Starting an online business can be exciting. Today, there are numerous options available for just about anyone who wants to start their own business. One of the most powerful and effective ways to do this is by using the e-commerce platform Shopify.
Unfortunately, too many people turn away quickly because they get overwhelmed, have no idea where to start, or how to use Shopify. We put this comprehensive tutorial together to help you go step-by-step in creating your online Shopify store.
All in all, it should only take “30 to 60 minutes” to have your online Shopify store up and running (depending on the quantity of products you have to sell), ready to generate revenue. Some people spend months, wrestling with various options, and wasting valuable time trying to figure things out on their own.
This simple Shopify tutorial will cut that down to less than an hour.
What Is Shopify?
It is one of the most powerful and versatile e-commerce platforms available for business owners. You don’t need to have a physical retail store to establish a Shopify account or begin selling products.
What’s also great about Shopify is you can sell a wide range of products through this platform, so long as they are legal and permissible in your country. It currently operates in over 175 countries and has more than 1,000,000 using its services.
How Does Shopify Work?
This all-inclusive e-commerce platform makes it easy to create your own online store. Building a Shopify store is relatively simple and straightforward, once you get past the initial confusion and, perhaps, doubt.
For a low monthly fee, you can get all your products available for sale through your original Shopify store. It may sound intense or complex, but we assure you that this Shopify tutorial is going to give you the confidence to do it in 60 minutes or less.
So let’s get started!
1. Setting Up Your Online Shopify Store
One of the most complicated steps people feel when they want to sell on Shopify is getting started. The first thing you’ll need to do is set up an account on Shopify.
They give you a free trial for about 14 days. This provides you not only the opportunity to get used to the platform, set up products, and take it for a test drive, but also make sure this is something you truly want to do.
a. Choose Your Shopify Online Store Name.
Before you get too far, before you actually create a Shopify store, you should have a good business name. Depending on the products you sell (or plan to sell), you may find a lot of competition with various names.
If you go simple with one word names, you may have trouble, so it might be reasonable to go with several words in the brand name. Glitter Special Jewels, Eddie’s Auto Parts, and Katie’s Delectable Pastries are simple examples of what an effective store name on Shopify might look like.
b. Set Up Your Shopify Account.
Once you have your business name established and ready to go, it’s time to sign up for a Shopify account.
All you need to initially set up a Shopify store is to go to their website (www.shopify.com), enter a valid email address you want associated with your account, and click the option to “Start Your Free Trial.”
When you’re starting a Shopify store, you will be prompted to also establish a password for the account. Make this a secure password.
Avoid using your name, names of your children (if you have any), pets, and birthdates. Instead, choose a password that is hard to guess, perhaps random letters and numbers and symbols, and be sure you write that password down and store it in a safe place.
Remember, this is your online store you’re building. Right from the start you want to protect it with a good, quality password.
You’ll then be prompted to tell Shopify a bit about yourself. They’ll ask if you’re already selling. You can state
- If you sell on a different platform already,
- If you’re just tinkering or playing around with Shopify at the moment,
- Whether you’re already selling items as a retail business, but haven’t gone online just yet,
- Or if you’re not selling any products yet.
Next, you’ll be prompted on how much revenue you’re currently generating from your business.
c. Navigating Your New Shopify Account.
What you see at this point is considered your “Dashboard”.
On the left side of screen (or from the expandable menu, depending on if you’re working from a smartphone, tablet, or desktop) are your options. You will notice:
You will also see “Sales Channels” with your Online Store and, below that, Settings. This is where you will move throughout the platform to build out your new Shopify store.
If you want to change your store name, update your email, or change any other information, including your time zone, currency, and so forth, you can do this under the General tab in Settings.
You’ll notice a good selection of options under Settings. You don’t need a Shopify for Dummies book to figure this stuff out. Don’t let it overwhelm you. You’ll see information on Checkout, Shipping, Taxes, Locations, and so forth.
We’ll get into the most important configurations within this tutorial. For now, though, let’s focus on the basics and then getting your Shopify store design moving.
Setting Up Payment Providers
It’s definitely a good idea to set up your Payment providers now. You can choose from a range of pay options, including the traditional Visa and MasterCard as well as American Express, Discover, and more modern options like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Shopify Pay.
