- How to Start an Online Store (Step By Step)
In this post I’m going to show you how to start an online store. No matter if you have no coding skills, your online store will be up and running in as little as 20 minutes.
I’ll show you step by step process of starting an online store from scratch.
But how to start an online store as I don’t know any coding stuff, where should I create my online store?
Answer – Shopify
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a complete eCommerce solution that provides everything you need to sell online. It’s so easy that anyone can do it start by picking a store template or create your own, add your products, upload your photos and let Shopify take care of the rest. Within minutes you’re set up to run your business from anywhere and accept orders from all over the world.
Join more than 400,000 peoples who have sold over $34 billion using Shopify!
- Get started
- Adding a product
- Adding a theme
- Customizing the theme
- Add an “About us” page
- Adding an frontpage
- Customizing “Contact Information” on frontpage
- Customizing social links
- Adding a blog post
- Setting up payments
- Setting up shipping rates
- Getting a custom domain name
Alright, Let’s get started by clicking the button below (opens in a new tab so that you can keep following the steps).
Shopify’s website will open now.
Type your email address into the box and click on “Get Started”.
A popup will show up where your email address will already be entered, so create a password, type in your password and then name of your store.
Don’t worry if you haven’t decided on the name of your store yet, you can easily go back and change your store name later.
Now click “Create your store”.
And it will just take a few moments to create your store.
Now Shopify wants to know where you would like to sell. They have the option of an online store and or a retail store or pop up location. Select Online Store and click “Next”.
Fill the required details. Add your address to set up your shop’s currency and tax rates. Shopify just wants to know a bit more about our plans so they can better cater to your needs.
Do you have products to sell? Select the one that best describes your situation. And “what will you sell?” Choose according to your products that your store will be having.
Then click “Enter my store”.
Now that we’ve created our online store we’ll find ourselves within the Shopify admin dashboard.
It’s best to think of the dashboard as the control center for all the operations we’ll perform on our Shopify store.
If at anytime we want to see what your store will look like, we can easily click on the handy icon as shown in above image.
Your store will be password protected until you are ready to launch, at which point you can very easily disable your password and make your store live to the public.
So the first thing we want to do is add a product. Even if we don’t have a product to sell yet, we’ll want to add some products to test one, so we can start to visualize our store.
To start, we’ll select the products tab from the panel on the left. On this page we can add all the details of our product.
The first thing we can do is name our product. Next up is product description and this information will be displayed with your product images.
If you’re carrying products that are not your own, I suggest you that you should avoid copying the manufacturer’s description, because you’ll want your product pages to look unique to a search engine.
Product type, For example, we took T-shirts. Vendor, this refers to the manufacturer or the vendor who sold the product to us.
Next we have the inventory and variant section. In this section we can set up the different options for our product.
The first thing we can do is add the price of our t-shirt, let’s say $15 and if we had a price that was higher before, or if we want our customers to see our product as on sale, we can add a higher compare at price.
If we have a SKU or bar code for our product we can also add it.
Require shipping address, If we’re selling a digital product or service that we can serve online then we can uncheck “require shipping address”.
If we are shipping our product we should add the weight. It’s best to include the weight of the packaging as well. Let’s say 0.5kg. So Shopify gives us the option of whether or not we want to track our inventory.
We can easily add our quantity and when our quantity reaches zero, subtracted once for every product sold.
Our product will be marked as sold out and customers will no longer be able to order that product.
They also have the option to allow customers to order our product even if it’s out of stock, this creates a back order type of situation.
Product Options, This allows us to add the different variables or different options of our product. Here we can add our sizes, simply type them in and separate them with a comma.
We plan to sell small, medium and large shirts and we can also add other options like color. And Shopify automatically create the variants for this shirt, giving us 6 options.
We can take a closer look by unclicking the automatically creates 6 variants box and now we can add how much inventory we have of each product. Let’s say we have 10 in each variation of this shirt.
Next, we’re going to upload product image which can be easily done by choosing image from your local drive.
So after adding products image, go ahead and save our progress by scrolling up to the top and clicking the “Save Product” button.
Okay, let’s head back down and we can decide which photo we want featured by grabbing it with our mouse and moving it over. This will be the only image that is shown before we click on this particular product.
So let’s head back to our inventory and variants and let’s tell Shopify which images are the blue t-shirt and which are the green ones. To do this, we’ll click the camera icon and you can see our variants pop up. I’ll click the appropriate one and hit save.
Collections, collections are used to organize our products into relevant groups or products that have things in common.
This is our first product and we haven’t set up any collections yet but there is a default “frontpage” collection which will actually feature this product on our home page. So let’s add it to that for now.
Tags, So product tags are used as any easy way to organize products within our store. We’ll try to include a bunch of relevant information again enter each tag and separate them with a comma.
Search Engines, this section is for Search Engine Optimization. Shopify automatically generates a page title and page meta description based on the information we’ve entered in the product details sections but of course you can customize it if you wish. These details help determine how our products show up in search engines like Google, or yahoo.
Visibility, If this is a product we are working on ahead of time and not ready to launch to the public we can leave this hidden. But if we want it to appear in our store, we’ll select visible. When we’re done we can click save and just like that we’ve added our first product.
