Shopify is a popular e-commerce website builder that offers monthly and annual plans designed to accommodate any budget. This all-in-one platform provides everything you need to launch an online store, even if you have no coding or design experience.
Every Shopify plan comes with unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and lets you post unlimited products, which means Shopify scales beautifully as your business grows. The platform is so user-friendly that you can create a live Shopify store that’s optimized for search in a few hours.
- User-friendly site setup
- 6,000-plus app integrations
- 24/7 customer service
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Shipping discounts of up to 88%
- Sell online and in-person
What Is Shopify?
Shopify is a popular e-commerce website builder that makes it easy to create and manage an online store. With Shopify, you can sell products and services via several outlets, including your own website, social channels and top online marketplaces.
What Can You Sell on Shopify?
The Shopify platform supports a wide variety of products and services. For example, with a Shopify plan, you can sell the following:
- Physical products
- Digital downloads, such as e-books, audio files and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
- Subscription boxes
- Services that can be managed through online bookings
- Gift cards
- Live plants and flowers
- Online courses and training
- Tickets to events, attractions and tours
You can also accept donations or host fundraisers through Shopify.
Shopify prohibits selling specific products, including prescription medicines, live animals, explosives, cigarettes, sexually explicit products, warranties and services plans. While you can sell hemp-derived CBD products on Shopify, shipping outside the U.S. is prohibited.
Selling products that violate government regulations or laws is strictly forbidden on Shopify. It’s always best to familiarize yourself with the laws applicable to your targeted selling and shipping regions before starting any online business.
How Does Shopify Work?
Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. You pay a subscription fee to use the platform, and Shopify provides the tools you need to design and manage your online e-commerce website and hosts your site for you. Your Shopify website is not transferable to other e-commerce platforms; you must maintain an active Shopify account to keep your site live.
You can get started with Shopify with its introductory offer, which includes a three-day free trial and then three months at only $1 per month. To continue with Shopify, you’ll need to select from one of Shopify’s three core plans—Basic, Shopify or Advanced.
Once you’ve signed up for a Shopify plan, you’ll want to choose where and how to start selling your products or services. You can create an online store, sell via social media channels, connect to an existing website or blog, sell in person and sell via online marketplaces such as Google, Amazon or eBay.
Design your Shopify online store using one of Shopify’s e-commerce-enabled themes. Add products to your Shopify account, set up payments and shipping and taxes, then you’re ready to start selling. Track orders and monitor business performance via Shopify’s extensive reporting and analytical tools.
Pricing and Value
Shopify offers three primary plans that all include unlimited products, discount codes, 24/7 support and the ability to promote your products on multiple sales channels. You’ll save 25% by paying for your plan annually instead of month to month. Start with the plan that best fits your current needs and upgrade your Shopify plan at any time.
You can get started with Shopify by taking advantage of its introductory offer, which includes a three-day free trial plus your first three months at $1 per month. After that, you’ll need to purchase a plan.
Shopify Tiered Pricing for Core Plans
|$29 per month
|$79 per month
|$299 per month
|Up to 1,000
|Up to 1,000
|Up to 1,000
|Online Credit Card Rates for Shopify Payments
|2.9% + 30 cents
|2.6% + 30 cents
|2.4% + 30 cents
|Online International/Amex Credit Card Rates
|3.9% + 30 cents
|3.6% + 30 cents
|3.4% + 30 cents
|Transaction Fee if Not Using Shopify Payments
|Up to 77%
|Up to 88%
|Up to 88%
|Abandoned Cart Recovery
|Sell Digital Goods
|Third-Party Calculated Shipping Rates
|Duties and Import Taxes
*Prices based on annual payment; monthly payment plans are available for a higher fee.
Not included in the chart above is Shopify’s Starter plan, which doesn’t come with a full-fledged e-commerce store. Instead, the $5 per month Shopify Starter plan gives you Shopify cart and product management functionality so you can sell on social channels such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and WhatsApp or via text or email.
The Basic plan lets you create your own online shop to market and sell your products and services. Choose your shop theme and develop a site that best suits your business needs. With the Basic plan, you can assign two people to your account for store access and management.
The $29 monthly fee (if billed annually) for the Basic plan lets you sell unlimited products, though you’ll do so at a slight fee disadvantage, as the cost for credit card processing via Shopify Payments is highest on the Basic plan.
The Basic plan is ideal for those who are just starting out and haven’t established a solid sales track record. Basic gives you most of the features you’ll get in the higher-tier plans at a price tag that’s considerably more affordable for those on a budget.
