How to Build a Shopify eCommerce Website in 5 Easy Steps

If you’re looking to build an eCommerce website, learn in this article about why Shopify is the best platform to build your site and five easy steps for making your eCommerce site on Shopify.

Creating an eCommerce website is a great option for medium to large businesses looking to scale their business using eCommerce and Companies trying to bring a new product to market. However, building an eCommerce site can feel like a daunting task, especially for beginners.

Ecommerce continues to grow. According to eMarketer Canadian eCommerce drove $43 billion in sales in 2019 and it is expected to grow to nearly $80 billion by 2024. It makes up a little shy of 9% of all retail in Canada – and really – can anyone afford to just give up 9% of their potential revenue.  

And for some companies, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For example, home furnishings is more likely to be in the 16% – 17% range and electronics are over 40% that are driven by eCommerce. Basically, what it comes down to is that the way people shop has fundamentally changed.

And even for those who still aren’t buying online, they are still doing a lot of research online to decide what they want to buy and from where before heading to the store to get it. If you’re not online, you won’t even make it into that consideration set.

eCommerce is also a key opportunity for Canadian businesses as the demand to shop Canadian currently outweighs the availability of Canadian online shopping options. Canada Post released a report on eCommerce shopping patterns in Canada, and it showed that 61% of people said that they prefer to shop Canadian, but only 40% are likely to do so. That’s most likely because want to buy simply isn’t available online in Canada.

And – this year in particular – the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that companies who are eCommerce enabled, even if it’s just to provide curbside pickup in their area, are much more likely to survive unexpected situations. Whether we are dealing with the 2nd or 3rd wave of this or some other unexpected crisis, companies are starting to realize that it’s good to have backup streams of revenue.

Which Platform is Best for eCommerce?

Best eCommerce Platforms

I understand the irony of writing about Shopify eCommerce on a WordPress blog, but there is a reason for that. The three best eCommerce and website content management systems that I’ve used experienced are:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce (which is connected to WordPress)
  • Magento

WordPress (with the WooCommerce extension) is perfect for a content marketer or blogger who also wants to sell a few products. It offers WAY better blogging tools than Shopify does (sorry, Shopify). But it’s much clunkier from a setup and maintenance standpoint and requires more technical knowledge to get it and keep it running. Plus, as your business continues to grow, chances are that you will, someday, outgrow WordPress.

Magento – which is part of the Adobe world – is a great platform, but you really need to invest the resources, time, and budget into making it worth the higher price tag (about $2k a month). Magento would be about the equivalent of Shopify Plus, which is considered more of their enterprise offering. If you are a larger business with room to invest in the platform and the support staff, Magento is a fine pick.

And then there is Shopify, which is my favorite when it comes to pure eCommerce – especially for a startup that wants room to grow. Shopify’s scalability lets you start off with the basics and then add additional functionality and custom coding as your business grows.

There are others in the mix from Wix to SquareSpace, but – from my experience – the above 3 are the best, depending on your business and your goals.

In this article, we’ll dive into:

  • What Shopify is;
  • Why you should choose it for building your eCommerce site; and
  • 5 easy steps for building your Shopify store.

Why You Should Use Shopify to Build Your eCommerce Website

Why Use Shopify eCommerce

There are lots of options out there for different platforms that can help you build an eCommerce site. So, why choose Shopify?

Here are four straightforward reasons why you should choose Shopify.

1. It’s quick and easy to use

Quick and Easy

How many platforms can help you create an eCommerce site in just minutes?

Shopify’s simple back-end interface makes it easy to use and maintain.

It also has level-1 PCI compliant and includes a 256-bit SSL certificate. This means that your site and your customer’s information will be kept safe and sound.

When it comes to simplicity and security, Shopify takes the cake.

2. You’ll save money

Save Money with Shopify

Need we say more?

Here’s how you’ll save money with Shopify:

  • You can use the platform for 90 days for free;
  • You’ll save on web developers and hosting fees;
  • There are three monthly payment plans availables starting at only $29 USD; and
  • There are low credit card processing fees that get lower as you upgrade your payment plan.

Shopify is one of the most cost-effective platforms on the market.

3. It’s an all-in-one digital marketing platform

Shopify all-in-one digital marketing platform

You won’t have to look to other platforms to market to your customers.

One of its best features is its built-in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) capabilities. Shopify works overtime to get your site ranked at the top of search engines.

With the Marketing section in the Shopify dashboard, you can create marketing campaigns such as:

  • Social media advertisements;
  • Target email marketing, whether for promotions or to offset a high cart abandonment rate;
  • Google Ads;
  • SMS messages with sales or announcements;

Data on the marketing dashboard and Shopify’s Analytics function will tell you how your marketing efforts are driving sales.

Even if you’re not a digital marketing expert or if you’re a newbie to SEO, Shopify’s platform makes it easy to navigate these waters and reach your customers.

4. Shopify grows with your business

Shopify Grows With Your Business

One of the things that I like best about Shopify is that it can be a simple as you want it to be or as complex as you need it to be.

That means that Shopify works just as well for a Mom & Pop shop that wants to get online, a budding entrepreneur who wants to bring a new product to market, or a nationally-recognized brand that needs to ramp up their eCommerce game.

No other platform – in my opinion – does quite as good a job at scaling from the startup to the enterprise.

