What Is Shopify?

Shopify is an ecommerce application that lets you create your own online store. Thousands of businesses worldwide use it to sell physical and digital products.

 min read
June 3, 2023
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As a part-time dropshipper, I have to use ecommerce software to run an online store. And among all the options, I find Shopify to be the best.

But it took me some time to learn about Shopify and its functionality. And I want to save you time by answering all the questions related to Shopify.

So read on to learn

  • What is Shopify
  • How does Shopify work
  • What is Shopify used for
  • Pros and cons of Shopify
  • What can you sell on Shopify
  • What is Shopify POS
  • What are Shopify Payments
  • How to start selling on Shopify
  • Where can you sell with Shopify
  • What is Shopify’s pricing
  • Does Shopify have a presence worldwide
  • What customers think about Shopify
  • What are some Shopify alternatives

Let’s dive in.

Key takeaways

  • Shopify is a fully-featured ecommerce solution hosted on the cloud.
  • It unifies all your commerce activity into one system for quick and easy access.
  • You can use Shopify to sell in various places, including web, mobile, and in person.
  • Shopify's dropshipping integrations make it a solid choice for dropship entrepreneurs.
  • Shopify has its own point-of-sale system and payment gateway.
  • Shopify is available in 175 countries worldwide and counting.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a complete ecommerce solution suitable for entrepreneurs of all sorts.

It offers everything you need to start, manage, and grow a business.

Shopify's website builder makes it easy to build an online store--no coding required.

And its add-ons (called apps) let you extend the functionality of your store.

Shopify’s plans start from $29 per month.


What is Shopify Plus?

Shopify Plus is Shopify's premium plan for high growth merchants and brands.

It lets you process larger orders, automate workflows, use advanced apps, and more.

Pricing starts at $2,000 per month.

What is Shopify Starter?

Shopify Starter is Shopify's cheapest plan at $5 per month.

The plan lets you sell products without maintaining an online store.

Jump to selling by sharing products on WhatsApp, Instagram, or other places. And offer customers quick and efficient transactions via Shopify Checkout

Shopify Plans



Who it’s best for:



Aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start selling quickly



Beginner dropshippers who are trying out dropshipping



Dropshippers who want to scale up their business 



Merchants who desire the lowest transaction fees.

Shopify Plus


High-growth merchants who want to automate processes and scale.

High-growth merchants who want to automate processes and scale.

How does Shopify work?

Shopify works by unifying all your commerce activity into one system.

With Shopify, you can build an online store, dropship or sell your own products, and create a new brand.

Shopify is cloud-based and hosted, so you can access it from any connected device.

This gives you the flexibility to run your business anywhere with internet access.

Shopify groups things like inventory, marketing, shipping, and payments. This makes it easy for users to access them and integrate any other business tools they need.

And because Shopify offers software as a service, you can pay month-to-month.

What is Shopify used for?

Merchants use Shopify to build and customize an online store.

That's Shopify's main use case. Other use cases include selling across various channels and saving extra transaction fees.

The platform also lets you add a blog to your site. This makes Shopify ideal for those who want to keep their store and blog on one platform.


What is Shopify dropshipping?

Shopify dropshipping is the process of selling products without carrying any inventory.

You first set up a Shopify store. Then you find a supplier that holds the inventory and ships the items for you.

When a customer places an order in your store, you buy the products from the supplier and choose how to ship them.

Shopify apps like DSers can help you find suppliers for various products.

Pros & Cons of Shopify

I find Shopify to be a great solution for anyone looking to start an ecommerce business.

During my early entrepreneurial days, I was researching different website builders every week.

And Shopify stood out due to the following reasons :

Shopify Pros

  • Easy to use. This is the main reason for me to use Shopify. The platform's features are easy for average users to navigate. It's simple to add products, process orders, and accept payments.
  • Stunning themes. Shopify lets you choose from a variety of premium and free mobile-responsive themes. The themes are compatible with clothing, art, gaming, and many other ecommerce sites.
  • Dropshipping support. Shopify facilitates dropshippers in a range of ways. You can add products, build an online store, and launch and start marketing your business.
  • Low startup cost. Shopify’s low monthly fees make running a business affordable. Its basic plan is $29/month, which is nothing for the features you get.

