With over half of all retail spending predicted to be online by 2028, opens in new window e-commerce platforms such as Shopify are in increasingly high demand from merchants looking to increase their customer base.
As of 2023, Shopify has over 2 million users and is one of the world’s leading e-commerce platforms opens in new window.
Most platforms generally allow start-ups to set up an online store opens in new window, stock it with products – both physical and digital – and handle payment opens in new window and customer details, such as tax, shipping, and customer communications opens in new window.
Many e-commerce platforms are free to use, though some will charge a fee to add features such as the ability to take payments, and others, such as Shopify, charge a small amount for running a store on the platform – Shopify pricing starts from around £25 per month opens in new window for a basic online store, for example.
Other platforms, such as WooCommerce, are entirely free to use, but you’ll need to design and develop an e-commerce website or use one of the thousands of free e-commerce themes to quickly get started.
Read our guide on low-cost e-Commerce platforms for your start-up opens in new window.
How you could make money on Shopify
Please note that the options below provide brief overviews only and do not detail all of the considerations or factors involved.
If you are considering pursuing any of the options below, you should seek independent specialist advice to determine if the option is right for you.
1. Set up a shop
Shopify is an online shop builder that makes it easy for entrepreneurs to set up an online shop.
Once you’ve created an account, you follow the step-by-step guide to upload products to sell, host the site, and offer a payment method to enable you to take payments from customers.
After setting up a payment plan, you can create a domain name and customise your online shop to suit your needs, including uploading photos and listing product descriptions and prices.
If you’re considering selling physical goods such as clothing, the Shopify App Store opens in new window> has apps to help you find suitable suppliers for your business.
It’s important to research suppliers opens in new window to ensure you choose legitimate suppliers you can trust.
For managing your stock, Shopify includes built-in inventory management tools which monitor stock levels and notify you when it’s time to replenish stock.
One of the best practices for growing a Shopify business is to use Shopify’s analytics, opens in new window where you can review your shop’s activity and gain insight into the visitors and customers.
This can help you track your business’s growth, monitor sales, and flag any areas for improvement.
Looking for a green supplier? Read our guide to find out how to locally and ethically source green suppliers opens in new window.
2. Sell digital products
If you’re looking to make a business selling digital products, sellers on Shopify can sell various digital merchandise, such as:
- online learning courses
- stock photography opens in new window
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
- IT Software
- music files
Selling digital products on Shopify is straightforward as the platform has a digital download app. opens in new window
Hosted by Shopify, sellers and customers can expect secure deliveries of all downloads.
Shopify can also integrate seamlessly with non-Shopify apps and tools.
You can create Shopify templates and themes to help draw attention to your shop.
For security with digital downloads, Shopify allows sellers to set expiration dates on downloads and create password-protected files, preventing unauthorised access.
Digital downloads have lower overheads as you don’t have the cost of inventory or shipping costs that can be expensive when selling physical products.
Read our guide on successful blogging for start-up businesses opens in new window.
Shopify’s dropshipping model could be a low-risk way to start a business.
Sellers don’t need to purchase inventory upfront or pay for warehouse spaces for stock, making the business potentially more cost-effective by reducing the risk of stocking unsold inventory.
Dropshipping gives sellers more time and flexibility to run their business, as inventory and deliveries can be managed almost anywhere with an internet connection.
You can locate dropshipping suppliers from various UK dropshipping directories opens in new window.
A good practice for dropshipping start-ups is to choose suppliers opens in new window who offer top-quality products, reliable shipping, and good customer service.
You can do this by checking to see their positive reviews and ratings.
Shopify offers advice on dropshipping opens in new window and includes dropshipping integration apps on the Shopify App Store to help you find the right one for your business.
Read our guide on dropshipping and how to launch a low-cost business opens in new window.
4. Sell handmade goods
If you are passionate about making products by hand opens in new window, such as anything from candles to greeting cards, Shopify could help you establish a business selling them.
