Shopify is the go-to e-commerce platform, and is very user-friendly for beginners. With a 2021 forecast for e-commerce at $4.97 trillion (nearly a 400 percent increase in just seven years), the time has never been better to begin a Shopify store, whether you have a product of your own or are beginning a dropshipping business.
Steve Tan is the founder of LeapVista, an ecommerce education company that gives aspiring ecommerce entrepreneurs all the tips and knowledge they need to succeed online. The course includes a full, step-by-step how-to for setting up your first Shopify store, and Tan shared the details of what he teaches for first timers here. He recommends Shopify for its ease in getting started. “There’s no need to hire a developer to build an ecommerce platform anymore — it just requires a few clicks to get up and running,” he shared.
- Choose a flexible Shopify plan.
First, there are three Shopify plans that you can begin with. Beginners should start with the lowest tier (cheapest) plan to start. Tan noted that “Once everything starts to stabilize, definitely upgrade to the next plan, as not doing so may lead to you missing our on key features.”
These features include the ability to purchase gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, and most importantly, professional reports. “Through these reports, you can make better, data-driven decisions like the most popular size and color of a product, etc. etc…Believe me: this is worth the extra money per month!” Tan added.
Additionally, Shopify’s top tier plan offers a break in online credit card fees, from 2.9% to 2.4%. This 0.5% difference can add up over time as your sales begin to mount.
- Find a store name and logo.
If you don’t already have a store name in mind, Tan recommends using Shopify’s free business name generator. “I’ll preface this by saying that there’s no one perfect name that will make or break your shop,” he encourages. “As long as it’s short, snappy, and reflects what it is that your business offers, it’s good to go. You can always change it later.”
One caveat: the names that Shopify generates aren’t always available. Make a list of your favorites, then cross-check with GoDaddy or NameCheap to make sure it’s something you can purchase if you choose it. Another option here as a potential inspiration source is something like Brandbucket or Brandroot, which generates both names AND logos. “In BrandRoot, you can choose your business’ category – such as shopping, fitness, or food – and it will show you different name ideas and the accompanying logos for your shop,” says Tan.
These come at alternating costs but he doesn’t recommend going above their $1,000-2,000 options – and doesn’t recommend that any beginner spends anywhere near this much on getting their first store or domain up and running. Rather, use this approach if you’re looking for some fresh ideas and already have experience with past stores. And, if you prefer to bootstrap, simply come up with your own name and make a simple logo in a graphic design site like Canva or Crello. This is super easy at a low cost.
- Purchase a domain, then connect it.
Once that decision has been made, it’s time to purchase a domain. Tan recommends using either NameCheap or GoDaddy, and finding a domain with “.com” (as opposed to .co, .me, or any of the other options.) “This comes across as more professional and will be perceived as more valuable,” Tan commented.
Through the “Online Store” function in Shopify, you can go to “Domain” then click ‘connect existing domain.’ Shopify even offers a step-by-step tutorial for GoDaddy or Namecheap domain users.
- Set up payments.
Next, you need to be able to receive payments. Shopify has its own payment portal called “Shopify payments,” (which is powered by Stripe) and Paypal can also be synced. “If your country doesn’t support these, look for something else that can support payment. Most important is to have at least one working payment gateway so you can get started.” Tan says to set up all of these payment options to be more flexible for your customers. It will ask about some general information about your business for tax purposes, and if you haven’t yet filed articles of incorporation to become a company, simply use the default option as a sole proprietorship. “Filling in the information is super easy, just make sure you have this information prepared at first.”
- Begin adding products.
Once all of that is ready to rock, it’s time to upload your products to the site! Tan emphasizes the importance of the product’s title (“make it short and sweet, no long titles!” he said) and the photos. These should be high quality images that show the best of what your product has to offer. There’s an option to upload multiple, and the far left one that shows up as the biggest will be the feature image.
Then, create a description for each product. Tan says to follow a simple formula with a few sentences teasing the product’s benefits, bold bullet points about the features and details, and then any relevant notes on shipping. They also add an image with logos of all payment forms accepted.
- Double check everything.
Finally, go back over the store’s settings one more time to make sure the settings are satisfactory, prices are right, and everything else is in order. It’s best to double check this ahead of pressing the ‘publish’ button to avoid any potential headaches. “Once all of that is ready, your Shopify store will be ready for business and you can start running ads to your store!” encourages Tan. Continue to add products as you go or edit as needed!