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Nick Schäferhoff
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How to use ShopifyShopify is a subscription to a software service that offers you to create a website and use their shopping cart solution to sell, ship, and manage your products. Using their service, you can get access to easy to use admin panel where you can add products, process orders and enter store data.

For a monthly subscription of $29/mo, you can build a fully functional online store that you can use to sell digital or physical goods. Shopify also offers a limited free trial.

If you want to create an online store using Shopify, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to use Shopify so you can launch your online store as soon as possible.

Ready? Let’s get started…

Table of contents:

    1. Signing up with Shopify
    2. Set up your online store
    3. Choose a design for your store
    4. Edit Shopify settings
    5. Add your products
    6. Launch your store
    7. Add a domain name

Total time to create an online shop using Shopify: ~1-2 hours
Skill level: Beginner

How to Set up Your Own Online Shop with the Help of Shopify

Full disclosure: We earn a commission if you end up purchasing Shopify through my referral links in this guide. This helps us to keep WebsiteSetup up and running and up-to-date. Thanks for your support.

Signing up with Shopify and starting your store couldn’t be any easier and they even offer a 14-day free trial to get you going.

To launch your Shopify store, you must sign up for an account.

1. Sign Up with Shopify

Visit Shopify.com. Use the signup form to create an account.

Enter the required details and click the ‘Start free trial’ button.

Shopify homepage

Your store name needs to be unique or Shopify will ask you to choose something else.

After this initial screen, you’ll be asked for a few more details, including your name, address, country, and contact number.

You will also be asked if you have products and, if so, what you aim to sell. If you’re just trying out Shopify to see if it works for you, you can select ‘I’m just playing around’ in the ‘Do you have products?’ dropdown, and ‘I’m not sure’ in the ‘What will you sell?’ section.

Once complete, click ‘I’m done’.

2. Start Setting Up Your Online Shop

After you’ve signed up, you’ll be directed straight to your store admin screen. Now you are ready to start customizing your store, uploading products and setting up payments and shipping.

shopify admin panel Your home admin screen tells you all you need to know to get you up and running.

3. Choose a “Theme” or a “Layout”

Shopify has its own official theme store. These themes are all guaranteed to have full support from the designers so you know that your store is in good hands.

All themes come with a comprehensive list of modifications you can make without having to touch a line of code. The premium themes come with more modifications, but you can also achieve a great looking site with a free one. These changes are outlined in the next section.

If you want to make wholesale changes to a theme, there are very few limitations on what can be achieved by accessing the HTML and CSS. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any coding experience. Shopify has an international team of design agencies they call ‘Shopify Experts’ that you can hire to fully customize your site.

To find a theme that suits your needs, we recommend the following:

1. Browse the Theme Store

Log into Shopify and visit the Shopify Theme Store at themes.shopify.com. You’ll find over 70 theme variations to choose from, including a good selection of free ones.

You also could find Shopify themes on other Marketplaces, like TemplateMonster one.
Just choose, category, features to pick your theme.

You can filter by paid or free, industry and by features. You can also sort themes by price, popularity, and most recent.

Shopify theme selection

 The Shopify Theme Store.

2. Check the Functionality and Reviews

Once you’ve found a theme you like, click on the theme’s sample image. You’ll be given more information about the theme, such as whether the theme is responsive/mobile ready among other features.

Scroll down to read some reviews about what other e-tailers using the theme think of it.

3. Preview the Theme

To see the theme in action, click View Demo. You’ll see this below the green ‘Preview Theme in your Store’ button.

If the theme comes in a range of styles, you can also view demos of the different styles by clicking on them.

4. Get the Theme

Once you’ve found a theme you like, click the green button.

Shopify will ask you to confirm that you want to install the theme.

Click Publish as my Shop’s Theme.

Don’t worry if you’re not 100% sure it’s the right theme for you. You can always change your mind later.

After the theme has installed, Shopify will let you know and will give you the option to Go to your Theme Manager.

Your theme manager shows published themes (the one you installed or activated most recently) and unpublished themes below (previously installed themes).

