Shopify Fees (2019) - A Guide to Shopify Pricing...Which Shopify Plan is Best?

Shopify fees - which pricing plan is right for you?

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 may be wondering which one is the right one for your business.

So, in this post, we’re going to look at Shopify fees in depth, going through each of the available plans and highlighting the aspects that might make one Shopify pricing plan better than another - or more suited to your business.

Let's start with an overview of what Shopify is.

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 install software locally to use it. Because it's a 'hosted' solution, you don't need to worry about buying hosting either.

The precise functionality you get from Shopify depends on the pricing plan you opt for — I discuss all these in depth below — but all Shopify plans allow you to sell an unlimited number of products (digital or physical) and all but one allow you to pick a template (or 'theme') which you can use to present your products with (i.e., your 'theme' is basically your web 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:

  • 'Shopify Lite' - $9 per month

  • 'Basic Shopify' - $29 per month

  • 'Shopify' - $79 per month

  • 'Advanced Shopify' - $299 per month

  • 'Shopify Plus' - negotiable, but starting at $2000 per month

If you have the budget to pay upfront, you can reduce your Shopify fees by purchasing an annual or biennial plan — 10% and 20% discounts are available if you pay for one year or two years of service respectively, instead of paying on a monthly basis.

Shopify's pricing plans (correct at time of writing in April 2019)

Shopify's pricing plans (correct at time of writing in April 2019)

Let's dig into the features of each of these plans.

If you're interested in using Shopify to build an online store, we can help. Get in touch today to discuss how we can get your Shopify site off the ground quickly and easily, or read more about our Shopify development services.

Shopify Lite

At $9 per month, 'Shopify Lite' represents one of the cheapest ways into selling products online - but technically it doesn’t provide you with a standalone, fully-functional online store.

Rather, it allows you to

  • showcase your products on an existing website

  • sell on Facebook

  • use Shopify as a back-end system for selling products in physical locations (market stalls, gigs, events etc.)

Embedding your products on another website with Shopify Lite

With 'Shopify Lite', you get a ‘buy button’ - this works in a similar (but arguably better) way to Paypal, in that you add a snippet of code to your website and your product’s details (photo, price, description etc.) along with an option to buy that product, appear on your website.

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 e-commerce functionality. For example, you might already have a WordPress blog or website that you want to display products on — this solution is ideal for that.

Shopify Buy Button in action

Shopify Buy Button in action

Shopify Lite and digital products

One of the things that I most like about Shopify as an e-commerce platform is the way that it facilitates the sales of digital products. 

Selling digital products is 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 varies from country to country — so you might need to charge your UK customers one VAT rate, your French ones another and so on.

Shopify seems to be 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.

As such, the 'Shopify Lite' 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 customers - and now want to sell digital goods without building a whole new website. The 'Lite' plan offers a relatively-low cost workaround for this. 

(In fact, I recently implemented this workaround on this site, precisely to solve the VAT MOSS headache. Although the Style Factory is built on Squarespace, I sell my SEO book via a 'Shopify Lite' plan). 

Selling on Facebook with Shopify Lite

If you are only interested in selling on Facebook, and aren’t bothered with creating a standalone store, then 'Shopify Lite' 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. 

I say ‘potentially’ however because I’ve found Shopify’s Facebook integration a bit frustrating. As things stand it seems that users browsing your store can only buy one item at a time. For most businesses, this is annoying, but for some businesses it will render the Facebook store pretty useless.

An example of such a business is my cousin’s Irish wedding invitation store, which I built in Shopify: her sales typically involve people buying large quantities of wedding invitations at once.

She tried the Facebook integration, but it was of no use, because customers could only buy one invitation at a time with it — a tortuous process if you’ve got 100 guests coming to your wedding...

As such the Shopify-Facebook integration is currently of more use to merchants selling products that are only likely to be bought one at a time; for example, bands who wish to sell the occasional album to their fans without them having to leave the Facebook environment, or businesses with customers that are unlikely to make multiple purchases at once (I’m thinking the likes of florists; jewellery stores etc.).

To be fair to Shopify, it would appear that this issue stems from a limitation on the Facebook side of things. Either way, however, it'd be great if it could be sorted out.

Another limitation of the Facebook integration is that you can't use it to sell digital products, as I found out when trying to sell my e-book on the Style Factory Facebook page.

So in essence, whilst you can use Shopify Lite to sell on your Facebook page, you might find the functionality doesn't quite meet your requirements.

