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In this guide to Shopify pricing, I take a look at how the Shopify fees structure works and discuss the pros and cons of each plan. Which one is right for you?
The quick take
For us, the sweet spot in the Shopify pricing plan lineup is the ‘Shopify’ plan, which at $105 per month provides a good feature to price ratio. It gives you a decent number of user accounts (5) and professional reporting tools — neither of which you’ll find on the cheaper ‘Starter’ and ‘Basic’ plans. The ‘Shopify’ plan’s credit card processing fees are considerably lower than those of the cheaper plans too.
If you only want to sell on social media, or embed a product catalog on an existing site, the ‘Starter’ plan is the obvious choice — but watch out for the high transaction fees of 5% (if your sales volumes are high enough, one of the other Shopify plans will ultimately work out cheaper — and they’ll give you more bang for the buck).
In all cases, the best thing to do is try before you buy. Shopify is currently running an initiative where you can use any plan for 3 months, for just $1 per month — you can learn more about this here.
If you’re thinking of using Shopify to sell goods online, you’ll know that there are several different pricing plans to choose from — and you might be feeling a bit confused about which one is right for your project.
So, in this post, I’m going to look at Shopify fees in depth, taking you through each of the available plans — and highlighting the key aspects that might make one Shopify pricing plan better than another.
By the end of this article, you’ll know which plan is best suited to your project — and what alternative solutions are available if you feel Shopify isn’t quite right for you.
But first: a key question…
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an application that allows you to build your own online store. It runs in a web browser — so, as long as you have Internet access, you can use the platform from anywhere.
In other words, you don’t need to install software to use Shopify, and because it’s a ‘hosted’ solution, you don’t need to worry about buying hosting either.
See also: ‘What is Shopify?’ 2023 guide
The exact functionality you get from Shopify depends on the pricing plan you opt for — I discuss all these in depth below — but all Shopify pricing plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of products (digital or physical), and all but one allow you to pick a ‘theme’ that you can use as the basis of your store design.
Shopify is a software as a service (‘SaaS’) tool — this means that you don’t own a copy of the software but rather pay a monthly fee to use it.
And speaking of which…
Shopify fees — the pricing plans available to you
There are five Shopify plans available:
Starter — $5 per month
Basic — $39 per month
Shopify — $105 per month
Advanced — $399 per month
Shopify Plus — negotiable, but usually costing around $2,000 per month
If you have the budget to pay upfront, you can reduce your costs significantly by purchasing an annual Shopify subscription. At time of writing, a 25% discount is available on annual plans — but the discounts change periodically. You’ll find the latest offers in the pricing section of the Shopify website.
There is also a free Shopify trial that lets you test out the features provided by all the above plans, and a dropshipping starter kit that bundles the free trial with dedicated dropshipping resources (more on what dropshipping is shortly!).
Shopify pricing — a video guide
Standard Shopify trial | Free Shopify Dropshipping Starter Kit
Finally, there’s also a point-of-sale (POS) add-on available — ‘Shopify POS Pro.’
(POS features let you use Shopify to sell not just online but in physical locations too.)
With the exception of the ‘Starter’ plan, basic POS features are bundled with all Shopify plans — but the ‘Shopify POS Pro’ add-on unlocks considerably more advanced functionality. The add-on costs $89, per location, per month.
As with dropshipping, I’ll discuss POS in more depth later on in the post — but for now, let’s drill down into the key features of each of the Shopify plans.
Have you seen our Shopify video review?
‘Shopify Starter’ pricing
At $5 per month, ‘Shopify Starter’ represents one of the cheapest ways into selling products online — but you need to be aware that it doesn’t provide you with a fully-functional standalone online store.
Instead, it allows you to:
sell an unlimited number of products on an existing website
sell on Facebookand other sales channels (Instagram, eBay, Amazon etc.)
- sell on messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger etc.)
Embedding your products on another website with Shopify Starter
A key feature of the ‘Shopify Starter’ plan is a ‘Buy Button’ that lets you embed your products on another website.
This works in a similar — but more sophisticated — way to Paypal, in that you add a snippet of Shopify code to your website and your product’s details (photo, price, description etc.) along with an option to buy that product, appear on your site.
Once you’ve added a buy button to your website, any changes you make to relevant products in Shopify will be automatically updated on your site.
You aren’t restricted to embedding single products either — you can embed entire collections of products.
This is ideal for anyone with an existing site that wants to add simple ecommerce functionality. For example, you might already have a WordPress blog or website that you want to embed products on — this solution is great for that.
Shopify Starter and digital products
One of the things that I most like about Shopify as an ecommerce platform is the way that it facilitates the sales of digital products (music, ebooks and so on).
Selling digital products can be a more complicated affair than it might seem, because if you sell them to consumers living in the EU, and generate more than €10,000 in revenue per year from them, then you are required to apply VAT to those products (even if you are not a VAT-registered business).
Not only that, but the VAT rate for digital products varies from country to country — so you might need to charge your German customers one VAT rate, your French ones another and so on.
