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Our rating(3.4/5)
Shopify Lite gives you select online selling tools to supplement face-to-face sales.
The cheapest of Shopify’s subscriptions, Lite, allows you to sell on websites through “buy” links. The integration with Shopify POS enables face-to-face merchants to sell online without a full ecommerce website.
  • Highs: Flexibility to sell across platforms. Free card reader. 24/7 customer support. Sales synced across channels.
  • Lows: No social media selling. Customer service so-so. POS features limited.
  • Best for: Merchants with some online presence, perhaps already trading face-to-face, who want to start selling online.

How does it work?

Shopify Lite is a low-cost ecommerce alternative, but let us be clear: it is not for building a full online store. Instead, you get a good combination of basic tools to enable selling online and in-person via:

Buy Buttons embedded on any website

Invoices through email link or keyed-in from your end

In-person via Shopify card reader and POS app

Instead of creating an online store in the Shopify account (only possible on Shopify’s pricier plans), you create a product library complete with images, product descriptions, variants, stock levels etc. You can then add these products on any of the above channels, and the backend keeps stock and order information synced across channels.

To sell in person, you need to purchase one of Shopify’s card readers which is used in conjunction with a mobile point of sale (POS) app on a compatible mobile device.

Shopify Lite used to include social media selling via Facebook and Facebook Messenger, but this now requires at least the Basic Shopify subscription.

Shopify Lite pricing and fees

The Shopify Lite plan is the cheapest of all Shopify subscriptions. It has four billing options: a monthly subscription for $9 a month, yearly for $96 upfront (works out as $8 per month), every other year for $174 upfront (works out as $7.25 a month) and every three years for $243 upfront ($6.75 per month). If you just want to try out features, you can opt for a 14-day free trial.

Although plans can be cancelled any time, you don’t get a refund for subscription costs paid already.

Shopify Lite costs
Pay-monthly subscription $9
Pay-yearly subscription $96 upfront (~$8/mo)
Pay-every-2-years subscription $174 upfront (~$7.25/mo)
Pay-every-3-years subscription $243 upfront (~$6.75/mo)
Commitment Cancel any time, but subscription fees are non-refundable
Chip & Swipe Reader $29
Tap & Chip Card Reader $49
Online transaction fee 2.9% + 30¢
Card reader transaction fee 2.7% + 0¢
Shopify Lite
Pay-monthly subscription $9
Pay-yearly subscription $96 upfront (~$8/mo)
Pay-every-2-years subscription $174 upfront (~$7.25/mo)
Pay-every-3-years subscription $243 upfront (~$6.75/mo)
Commitment Cancel any time, but subscription fees are non-refundable
Chip & Swipe Reader $29
Tap & Chip Card Reader $49
Online transaction fee 2.9% + 30¢
Card reader transaction fee 2.7% + 0¢

In addition to the subscription cost, transaction fees incur per card payment received online and in person. The fee is 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction for any online payment through buy buttons, social media and invoicing, while in-person payments through a card reader and POS app cost 2.7% (no fixed fee added) regardless of which credit card is used.

You can choose between two card terminals: the swipe and chip reader costing $29 and the contactless and chip reader at $49.

Selling primarily in-person? See the best Square alternatives on the market

Buy Buttons

Rather than accessing a complete ecommerce platform for building a website, Shopify Lite gives you tools for implementing Buy Buttons on an existing website of yours.

Buy Buttons are basically a piece of code embedded on websites. Most website builders (e.g. WordPress, Wix, Squarespace) allow you to add a piece of custom code to some pages, and that’s where you paste the Shopify Lite code which links to the Shopify Payments and inventory system in your backoffice account.

Image: Shopify

Example of a Buy Button embedded on a website.

Your website visitors can then view product collections or just individual products and purchase through the button, and Shopify takes care of card processing while updating the order information in your Shopify dashboard. It’s also possible to create a custom shopping cart on your website with the code.


Through the Shopify admin account, you can send email invoices to clients, which is especially handy for wholesalers and custom orders. Either add existing products from the inventory library or create custom items, and select an existing customer or create a new customer for the bill.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Shopify Lite invoicing page

Shopify Lite allows you to send email invoices through the admin account.

If you send the invoice via email, the customer clicks to pay through a link that goes to your Shopify checkout page.

You can also enter card details yourself through the ‘Pay with credit card’ button on the invoice page, which opens up a virtual terminal page. This is handy for over-the-phone payments when, for instance, you need to secure a booking or deposit.

POS features included on Shopify Lite

Shopify Lite also includes POS features for in-person sales. These free features are called ‘Shopify POS Lite’.

To sell face to face, you need to download the Shopify POS app on a compatible mobile device including most iPhones (iOS 12.2 or higher) and iPads (iPadOS 12.2 or higher). There is also an Android app, but this is an old Shopify POS app (“Shopify POS Classic”) with different features.

