Table Of Content

Shopify Development Plans: Features, Benefits, and Partner Program Insights

Shopify Development Plans: Features, Benefits, and Partner Program Insights

Shopify's paid plans, though robust, can be pricey and limiting for developers and agencies who need to build and test multiple stores. Enter the Shopify Development Plan—a solution designed to offer free, unlimited time and transactions for building and perfecting stores before handing them off to clients.

Today's blog will drive you through Shopify Development Plans: Features, Benefits, and Partner Program Insights and help you experience Shopify much more easily before launching your real store.

So first, let’s dive into the definition of a Shopify Development plan. 

What is a Shopify Development Plan?

A Shopify Development Plan is a unique account designed for developers and agencies to create and test online stores without incurring any costs. These development stores can be used indefinitely, offering the flexibility to experiment with features, customize themes, and integrate apps until everything is perfect.

Benefits of Shopify Development Plan for Developers and Store Owners:

  • Cost-Effective: No fees while building and testing.
  • Unlimited Time: Take as long as needed to develop the store.
  • Advanced Features: Access to all Shopify features for thorough testing.
  • Client Collaboration: Easily share progress and gather feedback.
  • Smooth Handover: Seamless transfer of the finished store to clients.

Features of Shopify Development Stores

Development stores provide nearly all the features on the Advanced Shopify plan, making them ideal for building and testing your online store. Here’s what you can do with a development store:

  • Process an unlimited number of test orders to ensure everything runs smoothly.
  • Create as many unique products as you need to showcase your inventory.
  • Develop up to 10 custom apps to enhance your store's functionality.
  • Assign a custom domain to personalize your store’s web address.
  • Extra feature: developer preview, generated test data

However, there are some limitations to keep in mind:

  • You can only install free and partner-friendly apps during development.
  • Testing orders are limited to using the Bogus Test gateway or enabling test mode for your payment provider. Real transactions cannot be processed until the store is live. To test with real transactions, you must transfer your development store to a Shopify paid plan. 
  • The password page cannot be removed from your development store.
  • Promotions and free trials are no longer available once you transfer your store to a live plan. If you want to start the newest Shopify free trials, tap to learn more here. 

These features and limitations are created to ensure your development process is thorough and secure before your store goes live.

Comparison with other Shopify plans (Basic, Shopify, Advanced). 

Below is a comparison of Shopify Development Stores with the Basic, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify plans:


Development Store

Basic Plan

Shopify Plan

Advanced Plan

Shopify Plus

Make order

Test orders only with limited payment gateways

Both Test and real orders



Standard analytics

Custom reports and analytics

Third-party transaction fees if not using Shopify Payments






App installation

Only Free and Partner-Friendly Apps

Both Free and Paid apps

Free, Paid, and Shopify Plus Certified app

Custom Apps

Up to 10


API PII access included

Assign Custom Domain






Remove Password Page






Eligibility for Promotions/Trials

No (once transferred to live plan)





Whether you are a developer or store owner, the Shopify Development Plan reduces financial risk and helps you enhance the development process. 

So, how can you join in the Shopify plan?

How to register the Shopify development plan

To access the benefits of the Shopify Development Plan, you'll first need to join the Shopify Partner Program.

What is the Shopify Partner Program?

The Shopify Partner Program is designed especially for you - web designers, developers, or marketers who want to create and manage your owned Online stores for clients. You can access a suite of benefits that significantly enhance your development process as a member. Including:

  • Free Development Stores: Create unlimited development stores without any cost.
  • Revenue Sharing: Earn a share of the revenue from the clients' stores you manage.
  • Exclusive Resources: Access to Shopify Partner Academy, documentation, and community support.
  • Early Access to Features: Test new Shopify features before they are publicly released.
  • Collaboration Tools: Efficiently manage projects and collaborate with clients.

How can we sign up for the Shopify Partner Program? 

Steps to Register as a Shopify Partner

1- Sign Up: Visit the Shopify Partner Program page and click "Become a partner."

2- Create an Account: Provide your email, password, and business information to create your partner account.

Spend a few minutes answering some enrollment questions.

3- Set Up Your Profile: Fill in details about your business and expertise to complete your profile.
4- Start Building: Once registered, you can start creating development stores, accessing partner resources, and collaborating with clients.

    Joining the Shopify Partner Program offers opportunities to enhance your eCommerce skills and grow your business.

