A Step-by-Step Guide Using Shopify

Shopify has become one of the most viable and trusted options for creating online outlets for products. In the face of other e-commerce solutions such as Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, and WordPress, Shopify has managed to become critical for many small merchants looking for comprehensive tools to handle payments, marketing, order fulfillment, shipping, and customer engagement in one robust package.

But, not everyone knows how to use Shopify out of the box. This situation can lead to a gross under-utilization of the platform and its capabilities. This guide aims to teach you to create your Shopify online store with minimal hassles for maximum results. First, we’ll give an overview of the platform.

What You Should Know About Shopify

Shopify is a subscription-based software service. It means you pay to use the service online. Users can begin with a free 14-day trial. But, what does anyone need Shopify for? Shopify enables anyone to create a website equipped with a shopping cart solution to sell, ship, and manage products they’re selling.

Every vehicle has a dashboard from which the driver coordinates the vehicle’s movement. In other words, where it goes and how it gets there. Websites have a cPanel for this purpose. Shopify provides an admin panel that most people can understand and use efficiently. The admin panel allows users to add products, process orders, and enter store data.

The monthly subscription is $29, however. It offers a fully functional online store to sell physical and digital products.

Creating a Shopify store is easy if you learn to do it right. That’s the sole reason for this guide; to help you launch your online store in record time and hassle-free. If you’re ready, then keep scrolling…

Setting Up Your Shopify Online Store

Signing up your store and setting up with Shopify is an easy process. These are the steps:

1 – Sign Up on the Shopify Website

Fire up your favourite browser and visit Shopify.com. A sign-up form on the page is for you to enter your details – they only need your email address for this.

Click the “Start free trial” button.

Now you’re ready to rock and roll. Ok, not quite.

Another screen with another form with your email pre-filled. Supply the password you consider secure and choose a unique store name.

Now click “Create your store.

There are two more optional steps.

The first step is a form that says, “Tell us a little about yourself.” These are the four questions available:

  • Are you already selling?
  • What is your current revenue?
  • Which industry will you be operating?
  • Are you setting up a store for a client?

Click the “Next” button when you’re done. Feel free to skip it if you prefer not to. Depending on what answer you choose, you may get more matching questions, as the following screenshot shows:

Possible questions will include whether you have products to sell, and what you’ll sell. If your goal is simply to try out the platform, select “I’m just playing around” under “Do you have products?” If you haven’t made up your mind, also select “ ” under “What will you sell?

The second step is another form where you provide your address details Shopify would use to process your payments. It’s a straightforward form where you provide your name, address, country, and contact phone number. Once you’re done, tell Shopify if your store is a registered business and accept Shopify’s “Terms of services” and “Privacy policy” by clicking the “Enter my store” button at the end of the form.

Note the “Back” button opposite the “Enter my store” button. If you happen to change your mind and want to provide details about yourself, you have a chance to do so.

Once you click “Enter my store,” you’ll immediately see your store homepage and set things up right away.

At the very top and the footer are two notices that say, “Your trial just started.” A button also tells you to “Select a plan.

2 – Setting Up Your Online Shop

Now that your account is ready, you’ll see your store admin screen. It’s from here that you can customize your store, tweak your settings, upload products, set up payments, and shipping. You can now “Add product,” “Customize theme,” or “Add domain.”

Add product” enables a merchant to add their first product. Products may include digital downloads, physical items, services, artwork, curios, and just about anything.

You can also customize the appearance of your store to match the products and customers you’re expecting. Use your theme, logo, brand colors, and even use a product slideshow. Shopify makes it exciting to get started.

If you prefer to use a custom domain such as www.YourStoreName.com, you can click the “Add domain” tab. If not, your default store URL is https://YourStoreName.myshopify.com.

Our store here is https://testsnappa.myshopify.com, as you can see in the screenshots.

If you would like to buy a new domain or use one you already have, after clicking on “Add domain,” you’ll see the following page:

3 – Choosing a Theme

Like popular CMS platforms such as WordPress Joomla, and Drupal, Shopify maintains an official theme store. Each theme gives you full support from its designer(s).

You can customize themes extensively without touching a line of code – a feature that’s encouraging to many users. Premium themes feature more modifications, but free themes have an equally premium theme.

Do note that you don’t have to change your theme. Some users have great-performing stores that use Shopify’s signature theme, Debut. You also have the option to upload your theme if you own one.

