Shopify Setup Guide
What is Shopify?
Shopify is an eCommerce website builder and a complete solution.
How Does Shopify Work?
The Shopify platform lets you quickly set up an online store to sell products – You can easily organize your products, customize your storefront, accept payments with credit cards, Paypal, etc. You can track the orders your customers have submitted, respond to your customers, and process the orders through your Shopify website.
Shopify is an online platform where you can launch your own eCommerce website / store to sell products. You can set up the Shopify website to use your own brand name and logo and use the domain name of your choice.
To get domain name ideas for your Shopify store, use Shopify Name Generator, or any other domain/business name generators.
For US$ 29 monthly fee, you can use Shopify as a subscription based software service and host your online store.
How to set up a Shopify store?
- Shopify – eCommerce Store Website Builder
- Set Up Your Shopify Store
- Find a Niche
- Find a Domain Name for Your Store
- Sign Up
- Choose and Install a Theme
- Create and Add a Logo
- Add Your First Product
- Create Collections
- Buy Domain Name from Shopify
- Add Payment Methods
- Create Information Pages
- Remove Website Password Protection
- Shopify Apps
- Install Google Analytics
Shopify – eCommerce Store Website Builder
Why is Shopify such a popular eCommerce website builder?
It’s a SaaS platform that lets anyone build their own online store. The person using Shopify to build and manage her online store would in theory require no technical or coding skill.
Shopify’s simple interface makes it easy for anyone with basic experience know how to manage her online store. To set up your basic store, go through the following items.
- You start with selecting a theme for your Shopify store.
- You’ll have to add products to your website. You upload your product descriptions, product quantity, shipping orders, and all other necessary information about your products.
- You choose the marketing channels for your store where products are going to be listed and customized setup for each channel can be made.
Sometimes you would hear that Shopify is a platform for designers in which they are allowed to explore and choose from endless design options (i.e. website templates, etc) for eCommerce store creation. Don’t be mistaken by this concept. In fact, Shopify is so simple to use and set up. For those of you who don’t know anything specific about eCommerce, web design and website development, but want an eCommerce platform that is powerful enough to compete, you’ll find an extensive range of design options that will provide you the advantages.
If you’re into Amazon’s Associates Program (i.e. Amazon Affiliate), Shopify provides plenty options for an eCommerce platform builder that takes care of affiliate marketing. If you’re already doing quite well with your standalone Shopify store, then it will be straightforward to go into affiliate marketing for Amazon’s Associates Program.
What are the benefits of Shopify?
Shopify provides the benefits include:
- You can focus running your business, as Shopify takes care to process, manage and track all your orders and payments.
- You can launch the store on your choice of domain name. A domain name is important as it is your brand name and your business name that people will need to recognize and remember. This helps the growth of your Shopify store in long term.
- You don’t have to code, because Shopify is a website builder that is ready for you to simple add products and launch your store. In theory you don’t have to code. In reality if you want a lot of customization to your store, it’s better you hire a developer who is specialized in Shopify website development.
- Thousands of themes are available for your Shopify store. There are free themes that you can use right away. If you’re willing to spend some budget, you can buy themes that will improve the appearance of your website.
- You get thousands of apps that can improve your store’s functions and features. Some of the apps are even free of charge. Without the apps, you may end up spending large amount of time and resources developing the required functions and features.
Selling On Shopify
The two main ways to make money with Shopify is through:
- Selling your own product
- Dropshipping (and/or dropsurfing)
Selling your own product
Selling your own product in which you actually have to stock your inventory and be in charge of shipping products to your customers.
There are several advantages to sell your own products online through Shopify:
- You can reduce operational costs such as rental, utility bills, etc.
- You should be able to reach many more prospects from all around the world who would potentially become your new customers, if you know how to do marketing online.
- Because you’re selling your own products, you can always set your own prices. This allows you to increase your revenue and generate more profits in the end.
With Dropshipping, it’s an online retail business in which you as the store owner don’t actually own the products that you’re selling. You’ll have to work with one or more third party suppliers who actual own the products that you’re selling on your Shopify eCommerce site.
If you want to quickly start with dropshipping, Oberlo is an app and a marketplace provided by Shopify. Through Oberlo, you can source products from online B2B suppliers such as Aliexpress.com. You can import your chosen products into your Shopify website directly from Oberlo. When your customer place an order through your Shopify store, the suppliers take care of the order fulfullment.
Shopify Lets You Focus on Marketing
Shopify takes care of the hosting of your eCommerce website. All is left for you to do is to focus on marketing and selling your products.
Can You Sell Used Items On Shopify?
Certainly you can put up and any item including used items on your Shopify website. It’s all own online store and you can decide what items or products you want to sell.
