Shopify 101 – The Ultimate Shopify Business Guide

Getting started using Shopify doesn’t have to be difficult.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or simply don’t understand how you should proceed forward, we’re going to help you make your way into the wonderful world of eCommerce.

By following this Shopify 101 guide, you’ll have a better idea of how to start your store and what you need to do to continue growing your store as you move forward.

And you’ll have a step-by-step process to follow that you can refer back to anytime you feel yourself getting stuck.

Here’s What We’re Going To Cover

  • How to pick products that are going to sell well and give you great profit margins.
  • How to actually start your store, the simple way.
  • ​Which plugins and apps you should be using to get the most out of your store.
  • ​How to brand your store so it sticks in your customer’s minds.
  • ​How to drive traffic to your store so you can actually make sales.
  • ​How to increase your conversions so more visitors turn into customers.
  • ​How to handle customer service so you keep everyone happy, every time.
  • ​How to quickly scale your Shopify store so you make more money.
  • How to bring past customers back to your store for increased lifetime value.
  • The step-by-step checklist you need to build your Shopify store.

Follow along, take notes, and do the work as you’re reading, and you can have your first store up and running by the time you’re finished reading!

It really is that simple. So let’s get started.

Let’s get started

How To Choose Products To Sell

The products you choose to sell are going to make or break your business.

While we can’t tell you specifically which products you should be selling, because that is going to be based on your experience, your interests, and what you believe in your heart is going to sell, we can tell you which types of products you should be avoiding.

There are certain product categories that are going to increase your return rates, increase your unhappy customer rates, are going to end up breaking, being hard to ship, or just won’t deliver the profit margins you need to sustain a healthy eCommerce business.

Here Are Some Basic Guidelines You Should Follow When Choosing Which Products To Sell

  • Avoid heavy products because of high shipping costs.
  • Avoid products that are easily broken because of high return rates.
  • ​Avoid overly-technical products because of increased customer service issues.
  • ​Avoid selling toys with extremely small pieces because of child safety risks.
  • ​Avoid selling products that are regulated by federal agencies.
  • ​Avoid selling products that could spoil while being shipped.
  • Avoid selling electronics because of high return rates.

And Here Are A Few Tips To Help You Find Products That Are Known To Sell Well

  • Pick a niche hobby or industry where customers are already spending money.
  • If possible, find additional products those same customers will also buy.
  • ​Products that cost between $20 to $50 sell the best.
  • Products over $100 are going to give you great profit margins.

The goal when you’re picking a product to sell is to find one that is going to be cheap and easy to ship, won’t require extensive customer support from you, and isn’t potentially harmful to your customers or your business.

Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to choosing a product to sell, and if you follow these guidelines you can save yourself a ton of time, money, energy, and frustration.

You’ll also have a high chance of finding products that are going to sell well for years to come.

How To Start Your Store

Now that you’ve chosen a product, or a few different products you’re going to sell on your store, it’s time to actually start your store.

Step #1: Sign Up For Shopify

You’re going to need a Shopify.com account to get started.

You can create your free trial account by clicking here.

When you arrive on Shopify.com, you’re going to want to click on “Get Started”.

Get started at shopify

After you click “Get Started”, you’re going to need to enter your email address, choose a password, and create a name for your store.

Create a name for your store

Once you enter your information, Shopify is going to work for a few seconds to build the store. On the next page, you’re going to be asked to input a little more information about yourself, whether you’re already selling and how much revenue you’re currently generating.

Tell more about yourself

After telling them about yourself, you’re going to be taken to the next page where you will need to input your address so you can get paid for any sales that you make.

Input your adress

When you’re finished, you’re going to click on “Enter My Store”.

Voila, your store is created. Now it’s time to add your first product.

Step #2: Add A Product To Your Store

You’re going to be taken to a screen with a bunch of different fields you’re going to need to fill out.

Add a product to your store

Go through the page, entering the details of the product you’re going to be adding to your store.

When you’re done, scroll to the bottom and click on “Save Product”.

Your screen is going to reload and you’ll then want to click on “Continue setting up your store.”

You added your first product

Now that you know how to add products to your store, it’s time to change how your store looks so it’s unique to your own business.

Step #3: Customize The Look Of Your Store

On the next screen, you’re going to want to click on “Customize Theme”.

Customize your online store

Now, you’re going to have 2 different options.

The first is to completely customize the stock Shopify theme yourself, which is more time-intensive but gives you complete control over the look of your store.

The second, and what we’re going to do is to explore free themes that are already built and ready to go. This is the simplest option to take, and there are countless different free themes that look great.

