You can Build Your Own Online Store in 17 Steps. If you have a bricks and mortar store and want to put your products online, if you are an artist that wants to sell your art on line, or if you import products from other countries, you need to have an online store.
An online store is easy to build and maintain and will increase your sales. How big it gets is strictly up to you. You can use your own store to generate a car payment each month or you can grow it into a massive retail giant.
The key to the whole process is to build your store on a proper fully ecommerce capable platform. One of the best platforms to build your store on is Shopify.
The First option for building your own store on line it to do it yourself. By building your own store on Shopify, you will have the best ecommerce platform with industry leading support and tutorials. Click Here to get started with your Shopify free trial.
You Need A Platform For Your Store
In order to build a store you need a reliable platform to host your store and look after all of the day to day ecommerce operations. I recommend using Shopify as a store platform. Shopify is a store platform that is easy to use, and if you have a problem their support staff is available 24 hours per day 7 days per week.
Before you actually set up your store you will want to have at least some idea as to what you are going to sell and where you are going to get your products. If you already have a brick and mortar store then you already have these details taken care of.
If you already have a store or make your own products then you are ready to get started on building your new online store. Click Here to go to Shopify and sign up for an account.
When you sign up for a Shopify account, you will get a 14 day free trial. If you don’t think you can launch your store in 14 days or you think you will need more time for any reason, Click Here
If you don’t have a store make sure you at least figure out what you want to sell. I recommend the following process to figure out what you want to sell.
1. Decide what niche you want to be in. What are you passionate about? What products do you like to buy? Do You have a hobby? What are your favorite stores?
2. Decide what products you want to sell. Do a search and take a look at who sells the products you like. This will give you an idea of the pricing of the products and who you will be competing against.
3. Once you decide on the products you want to sell, you are going to need a supplier. There are several ways to find suppliers;
- -Take a look at the packaging of the product and give the manufacturer a call and ask them to put you in contact with the local distributor of their product. You can often also find this information on the Manufacturers web site.
- -There are free directories that list the distributors and wholesalers of products. Do a search using the format; “product name wholesale” or “product name distributor”.
- -There are paid directories that have a large list of distributors, drop shippers and wholesalers. The two best Paid directories that I have found are the
- and the DSMOZ drop shippers directory that is part of the Drop Ship Lifestyle Program. You can get the DSMOZ directory at dsmoz.com
- -There are product integrators that list product distributors, drop shippers and wholesalers. Some of the sites in this group that will also build a data feed for you are Nova Tech Wholesalers and Inventory Source.
4. Once you find a distributor for the products you are interested in, contact them and set up an account. Most distributors and wholesalers have an account form to sign up on line. Be careful and avoid distributors and wholesalers that want you to pay for the account.
5. Once you sign up with the distributor you are going to use, you will get access to the wholesale pricing of the products. This will give you the information you need to price your products on your new web store.
6. Now it is time to choose a name for your store. You will want to choose a name that tells your customers what you sell or what your products are. Someone looking for plates would not likely go to a store called Purple Boots. You will also want to avoid calling the store after yourself. It is very difficult to sell a store called Tom’s Sports to Joe when you are ready to sell your store or retire.
This process of choosing your product etc. is likely to take you a couple of days or longer. Don’t despair and don’t give up. This is not a difficult process, it just takes a bit of research and digging. It will make your life easier in the long run.
Now that you have chosen a product, found a supplier, and have a name for your store it is time to get started. Click Here to go to Shopify and sign up for an account.
Once you get to Shopify, click on any of the get started buttons and enter all of the requested information and start your free trial.
Shopify will send you a couple of get started emails. Save them as they will contain the information you need to access the dashboard for your new store. The Welcome emails from Shopify usually arrive within a couple of hours and often in just a few minutes.
Initial Store Setup
By now you should have received the welcome information from Shopify with the login information you need to login to your new store. So now you can login to your store and take a look around.
Today we are going to go through the initial setup of your new store. After you login to your store account, you will see a bunch of links along the left hand side of the page. You will want to click on the “Settings” link.
As you go through the pages and fill out the information don’t forget to click on the “Save” button before you leave the page. The “Save” button is located on the bottom right hand side of the page. If you forget to save, you will have to put all of the information in again.
When the page opens you will see another set of links down the left hand side of the page. The first one will be the “General” link.
Fill out all of the information on the General page that is requested. Use the information that relates to your store and if you don’t have the information don’t worry you can always come back and provide it or change it.
The next link you will go to is the “Payments” page. The simplest way to accept payments in your new store is to use “Shopify Payments”. This payment method makes it really easy to accept credit card payments and the money is deposited into your bank account.
The setup will ask you for a bank account number. It is best to use a Company bank account. If you don’t yet have a Company bank account, you can skip this step for now and come back later.
If you don’t have a Company bank account, the quickest way to accept payments on your store is to use PayPal. A lot of people have PayPal accounts and this is a very popular method of payment on the internet. PayPal is easy to setup and makes it easy for you to accept credit card payments from your customers. If you don’t have a PayPal account, go to http://paypal.com to set one up.