    Setting Up a Shopify Development Store

    Now, let’s get started setting up your development store.

    In general, the merchants start opening Shopify development stores following two situations:

    1- They want to test the app and/or theme until it is in development.

    Or 2- they want to experience building a Shopify store as a client.

    Now, let’s start with step 1.

    Step 1: Creating Your First Development Store

    In this section, we will dive into how to open your first development store based on the two cases mentioned.

    For Testing Apps or Themes

    1- Sign Up for a Shopify Partner Account: Ensure you have an account.

    2- Access Your Dashboard: Log in and click "Stores."

    3- Add a New Store: Select "Add store" and "Create development store."

    4 - Specify Usage: Choose "Create a store to test and build."

    5 - Enter Store Details: Name your store. This name generates a permanent URL.

    6 - Select Build Options: If using a Developer preview, pick a version from the list, including: 

    • Global Nav
    • Store credit primitive and API
    • Checkout and Customer Accounts Extensibility preview
    • Extended Variants
    • Discounts Allocator Functions 
    • Flex sections
    • Defer directive on Storefront API

    Please note that if you select Develop Preview, the ownership of your development store cannot be transferred to other accounts

    Remember, stores using this preview can’t be transferred to clients.

    7—Data and Configurations: You can start with an empty store or one filled with Shopify-generated test data. Note that stores with test data cannot be transferred.

    Click "Create development store."

    8 - Archiving: When done, you can archive the store.

    For Creating a Client Store

    1 - Ensure You Have a Shopify Partner Account: Sign up if needed.

    2 - Access Your Dashboard: Log in and click on "Stores."

    3 - Add a New Store: Select "Add store" and "Create development store."

    4 - Specify Usage: Choose "Create a store for a client."

    5 - Enter Client Store Details: Provide a name for the client's store, generating a permanent URL.

    6 - Set Location: Choose the client's country or region to set default shipping rates and recommend region-specific apps.

    7 - Finalize: Click "Create development store."

    8 - Handoff or Archive: When ready, hand off the store to the client or archive it.

    Step 2: Building and Testing in a Development Store

    Creating a robust Shopify store involves thorough theme development and extensive testing. Here's a detailed guide to help you through the process.

    Tip 1: Customize the Theme for your Development store

    Start by selecting the Shopify theme for your development store. You can explore some relevant articles to find your dream theme here.

    Next, access Shopify’s theme editor to customize the store’s look and feel. This step is essential, especially if you are a developer supporting your client in tailoring their brand or project needs. 

    Bonus: To help you customize your theme efficiently, try EcomRise free to import theme layouts, updates, and numerous theme support features. 

    After customizing the theme, the next step is to ensure it performs well across various devices and browsers. Shopify's preview tools are essential for this task, as they allow testing of the theme's performance and responsiveness. From now on, you can guarantee a seamless shopping experience for customers on any device.

    Transitioning from theme development, the next critical phase is to add and organize products, which is fundamental to showcasing your inventory effectively.

    Tip 2: Adding and Organizing Products

    Start by populating your development store with products. In the Shopify admin, go to the Products section and click on "Add Product." 

    Here, you can enter details such as product name, description, images, pricing, and variants.

    Remember to organize your products into categories or collections. This will help your customers browse and find what they’re looking for, improving overall store navigation and usability.

    With your products in place, it’s time to extend the store’s capabilities through app integration.

    Tip 3: Installing and Testing App

    As mentioned above, you can functionalize your development store with free and Partner-friendly Shopify Apps.  Install necessary apps from the Shopify App Store, such as page builder, inventory management, marketing, or customer service. As a result, you have fully utilized your store's capabilities.

    One essential Shopify app you should try for your development store is EComposer, the leading drag-and-drop Shopify page builder. This App helps you effortlessly create all eCommerce Page types, like the Home page, product page, collection page, cart page, and more. Moreover, you can start practicing page building with a rich library of pre-made layouts and sections.

    Once installed, thoroughly test each app to ensure it integrates seamlessly with your store’s theme and other apps. Identify and address any performance issues or conflicts to provide a seamless user experience and avoid interruptions when the store becomes operational.

    After integrating and testing apps, let's collect feedback and performance results to iterate or refine.

    Tip 4: Iterating and Refining the Customizations

    You can efficiently set up a Shopify development store by following these steps and best practices. This allows you to build and test robust e-commerce solutions before deploying them live.

