A brief introduction
For those of you who do not know what Shopify is? It’s an ecommerce platform that enables its users to develop and scale their online store. You get a template based site builder alongside an easy payment processing option, inventory management, and a powerful analytics tool among other things.
If you are newbie and want to set up your ecommerce store on Shopify, you can do so right away with its basic installation process. It has over a 100 top-notch templates which is an edge over the competition, however there’s a catch. Only 10 of these are free.
Shopify has a built-in theme browser which allows you to apply filters and lists designs either by industry or layout. Any single theme is found in multiple styles that can be viewed with a click.
OK, but why so popular?
For more seasoned users, the professional Shopify account features customer account support, abandoned checkout recovery, automatic calculation of tax and shipping charges, option to list product reviews, over a 100 payment methods and more.
When it comes to store management, tools such as inventory management and refund mechanism is available. You can capitalize on marketing campaigns with Shopify by enabling gift cards and discounts to attract more customers.
If linked to Google Analytics, you can track and see detailed reports of conversion funnel. This is essential because no business can move if there isn’t a system that provides feedback. Moreover, with Shopify, you get a tailored mobile app to keep tabs on your business activities, no matter where you are.
There isn’t a cap with Shopify because you can sell as many products as your heart desires, and of all kinds while other platforms may restrict users in terms of number of products, disk space or bandwidth. Moreover, there is no SSL certificate cost for you to worry about as it’s included for free.
How to get started
Getting started is not a problem. All you have to do is enter your name, email address and you are good to go. You will then be taken to the admin console page of Shopify. The interface is minimalistic in design which means less clutter.
On the left hand you will find categories such as Orders, Customers, Discounts, Apps, Analytics and Products. On the other hand, the Shopify Dashboard will highlight sections such as on adding products and customizing the store.
However, a minor downside to this minimalistic interface is that you won’t immediately realize where to begin but if you are not sure which task to take up first, you can use the handy search system therein which is meant to pave your way into the right direction.
Just as you would in Google, when you start typing the suggested searches can be seen. For instance, if you were to type in ‘PayPal’, anything pertaining to the said payment method will be shown in suggestions and in the subsequent search results when you hit Enter key or click on search.
It is not intended for everyone – the design and would be unfair if we were to say that it did. Although suffice to say that the design is aimed at providing comfort as well as a clean no-nonsense ecommerce experience to the customers, and for the user to work with.
Setting up the store
On the dashboard, the first step to setting up your shop online is by adding a product or a number of products. So begin by clicking on Add after which you will be asked to manually input product details.
These would entail: images, description, weight, pricing and shipping among other things. Product description has basic tables that you can use and there is even an Insert Video box that can be put to use by entering simple embed codes.
If you would prefer to import product catalogs from another platform, you can do in Shopify. The import option may not be visible to you right away but we promise you it is there. You need to look under Products to find as it is not accessible from the sidebar.
Given its minimalistic design, the option to import is minimal too. You can only export a CSV file which should not exceed 15 MB. Moreover, the import feature does not allow a user to link custom fields in the CSV file for specifying product attributes.
When it comes to its Shipping support, it is better compared to other features and can be quickly located under Settings. Default settings are good enough for any user starting out in the ecommerce field.
For an experienced user there is option where you can add a number of shipping zones as you deem fit. Default selection mainly comprises the address where you are shipping from, single shipping zone and will list shipping rates for that region only.
By adding multiple shipping zones, you can open up new venues for generating revenue since shipping rates will vary from country to country. Also, these rates are calculated based on price or weight of a particular product. In other cases, rates are calculated by referring to a specific shipping provider/app.
As a user, you can add item’s dimensions but as previously stated its weight can be entered in product details. There is also a Package system which enables user to set up different prices for products of different sizes and kinds that are to be shipped.
Variety of payment providers are supported under Shopify platform including PayPal (which is default), Stripe (accepts credit card), Amazon Pay in addition to routine payment alternatives but not limited to Cash on Delivery and bank deposit etc.
All of them can be set up in no time due to its minimal design and you can commence your business operations by accepting orders from customers. But you already knew that.
Running the store
The hardest part is over. It is time to get that store of yours up and running. First things first, get Shopify mobile app for both Android and iOS so you can control activities on-the-go! The app offers general site management, allows processing of orders or refunds (if any), customer support.
Furthermore, you can take up inventory driven tasks (editing products, browsing reports) with the app. Meaning, waiting times for customers are considerably reduced. Speedy service and resolution of queries is as real as it gets with Shopify at the helm.
Built-in analytics lets you view important business aspects in a jiffy. These include sales, orders placed, online sessions by device or location, traffic source and so on so forth. You can access individual reports too for in-depth study of, say, top referrers or landing pages.
That’s not all. With Shopify App Store, a user can integrate third party services that will take care of every aspect imaginable in your business; marketing, social media, sales, inventory, customer support, accounting and reporting.
What more do you want?!
You can use your social media to leverage benefits from Shopify by easily logging in with social networking channels. That way all of your social media accounts including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter will display feed, for instance, whenever you add a new product or when a customer leaves a positive review or to promote a list of best-selling products on your store and you name it.
Best of all, it’s available with Shopify at no additional cost. Simply put, with Shopify the possibilities are endless!
To wrap it up
A first-rate eCommerce platform service which is quite frankly, very easy to navigate, offers wide array of features as well as apps integration. Icing on the cake, Shopify comes with a 14-day trial and does not ask for your credit card details to avail it. So if you are not satisfied (somehow), you are free to choose any other service.