So you have decided to start an online store with Shopify but not sure exactly how to get started?
Well in this guide I am going to take you through the steps you need to take in order to get your store set up and running.
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Step 1: Sign Up To Shopify
So before you can started with the Shopify, you need to sign up with Shopify. You get a free 14 day trial so that you can test it out before committing to one of their plans.
Now before you get into your dashboard, there are a couple of pages to go through. The first asks you what stage you are at with your business and depending on your answer, they will give you links to a few helpful articles to read to help get you started.
Now you can skip this question if you want to but it might be worth looking through some of the options to see if there is anything that can help you.
The second page asks you for all of your business information such as business name, address, telephone number and email address. You do need to fill all this out before you can progress on to the next stage.
Step 2: Add a New Product
Once you have signed up to Shopify, the next step is to start adding products. To add a new product, you want to navigate to Products → All Products → Add Product.
This brings you to the add new product page, which is a single page layout. There are multiple types of product that you can create, such as a single, variation, virtual and digital.
To create a single product listing, you want to add a:
- Set the Price
- Set your inventory levels and management
With all of this filled in, you can choose to set your product to go live but it is worth filling out the organisation section in the right side bar as it will save you from having to come back in and fill this out later.
In the organisation sidebar, you can choose which product type it is, the vendor or brand, choose which collection you want it to go into and also set tags for the products. I will cover collection in Step 3.
If you are selling products that have different variations such as size or colour, then you want to click the check box under the Options section. This then allows you to add up to three options such as size, color and material, with multiple variations within each option.
Once you have added your Options, a box will appear below, where you can enter your the price, quantity and SKU code for all of your variations.
If you click on edit, a pop up will appear with more options for that variation or you can use the scroll bar at the bottom of the section to enter a SKU and/or barcode.
If you are selling virtual products such as consulting or teaching hours/packages, then you want to set your products up so that shipping is disabled and this is really easy to do in Shopify. Just scroll down to the Shipping section and uncheck the ‘This is a physical product’ box and it will disable all of the shipping options.
If you are selling digital products with downloadable elements such as Ebooks or Guides, then you will need to install an app from the Shopify App Store and then set this up, we have created a separate guide to Selling Digital Products on Shopify that covers this in much greater detail.
Editing Your Products
Once you have got all your products added to your site, you want to be able to quickly and easily edit them and within Shopify, there are a couple of different ways that you can do this.
If you just want to edit your stock quantity, you can go to the inventory section under products and in here, you can quickly add or remove stock levels, you can also set up incoming stock level if you have orders placed with suppliers. There are some bulk options available if you click the checkbox next to the product title and you can edit any product variations.
The second bulk editor offers more options than the one available in the Inventory section as there are more fields to choose from and it allows you to edit most sections that are available on the product creation/edit page.
You can also customize which fields are active in the bulk editor, so you can set it up so that works for you and your store in the most effective way.
For any sections that aren’t available in either of the bulk editors, you will need to go in and edit the product individually and the edit page can be accessed by clicking on the product title in the product overview page.
Step 3: Create Collections
Once you have created your products, you want to organise them into categories or collections as Shopify call them and there are two ways to set them up.
The first is what they call a manual collection and this works in a very similar way to a normal category in that you create the collection, for example Men’s Rings and then manually add the products into that collection.
To create a manual collection, go to Collections → Add New and enter a title for that collection and under the collection type, select Manual.
Once you have done this, you need to save the collection and then go back in and edit it in order to be able to add products to the collection. On the collection edit page you will see a products section, like in the image below and to start adding products to the collection, either start typing the name in the Search Products box or click on Browse and a pop-up will appear showing you all of the products that you have created.
You can add multiple products in one go by marking the check box next to the products you want to add and then clicking the Done button in the pop up and the chosen products will have been added to that collection.
You can also add products to a manual collection on the product creation/edit page.
This can be done using the Product Organization box, which is found on the right side of the product create/edit page and to manually add the product to the collection, either:
- Click on the Collections box and select the collection from the drop down menu
- Start typing the name of the collection in the Collections box and select it from the search results that appear in the drop down menu
Automated collections have a bit of a steeper learning curve as they are based on conditions that you create and you can create a lot!