Shopify is fairly unique amongst the major website builder platforms in catering adequately for this. You’ll need to install a free ‘Digital Downloads’ app and make a couple of changes to your Shopify settings, but once you do, the correct tax rates will automatically be applied.
Accordingly, the ‘Shopify Starter’ plan may work out better for a lot of people who set up their site on another platform — I’m thinking in particular of Wix or Squarespace users — and now want to sell digital goods without building a whole new website. The ‘Starter’ plan offers a relatively-low-cost workaround for this.
Wix vs Shopify video comparison
Wix free trial | Shopify free trial | Full Wix vs Shopify comparison
The other nice thing about Shopify and digital products in general is that the file size limit is pretty generous by comparison to its competitors. Digital products of up to 5 GB in size can be sold with Shopify.
This contrasts very positively with BigCommerce (review here), which applies a 512 MB limit, and Squarespace, which restricts product download file size to 300 MB.
Selling on Facebook with Shopify Starter
If you are only interested in selling on Facebook, and aren’t bothered with creating a standalone store, then ‘Shopify Starter’ is a potentially good option — with a couple of clicks of a mouse you can publish all your products to your Facebook page, on a dedicated ‘Shop’ page.
One limitation of the Facebook integration to be aware of is that you can’t use it to sell digital products, as I found out when trying to sell an e-book on the Style Factory Facebook page.
This is due to the fact that Facebook only permits you to sell something that can be shipped, thus ruling sales of digital products out — i.e., it’s not technically a Shopify feature omission.
Shopify transaction fees and credit card fees
It’s important with all Shopify plans to be aware of the difference between transaction fees and credit card fees.
Transaction fees are charged by the company you use to build your online store, and credit card fees are charged by your ‘payment gateway’ provider.
A payment gateway is basically the software used to process credit card payments.
If you are on a ‘Basic’ plan or higher, are no transaction fees to worry about, so long as you are prepared to use Shopify’s own payment processing option — Shopify Payments — as the payment gateway.
There is a bit of a catch here for some users however, as Shopify Payments is not yet available in all countries. At time of writing, the supported countries are currently as follows:
United States of America
If you’re on the ‘Starter’ plan and using Shopify Payments, transaction fees do apply, and they’re quite high: 5%.
As for the credit card card fees for the ‘Starter’ plan, these are are 2.9% + 30c if a purchase is made online (for example, using a Shopify Buy button) and 2.7% + 0c if a purchase is made using the Shopify point of sale card reader and a mobile device.
If you use a third-party payment gateway, you can expect to pay a 5% transaction fee on each sale made via the ‘Starter’ plan, plus whatever credit card / monthly fees your payment gateway provider charges.
What about transaction fees and credit card fees in other countries?
Shopify’s credit card fees vary by country — the ones listed in this article are for the US, but considerably different rates are available in other territories.
For example, the UK credit card rates for the ‘Starter’ plan are quite a lot cheaper than the US ones: 2% + 25p for online transactions and 1.7% + 0p for in-person ones.
Abandoned cart recovery
The inclusion of abandoned cart recovery in the $5 ‘Starter’ plan is very welcome — for a long time it was only available on the $105+ Shopify plans.
Abandoned cart recovery allows you to identify site visitors who add a product to their cart, get to the checkout and then leave your store without completing their purchase.
You can then either choose to use Shopify’s abandoned cart saver manually (i.e., send the visitor in question an email yourself) or automatically (where Shopify sends an email to the potential customer after every abandoned cart).
The automatic option is usually best, due to the time-saving implications.
Abandoned cart recovery can significantly increase your revenue with little effort — other than the time investment in setting up an automated message — being involved.
The interesting thing about abandoned cart recovery’s inclusion on this plan is that it means Shopify offers this functionality at a considerably lower price point than many of its key competitors.
For example, if you want a cart saver on BigCommerce, you’ll have to be on a $105 per month plan; with Squarespace, a $65 per month plan; and Volusion a $79 per month plan.
Because of the importance of abandoned cart saver functionality, the inclusion of this feature across all plans constitutes one of the stronger arguments for choosing Shopify over competing products.
Don’t miss out on our free ecommerce e-kit
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What about dropshipping with the Shopify Starter plan?
Many potential users of Shopify will be wondering how it facilitates dropshipping, a fulfilment method where you don’t keep what you’re selling in stock.
With dropshipping, you take an order, send it to a supplier, and they deliver the goods to your client — your store in effect becomes a ‘middle man.’
How to dropship with Shopify — video guide
If you want to dropship with Shopify, you need to install a third party app to do so. There are lots of dropshipping apps available from the Shopify app store (457 at time of writing); a very popular choice is DSers (which integrates with AliExpress), but there are many others available.
You can use a dropshipping app on any Shopify plan, ‘Starter’ included, but you’ll probably find that they are more useful on one of the other Shopify plans (as the products you are selling will be displayed, and searchable, on a fully-editable, branded online store).
