How big is the Shopify eCommerce platform? Currently, it supports online stores for over 2.5m merchants in the United States alone. Able to cater for both small startups and large retail brands, Shopify is the largest hoster of online retailers, but there's so much more to it than that.
In addition to its regular services, Shopify also offers its Partner Program, something that allows store owners to connect with support and planning professionals. When you enrol in the program, you get to leverage the power of Shopify's proprietary systems and work with the platform's huge audience.
Irrespective of whether you're a large digital agency or an individual professional, there's a Shopify Partner tier to suit your needs. There are many advantages to joining - something we explore in greater detail now.
Shopify's Basic Partner Program
The first tier of partnering with Shopify is the appropriately-name 'Shopify Partner Program' - an option that's aimed at those who support online retail stores. We're talking about marketers, designers, and developers, and the great news is that it's completely free to join.
The program represents a fantastic resource for developers, marketers and more by allowing them to grow their businesses in the following ways:
- A recurring monthly revenue stream through referring clients to Shopify
- The development of paid Shopify apps that specialize or enhance client stores
- By creating (paid) themes for Shopify stores
Completing any of the above tasks will earn Shopify partner members an ongoing monthly commission. For instance, you get 10-20% of the subs that clients pay after you've referred them. You'll also receive as much as 80% of the subscription fees of any apps and themes you've created.
Needless to say, it doesn't take long for this extra revenue to build to a meaningful level, particularly if you've been busy creating apps and themes or making lots of referrals. All that said, the commission is not the only motivating factor for joining the Shopify Partner Program.
Access to a Wealth of Educational Materials
Another advantage of being a partner member is the access you get to a massive library of educational materials. Via their exclusive certification program and the Shopify Partner Academy, it's possible to take a range of courses aimed at supporting your success as a partner. A wealth of marketing materials are also on offer, along with 24/7 support.
Should you have any burning questions you need answering, you've also got access to their worldwide community. This allows you to connect and network with others and get great insight from people who're on the same journey as you and are facing the same challenges.
So, How Do You Join The Shopify Partner Program?
The process of joining the basic partner program is quite simple, with low eligibility criteria and absolutely no cost to you. You only have to follow these four steps to get started:
- Do Your Research Into the Program - we're trying our best here to give you the lowdown on the benefits of the program, but it's impossible to cover everything. As such, you should do your research so you know precisely what you're getting into.
- Set Up Your Shopify Partner Account - next, you need to head over to the Shopify Partner sign-up page and create an account.
- Leverage the Partner Academy - there are many resources and tools available in Shopify's partner academy that you can use to learn the fundamentals of how to get the most from the program. Spend some time there and gain some useful knowledge.
- Get Started as a Shopify Partner - once you've gained a good understanding of the program, you can get started as a partner. It's as simple as that!
The Shopify Plus Partner Program
The second tier of the platform's partner system is the Shopify Plus Partner Program, which naturally offers more than the basic option. Created to suit those wanting to offer end-to-end business solutions in resource planning, integration, marketing, and Shopify development, it's a tier that delivers something extra.
Becoming a Shopify Plus Partner is not as easy to attain as the basic tier, as it's reserved for users who offer a next-level service in terms of support, privacy, performance, and other factors detailed within Shopify Plus merchants' advanced requirements.
Eligibility for the program is generally limited to:
- Website development companies
- Digital marketing agencies
- System integrators
- Design firms
As with the basic tier, being a Plus Partner provides you with access to both sales opportunities and a wealth of training resources. As such, it's possible to earn enhanced referral commissions, as well as be included in the prestigious Shopify Plus directory.
Shopify Plus Partner Membership Must Be Maintained
While it's one thing to be accepted as a Plus Partner, it's not something you can enjoy forever without a good deal of work. For starters, you must be proactively helping people in the community by offering your support and taking on jobs.
The feedback for the work you do for Shopify merchants must also be on point, or this alone could see you being taken out of the program. That said, why would you not work hard to achieve this positive outcome when there are so many benefits to be had?
How Do You Become a Shopify Plus Partner?
If you want to be accepted as a Shopify Plus Partner, it's obviously going to take quite a bit more effort (Compared to the Basic Program) in order to meet the elevated entry requirements. However, the steps involved are also nice and easy to follow.
- Examine the Entry Requirements - before you begin, it's important to check whether you're a suitable candidate for the Plus Program. Entry is generally limited to applicants who've demonstrated a track record of helping high-growth clients to achieve success - ideally as a Basic Shopify Partner.
- Make Your Application - next, you'll need to enter your details into what is quite a long and complex application form, including questions that need to be answered to the fullest degree.
- Sit Tight & Wait For a Reply - after submitting your application, you need to give the Shopify review team time to analyse your information and assess whether you'd be a good fit for the program. In this case, no news isn't good news, as you'll only be contacted if you're considered to be suitable for acceptance.
- Schedule & Join a Planning Meeting - if you're accepted onto the program, the first point of order is to book a planning meeting, during which you'll discuss partnership terms with a Shopify representative. Prior to the meeting, it's a good idea to write down all your burning questions so that you remember to ask them.
Is the Shopify Plus Partner Program What Your Business Needs in 2023?
At the point of writing, there are over 4.4 million Shopify stores in existence, and that's not happened by accident. Shopify makes the job of running an eCommerce store simple and straightforward, in addition to providing access to support and expertise from those in both the Basic and Plus Programs.
Regardless of whether you're a large agency with a long list of enterprise clients or a sole professional with a small customer base, there are an awful lot of benefits to be had from becoming a partner. The wisdom of joining either program is clear to see.
The biggest decision would seem to be whether you have what it takes to join the exclusive group that enjoys Shopify Plus Partner status.