There are tons of resources and tips out there to help you make the most of one of the most popular ecommerce platforms on the market in Shopify. This blog has touched on tips and resources for ecommerce users before. Maybe you remember this list of 293 general tips for ecommerce websites that we put together a while back.
In this article, we are going to list the top 10 resources and tips specifically for Shopify users. The article will focus mainly on beginners and will give you a great entry point to the ecommerce world.
Each point will highlight some key takeaways from the articles as well as a link to the resource so you can do some further reading.
If you still need convincing as to why Shopify is a great option for your ecommerce store, then check out our thorough review of the Shopify platform.
1. Setting up your store
When starting off in the ecommerce world your eagerness can get the better of you. Ambitions of setting up your brand and taking on the world mean that the very basics can slip by the wayside.
So, first off you need to ensure you have set up your store correctly and here’s a good place to start: Beginner’s Guide to Shopify.
This is a great resource from MonetizePros. It goes through important topics like pricing on the platform and how to set up your online store from scratch. It also deals with various features essential for any newbie, as well as a quick background on the app store.
- Hosting – None of Shopify's plans includes a domain or email hosting. Therefore you will need to contact an internet domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Namecheap. In regards to GoDaddy, you can register a domain for the first year from as low as 99c. They also offer email support, where you can register a company email address and each user costs around $2 a month. You can also get 30% off your first order by using the code GET30OFF
- Payment – When you are looking to make your first payment to Shopify you can get a 10% discount if you pay for an annual plan or 20% off for a biennial (two years) plan
- Domain – Struggling for a name for your store? Not sure what's available, then check out the business name generator tool to see what domains are available
2. Domain setup
When you initially set up your Shopify store you are given a free myshopify.com domain, so your store URL, for example, would look like “http://sportshoes.myshopify.com“. This doesn't look great from a users perspective and it also doesn't help you build a strong brand. Also if you are looking to put your URL on printed materials then it's not going to look instantly recognisable with a ‘myshopify' part of it in the URL.
Therefore it's important to purchase a domain from GoDaddy or Namecheap and point your domain to Shopify store. In fact, the latter wrote a fantastic article on how to do that which is simply titled ‘How to point a domain to Shopify‘.
- Domain does not connect – Initially when you follow the steps to update your domain you may see an error where it tells you that your domain is not connected. Don't worry as sometimes it can take up to 24 hours for the DNS records for the domain name to be updated
- SSL – If you are looking to get an SSL certificate and have your website set up on https (and you should) then you will need to contact Shopify directly for an issues rather than the domain registrar
3. Launching your store
Now that you’re familiar with the first steps, it’s time to launch your store to the world!
Just before you do so though it's worth momentarily putting the brakes on and double checking everything is in the right place. Fortunately for you, the guys and girls at Shopify have put together the essential Shopify store launch checklist.
The article covers everything from additional sales channels and image optimisation to analytics setup and tax and shipping settings. When your website launches you don't want to worry about the admin tasks that you didn't take care of initially and you want to focus on your marketing and ensuring your store gets off to the best possible start.
- Sales Channels – When Shopify users begin their journey there is a worry that they can be narrow-minded, solely focus on their Shopify store. However, research from Harvard proves that 73% of customers use multiple channels to make purchases from the same brand. Therefore you need to be selling your products on marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Kik and Google Shopping and using inventory management software to help you manage these
- Analytics – Having analytics set up on your website is one of the most important things you can do as it will give you priceless feedback in regards to how visitors are, or not, interacting with your website. The obvious choice is Google Analytics and you can follow their setup documentation to get this started. We also cover this a bit more in the next step
- Shipping – Not a particularly exciting task but an essential one. Ensure the right prices are set up for your shipping and that you can ship to the locations you've stated. For example, if you are a UK seller, do you want to ship to Northern Ireland? It's part of the UK but the cost of shipping there is much more expensive than mainland UK
For beginners, Google Analytics will be the best tool for you to use to track your website performance. Don’t over complicate things at this stage, so take a closer look at this Introduction to Google Analytics for Ecommerce from Neil Patel.
You must be able to measure your store’s performance at all stages, and this thorough guide helps you set up the tool and how you can better understand your reports. It also briefly explains how you can get to grips with your social media analytics.
- Funnels – When setting up and launching any marketing campaign you need to track at what stage of the funnel people are dropping out. Understanding where the barriers are in your marketing can help you understand the psychology behind your customers, which will improve future campaigns
- Tracking – The worst thing that ecommerce store owners can do initially is spend money on campaigns but then have no results to show if it worked. Setting up UTM codes for all your campaigns will ensure you are aware if it was money well spent
- Facebook – Facebook provides insights on your fans which can give you valuable feedback on understanding your customer base. You have access to demographics, location, language and purchase data
You don’t want to be lost when you see those long lists of plugins, so here you can find the 5 Shopify Plugins That Every Ecommerce Store Should Start With from Ecommerce Rules.