That said, if you intend to integrate the ‘Shopify Starter’ plan with another platform — for example WordPress or Squarespace — the fact that you can use it to start dropshipping is unquestionably helpful.
In terms of the pricing for Shopify dropshipping apps, most provide a free option to get you started (or in the cases of print-on-demand dropshipping are entirely free).
However, many popular dropshipping apps, including DSers and Spocket, do charge additional fees for premium features (like access to a larger range of products, or branded invoicing).
The Shopify dropshipping starter kit
If you’re interested in dropshipping, I’d recommend that you take a look at Shopify’s dropshipping starter kit — with this, you get several days of free access to Shopify plus lots of bundled resources and tools that show you how to launch a successful dropshipping Shopify store.
Support on Shopify Starter
Although 24/7 support is included with the Shopify Starter plan, this is limited to email and live chat only — you won’t be able to speak to anybody about your account in person over the phone.
(For the record, live chat is available in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish).
Is ‘Shopify Starter’ for me?
Shopify Starter is best suited to merchants who
want to add ecommerce / dropshipping functionality to an existing website
want an easy way to solve VAT MOSS problems
wish to sell on Facebookand other social mediac channels
are comfortable with only having access to live chat and email support only (i.e., no phone support)
want cheap access to abandoned cart saving functionality.
You can try Shopify Starter for free here.
But if your needs are a bit more extensive, it’s time to look at ‘Basic Shopify.’
How to save on Shopify
If you’re interested in using Shopify, you can save considerably on your subscription if you purchase your plan in a particular way. Here’s how:
- Start a trial using this special link.
- After your trial is over, you’ll be given the option to subscribe to Shopify for $1 per month for 3 months. Do this, as it’s an incentive that Shopify is trialling, and one that might not be around indefinitely.
- When this period is over, purchase an annual plan. You’ll then get a 25% discount on your subscription.
‘Basic Shopify’ pricing
‘Basic Shopify’, at $39 per month, is the cheapest Shopify plan that lets you create a fully functional, standalone online store.
The plan includes the following core features:
- A fully functional website version of your store (as opposed to just a ‘buy button’)
Ability to sell an unlimited number of products
- Ability to sell in physical locations, via point-of-sale features
- Unlimited bandwidth
2 staff accounts (i.e., 2 separate logins or ‘seats’)
24/7 support via phone, email and live chat
Manual order creation (this allows you to create new orders and enter card payments in Shopify for sales you’ve made offline — by phone, in person, or elsewhere)
Discount code creation
A free SSL certificate (this allows you to host your store securely using the HTTPS protocol)
Abandoned cart recovery
Discounted shipping rates of up to 77% (depending on the country you’re selling from)
Ability to print shipping labels (depending on the country you’re selling from)
Fraud analysis (as the name suggests, this allows you to spot fraudulent transactions)
- Point of sale features
- Up to 1,000 inventory locations
‘Basic Shopify’ vs ‘Shopify Starter’ — what are the main differences?
The most important thing you get with ‘Basic Shopify’ that you don’t get on ‘Shopify Starter’ is a fully functional, editable online store. This includes blogging functionality, which is essential for generating traffic via inbound marketing — and point-of-sale features, which let you use your Shopify account to take orders not just online but in physical locations (retail stores, market stalls etc.) too.
You get all the ‘embeddable’ and ‘sell on social’ functionality that comes with Shopify Starter, but importantly, you get a fully-editable, standalone website that you can apply your own brand to.
Let’s take a look in a bit more depth at some of the key features you get on the ‘Basic’ plan that you won’t find on ‘Starter’ — templates, point-of-sale features, more comprehensive support and blogging.
Trying Shopify out for free — and getting 3 months access for just $1
You can try out the majority of the features under discussion in this post via Shopify’s free trial. It’s worth availing of this, as it will give you a hands-on way to see if Shopify meets your requirements (and budget).
The Shopify trial is rather unusual in that it lasts just 3 days, but when you sign up for it, you are also given the opportunity to use Shopify for 3 months for just $1 per month. If you do this, you are in essence getting access to every feature in Shopify for several months for virtually no fee.
You can access the trial via this link — but please note that this offer may not be available indefinitely.
Once you’re on a ‘Basic Shopify’ plan (or higher), you can choose from a wide range of templates (or ‘themes’) for your online store — at time of writing, there are 11 free ones and 111 paid-for ones available.
I’ve always found the Shopify free themes to be perfectly usable (and you can tweak them quite extensively by adding CSS and HTML), but if you would prefer to use a paid theme, they cost between $180 and $350.
(The table below highlights how many themes are on offer at each price point).
|Price||Available themes at this price point|
(It’s worth noting that unlike the free themes, most of the premium ones come in a couple of different variants, giving you considerably more choice when it comes to aesthetics and layout.)
Shopify’s theme store is pretty easy to browse, because it provides handy search filters (pictured below) that you can use to locate a suitable theme for your Shopify site.
You can filter all the templates by price (paid vs free), industry, catalog size and features.
You can take a look at all the Shopify themes on offer here.
