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What is Shopify? A complete guide to your first e-commerce adventure

What is Shopify? Now more than ever, people go online to take care of virtually every aspect of their lives. As a result, online shopping has increasingly become the predominant means of purchasing goods and services. According to Statista, e-commerce accounts for $4.2 trillion worldwide. Since 2020, estimates indicate that e-commerce has grown by roughly 25%. 

With e-commerce’s rapidly growing market share, more and more merchants are looking to get a piece of the action. Some of them are able to establish highly successful e-commerce stores, but many would-be online retailers are not so lucky. 

While there are of course many factors that can affect your e-commerce success, one of the big ones is your store itself. By developing a greater understanding of Shopify’s platform, you can make sure you know all the tips and tricks to improving and enhancing almost every aspect of your online store. 

This guide is a great place to start for anyone looking to further their Shopify knowledge. This platform has helped thousands of small businesses and established brands make their presence felt in the e-commerce world. With this guide, you will have everything you need to start making money online with e-commerce.

So, let’s get on with it!

So, what is Shopify?

When starting in the e-commerce world, you need a platform that will enable you to showcase your products, receive payments, and fulfill orders. Traditionally, launching an e-commerce site represented a substantial time and financial investment. Companies needed to build custom platforms and design websites. 

Today, this is no longer the case. Shopify is an e-commerce platform created to help virtually anyone set up their e-commerce business. All you need is an account to get started – the platform provides you with everything else needed to build your very own Shopify website and start generating online sales.

What is Shopify
Source: https://www.shopify.com

Please note that this is a subscription-based service. As such, you must choose one of the plans that best suits your needs. Additionally, you will need to choose between themes, apps, and add-ons to suit your store’s specific operations. But no worries, we’ve got all of that covered in this guide that will help you set up a Shopify store.

What does Shopify do?

So, how does Shopify actually work? Basically, the platform allows you to create a storefront – the main site that houses your product listings. Your storefront also allows users to interact with the various functions of your store (cart, payments, and customer service). The platform provides your store with various functions to showcase products such as a slideshow, carousel, or vertical product listings. 

Additionally, this platform allows you to group your products in “collections.” Collections are specific group categories to feature particular types of products for easy viewing. It also makes it easy for customers to interact with you through your storefront via messaging, email, or live chat services. 

What is Shopify
Source: https://www.shopify.com

Shopify’s shopping cart feature eliminates the need for a third-party cart app or platform. The cart allows your customers to check out quickly and easily. The platform also provides you with a dedicated dashboard that enables you to control all of your store’s functions. As such, Shopify aims to streamline all the processes you need to run your store effectively.

Also, please note that Shopify offers a host of third-party apps. These third-party apps include customized store themes, customer reviews, image galleries, chatbots, and inventory management. Indeed, this platform strives to make starting and running an online or dropshipping business as easy as it can be.

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Who is Shopify designed for?

Shopify’s main target audience is up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs that lack professional IT skills or business management experience can greatly benefit from Shopify’s services. 

Since its inception, Shopify has aimed to facilitate running an online shop by providing a one-stop solution. As a result, this platform allows entrepreneurs to set up an e-commerce business within a few days. Traditionally, setting up an e-commerce store takes weeks or even months due to coding, testing, and third-party app integration.

What is Shopify
Source: https://www.shopify.com

Speaking of integration, Shopify simplifies integrating other online platforms such as SAP, Microsoft cloud-based products, Google apps, and third-party CRM or ERP systems. So, suppose you’re already using an online system to run a physical store. In that case, you can easily integrate your current systems with this platform. This approach allows brick-and-mortar shops to create an online presence in short order. 

What is Shopify: Seven key benefits of the e-commerce platform

Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of using Shopify for your e-commerce site:

#1 Easy store management

Shopify provides a comprehensive store admin dashboard. This dashboard allows you to visualize every aspect related to your store. For example, you can track incoming orders, the number of users online, and best-performing items. The overall stats and analytics will enable you to make adjustments based on your customers’ preferences.

#2 Free apps and features

Shopify comes with a number of free apps and features included in the initial subscription price. As such, you pay one subscription price to start and get everything you need to open your e-commerce site. To start, you get a free theme, stock photos, and branding options (color schemes and fonts). The free tools you get allow you to get the hang of the platform without needing specialized IT or coding skills.

