how much does it cost to launch a Shopify store

How Much Does Shopify Store Cost to Launch and Maintain?

Larry Jensen-Pratt 09/11/2016

E-commerce platform for your online store for $500 and no need for coding or design knowledge? Yup, that is now possible in 2016. How much does shopify store cost to launch and maintain? Let us move on with article. That is why Shopify is in top-3 e-commerce solutions and powers more than 200 000 merchants globally. So what’s behind the actual Shopify store cost and how much does it cost to launch a Shopify web store and maintain it?

We are not advocating for or advertising Shopify here…, there are plenty of other platforms that one can build his/her web store on. Either WooCommerce, Magento, Bigcommerce, or 3DCart, Opencart, Volusion, PrestaShop, or even dozens of less popular ones are all great and enable you to find customers anywhere. So why Shopify?

Well, Shopify is the winner in availability (more on that later), in ease and friendliness of use, and in tools/apps the platform offers to run an online store in “one place”. The expenses behind Shopify store cost are probably the lowest of all that the market offers. Thus, it is affordable even to the smallest of business endeavors with few items to sell. Trusted and used by known brands too: Tesla Motors, Budweiser, New York Stock Exchange…, or many of hip stores like Lollapalooza, LMFAO Party Rock Clothing, Chalkd, Leather Head Sports, Best Made Co., and many more.

Image: EasyERP

Moreover, Shopify offers more than 100 design themes ready to go (both free or paid), back office to control all transactions, third party integration possibilities, and tools to manage web stores across multiple sales channels. But the article is about how much does a Shopify store cost, you might remind us, right? So let’s start with Shopify pricing plans.

Shopify offers four pricing plans:

  1. Lite – at only $9 per month;
  2. Basic – $29 per month;
  3. Shopify – $79 per month;
  4. Advanced – $299 per month.

Of course, those are the starting prices that will go up surely as one needs to consider additional operational costs like credit card rates, transaction fees and additional store features. More details on Shopify store cost plans here.

Shopify pricing plans

Other notable things in this regard:

  • $9/month Lite plan includes standard buy buttons for online stores and Facebook shop;
  • File storage and number of products are unlimited in 3 main pricing plans;
  • There are fees in place for stores accepting credit cards;
  • One can set up a trial Shopify store, totally free for 14 days;
  • Shopify can also be connected with classic offline stores by POS system (point of sale) to accept payments via iOS or Android devices;
  • Even little technical knowledge will be enough to set up a store;
  • Bank of various Shopify themes and Shopify experts forum available;
  • Facebook shop included, as well as other social media buying functionality.

The latter aspect concerning social media selling channels also plays a remarkable role due to the momentum for mobile devices. With Shopify one can take care of all channels, including web, mobile, social media, marketplaces, pop-up shops.

Orders on mobile (51%) surpassed those on desktop for the first time ever in 2016.Click To Tweet

Shopify store cost components

Apparently, there’s more to it that just Shopify pricing plans. So one would not be able to start a web store with just $29 per month per say. What other factors add up to the cost of an e-commerce online store? The three largest things are time, resources and maintenance. You should remember this. Time. Resources. Maintenance.

And time is of the most importance. Whether one is able to launch a store in one week or will it take two months of try-and-error would make a great difference in cost. With (possible) deadlines in place expenses will go higher the closer to finish one gets. Also, do you have the in-house team with required skills or will you hire from outside?

A list of aspects impacting a Shopify store cost, or any other e-commerce store cost include:

  • Domain name registration;
  • Reliable hosting;
  • SSL certificate (for strong encryption);
  • Transactional fees (PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, etc.)
  • UX and visual design selection and setting;
  • Development and documentation;
  • Product shipping options;
  • Testing;
  • Copywriting and imagery;
  • Continued web store maintenance.

A team of at least 3 people to launch and run your e-commerce store will be required. And surely more if your store grows bigger. The project manager –  to check if all goes on time and within budget, to test things out, to provide content, and/or hire more people. The developer – to produce the code, set up a store and all its tools, to migrate or integrate existing software with Shopify etc. The designer – to create or set up visual design/branding, install or adapt a store theme, work with HTML/CSS/front-end.