Using Shopify Lite as a backend system for a physical store

'Shopify Lite' is a reasonably good option for those who sell in physical locations and need a solution for processing payments and manage their inventory.

It allows you to accept payments via your smartphone using the Shopify app; and 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.

However, unlike some of the more expensive Shopify plans, you can't use additional POS hardware (bar code readers, receipt printers, tills etc.) on the 'Lite' plan. (The Lite plan also disables other POS features, which we'll discuss later on in this post).

Shopify point-of-sale kit

Shopify point-of-sale kit

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 providing 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). 

There are no transaction fees to worry about with 'Shopify Lite', so long as you are prepared to use Shopify's own payment processing option — Shopify Payments — as the payment gateway.

If you use a third party payment gateway, you can expect to pay a 2.0% transaction fee on each sale, plus whatever your credit card fees your payment gateway provider charges.

If you're on the 'Lite' plan and using Shopify Payments, credit card fees in the USA 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. 

IMPORTANT: Shopify's credit card fees vary by country - the ones listed in this article are the US ones, but differing rates are available in different territories. For example, the UK credit card rates for the 'Lite' plan are considerably cheaper than the US ones - 2.2% for online transactions and 1.7% for in-person ones.

Abandoned cart recovery

The inclusion of abandoned cart recovery in the $9 ‘Lite’ plan is relatively new (and very welcome) - it used to be only available on the $79+ 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 the 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). I suspect most users will plump for the automatic option, 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, so it's a feature which may prompt a lot of Shopify users to go for this plan over the 'Lite' option.

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 $79.95 per month plan; with Squarespace, a $46 per month plan; and Volusion a $79 per month plan. 

Because of the importance of abandoned cart saver functionality, the inclusion of this feature constitutes one of the strongest arguments for choosing Shopify over competing products.

What about dropshipping with Shopify Lite?

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 (you take the order, send it to a supplier, and they deliver the goods to your client - your store is in effect a middle man of sorts). 

If you want to dropship with Shopify, you need to install a third party app to do so. You can get one from Shopify's app store - a popular choice is Oberlo (which integrates with AliExpress), but there are many others available. 

You can use a dropshipping app on any Shopify plan, Lite 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 browsable, on a fully-fledged online store). That said, if you intend to integrate Shopify Lite with another platform — for example WordPress — the fact that you can use it to start dropshipping is undeniably useful.

Support on Shopify Lite

Although 24/7 support is included with the 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.

Is 'Shopify Lite' for me?

Shopify Lite is best suited to merchants who

  • want to add e-commerce / dropshipping functionality to an existing website

  • want an easy way to solve VAT MOSS related headaches

  • wish to sell on Facebook (but don't need 'add to cart' functionality or the ability to sell digital goods on Facebook)

  • want a platform to process payments and manage inventory when selling at markets or events

  • 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 Lite for 14 days free here.

If your needs are a bit more extensive, it's time to look at...

Basic Shopify

Basic Shopify’, at $29 per month, is the cheapest Shopify plan which enables you to create a fully functional, standalone online store.

'Basic Shopify' provides the following core features:

  • Fully functional website version of your store (i.e., as opposed to just a 'buy button')

  • Ability to sell an unlimited number of products

  • Unlimited file storage

  • 2 staff accounts (i.e., 2 separate logins)

  • 24/7 phone, email and live chat support

  • 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

  • Free SSL certificate (this allows you to host your store securely using the HTTPS protocol)

  • Abandoned cart recovery

  • A blog

  • Discounted shipping rates (note: depends on country you’re selling in)

  • Fraud analysis (as the name suggests, this allows you to spot fraudulent transactions)

  • Support for point of sale hardware

'Shopify Basic' vs 'Shopify Lite' - what’s the main difference?

The most important thing you get with 'Shopify Basic' that you don't get on 'Shopify Lite' is a fully functional online store. This includes blogging functionality, which is essential for generating traffic via inbound marketing.

You get all the ‘embeddable’ and ‘sell-in-person’ functionality that comes with Shopify Lite, but importantly, you get a website which you can host at your own domain.

Point of sale features are also more comprehensive — most importantly, you can use POS hardware on this plan (cash registers, barcode scanners, receipt printers etc.).

Let's take a look in a bit more depth at some of the key features you get on the 'Basic' plan which you won't find on 'Lite': templates, support, abandoned cart saver functionality and blogging.


