Shopify offers a user-friendly ecommerce site builder for both online brands and retail businesses that want to expand into selling online. Whether you want to sell your own products or dropship, own your sales channels, or experiment with third-party marketplaces, learning how to set up a Shopify store is one of the first steps to launching your online business.
Shopify offers a free 14-day trial. To get started, create a free account and follow along with our step-by-step guide.
1. Sign up for a Shopify Account
The first step in creating a Shopify store is to create an account. Shopify offers a free trial that you can start without providing credit card information. All you need is an email address, and you’ll also have to choose a password and store name upon signup.
2. Add Products
After logging in to your account, click Products in the left navigation bar. Then choose All products.
In the upper right corner, you’ll see a button for Add product. Click that to start an upload.
Shopify will ask you to enter information about the product, including:
- Title: Whatever you put in this field will be customer-facing.
- Product description: This is where you want to both describe and sell your product. Include important details that shoppers will want to know as part of their purchase decision.
- Media: Add product photos, 3D models, and videos.
- Pricing: Set the product price, as well as currencies, taxes, sale pricing, and cost per item (more on these later).
- SKU number: An optional unique code assigned and used to internally identify each product, which helps with tracking and reporting.
- UPC code: The manufacturer-assigned product number. If you’re selling books, this would be the ISBN number.
- Variants: If an item is available in multiple sizes, colors, scents, etc., you’ll want to enter them all as one product with multiple variants instead of many individual products.
- Shipping: Indicate whether or not it’s a physical product and the country it will be shipping out of.
- Selling channels: Shopify lets you connect to other sales channels including point-of-sale, Amazon, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and more. Control which individual products you want to sell in each.
You can also manipulate the meta information, which is what Google and other search engines display on query results pages. Other optional product details include:
- Product type: You can create different product categories to organize your site and inventory tracking. For example, shirts, pants, jackets, etc.
- Vendor: Add the vendor or supplier information to easily reorder as items run out.
- Collection: Create collections, such as “Fall 2020” or “Back to School” so shoppers can browse by theme or event.
- Tags: These are like keywords you can add to products so they are easy to search on your site.
- Search engine listing preview: Edit the page title, description, and slug of each product so it’s easier to find on Google.
You can also duplicate products or add new product listings with Shopify POS.
If you are just starting out or have a limited inventory, adding products individually might be best. However, if you’re bringing your brick and mortar store online or switching from another ecommerce platform, uploading your products in bulk can save a ton of time. Shopify has a sample CSV file you can download, add your product information, then upload it into the Product manager.
3. Set up Payment Processing
You can choose to use Shopify Payments or a compatible third-party payment processor for your Shopify store.
Shopify offers customers the following payment methods:
- Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diners Club
- Shop Pay
- Apple Pay
- Amazon Pay
- Google Pay
If you want to use Shopify Payments, you’ll need to provide the following:
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Banking information
- The average price of your orders
- Average shipping time for your orders
To set up Shopify Payments, navigate to Settings in the left navigation bar, and then choose Payments.
You’ll either see the option to Complete the account setup (if you haven’t set up a credit card payment provider for your account yet) or to Activate Shopify Payments if you’ve enabled a different provider. The latter will remove any providers associated with your account and replace them with Shopify Payments.
You can also adjust payment settings including:
- Payout details: Shopify will automatically deposit earnings from sales into your bank account. The default description on the payment will be “Shopify” but you can change the name of your store or business (if, for example, you have multiple Shopify stores).
- Payout schedule: Choose whether you are paid every business day, weekly, or monthly.
- Fraud prevention: You can choose to automatically decline charges that fail AVS postal verification (the ZIP code on the customer’s payment method does not match what they entered) or AVV verification (they enter the wrong 3-4 digit security code).
- Customer billing statement: Choose what name shows up on customers’ bank statements when they purchase from you and add a contact phone number.
- Multiple currencies: Accept dozens of currencies including Canadian Dollars, British Pounds, and euros.
After you set this up, it’s a good idea to conduct a test transaction on your store.
If you’re using Shopify Payments, you can still activate PayPal and Amazon Pay to offer shoppers more one-click or one-touch payment options. You can also activate alternative payment options including buy-now, pay-later, and installment payment plans from Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, Sezzle, and others.
4. Design Your Store
This is where the fun part begins! Now that the mundane tasks of adding products and setting up payment processing are over, it’s time to bring your vision to life with Shopify’s website design tools. You can opt to create your own designs or use one of Shopify’s many available designs.
