How Does Shopify Work?

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Learn To Use Shopify in 9 Steps

how does shopify workShopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms around. It has the broadest range of sales tools on the market, and it’s really simple to use.

People love Shopify for two things: its sales features and ease of use. Essentially, it’s made building a powerful and prosperous online store an absolute breeze, meaning any business owner can get online easily.

It’s not just us who think so, either – over 640,000 Shopify store owners would agree. Looking to join the crowd? Well, you’re in luck. We’re going to show you how to use Shopify in just 9 easy steps.

Covering everything from sign up to publish, we’ll show you how to streamline your website, offering some handy tips along the way.

So, after reading this article, you’ll not only learn how to use Shopify, but how to get the most out of your store. Excited to get started? So are we. Let’s go…

What Is Shopify?

Shopify is an ecommerce platform, meaning it’s designed to help you build your online store. You pay a monthly fee to use its templates and impressive sales tools, add products, and process online orders. There’s even a large app store for the rest of your selling needs. In short, Shopify makes running your business easier.

Best all-around ecommerce platform


out of 5
Top Choice
Ease Of Use

4 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

3.7 out of 5 stars

Customer Score

4.65 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4.1 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3.5 out of 5 stars

Sales Features

4.7 out of 5 stars

Website Features

4.1 out of 5 stars


Sign up

To get started, head to The homepage has two blue ‘Get started’ buttons, so click on one, and you can start your 14-day free trial. You don’t need any payment details to get started – just an email!

shopify get started
Shopify makes it clear how to start building your store

Shopify then asks you for some details: your email, chosen password, and most importantly, your store name. The name of your store must be unique, so get creative!

Now you’re ready to ‘Create your store’.

shopify store details fields
Shopify only requires a few simple details before you begin

Before we start, check out our Shopify review.


Add products

After filling in your details, you’re then taken to the Shopify admin page. There’s a clear navigation menu on the left, sales figures on the right, and it provides three handy construction tool shortcuts in the middle. You can’t miss them.

The shortcuts cover three really important steps: ‘Add product’, ‘Customize theme’, and ‘Add domain’.

We’re going to start with the backbone of any shop – the products. Simply click the blue button to start selling physical, digital, or service items, from art to makeup.

shopify admin page add products
The Shopify admin page features three shortcuts to make designing your store even easier

Adding products with Shopify is really easy. You just need to name it, describe it, and upload an image. There are also some less exciting fields to fill in, like the barcode, weight, and size variants. Just scroll down for these.

adding products shopify
Adding products on Shopify is easy, with lots of visual cues and simple language

Discover How to Take Product Photos that impress customers and boost sales.

Our handy guide walks you through How to Price a Product to make sure you profit from your store.

Need a hand with your product descriptions? Check out our guide on How to Write Product Descriptions for some expert tips!


Customize theme

Shopify knows building a website should be a journey – and a fun one at that! After you’ve completed a task, it moves with you and keeps you motivated. It’s like having a personal trainer for your online store.

In the image below, notice how the ‘Add product’ has been ticked, and the ‘Customize theme’ tab is now highlighted.

shopify customize theme shortcut
Shopify talks you through the store building process, so you’re never confused

When customizing your store’s design, you have three options. You can stick with Shopify’s signature theme, ‘Debut’; choose one of 10 free themes; or pick one of the 50+ paid templates, costing $140 to $180.

For this guide, we’ll stick with Debut and show you how to customize it. Click the button in the top right, and get ready to let those creative juices flow – we’re about to take you through each step for designing your template.

Edit text

For all your typeface needs, use the left hand side menu. From here, click on each page tab to update the header and overlay text, and to change the font size. You can even throw in a ‘Button label’ and link it to a URL, or another page on your site.

shopify editor navigation menu
The Shopify theme editor menu is clearly laid out, saving time and effort

Repeat this step for each page, and your site will now say what you want it to. Want to add text to even more pages? No problem – simply hit ‘Add section’ and pick a section category.

