Here at 1DigitalⓇ, we’ve already explained some of the great reasons that you should consider creating your own eCommerce web store, even if your business is primarily brick and mortar retail. While your brick and mortar operation might be thriving, conditions such as those we experienced under the threat of COVID-19 could result in closures at nearly any time. In addition, the online marketplace is growing, even outside of times of crisis.
Let’s take a look at how to get started building a Shopify website for your business with these simplified steps.
The process of building an online store can be as involved or as simple as you want it to be, and with Shopify, you can build an extremely robust, capable, and customized online store that is perfectly brand integrated, easy to navigate, presents your products in a favorable light, and offers a pleasant, no hassle checkout experience. Building an online store with Shopify, however, doesn’t need to be a headache and you can get one up and running in just a few hours. Here’s what you need to know and how to do it.
1. Sign up with Shopify
In order to start up a Shopify store, you’ll have to create a Shopify account. You’ll even have the option to get a free trial of their software to help you determine where or not Shopify is the right eCommerce platform for your business.
Creating an account is a pretty simple process and doesn’t take long at all. If you want to get started, visit their website, Shopfy.com. Right on their homepage you will be prompted to choose between Shopify and Shopify Plus.
A word on Shopify and Shopify Plus – as you can see from their solicitation, Shopify is geared towards businesses ranging from startups through medium-sized operations. Shopify Plus is more practical for larger operations.
In short, Shopify Plus is geared to streamline eCommerce operations, and as a result, it has lower transaction fees, a higher level of customization and more staff accounts. However, smaller businesses and eCommerce websites that have a wealth of content might do best with Shopify. Ultimately, you will need to reflect on your business’s needs and goals to determine which one is right for you.
Since you’re here to learn how to quickly launch a Shopify store, you’ll want to start by clicking the “Start free trial” button below. To start a free trial, you need to come up with a unique name for your business if you have not already thought of one yet. Shopify will then ask you for some contact information associated with you and your business, such as your name and address. Shopify will also request some additional information on your reasons for starting a trial, so be ready to answer a few questions about what you sell and why you’re selecting the platform.
Though you don’t need to worry about this at the moment, if at the end of your trial you want to stick with Shopify, you will need to choose a plan. Shopify offers 5 separate plan tiers, all with associated subscription and transactional fees, ranging from Shopify Lite to Shopify Plus. If you come to the point that you decide you want to stick with Shopify, it’s worth it to give us a call and have us walk you through the fine points of each plan’s utility so you can be sure you choose the right one.
2. Choose a Theme
Once you sign up, there are a few things you need to do next to get started. The first step is to choose a theme. At this point, you may already have products, target customers, and a brand around which to base all of that, so what you need is a theme for your website that will offer you the capabilities you want with the look and feel you desire for your business’s brand.
Shopify offers plenty of free themes and some premium themes that cost a little extra. Browse and preview the themes available to find what you like.You can then make simple changes to the designs of many of their themes without any coding experience.
Check out some of the themes that come ready to use for free in their ‘theme store.’ Shopify makes it easy to shop through their lists of themes and even allows you to filter by price, industry, popularity and more.
Let’s say you want to pick out the following theme because it works well with your company image. To the left of your admin portal,click on “themes” then scroll down to “Free Themes” or browse the “Shopify Theme Store.”
When you select a theme, you’ll be able to customize it to add some additional features you want. Before you settle on that theme, you can investigate its functionality and even read any reviews that other users have left on it. If everything checks out, select it and hit the “Publish” button that appears at the top left of the screen.
In the image above you can see some of the features you can edit for the layout of the theme that you will be applying to your store. From the admin portal you will be able to address the layout of the product pages, the sidebar, how collections appear and more.
Many of Shopify’s themes come ready to use and customize without having to know any code, with the intention of making it easy on entrepreneurs to build a successful website optimized for eCommerce. After you’ve made all of the changes and alterations to your design that you can, if you still want to see additional customizations in function or design, you can work with a certified eCommerce design and development team in order to create a fully custom design for your store that fully integrates your brand throughout the site and offers you the functionality to really make your website stand out .
3. Add Products
Once you settle on an eCommerce theme for your Shopify store, you can get started adding products. In your portal, you’ll be able to add products with the click of a few buttons and a little bit of typing. Shopify includes tools to make it easy to enter information like titles and descriptions. You can add pictures here, too, so make sure they are not only original, but high quality. High quality photos are important to online shoppers.
From your Admin Portal, look at the menu on the left and click on “Products.” You will see a blue box appear on your screen prompting you to add a product to your Shopify store. Here you can enter the name of the product, any product descriptions, photos, and a URL for the page.
The keywords that you use with your product name, description and even as a part of the URL will have an affect on your website’s SEO value. In addition, the quality of the product imagery is very important as this will affect not only SEO but your conversion rate.