The popular mid-tier plan—“Shopify”—costs $79 per month (if billed annually). The two key advantages of going with the Shopify plan over the Basic plan are lower credit card processing fees and more staff accounts.
You can have up to five staff accounts for this Shopify plan, which is helpful for larger stores that require more support from adding and managing a more complex product inventory. Credit card processing fees are slightly lower than on the Basic plan with the Shopify plan; the 0.2% to 0.3% difference may not matter for low-sales-volume stores, but it could add up to significant savings for high-volume stores.
The Shopify plan has a few more perks, including built-in e-commerce automations that streamline workflows and more substantial shipping discounts.
At $299 per month (if billed annually), the Advanced plan is best for those who have already established a clientele for their online businesses. The Advanced plan comes with up to 15 staff accounts and Shopify’s lowest credit card processing fees.
A handful of other advanced features come with this plan, such as advanced reports that give you greater visibility into store performance, e-commerce workflow automations and the best shipping discounts available through Shopify. For those involved with international commerce, the Advanced plan also includes duties and import tax estimates at checkout, which can assist in providing greater clarity regarding costs and returns for impacted customers.
If you ever outgrow the Advanced plan, Shopify also offers a Shopify Plus plan for high-volume stores. Shopify Plus plans are custom-priced, but start at $2,000 a month.
An In-Depth Look at Shopify Features
Shopify is a feature-rich platform with a solid reputation as a reliable e-commerce website builder. The platform was developed specifically for those who don’t have extensive technical skills or website development experience. Before deciding whether Shopify is the right choice for your business, it pays to take a closer look at Shopify’s core features.
Online Store Editor
Shopify’s store editor is relatively easy to use, but your experience setting up a shop on Shopify may vary depending on your skill level and experience. If you’re not accustomed to a drag-and-drop editor or have never used a website builder, you may experience a modest learning curve. Those with more website experience typically report that Shopify’s editor is intuitive and easy to navigate.
The Shopify theme you choose will determine the basic appearance of and functions available on your website; additional functionality can be obtained through third-party apps. Choose from over 100 themes available directly through Shopify, around 20% of which are free. Paid themes cost between $180 and $360 and can be used for a single store.
The Shopify drag-and-drop editor lets you move sections or blocks of your website around easily to create the store layout you want. The editor allows you to customize your site’s look and feel while ensuring you retain the layout integrity that produces a professional-looking online store. Preview your site’s appearance from a mobile or desktop view before finalizing your site design.
Shopify’s mobile-friendly themes help guarantee that your online store is optimized for every device your customers use. You can change your theme at any time. However, if you’ve made a lot of customizations to your current theme, moving to a different theme can be complicated as design settings and site features vary considerably from theme to theme.
If you have a vision for your website and are having trouble executing it, you may want to work with a Shopify store development specialist. You can work with a developer you hire directly or visit the Shopify Expert Marketplace to find and hire a certified Shopify expert. Fees vary by expert but expect to pay between $50 to $150 if you outsource directly through the Expert Marketplace and possibly less if hiring through a third-party freelancing site such as Upwork or Fiverr.
Shopify recently introduced a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool for its customers called Shopify Magic. This proprietary AI tool helps you generate product descriptions for your online shop. Just provide a few details about your product, and Shopify Magic can generate compelling descriptions for you.
As with all AI tools, Shopify Magic’s suggestions may not be 100% on target, but they can still shorten the time it takes you to develop compelling product descriptions for your website.
Shopify has been in the e-commerce business since 2006, which means it has nearly two decades of experience developing highly successful checkout carts for online companies. Essential cart functions are not editable, but some features can be customized.
Navigate to the checkout settings page on your Shopify dashboard to customize the style of your checkout cart for your store. Using the Checkout editor, you can add your logo and modify your checkout cart with your brand colors and fonts. You can also edit some checkout form fields or designate some as required or optional.
There are 27 checkout apps available via the Shopify App Store that you may want to explore to add additional functionality to your store’s checkout process. These checkout apps include apps for adding upsell and cross-sell suggestions, loyalty and reward programs, age verification, shipping insurance, post-purchase surveys and more.
Arranging shipping for goods can be a hassle for many new online businesses, but Shopify offers several solutions that make your life easier. When you set up your shop, you’ll manage shipping settings via the Shipping and Delivery page on your store’s admin dashboard. For physical goods, there are three ways to get items to your customers: shipping, local pickup and local delivery. Enable all the methods that pertain to your business.
