Shopify Tutorial: How to Create an Online Store

The explosion of digital has seen a steady rise in eCommerce over the years. In fact, projections estimate that global volume transacted will hit $6.5 trillion by 2023. Joining established eCommerce merchants are retail shops making the transition to digital as well as individuals setting up their own eCommerce store.

We hear more and more success stories in dropshipping business. For example, Marc made $178,492 by dropshipping US and European products using Shopify and Spocket (read case study).

Doing so has become easier than ever before, thanks to platforms like Shopify.

The basics of getting your own eCommerce store with Shopify are actually very simple. eCommerce sites are fundamentally the same as basic websites, except that they allow users to make purchases on the site.

Here are the steps:



Starting Your Shopify Online Store

The basics of getting your own eCommerce store with Shopify are actually very simple. eCommerce sites are fundamentally the same as basic websites, except that they allow users to make purchases on the site.

Step 1. Register for a Shopify account

Sell online with Shopify - Signup for a 14-day free trial
Shopify offers you a 14 day free trial period with no credit card information required (Visit Shopify).

Shopify offers all new users a 14 day free trial period. To get started with them, visit the Shopify site and click on ‘Start Free Trial’. This sign up gives you access to the Shopify site builder.

Start here > Click to signup and create a Shopify store.

Step 2. Setup your Shopify shop

Use Shopify Site Builder to build an online store
The Shopify site builder is simple and easy to manage.

The Shopify Site Builder follows the Lego concept. What it allows you to do is basically put together various ‘pieces’ of a site so that it works the way you want. Everything is visual so you can see your site take form as you build it.

There are two ways that to build a site at Shopify:

1. Pre-built Shopify Themes

Find pre-built theme for your store front
Shopify themes

The first is to make use of a pre-existing template on Shopify and then modify that so that it looks uniquely yours.

To find a theme that suits your needs, you can visit Shopify Theme Store at themes.shopify.com – there are more than 70 pre-built free and paid themes to choose from.

2. Create from scratch using Liquid

Shopify programming language Liquid
Shopify programming language Liquid – Several Shopify developers told us that Liquid is an easy-to-learn language. You'll have to learn it if you wish to create a Shopify Store from scratch.

Alternatively – if you want something more unique, you can also create a site from scratch. Shopify platform uses their self-developed PHP language called “Liquid”. You'll need to master the language in order to create your Shopify store from scratch.

See real-life online stores built with Shopify.

Step 3. Add products to your inventory

Adding a product to your inventory in Shopify
The ‘add product' page also lets you organize where products go.

There are two main ways of adding products that you want to sell on Shopify.

Manually add products

The first is by manually adding products that you actually have inventory of.

To do this, click on ‘Products' then select ‘Add Product'. The Add Product screen is a very powerful utility for your store. Aside from the basics such as product name and descriptions, you can also set collections, vendor, and tags here. This helps keep your products organized.

Add dropshipping products

Another way of adding products would be the dropshipping method. You'll need to visit the Shopify Market and select a dropshipping app such as Oberlo. Using that, you can browse and add products from the app interface instead.

Step 4. Display products to your eCommerce store

Placing a product to Shopify store
Here I place the previously added product to the home page collection.

Adding products to your inventory simply means that they're stored in the system. You also need to arrange for those products to be placed on your Shopify store. To do this, open up your store editor again.

Here you will decide where to add certain collections of products. You can have different sections displaying varying collections, or simply one big catalog – the choice is yours.

Step 5. Configure payment methods

Configuring payment methods in your shopify store
Add or configure payment providers anytime, go to Settings > Payment Providers to see available payment providers to you.

Once your basic site is put together it's time to look towards eCommerce features. The first thing you need in this aspect is to decide how you want customers to pay for purchases on your site.

PayPal

By default, PayPal is available on your store, but you will need to create a PayPal merchant account later if you wish to use this. Aside from PayPal you have two other main types of payments processors.

Shopify Payments

The first is Shopify Payments, provided directly by Shopify. If you decide to use this, it allows you to process almost any kind of payments through your account. However, Shopify payments is a bit restricted since not everyone can use it. It’s available only to a handful of countries and there are further restrictions on what businesses in which countries can use it or not.

For example, Australian businesses can use Shopify Payments but those associated with some financial and professional services, gambling, or a whole list of other activities are prohibited.

Third-Party payment providers

Another way you can go about it is by using a third-party payments processor such as Stripe, iPay88, or WorldPay. Unfortunately, there is another ‘but’ here. Before you choose a provider to use, you need to make sure that it’s available for your region.

Step 6. Setting up shipping parameters

Setting up Shopify store shipping
You need to specify details on how your products are shipped.

To manage your shipping arrangements, click on ‘Settings' and then ‘Shipping'. Here you can set all the details pertaining to each order – from shipping carrier to manifest lists and rates.

You can create multiple shipping configurations to cater to varying orders such as domestic or International. Conditions can also be set, for example, what weight of orders require what type of packaging.

Step 7. Managing shopping carts

Managing Shopify shopping carts
Aside from payments, you can choose to capture customer data during the checkout process.

From the “Settings” -> “Checkout” page, you can set up the process through which your customers go through for making their purchase. Decisions have to be made on how you want your store to manage checkouts.

For example, do you want anyone to be able to make a purchase without an account on your store? The checkout section is another powerful area that you can use not just for revenue generation, but also data capture and other marketing purposes.

Step 8. Launch your store!

Launching your store
Your Shopify store is protected by password during the trial period.

To launch your Shopify store, you will need to sign up for one of their plans. Different plans on Shopify have different features. For example, all transactions on Shopify are levies with transaction fees but higher-tier plans will cost you less in those fees.

