How To Set Up Your Shopify Store & Start Selling On Shopify
Congratulations! You’ve done the research, looked into a few platforms, and decided that Shopify is the best service to use for your online store. What’s next?
Whether you’re new to eCommerce or just ready to take a more professional approach to online selling, Shopify can be a great choice. Founded in 2006, Shopify now serves as the basis for more than a million stores worldwide. That number is a testament to Shopify’s intuitive UI and undeniable ease of use.
New to Shopify? Let this article serve as your guide. We’ll give you some hands-on advice you can use to avoid delays and pitfalls, and help you get your store up and running as quickly and easily as possible.
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What You’ll Need To Start Your Shopify Store
Before you create a Shopify account, you must take a few preliminary steps. If you’re an experienced vendor, you may be able to skip these and jump right into setting up your online store. For those new to eCommerce, make sure you’ve covered these basics before you start to launch your online store. Of course, you can always create a Shopify account now and go back and enter this information when you have it.
Once you check off those boxes, you’re ready to sign up for Shopify. Read on!
How To Start Selling On Shopify
Next, we’ll discuss how to start an online store, from creating a Shopify account to becoming familiar with the admin. Follow our step-by-step guidelines as you set up your own Shopify store. When you’re finished, you’ll be ready to start selling with Shopify!
1) Create Your Account
From the start, Shopify creates a level of comfort in the new user by allowing a 14-day trial period. That means you can start setting up your store and familiarizing yourself with Shopify before you have to commit to a service plan and pull out your credit card. All you have to do is enter your email address to begin, and you’ll set a password and enter your store name next.
2) Enter Your Information
After you create an account, Shopify will prompt you to enter a little more information about your plans for your store. Fortunately, you will find a range of answers available from pull-down menus, and it’s okay to say you’re just browsing or to admit that you’re not an experienced online vendor. For example, you can say that you’re just looking around, or that you don’t even have products to sell just yet. You’ll be asked to choose from among 15 different product categories. (You can choose Other, if your product line doesn’t fit into any of the existing categories, or simply say that you haven’t decided yet.)
Next, you’ll be asked to enter your name, address, phone number, and business or personal website. You’ll also check a box to indicate whether your store already is a registered business. Once you submit that information, you’re the owner of a Shopify storefront. Congratulations!
Don’t start celebrating just yet, though. There’s more work to do.
3) Get Familiar With Shopify’s Admin
Once you create your store, you’ll be taken to a page that looks like this:
On the left side of the screen are the tools you’ll use regularly to manage your store. First, though, take a peek at the other side of the screen, where you’ll see the words “Add your first product.”
Click the blue “Add product” button below that, and just like that you’ve got something to sell! From there, you can enter products individually, giving each a title and a description. You can drag and drop multiple photos of each item and set a price. You can also add useful information that customers won’t see, such as how much that item cost you, how many you have in stock, and its dimensions and weight.
What if you’re selling digital, rather than physical, items? There’s a button you can click for that. Each item gets its own URL, and you can edit the suggested SEO terms. Be sure to enter a quantity before you hit Save, to show how many of each item you have in stock.
4) Manage Your Inventory
The next item to explore is Inventory, which you’ll find under Products in the left-hand menu. The example below shows only one item, but it’s easy to populate your own inventory with as many items as you have to sell. This is where you’ll go to keep tabs on your stock in hand. There’s a handy link underneath your inventory, where you can go to view a tutorial about Shopify’s inventory management features. (Although Shopify doesn’t have a setup wizard, you’ll find similarly helpful links on nearly every page you encounter.)
5) Choose A Theme
Shopify will assign your store a default theme. But because that default is neither attractive nor original, you’ll want to change it very soon. Fortunately, there are many good options available, and you can easily find a theme you like that’s either free or priced at $180 or less. The hardest part might actually be having to choose just one!
If you find the sheer number of choices overwhelming, you can narrow the search by browsing by industry. You can even search for themes designed for businesses with small inventories and optimized for one-page stores. Once you select a theme, Shopify guides you to customize it. You can add text and images and make various style choices, all without entering a single line of code. One caveat: Even within the free themes, you can make choices that will cost you money. Just keep an eye on your options and make the right choices for your budget.
6) Add Customers
Okay. You’ve set up a store, complete with products and an attractive theme design. What’s next? Customers, of course!
If you return to your admin panel, you’ll see that Customers is the fourth option down in the left-hand menu. When you click on it, you’ll be given the option to add customers manually or import a list. There’s even a template you can use to create or modify a customer spreadsheet, allowing you to add customers to your Shopify database in bulk.
7) Take Your Store Live
On Shopify, you can choose from five different plans that deliver just the right level of service for your needs. The three most popular plans range in price from $29 per month to $299 per month. The higher your plan level, the more options are included, and as you go higher on the plans, you’ll find that the transaction fees Shopify charges go down accordingly, from 2% at the lower level to just 0.5% at the highest.