There are also other payment methods on the page that you can setup now or wait until later as you get to know what payment methods your customers would prefer.
The next link is to the “Checkout” page. On this page you will be setting up the way the checkout page is displayed to your customers, as well as setting up the general policies of your store. If you don’t yet have a logo don’t worry you can come back later and put it in the proper place. Use the page generator to setup your policy pages. If you want to make your own changes to the policies the template will let you enter anything you want on these pages. I recommend that you use the pages as they are generated.
The next link is to the “Shipping” page. Here you will set your shipping rates for all of your products to all of your customers. In general customers like to get free shipping so you should consider and setup a free shipping rate. The free shipping rate can be based on a minimum purchase amount or by weight.
To set up the other rates to other parts of the world, you will need to use your shippers website as a reference.
If you are using a drop shipper for your products, use their address as the shipping address at the top of the page, and calculate all of your shipping from that address. If you are way out on your shipping calculations, your customers will either send you nasty emails or they will abandon their shopping carts.
The next link is to the “Taxes” page. On this page you will decide to include taxes in your pricing or to add it on at checkout. There are pros and cons to both practices but it is likely that in the future your customers will tell you which way they like. I would start out adding it on just like they do at your local store. People are used to that method and including it may make your prices look like they are too high.
The next link is to the “Notifications” page. Here you will be asked to set up a series of emails that go out to your customers. The post sale emails make it easy to let your customers know when the order is shipped, when you get new products, if you are having a sale or for any other reason that you want to stay in touch with your customers. The beauty of the system is that once they are set up, all of the emails go out automatically.
The next link is to the “Files” page. Here you will be able to upload files that you will use in promoting and running your business. Later on this page is where things like pictures you use in blog posts, PDF’s of product specs, and pictures sent to you from your customers will end up. Once they are on this page, you will be able to edit them.
The last link on the list is the “Account” page. On this page you will set up your Shopify account. I like to go to the basic pricing plan right away, and generally go for yearly billing as it carries a bit of a discount. The basic plan will give you all of the tools you need to get started and you can upgrade to the advanced plans at any time in the future when your store starts making sales.
Domain and Email Setup
Now it is time to set up the domain name and email accounts for your new store. The best way to set up the Domain name of your Shopify store is to get the domain from Shopify.
Log in to your Shopify store and on the Left margin you will see a link called “Online Store” that links to a page that shows you what is going on in your store. This page will show you all the information you will want to know about what is going on in your store at any given time, as well as telling you how much traffic you are getting and where the traffic is coming from.
On the Left sidebar you will see a “Domain” link. Click the link and go to the “Domain” page. Start at the top right hand corner of the page and click on the “Buy New Domain” button. Once the page opens follow the prompts and purchase the domain name for your store.
While you are in the purchase new domain tab you will also be given the opportunity to set up your @ domain email addresses. You will want to set up emails for support, info, returns, media and maybe your name. You will need to forward all of the emails that you create to an external email address. Choose an address that you check regularly.
This section is also where you may want to use the help options that are available to you.
The best place to get help is from Shopify. This is the best place to get help because they are available by phone 24 hours per day 7 days a week. If you look at the bottom of the page on the left hand side when you are logged in to the dashboard of your store, you should see the name of your store and your name. If you click on your name you will get a drop down menu that will list several help options. The most important link on the list is the top one. The Shopify help options are also the best source of help because all of the information is kept up to date by Shopify and they are the experts.
The direct help document if you are buying a domain from Shopify is here.
If you already have a domain that you have purchased from another domain registrar you can also use it for your Shopify store. Click on the “Add Existing Domain” tab at the top right of the “Domain” page and follow the instructions. Again if you get in trouble to the Shopify help documentation for this section here.
This process can be a bit daunting so don’t get bogged down in the details. If you can’t get it to work right away, the best thing to do is to make a phone call to the registrar of your domain. They generally have 24/7 support and they will have you set up in no time.
They will also help you set up your email accounts.
In this step we start to give your store it’s unique look and character. Login to your store dashboard and find the “Online Store” link. Go to the page and click on the “Themes” link. On the top right hand side of the “Themes” page there is a link to the Themes Store. Go to the themes store and take a look at all of the options.
At this point it doesn’t matter if you use a free theme or a paid theme. The paid themes offer quite a few more customization options but keep in mind that once you pay for the theme there are no refunds so you will be stuck with a useless theme if you don’t like it.
You can start out with a free theme and you can change it anytime you want. It will also give you a chance to figure out what additional functions you want your store to have as you go along. Take a look at all of the free and paid themes that are available and you will get a sense of what your site can look like. Pay special attention to the product pages previews. The product preview pages will show you what your product will look like on the product page.
Take some time to look at all of the themes that look like they would suit your products and choose a theme that you can work with. Also take a look at the detail description of the theme that you choose. You want to make sure that the theme is “responsive” which means that it adapts to any size screen including mobile. This means that your mobile customers are much more likely to buy something using their cell phone because they will actually be able to see your site on their portable device.