Once you're on a 'Basic Shopify' plan (or higher), you can choose from a wide range of templates for your online store - there are 10 free ones, and 61 paid ones.

I’ve always found the free themes to be perfectly usable (and you can tweak them quite extensively by adding CSS and HTML), but if you fancy using a paid theme, they cost between $140 and $180.

Shopify's theme store is very easy to browse, because it provides a lot of search filters which you can use to locate a suitable theme for your Shopify site. You can filter all the templates using a wide range of criteria, including paid vs free, industry, layout type and visual effects (i.e., parallax scrolling, video backgrounds etc). 

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 support themes that the company has developed themselves. 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. 

And speaking of support...

Examples of Shopify free themes

Examples of Shopify free themes

Support on 'Shopify Basic' vs 'Shopify Lite'

As mentioned earlier, although support is included with Shopify Lite, it is limited to email and chat only. ‘Basic Shopify’ provides you with phone support too.

A slight word of warning about the phone support however: phone numbers are only provided for North America, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand — there's no 'all other countries' option. This means that you may end up paying international rates to phone Shopify directly, which could work out expensive if you’re on a long call with them.

A blog

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 attract traffic to your store by publishing relevant keyword-rich content.

It's not going to rival WordPress in the functionality stakes as it doesn't facilitate content versioning and the post categorisation options are fairly limited; that said, it's perfectly usable and, with the publication of good content, can facilitate an inbound marketing campaign perfectly well.

Point of sale features

Point of sale (POS) features are slightly better on ‘Shopify Basic’ than on ‘Shopify Lite’. On the Lite plan, you are limited to selling in three locations; Shopify Basic ups this to 4.

Transaction fees and credit card fees

When it comes to transaction fees, they are the same as 'Shopify Lite' (i.e., there are no transaction fees if you're using Shopify Payments, but a 2.0% transaction fee on each sale applies if you're using a third party payment gateway). 

Credit card fees are also the same as the 'Shopify Lite' ones: 2.9% + 30c 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 standalone online store

  • do not need advanced selling or reporting functionality (more on that below)

  • do not need extensive POS functionality

  • want to use blogging as a means of attracting inbound traffic

You can try Shopify Basic for 14 days free here.

Moving up the ladder, we come to...


The next plan to consider is simply called ‘Shopify’ and the fee for this is $79 per month.

The key additions that the 'Shopify' plan brings over 'Shopify Basic' are:

  • gift cards

  • professional reporting

  • more comprehensive POS functionality

  • lower transaction and credit card fees

Gift cards

Gift cards - as you might expect - allow your customers to purchase a gift for someone from your store, whilst leaving the actual product selection up to the recipient.

Gift card functionality is probably most relevant to stores with a relatively good level of brand awareness - i.e., stores that are sufficiently well-known that people would be excited (or at least pleased!) to receive a gift card for them.

As such, I would argue that this functionality is not a deal breaker for all brand new store owners — but it is definitely a good thing to have if you are an established business.

Professional reports

In-depth reporting functionality is quite a big omission from 'Basic Shopify' plan and one of the biggest reasons why you might want to plump for the 'Shopify' plan over 'Basic.'

With 'Basic Shopify', the reporting functionality is quite basic. Upgrading to the 'Shopify' plan however gives you access to a wider range of detailed summaries, including

  • sales reports

  • retail sales reports

  • customers reports

  • marketing reports

Regardless of the type of Shopify plan you select, I'd recommend adding Google Analytics to your site too, as you'll get a host of additional insights by using it.

Point of sale functionality

Using Shopify's point-of-sale hardware

Using Shopify's point-of-sale hardware

All Shopify plans let you sell in person using the Shopify POS app; however, if you want to gain access to the full range of Shopify POS features, you'll need to be on the 'Shopify' or higher plan.

On a 'Shopify' or higher plan, in addition to being able to sell in person with the Shopify POS app you can:

  • register shifts

  • sell in up to 5 locations

  • use the full range of POS hardware (barcode scanners, receipt printers etc.)

  • use staff PINs (an unlimited number) at point of sale

  • make use of third-party POS apps with your Shopify store

The key difference between this plan and the ‘Basic’ one is that you can use it to register shifts; sell in one more location; and use staff PINs.

Lower transaction and credit card fees

The ‘Shopify’ plan brings with it lower transaction fees than both the ‘Basic Shopify’ and ‘Shopify Lite’ plans, along with lower fees for using an external payment gateway. 

