Shopify is a user-friendly application where anyone can quickly create and launch an online store. It was designed to help small businesses afford ecommerce software and to get them started in selling online. With Shopify, you don’t need to have any technical know-how in web development or the need to hire an expensive web developer in building an ecommerce site from scratch.
Shopify offers an all-in-one ecommerce package. By using Shopify, you’ll already get an ecommerce site complete with secure hosting, an easy-to-use administration area, and online marketing tools. And you’ll be joining the list of over 30,000 stores that are powered by Shopify.
In short, Shopify takes away the hassle of building and maintaining an ecommerce store -- so you can focus more in creating and selling your products.
Getting started with Shopify
To get started in building a Shopify ecommerce store, you’ll have to first sign up and pick a monthly plan that you think is the best one for your needs. The plans available are Basic ($29), Professional ($59), Business ($99), and Unlimited ($179). Shopify offers a 30-day free trial for all plans.
After signing up, you’ll receive a temporary login password, which is going to be removed once you are ready to launch your store.
Once logged in, you have the option of completing the step-by-step guide in setting up your store or you can entirely skip it. Although, the tutorial is a recommended step for first time users because it will greatly help them familiarize the administration area of Shopify.
Designing your store
To customize your online store, you can pick a template from the Shopify Theme Store, which provides more than 100 ecommerce templates that you can choose from. There are free and paid templates available. All premium templates are mobile-ready.
Whether you’re selling jewelry, clothing, photography, arts, electronics, or any other type of products, Shopify has the templates that is just right for your needs. All templates are created by world-class designers.
Aside from choosing your template, you can also upload your logo and adjust the layout, colors, fonts, language, and currency. You can also insert slideshows and banners on the front page.
You can also create a unique template design by tweaking the entire HTML and CSS of your Shopify store. You can edit those codes in the Template Editor of the administration area. If you don’t how to code, you have the option of hiring a Shopify Expert to create a custom template, such as us :) .
If you’re a designer or developer, you can easily customize Shopify to your liking by using the programming language called Liquid.
Managing your store
In the Shopify administration area, you can easily add and organize your products. You can upload product images, input product description, manage inventory, and the option to import your inventory in bulk from Magento, eBay, CSV, or Excel. Organizing similar products is done through a category system called Collections.
To let your customers know more about your company or business, you can add and manage informational pages by using Shopify’s built-in Content Management System (CMS). You can also add updates, promotions, and new product announcements by posting articles on the blog section of the CMS.
Running your Shopify store
Shopify is a PCI Compliant company and provides SSL certificates for free for all users, which means you don’t have to dabble with technical problems or worry about security. Shopify features a fraud detection system that warns you every time a suspicious order is made on your store.
Customers can also add comments or notes every time they pay for a product, so you’ll know if they have a special request or specification for the product that they have ordered. By using fulfillment services like Amazon Services, Webgistix, and Shipwire, you can track all products from the time customers made a payment until they are delivered to their doorstep.
If you want to target specific customers, you can manage and group customers based on their location, money spent, etc. You also have the option to make your store private to create an exclusive or members-only ecommerce store.
Creating accounts for your staff is also possible with Shopify. You can set permissions to each person depending on their roles. You can assigned someone to only accept and process orders, manage product inventory, create page and blog content, or do other things around your store’s administration area.
Getting paid on your store
Accepting PayPal or credit card payments is hassle-free on any Shopify store. With Shopify’s over 50 payment gateways already integrated in each of their online stores, you can offer customers a lot of option to choose from when it comes to paying for the products or services that they have purchased.
Shopify’s shopping cart is Level 1 PCI-DSS compliant, which means you can accept VISA, Mastercard, and other credit card payments. It uses 128 bit SSL certificates -- the same encryption method use by large banks -- to make sure that all credit card and order information are secure and encrypted. Both these important features are included for free in each Shopify store.
By using PayPal, you can already start accepting credit card payments right after launching your store. You also have the option to upgrade your payment gateway to Authorize.net or Stripe. Shopify automatically calculates tax rates depending on where your customers and business are located. You can set the checkout page to your preferred currency and language. You can choose from over 50 languages as well.
Shipping rates are also adjustable based on the weight or price of the product. If you’re on the Business or Unlimited plan, your store automatically calculates real-time shipping rates from FedEx, USPS, or UPS.
Shopify can also track customers who have abandoned their shopping carts. A list of email addresses is provided for you if ever you want to reach out and email those customers regarding their incomplete orders.
Hosting your Shopify store
You don’t have to worry about maintaining your store’s visibility online because your Shopify store already includes a free and reliable ecommerce hosting with unlimited bandwidth. Every software update and backups are done in the background by Shopify.
