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What is Shopify: A Detailed Guide for Beginners (2024)

What Does Shopify Do

Shopify is a great selling option for businesses of all sizes since it is an all-inclusive platform.

Businesses can easily create and maintain an online business for an affordable monthly price.

You can promote, sell, and ship your products directly from the Shopify platform.

Our team has interacted with numerous Shopify users to understand their likes and dislikes about the platform, as well as how it helps them enhance their businesses.

From our research, we’ve crafted this guide to give you valuable insights into selling on Shopify. We’ll cover plan options, how the platform works, and the best tools to help you build a successful online store.

Shopify’s developers state that their leadership and expertise in commerce are derived from the millions of merchants using the platform.

In short, the success of various sellers powers the minds behind the platform to forecast and build necessary features.

How Does Shopify Work?

Shopify works by unifying all commerce on a single platform.

Merchants can easily build and personalize their online store with Shopify.

They can sell through multiple channels, including mobile, web, in-person, pop-up shops, brick-and-mortar locations, social media, and online marketplaces.

Shopify is cloud-based and hosted allowing access from any connected compatible device.

The team takes care of the software, maintenance, and server upgrades.

This gives users the flexibility of accessing and running their business from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection.

The commerce business needs an array of tools for managing products, payments, inventory, and shipping on any given day.

You may be spending a lot of time and money without realizing it just connecting disparate data and systems together.

Shopify offers all the tools and apps necessary to ensure seamless access and integration of data and business systems and helps users showcase products, accept payments, engage with customers, and more.

Consider Shopify as a facilitator program working to streamline the process of selling products online.

Keep reading if you are still wondering what does Shopify is or how it works.

How to Use Shopify

Shopify has a simple user interface that doesn’t take a lot of getting used to.

You are good to go as long as you choose the right Shopify option (solution/features).

You can think of the various Shopify options as tiers or layers.

You need to make the right choices to build what you want for your business.

Layer 1: Core Product

Everyone gets this layer as soon as they purchase a Shopify plan. You get everything needed for turning your business idea into a reality and get started selling.

You can choose from multiple templates for your online store, get the right tools for selling in multiple online spaces, and integrate payment processing.

Shopify has one of the best converting online checkout pages as well as digital marketing tools..

The core product is the foundation on which all the other applications and products are built.

You also have access to Shopify APIs and development tools for customizing your online store’s capabilities further.

Layer 2: Additional Products and Services

Every business is unique and has needs that evolve according to its growth. This is why Shopify offers customers powerful upgrades for helping them grow their business.

Shopify Feature

You get easier access to accelerated payment options, capital, and other products and services. Shopify has curated these to give a leg up to independent business owners.

Layer 3: Trusted Apps

There are thousands of apps on the Shopify App Store that are built by third-party developers for customizing Shopify online stores.

You don’t need to touch the code of your store. Additional apps and features will make this a reality.

Whether you want the hottest new social media ad tool or the latest SMS app – the Shopify store has it.

If you want you can dabble in the code yourself or hire a Shopify Expert to build custom solutions for your online store.

Which Businesses Can Benefit From Shopify?

Shopify Homepage

Shopify eCommerce platform allows for the sale of almost all digital products, physical products, and drop-shipped products.

Some of the more popular merchandise that people buy on Shopify include:

  • Beauty supplies
  • Handcrafted goods
  • Online classes
  • Events
  • Digital products
  • Gift Cards
  • eBooks

The only rule you need to be aware of while selling on Shopify is that the merchandise cannot be illegal or prohibited.

This means you cannot sell tobacco, alcohol, drugs, fireworks, e-cigarettes, firearms, weapons, video game credits, or currency.

The list is subject to change.

For instance, Shopify updated its policy regarding CBD products.

They allow the sale of CBD products if it is derived lawfully from hemp.

Shopify is best suited to businesses that do all or the majority of their businesses online since its unique features are relevant for shopify payments.

In particular, if your business model involves customers that frequently make repeat purchases, you can use the add-on feature for making the checkouts easier and faster.

This can help reduce the number of overall abandoned carts while boosting customer loyalty.

These are a few types of businesses that cannot sell on Shopify:

  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Psychic services
  • Travel services
  • Adult content
  • Gambling
  • Phone services
  • Extended warranties
  • Multilevel marketing
  • Investment, credit, money, or legal services
  • Virtual currency services
  • Products that make unverified health claims
  • Fireworks
  • Cannabis, tobacco, e-cigarettes, and online pharmacies

Why Should You Try Shopify?

1. Supports an Entire Ecommerce Community

Shopify is home to the most diverse and largest set of merchants, entrepreneurs, partners, and developers whether it is online or offline.

