Shopify Development Stores: What Are They and How Do They Work?


Online retailers view Shopify as an e-commerce platform for selling goods and services in the digital marketplace. Web professionals are likely to look at the platform differently. Rather than setting up their own e-commerce solutions, they see Shopify as a tool for reaching out to new customers looking to establish e-commerce operations. Web developers do this through something known as ‘development stores’.

A development store is an online store created through the Shopify platform by a Shopify partner. The store can be used for any number of purposes:

  • Demonstrating the main features of Shopify
  • Promoting a web developer services
  • Selling e-commerce plans to new customers
  • Convincing traditional retailers to go digital.

Just as resellers purchase hosting plans from web hosting providers before reselling them to retail clients, web developers can become Shopify partners to help sell e-commerce packages.

How Development Stores Work

According to the Shopify documentation, Shopify partners can create as many development stores as they want. These development stores include most of the same features Shopify offers with its Advanced Shopify plan. The documentation says there are only four things partners cannot do with development stores until they have been switched to a paid plan:

  • Install most paid apps;
  • Create in excess of 10 private apps;
  • Process more than of 50 orders; and
  • Assign custom domains.

The most common way to use development stores is to create them as tools for selling the Shopify platform. For example, you could create a development store based around consumer electronics. You could then offer that store to an electronics retailer who is not yet online. You could even go so far as to modify the store to be an actual storefront for an interested client.

Should the client eventually decide to go with Shopify, ownership of the development store is then transferred accordingly. The partner would receive a lump-sum payment equal to two months of the client’s paid service as well as residual income for as long as the client remains a Shopify user.

Shopify recommends using development stores to sell the platform to new clients instead of introducing them via the standard 14-day free trial. They recommend this because development stores remain active until they are either closed or transferred to the client. In essence, this gives the client free access to the development store beyond the 14-day period, which is sometimes necessary to convince clients who cannot seem to get off the fence.

Businesses Built on Shopify

Development stores are yet another option for building a business on the Shopify platform. While retailers use Shopify to conduct e-commerce in an easy-to-use and efficient environment, web developers are using the platform to grow their own businesses as resellers of Shopify packages. It is a win-win for everyone involved.

If you think you are interested in becoming a Shopify partner and using development stores to sell the platform, you can find more information in the Shopify documentation.

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