With millions of buyers hovering around to buy their favorite products online, e-commerce is a lucrative place to start any kind of business. Aggressive prices, easy payments and returns, and the convenience of not going from store to store have made the online business a massive success in the past few years.
If you have ever thought about starting your own online business venture, I am sure you must have come across Shopify. It is a web-based e-commerce platform that allows you to start and manage your business with minimum effort without any technical or deep marketing knowledge.
Yes, it is relatively easy to get started with Shopify, however, you still must go through the fundamentals to avoid the odious rookie experience. With adequate planning and a disciplined approach, you, too, can be among successful entrepreneurs.
So, are you planning to jump into the e-commerce business at Shopify? Is the platform suitable for your business model? What are the expenses and possibilities? Stay with me and I am going to provide you with all the answers. Let’s get the ball rolling.
First of all, let’s get you familiarised with Shopify. It’s a Canadian global e-commerce platform that allows merchants from across the world to create web stores to sell their products. Currently, it’s one of the leading organizations with over 17 million online stores operating in 180 countries.
It’s basically a one-stop solution that incorporates all e-commerce activities into a centralized platform. In simple words, it provides sellers with all the necessary tools to create ready-to-sell web stores, manage orders, and fulfillment, the payment collection facility, and so on. Moreover, you get marketing and advertising solutions to kick-start your business.
Based on your business requirements, you can get either of the Shopify plans:
Shopify light comes at $9/month and is more suitable for casual sellers. With light, you are not required to create a dedicated store for your items. Instead, you can use your existing social platforms (Facebook and WordPress) and Shopify will provide you with a fully integrated social media store on its website.
You can easily customize your social accounts from the Shopify dashboard such as adding products, modifying descriptions, images, prices, and so on.
If you are planning to stick to Shopify business and have a long-term plan in your mind, then Shopify Plus is for you. Yes, at $2000/month, it’s ridiculously expensive, but you get some exquisite tools and features to scale up your business in a short period.
Additionally, you get a dedicated team focusing exclusively on your business needs 24/7. Other benefits include a Shopify Plus Academy, Merchant Success Training Program, 24/7 customer support, and much more.
Why Should You Sell On Shopify
Shopify eliminates the dreaded technical procedure of creating an online store by writing codes for hours. So, if you are a beginner with little to no technical knowledge, Shopify is the place for you. Here you can get your store up and running within a few hours and instead of writing hours of codes, you can focus on selling and marketing from the get-go.
Now, you must be thinking – Why Shopify, and not Amazon or eBay. Let me clear that out for you.
Shopify is a web-based e-commerce platform that allows you to create your own store and list your products, and manage orders and payments. Amazon, on the other hand, is an online marketplace where you are selling alongside other sellers. While Amazon is clearly a bigger organization, it lacks the customization that Shopify offers. Also, the promotional tools are well-optimized on Shopify than on Amazon.
Therefore, you can see that it’s considerably easier to start with Shopify since you don’t need the capital and business experience that you might need at Amazon or eBay.
How To Sell On Shopify: A Step-By-Step Guide
With all the information above, you are all set to start your Shopify store. Now, let’s have a look at some key steps you need to take:
Registering At Shopify:
First of all, you need to register yourself on Shopify. To do that, simply go to the Shopify registration page where you need to provide the following details
- A valid e-mail address for communication and identity purposes
- Preferred password
- Your store name
Bear in mind that your store name has to be unique otherwise, Shopify will not proceed to the next page. If you get a red warning signal, meaning there is already an existing store with the same name. Be creative and come up with a catchy name for your shop.
Once you are done with the initial registration process, you will be asked whether you are already selling or not, your business status, current revenue, and so on. Pick your preferred option and answer the follow-up questions. Here are the questions you need to answer:
- Your current revenue
- Places you want to sell alongside Shopify
- The industry you want to sell items from
Of course, you can skip any page you don’t want to continue and move on to the next step but I advise you to answer all the questions honestly, especially if you are starting your online business on Shopify for the first time.
