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How To Start A Shopify Store: The Ultimate Guide

Starting a new Shopify store can be a daunting task. There are so many things to consider, from adding products to setting up shipping and tax rates.

Not sure where to start? Don't worry; we've got you covered. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of setting up your own Shopify store. We'll cover everything required to prepare your eCommerce store for launch. So whether you're a complete beginner or just looking for a refresher course, read on for our step-by-step guide on how to start a successful Shopify store.

Have Everything You'll Need To Build Your Store

Before signing up for the Shopify trial, you'll need to have the following ready:

  • A business idea: You should know what products you want to sell and how to source them.
  • A business name: With a business idea at hand, the next thing you need is a business name. If you're unsure of what to call your business, you can use Shopify's business name generator. Here is a guide on using the Shopify name checker. Before settling on a business name, make sure it's available for social media accounts and as a domain name. You can check availability on sites like Namechk.
  • A logo: A logo is a great way to make your store stand out. You can hire someone on Fiverr, or you can use tools like Canva to create one.
  • Products: You can sell various products on Shopify, but some products are better suited than others. For example, selling physical products require more logistical work than digital downloads. Do your research to see what type of products will best fit your eCommerce store.
  • Product photos: The best way to showcase your products is with high-quality images. You'll want to capture these images with a good camera and lighting for the best results.

Once you have all of these things ready, you can sign up for the Shopify trial.

Start A Free Trial

To start a free trial on Shopify, you'll need an email address, password, and store name. The store name will be your default URL. For example, if you used "example" as your store name, then your store's web address would be "example.myshopify.com." You can't change this later, but you can buy a custom domain that would show "example.com."

Start A Free Trial

Pictured above: Shopify Signup Page

When you click on "Create your store," you will answer a few questions, as seen in the images below.

Start A Free Trial
Start A Free Trial

Pictured above: Shopify Signup Page Questions

After answering the questions and filling in all the required information, you'll find yourself inside your online Shopify store. Now that your store is set up, it's time to start adding products.

Add Products

Adding products should be the first thing you do during your trial because the primary purpose of an online store is to sell. To add your first product, click on "Products" then "All products."

Add Products

Pictured above: Adding products on Shopify

When adding products, there are various sections that need to be filled out including:

  • Product title
  • Description
  • Media
  • Price
  • Inventory
  • Shipping
  • Variants
  • Search engine listing preview
  • Product organization
  • Product status
  • Product collections

Let's look at each of these in more detail.

Product Title

The product title is what your customers will see on the product page and throughout the store. It should be unique and descriptive to prevent any confusion with other products. Make it short and to the point. You can also include product variants (more on this later) to differentiate between different types of products.

Description

The description is where you sell your product. You don't need to have done this before to write a good description; simply follow these tips to create effective descriptions:

  • Know your audience: Who are you selling to? Write a product description that caters to their needs and interests.
  • Be clear and concise: Get to the point quickly, and use headings and short paragraphs to make your product easy to read.
  • Use bullet points: Break up text with lists, so it's easier to skim over. This is one of the best ways to sell a product online because people like information that they can consume quickly and easily.
  • Use benefits, not features: What's in it for your customer? Tell them what they'll gain by buying your product.
  • Anticipate objections:  Address any potential concerns your customer may have and offer a solution.

Media

The media section is where you'll add photos, 3D models, GIFs, and videos of your product. Media helps customers visualize your product and get a better idea of it. Here are a few tips for adding media:

  • Use high-quality media: You can hire a professional photographer or use a good camera and lighting to take your product photos.
  • Aspect ratio: Use the same aspect ratio for all your photos to look consistent on the page.
  • Use relevant text: When adding a caption to your photo or video, include text that helps your customers understand the product better. After uploading, don't forget to add alt text because it helps in boosting website SEO, as well as helps visually impaired readers to understand what a specific image is representing.
  • Use multiple photos: Add several images of your product so customers can get a good idea of what it looks like from all angles.
Media

Pictured above: Adding Media on Shopify

Price

The price is one of the most critical aspects of your product page. Customers need to know how much they're spending and whether or not the product is worth their money. When setting the price, keep in mind the following items:

  • Costs: What are the costs associated with producing and shipping the product? Make sure you're covering all of your bases and that the price is profitable.
  • Competition: What are other businesses selling a similar product for? Try to stay within a similar price range.

