Starting an online store is a great way to expand the market for your current physical store or simply launch a business without the high cost of a brick and mortar store. What’s more, it’s not as hard as it once was. Rather than hiring a developer to program a custom platform for you, you can choose from dozens of available e-commerce platforms and get your store up and running in a matter of hours.
While there are plenty of e-commerce platforms to choose from, one of the most popular ones is Shopify. In this post, we’ll show you the benefits of using Shopify for your online store and how to set up a store using a premade Shopify theme.
What Does Shopify Offer?
Shopify markets itself as an easy-to-use e-commerce platform suitable for both beginners and experienced users alike. It’s a hosted platform, which means you don’t need to download and install anything. It also allows you to sell both digital and physical products.
Some of the main features that Shopify offers include:
- can accept payments face-to-face using the Shopify POS
- sell your products using Facebook Messenger, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, eBay, and other platforms
- sync between your physical and your online store
- calculate taxes with automatic tax rate calculator based on your location
- can offer free shipping
- compatible with numerous third-party apps for accounting, shipping, growing your email list, adding product reviews, and more
You can accept credit card payments and integrate your store with more than 100 external payment gateways. It’s worth mentioning that each Shopify plan includes access to a mobile app--so you can capture payments, manage orders, and reach out to your customers even if you’re on-the-go.
No matter which plan you choose, you can use Shopify’s blogging features. Also, use their analytics to keep track of your sales, know where your traffic is coming from, and connect your store to Google Analytics. You can upload an unlimited number of products and enjoy the benefits of their free SSL certificate to securely process your customer’s information.
A great feature of Shopify is the sheer number of Shopify themes that are available. Third-party marketplaces like Envato Elements have plenty of Shopify themes to choose from and they are suitable for a variety of niches. They're also easy to customize and most of them even allow you to import demo content with a single click so all you've got to do is replace it with your own content, rather than adding that section from scratch.
How Much Does Shopify Cost?
As you examine Shopify for your needs you may be wondering, "how much does Shopify cost?"
Shopify offers three main plans, all of which are billed on a monthly basis unless you choose the annual or biennial billing cycle. Plans start at $29 and you can try the platform and all the features for free for 14 days. All plans come with Shopify payments, third-party payment gateways, a free SSL certificate, the ability to use a custom domain, and the ability to create discount codes and print shipping labels.
Higher-priced plans include features such as the ability to sell gift cards, advanced analytics, abandoned cart recovery features, lower card-processing fees, and show third-party shipping rates.
How to Set Up a Shopify Store
Now that you know what Shopify offers, let’s go through the process of signing up and setting up your store.
Step 1. Sign Up For Shopify
To start, go to Shopify.com and use their Get Started link to begin the signup process.
You’ll need to enter your email, a password, and a name for your store. The system then asks you for a few additional details such as your name, address, country, and a contact number. You’ll also have a chance to specify if you've got products for sale, whether you’re already selling online, and what type of products you’re selling.
Simply complete the sections with your own information and then click Done.
Step 2. Familiarize Yourself With Shopify’s Dashboard
After you complete the signup process, you'll be redirected to your store’s dashboard. You’ll notice links that will help you get started. You can click on the link to add your first product or choose and customize a theme.
You’ll also notice a sidebar on the left. The sidebar lets you access all the settings for your store, add your products, see your orders, and more.
If you need help with Shopify or if you want to quickly search your store, use the search bar at the top of the dashboard. If you want to access the official documentation, support, and community forums, all you've got to do is click your profile photo to reveal the relevant links.
Step 3. Add Your First Page and Product
Before diving into customizing your store, let’s add our first page and a product. In the left-hand sidebar in your Shopify dashboard, click on Online Store > Pages, then click the purple Add Page button.
Once the editor opens up, enter your page name and whatever text you want. You can also add images, links, and format the text similarly to how you would be using word processing software. Below the page editor, you’ll also see the ability to modify the SEO settings by entering a meta title, URL, and a description for your page. You can also set the page to be hidden or visible. When you’re done entering all the information, click on Save and your page will be live.
To add a new product, click on Products in the left-hand sidebar and then click the Add Product button. The editor is similar to the editor you used for the pages. You can also edit the SEO settings and enter a few settings specific to the products, such as the price, the SKU number, product images, variations, and more. When you’ve entered all the information, click on Save and your product will be visible in your store.