Choose a Theme
First, you’ll choose a theme for your online store. You can use a templated theme or create your own. If you use a premade theme, you have the option to customize it so it’s unique for your online store. Browse free and paid themes in the Shopify Theme Store.
Once you find one you like, you can click Try theme to test it out before purchasing and adding to your site. If you like the theme, select Buy theme (Add theme if it’s free) to apply it to your Shopify store.
If you have your own theme, you can also choose to upload the .zip file to your Shopify site. To do this, go to Themes in the left navigation bar and click Upload theme. A window will pop up; select Choose File and upload the .zip file you want to use.
The dropdown menus on your site help users navigate to different pages, and you have the option to customize these accordingly. Click Navigation on the left menu.
Click Add menu item to add new navigation options. Here, you’ll enter the title and where you want it to link. When you’ve added all your menu items, hit Save menu.
Build Individual Pages
Your Shopify store should consist of more than just a homepage. You’ll need product pages, a contact page, and other pages to help users get to know your brand and your products.
To add a new page, go to Pages in the left menu. Then click Add page.
Here, you can enter a title and content for the page. Your title should be descriptive—this is what users see when they look in the tab of their web browser or find your products via a search engine.
To publish the page, choose a publish date under Visibility. If you’re not ready for the public to see it yet, you can always select Hidden or schedule it for a future date. When you’re done, click Save.
Customize the Look and Feel of Your Store
To make additional tweaks to the design of your Shopify site, you can go back to the Themes section of your dashboard. Find the theme you want to edit and click Customize. You can use the theme editor toolbar to adjust things like fonts, colors, social media links, and even page layout.
5. Connect a Domain
When you create a Shopify site, you can use your own domain or purchase a new one through Shopify.
Transfer a Domain
To use your own domain, you’ll need to log in to the portal for whatever you used to purchase and manage that domain. Unlock the domain you want to transfer to Shopify and get the transfer authorization code. In Shopify, choose Domains in the left menu. Select Connect existing domain and then transfer in your domain.
Enter the domain name and then click Next.
Select Verify domain. You’ll see either “domain unlocked” or “domain locked.” For the former, click Next. In the case of the latter, you might need to go back to your provider.
Enter the authorization code and click Next.
Select Buy and transfer. Your domain will typically be transferred in 20 days or less.
Buy a New Domain
A bit more seamless, you can also purchase a brand-new domain name directly through Shopify.
Go to Domains in the left navigation bar and click Buy new domain. Enter the name of the domain you want and choose your extension.
Once you find a URL you want, click Buy. Shopify will then take you through the domain purchase and registration process. It can take up to 48 hours for your domain to be active.
6. Configure Back Office Settings
Set up Tax Collection
Depending on where your business and customers are located, you may need to adjust your Shopify store’s tax settings. Shopify automatically adjusts taxes for US-based sellers and sales, but you’ll need to add tax and enter your tax registrations if you’re in Canada or use default or custom rates for each location if you’re outside the US and Canada.
Navigate to Taxes in the left menu to review your settings. You can also adjust taxes for shipping, specific products or collections, digital products, exempt customers, and more.
Before you can launch your store beyond the 14-day free trial, you’ll need to give Shopify your credit card or bank account information for recurring payments. You can update this at any time.
To manage and change your billing information, navigate to Billing in the left navigation menu. Go to the Payments methods section to change your billing method. You’ll want to look for something that indicates “replace.” You can also view your billing history under Recent bills.
Customize Your Notifications
Shopify can send you, your team, or your customers notifications when certain parameters have been met. For example, you can receive an alert each time a new order is placed, an item has gone out of stock, or a package has been shipped. Go to Notifications in the left menu to do the following:
- Edit notification templates
- Add, modify, or delete notifications
- Create email and SMS notifications
7. Set up Fulfillment Processes
If you are starting a new business, you’ll likely handle order fulfillment in-house until your order volume starts to grow. You can connect third-party fulfillment partners to your Shopify store. You can also use Shopify Fulfillment, which seamlessly integrates with your site and connects you to a full-service network of end-to-end shipping and fulfillment providers.
