Selling on Shopify
Shopify – one of the largest eCommerce platforms there is. It’s safe to say that there isn’t a product or service that isn’t being sold online. And in many cases, the sellers are using Shopify.
For an increasing number of sellers, eCommerce accounts for 100% of their business, whether they operate out of a headquarters building with a large staff and annual sales in the billions or work solo from a kitchen table, with modest sales revenues.
For others, eCommerce is an adjunct to sales made through other channels, such as a brick and mortar store, mail order, or a television shopping network. Regardless of the scale and scope of the business or the seller’s technical sophistication, Shopify offers significant advantages.
Shopify is a comprehensive eCommerce solution that enables sellers to build their own online store , and it can be integrated with an existing website. Sellers with physical stores can implement Shopify’s Point of Sale (POS) system to manage both online and offline sales and inventory from one dashboard.
The physical store automatically syncs with Shopify POS.
Any updates made to product listings or inventory counts are immediately reflected in the POS system. In short, whatever you can do from your desktop or laptop computer, you can do on your smart phone through Spotify POS.
Shopify enables sellers to do business nearly anywhere in the world and works with dozens of payment gateways and third-party payment processors. Shopify also integrates with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and other eCommerce fulfillment services, notifying them of orders they need to ship.
It’s easy to expand the functionality of an online store by connecting it with any of the hundreds of apps that can be integrated with Shopify to accomplish such tasks as:
- Customer support and engagement
- Inventory management
- Marketing through social media, email, and other means
- Data analysis and reporting
- Sales management and promotions
- Managing order fulfillment and shipping
- Because Shopify is entirely web-based, there’s no software to download, install, upgrade, or maintain.
Shopify’s eCommerce University provides free learning tools and resources for those who are new to selling online and that help experienced sellers expand their knowledge base. Topics include eCommerce marketing, social media marketing, drop shipping, legal issues, and many more. Additionally, new Shopify sellers receive onboarding, which provides guidance and suggestions to get them off to a good start.
Developing a Business Plan
It’s not unusual for online entrepreneurs to resist writing a business plan. Maybe they are convinced they have a great product or service to sell and are eager to start earning money. You can certainly set up an online store without having a comprehensive business plan. But your chances of lasting success will be greater if you do have one.
The market research will give you a clear picture of the competitive landscape. It will help you refine your ideas, and give you valuable insight into your target customers. Having a professional looking business plan will also help you secure any financing you might need to fund inventory purchases and grow your business.
Getting Started with Shopify
The first step is to choose the Shopify pricing plan that best suits your needs and set up your Shopify account. There are thee pricing tiers:
- Basic Shopify ($29/month)
- Shopify ($79/month)
- Advanced Shopify ($299/month)
All three tiers accommodate an unlimited number of products and offer unlimited file storage. There are a number of other features and functions that are common to all three plans, such as no setup fees, no transaction fees when using Shopify Payments, unlimited bandwidth, and around-the-clock technical support by phone or online. Some features are exclusive to the higher tiers. For example, Shopify shipping fees and credit card rates improve from one tier to the next.
Setting up your account is as simple as providing a payment method for automatic payment of the monthly fee. You will have to include your name and contact information and what you are selling. You’ll then be guided through the process of building your online store.
Creating Your Shopify Store
These are the basic steps in establishing a Shopify store. You could find more information here.
- Adding Products – Shopify supports the sale of physical products, services, and downloadable digital products. Physical products can be added to your store in several ways. You can do it manually, bulk uploading, or importing from another platform, such as eBay. Adding digital products requires the installation of an app, and a specialized app is also recommended for adding and customizing service options.
- Choosing a Design Theme – You can choose from over 100 pre-designed templates, many of them free, and edit them if you like. You don’t have to be a professional website designer to customize colors, fonts, and images. Pay special attention to editing the footer to include such things as your social media links and the payment methods you accept.
- Creating Your Domain Name – You can use an existing domain name, if you have one, or buy one from Shopify. Shopify’s domain name generator makes it easy to come up with a custom domain name and check its availability.
- Enter Shipping and Tax Rates – If shipping costs and taxes are not included in your item prices, you will need to add them separately based on product weight or prices. (With the Advanced Shopify plan, shipping rates can be calculated in real-time for UPS, USPS or FedEx shipments.)
- Set Up Payment Options – US, Canadian, and UK sellers can use Shopify Payments to accept credit cards without having your own merchant account or using a third-party processor. For other sellers and other payment methods, such as Paypal or Google Wallet, you’ll need to set up a link with the third-party processor.
- Customize Settings – Most of the Shopify settings will be populated based on choices made in the previous steps, but you’ll need to review them carefully and add such items as your store’s name and description.
- Open Your Shopify Store – Up until the point that you are ready to open your store to the public, nobody will be able to see it but you. You can continue tweaking things until your store looks and functions the way you want it to.
Shopify’s shopping cart software uses the same 256-bit encryption technology as banks do to safeguard sensitive data. Many eCommerce platforms charge a hefty annual fee for an SSL certificate. Shopify – on the contrary – provides, at no cost, a shared SSL certificate that covers all Shopify stores.
Shopify is also compliant with the Level PCI certification required for acceptance of credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard. Consequently, all online Shopify stores are deemed to be Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. All of the information that is generated in the course of running your online store is backed up daily on Shopify’s secure servers.
Selling Through a Shopify Store
Once your Shopify store is open for business, it won’t take long for you to start receiving customer orders. You will be notified of a new order by email, RSS, or text message to a mobile device. That notification is your prompt to log in to your Shopify account and review the order details. You can email the customer from within Shopify if you have any questions or concerns about the order.
Once you’ve packaged and shipped the order you go back into Shopify and mark the order as shipped. If your Spotify store is set up to use an order fulfillment service like FBA, all that’s needed is a single click to transmit the order to the warehouse.
If you like, you can offer coupon codes that give customers a price discount, free shipping, or else. You can also offer gift cards that customers can buy for others to use in your Shopify store.
Finally, you can find plenty of awesome APPS in the Shopify store that help you efficiently source products.
Selling Through Social Media
Many Shopify sellers promote and sell their products on a blog by using a WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal widget or plugin offered by Shopify to add products to a blog page or post. Shopify provides its own blogging platform enabling sellers to publish articles, invite comments and discussion, and otherwise engage with customers.
You can also integrate your Facebook page with your Shopify store. In effect, it will turn your Facebook page into an online store.
Leveraging Customer Data
eCommerce sellers have easy, instant access to information about customers. Their shopping history and habits that can be used in developing marketing strategies and promotional campaigns. Shopify enables you to apply specific filters to generate customer lists. They include such information as their location and purchase history.
Though customers can check out as guests, enable them to create a customer account during the checkout process. It will help them to build a relationship with your brand. Analyzing customer data can help you refine your keywords and meta tags to help drive more traffic to your Shopify store.
If you’re seriously considering getting involved in online sales, check out blogs and forums dedicated to eCommerce discussions. Listen to the voice of experience, and you, too, can find financial freedom as an online entrepreneur. Find out how you to finance the growth of your business here.
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