One thing that’s important to note about the themes is that if you need any support with installing or configuring them, you may end up dealing with a third party — Shopify only supports themes that the company has developed itself.
This means that Shopify will support you with any query you have about the free ones, but you may be referred elsewhere if you buy a paid theme.
Point of sale features
The ‘Basic’ Shopify plan is a good option for those who sell in physical locations and need a ‘point of sale’ solution for processing payments and managing their inventory.
Unlike the ‘Starter’ plan, it allows you to accept payments via your smartphone using a card reader and the Shopify app. Every time you make a sale, Shopify will take a note of this and update your inventory accordingly, meaning you’re unlikely to run out of stock when you need it most. This syncing of real-world sales to an online selling platform also makes bookkeeping and accounting a bit easier.
(Other POS hardware is also available to purchase from Shopify. This includes a new ‘all-in-one’ selling device, Shopify POS Go, that features a built-in card reader and barcode scanner, along with a touchscreen that provides you with access to your Shopify dashboard).
However it’s important to note that the most comprehensive point-of-sale features are only available for an extra fee — via the ‘Shopify POS Pro’ add-on.
(More on this shortly).
Multilingual selling features
Once you’re on a ‘Basic’ plan or higher, you’ll be able to sell your products in multiple languages — up to 20 in total.
When you enable multilingual selling, a language ‘folder’ is added to your domain. So you’ll end up with myshop.com/fr/, myshop.com/de/ etc.
Customer support on ‘Shopify Basic’ vs ‘Shopify Starter’
As mentioned earlier, although customer support is included with Shopify Starter, it is limited to email and chat only. ‘Basic Shopify’ provides you with phone support too.
This is provided using a callback request system — on the plus side, this means no waiting on hold…but still a bit of waiting.
What about Shopify’s shipping fees?
It’s easy to set up simple shipping rules based on price or weight using any Shopify plan.
When it comes to real-time shipping rates — where carriers provide live estimates at checkout, based on distance, weight and the number of boxes needed to ship items — you have two options, depending on your location.
If you’re based in the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain or the United Kingdom, you’ll find that Shopify has teamed up with a selection of local postal companies to provide real-time carrier shipping (and also provides preferential rates with these companies).
This service — “Shopify Shipping” — is available on all plans, and the discounts provided can be quite generous (in the case of the ‘Basic’ plan, a discount of up to 77% can apply; on higher plans, the discount can go as high as 88%).
In the USA, the carriers you can use as part of the Shopify Shipping service are USPS, UPS and DHL. The service is provided by Canada Post in Canada, Sendle in Australia, Chronopost, Colissimo and Mondial Relay in France, Poste Italiane in Spain, Correos in Spain and Evri and DPD in the UK.
Third-party calculated shipping rates
Alternatively, you can use third-party calculated shipping rates — however, you can only do so if:
- you pay a monthly add-on to do so
- you pay for your Shopify plan on an annual basis
- you are on one of the most expensive Shopify plans (‘Shopify Advanced’ or ‘Shopify Plus’).
This contrasts negatively with some competitors, notably BigCommerce, which makes this feature available on all its plans — even its entry level one.
If you’re serious about selling products online, you really need to blog; it’s a core part of any decent inbound marketing strategy because it generates relevant keyword-rich content that can make your site more visible in search results and increase traffic significantly.
‘Basic Shopify’ provides you with a blog that you can use to increase traffic to your store by publishing relevant keyword-rich content.
Shopify’s blogging feature doesn’t rival WordPress in the functionality stakes — it doesn’t provide a revision history, and the post categorisation options are fairly limited.
But that said, it’s perfectly usable and, with the publication of good content, can facilitate an inbound marketing campaign well.
Shopify tutorial for beginners
Shopify trial | Guide to starting a Shopify store | Launch checklist for Shopify
Transaction fees and credit card fees
When it comes to the ‘Basic’ plan’s transaction fees, there are no transaction fees if you use Shopify Payments, but a 2.0% transaction fee on each sale applies if you use a third party payment gateway.
US credit card fees are the same as the ‘Shopify Starter’ ones: 2.9% + 30c per transaction if a purchase is made online and 2.7% + 0c if a purchase is made using the Shopify point of sale card reader and a mobile device.
As mentioned earlier, the above rates vary by country, so you may enjoy cheaper rates than the above depending on the territory you’re operating from.
Is Basic Shopify for me?
‘Basic Shopify’ is good for merchants who
have a fairly limited budget but need a well-specced, fully-editable standalone online store
do not need advanced selling or reporting functionality (more on that below)
- want a platform to process payments and manage inventory when selling at markets or events
want to use blogging as a means of attracting inbound traffic.
You can try Basic Shopify for free here.
Moving up the ladder, we come to the ‘Shopify’ plan. Before discussing that however, a quick word about inventory location limits.
Inventory location limits
All Shopify plans let you set up multiple locations and track inventory and fulfil orders at them. Your locations can be retail stores, warehouses, popups, etc.