Start here > Click to start your Shopify store.


Why Shopify: Learn More about Their Features

Easy to use website builder

A closer look on Shopify Site Editor
Shopify editor is easy to use. On the left is the navigation bar where you can edit on the particular block.

The ‘front’ of your eCommerce site is what visitors will see and interact with. This can be built to your exact requirements by making use of the blocks that Shopify has in the site builder. It can be used to start with a blank template or modify one of Shopify’s existing themes.

Shopify Payments and shipping

The Shopping cart and payment processing is the heart of your eCommerce store. You can choose what payments you wish to accept from your customers. There are over 100 different processors available so the choice is really up to you.

Aside from that, Shopify also allows you to integrate shipping pricing and handling, calculate taxes, and more.

Customer management

Knowing your customers is important. Shopify keeps track of your customers as well as their purchasing history and other information. This helps you organize them and with that, you can carry out extended marketing such as launch custom campaigns and more.

Marketing tools

Shopify comes with some either built-in or possible adds on that help you run marketing campaigns. You can offer customers gift cards, carry out social media or email marketing campaigns, and more.

Manage products

Shopify Backend Management
There a lot of fields that allow you to organize products in detail.

With the website as your storefront, you also have a backend on Shopify.

This is similar to the storeroom in your retail shop, where you can manage inventory. Here, you can tag products, generate reports to help with stock replenishment, or even define various SKUs.

Go mobile

With many entrepreneurs jumping on the eCommerce bandwagon, Shopify has made a mobile app available to support its users who are on the go. Their mobile app will give you full control of your site and behaviour from anywhere in the world.

Shopify buy button

Shopify Buy Button
After customizing the Buy Button, you can copy the code into the HTML editor of your website.

For those who don’t want to own their own entire eCommerce site, Shopify has a Lite plan that offers the integration of a Buy Button. You can use this on your own website or blog to easily take advantage of Shopify’s transaction capabilities.

Shopify Analytics

Shopify Analytics
The analytic dashboard shows the overview of your Shopify store.

From a single dashboard you can access all the data that is gathered from your site. This includes visitor statistics such as where they are coming from, how they learned about your site, and more. You can also generate product and sales reports to be exported.

Shopify POS

One of the most unique things about Shopify is that they make allowance for physical retail shops to easily make the transition to digital. This takes the form of Shopify POS that allows them to tie the Shopify backend into their retail business. The result in integrated inventory and even reporting.


How Much Does Shopify Cost?

Shopify Cost
The cost of Shopify store.

Shopify altogether has five plans for you to choose from. Three of those are standard plans which most users will opt for, while the other two are at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Shopify standard plans come priced at $29/mo (Basic Shopify), $79/mo (Shopify), and $299/mo (Advanced Shopify).

There are subtle but important differences between these plans. All of them of course enable you to build and run an eCommerce site. The more expensive plans though come with extra features that would benefit larger sites that see a higher volume of traffic.

For example, if you were to be running a high traffic volume site, signing up for Advanced Shopify might save you money despite its higher pricing. Advanced Shopify comes with lower transaction fees for credit card payments, which is a common payment method for online stores.

If their standard plans aren’t for you then you can also consider Shopify Lite or Plus. Shopify Lite is intended to help you sell online without the need to build a full store with Shopify. It allows you to use the ‘Buy Button” mention above for only $9/mo.

Shopify Plus is meant for large businesses which may have special needs. Each of these plans are customized to your specific needs, so costs vary. You will need to contact Shopify to discuss your exact requirements with them.

Let's have a look at the pricing table.

Shopify Plans/PricesBasic ShopifyShopifyAdvance Shopify
Monthly Price$29 /mo$79 /mo$299 /mo
Staff accounts2515
Credit card fees2.9% + $0.302.6% + $0.302.4% + $0.30
Transaction fees / 3rd party gateway2%1%0.5%
Shopify payments0%0%0%
Gift cardsYesYes
Abandoned cart recoveryYesYesYes
Free SSL certificateYesYesYes
Fraud analysisYesYes
Personal reportsYesYes
Professional reportsYesYes
Advance report builderYes
Real-time shipping ratesYes
24/7 supportYesYesYes

* Please refer to Shopify's official website for best pricing and plan accuracy.


Is Shopify the Right eCommerce Tool for You?

Shopify is all about helping people sell online. This can happen in three ways, either as an entirely new eCommerce store, levering on an existing site, or by tying existing retail businesses into a new online store. Let’s take the following three cases as an example;

New Store – Jack wants to start selling fishing equipment online since it would cost him too much to rent a physical store for this purpose. For only $29 a month, Shopify Basics allows him to do so without the need for him to learn how to code to develop and maintain his store.

Existing Site – Peter has a successful website and wants to leverage on his traffic by selling some products. To do so, he signs up for Shopify Lite that will help him do so on his site for only $9 a month.

Physical to Digital – John is the owner of a chain of hardware stores in the Denver area. By making use of Shopify, he is able to easily launch an online storefront for his shops. With Shopify POS, he can also integrate stock management for his physical and retail stores.

The only case in which Shopify isn’t really useful is if you aren’t intending to sell online. Its pricing is a little steeper than most standard website builders since it integrates so many eCommerce features.

Start here > Click to get started with Shopify.

Conclusion: Shopify is Built to Help You Sell

As long as you are planning to do any kind of online sales then Shopify is the right solution for you. Whether you are selling physical products or digital goods, Shopify has you covered. The best part is that you can build and run a professional looking eCommerce store without having to learn a single line of code.

Because of its popularity, Shopify also has a vibrant online community. If there’s something you want to know, simply ask and you will be very likely to find someone who knows the answer.

About Timothy Shim

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Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.

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