It’s a great list, with plugins that help you get email notifications, post products to social media accounts, and much more. It's a great startup article before you dig deeper into those dozens of other plugins.
- Launching your store – Shopify's app store is separated into different collections, check out the launching your store section which contains all the essentials you need. A lot of these apps tend to be free as well which is vital when you are looking to keep costs low during your launch
- Reviews – You can easily see which apps are the most popular by checking out the user review and ratings next to each them. Take time to click into the apps and read the detailed descriptions that come with them and the video guides. Reading the small print ensures that you don't get any nasty surprises in regards to fees
6. Website Design
This is a guide for web designers who want to design their own Shopify store: A Web Designers Introduction to Shopify.
You’ll find out how Shopify theme development works, including introductions to Liquid, which is Shopify’s template language. There are a lot of templates available to you through Shopify but nothing beats having your own theme designed as this can really make your site look unique.
- Partner Programme – If you are capable of designing your own store then its worth looking at the partner programme. That way you can design as many stores as you like for free and list them on the partner programme for a price. This can help you supplement your spending on your own website
7. SEO for Shopify
The Ultimate Shopify Users SEO Guidebook from Inbound Authority is a fantastic guide for both beginners and advanced users when it comes to SEO.
It's a half hour read and you’ll find (almost) everything in there, from the first steps right up to Google Search Console and site migrations from other platforms to Shopify.
- Meta Description – You will have an automatically populated description for your store, however, you should be filling this in yourself to make it appealing so that it encourages visitors to click on your listing from the search engine results
- Search Console – Add your site to Google Search Console. This will allow you to see errors in regards to missing pages and server related issues. It will also inform you of any broken links and will give you suggestions on how you can improve your HTML in regards to title tags and meta descriptions
- Sitemaps – Shopify has a built-in XML sitemap functionality, a sitemap essentially is a list of all the pages that are on your website. You will need access to this when you want to submit your website to Google Search Console
8. Building a Theme
This is another resource for web designers. We touched on the basics of Shopify web design earlier, but here's some more in-depth information on how you can build your first theme.
This is essential if you have beginner designer skills and can't quite find the theme what you are looking for on the Shopify app store. It gives you more tips on Liquid, as well some great suggestions on how you can be creative in order to get your own personalised theme.
- Liquid – Shopify uses a highly readable and expressive Ruby-based language that helps to run their themes. Shopify have put together a very thorough and comprehensive guide to Liquid which shows you how to use various tags, filters and objects
- Slate – There was a demand from the Shopify community for a modern tooling system. Therefore they have provided what they call the Slate Starter Theme which provides all the essentials you need to get started. This includes snippets and templates, as well as the standard tags you need for Liquid. Note that there isn't much CSS in this theme which is purposely done, as this is just a framework for you to get started
9. Video Guides
If you think a video course is more your cup of tea, then try the online video courses from Lynda. They will walk you through launching, setting up your store, payment gateways, shipping options, and how to customize your site.
Patrick who runs this course is an ecommerce expert and offers fantastic insight on how you can run a successful online store. Courses on Lynda are now available on LinkedIn Learning and you can access more than 6,000 courses. You can also start by having the first month free.
- Discounts – Not only can you set up a discount code but you can also run a banner on your website to showcase your discount. Patrick shows you how to set this up to maximise your sales in peak sales times such as Black Friday
- Shipping labels – Patrick takes you through the process of how you can print your own shipping labels within Shopify. This will save you an abundance of time, which otherwise would be spent queuing in line at the post office to send out your parcels
- Orders – Patrick highlights how when using 3rd part gateways such as Paypal, that Shopify can sometimes say that the order was ‘unpaid'. This is due to Paypal having to redirect the user back to the site, if the user doesn't wait for this process then it can show as unpaid. It's worth checking in your orders screen daily to match up your orders with your 3rd party gateways
10. Product Photography
Using eye-catching high-quality images is essential to ensure you are making your products enticing to your visitors. If people visiting your website can't see a clear image of your product then you may as well set yourself up for failure.
It can be very pricey to pay for a professional photographer, especially if you have a large collection of products. So the good people at Out of the Sandbox (check out their their template collection here) have put a handy DIY guide together titled “Secrets for taking great product photos for your Shopify Theme”. In an age where smartphones are becoming more powerful, it's never been easier to take photographer esque photos with your handset.
- Background – Visitors to your website want the focus to be on your product, so ensuring you have a white background is essential. Out of the Sandbox suggest simply using a white piece of poster board pushed up against a wall
- Lighting – The flash of your camera won't be good enough so ensuring you have great lighting will really make your images stand out. The article suggests clamp-on utility lamps and painters lights which are both very affordable
- Uploading – Once you've completed your photoshoot you can easily upload them to your Shopify stores backend. If you are an Apple or Mac users then you can use the Airdrop feature to transfer your photos quickly and efficiently
Have you read any of these articles and found them helpful? Have some tips on how to succeed with Shopify? Then share your comments below and lets get a topic discussion going!