Shopify themes

4. Edit Shopify Settings

The majority of Shopify themes allow you to make simple changes that can massively change the appearance of your store, so you can rest assured knowing you won’t end up with a website that looks like a clone of thousands of other stores.

shopify store templates

These stores are all built using the same theme.

On your admin screen, select ‘Themes’ from the left navigation menu. On this page you will see your live theme in a box at the top, in the top right corner of that box will be two buttons. The first one is of three dots, which gives you some basic settings changes. One of these allows you to make a duplicate of the theme. We highly recommend you do this in case you make some changes you don’t like, you can delete the duplicate and start again.

The second button says ‘Customize Theme’. If you click it, you will be taken to a page that controls all the basic functionality of your store. This is a great time for you to have a thorough play with the settings and test out all the features so you can find out what your site is capable of.

shopify custom theme settings

Your themes in custom settings.

The most common features will include:

  • uploading logos
  • uploading slides to a homepage carousel
  • adding related item functionality to product pages
  • choosing how many items appear on each line of the collection pages
  • color schemes
  • font choices.

Some themes will also allow you to reposition elements on pages such as showing product images on the left, right or center of the page. You can also choose whether you want to display social like/tweet/pin/+1 buttons.

5. Add Your Products to The Store

Navigating the bar on the left select ‘Products’. You will then see a blue ‘Add a product’ button in the middle of the page. Use the following screen to add as much detail as needed about your products. Especially look at those that will help with SEO such as name, description, and URL. Include as many details as possible to help inform the customers about your items.

This is the screen where you upload product pictures. Once the images are uploaded, you can rearrange them so don’t worry about uploading them in any particular order.

Your product screen

The Product screen. Make sure you fill out as much information as possible.

Product images can make a sale so make sure you show your products off to their best and highlight any special or unique features with close up photos. To keep your store looking tidy, we suggest you keep all images the same dimensions. Unless you plan to make your collection pages look like a Pinterest board.

Once everything is filled out, always remember to click the ‘Save product’ button in the top and bottom right corners.

Set Up Collections (Groups of Products)

A collection is any group of products that have some features in common that customers might look for when visiting your store. For example, your customers might be shopping for:

  • clothes specifically for men, women, or children
  • items of a certain type, such as lamps, cushions, or rugs
  • items on sale
  • items in certain sizes or colors
  • seasonal products, such as holiday cards and decorations.

Products can appear in any number of collections. Usually, you would display your collections on your homepage and in the navigation bar. This helps customers find what they’re looking for without having to click through your whole catalog.

Shopify adding a product

The Collection set up screen works in exactly the same way as the Product screen

Manual and Automatic Collections

When you add a new collection, you can select how products should be added to it. These are the two options:

  • Manually -
You add and remove products in a manual collection individually.
  • Automatically -
You can set up selection conditions to automatically include products that meet certain criteria.

Payment Gateways

A payment gateway allows you to take payment from your customers via your website. The price and commission rate is important, but it’s also important to see what features they offer. Not all payment gateways are created equal.

You need to look at the following when choosing the right payment gateway for you.

  1. Transaction Fees

When you make a payment, some gateways will keep a small percentage or flat fee (or sometimes both) for letting you use their service. Compare these based on what your anticipated sales are.

  1. Card Types

You need to know what types of cards are accepted by your chosen Payment Gateway. All accept VISA and Mastercard, while most accept American Express. Paypal is also becoming more popular for online payments.

  1. Offsite Checkout

Some gateways will take the payment on their own servers via their own form. This means that the customer is taken away from your checkout and they pay on the form provided by your payment gateway. They are then redirected to your confirmation page once the customer successfully pays. This allows you to have a bit more control over the checkout process.

You can circumvent Shopify’s limitations – they don’t let you customize the checkout other than with CSS.

Payment gateway transaction fees are added on top of Shopify’s own transaction fees. As of November stores based in the US and UK can use Shopify Payments. Depending upon your Shopify plan, you can save on these extra costs. Depending on your plan, you will receive these highly appealing rates.

  • Basic 2.4% + 20p
  • Professional 2.1% + 20p
  • Unlimited 1.8% + 20p

Depending on how many transactions you make every month, it could be worth upgrading to take advantage of these savings.

6. Get Your Online Shop “LIVE”

Before your site can go live, you need to add a few more details about your company and how you plan to make deliveries and pay tax.

