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.
1. Choose a flexible Shopify plan.
First, there are three Shopify plans that you can begin with. Beginners tend to go with the lowest tier plan to start, but Tan urges against it. “The lowest plan may be the cheapest, but it means that you miss out on some key features that will be necessary as your business grows,” he warned. “These features include the ability to purchase gift cards, professional reports, and abandoned cart recovery. Believe me: this is worth the extra money per month!”
Additionally, Shopify’s top tier plan offers a break in credit card fees, from 2.5% to 2.4%. This 0.1% difference can add up over time as your sales begin to mount.
2. 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 to make sure it’s something you can purchase if you choose it. Another option here is to use 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, if you prefer to bootstrap, simply come up with your own name and make a simple logo in a graphic design site like Canva.
3. 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 ‘settings’ function in Shopify, you can then click ‘connect existing domain.’ Shopify even offers a step-by-step tutorial for GoDaddy domain users.
4. Set up payments.
Next, you need to be able to receive payments. Shopify has its own payment portal called “Shopify payments,” and Paypal can also be synced. 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.
5. 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.
Continue to add products as you go or edit as needed! Once all of these steps have been followed, your first Shopify store will be ready to go.