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28-09-2021

How to Start an Online eCommerce Store with Shopify

Words - Tom Brownie

Blog Post

Once upon a time, setting up an online store was only for the big-name brands, with eCommerce being dominated by bricks-and-mortar retailers making the jump to digital channels. 

Fast forward to today, however, and launching your eCommerce business with a Shopify design can take as little as 15 minutes (note – we definitely recommend putting a lot more than 15 minutes into your store). 

In our experience as a Shopify design agency, we’ve developed custom eCommerce solutions for global retailers; and we’ve also turned around a website on the same day it was briefed, to help a small business navigate a lockdown. 

That’s what we love about Shopify – it’s easy to use, it’s powerful, and it makes selling online accessible to businesses at any stage of their journey.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect from the process of setting up your store on Shopify.

 

What you need to make your Shopify design

Before cracking the knuckles and getting started on your eCommerce site, there are a few things you’ll need to have handy:

• Your business idea and brand name: make sure the domain and social handles are available, so you don’t get stuck with a business name that your customers can’t search and find you with. 

• A logo: This should ideally be a PNG file with a transparent background. This gives you freedom on where you place your logo throughout the site, and means you can scale the size without losing quality. 

• Products and photography: The bread and butter of your site. What are you going to sell? Make sure your pictures are clear, and that they’re the best representation of your brand. 

 

Adding products to your online store 

Now that you’re ready to start bringing your Shopify design to life, your first port of call will be to add your products. 

Here’s where you’ll set your product title and populate the description and image to go along with it. Focus on giving relevant, descriptive information that’s aimed at breaking down any barriers your users might have to purchase. If you’re unsure where to start, looking at product pages on other sites might help you get an idea of what you want (and don’t want) to say. 

Once you’ve got all of this information sorted, you’ll need to set a price for your product and create your inventory management system. If you haven’t worked with SKUs before, make sure you spend a bit of time creating a scalable structure for these – if outsourcing, your Shopify design agency will be able to give you some guidance here. 

Lastly, you can tag and group your products to make it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re a fashion brand then you might want to group your clothes by gender, classify products by type such as dresses and jackets, and tag your different products by fit or length to make your catalogue more searchable. 

 

Build out the rest of your site content 

With your products raring to go, you’ve got the bones of your site done and dusted. But online shopping isn’t just transactional – you need to back your product pages up with all the information about your brand and processes that a potential customer might have. 

While by no means an extensive list, your site content should at least cover off the following:

• About us: Your opportunity to humanise your brand. Share a little about yourself, your the story behind your business and what sets you apart.  

• Contact us: If your customers need extra information or guidance to make their purchase, make sure it’s easy for them to get it. Let customers know how they can get in touch with you.  

• FAQ: Likely to be something you add to over time, your FAQ should cover off things like your shipping prices, regions and timeframes along with anything else about your product or processes that might need clarifying.  

• Privacy and refund policies: More than just a nice to have, these pages are often required under consumer law. Shopify does offer some templates to get you started, but ultimately you’ll need to do a bit of work here to make sure these pages are up to scratch.
HOT TIP: Use getterms.io to generate these. 

 

One Day Shopify Site

We were able to help a small business in New Zealand create a delivery and click-and-collect capable Shopify online store in the space of a day due to a snap COVID lockdown. 

Customise your site (or get a Shopify design agency to do it for you) 

You’ve got all the functional stuff out of the way. But here’s where your brand really gets to shine, as you start to shape the look and feel of your site. 

Shopify makes it easy to get started, with a range of both free and paid themes to choose from. It’s wise to make your decision based on features and functionality over colours and fonts – you can customise the latter, so focus on what you like about the interface and layout of each theme. If you need help with the design aspect, you can work with Shopify Experts or outsource to an agency to do this for you. 

Shopify’s new Dawn 2.0 theme created a new standard to work from when it was released in July of 2021, and as a result it’s meant that we can be a lot more responsive to the needs of our clients. 

Most recently, we worked with a butcher in New Zealand whose business was thrown into uncertainty after a snap lockdown was announced. 

Utilising the Dawn 2.0 theme and adding extra functionality with the off-the-shelf app Zapiet, within a day we were able to create a Shopify site that offered both delivery and click-and-collect capability for the butcher’s customers. 

Reducing phone orders for the butcher by getting them online meant that they could divert these resources to other areas of the business, and simplified the ordering process for their diverse customer base. 

While a one-day-build site probably won’t be winning any design awards, it’s powered by a simple, best practice approach to UX that’s meant this business has been able to run with their online presence from the moment their site went live. 

Above all else, make sure you prioritise mobile functionality. Mobile growth is outpacing both desktop eCommerce and bricks-and-mortar sales, so it’s a no-brainer to make sure your mobile experience is easy to use (and purchase from).

 

Set your checkout and shipping settings 

You’ve hit the home stretch – you can play around with your site aesthetic for hours, but there are a few more settings you’ll need to work through before you can launch your site. 

The first of these settings relate to your checkout experience. Shopify’s out-of-the-box solution is workable as is, but there are a few things we’d recommend taking a closer look at. 

One of these is how your checkout process ties in with your email marketing. Many CRMs offer a direct integration with Shopify, so you can choose whether you want customers to be able to opt in for your emails as they check out. 

You can also set up an abandoned cart flow to trigger when someone adds an item to their cart, but doesn’t purchase within a certain timeframe (Shopify’s default window is 10 hours). 

The second set of settings is around your shipping processes. This element of your business largely sits outside of scope for Shopify Experts, but a Shopify design agency may offer support depending on their levels of experience. 

This section of Shopify addresses elements like shipping rates, regions and taxes – there’s heaps of collateral on the Shopify site around this if you need some extra guidance. 

And that’s it – with a solid business idea and a free afternoon, you can get a basic Shopify store up and running with zero development experience. 

If you’d love some professional help, but think working with a Shopify design agency is out of your budget – it could be more affordable than you think. Website development packages can run from as low as $10k and end up paying for themselves once you factor in the time you’d otherwise spend tinkering and updating your site post-launch to try and get the same results. 

The Natives has helped multiple brands like yours start selling online with a bespoke Shopify design, tailored to their customers and business needs.

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