Starting your own eCommerce brand can be quite a daunting task, let alone trying to navigate the technical setup of a Shopify store.
Not only do you need to mess around with shipping, tax, and other technical settings, you also need to then decide on the look and feel of your brand so there really is a lot to consider.
I run all of my eCommerce stores on Shopify because I have found it to be the most user-friendly platform so this guide, or checklist you might even call it, has been put together from years of experience to help you start your Shopify store without any major hiccups.
Setting Up Your eCommerce Brand For Success
This first step is very important because it’s not something you really want to change too much down the track.
There are a few components to this first step.
Choosing a Name For Your Ecommerce Business
It’s important to make sure you’ve chosen a niche for your eCommerce business, and your business name should match that niche.
Don’t forget that you should also make sure the domain name is available for your new store too.
If you’re having trouble thinking of a name you can always do a quick google search for “business name generator” and you’ll find plenty of resources.
Setting up Your Domain Name and Email
Now you’ve chosen the name for your new Shopify store, you need to make sure that the domain name is available.
There’s a couple of rules you should follow when buying your domain name:
- Try to get the .com name
- If the .com is not available you can try for the .net domain name.
- Don’t include too many hyphens or numbers
I personally use NameCheap or GoDaddy for my domain names, and Google Workspace to set up all my email addresses.
Create a Business Logo
Because you’re just starting out, you don’t want to spend too much money on creating a logo. You can either do it yourself with Photoshop if you know how to use it or you can try Canva.
If you want to pay someone else, you can take a look at Fiverr or use Shopify’s logo service called Hatchful.
Make sure your logo is simple, has not too many colors, and is consistent with your overall brand.
Get Your Social Media Right
Before you even think about launching your Shopify store, you need to make sure that you have your business pages set up on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Even if you just start with Facebook, that’s a great start until you have time to start posting on other platforms.
One thing you should note is that you will need a circular logo for most social media platforms.
Setting up Your Shopify Store
Now that you have created your brand, the time has come to open your Shopify store!
One part of your Shopify store that is super important is the 'Settings' section. You can find this on the bottom left of your Shopify dashboard.
There's quite a lot to do inside the Shopify dashboard, but the first thing you might like to do is find a suitable theme for your storefront.
Choose a Shopify Theme
This is one of the fun parts and you get to play around with how you store will look when customers visit.
Shopify offers some great free and paid themes to choose from. In the beginning, I highly recommend just picking a nice free theme.
If you're stuck picking a theme, I love the Dawn theme. It's the newest free theme and it looks fantastic.
Designing your Shopify theme is quite easy but you might need to spend a little bit of time getting used to the theme editor.
Add Important Pages To Your Store
Before you open your Shopify store to the public, there's some really important pages that you need to have.
The most important pages to start with are:
- Shipping Policy
- Returns & Refunds Policy
- Terms of Service
Some of these policies can be generated for you by Shopify, but you will need to read through them and make sure they are relevant to your business and the way you operate.
You should also give your store some "personality" by adding these pages:
- About Us
- Contact Us
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Having these pages on your store will help it appear more professional and trustworthy.
Setup Your Navigation Menus
Now that you've setup your page, you can go to the Navigation section and setup your store menus.
You'll need to go back here later to add things like product collections to your main menu.
Create Your Shopify Payment Gateways
Your payment gateways are required so people can buy things from you, so they are pretty important!
If you already have PayPal, you can add that to your store so people can use PayPal to pay for goods.
The other recommended option is to use Shopify Payments, which is powered by Stripe. You can set this up inside the Pay
To set up your Shopify Payment Gateways, simply click on 'Settings' in the bottom left of your dashboard, choose 'Payments' and then you will have the option to activate both Shopify Payments and PayPal Express Checkout.
If you happen to live in a country where neither of these payment processors are available to you, there is an option further down to add a third party payment processor.
Create Shipping Zones & Rates
Shipping can be quite confusing for some, so I generally choose to keep it simple.
Personally, like to include the shipping costs in my product prices and offer my customers “free shipping”.
This is going to be heavily influenced by your sales strategy though.
If you want to charge for shipping based on different locations and different product types, this is how you can do it.
Go to 'Settings' and choose 'Shipping and Delivery'.
Once you're in the shipping section, you can create 'Shipping Profiles' for each product type.
In this example I created profiles for heavy products, because they cost more to ship, and a separate one for lightweight products.
Then once inside each shipping profile you can choose what products are part of that profile, and define your shipping prices (rates) based on the country you are shipping to.
This can get a little confusing, but once you get the hang of it you will be fine.
Shopify Tax Settings
I'm sure we can all agree that taxes suck, but they need to be dealt with.
Shopify gives you the options of setting up your taxes, or you can simply choose not to collect taxes.
This doesn't mean that you don't have to pay them, its up to you as a business owner to make sure you do whats right!
If you choose to define tax rates based on different locations, which is very easy to do in the settings that Shopify provides you, then I would highly recommend you also tick this box below.
This is entirely up to you and however you decide to handle this, but if you don't tick the "All Prices Include Tax" box then this will be added at checkout and your customers might get scared off.
Add Apps To Your Shopify Store
You don’t have to add any apps at this stage, and too many will slow down your store, but you’ll definitely work out what apps you want down the track.
Apps can do all sorts of things like add countdown timers to your store, help you build fancy looking product pages, help you bundle products together and much more!
There are literally thousands of apps in the app store, some free and some will cost you money each month.
If you want to learn more about the free apps available to you, this article is a great read.
Once you start getting more sales on your store, one of the best things you can do is add a Shopify reviews app so you can show how happy your customers are.
That's A Wrap!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my Shopify getting start guide! I sincerely hope that it has helped you kickstart your eCommerce journey.
I could go on and on about things you can do to improve your Shopify store, but if you successfully carry out all the steps in this guide you’ll have yourself a very nice store!
Good luck with your ecommerce journey and don’t forget to be patient, ask a lot of questions and never give up!
Wishing you all the success in the world!