Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Shopify Vacation Mode

If you are a Shopify merchant taking a much needed break, there are only two ways to pause orders on your Shopify store:

  1. Natively within Shopify’s limitations
  2. With apps built specifically for this functionality 

You may need to temporarily close your store because you’re going on vacation, you’ve gotten sick, you need to catch up on current orders, simply want to close for the weekend, or due to a host of other reasons.

Along with the Magical Apps team, I have been auditing and researching existing and possible solutions for when merchants are considering pausing sales on their store. In order to help, I wanted to share my research with Shopify merchants to help you make the most informed decision when it comes to your business.

I found that Shopify’s native solution for this may not work as you intended and that it comes with a lot of limitations. In this article, learn about both Shopify and app-based solutions to temporarily pause sales on your store.

If you need to pause your store for any reason, you are going to want to read this.

Native Shopify Solutions for Putting Your Store on Vacation Mode

Lack of True Native Support

As a Shopify merchant, it is natural to want to find a solution that is natively available through Shopify.

While Shopify gives you the ability to pause or deactivate your online store sales, the way these options function may not be what you are looking for. And Shopify themselves admit that they “don’t have a vacation setting”.

What they suggest is that merchants can either password protect their store or go on Shopify’s Pause and Build Plan. However, these solutions come with their own limitations that can be detrimental to your business.

For example, how will customers remember to come back to your store once it goes live again? And how confused will your customers be if they visit your store and are unable to purchase any products?

Merchants should also note that they may have to do some complex coding depending on how they want their store to be presented while it is on pause.

I found that Shopify’s native solution for this may not work as you intended and that it comes with a lot of limitations.

Solutions to Lack of Native Support

1. Password Protect Your Store

You can simply restrict access to your store through a password page

This will create a landing page that will require your customers to enter a password in order to visit your store. This page can be customized with a message to inform your customers that you are temporarily away.  

How to implement it:

According to the Shopify Help Center

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Online Store > Preferences.
  1. Scroll to the Password protection area, and check Restrict access to visitors with the password.
  1. In Password, enter the password that you’ll give to the customers who you want to be able to access your online store. Don’t use the same password that you use to log into your admin.
  1. In Message for your visitors, enter the message that you want to show on the password page. If you don’t want to show a message, then leave this field blank.
  1. Click Save.
Potential issues
  1. No way to notify customers when the store is live again. They will have to remember from the message left for visitors on the password page.
  2. Customers will not be able to browse your store

2. Pause and Build Plan

Firstly, to be eligible to pause your store, your Shopify store must be on a paid plan and it is not available to Shopify Plus stores. You also need to have an active store for at least 60 days after your free trial period. 

Once you are eligible, the Pause and Build Plan will disable your checkout process while allowing you to work on building your store. This way, your customers would still be able to see your products but not purchase them. You will also not be able to use POS, discounts, abandoned checkout recovery, gift cards, or third-party integrations like Facebook and Google to publish your products.

Draft order invoices can be sent but your customer can’t complete the checkout process and draft orders can’t be converted to live orders.

According to an answer from a Shopify staff member in the Shopify Community Forum:

“A lot of Merchants prefer to edit the password page whilst on this plan, and I would recommend that you uninstall any third-party apps if looking to reduce the cost.”

Shopify also recommends customizing your theme to hide your product price and Add to Cart buttons so customers don’t attempt to purchase anything while your store is on pause. However, Shopify also warns that this requires advanced coding knowledge and they recommend hiring a Shopify expert to assist setting this up.

Merchants should note that using the Pause and Build Plan will reduce your monthly subscription cost to $9 USD per month and they would have to switch to a paid plan once they decide to make their store live again.

With all of that in mind, this option may be best suited for merchants that are still building their store and would rather not pay the full subscription fee. For someone who is going on vacation, or just needs to pause sales temporarily, this solution would not allow them to notify their customers once they are back.

How to implement it:

According to the Shopify Help Center:

  1. Log in to your store as the store owner.
  2. From your Shopify admin, click Settings > Plan.
  3. Click Deactivate store > Pause and build plan.
  4. Carefully review the plan details, and then click Switch to Pause and build.
Potential issues:
  1. Not all stores are eligible for the Pause and Build plan.
  2. Cannot use POS, discounts, abandoned checkout recovery, gift cards, or third-party integrations like Facebook and Google to publish your products.
  3. Additional customization like hiding product prices and Add to Cart buttons requires advanced coding.
  4. No way to notify customers when the store is live. They would have to remember based on any possible prompt the merchants insert on the store.

