Before we go straight in to the Shopify cons and drawbacks let me just say Shopify is a really well established platform and I really do feel it has a place. The team at Shopify have made some tremendous improvements to the platform over recent years with some really nice upgrades to both the basic and plus plan. They even have a plan now to sell without a website, allowing you to add buy buttons to social pages and other websites which is a nice touch.This is just a list of things that I would love for Shopify to seriously consider for their feature roadmap. Don’t get me wrong, I have no agenda to push people to other platforms. Shopify is very capable and can be an incredibly powerful tool for online sales.
I could quite easily write a list of things I like about it that would be just as long but that would be a bit pointless as that information already exists online. This is just my honest takeaway after the last few years working on Shopify stores for clients.
Creating custom URL structures in Shopify
Shopify is not able to avoid things like the /pages and /news prefix being present in the page URL. My issue with this is that it looks bad and can be a negative factor when ranking for SEO. I really hope in time, this can be removed and there is more flexibility over how page URLs work.
No categories for products and blog posts in Shopify
I understand that Shopify uses collections and tags to organise its products but I find for large-scale stores this can be really clunky. The automated collections are great until the store gets very large and then they become a bit hard to maintain with tags. In terms of blog pages its just a bit frustrating because you can’t really group content properly. I understand it is an ecommerce platform but having a news or blog section is a key part of driving organic traffic to your store.
Free product and shipping discounts in Shopify
In Shopify you can’t apply 2 discount codes in one purchase or have a discount code that offers both a discount and free shipping. This is a really simple feature that should be included but for whatever reason, it doesn’t exist. This makes it very difficult to offer free products to customers in certain situations. You are left either having to create a new product with free shipping assigned to it or use an app to cobble it together.
Customising the checkout in Shopify
Checkout customisation is not possible in the lower tiers of Shopify apart from minor tweaks. This is quite frustrating when you want to use additional payment gateways or have customisable products. The Shopify checkout is basic and just geared for simple stores, so if you sell clothing or candles for example it is perfectly adequate. But as soon as you need something more complex like personalisation, bundles or subscriptions it starts to show its limitations. I do think the user flow/experience of the checkout could be improved in general but that is a personal preference.
Filtering by variant options in Shopify
You can’t filter by product variants like colour or size by default. For this to be achieved you need to add custom code or use a 3rd party app. This is something that should be possible by default and is very useful for customers browsing through products.
Flexibility of Virtual Products
Virtual products are possible in Shopify but they are not available as a standard product type. To sell downloadable products in Shopify you need to use Shopify’s Digital Downloads app. It is nice to have the ability to do this but it is a shame that you need to use a 3rd party app to manage the products and orders. This would be a really nice thing to have as a standard product option.
Downtime notifications for Shopify
This is something that I deem to be crucial for ecommerce. Shopify hosting is very reliable for the most part and it is rare that they have issues. But when they do, you don’t ever seem to be notified of the issues. I have set up an uptime monitor to the stores myself and then have to head over here to check – https://www.shopifystatus.com/ When an issue is there, you are powerless really to do anything to the store and is not hosted by you. But it does give you the heads up to switch off ads and make sure phones and emails are being monitored to cover that downtime.
Create product bundles in Shopify
Product bundles in Shopify are not available without an app, the best product bundle app is around $20 a month, that’s nearly as much as Shopify itself. I think if product bundles are something you are looking to have in your store, especially alongside subscriptions, you need to look into costs of the apps as well as Shopify itself. To do this you will need some projections of customer volume.
Integrate Amazon UK sales channel into Shopify
Amazon UK integration is not currently available in Shopify but you can integrate with the US sales channel. I appreciate that Shopify is a US-owned company and the UK Amazon sales channel is not a priority but it is something that would be a big benefit to many store owners.
Using Google Analytics 4 with Shopify
At the time of writing this, the Google Analytics 4 tag has been available for over a year. Shopify is still yet to accommodate this in the admin panel, meaning new store owners will need to add their Google Analytics tag in the theme’s code directly. Even then, this will only set up basic Analytics tracking and not cover enhanced goals. These will need to be added manually. Although Shopify does have its own basic analytics, it is no replacement for Google Analytics.