The Themes Browser and Marketplace

It’s easy to alter any theme in an unimaginable number of ways. Once you access your Shopify account, the theme store is available at themes.shopify.com. There are close to 100 theme variations to pick from, and here’s some good news: many are free. Add one you like using the “Add to theme library” button. Here’s what you should see next:

For even greater variety in terms of categories and features, other places to find premium Shopify themes exist, such as TemplateMonster, Theme Forest, Pixel Union, and Out of the Sandbox. Sort themes using price, popularity, and most recent.

Assessing Theme Functionality and Reviews

While browsing themes, you can click on the sample image of each one you think you’ll like or is suitable. You’ll learn more about the theme, and be sure it’s appropriate for as many devices as possible.

Other merchants must have used your chosen theme. Read their reviews to make a more solid decision about the theme.

Getting a Look-in: Would the Theme Look and Fit Great?

Use the “View Demo” button to try out the theme. There’s a green “Preview Theme in your Store” button to help you see it live in your store.

Themes are available in several styles, so you can review demos of the various styles by simply clicking on them.
You Like the Theme? Grab it!

Now that you’ve found the one theme to rule them all click on the green button. You’ll confirm to Shopify that you want to install the theme. Do this by clicking on “Publish as my Shop’s Theme.” Even if the theme doesn’t meet all your expectations, relax. You can always change it. For now, Shopify will ask if you wish to visit your theme manager.

Your theme manager is where you have published themes – which you activated or recently installed – and unpublished themes below.

4 – Edit Your Store Settings

Shopify themes would typically let you make simple changes to alter your store’s appearance in significant ways. The goal is to make it appear nothing like the many other stores using that same theme.

From the left navigation menu on the admin page, you can select “Themes.” The live theme box tells you when you added the theme. The top right corner of that box has two buttons. The first is a dropdown “Actions” menu with “Preview”, “Rename”, “Duplicate”, “Download theme file”, “Edit code”, and “Edit languages” options.

You can duplicate the theme using this. This feature is great as the duplicate theme can serve as a sandbox for features you’re trying out. If you don’t like the changes, it’s easy to discard the duplicate and try something else.

That’s that “Duplicate” function.

The second button is for customizing the theme by tweaking the core functionality of the store. If you want a way to assess all the features you want for your site, then this is it.

You can customize your theme for both desktop and mobile, just like WordPress and other CMS platforms. Common customizable features include:

  • Uploading a logo
  • Adding slides to the homepage carousel
  • Including relevant item functionality to product pages
  • Selecting the number of items to appear on each line of the collection pages
  • Relevant colour schemes
  • Choosing matching font types

Some themes will go as far as giving you control over where to reposition page assets. It means you can show product images wherever you deem fit to, for instance. The social buttons we have above may even appear elsewhere you prefer.

5 – Stock the Shelves: Adding Products to Your Store

The left sidebar is the hub of control in your store admin area. It’s where we’ll find the “Products” button. It’s here that you’ll add products to your store and manage your pricing.

Shopify builds on smart by providing functionality to import and export product inventory. Each time you add products, don’t forget to update the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) field. It helps customers know if you still have a product available and prevents them from ordering something you may not be able to deliver. Of course, you should use the “Track quantity” and “Continue selling when out of stock” checkboxes to keep track of inventory.

Do your products have a barcode number (an ISBN, for example)? By all means, use them.

Click on “Add product” on the screen above, and it’ll take you to this one below.

You’ll need to add other information on the same page as this next image shows:

On this screen, add as much detail as you possibly can about each product. SEO is especially important in online selling. The fields that will help you with this include “Name,” “Description,” and “URL.” Every detail you add gives your customers a bit more information about your items.

You can also upload images of the product here. Don’t get a headache about the arrangement just yet. Upload all your images in any order, and you can rearrange them later.

It’s necessary to talk about product images a little. Images can make a customer buy your product before they appreciate all the full functional value of it. Pictures are certainly worth a thousand words, so show off the best bits of your products in them. If there are unique or special features, stand out with close-up shots. Ensure that all images have the same dimensions. It helps your store appear tidy.

As always, save all of that work!

Create Collections

Collections are groups of products that share similar features. A collection may be laptops for writers, denim outfits for men, women, or children, items on sale, or items of a specific size or color. As long as there is some similarity, you are aware would interest a class of customers, create a collection. One interesting collection that can win you sales is seasonal products.

