While Shopify is best known as an eCommerce platform, the software giant introduced a new in-store card reader in 2017. The move pits Shopify against other debit and credit card reader providers like SumUp, Square and iZettle.
In this in-depth, I’ll discuss the Shopify card reader, POS app, pricing, customer support, security and much much more. Let’s get started.
What is the Shopify card reader?
Shopify released an iPad-based point-of-sale (POS) app for retail merchants in 2013. The app ran on mobile devices and, for the first few years, didn’t have a Shopify-branded card reader to go with it.
Four years later, Shopify released a Bluetooth-enabled card reader to allow brick and mortar merchants to process payments via debit and credit cards in-store.
Instead of developing its own credit card reader, PayPal has opted to license an existing design from a third-party company called Miura. Specifically, Shopify uses the Miura M010, which is the first generation card reader used by iZettle and the current generation card reader used by PayPal Here. (If you see the same device with different branding, that’s why.)
Despite being one of the oldest devices on the market, the Shopify card reader is superb!
The small reader is roughly four inches long by three inches wide and sits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The rounded edges, soft plastics and weighty internal components give it a reassuring feel. Despite its pint-sized dimensions, the reader includes a 13-button keypad and a small screen.
The card reader allows you to accept payments via Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover, Apple Pay, and Android Pay.
The Bluetooth connectivity seems consistent and the battery life is impressive. It could be a little quicker to recharge (it takes around four hours to charge from empty to full) but that’s genuinely the only quibble I have with the reader.
What Shopify hardware is available?
Whether you’re online or in-store, Shopify’s goal is the same: provide an all-in-one retail service. So it’s not overly surprising that Shopify sells all the hardware you need to get set up and selling.
- Card readers and stands: Starting with the basics, here is the Shopify card reader that I discussed in the previous section. Shopify also sells a nice little card reader stand that turns the little device into a more professional-looking payment terminal.
- Receipt printers and paper: While the Shopify POS supports digital receipts, some businesses will want (or need) to provide paper receipts. Shopify sells a simple Bluetooth receipt printer and replacement till rolls.
- Cash Drawers: Shopify sells two cash drawers at opposite ends of the affordability scale. Costing just £49, Shopify’s basic cash drawer is a good entry-level option. However, if you want a bit more security, you can opt for the £349, automatic Windfall Cash Drawer.
- Barcode scanners and printers: If you run a larger retail business and need barcodes and scanners, don’t worry as Shopify has you covered.
- All-In-One: Lastly, Shopify sells an all-singing all-in-one product called the Star mPOP. This product includes an integrated cash drawer, receipt printer and tablet stand. Watch out as the Star mPOP is usually pictured with an actual tablet, which isn’t included.
For 99% of businesses, that’s all you could possibly need to get a retail operation up and running!
How good is the Shopify POS app?
Since Shopify started out as an eCommerce platform, it already had a powerful POS backend pre-built. Shopify adapted its eCommerce platform in 2014 to release a retail POS system, which actually launched before the card reader did.
The current POS app is a bit of a mixed bag. The first thing you’ll notice is that, unlike Square, iZettle, PayPal and SumUp, the Shopify POS isn’t free. Not only that but Shopify is available at three different pricing Shopify plans, each offering slightly different features.
The Basic Shopify plan costs $29 per month and includes all the basic retail functionality you’d expect. You can add unlimited products, assign staff accounts, access support 24/7, create discount codes and so on.
The mid-tier Shopify plan has all of that and some extra additions like gift cards, professional reports, shifts and so on. The mid-ter option costs $79 per month.
The enterprise-level Advanced Shopify plan costs $299 per month and is all-singing and all-dancing. However, it’s difficult to know what sort of company it’s targeted at.
Each tier also comes with a different in-person card processing rate: 1.7% (basic), 1.6% (mid-tier) and 1.5% (enterprise).
From a retail perspective, all the options are quite impressive, especially if you use it via a desktop rather than a mobile app. It’s easy to set up products, tweak variants, add photos, assign products into categories. Out of all the mobile card readers, Shopify is definitely the leader when it comes to complex product management.
Unfortunately, Shopify’s eCommerce background doesn’t do it favours in other sectors. For example, Shopify doesn’t work in a hospitality environment.
The final thing I want to discuss is the difference between the Shopify mobile app and the Shopify website experience. While the Shopify mobile app is good, it offers a limited experience compared to the Shopify website. Some options are omitted, which is an inconvenience at best and annoying at worst. However, what is there works well and I didn’t have any issues with bugs or freezes.
The Shopify mobile app is only available on Apple iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. It is not available on Android devices.
How much does the Shopify card reader cost?
While Shopify has a bunch of card readers on the market, UK merchants are stuck with just one: the Shopify Tap, Chip and Swipe. (Not that the others are actually better but it would be nice to have a choice.) Because Shopify sells their POS software separately, you can technically use a third-party card reader with it but they’ll charge you an additional fee between 0.5% and 2.0% to make up for their lost payment processing charges.
As you can see, Shopify uses a tiered system where merchants paying the higher subscription fee get lower payment processing fees. This is similar to a sliding fee scale like that used by the PayPal Here but has nothing to do with your turnover. At the low end, Basic Shopify charges 1.7%, which is very competitive in the pay-as-you-go market. At the top end, the Advanced Shopify tier charges just 1.5%, which is very competitive indeed! However, with all tiers, you’ve got to factor in the software subscription costs
How does Shopify compare to other card readers?
Now you know how much Shopify charges, we can compare its pricing to its competitors. It’s worth remembering that Shopify is really competing against two types of payment processing device. First, you have other mobile card readers. Second, you’ve got traditional rented card terminals.
Let’s start by comparing Shopify to its direct competitors in the card reader niche.
|Product||Payment Processing Fee||Device Cost|
|PayPal Here||1.00 to 2.75%||£45|
|Shopify||1.5 to 1.7%||£79|
In terms of card reader cost, Shopify sits at the very top of the list, which is odd as Shopify uses the exact same device as PayPal, which costs £34 less. It’s difficult to know how Shopify justifies the high price tag, especially since it charges a substantial subscription fee for its POS app. Since each subscription tier comes with a different payment processing fee, it’s difficult to accurately compare it with other services. Only the Advanced Shopify processing fee is cheaper than SumUp’s and even then only by 0.19%.
As I mentioned, the second comparison you need to think about is with the type of card terminal you see in traditional retailers like normal brick and mortar businesses. These terminals are rented to merchants by payment processors on long-term rental agreements and come with minimum monthly payments. Because of the long-term agreements and minimum monthly fees, the payment processing costs are usually very low. If you sniff out the best deal, you can usually get your card payment processing costs under 1.00%, which is cheaper than the best rate offered by Shopify.
Generally speaking, if you process more than £2,000 per month, you’re cheaper ditching your mobile card reader and going with a traditional rented terminal.
How is Shopify’s customer service and support?
Shopify boasts that it provides free, round the clock support to its customers via chat, email and phone. (Although the hefty subscription fee makes me question the word free.) All support options give you a response time estimate, which is actually really handy. Chat and phone support options were fairly responsive during my tests and Shopify staff seemed sufficiently knowledgeable to deal with my problems. I didn’t test email support but I imagine it is up to the standard of the other channels.
There’s also a bunch of online support available, including a help centre for technical issues and the Shopify Academy for more general business and eCommerce skills.
Should I use Shopify for my business?
If you’re already using Shopify to run an online store via Shopify’s eCommerce service, it makes sense to use Shopify’s POS and in-store card reader. If you aren’t already in the Shopify ecosystem, there are cheaper options available.