Online purchases are becoming the default way people consume goods and services. In fact, according to data by Statista, almost two billion people worldwide now make purchases online. This number is only expected to grow over the next two years.
There’s a lot of options for running an online store, and your choice of which e-commerce platform you use can have just as big of an effect on your business as choosing a building or location for a physical store.
In this article we’re going to look into Shopify, an e-commerce website that is easy to use and allows you to amplify your online sales efforts. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you how to set up your Shopify Store.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows businesses to manage their products, payments, and shipping in one place.
With Shopify, businesses can create and customize their online stores. Essentially, Shopify allows businesses to effortlessly sell their products to a large audience of consumers, both online and offline.
Shopify allows businesses to sell in multiple places such as through websites, online marketplaces, social media, mobile, and in brick-and-mortar locations.
Pros of Using Shopify
Shopify provides businesses with over 100 professional, desktop and mobile-ready storefront templates (themes) to choose from. Additionally, Shopify comes with a handful of advantages that first-time business owners can benefit from that include the following:
Easy to Use: The best thing about Shopify is that you can manage and build an online store regardless of your technical web knowledge.
Single E-commerce Platform: Shopify is a one-stop shop for all your e-commerce needs. You can manage products, inventory, payments, and shipping all with one single platform.
Simple Integrations: Shopify allows you to manage your business in a comprehensive manner, integrating with 1,200 apps available in the Shopify App Store. These apps can help cover everything from SEO, email marketing, drop-shipping, and customer service to name a few.
Dedicated Customer Support: Shopify offers 24/7 customer service via phone, live chat, or email, so you can always reach out for support.
Helpful Online Resources: Shopify has a number of helpful online resources. On the Shopify community forums you can find answers to common questions and for new ideas on how to run your online store you can check out the Shopify Blog.
Cons of Using Shopify
While Shopify offers a suite of features and functionalities to business owners and first-time startup founders, you should be aware of its downsides before deciding to use it.
Shopify’s biggest disadvantage is that it can be costly to manage. On top of your monthly fee to use Shopify, you will also be charged a per-transaction fee on credit cards. That fee increases if you do not use Shopify Payments.
In addition, there are other costs to take into account, such as store theme, shipping costs, and third-party applications.
It is also important to consider the associated costs if you are moving your current online store to Shopify. You may need the help of a Shopify web developer for your customizations to transfer your products from a particular platform to Shopify.
What Do You Need to Set Up a Shopify Store?
To help you set up your Shopify Store, we have prepared the following step-by-step guide. Here you will also find a list of things you should consider in order to successfully launch your Shopify Store.
Choose a Pricing Plan
Once you have decided to give Shopify a try, the first thing you should do is to sign up for a 14-day free trial. This will allow you to explore Shopify’s functionalities and options and see if the platform fits your business needs.
After the free trial period, you will need to select your pricing plan.
Current price packages range from $29 to $299 per month, depending on the features you opt for.
Want to see exactly how much any plan will cost you per month with the Shopify fees? Learn more.
Create an Online Account
To use Shopify, you will need to create an online account. Here are the following steps to create your account.
Step 1 - Create an email address and password to log in to your account.
Step 2 - Create a store name. This is the name customers will use to find your business, and it is displayed on every page of your Shopify Store. It is also included in your Shopify Store URL in the following format: “[storename].myshopify.com.”
Step 3 - You will be asked for additional information about your name, business address, and phone number, what you are selling, and your business’s revenue.
You’ll need an address to use with merchant, payment, banking accounts, as well as other website information on your Shopify Store. The most important reason why you need an address is for accepting product returns from customers. If you are concerned about your privacy and do not want to use your home address, renting a mailbox service is the best option.
8 Steps to Building Your Shopify Store
Once your account is set up and ready to go, you’re ready to build your Shopify Store.
1. Add Your Products
First, you need to add products to your Shopify Store. You have the option of adding products three different ways.
- Option #1 - Import a list of products in a CSV file.