A product may feature across several collections. It’s all up to you and your goals. It’s common to find collections appear on the homepage and in the navigation bar. Another impressive tactic by Shopify to ensure customers don’t have to wade through the jungle of product in your feature to find what they’re after.

Setting up a Collection is pretty much like using the product screen.

Two Flavors of Collections: Manual and Automatic

With each new collection that you add to your new store, you can decide how to add products. In a manual collection, you add and remove products individually. On the other hand, you can set up collections to include products once the products fulfill certain criteria.

Automatic collections give the store owner the freedom to focus on other critical aspects of building the business.

7 – Payment Gateways

Now that you’re [almost] ready to sell, you need a way to accept payment from your customers. You need a payment gateway for this. There are several services you can use. These are the criteria you may use to compare them:

  • Price
  • Commission rate
  • Features

Like many other choices concerning your store, you’ll need to make trade-offs to choose the gateway that works best. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the considerations in choosing a payment gateway.

Transaction fees

It’s normal for payment processors to retain a tiny percentage each time you use their service. Some only charge a flat fee. One way to compare is to determine how much you expect to sell and if it makes economic sense to go with a particular service provider.

A merchant’s Shopify plan can help to keep transaction costs minimal. Many users are happy at these innovative rates:

  • Basic – 2.4% + 20p
  • Professional – 2.1% + 20p
  • Unlimited – 1.8% + 20p

Keep an eye on your monthly transaction volume. Once it starts to improve steeply, consider upgrading your plan accordingly.

Card types

Payment gateways only accept certain types of cards. It means some card owners will not be able to buy from you. But, all payment gateways accept Mastercard and Visa. Many accept American Express, while Stripe and Paypal continue to garner steam as a viable option for online payments.

Offsite checkout

The checkout process is that part of the purchase when the customer is ready to make payment. Several gateways provide forms on their servers to make this happen. In terms of security, it’s a good practice. But, they promptly redirect the buyer back to your store payment/order confirmation page as soon as they’re done there.

Remember that you owe the payment gateway some money for every successful transaction. However, Shopify also charges you a transaction fee.

Shopify Payments

Shopify Payments is now available to user stores in the UK and the US. Using this service, merchants can process credit cards using Shopify’s native payment gateway.

8 – Go Live: Now that the World Knows You’re Ready for Business

There are a few more details you need to handle before going live. These are details about your company, how you intend to make deliveries, and handle taxes.

Customers Database

It’s cool to know your customers and to understand their tastes. That’s what the customer database can help you achieve. You can retain vital customer details on file to market to them in an effective way.

You can import customers just like images, and add them just like you’d add a product.

Here’s a look at that screen:

Analytics

This powerful feature of Shopify helps a store owner know exactly how their store is performing.

Dashboards” An intuitive overview of the several indicators that the Shopify platform provides.

Total sales” helps you know your cumulative sales on the store.

Online store sessions” helps track the total number of visitors you’ve had, and their number of sessions over time.

If you want to learn how often customers return, use “Returning customer rate” to track first-time and returning customers.

With “Online store conversion rate,” you can track your conversion funnel to learn what percentage of customers “Added to cart,” “Reached checkout,” or “Sessions converted.” These are especially important metrics.

Average order value” is a simple calculation of the mean customer order.

You can also learn about the total number of orders to date your store has received with “Total orders.”

Want to know your best-performing products? Use “Top products by units sold.”

There are several metrics on online store sessions: “Online store sessions by location,” “Online store sessions by traffic source,” “Online store sessions by device type,” “Online store sessions by social source.”

You can do the same with sales, which is the main reason you have a store. Use “Sales by traffic source,” “Sales by traffic source,” “Sales by social source,” “Sales by POS location.”

Top landing pages by sessions” will show you which landing pages customers are interacting with the most. If they are spending longer times on these pages, there’s probably something you’re doing right.

Top referrers by sessions” is a bit tricky but highly valuable. It tells you which referrer sources are delivering your most effective customers.

One final one is “Retail sales by staff at register,” a cumulative calculation of sales logged by staff. Each element of the dashboard has a “View report” feature, which you can explore for more details even if you’re not the math-y type.

Reports

Then, there are “Reports.” You can create custom reports, but it’s easy to see how many orders you’ve had in the last thirty days, your sales over time, and your sales per product. It will help with business decisions as you can compare sales using different parameters such as channels, staff, and products.

You can also review your visitor engagement and tell if your campaigns are working. It tracks sessions.

Other reports include “Behavior”, “Retail sales”, “Customers”, “Marketing”, “Finances”, “Custom reports”, and “Inventory”.

