Ecommerce Platforms

What is Shopify? Jaw-Dropping Guide for Instant Selling – (2020)

Christina Dillon | Updated:



Are you confused about what Shopify actually does?

You’re not alone.

But if you don’t fully understand how to use Shopify, your FOMO (fear of missing out) is probably running strong.

And for good reason.

It seems like everyone else is using it. More than 600,000 merchants now use Shopify to power their online ecommerce businesses.

So what do they know that you don’t?

Shopify has the potential to drastically improve your business – whether you have an existing ecommerce store or not.

This is one of the best ecommerce platforms out there. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

So, I’m going to share what I know about Shopify to help you make this important decision.

Just be prepared. If Shopify is right for your business, things will accelerate quickly. No joke. You can get your store up and running within as little as an hour.

In this post, we’ll cover:

What is Shopify and How Does it Work?

In simple terms, Shopify is one thing: an ecommerce platform.

what is shopify

But like so many other ecommerce platforms on the market, Shopify does so much more than just help you sell products and accept orders.

Shopify can help you start, grow and manage your business – all from a very intuitive backend interface.

Why is that so awesome?

You don’t need to invest in extra tools to handle various jobs that are essential to your business. Everything is all in one place.

So, how does Shopify work to help run your business?

Here are the basics of what you can do with your Shopify store:

  • Create and customize your online store
  • Sell on the internet (including mobile devices), social media, online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations and even pop-up shops
  • Manage products, inventory, payments and shipping
  • Manage customers and prospective customers

Shopify runs in the cloud, which means that you don’t have to worry about any hardware, software or web servers. Everything is provided and maintained by Shopify. All you do is login and take care of your business. And this also means you can run your business from anywhere with an internet connection.

Can I choose my own domain name with Shopify?

You can absolutely use your own domain name with Shopify. Create a new one or transfer an existing domain to Shopify with relative ease.

You should also know that you will have a subdomain on a Shopify’s website that you’ll use to login to the backend of your website.

It will look something like this:

Customers will still see your standard domain:

When you sign up with Shopify, make sure the store name you choose is the one you really want.

Why does this matter?

Well, to be honest, it matters more to some than others. But whenever something is fixed (unchangeable), you want to get it right.

It should match your domain name to avoid confusion. Ready to get started?

GET 14 Days Free Shopify Trial

Do I need a designer or web developer to use Shopify?

Not unless you want to.

Shopify is an out-of-the-box solution, so you don’t need to hire anyone to make customizations unless you want to. Many businesses, especially small businesses, use Shopify without any major customizations.

With that said, if you need something customized, you probably won’t be able to do it yourself. Even if you have some web development or designing skills.


Well, Shopify has its own templating language called Liquid. Unless you’ve been trained on how this works, it’s probably best to stick with a developer or designer who has experience editing Shopify code.

If you don’t want to hire a developer, you can search for the features you need in the app store. Just keep in mind that most of these come with their own monthly fees.

You can see a quick search below for “product options” and the available first results. As you can see, there are hundreds of results. You can use the search to find virtually any feature you’re looking for.

use shopify

What languages does Shopify support?

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that language support can make or break any international ecommerce store.

And Shopify can create a seamless experience for the end user in any language.

But there’s a catch.

The customer-facing part of your store can support all languages, but this depends on the theme you choose. If you have an international business, check to make sure your theme supports the languages you need.

And if you’re running a store from another country, you’ll probably want the backend to support your native language.

And that’s where things get a little dicey.

As of today, Shopify only supports seven languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Italian

How Much Does Shopify Cost?

Shopify has three basic pricing plans that work for most businesses. And then there are two other plans that cover businesses on either end of the spectrum of online sales (Shopify Lite and Shopify Plus).

  • Shopify Lite is only $9/mo. and it will allow you to sell your products on social media, in-person or on a third-party website.
  • Shopify Basic is $29/mo. and has all the features of Lite plus the ability to create your own online store on your own domain.
  • The Shopify plan is $79/mo. and has all the features of Basic, but it’s built for a slightly larger online store. So it includes more staff accounts, the ability to sell gift cards and professional reporting.
  • Advanced Shopify is $299/mo. and is built for a business that has outgrown the Shopify plan but isn’t quite ready for the Enterprise solution.
  • Shopify Plus is an enterprise plan for larger businesses. If this is what you need, contact Shopify directly.

Here’s a quick look at the pricing for each plan side-by-side.

shopify basic pricing plans

Each plan also comes with transaction fees, which are applied to every order. If you use Shopify’s payment gateway, you’ll pay anywhere between 2.9% + $0.30 to 2.4% + $0.30 per online transaction.

GET 14 Days Free Shopify Trial

Shopify Payments

For more info on plans and a detailed breakdown of how the transaction fees play out in real life, check out this post on Shopify pricing.

What are the Pros and Cons of Shopify?

Shopify is extremely intuitive, user-friendly and reliable. It’s not the cheapest ecommerce solution, but it’s among the best out there. For some businesses, choosing this ecommerce platform is a no-brainer.

But before you jump on the Shopify bandwagon, there are a few things you should know.

I mentioned at the start that Shopify has some limitations. It’s true.

You probably know that it’s dangerous to make decisions based on FOMO alone. Always evaluate pros and cons before you make a decision. [Source: @EcommerceChamp1] (Click to Tweet)

But don’t worry. I’ve got you covered there.

By the end of this post, you’ll know whether the Shopify ecommerce platform is right for your business.