- Option #2 - Migrate products from another e-commerce platform.
- Option #3 - Manual product selection. If you choose to add products manually, Shopify provides many options that allow you to organize products and customize the way they appear to customers. You must include the name of the product, a short description, pricing, and product images for each item. Other fields include an SKU code, shipping information, and product variants (such as different sizes and colors). For more information on how to add products, check out the product details page.
2. Customize Your Website
One great thing about Shopify is that it allows you to customize your website to perfectly represent your brand. There are over 70 free layouts and templates to select from, and you have a good deal of control over the look and feel of your website.
However, if you are not sure about some aspects of your Shopify Store, you will have access to Shopify Experts, a paid service where you can get in touch with professionals who can assist with the setup, design, development, and marketing of your Shopify Store.
3. Set Up Shipping
Deciding on your shipping rates is a crucial part of your business. However, it is likely that your shipping strategy will change as your store starts growing.
First you need to determine your shipping rate and method. Some e-commerce businesses charge a flat rate for shipping, while others opt to charge the customer the rate given by the carrier.
Whichever option you choose, you should find a workable balance between the shipping and handling costs that you will have to bear and the shipping prices your customers will be willing to pay.
When determining the shipping rate, there are a number of factors you should consider. For instance, figure out the weight of all the products you will be shipping, as well as your packaging type (envelope, box, etc.).
Then, when you have determined the rates, set your shipping zones. These are the regions and countries to which you are willing to ship your products.
4. Choose a Shipping Partner
The costs of a shipping partner will vary depending on which shipping partner you contract with. You can choose to use a third-party carrier like FedEx or UPS, you may select to use a fulfillment or drop-shipping service, or you can fulfill shipping orders manually.
Shopify members also have the option to sign up for Shopify Shipping, a built-in shipping application that will calculate rates through USPS, UPS, and DHL, and that lets you print shipping labels.
5. Set Up Payments
Shopify allows you to set up various payment methods by which customers can purchase your products.
The platform offers standard payment methods such as credit cards and PayPal, but also allows you to accept payments with cryptocurrency or other services such as Amazon Pay or Apple Pay.
To accept credit card payments, you have two options. You can either use Shopify Payments or a third-party payment service provider.
Shopify charges an additional fee to use a third-party provider with its system. You can manage your payment methods from the payment providers section of the Shopify admin.
6. Set Up Taxes
In some cases, you might need to charge taxes on your sales for reporting purposes. Shopify is useful in that it can handle some common sales tax calculations.
Shopify uses default tax rates and updates them regularly, which can help you when you are just starting out. You can adjust your settings and set up tax overrides to address unique tax laws and situations.
7. Set Up Shopify Store Policies
Shopify Store policies keep your business safe legally as well as provides clarity on your operations. Through store policies, you can set rules on refunds, customer privacy, terms of service, as well as legal information and shipping policies. These policies will automatically be linked in the footer of your checkout pages.
8. Run a Shopify Test Order
Now that you have set up your account and your payment and shipping details, it’s time to do a test to see if everything is working out as you planned.
A test order is free. It is recommended to place a test order for any new Shopify Stores or if you make any changes to your payments. There are multiple scenarios to run a test order.
- Place a test order by simulating a transaction
- Place a test order with a real transaction
- Testing your shipping setting
- Testing email notifications
Overall, placing a test order allows you to see how your checkout, order, inventory, shipping, and tax processes work. To place a test order, you must go to the payment provider section of the Shopify admin and switch to “Test” mode.
If you are looking for an all-in-one e-commerce solution for your online store and you are looking to grow and add products and your primary focus is marketing & growth, then Shopify will be a great fit for you.
While Shopify can be costly to manage, especially if you choose to go for some of its advanced features, Shopify’s advantages outweigh the downsides if you are a new business or growing.
Our advice is to start with its basic features to see how much benefit you get from them, and then, as your budget allows it, upgrade gradually.
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