If you price your products too low, you may end up making a loss. If you price them too high, customers may be unwilling to buy. It's essential to find the right balance.

Enter the price in the "Price" on the product page. You can also use the "Compare at price" field to show customers how much they're saving if you're running a sale.

photo

Pictured above: Pricing Section on Shopify

For example, if you usually charge $40 for a product but offer it at $30 during a sale, you can use the "Compare at price" field to display both prices. This will help draw attention to your discounted products and encourage customers to buy now while supplies last.

There is the "Cost per item" field which is optional. This is where you can input the wholesale price, so you know how much you're making on each sale. The "charge tax on this product" box is relevant if you collect taxes from customers on the products you sell. If you do, check the box and configure tax settings.

Inventory

If you sell and ship products, you'll need to keep track of your inventory. The inventory section has three fields: SKU (stock keeping unit), barcode, and quantity. Let's look at each one in more detail:

  • SKU (Stock Keeping Unit): The SKU is a unique identifier for each product. You can create using numbers or letters to identify products quickly. For example, if you sell a pair of red shoes, you can create an SKU like "RS001."
  • Barcode: The barcode is optional. You can use it if you're selling products or in the future if you want your products to have barcodes.
  • Quantity: The quantity is the number of products you have in stock. If you sell products that you produce and you're sure that the stock won't run out, you can tick the "Continue selling when out of stock" box. You can update this field as you sell products and restock as needed.

Pricing Section on Shopify

Inventory

Pictured above: Inventory Section on Shopify

You don't need to worry about setting up inventory if you're not selling physical products. Just leave the "Inventory" section blank.

Shipping

If you sell physical products, you'll need to fill in the required information in the shipping section. The information helps in calculating shipping rates and creating shipping labels.

Shipping

Pictured above: Shipping Section on Shopify

The weight field requires product weight and unit of measurement. For example, if you're selling a t-shirt that weighs 0.45 kilograms, select "kg" and type "0.45" in the field next to it. Customs information applies if you're shipping products internationally.

Variants

If your product has different colors or sizes, you can add them as variants. This way, customers can choose the product that's best for them. Each product variant requires its image, price, quantity, and SKU.

Variants

Pictured above: Shopify Product Options

Variants

Pictured above: Shopify Product Variants

Shopify allows you to create up to three options for your products and up to 100 variants. Options can be color, material, or size. Variants combine the options you create. For example, if you have red and blue t-shirts with sizes small, medium, and large, the variants would be six i.e. red small, blue medium, blue large, etc.

Search Engine Listing Preview

In this section, you can customize how your product appears in search engine results. There are three fields: page title, description, and URL and handle.

Search Engine Listing Preview

Pictured above: Search Engine Listing Preview

  • Page title: The title that appears in search engine results. The title should be short and grab the attention of your customers. The page title should be around 60 characters to fit in search engine results. Use keywords that people will search for to find your product.
  • Description: The description is where you can add more information about your product to entice customers and encourage them to click on your page title. It should also include keywords that people will search for to find your product.
  • URL and handle: The URL should be simple and include the target keyword used in the page title and description.

Shopify allows you to preview how your products look in search engine results so you can make any necessary changes before publishing them.

Product Organization

The product organization section has four fields: type, vendor, collection, and tags. Here is a breakdown of each:

  • Type: The type is the category your product falls into. You can choose from the available options or add a custom type.
  • Vendor: The vendor is the company that manufactures or produces the product.
  • Collection: The collection is where you can group products together. Collections are a great way to organize products and make it easy for customers to find what they're looking for. We'll look at collections in detail later in this guide.
  • Tags: Tags are like hashtags on social media. You can use them to add more information about your product by using a keyword phrase or category name. Think of how you search for products online, and use those terms as tags.
Product Organization

Pictured above: Shopify Product Organization

Product Status

After filling in all the information for your product, you have to decide the product's status. The options are active or draft.