Customize the stock Shopify theme

Scroll down and click on “Explore free themes”.

Then, browse through some of the templates that Shopify gives you, find one that matches what you’re wanting your store to look like, and click on the theme you’ve chosen.

Explore free themes

When you click on the theme you want to use, you’ll be taken to the next screen where you can install it onto your store.

Click on the “Install” button, and your store’s look will change to the theme you’ve chosen.

Step #4: Make Your Way Around The Dashboard

Now that your store is live and looks great, you can add more products, view different reports and track the performance of your store, offer discounts, and manage your store from inside the Shopify dashboard.

Your store is ready to start making sales, but you may want to add some new functionality to it, on top of what Shopify already has built in.

Essential Shopify Plugins & Apps

To add new functionality to your store, you’re going to want to install a few apps that will give you the specific features you’re looking for.

These apps can be found by clicking on “Apps” in the lower left hand screen of your Shopify dashboard.

Some of the apps are great for adding inventory, while others work great for helping you market your store, and some even work to increase the conversion rate of your store.

Below are a list of what we believe are the essential apps for your Shopify store.

#1 - Oberlo

When you’re trying to choose a product to sell, or want to quickly import new products that you can dropship directly to your customers, Oberlo makes it easy.

With Oberlo installed, you can add new products to your store’s catalog within a few clicks. Any products that are added to your store through Oberlo can be shipped directly to your customers without any more intervention from yourself.

It’s an easy way to increase your sales and revenue.

#2 - Plug In SEO

The major search engines, like Google and Bing, deliver some of the highest targeted, most profitable traffic you can tap into when you’re running an eCommerce store and selling products online.

plug in seo

Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t have many options for optimizing your product descriptions or your store, so you’re going to need an outside solution. In comes Plug In SEO.

Plug In SEO gives you the options that (we believe) should have been built into Shopify from the beginning, and help you tap into that coveted search engine traffic.

#3 - Product Reviews

One of the easiest ways to increase the conversion rate on your store is to give your new visitors testimonials and reviews from past customers.

Shopify doesn’t have the greatest customer review feature out of the box, though.

If you want to add attractive customer reviews to each of your product pages, you’re going to need to use the app “Product Reviews”.

It allows you to create attractive customer review templates quickly and easily so your future visitors can get the social proof they’re looking for.

#4 - Google Shopping

Ranking highly in the Google Merchant Center (Google Shopping) is similar to ranking highly in the organic search results, but it’s devoted specifically to customers who are looking to purchase products -- the products that you’re selling.

Shopify doesn’t give you the tools needed to get your products featured in the Google Shopping search results, which is why you need to install the Google Shopping app.

Install it, and you’ll be given options so you can start ranking your product pages in another search engine, and drive highly targeted (and high converting) traffic to your store.

#5 - Facebook Store

Facebook is a massive platform that’s quickly gaining ground on Google as one of the most used platforms on a daily basis by internet citizens.

If you want to increase your sales through Facebook, you need a way to showcase the products that you’re selling -- either on your business page or in the advertisements you’re creating.

Increase your sales by fb sotre

The Facebook Store app helps you quickly build a product showcase so that your visitors can share your favorite products with their friends and you can build new product advertisements to use in Facebook Ads.

You can search for each of these apps inside of your Shopify dashboard, and easily install them onto your store, then configure the settings that each of them asks you to configure.

How To Drive Traffic To Your Store

Without having visitors come to your store on a regular basis, and in ways that you can replicate, you’re going to have a really hard time keeping your business flowing.

When it comes to running an eCommerce store, there are countless different ways you can bring those visitors in, but some are more popular than others.

Below are 5 traffic sources that are guaranteed to generate sales for you on a regular basis, and in a way that can be easily repeated so your store grows with consistency, instead of relying on traffic sources that are irregular and hard to replicate.

Search Engine Optimization

Ranking highly in the search engines is a great way to deliver a consistent stream of highly targeted traffic to your store every month.

Every time a visitor searches for keywords related to your products, if your product pages are optimized for those keywords, you have a chance of showing up at the top of the search results and bringing those visitors into your store.

When they are searching for keywords related directly to the products you’re selling, they are primed and ready to make a purchase, so your chances of selling them products substantially increases.

Ranking in the search engines requires to key components: keyword targeting on your product pages and fresh links coming into your store.

Links pointing at your store from other sites on the web are considered “votes” by major search engines, with the other websites voting you as the best resource for the keywords you’re targeting.

Search engines

Getting new links to an eCommerce store isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do, but if you get creative and reach out to websites that you think may link to you, you can claim top rankings with fairly minimal links -- because your competition will have a hard time generating links, too.