#3 Cloud-based advantages

You do not need any special hardware to use Shopify. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. Since the platform is a cloud-based service, you don’t need to worry about server uptimes; your store will run 24/7. As a result, you don’t need to invest in any hardware such as servers or online services like storage or hosting.

#4 Flexible plans

Shopify offers various plans and pricing options. Subscriptions start as low as $9 monthly. There are more expensive plans with greater capabilities. Also, please note that you’ll need additional services like a domain name, marketing, and any third-party apps you use. Shopify strives to give its users the flexibility they need to start small and expand as the business grows.

#5 Wide range of apps

Shopify offers a large selection of in-house and third-party apps. The essentials you need are free to use with your subscription. Nevertheless, you can choose to purchase third-party apps based on specific needs. As a result, you’ll have access to every tool you could ever need.

#6 Great support

Shopify stands out for its great customer support. Shopify’s support environment provides you with the assistance you need when you need it. You can get help by email, chat, or phone. Also, there are free tutorials to help you use its products and learn more about e-commerce strategies.

#7 Easy to get started

On the whole, Shopify makes it extremely easy to open up an online store. Building an e-commerce site with this platform takes very little time (especially when compared to other alternatives). More and more businesses choose this platform to launch their e-commerce projects due to its simplicity and flexibility.

How much does Shopify cost?

Shopify offers flexible plans and pricing to suit every type of online business. 

For starters, Shopify offers a $9-a-month “lite” option. Shopify Lite is great for those looking to add simple purchase capabilities to a blog or website. In essence, Lite allows you to display a product or service and add a “buy now” button. You’ll get all of Shopify’s great features, but without the robust platform that comes with other plans.

The Basic Shopify plan costs $29 a month. It is the most popular plan for newcomers to the e-commerce world. For expanding businesses, the Standard Shopify plan makes a great alternative. It costs $79 and offers all of the features from the Basic plan, plus access to five staff account and inventory locations. 

The Advanced Shopify Plan costs $299 a month. It offers all the features described, plus fifteen staff accounts and eight inventory locations. Furthermore, Advanced Shopify is great for sellers with international customers, including special pricing and shipping rates.

Shopify also offers its Shopify Plus service. This service starts at $2,000 a month. Shopify Plus is the top-of-the-line service designed for high-volume brands that make sales in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a month and up.

In general, Shopify is ideal for small businesses but offers capabilities for large companies and brands. Thus, the platform grows with you as your business expands. As a result, you can upgrade your subscription as your business’s needs change.

5 tips for building a great Shopify store

Building a great Shopify store is easier than you think. Nevertheless, you might be wondering where to begin, especially if you’re a newcomer to the game. Also, the rate of success on Shopify is relatively low, so it’s important to take steps to give yourself the best possible chance.

So, here are five tips to help you build a successful e-commerce venture and generate more revenue from Shopify sales.

#1 Set up your store for international sales

Now more than ever, international customers flock to US-based online sites. Therefore, you must be ready to cater to customers who are based overseas. To do this, the platform offers several tools. For example, you can translate your shop into different languages, offer currency conversion and international shipping charges. 

With a traditional site, you would need to develop these tools through coding and web development. Shopify allows you to install its third-party apps to facilitate this entire process. These apps offer multilingual support, currency conversion, payments in different currencies, accurate international shipping charges, and customization options for foreign orders.

#2 Use a Shopify page builder

Building a page on Shopify is easy, especially when you take advantage of one of the many Shopify page builder apps out there. Such apps allow you to use a drag-and-drop approach to creating your store’s pages, and also often have many inspiring templates you can choose from. 

One of the top page-building apps is PageFly, which offers a free subscription alternative that allows you to create quick and easy landing and product pages.

#3 Perform Shopify AB testing

AB or split testing lets you try two or more versions of an element on your store to determine which one works better. You can use a specialized app to help you run AB testing. For instance, you want to test two different color schemes and page layouts. 

An AB test will allow you to determine which version of your site is more appealing to customers. Apps like Neat A/B Testing can help you perform this kind of testing for your site. Ultimately, Shopify AB testing will help you optimize your site. So, it’s worth considering, especially as your site expands.