To ensure your inventory quantities are always accurate, online orders and in-person sales are assigned to locations. If some of your inventory is out of stock at one location, but it’s in stock at another location, then Shopify will split the order so that it can be fulfilled from multiple locations.
Until recently, the number of locations per plan was quite small — but with the launch of its new pricing structure Shopify has made a large number available on all plans except the ‘Starter’ one.
- 2 inventory locations with ‘Shopify Starter’
- 1,000 inventory locations on all other plans
The next plan to consider is simply called ‘Shopify’ and the pricing for this is $105 per month.
The key additions that the ‘Shopify’ plan brings over ‘Basic Shopify’ are:
- included shipping insurance (US users only)
the option to use USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing(US users only)
- the option to use international domains for selling internationally
lower transaction and credit card fees
- the facility to automate key ecommerce tasks
In-depth reporting functionality is quite a big omission from ‘Basic Shopify’ plan — and one of the biggest reasons why you might want to choose the ‘Shopify’ plan over it.
With ‘Basic Shopify’, the reporting functionality is — in keeping with the plan name — quite basic! You just get some simple ‘overview’ style dashboards, not in-depth analytics.
Upgrading to the ‘Shopify’ plan however gives you access to a wider range of ecommerce reports and insights.
(Regardless of the type of Shopify plan you select, I’d recommend adding Google Analytics to your store too, as you’ll get a host of additional insights by using it.)
It would be nice however if more comprehensive reporting features were made available to Shopify users on cheaper plans — BigCommerce, for example, offers professional reporting on all its plans.
If you’re on a ‘Shopify’ plan or higher, you can benefit from bundled shipping insurance to the value of $200. However, you will need to be based in the US and using the Shopify Shipping service to avail of this.
USPS Priority Mail Cubic Pricing
US users who upgrade to the ‘Shopify’ plan can make use of ‘cubic pricing.’
Two options are available on this front:
- USPS Priority Mail Cubic® pricing — discounted rates on priority mail for packages that weigh less than 20 pounds and measure less than 0.5 cubic feet in volume.
- USPS Parcel Select Ground pricing — discounted rates on priority mail for packages that weigh less than 20 pounds and measure less than 1 cubic feet in volume.
The option to use international domains
If you’re on the ‘Shopify’ plan and want to sell internationally, you can use ‘international domains’ to do so — i.e., rather than using a folder structure for your multilingual site (yoursite.com/fr/, yoursite.com/de/ etc.), you could use a ‘top level domain’ (TLD) to do so (yoursite.fr, yoursite.de).
The latter approach can result in some SEO benefits.
Lower transaction and credit card fees
The ‘Shopify’ plan brings with it lower credit card fees than both the ‘Basic Shopify’ and ‘Shopify Starter’ plans, along with lower fees for using an external payment gateway.
As with all the other Shopify plans except ‘Starter’, if you’re using Shopify Payments, you will avoid transaction fees.
In terms of credit card fees, you can expect to pay 2.6% + 30c for online transactions and 2.5% + 0c for point-of-sale transactions (US rates).
If using an external payment gateway, the transaction fee applied by Shopify on this plan is 1%.
Automation of ecommerce tasks
The ‘Shopify’ plan allows you to automate a lot of ecommerce tasks via a visual workflow builder called ‘Shopify Flow.’ This facilitates the creation of ‘if this then that’ (IFTT) style rules which make Shopify take certain actions based on certain events (for example, if your inventory is running low, it can send an email message to a supplier etc.).
Is the ‘Shopify’ plan for me?
The ‘Shopify’ plan is good for merchants who…
have a high volume of online sales (or expect them): if the sales levels are high enough, the lower transaction fees will help offset the higher monthly cost
require professional reporting
wish to avail of discounted shipping rates
need to use Cubic Pricing
- want to use task automation tools.
You can try the ‘Shopify’ plan free here.
A key part of running an online store is email marketing — sending e-newsletters to an engaged mailing list is vital to generating sales.
Recognizing this (and perhaps the fact that key competitor Squarespace now offers built-in email marketing), Shopify introduced a useful email marketing feature, ‘Shopify Email,’ which allows you to design and send newsletters (using 29 different templates).
Whereas in the past you would have had to use a dedicated email marketing app like AWeber or GetResponse to do this, you can now carry out basic email marketing without leaving the Shopify interface.
And it’s very reasonably priced — you can send up to 10,000 emails per month for free with Shopify Email, with a $1 fee applying to every 1000 emails you send after that.
A recent update of the tool added some automation features, which includes the following automated emails:
- Welcome new subscriber
- First purchase upsell
- Customer winback
If you need very sophisticated email marketing features, including autoresponder functionality and marketing automation, you are probably better off considering using a dedicated email marketing tool like GetResponse to handle this.
But Shopify Email will serve as a very useful tool for a lot of merchants, especially those who like to take an ‘all in one’ approach to running their online business.
‘Advanced Shopify’ pricing
With ‘Advanced Shopify’, you get three key features that are not included with the plans discussed above — advanced report building, real time carrier shipping quotations from third parties and the ability to apply duties and import taxes at checkout.
