How to sell on Shopify

The complete beginner’s guide to selling (successfully) on Shopify.

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Shopify is a cloud-based ecommerce platform that lets you sell items online. You can use Shopify to create your own online store, sell across social media sites and ecommerce marketplaces and attract customers from around the world.

If you’d like to start selling on Shopify, this guide will tell you how to find and price products, how to ship them to buyers and how much it costs to sell through the platform.

How do I decide what to sell on Shopify?

The list of things you can sell using Shopify is a long one. As well as just about any sort of physical item that can be shipped to customers around the world, you can also sell services (such as appointments, travel experiences or event management services) and digital products (e.g. online courses).

Of course, there are also a few items prohibited from sale, such as firearms, drugs, gambling-related products and counterfeit goods. Check Shopify’s terms of service for a full list of prohibited items.

How to find products to sell

Finding products to sell is one of the biggest barriers you’ll face when setting up an online store, but there are a few things you can do to simplify this process:

  • Research popular categories. To get started, check out Shopify’s sitemap to see some of the most popular sales categories listed under the “Ecommerce by Industry” section. You can also regularly check Shopify’s blog for details of trending products and industries.
  • Use Oberlo. Oberlo is an app designed to help you find drop-shipped products to sell and add them directly to your Shopify store. This allows you to sell products without having to worry about storing and shipping them.
  • Use Shopify’s free guide. You might also want to check out Shopify’s How to Find a Product to Sell Online guide.

How much does it cost to sell on Shopify?

Before you decide whether Shopify is the right ecommerce platform for your business, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial and sample what it has to offer. If you’d like to continue using the platform, there are 3 main pricing plans to choose from.

Each plan entitles you to:

  • An online store with ecommerce website and blog
  • Sell unlimited products
  • Sell on social media channels and online marketplaces
  • 24/7 support

However, some account features vary depending on the pricing plan you select.

Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Price US$29/month US$79/month US$299/month
Staff accounts 2 5 15
Gift cards
Professional reports
Advanced report builder
Third-party calculated shipping rates

Payment fees also vary depending on the plan you select.

Basic Shopify Shopify Advanced Shopify
Online Canadian credit card rates 2.9% + $0.30 2.7% + $0.30 2.4% + $0.30
Online international/Amex credit card rates 3.5% + $0.30 3.4% + $0.30 3.3% + $0.30
Additional fees using all payment providers other than Shopify Payments 2.0% 1.0% 0.5%

Finally, Shopify also offers 2 other pricing plans designed to suit niche markets:

  • Shopify Plus. This enterprise-grade solution is designed for larger businesses with a high sales volume. You’ll need to contact Shopify directly to get pricing and details.
  • Shopify Lite. Priced at US$9 a month, this plan lets you sell on Facebook and connect with customers on Messenger. You can also add products to your website and accept credit card payments in person using the Shopify point-of-sale app.

Let’s crunch the numbers

As an example, let’s say you run an online fashion store and you sell a top to a customer in the UK for $100 (including shipping). The customer pays by credit card through Shopify Payments.

If you have a Shopify pricing plan:

  • The fee is 2.70% of the total transaction cost plus another $0.30.
  • The total fee is therefore $3.00 ($2.70 + $0.30).

This fee represents 3% of the total sale price. It’s also worth remembering that this doesn’t include the time and cost required to source or manufacture the item, nor does it factor in that you’re paying US$79 a month to sell on Shopify.

Is selling on Shopify worth it?

Whether you want to sell online as a full-time business or just as a side hustle, Shopify is a globally recognized ecommerce platform that offers stacks of useful tools to help you grow your business. And with over 800,000 businesses around the world having made more than US$100 billion in sales on Shopify, it certainly has the potential to help you make money.

However, nothing is guaranteed. Just like any other business venture, selling on Shopify comes with several risks and there is no certainty that you’ll actually make a profit.

That said, there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances of success, such as:

  • Do your research. Shopify offers a large database of guides to help online sellers learn more about topics like selling online, product photography, marketing, advertising and more.
  • Take time creating listings. Good product listings are crucial to success, so take time to ensure all of your listings are clear and concise, use key SEO principles and contain high-quality photos.
  • Use Shopify apps. The Shopify App Store contains a wide range of apps to help you add features to your store and streamline your management processes. Some apps are free but many come at a cost. There are apps to help with everything from inventory management to marketing.
  • Market your products. A thorough marketing plan can help your store stand out from the crowd and attract new buyers. You can find more info on the marketing and promotion options Spotify offers further down the page.

How do I start selling on Shopify?

You can open an account and start selling on Shopify by completing the following steps.