So let’s calculate minimum rate expenses to launch a Shopify store.

Minimum cost to start a small webstore

Domain name – at $20 lowest annual fee. Hosting – let’s take $40 lowest annual fee. Shopify theme – $100 for simple and fully ready e-commerce template. Basic $29 plan for first 12 months. And let’s even assume you need neither web development and design services nor integrations and maintenance for a start. Where are we at with our minimal Shopify store cost?


So here you have it. For a little over $500 one can easily start the own e-commerce web store on Shopify platform. No wonder now that there are nearly over 400k websites on Shopify, 275k of which are active online retail stores.

Image: EasyERP

Custom medium Shopify store cost

Obviously, the cost would rise as one starts enhancing and customizing the online store to give it “a face” and to expand it. Reliable hosting that can sustain the growing storage space (as a store could have thousands of items and pages correspondingly) can take away up to $200-300 a year. Third party integrations with one-time fee or annual licenses range from $300 to $1000 on average. Web store maintenance, support and updates – up to $500 a year.

For a custom (meaning unique and awesome) Shopify web store one also can not avoid web planning, design and development. The time it takes – from 50 hours and up. Depending on the complexity of desired design, the rate of developers you would hire, and all the above mentioned factors, it all adds up to about $3000. Of course, that is not a stable figure carved in stone, therefore a range of $2000 – $5000 to create a custom Shopify store is indicative for this small/medium section of business.

Example of a custom Shopify store

What services are included in a custom Shopify store cost? Web-agencies/developers/designers/freelancers… whomever it might be that you hire provide the following, as a rule:

  • Basic design services;
  • Theme setup, navigation, layout and coding;
  • Home page, featured products, content pages;
  • General layout and styling, plus responsive layout (desktop and mobile);
  • Custom checkout pages, blog and news sections;
  • MailChimp account or other specified integrations;
  • Social media accounts setting up;
  • Linking of hosting account and Shopify;
  • Adjusting shipping, taxes, payment and admin account;
  • Installing multiple currencies;
  • SEO basics and cross browser testing;
  • Consultations until launch, some amount of corrections and fixes.

Large and enterprise web store cost

Finally, what about large-scale businesses and enterprises with over $1 million in annual earnings? Advanced Shopify plan ($299 per month) offers all that is needed for high volume sales operations. Scalable SaaS platform, 200 terabytes of space, unlimited bandwidth, responsive designs, app store, own API and integrations with CRM/ERP systems, analytics and 24/7 support. This makes $3,588 per year. But what about additional expenses?

The rate for credit card payments in this plan equals to 2.4%. So a big e-commerce retail company that earned say $1 m per year via the Shopify store would have to pay additional $24,000. If same company used payment services external to Shopify, it would have to pay extra $5,000 of transactional fee (0.5%).

In addition, there can be lots of variables in Shopify store cost for larger businesses. Firstly, custom brand designs may vary from $500 up to $10k and higher. Unique e-commerce features development, meaning exclusive shopping carts, checkout pages, image galleries/zooms/360-views, extra plugins, discount rates etc., may cost you around $1,000 and up each.

The bottom line here is that a custom brand web store on Shopify with full functionality and able to operate worldwide, something like Tesla Gear, will cost somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000.

Image: EasyERP

Launch checklist

  1. Custom domain name
  2. Basic static pages (Products, About, Payment & Shipping terms, Contacts, FAQ)
  3. Additional sales channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  4. E-mail notification settings
  5. Payment and checkout settings
  6. Currency, tax and shipping settings
  7. Interfaces and overall UX, buy buttons
  8. Images optimization
  9. Content audit
  10. Marketing plan and analytics

So at this point we know clearly the advantages of Shopify platform, as well as the fact that Shopify store cost would be lesser compared to other tools. And once again, let’s stress that we do not advocate for Shopify, one should review all the pros and cons in detail before choosing an e-commerce set of tools for a web store.

Concluding all said, our estimation indicates that a small-size business could launch a Shopify store starting with as little as $500 with minimum features. On the other side, when updating it or enhancing it to larger scale operations or launching big brand online store it may end up at $50,000 or even higher.

And one final thing to bring up for those curious to start their web store is this step-by-step video guide by Shopify team: