A way to success or experience?
If we do something right – we call it our success story, if we mess up – that’s an experience. I had a lot of experience with setting up my online store.
It started back in 2016 when a guy who owned the online shop where he sold purses and stuff stole my girlfriend. That’s when I first got an idea that I need an online shop to become successful. I did my research on how to create an online store and decided to hire a programmer. Former military guy, he kept finding new features to add, and as I saw the price list grow, my enthusiasm diminished.
Luckily, I found a Shopify store, and I will take you to step-by-step on how to make an online store using this platform, so get ready for a quick Shopify review here.
It turns out that to set up your online store to sell anything you don’t need any profound knowledge in front and back end development, you don’t even need to know HTML. And the custom made solutions are even more effective than individual ones. I found out that that programmer who used to help me create my first unsuccessful online store also got a subscription to an online platform and uses their shopping cart to ship and sell building materials. It is just more straightforward that way. Wonder if the one he used was Shopify though.
So, here is a quick Shopify tutorial:
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a readymade platform for creating your online shop with custom designs and readymade system that tracks the orders, products, clients, with built-in analytics, apps, and other serene settings.
First, you need to register. Browse Shopify.com and fill in the signup form. The monthly subscription costs $29, but you don’t have to pay yet. Start a fourteen-day free trial. Now make up a name for your new business, make it unique, don’t try amazon.com or alibaba.com – I already did – it won’t accept. Later on in this Shopify review, I will give a more detailed instruction on how to register your domain.
The fantastic thing about Shopify is that it is prepared for guys just fooling around and has this option in a dropdown menu. You don’t have to know what you want to sell right away – you can practice running your shop first. So you select from: “I’m just playing around,” “I’m selling, just not online” – for those who have some offline business and are looking to digitalize, “I sell with a different system” and “I don’t sell products yet.” It feels like Shopify is opened to customers that are new to the business.
Online shop setup
Just click “add an online store,” and to customize it, you can choose one of the free themes or visit a theme store where you will have a more meaningful choice. There are several things that you can do with free themes. You can either leave them as they are – the decision is big enough, and you can make a decent looking shop with those. The template does not have to be expensive to be good. You can change the free themes yourself if you know the basics, or ask Shopify Experts to do it for you. You can rename the theme, edit its code, add social media, add favicon, edit the colors, and add
your logo. I paid a lot for a designers logo on my first site, and I don’t recommend you to buy the designers logo unless you have your website up and
You can also read up on what other customers are thinking about the team you have chosen.
Say you installed one of the themes, so you need to go and customize it. Hit the “header” button to add a logo, or you can scroll down, and select image slides to your site. You will see a slideshow where you can add your theme pictures, make sure they are the right size, or you can edit them in any graphics redactor, you can even use paint. Add headings and subheadings if you want to. Try several themes if you want to – there is no commitment to these relationships.
Adjusting a color
If you would like to match the color of your shop to the color of your log, take the hex code from it and enter into the “color code” window. The hex code
is an HTML code for the color, so you know that you will get a perfect match. There, your setup is ready.
Advertising is probably the most critical part of sales. The amount and quality of the traffic that you get will determine your success. There is a lot of competition of the traffic market; ironically, a client became merchandise himself. In the beginning, if you don’t have a lot of money trying to work with existing customers offering them referral programs and making them return (say, if you were selling wedding dresses).
Now, as you already have the image of what you are going to sell, I recommend you to click on the “social media” link on the right side of your screen. Here you can link your shop to social media: Facebook, Tumblr, Google+. If a smart person like Donald Trump advertises on Twitter, I don’t see any reason why we should avoid guerrilla marketing – it is not easy, but it’s rewarding.
The main channel is, of course, your online store. Also, you can set Facebook to be your sales channel. If you have already created a Facebook page – this sales channel will create an online shop for you on Facebook, which I find very convenient for the clients that like to buy stuff on Facebook.
One more possible sales channel is Amazon. Shopify will synchronize all the listings and add them to your Amazon.
You can try Pinterest, eBay, Wish or place your buy button on someone else’s blog or channel. In other words, a client will buy on someone else’s site but from you.