Complete the final step in the registration process by providing your address details including city, state, postal code, business website, and contact number. You will receive an email from Shopify to confirm your email address. Simply follow the instructions mentioned in the email.
Congratulations! You have successfully created your Shopify Store. Initially, you get a 14-day trial period and it’s a good idea to get hold of the platform, its features, and tools before you are ready to purchase a plan. If you fail to buy a premium plan after 14 days, you will not be able to access your store anymore so it’s advisable to add products only after you feel ready to invest in a premium plan.
After confirming your email, you will be redirected to the Admin Panel of your store where you can edit the following:
- Add products to sell
- Add/customize the theme of your Shopify store
- Purchase/Add a domain name
Let’s talk about the Domain name first.
Purchase A Domain Name:
A unique domain name gives your store an identity that will make it easily discoverable. Your buyers can directly find your store by typing your domain name the same as we type https://www.facebook.com/ to go to Facebook instead of finding it on google every single time.
If you pay attention to the registration page, you are given a default domain name based on the store name you choose. You can keep the same domain if you want but it’s a good idea to purchase a domain that fits the criteria of a standard domain name and is more relatable to the business category you are going to sell from.
You can purchase a domain name directly at Shopify from several domain registrars. The pricing varies depending on the provider you choose and the type of name you choose for example .com, .net, .org, and so on. The standard pricing of a domain name should be around $10-$20.
- Shopify Themes:
Shopify themes give your store a personal touch. Choosing an attractive theme with vibrant colors and engaging images is important to showcase your store as a professional and high-quality shopping spot.
With Shopify, you can either choose from free-of-cost pre-design theme templates or purchase premium ones at the Shopify themes store.
You can also design your own themes using the customize option on the theme page. This allows you to use your product images, slide shows, and brand logo to give your store a more friendly look and feel.
- Adding the products:
Now, coming to the vital part of getting your store ready to sell. With millions of sellers trying to sell their items on Shopify, it’s not easy to find the sweet spot for your products initially.
Make proper market research to find the winning products to sell which require a lower investment capital and can generate enough profit for you to survive the initial stage of your business.
You can find various market studies and video tutorials online exclusive to Shopify product research. This will give you valuable insight into the art of choosing the right product and writing attractive product descriptions to attract more organic traffic to your page.
If you have a relatively smaller number of items (five or less), you can choose to manually add the products. Adding a product manually requires you to provide the following details:
- Product Title:
The name of your product should be on point with just enough details to fit in the title box.
- Product Description:
In this section, you need to mention all the necessary information about the item, its features, functions, tasks it can perform, durability, and so on. Of course, the parameters can be different depending on the type of product.
- Product Type:
Pick the product type and category from the drop-down menu. Try to stay as close as possible to the item category to have a higher chance to be discovered by customers.
The manufacturer/vendor of the item you are selling
List the places where the product is available for example social media sites, an offline store(if you have any), etc. Choose the online store if you are selling only on Shopify.
- Product Images:
You need to add the product images manually. Simply click on Add file to attach an image from your computer. Make sure to upload 5 or more high-quality images which can highlight all the physical aspects of the item. You can also import the product image from a different website using the URL by clicking on Add media from the URL.
Simply go to Add Product from your Admin panel and click on Add Product. Now there are several ways you can add a product to your listing.
However, if you own a big inventory and have a large number of items, you can choose to upload products using a CSV file to save time. Simply click on Import under the Products title and attach a CSV file to bring all the products to your store.
- Install the Supporting Apps:
Shopify allows you to install a bunch of productivity apps in order to improve the overall functionality of your store. You can browse the apps based on the categories such as store designing, marketing, customer support, inventory, product research, finances, advertising, and much more.
Currently, there are over 3500 free and paid apps on the Shopify app store. Here are my top picks:
- Google Shopping:
With Google Shopping, you can broadcast your products to interested customers across Google websites. This helps generate traffic and advertise your products to a larger audience.
