it somewhere even if your admin backend says zero. Shopify will not alert you if stock is running low, but through the Shopify App Store, there is a free low-stock warning app you can integrate to do just that.
- Backend reports and analytics. The reports page on the Shopify POS website provides users with a wealth of accessible reports and analytics. While the home page gives a quick overview of your latest sales data, it’s the reports page that will come in handy for managing revenue and preparing information for tax purposes. If you’d like to quickly access reports by month, hour, SKU or traffic source (for online sales), the Standard reports may be beneficial. That being said, a lot of the additional Standard reports are geared towards better online store functionality as opposed to extra POS retail analytics, although the reports do work for both. Thankfully, it is also very easy to export your Shopify reports as CSV files.
- Gift cards, loyalty schemes and customer management. Gift cards are exclusive to Shopify POS customers with the standard or Advanced subscription. If you feel gift cards are essential to your business, you’ll be happy to hear that they work exceptionally well with Shopify. Here, you can activate the payment option for physical gift cards and gift cards that can be printed and emailed to customers. If you’d like physical gift cards from Shopify, you will need to order them via the gift cards page on the payment settings screen mentioned above. They are beautiful, but perfection does not come cheap – for example, £139 for a package of 100. The bigger the package you order, the lower the price per card. Be aware the Shopify POS app can only process gift cards on an iPad, not an iPhone and Android device.
Physical gift cards can be customised and ordered online.
- Shopify online store integration. Shopify is best known for their online store and e-commerce offering, and we were impressed with how well the POS side of things are integrated into a Shopify online store. This is probably where Shopify is the superior provider on the market. Unless you opt for the £7 Lite package, your online shop is set up as you add new products to your inventory. Each item that is added for intended sale within your retail store can be sold on the internet via your online shop too.
- Invoice generator. Shopify allows you to create invoices online (online payment rates apply) which you can email to customers. It has the sleek design you would expect from Shopify.
Shopify has other free tools and features, like the purchase order generator, bill of lading generator, barcode scanning and QR code generators.
Integrations and add-ons
This is where Shopify disappoints to an extent. You will find an overview of all the free and paid integrations and add-ons in the Shopify App Store.
If you want to take analytics and accounting one step further, Shopify integrates with Xero and a number of other cloud-based accounting and invoicing apps.
Shopify launched its POS app in the UK before it launched its own credit card reader. The app was not of much value then as it did not offer a seamless checkout experience with an integrated card terminal. This changed with the Shopify card reader. The card machine is the same make used by PayPal Here and formerly iZettle (now upgraded to the iZettle Reader 2) and accepts chip, contactless and swipe cards.
iPad only – or do iPhone and Android work too?
The Shopify POS app works with iPad, iPhones and Android devices. Shopify previously had a Retail Package that had to be added for several point of sale functionalities to work, and this wasn’t compatible with Android. In fact, you couldn’t integrate this with cash drawers and other POS hardware, making it a pain for Android users. That’s why we will focus on only iPad and iPhone here – still, there are some functionality you won’t get with an iPhone.
Customer service and support
Shopify has email, chat and phone support options. We like that Shopify lets you know what the current wait time will be, whether it is chat, email or phone. The first time I contacted them by email, I got a reply within six hours. My second time emailing, I was told the average response time was 14 hours. I got a response in 21 hour later.
Chat support is faster, but certain times of the day, you may expect to wait up to 20 minutes to get an agent. My experience is that the support staff are friendly and knowledgeable, although their experience with the UK product specifics are not yet as strong as the standard North American service offerings. We’ve seen this improve since 2016 as Shopify rolled out its card reader and secured more customers.
Phone support is included in the Basic, Standard and Advanced packages only, but not the Lite package (the Lite package does include chat and email support, though). The response time is usually within a few minutes, even on weekends.
Where Shopify POS works and where it doesn’t
That just about wraps it up! If you’re still not sure whether to take the plunge, here’s a summary of where Shopify thrives and where it may let you down.
Where it works
- Combining channels – retail and online
- Integrated payment experience
- Stores with a range of products and variants
- Intuitive design and ease of use
- Lots of perks, such as gift cards and discount system
Where it doesn’t work
- Stores with unreliable internet should not rely on Shopify’s poor offline mode
- If you don’t have an online shop nor plan to develop one, other EPOS systems will make more sense
- Gift cards require a pricier subscription and physical gift cards must be purchased too
In short, if you’re opening a retail store and plan on operating an online shop, Shopify can be a great choice.