Now, we are going to quickly go through the process a few more times and add 5 more products just so we can better visualize our store.
Okay so we’ve got 6 products now, let’s take a peek at what our website is looking like.
Alright, so this our home page or front page and we can see all the products here that we’ve added to our “frontpage” collection.
If we click on any of these products we will be taken to their product page, where we can see the different photos and our product description.
Okay, so now that we’ve added a few products, it’s time to customize the look of our store. To do this we’ll head over to our themes section.
So the theme section of our shopify store controls all aspects of the store’s layout and appereance.
Now, Shopify actually automatically sets us up with an introductory theme called “launchpad”, which you just saw.
This is a great starter theme and it might suit all our needs but let’s quickly head over to the theme store by clicking on the button “Visit the theme store“ on the top right corner and see if anything else grabs our eye.
Okay, so we’re now in the Shopify themes store and scrolling down we can see that there are 100s of themes. You can also filter by features that you want and select the design you like.
We are installing REACT theme for this tuorial. This particular theme comes with to the OAK & CO theme and you can quickly view the demo by clicking on the “View demo” to get a better view.
If you are satisfied with the overall layout of this theme, close the demo and go ahead and click “Get Theme”.
Just install this theme from the store and click to publish it. It’ll just take a few moments to download the theme and it will be installed.
We can access our themes manager from the panel on the left hand side and from within our themes manager we can easily customize our theme.
Okay let’s take a quick look at the theme we just installed to see where we’re at.
As you can see the home page is a pretty blank slate, except for the products that we’ve added to our frontpage collection.
We’ll definitely want to add a nice banner image, and logo and maybe write some copy to start giving our store some personality and character.
Let’s head back to our themes manager and click on “Customize theme”. So the cool thing about Shopify is that we don’t need to know code, or necessarily even be very tech savvy to be able to tweak and edit the design options of your store.
We can see all the colors for our theme here, and we can easily change those colors. As we scroll down we’ll see that we can customize our typography our fonts and font sizes and there are plenty of things we can play around with.
First, we’ll want to get our logo in there and to do this, we’ll open up the “header” tab and this is where we can upload a custom logo.
Let’s click off that box there and select choose file. For this particular theme, it’s suggested that our logo be no more than 700 pixels in width. After you got your logo created, upload it then publish changes and take a look. You’ll see the logo has been added to your store.
Next let’s add a photo to that big banner image to give your store some personality.
Again, it’s important to note the pixel ratio that your theme is suggesting. In this case we want the width to be 966 pixels wide and we’ll want to keep the height of our images consistent if we plan on adding multiple images.
Let’s head back to our theme’s editor and for this we’ll open up the “homepage” section.
Okay let’s locate slideshow image one And choose file. Optimize your images and just locate it there and publish that.
We can also add additional photos to our slideshow if we like, so what we are going to do is head back to our theme settings and let it know that we only want to display one image.
For this we’ll open up the “homepage” tab and Let’s locate “slideshow image 2” and uncheck the display option. We’ll click publish changes.
Let’s start with an “about us” page.
To do this we’ll click on the pages tab on our left panel. As you can see there’s already an “About Us” page setup and ready for us to customize.
A great “About Us” page helps you build trust between you and your customers so you’ll want to take the time to craft a really solid write up.
Try to include who you are, why you sell the items you sell, and all other relevant information. The “about us” page is a real opportunity to share your story with your potential customers so try to focus on what makes you and your products unique.
So Shopify makes it very easy to format our posts. They can bold and italicize words and even add photos and videos to our post by using these icons. You can add a “team photo” to give your about us page as an example.
We’ll select upload file and choose our photo. Now we’ll want to select our photo and choose the size. And Shopify wants to know what size we want the photo to insert as.
You can crop the image if you want or select the “original size” option. We have added a photo and I personally think it would look better if it was in the center so, I’m going to click on the image and select alignment from our toolbar and click “center align”.
Let’s hit save and take a look. Cool, so we’ll just click on the “About Us” section. So it has been customized and our photo is right there in the middle and it looks great.
Let’s head back to our admin then let’s head back to our pages.
As we can see there’s also a “frontpage” section set up in addition to our “about us” page.
This is the text that will show up on our front page.
Right there, this text offers us a chance to welcome customers to our store or communicate our message or mission to our customers as soon as they land on your website.
Now, we’ll probably want to change the title, let’s go with “Welcome” and we’ll just add a quick message. Cool, let’s save and take a look.
And there is our welcome message.
So, just below our welcome message there is a “contact us” section.
I’ll quickly show you how to update that. For this we’ll head back to our theme’s manager and customize theme. We’ll open up the footer section and we can see the contact information is here.
If we have a physical address we can add it or any other information we might think is relevant.
We strongly suggest that you do display your contact information somewhere on your website, just so customers can easily reach you if they have a question.
But if you don’t want this information, you can also very easily just turn that off by unchecking “Display contact us” if you don’t want to display your contact information on the front page.
