How to Start Your Own Online Store With Shopify

In our new How To Do It series, we’ll give you everything you need to know to get started and succeed in a wide range of technologies, both online and offline. Here, we’ll walk you through the process of creating your own store on one of the most popular online retail platforms, Shopify.

In the past, opening a store was a major undertaking that involved renting space, buying inventory that might or might not be selling, building shelves, and working hard at the checkout. Now, thanks to this little innovation known as the world wide web, creating a store can be done with just a few clicks and a few hours of your time. Here, we’ll take a look at one of the most popular ways to launch an online store.


Undoubtedly the easiest way to open an online store is to use Shopify . Founded in 2004, the e-commerce giant started out as an online retailer (selling snowboard equipment) but now serves as a platform hosting over 500,000 sellers from 175 different countries.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial for every store you want to open, so it won’t cost you anything to try, and during that time, you can experiment with store design, plugins, inventory selection, payment processing, and more. site. After the trial period, the price will be available at $ 29, 79 or 299 per month depending on the features you need. The basic Shopify plan at $ 29 / month is more than enough for most start-up online stores.


When you sign up for an account with Shopify, the system will ask you to name your store and then assign you a website address. Select, for example, a store called “WeSellStuff” and your site address will be “”. While you can always leave the address of this site as your online store’s home, you will most likely want to change it to something more memorable, easy to remember, and not Shopify-centric.

Fortunately, creating a personal domain name is a common process.

After joining Shopify, after entering your store name, the system will ask you a few questions about the type of store you are opening and then ask for some personal details. After that, you will be taken to the main page of the dashboard. Just click the Add Domain button here and then either buy a new domain from Shopify (which usually costs $ 14.99 for a .com domain) or follow the instructions to connect a domain you’ve already purchased from another registrar .

You can use the default Shopify address during setup and then link it to your domain name after the two-week trial ends.

Window decor

The next step in opening your virtual store is figuring out what you want it to look like. You can do this by clicking the “Customize Theme” button on the toolbar screen. Click the Explore Free Themes button to check out the options available as part of your Shopify package. Keep in mind that some of the themes shown actually have two or more general designs that you will see after you open the theme description pop-up. If you don’t see anything you like here, you can click Visit Theme Store and purchase a theme.

All themes are customizable once selected, so many users find a customized free theme to be great for their stores.

When you find the template you like, click the “Add” button in the pop-up window. Then, somewhat ironically, scroll down, click the Actions button and select Publish.

After choosing a theme, click Customize and you can add pages, change photos, add text, create a blog, customize your header and footer, and more.


Of course, no matter how good your online store looks, it won’t help much if you don’t have products. There are two main ways to populate your page with products. First, if you already have physical products that you want to sell.

To customize the products, click the “Products” text link in the menu on the left. Then click “Add Product”. This will take you to a page where you can enter the product name, images, options (such as sizes and colors), package weight, and other details. You can also set a “Compare To” price that appears next to the actual price on your site as a crossed out amount, so shoppers know they are getting an item below the suggested retail price.

If you don’t already have any products to sell, you might consider dropshipping, a system in which someone else stores and ships your products for you. Basically, you become a middleman, tagging the products you find and selling them through your online store, while another company (or group of companies) manufactures, stores, and ships your products.

One of the most popular ways to work with the Shopify drop shipping model is to use the Oberlo app (more on apps in a minute). In fact, if you click the Find Products button on the main product page, Shopify will automatically take you to a page detailing how Oberlo works. Basically, this is an app that connects your Shopify store with AliExpress, a collection of sellers in China making products at low prices. The app will automatically import the products of your choice into your store, including photos, greatly reducing the amount of work you have to do.

One disadvantage of this system is that delivery times from Asia can be prohibitively long, so you may want to try to find other carriers in your country who can deliver their goods to your customers within a more reasonable time frame. Two online directories that can help in this regard are Doba and Inventory Source .


When you add products to your store, it is recommended to place them in collections, groups of similar products. Thus, “socks” can be one collection, “watch” another, and “sale” another. Many Shopify templates work with collections, so it’s wise to customize them right from the start.

You can create collections by first clicking Products in the menu on the left and then selecting Collections. Once the collections are set up, you can select them from the drop-down menu each time you add a new product to your store.