And that’s a good thing. Because re-platforming your website, especially while you’re in the middle of a significant growth pattern, is a difficult and dangerous thing.
It’s one of the reasons that specializes in Shopify themes, design, and development.

Still not convinced?

You can read this in-depth article about the benefits of migrating to Shopify with three additional reasons why Shopify is awesome.

5 Steps for Building Your eCommerce Site in Shopify

How to Build a Shopify eCommerce Website

Ready to get started? Here’s everything you need to know to launch your Shopify store.

1. Register for your Shopify free trial

Shopify Free Trial

Start building your eCommerce website by creating a Shopify account. Visit the Shopify website and enter your email address to start your 90-day free trial.

From here, you’ll create a password and enter your store name to get started.

You’ll then answer some questions related to the use and development of your store, including:

  • Why you’ve created your Shopify eCommerce website;
  • If you’re developing it for yourself or someone else; and
  • Your business address for customer billing information.

Once you’ve entered all this information and click Enter my store, you’re ready to get started with building your eCommerce site!

2. Select your Shopify theme

Now that you’ve created your account, select a Shopify theme for your store.

Shopify themes are pre-designed templates you can apply to your eCommerce store. Some themes are even available for free.

Since there are hundreds of themes to choose from, we’ve already selected the best responsive Shopify themes for you.

However, if you’d like to browse the theme library for yourself, you can visit it from your dashboard. In the navigation bar on the left, click the Online Store. This will take you straight to the Themes page.

Scroll down to the Theme library to explore your options. There are several paid and free themes to choose from.

Once you’ve selected a theme, you can customize it to your liking. Click the Customize button to change the theme’s setting, which will be different based on the theme you’ve chosen.

When you’re done customizing your theme, click Publish.

3. Add products to your store

Adding Products

It’ll be hard to get your Shopify eCommerce site up and running without a product!

To add a product to sell in your store, in the navigation bar on the left of the Shopify dashboard, click Products. Then, click the Add product button on the right.

From here, you can enter several details about your product:

  • Title and description;
  • Images or videos of your product;
  • Pricing;
  • Inventory levels;
  • Shipping information;
  • Product variants (such as sizes or colours);
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) information; and
  • Organization details (including product type, vendor, collections and tags).

When you’ve entered all the details for your product, click Save in the upper right corner.

4. Choose additional settings for your Shopify eCommerce store

While you’ve already chosen your themes and added a product to your store, you can further customize your Shopify store in your Settings (bottom right corner of the dashboard).

There are several settings menus to click around, but here are the menus we think are the most important right off the bat.

  • General – Here is where you can add or update your store details, address, currency, standards, and formats.
  • Payments – Select which kind of payments you want to accept. You will also need to set up your payment information before being able to sell any products. This is so your sales in Shopify can be deposited into your bank account.
  • Checkout – Customize your checkout process and choose options such as:
    • Whether customers can create accounts on your site;
    • Information customers need to enter to check out; and
    • How orders will be processed.
  • Shipping – This menu has everything you need to get shipping for your products set up, such as choosing shipping rates and creating a packing slip.
  • Plan and permissions – While you don’t need a payment plan during your free trial, here is where you can select a payment plan when your trial ends. If you have employees who will be helping you manage your site, you can add staff accounts here. The number of staff accounts you can add depends on your plan. The most basic plan offers two staff accounts.
  • Register your domain – This setting isn’t found in the Settings menu. It’s instead found under Online Store > Domains on the navigation bar. You can either buy a new domain for your site or connect an existing domain.
    • To buy a new domain, click the Buy new domain button and enter the domain you want to buy (e.g. Pricing will change based on the domain type you choose.
    • To connect a domain you already own to your Shopify site, click the Connect existing domain button. Enter your domain and you’ll receive instructions on the next steps.

5. Create beautiful pages

Create Beautiful Pages

Since you’ve worked out the logistics for your eCommerce site, now comes the fun part!

Create pages in your Shopify store to add some important content to your eCommerce site.

Examples of possible pages to add to your site and help customers learn about your business are:

  • Contact Us;
  • About Us; 
  • FAQs;
  • Shipping Policy; and
  • Privacy Policy.

To get started, go to Online Store > Pages in the left navigation bar. Then, click the Add page button.

Enter a title for your page and any text you’d like to add to the page.

You can then choose settings such as its visibility on your site and a page template if you’re looking to build a specific kind of page. For example, the “page-contact” template suffix is the best option for building a Contact Us page.

Once you’re ready, click Save, and repeat these steps to add additional pages to your site.

Keep Building Your Shopify eCommerce Store

Shopify eCommerce Website Improvements

Congrats! Now that you’ve set up your account, picked your theme, added a product, chosen your store settings and built important pages, your Shopify store is now ready to be published.

But this isn’t the end for setting up your Shopify store! There’s still so much you can do to customize it exactly to your liking.

Just some of the extra things you can do to spice up your store are:

What’s so exciting about Shopify is the endless potential it has for businesses keen to build a highly-customized eCommerce site. However, it also works great for businesses with a “less is more” attitude about their site.

Looking for someone to help you build out your Shopify store? There is a local agency here in Barrie that does amazing work at developing customer eCommerce websites on Shopify. If you’re interested, visit Marketplace Solutions today!

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