Which native solution do you recommend?

This would depend on the type of store you have. Shopify Plus stores don’t have an option to be on the Pause and Build plan so they would be forced to rely on the password protect solution.

New stores that have not been live for 60 days past the free trial period would also be forced to rely on the password protect solution.

Merchants that are eligible for the Pause and Build plan can either exclusively use the Pause and Build plan, or use it in conjunction with the password protect solution. This way the merchant would be paying a lower monthly subscription fee while also having a landing page where customers will be notified that their business is temporarily on pause.

Either way, neither option gives merchants the ability to notify their customers when their store is live. Additionally, if a business requires temporary closures regularly, it may look quite odd for customers to frequently visit a password protect page. It can look unprofessional, and give the impression that the store is constantly under construction.

If the merchant wants to keep their store accessible and hide the product price and Add to Cart buttons, this would require advanced coding and potentially hiring a Shopify expert. This solution could be very costly and merchants would have to determine if it is worth it.

Shopify App Solutions for Vacation Mode

Shopify’s native solutions can be very limiting, complicated, and downright detrimental to your business. Fortunately, merchants can use the Shopify App Store to find a focused solution for their problems.

Shopify apps can allow merchants to pause sales on their stores and keep their customers up to date with when their products are up for sale again.

Develop a new app

If your business has the resources and the internal development capability, creating your own app may be the ideal solution for you.

You can learn more about this from our article we have about developing a new app to add product fees on Shopify. Our recommendations in that article would also apply to vacation mode.

Use a Vacation Mode app to pause sales

Magical Vacation Mode allows merchants to pause sales in their stores while notifying their customers that the business is currently not taking any orders.

Magical Vacation Mode offers online store owners a convenient way to disable purchase options temporarily. It allows you to deactivate buy buttons, hide prices and the “Add to Cart” feature, preventing customers from placing orders during your break. This eliminates customer confusion, especially when coupled with a customizable sitewide message.

Not only does Magical Vacation Mode give merchants the ability to pause sales, but it allows them to keep their store visible while they are away so they don’t lose incoming traffic to their store.

The app enables you to inform customers about your store’s temporary closure through a sitewide message. You can tailor these banners to match your store’s theme. Unlike Shopify’s Pause and Build Plan, Magical Vacation Mode permits the use of other sales channels like POS during the pause.

Additionally, the app lets you collect email addresses from interested visitors during the sales pause. This serves both as a notification tool for relaunching your store and an opportunity for marketing and engagement. 

The app boasts a user-friendly Rules-based system, making it effortless to switch between active  and disabled vacation mode rules. You can also set start and end dates for your break, automating the transition to and from vacation mode.

Learn how to setup Magical Vacation Mode app on your Shopify store here.

Shopify apps can allow merchants to pause sales on their stores and keep their customers up to date with when their products are up for sale again.

Which app solutions do you recommend?

According to my research, there is only one true Vacation Mode app on the Shopify app store: Magical Vacation Mode. If you know of any other apps that provide this functionality, I would love to hear from you!

For a more detailed overview of Magical Vacation Mode, check out our article: The Best Way to Put Your Online Store on Vacation Mode: How a Shopify App Outshines eBay and Etsy’s Features.

Magical Vacation Mode allows merchants to pause sales, display messages, and maintain engagement during breaks.

Adding Vacation Mode to Shopify with apps is easier and more flexible

While Shopify’s “Pause and Build Plan” serves its intended purpose for store development, it may not be the optimal solution for merchants who require flexibility, customization, and the ability to manage customer expectations during temporary sales pauses, such as vacations or short breaks.

Password protection, another Shopify option, can appear unprofessional and lacks as a seamless solution

Apps, in this case Magical Vacation Mode, provides a more accessible and flexible option for pausing sales compared to password protection or Shopify’s Pause and Build Plan. It’s accessible to any Shopify store, while the Pause and Build Plan is limited to certain criteria, such as a paid plan and a 60-day live store requirement. Any merchant looking to pause their store with a click of a button will find Shopify apps as the best solution.

Magical Vacation Mode

Use the Magical Vacation Mode App to pause your online sales letting you take a break, go on holiday, or get caught up.