Marketed as “Selling for starters,” the Shopify Starter plan is an entry-level ecommerce plan from Shopify, which helps users sell products online without complicated tools, high pricing, or even the need for your own website. In this Shopify Starter plan review, we explore the differences between this plan and the rest from Shopify, by touching on facets like pricing, features, and customer support.
We’ll also elaborate on who should consider the Shopify Starter plan, since it’s definitely not for everyone.
Shopify Starter Plan: At a Glance
- Price: $5 per month
- Supports selling on social media
- Best for previously built websites, small inventories, when only selling on social media, or adding products to a blog or creator website
- Offers customer support mediums on social media (WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger)
- Monetize a link to put inside social media bios
- Order management
How Much Does the Shopify Starter Plan Cost?
The only subscription cost of the Starter plan is $5 per month.
That’s it; no upgrade options, or reasons to think about having to pay more money in monthly fees or hidden charges (besides the usual payment processing credit card transaction fees—but those aren’t hidden).
Keep in mind that this is one of the best rates you can find to add ecommerce functionality to a website, or to strictly sell through social media. It used to be called the Shopify Lite plan, which was $9 per month, so the plan has become even cheaper over the years, and with more features to help you out.
Having said that, you can absolutely upgrade to one of the full Shopify pricing plans, including the $29 per month Basic Shopify plan, $79 per month Shopify plan, and the $299 per month Advanced Shopify plan. There's also an enterprise option called the Shopify Plus plan. However, the Starter plan is an entirely different type of online selling. It’s not a complete online store, but rather a simple way to add products to an existing website or blog without a full website builder from Shopify.
Much like other Shopify plans, you can actually try out Shopify Starter for 14 days. The free trial provides access to all Shopify Starter features without any limitations (besides the ability to process payments with a payment gateway). This way, you’re able to upload products and test out how the product pages and Buy buttons work on your social media sites or current website. All changes are saved after the free trial lapses, but in order to continue customizing, and to process payments, you must eventually type in a credit card number and pay for the $5 per month plan.
Finally, payment processing requires a percentage fee for every transaction through Shopify Starter. This is one of the main downsides of using Shopify Starter over one of the main ecommerce plans (like Basic, Shopify, or Advanced plans), since the credit card fee is a flat 5% per transaction (processed through Shopify Payments). In comparison, the Basic plan from Shopify starts with a credit card rate of 2.9%+$0.30. So, you’re spending more in credit card payments with Shopify Starter, but it also keeps your upfront costs lower. There’s no need to pay that 5% until you make a sale.
And, it’s good news that the 5% doesn’t change. This is a standard rate that beats out much of the competition that offers similar tools. However, you unfortunately can’t take advantage of the discounts for credit card fees like you would with the main Shopify plans.
A summary of the Shopify Starter Plan pricing:
- $5 per month
- 5% per transaction for credit card fees
- 14-day trial
- The option to upgrade to a complete ecommerce plan like the Basic, Shopify, or Advanced plans
Who is Shopify Starter For?
As mentioned earlier in our Shopify Starter plan review, we don’t recommend Shopify Starter for every small business owner. Because of its lightweight nature, you don’t get a full website builder, and it’s missing features like custom domain support, abandoned cart recovery, discount codes, gift cards, and a full checkout module.
Therefore, we can’t recommend it to quickly growing online stores. It makes far more sense to start with the Basic plan.
Having said that, the Shopify Starter plan is particularly made for some types of merchants.
We suggest Shopify Starter if you:
- Need to add a few products to sell on a previously built website (one that’s not associated with Shopify: like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace)
- Only intend to sell using a small collection of inventory, and there’s no need for a robust ecommerce platform
- Own a blog or “creator” platform and would like to start selling extras like merchandise or digital products
- Exclusively sell on social media, and would like access to ecommerce tools through WhatsApp and Facebook, while also adding a monetized link bio link to Instagram
There you have it. Shopify Starter isn’t the best bet for regular ecommerce businesses, but we like it for bloggers, YouTubers, content creators, and other individuals who are exploring their own merchandising options. Or for those interested in selling a handful of products from social media or their own websites.
Shopify Starter Plan Review: What Features Are Included?
During our Shopify Starter plan review, we found that these are the most important features that come with it (all for $5 per month):
- Support for an unlimited number of products, and selling of those items
- A fast and secure checkout module (with built-in SSL certificate) that goes through a Shopify subdomain (not a custom domain with branded shopping cart like you’d get with a regular Shopify plan)
- A customizable contact page to respond to customer questions
- A shopping cart so that customers can put multiple items in the cart and buy them all at once
- A social media link tool (called Linkpop) for monetizing all bio links on places like Twitter and Instagram
- A Shopify Inbox for handling communications and orders
- Order management
- The option to use Shopify’s fulfillment network for storage, packing, and shipping to customers (also improved shipping rates)
Now that you have a general idea of what comes with the Shopify Starter plan, keep reading to dive deeper into each feature.