Collections and Navigation
In this step we will start setting up the product categories and page navigation for your store. Login to your store and on the left sidebar you will see a link to “Products”. When you get to the “Products” page click on the “Collections” link. The “Collections” page is where you will enter all of the Categories for all of your products.
If you are selling products from a supplier you will want to get a spreadsheet of all of the products that you are going to sell.
Once you have the product file you will be able to open it using Microsoft Excel or one of the many free spreadsheet programs like Google Docs. The first thing you will want to look at in the product file is the Categories. These will become the Collections in your store.
If you don’t yet have the product file from your supplier, you can go to the suppliers site or a competitors site and take a look at their categories. You are selling the same products so you will in most cases want to use the same product categories for your site. The categories are often part of the keyword list that people use to find your site on Google and other search engines.
Go ahead and enter all of your collections for your store. You will find the Shopify tutorials for adding, editing and deleting collections here.
After you have set up all or at least a sampling of the collections of your products you will want to set up the navigation of your site. Again because Shopify is always upgrading and changing the procedure of how to do things, you can find the tutorials for adding navigation links here.
Now you will have built the basic structure of your store. If you don’t have your product file from your supplier yet, you will want to spend some time getting that file.
Upload Your Products
In this step we are going to work on getting some products loaded to your store. There are 3 ways to load products to your store. The first way is to load each product manually. This is okay and has the advantage of being able to control the loading process and being able to see every element of every product as you load it.
The manual method is the best way to go if you have a small number of unique products or if you can’t get a CSV file from your supplier. It is just as quick in my opinion to load the product data into the store as it is to load it into a spreadsheet.
In any case you will want to load a couple of products manually to start, first to see what data is needed for each product and to build a reference spreadsheet for later. It is also a good way to see what information you can add to your product pages.
The second method of loading products to your store is where you have your own products or have a business that deals with a group of suppliers. With this method you will create or get from your suppliers a CSV file with all of the products and upload it to your Shopify store.
The third way is the easiest and is for someone that will be using AliExpress to drop ship products. In this case you would load the Oberlo App in the App section of your store and use it to find, select and upload products to your store.
The Oberlo App is easy to set up and easy to use and will save you a lot of time loading products on to your store. Be aware that in most cases you will want to go into your store and edit the product descriptions and improve the images.
Upload Product Images
Today we will upload the image files for all of your products. You will need to unzip the image files and save them in a new file on your desktop.
The simple explanation of this process is that all you have to do is open the “Files” page and click on the “Upload Files” button at the top right hand side of the page. Then you will be able to select the files you want to add and click the upload button. There is a caution here that if you have lots of products, you should only try to upload up to 300 images at a time.
Because every so often Shopify changes the procedure the tutorials for this process are here.
As usual since you are uploading a lot of data, it will take some time for the process to be completed. It can sometimes take a couple of hours to upload all of your images.
Once all of the products are uploaded and the image files are uploaded, you need to go to each product page and upload the proper image for each product.
In this step we are going to work on the color scheme of your store and install a logo. To get to the page to customize your store you need to click on the “Online Store” button on the dashboard of your store and then on the “Themes” button. On the “Themes” page you will notice a “Customize theme” button up on the right hand top of the page. Here you will find all of the elements that you can customize on your theme. Each theme is different so the elements you see on your theme customization page will be unique to your theme.
The Shopify tutorials for this section can be found here.
Take a look at all of the elements that you can customize and think about what you want your store to look like. One of the elements you will be able to change is the color scheme of your store. You will want to change the color scheme to match the products you are selling or to help convey a positive feeling to your customers. For instance Pink is probably not the best color to choose as a background if your customers are predominantly male. Take a look at your competitors, and suppliers websites to get an idea of what colors are suited to your product niche.
You will also be able to add a header image or a header slideshow, a logo, header text, footer elements and sidebar elements. The amount of customization will be unique to the theme that you have chosen and can be changed at any time. When you make changes, don’t forget to click on the “Save” button at the bottom of the page. You should view your home page after each change and you can keep making changes until your store front looks like you want it to.
Your store should have a logo. If you don’t have a logo already that you can upload to the site, there are several options to get a nice logo created. The first option and the cheapest is to do it yourself. If you own Photoshop and know how to use it you can easily make your own logo. If you don’t have access to Photoshop you can use Pixir. You can go to Pixir.com and build your own logo right on the page and then copy it to your store.
If you don’t want to build your own logo there are several places to get someone else to build you one. The prices can range from $5.00 to several thousands of dollars. The cheapest place to get a logo is at http://fiverr.com. The prices start at $5.00 and you will be surprised at the results at that price point. I you need more creativity and are able to pay more for your logo you can post a design job on Freelancer or you can post a logo design request on 99designs.com and have several designers bid on your project. The final price for a design from 99 Designs starts at $329.00
If you are looking for header images or slideshow images you can use stock images from the many stock photo sites like; Dreamstime. Or you can also get images at Deposit Photos, of at Shutterstock.com of Gettyimages.com
You can also find images on Google. Use the Google image search feature and filter by usage. You will want to use images that are approved for commercial usage. You can also use photos that you have taken yourself as long as they are of high quality.
