What is Shopify and How Does It Work? - Alibaba Seller

Alibaba.com NOVEMBER 13, 202315 MIN READ
What is Shopify and How Does It Work? - Alibaba Seller

Shopify is often a topic of interest for those wondering, "What is Shopify used for, and how does it work?" In this guide, we'll dive deep into the world of Shopify, answering your questions and providing valuable insights to help you make informed decisions about using this platform for your e-commerce endeavors.

So, is Shopify worth it? To many, the answer is a resounding "yes." We'll explore the reasons behind its widespread popularity, including its user-friendly interface, versatile customization options, and adaptability to businesses of all sizes and industries. If you're eager to discover how to make money on Shopify, you'll find a wealth of information on various strategies, including the increasingly popular Shopify dropshipping, which offers low initial investments and low-risk entry into the e-commerce arena.

Wondering about the legitimacy of Shopify? Rest assured, the platform is trusted and reputable. Beyond e-commerce, it extends its services to logistics and shipping, making it an all-encompassing solution for your online business needs. We'll delve into what you can sell on Shopify, addressing the topic of selling food and exploring the top-selling products that have found success on the platform.

What is Shopify?

It is a user-friendly e-commerce platform designed for businesses that enables you to build online stores, sell on various platforms (social media, marketplaces, blogs, email, and in-person), and manage business operations.

Technically, it's a subscription-based SaaS platform with plans1 starting at $32 per month. A lower-cost "Lite" plan at $5 per month is available for mobile POS and selling on external sites. All plans come with essential tools for product management, sales, payments, and more, and you can expand your capabilities with Shopify Apps. It also provides marketing and SEO tools to help businesses reach their target audience and increase their online visibility.

Shopify’s history and growth as an e-commerce platform

Founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake in Canada, Shopify emerged from their quest to create an online store for snowboarding equipment, named Snowdevil. Faced with the absence of a suitable e-commerce platform, they developed their solution. Shopify officially launched in 2006, rapidly gaining popularity due to its user-friendly interface and customization options. In 2015, it went public, raising substantial capital. Over the years, it expanded globally, introducing services like Shopify Payments and an app store for third-party integrations. To serve larger businesses, it introduced Shopify Plus, enhancing its market presence and revenue.

Significance in the e-commerce industry

Shopify's key impact on e-commerce is democratization, enabling small businesses to compete with larger ones. It offers accessible and affordable tools, reducing entry barriers, and nurturing startups and entrepreneurs. The platform is a global game-changer, providing reliability for online sales, backed by ongoing innovation and business empowerment, cementing its role in the e-commerce landscape.

How Does Shopify Work?

So how does Shopify work? Shopify works by simplifying your e-commerce operations. It does this by consolidating your product data, customer information, and operational tasks into a single, integrated system. This unified platform seamlessly connects to all your sales channels, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience.

Intuitive and user-friendly interface

One of the key strengths of Shopify is its user-friendly interface. It provides an intuitive dashboard that allows merchants to navigate effortlessly and manage various aspects of their online store. With easy-to-understand menus and settings, merchants can handle inventory, orders, and customer data efficiently.

Multiple Customization Options

It offers a wide selection of professionally designed themes that can be personalized to reflect a brand's unique identity. Through the built-in theme editor, merchants can modify the layout, colors, fonts, and other visual elements to create a visually appealing and cohesive online store.

Ease of Use

Adding products, managing inventory, and processing orders are seamless tasks as the platform provides streamlined tools for organizing product catalogs, inventory tracking, and order management. You can effortlessly add product details, images, and variants, and even set up automated stock notifications to stay on top of inventory levels.

Secure reliable payment options - including Shopify payments and point-of-sale (POS) systems

Shopify ensures secure payments through various gateways, including its built-in Shopify Payments. It also offers an integrated point-of-sale (POS) system, streamlining online and in-store sales, particularly beneficial for businesses with physical locations, pop-up shops, or event participation.

With tiered pricing plans, Shopify is easy to access for businesses at different levels

In terms of pricing, it offers different plans tailored to meet varying business needs and budgets. From the basic Shopify plan suitable for startups to the advanced Shopify Plus plan designed for larger enterprises, there is a range of options available. Each plan offers different features and pricing structures, allowing businesses to choose the one that aligns with their requirements.

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Is Shopify Legit?

Absolutely! Shopify is a super safe platform for buying and selling. They've got some cool features in place to make sure your transactions are secure. Here's how they do it:

SSL Certificates

All Shopify stores come with SSL certificates installed by default. These certificates encrypt the data between a browser and the store, making it impossible for hackers to steal sensitive info like credit card numbers.

Hosted Platform

Shopify takes care of hosting your store's files on its own servers. This not only keeps your store secure, but it also relieves you of the responsibility of managing and securing your own server. Shopify automatically applies security patches and updates for you.

Bug Bounty Program

Shopify runs a program called the Shopify Whitehat Reward2 program. They actually reward hackers who find and report security vulnerabilities in their code. This helps them quickly identify and fix any bugs, making sure their stores are as safe as can be.

