October 5, 2023

What is Shopify? A Guide to Beginners from Experts 

Whether you're a small business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, Shopify can help you build an online store. Learn all about Shopify and its features with our beginner's guide.
What is Shopify? A Guide to Beginners from Experts 
What is Shopify? A Guide to Beginners from Experts 

What is Shopify? A Guide to Beginners from Experts 

If you had to think of ten of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world, Shopify may not come so far on your list. 

Shopify is an ecommerce platform that allows small, medium, and large businesses to create their online store, build their brand and sell their products online. 

Here's what we will explore in this Shopify guide:

  • What is Shopify?
  • How does Shopify work?
  • How much does Shopify cost? 
  • Who can use Shopify?
  • How to start selling on Shopify 
  • Pros and Cons of Shopify
  • Tips to grow your Shopify store
  • Shopify vs other ecommerce platforms

What is Shopify? 

Shopify is a cloud-based ecommerce platform that allows businesses of all sizes to build their websites, and sell their products. 

Typically, it may require more time and money to hire website developers and graphic designers to set up your ecommerce site. But, not with Shopify. 

This all-in-one ecommerce solution comes with all the right features needed for the marketing, sales, and operations of your ecommerce business. 

How does Shopify work? 

Shopify works as a cloud-based and fully hosted ecommerce platform. This means that if you sell on Shopify, you won't need to worry about hosting your website. You can also access Shopify on any internet-enabled device. 

With Shopify, you can manage inventory, design your store, make payments and streamline all business functions from a single platform. You can also integrate tools and expand into new sales channels and product lines.

We will look at how to start selling on Shopify in detail shortly. 

How much does Shopify cost? 

Shopify offers five subscription plans with different features. You also get a free trial for a few days. Here's a breakdown of each of the pricing plans: 

Starter plan

The Starter plan comes at a monthly fee of $5. This plan is ideal for businesses that want to sell online without fully opening an ecommerce website. The Starter plan allows you to sell products through email, SMS, social media, etc. It comes with major features like product pages, storefront, checkout, inbox, Shopify order management & integrated fulfillment network, and so on. 

Basic plan

The Basic Shopify plan comes at a monthly fee of $24 if billed yearly. With this plan, you have access to up to 1000 inventory locations, 2 staff accounts, basic reports, 24/7 support, an online store with a blog, and sales channels. 

You also get a free SSL certificate, abandoned cart recovery, and discount codes, amongst other features. 

Shopify plan

The Shopify plan comes with all you need for a growing business. It comes at a monthly subscription fee of $69 if billed yearly. It offers everything in the Basic plan including professional reports, five staff accounts, and gift cards. You can also add unlimited products and send automated emails using the abandonment cart recovery tool. 

Advanced plan

The Advanced plan is designed for medium and large-sized businesses. It comes at a monthly subscription fee of $299 if billed annually. 

With this plan, you get unlimited product uploads and can post as many images and videos as you need. You can also create custom reports for your customers.

Shopify plus 

If you run a high-volume business, Shopify Plus offers all the features and tools you may need. The plan comes at a $2000 monthly fee. Unlike the other pricing plans, Shopify Plus offers solutions designed to fit your business model and needs. You get access to AR, video, and 3D media on product pages. You can also offer advanced discounts, and get unlimited transactions and products amongst other unique features.  

Who can use Shopify? 

Shopify is suitable for all types and sizes of businesses. However, some types of businesses are prohibited. Here are a few prohibited businesses in the United States:

  • Virtual currency services.
  • Adult content.
  • Telemarketing.
  • Extended warranties.
  • Multi Level marketing companies.
  • Products that make unverified health claims.
  • Gambling.
  • Drug paraphernalia.
  • Telemedicine or telehealth.
  • Cannabis, tobacco, e-cigarettes, and online pharmacies.
  • Fireworks, etc. 

Is Shopify good for beginners? 

Shopify is an easy-to-use platform that makes it easy to set up an online store. There are customizable themes as well as tools and features like inventory management, payment gateways, shipping options, etc that make it easy to set up and manage your online store effectively. 

This makes Shopify a great choice for beginners who may have no design knowledge or coding experience. 

How to start selling on Shopify

Are you ready to set up your ecommerce site using Shopify? Here are a few steps to help you start selling on Shopify:

  1. Start with Shopify's free trial 
  2. Connect sales channels
  3. Find products to sell or put in your product data
  4. Set up payments
  5. Set up shipping and taxes
  6. Build your online store
  7. Start selling on Shopify 

Start with Shopify's free trial 

Shopify offers a free trial without the need to put in your credit card information. You can start selling on Shopify risk-free. All you need to do is put on your business information and some contact details. 

Connect sales channels

Through the accounts setup wizard, you can easily connect to your existing sales channels. If you want to sell your products through your social media accounts or online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, you can easily connect them through the accounts setup wizard. 

Find products to sell or put in your product data

To sell successfully on Shopify, you need to choose products that consumers actually want. Take out time to carry out product research and find out the best product to sell. On Shopify, you can add product details and images of products you make or source or choose products from Shopify’s Handshake wholesale network and dropship vendors. 