General

Make sure all your business information is filled out in the bottom left settings area. Make sure to use the Google Analytics feature. This can prove to be an invaluable source for tracking your store visitors.

Shopify settings

Taxes

  1. Go to the Products page of your admin panel.
  2. Click on the name of a given product.
  3. Scroll down to the section called “Variants”.
  4. Make sure the checkboxes next to Charge taxes and Requires shipping are checked if you need to include these with your products.
  5. Some stores won’t need to charge taxes or shipping on products like digital goods. On the other hand, a T-shirt store will likely need to charge both.
  6. If you are planning to ship your product to customers, make sure to enter the product’s weight in the appropriate field.

Shipping

If your shipping rates are too narrow, or you don’t give enough options, you may lose out on some sales. Shopify will only calculate a shipping rate for your customers based on the rules that you define in the Shipping page of the admin. To make sure you won’t lose any sales:

adding custom domains on shopify

  1. From your store admin, go to the Settings > Shipping page.
  2. In the “Shipping rates” section, see if you have set a weight-based shipping rate and adjust it according to your product’s specifications.

Test Your Order System

To test your system, you can simulate a transaction using Shopify’s Bogus Gateway.

Using the Bogus Gateway:

  1. From your store Admin, click Settings, then Payments to go to your Payments settings
  2. If you have a credit card gateway enabled, deactivate it before continuing. (Click Edit, then Deactivate, then confirm your deactivation.)
  3. In the Accept credit cards section, click Select a Credit Card Gateway to open the drop-down menu.
  4. Scroll down the list to Other, then click (for testing) Bogus Gateway.
  5. Click Activate (or Reactivate, if you’ve used the Bogus Gateway before).
  6. Go to your storefront and place an order as a customer would. At checkout, enter the following credit card details instead of genuine numbers:

Testing a real payment gateway with a genuine transaction:

  1. Make sure you’ve set up the payment gateway you want to test.
  2. Make a purchase from your store as a customer would, and complete checkout using genuine credit card details.
  3. Cancel the order immediately, to refund yourself and avoid paying transaction fees.
  4. Log in to your payment gateway to make sure the funds went through.

Is This Free?

Yes – just be sure to cancel and refund the order soon after you place it.

If your billing cycle hits after you’ve placed the test order but before you cancel it, the transaction fees will appear on your bill. You can still cancel after paying your bill to Shopify, but you’ll receive a refund as a transaction credit on your account. You can use transaction credits to pay future transaction fees.

7. Add a Domain Name

To get your site live you’ll need a domain name. You have two choices.

Firstly you can buy a domain from Shopify and it will be added to your store automatically. This saves you time, especially if you have no knowledge about hosting a website. These domains typically cost $9-$14 USD per year. Your second option is to purchase a domain from a third party such as GoDaddy. These domains start from $10.00 USD a year. The downside is that you’ll have to redirect the DNS records yourself which can seem daunting at first.

If you’re unable to come up with a good domain name, read our tips on how to choose a good domain name.

Here are the steps to put your new Shopify store live on a third party domain name.

  1. Add the new domain in Shopify

In the Shopify admin, on the left navigation go to Settings and then Domains and add your domain name using the ‘Add an existing domain’ button.

  1. Update DNS records

Login to your domain registrar and make the following changes to the DNS records:

  • Replace the @ or main A record with the following IP address: 23.227.38.32
  • Add or replace the www CNAME with storename.myshopify.com (i.e. your store Shopify link without the HTTP, which you can see on the domains settings page)
  1. Remove any storefront passwords

Otherwise, no one will be able to access your site even when it’s live.

  1. Set as primary if relevant

Whilst in Online Store > Domains, you can choose your main domain by using the drop-down at the top of the screen:

primary store domain

Ensure that you also check the ‘Redirect all traffic to this domain’. This means that traffic to all other domains will be directed to your primary domain. This is crucial for good SEO.

  1. Adding other domains 

You can repeat steps 1 and 2 with other domain names you own. All domain names will redirect to the ‘Primary’ domain, which you can change at any time with the ‘Set as primary’ option next to each domain name.