Shopify Cons

Like any platform, Shopify has a few aspects that might decrease its appeal for some people. These include:

  • Expensive add-ons. Shopify offers all the essentials out of the box. But for many advanced features, you have to use add-ons/apps, which cost money.
  • High transaction costs. If you don't use Shopify Payments, you'll need to pay a hefty transaction fee. And that too on top of other third-party gateway costs.
  • Limited customization. While Shopify offers a wide range of themes, it gives you limited ways to customize them without code.

What can I sell on Shopify?

You can sell a range of products and services on Shopify, including:

  • Physical products (e.g., clothing, paintings, furniture)
  • Digital products (e.g., ebooks, NFTs)
  • Memberships (e.g., subscription boxes, virtual dance class memberships)
  • Event tickets (e.g., marketing conference tickets, wholesale tradeshow tickets)
  • And more

Take some time to read Shopify's terms of service to be sure that what you want to sell is legal where you live.

What is Shopify POS?

Shopify POS is a point of sale app that lets you sell products at any physical location.

You can use it on its own or sync it with your Shopify store for better inventory and order tracking.

The app is ideal for selling in places like pop-up shops and brick-and-mortar outlets.


What are Shopify Payments?

Shopify Payments is Shopify's own payment gateway. 

It charges 0% extra transaction fees, making it attractive for merchants worldwide.

Plus, it lets you accept payments through all the popular payment methods.

I use Shopify Payments as the gateway for my dropshipping business. 

Not only do I save extra transaction fees, but I also don't need to send customers to a third-party platform. 

This creates an enhanced shopping experience, which is good for business.

How to start selling on Shopify

If you're considering Shopify, you'll need to go through a few steps before you can start selling.

Below, I'll share the steps I went through to set up Shopify and list products for sale.

Step 1: Sign up for the 14-day FREE trial

A free trial is a blessing. And Shopify offers plenty of it without asking you to do a lot.

You don't have to provide your credit card information. Your basic contact details and some business information are enough to gain access.
You can access the free trial via Shopify’s website.


Step 2. Find the products you want to sell

The key to becoming a successful Shopify merchant is finding products with potential.

These items resonate well with consumers and can make you a good profit.

I use Dropship to find such products. (Humble brag? Maybe. Clever endorsement? Certainly!). It's a tool that makes it easy to determine what's in demand.

Plus, it lets you import products to Shopify in one click.


So if you struggle to find winning products, you might want to explore Dropship.

Step 3. Customize your store

The look of a store plays a crucial role in drawing people's attention to its products and offers.

Shopify allows you to choose from over 100 free and paid themes to customize your store.


You can access them by going to Online Store -> Themes through the Shopify dashboard.

I opted for a free theme as it suited my brand and products.

And I am sure you'll find something that works for your business.

Step 4. Enable payments

Shopify allows you to receive payments via several gateways.

You'll want to choose the right one based on features, commissions, and prices.

If you're in a country that supports Shopify Payments, it will be a straightforward pick.

If you're in an unsupported country, choose from a third-party payment gateway. Shopify offers over 100 options globally, including PayPal and Amazon Pay.
Go to Settings > Payments to select and activate your payment methods.


5. Set up shipping

If you decide to buy and ship your own inventory, you'll need to set up shipping.

You can access shipping options by clicking Settings > Shipping and Delivery in Shopify.

Set your desired shipping rules (including the fulfillment of orders).  And let Shopify handle the rest.

I recommend using Shopify Shipping for fulfillment. It provides access to the best carrier rates and reduces the chances of delays.

Plus, Shopify works with leading carriers like DHL, UPS, etc. to ship merchants' products.


Once you've set up everything, you can start selling on Shopify.

Where can I sell using Shopify?

With Shopify, you can sell everywhere your customers are

That means on your own website, social media channels, marketplaces, and in person.

You can even sell wholesale through platforms like Handshake.

But keep in mind that every sales channel is different. What works on one platform may not work on another.

So you'll want to learn and use best practices specific to the channel you want to adopt. 

What is Shopify’s pricing?

Shopify has pricing plans for businesses of all sizes and stages.

