This is a guest post by Bruce Wahl, author at Technivorz.com. All opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitbond.
Starting an online shop has never been easier. Those who know what they are doing can get operations off the ground within 15 minutes, with just a few clicks and some typing. In the “old days”, you needed nerves of steel, hours of work, and quite a bit of know-how.
One of the tools that have empowered us is certainly Shopify, perhaps the most renowned platform in the eCommerce world. It is an indispensable asset, even more so for businesses that operate on a shoestring budget and seek to avoid extra expenditures.
Also, the good news is that it is a breeze to set up, which has earned it the nickname “WordPress of eCommerce platforms”. Then again, there are many moving parts to grasp and numerous elements to fine-tune if you mean to own a good-looking, fully-functional, and unique storefront.
Back in 2006, a snowboarding store decided to share their code with the rest of the world and so, the Shopify came to life. In the years that followed, it has established itself as a prominent eCommerce platform. Even the brand paragons like Wikipedia and General Electric utilize this amazing tool, which speaks volumes about its value.
You could say that Shopify has everything you need in order to get your store up and running. Think of it as an all-in-one commercial system. You receive a lot in one place and the monthly fee is paid for company’s eCommerce features, management tools, and web design.
A matter of choice
Shopify owes much of its popularity to its user-friendliness, and you do not need to be a coding whiz or a designer to get the ball rolling. Namely, the platform does the heavy lifting for you by handling the coding. What is more, it provides many pro-looking themes that can make your storefront look vibrant and cool.
Everywhere you look, the simple and straightforward solutions unfold. Take the example of one important aspect you have to address, the shipping. The system is as simple as ABC: One can assign fixed prices or base them on factors, such as the weight of individual products.
However, this is not to say there’s no learning curve. In fact, newcomers may struggle to get a hold of the basic functionalities and features. Most users should be able to overcome initial hiccups because, after all, Shopify is tailored to beginners and small businesses that do not wish to take on the development and coding hassle.
On the other hand, in case you want to heavily customize your store, you may have to pay coders and designers. In a nutshell, what you gain in ease-of-use, you lose in customization. This suggests that established corporations may be inclined to look elsewhere, although we have already mentioned that some of them still put their trust in Shopify.
Growing and upgrading with Shopify
One of the main advantages of Shopify is flexibility in terms of scaling up. Namely, the store can grow with you. The prices start at $14 per month, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the potential benefits. The truth, however, is that this tool is pricier than most of the competition and it involves a 2% transaction fee for basic users.
This is offset by the fact that the top end package enables users to list as many products as they like. Thus, they are in a position to stick to Shopify regardless of how big their businesses becomes. Moreover, it is possible to implement apps to the storefront and add features, such as customer reviews and live chat.
Getting started with your first Shopify store
So, the first thing to do is to head to Shopify.com. There, you can see a plethora of sample stores and familiarize yourself with the features of the platform. If you meant to start a Shopify-based store, you need to find Get Started option and sign up. Enter your details, such as an email and password, and click on “Create your store now”.
Note that your storefront must have a unique name. It also pays off to make it memorable and catchy. And based on details, such as address, the currencies and tax rates will be configured automatically. You will also be asked about whether and what products you sell.
Upon completing the signup process, you will receive an email confirmation. The message contains a link to the store’s admin page. You need to log in and after that, you are presented with the dashboard. One of the main tasks that users have at that stage is adding flavor and visual appeal to their stores.
The visual aspect of a Shopify store
You do not want to look like just another clone of thousands of shops that exist out there. Shopify has a wide range of free themes that come in handy and change the overall appearance of the store. They can be filtered by industry sector, popularity, features, price (or the absence of it), etc. Weigh this decision carefully.
It is advisable to think through your visual identity and brand image, as well as to check out reviews and theme details. Taking into account the surge in the use of mobile phones, mobile compatibility should be one of the chief considerations. Likewise, visual media accounts for much of the visibility and success in the online world, so produce some high-quality images of your products.
Highlight any specific features and selling points with close up photos. Just know that images can make your website run slower, and impede the user experience. As you may notice, this stage is no cakewalk: It does require some tinkering and compromising.
Also, do not forget to preview the theme with a View Demo option before clicking on “Get Theme” button. As for those who want to customize the theme further, they should go to Theme Manager and change elements like color, logos, and font.
Adding products to your Shopify store
Of course, merchandise is the blood flow of your store. Thus, the next step is to add products in the Products tab. For each product that you introduce, you also have to enter details like image, description, URL, name, type, vendor, and price. Adding advanced product information like barcode and SKU is optional.
Besides that, users are able to provide SEO details and put together collections to make navigation easier for customers. A product can appear in any number of collections that are most often displayed on the homepage’s navigation bar.
To spark more interest and engage people, you can later add textual content about your products’ brand story and mission. A stream of quality content tends to boost website’s credibility and visibility. And if you want the best possible results, hire a website content writer.
The work is not yet done since there are a few details left. First off, users must confirm which payment methods they accept. It is highly advisable to integrate popular payment gateways, such as PayPal, and methods like credit cards and escrow.
It’s worth noting that some gateways take the payment to their own websites and forms. Also, the transaction fees that gateways impose are added to Shopify’s transaction fees.There is also a matter of cryptocurrencies that are becoming increasingly popular among customers.
In the Payments tab, there is a wide array of payment processor, as well as Shopify’s own payment processor. Finally, remember that one of the drawbacks of increased security is that you cannot fully customize the checkout process. On the brighter note, it is fully responsive and works like a charm for mobile users.
All that is left is to select your domain and make your site official. Navigate to the Add Domain option in the dashboard. Users can either transfer an existing domain or add a new one. I would advise you to purchase a new, SEO-friendly domain from a third-party internet domain registrar, such as GoDaddy.
Those who find it hard to think of a good domain tame can employ many tools that offer great ideas. When the domain is purchased, you come across launch Website button, the last stop on this journey. And when your store sees the light of day, you will be asked for credit card details. The billing starts 14 days after that.
In case you want to assess your order system, you can do it via Shopify’s Bogus Gateway. This brings us to the importance of testing the waters before diving in. Shopify offers a 14-day trial and a chance to see whether it is the right fit for you. The platform is not a one-size-fits-all solution and there are some other great options like WooCommerce that might be worth considering.
Start small, think big while starting your first Shopify store
In the world of eCommerce platforms, Shopify stands tall and towers over the competition. There are a plenty of reasons behind this dazzling success, but each and every business must pave its own way to greatness.
So, sign up with Shopify and go through a nice and easy step-by-step process. Create a visual identity with themes and fill your shop with products. Set up payment methods and shipping and do not overlook a single detail. The website should not only look awesome, but also be easy to navigate and functional.
Remember that the success of your business is dependent on user experience, not just the quality of your products. With that in mind, go ahead, hit it big in the bustling arena of eCommerce, and witness people flocking to your storefront.