Be descriptive and comprehensive yet concise with your product page information. Keep in mind that this is some of the most important information that shoppers will use when they visit your store. You can add descriptions, pictures and other media, enter pricing and shipping information and more. All of this will help with getting a user to convert.
After you’ve entered all the necessary information, make sure you hit the “Save” button, which will appear at the bottom of the product page. Afterwards, you can repeat the process to add more products to your online store.
At this point, you can organize any products you have into collections. Depending on the width of your catalog, you may not need to do this, but if you have a bunch of products, they should be thoughtfully organized.
In the products tab on the left of your Admin Portal, you can click on collections, at which point you can add products into different categories based on usage, color, size – or just about anything else you can imagine.
For example, a clothing seller might organize collections into “men’s” and “women’s” categories, while a company selling tools might separate “striking tools” and “finishing tools” into separate categories. Your product catalog will determine the categories that you or your customers will deem necessary.
4. Add Details
Once you have added products to your site, you can go about arranging them into logical categories as mentioned above.
At this point, you can also upload logos or other branded imagery to your website to make it look the way you want and give it your own branded appeal.
The theme you chose will affect the layout, but Shopify allows for nearly limitless customization. Once you add products and pages to your site, you can play around with the different changes you can make to your Shopify store to get it exactly how you want it to look. On the left, click on “Themes,” and then on “Customize Theme.”
From here you will be able to make a lot of little changes to the way your store looks and how your customers interact with it. You can customize colors, add headers and footers, set up site navigation, and create feature collections.
You have the reins when it comes to adding details and organizing your store. One note on organizing products, though: lay out your products and categories on pages that make sense. Be sure to keep the customer in mind – it should be easy for them to navigate through your website.
Think of it like a retail store, only that it’s online. Flour and sugar are usually in the same aisle because bakers use them together and it makes shopping easier. Cereal and pop tarts are both usually in the same aisle because people eat them for breakfast. Categorize your online store as though it were a physical location. An added benefit of a logical site structure is that it will help your SEO, which is an added bonus.
5. Choose Your Payment Processors and Gateways
Before you can actually go live and start taking orders from customers, you will need to select the payment gateways that you will want to use with your Shopify store. You can easily select the credit cards you want to accept as well as other payment options like PayPal or Amazon Pay.
Keep in mind that there are transaction fees associated with each payment gateway, and that the gateways you choose will have an effect on who ultimately buys from your store. An easy and convenient checkout process vastly affects conversion rates and ultimately the success of many eCommerce sites, so keep this in mind.
To add a payment gateway, go to the bottom left of the admin portal and click on “Settings,” then on “Payments.” Here you can choose between a variety of credit cards and third party providers, which will need to be set up before you can start taking orders.
6. Go Live
Before you can go live and start selling online, you will need to check the settings area and make sure all of your information is accurate.
You will also need to set up tax collections to comply with local and national laws, and you will also need to arrange for shipping.
At this point, you may also check “Requires Shipping” if you are selling a physical item that will need to be shipped. Here, you will be prompted to enter the product’s weight.
You will have to address your domain name before you can launch your Shopify store. Your store will be assigned a domain name automatically when you sign up for the trial, but you can also create your own specialized domain name if you want to use another.
At this point, your store is ready to go live and start conducting business online. You can go back into your admin portal and make changes to the functionality and layout of your website at any time, as you may need to address situations as they arise. However, if you have set up your theme, add products, selected payment options and your information is accurate, your store is theoretically open and ready for business.
There it is – you’ve just set up your first Shopify store. From this point, you can always go back into your Admin Portal to make changes to the design or layout of your store, or to add products or payment gateways.
As you can see, getting a Shopify store off the ground can be very simple, but when it comes to designing and developing a professional eCommerce store with a seamlessly joined user interface and user experience that is optimized for conversions, the process starts to become more involved.
Shopify isn’t the only platform around which you can build an excellent online store. There are many other platforms custom made for eCommerce including open-source platforms with nearly limitless functionality like Volusion and Magento. BigCommerce is another SaaS platform which, like Shopify, is built for eCommerce and has a lot of functionality built into its design.
You can even build online stores around other platforms like WordPress, which, though they are more popular for ventures like blogging, can be used to create a customized eCommerce website. Check out our guide to building a WordPress eCommerce site, and continue reading our blog so you won’t miss our upcoming post on how to build a BigCommerce website.
Ecommerce websites must present a pleasant shopping experience from once a customer gets to the landing page all the way through adding products to their shopping cart and buying them. Sites must present expert brand integration, provide rich, valuable content, be optimized for mobile devices and much more. All of those reasons make it worthwhile to work with an eCommerce website designer like 1DigitalⓇ Agency. Our team of web developers and designers have built many successful eCommerce stores around Shopify and we can do the same for you, so if you’re thinking of starting up an eCommerce website, give us a call at 866-398-2033 today.
- Michael Esposito
- June 5, 2020