How to Install a Shopify Theme
Now that you know how to add pages and products, let’s cover how to choose and install a theme for your store.
Step 1. Choose a Theme For Your Store
If you head over to Online Store > Themes, you’ll notice that Shopify offers their own themes that you can install. Some of them are free and some of them are paid. While they all boast appealing and responsive designs, the number of Shopify themes is rather limited.
At the time I wrote this article, Shopify offered 61 themes in their store. That may seem like a lot, but chances are you’ll run into someone using the same theme as you. The good news is that are more Shopify themes available on various third-party marketplaces. Aside from offering a larger selection of Shopify themes, you’ll notice that many of the third-party themes are quite affordable.
Choosing a Shopify theme isn't an easy task. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a theme that will help you make the decision process easier:
- Attractive design. It goes without saying that the theme you choose should look appealing as well as be appropriate for the type of products you sell and the intended audience. If you can’t find a theme specifically for your niche, consider using a multi-purpose theme that’s suitable for a variety of products.
- Regular updates and support. Make sure you pick a theme that’s well-supported and comes with regular updates. Doing so allows you to contact the theme author should you ever need help as well as ensure that your theme is compatible with Shopify updates.
- Features. Don’t ignore features when it comes to themes. Opting for a theme that has built-in widgets, the ability to showcase items on sale or use a mega menu reduces the chances of missing out on functionality that can help increase your conversion rates and having to hire a developer to add those features.
- Responsive design and fast loading time. With an increase in mobile usage and shopping trends it’s crucial that your theme is not only responsive, but also loads quickly so you don’t lose customers who are visiting your store on a mobile device.
Once you’ve found a theme you like, all you've got to do is purchase it and download the files to your computer. You'll have to unzip the main folder. It will contain not only the theme files in another zip folder, but also the theme’s documentation and demo content that you can import into your store.
Step 2. Install a Third-Party Theme
To install a third-party theme, navigate to Online Store > Themes and click the Upload theme button under More themes. Use the zip folder with your theme files that are inside the main theme folder that you downloaded and click Upload. Shopify will proceed with the theme’s upload and notify you when that process is completed. To activate the theme, click on the Activate drop-down menu next to the theme’s name and select Publish. Your theme will now be live on your site.
Customize Your Shopify Store
With your theme installed, it’s time to customize your store’s appearance. For the purposes of this tutorial I’m using the Elise theme, which is a responsive multi-purpose theme. The Elise theme comes with a number of useful features such as a beautiful full-width slider, mega menu, wishlist support, newsletter integration, and more.
Step 1. Go to the Customize Screen
To customize the theme, click the Customize button. You’ll be redirected to a screen that allows you to see the changes in real time and you can style a number of settings. In the Elise theme, you can upload a custom logo, change the colors, fonts, set a custom welcome message, and more. You can also enable certain features such as wishlist, mega menu, and set up your newsletter integration as well as choose which products are shown in the featured tabs on the front page. Finally, you can also customize the checkout page by uploading a custom background image and logo.
Step 2. Import Demo Products
If you want to speed up the process of setting up your products, you can import the demo content. Or, you can use Shopify’s spreadsheet template to insert and import your products. To import them, go to Products and then click the Import icon. Keep in mind that you can close the import popup and Shopify will notify you via email when the import is done. While you wait, you can tweak other settings in your store.
Step 3. Customize Store’s Settings
If you click on Settings link in the left-hand sidebar, you’ll be able to tweak various store options. As you can see from the screenshot below, you can adjust your store’s details, choose your payment method, set your shipping rates, and add additional sale channels such as Amazon, Facebook, eBay, and more.
This area is also used to setup your store’s notifications, modify your tax rates, and invite additional users to your account.
Start Your Store With Shopify
With a platform like Shopify, starting an online store is a lot easier than it used to be. Aside from ease of use, Shopify offers a number of benefits for online store owners who want to focus on running their business rather than spend time tweaking and maintaining their e-commerce platform.
And with a large selection of beautiful themes, it’s easier than ever to make your online store look good. Now that you know how to set up a Shopify store, browse our collection of responsive Shopify themes and use one of them to start your online store with Shopify today.