Millions of people selling online, in-person, and across borders use Shopify to power their businesses every day. From a tiny Main Street shop to a multinational online retailer, Shopify has solutions for businesses of every size and structure.
But what is Shopify? And how does it work? Ahead, explore the ins and outs of Shopify, including its features, benefits, and plans. Learn why the platform might be right for your business and how to customize Shopify for your business’s needs.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a complete commerce platform that lets anyone start, grow, manage, and scale a business. It enables businesses to build an online store, market to customers, and accept payments across multiple sales channels and locations—all in one place.
Shopify’s expertise and leadership in commerce is based on the experiences of millions of business owners using the platform. The successes of these businesses—solopreneurs and enterprise brands alike—allow Shopify to build the right features and products to power businesses today and help shape the future of commerce.
How does Shopify work?
Shopify bundles all your commerce activities under a single platform, with one admin to access everything from orders to analytics to sales channels.
With Shopify, business owners can build and customize an online store and sell in multiple places, including online, across mobile devices, and in person through brick-and-mortar locations and pop-up shops. Orders and customer information can be synced across multiple channels, from social media to online marketplaces, through powerful integrations—and managed all in one place.
Shopify is completely secure, and cloud-based and -hosted, which means you can safely access it from any compatible device with an internet connection. This gives you the flexibility to run your business from anywhere.
Commerce businesses require an array of tools to manage tasks like inventory management, payment processing, and shipping. Connecting these systems can cost business owners time and money. That’s why Shopify bundles those technologies to create a complete picture of all your business activity in one place: your Shopify admin. And, Shopify integrates with third-party tools and apps that are essential for doing business.
What’s included with Shopify?
Shopify is a buildable product that includes a core offering across a number of plans. Upon that base layer, store owners can stack additional products, customize certain components, and add app integrations to create a unique experience that meets each business’s needs.
Base layer: Shopify’s core product
Every Shopify plan* includes a core offering. It comes with everything you need to turn your idea into a business and start selling: customizable templates to brand your store, tools to sell across channels, integrated payment processing, a fast and secure checkout, and built-in marketing tools. This is the foundation upon which Shopify’s other products and applications are built.
Some features included with your Shopify subscription:
- Customizable paid and free themes. Shopify’s free online store themes have built-in support for animations, including fade-in on scroll, special effects, and hover effects.
- AI features to help you get more done. Generate on-brand content, set up auto-reply, and more with Shopify Magic.
- Access to millions of mobile shoppers on the Shop app. Personalize your mobile store and extend your brand in a matter of clicks. Your Shop Store includes customizable collections, categories, and navigation—just like your online store.
- The world’s best checkout. Shopify plans come with the highest-converting one-click checkout that’s trusted by the biggest brands.
- A custom domain on Shopify. Select and host your domain securely with Shopify, leveraging full controls and configuration to customize easily.
*The Shopify Starter plan is designed for social selling and may not include some of the base features described above.
Layer 2: Shopify’s additional products, plans, and services
Every independent business is unique. And as they scale, their needs evolve. That’s why Shopify offers powerful upgrades that grow alongside each business. From easier access to capital to accelerated payment options, Shopify-exclusive products can be stacked right within the admin.
Select additional Shopify products available as add-ons for most plans:
- Shopify Collabs. Access influencers willing to work with brands and get matched with the best creators and affiliate marketers to represent your products and push traffic to your online store.
- Shopify Inbox. Turn online store browsers into buyers with the power of chat marketing.
- Sales channels. Sell on TikTok, Instagram, Etsy, or anywhere your target customers hang out. Integrate multiple sales channels with your Shopify admin.
You can sell in person with Shopify POS, using plans and hardware that let you sell on the go or across multiple brick and mortar retail locations. Shopify retail plans include everything you need to sell online, too—and all your retail and ecommerce sales are synced in Shopify.
Ready to level up? Shopify Plus is a customizable enterprise solution, featuring a scalable, powerful platform for high-volume businesses. Join some of the world’s best brands, including Ruggable, Knix, and Magnolia and sell everywhere with one platform, packed with powerful insights and automations. Sell more, move faster, and unlock strategic partnerships.
Some featured products exclusive to Shopify Plus:
- Customizable checkout with app integrations.Extend your checkout in a way that’s app-based, upgrade-safe, higher converting, and integrated with Shop Pay.
- B2B process automation usingShopify Flow.
- Customer acquisition with Shopify Audiences. Createcustom audience lists powered by unique commerce insights and drive conversions for a lower cost. And, with smart algorithms, predict relevant customers with greater accuracy.
