What is Shopify? 10 FAQs Answered & Our Expert Review (Feb. 2024)

What Is Shopify

What is Shopify? How does it work? How much does it cost to have a Shopify store? Those are just a few questions probably racing around your brain as you look to enter the world of eCommerce. We’re here to answer them and more and help you get started with one of the world’s most popular platforms for entrepreneurs.

Roughly 10 years ago, a group of snowboarders was looking for an effective way to sell and deliver snowboarding equipment. They soon realized the online marketplaces available at the time weren’t sophisticated enough to offer a personalized shopping experience, so they built their own eCommerce platform to get their products into the hands of other snow shredders. Their solution would ultimately become Shopify, which now hosts more than 377,000 active online stores that generate more than $29 billion in sales. Shopify is an effective eCommerce website builder that allows merchants to design, develop, market, and sell any type of goods to consumers around the world.

1. What Is Shopify And How Does It Work?

If you’re looking to sell products online but don’t have a ton (or any) experience in web development or coding, don’t worry. Shopify offers a comprehensive eCommerce web builder complete with hundreds of templates ready to go right out of the box.

Signing up is simple, and Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, so merchants can test out the platform to see if it’s right for them. All Shopify templates can be customized with images, logos, text, and videos to complement your brand’s look. Once your theme is chosen, you can start selling right away with the platform’s built-in shopping carts.

Shopify integrates more than 70 payment gateways with checkouts in more than 50 languages, which makes it easy to sell products to customers anywhere in the world. With intuitive store and content management tools and a full marketing suite with multiple features, such as abandoned cart recovery and search engine optimization, it’s no wonder so many businesses are using the platform to get merchandise in the hands of customers.


Shopify review

Monthly Starting Price $29.00

  • Site builder with FREE and premium themes
  • Unlimited bandwidth, storage, and products
  • Easy-to-use dashboard for managing orders, shipping, and payments
  • Tons of features, including discount codes
  • FREE MyShopify.com subdomain or use your own
  • Try Shopify FREE for three days.
★★★★★ 4.6 Our Review»
Shopify: Our Expert's Review

Toby Sembower (HostingAdvice.com): The great thing about Shopify is how the feature set centers around ecommerce, a focus of many shared hosting shoppers. Shopify plans are fully hosted, but most of the company's plans are significantly more costly than a majority of the shared hosts we've come across. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
3-Day FREE Trial Unlimited FREE Subdomain 5 minutes

2. How Does Shopify Compare With Other eCommerce Platforms?

With the massive growth of online shopping and enhanced mobile options for purchasing goods, tons of companies are flocking to the industry in hopes of helping more budding entrepreneurs launch their business online. Shopify is one of our favorite platforms for a variety of reasons, but it’s worth comparing the user interface, features, and price tag with other eCommerce systems out there to make sure it’s the right fit — just like comparison shopping to find the best bargain, perfect size, or right tools.

Take a look at three other web hosting companies and software providers that we regularly recommend to novice site owners:


1&1 IONOS review

Monthly Starting Price $1.00

  • Drag-and-drop online store builder for $1/mo
  • Quickly sell products, services, and digital goods
  • Cross-platform selling integrations with social media, Amazon, Google, and eBay
  • Built-in metrics, promos, and coupons
  • Track competitors' Google and social media activity
  • Get started on 1&1 IONOS now.
★★★★★ 4.9 Our Review»
1&1 IONOS: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Anderson (HostingAdvice.com): The online store builder from 1&1 IONOS gives entrepreneurs a full suite of selling and marketing tools at their disposal — and all for a ridiculously low price. The company’s lightning-fast architecture and tools for SEO and marketing metrics will make your customers’ buying experience quick and enjoyable. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days Unlimited SSD FREE (1 year) 4 minutes


Nexcess review

Monthly Starting Price $14.00

  • Code-free design tools for eCommerce stores
  • Templates for retail, food, clothing, and services
  • Custom WordPress integrations and optimizations
  • 24/7/365 support via phone, chat, and email
  • Try StoreBuilder with a 30-DAY FREE TRIAL
  • Get started on Nexcess now.
★★★★★ 4.8 Our Review»
Nexcess: Our Expert's Review