You also get significantly lower credit card rates (and lower transaction fees if using a third-party payment gateway).
Advanced report building
The ‘Advanced Shopify’ pricing plan allows you to manipulate your Shopify data more easily, and create your own custom reports.
You can select various dimensions and metrics and use them to create bespoke reports which you can save and refer to in future. You can also apply a multitude of filters to your data to get a view that suits your business activities.
(Users of Google Analytics will be familiar with this sort of thing).
In short, this functionality is for vendors who want to drill down into their sales data extensively, with a view to tweaking their sales processes / operations to the nth degree.
Accordingly, these reporting features are of most use to merchants who are selling a lot of goods (as doing so will provide a significant enough amount of data to make the advanced report options worth using).
Third-party real-time carrier shipping
Real time carrier shipping functionality means that the exact shipping rates that carriers charge to ship a customer’s order are automatically calculated at checkout.
Depending on the country you live in, you can get this functionality on cheaper Shopify plans — so long as you are happy to:
- use Shopify’s preferred providers via the ‘Shopify Shipping’ service; or
- pay for your Shopify plan on an annual, rather than monthly, basis; or
- pay an additional monthly fee for the feature (Shopify advise you to contact their support team to discuss this).
If you intend to use Shopify with a carrier that isn’t part of the ‘Shopify Shipping’ service — or live in a country where it isn’t available — then you are going to have to use the ‘third-party’ option.
This feature provides a way to calculate a carrier’s shipping rates automatically at the exact time an order is placed.
You can edit Shopify’s settings to mark these up (i.e., add a handling fee) or down (to compensate for a shipping rate which you feel may dissuade customers from completing a purchase).
The option to charge import duties and taxes
All the ‘Basic’ or higher Shopify plans let you convert your products’ prices into local currencies, and facilitate checkout in those currencies.
However, if you’re selling internationally, you may also need to calculate and apply import duties and taxes at checkout. To do this, you’ll need to be on the ‘Advanced’ plan or higher.
Transaction fees and credit card fees
Of the four Shopify plans aimed at SMEs, ‘Advanced Shopify’ offers the lowest transaction fees.
As with the other plans, if you’re using Shopify Payments, there are no transaction fees; the US credit card fee is 2.4% + 30c for online transactions, and 2.4% + 0c for point-of-sale ones.
Using an external payment gateway costs 0.5% in transaction fees, plus whatever fees the payment gateway charges you.
Is ‘Advanced Shopify’ for me?
The ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan is good for merchants who
have a very high volume of online sales (or expect them): as with the ‘Shopify’ plan, if sales levels are high enough, the lower transaction fees could provide considerable savings
require advanced reporting features
need real-time-carrier shipping delivered by third parties
- want more control over pricing for products sold internationally.
You can try ‘Advanced Shopify’ for free here.
‘Shopify POS Pro’ pricing
Although all Shopify plans except the ‘Starter’ one let you sell in person via basic point-of-sale features (‘POS Lite’), you have to invest in a ‘Shopify POS Pro’ add-on to avail of the most sophisticated functionality.
Doing so involves a not-inconsiderable $89 per month, per location fee on top of your regular Shopify costs.
You will need the ‘Pro’ add-on if you want to do things like:
- work with a large number of POS-only staff
- use an unlimited number of cash registers
allow your customers to buy products online and pick them up in store
facilitate product exchanges
provide custom printed receipts
- create purchase orders
define specific staff roles and permissions
attribute sales to particular staff members.
- use POS in up to 1,000 locations.
Buying Shopify POS hardware
Shopify’s POS hardware — card readers, receipt printers, barcode scanners etc. — is not included with your Shopify plan and you must purchase it separately.
You can buy hardware from the Shopify Hardware Store from a wide range of locations including Australia, Canada, the EU, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the US. If there isn’t a dedicated hardware store for your country, you can buy Shopify POS equipment from an authorized reseller.
You can learn more about Shopify Point of Sale here.
‘Shopify Plus’ pricing
Finally, there’s the ‘Shopify Plus’ plan to consider. Unlike the main Shopify pricing plans discussed above, this is aimed not at small business owners, but at big ones.
‘Shopify Plus’ is an enterprise grade solution, which basically offers all the features of the ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan plus advanced features involving security, automation, multi-currency selling, checkout customization, APIs and fulfillment. Our Shopify vs Shopify Plus comparison gives you the full rundown on these.
With Shopify Plus, you get the option to manage 10 different stores from one account — this is good for brands who need individual stores for specific product lines.
How much does Shopify Plus cost?
With Shopify Plus, there are two pricing options available:
- Standard pricing: $2,000 USD per month (for ‘standard’ setups and integrations)
- Variable fee: a negotiable percentage of monthly sales (this percentage will depend on your requirements and the complexity of your ecommerce setup).
As you might expect given the significant costs, Shopify Plus comes with ‘white glove’ account management (dedicated onboarding, account management and support).
