Starting Your Shopify Store: A Guide to Costs and Essentials

Imogen
Shopify Staff

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Welcome to Shopify! When thinking about starting an online business, there are a lot of different variables to consider. Some may think that operating an online store will be cheap, but once you factor in your subscription, marketing, and product costs, you may find your budget(s) depleted rather quickly. While this post isn't an exhaustive list, we hope it'll serve as a foundation to understanding the some of the costs you'll have when starting an online business. 

 

Pricing Plans

 

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Shopify has different plans available depending on your business needs. At the time of writing, we offer four price points depending on where you are in your business and what needs you have: 

 

  • Basic: For solo entrepreneurs ($39 USD/month)
  • Shopify: For small teams ($105 USD/month)
  • Advanced: As your business scales ($399 USD/month)
  • Plus: For more complex businesses ($2500+ USD/month)

You can view our plans in more detail on our plan and pricing page. 

 

If you’re just starting out, then the Basic plan will cover your needs. It offers industry standard credit card processing rates when using Shopify Payments and a 2% transaction fee when using third-party payment gateways. You'll have access so an online store, shipping discount, POS Lite, analytics and more! 

Once you've found yourself with recurring orders and finding yourself needing to scale your business, then you may consider upgrading to the Shopify or Advanced plans. These plans offer more comprehensive sales reports, lower credit card rates, and additional staff accounts to help ensure you're running smoothly and cost effectively. 


You can find a complete breakdown of plan features in here


Domains

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When creating a Shopify store, you're offered a free ".myshopify.com" domain. This domain is what you'll see in the address bar when logged into the Shopify admin, and will be the first domain you'll use when accessing the online store you design! We always recommend using a custom domain, which allows you to purchase a domain that better represents your business.

 

Custom domains also help build trust with your customer as they feel more comfortable shopping with a business who has a registered domain name. You can purchase a domain directly from Shopify - Custom domains purchased through Shopify start at $11 USD per year and that includes the all-new Shopify email hosting. If you are using a third-party domain then you can use G Suite (prices start from $5 USD a month) or Zoho has some free plans and paid plans (from $20 USD a month).

 

Once you submit your sitemap to Google for them to crawl your store and include your store in the search results.

 

Themes

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Shopify offers a wide variety of themes to fit your business style. Whether it be small or large catalogs, selling internationally, or simply looking for a minimalist style, our theme store probably has something for you! At writing, Shopify offers a total of 12 free themes to help get you started. However, if you're looking for more features, or if one of the free themes doesn't fit your style, then you can always choose to use a paid theme which typically range between $140 and $180. 

 

Shopify's theme store is very easy to browse as you can filter the templates using a wide range of criteria, including price, industry, layout type, and visual effects (i.e. video backgrounds, etc).

 

All theme purchases are final, so make use of the theme demos and and trials to ensure a theme is the right fit for you. 

 

Apps

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While there are a lot of features every business needs, there are some that will be unique to your business and what you need to operate efficiently. For this reason, we developed the Shopify App Store, a one stop shop for apps that can help you scale. You can use Shopify apps to integrate your store neatly with well-known productivity/business apps like Xero, Zendesk, and Salesforce. Some apps are developed by Shopify Partners, who are a third-party developer, so always check the user reviews before committing to one and be aware that these apps are supported by the developers of the apps as opposed to Shopify’s support team.

 

Apps will range in cost depending on the features it adds, so read the billing information closely to ensure you understand what you'll be charged on a monthly basis. 


Not sure what apps you may need? Check out our handy blog post on currently trendy apps in 2024

 

Inventory

 

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When running your business, it's important to consider not just the costs of using a platform but also the cost of inventory. There are many ways to manage an online store. Some business owners choose dropshipping or print-on-demand services, which don't require holding much inventory. However, if you're making or buying your own products, you need to think carefully about the costs involved.

 

Where will your inventory come from? You'll need to include the cost of shipping items from your supplier to your storage space. The terms you set up with your supplier can also affect these costs. For example, buying in bulk usually lowers the price per item, but you might need to buy a minimum amount. If you're purchasing items from another country, remember to consider exchange rates, especially for large orders.

 

While the total amount you may spend is unique to you, understanding these factors will help you manage your business's finances better and make smarter decisions about inventory.

 

If you do plan on keeping physical inventory, then you may consider reading our blog post on how to calculate your inventory costs and how you can reduce them.

 

Marketing

 

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Every eCommerce business must include online marketing in its budget. It's crucial to find a balance in your marketing expenses to ensure effectiveness without overspending. You'll want to consider a wide variety of marketing tactics from free marketing such as SEO and your social media pages, to paid marketing such as influencers and paid ads. 

 

Remember, the outcome of your marketing campaigns often reflects the effort and resources invested. Spending too little may yield no results, while a higher investment might bring substantial returns. It's all about finding the right balance for your business.

 

Email marketing is particularly effective and doesn't require a hefty budget. Your online store already collects email addresses through checkouts, pop-ups, and newsletter sign-ups, which simplifies the process. The main costs involved are typically the platform you choose for sending emails and, possibly, hiring a copywriter to create compelling content.

 

Google, Facebook, and Instagram are, of course, massive when it comes to online marketing. You will need to think about the audience that you want to reach and how much you are willing to spend. Different audiences use different platforms and the cost per click (CPC) will range depending on who you're interacting with. 

 

  • Google Search ads average CPC was $1.16 per click in 2019.
  • The average CPC for Google Display was $0.46 per click in 2019.
  • Facebook’s average CPC is $1.86 per click.
  • Instagram ad clicks will cost you anywhere from 20 cents to $2 per click.

 

Wrapping Up

 

Starting an online business with Shopify offers a flexible and scalable platform that can grow with your business needs. From choosing the right pricing plan and domain to selecting themes and apps that enhance your store's functionality, each decision plays a critical role in shaping your business's success. Additionally, managing inventory wisely and investing in effective marketing strategies are essential to ensure profitability and growth.

 

A rough estimate for starting costs could include the Basic Shopify plan at $39 per month, a custom domain at around $11 per year, and initial marketing efforts which might range from $50 to $200 for the first few months depending on the strategies you choose. Themes and apps can also add to your initial costs, with themes costing between $140 to $180 and apps varying based on their features.

 

While these numbers provide a general idea, your actual startup costs will depend on your specific business needs and choices. By understanding and managing these expenses effectively, you can set a solid foundation for a successful online store. Remember, the key to success lies in careful planning, continuous learning, and adapting to changes in the market and technology.

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