By now Shopify should be sending you emails with tips, tricks and other information about building, marketing and maintaining an online store. They will also be showing the same type of information on your dashboard page. Take a look at the links they are showing you, they provide a lot of valuable information about building and running your new online store.
It is now time to add Google Analytics to your store. Google Analytics will give you a lot of data about who is visiting your store, where they live, what device they are using and what browser they are using.
By now you should have opened a Google account and have a Gmail account for your store. If not, now is the time to go to Google.com and open a Gmail account. This account will give you access to all of Google’s tools that will help you run any website.
Once you have a Gmail account the easiest way to get to Google Analytics is to log in to your Gmail account and then type http://analytics.google.com in to your address bar. Click return and you will open the analytics page.
Fill in all of the blanks on the page with the information for your store. Click “Save” and when the page refreshes you will see a button that says “Get Tracking Code” click on the button, agree to the terms and you will see the tracking code that you need to copy and paste on to your site.
Now go back to your store dashboard and click on the “Settings” tab on the left hand navigation bar. Then click on “Online Store”, in the middle of the page you will see a box labeled Google Analytics. Paste the code you copied from your Google account in to this box and click on “Save” at the bottom of the page.
If you would like to take a look at the Shopify tutorials about adding Google Analytics to your store you can view them here.
Don’t forget to check out the emails Shopify is sending you almost daily. These emails are filled with tips, tricks and other information about building, marketing and maintaining an online store. They will also be showing the same type of information on your dashboard page. Take a look at the links they are showing you, they provide a lot of valuable information about building and running your new online store.
When you were setting up your checkout page for your store, you also set up your generally policies. Now we need to build pages for those pages and add them to your site so that your visitors can see them.
Your first step will be to log in to your store and click on the “Online Store” tab on your left hand navigation bar. Next click on “Checkout” to go to your Checkout page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see the 3 store policies that you set up earlier. We will now create a page for each of these policies.
Now we need to add the three new pages to your Footer. So we need to go to the “Navigation” tab and create a new menu call Footer. Add the three new pages to the new menu and don’t forget to save your work.
Next we need to make the page links visible to our customers. Go to the “Themes” tab and look down the “Customize Theme” menu until you find “Footer”. Click on the tab and at the top click on the “Show footer menu” and choose the “Footer” menu in the drop down.
You should now be able to see your Policy pages in the Footer menu of your store. If you would like more information on adding a footer menu to your store, the Shopify tutorials are here.
In this step we are going to install Mailchimp on your new store. You will use Mailchimp to collect emails and send out newsletters to your customers. You can set up the auto responder in Mailchimp to send, notices of store events, sales, and any other communication you want to send to your customers.
Shopify has chosen Mailchimp because they have a high deliverability rate and because they are free for the first 2000 subscribers.
Your first step is to go to http://mailchimp.com and set up an account and create your first mailing list. When you are finished creating your list at Mailchimp, go back to your store and find the “App” link on the left hand sidebar. Go to the App page and search for MailChimp in the search bar. When you find it, click on the App and enter all of the information that is requested.
You will want to use the name of the list that you created on MailChimp. Again as with every part of Shopify, they are always making changes in the way that they install the Apps. Take a look at the Shopify tutorials to get the latest information and procedure. Click Here to go to the MailChimp tutorial.
It is a good idea to have as many ways for your customers and potential customers to get in touch with you as possible. No matter what business you are in, some people just want to call you on the phone and talk to you. Being able to phone you gives them confidence that you are a real person and that you have what they need to solve their problems.
The best way and cheapest way to set up a phone line is to use Google Voice. Google Voice lets you set up a separate phone line that is forwarded to your cell phone or to a land line. To set up your Google Voice phone number Click Here.
You will be given the option to pick a number for your store which is either in your chosen area code or a number that forms a keyword for your business.
Once you have your phone number, go back to your store dashboard, open your “Contact Us” page and add the phone number to your page. You will also want to your Navigation tab and add your “Contact Us” page to your footer menu. The Shopify Tutorial for adding a page to a menu is here.
In this step it is time to start setting up your marketing for your new store. Social Media is a great way to communicate with your target market and build an audience to receive your marketing messages. The first choice for your Social Media efforts is Facebook. So lets go ahead and build a Facebook Fan page for your business.
Your Business Facebook fan page will be associated with your personal Facebook page. You can choose whether or not you want to share posts between the two pages but they will be connected.
The first step is to login to your personal Facebook page. Then in the top of the page in the center you will see a small down arrow. Click on the arrow and from the dropdown, choose “Create Page”, fill in all of the blanks and click save. You have now created your very own Facebook fan page for your business.
Now that you have created your fan page what are you going to do with it? The first things that you will want to do is to add a header page and a profile picture. For these images you can use any photo that you want. You can use stock photos, product photos, or any picture that you have taken yourself.