Fraud Detection

Shopify stores have built-in risk analysis tools to catch fraudulent orders. These tools use a mix of machine learning and human intelligence to flag suspicious orders. They verify billing addresses, and card information, and even cross-check against known fraudsters. If anything seems fishy, Shopify automatically cancels the order.

TLS Certificates

Shopify ensures secure connections by running all traffic through TLS certificates3. These certificates enhance network security between clients (like browsers) and servers. They help prevent imposters from hijacking the connection, which is essential for credit transactions. When you buy a domain or connect a third-party domain on Shopify, they issue TLS certificates automatically.

So if you have been wondering and asking, “Is Shopify legit?” or “Is it safe to transact on Shopify?”, you can rest easy. You are in great company and 100% safe.

Why Use Shopify? Pros & Cons

Shopify is a popular choice for building and running an online store, and for good reason! Since 2006, the company has been helping entrepreneurs around the world grow their businesses with its incredible eCommerce platform. With over 500,000 merchants using it, it's no wonder that Shopify is the most popular eCommerce platform out there.

However, as advantageous as the platform is, it is not without its drawbacks and you must have a clear picture before you make your decision about whether to hop on the Shopify train.

Let's take a look at some of the pros of using Shopify:

Simple and Easy to Get Started

When it comes to simplicity, Shopify takes the cake. It's the best platform for selling online because it's incredibly user-friendly. Just choose a template, add your products, and you're good to go! You don't need any coding or design experience, making it perfect for those who want to get their company up and running quickly.

Access to a Variety of Features

Shopify stores come with a wide range of default features that make managing your store a breeze. Adding products, managing inventory, setting up shipping, and creating discount codes are a piece of cake. And if you need more specific functionalities, Shopify offers additional advanced features like wholesale or B2B integration. It's like having a toolkit for your business!

Multiple Payment Options

When it comes to getting paid, Shopify gives you plenty of choices. You can use various payment processors such as PayPal, Stripe, or even Shopify Payments. Making the checkout process simple for your customers means more sales for you! Having access to a wide range of payment options is a game-changer.

Abundance of Store Themes

Shopify understands the importance of making a great first impression. That's why it offers a vast selection of store themes for you to choose from. Finding a theme that matches your business and products is a breeze. After all, the appearance of your store plays a significant role in retaining your audience's attention. With themes, you can create a visually stunning online shopping experience for both merchants and customers.


Monthly Costs

While Shopify offers various pricing plans, starting from the basic package, there are additional costs for transaction fees, apps, and premium themes. These expenses can add up, especially if you're just starting and have a tight budget.

Limited Design Customization

While Shopify provides customization options within its themes, the level of design customization might not be as extensive compared to other platforms. If you have specific design requirements, you might need to hire a developer or work within the confines of the available options.

Learning Curve for Advanced Features

While Shopify is user-friendly, some of its more advanced features, like setting up custom functionalities or integrating complex systems, may require a bit of technical know-how. You might need to invest time in learning or seek assistance from developers.

Platform Dependency

Since Shopify is a hosted platform, you are tied to their infrastructure and cannot move your store to a different hosting provider easily. If you outgrow the platform or have specific requirements that Shopify can't fulfill, it may limit your options.

Transactional Limitations

While Shopify supports various payment gateways, it charges additional fees for using external payment gateways instead of their default option. This can be a downside if you prefer using a specific gateway or want to avoid additional charges.

How to Use and Sell on Shopify?

Getting started with Shopify requires only a few simple steps. Here’s how to use Shopify:

  • Sign up for a Free Trial: Visit Shopify's website and sign up for a free trial, providing basic info about your business.
  • Set Up Your Shopify Store: Customize your store with a theme, logo, and compelling images that represent your brand.
  • Add Your Products: Showcase your products/services by creating captivating descriptions, using high-quality images, and organizing them into collections.
  • Set Up Shipping: Navigate to the "Settings" tab in your Shopify dashboard, select "Shipping," and set up shipping options and rates.
  • Enable Payments: Make it easy for customers to pay by activating Shopify Payments or integrating popular payment processors like PayPal or Stripe.
  • Customize Your Domain: Register or connect your own domain to give your store a professional touch.
  • Explore Apps and Add-Ons: Enhance your store's functionality by browsing and adding apps from the Shopify app store.
  • Optimize for SEO: Attract organic traffic by utilizing relevant keywords in your product titles, descriptions, and meta tags.
  • Market and Promote: Drive traffic to your store through social media, content marketing, email campaigns, and partnerships. Engage with your audience and offer special promotions.
  • Analyze and Refine: Utilize Shopify's analytics tools to monitor sales, customer behavior, and website traffic. Use the data to refine your marketing strategies and optimize your store's performance.

Now that you understand how to sell on Shopify, the next section explains the range of products you can sell on the platform.

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What Can You Sell on Shopify?