How to price your items

There are 2 factors to consider when pricing items for your Shopify store:

  • Your costs. Consider how much it costs you to source/manufacture, store and ship the items in your store. Don’t forget to include Shopify’s fees and all other business overheads in your calculations.
  • How much buyers will pay. Research other successful sellers in the same category to assess how much they charge for their items. This should give you a good idea of how much your customers will be willing to pay to purchase from you.

It might take a little while, but you should soon be able to find a happy medium between a price that provides sufficient profit for you and one that is also acceptable to potential buyers.

What types of payment does Shopify accept?

There are several different payment methods you can accept through Shopify, but the main option is Shopify Payments.

Shopify Payments lets you accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover credit cards directly and save on transaction fees. You can also access accelerated checkout services, such as those offered by Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal and Shopify Pay, through the Shopify Payments service.

However, you can also set up your store to accept payments via more than 30 third-party providers, including:

  • Afterpay
  • Alipay Global
  • Coinbase Commerce
  • PayPal Express Checkout
  • POLi Internet Banking
  • SecurePay (Australia)
  • WorldPay
  • Zip

How to get paid by international buyers

If you’re paid in foreign currency, you’ll need to find an affordable way to convert your profits back into Canadian dollars. Instead of sending an international transfer via your bank, which will charge high fees and offer a poor exchange rate, you’ll find better value for money by opening an online seller account with a specialist international transfer service.

An online seller account is a multi-currency account that lets you send and receive payment in several currencies. It also offers much more competitive exchange rates when you want to repatriate funds to Canada.

You can find more details of the exchange rates, fees and features of several online seller accounts in the table below.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
CAD 2,000 1 day CAD 0.00 0.759 USD
7,588
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction. Conditions apply.
Send money overseas in 45 currencies.
Go to site Show details
GBP 5,000 1 - 2 days CAD 0.00 0.759 USD
7,585
Aimed at larger transfers, CurrencyTransfer is an online marketplace that lets you shop around for the best exchange rate. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

How to organize shipping

Shopify does not have its own fulfillment centre, so you have 2 options when shipping items to customers:

  • Ship them yourself. You can ship items domestically and internationally via Canada Post or a dedicated courier service. You can add apps from the Shopify App Store to your own store, usually for a cost, to make it easy to calculate shipping rates and compare quotes from different courier companies.
  • Use a third-party fulfillment service. These third-party providers can prepare and ship your orders for you. You can add these fulfillment services, such as Amazon and Shipwire, to your Shopify store provided that the service you choose is capable of processing orders by email. If not, you’ll need to develop a custom app to integrate the shipping solution into your store.

Shopify also allows you to set up multiple shipping methods for each delivery zone so that buyers can choose the method that best suits their timeframe and budget.

How do I market my Shopify products?

There are several options to help you market your products on Spotify. Some of these options are included in the cost of your Shopify plan, but others will incur an additional cost:

  • Use Kit. Kit is a Shopify app designed to help you market your online store. It allows you to create social media ad campaigns, automate your email marketing and integrate with other marketing apps. Kit is free to use, but some features come at a cost.
  • Advertising campaigns. You can create advertising campaigns to run on Google Ads and Facebook Ads from the Marketing page of your Shopify account. However, you’ll need to pay to run each advertising campaign.
  • Sales and discounts. You can create discount codes to offer customers free shipping, a dollar-value discount or a percentage discount. Discount codes are included in all Shopify plans.
  • Add a blog. It’s free to add a blog to your Shopify online store. You can use your blog to post about your business and the products you sell, helping you build a community, generate traffic and increase sales.

You can also find third-party programs in the Shopify App Store to help with a wide range of marketing strategies and options, including:

  • Email marketing
  • Referral programs
  • Making product image and video galleries
  • Running contests and giveaways
  • Marketing analytics
  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine optimization
Some apps are free and others offer a free trial for a limited period. However, you’ll need to pay for many apps – this could be a one-time charge or an ongoing monthly fee.

What to watch out for with Shopify

Keep an eye out for these key problems when setting up and running your Shopify store.

  • Pricing levels. To access some of Shopify’s best features, such as completely customizing your online store to suit your preferences, you’ll need to sign up for an Advanced Shopify account. This plan is significantly more expensive than the other plans available.
  • Additional costs. While there are plenty of useful apps in the Shopify App Store, many of these apps come with an ongoing monthly fee. Make sure you calculate how this will impact your bottom line before deciding whether they’re worth the extra cost.
  • Not all features come as standard. Speaking of apps, you might be surprised that some features you might expect to come as standard, such as offering digital products, require you to add an app.
  • Additional fees. It’s also worth noting that additional transaction fees apply when you use third-party payment providers.

Frequently asked questions

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