When you have a header image and a profile image loaded you can start adding posts to your fan page. Find a post on another page on Facebook and share it on your new page, or put your store home page url in the post box and Facebook will show your store front page as a post.
Now that you have a post of your new store on your new Facebook fan page you can share it to your personal page or any other page that will let you post on. Now that you have a Facebook fan page for your new store you will want to grow your “Likes” on the page. There are basically 3 ways to grow “Likes” on Facebook;
1. Sharing on Facebook-
Every time you post something on the fan page you will want to share it with other pages or with your personal page. You can also share posts that you see on your personal page on your fan page.
2. Boosting Your Post-
Every time you add a post to your fan page, Facebook gives you the option to “Boost Post”. This is a great way to increase your likes but it does cost money and the costs can add up quickly. Make sure when you boost a post that you change the target market to match the target market of your store.
3. Creating a Facebook Ad-
You can create a Facebook ad and promote your new Facebook fan page and your new store to all of Facebook. Keeping in mind that only a small portion of all of Facebook is interested in the products you sell, make sure you use the audience settings in the ad setup to pin point your target market.
Over time your goal should be to get as many likes of your fan page as possible. When you publish a post only about 6% of your fans (likes) will see your post so more is better.
Outside Facebook there are many ways to promote your store and grow the number of Likes on your fan page. Some that come to mind are;
• Free Classified ads
• Banners on other sites
• Business Cards
• Promotional items
• Vehicle decals
When Marketing your store, the ideas are only limited by your imagination and financial resources.
Now that you have set up your Facebook Fan page you will want to add a Facebook icon to your store. This procedure is another one of those that changes almost as often as Facebook does. The Shopify tutorial for adding Social Media buttons is here.
As you develop your store you will want to add several Apps. Apps give your store additional capabilities. There are literally hundreds of Apps ranging in price from free to hundreds of dollars per month. Some of the free Apps you will want to add to your store include;
Alt Text-This handy App will save you a lot of time when you are building your product pages. This App will add the appropriate Alt tags to your product images as you add them to your site. To install this App go to the “App” page and search for it in the search bar. When it comes up it is as simple as clicking it to open, filling in the blanks and saving. Having Alt text on all of your images is good for SEO on your store.
Google Shopping-This app will load all of the products in your store to the Google Shopping platform. Prior to activating the App, you should go to your Google account and activate your Google Merchant account. The Google Merchant platform is designed to work with your Google Adwords account and the good thing is that you get an Adwords rep assigned to your account that you can actually call and get help with your Adwords ads. A caution that I will add here is that Google Shopping doesn’t really like knives, guns, or self defense products.
There is a bit of setup associated with the Google Shopping App so you will want to take a look at the Shopify tutorial here. https://docs.shopify.com/manual/more/official-shopify-apps/google-shopping
Yotpo Reviews-Reviews are important to your store because they provide Social proof that your store is a great place to buy the products that you are selling. This is another free App that is easy to set up, and add to your store.
You can see the Shopify tutorial for this App here. https://apps.shopify.com/yotpo-social-reviews
As you can see there are many useful Apps available to enhance the user experience and usability of your store. There are also new Apps being added all of the time so you will want to check back and install additional Apps as your store grows and business increases.Don’t forget to check out the emails Shopify is sending you almost daily. These emails are filled with tips, tricks and other information about building, marketing and maintaining an online store. They will also be showing the same type of information on your dashboard page. Take a look at the links they are showing you, they provide a lot of valuable information about building and running your new online store.
Blogging is an excellent way to promote your business and get more people to visit your store. The big problem with most Ecommerce store platforms is that you need a separate blog on a separate platform. The challenge is to connect the Blog to the Store in such a way that the Google organic traffic gets to the Store.
Shopify has solved that problem by providing a Blog platform as part of your store. To find your Blog, click on the “Online Store” tab on the left hand sidebar and you will see a “Blog” tab. When the page opens you will see a “Add Blog Post” button, click on the button and start typing.
You will also see a “Manage blogs” button where you can change the title of your Blog and add additional Blogs if you like. To add a Blog post you can either type it right in to the platform on the store or you can produce a word processor document and then “Copy and Paste” to your store Blog page.
In your blog you can use links to product pages, add images, links to resources on another website, html tables or anything else you want. You can even write a bunch of blogs and schedule them to publish in the future.
Your blog posts should be relevant to your products and how your customers can use them, or they should be of something that is of interest to your audience. All of your blog posts should be at least 500 words and preferably 1000 words and include pictures. It is also suggested that blog posts be consistent, with the best frequency being at least 2 times per week.
Now that you have a Blog for your new store what will you blog about? Well the best choices are to talk about your products, how to use them and the benefits that your customers will get from owning your products.
Don’t forget to share your Blog posts on your Facebook Fan page.
Adding a Pinterest button to your store is an excellent way to promote your Business. The first place to add a Pinterest button is on your images in your Blog Posts. The button you will be adding is a “Hover” button so that whenever someone runs their mouse over one of your images they will see a “Pin it” button.