  • Active: An active product is live and available for sale.
  • Draft: A draft product isn't published yet. You can save a draft and work on it later.
Product Status

Pictured above: Shopify Product Status Section

You also have the option to schedule product availability. If you want your product to be available on a specific date, click on "schedule availability" and use the calendar tool to choose the date.

You should now have a good understanding of the different sections in the product editor. Let's take a look at how to create collections.

Organize Your Products Into Collections

The next step after adding a few products is to create collections. Collections are a great way to group products and make it easy for customers to find what they're looking for. Product collections also help when you want to discount or promote a group of products.

Click on "Products" and select "Collections" in the drop-down menu to create a collection. The information required for a collection is the same as for products: title, description, image, and status.

Organize Your Products Into Collections

Pictured above: Shopify Create Collection Section

You have two options for the "Collection type" section: automated or manual. The automated option creates a collection based on rules that you set. You have several options to set the rules, including product tags, title, vendor, and weight. The manual option lets you add products to a collection one at a time.

Create Your Shopify Store Pages

After adding products, the next step is to create your Shopify store pages. The pages will help your customers know your business and products better. The store pages to create include an about page, contact page, policy pages, FAQ, and a blog. Here is a rundown of each:

About Page

The About page explains what your business is all about. It's an important page to add because it establishes a connection with your customers, putting a face behind the product and brand.

Contact Page

The contact page gives your customers information on how to reach you by phone, email, or social media. You can also include a map for directions if you have a physical store.

Policy Pages

The policy pages let your customers know how you run your business. There are four policy pages to create: terms of service, privacy policy, shipping policy, and return policy.

  • Terms of service: Your terms of service is a legal agreement between you and your customers. It tells them what they can expect from you, as well as the limitations and restrictions that apply to their use of your website.
  • Privacy policy: The privacy policy lets people know how you collect, store, and handle personal information such as names, addresses, email addresses, etc. You must have one if you collect any personal information from your customers.
  • Shipping policy: Your shipping and delivery policy lets people know how and when they expect their order to arrive. You should include information on the carrier, method of shipment, expected delivery date, and time frame for exchanges in case something goes wrong with the order.
  • Return policy: Your return policy lets customers know the conditions under which they can return an item and get a refund or exchange. Include details like time frames for returns, whether you offer refunds or exchanges, the cost of shipping back to you, etc.

FAQ Page

The FAQ page is a great way to answer common questions your customers may have. You can include questions about your products, shipping, returns, etc.

To create the above pages, go to "Online Store" and select "Pages" from the drop-down menu.

FAQ Page

Pictured above: Shopify Add Page Section

Blog

A blog is a great way to connect with your customers and share news about your business. You can write about new products, sales, behind-the-scenes looks at your business, and more.

Go to "Online Store" and select "Blog posts" from the drop-down menu to create blog posts.

Blog

Pictured above: Shopify Add Blog Posts Section

Customize Your Store

It's time to customize your Shopify store. You can customize the colors, fonts, and layout of your website. In this section, we'll discuss themes, the home page, and navigation menus, all of which are critical to having a Shopify store that portrays what your brand is all about.

Choose A Theme

A theme is a template for your website that gives it a distinct look and feel. Shopify has several free themes to choose from, or you can purchase a premium theme.

To choose a theme, go to "Online Store" and select "Themes" from the drop-down menu. You can then filter by free or paid themes and by industry. Take your time browsing through the themes and picking out one that fits your brand best.

