Shopify is a well-loved platform. It’s easy to use, even for beginners.
In fact if you're looking to find out how to start a Shopify store, then following our how-to guide below, will help you get up and selling in under 20 minutes.
All you have to do is follow 7 simple steps – that’s how easy and quickly it is to get going!
- Related: 30 Dropshipping Business Ideas
As of April 2017, Shopify had over 1,000,000 active users, and by October 2019, it had processed $100 billion+ in orders overall (according to Shopify & You).
That’s an incredible amount of people who have discovered the benefits of Shopify for themselves.
eCommerce keeps growing, too. eCommerce sales grew by 18% in 2018, with consumers spending a whopping $513.61 billion from US online retailers – so now is a great time to sell online.
So – why might you want to pick Shopify?
The Advantages of Shopify
Why pick Shopify? Here are a few reasons:
Even if you’re a beginner, you should find Shopify simple to navigate. The platform is clean and easy to use – perfect for newbies and experienced e-commerce sellers alike.
It’s Easy to Manage
Customers, products, sales – Shopify makes all these things easier to follow. Using the dashboard, you can easily find what you need.
The Themes Look Great
As we’ll explore later, there are a ton of great themes on Shopify – including some great free themes.
The Pricing is Good
The pricing is competitive, with the $29 per month option offering some great features.
The Downsides of Shopify
Of course, no platform is perfect, and you need to know this before you begin. If you have previous experience, you might find Shopify a little restrictive in terms of being able to customize your store’s code.
You can use Shopify apps if you want a little more customization, but some of these will cost extra, so that’s something to keep in mind.
How to Start a Shopify Store – What to Do (7 Steps)
Setting up a Shopify store is simple. Just follow these steps and you’ll be good to go!
Step 1 – Sign Up
Go to the Shopify homepage, and enter your email address and click "Start free trial".
This is pretty simple – just basic information about yourself and what stage you’re at in the process of setting up a business (like your current revenue).
This only takes a few minutes.
Then once that’s done, you’re ready to move onto step two:
Step 2 – Explore the Shopify Dashboard
The Shopify dashboard looks like this:
Ignore the part in the middle of the page for now – instead, take a few minutes to explore the navigation bar on the left.
Here’s a quick overview of each section:
- Home takes you back to the homepage
- Orders allows you to view and manage orders your customers have placed
- Products allows you to add new products and edit existing products
- Customers shows you customer details and allows you to manage your customers
- Analytics brings up Shopify’s analytics for your store – including revenue, returning customer rate, and total orders
- Marketing brings up a range of marketing tools for your store, including campaigns and automations
- Discounts allows you to create discount codes for your customers
- Apps allows you to add apps to further customize your store
- Sales Channels will show a list of all the places that you are selling your products. To start with it will only show one place – Online Store. If you click on it, you can customize your store’s appearance, navigation, and domain.
- Settings (at the bottom) will allow you to play around with settings like shipping, taxes, and more.
You can go through each of these sections in more detail later, but it’s good to know what they do.
Step 3 – Set Up Payment Providers, Checkout, Shipping, and Taxes
Head over to ‘settings’ and take a few minutes to set payment providers, checkout, shipping, and taxes – it will take a few minutes, but it’s good to set these up right at the beginning.
Payment Providers allows you to set the accepted payment methods for your store. You can also set up PayPal, Amazon Pay, and alternative payment methods/manual payment methods.
Before you can finalize setting up payments, you’ll need to click on ‘Complete Shopify Payments setup’:
You will need to enter some basic information about your company/business here, including business type, business address, and your own banking information.
Checkout allows you to set up a number of things:
These are pretty self-explanatory – essentially this section allows you to set up the checkout page as it will be seen by your customer.
You can choose to prompt your customer to make an account if you like. You can also set up what information you would like to receive from your customer as they check out.
Shipping allows you to set shipping rates.
You can also add Packages – this allows Shopify to quickly calculate shipping depending on the size of the parcel.
(You might not want to set this up straight away – you can always come back to it later if necessary).
Taxes allows you to set up how your store works out (and shows) taxes.
Step 4 – Start Adding Products
Now you can start adding products! Click on the ‘products’ tab on the left.
Give your product a title and a description (you can play around with fonts and formatting, too), then upload some images.
Here you can also set product availability and organize it into categories (this is a must for keeping products organized).
You can also add it to a collection if you want – this will make it easier for your customers to find it.
Step 5 – Set Pricing and Inventory Options
Scroll down to add pricing, inventory, and shipping information.
The ‘pricing’ section will give you three options:
- Price is the basic price for the product
- Compare at Price allows you to set a second price. If you want to show that your product is on sale, set this price higher than the first price. For example, the compare at price could be $40, but the price could be $30. That way the customer will see they are getting $10 off.
- Cost Per Item is the amount of money the product cost you as the seller. This allows Shopify to calculate your profit.
The inventory section gives you the option to track inventory as your products begin to sell (which is essential for keeping track of stock levels).
This also prevents your customers from trying to buy something you don’t have in stock – they will see an ‘out of stock’ notice if the product sells out.
