Quick Guide on Starting an Ecommerce Store on Shopify
Back in the day, opening a physical store to sell products required a big investment. Today, that’s no longer the case, as the entry barrier is much lower with an online business. Starting a shop as an online entrepreneur can be both thrilling and overwhelming for most of us, as with today’s technology, we can now sell to anyone everywhere in the world 24/7.
When starting, many of us are unfamiliar with different aspects of running an eCommerce shop, which may sometimes be frustrating. The good news is that E-Commerce platforms such as Shopify make it simple for anyone to create an online store that looks good and functions well without professional design skills or coding knowledge.
Shopify is a comprehensive e-commerce platform that enables individuals and businesses to create their online stores. It is a subscription-based software that allows users to set up a web store and sell their products or services with ease.
Launched in 2006, Shopify has evolved to become one of the leading e-commerce solutions in the market, powering millions of businesses across the globe. Unlike traditional e-commerce software that requires server installation and technical setup, Shopify is a cloud-based service that offers a hosted solution.
This means that store owners can access their shops from anywhere with an internet connection without worrying about server maintenance or software upgrades. By choosing Shopify, businesses can benefit from a combination of ease of use, powerful features, and scalability, making it suitable for new entrants and established companies in the e-commerce space.
- User-Friendly Design: The platform is engineered for ease, allowing users of all skill levels to launch and administrate their virtual storefront with a minimal learning curve involved.
- Tailored Storefronts: Users can access numerous customisable themes and a versatile editor, allowing for a highly personalised and brand-aligned online presence.
- Robust Security Measures: The service prioritises security, offering peace of mind through PCI compliance and encrypted transactions to protect sensitive data.
- Optimised for Mobile Commerce: Responsive designs ensure that stores look and function optimally across many devices, catering to the substantial market of mobile shoppers.
- Seamless Payment Solutions: It facilitates transactions by integrating its payment gateway and supporting various external payment services.
- Built-In SEO and Marketing: A set of SEO tools helps to improve search engine visibility, while marketing features like discounts and gift cards aid in promotional efforts.
- Diverse App Integrations: An expansive app store allows for extensive functionality enhancements, ensuring that the platform can adapt to a wide array of business needs.
- Comprehensive Customer Support: Round-the-clock customer service ensures that assistance is readily available, critical for maintaining continuous operations.
- Scalable Infrastructure: The platform is designed to grow with the business and can handle increased products and transactions without hindering site performance.
Setting Up a Shopify Store
Launching an online storefront on this platform involves a series of straightforward steps designed for a seamless user experience. Establish a store that not only looks professional but is also geared towards providing an optimal shopping journey for customers.
Creating a Shopify Account:
- Visit the Shopify Website: The first step is to navigate to the Shopify homepage.
- Start a Free Trial: Opting for the ‘Start free trial’ option allows exploration of the platform’s features without immediate investment.
- Enter Business Details: Information about the business, including an email address, password, and a unique store name, must be provided.
- Complete the Setup: Filling in additional business details helps customise the platform’s setup to meet specific needs.
Choosing a Shopify Theme:
- Select a Theme: Access the ‘Online Store’ section and click on ‘Themes’ to explore available options. It’s essential to choose a theme that reflects the business’s brand and functionality needs.
- Customise the Theme: The theme editor is available for tailoring the layout, colours, and design elements to the store’s branding.
- Preview Changes: Before finalising any changes, a preview in desktop and mobile views ensures everything is displayed correctly.
- Configure Payment Gateways: In the ‘Settings’ menu, selecting ‘Payments’ allows the setup of preferred payment methods, ranging from Shopify Payments to third-party gateways.
- Set Up Shipping: Within ‘Settings’, the ‘Shipping and Delivery’ section is where shipping rates and zones are determined, offering options like flat rate, free shipping, or weight-based rates.
- Manage Taxes: Under ‘Settings’ and ‘Taxes’, the platform can automate tax calculations, but it remains critical to ensure these settings comply with the local tax laws.
- Add Products: By navigating to ‘Products’ and selecting ‘Add product’, details such as name, description, and price can be inputted.
- Upload Images: Including high-resolution images is essential for showcasing products and influencing consumer decisions.
- Organise Categories: Using ‘Collections’, products can be grouped into various categories for more efficient customer navigation.
Setting Up Collections and Navigation:
- Create Collections: In the ‘Products’ menu, the ‘Collections’ feature allows for organising products into specific groupings like ‘New Arrivals’ or ‘Sale Items’.
- Customise Navigation: Through the ‘Online Store’ and ‘Navigation’ sections, menu structures are established to guide customers easily to various parts of the store, ensuring a user-friendly shopping experience.
Essential Shopify Features
Shopify offers a suite of essential features designed to streamline the process of running an online store. From comprehensive inventory management to SEO and customer engagement tools, this platform is equipped to handle the demands of modern e-commerce.
The platform delivers a range of key features that cater to the needs of e-commerce business owners, including a user-friendly interface, customisable themes, secure payment processing, and extensive app integrations. These features are designed to help store owners manage their online business efficiently while providing a pleasant shopping experience for customers.
Inventory Management on Shopify: The platform allows for real-time tracking of stock levels, automated restock notifications and integration with various inventory apps. This helps in maintaining accurate inventory records, which is vital for order fulfilment and customer satisfaction.
SEO Features: These include customisable headlines, titles, and meta tags, along with auto-generated sitemaps and the ability to edit robots.txt files. By optimising these elements, stores can enhance visibility in local search engine results, attracting more potential customers.
Apps and Extensions: From advanced analytics to inventory and shipping solutions, these apps enable storefront customisation to meet specific business needs and streamline operations.
Customer Engagement Tools: Shopify supports a range of customer engagement tools, including options to integrate newsletter sign-up prompts and install live chat support. These tools allow for direct customer communication, providing a channel for support, feedback, and marketing promotions.
Design and User Experience
A professional design instils trust and communicates brand value. Responsive design ensures that the e-commerce store adapts to various screen sizes, providing a seamless experience for users on desktops, tablets, or smartphones. This adaptability is essential, directly affecting traffic, engagement, and bounce rates. The design and user experience (UX) of an e-commerce store play a role in attracting and retaining customers.
A professional, responsive design and a thoughtful UX strategy can significantly impact consumer behaviour and sales conversion rates. A good UX goes beyond aesthetic appeal, encompassing the ease users can navigate and interact with the online store. It requires a deep understanding of the target audience to create a journey that feels intuitive and engaging from the homepage to checkout. Here are some tips:
- High-Quality Images: Clear, high-resolution graphic images that showcase products from multiple angles are vital.
- Detailed Descriptions: Write accurate, detailed product descriptions to help users make informed decisions.
- Intuitive Layout: Products should be displayed in an organised manner, with easy-to-use filters for sorting.
- Consistent Branding: The product display should align with the overall brand for a cohesive experience.
- Guest Checkout Options: Allowing purchases without an account.
- Clear Progress Indicators: Showing users how far along they are in the checkout process.
- Multiple Payment Options: Including various payment methods to cater to different user preferences.
- Touch-friendly Navigation: Ensuring all buttons and links are easy to tap on a touch screen.
- Fast Load Times: Mobile users expect quick access; thus, optimising speed is crucial.
- Responsive Design Testing: Regularly testing the store on various devices to ensure consistent quality.