Building an online store has never been easier. Shopify provides a full shopping platform and helps you register a domain and host your store, making it a one-stop-shop for e-commerce website management. In this guide, we will cover how to build a Shopify website from the ground up.
The Shopify Website Designer
Shopify comes with a website design tool that will help you build a website for your online store. You can set up a fully functional online store for as little as $29 per month and up. It comes with an unlimited number of products, methods for managing orders, analytics, and more.
|Basic Shopify||Shopify||Advanced Shopify|
|Locations||Up to 4||Up to 5||Up to 8|
|Print Shipping Labels||✔||✔||✔|
|USPS Priority Mail Shipping||✔||✔|
|Credit Card Rates||2.9% + 30 cents||2.6% + 30 cents||2.4% + 30 cents|
Pros & Cons of the Shopify Website Designer
The Shopify website designer is easy to use, and one of the fastest ways of getting an online store up and running. It provides a nice selection of attractive and responsive ― mobile-friendly ― templates and provides extensive point-of-sale (POS) options to make sure your customers have few problems selecting and checking out products. It does, however, have a few drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons associated with Shopify:
|Easy to use||Limited flexibility|
|Many POS options||Modification is difficult|
|Automatic sales tax calculation||Locked in transaction feeds, even with third-party gateways|
|Great for dropshipping||Professional reporting only on more expensive plans|
Before Building Your Shopify Website
Before beginning a Shopify website, there are a few steps that you need to take to ensure you have a positive experience.
Shopify Web Hosting
To have an online shop, you need to have a web hosting service. One of the nice things about using Shopify is that it provides this service as part of the cost of your site. This also means that if you choose to use Shopify for your website, you must keep it with this provider.
Register a Domain Name
Your domain name is who you are on the internet. If you want people to take your business seriously, you should register a unique domain name to represent you. You have the option of either purchasing a domain through Shopify, or you can get it from a third party and transfer it to Shopify.
Get an Email Address
When you register a domain name for business purposes, you want to set up an email account that is associated with that domain, particularly for customer communication purposes.
Determine Your Website Goals and Plans
When building any type of website at all, try to have an idea what you want to do with it. There are many different types of websites; however, Shopify is designed specifically for e-commerce. Of course, even within this category, there is a wide range of different types of e-commerce websites, most of which will work well with Shopify.
We can think of these as sites where you are attempting to sell something or exchange money for goods or services online. If you have a line of products that you would like to sell online, you will want to have some sort of shopping cart or method for people to choose that product and then make the purchase and ship it to them. However, in some cases, such as software or media purchases, these can be downloadable after purchase. Sometimes, various services are sold on e-commerce websites as well.
Personal & Crowdfunding Websites
Another type of online store is a personal or crowdfunding website, wherein you provide a method for people to make contributions or donations to you personally for a specific purpose. These can be used to raise money for causes or needs, or they can be to solicit funding to develop a new business idea further. Sometimes, crowdfunding sites will take donations in exchange for a future product.
Local, Hyperlocal, National, or International Stores
If you have a traditional brick-and-mortar store, where you are used to getting in-person or foot traffic but would like to expand your business to areas beyond your immediate reach, creating an online store for access to these products can be an excellent idea for increasing revenue. Many larger companies, both national and international, like to be able to expand their consumer base by offering online purchases. With an online business, it is possible to increase what may originally have been a very limited local market to becoming an international company with customers all around the world.
Develop Your Website Content
Before you begin building your online store, there are a few things you need to get in order. Your store is primarily about its content and not the design. While the look and feel of how you present your materials is important, you first need to have your product, including any images or multimedia content ― like videos ― and your product descriptions. You will also need to construct content for your “About” and Contact pages. People will want to know who you are and why they should purchase your product from you, and they need to know they have a way of contacting you with any questions.
While constructing your pages, it’s also a good time to educate yourself about SEO so that people will be able to find your site when looking for the products or services that you are offering. You will likely need to include some fairly compelling text as this is how search engines identify what a page is about, and how to rank it.
Design Your Shopify Website
Once you have all of your content organized, it’s time to begin the process of designing and creating your website.
Research Other Online Stores
Before you begin your design, it’s a good idea to look at the competition. You should be able to get a good idea of what looks good and what is effective. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and try to imagine what your experience would be. You should find some good inspiration for how to construct your site.
Build Your Shopify Website
OK, now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of building your Shopify website. When running an online store, the first thing you need to understand is that there is a “front end,” or the piece that customers view, and the “back end,” which is what you as a shop owner will see when you receive orders and purchases. You can think of this as the front room of a store, with all the displays and registers, and then there’s the back office or storeroom, where most of the work gets done. Both are equally important for running an online store.
Let’s get started using the Shopify interface. You can create a free online trial account, which will work for 14 days while you become familiar with the environment. First, you will be given a screen that asks you a few questions about your store.
Note: There is much to managing an online store, even with simple tools like Shopify, and we can’t cover all of this here, but we’ll show you a few of the basics so that you can get started.
Creating Your Store
If you are only exploring, you can choose “I’m just playing around” from the drop-down menu and Shopify’s artificial intelligence (AI) engine will help you come up with a logo, brainstorm business names, and even help you find a product to sell. You will then be prompted to enter your mailing address and other information so that you can get paid when products start moving.
You will then be brought to the dashboard, which looks like this:
The first thing you will want to do to familiarize yourself with how Shopify works is to add a few products. Click on the Products tab on the left menu:
On this page, you can add the title of your product, a description, an image or video, and pricing information. You can also keep track of inventory here and include a barcode number. Enter any important shipping information.
Creating the Front End
Once you’ve added a few products, you will want to design the front end of your store. Click on “Online Store” on the left and go to the Themes section. There are many themes to choose from, and many are free.
Once you choose a theme that you like, you can start customizing it to look how you want. Upload images, change text, and you can make the site fully your own.
You can do the same thing with your product pages by clicking on catalog, as shown below:
You can then edit individual pages, with images and text and make your store start to shine.
Publishing Your Site and Next Steps
After you have built the front end, you can then select a plan, and you can start receiving orders. You still have 14 days left in your free trial from the moment you make your store live.
You will be able to track your orders under the “Orders” section. Here, you can manage the payment gateway so that you can be paid for the products you sell. You can also see the state of the purchase ― order placed, order paid, or order fulfilled ― so that you can manage all of the transactions that happen in your store.
Don’t forget to market your site. Remember the SEO that you researched earlier, and consider promoting your site via social media, creating mailing lists of interested customers, and performing some direct marketing.
If you choose one of the higher-level plans, you will have access to some more advanced analytics so that you can track your site’s performance and sales.