While your Shopify template will automatically place every product you add on a separate page, you can add additional pages to your site for things like FAQs, contact forms, and shipping information. If so, it’s as simple as clicking Online Store in the sidebar, selecting Pages, and then clicking Add Page.

Enter the details on the next page. If you want to add a contact form, be sure to select the “” option from the drop-down menu on the right.

Once you’ve created a new page, you can link to it from other areas of the site. You can also include a link to the page in the footer by clicking the Navigate link under the Online Store in the menu on the left. Here you can also customize what appears in the menu at the top of your site.


It’s also easy to add a blog to your site. Select Online Store from the menu on the left, then Blog Posts, and then Create Blog Post. After composing your message, don’t forget to click the button next to Visible in the upper right corner. Alternatively, you can copy the first paragraph of your message and paste it into the Excerpt area.

Once you’ve created a blog post, add it to your home page if you’d like by clicking Online Store and then the blue Customize button on the right. Click the Add Section link on the left and select Blog Post. You can also customize the display of your home page here by clicking the six dots to the right of the options in the left column and dragging the item to the position you want it to appear.


Oberlo is just one of hundreds of apps available through Shopify. These plugins allow you to do more with your store than the basic Shopify interface allows. You can find applications that allow you to place pop-ups on your site for collecting emails; those that offer sales countdown hours; and those that give you the option to provide gift cards – just to get started. Typically, apps come with a one-time or monthly fee, so be careful when adding them and only choose those that add real value to your site. To find quality apps, simply sort them by the ‘Popular’ tag at the top of the page and look for apps with a five-star rating.

To access the Shopify app store, click Apps in the left menu, then select Visit Shopify App Store. After purchasing an app, you will be taken to another page to configure it, and that app will always appear in your app list when you select Apps from the Shopify menu.

Payment process

Shopify store automatically supports credit card processing as part of your monthly fee. Shopify charges you 2.9% plus $ 30 for every transaction they process. Your store also has the ability to process PayPal payments, although you’ll need your own account to activate this service.

This Shopify store feature can provide huge cost savings. If you were building an online store yourself, you would have to contract with a third party credit card processor like, which not only charges you a transaction fee in the same area as Shopify, but they also likely , will hit you hundreds of dollars in setup fees, as well as monthly maintenance fees, which are typically in the $ 30 range. When you’re just starting out, these additional fees can make your launch a lot more difficult, so using a Shopify payment gateway is a smart move if you’re not already processing payments on another site with a third-party provider.

To customize payment processing, click on the word “Settings” next to the gear icon in the lower left column, then click on “Payments”. If you’re happy to use Shopify as your processor, click Finish Account Setup and follow the instructions. Otherwise, click “Change provider” (top right) and select a different processor.

On the payments page, you can also set up other payment methods such as Amazon Pay and Coinbase .


Shopify has an impressive set of built-in email templates that are sent to your customers at specific trigger points in the purchase and purchase process. To access them, click on “Settings” again and go to “Notifications”.

This is where you can customize which notifications you send to your customers – such as order confirmations, tracking information, and canceled order notes – and edit exactly what those emails say. You will need to feel comfortable working with a little bit of code since the email templates are rendered in HTML, but it’s pretty easy to figure out where the text is and make any necessary adjustments.

The notifications page also allows you to set up alerts that can be sent to third-party service providers when orders come in, and gives you the option to set up desktop notifications that alert you of new orders.


Shopify also makes it very easy to offer discounts to your customers. Just click Discounts in the menu bar on the left and then Create Discount and you will be guided through the steps required to save money on your customers’ purchases. You can set up discounts based on percentage, fixed amount, or free shipping, and you can tell the system if the discount applies to an entire order, collection, or an individual product. You can also set a time window in which the discount will be valid, or leave it open.


If you’re looking to quickly set up an online store, you really won’t do better than Shopify, especially if you’re not overly familiar with the inner workings of the web. The interface is very fluid and the site navigation is intuitive. There is also great customer support in the form of super-responsive live chat on the site, a feature that is disappearing faster and faster from online businesses these days.

If there are any downsides, it is that you might find the site a little limited if you really want a custom design or functionality. Also, since you need to purchase an app to add advanced features like email or discount pop-ups, the monthly fees can go up quite quickly. Nonetheless, this site – even in its non-add-on format – gives the budding e-commerce site plenty of options to dive into.


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