When shipping products to your customers, you can opt for flat-rate, free or carrier-calculated shipping. With calculated shipping, you pass along the exact shipping cost to your clients, but those calculations require that you provide accurate weights and measurements for your products when packaged for shipping. You can also integrate your site with a dropshipping provider to handle fulfillment and shipping.
Shopify Shipping offers competitive shipping rates from UPS, USPS and DHL Express; save up to 77% on shipping with the Basic plan and up to 88% with the Shopify and Advanced plans. The two top-tier plans also come with USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing, USPS Parcel Select Cubic pricing and include up to $200 of shipping insurance coverage for eligible packages, provided you’re using Shopify Payments.
Shopify integrates with several popular shipping apps, including ShipStation, Shippo, UPS Shipping, Easyship and ShippingEasy.
Order Management and Fulfillment
Once a customer completes their purchase, you’ll need an effective order management and fulfillment system to ensure that the correct items are selected, packed, labeled and shipped correctly. Shopify’s order management tools help streamline the entire process.
Shopify makes it easy to see all your orders along with their order status. From your Shopify dashboard, you can navigate to the Orders tab to view all orders from all sales channels in one place. Open orders are tagged for easy identification.
You can update each order with tags or notes to track important information such as order irregularities, payment status, return status, risk level or customer inquiry status. Streamline your fulfillment process by organizing orders based on shipping criteria such as delivery destination, shipping method and fulfillment status.
Shopify stores customer contact information in each order so you can reach out to customers should you need to ask a question or want to send a push notification alerting customers of order shipment status.
If you’d rather not fulfill your own orders, you can join Shopify’s Fulfillment Network, which handles product storage, shipping and returns for you. Sites that use the Network’s fulfillment services can post the exclusive Shop Promise badge, which verifies items will be delivered in five days or less.
Shopify offers a cost calculator for its Fulfillment Network so you can estimate your product storage and fulfillment costs. These costs can vary significantly by item size, weight, shape, shipping destination and anticipated shipping volume.
You can also choose to use a third-party fulfillment solutions provider. The Shopify App Store features several popular apps, including ShipHero Fulfillment, ShipMonk, ShipBob Fulfillment and Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment.
Point-of-Sale (POS) System
With your Shopify account, you can sell online or in person. To conduct business in person, you’ll need to download Shopify’s POS app, which is available for iOS and Android. Shopify POS automatically syncs with your online store so you can keep track of purchases and inventory from all sales sources.
All Shopify plans come with Shopify POS Lite, which allows businesses to sell at pop-ups, special events, temporary markets and retail stores. With POS Lite, you can turn virtually any mobile device into a tool for generating sales. Collect credit card payments, sell gift cards, issue refunds, and sell the same products and services you offer online in a face-to-face environment.
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, consider upgrading to Shopify POS Pro, which costs $89 per month. POS Pro gives you considerably more control over staff permissions, extensive inventory reporting tools, a two-year warranty on POS hardware purchases and omnichannel selling capabilities.
Analytics and Reporting
If you aren’t familiar with what’s working and what’s not working on your online store, you’re putting your business at risk. You need access to detailed analytics to make strategic business decisions. Shopify delivers a wide range of reports that you can access by navigating to the Analytics tab on your Shopify dashboard.
Shopify has three report categories: basic, standard and advanced. Basic plan customers have access to basic reports, Shopify plan customers have access to standard reports and Advanced plan customers receive advanced reports. Types of reports include:
- Acquisition reports
- Behavior reports
- Customer reports
- Finance reports
- Inventory reports
- Marketing reports
- Order reports
- Profit reports
- Retail sales reports
- Overall sales reports
Shopify’s extensive report suite gives customers deep insights into customer behaviors, buyer patterns, product profitability and other vital drivers of online store success. Shopify Advanced plan customers also have access to custom reports that can be used to examine site performance even more thoroughly.
Detailed product analytics are also available for all accounts. Product analytics give you an in-depth look at product sales for the last 90 days, providing insights into net sales over time, by channel and traffic source.
Bottom Line: Is Shopify Right for You?
Shopify works best for small businesses that want to create a true online shop instead of merely building a website with limited e-commerce functionality. With Shopify, you can sell both physical and digital products in your Shopify store and start selling via social channels, online marketplaces and in-person at events, pop-ups and retail locations. Shopify will scale beautifully as your business grows.