Set up payments

Through Shopify Payments, you can start accepting payments or connect your payment processor to your dashboard. Shopify accepts over 100 external payment processors. All you need to do is choose the one that works best for you. 

Set up shipping and taxes

Below the Settings tab, simply set up shipping methods and fees, and include sales tax information. 

Build your online store

You can start selling on various online marketplaces and social media accounts using the Buy Button tool. You can also sell your products in person using Shopify's POS reader. 

However, if you want to sell using your branded website, you will need to build your online store. 

Thanks to Shopify's numerous plug-and-play themes, you can easily set up your store without any design or coding experience. 

Start selling on Shopify 

Once your store is all set up, you can start selling on Shopify. With the Shopify dashboard, you can manage your orders and ensure efficient workflow. You can also explore other features like email marketing, blogging, and abandoned cart remarketing to drive sales on your store. 

Pros and Cons of Shopify 

Shopify comes with numerous features to help you grow and manage your ecommerce business. If you're wondering if Shopify is right for your business, here are a few pros and cons of Shopify you may want to consider: 


  • Ease of use: Shopify is an easy to use platform, even for beginners. You can easily set up your online store within a few minutes and start selling your products immediately. 
  • Mobile-friendly designs for your online store: With Shopify, you don't need to have any prior design skills. Shopify comes with beautiful customizable themes that are also mobile-friendly.
  • Excellent Shopify support: On Shopify, you get 24/7 support from experts. You can easily contact experts on Shopify through email, phone, or live chat. Shopify also offers free tutorials, webinars, and courses to help you boost online sales and grow your business. 
  • Social media Integration: Shopify not only allows you to sell on the platform but also through other channels. You can easily integrate your store with social media channels and online marketplaces and sell to your target audience. 
  • Built-in-email marketing: With just one click, you can build a relationship with your customers and increase sales using Shopify's abandoned cart notifications and automated email marketing. 


  • Theme customization: There may be issues with how Shopify themes are displayed on different operating systems, browsers, and devices. 
  • Expensive add-ons: Shopify comes with most of the basic features that you may need for your ecommerce business. However, it lacks some advanced features. To get these features, you will need to buy add-ons which can be quite pricey. 
  • May take time to see results: Selling on Shopify is not a stream for passive income. In reality, you're building your business. It may take months of experimentation to finally gain some momentum. 

Tips to grow your Shopify store

Setting up your store on Shopify is only the beginning. You need to promote your products and attract customers to your store to increase sales and revenue. Here are a few tips to help you grow your Shopify store: 

Optimize for SEO

To drive traffic to your store, you will need to optimize your store for SEO. Use relevant keywords, add content, and use high-quality photos, amongst other SEO tactics. 

With SEO, you can drive organic traffic to your store and save money you would otherwise spend on paid advertising. 

Create ads

To effectively reach your target audience, you want to leverage the power of ads. You can run social media ads on platforms like Facebook and Google to reach a wider audience and increase traffic to your Shopify store. Ensure you are clear on who your target audience is and on what platform you can find them.

Use social media to boost sales

You can build your brand and connect with your customers using social media. The key is to remain consistent with engaging with your target audience. As you build your online presence and increase your followers, you can drive more traffic to your store and increase sales. 

The best part is Shopify allows you to integrate your social media channels and manage them from one single dashboard.  

Shopify vs other ecommerce platforms 

Here's how Shopify compares with other ecommerce platforms in the market. 

Shopify vs Wix 

Both Wix and Shopify are easy to use and come with all the features you need to build an online store. Wix started as a content-based solution but has evolved into a platform for building ecommerce sites.  On the other hand, Shopify was designed as a solution for creating an online store right from the start. 

If you're looking to build a content site perhaps for your photography business, Wix may be the better choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to grow and scale your ecommerce business, Shopify comes with all the features to make this possible. 

Shopify vs Amazon 

Amazon is one of the largest and most popular online marketplaces with millions of sellers selling their products to buyers all over the world. 

On the other hand, Shopify is an all-in-one solution for building an ecommerce store. 

With Amazon, it may be difficult to build your own brand and create a strong relationship with your customers. If you don't mind relinquishing some control over your business, Amazon may work best for you. You can also leverage Amazon's ready-to-buy customer base to increase sales and grow your business. 

With Shopify, you have more control over your branding and can build a close relationship with your customers. 

Shopify vs WooCommerce 

Shopify and WooCommerce are great platforms that can help you set up your ecommerce site. 

WooCommerce is an open-source platform that gives you full control of your ecommerce store. You have access to thousands of plugins and features and all at an affordable rate. However, you will need to maintain the software and it may not be easy for beginners to navigate. 

On the other hand, Shopify is super easy to use, but may be costly. 

If you want something cost-effective and want full control over your site, WooCommerce may work well for you. But if you want something easy to use yet scalable, Shopify may be the better option. 

Final thoughts 

Shopify is a powerful ecommerce solution with diverse tools and features that make it easy for business owners to set up their online stores. 

Whether you have a physical store you want to take online or you're starting a new business, Shopify has all the features you need to get started. 

If you need professional help setting up your Shopify store and growing your business, you can contact experts on ePlaybooks

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