- 24/7 dedicated tech support.
- Duties and import taxes calculation. Sell across borders through your online store and get access to Plus-exclusive features with Shopify Markets.
Commerce Components by Shopify (CCS) is a modern composable stack for enterprise retail. With this solution, the world’s largest retailers like Mattel and Glossier can integrate components of Shopify with their own systems. CCS provides access to Shopify’s foundational features—like a checkout that converts 72% better than the average checkout—plus flexible APIs to build dynamic customer experiences that integrate seamlessly with preferred back office technologies.
Layer 3: Apps built by trusted partners
Shopify’s App Store features thousands of apps built by third-party developers to customize your online store without the need to touch code. Do you need niche functionality for your unique business? There’s likely an app that can help make it a reality. Here you’ll find the latest tools to grow your business, whether it’s a smart SMS app, custom size charts, online store recommendations powered by AI, or apps to streamline social ads.
In case you can’t find the app you’re looking for, there’s also a marketplace of Shopify Experts you can hire to build custom solutions for your business.
The fine print: Shopify pricing and plans
Shopify plans range from the Starter plan, perfect for creators selling on social media channels, to Shopify Retail plans for brick-and-mortar to enterprise solutions for high-volume global brands. These include Basic Shopify and Advanced Shopify plans for every level.
Shopify pricing for plans ranges from $5 per month for the Starter plan to upward of $2,000 per month for Shopify Plus.
Three core Shopify plans for online stores are:
- Basic Shopify plan: Perfect for small businesses.
- Shopify plan: Ideal for growing businesses.
- Advanced Shopify plan: More functionality for medium and large businesses.
Shopify plans include a three-day free trial. There are no transaction fees for stores using Shopify Payments. If you choose a third-party payment provider, there will be additional fees of 2%, 1% or 0.5% for Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans, respectively.
Additional plans include:
- Shopify Starter: Made for creators and those selling through social and messaging apps (without the need for a dedicated online store).
- Retail Plan: For retail stores and in-person sellers (Shopify POS).
- Shopify Plus: A solution for enterprise Shopify merchants.
✏️ Note: Shopify pricing reflected in this section is based on a US Shopify customer. Check the pricing page specific to your region for accurate pricing information.
7 reasons to choose Shopify
When starting a business from scratch or looking to migrate to a new commerce partner, there are many solutions on the market. Is Shopify right for your brand? Consider these unique benefits.
1. Shopify supports the entire ecommerce ecosystem
Online, offline, and everywhere in between, Shopify is home to a large, diverse set of entrepreneurs, store owners, developers, and commerce partners.
2. Shopify takes you global
Shopify empowers entrepreneurs around the world to build, connect, and scale their businesses. With businesses in more than 175 countries, Shopify provides entrepreneurs everywhere the platform, building blocks, and tools needed to sell locally and across international borders.
3. Shopify empowers creative expression
Shopify believes there should be more unique and diverse voices, stories, and experiences in commerce. That’s why the product is designed with the greatest amount of extensibility, flexibility, customization, and freedom of expression.
4. Shopify lets your brand shine
Your brand is the star. That’s why Shopify works hard in the background of your branded ecommerce website. Tell the story of your brand and products using themes that support customization, video, and other features to bring your store to life for stand-out buyer experiences.
5. Shopify is the most integrated commerce platform out of the box
Shopify not only centralizes entire commerce businesses but also offers access to the widest set of commerce integrations built using a shared technical framework. This ensures Shopify has breadth and depth across themes, apps, channels, products, and experiences.
6. Shopify eliminates unnecessary complexity
Independent business owners wear many hats, especially in the early days of starting a business. That’s why Shopify offers a simple and accessible platform that seamlessly integrates tools and channels in one place. Business owners opt into only what they need, eliminating clutter and streamlining operations.
7. Shopify is built to grow with you
No matter your technical maturity, growth, size, complexity, or location, you will never lack access to technology and features to build your business. Shopify offers plans and products that flex with you as you scale or evolve.
Surface your brand everywhere, sell anywhere
Shopify helps you to transform your brand vision into a real commerce experience, so you can sell to the right customers in the right place—online, offline, and everywhere in between.
Sell through an online store
Sell to customers browsing on desktop or mobile through a dedicated online store, customized with your branding. Personalize the front end of your website with custom storefronts to create a unique, seamless online shopping experience for your customers.