Also, Shopify added a new feature they didn’t have before – an announcement button. Whenever there is a sale going on or some promotion a coupon, Christmas sale, Black Friday or a sell-off just because your pet has a birthday – that’s how your customers are going to find out about it.
Editing the Shopify settings
Now, you’ve got a beautiful, attractive picture, you’ve got your clientele, let’s go and play with settings a little bit. Money comes first – the payments button will lead you to the page where there are payment options available already.
You have to register two emails on Shopify (you can find them in General settings): one is your account email, which is where you are going to receive all the notifications too or restore password if needed. Second is the customer email. Customer email is where the customers are going to contact you in case they have any questions or issues. After you register your domain you should create a professional-looking email, I will explain to you how.
Choosing a payment method
If the email that you used during registration was the one linked up with PayPal – you will have PayPal option up and ready, and for accepting credit cards, you can go through Shopify payments account. These two payment options should be enough for a start.
Shopify payments is a payment system that the Shopify offers by default. It is supported by Stry – big UK company and is a very reliable payment company, especially for the USA and UK.
Your PayPal should be transferred from personal to a business account, for that you should register and send the documents to their office for verification.
Usually, you would not want to pressure your client to live his details unless he decides so. Therefore I recommend you to leave the Accounts section optional. However, in customers’ accounts you can Zuckerberg your clients a little bit and force people to give you their personal information if you want to, speaking of which, down below you can place a conversion tracker – that Facebook pixel and you will see the conversion that was sent to you from Facebook (or use Google analytics as well).
You should explain to your client that if he leaves his phone number, you can send him some useful information – a tracking code, for example. You will kill two birds with one shot: earn your clients trust and take the heat off customer service. Some delivery services require client’s phone number, and if you don’t have it, you will have to leave your support number.
Working with Google
Whether you are into dark marketing or not – you might want to keep on good terms with Google. The best thing for a beginner would be to generate clean organic traffic from Google and social media. Organize your SEO, get some traffic, see if the idea is working. Online business is a constant improvement.
When someone googles your shop, he will see the homepage title and under that the homepage meta description that you will leave in corresponding sections in the “preferences” menu. Put some thought to it, because judging by these headlines; the customer will either click to your shop or scroll down.
Switch Google analytics on – for that go to google analytics page, register, enter your website address, and get your id code – enter it in Shopify. I also recommend you to enter the e-commerce section and switch the reports on there as well.
Now we have the site with juicy pictures on it, we have the traffic, and we can get the payment – let’s ship the goods. Let’s go to settings and then to shipping. Here you will not need to change a lot – just double check if your address is correct and set your shipping fees.
You can conveniently print your shipping labels right here in Shopify back office.
Any product that costs a certain amount of money can be shipped for a certain corresponding amount of money or for free if you want. For example, anything that costs over $100 will have free shipping with it. You can make all of the shipping free (check the box for it) if you want to spoil your customers and increase conversion. Most probably the shipping cost on your site will depend on the rates of USPS or DHL for international deliveries.
Shopify gives you a choice – you can choose the price of your shipping based on the cost of your goods or based on the weight. If you decide to use a system based on weight – then you can set weight ranges and price for the shipping just like you did based on the price.
If a person ordered something on your site, he would receive a notification in the form of an order confirmation from you either via email or via text message. There are templates for cancellation, refund, and what not. Shopify provides an app that can send you notifications about every order to your smartphone.
If the notifications are on you will get notified to your desktop by Google Chrome (by the way, it didn’t work on Firefox with me – you’ll need a Chrome to use Shopify) if something happens in your store.
Add a product to the store
To add a product, you will need to click a blue “add a product” button. Name a product and upload its pictures, put the price on it, and a second non-discount price as well. You can write its weight but remember that the shipping price might depend on that. The platform allows adding size, color, material, and a short description of your product.
You can add your code to the front page; add products from a particular collection, add a video or specific product. To add a collection enter collection section and name your collection. You can add a description of that collection and set the conditions under which the items are going to be added to it.