Is Shopify Plus for me?
‘Shopify Plus’ is for (large) businesses who have
an extremely high volume of sales
- a need to manage a large number of stores from one account
a need to create very bespoke connections between Shopify and internal systems (CRM tools etc.)
a desire to automate workflows
very particular requirements regarding security and uptime
- a need to have fully automatic currency conversion in place
a large budget
a need for more handholding and support.
Click here for more information on Shopify Plus.
Beefing up your Shopify plan using apps and integrations
If the functionality included in your chosen Shopify plan isn’t quite enough, you can enhance it by adding apps to your store.
Shopify’s app store contains over 8,000 apps (both free and paid) that are straightforward enough to integrate. Some are considerably better than others though — so always check out the user reviews before committing to one!
A key example of where you might want to add an app (and as touched on above) is in the dropshipping department — there are hundreds of apps available to help you start a dropshipping business with Shopify.
You can also use Shopify apps to integrate your store neatly with well-known productivity / business apps like Xero, Zendesk and Mailchimp.
Other apps let you add more sophisticated functionality than you might find out of the box in Shopify — key examples of these include customer analytics, upselling, gallery and product options apps.
Although the app store represents a selling point for Shopify — it contains a myriad of apps that can be used to enhance your store — it also highlights a potential weakness of the product. Whereas with Shopify you often find yourself reaching for the app store (and your wallet) to add certain types of functionality, other platforms — notably BigCommerce — provide it as standard out of the box.
Examples of this include adding persistent carts (which let you continue a purchase across multiple devices); extending the number of product options you can use; and creating custom fields (to capture data such as inscriptions, dedications etc.).
On the plus side, the well-stocked app store means that you can integrate your Shopify store easily with a very large number of other popular online services.
Buying a pre-built Shopify store
What about buying an existing Shopify store? The advantage of doing this rather than building one is that it takes a lot of the effort out of setting one up and, assuming the store you buy is already profitable, can reduce the risk of making a bad investment.
Now, Shopify used to provide service that allowed you to buy Shopify stores. It was called the ‘Exchange Marketplace’ and it contained listings of existing Shopify stores that were available for purchase.
This service has unfortunately been discontinued, but you can still buy Shopify stores from third party broker websites, the best-known probably being Empire Flippers.
Stores on Empire Flippers are vetted before they are listed, and the purchase process is tightly managed by the company’s team. This means that you can buy a Shopify store from them in relative confidence (although that said, it’s always worth getting financial and/or legal advice before doing so).
In terms of how much buying a Shopify store will cost you, this depends on how profitable the store already is. You can spend anything from a couple of hundred dollars (for a pre-built store without a customer base) up to a few million (for a store that is generating a healthy monthly profit).
You can learn more about Empire Flippers here.
I hope this Shopify pricing review has helped clarify which plan is best suited to your needs! Do feel free to share it on social media, or link to it from your own site if you found it useful 🙂
If you’re still undecided about which Shopify plan is going to work best for you, you can avail of a free trial of the product and select your plan at the end of your trial.
This allows you to test out the product’s core functionality and work out which Shopify pricing plan might be the best fit.
You can access Shopify’s standard free trial here, or its free dropshipping starter kit here (the latter bundles a free trial and a dropshipping course together).
Alternatives to Shopify
Shopify is by no means the only online store building platform on the market — there is a wide range of competing products to choose from.
BigCommerce is probably the most similar hosted solution to Shopify, offering a range of similar features at a similar price point. Check out our BigCommerce vs Shopify post for a full overview of how it compares to Shopify.
BigCommerce vs Shopify video comparison
BigCommerce trial | Shopify trial | Full BigCommerce vs Shopify comparison
Users who want to try out a platform that is more geared towards showcasing content than Shopify — for example image galleries, audio or video — might like to check out Squarespace, as it provides a very elegant way to lay content out whilst also providing some very useful selling features.
You can check out our Squarespace review, our Squarespace pricing guide, our Shopify vs Squarespace comparison or our YouTube video review of Squarespace for more details on this platform.
Shopify vs Squarespace video comparison
Shopify trial | Squarespace trial | Shopify vs Squarespace comparison
If you’re on a budget, Wix is worth a look, as you can get started with ecommerce more cheaply with it. You can check out our Wix vs Shopify comparison for more information on how the two platforms stack up against each other.
Alternatively, check out our Wix review, our Wix vs WordPress comparison and our Wix vs Squarespace posts for more information on this option.
Another budget option is Big Cartel — our Big Cartel vs Shopify post explains how it stacks up against Shopify.
If you’re primarily interested in POS, Square is well worth a look (particularly if you’re operating in the food and drink industry). Check out our Shopify vs Square shootout for more details about this platform.
WordPress can work well as an ecommerce solution too — you’ll need to integrate a plugin like Ecwid or WooCommerce with it in order to start selling online, but you can end up with a very good end product this way.
(Check out our Ecwid vs Shopify and our WooCommerce vs Shopify comparisons for more information on how both of these plugins stack up against Shopify).
