E-commerce and making money online is undoubtedly the buzz of the last couple of years. However, when it comes to creating a website it can easily become an overwhelming and daunting task especially if you are a total beginner and you have no relevant experience.
Whether you want to get started in 2019 with your Shopify store or you already have one and you want to improve it this complete guide will provide you useful guidance and suggestions which will help you build a fully functional ready to service customers website.
Shopify is the easiest e-commerce platform, to begin with especially if you don’t know much about coding and web development. That’s why this guide will specifically focus on how to build your own Shopify store in 2019.
Let’s dive into how you can build your own Shopify store!
Step 1: Sign up for a Shopify 14-day free trial period
As you probably know, Shopify offers to all new users a 14-day free trial period which is sufficient time for you to prepare your store and launch it once until the trial period ends.
All you have to do is navigate through the Shopify website and click on ‘Start Free Trial’ button as you see below.
Once you click then you have to enter your details as well as your store’s name.
Once you click on ‘Create your store’ tab you have to provide some extra personal information and then you’re good to go.
When you complete the registration process you’ll be redirected to your store’s dashboard where you will usually spend most of your time and looks like this.
Step 2: Configure Your Store Settings
That’s the tab for configuring your store details from its name and e-mail to the store’s currency and address.
I would say that it’s mandatory to create a business email like the one seen in the image above (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) using one of the email providers that are available for free.
If you want to see how to do this go ahead and read this useful guide.
Moving on into the payments tab, where you have to configure the ways that your online store will accept payments from your future customers.
If you are eligible for enabling Shopify payments then look no further and do so, it will save you time and it’s a pretty convenient and straightforward process.
Shopify payments combined with Paypal Express Checkout are the payment providers that you mainly need.
Yes, you can enable Google pay and/or Apple pay however I would say that you can definitely live without them.
If by any means you are not eligible for enabling Shopify payments then look for the alternative payments that Shopify offers you and act accordingly. The most popular alternative option though is accepting payments via Stripe which again is not available worldwide.
If for any reason, you are able to use only Paypal Express Checkout as a payment option don’t get disappointed as your main traffic source will probably be the United States at the beginning where customers are pretty familiar with using Paypal for their online purchases.
Not much to be changed in the Checkout settings tab. Leave everything as it is and all you want to change (just a suggestion though) is to preselect the option for customers for accepting email marketing newsletters.
There are several options that you can choose from when it comes to shipping rates I suggest two that work for me the best and are easy to set up.
A) You can offer free worldwide shipping and adjust your prices accordingly i.e. increase your prices usually anywhere between an extra of 3$-5$ and market your products as offered with free shipping.
The way to implement this option is quite simple if you follow the steps outlined below.
First, you have to delete all the shipping zones that are already pre-populated. Then you click to add a new shipping zone as you see below.
Once you click you will see several options, first click on the Add countries to select the countries you want to ship (usually worldwide) and then click to Add rate.
Once you click Add rate you will see the options as seen below. Duplicate the configuration you see below and you’re good to go. From now on the shipping is free for your customers. Don’t forget though to adjust your product prices accordingly.
B) The second shipping option is to assign a weight of 1lb per product and then implement a weight based shipping policy which will increase the shipping costs based on the number of products that the customer purchases.
The way you can do it is first to assign a weight of 1lb per product which can be done via the product page as seen below.
Then you go back to shipping settings and this time you add weight based rates as you see below.
The prices provided below are just an example you can, of course, adjust your shipping rates as you believe is better for your business.
The way these rates work is pretty straightforward.
If customers buy one product they will pay 3.95$ for shipping but if they buy 3 of them they will pay for shipping 5.95$ because of the weight that we assigned before to the products.
Not much to be done across the other store settings you can just leave them as they are.
Navigate through them to familiarize yourself and see what they stand for but you don’t really have to change something for now.
Step 3: Buy a Domain Name
Next thing you need to do is to buy a new domain name or if you already have a domain name connect it with your new Shopify store.
The way you do it is pretty simple.
Click the online store to the left of your dashboard and then click the Domains tab.
Once you clicked the Domains tab then hit the Buy new domain button where you will be able to type your preferable domain name and if it’s available buy it through Shopify without having to visit any other website.
Step 4: Create Your Logo
You may believe that your logo is not that important but trust me that’s not true.
Anything that can make your visitors think that you are a legit business and they can trust you (logo does that) is helpful and needs to be seriously considered.
You don’t have to create a super fancy or sophisticated/complex logo but you have to make sure that whatever you create or your purchase is aligned with your overall website design and identity.
Here are some good resources for designing your logo by yourself or purchasing a ready-made logo for you are:
Remember, keep it simple and to the point. The logo is one of these elements of your website that if it’s done correctly will not attract that many positive comments, but if it’s really bad will attract overwhelmingly negative feedback.
Let me give you an example of what I perceive as a clean and good looking logo for your store.