Shopify lets you add every type of page, from blogs and galleries to maps and testimonials. It’s comprehensive in all departments.

shopify free background image
Shopify provides lots of free background images to help customize your store

To change the typeface color, click ‘Theme settings’ on the left hand side menu. You can also change label, form field, and link colors. The simple customizing tools and visual cues really let you personalize text without a fuss.

Add images

For images, Shopify has easily identifiable buttons wherever you go. Depending on your theme, each page tab on the navigation menu will have a blue ‘Select image’ button. It’s really easy –  take a look at the image below.

shopify select image button
Adding images on Shopify can be done with just a couple of clicks

To update the homepage background, hit that blue button to upload your own. Alternatively, you can ‘Explore free images’. From there you will have loads of free template images to choose from, covering many different industries.

Learn all about How to Design a Product Page in our expert guide.

Wondering which font is best for your store? Find out in our guide How to Pick the Perfect Font For Your Website

Make sure your color scheme is on-point in our guide How to Choose a Good Color Scheme

Or read our Shopify themes review.


Add domain

As Shopify puts it, we are ‘moving along nicely’. We’ve gone through how to add products and customize themes –  now, we’ll explain how to name your website.

At this point, you may be asking: ‘What’s the point in changing the URL?’ You may have heard people say ‘a website is a window into your business’ –  well, we believe a domain is a window into your website.

Your domain is the first thing your customers will see, because it’s how they find you. So, it’s important to find the perfect URL for your online store, which will reflect and strengthen your brand.

add domain shopify
Shopify lets you transfer an old domain, or purchase a new one from just $14 per year

As you can see from the image above, your website comes with a Shopify subdomain, ‘’. Sure, it’s free so it keeps the costs down, but it doesn’t look too professional.

To jazz up your online store, you can either buy a new domain, or connect an existing one. If you want to purchase a new domain, Shopify has a search bar, and also suggests other extensions like ‘.net’ or ‘.shop’. Costs may vary, but usually start from $14 per year.

Check out our What Is a Domain Name? Beginner’s Guide for a more detailed introduction to domain names.

Enable payments

Now that you have a fully stocked, awesome-looking online store, it’s time to start making money. Helpfully, Shopify is the only website builder to provide its own payment gateway: the aptly named ‘Shopify Payments’.

With Shopify Payments, there are no transaction fees. However, if you’d like to use other gateways – such as PayPal, Amazon Pay, or the 100+ other options –  you will be charged per transaction.

To get to the payment page, click ‘Settings’ at the foot of the navigation menu, and then the ‘Payment providers’ icon. You will then see the image below (scroll down for the other payment methods).

shopify payment providers
Shopify is the only ecommerce platform to provide its own payment method, as well as 100+ other choices

Interested in Shopify payments? Read our detailed review.


Add shipping

Shopify makes it really easy to customize and streamline the shipping process. Just like the previous step, to get there, click ‘Settings’, and hit the shipping icon.

shopify shipping methods
Shopify makes it easy to customize your shipping methods, improving the customer’s experience

This page has everything you need for ship-shape shipping. You can add shipping zones, buy shipping labels, and decide how much you want to charge your customers.

You can integrate apps like ShipWorks, AfterShip, and ShipStation to make the delivery process even smoother, but we’re saving the fun world of apps for the next step.

Shipping can feel a little daunting when you’re just getting started. Read our handy Step-By-Step Guide to Shipping Products for a full walk-through of how best to ship products to your customers.

Integrate apps

Not only is Shopify a powerful platform to start with, but it lets you add some amazing apps. By doing this, you can make your site run smoother, become more visible, look nicer… you get the idea. In short, they help to manage and scale your business.

Select ‘Apps’ on the navigation menu, and make the most of the brilliant search function. There are 2,400+ apps available to choose from, covering all the ecommerce areas you’d need like shipping, accounting, social media, and more. You name it, it’s there.