There’s also a basic plan, at $9 per month, that does not include an online store but gives you a Buy Button and allows you to sell in person and on Facebook. Eventually, if you develop high-volume sales, you may want to consider the enterprise-level plan. For now, know that you won’t have to pay for a subscription until after your trial period expires, so you can test a plan now and change your mind before you incur charges.
You may choose to pay for your plan on a month-to-month basis at first. Once you’re sure you’re satisfied with both your store and your plan, you can save a little money by paying less frequently. Choose the $29/month plan, for example, and save $36 by paying annually, $138 by paying for two years in advance, or $261 by paying for three years at once.
Select your plan, decide on your payment frequency, and enter your credit card information — remember, you won’t be charged until your trial period is up, so you have plenty of time to experiment and change your mind if you need to. Then you’re ready to take your site live.
Take care of a couple of final housekeeping details before you hit the Publish button and bring your store online:
- Remove Password Protections: Shopify stores are automatically created with password protection, so that only visitors with that password can view your site before you’re ready to publish it. Once you have selected your payment plan, click on Online Store from the admin, and then click Preferences. Scroll down the page until you see Password protection, then uncheck the box labeled Enable password.
- Check Your Domain Name: Shopify automatically assigns you a domain that will read YourStoreName.myshopify.com. Although that will technically work, you’re going to want to link to a different domain name, if you have one already, or purchase a domain name that omits the “myshopify.com” element to create a more professional looking URL.
- Enable Notifications: Unless you want to live on Shopify, you’ll probably want to set up your Shopify store so that you receive automatic notifications when a customer places an order. From the admin, click on the Setting link, located at the very bottom left of the page. Choose notification, then scroll down until you see Staff order notifications. Make sure your email is listed correctly under Recipients, and send yourself a test to make sure you’re able to receive notifications. If you want to add another email address, this is your chance. You can also enable desktop notifications, so long as you leave the Shopify admin open on your browser.
Tips For Selling On Shopify
Once the work of setting up your online store is done and your store has gone live, you’re ready for the orders to start rolling in. While you’re waiting, you can do a little more work to build a stronger store that’s likely to succeed in the online marketplace.
Link All Your Channels
Shopify makes it easy to link your existing online sales channels to your storefront, enabling multichannel selling without a lot of effort on your part. If you already have a presence on or sell through eBay, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, Google Shopping or Pinterest, you can download an app that lets you link it to your Shopify store.
Keep Exploring The Admin
As you wait to have orders to fill, spend some more time on your Shopify admin page. You can place a test order to make sure your checkout process runs smoothly. Open the Marketing tab on the admin panel to create and test automated marketing messages that will help you capture sales on the verge of slipping away when shoppers abandon their carts. Familiarize yourself with all the functions Shopify gives you, so you’re ready to put them to use to better serve customers and increase your sales.
Add Features Customers Love
If you haven’t already, look at your store from a customer’s point of view and try to make shopping at your store as close to an in-person shopping experience as you can. That means setting up a welcoming landing page, highlighting special offers like discounts or free shipping, setting up a FAQ section to give customers quick answers and instill confidence, and creating an “About Us” page or section. That gives you a chance to let customers know not just who you are but also why they should purchase from you. All these features together personalize the sale and make shoppers feel more comfortable buying from you.
Master The SEO Game
Search engine optimization — SEO for short — is the ticket to driving traffic to your store. The way you write your product descriptions and the language you use on other pages throughout your store affects the way search engines like Google rank your web page. Setting up Google Search Console is a great way to start improving your SEO performance and drawing more customers to your Shopify store.
Integrate & Improve
Shopify is a great platform out of the box. But did you know there are thousands of ways you can improve it? That’s because there are literally thousands of apps you can download and integrate with your store. From dropshipping and chat options to email marketing and accounting software, you can find an app to improve every aspect of the sales process for customers and for yourself as the owner. Most of the apps in the Shopify App Store require payment, so it will be up to you to determine what’s worth adding and how it fits into your budget.
Harness The Power Of Analytics
From the admin panel, you can access an overview of what’s happening in your store. You can see information about total sales, how many people visit your store and how many return, what your conversion rate and average orders are, what products are selling best, where your sales traffic is coming from, and much, much more. This information can be incredibly valuable because it shows you where you’re succeeding and where you have the opportunity to do more — and to do better. As customers start to visit your store and orders start coming in, visit the analytics section often to learn and improve.
Getting Your Shopify Store Up & Running
Although it may seem like setting up an online store is a complicated process, when you start to explore Shopify you’ll come to realize that the platform you’ve chosen for your store makes eCommerce as easy as can be for you. You did your research and picked the best site for your needs. Now it’s time to gather the basics you’ll need to set up your online store and these follow these simple step-by-step guidelines to get that store up and running. Before you know it, you’ll be an eCommerce pro with a thriving store to prove it.