As with all the other Shopify plans, 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%.

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 more in-depth reporting

  • need more comprehensive POS functionality

  • sell products for which there is often a demand for gift cards.

You can try the 'Shopify' plan free for 14 days here.

Advanced Shopify

With ‘Advanced Shopify’, you get two additional features that are not included with the plans discussed above - advanced report building and real time carrier shipping. You also get lower credit card rates (and lower transaction fees if using a third-party payment gateway).

Advanced report building

The ‘Advanced Shopify’ plan effectively 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 really want to drill down into their sales data with a view to tweaking their sales processes / operations to the nth degree.

As such, it’s most useful for 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.

Real-time carrier shipping

If you intend to use Shopify with a carrier to ship your products (Fedex, UPS etc.), then you are effectively going to have to use the Shopify Advanced plan (or Shopify Plus, more on which below). 

With Shopify’s real-time carrier shipping option, shipping costs are calculated automatically by a carrier 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).

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 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 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

  • intend to make use of carriers to ship their products.

You can try 'Advanced Shopify' for free for 14 days here.

Shopify Plus

Finally, there’s the 'Shopify Plus' plan to consider. Unlike the plans discussed above, this is aimed not at SMEs, but at big businesses. 

'Shopify Plus' is an enterprise grade solution, which basically offers all the features of 'Advanced Shopify' plan plus advanced features involving security, APIs and fulfilment.

Significantly, it allows you to automate a lot of e-commerce related 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.). Y

You'll find a brief video overview of 'Shopify Flow' below:

Pricing is negotiable — as the solution that Shopify will offer you is usually tailor-made to your requirements — but fees commence at $2,000 per month.

As you might expect given the increased 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 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 decent budget

  • a need for more handholding

Click here for more information on Shopify Plus.

Beefing up your Shopify plan using apps

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 thousands of apps (both free and paid) that are straightforward enough to integrate. Some are better than others though: always check 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 several available to help you start a dropshipping business with Shopify.

You can also use apps to integrate your store neatly with well-known productivity / business apps like Xero, Zendesk and Salesforce. However, not all third-party services are catered for — Mailchimp being a key omission. (This is due to a dispute between Mailchimp and Shopify over data protection issues. You can still use Mailchimp in conjunction with Shopify, although it will require more manual configuration now that the official integration is no more).

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 AMP functionality (which improves site speed on mobile devices), extending the number of product options you can use or creating custom fields (to capture data such as inscriptions, dedications etc.).

On the plus store, the well-stocked app store means that you can integrate your Shopify store easily with a very large number of other popular web apps.

Buying a pre-built Shopify store

Shopify now offers a service that allows you to buy a Shopify store.

This is called the ‘Exchange Marketplace’ and it contains listings of existing Shopify stores that can be purchased. The advantage of buying a Shopify store rather than building one is that it takes a lot of the legwork out of setting one up and, assuming the store you buy is already profitable, can reduce the risk of making a bad investment.

Stores on the Exchange Marketplace are vetted by Shopify before they are listed, and the escrow method — where an independent third party holds the payment until both buyer and seller are satisfied with proceedings — is used to handle the buying process. This means that you can buy a Shopify store from the Exchange Marketplace 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).

For more information on buying an existing Shopify store, check out our guide to buying a Shopify store, or visit the Exchange Marketplace for more details on what’s currently available to buy.

Free trials

I hope this discussion on Shopify pricing has helped clarify which plan is best suited to your needs.

If you're still undecided about which Shopify plan is going to work best for you, you can avail of a free 14-day 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 free trials here.

Alternatives to Shopify

Shopify is by no means the only online store building platform on the market — there are a wide range of others 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 review for more details.

If you’re on a budget, Wix is worth a look, as you can get started with e-commerce more cheaply with it. However, I’d view Shopify as being a product that generally leads to more professional results. Check out our Wix review and our Wordpress vs Wix post for more information on this option.

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.

More Shopify resources

We build Shopify stores for clients, so if you are thinking about using Shopify as a platform, do get in touch to find out how we can help. Or join our mailing list to receive lots of useful Shopify and other e-commerce resources in your inbox.

If you'd like to do some further Shopify-related reading or watching, here are some more resources you may find handy:

For a complete list of our online store builder articles, please see our e-commerce platform reviews.

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! (Note: if you're using a mobile device, you may be reading an accelerated AMP version of this article which doesn't facilitate commenting. Click here to view the regular one, where you can view and add comments easily).