As I told you before it doesn’t have to be something super fancy or complex. It could be as simple as the one I created using Hatchful by Shopify .
Just be sure that your logo is transparent so you can use it on any area without having the red background that you see above.
Step 5: Choosing & Customizing Your Theme
One of the reasons Shopify is a so successful e-commerce platform is because it allows users with low to zero experience to customize and create a good looking website within a short time period.
With that being said, it is true that some people find it easier to play around with choosing colors, styling and the overall tone of their website while others struggle a lot.
Even if you belong to the latter category of those who struggle stick with me and I will show you some dos and don’ts to consider when you design your online store.
First and foremost you have to pick a ready-made theme from the themes collections that Shopify provides you.
I would suggest at least for your beginning to not invest in buying a Premium theme and stick with one of the free themes that Shopify offers to you. There are some really good options to consider which may lack some features and customizations that premium themes have to offer but you don’t really need them, especially in your beginning.
Remember, the goal is to have a good looking functional website you don’t need at the moment nothing fancy or over complicated.
Select your free theme
Once you click at ‘Explore free themes’ you will be able to see all the available options. I’d suggest you use either Debut, Brooklyn or Venture.
All of them offer quite a lot of functionalities and customization possibilities.
Let’s assume that you selected Debut as your store’s theme.
Now it’s time for the next step which is to customize your theme.
Customize your theme
Click on ‘Customize’ and you will be redirected to the customization dashboard where you can change almost everything on your website design.
The sections you see to the left refer always to the page that you have selected to customize except your header and footer which are same for all the pages of your website.
So, for this particular case, we are looking at our website homepage and all the sections you see on the left side refer specifically to the homepage (except header & footer as I said before which are the same for the whole website).
You can, of course, remove any section that you don’t like or add any other section that the theme offers you.
What I would suggest for your homepage structure is to keep it simple and have something like this:
Of course, it is just a suggestion you can go ahead and experiment with your homepage but I’m a simplicity lover and so I don’t prefer too much noise on a website.
Apart from customizing all your website pages, you can, of course, adjust some global settings which stand for the whole website such as colors, fonts, add your social media links etc.
I would suggest keeping your website’s background color white and only experiment with the colors of the other elements such as buttons, hover, links etc.
It’s also a nice idea to select a specific color palette and base all your adjustments on this instead of randomly adding too many different color variations into your website.
Coolors is a great website for helping you pick a color palette.
If you think about which font to use, graphic designers would say that you have to think your brand’s identity and message and then pick a font that represents both of them.
I definitely agree that everything should be in line when it comes to designing your website, but for the stage that you are probably in, just leave the font as it is or even if you want to experiment with it I would suggest staying away from any calligraphic or weird fonts that are not easily readable and stick with maximum 3 different fonts across your whole website.
This is my personal opinion though, you are free to do whatever you want.
I have seen great websites using calligraphic fonts however the whole website design could support this type of font.
Step 6: Important Pages You Need To Create
So, in order to create those pages, you go to online store from your dashboard and click on pages.
Then click on the add page.
Once you clicked to the add page you should be able to see the screen below.
You go to your website settings and click on the Legal tab.
Once you clicked you will see something like this
ATTENTION: Shopify populates a standardized template so don’t forget to give it a read and change all the details that need to be changed such as contact e-mails and so forth.
Now that you’ve created all the pages you need for your website you need to make them visible for your website visitors.
So, all you have to do is click on the navigation tab to the left of your website dashboard,
once you clicked you should see something like this.
Click on the ‘Footer menu’ tab and then click ‘Add menu item’.
Duplicate the process for the rest of the pages that you’ve created before and you will be good to go.
Once you finish with all your Footer pages this section should look like the one below.
Step 7: Apps You Need To Install
So, once your website is customized and equipped with all the Legal pages you need to install certain apps to enhance your website’s performance. See below some of my suggestions for you.
If you’re planning to drop ship your products from Aliexpress, then Oberlo is the free application you need to import products and fulfill your orders.
Oberlo also provides you with recommendations of suppliers, but you can always navigate by yourself through Aliexpress and import any product you want to sell via Oberlo’s browser extension.
Chances are that you will advertise your products to several countries with different currencies. This app will allow you to automatically adjust the currency of your whole website based on your visitor’s country.
It is an application that can remove a little bit of frustration from your visitors and clearly show them what they have to pay for your product.
I cannot highlight enough how important is for your customers to see real reviews from other buyers.
It is a fundamental element for boosting your product’s social proof and you need to have them. Period.
You can always use the application developed by Shopify called ‘Product reviews’ however with the Ali reviews you can import reviews with images directly from Aliexpress (assuming that you plan to drop ship from there) to your product pages.
They do provide a free plan which allows you to import unlimited reviews to 10 products of your choice, so I’d say is a solid option for you to begin having real reviews from real customers.
