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How To Use Shopify & How Does It Work (2023 Guide)

Shopify is an easy-to-use e-commerce platform that helps small businesses create an online store and sell online through one seamless dashboard. Shopify merchants can build a modern online store and sell it on social media, seller marketplaces, other blogs and websites, and via email, text message, and chat. Selling in person is also easy with Shopify, with a built-in point of sale (POS) for retail stores, pop-up stores, marketplace sales and more.

How to Use Shopify?

Technically, Shopify is a subscription-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) sales platform. Shopify offers four standard business subscription plans, with fees starting at $29 per month. All standard contracts support branded e-commerce and all personal and electronic tools.
Shopify also offers a Lite plan for just $9 per month. It does not include an online store, but supports mobile sales and a buy button to sell on other websites, blogs and by email.
All plans offer a full range of business management tools. Each Shopify plan includes essentials such as product sourcing, sales and inventory tracking, payment processing, shipping, customer accounts, marketing and reporting. Plus, you can easily expand your Shopify toolkit with hundreds of Shopify apps.

Shopify: How does It work?
Shopify consolidates your product information, customers and tasks into one system that seamlessly connects all your sales channels. Once in place, Shopify makes it easy to explore and expand new product lines and sales channels.
Here’s a step-by-step overview of how Shopify works, from initial setup to sales management.

1. Sign up for Shopify’s free 14 -day trial for users.

You can test Shopify risk-free for two weeks. Shopify doesn’t even ask for a credit card up front.
2. Connecting your sales channels
The account creation wizard connects your initial sales channels, which you can change and expand at any time.

If you want to sell through your social media accounts, you can connect those in the setup wizard too.

3. Enter your product information or find products for sale
Enter product information, prices and images for products you make or source yourself, or contact Shopify Handshake’s wholesale network and dropship suppliers to find products for sale.

Note that many sellers combine their own manufactured or sourced products with similar dropship products to provide a diverse selection.

4. Set Up Payments
You can activate Shopify Payments with one click to start accepting payments right away, or connect your payment processor to your dashboard. Shopify supports over 100 third-party payment processors.

5. Set Up Shipping and Taxes
On the Settings tab, set up shipping methods and costs and applicable VAT information.

You can start selling as soon as you set up your Shopify online store. Once steps 1-5 are complete, you are ready to sell across various social media and marketing channels using the Buy Button and in person with a POS card reader.

6. Create a Shopify Online Store
If you want to sell your brand through your website, the next step is to create a Shopify online store. Again, Shopify makes it easy with a selection of plug-and-play themes that require little installation and additional content to make it your own.

7. Order Processing, Shipping and Tracking
When orders arrive, you manage everything from your Shopify dashboard. Shopify’s built-in tools make it easy to set up efficient workflows to manage self-shipping orders, products, and even virtual items like e-books and music downloads. Shopify also automatically sends order status and shipping tracking information to your customers.
Once you’ve completed the basics of setup and workflow, you’re ready to explore Shopify’s sales promotion features, such as email marketing, abandoned cart remarketing, and blogging.

What Is Shopify’s Pricing?
Shopify pricing includes monthly fees based on your subscription plan, plus added fees for payment processing, shipping labels and advanced POS needs.

Shopify Subscription Price
All five Shopify eCommerce packages support unlimited products, orders and customers, and offer security, PCI compliance, 24/7 support and a full range of sales and business features.
Shopify also offers discounts when you pay up front – save 10% if you pay annually and 20% if you pay every two years.

  • Basic, Shopify and Advanced Plans ($29, $79 and $299 per month): Each of Shopify’s online store plans deliver omnichannel sell-anywhere features and a full suite of order, customer and business management essentials. As you move up the plan tiers, you get lower payment processing fees, larger shipping discounts and access to advanced marketing, management and reporting tools.
  • Shopify Lite ($9 per month): This limited-feature Shopify plan supports in-person POS sales and an online Buy Button tool for non-Shopify websites, blogs and email sales. Lite doesn’t provide the online store, social media and seller marketplace channels of the other plans.
  • Shopify Plus (from $2,000 per month): Offers enterprise-level features geared for high-volume, multi-location and multimillion dollar sellers. Plan pricing, terms and features are negotiated based on sales volume and business needs at this level.

Shopify Payment Processing and Transaction Fees

You can connect your own payment processor to Shopify or use the built-in Shopify Payments option. If you use your own payment processor, Shopify adds a transaction fee ranging from 0.5% to 2% of the total charge to every online sale. This fee does not apply if you use Shopify Payments.

Shopify Payments offers flat-rate payment processing with rates based on your subscription plan, as shown in the table above. Shopify Payments also supports in-person sales using Shopify’s mobile POS app and retail store POS system.

Shopify Shipping Costs

If you ship orders, you can use Shopify’s built-in shipping label printing on any plan. You’ll enjoy competitive discounted rates on USPS, UPS, DHL and other carriers and your discounts increase on higher-tier plans.

Shipping fees tally each time you process an order and print a shipping label. These costs are charged to your card when charges reach a threshold level based on your average shipping volume. However, if you ship just a few orders each month, shipping charges are added to your monthly Shopify bill.

Additional Shopify Plans, Pricing and Costs

Shopify’s POS feature enables in-person sales for mobile pop-up shops, market selling, services and even multiple retail store locations. POS-based sales connect with online sales, inventory, customer data and business reporting seamlessly too.

You can use the free POS Lite that’s built into every Shopify plan or add full retail checkout functionality for a monthly fee:

Shopify POS Lite (Free on all plans)
This mobile POS in-person selling feature is built into all Shopify plans, including the $9 per month Shopify Lite plan. Shopify POS Lite allows merchants to record in-person sales via mobile app and process payments using manually keyed-in entry or a card reader connected to their mobile device. POS Lite requires using Shopify Payments as your payment processor and mobile card readers have a one-time purchase cost of $49 each.

Shopify POS Pro ($89 per month, per location)
This full retail checkout system delivers robust inventory tracking, staffing tools and analytics to any Shopify plan. Shopify POS Pro checkouts are iPad-based and you can purchase iPad checkout stands, cash drawers, card readers and other checkout accessories per your needs.

Premium Shopify Themes
Shopify gives merchants nine free store themes, but many sellers opt for premium Shopify themes with specialty designs, added features and more customization options. Shopify’s theme store has more than 75 premium themes starting at $180, and Theme Forest offers more than 1500 premium Shopify themes starting as low as $17.