Shopify pricing FAQ
How much does Shopify cost to use?
Shopify starts at $5 per month — for this you get access to its entry-level ‘Starter’ plan. However, this plan doesn’t let you build a fully-editable online store (it’s mainly designed to let you sell your products on an existing website or on social media). The other plans — ‘Basic,’ ‘Shopify’ and ‘Advanced Shopify’ — provide full store-building functionality and cost $39, $105 and $399 per month respectively.
Can I use Shopify for free?
Unlike some other ecommerce platforms, Shopify doesn’t provide an entirely free plan. However, a free trial is available.
Does Shopify take a cut of sales?
Shopify doesn’t charge transaction fees on its ‘Basic’ or higher plans if you use its own payment processing option, ‘Shopify Payments.’ However, if you use a third-party payment gateway, Shopify will apply them, and these range from 0.5% to 2% depending on plan. In either scenario, credit card processing fees will always apply — either those charged by Shopify (typically 2.4% – 2.9% in the USA) or those applied by your payment gateway provider.
What’s the best value Shopify plan?
The ‘Shopify’ plan arguably represents the sweet spot in the Shopify line-up, because it unlocks most of the key functionality required to run a successful ecommerce business, including professional reporting, international domains, flexible currency conversion features and a generous number of user accounts.
How much do Shopify themes cost?
There are 11 free Shopify themes available, and 111 ‘premium’ themes that you pay to use. The fees for these range from $180 to $350.
What are the hidden costs of Shopify?
The hidden costs of Shopify are typically associated with templates, transaction fees, apps and integrations, stock (and storage of it), web development, point of sale charges and store marketing.
More Shopify resources from Style Factory
If you’d like to do some further research into Shopify or starting a business online, check out some of our related resources:
For a complete list of our online store builder articles, please see our ecommerce reviews section; and our ecommerce platform buying guide will help you understand the key things you should be looking for in an online store builder.
Over to you — got any thoughts on Shopify fees?
If you’ve got any queries or thoughts on Shopify fees, or the product in general, we’d love to hear them!
Feel free to add a comment below — we’ll do our best to answer any questions you may have on the platform.
Did you know? Our Shopify fees article is now available in French! Just visit our ‘Prix Shopify‘ post on the Style Factory France website to access this and other key content in French.
Any update on pricing for non-profits? I can’t find anything on their website.
Thanks for your query Ruth — a good point and something I’ll look into. There does seem to be a page on the Shopify site which implies preferential rates for non-profits — see https://www.shopify.co.uk/nonprofit — but it’s not clear what those rates are. Will investigate and update in due course!
Hi! I would like to develop a webpage/platform that integrates many dental supplies from different dental stores websites.
I already have talked with some of the Dental Stores and they are open to give me the API Keys in order to have the actual product description, product image, stock, etc.
Most of the dental webpages are in woocommerce, shopify, jumpseller and other.
The idea is the following. The Dentists goes to my webpage, search for the best dental products from different dental stores (all integrated in the platform), pays in my platform and the payment goes to me.
Then, instantly, the platform lowers down the stock of the product from each Dental Store.
Do you think is it possible to do this? Do you know who I could talk to?
I think that realistically you’d need to speak to a web development agency specialising in custom builds – from what you are saying this is probably bested catered for using a bespoke setup (rather than a hosted solution like Shopify) that collates all the product info automatically via the various APIs.
Hope this helps?
Best wishes Chris
WordPress can work as an e-commerce solution too — you’ll need to integrate a plugin like Ecwid (or indeed Shopify) with it in order to start selling online, but you can end up with a very good end product this way — really!! No mention of woocommerce!!! The largest ecommerce footprint globally that too for free
A fair point Umair — we’ll add in a reference to Woocommerce when we next update this post.
We are a not for profit in Aust. Are there any fee discounts etc?Jennifer
Hi Jennifer – I’ll look into that! Shopify are a bit vague about this on their page about not-for-profits (https://www.shopify.com/nonprofit) but they do mention a special rate on there. I’ll do a bit of digging and update the piece accordingly.
I’ve been talking with some friends lately who use Shopify for their clothing lines online sales. They’re very happy with it and I’m almost convinced. I think I’ll use the trial – though I’d feel like I have to commit if I spend the time setting it up!
Tks for a great article. In case I use Shopify Lite, and sell the product from a different platform (a market place for example), but want to register the sale in Shopify to keep my inventory and sales record there. Payment was made in cash. Is there a way to do it this way? Would Shopify still charge 2%? How would they collect this fee? Thank you
Many thanks for the kind words on our Shopify fees article CJP…and so sorry for the ridiculously late response! I think you’d just create a manual order in Shopify entering in the details of the transaction. Not sure of the implications regarding fee, but I suspect as it didn’t involve a credit card there wouldn’t be grounds for Shopify to take a cut. Probably best to give them a shout about this before committing to a particular pricing plan (but I suspect you already did this as a result of my abysmally slow response!). Thanks again for reading the article.