- Loox -Photo Reviews:
Loox allows you to collect product reviews with images. You can modify your items based on the reviews as well as highlight the positive reviews on your store to attract more buyers and strengthen your brand image on the platform.
- Shopify Email:
Shopify email allows you to send personalized emails to your subscribers directly from the dashboard. You can add your store logo, product descriptions, and images in your email to market your new items to your existing customers.
Advoz is a special media advertising app for your Shopify store. With this app, you can create customized adverts for social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Google, and broadcast your product to a large audience.
- Marketing and Advertising Your Products:
Online business is all about product research and advertising. No matter how good of a product you have in your store, until and unless you are discoverable on the giant internet platform, all your hard work and investment won’t have a fruitful outcome.
As soon as you are done listing your products, start allocating some time and resources to advertising and marketing. Now, initially, your budget might restrict you from running paid google or Facebook ads but still, you can take certain steps to showcase your products in front of people.
- Social Media Campaigns:
For beginners, the best and more efficient way to market your product is by creating a dedicated social media page for your store. You can even integrate your social media page to Shopify and create/modify product posts, on your social media accounts (Facebook and WordPress).
For other social websites, you can simply create a page for your store, add posts with your product description and images and try to engage with as many people as you can. If your budget permits, you can even hire social media influencers to market your products.
- Email Subscription:
Email marketing is one of the oldest marketing techniques since the invention of the internet. Simply create a few subscription forms on your store at the best possible location where they have a high chance to be noticed by the customers.
Once you have the subscriber, use the Shopify Email app to send them personalized product emails. There is no guarantee but there is a high chance the customer will turn into a buyer eventually.
- Video Adverts:
You can use product videos to broadcast on your store. Simply use the Promo app where you can create engrossing and tempting product video promotions which will give customers a better sense of the product.
Shopify: The Expenditure
Shopify has 3 premium plans – Basic, Shopify, and Advanced. Before going into details, here are the common features that you will get with every premium plan:
- 24/7 customer support
- Online Store. E-commerce website and Blog
- Various sales channels including Online marketplaces and Social Sites
- Manual order creation
- Customer filtering and grouping
- Free SSL certification
- Discount codes
- Email marketing
- Unlimited product listing
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Gift cards
- Unlimited contacts
Now, Let’s have a look at the key features of every plan, their pricing, and benefits.
The basic plan is more suitable for newbies. It comes at a reasonable $29/month and provides you with 2 staff accounts. You can assign your inventory to up to 4 locations including retail stores, warehouses, etc. With a basic account, Shopify charges you 2% as a transaction fee for every sale.
Shopify is the most popular plan amongst all of them that will cost you $79/month. This plan is fit for medium-sized businesses that have consistent sales and are looking to expand their foothold. Here, 5 staff members can have access to the Shopify admin panel and POS compared to 2 in the basic plan. Also, you get 5 inventory locations to assign your inventory to. With a Shopify account, you pay a 1% transaction fee on each order.
An advanced plan is designed for big enterprises that have high-volume sales and are there to stay for the long term. With the advanced plan, you get up to 8 inventory locations you can use to store your products. This plan is best for you if you have a considerably high number of employees as it gives you 15 staff account access.
While it costs you $299/month, with the Advanced plan, there are some additional benefits such as tax/duties estimation, manual task automation, calculated shipping rates, and advanced reporting. Moreover, you only pay a 0.5% transaction fee for each sale.
With Shopify, the opportunities are limitless. Now, how far you can go, depends entirely on your planning and implementation. As I mentioned, starting on Shopify is a piece of cake but still, you need to have an understanding of the market, current product trends, and customers’ needs.
This basic selling guide will help you get going but surely you will discover many new aspects of Shopify’s business over time.
It’s necessary to work out your business requirements, analyze your budget and understand your products before you hit the ground. Obviously, don’t compromise with the product quality, at least initially. A few positive reviews and your business will get the launch pad it needs to mark its presence amongst millions of others.