There is also an option to connect a PayPal business account with your online Shopify store. You can choose alternative payment methods, third-party providers, Amazon Pay, and enter manual payment methods you might already use for your brick-and-mortar retail business that can then be applied to your Shopify account.
While you can do this at any time, it’s best to set this up when you begin building out your online Shopify store (so you can start generating sales as soon as you launch your store!).
d. Decide on a Layout for Your Online Store.
On your home screen, you will see an option to “Customize theme.” When you select that option, you will notice that your “Online store is password protected.” You don’t need to worry about this just yet; once you have established products, set your pricing for those products, shipping details, and are ready to launch your store, then you can revisit that.
Scroll down and you can see your current default theme layout. This is called “Debut.”
Scroll down a little more and you will see there are free theme options to explore and those you can pay money to access.
The choice is yours. You can certainly do a great online Shopify store design with free templates, but paid options give you more versatility, sometimes a better design, and easier configuration options.
i) Choose a Layout.
The absolute first thing you need to do is choose a layout when setting up a Shopify store. You can certainly go with the default theme and build off of that, but we highly recommend you take some time and explore the various free themes available.
Also investigate the paid themes that could provide exactly what you’re looking for. To make it easier, visit themes.shopify.com to see all free and paid themes side by side. This will give you an idea of exactly what you have access to and may spark your creativity.
Shopify even breaks themes down into various categories or collections. They have themes for:
- Health & Beauty
- Food & Drink
- Toys & Games
- Home & Garden
- Sports & Recreation
- Clothing & Fashion
ii) Select a Theme.
Click on the theme you want and a larger view will open up. You can check out the demo, choose different styles depending on the theme options, and when you’re ready, click “Add theme.”
It’s good to keep in mind that you can look at various reviews from previous users of certain themes. This can give you some insight into the benefits, shortcomings, and other details about each particular theme previous users have noted.
It is certainly a good idea to View Demo of any theme so you can see exactly how it looks in action before you decide. Remember, though, you can replace, customize, or redesign just about any theme to your specific, exacting demands and creative desires.
Shopify will add the theme to your new online store.
iii) Customize Your Shopify Theme.
You still need to customize your theme, though, so go back to “Customize theme”, select the “Customize theme” button, scroll down past your current theme and you will see the new theme you just added to your Theme Library. To the right of this new theme you will notice to action options: Actions with a drop-down menu and Customize.
Select Customize to build out the images, text, adjust any settings you want, and get it looking exactly the way you want.
Once you’re happy with the way everything looks, click “Publish” in the upper right corner of the screen.
What if you change your mind later?
If you change your mind about your current theme, layout, or design, you can alter it at any time. That’s one of the great benefits that Shopify offers: flexibility.
You can change the layout, structure, design, and even the entire theme for your online Shopify store at any time. Even if you have already uploaded hundreds of products, set up your shipping details, prices, etc., it’s never too late to redesign your online presence.
This flexibility is one of the benefits of using Shopify.
What changes can you make to most themes?
You can upload your business logo, change images and sliders, alter the headers and other copy, determine how many products or items will appear on any given page, including collections, adjust color schemes, alter fonts, and add certain functionality, depending on the theme and what it offers as far as options are concerned.
2. Add Products to Your Shopify Online Store.
Now it’s time to begin adding products to your new Shopify online store. Back at your main dashboard, on the left side of the screen, you will notice an option for Products.
Click on that in a series of options will open up, including:
- All products
- Gift cards
On the main screen under Products you will see a button that allows you to “Add product.” Next to that you also have an option to “Find products.”
Click on Add product. This will open up the Add product page.
You will notice a number of fields to enter, including:
- Uploading an image of the product,
- Pricing, including comparative pricing and cost per item,
- Inventory (how many of these items you currently have in stock), the barcode details, and whether you want to track the quantity of your inventory and if you wish to continue selling, even when you’re out of stock,
- Shipping details, including the weight of the item,
- Variance, which refers to sizes, colors, and other variations that can be made available for this particular product.
Once you have entered all the necessary details for one particular product, click “Save” in the upper right corner of the screen.
If you made a mistake or don’t wish to save it, you can choose to “Discard” the details and start over.
Do this for all products you have available for sale. It may seem tedious, especially if you have hundreds or even thousands of items you wish to sell, but once you upload these details, you don’t have to do it again.
What if you don’t have products just yet?
