Our rating(3.4/5)
Shopify Lite includes Buy Buttons, invoicing and a POS app, but not a web store.
The cheapest Shopify subscription, Lite, allows you to sell on websites through embedded buy links and invoicing clients. The inclusion of Shopify POS app is a bonus for face-to-face merchants who don’t want a full ecommerce website to sell online.
  • Highs: Flexibility to sell across platforms. 24/7 customer support. Sales synced across channels.
  • Lows: Social media selling requires more expensive subscription. Customer service so-so. POS features limited.
  • Best for: Merchants with some online presence, perhaps already trading face-to-face, who want to sell through existing website.

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 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 sales channels.

To sell in person, you need to purchase the Shopify’s card reader 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

Shopify Lite is the cheapest of all Shopify plans. Although Shopify is widely marketed in the UK, all the subscriptions are priced in US dollars, while transaction fees and hardware are priced in GBP.

It has four billing options: a monthly subscription for US$9 a month, annual for US$96 upfront (works out as US$8 per month), every other year for US$174 upfront (works out as US$7.25 a month) and every three years for US$243 upfront (US$6.75 per month). These prices exclude VAT which is added at checkout.

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.

Shopify Lite costs
Monthly subscription* $9 + VAT
Yearly subscription* $96 + VAT upfront (~$8 + VAT/mo)
2-year subscription* $174  + VAT upfront (~$7.25 + VAT/mo)
3-year subscription* $243  + VAT upfront (~$6.75 + VAT/mo)
Commitment Cancel any time, but fees are non-refundable
Tap, Chip & Swipe Reader £59 + VAT
Online transaction fee 2.2% + 20p
Card reader transaction fee 1.7%

*Charged in US dollars.

Shopify Lite
Monthly subscription* $9 + VAT
Yearly subscription* $96 + VAT upfront
(~$8 + VAT/mo)
2-year subscription* $174  + VAT upfront
(~$7.25 + VAT/mo)
3-year subscription* $243  + VAT upfront
(~$6.75 + VAT/mo)
Commitment Cancel any time, but fees are non-refundable
Tap, Chip & Swipe Reader £59 + VAT
Online transaction fee 2.2% + 20p
Card reader transaction fee 1.7%

*Charged in US dollars.

In addition to the subscription cost, transaction fees incur per card payment received online and in person. The fee is 2.2% + 20p per transaction for any online payment through Buy Buttons and invoicing, while in-person payments through a card reader only cost 1.7% (no fixed fee is added) regardless of the brand and type of card used.

There is no charge for payouts. It takes about 3 working days from the customer transaction until the money is sent to your bank account, then 24-72 hours extra for the payout to show in your bank account balance – i.e. about a week for transactions to clear in your bank account.

The Shopify card reader costs £59 + VAT and comes with a 1-year warranty. Shipping is free, and you can return it for free within 30 days if you change your mind.

Buy Buttons

Rather than accessing a complete ecommerce platform for building a website, Shopify Lite gives you ‘Buy Buttons’.

Buy Buttons are basically a piece of code embedded on websites. Most website builders (Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace) allow you to add a piece of custom code to some pages, and that’s where you paste the button code which links to the Shopify Payments system (taking care of payment processing) and inventory system in your Shopify account.

Image: Shopify

Shopify Lite Buy Button examples

Example of Buy Buttons (“Add to cart” buttons) embedded on a website.

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


You can send email invoices to clients via the Shopify backoffice, which is especially handy for wholesalers and custom orders. Invoicing is not a well-advertised feature – it is found in the ‘Orders’ section where a new order (i.e. invoice) can be drafted manually.

Either add existing products from the inventory library or create custom items, then select an existing customer or create a new customer for the bill.

Image: Shopify

Shopify invoice draft

Shopify Lite lets you to send email invoices (via ‘Create Order’) through the admin account.

If you send the invoice via email, the customer clicks to pay through a link that goes to a 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 window. This is handy for remote payments where card details are taken over the phone.

Image: Shopify

Accept over-the-phone payments via the virtual terminal feature through the invoice/order.

POS features

In addition to online selling options, Shopify Lite includes POS features for face-to-face merchants. These free features are called ‘Shopify POS Lite’.

To sell in person, you need to download the Shopify POS app on a compatible mobile device, i.e. on iPhone (iOS 12.2 or higher) or iPad (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, and it doesn’t work with the card reader.

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

Product library: Add products in your admin dashboard, complete with stock counts (when out of stock, those items stop displaying online), images, variants such as item size and colour, 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.

Customer library: Add customer details in Shopify so it’s quicker to associate an invoice or other sales to regular customers.

Image: Shopify

Shopify POS app

The Shopify POS app covers essential features for selling at a till.

Discounts, VAT and tipping: Include VAT automatically on orders and add discounts at checkout. Tips can also be applied in the app.

Analytics and reports: Online and in-person sales are synced and updated in real time in the app and backend dashboard. You can see which items are bestsellers, view transactions by customer, time period and more. Sales data can be exported to Excel.

The iPad app is more ahead on features than the iPhone app, so you have the most ‘complete’ POS experience there.

Fastest way to create online shop: SumUp Online Store Starter – too basic?

If you upgrade to the ‘Shopify POS Pro’ plan for US$89 a month per location, you get additional iOS features such as analysing 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 till features available 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 POS Lite features could, for example, be ideal for merchants going to conferences, selling on farmers’ markets or occasionally in pop-up stores.

Card reader and POS hardware

Accepting cards in person requires the Shopify Tap, Chip & Swipe Reader – and it only connects with the iOS app, not Android.

It accepts contactless, chip and PIN and swipe cards of the brands Visa, Mastercard and American Express as well as the mobile wallets Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Image: Shopify

Shopify Tap, Chip and Swipe Reader

The Shopify Tap, Chip & Swipe Reader accepts most credit and debit cards.

The card reader uses Bluetooth to connect with your smartphone or tablet via the Shopify POS app, communicating with the app to process transactions over the internet.

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

Customer reviews and support

Shopify offers 24/7 support every day of the year by live chat or email to Lite users.

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

Others have had their website deleted without proper justification, experienced long waiting times for support and unhelpful support when they do get through. The risk management team is repeatedly mentioned as being a pain for users trying to resolve issues with fraudulent payments or data protection issues.

The sheer amount of reviews submitted by the customers of merchants selling through Shopify complicate the average ratings of Shopify on review sites. Many of the businesses using Shopify appear to be scamming customers, 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.

The company’s offices are located in North America, so the support team may not be as attuned to the UK market as other ecommerce sites with a British support team.

Our verdict

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

Although limited on 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, but would rather not change it by transferring it to an all-inclusive 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 that gives you 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 complete online shop or full POS system (unless you upgrade to POS Pro). For a fully-fledged online store built on Shopify, you should go for Basic Shopify or one of the more expensive 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 existing website for Shopify selling.

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

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


  • Not for building a full online store.

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

  • Only basic POS features included.

  • Customer support not highly rated.