Joining established eCommerce merchants are retail shops making the transition to digital as well as individuals setting up their own eCommerce store.
Doing so has become easier than ever before, thanks to platforms like Shopify.
The basics of getting your own eCommerce store with Shopify are actually very simple. eCommerce sites are fundamentally the same as basic websites, except that they allow users to make purchases on the site.
1. Register for a Shopify Account
Shopify offers all new users a 14 day free trial period. To get started with them, visit the Shopify site and click on ‘Start Free Trial’. This sign up gives you access to the Shopify site builder.
2. Setup Your Shopify Shop
The Shopify Site Builder follows the Lego concept. What it allows you to do is basically put together various ‘pieces’ of a site so that it works the way you want. Everything is visual so you can see your site take form as you build it.
There are two ways that to build a site at Shopify:
Method #1. Pre-built Shopify Themes
The first is to make use of a pre-existing template on Shopify and then modify that so that it looks uniquely yours.
To find a theme that suits your needs, you can visit Shopify Theme Store at themes.shopify.com – there are more than 70 pre-built free and paid themes to choose from.
Method #2. Create from scratch using Liquid
Alternatively – if you want something more unique, you can also create a site from scratch. Shopify platform uses their self-developed PHP language called “Liquid”. You'll need to master the language in order to create your Shopify store from scratch.
3. Add Products to Your Inventory
There are two main ways of adding products that you want to sell on Shopify.
Manually add products
The first is by manually adding products that you actually have inventory of.
To do this, click on ‘Products' then select ‘Add Product'. The Add Product screen is a very powerful utility for your store. Aside from the basics such as product name and descriptions, you can also set collections, vendor, and tags here. This helps keep your products organized.
Add dropshipping products
Another way of adding products would be the dropshipping method. You'll need to visit the Shopify Market and select a dropshipping app such as SaleHoo and Spocket. Using that, you can browse and add products from the app interface instead.
4. Display Products to Your eCommerce Store
Adding products to your inventory simply means that they're stored in the system. You also need to arrange for those products to be placed on your Shopify store. To do this, open up your store editor again.
Here you will decide where to add certain collections of products. You can have different sections displaying varying collections, or simply one big catalog – the choice is yours.
5. Configure Payment Methods
Once your basic site is put together it's time to look towards eCommerce features. The first thing you need in this aspect is to decide how you want customers to pay for purchases on your site.
By default, PayPal is available on your store, but you will need to create a PayPal merchant account later if you wish to use this. Aside from PayPal you have two other main types of payments processors.
The first is Shopify Payments, provided directly by Shopify. If you decide to use this, it allows you to process almost any kind of payments through your account. However, Shopify payments is a bit restricted since not everyone can use it. It’s available only to a handful of countries and there are further restrictions on what businesses in which countries can use it or not.
For example, Australian businesses can use Shopify Payments but those associated with some financial and professional services, gambling, or a whole list of other activities are prohibited.
Third-Party Payment Providers
Another way you can go about it is by using a third-party payments processor such as Stripe, iPay88, or WorldPay. Unfortunately, there is another ‘but’ here. Before you choose a provider to use, you need to make sure that it’s available for your region.
6. Setting Up Shipping Parameters
To manage your shipping arrangements, click on ‘Settings' and then ‘Shipping'. Here you can set all the details pertaining to each order – from shipping carrier to manifest lists and rates.
You can create multiple shipping configurations to cater to varying orders such as domestic or International. Conditions can also be set, for example, what weight of orders require what type of packaging.
7. Managing Shopping Carts
From the “Settings” -> “Checkout” page, you can set up the process through which your customers go through for making their purchase. Decisions have to be made on how you want your store to manage checkouts.
For example, do you want anyone to be able to make a purchase without an account on your store? The checkout section is another powerful area that you can use not just for revenue generation, but also data capture and other marketing purposes.
8. Launch Your Store!
To launch your Shopify store, you will need to sign up for one of their plans. Different plans on Shopify have different features. For example, all transactions on Shopify are levies with transaction fees but higher-tier plans will cost you less in those fees.
Shopify Features And Strengths
Easy to Use Website Builder
The ‘front’ of your eCommerce site is what visitors will see and interact with. This can be built to your exact requirements by making use of the blocks that Shopify has in the site builder. It can be used to start with a blank template or modify one of Shopify’s existing themes.
Shopify Payments & Shipping
The Shopping cart and payment processing is the heart of your eCommerce store. You can choose what payments you wish to accept from your customers. There are over 100 different processors available so the choice is really up to you.
