What is Shopify, how does it work and what can you sell with?


If you’re considering opening an online store, you might be worried about website management, product shipping, and many such processes.

Luckily, e-commerce platforms like Shopify can help you with all of these activities. In this guide, we explain what Shopify is, how it works, how much it costs, and what you can sell on it.

What is Shopify? What can I do with it?

Shopify is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that runs a cloud-based e-commerce platform of the same name. The platform helps you set up and manage your online store and offers various tools to manage inventory, logistics, shipping, and more. It charges a monthly subscription fee depending on the plan you choose.

To create a professional-looking website on Shopify, you don’t need any prior coding or graphic design expertise. Plus, you get a fully hosted website, which means you don’t have to worry about maintenance, software upgrades, and security.

How does Shopify work?

shopping logo
Image Credit: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / Wikimedia Commons

Shopify works by offering website hosting, design, marketing, and several other tools for monthly subscriptions. Here are some benefits you can enjoy by working with Shopify. However, note that some features are reserved for premium subscription plans.

1. Set up an online store

Creating an online store on Shopify is quick and easy. You can choose from the free templates and themes available to customize the look of your website. You can create multiple web pages, showcase your products, enter product details, and sell them internationally.


Editing content and customization on the website is very simple. So you don’t need to hire a professional to do it for you. Shopify also provides video tutorials and resources to help you navigate the platform.

2. Market products on multiple platforms

With Shopify, you can run ads on Google and marketing campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You can also manage your business blog to market and increase your web traffic. Shopify offers SEO tools that you can use to rank your website on search engines.

3. Process payments

phone calculator and cash money on desk

Shopify supports over 100 payment gateways and around 130 currencies. If you choose to process your payments through an external payment gateway, you will have to pay between 0.5% and 2%.

However, you can avoid paying transaction fees if you use Shopify’s native payment gateway. Shopify Payments in place.

4. Manage shipping

To ship your products, you can choose a third-party carrier or Shopify Shippingan integrated service that automatically connects you to eligible shipping partners based on your location.

With Shopify Shipping, your shipping costs are already calculated for you based on your shipping partner and delivery location. Plus, you get access to features like live tracking, printable shipping labels, and more. But if you choose third-party carriers, you have to do all the work manually.

5. Sell in physical stores with Shopify POS

man with shopping cart

The Shopify POS (point of sale) app allows you to sell your products in physical stores. With any subscription plan, you can access Shopify POS Lite. The app works on retail devices such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, etc.

The app syncs your Shopify store’s inventory across these devices, allowing you to manage customer orders, process payments, and more. If you don’t already have these devices, you can buy them from the Shopify hardware store.

6. Get Website Analytics and Reports

Shopify also offers detailed reports and analytics of your store. For example, with the Advanced plan, you can view and download reports on your website visits, total sales, customer return rate, conversion rate, top selling products, frequently abandoned products, and more.

Keep in mind that features vary depending on the plan you choose.

7. Go to the Shopify App Store

Not only can you customize your online store, but you can also extend its functionality by installing add-ons from the Shopify app store. In the store, you can find a range of free and paid add-ons. From email marketing to managing returns to push notifications, there’s an app for everything you can think of.

8. Get Funded with Shopify Capital

woman holding dollar bills

the Shopify funding program, Capital Shopify, offers financing options in the form of loans and advances for eligible stores. This program helps small businesses scale their businesses.

However, Shopify does not specify the parameters it uses to judge your eligibility. You will simply be informed if you are eligible and can apply afterwards.

9. Organize marketing emails with Shopify Email

With any Shopify subscription, you get access to its email marketing tool, Shopify Email. This tool helps you run email campaigns and create professional looking emails. You can choose from available email templates and add product images from your online store to create personalized emails.

Shopify also offers analytics for your email campaigns. You can track the number of emails opened, products added to cart, products purchased, and click-through rate.

Shopify pricing

Plan Price Best for
light $9/month Individuals who want to sell on an existing website.
Basic $29/month E-commerce startups and small businesses.
Shopify $79/month Growing businesses looking to scale their operations.
Advanced $299/month Established brands that need advanced analytics and reporting.
More From $2,000/month multinationals, high volume merchants and wholesalers.

What can you sell on Shopify?

You can sell a range of products and services on your Shopify store. The most obvious are physical goods, including handicrafts, beauty products, home goods, outdoor gear, and clothing. But you can also sell digital products and services such as e-books, gift cards, online courses, consultations, etc.

Benefits of Shopify

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Get 24/7 support by phone, chat or email
  • Easily access the most popular shipping carriers
  • Choose from hundreds of Shopify App Store add-ons
  • Crypto payment processing

Disadvantages of Shopify

  • Subscription plans do not include all essential features
  • Transaction fees for third-party gateways
  • Expensive supplements
  • Inadequate content management
  • Complicated migration process

Is Shopify for you?

Shopify is a beginner-friendly platform; you don’t need to be an expert to create an attractive online store and start selling your products. The interface is easy to use and the platform is quite flexible as you can choose different themes and features.

However, subscription plans do not include all essential features. You will often find yourself paying for every little thing; combined with add-ons, Shopify is quite expensive. So, if you are looking for free customization options, it is better to research and find other alternatives.

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