For example you can create conditions around:
- Product Title – this is if you want to create a collection around words that appear in numerous product titles such as rings or watches
- Product Type – if you entered a product type when creating your products, then you can use this as a way to put them into a collection
- Product Vendor – if you have items from specific vendors or brands and want to put them into their own collection
- Product Price – this is used if you want to group items together based on their price, for examples products between £10 and £30
- Product Tag – if you created tags for your products, such as men’s ring or ladies watch, then you can create a collection around these tags
Once you have decided on what the collection is going to be based around, you then set the parameters for that rule, such as:
- is equal to
- is greater than
- is less than
You then type in the data which Shopify will use to select the products. Sorry if this sounds confusing but it is a bit of a challenge to put it into words but I will give you couple of examples below to try and show you how it works.
If you wanted to create a collection of gift ideas for less than £25, you would set up the automated collection like this:
Shopify would then put all of your products that you are selling for less than £25 into a collection.
You can also create more than one rule for a collection and for this example, I am going to create a collection for Men’s Seiko Watches and it would look like this:
With a collection like this, you could easily replace the product title with Product Type or Tag as long as they contained those words.
Once you have created an Automated collection, any product that you create that fits the conditions of that collection will automatically be added to it.
Step 4: Add a Payment Gateway
Now you have got all of your products set up, you need to add a way of getting paid and this can be done by navigating to Settings → Payments.
Now there are lots of options when it comes to payment gateways on Shopify but if you are just starting out, then the two quickest and simplest to set up are Shopify Payments and PayPal Express Checkout.
Shopify Payments is very easy to set up and can be done directly from the Shopify dashboard. All you need to do is fill out some business related information and provide a bank account where the funds can be deposited.
If you don’t have a PayPal account, then you will need to set one up and this is easily done via the PayPal website. Once you have got a PayPal account, just click the Activate PayPal Express Checkout button and it will take you through the steps needed to connect your PayPal account to Shopify.
Amazon Pay can also be set up in a very similar way to PayPal. If you are using another payment gateway, then you will need to click the Choose Third-Party Provider button and search for you chosen provider and follow the instructions that are provided.
Step 5: Add a Shipping Method
The next step to set up is your shipping methods so that you can let your customers know, not only how their item will be shipped but also how much it is going to cost. You can access all of your Shipping information within the settings section of your dashboard.
If you are selling virtual or digital products, you don’t need to set this up as it only applies to physical products.
By default, Shopify creates a general profile, that you can go in and edit or you can create your own shipping profile from scratch by clicking on Create New Profile.
You then need to add a:
- Name for the Profile
- Choose which products it will apply to
- Select the address you are shipping from
- Choose which zone you are shipping to
When you create a shipping zone, a pop up will appear and you need to create a name for this zone and then choose which countries are included from the list, you can either start typing the name of country in the search box or scroll through the list and then click done to confirm your selection.
Once you have set up the shipping zone, you then need to set up rates within the zone and that can be done by clicking the Add Rate button and the following pop-up will appear:
You can then choose to manually set the rates for the shipping profile or have them automatically calculated by the carrier (with some carriers an app may be required). If you choose to set them up manually, you will need to first select the shipping speed:
- Standard (2-4 Business Days)
- Express (1-3 Business Days)
- Custom Flat Rate (No Shipping Time)
You will then set the price for that service and you can also add conditions based either on the minimum or maximum Item Weight or Order Price. Once you are happy with the rates click done on the pop-up and save on the page to create the Shipping Profile.
Within the Shipping settings, you can also:
- Set up Local Delivery Options
- Set up Local Collections
- Set Package Sizes
- Connect to Carrier Accounts
Step 6: Legal Pages
This is something that is missed out on pretty much all online guides and that is to set up your legal pages as they are a very important part of your site and not only do they let your customers know what your company policies are but they also offer you as the website owner some protection.
Fortunately, it is very easy to set up your companies policies within Shopify as there is a section called Legal within the settings section of the dashboard.
There are four policies to set up within this section and they are:
- Refund Policy
- Terms of Service (Terms and Conditions)
- Shipping Policy
Shopify have also been very nice and created templates for that, which can be easily customised so that they fit your business. Now I do want to stress that these are guide templates only and while they do a great job, it is worth getting them all checked over by a professional to make sure they are legal before making your site live.
Step 7: Customise Your Theme
The fundamentals of your store are now set up and it is time to make the front end of your site fit your businesses style and branding.
Choosing a Theme
The first step in this process is to choose a theme, this can be done by going to Online Store → Themes and choosing one of the 4 free themes, buying one from the Shopify theme store or uploading a theme that you have bought elsewhere (themeforest etc).
Once you have chosen your theme, you can either set it as your live theme or choose to customise it before setting it as your live theme. If you are building your site, then it is worthwhile setting it as your live them now but if you decide to change in the future, don’t make it your live theme until you have customised it to your liking.
