Since 2006, Shopify has been a leading eCommerce platform for small- and medium-sized business owners who want to quickly build an online store and start selling products without needing web development experience.
Shopify practically automates the process of building an eCommerce site. There are over 70 stylish templates to choose from, all of which can be customized with a few quick clicks of your mouse.
In this article, we’ll explain how to build a website with Shopify. We’ll talk you through every stage of the process, from signing up to creating your domain name, to adding your products and launching. With this information, you can decide if Shopify’s the right eCommerce platform for your business.
How to build a website with Shopify: Preparation
Building a website with Shopify is a simple and intuitive process. If you have an idea of how you want your eCommerce site to look before you begin, you can build your site in a little as an hour.
So before registering with Shopify, decide what colors and fonts complement your brand identity. Perhaps create a mood board of other stylish websites you like and want to emulate. Then, when Shopify presents you with templates, color palettes, and font options during the web building process, you’ll have a strong idea of which ones align with your brand's identity.
It’s also important to decide on a good domain name for your store (which serves as your business’s “address” on the internet) and check that it’s available. To find out how your domain name may affect your site’s ranking on different search engines, read search engine optimization (SEO) guides on marketing sites. This will enable you to make an informed choice on the best domain name for your brand when you reach that stage of the Shopify setup process.
Step 1: Sign up for Shopify
Shopify encourages you to build your site as part of its 14-day free trial. Once you’ve done this, you can choose between its $29/mo, $79/mo, and $299/mo plans (the more expensive plans are marketed toward larger businesses).
Simply click Start Free Trial from the home screen and enter your email address. You’ll then be asked to enter a store name, which will become a default Shopify URL. You can add a custom URL (i.e., domain) later in the process.
Step 2: Add products
From the dashboard, navigate to Products and click Add Product to create your first listing.
Upload a photo (and/or video advertisement, if you have one) to showcase your product. Write an attention-grabbing title and a product description which includes all details relevant to your audience. When you’re adding the product, specify in the CMS how much stock you have, so if the product sells out, it won’t be listed on your site (if you’re a dropshipping or print-on-demand service, you won’t need to do this). Finally, be clear if your product has different variants and specify how you want it to be shipped.
Now you’ve created a product, you’ll be able to see how your inventory looks on your site as you build it.
Step 3: Build essential pages
Shoppers look for essential pages to understand your business and respect it as an authority, and these should be built first. They include an About Us, an FAQ, a Contact Us, and a Legal Policy (Shipping, Returns, etc.) page.
Shopify’s dashboard includes templates for these essential pages that you can adapt for your situation.
Step 4: Choose a theme
Shopify has 70+ theme templates to choose from, all of which can be customized to best reflect the style and vision of your business. Some themes were specifically designed for single-product eCommerce retailers. Although they can be adapted, this can be very time-consuming, so it’s best to pick one which already accommodates the size of your inventory. Themes can be free or paid.
Pick your theme based on its features, not on color and font. Stylistic elements are easy to modify, but if, for example, you’ve chosen a theme without a search bar feature, you’ll likely find it very difficult to adapt your chosen theme to that requirement.
Step 5: Customize shipping and fulfillment
Establish shipping zones first. Then provide information about where you are based and where you intend to ship to.
Choose how much you intend to charge for shipping items, or use Shopify shipping to integrate your pricing with the pricing/availability of Canada Post and/or USPS.
Step 6: Establish tax region
Head to Settings from the dashboard and then click Taxes to establish the country in which you operate as your tax region. Shopify automatically calculates your sales tax based on the current tax rate, but be advised that you should verify its accuracy with an accounting professional.
Step 7: Choose how to accept payments
Shopify Payments allows you to accept payments from over 100 major payment providers, including Apple Pay, Paypal, and Visa.
Head to Settings from your dashboard and select Payments to decide which payment options you want to accept. Then, navigate back to Settings and establish which currencies you’ll accept in General.
Step 8: Choose a domain
If you have previously bought the domain of your web store, you can simply connect it to your Shopify store to integrate the site with your domain. Alternatively, head to Shopify’s web store (easy to navigate to from your dashboard) and click Domains. From there you can buy a domain from Shopify in seconds. Shopify will offer suggestions on alternate domain names if your chosen one is already taken.
Once you’ve chosen a domain, your Shopify site is ready to go live!
Shopify was one of the first companies to make building an eCommerce site without a web developer easy. Fourteen years later, any Shopify review makes it evident that building a site with this platform is intuitive and requires little to no technical skill.
Shopify’s dashboard is easy to navigate and all the settings you’d want to find are readily available. The hardest part of the process is deciding which aesthetic options best represent your brand, but every other eCommerce platform would present the same difficulty.
One criticism is that Shopify only offers around 70 site templates. However, they’re all highly adaptable and easy to customize, so it's not a significant one. Overall, Shopify is a good choice for small- to medium-sized business owners looking to launch their products online.