Ecommerce Income offers loads of information on Ecommerce Software. You can, for example, check out the features of Shopify and other Ecommerce Software packages, and I put a lot effort into the software Comparison that you can use to see how they compare for all those features. The blog will start today with also offering a series discussing specifically the ease of use and the design of the SaaS packages. I’ll do this by creating an imaginary store “Socks Are Sexy” on the platforms of Shopify, Bigcommerce and SEOshop. Today, I’ll start with Shopify. So what can you set up in an afternoon? Check out this blog post to find out! And also find out if socks are indeed sexy…
Introducing my Shopify Store
I spend an afternoon on my Shopify store. I decided to focus on selling socks 😉 Of course, the result is not fully professional. Still, what a Shopify novice can achieve within a couple of hours is just amazing (I am a Shopify novice because we run all our store on Magento – it would, by the way, take about two weeks to reach these results with Magento!).
The home page looks like this:
“Socks Are Sexy” Store Front. Home page featuring slider, collections, and front page collection (1/2)
“Socks Are Sexy” Store Front. Home page featuring slider, collections, and front page collection (2/2)
The products on offer:
The Catalogue Page showing the products on sale. Note you can choose to shop per tag, sort the products and display the products in a list or grid view.
The Product Page. Note the social media buttons that were super easy to create.
7 Steps you need to take before you can launch your Shopify Store
In this section, I will provide a detailed description of all the steps you need to take before you can launch your Shopify Store.
1. Registering on Shopify.com
All the information you need to provide to be able to register and open your own online store is an email address, password and store name. You can change the name later – so don’t worry about that. So really, nothing should hold you back to try your own free trial version and find out if Shopify is the right option for you!
I tried Shopify out by launching my own store “Socks are Sexy”. I could just as well have named it “Ecommerce Income test store”, but that didn’t convey the excitement the launching of your own online store entails! 😉
2. Choosing a Theme
Next, probably the first thing you should do is selecting your theme. A theme is the the basic design of your store that allows you to quickly build up a nice looking store front.
Shopify offers a lot of themes in their theme store. How to select one? Never select a theme based on the colour or the background. You can easily change those in the admin panel later. Pay attention to what you need on the various pages, and where.
What I did is selecting a theme from the Shopify admin environment. I think it is actually easier to view all of the themes by going to the theme store. Reviewing my choice for a theme now, I must conclude that I actually didn’t choose the best one for this type of business. I rushed the choice and ended up picking the “digital shop” theme. So, that was a lesson for me, which could also be a lesson for you: take your time selecting an appropriate theme, as this will be the backbone of your online store. What I don’t like about the digital shop theme for a clothing store is that it is too business-like and dull, and you probably don’t need two sections displaying both the collections and an extra front page (the two sections in the third screenshot, below – “Shop for…” and “Top Sellers”).
3. Modifying Your Theme
This is what your theme looks like if you didn’t do anything with it yet. By default, Shopify entered the store name “socks are sexy” in the left side of the header.
Because the carousel image is so dominant in this theme I started by selecting 3 images for that. This particular carousel can have up to 6 slides. It is really easy and quite intuitive (of course there is always some getting used to new software) to make changes. What helps is that Shopify gives you clear hints – for example that the carousel image should ideally be about 1000 x 490 pixels. You can still make the images larger or smaller, but that results in the whole page “jumping” up and down, which doesn’t look good.
If you look at the screen shots supplied at the start of the blog post, you can see I changed the colours and the fonts as well. I also (amateurishly) created my own logo 😉
In Shopify, you make the changes in the admin panel, and then need to refresh the actual page to see how it looks. So it doesn’t have a real-time drag-and-drop feature.
Shopify has two types of editors. You can see the editor that I used – as I don’t have coding skills – above. It is really easy to use and you don’t need any coding or technical skills whatsoever.
The second type of editor is also cool, however, because it allows you, when your online business grows and you want your online store to look even more professional, to hire a professional designer to work on it. This HTML/CSS editor allows for a lot more flexibility.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand this kind of code at all – I don’t understand much of it myself 😉
4. Choosing your Domain
Shopify automatically assigns a Shopify sub domain to your online store. In the case of my store: socks-are-sexy.myshopify.com. Of course, you don’t want to sell from a store with a location as a sub domain of your software provider. In fact, I would strongly advise to remove every trace of the software you use for your store – it should be about your brand and not about the Shopify brand.* Shopify offers the option to add an existing domain (that is, one you already registered through a third party), or to register one through Shopify.
In my case, socksaresexy.com was already taken 🙁 The variety with hyphens is still available, as I show below for illustrative purposes. I explain here why it is not a good idea to register (only) the hyphenated version. The domain, when registered through Shopify, would cost me 9 USD per year. I checked what the price would be when buying on godaddy. On Godaddy the price would be 10.17 USD for the first year – so Shopify is actually cheaper. On the other hand, you are already paying the package price of 29 USD and up per month.
* It should be about your brand, your products and your online store, not about the shopping cart software. This actually touches upon a disadvantage of Shopify – when your customers go to checkout, even though you got your own domain, your customers will go to a Shopify checkout.
5. Adding Products to your store
Adding new products to your online store is easy with Shopify. You can add a new product within a minute – configuring the product images you want to show, adding a product description, adding sizes and colours (if you add three sizes and two colours Shopify automatically creates 6 varieties for you). Enabling things such as product image zoom and product reviews are as easy as one mouse-click (see picture below).
Having added your product, your product page right away looks solid. If I would actually have these socks on offer I would be ready to sell now! Adding or removing the social share buttons is very easy as well.
The integrated (product) photo editor powered by Adobe Aviary is a nice Shopify addition and allows you to easily edit your product photos without the need to buy extra software for that or the need to have extensive knowledge on photo editing.
6. Adding “Collections” to your Shopify Store
Shopify doesn’t use traditional categories but rather uses Collections. You can add products to various collections. It works somewhat similar to tags. A difference with tags is that the collections are static – you will always get an URL like yourshop.com/collections/collection/products/product. I will discuss this more extensively in a next post.
Adding collections is easy:
In the previous step, I added a number of shark themed socks. Therefore, I decided to create a shark socks collection. I could either manually add the products I wanted to be in this collection or add some conditions that need to be true to add a product to the collection. I opted for the last, and easily added products by product title (product title – contains – shark). See the image above. You can also use other conditions such as product price, or weight – basically a lot based on the information you previously supplied on your products. You can see the result below:
(notice that I also added a super heroes collection. As I have only added 8 products during step 5, I could use fairly generic words such as: [product title – contains – heroes] and (I added another condition) [product title – contains – man].
I am not sure what the implications of the yourshop.com/collections/collection/products/product URL structure are for SEO. What I do know, is that having a good category page with unique content gives a boost to your SEO.
7. Choose your Best Ecommerce Software Package and Start Your Online Business!
I advise you to try out Shopify as I experienced it scores really well in the ease of use and design department. Also try out other ecommerce software providers. Over the next few weeks, Ecommerce Income will provide similar in-depth reviews of Bigcommerce and SEOshop.
In case you like Shopify, I advise you to stop doubting and choose the plan that best suits your needs. There is no long-term contract with Shopify – you pay per month. At 29 USD for the basic package you get a really good deal with a lot of value for money.
Other Posts on Shopify and other Ecommerce Software Platforms
This post focused on the seven steps of starting your own Shopify Online Store. Over the next weeks, I will publish similar reviews of BigCommerce and SEOshop.
This promotional Shopify video is obviously slightly exaggerating that one can start a Shopify store in 25 minutes, but it still contains some handy extra tips: