What are Shopify Partners? Do You Need One?

by Aden Andrus May 5, 2018

If you use Shopify to run your ecommerce business, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Shopify Partners and Experts and wondered, “What are Shopify Partners? Do I need one? I thought the whole reason I picked Shopify was because it’s so easy to use!”

It’s a fair point.

Shopify makes setup incredibly easy. It has a very straightforward dashboard for adding products, customizing your site design and more. If you happen to be switching from another platform to Shopify, Shopify has a slick import option as well.

After your store is set up, Shopify also makes it easy to add additional products, including titles, descriptions, price and several other handy fields. Regardless of what you are specifically trying to do, Shopify has handy tips all over the place, making it incredibly user-friendly.

So why do “Shopify Partners and Experts” exist?

Well, no matter how easy an ecommerce platform is to use, ecommerce itself isn’t easy and sometimes you need help from an expert to make your business a success.

Maybe you just need help marketing your products. Maybe you’re trying to migrate a complicated store from another platform to Shopify. Maybe you’d like professional photos of your products. Maybe you want to make some complex modifications to a theme. Maybe you need to build a custom app.

Regardless of the specifics, if you’ve hit a wall with your Shopify store, Shopify Partners could be the ideal solution.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what Shopify Partners are, what it takes to become one and how to decide if a Shopify Partner is right for your business.

What are Shopify Partners and Experts?

To put it simply, a Shopify Partner is someone who has entered some sort of contract with Shopify. At the most basic level, Shopify Partners can earn money by referring new clients to Shopify (your run-of-the-mill affiliate marketing).

Shopify Experts, on the other hand, have a track record of success with Shopify. In fact, to qualify as a Shopify Expert, you need to provide at least five examples of Shopify stores you have helped succeed.

These Experts are then ranked in one of five Shopify Expert categories (rankings are based on their area of expertise and track record with clients).

Here are the categories:

  1. Setup Experts
  2. Designers
  3. Developers
  4. Marketers
  5. Photographers

Let’s take a closer look at each of these categories, what you can expect from Shopify Partners in that category and how to pick the right partner.

1. Shopify Setup Experts

As the name implies, Setup Experts are great for getting your Shopify store started.

So, if you need to migrate a massive store from some other ecommerce platform onto Shopify, you may want to consider hiring a Setup Expert.

Or, maybe you’ve got big dreams for your store—or just don’t feel very comfortable with the idea of building your own site—and need some extra help getting started. Either way, a Setup Expert can get you up and running.

Most of the time, Setup Experts are hired to do a project. They get you up and running on Shopify and then you’re on your own.

The good news is, this means you usually don’t have to worry about ongoing fees. Launching a Shopify store is a lot of work, so you can expect to spend hundreds-to-tens of thousands of dollars on a good Expert, but it’s essentially a one-time expense.

2. Shopify Designers

Shopify Designers are great at helping you create the perfect look for your Shopify store. While Shopify offers a lot of great templates, sometimes you want (or need) something unique.

Creating or significantly modifying a template takes a thorough knowledge of coding, web design principles and conversion rate optimization theory, so don’t expect a good Shopify Designer to be cheap.

Most of the time, you can expect a good Designer to cost thousands of dollars. However, like hiring a Setup Expert, this is usually a one-and-done investment that can yield great dividends for years.

3. Shopify Developers

Unlike Setup Experts and Designers, Shopify Developers handle almost any store-related task you can think of. If your site needs something custom (search filters, shopping cart functionality, analytics implementation, POS integration, etc), you need a Developer.

As you can probably imagine, the time and money it takes to get a custom development job done depends entirely on the nature of the task. A quick tweak to a tracking code may cost less than fifty dollars. Designing a custom app could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Depending on the complexity of your site and your development needs, hiring a Developer can either be a one-time expense or an ongoing contract. It’s all up to you.

4. Shopify Marketers

If you’ve tried your hand at marketing your ecommerce business, you know that ecommerce advertising isn’t easy. Shopify Marketers have spent years learning how to drive traffic to Shopify sites and turn that traffic into profitable sales.