    Best Practices for Shopify Development

    Here are essential best practices for managing your development store effectively and getting ready to launch your actual Shopify store:

    1. Use Dummy Data: Using dummy data to test features and configurations instead of accurate customer information securely.
    2. Enable Password Protection: Secure your development store with a password to control access and ensure only authorized team members can view it during development.
    3. Conduct Comprehensive Testing: Thoroughly test every aspect of your store, including navigation, checkout processes, and mobile responsiveness. Address any issues identified before launching your store.
    4. Backup Regularly: Protect your data by backing up your development store regularly. Shopify offers built-in backup options for added security.
    5. Optimize Performance: Improve your store's speed and performance by optimizing image sizes, using responsive themes, and enabling caching mechanisms.

    Collaborating with Clients in Shopify development plan

    For Shopify users who are store-building agencies, granting collaboration with your clients is essential for the success of any project. You can invite clients to view your development store and eventually transfer ownership.

    Inviting Clients to View the Store Provide Feedback

    First, invite your clients to view the store to gather their feedback. 

    In the Shopify admin, navigate to "Users and Permissions." 

    From there, click "Add staff," enter your client’s email address, and select the appropriate permissions before sending the invitation. 

    Alternatively, you can share a preview link of the development store. This link lets them see the store in its current state without full admin access.

    Best Practices for Client Collaboration

    Once your client has access, it’s crucial to maintain open communication. Set clear expectations from the beginning, defining the scope and timeline of the project. To engage with your clients better, you should send them regular updates and progress reports, ensuring they feel involved. Actively solicit their feedback at each stage of development to ensure their vision is being met. To streamline communication, we highly recommend you use collaborative tools like Trello, Slack, or Asana.

    What if transferring your store ownership? Here is how.

    Transferring Store Ownership

    When you've completed work on a Shopify development store, the next step is to transfer ownership to your client. This process ensures your client can manage their store independently while you remain a collaborator for support.

    Development Store Ownership and Staff Permissions

    Initially, the developer owned the store and could add up to 15 staff accounts. Please keep in mind that when ownership is transferred, access to the developer's team is restricted.

    Transfer ownership when the store is ready for live operations or requires paid features.

    How do you transfer ownership of your Shopify development store? 

    Stage 1- Preparation: Add your client as a staff member and ensure their account is set up. Include their address in the store settings to avoid incorrect tax charges.

    Stage 2- Transfer Process:

    • Log into your Partner Dashboard.
    • Select the store and initiate the transfer.
    • Choose the new owner and complete the process.

    Stage 3- Post-Transfer: Provide your client with essential information, such as store access details and recommended Shopify plans and features.

    There are some things that you have to consider when implementing store ownership transfer.

    • Ownership transfer is irreversible.
    • For stores on paid plans, contact Partner Support to manage commissions and payment details.
    • If using Shopify Payments, update account information to the client's details post-transfer.

    Switching to Paid Plans Without Transferring Ownership

    If needed, you can switch a development store to a paid plan while retaining ownership. This is useful for testing features unavailable on development stores but involves specific steps and considerations regarding commission and payment details.

    For further details and step-by-step guidance, visit the Shopify Help Center.

    Important Considerations During the Transfer Process

    Before finalizing the transfer, double-check all store details, including products, settings, and apps, to ensure everything is correct. 

    Clear communication is vital here—explain to the client what they need to do to accept the transfer and any immediate actions required afterward. Offer post-transfer support to help clients familiarize themselves with managing their new store. Finally, ensure any financial agreements, such as final payments or subscriptions, are settled before transferring ownership.

    Transitioning to live store

    Once you've transferred ownership of a development store, the next step is transitioning it to a live store. This process ensures the store is fully functional and ready for business operations. Here is the checklist

    Reviewing Your Development Store

    Before making the transition, thoroughly review your Shopify development store. Start by evaluating every aspect, such as your store design, functionality, content, and user experience. This will ensure that everything aligns with your vision and meets your business requirements.

    Preparing for the Launch

    Prepare for the launch by completing essential tasks to optimize your live store. This means wrapping up product details, sorting collections, getting web-ready images, setting up SEO elements like meta descriptions and keywords, creating necessary policies and legal pages, and sorting out third-party integrations or services.