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): Designing, deploying, and maintaining an online store is best done with a quality host. Nexcess created a one-of-a-kind site builder exclusively for optimizing online stores. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 30 GB - 100 GB New or Transfer 5 minutes


A2 Hosting review

Monthly Starting Price $11.99

  • 20 times faster performance that boosts sales
  • 80+ software options: Magento, OpenCart, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, and others
  • Fully managed WordPress and server environments
  • Worry-free migration and 24/7 support
  • DDoS protection and layered security measures
  • Get started on A2 Hosting now.
★★★★★ 4.8 Our Review»
A2 Hosting: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Anderson (HostingAdvice.com): For those who understand the importance of page load speed and sales, look no further than A2 Hosting. The company boasts premium storage, optimized security, and one of the most diverse portfolios of one-click software installations we’ve seen. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 100 GB SSD - Unlimited SSD New or Transfer 4 minutes

See other top eCommerce options »

3. What Can You Sell On Shopify?

Tina Roth Eisenberg’s daughter was a fan of temporary tattoos. Tina, however, found herself constantly complaining about the poor quality and design of the rub-on skin art. So she enlisted a host of artists and designers to create Tattly — a higher quality, more creative solution to the shoddy temporary tattoos she was applying to her daughter’s skin. Tattly is now a thriving eCommerce business, thanks in large part to how easy it was for Tina to get up and running with Shopify.

Screenshot of Shopify site Tattly's product offerings

From food and drink to fashion and fine art, Shopify allows merchants to sell any type of product.

Temporary tattoos, coffee, fine art, clothing, and food are just some of the merchandise being sold on Shopify sites. As MonetizePros notes, whether it be a physical or digital product or a service, merchants can list it for sale. With more than 377,000 storefronts powered by Shopify, consumers can find products being sold across numerous categories, from home decor to crafts and books.

4. What Does Shopify Cost?

Shopify’s pricing points

largely depend on the type of business you’re running. For new businesses, Basic Shopify for $29 per month offers all the features entrepreneurs need to open up shop online. The basic plan provides two staff accounts, unlimited storage and product listings, around-the-clock support, a free SSL certificate, and fraud analysis, among other features.

Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Monthly Price $29 $79 $299
Online Transaction Fees 2.9% + $0.30 2.6% + $0.30 2.4% + $0.30
In-Person Transaction Fees 2.7% 2.5% 2.4%

For established eCommerce businesses, Shopify’s $79-per-month standard plan is great for generating brand loyalty programs that leverage promotional tools such as gift cards and coupons. This plan also comes with a shopping cart recovery tool, which works wonders to circle back to undecided customers and regain lost revenue.

Businesses that have reached the point where it makes sense to scale can take advantage of Shopify’s $299-per-month advanced plan. This option has all the benefits of the basic and standard Shopify plans but also includes features such as an advanced report builder and third-party calculated shipping rates. The advanced plan also comes with the best Shopify shipping discount and the lowest credit card rates.

5. What is Shopify Lite?

For just $9 per month, online merchants can set up Shopify Lite to sell on social media, in person, or on an existing website. With the service, Shopify Lite entrepreneurs can showcase and sell goods on Facebook’s new Shop section.

Screenshots of Shopify Lite Buy Now buttons on watches and Facebook Messenger conversation

Shopify Lite lets merchants add Buy Now buttons to existing sites and make and track sales through Facebook chat.

Messenger and chat are supported on both online stores and Facebook business pages. These features allow customers to buy products within chat and track orders in real time.

Shopify Lite also gives merchants the ability to add Buy Now buttons to product images to transform existing sites into thriving eCommerce businesses. And with the POS app, merchants can sell and accept payments anywhere.

6. What is Shopify Plus?

Shopify isn’t just for small and medium businesses — Shopify Plus provides a fully hosted, SaaS eCommerce platform for enterprise-level and fast-growing merchants at a relatively low cost when compared to traditional enterprise-grade eCommerce solutions.