The platform allows you to set up product listings where you can upload high-resolution photos, detailed descriptions, and pricing information for each product.
When selling handmade goods, use Shopify’s built-in marketing tools opens in new window, which include email marketing resources and social media strategies opens in new window; these can help you reach your target audience and generate more sales.
Read our guide on how to turn a hobby into a profitable business. opens in new window
5. Print on demand
You can use Shopify to set up a print-on-demand (POD) service where you create and sell custom products.
If you’re looking to sell POD goods such as:
POD can be a good choice on Shopify as you don’t need an inventory of stock.
Simply create the item when it is ordered.
Shopify allows you to team up with POD services to help you find the right service for your business.
Shopify’s app store has access to POD apps such as Printify, opens in new window which can help you create high-quality designs to appeal to your target buyers.
When selling POD goods, consider using high-quality mockups that give customers an accurate idea of their purchase.
This may help reduce the likelihood of returns and strengthen customer trust.
6. Affiliate marketing
If you are an influencer or content creator with a loyal following and active website, Shopify affiliate marketing could be an option.
Joining the affiliate programme opens in new window with Shopify allows you to earn a commission to bring subscriptions to Shopify.
Shopify gives affiliates a unique referral code to promote to their audience on various marketing platforms, such as social media, email marketing opens in new window, and blog posts opens in new window.
To help them advertise effectively, Shopify supplies affiliates with helpful marketing resources, such as banners and email templates.
7. Sell services
If you have valuable skills in web development or design, marketing, and consulting, Shopify could help you sell your services through Shopify Experts opens in new window.
Shopify Experts is a community of freelancers and agencies that exclusively sell their skills and expertise to clients.
Shopify allows you to create an online profile that showcases your skills to potential clients.
Additionally, prospective clients can post service requests on the Shopify Experts Marketplace, allowing you to submit proposals and bid on new projects.
8. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a modern-day form of marketing that could effectively increase sales and attract more customers to your Shopify business.
Before hiring influencers, you may want to consider the influencer best suited to your brand; for example, if you’re marketing sporting equipment, finding health and fitness influencers to promote it is a good idea.
You can reach out to influencers directly opens in new window and pay them for their services or gift them a sample of your product in exchange for promoting your merchandise on their social media channels.
Looking to promote your business on social media platforms? Read our guides to advertising and marketing on:
- Twitter opens in new window
- Instagram opens in new window
- TikTok opens in new window
- Facebook opens in new window
- YouTube opens in new window
- LinkedIn opens in new window
9. Create a shop app or theme
It could be profitable if you are an app or theme developer opens in new window and sell an app or theme through Shopify.
Designers and developers can gain support from Shopify by placing a team of experts on hand to provide technical support alongside a community forum which allows users to share insights and gain advice from one another.
If Shopify approves your theme or app, you’re ready to price, market, and sell it.
10. Provide Shopify-related services
You could also provide paid services to clients who use Shopify.
Some examples of this are:
- store setup – help clients set up their store by developing custom themes, logos, and product pages
- SEO marketing and advertising – create and implement marketing strategies to promote the store, which can entail email marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), and social media marketing
- content creation – provide copywriting, graphic design, and product photography for a client’s blog, website, and social media channels
- store migration– help migrate the store to Shopify from other platforms; this can be a complex process as it involves transferring data, but effective services can help the transition to run smoothly
- technical maintenance– provide technical support by running regular account updates, offering troubleshooting solutions, and ensuring all security protocols are maintained.
There is a market for a wide range of products and services on Shopify, regardless of company size or industry.
Entrepreneurs could build a successful e-commerce business on Shopify with a well-thought-out strategy.
If you’re looking to start or grow your business, Start-Up Loans offers government-backed loans opens in new window of up to £25,000 and a year’s free mentoring to help you on your way.
Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.
Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:
- Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
- First steps in innovation and entrepreneurship opens in new window
- Entrepreneurial behaviour opens in new window
Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.
Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.