Are you considering opening a Shopify store? The days of requiring a hefty budget to lease physical space, purchase inventory, and manage a brick-and-mortar store are long gone. Thanks to Shopify, you can now set up an online store with just a few mouse clicks and less than an hour of your time. The future is here, and it's e-commerce!
If you're interested in venturing into the world of online business with Shopify, you've come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to successfully launch your Shopify store with ease and efficiency. So, let's dive right in!
What is Shopify?
Founded in 2004, Shopify is an eCommerce platform that has evolved to become the easiest way to establish an online store. Initially, Shopify gained popularity for selling snowboarding gear, but today, it's one of the hottest companies in the stock market, serving over 600,000 businesses across 175 different countries. With over 1 billion orders processed through Shopify and total merchant sales exceeding $55 billion, it's clear that Shopify has made its mark in the eCommerce industry.
When you sign up with Shopify, you gain access to a 3-days free trial, allowing you to explore all its features, including shop design, themes, apps, inventory management, and payment processing. Following the trial period, you can choose from three pricing plans, starting at ₹1,994, ₹7,447, or₹30,164 per month, depending on your specific needs.
If you're just starting out, the Basic Shopify plan at ₹1,994 per month offers more than enough features for your online business. Plus, Shopify provides 24/7 customer service via live chat, phone, and email to assist with any issues that may arise.
Setting Up Your Shopify Store Before Launch
Setting up a Shopify store is a straightforward process that can be completed in under an hour, even if you take your time to explore all the options. The 3-day free trial and ₹20 per month provides peace of mind, so don't worry if you make mistakes along the way. Let's begin with the following steps:
1. Choosing a Unique Name
Before creating your store, you need a unique name. Shopify offers a helpful tool called the Business Name Generator, which generates a list of 100 names containing your desired keyword. These names are available for purchase, allowing you to create a new store with Shopify instantly. Alternatively, you can explore other free Shopify business name generators for additional options, including domain purchase and logo creation.
When selecting a name for your business, consider the following criteria:
- Keep it short and memorable, with a maximum length of about 17 characters, akin to brands like Nike or Apple.
- Ensure it's easy to spell, avoiding complex or hard-to-pronounce words.
- Check domain availability using tools like Hostinger and opt for a .com domain if possible.
- Seek feedback from friends, family, or partners to gather different perspectives.
- Don't shy away from creative and unconventional ideas; sometimes, they're the most memorable.
Once you've chosen a name, you're ready for the next step.
2. Creating an Account
Visit Shopify's website and click on the Start Free Trial. Now Shopify will ask you few questions, if you wish, you can skip all of it just by clicking on skip all.
After that select the country you're from, and sign in using Email, Google account, Facebook account or Apple Id.
Upon completing these steps, your Shopify account will be created.
3. Selecting a Theme
Once you've signed up, you'll be taken to your store's admin interface. To ensure your visitors have an appealing interface to interact with and browse your products, you'll need to choose a theme from Shopify's theme store. These themes come with full support from designers and Shopify, guaranteeing a smooth-running store.
You'll find over 70 theme variations in the Shopify Theme Store, with a significant percentage of them being free. These themes offer a wide range of customizability without the need for coding. Premium themes provide even more options for modification. If you're new to the process, a free theme is an excellent starting point.
However, if you require professional assistance, Shopify has a team of design agencies under Shopify Experts that you can hire to perfect every detail of your site.
Here's how to find the theme that suits your needs:
- Browse the theme store and select from a variety of categories, features, and styles.
- Filter themes by price, popularity, or other criteria.
- Check reviews and functionality to ensure compatibility with your store's requirements.
After you've found your preferred theme, click the "Add theme" button. Shopify will ask for confirmation, and you can click "Publish as my Shop's Theme."
4. Configuring Store Settings
All Shopify themes come with options to make simple changes that significantly impact your store's appearance. Don't worry about your store resembling others; you can customize it extensively without any coding knowledge. Additionally, Shopify allows you to access HTML and CSS files for further customization.
The most common features available in the theme settings include:
- Creating homepage carousels by uploading slides.
- Uploading logos and resizing them.
- Adjusting the number of items displayed on collection pages.
- Adding related item functions to product pages.
- Choosing fonts and color schemes.
- Repositioning elements on pages, such as product images.
- Incorporating social media widgets for sharing.
Ensure that you complete the Legal section in the Settings tab, where you can find templates for creating and adjusting Refund, Privacy, Terms of Service, and Shipping policies.
5. Adding Products
Before launching your store, you need to add products. Access the Products section in your store's dashboard and click the "Add product" button. Provide detailed information about your products, including their name, description, URL, and images. Pay attention to SEO-related details like the product's name, description, and URL, as these factors can impact your store's search engine ranking.
Product images play a crucial role in driving sales, so ensure they showcase your products effectively, highlighting unique features with close-up shots. Maintaining consistent image dimensions creates a clean and professional appearance.
After entering all necessary information, click the "Save product" button to finalize your product listings. You can also create collections to group products with common attributes, making it easier for customers to find what they're looking for.
