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Shopify website: How to build your first online store in 2021 (+examples)

Shopify Website: If there’s ever been a time to venture into the e-commerce world, it’s now. Estimates suggest that e-commerce in the United States grew by 44% in 2020, with online spending representing over 20% of total retail sales for the year. Given that e-commerce “only” grew by 15% in 2019, it’s safe to say that having an online sales presence is now essential for any business, regardless of size or industry.

If you’re just starting a business, or just developing an online presence for an existing business, you may be feeling overwhelmed when it comes to creating an online store. Luckily, creating a Shopify website is an easy, painless process, and probably the most important investment you will make for your business this year. Read on to learn how to make a Shopify website and get your first ever Shopify store up and running today.

What is a Shopify website?

Never heard of Shopify? Heard of it, but don’t really know what you’re dealing with? Don’t worry, many other entrepreneurs and retailers are just now joining the Shopify party – new stores on Shopify grew by over 70% in Q2 2020, compared to Q1 2020. A record number of merchants were also added to the store in Q3 2020. So, what exactly is a Shopify website, and why are so many people turning to this platform for their e-commerce needs?

Basically, Shopify is a global commerce company offering clients a platform and the tools they need to start, grow, market, and manage a retail store (and business) of any size. Shopify is a specialized e-commerce platform – you can use it to build your very own e-commerce Shopify website and sell your products online. Shopify is headquartered in Canada and powers over one million businesses in more than 175 countries.

Who should create a Shopify website?

An e-commerce Shopify website lets you do it all. Display beautiful images and videos on your home page, create an About Us page to explain your brand and tell your story, use your product pages to show off your goods, and create beautiful galleries, collections, and catalogs that your customers can browse. You can also add FAQ pages, menus, and just about anything else you need.

And of course – then there’s the checkout. Your customers can add items to their cart and checkout easily – a Shopify website gives you a seamless online shopping experience. If you’re wondering whether your business could benefit from a Shopify store, the answer is yes – a Shopify website is so effective and easy to customize that there simply isn’t a single merchant or industry that can’t capitalize on this platform to increase their sales or improve their e-commerce presence.

What does a Shopify website offer merchants? What are the advantages of a Shopify website?

When it comes to creating your first e-commerce store, you have a few options. Firstly, you can build an e-commerce website from scratch, but that’s a lot of work and very frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing. You could pay someone to do it for you, but that can get expensive. Perhaps you have an existing website that you can add a store to? This can work, but it isn’t ideal. Your other options include selling on an existing platform, such as Amazon Marketplace, or you can create your own store using a platform like Shopify.

While it’s easy to start selling your products on Amazon Marketplace, you are using an existing store (Amazon) and can’t customize any features. You’re also facing a lot of competition, and it isn’t easy to connect with your customers as they are shopping. With Shopify, you have much more freedom. You can build a store from the ground up, personalize it, and have complete control over every aspect. Unlike selling through Amazon, your store belongs to you.

As well as customizability and ownership, a Shopify store comes with some great perks. There’s a free trial, it’s easy for beginners to work with, and the pricing is affordable for those just starting out. It’s easy to create stores with mobile-friendly designs, and you’ll have access to all of Shopify’s e-commerce tools, themes, and apps to enhance different elements of your store and help expand and grow your business.

Shopify website success stories: 5 brands that built their store on Shopify

If you’re looking for Shopify website examples – there are plenty of great ones out there. Lots and lots of highly successful brands use Shopify website templates for their stores. Let’s take a look at some Shopify stores in action:

1. Allbirds

shopify website

If you don’t own a pair of Allbirds sneakers, you probably know someone who does. This New Zealand-based shoe company gained a cult following for their extremely comfortable and eco-friendly footwear and rose to fame with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Through Shopify, they have been able to grown and scale up from their modest beginnings to their current success of over $50 million in revenue each year.

2. Red Bull

shopify website

What started as an energy drunk has grown into an empire. Through clever branding and vicious marketing, Red Bull became the highest-selling energy drink in the world. Though you can’t actually buy Red Bull through their Shopify store, they do stock official branded merchandise like clothing, backpacks, and more.