For that, you can either select manually select product or do it automatically. Manually you can combine any products you want. Automatically the collection is formed according to product type, title, manufacturer, price, weight, and other criteria. A single image can be selected for a specific collection.
Some say it does not matter what you are selling as long as you know how to sell. I recommend you to do your research before getting your feet into the water. Know your competition – sometimes you can make more money by selling armadillo leashes than sweaters or chainsaws.
To create a discount code, you should go to the discount page and select a corresponding field. You can either write the name of the discount or generate it.
There are three types of the
- Discount to a certain fixed amount
- Discount to a certain percent
- Discount as a condition of a free shipping
For the discount, you can set a minimum purchase amount, the part of a product, collection, or entire order that this discount is going to be applied to. Admin can also select what type of customers is going to be eligible for this discount. Shopify can also track the email of a person who is using the discount and prevent a single person from using one discount number multiple times if you chose this option or allow only a certain amount of using one particular discount by one person. Set an expiry date to your promotion to boost sales.
Your “account settings” is your billing information. Here you can see your current status and account plan. The minimum monthly plan is $29, and I share an opinion that most of the time, that minimum plan would be optimal. The next one is “professional” – it will cost you $79 and include more follow up like sending automated emails to the clients who didn’t finish their purchase, etc. They added the possibility of adding gift cards for your clients. Also, the professional plan provides you with more professional analytics, although, if you are using google analytics – there is no way you are going to benefit from the analytics included in Shopify professional plan. As for the email follow up – that feature is cool, but if you don’t feel like buying a pro account just for this one feature you can use Abandonment Protector app for the same effect.
An advanced account is $299. The more advanced the account is, the smaller are the credit card fees. Also, on the minimum account, you can add one additional administrator, on pro, you can add four administrators, and on the advanced plan, you can add fourteen other administrators.
Based on the number of transactions on your site, you can decide whether it is worth it to pay for a reduced fee or not.
Staff account section allows you to add people who can administer certain things on your website and select what things are they going to have access to.
Overview dashboard can be used to see what and how well you did on a specific day. In the billing section, you can check how much Shopify is charging you.
Getting the shop live
To launch your domain name, you have to enter your card details. You should go to the domain page and either write a domain name that already exists or buy a domain. There will be some time between placing an order and confirmation. Once the domain has been purchased, you can create a neat working email, for example – [email protected] and [email protected] You can also buy domain outside Shopify, but it should be connected to your online shop.
After that, we are choosing settings – general and select the final name for our shop – the one that will be on every page.
If you are planning to sell outside the USA, then there is an option to switch to a metric system that the rest of the world is using.
Apps section can boost your sells by making the shopping convenience more convenient. For example, you can use a review app to get more reviews about your product or marketing apps like email capture apps, etc.
Shopify review would be incomplete without apps. Apps on the bottom of the page will make your shop look more professional, and they are a great help with marketing.
Oberlo app allows you to import the goods from Aliexpress into your shop quickly. Couples of clicks and the products are on your page. Just change the price, add the description, and sell.
Shopify reviews is an app that adds reviews to your site.
Another app helps you to sell digital goods. Digital downloads app can add your file to purchased digital merchandise, for example, an e-book.
Wheelio app is a fun thing wich creates coupons and plays them among customers. It allows you to get their emails and increase conversion. As soon as a customer is leaving the online shop, Wheelio offers him to spin the wheel and to win a discount. The amount of rebates is pre-approved by you.
Readymade platforms for creating your online shop
There are plenty of online services that allow their customers the opportunity to create and customize their online shops: wix.com, bigcommerce.com, 3dcart.com, volusion.com, and weebly.com. They all look professional and trustworthy. Why did I choose Shopify? I guess because it was the first one that I came across and then I liked the platform and the features.
There is one thing that I know for sure – if you are looking to dive into the existing sea of e-commerce, don’t be afraid to wet your feet. You should apply for the demo and practice and look for the best option for you, and you have to do it now, for the road to hell is lined up with good intentions, that never came true. Most of those websites have a free trial, a 14-days demo that allows you to test the functionality of the site. Go ahead, build your little empire. The opportunity is reaching out to you. Now.