2. Global Reach

The platform empowers entrepreneurs all around the world for creating, connecting, and innovating their businesses.

Entrepreneurs are provided the necessary building blocks and tools for being successful in eCommerce.

3. Creative Expression

Shopify believes there should be more unique experiences, stories, and voices. They have designed their platform to provide the greatest flexibility, extensibility, and expression.

4. Integrated Commerce Platform

Shopify doesn’t just centralize an entire commerce business. It also offers the widest set of integrations built on a shared technical framework.

You get to access a broad depth and breadth of apps, themes, surfaces, channels, experiences, and products.

5. Absorbs Unnecessary Complexity

Independent businesses, on average, find it difficult to start, scale and succeed in this world. Shopify tries to even the playing field by giving entrepreneurs access to growth tools.

6. Built to Scale

You will never lack features and technology on Shopify regardless of your technical growth, maturity, size, location, and complexity.

You will never outgrow Shopify as your business needs evolve, change, or scale.

Cost of Selling on Shopify


These are the various available plans:

  • Shopify Lite: You do not get an online store builder but a Shopify “buy button” for $9/month
  • Basic Shopify: You can get a buy button, an online store with 2 staff accounts, in-person selling, and up to 4 inventory locations (warehouses and in-person stores among others) for $29/month
  • Shopify: This plan includes 5 staff accounts, all selling channels, 5 inventory locations, discounted transaction fees, and discounted credit card rates for $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify: This plan includes 15 staff accounts, all selling channels, 8 inventory locations, further discounted transaction fees and credit card rates, custom international product pricing/variants, and duties and import collections for $299/month
  • Shopify Plus: You would need to request for price

How to Sell on Shopify

Shopify can be used for selling both online and offline. The platform offers several impressive ways to sell merchandise that is unmatched by most eCommerce platforms.

1. Sell Online

You can use Shopify to create your own website and sell online.

This is cloud-based software, which means you can set up a website with your own domain name, web hosting, inventory management, and Shopify shipping functionalities.

You can customize your store with a sleek template and use a drag-and-drop editor.

You can launch your website after adding digital and physical inventory.

There is no complex decision-making or coding involved..

There are over 4,200 available apps on the Shopify store platform for adding specific features, such as a buy-now-pay-later option or email marketing.

You can create a live online store in just 30 minutes depending on the level of stylizing and complexity.

2. Sell In-Person

You can sell in person using the Shopify POS (point of sale) app.

This can be done using an iPad, tablet, mobile device, or dedicated POS hardware from Shopify.

You don’t need an online store for selling in person. The Shopify POS lite is free with the Shopify Lite plan.

3. Sell In-Person and Online

Shopify allows nonprofits and retail store owners among others to accept donations or sell in person as well as online.

You need to create a website and sync the POS app and store together to do this. The platform allows for real-time monitoring of stock levels and revenue.

4. Sell on Social Media

There are several platforms you can sell on using the Shopify social media integrations or the Shopify buy button.

You can use:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • TikTok
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest

Sales conversions get a boost when the customers don’t need to leave the social media platform for making a sale.

5. Omnichannel Selling

Shopify can be connected with sales channels, such as Walmart Marketplace, Etsy, Amazon Marketplace, Google Shopping, and eBay to create a strategy for omnichannel selling.

You need to connect the Shopify store with seller accounts on different platforms to do this. After that, you are able to sell from different places online.

Widest Ecommerce App Store and Theme Store

Shopify Templates

You can use the available templates for building your online shop.

However, for a more profitable online presence and selling strategy, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • Marketing
  • SEO
  • Accounting
  • Conversion
  • Shipping
  • Customer service
  • Reporting

The Shopify app and theme store is one of the widest in the online space.

You can find all the tools necessary for creating the perfect store management and sales strategy.

Be choosy in picking the apps since too many would make your monthly bills skyrocket.

Shopify doesn’t add features on its platform to solve all business problems.

Instead, they prioritize making it flexible with the ability to address evolving complexities.

You can be sure to find every solution you need to tailor your business needs.

There’s an app for every need – adding customer reviews, adding visual try-ons, or managing accounting among others.

The best part is you are not limited to the Shopify App Store.

You can hire someone to dabble with the code or do it on your own.

You can customize every single aspect of your customer’s shopping experience. For instance,

  • Build a theme from scratch or customize an existing theme
  • Build custom apps using Shopify’s API and developer tools
  • Power custom experiences by using APIs, like selling products in an online game

Shopify doesn’t ask its customers to trade easy accessibility and use for control and customization.

You get to create rich and unique experiences through up-and-running campaigns.

Limitations of Shopify

Now you have the answer to what Shopify is and how it works.

Taking this into account, you must understand the limitations of this platform as well.