Shopify Plus merchants enjoy unlimited sales, visitors, and products with the platform’s more than 29,000 CPU cores and 13PB of storage. Shopify dedicates Success Managers to every Shopify Plus account to help strategize marketing efforts and improve customer experiences.

The Shopify Plus platform is scalable and can help any enterprise build effective eCommerce solutions with features, including:

  • Unlimited bandwidth and transactions
  • 99.99% uptime
  • 4 million hits per second
  • More than 1,000 apps
  • 40+ migration tools
  • Up to 10,000 checkouts per minute
  • Level 1 PCI DSS compliant

Industry giants, from Google to the LA Lakers, are taking advantage of Shopify Plus because of the many tools and benefits.

7. What Does Shopify Do to Grow Your Online Store?

Because Shopify offers a comprehensive marketing suite, businesses are finding it easy to scale and get in front of new audiences. The platform offers SEO features, like customizable headlines, titles, and meta tags, so eCommerce sites can rank high in search results. Customers are able to post SEO-friendly product reviews, which also work wonders for building a business’s credibility.

Screenshot of Shopify email request form

Shopify offers a comprehensive marketing suite complete with features such as email campaigns and cart recovery tools.

Shopify merchants can leverage email marketing integrations with MailChimp and offer gift cards and coupons to attract and maintain loyal customer bases. Google advertising programs and full integration with the major social media platforms work to further the reach of Shopify sites and drive revenue.

8. What is Shopify Payments (POS)?

Not only can consumers use all the major credit cards while checking out on a Shopify site, but merchants can also use Shopify’s POS system to accept credit card payments in the store or at pretty much any location.

Photo of the Shopify POS

The Shopify POS allows merchants to accept credit cards in-store or on the go with very low transaction fees.

With the Shopify card reader, businesses can enjoy low rates — down to 2.4 % — on all credit card transactions. The POS system syncs payment details with orders, giving merchants visibility into incoming revenue. Shopify also generates chargeback responses so businesses can recover lost sales.

9. What Language is Shopify Written In?

For code-savvy merchants or those employing development teams, Shopify is written in the open-source, Ruby-based template language Liquid. Shopify’s blog often presents Liquid best practices so merchants can make customizations to templates and fix issues after sites go live.
Programmers can use Liquid to add functionality to templates without starting over with a new theme. The language is easy for seasoned developers to pick up, and Shopify facilitates learning the basics through its valuable help center.

10. What Shopify Theme is That?

If you stumble across a beautiful Shopify site and want to base your site’s theme on the design, it’s simple to discover which template is being employed. All you have to do to figure out the theme name is visit the site in question, right-click, and select the Inspect option.

Screenshot of script inspection

It’s simple to figure out which Shopify theme a website is using by right clicking and inspecting the script element.

In the inspection box, simply find and click on the first script tag. This will expand the tag, and you’ll be able to view the theme name. This technique can be employed before setting up your eCommerce site to ensure you’re choosing the theme that’s right for your business.

11. What Companies Use Shopify?

There is no shortage of Shopify sites out on the web, as hundreds of thousands of merchants are selling goods through their Shopify online stores. These businesses range in size from small mom-and-pop shops to large global enterprises and include some of the most popular names on the web.

Small businesses, like Tattly and Mouth (a subscription-based food and drink eCommerce site), take advantage of Shopify because it’s a simple solution to effectively sell products online. Large, enterprise-level businesses, such as Budweiser, World Wildlife Fund, and Tesla, are using Shopify’s platform because of its scalability and reach.

Still Have Questions? Find Answers In Our Shopify Review

Shopify has come a long way since it was first conceived as a venue to sell snowboarding goods. The platform is now one of the most popular eCommerce web builders on the market.

With tons of user-friendly options to post, promote, and sell your products, Shopify empowers people to turn their ideas and passions into a business. We love that the platform lets you keep your options open — simply build your store from scratch or add selling functionality to an existing website.

If you’re looking for more information, give our review on Shopify a read. In it, we take a comprehensive look into Shopify’s feature set, cost, and ease of use, among other topics.

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