At Disruptive, many of our clients run Shopify stores, but they find it works best to hire a marketing agency to handle the advertising side of their business. This frees them up to spend their time actually managing their store and ensuring that their customers have a great experience.

A good Shopify Marketer should be able to help you in one or more of the following areas:

  • Google Shopping ads
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Facebook ecommerce
  • Amazon marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Product page testing

Each of these areas are critical to your Shopify store’s success, so if you don’t feel confident in these areas, it’s smart to hire a professional Marketer or agency to help you out.

Typically, Marketers and agencies charge a monthly fee to manage your marketing efforts that can vary significantly depending on how much you are spending on advertising. However, a good agency or marketer can drive a ton of value, so the investment is usually worth it.

5. Shopify Photographers

High quality images are critical to the success of your ecommerce business, but most of us are not great photographers. A good Shopify Photographer knows how make your products look as good as possible, which can have a huge impact on your sales.

Generally speaking, Photographers typically charge per project and their prices vary considerably depending on how many products you want photographed and the level of complexity of the shots. For example, product shots of a tennis racket are usually a lot easier than a wedding dress shoot with multiple models, locations and lighting needs.

In addition, some Photographers will charge royalties for their images, so keep that in mind as you consider photographer candidates.

Picking the Right Shopify Expert

Before you contact a Shopify Expert, it’s a good idea to think about exactly what you want them to do.

If it’s a fairly simple project, you can probably handle it yourself and save a little money (and learn valuable skills you’ll need to run your store for years to come). If the project seems way to complicated for you to figure out in a reasonable time frame, it might be worth it to hire an Expert—but don’t expect to pay $40 for a $40,000 project.

Here are a few other criteria to consider in your selection process:


It’s important to pick Shopify Partners with great communication skills. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a specific vision for your site or marketing and then being unable to communicate that to the person you hired to implement your vision.

To ensure that you end up with a great Partner, start by looking at their testimonials. Watch for testimonials that talk about what it’s like working with them. Then, when you actually reach out to an Expert, pay attention to how they communicate with you.

Do they seem to get your business? Are they responsive to your emails? Do they explain things clearly and get your vision?

If the answer to any of these question is “no”, you probably need to find a new partner. Price and skill don’t matter very much if you can’t communicate with your Expert.


Before you sign a contract, ask to see previous work. It’s a good policy with any potential partner and especially important with Shopify Partners.

With Setup Experts, evaluate the complexity of the sites they show you. If they’ve only worked on simple sites and you’re trying to get a massive job done, you probably need to move on.

For Designers, either look for versatility or a Designer that typically produces website designs that fit your vision. Most Designers are only good at a style or two and if that style doesn’t match with what you’re thinking, you’re going to end up disappointed.

Look for a Developer who is familiar with the type of task that you need completed. Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions to get a feel for their experience level.

A good Marketer should have several case studies up their sleeve. Ask to see them and look for case studies from businesses that are similar to yours. If they’ve helped other businesses like yours, they can probably help you, too.

Finally, ask to see a portfolio of photos from other shoots they have done. Like Designers, most photographers have a style that are best at, so make sure that style matches your target style before you sign a check.


Shopify is one of the easiest shopping platforms to set up and use. But, as easy as Shopify is, running an online store takes a lot of time and know-how. If you find yourself short on either of these, Shopify Partners and Experts may be a good way to go.

By the way, Disruptive is a Shopify Partner specializing in marketing ecommerce businesses. If you’d like some help growing your Shopify store, let us know here or in the comments. We’d love to help!

Have you used Shopify Partners or Experts before? What was your experience like? Any recommendations you’d add to this article? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

  • Ecommerce

Aden Andrus

Aden Andrus

Over his career, Aden has developed and marketed millions of dollars of successful products. He lays awake at nights figuring out new marketing tactics and is constantly upping Disruptive's internal marketing game. He loves to write, dance and destroy computer monitors in full medieval armor.

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