Aside from that, Shopify also allows you to integrate shipping pricing and handling, calculate taxes, and more.
Knowing your customers is important. Shopify keeps track of your customers as well as their purchasing history and other information. This helps you organize them and with that, you can carry out extended marketing such as launch custom campaigns and more.
Shopify comes with some either built-in or possible adds on that help you run marketing campaigns. You can offer customers gift cards, carry out social media or email marketing campaigns, and more.
With the website as your storefront, you also have a backend on Shopify.
This is similar to the storeroom in your retail shop, where you can manage inventory. Here, you can tag products, generate reports to help with stock replenishment, or even define various SKUs.
With many entrepreneurs jumping on the eCommerce bandwagon, Shopify has made a mobile app available to support its users who are on the go. Their mobile app will give you full control of your site and behaviour from anywhere in the world.
Shopify Buy Button
For those who don’t want to own their own entire eCommerce site, Shopify has a Lite plan that offers the integration of a Buy Button. You can use this on your own website or blog to easily take advantage of Shopify’s transaction capabilities.
From a single dashboard you can access all the data that is gathered from your site. This includes visitor statistics such as where they are coming from, how they learned about your site, and more. You can also generate product and sales reports to be exported.
One of the most unique things about Shopify is that they make allowance for physical retail shops to easily make the transition to digital. This takes the form of Shopify POS that allows them to tie the Shopify backend into their retail business. The result in integrated inventory and even reporting.
How Much Does Shopify Cost?
Shopify altogether has five plans for you to choose from. Three of those are standard plans which most users will opt for, while the other two are at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Shopify standard plans come priced at $29/mo (Basic), $79/mo (Shopify), and $299/mo (Advanced).
There are subtle but important differences between these plans. All of them of course enable you to build and run an eCommerce site. The more expensive plans though come with extra features that would benefit larger sites that see a higher volume of traffic.
For example, if you were to be running a high traffic volume site, signing up for Advanced Shopify might save you money despite its higher pricing. Advanced Shopify comes with lower transaction fees for credit card payments, which is a common payment method for online stores.
If their standard plans aren’t for you then you can also consider Shopify Lite or Plus. Shopify Lite is intended to help you sell online without the need to build a full store with Shopify. It allows you to use the ‘Buy Button” mention above for only $9/mo.
Shopify Plus is meant for large businesses which may have special needs. Each of these plans are customized to your specific needs, so costs vary. You will need to contact Shopify to discuss your exact requirements with them.
Tip: If Shopify sounds too expensive, check out these small business hosting platforms. It's always cheaper to build and host your own business website.
Shopify Pricing Table
|Shopify Plans / Prices
|Credit card fees
|2.9% + $0.30
|2.6% + $0.30
|2.4% + $0.30
|Transaction fees / 3rd party gateway
|Up to 1,000
|Up to 1,000
|Up to 1,000
|Abandoned cart recovery
|Free SSL certificate
|Third-party shipping rates
|Duties and import taxes
Should You Use Shopify for Your eCommerce Business?
Shopify is all about helping people sell online. This can happen in three ways, either as an entirely new eCommerce store, levering on an existing site, or by tying existing retail businesses into a new online store.
Let’s take the following three cases as an example.
New Store – Jack wants to start selling fishing equipment online since it would cost him too much to rent a physical store for this purpose. For only $29 a month, Shopify Basics allows him to do so without the need for him to learn how to code to develop and maintain his store.
Existing Site – Peter has a successful website and wants to leverage on his traffic by selling some products. To do so, he signs up for Shopify Lite that will help him do so on his site for only $9 a month.
Physical to Digital – John is the owner of a chain of hardware stores in the Denver area. By making use of Shopify, he is able to easily launch an online storefront for his shops. With Shopify POS, he can also integrate stock management for his physical and retail stores.
The only case in which Shopify isn’t really useful is if you aren’t intending to sell online. Its pricing is a little steeper than most standard website builders since it integrates so many eCommerce features.
Wrapping Up: Shopify is Built to Help You Sell
As long as you are planning to do any kind of online sales then Shopify is the right solution for you. Whether you are selling physical products or digital goods, Shopify has you covered. The best part is that you can build and run a professional looking eCommerce store without having to learn a single line of code.
Because of its popularity, Shopify also has a vibrant online community. If there’s something you want to know, simply ask and you will be very likely to find someone who knows the answer.