What is Shopify?

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Where did Shopify come from?


Shopify was created from a dream to sell snowboards online in 2004. With no easy way to design and launch an online store, Tobi Lutke took it upon himself to develop Shopify, a tool that could help small businesses get online during a period of time when only big corporations had the ability (and funds) to sell on the internet. 


Fast forward seventeen years later, Shopify has now become one of the world's leading e-commerce platforms, providing both big and small businesses with the essential tools to sell online to a global market. 


What does Shopify offer?


Shopify helps you start a business by providing you with the tools to easily build your own website, allowing you to sell products or services online and in person. Once you have launched your website, you have full control over how you operate and market your business.


Shopify is different from other marketplaces you might be familiar with such as Amazon, Etsy or eBay. These marketplaces only offer a searchable directory for your products, where you directly compete with other businesses. In contrast, Shopify offers businesses the opportunity to design and operate their own branded website.


When you start a website with Shopify, you’ll have the ability to add a purchased domain to your website that reflects your business name. While you are provided with a free “.myshopify.com” domain at signup, you can replace this domain with your purchased domain, meaning your customers don’t need to know that you use Shopify to power your online business. 


From product creation, to order management and marketing, almost everything you need to manage your online business can be done from within the Shopify admin. 


Shopify Admin: 


Home: The home page is where you can find up-to-date information on your business. Here you’ll find how many orders need to be fulfilled, the total sales for the day, and other key pieces of information such as suggested steps to help improve your business. 




Orders: The orders section provides a high-level view of the orders placed with your business. Orders from your online store and other supported sales channels will appear here. At a quick glance, you’ll be able to see if payments have been captured, the fulfillment status, how many orders have been placed and how many orders have been refunded for the day. You can also click into any order to see the details of the order. Further, it’s possible to create draft orders if you need to manually create an order for a customer, along with viewing your abandoned checkouts. More information on the orders section can be found in our Help Center here. 




Products: Your products section provides a high-level view of the products you have created with your admin. You’ll be able to see their current status (active or draft), your inventory levels, and the vendor for each product. In addition, you can create and delete products in this section. In the menu that appears under “products” you’ll have the ability to view your inventory, inventory transfers, gift cards, and collections. More information on the products section can be found here.




Customers: The customers' section allows you to view, create, and delete customer information. You can see which customers accept marketing emails, which customers are repeat customers, and which are prospecting customers. You can also create your own custom views to easily see a collection of customers based on your needs. More information on the customers' section can be found here.  


Analytics: The analytics area provides an overview of how your store is performing, while also offering several reports to help you narrow down on the different areas of your business. The number of reports you have access to will depend on your Shopify subscription. In addition to an overview of key metrics for your store, you’ll also have the ability to see a “Live View” of how many visitors are viewing your store and where they're from in real-time. You can learn more about Analytics here





Marketing: The marketing section connects you with several ways to market your business. From Shopify’s in-house “Shop” app and Shopify Email to third-party options such as Facebook, Google, and Pinterest. It is your one-stop shop for creating effective marketing campaigns to target your audience. It’ll show you how your marketing campaigns are performing along with how much you’ve spent. You can learn more about the marketing section here




Discounts: The discount section allows you to create and manage both manual and automatic discounts for your online store. You can see which discounts are active, which ones are scheduled, and which ones are inactive. You can offer different types of discounts from a percentage off, to buy one get one. More information on discounts can be found here




Apps: In the apps section, you’ll find all the apps you’ve installed from the Shopify App Store. Here you can manage and access the apps you’ve installed. Apps can be a key component to bringing your business to the next level as they provide several tools to engage with customers, increase sales and manage your business beyond what’s available through the Shopify Admin. You can also see recommended apps based on the apps you’ve installed and what apps are popular amongst other store owners. 




Sales Channels 


Sales channels allow you to place your products on several different platforms. These channels range from your own website to third-party platforms such as Facebook, Google, or Pinterest. While all sales channels are free to install, some platforms may require that you have a paid account with them before you can begin selling. 