Focusing on the iOS app, these are some of the features:

Product library: Add products in your admin dashboard, with stock counts (when sold out, those items stop displaying online), images, variants such as item size and color, and more. What you sell in the POS app will be updated in the backend system and online.

Order management: View all customer orders in the app, where you also manage shipping and order statuses.

Image: Shopify

Shopify POS system

The Shopify POS app looks stylish in dark colors.

Customer library: If you’re selling to the same customers, you can add their details in Shopify so it’s quicker to associate an invoice or other sales to individuals.

Discounts, taxes and tips: Add discounts and taxes to items at checkout, and give customers the option to leave a tip.

Analytics and reports: All sales are synced, but not only that: you can see which items are bestsellers, and group transactions by customer, time periods and more. Export sales data to Excel, or if you upgrade to a higher Shopify plan, integrate all sales with an external accounting platform.

The iPad app has more features than the smartphone app, so using an iPhone could present some limitations.

If you upgrade to the ‘Shopify POS Pro’ plan for $89 a month per location, you get additional iOS features like analyzing staff sales, giving store credit instead of refunds and monitoring cash register shifts. Lite only allows one user account, but you can add unlimited POS users on POS Pro.

Suffice to say: the free Shopify POS Lite is best for individual merchants. With teams of staff – say, on a shop floor – you probably need more features.

The basic features for Shopify Lite users are usually enough for casual selling, but we recommend a POS upgrade if you sell a lot face to face. The Lite POS features could, for example, be ideal for merchants going on trade shows, selling on farmers’ markets or occasionally in pop-up stores.

Which has the best POS features? Top 6 card reader apps for iPhone

Credit card reader and POS hardware

Accepting cards in person requires a card reader, and Shopify sells two:

Chip and Swipe Reader: A white, little card terminal that accepts chip cards and magnetic stripe cards. It accepts “all major types of credit card, as well as Debit Mastercard and Visa Debit cards” according to Shopify.

Image: Shopify

The Shopify Chip & Swipe card reader can be ordered for free if you’re a new Shopify customer.

Tap and Chip Reader: This is the pricier model, but arguably the most desirable as it accepts NFC (contactless) payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Swipe cards are less secure than both chip-and-signature and contactless cards, making this the most future-proof terminal. Other than mobile wallets, it accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cards.

Image: Shopify

Shopify Chip & Tap card reader accepts mobile wallets, chip-and-signature and NFC cards.

Both models connect with a smartphone or tablet using the Shopify POS app, communicating with the app to process the card payment over the internet.

If you want a whole POS setup, you can purchase a compatible receipt printer, cash drawer, tablet stand and barcode scanner.

Customer reviews and support

Shopify customers get round-the-clock support every day of the year by live chat or email.

That sounds like good value, but is the support helpful? Not according to many user reviews. Some of the complaints talk about not getting money back when cancelling a plan (it’s policy not to refund subscription payments, so be sure before opting for yearly or rarer installments), others have not got their issues resolved.

A peculiarity is the sheer amount of reviews submitted by customers of the businesses selling through Shopify. There seems to be many scam businesses, which Shopify is not doing enough to control. Consequently, an average rating from a review website will likely be negatively impacted by these complaints.

On a positive note, Shopify users get access to extensive learning resources including tutorials, video lectures, a big help section and a discussion forum. That’s especially useful for people less experienced in entrepreneurship, marketing and online selling.

Our verdict: is Shopify Lite worth it?

Shopify Lite is best suited for merchants with an existing website that needs an online shop section. To sell on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other social media, you need to upgrade to at least Basic Shopify.

Although limited with where to sell online, Shopify Lite can be just what you need if you:

Don’t want to transfer an existing website to an ecommerce platform: If you already have a website for your business, but would rather not change it by transferring it to an all-in-one ecommerce platform, the Shopify Lite Buy Button could be a perfect compromise.

Want a low-cost, integrated solution to selling in person and online: Shopify Lite is a lightweight POS-and-online-sales combo providing just the essentials for a small, multichannel shop to thrive.

Have some online presence and want to sell face-to-face: If you have a blog or WordPress site already, Shopify Lite can be the low-cost way to delve into face-to-face selling.

Shopify Lite is not suitable for people looking for a full POS system (unless you upgrade to POS Pro) or complete online shop. In those cases, you should go for one of the more expensive Shopify plans.

The main question is whether Shopify Lite is worth the monthly fee when you can also get buy buttons, invoicing and POS payments without monthly costs through Square and PayPal. That said, if you’re planning to build a serious online store with Shopify at a later time, then it makes sense to start with Shopify to avoid switching payment system later.


  • Can use an existing website and still sell via Shopify.

  • In-person and online sales synced in real time.

  • With invoicing and over-the-phone payment option.


  • Not for building an online store.

  • Cannot sell on Facebook, Instagram or other social media.

  • Only basic POS features included.

  • Customer support not highly rated.