Having an online shop is a benefit in itself. This is the best way to drive the attention of customers, increase sales and popularize your company on the web. There are several ways you can try to get your eCommerce website up and running.
Using Shopify, however, proves to be a more effective and potentially rewarding solution, especially if you need to do that ASAP. Here is a quick, but detailed guide on how to cope with the process on time and make use of all the special features and options this powerful website builder offers nowadays.
Major Steps to Launch an eCommerce Website with Shopify
If you have already started exploring Shopify characteristics, then you have the firsthand knowledge of how simple and undemanding the signup procedure is. If you haven’t had an opportunity to test the service yet, then you should know that registering with the platform won’t take you longer than a couple of minutes.
A pleasant surprise is that the system offers a 14-day trial period, which is completely free and enables you to get the general understanding of how the system works and what differs it from the rest of the services of this type. This is what you’ll have to do to launch your own Shopify eCommerce website:
Step #1 – Registration
As mentioned above, the signup procedure is very simple. To get an account, just fill out the registration form at Shopify.com, provide the required data and make up the unique name for your online store.
If the name you have chosen is already taken by someone else, you’ll have to provide another variant. Right after that, activate the “Create your store now” button and get ready to enter a number of other details, such as your contact data and the type of products you are going to sell.
Do you intend to explore Shopify options first? That’s not a problem as well! Just choose one of the variants (like “I’m just playing around”, for instance) and the system will allow you to complete the registration.
Step #2 – Create Your Online Store
The process of creating an online store with Shopify is easy and understandable as well. It includes such steps as template choice and customization, adding and enlisting the products, providing payment and shipping details. These steps can be completed at the dashboard.
For those of you, who are looking for more detailed instructions, the following plan may be of great help:
Select a Template
With a rich template gallery Shopify has to offer, choosing the theme that will represent your business in the best way possible won’t be a problem. A notable benefit is that you don’t have to possess any web design or coding skills to edit and customize the templates.
Each template comes with a list of changes you can make to give the theme you have selected the desired look.
Free themes have fewer modifications as compared to premium templates, but this does not mean that you won’t be able to select the most suitable theme for your own eCommerce website.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that full customization of a Shopify template still implies specific coding skills, but you can hire the experts working for the international design team to do that for you. This will ensure the best and the most successful result.
When selecting a template for your eCommerce project, take your time to look through the available offers in the theme store. This is the place, where you will find more than 180 paid and free theme variations and sort them by industry, popularity, recent templates and cost.
Take your time to learn the characteristics of themes you are interested in, browse through the reviews, view the demo videos, make your final choice and confirm it by activating the corresponding button.
Don’t be afraid to make the wrong choice. Shopify developers have taken care of this aspect as well by allowing you to change the template any time you wish. That’s another advantage of the system most users value a lot.
Edit and Manage the Template
This can be done in the Theme Manager Section. This is where you will get access to the published and unpublished templates you have ever chosen to make those changes you currently need. Shopify editing tools make it possible to completely change the template design to give your online store a brand new look.
Customization features are versatile, so, choose those of them you need to modify the design of your theme. The major features include logo upload, adding pictures to make homepage carousel slides, setting color schemes and fonts, choosing the number of products to be posted on each page etc.
Upload the Products and Their Descriptions
The option is available in the “Products” section. When uploading the products, don’t forget to consider the SEO parameters (URL, description and name).
This will not only provide your customers with the detailed information about your products, but will also contribute to their better online promotion.
Make sure the pictures of the products are clear and quality. This is needed to highlight their unique characteristics and give the product list neat and appealing look.
Having done that, make sure to save each uploaded product. By the way, it’s also possible to create collections (groups) of products with Shopify based on their common features. This option lets your customers view the products that are related to those they are looking for. Product collections may include items that are similar in type, color, size, purpose as well as seasonal offers and those products that are on sale.
Products can be added to the chosen collections either manually or automatically. The latter function should be set up separately based on the similar product criteria.
Set Up Payment Options
Shopify allows setting up the payment gateways (this is needed to enable your customers to pay for the products at the website).
As far as not all of them come with the same terms and differ in commission rates and prices, it makes sense to explore the features each payment gateway offers. When making your choice, consider such aspects as transaction fees, card types and offsite checkout.
Step #3 – Activate Your Online Store
Have you completed the second (and the largest) step? If so, then it’s high time to activate your online store and check the way it works. Prior to doing that, however, take your time to add extra details about your business in general, taxes and shipping information. The settings are correspondingly modified on the “General”, “Taxes” and “Shipping” pages.
The “General” page should contain all your business information. Don’t underestimate the importance of using the Google Analytics feature to monitor the users, who visit your online store.
The “Taxes” page includes taxing and shipping information. To adjust the settings, go to the dashboard and select the Product Page there. Then choose the name of a product you need, find the “Inventory & variants” section, edit the link next to your own product variant and check whether the “Requires Shipping” and “Charge Taxes” checkboxes are marked there. In case you don’t wish to make use of these features for some reason, uncheck them.
When it comes to shipping information, you can add it on the separate “Shipping” page. This info may include the weight of the product, shipping rates etc. The system will automatically calculate the cost of shipping based on the specifications you mention.
Step #4 – Test the Order Process
Before you actually get your online store running, you are bound to test the order process yourself. How else can you find out what problems your customers may encounter when placing their orders at the website?
Meanwhile, fixing the available bugs and managing the order system is essential. Otherwise, you can just lose clients and go bankrupt. To avoid this negative outcome, it makes sense to use the Bogus Gateway the system offers when accepting the transactions.
With this purpose, adjust the payments setting in the corresponding section of the Admin panel, deactivate your credit card gateway (if any), select a new credit card gateway ad enable the Bogus Gateway option to test it in action. Then you are welcome to place a test order like an ordinary customer would do.
By the way, it’s also possible to test a payment gateway by making a real transaction. To do that, set up the payment gateway of your choice, place an order and make a real payment by using your real credit card info. If it’s ok, you may immediately cancel and refund your order to avoid paying transaction fees. Finally, check your payment gateway to check whether the money went through.
Step #5 – Purchase the Domain Name
It’s impossible to get your online store running without connecting a domain name. You can choose between two options here. The first one implies getting a Shopify domain, which will be connected to your eCommerce website automatically. This will cost you around $9-14/year.
Another option is to buy a third party domain and connect it to your website on your own. Such domains may be a bit cheaper, but you’ll face extra troubles having to redirect the Domain Name System (DNS) records on your own.
If you still have to do that, add the newly purchased domain name to Shopify (go to the Shopify Admin Settings) first, update the DNS records, remove the existing storefront passwords to make your online store accessible on the web after its activation and set the working domain.
Make sure to mark the “Redirect all traffic to this domain” checkbox to enhance the available SEO features. If you own several domains, you can redirect them to the primary one by repeating the steps we’ve just described. If needed, you can change the primary domain to any of those you own with a few clicks only.
Even though the above mentioned procedure of launching your own online store with Shopify may seem complicated for an inexperienced user, this is not so. As practice shows it, getting a functional, appealing and unique eCommerce website doesn’t take much time and effort. It does not imply the awareness of coding skills and other web design nuances as well.
Shopify makes everything clear and simple. It allows for complete template customization and adjustment of functionality features. What’s more, you are offered a large app store to enhance your online store performance.
The only drawback is the inability to customize the checkout. The thing is that Shopify doesn’t allow accessing the page because of the safety concerns. Anyway, the checkout remains responsive to meet the needs of customers, who give preference to shopping on the go.
The conclusion is obvious: having chosen this website builder to get your online store running, you will have more time to market your products instead of maintaining the website.