If you used to be selling products through online marketplace platforms such as eBay, Amazon or Etsy, there may be restrictions to what you can or cannot sell on the marketplace platforms. But on Shopify, you put up a standalone website, and you’re in control to sell any products as long as the products are legal to sell.
With your Shopify store, you are in full control of your product inventory, store policies, how products are displayed, and how you want to market your store and your products.
One tip is that you should know more or less, or exactly who are you target buyers (or customers) before you even launch your Shopify eCommerce store.
Here is an example. If your plan is to sell football team merchandise, the best is you should already have some previous experience selling such products, and you would have known who exactly are going to be your customers. You would also need to know which markets (such as the UK) are more likely to buy your products.
Shopify Plan – How Much Does It Cost?
Shopify offers three main plans.
- Basic plan: US$29 per month
- Standard plan: US$79 per month
- Advanced plan: US$299 per month
When starting with Shopify, choose the $29 basic plan. The $29 plan will be sufficient for building your basic store.
You should be given a 14-day free trial to test the Shopify platform. After the 14-day trial if you weren’t happy about it, you can quit and you won’t have to pay anything.
When your business grows to another level that requires more support, then consider upgrading to the $79 standard plan or even the $299 advanced plan.
Refer to the pricing document for more information:
Set Up Your Shopify Store
Let’s get started and go through step-by-step to set up your store.
You’ll need to find a niche. The niche means the category or industry of the products that you’re going to sell.
You’ll need to find and decide on your store name which is the business name or brand name. It’s best practice that you use your business name as your domain name of your website, because that’s good for branding.
You’ll have to register a new Shopify account (if you don’t have one). Almost all the setup will be done through the Shopify platform.
To make your store look good, you’ll need to find and install a theme.
You must upload your products including photos and descriptions.
To add functions to your store (including email subscription, checkout, payment, etc), you’ll need to install apps.
But then who is going to buy through your store? People on the Internet use Google (i.e. search engines), Facebook (i.e. social media), and other websites. You’ll need cost effective methods to get people (or potential customers) to visit your store.
Find a Niche
Whatever products you’re going to sell through your online store, you want to make profit. That’s why you need to first find the profitable niches, and then choose one of them that you’ll be working on.
But you wouldn’t know which are the popular or profitable niches. You can find out here.
Find a Domain Name for Your Store
Your Shopify website needs a great brand name or business name or store name when it is used as a dropshipping business or an eCommerce store.
But how would you come up with a store name?
A tool such as a name generator can provide multiple suggestions when you need to “name” your new Shopify website.
With such as a tool, you enter a name. The name generator would check against the domain name database and return a message whether your chosen domain name is available.
Later you would want to register and own the name as your website’s domain name. So it’s important to find a name that is available for registration, and is most suitable as your store’s domain name.
You can choose a name generator from the list of our suggested name generators. The first name generator tool in the list is Shopify’s official tool. But all tools in the list would function similar by giving you name availability.
Before you can launch your Store, sign up a new Shopify account.
Visit the Shopify website, and create a new account that offer you a 14-day free trial.
During the registration, enter your email address and a password.
You’ll need to enter a unique store name that hasn’t been used by other Shopify store owners. The store name should be the domain name that you’ve previously spent time finding and choosing.
Enter your details into the registration form including your first name, last name, street address (i.e. city, ZIP code, country), etc. The details are important because they’ll be used by Shopify to transfer payments to you.
Choose and Install a Theme
You must choose and activate a theme for your Shopify website. There are free themes and paid themes.
You can activate one of the free themes that are available right away from within your Shopify account. Example themes include “Brooklyn”, “Debut”, “Venture”, and more.
All the free themes that are available in your account, they can be customized. If you know exactly how to change the codes of your theme, go ahead and make the required modifications. If you have no coding experience to make changes to theme codes, then play it save and leave the theme as it is.
You may also hire an experienced Shopify website developer to create a new theme that is unique to your store.
Or visit the “Themes” page:
You’ll see all the free themes that are available. You can also buy one of the paid themes.
Create and Add a Logo
Any business needs a brand, or more accurately a logo. You can create your Shopify store logo using this tool:
Or you can hire a designer from Upwork, Envato Studio or Fiverr to design your business logo.
Add Your First Product
Ideally you should load all your products onto your store. But adding one product to your website would get you started.
When you’re adding a product, it means you’re creating a product web page for that specific product.
Add Product Name and Product Description
Give the product a name in the title field.
Fill out the description for the product.
You fill out the product name and description for this simple reason: You want people visiting your store to know exactly what they’re going to buy.
Add Product Photos
You want to show the products visually. Good photos help your potential customers decide to buy your products.
If you only have one photo for the product, just add one.
If you have many photos of your product, select several photos (i.e. at least 3-4), and add them to the product page.
Set Product Price, Quantity and SKU
Enter the price of the product.