#4 Market your Shopify store

Marketing your store can take you in any number of directions. Here are some ways in which you can market your Shopify store:

Please note that Shopify allows you to use a wide array of digital marketing strategies to boost your site. So, it’s a matter of using the ones that work best for your store and brand.

#5 Build a Shopify sales funnel

In general terms, a sales funnel is the process your customers go through when they purchase an item. The funnel starts from a broad number of visitors and reduces up to the number of paying customers. Shopify helps you establish your sales funnel by identifying the number of visitors to your site and the customers at the various stages of the process. 

As a result, you can determine where your site is most successful and where it needs to improve. You can also use apps to help you visualize your customers’ behavior on your site.

What is Shopify best for selling?

The short answer is pretty much anything. Whether your industry is automotive parts, maternity wear, fitness gear, jewelry, luggage, pet products, or almost anything else you can imagine, Shopify can make it happen. Some products sell really well on Shopify, but you can make pretty much any quality product successful with a good store.

If you’re not sure what exactly to sell on Shopify, you can let your customers make the decision for you! With Shopify print on demand apps, and a dramatic increase in the popularity of drop shipping, you don’t have to have access to a warehouse full of inventory to become a successful e-merchant. 

There are a few exceptions; certain items that can’t be sold on the platform include counterfeit or fake items, as well as controlled substances. 

What Is Shopify POS?

Shopify POS is a service that allows online stores to offer a physical point of sale (POS). This POS service enables your e-commerce to shop to use the platform to take physical payments at events such as fairs, markets, or bazaars. Shopify’s POS capability comes with its standard and advanced plans. 

Using Shopify’s POS service provides greater benefits than traditional POS services. Firstly, you don’t need to pay additional commissions over your total sales. Moreover, POS services allow you to receive payments via iOS or Android devices.

Shopify inspiration: Three great stores using Shopify

In case you’re still wondering how to make the most of Shopify, let’s take a look at some stores doing just that. 

#1 Phenomenal Woman

Source: https://www.phenomenalmedia.com

This t-shirt business was first started by an ex-lawyer with a desire to empower women. A fundraising campaign selling t-shirts with powerful messages gradually caught on, then went into overdrive when supermodel Tyra Banks wore one of the t-shirts on national television.

From there, Phenomenal Woman’s online shop exploded. Thanks to Shopify, they were able to expand rapidly as orders poured in. Now, the campaign has grown into a full-fledged online fashion line, and one of the best Shopify stores for clothing

#2 Walls Need Love

Source: https://wallsneedlove.com

When it comes to top Shopify home décor stores, there’s something out there for everyone. Walls Need Love is a Shopify-based online store specializing in designing, cutting, printing, and shipping wall tapestries. The graphics produced are unique and based on customer specifications. 

In particular, Walls Need Love drives more than 90% of its traffic from social media. As such, their marketing efforts focus primarily on social media engagement through sites like Pinterest and Instagram. From there, customers link to their e-commerce site to place orders. This is a great example of how Shopify can integrate seamlessly with platforms such as social media to leverage engagement and traffic. 

#3 Ceylon

Source: https://www.ceylonskincare.com

Ceylon is a beauty brand focused on delivering skincare products for men of color. What began on Shopify as a tiny start-up has now blossomed into a successful e-commerce company with a dedicated customer base, and one of the top Shopify stores for beauty

How can PickyStory help your Shopify store?

If you’re ready to launch your online store with Shopify, let PickyStory give you a nudge in the right direction. PickyStory is an e-commerce sales automation platform available through Shopify, and can facilitate your store’s growth by helping you generate more revenue from every store visit. 

PickyStory helps up-and-coming e-commerce brands through:

If you’re ready to start making money, PickyStory is ready to help turn your brand into the next Shopify success story. 

What is Shopify? Ultimately, a foot in the e-commerce door

Shopify makes selling online for the first time nice and easy. If you’re ready to jump in, take advantage of the 14-day free trial. Doing so will help you get a feel for what Shopify has to offer, and you can explore its environment as you build your store. From there, you can gauge your products’ sales potential while simultaneously adjusting your sales campaigns to drive more sales – don’t forget to add PickyStory to your store to make this easier!

For more tips and advice on how to get your store up and running, check out the PickyStory blog.

Good Luck!

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