Choose A Theme

Pictured above: Shopify Theme Store

Here are things to remember when choosing a theme:

  • Pick the right layout: Shopify themes have different layouts, so be sure to choose one that works for you and your products or services. You can preview how each layout will look before deciding on a final one by clicking on the "View demo store" button below it, as shown in the screenshot below.
Choose A Theme

Pictured above: Dawn Shopify Theme

  • Themes come in various styles: You can choose from multiple styles for your theme. Be sure to pick one that goes with the look you want for your store.
  • You can always change it later: If you don't like how your theme looks after installing it, then you'll be able to change it later on without losing any content. So don't stress too much about choosing one right away.
  • You can try paid themes: Paid themes have free trials, so you can try them out before committing to buying the theme. If you don't like it or want something different after trying the free trial, just go back to your dashboard and choose another theme.

Customize Your Home Page

When designing your home page, consider the goals of your store and what you want to highlight. Most Shopify themes have sections that you can remove, hide, or add. To design your home page go to "Themes" and click on Customize.

Showcasing a featured collection or new arrivals (instead of the blog section) is how to start an online clothing store that has the best odds of success.

You can also add images, videos, or text to make it stand out.

The home page is the first thing a customer will see, so make sure that they understand what your store has to offer as soon as they arrive at your site. Here are some tips for customizing your home page:

  • Keep it simple: Don't overcomplicate things by adding too many sections.
  • Add features you need: If there's something important on your website, such as contact information or a featured collection, then make sure to add it to the home page.
  • Make use of images and videos: Images and videos can be used to grab attention and help explain what your store is about.
  • Include social media icons: Customers may want to connect with you on social media, so include social media icons on your home page.
  • Make it easy to navigate: Make sure that your site is easy for customers to navigate by adding navigation menus (more on this later) and links in the header or footer of each page on your website.
  • Add newsletter signup:  You can add a section to your home page where users can sign up for your newsletter.

You can also add a slideshow that allows you to show multiple images at once instead of just one static image.

Set Up Navigation Menus

Shopify's navigation menus allow you to control the links that appear on each page of your website. To set up navigation menus, go to "Online Store" and select "Navigation." You'll then be able to edit the footer and main menu.

Set Up Navigation Menus

Pictured above: Shopify Menus Section

The main menu is the navigation bar that appears at the top of each page. You can choose to add links to collections and pages you created in the previous steps. You can also create drop-down menus under each menu item to avoid having too many links on one page.

The footer is the menu that appears at the bottom of your site. This is a great place to add important information such as contact information or your store's return policy. You can also add social media icons and a link to your website's homepage.

You can also enable a search bar so customers can quickly find what they're looking for on your website. The search bar can be placed in the header of your website.

Brand Your Shopify Store

Branding is an essential step for your Shopify store because it helps customers recognize what you offer and who you are. Branding should include a logo, typography, and color scheme. These three elements play an essential role in how customers perceive your store.

Logo

Shopify allows you to upload your own logo. If you don't have a logo yet, now would be the perfect time to create one. Make sure that it looks good on different devices and in different sizes.

To add a logo to your store, go to "Online Store" and select "Themes." Click on "Customize" and select "Header," then upload your logo.

Logo

Pictured above: Uploading a Logo on Shopify

Even at its worst, this is a much better chance of connecting with an audience, especially considering the low cost involved when using email marketing.

Typography

The typography of your website is the font that you use throughout your store. You'll want to choose a font that's easy to read and looks good on different devices. Shopify has a library of fonts that you can choose from or upload your own custom font. Use a maximum of three fonts on your website to keep things simple.

Color Scheme

The color scheme of your Shopify store is the combination of colors that you use throughout your website. Contrast is essential when highlighting important elements on your website. Consider color psychology and how you want customers to feel when shopping in your store.

To customize colors and typography in Shopify, go to "Online Store" and select "Themes." Click on "Customize" and then select either "Theme setting." You can then edit colors and typography.