Your reviews on the product page will look like the ones below
Isn’t it true that you are more likely to buy from a physical store which you see is packed with visitors looking around and buying rather from a quite empty one?!
Same stands for online stores.
That’s why this application is useful because it gives your visitors a sense that the website is ‘busy’ by showing them notifications of past purchases like this:
A couple of remarks here:
- You can remove the branding you see above for free by contacting the support of the application.
- The sales notifications that your visitors will see used to be a combination of real & fake ones. However, Shopify does not allow any more these practices. Thus, you will not be able to show any more fake sales notifications but only the real ones.
I don’t see that many of stores using this app but for me, it works perfectly so I would like to recommend it to you as well.
It’s not something fancy or complex but it will definitely help you increase your Add to cart ratio.
All this app does is quite self-explanatory I’d say.
It provides you with a sticky Add to cart button which ‘follows the visitors’ while they scroll down the product page which obviously makes it much easier for them to click it and move a step forward into the process of buying from you.
It is also free so you can just test it and see how it performs for your store.
MailMunch provides you the ability to design a popup e-mail collector like the one below
which you can use to offer a discount incentive for example to your visitors in return of their contact information.
It is also for free and it’s a good solution for collecting e-mails from your visitors.
You should be creative and test different incentives though in order to find the ones that resonate with your audience.
An important aspect of your online store is to deal with your cart abandonment rates.
For those who don’t know what an abandoned cart is, when visitors add your product to their cart, initiate checkout and provide you with shipping & payment info but they finally do not buy, it is considered as an abandoned cart.
An average abandonment rate is anywhere close to 69%. Recovering lost sales from abandoned carts should be one of your top priorities an online business owner.
That’s why you need to install an app that can help you recover a significant percentage of those lost sales through Facebook messenger.
The open rates of a Facebook messenger campaign can reach an extraordinary of 88%.
Facebook messenger and text marketing, in general, is yet underutilized but has a massive potential to become a big player considering the high open rates percentages.
Flashchat gives you the ability to recover these lost sales via Facebook messenger but it also helps you build your Facebook messenger list, send other general campaigns and in general communicate with your customer base through this channel.
In line with the Facebook messenger, you need also an application for recovering lost sales through e-mail.
Even though e-mail open rates have significantly decreased however e-mail is still a solid communication channel between you and your customers and by no means can be neglected.
Abandonment protector offers you the ability to automate your abandoned cart e-mail series as well as general newsletters and/or campaigns.
You can choose from several pre-made templates for building your e-mail sequences, with a quite friendly drag & drop experience.
Now that you have all my app suggestions which will definitely help you get better results from your store, let’s move on to the last step of this guide and discuss how you can import products to your store.
Step 8: Import Products
The last step before having your store ready to launch is of course to import your products. This can be done either a) manually if you are not drop shipping from Aliexpress b) using Oberlo if you do drop ship from Aliexpress.
I will explain both of them for you.
- Importing manually
As I said before if you are not drop shipping from Aliexpress and you want to sell your own products all you have to do is click on ‘Products’ tab to the left of your dashboard
And then you can either import a CSV file with all your products (don’t forget to check the template that Shopify provides you) or import one by one by clicking ‘Add product’.
Once you click ‘Add product’ you will see this screen where you can fill all your product details, import product images, set the prices and so on.
Once you’re done hit save and your product is live available for purchase.
If your products don’t have several different variants like colors sizes etc. one cool way to list your products which will also help you increase your average order value (AOV) i.e. increase your revenue is the following.
If you scroll down the product details you will see this variant option
Click on ‘Add variant’ and then add a variant named ‘Deals’ with 3 options namely
- Buy 1 Get 40% OFF
- Buy 3 Get 50% OFF
- Buy 5 Get 60% OFF
Of course, the quantity and discount percentages are up to you based on your margins. You have to do the math and calculate your prices accordingly.
The end result should look something like this.
- Importing via Oberlo app
If you drop ship via Aliexpress though you need to import your products via Oberlo application.
The way you do this is explained below.
Assuming that you’ve already installed the Oberlo Chrome extension and you’ve found the product you want to import from Aliexpress you should be able to see this Oberlo small badge to the bottom right corner which once you click will import the product from Aliexpress to the Oberlo app.
All you have to do then is open the Oberlo application find the import list to the left of your dashboard
And import the product to your store where from now on the process is similar with the one I explained before.
Make sure to work on your product information (title, description, images) so you will provide a more clean and professional presentation of the product to your visitors.
If you followed the steps explained above, congratulations!
You made it!
Your website is now live, fully functional, customized based on your brand’s aesthetics and full of products ready to be purchased from your visitors.
Stay in the loop though because the next article will be a more in-depth explanation on how you can market your products and let people know about them.
Wish you a Happy Holiday period and much success with your new online business!
Founder & CEO at Flashchat