Sell on Social Media
One of the main benefits of selling with the Shopify Starter plan includes the fact that you don’t need an ecommerce website to make sales. The system allows you to upload images, add product descriptions, and set a price; that’s all there is to it. Shopify gives you a backend to manage inventory, but you can take those product pages and place them anywhere online, including social media.
Therefore, you can post links to products on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites without having to manage a full ecommerce store.
Furthermore, Shopify Starter gives you options to create little online stores on some social networks, where you can add some organization to your store and show customers the entire catalog of products.
When someone clicks through your links, they’re redirected to the product page (hosted on a Shopify sub domain name), where they can check out, add more products, and make a payment for the item.
As we said, that’s all without getting a custom domain and managing your own site. It’s all done through social media and links to your products.
Create Monetized Links for Instagram and other Social Bios
Instagram brought about the rise of the bio link industry since, when it began, Instagram only allowed one link within an Instagram bio page. That made it difficult for creators and entrepreneurs that needed to link to multiple products or pages to an online store.
However, that trend of the “bio link” has actually become an efficient way to present somewhat of a landing page to all products and services; so much so that creators and shops use shortened landing page links on many of their social media platforms, even if they have the option to include multiple links. It’s just cleaner and easier.
So, that’s one of the newer features in the Shopify Starter plan: one for not only creating shortened bio links, but also designing the landing page, and monetizing it with product listings.
The service is provided through Linkpop, and it offers an incredible number of plan features like:
- A digital wallet
- Media support
- Landing page customization
- Mobile optimization
- Links to all your content like podcasts, blog posts, and socials
- Monetized links to Shopify product pages
- Shortened links to add to your social bios
Communicate with Customers on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp
We already know that social selling is possible through Shopify Starter by posting links to products. However, the plan also integrates well with the most popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, allowing you to field questions from customers and include information about your products in your chat thread.
Sales Analytics and Order Management
As with all good ecommerce tools, Shopify Starter doesn’t forget about inventory management and analytics. The inventory management portion of the package runs through the Shopify admin dashboard. So, you’ll still log into a Shopify account like most Shopify users, but most of the standard ecommerce features are removed.
Every time you receive an order, you’re able to process the order and ready it for shipment, whether that’s sending the order to a warehouse, dropshipper, print on demand location, or packaging up a product yourself.
What’s more is that the Shopify Fulfillment Program integrates with Shopify Starter. This way, you can pay a monthly fee to have Shopify store, pick, pack, and ship products, leaving most of the manual work to the professionals. This is only one type of fulfillment possibility, but it’s nice to see that Shopify understands that content creators with merchandise needs might also be interested in an easy fulfillment option.
Finally, the sales analytics are helpful for measuring key performance metrics. These don't provide as advanced reports as you’d get with a regular Shopify plan, but it should serve most creators well. You get to learn about customers and sales, while managing every aspect of your analytics from an intuitive dashboard. Some other analytics include the top products you sell, total sales for certain periods of time, and your growth in sales as the year passes.
We also like that you can check in on any product or product line to understand how each one performs when compared to the rest of your items. For instance, you might find that one item isn't;’t selling that well, so you can take it off your store or spend more time with marketing. Or, you could discover a rapidly selling item, indicating that you may need to boost production and get more inventory in stock.
Some Features That Were Removed After the Switch from Shopify Lite to Shopify Starter
Shopify eventually rebranded its Shopify Lite plan, while also making it cheaper and more catered towards creators. However, they also removed a few of the standard features that didn’t quite make as much sense in the direction they were going.
Removed features include:
- The ability to send invoices to customers
- Options to sell anywhere by swiping cards (technically still possible with extra hardware for a Shopify POS or mobile point of sale), but there’s no direct feature, or assistance, anymore)
Luckily, Shopify made the price cheaper and added some features that are probably more relevant to today’s internet creators. We don’t see it as a considerable downside that invoices and card swiping were removed, since those are often for entirely different types of businesses.
Is the Shopify Starter Plan Right For You?
The $5 per month price is definitely temping for all potential/current merchants. But it’s important to understand the limitations behind Shopify Starter and only go with this plan if you’re the right type of merchant. After all, Shopify Starter is made for a very specific type of seller.
When considering Shopify Starter, we recommend asking yourself these questions:
- Do you want to sell products but don’t need a complete website?
- Are you considered a creator, blogger, or influencer and would like to sell merchandise?
- Would selling on social media be the best route for you?
- Is your current website already filled with essential content, and it wouldn’t make sense to create an entirely new site just to sell some products?
- Would you like a monetized social media link?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might find that the Shopify Starter plan is a suitable match. Not only is the plan incredibly affordable, but it turns essentially any website or creator platform into a selling system, with options to reach fans and customers on all sales channels for selling unlimited products at high-volume.
And, if you ever need to eventually upgrade (for selling on Amazon, adding PayPal, getting a real-time report builder, printing shipping labels, or one of the many other premium Shopify features), it's all just a click away.
Do you have any further questions about our Shopify Starter plan review? If so, leave us a comment in the section below. We’d also like to hear from you if you have experience with Shopify Starter (or the older version called Shopify Lite), as you can shed some light on how you like the platform.