Color Scheme

Pictured above: Customizing Colors and Typography on Shopify

Customize Checkout

You can change your checkout page by going to "Settings" and selecting "Checkout." Here you can change the following:

  • Customer accounts: There are three options to choose from: accounts are disabled, accounts are optional, and accounts are required.
  • Customer contact: Choose how customers can checkout: using only email or using either email or phone number. This is where you also choose how customers should receive shipping updates.
  • Form options: Choose whether you need extra information such as company name and 2nd address line. You can make this information optional, hidden, or required.
  • Tipping: If you wish to include tipping options in your checkout, you can enable it here.
  • Order processing: In this section, you can customize what happens when the customer is checking out, how to fulfill paid orders, and what happens to orders that have been paid and fulfilled.  
  • Marketing consent: This is where you can start building your email list. You can choose to get permission from customers at checkout after they've placed an order or not at all. There is also an SMS marketing option.
  • Checkout language: Select your preferred checkout language.
Customize Checkout

Pictured above: Shopify Checkout Section

Set Up Shipping And Delivery

Shipping has a lot of variables, which is why it's important to set it up correctly from the beginning. You have to decide on shipping rates, delivery times, and profit margins.

To set up shipping rates, go to "Settings" and select "Shipping and delivery." You'll need to set up different shipping zones based on your location. If you're only selling within the United States, you'll create one shipping zone for domestic orders.

Set Up Shipping And Delivery

Pictured above: Shopify Shipping and Delivery Section

Shipping Rates

You can set your shipping rates in a few ways:

  • Flat rate: This is a fixed rate that customers pay regardless of location.
  • Free shipping: This is when you offer free shipping for all customers, no matter where they are located (suitable for local businesses).
  • By weight: This calculates the cost of shipping based on the product's weight and destination.
  • By price: This calculates the cost of shipping based on how much a customer spends on their order.
  • Real-time rate: This calculates the cost of shipping on checkout based on product information and shipping details entered when adding products.

Delivery Times

You'll also need to decide on the delivery times that you offer. You can either provide same-day or next-day delivery or set specific days and hours for when customers can receive their orders.

Profit Margins

After accounting for your costs, your profit margins are how much money you make on each sale. This includes how much it costs you to buy the product and any other expenses such as shipping and delivery.

Set Up Tax Rates

Taxes are another critical factor to consider when setting up your shop. You'll need to set up the tax rates for each state you're selling in. To do this, go to "Settings" and then select "Taxes and duties."

Set Up Tax Rates

Pictured above: Shopify Taxes and Duties Section

The "Taxes and duties" section has three areas that need to be customized: countries/regions, duties and import taxes, and tax calculations.

  • Countries/Regions: This applies if you sell internationally. You can choose whether or not you want to charge taxes for specific countries, and if so, how much tax is charged.
  • Duties and import taxes: This also applies if you sell internationally, but you have to pay a transaction fee of 1.5% or 0.85% for Shopify payments. To edit this part, you have to select a paid Shopify plan.
  • Tax calculations: This is where you manage how your business shows and calculates tax. There are three options, including all prices to include tax, charging VAT on digital products, and charging tax on shipping rates.

Shopify automatically calculates tax for you based on where your customers are located. Shopify uses default tax rates, so you should first ask a professional or research to ensure you're charging and collecting the correct sales tax.

Set Up A Payment Gateway

To accept payments, you'll need to set up a payment gateway. A payment gateway is a service that processes credit card payments on your behalf. There are a few Shopify-approved gateways, but you can also use other gateways as long as they're compatible with Shopify.

To add a payment gateway, go to "Settings" and select "Payments." In this section, you can:

  • Add payment providers
  • Activate express checkout via PayPal
  • Choose alternative payment methods
  • Add manual payment methods
Set Up A Payment Gateway

Pictured above: Shopify Payments Section

Shopify has its payment gateway, but it's not available in every country. If you use Shopify Payments, then checkout is easier for your customers. If you select Shopify Payments, you can choose to:

  • Sell in multiple currencies, and Shopify will automatically convert the currency for you.
  • Use Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Shop Pay which are all quick and easy payment methods.
  • Set a payout schedule so that you can get payments monthly, weekly, or daily.

