In this article, you will find
- What is Shopify?
- Why Shopify and What Sets it Apart?
- From Zero to an Online Store – Start Selling on Shopify in 30 Minutes
- Tax ID to Sell on Shopify – Here’s What You Need to Know
- Selling on Shopify – Strengths and Weaknesses
- Advantages of Selling on Shopify
- Drawbacks of Selling on Shopify
- 10 Simple Steps to Set Up Your Online Store and Start Selling on Shopify
- Marketing Your Online Store
The origins of electronic commerce or e-commerce can be traced back to the 1980s when teleshopping and initial experiments with online transactions took center stage. That said, the modern e-commerce ecosystem was born when Jeff Bezos launched Amazon on July 5, 1994, from his small garage in Bellevue, Washington. eBay entered the market just over a year after Amazon by introducing an online auction marketplace platform. Fast forward to 2023, over 26.5 million e-commerce websites cater to 2.6 billion digital shoppers worldwide.
Today, we will take you on a journey and help you understand the ins and outs of one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world – Shopify. From identifying why more than 1.75 million Shopify merchants trust the platform to unearthing the best tips to sell on Shopify, this blog will serve as a guiding light for aspiring e-commerce entrepreneurs and seasoned e-commerce business owners to hop past the barriers within the dynamic e-commerce world.
Is selling on Shopify an easy task? How is Shopify better than its competitors? How can beginners set up their online store and start selling on Shopify?
Read on to find the answers to all these questions.
Before diving deep into the Shopify world’s abyss, let’s first get acquainted with the platform.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is the trailblazer of the modern-day e-commerce industry, empowering millions of online businesses to scale, reach a wider audience, and generate revenue.
Used by online sellers in 175 countries and more than 2 million active users, Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world. It features a dazzling array of tools that help business owners build their online store and sell on Shopify efficiently while providing exceptional customer service at the same time.
Why is Shopify so popular? We can attribute Shopify’s success to a few factors, including its ease of use and straightforward business structure. Shopify merchants need to pay a monthly subscription fee which gives them access to a bunch of useful tools they require to build, launch, and streamline their online store.
Why Shopify and What Sets it Apart?
We already know that millions of e-commerce sites exist today. Many platforms offer similar features and pricing options. Despite that and the stiff competition, Shopify has come out on top. More and more entrepreneurs prefer Shopify over other e-commerce platforms. Do you know why?
Here are a few reasons;
- Shopify offers additional customization, e-commerce tools, and designs compared to other alternatives.
- With a market share of around 11%, Shopify is the fourth largest e-commerce platform in the world today.
- Websites powered by Shopify are easy to use and have a user-friendly interface.
- Shopify offers some of the best upselling and cross-selling tools.
- You will find a wide range of payment options on Shopify.
- Shopify can easily integrate with social media, productivity, accounting, and other platforms.
- Shopify is arguably the biggest name in e-commerce software marketing in the U.S.
- Selling on Shopify is straightforward, smooth, and optimized for beginners and experienced sellers.
While Shopify is an efficient tool that provides an intuitive selling experience for online sellers, customers opt to purchase from Shopify stores due to the user-friendly shopping experience and secured checkout process.
From Zero to an Online Store – Start Selling on Shopify in 30 Minutes
Setting up an online store on Shopify is easy and pretty straightforward. It should take you less than 30 minutes to get your Shopify store up and running if you follow this guide to sell on Shopify. That said, it is worth noting that the business ideation phase and planning process is not part of this timeframe.
You will require a few weeks or even months to develop a business idea, formulate a business plan, market research, set up the legal framework for your online store, find the right suppliers, and choose the Shopify theme along with your store’s layout.
Building, setting up your store, and selling on Shopify becomes seamless once you have dedicated enough time to refine your business idea.
Tax ID to Sell on Shopify? – Here’s What You Need to Know
Before you start selling on Shopify, you should have a fair understanding of how e-commerce taxes work. What do you do if you are a sole proprietor? What needs to be done when you already own a business? Do you need a separate tax ID to sell on Shopify? Here’s what you should know.
- If You Own a Business
If you own a business already or intend to start one soon, you must submit your business’s tax ID before you start selling on Shopify. That said, it is important to note that you do not require a registered business to sell on Shopify.
- If You are a Sole Proprietor
You can set up your online store and start selling on Shopify as a sole proprietor by submitting your Social Security Number (SSN) or Social Insurance Number (SIN).
Selling on Shopify – Strengths and Weaknesses
Shopify has some amazing features that make selling on Shopify seem like a walk in the park. That said, even one of the best e-commerce platforms has a few limitations. Understanding these drawbacks will enable business owners to make informed decisions and sell on Shopify without any unexpected roadblocks.
Let’s explore some of the most obvious and unhidden advantages and disadvantages of selling on Shopify.