As a store owner on Shopify, you can sell various products and services, including:

  • Physical Products: You can sell virtually any tangible item, such as clothing, accessories, electronics, home goods, beauty products, and more.
  • Digital Products: Shopify enables the sale of downloadable digital goods like ebooks, music, artwork, software, courses, and other digital content.
  • Handmade and Crafted Items: If you create unique handmade or crafted products, Shopify is a great platform to showcase and sell them to a global audience.
  • Dropshipping Products: You can establish a dropshipping business on Shopify, partnering with suppliers who handle inventory and shipping, allowing you to sell a wide variety of products without stocking them yourself.
  • Services: Shopify supports service-based businesses, enabling you to sell services like consulting, coaching, web design, and freelance work through your storefront.
  • Subscriptions: Create subscription-based businesses with recurring payments, offering products or services regularly, such as subscription boxes, membership sites, software subscriptions, and more.
  • Event Tickets: If you organize events, workshops, or conferences, Shopify allows you to sell tickets online, manage registrations, and facilitate a smooth ticketing process.

How Much Does It Cost to Sell on Shopify?

Shopify offers several different plans tailored to meet the needs of businesses at various stages of growth. Here are the key plans offered by Shopify:

Shopify Lite: Starting at $5 per month, Shopify Lite is ideal for businesses that are just starting out or already have an existing website and want to add e-commerce functionality. It allows you to sell products on social media, in person (with the Shopify POS app), and embed "Buy" buttons on external websites.

Basic Shopify: Priced at $32 per month, this plan offers essential features to launch a new online store. It includes features like basic reports, unlimited products, blogs, 24/7 customer support, discount codes, two staff accounts and more. It's suitable for small businesses looking to establish their online presence.

Shopify: Starting at $92 per month, this plan offers advanced features for growing businesses. In addition to the features in the Basic plan, it includes professional reports, gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, and the ability to create custom reports. It's a solid choice for businesses experiencing growth and wanting more flexibility.

Advanced Shopify: Priced at $399 per month, this plan is designed for businesses with high-volume sales and complex needs. It provides additional features such as an advanced report builder, third-party calculated shipping rates, and the ability to create up to 15 staff accounts. This plan is suitable for established businesses that require extensive customization and scalability.

Shopify Plus: Geared towards enterprise-level businesses, Shopify Plus offers a custom pricing structure based on the specific requirements of the business. It provides advanced features like dedicated account managers, lower transaction fees, customizable checkout, API access, and more. Shopify Plus is designed for high-growth businesses with complex needs and high transaction volumes.


What is Shopify and how does it work?

Shopify is a web-based ecommerce platform that allows individuals and businesses to create their own online stores. It works by providing customizable website templates, a shopping cart system, and tools for inventory management, payment gateway integration, and customer service, supporting businesses through every step of the online selling process.

Who should consider using Shopify for their online business?

Anyone looking to start or grow an online business, regardless of their technical skills, should consider using Shopify. Shopify is ideal for small to large enterprises wishing to sell goods or services online, as it offers user-friendly tools for creating and managing an ecommerce store.

What types of products can be sold on Shopify?

Shopify supports the sale of a wide variety of products such as physical items, digital products, services and consultations, tickets for events, and even rentals. It also supports dropshipping businesses, affiliate products, and crowdfunding campaigns.

How customizable are the storefronts in Shopify?

Shopify allows for a high degree of customization for storefronts. You can use one of the 70+ professional themes or create your own for a truly unique look. Tools and features like product display customization, various sales channel integrations, and adjustable shipping rates are also available.

What payment options are available for customers on Shopify?

Customers on Shopify have a variety of payment options available such as credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and cryptocurrency. Shopify also offers its own payment gateway known as Shopify Payments. The options may vary depending on the geographical location of the customer.

Shopify is a user-friendly e-commerce platform for businesses of all sizes, offering online store creation, multi-channel selling, and business management. It has diverse subscription-based plans starting at $5/month with options for various business needs.

Final Thoughts

This comprehensive guide has explored the world of Shopify, addressing its user-friendliness, customization options, and adaptability to various business sizes and industries. Shopify simplifies e-commerce operations by consolidating product data, customer information, and operational tasks into a single integrated system. So, if you’ve been wondering “Is Shopify worth it?” you now have a better understanding of the platform and its benefits for your business.

Now, let's talk about Alibaba.com, an amazing e-commerce platform for global trade. Alibaba.com is one of the world's largest and most well-established e-commerce platforms, connecting buyers and sellers from around the globe. If you're considering expanding your business, selling on Alibaba.com can open up new markets and opportunities. The platform offers a multitude of benefits, including access to a vast customer base, secure payment options, and a wealth of resources to help you succeed in international trade.

Sellers on Alibaba.com can reach a global audience, showcase their products or services, and benefit from the platform's established reputation. Whether you're a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer, Alibaba.com provides a platform to grow your business. The registration process is straightforward, and you can start selling to a worldwide customer base within minutes. Join the network of global business owners. Join Alibaba.com today!

1. https://www.shopify.com/ng/pricing
2. https://www.shopify.com/ca/bugbounty
3. https://www.enzuzo.com/blog/is-shopify-safe-secure#:~:text=your%20Shopify%20store.-,Is%20Shopify%20Trustworthy%3F,and%20a%20legitimate%20ecommerce%20platform