Shopify has made this very easy to link to your social channels. Again, we’re in the footer section of our theme’s editor and all we have to do is paste the appropriate link in the corresponding section.
If we don’t use a certain social channel, we’ll simply leave the field blank and the icon will be removed from our page. Let’s say we don’t have a vimeo account, we’ll just delete the link there and it’ll not show up.
And right now these links have defaulted to link to Shopify’s channels. So change their social links so it links to your account. And publish the changes and have a look.
We’ve added products to our catalog, we’ve added an “about us” section, what we can now do is add our first blog post.
To do this, we’ll head over to the left hand panel and select “blog posts”. To add new blog posts we can simply select the add a blog post button from the top right corner.
But much like the about us section, there is a template setup for our first blog. Okay, so like the other pages our title is the first thing we can add.
Again, we can very easily format our text, add photos, videos, we can add links.
Then there is an excerpt section, which is really great, especially if you have more than one blog post on our page.
This section is the preview or teaser for our blog post that will be displayed on our main blog page. Add a bit of text.
Beneath this area we can determine the author of the blog post.
We can choose which blog it’s in and even create a new blog for it.
Next, we can add some relevant tags these are similar to the product tags in that they help with the organization of our blog.
Below tags, they have the Search Engines section, much like when we were adding a product, there is a section for Search Engine Optimization.
The information helps determine how our blog post will be displayed in search engines like Google. And this section has automatically been created from the information above but of course we can customize it if we like.
Next, there is the visibility section, which lets us choose if our blog post is live on our site.
It will default to “hidden” and we can switch to visible if we’re ready to publish it. This really comes in handy if we’re working on a post and we want to revisit it later.
They also have the option to schedule a post to be published on a specific date. Okay let’s save and have a look.
So here’s our first blog post, you can see only the excerpt section is immediately visible in the blog and once we select the post we can read our whole blog post.
Cool, so our store is looking pretty solid, we’ve added products, we’ve added a theme, and we’ve customized it to give it some personality and character.
Let’s keep on moving and head back to our admin and go over to our settings on the left hand panel and select payments.
So, one of the most important parts of running a business is being able to take payments securely and shopify makes this just as easy as anything else.
For merchants in the US and Canada the stores have automatically been set up with Shopify Payments, which allows them to start accepting payments from all major credit cards instantly.
All we have to do is click to “complete shopify payments account set up” and fill out the relevant information.
And for merchants outside of the US, and Canada, don’t worry, Shopify has integrated with over 70 different payment partners so there are plenty of hassle free options available.
Additionally, as soon as we open our Shopify store, we will be set up with a Paypal Express Checkout account which will be linked with the email address that we used to sign up for our Shopify Store.
As soon as we receive our first order through PayPal Express Checkout, Paypal will send us an email that contains the link and instructions to complete our Paypal account set-up and claim our funds.
Okay, next up let’s quickly set up our shipping options.
To do this we’ll select the shipping tab on our left panel. Within the Shipping page we can decide which countries we want to ship to.
Looks like we’ve already been set up with some basic shipping rates.
They have a standard shipping option for Canada, which is based on weight. So anything between it’s set up to charge $20 for anything between.
We can open each of these options here and easily change the price per weight or even if we want to base our shipping off purchase price instead of weight.
Let’s say we want to make deliveries in Canada free with orders over $75. We’ll change our price range to $75 and up and and make our shipping price $0.
We can also select what regions we want to ship to. If we uncheck the box from a region we will no longer offer shipping to that area.
Additionally, we can decide whether or not we want to charge more money for certain areas.
Nunavut for example is pretty remote so we’ll add an additional $10 to our shipping rate. And then we’ll click save.
They also have a basic International shipping rate set up. We can easily tweak these rates as well or perhaps lets say we want to ship only to the United States and Canada.
We can very easily remove shipping to the rest of the world by clicking on “Remove”.
Shopify just wants to confirm this is what we wanted to do. And we’ll click add country search for the united states.
Select to add the default federal tax rates and the default tax rates for the regions. And then select “Add country”.
From there we can very easily edit and set up our shipping rates much like we did with our Canadian rates.
So, we’ve added products, we’ve selected and customized a theme, added an about us page and set up shipping and payments. What we can do now is register a custom domain name or web address.
Let’s head over to the “domains” section. They have the option to register an existing domain if we already have one or the option to register a new one if we don’t.
So we can choose from a bunch of domains i.e .com, .info, .org and this really takes the hassle out of finding a domain name.
You can search to see if your domain name is available right within shopify and the domains are even offered at a discounted price. Generally we can expect to pay about $15/year for a .com address.
If you can see your domain like mytshirts.com available then we can easily purchase it.
Thats it! You have successfully started an online store and you’re all set up with your custom branded eCommerce website.
I’d also encourage you to take a look through the Shopify App Store, which has 100’s of apps that can extend the functionality of your shopify store.
There are a variety of free and paid apps that offer powerful features, and services in a number of different categories.
Try Shopify free for 14 days, no credit card required. Set up your store, pick a plan later.
If you found this guide helpful, then share it with your friends and family and help them to start their own online store.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading, I hope you like it and keep visiting our blog.