With Shopify, it’s not a problem if you don’t have any products yet to sell. If that’s the case, simply click on “Find products” and you can begin searching for dropshipping products you can sell on your new Shopify online store.
If you click on “Find products” you will be taken to a Shopify blog that will list 12 options for dropshipping services, including:
- and several others
With Shopify as your go to online store e-commerce platform, you’re never alone, even if you don’t yet have products available for sale. You can find a number of options that will suit every need.
3. Establishing “Collections”
A collection in Shopify is basically like a category. You can organize your products into “Collections” that will have various features in common.
This can help your customers shop for specific features they are looking for, such as:
- Men’s or women’s clothing
- Pillows or throws
- Sale items
- Items in specific colors or sizes
- Even seasonal products, such as for summer or holidays
Products can be added to various collections; you don’t need to designate one product for just one collection.
To set up a collection, choose Products from the left side menu and then Collections from the drop-down options.
You will notice the Collections screen and a button on the right side labeled Create collection. Click on that button and you can add details about each collection, including a Title and Description (which is optional). You can also add an image for your Collection.
Automatic and Manual Settings for Collections
A powerful asset that Shopify offers when it comes to collections is setting them as automatic or manual.
If you choose “Manual” you will have to add each product individually to a collection. This can be time-consuming, especially if you have many products in your inventory.
You can also choose to keep it as “Automated” (the default setting) which means future products that match certain specified conditions you set up will automatically be added to the collection.
Those conditions can be listed out below these options.
An important note about the descriptions.
Even though adding a description for your collection is considered optional, it’s highly recommended to add these details as they will help in search engine listings and rankings.
Also, whenever a person searches for particular products or types of products, that description can tell them right away if what you have to offer is exactly what they want. That can be a powerful marketing tool you don’t want to neglect.
4. Set Up to Collect Payments
As noted earlier, you have a number of options for collecting payments from customers. You can choose from any number of payment gateways.
If you’ve never set up a payment gateway before, it’s important to understand the price and commission rate of each payment option. Not all credit or other payment options are the same.
Some offer different features, better rates, and may be more suited for certain business owners.
A few things to consider:
Many payment gateways will charge a transaction fee. This is a small percentage of the sale price that they keep. It could be 1.5%, 3%, or some other value.
Look at and compare each of these transaction fees. Keep in mind, though, that just because the transaction fee is lower for one particular payment gateway, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for you.
The type of cards your payment gateway accepts will differ. Credit cards are not payment gateways. Rather, gateways are payment processing systems that accept specific payment methods (commonly credit cards).
Nearly all of them accept Visa and MasterCard, but not all of them will accept American Express or Discover, for example.
PayPal is also becoming more popular as a payment option. What you need to keep in mind is what will be most useful to your target customers.
Some businesses choose payment gateways that accept most major credit cards as this doesn’t limit their customers for their payment options.
Depending on the payment gateway you choose, your customers might be taken offsite to complete the transaction.
Shopify does impose certain limitations, but you can get around this by coding CSS. If you don’t know anything about this, it may be more prudent to focus on a payment gateway that will conduct all transactions through Shopify.
It’s also good to remember that Shopify has its own transaction fees. Depending on the pricing level you choose, the percentage drops with each increase in level. So, for:
Basic Shopify, you would be charged 2.9% plus about $.30 per transaction, domestically (US).
Shopify (its most popular plan), you would be charged 2.6% plus about $.30 per transaction, domestically (US).
Advanced Shopify, you would be charged 2.4% plus about $.30 per transaction, domestically (US).
If you don’t anticipate selling a lot of products, at least during the initial months or years of your new online Shopify store, the Basic Shopify plan (currently running at $29 a month) may be most prudent, even though you will be charged more per transaction.
5. Add Essential Details
It’s important to add key details to your online Shopify store. The first thing to focus on when you go into Settings is to ensure all of the general details, including the business name, address, and contact information is accurate and updated.
Next, you will want to go in and enter tax information.
Some of this information will already have been filled out for you based on your current location.
However, if you wish to sell outside your home country, you will need to set up tax information for those details.
When you click on “Taxes”, you can choose to Set up “Rest of world” options to determine which regions you wish to offer your products to. You need to pay taxes on sales in every country you sell.
You’ll also determine how tax calculations are made and whether you will be showing prices of your products with the tax included.
How Will Shipping Be Handled?