SKU stands for ‘Stock Keeping Unit’ and is a unique number that helps you to track your inventory. The SKU should contain information about the product size, color, and so on.
You can find out more about setting an SKU for your product here.
Next, set the shipping options:
If you’re selling a physical product, make sure the box at the top is checked. If you’re selling a digital product, like a PDF, you can uncheck it.
Add the weight and customs information, too.
You can also add variants if you like (for example, if you’re selling a t-shirt in multiple colors).
Step 6 – Edit Website SEO
Right at the bottom of the add new product section, you will see this:
This allows you to control what your website will look like on a search engine listing. Click ‘edit website SEO' to bring up the following:
The description needs to be short (under 320 characters). Make sure it sums up what the product is – try to see it from your customer’s perspective and make it interesting or enticing.
You can also set a URL for the product here. Make sure it includes keywords (for example, if you’re selling a shirt, it should include the word ‘shirt’ somewhere).
Click ‘save’ – your first product is all done!
Step 7 – Customize Your Store
Once the ‘backstage’ work of uploading products is done, you can move on to customizing how your store looks.
On the navigation bar, click ‘online store’ to bring up a smaller sub-menu. Click ‘Themes’ to start.
First, you can choose if you would like your store to be password protected or not (and set a password if necessary).
Under ‘current theme’, it will show you the current theme you have installed with a quick preview. Click ‘customize’ to play around with the layout:
It’s best not to get too bogged down at this stage – but if you like, you can spend some time familiarizing yourself with how the page builder works.
The menu on the right will allow you to adjust each section on your homepage or add new sections. At the top, click ‘theme settings’:
This allows you to play around with colors, fonts, and social media icons.
At any time, you can click ‘save’ in the top right to save your progress. You can also click on the icons in the middle to view how your website will look on different types of devices.
You can click on the Shopify logo on the top left-hand corner to return to the dashboard.
Of course, you might not like the theme at all, in which case, return to the ‘Themes’ section and scroll down:
You can pick from free themes or go to the Shopify Theme Store to purchase one.
There are some great free themes to choose from.
Once you’ve chosen one, click ‘add to theme library’:
It may take a few moments to load, but it will add the theme to your store, at which point you can customize it. When you’re done, you can then click ‘actions’, then ‘publish’:
And that’s it!
Bonus Step – Set Up Your Domain
Your store will need a domain. So although strictly speaking you don't need one to setup your store, if you're serious about making your store become a real business, you really will need a domain.
In order to purchase a domain, click ‘domains’ in the navigation bar:
You’ll be presented with this:
You can choose from a few options here.
Connect Existing Domain is for those who already have a domain they wish to use. Clicking on this will start a step-by-step process to connect it to your store.
Transfer Domain allows you to transfer a domain purchased from an external company to Shopify. One company we’d recommend here is NameCheap – they offer competitively priced domains, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for at a good price.
Buy New Domain is where you want to go if you don’t yet have a domain and would rather buy through Shopify so that you only pay one single provider at the end of the month.
Shopify stores will automatically be given a domain – in our case, teststore881316.myshopify.com – but this isn’t the catchiest URL for potential visitors to remember.
Type in the keywords you’d like in your domain (again, in our case, teststore881316), and it will come up with a list of available domains with the price next to it.
Click ‘buy’ to finalize your purchase. Then you’re all set – you can test out your new domain and check out what it looks like to visitors!
Choosing a Price Plan
Shopify gives you a 14-day free trial to test out the platform. After that, you have to decide which payment plan you’d like to choose.
You can click here to see a more detailed breakdown of their pricing. Some of the better features are locked behind higher price tiers – but you can upgrade/downgrade your plan at any time if you change your mind.
For first-time sellers, the $29 per month option is pretty good and will give you some basic functionality.
If you want more features (such as abandoned cart recovery), you will need to go for the $79 per month option.
The $299 option is for larger businesses – so if you’re new, you don’t need to worry about this.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve still got a question, we might be able to answer it here:
Does Shopify Provide Email?
It doesn’t provide email, but if you buy a domain from Shopify or transfer a domain to Shopify, you can set up an unlimited number of forwarding addresses.
Does Shopify Use Stripe?
Shopify Payments is powered through Stripe itself.
Can Shopify integrate with Amazon?
Yep – you can add your Amazon Sales Channel to Shopify.
Is Shopify secure?
Yes, all stores are PCI (Payment Card Industry Standard) compliant by default. This means you can trust that your (and your customer’s!) information will be kept safe.
What Are Shopify Apps?
Shopify Apps are plugins that allow you to further customize your store (and to tweak your experience using the platform). You can get apps in many categories – from page builders to marketing tools. It’s worth checking them out once you’ve settled in.
To Sum Up
Shopify is a great platform that will allow you to sell any kind of product imaginable, and as you can see, it’s very straightforward to set up.
Plus, the great thing about the free trial is that you don’t need to upgrade to a paid plan – so if you don’t enjoy using it, you won’t have to worry.
If you want to learn how to create a successful Shopify store and make money with Shopify Dropshipping, check out the video training course below.
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