Facebook Ads

When you want to tap into markets full of hundreds of millions of people, Facebook is one of the best places to do it. Over the last couple years, more and more store owners are realizing the power of advertising on Facebook and using it to their advantage.

Facebook advertising gives you a ton of different metrics you can target so that you can get your products in front of people who have a high chance of making a purchase.

You can currently target everything from pages and websites that they “like”, to their age, gender, income levels, their online shopping habits, and even use “lookalike audiences” that help you get in front of similar people to those who have already made a purchase on your site.

The best part about Facebook advertising (outside of getting in front of countless people) is that their advertising costs are still competitive enough to make them accessible to most eCommerce store owners.

You can get started advertising your best selling products on Facebook for as little as $5 per day, and consistently tweak your advertising, increase your budgets, and cut losing ads so that you’re turning a profit and generating new sales on autopilot.

Instagram Ads

Instagram was recently purchased by Facebook, which means the same advertising features and functions that you get through Facebook Advertising have become available to Instagram account holders, business owners, and eCommerce store operators.

Instagram differs from Facebook in that they are heavily focused on pictures, which makes it a lot easier for you to promote a high-quality picture of the products that you’re selling and get them noticed by the huge amount of people that use Instagram on a daily basis.

Their advertising platform is still relatively new to many entrepreneurs, which means the average cost per click is still lower than what you’ll be paying for clicks on Facebook. This is also a prime opportunity for you to capitalize on the lower advertising costs to increase your store’s revenue.

When you’re ready to start advertising on Instagram, start small. Their targeting is closely related to Facebook’s, but there are slightly different options that you can use to your advantage.

Advertising features on instagram

Figuring out the different metrics you can use to tighten your targeting, which hashtags you should be targeting, and which ones you should be avoiding is critical to seeing success on the platform.

Google Shopping

Google Shopping is closely related to their organic search results, which search engine optimization strategies will help you rank higher in, but their Shopping results can be influenced using paid advertising strategies.

Like their organic search results, people using Google Shopping are specifically looking for products and are in a purchasing mood, which means the traffic coming from Google Shopping is going to convert substantially higher than traffic from other sources.

To include your products in Google’s Shopping listings, you’re going to need to create an AdWords account and build your advertising campaigns.

You will also need to pay closer attention to the campaigns that you’re running because Google’s Shopping network is far more established than Facebook and Instagram’s advertising networks, which means the competition is substantially higher.

With higher competition comes high costs per click, but the higher conversion rates you can expect to receive from winning ads means you have a higher chance to turn a profit and increase your profit margins than you can through Facebook or Instagram.

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to paying for advertisements on Google’s Shopping advertising network. Get it right, and you can dramatically increase your sales. Get it wrong, though, and you can work through an advertising budget really quickly.

Get Creative

When it comes to marketing your eCommerce store, nothing beats getting creative and figuring out new ways you can tap into existing pockets of traffic that could potentially become new customers.

Get creative

You can find new pockets of traffic to market to all over the internet. From blogs and websites, to newsletters, social media groups, and even advertising networks that aren’t necessarily mainstream.

The key to tapping into these new markets and pockets of traffic is to test and experiment. If you get a new idea for getting your products in front of new groups of people, test it.

If it works, keep repeating the process. If it doesn’t, take what you can from the experience, and then write it off as a failed experiment. Just keep testing, though.

Some of the highest performing, most profitable marketing campaigns have come from people testing new waters and going against the grain, or what is considered to be the “normal” advertising channels -- like those ones we’ve already listed here.

While the 4 marketing strategies above are proven to work, you can set yourself apart from your competition and gain an edge by constantly testing and experimenting in ways that your competition may not be doing.

Shopify Starter Guide Checklist

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to be doing when you’re ready to start your Shopify store.

You may want to go back through this post multiple times, reading and re-reading, working through each step as you go, so that you can get the most out of it.

To give you a small refresher, and help you figure out the exact steps you need to take, here is what all we have covered in the post:

  • Get started by choosing a product you want to sell, based on the criteria that we use on which products you should avoid, and the types of products that are worth selling.
  • Start your first Shopify store following the simple steps that we’ve laid out for you. Remember, finished is better than perfect, so don’t get bogged down in the minor details.
  • ​Install the essential Shopify apps to give your store increased functionality, increase your conversion rates, and kickstart your marketing campaigns.
  • Develop the strategies you need to start driving traffic to your store, using some of the most common and popular advertising and marketing platforms we’ve given you.

Also, always work on testing and experimenting. Some of your best results are going to come from following your instincts, and staying creative as you’re growing your first store.

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