You get five plans to choose from. And each plan offers essentials like unlimited products and various sales channels.
Also, there are no setup fees on any of the plans.

Here's an overview of Shopify's plans:






Shopify Plus

Starting price






Online credit card rates

 5% + 30¢

 2.9% + 30¢

 2.6% + 30¢

 2.4% + 30¢


In person credit card rates


 2.7% + 0¢

 2.5% + 0¢

 2.4% + 0¢


Transaction fees with Shopify Payments






Transaction fees with other payment processors






Number of products






Sales and marketing tools






Free SSL






Advanced reporting






24/7 customer support






P.S. Shopify offers 10% off on all plans if you pay yearly.

Does Shopify have a presence worldwide?

Shopify is available in over 175 countries and counting. And you can use it in 20+ languages

But Shopify Payments is only accessible to merchants in 22 countries. These are:

  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland
  • United States
  • United Kingdom

Shopify customer reviews

If you’re still unsure whether Shopify is a good choice for an ecommerce platform, read its reviews.

You’ll find many Shopify customer reviews on sites like G2 and Capterra.

Go through them, and you’ll get a better idea of Shopify’s credibility.


Shopify Alternatives

Shopify has everything you need to build, customize, and run an online store. 

But it doesn't hurt to know about a few Shopify alternatives. 

Here are some of the other ecommerce platforms available.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify 

WooCommerce is better for:

  • Customizing an online store with code 
  • People comfortable with WordPress

Shopify is better for:

  • Building a sales-ready online store without code
  • Beginner dropshippers 

WooCommerce is a WordPress-based ecommerce platform. You can use it to turn any WordPress site into an online store.

But you'll need some technical knowledge to customize your WooCommerce storefront. 

And that makes it less suitable than Shopify for beginners in the ecommerce space.

Squarespace vs. Shopify 

Squarespace is better for:

  • Creating a stunning ecommerce website
  • Running a small store with limited products

Shopify is better for:

  • Marketing an ecommerce business
  • Accepting a variety of payments

Squarespace is another alternative to Shopify for building an online store.

It offers some great templates to draw shoppers to your products.But it doesn't offer as many payment options as Shopify does.

Plus, Squarespace has fewer marketing tools to help grow your business than Shopify.

Wix vs. Shopify 

Wix is better for:

  • Building a functional online store quickly
  • Marketing products via blogs

Shopify is better for:

  • Maintaining a larger store
  • Accessing shipping at discounted rates

Wix's editor makes it super easy to build a custom online store.

You can drag and drop elements anywhere you want on a page. And there are various templates that are quite simple to edit.

That said, Wix isn't as robust as Shopify when it comes to shipping.

So you will need third-party plugins to help with local and global fulfillment.

Shopify FAQs

Is Shopify good for beginners?

Yes, Shopify is easy for beginners looking to start an ecommerce business. The platform has features to help you move from the first sale to full scale.

Plus, Shopify integrates with a variety of tools to help streamline your business.

Do you need a license or permit to sell with Shopify?

No, you don't need a business license or permit to sell via Shopify.

Still, I recommend checking the local laws in your state or country.

Because depending on the nature of your products, you may need some documentation.For instance, some US states ask merchants selling food online to get a special permit. 

Always check and abide by local requirements.

Is Shopify better than Amazon?

Amazon has a large customer base, so it can provide you with more exposure than Shopify.

But Amazon's intense competition and seller fees may push you to start selling on Shopify.

The interesting bit is that you don't have to choose one over the other. You can sell on both platforms by adding an Amazon sales channel to Shopify.

Bottom line

What is Shopify? You now have all the information you need to answer this question well.

Shopify is a complete solution for launching an ecommerce business. And people with varying skills can use it to build an online store and start selling.

Though it takes a while to get accustomed to all the features, Shopify is smooth sailing after a few weeks of usage.

Want to experience it for yourself? Sign up for a free trial of Shopify today.

Also, visit our blog for more tips and insights on how to get more out of Shopify.

Try Dropship
Discover winning products to sell today.
Shopify Offer
Start and sell with Shopify $1/month for 3 months.
Try Dropship
Discover winning products to sell today.
Shopify Offer
Start and sell with Shopify for $1 for one month.

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