The first step is to go to Pinterest and register as a Business. Click Here to go to Pinterest and register as a business.
After the registration process you will be able to create the buttons that you need for your store. The first button to create is a Hover button. Create the widget, copy the code and go back to your store. You will be placing the code at the bottom of the “article.liquid” page using the Template Editor.
The second Pinterest button you will add is a Pinterest Social Media button, which will be added to the Footer of your stores pages. Go back to Pinterest and create a “Follow” button in the Pinterest widget maker. Copy the code for the “Follow” button and go back to your store. You are going to paste the code on “theme.liquid” page via the Template Editor. Don’t forget to save your changes. You will be able to see the Pinterest Follow Button at the bottom of the pages of your store.
You can also take a look at the Shopify tutorials for adding a Pinterest “Buy” button Here.
Product Page Tabs
Having tabs on your product pages is especially handy if your product descriptions are particularly long or detailed. You can for instance have 1 tab called “Description”, a second tab called “Specifications” and a 3rd tab called “Demonstration Video”. You can call your tabs anything you want and you can add any content you want to any of your tabs.
The Shopify tutorials for adding tabs to your product pages is Here.
If you get a chance, it is always a good idea to add a Blog post to your store. The more content you have on your Blog, the better.
Well There you have it. If you followed all of the steps, you now have a fully operational online store that is ready and open for business. You have your products displayed, a way to collect payments and a way to track all of your inventory. Now all you have to do is tell the whole world.
Now is the time you should start looking at your Marketing calendar. If you set your Marketing calendar up early, you will never miss an opportunity to market your new store. The goal of marketing is to tell the world about your brand and your products.
One of the best ways to keep ahead of the Marketing game is to have a Marketing Calendar. Start off by building yourself a calendar that shows all of the holidays of the year. Your holiday calendar should show you all of the holidays for every group, religion and country, the more holidays the better.
Now take a look at each holiday and do a bit of research on each one so that you understand what the holiday is all about. During you research, think about how you can offer your products to help celebrate the holiday. Add this information to your calendar including some promotion development time.
For instance; say you are in the meat business and you are going to do a promotion for the annual rodeo in your town. If you need 10 days to get flyers from the printer offering a special on steaks, you will want to put in to your calendar to order the flyers say 12 days before you need them.
Your Marketing Calendar is part of your Marketing Plan and can save you a lot of distress. It can even save you money by showing where you can plan ahead, and get your promotional activities set up well in advance of the holiday.
Your Marketing Calendar will also include email broadcasts that you will automatically send to everyone on your email list.
Don’t forget if you have time to add another Blog post to your store and share it on your social media platforms.
When your products start selling you will need to spend some time packing and shipping them to your customers.
I am always surprised when I order something on line and it arrives with poor address labels, broken boxes and items broken in the box. I can’t imagine what the shipper is thinking when they pack the box.
If you are packing a product to ship to your customer, you want it to arrive safely and undamaged. Always use clean packing material, use a proper size box, pack the box full, and use quality packing tape to close the box. You can also add an insert into the package telling your customer about products that compliment the one they ordered, a flyer for additional products or a discount for the next purchase.
One of the things you are going to have to decide when starting your own store is where your products are going to come from and how they are going to get to your customer.
• Are you going to buy all of the products and store them in your own warehouse or storage space, or maybe in your garage? If this is the method that you choose, you will have to give some thought to security, access for transport vehicles, and If your products come on pallets, you will have to have extra tools and machinery to handle the pallets.
You will also need to stock boxes, tape, packing material and shipping labels. You will also need to invest in a printer for your labels, and a scale to weigh your packages. Don’t forget to talk to your insurance agent about extra coverage for your products. If you are working out of your garage, don’t forget you will need to talk to your local bylaw people about the extra traffic to deliver your products and then ship them out.
• Are you going to use a drop shipper and let them arrange the shipping and storage of your products? This is a great way to look after the fulfillment of your products. You need to think about how you are going to know what the stock levels are for a given product at any given time. You will also have to build the cost of having the drop shipper do your warehousing and shipping into the price of your product.
• Are you going to use a third party fulfillment house to do your warehousing and shipping? This is where you engage a warehouse to receive your pallets of your products, store them and when you get an order, they pack up the single products and ship them to your customer. In this situation, you will want to have great inventory control and pay attention supplier lead times, cost of warehouse space and order processing time.
In your store there are lots of Apps that you can use for shipping. Some of the Apps help you track inventory, some interface with the most popular couriers and postal services, and some help you with your bookkeeping. All of these Apps are useful in helping you streamline your business operations. Some of the Apps are more useful as your business gets bigger. Keep an eye on the growing list of Shopify Apps and add the ones that make the most sense for your business at this time.
As you grow, you will also want to keep in touch with your shipping company. When you start shipping lots of packages, you may be entitled to a volume discount. Most of the time, the shipping company won’t offer you a discount unless you ask.