6 Steps to Launch Your Shopify Store
Now that you've invested time and effort into setting up your Shopify store, importing products, and crafting legal documents, it's time to make your store live. Here are the six essential steps to successfully launch your online business with Shopify:
1. Create and Add a Domain Name
To make your site live, you need a domain name—a web address your customers can use to access your business. If you previously selected a name for your store, Shopify can help you acquire a domain for it, which will be automatically added to your store. This is a time-saving option, especially if you're not familiar with hosting a website. Domain prices typically range from ₹75 to ₹3500 per year, and Shopify handles the hosting, eliminating the need for third-party hosting providers.
Alternatively, you can purchase a domain from third-party companies like Hostinger orGoDaddy, starting from ₹75 per year. However, you'll need to configure DNS records yourself, which we'll cover in the next section. Purchasing a domain directly from Shopify simplifies the process and minimizes potential complications.
To add a new domain, navigate to the "Online Store" section in your dashboard, click "Domains," and use the "Add an existing domain" feature. Once connected, you should see the status change to "Connected."
2. Update DNS Records
If you opt for a third-party domain provider, you'll need to update your DNS records. DNS, or Domain Name System, is responsible for directing a domain name to a specific physical IP address. Updating DNS records becomes necessary because your hosting provider and domain provider are different entities.
For instance, if you registered your domain with GoDaddy, the name server managing your DNS records would typically be something like GoDaddy's generic name server (e.g., NS1.godaddy.com). You'll need to change this to point your domain name to the correct IP address (e.g., storename.shopify.com).
After logging into your domain provider, make the following DNS record changes:
- Change the "@" or main A record to the IP address: 18.104.22.168.
- Add or modify the "www" CNAME record to your Shopify store link without the HTTP (e.g., storename.myshopify.com).
These changes ensure that your domain points to your Shopify store correctly. Now that your domain is set up, it's time to address storefront passwords.
3. Remove Storefront Passwords
Before launching your store, ensure that it's not password-protected by Shopify. It's easy to overlook this step, even as the store administrator, so double-check to avoid surprises.
To disable password protection:
- Go to the "Online Store" tab in your dashboard.
- Click "Preferences" and scroll down to the "Password protection" section.
- Uncheck the "Enable password" box if it's selected.
If you need to use password protection temporarily, you can leave a message for visitors explaining the situation. Shopify will notify you to disable the password feature if it's still active.
4. Set a Primary Domain
When you initially set up your store, you received a default subdomain under the myshopify.com domain. While you can run your site using this address, it's more professional and offers SEO benefits to have a custom domain name.
To register a domain within Shopify, access the "Domains" section under the "Online Store" menu. You can then set your primary domain, which doesn't include myshopify.com, with or without the "www" part—your choice. Importantly, ensure you've enabled the "Redirect all traffic to the primary domain" feature to prevent confusion and provide clarity to search engines.
5. Adding Other Domains if Needed
You can repeat steps 1 and 2 for any additional domains you wish to add. All domain names will automatically redirect to the primary domain. You can easily switch the primary domain at any time by selecting the desired option next to each domain name. Keep in mind that the number of domain names added won't affect your site's SEO.
6. Your Store is Live!
Congratulations, you've completed all the steps to launch your Shopify store! You now have a fully functional online store ready to serve customers. Remember that you can continue to configure and fine-tune various aspects of your store through the admin backend dashboard, so don't hesitate to make adjustments as needed.
Additional Tips for Launching Your Shopify Store
While you may be eager to start running your store, it's essential to exercise patience and thoroughness before launching to ensure a smooth and successful start. Here are some additional tips to consider:
Check Your Title and Meta Tags
By default, Shopify automatically generates title and meta description tags based on your product descriptions and names. However, these tags play a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO), so it's worth reviewing and optimizing them manually. Craft compelling title tags that accurately describe your page's content and include relevant keywords. Additionally, write engaging meta tags that encourage users to click on your search engine results.
When creating meta tags, consider including:
- Action words that guide users on what to do with the page.
- Alternate names that couldn't fit into the title tag.
- Detailed descriptions, feature lists, or examples of what's on the page.
- Inviting or creative language to entice clicks.
These tags contribute to how your store appears in search engine results, making them vital for attracting visitors.
Place a Test Order
To ensure that your store settings are functioning correctly, place a test order to simulate a transaction. You can use Shopify's Bogus Gateway for testing, which allows you to conduct a test order for free. Follow these steps:
1. Access your store's backend dashboard and click "Settings," then select "Payment providers."
2. Deactivate any credit card gateway that may be enabled by clicking "Edit" and then "Deactivate," followed by confirmation.
3. In the "Third-party providers" section, choose the "Bogus Gateway (for testing)" option and click "Activate."
4. Visit your storefront and attempt to place an order as a real customer.
Keep in mind that this process is free, but remember to cancel and refund the order immediately to avoid transaction fees.
Launching your Shopify store is an exciting endeavor, and with these six comprehensive steps and additional tips, you're well-equipped to succeed in the world of eCommerce. Take the time to refine your store, optimize your content, and ensure a seamless customer experience before going live. With Shopify's user-friendly platform and your commitment, your online business is poised for success.
Ready to embark on your Shopify journey? Start by following these steps, and you'll be on your way to becoming a successful online retailer in no time. Good luck with your Shopify store launch!