One of the best things about the Shopify App Store is that you can pick other platforms to sell your products on. For example, you can list and sell products easily on Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, and create Instagram and Facebook ads, simply by adding apps to your store.

Don’t feel as if you’re cheating, though – over 80% of Shopify stores use apps.

shopify app store
Shopify lets you access over 2,400 apps, helping to manage and grow your business

However, it’s worth noting that adding Shopify’s own apps will require some coding snippets. All the other third party integrations can be added easily by clicking ‘Add app’.


Choose a price plan

Before publishing your Shopify store, it’s worth noting that you’ll have to pay to keep using the platform after 14 days. You will also need to upgrade to get your site live, which we will cover in the next step.

You can upgrade at any point during your trial by hitting the unmissable ‘Select a plan’ button at the foot of every page.

The Shopify price plans are as follows:

  • Basic Shopify ($29 per month)
  • Shopify ($79 per month)
  • Advanced Shopify ($299 per month)

The Basic Shopify plan is best for new or small stores, and comes with all the features you could need to set a new store up for success. The Shopify plan is best for growing businesses – you unlock professional reports and greater shipping discounts. The Advanced Shopify plan is best for continuing to scale very large stores, and comes with third-party calculated shipping rates.

shopify price plans
Shopify has three price plans, offering excellent value for money

Need more information before deciding on a plan? Check out our Shopify pricing review.


Publish your Shopify store

When you’re happy with your Shopify store, you need to share it with the world. During your free trial, your site is password protected, so people can’t view it.

To get your site live, you’ll firstly need to upgrade to a paid plan. Then, from the Shopify admin page, go to ‘Online store’, go to ‘Preferences’, then uncheck ‘Enable password’ within the ‘Password protection’ area.

Now everyone can enjoy your Shopify masterpiece.

shopify password removal
Publishing your Shopify store is done easily by upgrading to a premium plan and removing the password protection

A handy tip? Before you publish, we recommend running some test orders to make sure everything’s running smoothly.

To do this, go to ‘Payment providers’ in ‘Settings’, then ‘Edit’ next to Shopify Payments. Check the ‘Use test mode’ button and click ‘Save’.

Once you’ve published your store. what then? Learn How to Promote Your Website with our easy to follow, six step guide.

Conclusion: How does Shopify work?

Shopify has really focussed on the user journey when creating an online store. In other words, it’s made the whole experience feel like a walk in the park. And, as you can see, a beautiful Shopify store can be yours in just 9 easy steps.

Let’s quickly recap those steps for using Shopify:

  1. Sign up – start your 14-day free trial with just an email.
  2. Add products – name, describe, and add images for your products.
  3. Customize your theme – edit text, add images, and choose a color scheme to make it your own.
  4. Add a domain – choose a custom domain for your store so that visitors can easily find you online.
  5. Enable payment gateways – choose from 100+ payment providers.
  6. Add shipping methods – set shipping costs, locations, and more so that products reach customers safely.
  7. Integrate apps – add extra functionality to your store with apps, such as multichannel selling.
  8. Choose a price plan – pick the right plan for your needs and budget.
  9. Publish – start gaining customers by publishing your store.

Why so easy, then? Like all successful brands, Shopify has thought about the customer. It has taken extra steps to ensure you know exactly where and when to click. Just look at the handy shortcuts when you start building your store (covered in steps 2, 3, and 4).

Not only is Shopify super easy to use, it gives you a really strong platform for selling products. The sales features are excellent, you have access to over 2,000 apps to make your online store even more seamless, and it’s good value for money, too.

With this combination of simplicity and strength, you can’t really go wrong with Shopify.

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About Dan Barraclough

Dan Barraclough

I used to think website design was just for professionals. Because maybe like you, I have no coding or design experience. But, with the help of our expert researchers (and after testing every website builder myself), I can confidently guide you through on how to get the most out of each one.

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