Advantages of Selling on Shopify
There is no doubt that Shopify is one of the best e-commerce platforms in the world. What are the ingredients that contribute to its success? Continue reading to find out.
- Easy to set up and get started
Imagine spending hours figuring out how your e-commerce platform works. Pretty counterproductive, right? Shopify has no such frills, allowing you to focus on important things instead of getting caught up in the technical details.
Shopify has a significantly lower build time than its competitors, including WooCommerce, since most features are in-built. While selling on Shopify is undoubtedly convenient, building your online store from scratch is a cakewalk.
For instance, Shopify’s AI product description tool is a game-changer as it pens out product descriptions for you in a few seconds. All you need to do is enter the keywords and let the tool work its magic. Shopify should be your go-to e-commerce platform if you have limited technical expertise and get your store ‘live’ quicker.
If you are just starting in the digital selling space, sell on Shopify.
- Range of Customizable Themes and Designs
With over 140 themes, there’s no dearth of free, custom, and premium themes. This is another reason why merchants from around the globe enjoy selling on Shopify.
While developing a new website can cost anything between $12,000 to $150,000, you can design your store for free with Shopify themes. Additionally, the maintenance costs of a typical website are around $400 to $60,000 each year. Thanks to Shopify’s free themes, you do not have to worry about such steep costs. You can also opt for the premium themes if you have dedicated some budget to your online store’s design, aesthetics, and visual elements.
Whether you pick a free or paid theme depends on your budget. We won’t beat around the bush – premium themes offer more customization and a few more advanced features and designs. Free themes are also great, especially for young businesses operating on shoe-string budgets.
- Payment Processors and Credit Card Options
Here’s a simple task for you. Search for ‘payment processor’ or ‘payment gateway’ on Shopify’s App Store. You will find more than 100 payment solutions to choose from. Additionally, do you know why selling on Shopify is a good decision? You can choose from over 100 credit card payment providers to accept payments if you are not using Shopify Payments.
Stripe, PayPal, and several other payment processes can seamlessly integrate with Shopify, simplifying how your customers pay for their purchases and how you get paid in return.
Not many e-commerce platforms can match the ease and convenience offered by Shopify during the checkout process. We can attribute this to the sheer number of payment processors integrating with Shopify. Knowing this, who wouldn’t want to sell on Shopify?
Drawbacks of Selling on Shopify
Shopify is great. But it is only fair to acknowledge and mention its drawbacks. We have compiled a few points that could hinder your selling experience on the platform compared to self-hosted e-commerce websites such as WooCommerce and OpenCart.
- Selling on Shopify Comes at a Cost
Regardless of its high stature in the e-commerce world, Shopify is known to be a bit pricey compared to self-hosted e-commerce websites. Startups and solopreneurs may find allocating funds for add-on apps and a Shopify subscription challenging.
Yes, that’s correct. Shopify offers a subscription model wherein users can pay monthly, every three months, or annually. Although Shopify’s free trial policy gives you 90 days to explore its features, including the advanced ones, you must subscribe to a paid plan once the trial period expires.
The most affordable plan, ‘Shopify Starter,’ costs around $4.99/month, and the most expensive plan, ‘Shopify Plus,’ will cost you $ 2,000/month. If you think your expenses stop here, you are in for a surprise. Shopify users need a bunch of add-on Shopify applications that help them sell on Shopify without any hassles. For example, the most popular application highlighting special offers and discounts on your Shopify store costs around $4.99/month – as expensive as the ‘Shopify Starter plan. If your store requires a social login, it costs $9/month.
All in all, selling on Shopify is convenient but comes at a high cost.
- Limited Customization Options
We all have a few flaws, and Shopify is no exception. Shopify has limited customization options compared to competitors like WooCommerce and Magento. These platforms offer more control over your online store’s design and functionality. One of the major drawbacks of selling on Shopify is that you can customize very limited functionalities compared to self-hosted alternatives, where you have the freedom to change almost all elements of your digital store.
That said, limited customization may not appear as a major hurdle for first-time online sellers and smaller businesses, as Shopify’s pre-designed themes, templates, and user interface simplify the overall selling experience. However, experienced sellers or online stores that offer an ocean of products may not find Shopify’s customization abilities very appealing.
It is fair to say that Shopify does not have a laundry list of drawbacks. Some other areas where Shopify can improve its offerings include better design flexibility, SEO tools, and more native integrations.
Now, to the crux of the matter – setting up your online store and selling on Shopify.
10 Simple Steps to Set Up Your Online Store and Start Selling on Shopify
As mentioned earlier, setting up your Shopify store is easy and convenient. If you have your business idea, themes, and processes in place, you can set up your online store and start selling on Shopify in around 30 minutes.
Follow these steps to set up your online store on Shopify.