Live View” Do you wish Shopify had a real-time chart on customer behavior? That’s what “Live View” provides. You can see how many carts are active, checking out, and how many visitors are looking to buy right away.


Taxes

It’s easy to deal with taxes on Shopify to help your business stay in line with the law. On the “Products” screen of the admin area, click the name of the particular product, scroll to the “Variants” section.

Now, select the “Charge taxes” and “Requires shipping” checkboxes. Some products, such as digital goods, won’t charge shipping or taxes. Physical goods usually have a weight. Ensure you include that while uploading the product.

Shipping

Shipping rates on Shopify require some creativity. Don’t keep your too narrow, provide several options instead. It will help you not to lose sales.

Visit the “Shipping page” from the “Settings” tab, and ensure you’ve set a weight-based shipping rate for the product according to your specifications.

Test, Test, Test – Ensure your order system works

Test your new store setup using the Shopify Bogus Gateway to simulate a transaction. These are the steps:

Visit “Payments settings” from Admin > Settings > Payments.

Deactivate your credit card gateway if you have one running. Use Edit > Deactivate. Confirm the deactivation.

In the “Accept credit cards” section, click “Select a Credit Card Gateway” to reveal options on the drop-down menu.

Scroll to “Other,” and click “Bogus Gateway” to activate testing.

Click “Activate” (or “Reactivate” if this is not your first time).

Now place an order as any of your customers would. Do not use genuine card numbers for your test.

To test a real payment gateway with a real transaction, follow these steps:

Ensure the payment gateway you wish to test is active.

  • Make a real purchase, using real card details.
  • Cancel the order once you’re done. You’ll pay no transaction fees if you cancel immediately and refund yourself.
  • Visit your payment gateway to ensure the transaction did not succeed.

If you cancel the test order quickly enough and refund the order, all will be well. However, if after you’ve placed the test order, your billing cycle becomes active before you can cancel, the transaction fees will appear on your bill. You can still cancel, but the refund will show up as a transaction credit on your account. Transaction credits can help you pay future transaction fees.

9 – Domain Names, again!

It’s okay to use Shopify’s URL for your store, but you can get a custom domain for a more professional look. After all, you only care about using their platform, not their name.

One option is to buy a domain from Shopify, and your store will automatically get it. It is better if you’re non-technical and want to start selling right away. The domains go for $9-$14 per year.

An alternative option is to buy a domain form a domain name reseller like Siteground, Namecheap, or GoDaddy. You should find some really cheap options (especially for the first year). Use this option only if you’re ready for the hassle of redirecting DNS records and other technical issues.

Your brand name should make a good domain name option, but if someone else has it, you can check if they’re willing to sell it to you (will cost many times more). Otherwise, get creative about choosing a domain name that still represents your brand.

After getting your third-party domain name, you need to set it up on Shopify by doing the following:
Visit your Shopify admin area. Go to Settings > Domains > Add an existing domain.

Update your DNS records by accessing your domain registrar account and changing the following on your DNS records:

Replace the @ or main A record using this IP address: 23.227.38.32

Add or replace the CNAME with the YourStoreName.myshopify.com (skip the HTTP)

Disable your storefront password so people can access your store when it’s live.

Set as a primary domain by going to Online Store > Domains. Choose your main domain by using the drop-down at the top of the screen. Be sure to check “Redirect all traffic to this domain.” It will direct all traffic to other domains to your primary domain. You can change the primary domain at any time by putting “Set as primary” on the specific domain you want. Having more domain names will not improve your SEO.

Third-Party App Integration

Shopify makes marketing easy. You can integrate your store with marketing apps such as Pinterest, Snapchat Ads, SMSBump Marketing & Automation, Microsoft Advertising, Seguno: Email Marketing, Omnisend Email Marketing, and much more.

If you use these tools well, you’ll be priming your store for greatness on the Shopify platform.

Your Store is Ready: Let the Selling Begin!

Congratulations, you just created your robust and working Shopify online store. There are plenty of possibilities you can enjoy with your store. But remember, there’s also a lot to learn along the way.

While using Shopify means you’ll be ready to do some learning, it’s much easier than alternatives such as BigCommerce and WooCommerce (which is much cheaper). There are certainly great features in these alternatives; otherwise, no one would be using them, but you’ll find Shopify to be a great option that plays well with much of modern e-commerce infrastructure.

Why not start setting up your Shopify store right now?