Shopify eCommerce website builder

How to create a Shopify eCommerce site

Shopify is an eCommerce website builder that makes it quick and easy for anyone to build and host their own cutting-edge, responsive online store.

It's the fastest growing hosted shopping cart solution that is dominating the market due to it's elegant user interface, simplicity, power and speed.

Because it's important for an online venture to become operational as quickly and cheaply as possible, Shopify undoubtedly represents the best solution for small to medium sized startups.

Follow along with this step-by-step guide to setting up an eCommerce site, and you'll be selling online in no time at all. Best of all, it's completely free to try out for 2 weeks (pricing & costs are discussed below).

1. Start a free trial

Shopify 14 day free trial

To get started, you need the following info (no credit card required):

  1. Store name
  2. Email address
  3. Password

Once you've added your details, hit the "Create your store now" button and Shopify will build the new site and respond with a success message, like this:

Shopify store creation success notice

2. Configure store settings

Click "Take me to my store" and complete the form presented to reflect your particular details:

Finalizing store details

In particular you will be able to specify what type of products you want to sell. Don't worry if you aren't 100% sure about anything as it is easy to make changes later on.

3. Get ready to launch

At this point, your store is essentially ready to go. Not bad for about a minute's worth of work, right?

You should now be able to see the store's dashboard that, by default, shows a startup tutorial:

Shopify store admin dashboard

It clearly denotes the 3 remaining steps required to launch the site:

  1. Customize the theme
  2. Add products
  3. Choose a domain

You can follow along with each step to get the store just how you want it.

4. Customizing the theme

I recommend that you browse through the theme store (hint: click 'Themes' from the left hand admin menu, and then 'Visit the Theme Store' button at the top right of the page) as there are a wide range of free and paid themes that will give your store a slick, professional look and feel:

Find the perfect site template or theme in Shopify's theme store

A word of advice: Don't waste too much time on the theme. Find something that is lightweight and clean to begin with and then focus on adding products and marketing.

The quicker you can start selling and generating revenue, the easier it will be to spend time and resources tweaking the site's template later on.

5. Adding products

It's super easy to start adding products to the store. Either click on the link to add products in the startup guide, or click on the Products link in the left hand admin menu, and click Add a product:

Add products to your store

From here you can add info such as:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Price
  • SKU
  • Barcode
  • Tax
  • Shipping
  • Weight
  • Options
  • Images
  • Tags
  • SEO

Remember that if you intend to attract valuable search engine traffic it is absolutely vital to provide unique and helpful product content.

Provide informative product descriptions. Genuine reviews. Original photos. Helpful advice and tips. Anything that a potential buyer would find compelling and useful.

Without great content, even a powerful platform like Shopify won't be able to make your products rank well in Google.

6. View and refine the store

At any time you can click on the View your store button at the top right of the admin dashboard page to check out the store.

Chances are you'll want to do some tweaking and add a few standard pages like About us, Terms & conditions, and so on.

You can access everything you need from the left hand admin menu, and it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the following options:

  • Reports
  • Blog posts
  • Pages
  • Navigation
  • Settings

Bear in mind that some options may not be available, depending on which hosting plan you select.

Pricing & costs

Considering that it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to have a good Web developer create a similar site (not to mention additional Web hosting expenses), it should come as no surprise that your hosted shopping cart will incur some small monthly charges.

Shopify offers three plans primary plans that start from $29 per month. You can explore these plans by clicking on Select a plan button at the bottom of any admin page (Hint: check the bottom of the plans page for an additional $14 budget plan) :

Shopify monthly hosting costs

It's easy enough to select the right plan based on the size and complexity of your business requirements. For example, if you want to access to professional reports, you'll need the Professional plan or higher.

There are also small fees (between 1 and 2%) imposed on transactions on all but the Unlimited plan.

Shopify has dropped all transaction fees on all accounts to 0.0%.

Finally, you'll want a domain name to give your store its own address and brand on the Web. This generally costs about $9 per year via Shopify, which is in line with domain costs for .coms.

All in all Shopify represents arguably the best value for money for the highest quality hosted shopping cart solution. Check out Shopify, Volusion & Bigcommerce for more on how it compares to other leading solutions.

Have you set up an eCommerce site using Shopify? What was it like? How does it compare to Volusion or Bigcommerce?

Share your experiences in the comments.