Sell across social sales channels and marketplaces
Promote and sell your products across multiple channels from one centralized place—Shopify. Grow your audience by selling where your potential customers shop, across social media and popular marketplaces including Facebook, Walmart, and more. Integrate sales channels with apps that sync inventory and data.
💡Tip: Try Shopify Marketplace Connect to sell across the world’s largest marketplaces with one app.
Sell in the Shop App
Sell in person with retail tools
Sell in person, backed by data you need to sell online, with Shopify’s all-in-one POS system. Provide customers with a frictionless shopping experience, manage staff, track inventory, and more. From full POS solutions for multi-location brick-and-mortar stores to on-the-go hardware for selling at markets, Shopify has you covered.
Make customer connections with Shopify
Shopify gives business owners opportunities to build and own long-term customer relationships through a suite of built-in features, app integrations, and automations. These include:
- Shopify Markets. Expand your reach by selling to customers around the world. With Shopify Markets, you can go global and sell to customers anywhere—all through a single online store.
- Customer engagement and marketing tools. Reach the right person with the right message at the right time using Shopify’s customer engagement and marketing tools. Leverage segmentation, email marketing, automation features, and more to drive relevance and engage your audience.
- Messaging tools. Talk to customers and manage conversations from anywhere with Shopify Inbox. Create automated messages and get insights to focus on chats that convert.
- Powerful marketing insights and analytics. Make informed decisions for your business and understand customer behavior using marketing insights and data provided by Shopify’s reports and analytics.
- B2B on Shopify. Deliver customized experiences your B2B customers will love. With Shopify, you can manage both your B2B and DTC customers, orders, storefronts, and inventory, all from one place.
- Shopify Forms. Use this free email capture app that works seamlessly with the rest of Shopify—think discounts, Shopify Email, marketing automations, segmentation, and more.
- Customer segmentation. Group customers based on their unique behaviors and characteristics, such as how much they’ve spent or where they’re located. This lets you personalize your messaging and drive revenue.
The tools you need to grow and thrive
Shopify helps accelerate entrepreneurs’ journey to success through features that help manage inventory, streamline shipping, and achieve business goals. These include:
- A central admin. Manage your business, orders, and customers across all sales channels and store locations in one place.
- Shipping and fulfillment tools. Centralize everything required to manage fulfillment, inventory, shipping and more with Shopify. Leverage Shopify Shipping to get preferred carrier rates, print labels, and streamline order management.
- Financial products. Manage your business financials with Shopify Balance, Capital, Bill Pay, and Credit.
- Shop Pay. Enable customers to checkout quickly using encryption to save their details and use a fast one-click checkout. Delight your customers by offering flexible payment options like Shop Pay Installments.
- Mobile app. Use the Shopify app to run your business wherever you are. With it, you can manage your Shopify store on the go, respond to information in real time, check insights, and more.
💡Tip: Shopify also offers a suite of free business tools that simplify business tasks. Try the image resizer for product photos or social posts, use the slogan maker to create quick campaigns, or generate refund policies and invoices in a snap.
A flexible commerce platform for any business
With millions of independent businesses selling every type of product in markets around the world, solving for each of their needs is a tall order. Cramming every possible feature into one platform only makes the product harder to use for the majority of business owners.
Instead, Shopify prioritizes making the platform flexible with the ability to add functionality to address the unique complexities of each business. Optional Shopify products and sales channels can be layered on directly from the Shopify admin. And, developers around the world are invited to build apps, themes, and other integrations specifically for Shopify’s platform.
If you want to dabble with the code yourself (or hire a Shopify expert to help), Shopify makes it possible to customize every aspect of your business and shopping experience:
- Personalize your theme or build a new theme from scratch.
- Build custom apps for your store using developer tools and Shopify’s APIs.
- Use APIs to power custom experiences, like selling your products in a video game.
You don’t have to trade ease of use for customization and control. With Shopify, you can get your store and campaigns up and running quickly, while creating rich, unique experiences similar to those from big brands.
Get started with Shopify today
Shopify is an all-in-one commerce platform and a rich ecosystem that connects sellers, developers, business experts, and shoppers in the shared pursuit of making commerce better for everyone.
Shopify makes entrepreneurship more accessible to anyone seeking independence—from self-made TikTok stars to innovative product developers. Whether you’re a creator looking to monetize your personal brand, a scrappy trailblazer finding your footing, or a heritage brand reaching customers around the world, Shopify is built for you.
Ready to start a business? Getting up and running on Shopify begins with a free trial so you can explore everything the platform has to offer. Build your brand, develop your products, and start reaching customers and making in-person and online sales today.
Feature illustration by Núria Madrid