Many new business owners who want to create an online store are often confused and don't know where to start. If you're one of them, you're in luck. Shopify has got you covered on every e-commerce functionality you'll need to start your online store and make a name for yourself among leading e-commerce platforms.

What Is Shopify & How Does It Work?

Shopify is an online e-commerce platform for building online and offline stores. Shopify is the "WordPress" for store owners if you're familiar with WordPress for bloggers. Since the company started its operation in 2006, it has grown to the ranks of other platforms like Magento, WooCommerce, Volusion, or BigCommerce. So, how does Shopify work?

The key difference between Shopify and other leading e-commerce platforms is its numerous functionality and ease of use. The platform is user-friendly for new store owners who have not managed an e-commerce store before. It also provides all the features you’ll need for a functional online store without taking a web programming class.

If you’re an advanced user with prior knowledge of programming, you can access the HTML and CSS files and upgrade your Shopify plan to enjoy more features.

Comparing Website Platforms For Your Small Business

Are you wondering what benefits Shopify has over other popular website platforms? Let’s compare with BigCommerce, another big player in the industry.

Shopify shares some standard features with BigCommerce (and many other website platforms), including mobile responsiveness, Blog CMS, sales reporting, custom domain name, reliable hosting, etc. However, Shopify has more than 100 secure payment gateways, better-discounted plans, over 6000 apps, and supports more multimedia features (augmented reality, 3D models),

Why Shopify Is The Best e-Commerce Platform in 2021

Most big-name brands in the world started as small businesses, which most times, people never think will succeed. Nowadays, small business owners can reach customers worldwide using e-commerce platforms like Shopify.

Although there are several similar platforms, Shopify outshines them in several ways.

Low Entry Cost

Most open-source e-commerce solutions that claim to offer free services do have hidden charges. Although Shopify has an entry cost and monthly payments, these prices are lower than most competitors.

Easy to Manage

The Shopify platform provides a frontend and admin system that allows you to control your e-commerce website without learning the complexities of coding. The platform also manages software updates, servers, and several other things that business owners may not want to handle by themselves.

Inbuilt Expandable Tools

This digital platform for small businesses has all the tools you'll need to start and run your e-commerce business successfully. These features include reports, integrated marketing features, useful add-on integrations, accounting, inventory, shipping, and many more.

Excellent Customer Support

Shopify users have 24/7 access to customer care services via email, live chat, and phone. Besides, the platform has downloadable comprehensive documentation and resources available, making it one of the best e-commerce platforms for startups.

Getting Help To Set Up Your e-Commerce Store

If you need help setting up your Shopify store, you can visit the platform’s Help Center for a beginner guide. The company also has an excellent customer service team because they know how your staff can make or break your customer experience.

How To Start a Successful Shopify Store

Although Shopify is an easy-to-use platform, many users often mistake putting the cart before the horse. In most cases, they're worried about the wrong things first – like wasting time finding the perfect theme and creating pages before deciding which products to add.

To avoid going down the same path, we've listed a step-by-step guide on starting a successful Shopify for small business below:

1. Draft an Offline Plan for Your Store

This stage is probably the most important when creating a Shopify store. It entails drafting out every detail of what your store will look like before starting the actual setup on your computer.

If you handle this stage properly, you’ll spend less time with the actual online setup of your business. What might help is a Shopify setup checklist.

2. Choose Your Store and Domain Name

Your store name is your brand name, so it's a huge deal. Ensure you consider all options before settling for one name.

Once you’ve chosen your store name, the next step is to create a domain name. Your domain name is your store’s website address or URL. You can register your domain name via third-party domain services or through Shopify.

Note: confirm that a domain is available before settling for a brand name. The Shopify business name generator can help you with this.

3. Create Your Free-Trial Account

Shopify offers you a 14-day free trial on their platform. Visit their signup page and create your account by supplying your name, store name, and email address.

4. Add Your Products

Many people may argue that it’s best to pick a theme first before taking this step. But ideally, your products should determine the design you’ll choose for your e-commerce store.

To add a new product to your Shopify online store,

  • Go to Products > Add product.
  • Enter your product name and a brief product description
  • Upload a picture of the product
  • Set your price

You can take care of other aspects later.

5. Create Other Essential Pages

You can now create additional pages like a Contact page, About page, FAQs page, and Policy pages. You can make more pages later if needed.

6. Customize Your Store Appearance

Now that some of your pages are ready, proceed to choose a theme or template that suits your brand name and products. You'll find tons of free and premium themes on the Shopify Theme Store.

Another vital part of this stage is customizing your homepage, navigation menus, checkouts, and colors.

7. Optimize Your Settings

Shopify's default settings may be enough to get your store up and running, but you may need to add and change a few details to match your expectations for your new store.

Some basic settings include general settings (like emails and other contact info), payment provider settings, checkout, shipping, account, tax, and legal settings.

8. Add Discount Codes (Optional)

You can also create discount codes for your products if you think it’s necessary. Go to Discounts > Codes to generate your discount codes.

Where To Start

When creating a successful online store and listing it on Shopify, the first step is to create a well-formulated offline plan to serve as the blueprint for your online store. You can apply some of the lessons learned from business to guide your plan.

The next thing is to follow the steps we’ve highlighted above. You can also hire someone to build a Shopify store if you like. But we still recommend that you ensure you take the proper steps to keep your Shopify store growing, and you can add yours to the growing list of Shopify success stories.

Share with me if you list your business on Shopify. Use #ShopifyBusiness on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, or Instagram. 

About the Author, James Webster

James Webster, founder and CEO of ROK Financial has almost two decades of experience within the financial services industry. His passion for helping small business owners and his innovative way of thinking, has allowed him to run multiple successful businesses including National Business Capital & Services. Under the National name, the team was able to help secure over $1 Billion in financing for small businesses nationwide.