If you are using a drop shipper or third party fulfillment company, have a chat with them and find out if you can get a better rate on your shipping rates. After you speak to your warehouse representative, review your shipping settings in your Shopify dashboard and make sure that all of your shipping rates are set so they cover your shipping costs. Be careful also that your shipping costs aren’t set too high. You don’t want to be perceived as a company that uses their shipping costs to compensate for an unusually low product price.
Don’t forget to check out the emails Shopify is sending you almost daily. These emails are filled with tips, tricks and other information about building, marketing and maintaining an online store. They will also be showing the same type of information on your dashboard page. Take a look at the links they are showing you, they provide a lot of valuable information about building and running your new online store.
Off Line Marketing
A lot of people believe that just because you have an online business that you should only market it online. But many times there are very effective methods of marketing just about any business off line as well.
The first step in any Marketing is to build an Avatar of your best customer. No matter what your business is you will want to know all that you can about this perfect customer. What gender are they, how old are they, what do they drive, where do they work, where they hang out online and off line. Once you have your Avatar, you want to always speak to them with all of your advertising and marketing. When you are thinking about a marketing campaign think about how your Avatar is going to receive your message.
One of the methods that is most often overlooked as a marketing method for an online store is the use of Business cards. Business cards have been around a long time and if you are a real business, you are still expected to have business cards in many Business settings. They are cheap, last forever and provide a handy place for a contact to add notes about you and your business. You can also modernize your business card by putting your information and even your catalog on a jump drive, or on a dvd. Companies like Vista Print and PS Print offer design services, and produce quality products at a reasonable price.
Have you ever noticed how many calendars, shirts, caps, jackets, cups, pens and you see every day. It is almost impossible to buy a jacket without a corporate logo. Why couldn’t the logo be yours. There are many places like T-Spring where you can have tee shirts with you name and logo on them and you can even set up a tee shirt selling campaign.
This form of marketing is called Promotional Product Marketing and can be used to put your name out in the community. You will be surprised at how many products you can put your name on, and how inexpensive this form of marketing can be.
Do you belong to a club in your community? Belonging to a club gives you access to more people. The best club to promote your business is Rotary International. You need to be invited to join, and you aren’t allowed to actively promote your business in the meetings, but you will meet a lot of people especially if you travel. You will be surprised how much business you can gain by going to lunch or breakfast with a bunch of fellow business people.
Take a look around you community. You are likely to find a long list of Meet up groups and networking groups. These groups are a great place to meet people that have common interests and many groups are a great place to bounce new ideas off of a group of people that are interested in your niche.
Don’t forget there are also a lot of kids sports teams, cadet groups, outdoors clubs, and playgrounds that can always use help and would be glad to put up a sign advertising your business on their wall or fence.
As you are going about your daily business of selling stuff you will also need a vehicle. Your car or truck is one of the best places to put a sign to advertise your business. You can get everything from a small window decal to a complete vehicle wrap that will be seen from a distance every time you go somewhere.
There are so many off line marketing ideas for a small business that it would take a complete course to cover even a portion of them. You might think that your business won’t benefit from an off line marketing tactic, but I would urge you to try some of them. Start small and build as your business grows. I think you will be surprised at how effective off line marketing is for your Online Store.
Other Market Places
Besides selling on your own Shopify site you can also expand your sales and increase your brand awareness on any one of the several selling sites that exist. Some of the most popular sites you can sell your products on include;
Amazon is the biggest retailer in the world and 40% of all of the products listed on Amazon are supplied by merchants like you and I. If you sign up for Amazon you can even take advantage of their FBA program to do all of your shipping and warehousing. Just ship your products to Amazon, wait for them to sell and have the money deposited directly into your bank account.
Ebay is predominately still an auction site, but they also have a store platform where you can list products for a longer term and sell at a fixed price. Ebay is an excellent platform to list products that are returned or are old stock taking up space in your back storeroom.
Another place to list your products for sale is Sears. Sears has a wide assortment of goods and has a high level of buyer traffic.
If you are making your own products or if your products are unique, you can also list them on Etsy.
Craigs List is an excellent place to list products that are used, or are excess inventory. There are a lot of scams on Craigs List both on the buying and selling side of the transaction. My preference it to list items in another city a fair distance away so that I have to ship stuff. Of course I get paid before I ship.
Rakuten started out supporting merchants in Japan and have grown to over 40 marketplaces and are still growing. Like many of the alternate marketplaces Rakuten offers a place to list products as well as a lot of training and excellent support.
All of the alternative platforms I have listed are excellent add on places where you can sell your products. Many of them deal with data feed providers like Nova Tech Wholesale and Inventory Sources. These sites will build you a data feed and send it to any or all of the major selling platforms. Using these companies makes it easy to keep an eye on inventory and increases the number of products you can sell especially if you are using a drop shipper to supply your products.
Twitter is a great addition to your store, not only can you tweet about your store to all of your followers but you can add some code to your store and track what is being said about you on Twitter. You can also add a product feed and sell your products on Twitter.