- Create a Gameplan for Your Shopify Store
If you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere. This quote by Henry A. Kissinger indicates the importance of setting clear goals and expectations to attain meaningful results. This applies to your Shopify store as well.
Your Shopify store will only thrive if you know what to sell, how to sell, and whom to sell.
- Identify Your Target Audience and Niche
Start by identifying your target audience and niche. This information will allow you to create an attractive Shopify store that offers an optimal shopping experience to your target audience. Now, think about your competition. What sets you apart from them? How can you stand out? This is why it becomes important to stay on top of current consumer behavior trends and marketing trends.
- Studying the Market
Selling on Shopify without comprehensive market research is like planning a journey without GPS. Understanding what type of content your potential customers consume and respond to is vital. Comprehensive market research will help you formulate impactful marketing strategies and better understand how you can market your online store and optimize customer experience while selling on Shopify.
- Define Clear Objectives and Goals Before Selling on Shopify
Set clear goals when setting up your Shopify store to ensure your efforts are directed correctly. Define your sales targets, marketing goals, customer satisfaction rating, and other parameters before you start selling on Shopify. The bottom line is you should work with a clear plan.
- Create Your Shopify Account
Now, let’s create your Shopify account. When you visit Shopify’s web page for the first time, you will see two buttons in the top right corner which say ‘Log in’ and ‘Start free trial’.
Click on ‘Start free trial’ to get started with the process. Once you click on ‘Start free trial,’ Shopify will ask you a few questions about your online store to ensure seamless selling on Shopify and configure various elements, including currencies and taxes. You can either skip all questions and answer them later or enter the required details as you proceed.
- Select Products, Themes, Custom Domains, and Store Name
A setup guide will greet you once you create your Shopify account. You must add all the products you intend to sell at this stage. Adding products is pretty straightforward. Under ‘Add your first product,’ click ‘Add product’ to start selling on Shopify. Upload product images, write product descriptions, and set pricing for all products you plan to sell on Shopify. You can also import products by uploading a CSV file. This information will allow your customers to learn more about the product.
You can also bifurcate your products by using various labels. Some of the most common labels include product type, product availability, tags, vendor, and collections.
Now, let’s learn how you can customize your Shopify store.
Select ‘Customize your online store’ from the setup guide and select ‘Customize theme’.
You can browse through different free themes and select one that can serve as a base for your Shopify store. You can customize various elements of the pre-built template, including fonts, page layout, product display styles, and more. You can also tailor each theme in line with your brand’s identity and image using Shopify’s Theme Editor. Add your brand’s logo, unique content, and visually appealing graphics before you start selling on Shopify.
- Add Pages to Your Shopify Store
The About Us page lets your customers get familiar with your brand, brand values, and journey. It instills trust and allows you to forge strong relationships with your clients. The Contact Us page allows your customers to get in touch with your business to make inquiries. The Products page, as the name suggests, provides a comprehensive view of your product portfolio, enabling your customers to pick from an array of products on display.
- Customize Your Shopify Store’s Checkout Page
The next step? Customizing your store’s checkout page. The onus is on you to provide a seamless customer experience while selling on Shopify. Therefore, optimizing your checkout page and modifying a few elements, such as the background color, image, and layout, is important. You can add different fields on the checkout page, including the ‘add a tip’ option for your customers or the ‘required email’ field to capture email addresses for email marketing.
Click on Theme settings in the top left corner after you have selected a theme (marked in the image).
Now, click on checkout on the left of your screen to customize your checkout page and modify it as per your brand’s guidelines.
While setting up your Shopify store is a crucial component of your online business, it is equally important to focus on how you will manage shipping and deliveries. You cannot sell on Shopify without setting up shipping and deliveries. So, how do you do that?
It’s simple. Visit your store’s home page and click on Settings in the bottom left corner of the page.
Now, select ‘shipping and deliveries’ and proceed to configure your shipping settings to ensure seamless order delivery and fulfillment.
From adding custom shipping rates and delivery dates to including packing slips, you can tweak different parts of your shipping process from the shipping and deliveries section.
- Do Not Overlook Customer Support and Handling
No matter how appealing and organized your Shopify store is, you will only retain customers if you provide top-notch customer service. Even today, the customer is king, so you should be able to go above and beyond to fulfill their needs and exceed expectations. Customer first at all times.
Start by offering customer support across various channels, including phone, email, live chat, and social media. Next, always ensure you respond to customer inquiries in a professional manner. Remember that a personalized customer support experience is more effective than generic assistance.
You can improve your customer support experience by adding chatbots and automated live chat features while selling on Shopify. While the live chat option enables customers to seek answers in real time, the chatbot feature paves the way for automated responses to frequently asked questions.
Ultimately, selling on Shopify should be streamlined for you and convenient for your customers.