Pros of Shopify

When you’re looking for the best ecommerce platform, you’ll want an option that’s reliable, user-friendly and secure. These are all areas where Shopify excels.

Here are the major pros of the Shopify ecommerce platform:

  • Reliability –  All data is hosted by ServerCentral, which is an enterprise-level hosting service. Each store is also protected by an automatic backup system.

This means that you can expect your store to be up and running 99.9% of the time. And you don’t have to worry about losing your stored data.

The PCI DDS is a set of policies and procedures set to protect cardholders against fraud or theft. PCI DDS compliant stores have to adhere to a strict set of security measures. And with Shopify, you don’t have to worry about any of them. It’s all covered for you.

  • SEO and Marketing – Shopify was built with SEO and marketing in mind – because these things are crucial to a business’s growth. You can use Shopify to review analytics, handle the company newsletter, and advertise products on social media platforms.
  • Beautiful Themes – If you’ve spent any time evaluating ecommerce platforms, you know that there’s a range of design quality out there. Out of the box, you can use any of Shopify’s themes to build an online store – and it won’t have that “basic ecommerce template” look and feel. You know what I’m talking about.
  • Great for drop-shipping – Shopify easily integrates with most of the major drop-shipping suppliers, including AliExpress and Oberlo. You don’t have to use suppliers like these, but it does make it easy to setup an online store in minutes.

Cons of Shopify

Have you ever tried to find a solution that pleases everyone? Market a product to the masses? It’s not easy. And that’s because you can’t please everyone all of the time. Yup, that old cliché also applies to ecommerce platforms.

Shopify is a lot of things, but if you don’t need those things, it’s useless.

So before you sign up for your Shopify account, listen up.

Shopify has some limitations. And if any of the following things are deal breakers, Shopify is not the platform for you.

  • Limited functionality – Shopify was built to make ecommerce easy for small businesses with limited resources. As such, it has all the features most small businesses need to get started. But if your business has specialized requirements, you may struggle trying to get Shopify to fit. You can investigate add-ons (Shopify Apps), but keep an eye on costs. Once you’ve priced Shopify with the add-ons you’ll need, compare it with other solutions to see which makes more sense.
  • Limited customizations – Although you can create a stunning store by customizing Shopify’s templates, you will probably need a developer who is versed in Liquid if you want to customize the site further. You can probably accomplish what you want, but you may end up paying a bit more for someone with specialized Liquid knowledge.
  • Transaction fees – If you don’t use Shopify’s payment gateway, you’ll be hit with Shopify transaction fees on top of what you’re paying the credit card processor. These vary by plan (I have discussed it in detail in this post).
  • Minor growing pains – Shopify is known in the industry for its explosive growth. In fact, Shopify increased its revenue by 90 percent in 365 days, which is rather remarkable.

Just look at Google Trends to see how interest has steadily increased over the past five years.

Shopify Google Trends

And although the Ottawa company just announced that their growth is finally slowing, some customers have noticed the strain in customer service. With that said, Shopify is a company that was known for its customer service, so we should expect the setback to be temporary.

GET 14 Days Free Shopify Trial

How Can Shopify Help My Business?

Businesses are about as unique as snowflakes –no two are the same. And Shopify can help expand your business in different ways. [Source: @EcommerceChamp1] (Click to Tweet)

But don’t worry. I’m not leaving you high and dry.

I’m going to share some my favorite features of Shopify. They have helped me grow my business, and they can help your ecommerce business too.

  • Customize a template to create a professional-looking store
  • Sell unlimited products
  • Integrate with drop shippers to add and manage inventory
  • Create and manage content
  • Sell through social media and Amazon
  • Manage email newsletters
  • And more…

Ha, gotcha, didn’t I? The “more” above is fodder for another post. Have I saved the best for last? Maybe so.

Sign up for the newsletter to be among the first to get my pro tips on how to use Shopify to build or grow an ecommerce business.

And if you’re excited to get started with Shopify, you can begin setting up your store for free

[opt_block shortcode_name=”shopify-14-days-traill”]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Shopify and how does it work?

Shopify is an Ecommerce platform. Create and customize your online store. Sell on the internet (including mobile devices), social media, online marketplaces, brick-and-mortar locations and pop-up shops. Manage products, inventory, payments and shipping, Manage customers and prospective customers. It runs in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about hardware, software or web servers.

Is it safe to buy from Shopify?

Yes. “All data is hosted by ServerCentral, which is an enterprise-level hosting service. Each store is also protected by an automatic backup system. All stores hosted on the Shopify platform are Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. This protects cardholders against fraud or theft.

What Shopify means?

Shopify means a software service that allows you to create a website, use their shopping cart to sell, ship and manage your products.

Can you get scammed on Shopify?

Yes. However, Shopify has a built-in fraud analysis that uses machine learning algorithms to help bring suspicious orders to your attention. You should: verify the IP address, call the phone number on the order, search for the email address, verify that the billing and shipping addresses match, check if multiple orders use different billing addresses for the same shipping address, review high value orders, install fraud prevention apps, and create workflows.


When you truly understand what Shopify does, it can be an amazing tool to fuel growth for your business.

You can setup an online store within minutes and be prepared to rake in the sales. Naturally, you’ll need a little online marketing know-how (we’ve got you covered there too). But Shopify comes equipped with all the tools you really need to get started.

If you’re ready, sign up for the free trial here.

Now, I want to hear from you.

If you’ve checked out the Shopify ecommerce platform, what were your initial thoughts? How are you using Shopify to fuel your business? Do you wish to master Shopify? Check out our FREE video course.

Master Shopify: Get FREE Video Course

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