Online Store: The online store sales channel allows you to create and design your own website to sell your own products. It provides access to the theme editor, which allows you to customize how your store will appear to your customers. You can use one of the many free themes that Shopify provides, or purchase a theme from the Theme store. All themes allow you to upload images, change colors, and add different features; however, if an option doesn’t appear in the theme customizer, then you’ll have full access to modifying the coding of the theme to make any changes you desire. You can also hire a Shopify Expert to make these changes on your behalf if you don’t feel comfortable making changes to the coding of your theme. In addition to the theme editor, you will also have access to managing your domain, navigation, pages and blog posts


Buy Button: The Buy Button sales channel is for store owners who have an existing website with another platform. The channel allows you to create and embed products on your existing website so your customers can shop and checkout using the Shopify checkout system without leaving your website. 


Shop: The Shop app (only available to store owners who use Shopify Payments) allows your store to appear in a searchable directory of Shopify stores. Both local and global customers can find your products from within the Shop app and make purchases directly from their mobile devices. 


Facebook: The Facebook sales channel allows you to sync your products to your business page on Facebook. Facebook will use their proven algorithm to display your products based on the viewers viewing habits. Customers can purchase directly from Facebook but all orders will appear in your Shopify admin. 


Instagram: The Instagram sales channel allows you to sync your products to your Instagram business page. Once approved, you can tag products in your posts while also appearing in the “Shop” tab of Instagram, the searchable directory of products offered on Instagram. 


Google: The Google sales channel allows you to sync your products to Google Shopping. Google Shopping is a directory of products that appear based on their relevance to a user's search.


Store Settings


Accepting payments: Every country will have its own list of available payment providers that you can use to accept payments in your store. You’re welcome to offer more than one payment method at a time as this will provide your customers with payment methods they feel most comfortable using. To view a full list of available payment providers, select your country here. 


Shipping: The shipping area allows you to set up shipping rates by product, price, or weight. You can limit which countries you ship to, and which locations your products will ship from. If you’re in an eligible country, then you’ll also have access to Shopify Shipping which offers real-time carrier-calculated rates at checkout. You can learn more about shipping here. 


Taxes: The taxes section allows you to create tax rates based on the regions you need to collect taxes from. You can also create tax overrides, collect duties, and set up VAT specific rates for digital goods. Our Help Center offers more information on the taxes area, along with some regional information if you’re based in the United States, Canada, or the EU. As always, if you have tax specific questions for your business, then it would be best to contact a local tax professional as Shopify can not offer tax advice. 


How much does it cost?


Shopify plans range from $5/month to $299/month: 


  • Shopify Starter: $9/mo - Geared towards social selling with product landing pages
  • Shopify Basic: $39/mo - Does include a website
  • Shopify: $105/mo - Includes a website and reports 
  • Shopify Advanced: $399/mo - Includes a website and advanced reports 

All plans and their features are listed on our pricing page. 


Other costs can include credit card rates per order and/or transaction fees. You may also incur costs for shipping labels and monthly app charges. You can view more information on Shopify invoices here


Outside of the monthly subscription, you may be wondering how much it’ll cost you to start a business. Every business is unique, so there isn’t a golden amount. However, we’ve written a detailed blog post on things you will need to consider when calculating how much you’ll need to start your online business. 


Looking to learn more?

Help Center: Whether you’re new to Shopify, or you’ve been with Shopify for years, the Help Center is the best place to find answers to your Shopify questions. It provides content that covers everything you need to know about how to use Shopify. 


Shopify Learn: Shopify Learn provides access to free courses that range from teaching you how to set up your online store to how you can market your business. 


Shopify Community: The Shopify Community is a great place to connect with other business owners, Shopify Partners, and Shopify Experts. With over 39k solutions, we’re sure that you’ll be able to find an answer to your question. If not, there are over 900K members who may be able to help provide guidance on the questions you have. 


Shopify Community Blog: The Shopify Community Blog provides curated content authored by Shopify employees based on the needs of you, the business owner! The content is aimed to answer the most commonly asked questions so you won’t need to look far for an answer. 


Shopify Blog: The Shopify Blog offers a wide variety of content to help you succeed. Here you’ll find content related to marketing, product updates, product ideas, and ways to source products. 


As you can see, Shopify provides you with the essential tool kit to help your business succeed in the online world. If there’s a feature that you're having a hard time navigating or finding, then don’t hesitate to reach out to our Support team so we can assist you! Alternatively, ask a question in the Community anytime. There are many helping hands who offer great advice right here in the Community.

If you’re ready to get started, then you can begin your free trial to take the first step to launch your online business. Our 24/7 support is available at any time should you have any questions along the way!

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