What is Shopify? And How Does it Work? (with Video)

Last updated - September 15, 2021

In 2020, Shopify onboarded thousands of new online shop owners on their platform. The company has also doubled its value in the period and garnered a lot of attention in the eCommerce sector.

Shopify value 2020
Shopify Inc. (SHOP) has doubled its value in just one year – 2020

In fact, the company has risen up to become one of the most well-known eCommerce website platforms today. And it has made selling goods online easier than ever. So it’s no surprise that many new people are interested in trying it out, but may not know exactly what it’s about and is capable of.

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “What is Shopify?” and how you can use it to create your own online store.

About Shopify

Shopify website
The Shopify homepage.

When Tobias Lutke wanted to create a website to sell snowboards online in 2006, he realized just how difficult it was to create, run, and manage an eCommerce website and business. So he went to create an eCommerce platform that made selling online as easy as a hobby — Shopify.

Technically, Shopify is a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) shopping cart solution. But essentially, it’s a website that lets you make your own online store through which you can showcase, sell, and ship products.

What’s more? The platform is capable of handling businesses of any size. Whether you’re a one-man startup, a small business, or a full-fledged enterprise, Shopify makes selling online effortless.

How Can I Get Started?

The biggest way Shopify stands apart from competitors like WooCommerce and Bigcommerce is the ease with which you can get started.

You can begin with the 14-day free trial to test the platform. During this time, you are free to test most of the features offered by Shopify to make sure you’re satisfied that the platform matches your business goals. The best thing is, you don’t need to enter your billing information to use the free trial. All you need is an email address.

Since Shopify is cloud-based and hosted, it means you don’t have to worry about maintaining website servers either. Nor do you have to limit yourself because of bandwidth restrictions, as all Shopify plans include unlimited bandwidth.

Apart from this, the platform doesn’t charge any setup fees. You can either purchase a domain name within Shopify, or use an existing one that you own. You can also go for a free myshopify.com subdomain that’s available on signup.

How Does Shopify Work?

After signing up, you’ll get access to the Shopify dashboard, a sleek user interface where you can manage everything in your entire eCommerce store.

what is Shopify
The Shopify dashboard is sleek and user friendly.

Here, you can immediately start adding products to be sold. Shopify makes it easy to add products. All you need is a few details like name, price, type, image, etc. You can also add these details to a CSV file and use it to upload multiple products simultaneously.

Shopify add products
Adding products in Shopify is easy.

Handling Products

Shopify supports a wide range of products, from physical to downloadable and everything in between:

  • Physical products like handcrafted goods, home goods, and clothing.
  • Digital products like ebooks, e-courses, music albums.
  • Service and consultations
  • Classes and lessons
  • Memberships
  • Ticketed experiences like workshops and other events.

After adding, the products show up in your Inventory, where you can manage their quantities and track their sales. You can also manage and track the orders placed and the shoppers themselves in the Orders and Customers section.

For payment methods, Shopify supports PayPal by default. But you can enable manual payment methods like cash on delivery, bank deposit, and money order. To provide more options to your shoppers, Shopify also supports third-party integrations with providers like Stripe, PayU, and Paysafe.

Shopify payments
Shopify offers the PayPal payment method by default.

Shipping is usually a big hurdle for beginners. But Shopify makes shipping easy with the Shopify Shipping option that supports major carriers in the United States, Canada, and Australia. However, you can set up shipping for any region using third-party integrations with Fedex, UPS, etc.

To compete in the market, Shopify allows you to set up manual and automated marketing campaigns on various channels. And you can keep your customers coming back with discounts and other offers as well.

Shopify marketing
You can create marketing campaigns for various channels using Shopify.

Another way of catching shoppers attention is through your website’s appearance. Shopify offers 9 free themes to get you started. But you can step it up with stunning paid themes in the theme store.

If there’s anything more you want to do, you’ll find an app for it in the Shopify app store. From designing to payments, and shipping, the app store offers both free and paid options worth trying.

Starting Your eCommerce Adventure

If you’ve decided to proceed after learning what is Shopify, the platform offers three paid plans ranging from $29 to $299 with various features and transaction fees. And if you run an enterprise, you can go for the $2,000 Shopify Plus plan that comes with many more features and benefits.

Good luck!

Here is a video for a quick overview on Shopify:

Further reading


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