Like all of the other Shopify elements, Twitter is constantly changing and the most up to date information on adding a function to your store the Shopify tutorials are the best place to look for the best information. Click Here to go to the Shopify tutorials for Twitter. https://docs.shopify.com/manual/search?utf8=✓&stp=1&stq=Twitter
Don’t forget to keep up with your blog posts. The more blog posts you have on your store, the better. Make sure you also share all of your blog posts on your Facebook fans page.
Google + is another social media platform the lets you post information about your products and your company. You can post updates, answer and ask questions of your followers and follow other people that you are interested or sell in the category as you do.
To make it easy for your store visitors to share your store on Google + you will need to add a Google + button to your store. The first step to this process is to login to your Google account and sign up for Google + and get the button code to be placed in the template code of your store.
The Shopify tutorial that show you how to add the Google + code to your store is here.
Did you notice the “Discounts” tab on your left hand navigation bar? You can use discounts for just about any purpose on your store;
• You can use a discount to encourage new customers to buy your products. Generate a new discount code and then publish it so people can see it and use it at your store. You can post the discount code on a Facebook ad, tweet it on Twitter and post it on any other social media or advertising site. You can also email it to your email list, or send out postcards to your target market.
• You can generate a discount code and give it to a customer that had to wait a long time for delivery or a customer who spent the most money over a period of time.
• You can use a discount code to give a customer a discount on their second order in your store.
• You can use a discount code as a prize in a contest.
As you can see the use of discount codes is only limited to your imagination. To generate a discount code go to the “Discounts” tab on your dashboard and follow the prompts. The Shopify tutorials for Discounts is here.
Taking Care of Business
Now that you have your own online store, you need to take care of it and make it grow. You will need to do something every day that helps grow your business. Your first order of business every morning should be to check your store dashboard and see what is going on in your store.
The most important data on your dashboard is in the Right hand margin, in the form of Sales and Visitors over the last 7 days. Your daily goal should be to make these 2 numbers bigger. The first thing you want to take care of is your orders.
If you have customer orders, you will want to fill them as soon as possible. If you are doing your own fulfillment, that means you need to pick the product, pack it in a box or envelope and get it to the shipping company.
After the product is shipped you need to go to the “Orders” page and click on the order that you have just shipped and fulfill the order in the store database. This action will also send an email to your customer telling them that their order is on it’s way.
Your customer should also receive an automated email about 10 days after the product is shipped asking them what they thought and giving them a link to leave a review of the product and or your store. Take a look at the Shopify tutorials for setting up Customer emails Here.
After you have taken care of your customer orders, you will want to look after any emails or inquiries you are getting from potential or existing customers. Don’t let little details slide. Even a complaint from a customer is an opportunity to make a sale. Listen to your customer and you will be surprised at what you can learn about your business.
If you are getting the same questions about your store and your products all of the time, you can add a Frequently Asked Questions page and reduce the number of phone calls and emails.
Also take a look at your Abandoned Cart page and send an email to these potential customers and ask them why they abandoned their carts. Again this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about your business and your target market.
Once you have taken care of all of the customer issues and functions you will want to take a look at the other important number. The number of visitors is perhaps the most important number but if you don’t look after your customers this number will go down sharply.
You want to have more visitors but you don’t want just any visitors. I can show you how you can get 1 million visitors per day but most of them will be machine generated and you are unlikely to get any sales from them. The goal is to get visitors that are going to buy your products so all of your activities should be geared to getting more visitors to your store that are likely to buy. There are several ways to do this;
• Blog Posts about your store, your products, your Customers
• Emails to existing customers asking questions, offering discounts
• Social Media posts about your products and topics of interest
• Promotions, Contests, Polls and Sales
• Discounts for referrals
The methods for increasing traffic to your store are almost endless, the key is that you need to do something to do with Marketing almost daily.
When you have Right hand column of your dashboard taken care of you can take a look at inventory levels, office supplies, pay the bills and take care of any of the little details that it takes to run a business.
Organizing for the Long Term
Now that you have started your own business, it is time to formalize this new entity. Creating a new business is like creating a new person. Once you get to the point where you decide to really get into it you will want to Incorporate your business.
Incorporating your business is not difficult and contrary to what some believe it is not expensive and you can do it yourself. Incorporating your business will give it the ability to grow as big as you want, and have it’s own credit accounts, and credit rating.
Incorporating also will give your business the ability to open a bank account and even own real estate on it’s own accord. You will also be able to enter in to leases, have a separate address and even lease a vehicle in the name of your Corporation.
The biggest advantage to have a corporation is that you will have the credibility to borrow money and take on investors to grow your company. When it comes time to sell be incorporated makes it a lot easier to sell.
To take advantage of all of the tax advantages and business advantages that are available to you, you need to incorporate your business as soon as possible.
By now you should have your own store up and running capable of displaying your products, processing payments, and interfacing with social media. If you have lots of products you may still be working on writing unique descriptions but that is OK.
If that is not the case, How can I help you?
Let me know where you are bogged down, frustrated or Overwhelmed. I am here to help you and even if you just need morale support Please let me know.
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