Shopify admin confusing for clients
The Shopify admin itself does take some getting used to. After using it for an extended period of time, it’s a breeze but there is a learning curve. Some of this is clearly brought on by Shopify themselves not being able to change key parts of how it works. Some of it is also I little lost in translation to us here in the UK. As a technical person I find it fulfils what it needs to do for the most part but for non-technical store owners it can be overly complex and unintuitive at times.
Create additional contact forms in Shopify with an alternate email address
Contact forms in Shopify can only be routed to the store owner’s email. This may not be an issue if you only want the standard contact form and are happy to have it to that email. But if you want a secondary form for product returns or job applications for example, then you likely don’t want to have them sent to the same email address. This means you have to resort to using apps to extend the functionality of forms.
Customised mailbox integration through Shopify
It would be really nice if you could do this through Shopify as opposed to having to use Webmail, 365 or Google Business email addresses. If there was a way to have emails that are standalone and integrated into the Shopify admin panel, that would be a really nice touch. Then you have everything you need all in one place.
Send gift vouchers to a separate email in Shopify
I love the ability to be able to use gift vouchers now on all payment tiers of Shopify. But one thing that really makes it a bit clunky is the fact you can’t actually send the voucher directly to the recipient. You have to buy it and then forward it on, which just seems a bit rubbish when sending a gift. I can understand there must be security rules around this but there must be a way to make this a better experience. I also find it a bit of a shame that there isn’t a simple admin field to change the voucher image, you have to do it in the gift voucher template.
Set up shipping rules using both cost and weight in Shopify
Setting up shipping rules that have different variables can be crucial for certain stores. This can be achieved using automatic discounts and discount codes but it would be great to be able to assign shipping rules around basket values directly.
Using multiple currencies and business accounts in Shopify
This is tied heavily into having one ecommerce solution that crosses international borders for operations, logistics and fulfilment. As you know, it can be very expensive to ship stock around the world with taxes, duties and various other costs. What would be really useful in Shopify is for you to be able to fulfil orders from a particular country of origin (UK business/ US business accounts etc). This would allow you to take payment in the correct currency, avoiding conversion fees and allowing you to split that out into a different entity.
Shopify does offer locations which will allow you to assign stock to different locations which is great but the payment side of things can be costly. Currently, the only way to do this is with a separate store which you can host on a subdomain like es.mystore.com but you have to have a whole other Shopify store plan with a separate set of customers and orders etc. This is just not maintainable for multiple locales and to do this you need to be on the Shopify Plus plan (over $2000 a month), so bear that in mind when starting out. Shopify is bringing a feature called Markets to the platform and this looks to elevate some of the issues but I am still not certain it handles them all from what I have read.
Replacing an image in Shopify
This is a really simple one but something that does frustrate me. With Shopify, you are obviously not hosting the files yourself, so you can’t just replace files on the server. But there is a ‘files’ section in the admin and it would be really nice if you could just upload a file with the same name and it gave you the option to replace it or create a new image. Currently, it will just add some numbers to the end of the file to make it different to the original.
A good example of a time this would come in handy is for a client who had timetable PDFs across pages and menus for their gym. So rather than being able to just replace the PDF in one place, you had to upload a new one and change every page and menu that had a reference to that timetable. This means manually going through all of that content and updating it, which can be quite time-consuming. The way around it would be to link everything to a timetable page and then just update the link there but that is a bit clunky.
I like that you can add simple scripts from the Shopify admin panel. This gives store owners to add simple tracking scripts without the assistance of a developer. My only gripe with it is the lack of validation for additional scripts in the admin section. Simple mistakes can cause really issues and there is no real indication that there is an issue. This is not ideal for non-technical users.
Is Shopify the right ecommerce platform for you?
This all depends on what is important to you and your business. Shopify may be the right fit, it just all depends on your requirements now and how you are looking to scale the store in the future.
These aren’t deal breakers individually but if you need a few of these features then Shopify either starts to get quite clunky and costly with lots of 3rd party apps or custom code. Or you just have to live without and work around certain functionality.
These best way to find out if Shopify is the right choice for you is to use it firsthand. Shopify do offer a free 7 day trial, so you can explore the admin, look in to apps and other areas of interest.
Some of this functionality may exist now since the post was written, I will try to keep it updated as I don’t want to be offering false information. If anything here is wrong or you would like to add something that you wish Shopify would include, please leave it below in the comments.