If your country is not supported, you'll need to use a third-party payment gateway. There are over 100 gateways compatible with Shopify, so you're likely to find one that's available in your country.

Prepare Your Shopify Store For Launch

Once you've finished setting up your shop and adding products, you can launch your website. Before you do so, you'll need to disable your password-protected login so that customers can see your website. 

You can also choose to make your Shopify better before launching it to the public. You can do this by:

  • Connecting a custom domain
  • Adding relevant sales channels

Connecting A Custom Domain

A custom domain is a website address that's associated with your shop. It's recommended to use a custom domain instead of the Shopify URL because it looks more professional and can help with branding.

You can buy a domain name from sites such as Namecheap, Namesilo, or Shopify. To connect an existing domain or to buy from Shopify, go to "Settings" and then select "Domains."
Connecting A Custom Domain

Pictured above: Shopify Domains Section

If you're connecting an existing domain, click on "Connect existing domain" and enter the domain name. If you're buying from Shopify, select "Buy New Domain." You'll need to choose a domain name and add it to your cart.

Add Sales Channels

Sales channels are ways for customers to find and buy your products. There is an option to add sales channels during the Shopify setup, but you can customize which ones you want later. To do this, go to "Settings" and then select "Sales channels."

Add Sales Channels

Pictured above: Shopify Sales Channels Section

The sales channels you add will depend on your business. Shopify recommends adding Shopify Point Of Sale (POS) and Facebook as they're two of the most popular sales channels. You also have the option to add:

  • Buy button - A buy button lets you sell on any blog or website
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Google Shopping

After adding a sales channel, you need to go back to "Product availability" to choose where you want your products to be available.

Launch Your Shopify Store

After setting up everything, it's time to launch your Shopify store. You need to remove the password protection by going to "Online Store" and selecting "Preferences." Scroll down to "Password protection" and uncheck the "Enable password" box.

Launch Your Shopify Store

Pictured above: Shopify Password Protection Section

Your Shopify store is now ready for customers to view. You can promote your website by adding it to directories or sharing it on social media. You can also use paid advertising to attract more traffic to your site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also an excellent way to get more traffic. Once your website is ready, you can create product pages with relevant keywords to help you rank in the search engine.

How To Start A Shopify Store - FAQ

How Much Does It Cost To Open A Shopify Store?

It can cost anywhere from nothing (if you set up a store using a Shopify free trial) to thousands of dollars, depending on the features and design you choose for your online store.

Shopify offers a wide range of pricing plans, ranging from $29/month to $299/month. The most expensive plan includes features like unlimited products, professional design services, advanced sales reports, and abandoned cart recovery. If you're just starting, I'd recommend choosing the Basic Shopify plan ($29/month), which gives you a 14-day free trial and access to all the features you'll need to get started.

Is Shopify Good For Beginners?

Shopify is an excellent platform for beginners because it's easy to use, and you don't need to have any programming or design experience. You can create your online store without learning how to code, and there are tons of templates and themes to choose from. Plus, Shopify has a huge community of users who can help you out if you ever get stuck.

How Much Do Shopify Stores Make?

The key to success with any eCommerce platform - including Shopify - is to find a profitable niche and create great products that solve real problems for your customers. There is a pretty wide range of income among Shopify stores. Some make just a few hundred dollars per month, while others bring in over six figures each month.

Is Shopify Free To Start?

Yes. Shopify is free to start, and you can create a store with no payment information required. You can also use Shopify's free trial to test the platform before committing to a paid plan.

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it! Everything you need to start your own Shopify store. I hope you found this guide helpful and that you are excited to get started on building your very own online shop. Don't forget to start a free trial before launching your store so you can explore all of the amazing features that Shopify has to offer. 

For more tips on how to have an email list that goes along with a successful online store, check out this blog post on how you can use email marketing to increase sales.

About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is an author, investor, and speaker known for building a business from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months while traveling the world.

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