You may enter a value in the “Compare at price” that is lower than the actual price, when you want to show your customers that you’re offering a discounted price for the product.
Leave “Cost per item” blank.
Keep the “Charge taxes on this product” checkbox option checked. You’ll want to add tax charges to the product. Obviously, exactly how much tax you’ll end up paying for selling the product would depend on your located country.
Enter the SKU of the product. The SKU is a unique number to identify the product. You can simply come up with any unique number.
Change the Inventory Policy to “Shopify tracks this product’s inventory”. Enter the number of products that are available.
The SKU together with the inventory help you track how many of this products have been sold.
For the “Allow customers to purchase this product when it’s out of stock” checkbox option, it really depends on whether your business can still deliver the product if you’re low of stock or out of stock with that specific product.
Set Up Shipping Information
Make sure you check the “This is a physical product” checkbox, if you’re selling physical products that require shipping. If you’re selling a digital product such as a PDF eBook, then uncheck this option.
For physical products, you’ll enter the Weight and select the Country/Region.
For now, keep Fulfillment service as Shopify.
If you’re mainly doing dropshipping through Aliexpress.com suppliers who provide free delivery, then add the free shipping option to your store’s orders.
You can customize each country for their specific shipping rates.
If your product comes with different versions, sizes or colors, such as shoes or t-shirts, add all the versions to “option name” and “option value”.
Optimize Product Title and Description for SEO
You want your product page to be found on Google’s search engine results pages (SERP).
You should rewrite your product page’s title and description to optimize for search engine ranking.
You should create a customized URL for your product page.
While you can implement the above basic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques for your pages, you should follow the SEO best practices, or go through this longer version in Traditional Chinese (especially for Hong Kong & Taiwan).
Create a collection, and add the product to your collection. Think of collection being the category of your product.
Not having a collection when you have only a few products isn’t a problem.
Do create multiple collections and put your products into the appropriate collections, if your store has hundreds of products.
Collections are a good way to organize your products.
Buy Domain Name from Shopify
You obviously want to use your chosen domain name for your store. In your Shopify account, you need set up a custom domain.
In the Shopify account, you can buy the domain name of your choice. This domain name should be the one you’ve previously researched when using the Shopify Name Generator.
Click the “Buy New Domain” button, and complete the purchase.
If you still have problem coming up with a good name, you can use the power of crowdsourcing and let other people to “name” your business. Run a naming contest on Naming Force, and let the members on NamingForce.com to come up with name suggestions for your store.
Add Payment Methods
At least one payment method should be made available on your store.
The default payment method of your Shopify store is PayPal. Once you’ve created your store, you’re provided with the PayPal Express Checkout option. The email that you signed up with your Shopify account will become your PayPal account email. Before you can receive payments for orders from your customers, make sure you set up your PayPal account.
You can receive payments for orders from your customers through Shopify Payments if your business is in one of the countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.
If Shopify Payments isn’t available for the country where your business is located, you can offer secure checkouts through other payment providers including PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and more.
If you’re using Shopify Payments, you’ll pay a card rate that is based on your Shopify plan.
If you’re using other payment methods, then you’ll pay fees for the specific payment method that you’re using.
Create Information Pages
Go to “Settings” and then “Legal”.
Remove Website Password Protection
Your website is password protected by default, and isn’t available for access from the public.
Now remove the password protection.
It’s all done! Your Shopify store is successfully launched.
The Shopify website builder is loaded with multi-functional tools and many extensions or apps that were developed by third-party teams or developers. Anyone who has a Shopify store can install and use the apps. Many apps can be used for free, while some other apps are paid apps. The apps are useful when you’re building your eCommerce website, and they are available on Shopify’s official app store (apps.shopify.com).
For example, you may need to install an app when you’re to add a new payment method for your Shopify store, or when you’re to enable a cart abandonment flow with email marketing capability (e.g. Klaviyo) on your Shopify store. You would most certainly use a few apps when building your Shopify site or scaling up your site.
To install an app, you’ll need no upfront training and no web development experience. This makes it very easy for anyone. Simply just sign up with Shopify, pay to use one of Shopify’s options, install all the required apps, upload products, and start selling.
The functions that some of the apps offer:
- Order tracking solution
- Products in bulk editing
- Product low-stock alert
- Product back-in-store notification
- Recent sales notifier
- Newsletter subscription popup windows
- Customized coupon popups
- Exit popups
- Product reviews easy sharing
- Marketing automation with email marketing and data-driven marketing
- Product recommendation and upsell
- Products frequently bought together
- SEO checker and/or SEO image optimizer
- Customer support and messaging
- Contact forms, or customized contact forms
Install Google Analytics
Install Google Analytics to measure/track the behaviour of users who visit your Shopify website.
I have previously written a Chinese version of this article.