Select Shipping Settings
Look for Shipping and delivery in the left navigation menu. Here, you can do the following:
- Add shipping locations
- Add, edit, and delete package types (look for Packages)
- Configure default package dimensions (in the Saved packages section)
Set Store Policies
Shopify allows merchants to have the following policies:
- Refund policy
- Terms of service
- Shipping policy
- Legal notice
- COVID-19 prevention policy
Find Legal in your menu on the left and either enter your ready-to-go policies or click Create from template to use Shopify’s boilerplate copy as a starting point. When your changes are complete, click Save. These policies will display on your Shopify site’s footer. You can also add them to product pages, store menus, and social media.
Customize Your Checkout Page
Now it’s time to design what the customer experience is like when shoppers check out. One of the best things about Shopify is that it allows you to create a fairly customized checkout experience without having to navigate any code. That also means there are a lot of settings you can wade through.
Navigate to Settings > Checkout to manage:
- Customer accounts: Choose whether user logins are disabled, optional, or required for purchases.
- Contact methods: Select whether shoppers can provide their email and/or phone number at checkout, or if their email is required. Also, choose whether or not shoppers are prompted to add notifications for shipping updates or download Shopify’s Shop app to track order status.
- Form options: Choose what fields are hidden, optional, or required for customers to full out at checkout including first and last name, company name, address, and phone number.
- Shipping: Choose whether or not to display tipping options
- Order processing: Select whether or not to use a customer’s shipping address as default billing address, whether electronic items such as gift cards should be automatically fulfilled, and when a customer order should be archived.
- Email marketing: Decide whether or not to show a sign-up option at checkout and if it should be pre-selected.
You can also use the theme editor to make adjustments like adding a background, logo, or image; changing the font and colors; adding bot prevention; and adjusting the form fields.
8. Launch Your Shopify Store
Place a Test Order
Before opening your Shopify store to the public, give it a test run with a dummy transaction. Go to Payment providers in your settings menu on the left. Disable your payment gateway if needed.
In the Third-party providers section, click Choose third-party provider and then choose Bogus Gateway. Click Activate (for testing) Bogus Gateway. Then go to your store and make a purchase.
Shopify recommends testing more than just placing an order, including other things like:
- Successful transactions
- Failed transactions
- Canceled orders
- Partial vs whole fulfillment
- Archiving successful orders
Shopify has built-in analytics tracking and reporting, and it also works with third-party providers like Google Analytics. Its native data reporting tools will automatically kick in. You’ll have three separate tools right out of the gate: Dashboards, Reports, and Live View:
The dashboard allows you to see statistics like total sale, returning customer rate, conversion rate, average order value, traffic source, and more daily or by any specified date range. Reports offer detailed breakdowns in eight categories: sales, acquisition, profit margin, customers, behavior, finances, marketing, and inventory. Live view allows you to see your current site visitors.
9. Market Your Shopify Store
Shopify offers plenty of built-in tools to expand your customer base and increase sales. In addition to Shopify’s in-store and omnichannel sales tools, one of the best features of Shopify is that it integrates seamlessly with many other online marketplaces, so you can sell on social media sites and Amazon and manage all of your orders through the Shopify dashboard.
Add Sales Channels
Shopify offers over a dozen additional sales channels including point of sale, Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, eBay, Buy button (to add to websites and blogs), Facebook Messenger, Google, Pinterest, Rakuten Ichiba, and B2B wholesale storefronts.
To add sales channels, you can either find the corresponding channel in the Shopify App Store or do it through your dashboard, depending on the channel. For the latter, click the + icon next the Sales channels heading in your left menu. In the Add sales channel box, select the channel you want to add and click Add channel.
Set up Email Marketing
Shopify Email allows you to send newsletters to your subscribers. Add the app to your store and then access it through your dashboard in the Marketing section. Click Create campaign and then select Shopify Email to build your first email.
Use Shopify’s Built-in Campaign Features
Marketing on Shopify comes with a range of marketing tools to help you build and promote campaigns including blogging tools, SEO features, automation tools, targeting Facebook ads, Google advertising, and more.
Shopify’s automation apps and add-ons include options for abandoned cart recovery, SMS messaging for promotions, and email list segmentation.
Track Your Customers
To learn more about your customers, go to Analytics in the left navigation and select Reports. Look for the Customers section. Here, you can find the following insights as well as customize your own reports:
- Customers over time
- First-time vs returning customer sales
- Customers by location
- Returning customers
- One-time customers
- At-risk customers
- Loyal customers
Learning how to set up a Shopify store is an excellent way to start an online business. The user interface is simple and intuitive, and there are thousands of apps you can use to add extra features to your website. Get started with Shopify’s 14-day free trial.