Shopify uses ServerCentral for all of their hosting needs. ServerCentral is an enterprise-level hosting service provider that caters other reputable businesses around the world and boosts with more than 10 years of experience in the hosting industry.
In order to make your store load fast on any browser, Shopify uses a Content Delivery Network (CDN) from CDNetworks. This means that your customers can access each product page or content on your store as quickly as possible.
If you don’t want your store’s name under Shopify (i.e., mystore.shopify.com), you can set a new or an existing domain name for your store. You can also use Shopify on any existing site or blog.
For your email hosting and forwarding needs, Shopify integrates with Google Apps. This means that you can easily create email addresses with your store’s domain name, all for free and accessible through Gmail. If you have Google Apps installation questions, let us know.
Marketing your Shopify store
With Shopify, you just don’t get a store, you’ll also get advanced ecommerce marketing tools to help you promote your products online. Your store already includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO), advanced ecommerce analytics, discount code coupon engine, free Facebook and Google AdWords credits, Google Website Optimizer, Google Product Search, and email marketing tools.
With SEO alone, you should gain your initial traffic and sales from major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing depending on how you setup your store, the number of different products, and your niche. Shopify is a SEO-friendly CMS that follows and implements the best practices and standards in optimizing an ecommerce store. XML sitemaps are automatically updated every time a new product is added to the store to make sure it appears on search engines right away.
To help you track your store’s progress, you can use Shopify’s built-in advanced ecommerce analytics. With this tool, you can see details on how customers entered your site and where they are located; get to know the websites who referred your customers; study the keywords use by customers in getting to your site; and learn the total number of visits, page impressions, and unique visitors. And if that’s not enough, Shopify is fully integrated with Google Analytics.
If you want to create promos and deals, you can use the store’s discount coupon code engine. It generates coupons and codes to be used by customers in order to get instant savings and rebates. You can control how the coupons and codes work. You can set it to give customers free shipping, a percentage amount, or a fixed amount. However, it is important to note that this feature is only available for users who are on the Professional, Business, and Unlimited plans.
Shopify has partnered with Google and Facebook to give you leverage in advertising your store or products online. Through Google AdWords, you can promote your products on Google’s search engine. With Facebook, you can target specific customers on the social network’s sponsored stories program. As a Shopify store owner, you’ll get $100 credit when you sign up for a new Google AdWords account and also $50 credit when you set up an advertising account on Facebook.
To know what works and what doesn't on your store, you can run experiments and tests using the Google Analytics Content Experiments. While the Google Product Search will get your products automatically added to Google Shopping and they allow for easy upload into the Amazon Marketplace as well.
Customers can also subscribe to your store’s newsletter with Shopify’s email marketing tool. You can then use the email list to keep track of new subscribers and send updates using your preferred email system.
Shopify stores are built using HTML 5, which means customers who are using mobile phones like an iPhone, Android, Blackberry, or any other smartphones are automatically switched to the mobile version of your store.
And just like your full ecommerce store, customers can also place orders or purchase products right on their mobile phones. Shopify’s mobile commerce functionality features the same secure shopping cart and checkout system, all complete with Level 1 PCI Compliant hosting and 128 bit SSL encryption.
To give your mobile customers the same look and feel of your ecommerce store, you can fully customize the entire mobile theme of your store.
If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll be glad to know that there’s an app for you in Shopify Mobile. The Shopify mobile app is designed specially for Shopify store owners, so that they can get important information and updates about their ecommerce site wherever they go.
With the app, you’ll get push notifications every time a new order is placed; manage your inventory, fulfill orders, and capture payments; and access vital information about your products and customers on-the-go.
Extending your store
Shopify is already equipped with all the right stuff and features right out of the box, enough to get you started in selling products and services right away.
But if you want to extend the store’s functionality, you can throw in another specialized feature by getting a plugin at the Shopify App Store. The app store features both free and premium plugins.
By visiting the app store, you get to install plugins like PixelPrinter or Mapify. With PixelPrinter, you can create and print custom receipts, invoices, and shipping labels. While Mapify gives you an instant view of all your customers shown on a world map.
Shopify also offers store owners a way to create new functionality to their ecommerce sites by using the Shopify API. To get started dabbling with that, you’ll need to have a Shopify Partner account and some experience in using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
There you go, that’s basically all the information that you need to know on what you’ll get in signing up for a Shopify store. If you want to spend more of your time on counting your profits and not on getting headaches of running an ecommerce store, then Shopify is going to help you achieve just that.
What are you thoughts on Shopify? Do you have some good Shopify examples for us? Any questions that we can help with?
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