These are a few disadvantages to using Shopify:

1. Add-Ons Are Expensive

Shopify offers only the most basic features.

The software doesn’t provide many advanced features.

This means you would need to find the features as add-on options.

This is also known as apps.

These are not free.

In fact, you may double the monthly fees by adding just three apps to your account.

2. Transaction Fees

Most popular shopping carts have dropped transaction fees entirely.

However, Shopify has still retained a 0.5% to 2.0% transaction fee as per the pricing plan.

When accepting payments through Shopify Payments, you may waive these transaction fees.

Shopify Payments is not the best payment processor in the world.

It has received its fair share of complaints.

3. Poor Customer Support

Shopify was widely regarded for its customer support in the past.

Moreover, there have been mixed reports where recent customer reviews are concerned.

There have been users that were not entirely impressed by the support received.

Others complained that the support representatives were unable to help them resolve their concerns and issues.

💡 Pro tip: Shopify may not be for everyone. If you want to know more about available eCommerce solutions, read our guide to the best eCommerce platforms.

How to grow your Shopify store

There are several paths to expanding your Shopify business. To help you get going, consider the following:

1. Create ads

Facebook, Google, and many other social media sites are just a few of the many places where you may place adverts. Ideally, you would select the medium where your target demographic predominates.

It’s also crucial to pick a system with extensive targeting capabilities, so you can zero in on your ideal clientele. When it comes to advertising, Facebook and Google still reign supreme. However, in the end, you should choose the one that works best for your specific field.

2. Leverage SEO

SEO is a formidable tool for drawing in qualified visitors to your site. Unfortunately, eCommerce search engine optimization (SEO) is often overlooked by new business owners.

Many start-up businesses prioritize advertising because it allows them to generate revenue quickly. After months of spending money on advertisements, however, they discover that the cost of customer acquisition is too high.

You may increase your e-commerce site’s natural traffic with search engine optimization and content promotion. With the correct approach, you can boost conversions and decrease acquisition expenses.

3. Promote on social media

You should have a solid fan base established before you open your shop to the public. For instance, you may market to an audience before launch time if you create an Instagram account a few weeks before opening your business.

With a sizable following, you may see a boost in revenues from promoting your profile or adverts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What Is Shopify?

Shopify is basically a cloud-based selling platform that provides all-inclusive tools, services, and features for a monthly subscription.

It comes without an extensive learning curve and is easy to use.

The platform is an excellent solution for the majority of small businesses and independent merchants looking to grow or start online sales as Shopify merchants.

Does Shopify Offer Better Results Than Amazon?

Amazon has carved a niche for itself.

This is a huge marketplace that can bring a lot of exposure to your brand.

With that said, intense seller competition and high Amazon seller fees has pushed businesses to create their own Shopify online store.

But, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

You can link your Amazon seller account and Shopify account to sell from both platforms.

Can I Use My Domain Name?

It’s easy to use your domain name with Shopify.

You would need to ask your domain registrar to point the domain to Shopify servers or register your domain with Shopify by logging in as store admin.

Is Shopify Good for Beginners?

Yes, Shopify is good for beginners! If you’re just getting started in online sales, Shopify is the way to go.

The platform already has a store framework in place; all you need to do is add the finishing touches (theme, items, etc.).

Shopify is an excellent e-commerce platform from which anyone, from freshmen to pensioners, can launch a Shopify online store. Take a deeper look at additional e-commerce features through our Shopify and Magento comparison.

In What Countries Can I Use Shopify?

You can use Shopify in 175 different countries.

Shopify is available in 20+ languages, and Shopify Payments are accepted in the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Where Can I Sell With Shopify?

You can sell everywhere with Shopify. Shopify allows you to reach customers no matter where they are.

This includes your own domain name, online markets like Amazon and eBay, social networking platforms like Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, wholesaling, and the Handshake app.

Do We Recommend Shopify for Your Online Store?

Shopify has proved itself as an excellent shopping cart for small businesses and online sellers.

Shopify dashboard and Shopify payments system is easy to navigate through which is what makes it stand out from the rest.

It has a reasonable pricing model, easy to use interface, and the widest range of customizable themes.

The platform is frequently recommended by experts.

Based on this, you should consider signing up for a free trial and start selling on Shopify before you commit yourself to the software.

There is a 14-day free trial which can give you a feel of the store.

Our #1 Recommendation: Shopify

Shopify Logo
  • Editor's Choice
Overall Rating:


Ease of use

Support Score


Key Features:
  • Unlimited everything: orders, users, products, customers, bandwidth24/7 support (if you ever need it)
  • Beginner-friendly web and mobile apps
  • Free SSL certificate and security features for your online store
  • Level-1 PCI compliant

Article by

Matt Diggity

Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.

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