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 10 steps you need to do 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 the platform. 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 Variants section. This then allows you to add up to three variations, with multiple options within each variation.
Once you have added your variations, a box will appear below, where you can enter your the price, quantity and SKU code for all of your variations.
Virtual & Digital Products
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. There are a few to choose from but the Shopify team have created their own one called Digital Downloads.
This app allows you to add a downloadable file to your exiting products by adding an Add Digital Attachment option under the more actions dropdown menu, when you go back in and edit your product.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow you to upload a file when you are creating a new product. But it is simple enough to create a virtual product and then go back and edit it to add the downloadable attachment.
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. If you want to edit more, you will have to use the Shopify bulk editor.
This can be accessed in the inventory page but I personally think it is better to do this within the product overview page. To go into the bulk editor, select the products you want to edit (by clicking the checkbox next to it) and then click the Edit Products button that appears.
Once you are in the bulk editor, you can select which fields you want to edit by using the Add Fields dropdown menu. For the majority of edits, this will be the Inventory Quantity, Price and Compare at Price (use for advertising sale prices) but there are plenty of options to choose in the drop down menu.
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.
This can be done by going back in and editing the collection once you have created and saved it as it will give you a section where you can select your products.
You can either start typing the name of your product or you can click the browse button, which presents a pop up screen with all of your products and you can select which ones you want by clicking the check box next to the product.
Once you have selected the products that you want to add, click the done button at the bottom and all of these products will be added to the collection.
You can also add existing products to a manual collection by going back and editing the product, this is done by selecting the chosen collection from the collections box on the right hand side of the screen. If you are creating a new product, you can use the collections box to add it to one of your collections.
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.
If you are going to be posting items out, then you are going to want to configure the Shipping section. This allows you to set domestic and international shipping rates. When you are setting up your shipping rates, you can create conditions which can be based on weight or price.
What these conditions allow you to do, is to create shipping methods such as Free Delivery over £100 or weight based pricing as long as a weight is entered on the product page.
You can also create specific shipping policies for certain products, for example if you have high value or heavy items that require a different type of shipping process or charge, then you can set those up as well.
With Shopify, you add the products to the shipping method within the shipping section of the settings. This is not done on the product creation or edit page.
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: Order Management
By this point, you should have most of your store set up, especially on the ecommerce side of things but one thing you may need to set up is the order management system.
This is only applicable if you are going to be managing all of your orders via the Shopify dashboard, if you are using a third-party order management software, then you can skip this section.
The reason why some set up is required, is that in the standard Shopify order management system, there is no way to print off invoices or packing slips in bulk. The only thing you can print off is an order summary sheet but this has to be done on an order by order basis.
To remedy this, you install the free Order Printer App, which is made by the Shopify team. This adds the option to print off your invoices and packing slips in bulk by adding an option to the More Actions drop down menu.
Within the order printer, you can choose to print off your order invoices, packing slips or both. You can also create your own template if you have your own style of packing slip.
Whether you have the Order Printer App installed or not, you can still update your order statuses in bulk and export your order information in CSV format.
Step 8: 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 choosing one of the 9 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.
If you navigate to your Collection and Product pages, you will have some options as to the layout of these pages and you can choose to hide certain elements.
Another area that you want to set up before your site goes live is your navigation menu, this is an important step. Not only because it helps visitors navigate your site but it is also how you can set up sub-collections within Shopify.
Because in Shopify, this can’t be done in the create/edit collection page. Fortunately, setting up the navigation menu is very easy to do. Simply go to Online Store → Navigation and it will show you a list of menus that are on your site.
The most important one is the Main Menu as this is your top navigation bar. To access it, click on the name of the menu and it take you to a page similar to that in the image above.
To add a new menu to the main navigation bar, click the Add Menu Item bar and it will ask you what you want to add, simply select where you want it to link to and give it a name, then click add and it will appear in your menu.
If you want to create sub-collections, you will need to add an item and then drag it across so that it is a step down from the main heading. Note: when you do this, the main menu item will no longer take you to another page, it will just show a drop down menu when clicked on.
As you can see in the image above, I have created a main navigation heading for Men’s, with Men’s Accessories under that and Men’s Rings and Men’s Watches as sub-collection’s of Men’s Accessories and this is what it looks like on the front end of the website.
Within this set up, if you clicked Men’s Accessories, it would show you everything that was in that collection but if you just wanted to see the Rings or Watches, you could click on the sub-collection.
Step 9: 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 ecommercegold.shopify.com. Where as when you make your site live, you want it to be on your own domain.
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 10: 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.