    Migrating Data to Shopify Live Store

    To move from development to live, migrate your data and settings. Use Shopify’s built-in import/export features or specialized apps for a seamless transition. Remember to double-check data accuracy and integrity during the transfer process to maintain consistency.

    Configuring Domains and DNS Settings

    Set up your custom domain and configure DNS settings to connect to your live store. Whether purchasing through Shopify or a third-party registrar, follow Shopify’s guidelines to associate the domain correctly. Adjust DNS settings to ensure your store is accessible under your chosen domain.

    Final Testing and Quality Assurance

    Before launching, conduct rigorous testing and quality assurance. Test all functionalities such as product browsing, checkout process, payment gateways, and shipping calculations. Perform cross-device and cross-browser testing to verify compatibility and responsiveness. Review content for accuracy, check links, proofread text, and ensure policies are comprehensive and up to date.

    FAQs about the Shopify Development Plan

    1. What is a Shopify Development Store?

    A Shopify development store is a free Shopify account with limitations for building and testing before going live. This Shopify store type allows developers to create and customize a store for clients without incurring costs.

    1. How many Shopify development store can you create?

    Being a Shopify Partner, you can create ULIMITED development store for FREE.

    1. What are the limitations of a Shopify Development Store?

    Development stores have restricted access to certain features, such as launching paid promotions, processing real transactions, and installing a limited number of apps.

    1. How do I transfer a development store to a client?

    To transfer ownership, log in to your Partner Dashboard, go to Stores, and select Transfer Ownership. Ensure the client has been added as a staff member and has completed their account setup.

    1. Can I switch a development store to a paid plan without transferring ownership?

    Yes, you can switch a development store to a paid plan from the Partner Dashboard. However, you must contact Partner Support to remove any commissions on the store.

    1. What happens to staff accounts when a store is transferred?

    When transferring a development store, the original owner and other partner team members lose access, and only the new owner retains full permissions.

    1. What should be done before transferring a store?

    Before transferring, add the client as a staff member, update the store settings with the client’s address, and ensure all necessary details and features are set up correctly.

    1. How do I configure domains and DNS settings for a live store?

    Here’s a quick guide to configuring your domains and DNS for a live Shopify store:

    Step 1- Access Shopify Admin: Go to Settings > Domains.

    Step 2: Click to select the domain you want to configure.

    Step 3: Edit DNS Settings: Click Domain settings > Edit DNS settings to make changes.

    1. What testing should be conducted before launching the store?

    Perform comprehensive testing, including checking product browsing, checkout processes, payment gateways, and shipping calculations. Also, ensure cross-device and cross-browser compatibility and review content accuracy.

    1. Can I use a development store for a live business operation?

    No, development stores are intended only for development and testing purposes. You must switch to a paid plan for live business operations.

    1. What should be done if I activated Shopify Payments with my information?

    After transferring ownership, contact Shopify Support to update Shopify Payments with the client's information to avoid payment processing issues.

    Let’s try to build your Shopify development store today.

    A Shopify development store offers developers and owners a cost-effective, flexible, and comprehensive solution. By leveraging its features, you can create, customize, and test your online store without the financial risk of Shopify’s paid plans. 

    We hope that this article has helped you understand essential steps, from setting up your development store to collaborating with clients and transitioning to a live store. Embrace the capabilities of Shopify development stores to build exceptional eCommerce experiences.

    For any questions about Shopify store development, contact us at

    Related Posts

    Shopify Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide 2024
    Shopify Business Plan: A Comprehensive Guide 2024
    “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” It’s so true...
    Shopify 1 Month Trial: Get 33 Days Trial For Just $1
    Shopify 1 Dollar Plan: Get 1 Month (33 Days) Trial For Just $1
    Shopify Trial Newest Update: Since March 2024, Shopify will no longer offer an...
    How to build landing page in Shopify
    How To Build A Unique Landing Page in Shopify (Easy Guide)
      Crafting a unique and compelling Shopify landing page is not just...
    How to change your Shopify store name: Quick and Effective Guide
    How to change your Shopify store name: Quick and Effective Guide
      Embarking on a journey to revamp your Shopify store's identity is...
    Shopify Lite Plan Review
    Shopify Lite Review 2024: Pricing, Features & Alternatives
    “2024 update: Shopify Lite is replaced by Shopify Starter Plan. New Shopify...

    No comments