Getting Started with Shopify

Find out how you can be Shopify-ready in 10 simple steps

Shopify has become a behemoth in the online retail marketplace, and making yourself a spot on the platform is a matter of just a few clicks. With over a million sellers across 175 countries, and annual revenues that cross the US$1 billion mark, the multiservice ecommerce giant reportedly saw sales of over US$135 billion in 2019.

The platform offers lucrative opportunities for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs by blurring the lines between digital and brick-and-mortar stores. You can make Shopify’s hybrid retailing solutions work for you through a series of simple steps.

  1. Simple Starters

Shopify is a comprehensive online-offline retailing platform. Not only can you set up an account as a new business or on behalf of a client, you can also migrate your business from a different channel such as Kickstarter, Etsy, Amazon, Instagram, or even your previous website. The company even offers the option for sellers to continue using their existing websites with an API allowing them to sell via Shopify. The Shopify POS (Point of Sale) app connects your brick-and-mortar store or pop-up event to your digital portal for in-person sales.

  1. Selecting Your Plan

Choose between the basic, standard and advanced plans based on your sales, locations, staff, and point-of-sale needs. Take note of the transaction fees you will be charged, which range from 0.5% to 2%, as this will affect the revenue you make from each sale. Depending on the plan you choose, you can avail gift cards, retail hardware support, and advanced reporting on your business.

  1. What Do You Want to Call Yourself?

While Shopify gives you a free domain on setting up your account, you can also purchase custom domains for your online store. Custom domains work best as consumers get the impression that they are interacting directly with your brand rather than with Shopify (even though your store is hosted there). If you already have a domain, Shopify allows you to connect it to the platform.

  1. The Look and Feel of Your Online Store

Browse through thousands of free and paid themes for the right look and feel for your store. When you’re in the middle of the design process, keep in mind what your target audience would like to see: this can be a game-changer when it comes to conversions. Customize your site with branding, unique pages, and easy-to-use navigation sections, as well as product groups (e.g., Bestsellers, Similar Merchandise, Latest Products) to improve the shopping experience.

  1. Figuring Out Payments

Shopify Payments is the platform’s go-to payment gateway, but you can connect to a range of other gateways such as PayPal and PayU. You can also opt to receive payments via credit cards, or via manual means such as cash-on-delivery, bank transfers and money orders.

  1. Market Yourself

Shopify has multiple integrated marketing options, such as Google Ads, Facebook marketing, Snapchat Ads, and email/text marketing through third-party providers. Use keywords relevant to your product/store for Search Engine Optimization (SEO); this makes you more visible on search engine results. Remember to type out alt text image descriptions for the visually impaired, and highlight any rave customer reviews you may have received.

  1. What About Shipping?

Shopify calculates shipping rates for you as per your plan for orders in the U.S. or Canada. Rates for international shipments are calculated using third-party global logistics services–be sure to check other companies with pre-calculated rates when shipping.

Additionally, a simple promotional trick is to offer customers free shipping. This is often a deal-maker for customers, although it can eat into your profits a bit.

  1. Putting Policies in Place

This might not be the most fun bit of setting up your online store. However, a customer is more likely to trust you if you have up-to-date shipping, refund, returns/exchanges and privacy policies in places that are in line with international standards. Also, put your Terms of Service up on the website so that you stay protected as a merchant.

  1. Don’t Skip the Taxes

While Shopify does handle sales tax calculations for their merchants to make the compliance process easier for you, it does not remit them or file any returns. It’s best to get a tax consultant on board to glean a clearer understanding of your compliance status and steer clear of any unintentional violations.

  1. The After-Sales Stuff

Since your business is hosted on Shopify, the company eagerly provides great insight into how your business is working. Like any other data-based reporting software, these metrics become more reliable over time. Key numbers to keep your eye on are Acquisitions (the number of visitors on your online store), Behavior (user actions on your site), and Finances (sales, returns, taxes and payments).

Want to learn more? Take a look at Samantha Renée’s comprehensive course in setting your business up on Shopify or check out Shopify’s Help Center.

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