It’s important to make sure your shipping rates are not so narrow that you limit your options. If you limit shipping options, you will likely lose sales.
It’s difficult enough to get people to your store when you’re competing against a lot of other online shops, so don’t hamper your ability to generate sales by limiting your shipping options and rates.
You can establish rules for shipping rates within your Shopify account.
You can set up shipping rates based on weight, package size, and other factors.
Once you select a Shopify plan (or your free trial ends), you can maintain your billing information through this section of Settings.
You can add a credit card, change your billing method, or make any adjustments necessary to ensure your online Shopify store remains up and running each month.
If a payment method fails, you will be notified by Shopify about the issue. Log into your account, choose Settings, Billing, and update your payment method to ensure your Shopify store remains operational for your customers.
It’s a good idea to establish a clear and reasonable refund policy. You can do this through the Legal section of your Settings.
You can choose to write your own refund policy or create one from a template that Shopify provides. Be sure to read through the template if you choose that option and make any adjustments as necessary to fit your particular business needs and goals.
Terms of service are also commonplace for businesses today and Shopify also allows you to create your own Terms of service from a template.
If you have a Shipping policy, it’s beneficial to write one for your customers so they understand exactly what your policy is with regard to shipping, including any details you want to cover and protect yourself for legally.
6. It’s Time to Select Your Business Domain!
In order to get your Shopify e-commerce store up and running, you need a domain name. This is the name that generally follows the ‘www’ in a URL address. It is most commonly a .com, but can be any number of extensions.
There are a couple of ways you can purchase a domain name.
Shopify makes it easy to purchase a domain name. The average cost is anywhere between $9 and about $15 per year. Prices are going up, so this could change before too long.
Through a Third Party Provider
GoDaddy and other third-party companies also sell domain names. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to purchase your domain name through Shopify or one of these other third-party vendors, but if you choose a third party provider, you will have to take extra steps to get it connected to your online Shopify store.
Choosing a Domain Name
In most cases, it’s best to use your business name as your domain name. Depending on the business name you have, though, you might not have that option as the domain name may already be taken.
If that’s the case, simply add the word “store” to the end of your business name and see if that’s available.
What about alternate extensions?
.net, .org, .store, and numerous other extensions are being added all the time. Are these beneficial? They certainly can be, but using an extension like .net could inadvertently benefit your direct competition as many people instinctively add “.com” when entering a domain address.
Whatever domain name you choose, make sure it’s easy to remember for your customers and try to keep it as short as reasonably possible. One word domain names are not easy to come by and some could be considered “premium,” meaning they could cost thousands just to own it.
Once you choose your domain name, find it’s available, purchase it as soon as you can so no one else can stake claim to it.
Which is easier?
If you purchase your domain name through Shopify, getting it set up on the platform is practically automatic.
If you purchase through a third-party vendor, you will need to update DNS records with that third-party vendor. This points the domain name to your online Shopify store.
If you have experience doing this previously, then either option is simple enough. If you don’t, then it is highly recommended you purchase your domain name through Shopify directly.
7. It’s Time for a Test!
Once you have your online Shopify store all set up, it’s time to take it for a test drive. It’s time to see if everything works.
Before you do this, though, if you don’t want to be charged for any product you purchase, it’s important to deactivate your current payment gateway.
Go into Settings and choose Payments. If you have set up a payment gateway already and it is activated, choose to Edit and Deactivate it first.
You can then choose an option for a Bogus Gateway and Activate that.
Next, visit your online Shopify store as any other customer would. Choose a product and complete the purchase.
Will I be charged to test my online Shopify store?
If you have set up a Bogus Gateway, you shouldn’t be charged, so long as you cancel the transaction immediately.
If, for any reason, the billing cycle completes before you are able to cancel the transaction, you will notice transaction fees on your bill. You can still cancel the transaction, but you will have to wait for a refund as a credit to your account.
Once you have tested your new online store, you’re ready to launch. Isn’t that exciting?
Your New Online Shopify Store Is Now Ready to SELL!
That’s it! You now know how to build a Shopify store. The most time intensive part of the process is setting up your products, especially if you have numerous ones.
Once you have your online Shopify store ready to launch and it’s connected to a domain name, you need to focus on marketing. Getting customers to your online Shopify store can be a challenge, but it can also be exciting and invigorating, especially when you start seeing sales stack up.