- Set up Payment Gateways
One of the last major steps while setting up your Shopify store configuring payment gateways with your online business is important to accept payments. Again, setting up a payment gateway is a convenient and straightforward process.
Remember the first step to set up deliveries and shipping. Repeat it by clicking on settings in the bottom left corner of your store’s home page.
Now, click on Payments on the left side of your screen.
At this stage, you are required to add payment providers, supported payment methods, and other vital details tied to your business, including the last four digits of your SSN, address, name, bank details, and more.
Since Shopify accepts almost all common payment methods, setting up a payment gateway is convenient. Here’s an important piece of information you should know before you start selling on Shopify. If you opt for Shopify’s native payment gateway, Shopify Payments, you can accept payments without deductions. If you choose a third-party payment gateway such as PayPal or Stripe, Shopify will charge a certain percentage of the transaction.
- Your Online Store+Shopify Apps = Limitless Business Growth
Now that you have a fair idea about how to set up your Shopify store let’s explore how you can leverage Shopify applications to expand your online business. Similar to the App Store on iOS and Google Play Store on Android, Shopify offers an extensive range of Shopify applications that aid different aspects of your online business, including marketing, product bundling, upselling, promotions, customer support, search engine optimization, email marketing, digital advertisement, and more. Do not shy away from exploring Shopify’s application store to discover the best tools for your business.
- Time to Launch Your Shopify Store
SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 on August 11 this year, and we are confident you will launch your online store and start selling on Shopify very soon. It is a good practice to purchase a custom domain to improve the chances of running your Shopify store without any major roadblocks.
You can purchase a “.com” custom domain by paying $14 per month. Although this is not mandatory, it is deemed more professional than running your Shopify store on the platform’s subdomain.
It is not time to set up analytics and monitor every single parameter from the captain’s seat. Stay on top of your taxes, profits, orders, and inventory via Shopify’s intuitive dashboard. You also have the liberty to add Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel to optimize your marketing strategies and make informed decisions.
Marketing Your Online Store
A business without marketing is like a puzzle without an important piece, limiting its full potential. In an era where people spend significant time staring at a digital screen, businesses cannot overlook the power of social media branding and marketing. It’s simple – if you aren’t doing it, someone else is, eventually hurting your business.
Create a solid marketing plan before you sell on Shopify. Are you clueless about where to begin? Here is how you can do it.
- Social Media Marketing
A whopping 5.18 billion people used social media in April 2023. That is roughly around 65% of the global population. Given the staggering numbers, Shopify store owners should prioritize social media marketing. Today, around 98.9 million consumers in the U.S. shop on Facebook or Instagram, indicating that social media commerce is not just a passing fad but an ongoing trend that is likely to continue in the upcoming decade.
- Influencer Marketing
It is safe to say that influencer marketing is not an uncommon entity anymore. Today, brands and social media influencers are coming together to forge powerful collaborations that primarily leverage the influencer’s authenticity and reach in the most genuine way possible.
It is no secret that influencer marketing has taken over social media with no signs of slowing down. There has never been a better time to collaborate with influencers to ensure your business reaches a larger audience and scales with time.
- Email Marketing
Email marketing is very much in vogue; if you are not convinced, look at these numbers. There were around 4.3 billion active email users in 2022, which is expected to reach 4.6 billion by the end of 2025.
Your email list is one of your most valuable assets, allowing you to reach out to your customers directly. It also allows you to foster stronger relationships via personalized communication with your customers. You can deliver emails to market your products, launch new products, discuss discounts and offers, and make other important announcements.
Wrapping It Up
This article should be an excellent starting point if you want to sell on Shopify. Congratulations on discovering and learning how to set up your Shopify store. That said, you will only become a Shopify merchant when you successfully execute all the steps mentioned in this article.
What are you waiting for? Start selling on Shopify like a pro today.
- How Much Does It Cost To Set Up a Shopify Store?
Here is the detailed pricing for all Shopify plans;
- Starter – $5 per month
- Basic – $39 per month
- Shopify – $105 per month
- Advanced – $399 per month
- Shopify Plus — Can be negotiated but usually costs around $2,000 per month
- Do I Need to Learn Coding and Graphic Design to Sell on Shopify?
No, you do not need coding or designing skills to sell on Shopify, thanks to the platform’s store builder and wide range of customizable themes.
- Can I Use My Domain Name While Selling on Shopify?
Yes, you can use your domain name by connecting your domain with Shopify from the store’s admin.
- What Do I Need to Start Selling on Shopify?
You will need products to sell and select a Shopify plan to start selling on Shopify.
- What is a Third-party Payment Processor?
A third-party payment processor, also known as a payment gateway, enables Shopify stores to accept online payments.
- What Currencies Does Shopify Support?
Shopify supports almost all types of currencies depending on the third-party payment processor of your choice.