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Updated: April 29, 2022

Why Your eCommerce Needs a Shopify Development Store

What do FitBit, Penguin Books, Lindt & Sprüngli, Hyatt Hotels Corp, and Kylie Cosmetics, all worth billions, have in common? They’re powered by Shopify, a Canadian eCommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems.

eCommerce platforms are the backbone of online stores, providing the front-end and back-end structure that supports B2B and B2C companies. They offer a seamless customer experience and enable scalable growth for any online business.

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As a cloud-based tool, Shopify provides full control over the structure and setup of your store. It is a great choice for businesses that sell physical and digital goods or services. Shopify’s flexibility, feature-rich capabilities, and customization are some reasons why over 1 million businesses in over 175 different countries utilize it as their preferred eCommerce platform.

Choosing the right eCommerce platform helps businesses streamline client interactions, facilitates global reach and revenue growth. Shopify is an excellent platform, and its development store offering, i.e., demo store capabilities are incredibly valuable to test design and app functionality. If your store sells products, each with less than 100 variations, then Shopify is an excellent option.

Here’s the lowdown on how to create a Shopify development store, and the benefits it offers eCommerce businesses.

Shopify helps stores

What is a Shopify Development Store?

Over one million businesses use Shopify as their preferred eCommerce platform because it offers quality, efficiency, simplicity, and rich features. A Shopify development store account gives eCommerce businesses the ability to install and test new themes for their digital “storefronts” before they decide to use the platform.

Some hosts only offer one website version, URL, and domain, but if you’re a Shopify Partner, you can create unlimited development stores for demo purposes. And these aren’t just for testing how a layout looks. You’ll also have access to Shopify’s discount engine, real-time carrier-calculated shopping, abandoned checkout recovery, and 50 test orders, so you can see how all your apps and add-ons run before going live.

A Shopify development store is a free account accessible from the Partner Dashboard. It has no time limits and offers functionality similar to the Advanced Shopify plan. However, until you switch to a paid account, you can’t install paid apps or create more than ten private apps. Read: That’s why it’s advantageous to hire an agency to create a development store for you!

What Features Do Shopify Development Stores Offer an eCommerce Business?

According to Shopify, Development stores allow organizations to:

  • Install and test apps and themes still in development
  • Build a demo Shopify store

Essentially, development stores offer the ideal test environment to build online eCommerce platforms without any trial constraints that expire after a set length of time. With Shopify, you can set up a development environment without affecting your original storefront (if you have one) and then migrate your store over to the new design once you’re happy with it.

Pro-tip: All new development stores are password protected. This means that visitors can only access the development store by entering the password on the password page, logging into the development store’s admin, or through a Shopify Theme Store or Shopify App store demo link. Unlike the customizable password page for a free trial store or paid plan, the development store password isn’t linked to the online store’s theme and cannot be customized.

Development environment with Shopify

 

Pros and Cons of Development Stores

While the development store is free, you won’t be able to do the following until you upgrade to a Shopify paid plan:

  • Install paid apps (except for a selection of partner-friendly ones)
  • Create more than ten private apps
  • Remove the development store password page
  • You only test orders using the Bogus Test gateway or by enabling test mode for your payment provider. You can’t get orders using real transactions through an active payment provider.

As a leading eCommerce platform provider, Shopify offers beautiful mobile-friendly storefront themes broken down by industry; however, there are only ten free theme templates. Using any others for your development store requires a one-time fee payment. If you want extensive customization, you will need to understand Shopify’s Liquid code, which in most cases, entails hiring an expert developer.

Additionally, while third-party apps provide additional functionality, there is a possibility that some may not work with your theme, or require modifications. Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t value in building a Shopify development store. It is very helpful to have an idea of how your store will work and what it looks like, just so long as you’re aware that you won’t experience full functionality until you have a paid account.

How Can I Build a Shopify Development Store?

Before you can build a Shopify development store, you need a Shopify Partner account. It’s free to join, and lets members experiment with Shopify store functionality. As a Shopify Partner, you have access to free training courses and other useful resources to leverage the platform to help grow your business.

Once you have a free Shopify account, you can follow these steps to build a development store:

  1. Log into your Shopify Partner dashboard.
  2. Click Stores.
  3. Click Add Store.
  4. In the Store type section, select Development store.
  5. In the Login Information section, enter a name for your store and a development store password that you will use to log in.
  6. Optional: You can enable a developer preview by selecting the developer version from the drop-down list.
  7. In the store address section, enter your address.
  8. Optional: Select a reason why you’re creating this development store in the store purpose section.
  9. Click Save.

Once you’ve created your Shopify Development store, you can archive it. If you want your Shopify development store to go live, you have to transfer ownership and select a Shopify plan. When this is processed, all restrictions are lifted from the development store.

When it comes to Shopify development stores, some organizations use the developer preview to gain early access to new Shopify features, so they can build and test apps against upcoming features before they’re released. A word of caution: Development stores created on developer preview mode can’t be transferred to another owner or transitioned to a paid plan.

Internet Marketing Agency and Shopify

Do I Need A Web Development Team to Set Up a Shopify Development Store?

Even without any technical knowledge, the plug-and-play capabilities of development stores allow anyone to set up a basic store with relative ease. However, without technical knowledge, it will take you longer to achieve the results that a professional agency team can deliver. This is largely why 80% of Fortune 500 companies outsource their web development needs.

Experts know how the platform works. They leverage its features and functionalities to ensure an online store’s success. A top-tier agency will analyze an organization’s goals and develop a high-performance Shopify store strategy that’s scalable and optimized to achieve long-term results.

Utilizing the Shopify platform entails more than just uploading products and choosing creative theme designs. The goal of any eCommerce store should be to increase sales. Accomplishing this feat in a saturated and highly competitive online space demands SEO strategies. These help sites to rank on search engines, maximize ROI, and increase revenue stream. Experts will also ensure the smooth integration of third-party apps.

Professional Shopify developer partners offer many benefits, including:

  • Developing eCommerce sites on Shopify based on design mockups that align with your brand’s image
  • Building Shopify Apps that seamlessly integrate with the platform and can handle specific issues for merchants
  • Building interactive pages and adding enhanced features to an existing store or theme
  • Migrating customers effortlessly to and from Shopify using the correct technology and tools

Expert Shopify developers customize themes using their skills in HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Liquid. Those who are experienced in Timber (Shopify’s Theme Framework), as well as the Bootstrap framework, will ensure your store’s design is responsive across devices. Furthermore, expert web designers, copywriters, and advertisers bring many years of experience, which allows organizations to focus on growing their business, instead of wasting significant time trying to master skills the experts already have.

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Conclusion

Hiring professionals to complete high-quality bespoke tasks within a specified time frame for your online store will keep your organization up-to-date with the latest marketing developments. They can improve Shopify store functionality and grow your business through SEO, leading to higher traffic, increased conversions, and greater profits.

As a full-service marketing agency, we’re a certified member of the Shopify partner program and specialize in customer development, PPC, SEO, content, Email, and revenue strategies. Our team can build your store from scratch, or help migrate your current one to Shopify. Contact us to help you build a cost-effective Shopify app store with high ROI.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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