Customising Your Theme
When you click on the customise option within the themes section of the dashboard, you will taken to a live customizer. This allows you to see instantly how your changes look on your site and check to see how it looks on mobile devices.
Within the customizer, there is quite a lot you can do to the look and feel of your website, especially your homepage. This is because it is built using sections and there are over 15 to choose from, you can also change the order in which these sections appear.
If you choose any sections that contain content that are not related to products, you can change the pictures and text within the editor and see instantly how this looks. The footer can also be edited within the customizer and some elements within the footer may be theme dependant.
You can also customize other pages on your site such as Products, Collections and General Pages by selecting them from the dropdown menu at the top of the customizer. You can add sections to many of these page templates and also create custom templates for specific pages.
Another area that you want to set up before your site goes live is your navigation menu, this is an important step, because it helps visitors navigate around your site.
Within the Navigation section, you can choose to create new menu’s or edit existing ones. By default, Shopify will create a main menu.
You can add any type of page to the main navigation menu and this can be done by clicking Add Menu Item and a pop-up sidebar will appear on the right-hand side of your screen, in which you name the menu item and search for the page where it will link too.
With the navigation menu, you can also create dropdown menus by clicking the 6 dots and dragging it to the right, this then nestles that menu item under the one above it. You can also re-arrange the menu items by clicking the 6 dots and dragging the heading up or down.
Step 8: Add Domain
The final step in the getting your Shopify store up and running is to get your domain name configured as at this point, you will be on a Shopify sub-domain such as ecommerce-gold.shopify.com. Where as when you make your site live, you want it to be on your own domain.
To access the domain options go to Settings → Domains.
There are a couple of ways you can configure your domain name.
Number 1: Buying One From Shopify
If you don’t already have a domain name, then you can buy one directly from Shopify by clicking the Buy New Domain button, this will take you to a screen where you can search for domain names. You should be aware that your ideal domain name might not be available.
If your desired domain name is available, then simply follow the instructions on the screen and you will be taken through the process of purchasing your domain name.
Number 2: Transfer Domain Name
The second option is to transfer an existing domain name that you already own to Shopify. To do this, just click the Transfer Domain link at the top and follow the instructions on screen to transfer your domain name to Shopify.
Just be aware that some domain name providers do charge to transfer domain names away from them and the charge does depend on the company. So make sure you check your domain providers terms and conditions before proceeding.
Number 3: Configure Domain
The third option is to keep your domain name with the company the that you purchased it from but point it towards the Shopify servers. This does need to be done by logging into your domain name providers control panel, it cannot be done from the Shopify dashboard.
As all domain name providers control panels are different, you may need to see if they offer documentation on how to do this or contact their support teams for help.
If you are doing this yourself, the two most important records you want to change are the A and CNAME and you want to change them to the settings below:
This will then point your domain name towards the Shopify servers, once you have done this, you want to go back into the domain settings for your site (in the Online Store section of your dashboard) and click verify connection. Note: it can take up to 48 hours for these changes to take effect, if nothing has happened after 48 hours, you will need to contact your domain name provider.
Once your connection has been verified, you want to set your newly connected domain name as the Primary Domain so that all your traffic goes to this domain name.
Until you are ready to go live, it is worth keeping your site password protected. You can set your password by going to Online Store → Preferences and Password Protection can be found at the bottom of the page.
Step 9: Testing & Going Live
The final and arguably most important step is to test your site out as by this point you are pretty much ready to go live but before you do, I highly recommend testing your site out to:
- Make sure that everything is working correctly, mainly the checkout and payment gateways
- Learn how do everything from the back end such as printing out orders or issuing refunds
The reason why this is worth doing as it is better to find out any major issues before you go live, than trying to fix or work out how to do things with paying customers.
Once you have run a few test orders through yourself, ask friends or family members to try it as well (by providing them with frontend password) as they may notice things that you haven’t. Once you have processed a few orders and ironed out any issues, you are ready for the last step.
You have set everything up and tested everything out, now it is time to open your shop up to the paying public.
Once you are ready to do so, go to Online Store → Preferences, untick the Enable Password checkbox and click save. Once you have done this, the frontend of your site is now visible to everyone.
So there you go! My guide to building a Shopify store, if you follow all of the steps within the guide, you should have a good set of foundations to build your ecommerce business using the Shopify platform.
Obviously there is so much more you can do with Shopify as it gives you all the tools you need to build a successful online store but this guide would go on for ever and ever if I covered everything, that is why I stuck to the core of how to build your store.
I hope you found this guide helpful and I wish you good fortune on your Ecommerce Journey.