Note that the number of domain names you own has no influence on SEO.

adding custom domains on shopify

Congratulations, Your New Shopify Store is Ready!

If you have managed that way – congratulations. You should now have a fully working online store. If you want to explore alternatives, see below:

Alternatives for Shopify?

You can also use WooCommerce to start your online store. It’s a little cheaper but requires a steeper learning curve. Either way, it can be a great alternative.

For more detailed review between the two, read this – Shopify vs. WordPress (WooCommerce) Furthermore, here you can find other eCommerce sites that allow you to create an online store.


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151 comments

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  1. Avatar

    Currently Big Commerce customer, very disappointed with many technical issues costing me $’s. Anyone have experience migrating to Shopify? I don’t want to change for small/marginal benefit considering the huge effort to migrate. Thank you

  2. Avatar

    Hi Nick,

    I already have a website created by me via wordpress and i have only one blog written on it and the site is inactive since Feb 2019. Can i use that website to integrate and create an account on shopify?

    Also im from india can i use shopify from here and sell products worldwide.

    Thanks

  3. Avatar

    Hi Nick,
    I am just learning how to have store online with shopify. Just wondering I live in Japan,
    1. Does it mean that the only country who can buy or view my store are just the people here from Japan?
    2. Do I have to write everything in Japanese too, as for the details of the products?
    3. How would I set my audience? Is there anything I need to fill/write or do to choose the audience?
    4. Is it possible to have more than one country as my audience with one store, one domain? If so, please give me more details to do it, the easy and more understandable explanation.
    5. Is it possible to make more than two shopify store, let say I will make one for the US audience and one for Japanese audience or does my questions make sense?

    Please help me. Thank you and have a great day. God bless!

    1. Avatar

      Hey Zenny, thanks for your questions. Here are my thoughts:

      1. You can sell to anyone you want, anywhere in the world. Your Shopify store is visible to anyone who has the web address. You just need to figure out the shipping, payment, and taxes beforehand.
      2. If you want to sell locally in Japan, it is probably best to provide a Japanese translation.
      3. You don’t need to set your audience, you need to do research who your audience is and then promote your shop.
      4. See my answer to 1.
      5. That is possible, however, it might make more sense to create one store and offer it in multiple languages.

      Here are some links that might be helpful to you:

      https://www.shopify.com/blog/international-shipping
      https://www.shopify.com/partners/blog/multilingual-website
      https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/domains/managing-domains

  4. Avatar

    Hi
    I would like to know, shall I register first of all my own legal company or can I start sell products as an individual person on Shopify store using Aliexpress?

    1. Avatar

      Hey Kristi, this really depends on your country’s laws and is hard to answer generally. I would advise you to get in touch with a business association or similar in your location.

  5. Avatar

    Hi,
    I’ve purchased a business that uses Shopify but I’ve never used Shopify before. Can you direct me to tutorials for managing products and orders, producing reports, using analytics, etc. Thanks

  6. Avatar

    My apologies if this Question has been asked but:

    I saw on Shopify that if you do not have you own products to sell, there is an option of other stores that you can get products from.
    How does this work?

    For example, do you market those products on your own shopify website and then you have to purchase them from the third party when customers buy it and have it delivered to you and then send it to the customer? or do the customers buy directly from that third party through your store, if so does the third party deliver it to me or to the customer?

    Also if you market the third party products would the customer know that it is not your product and then rather buy from that third party directly?

    1. Avatar

      Hey Simone, what you are talking about is likely dropshipping. This means that you advertise and sell a product but when someone orders it, the order goes to the manufacturer who handles production, shipping, and handling. It’s a very popular business model and the exact conditions depend on who you are dealing with.

  7. Avatar

    What is the average cost using a online store with Shopify can you please give some examples and how does it compare to other online stores,

    Please advise,

    Thanks,

    Mark

    1. Avatar

      Hey Mark, I can’t really answer this because the cost really depends on your individual requirements. If you need a lot of additional functionality in the form of plugins, the costs can ratchet up quickly. That is true for Shopify as well as other online store solutions. For that reason, it’s best if you first get clear about what you need in your store and then check the costs in different platforms. This article might be helpful: https://websitesetup.org/best-ecommerce-platform/