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3. Heinz

Heinz has been a ketchup giant for over 150 years, and became a Shopify Plus customer in 2020 when they realized their customers were experiencing difficulty sourcing their products due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Creating a Shopify store allowed Heinz to directly sell their customers condiments, baked beans, soup, and more.

4. Gymshark

shopify website

Gymshark is a British-based fitness apparel and accessory retailer. It was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Ben Francis, who was just 19 years old at the time! Gymshark started in his mother’s garage, but their e-commerce Shopify website has since led to almost $30 million in sales in over 130 countries.

4. Sephora

Sephora are e-commerce veterans – they first started selling online in 1999. Another Shopify Plus customer, their Shopify store is cleverly designed for maximum customer satisfaction. It’s easy to search, their enormous catalog is arranged logically, and their AI chatbots help answer any customer questions.

How do you actually build a Shopify website?

Building a website from scratch can seem like a daunting task, but getting your Shopify store up and running is actually pretty simple. If you’re wondering how to make a Shopify website, here are the basic steps:

1. Sign up for your free Shopify trial

shopify website

As they say, start at the beginning. Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, giving you enough time to get your store up and running and see whether you think the platform will be a good fit for your business. All you need is a business idea, a domain name (you can change this later – don’t stress over thinking of something clever right away!), some artwork, and your products.

2. Add products to your Shopify website

shopify website

Once you’re inside your Shopify store, it’s time to start adding your products. On the left-hand side panel, choose Products > Add products to create a product listing. From here, you will be able to enter product names and descriptions, upload product photos, set prices, add inventory/quantity information, add shipping information and costs, and more.

3. Set up pages for your new Shopify website

shopify website

There should be more to your Shopify store than just some products – you need pages to connect with your customers! Choose Online store > Pages to create an About Us page that shows your customers the people behind the products, a contact page where customers can reach out to you, or an FAQ page to answer some customer questions.

4. (The fun part) Customize your Shopify website

shopify website

Now that you have some basic store content ready to go, it’s time to customize your store and create a look for your website that reflects your brand. The first step in this process is to choose a theme – there are SO many to choose from and some are even free. Browse the Shopify theme store to find a theme that has the features you’re looking for – some are specifically designed for stores with one product, others are perfect for stores with a large inventory, and so on. Once you’ve decided on your theme, you can start customizing, rearranging, and organizing the features like headings, text, navigation menus, and more.

5. Checkout, shipping, and payment

You can customize your checkout in theme settings to create a more personalized feel. You’ll also need to set up your shipping parameters – there are lots of considerations here. Do you want to offer free shipping? How will you handle international sales? Would you prefer to charge real-time carrier rates, or a flat fee? You can also choose from local pick-up and delivery options. Finally, you need to decide how your Shopify website will accept payments, and how you’ll get paid.

6. Know your competition

Before you launch your new Shopify website, make sure to check your competitors. Knowing their traffic, what products they offer, and which Shopify apps they are using – can give you another boost. One of the best tools you can use to inspect your competition is Koala Inspector.

koala inspector

7. Launch your Shopify website!

There are plenty of other things you can do – add a custom domain name, link your social media accounts, establish some marketing strategies – but you can come back to those any time. For now, sit back, launch your store, and marvel at how clever you are.

Okay, your Shopify website is live. Now how do you generate revenue?

Although a Shopify website is relatively easy to set up, your products unfortunately won’t start throwing themselves into your customers’ carts. You need to advertise your store – link it to your social media accounts, develop some marketing strategies, and connect with your audience. You can also explore all the apps you can add to your Shopify website – some of them can really help you boost your sales.

In particular, upselling apps like PickyStory can help you generate more revenue from every customer. PickyStory allows you to feature attractive deals that your customers won’t be able to turn down, like product bundlesproduct kits, and Shop the Look. Each of these options encourage your customers to add extra items to their cart before checking out. You can also offer automated bundles and tempting discounts when your customers purchase products together.

Shopify website: The easy way to get your foot in the e-commerce door

Shopify website templates make it easy to build a Shopify store, even for someone new to the wide world of e-commerce. Although it’s simple to get up and running, a Shopify website can be easily customized to feel like your own, and comes with a range of great features and add-ons.

Once your store is live, make sure you invest in upselling apps like PickyStory to generate more revenue from each customer and ensure that your e-commerce store is the best it can be.

Find recommended apps on the PickyStory blog.

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