If you want to get into ecommerce, Shopify makes it much simpler. Instead of needing to build your own site that can process transactions while keeping customer information safe, you can sign up with Shopify and have your own online storefront in an hour or less.
Even though Shopify has simplified selling products online, that certainly doesn't make it easy. Here's what you can do to create a successful ecommerce site when you're starting from scratch.
Choose Your Products
It's a good idea to save registering for Shopify until after you've picked products and figured out where you'll source them from. Shopify offers a 14-day free trial period, and it doesn't make sense to start the clock on that if you're still deciding what you'll sell.
Product selection is the single-most important factor in your store's success. Here's the thing about ecommerce - with how easy it is to set up a store nowadays, just about everyone gives it a try at some point. There's tons of competition out there, and people won't shop at your store just because.
Ideally, you want to find a product niche that isn't too saturated. If you have some knowledge of the products, that can help you write content for your site, but you can always research your products if necessary.
It's best to start with a smaller number of products, as this will allow you to concentrate your efforts. If you open with a huge lineup of products, you can't pay much attention to pushing any of them. Aim for products that will earn you a solid profit margin - sales will be hard to come by at first, and you don't want to make pennies per sale for all your hard work.
Decide How You'll Source Your Products
Once you know what you'll sell, you need to know where you'll get it and how you'll fulfill customer orders. The two most popular choices are dropshipping and buying products wholesale, usually from China where prices are much lower. Alibaba and Aliexpress are the sites many ecommerce stores use to source their products.
With dropshipping, your supplier is also the one that handles order fulfillment for you. You won't make as much per sale since they're doing that work for you, but this is a convenient option that reduces your workload.
If you buy your products wholesale, then you'll need to wait for them to arrive, keep track of your inventory and ship orders yourself. Dropshipping is usually the better way to go, but it's not an option with every supplier.
Whichever option you choose, you need to find a reliable supplier who has quality products. Order samples of any products you're planning to sell. Legitimate suppliers will have no problem providing samples (they'll usually charge a fee for this). Don't rush this process, because if you choose a supplier that has junk products or ships orders three weeks late, it's your site's reputation that will suffer.
Register for Shopify and Set Up Your Site
When everything is ready product-wise, it's time to create your store. Start by going to the Shopify homepage and clicking Get Started. You'll need to enter your email address, a password and a name for your store. Shopify will send you an email to verify your email address.
You can then log in to your Shopify account and click Create an Online Store. There are plenty of themes to choose from. If you've ever created a website through WordPress before, the process of setting up a store with Shopify will feel very familiar to you.
After you've chosen your theme, you'll need your store's domain name and its category. The final step is populating your store with the actual content and products.
Start Marketing Your Store
Your Shopify store's success will depend on your marketing efforts. The first thing you should do is keyword research. A keyword planner tool can help you search for potential keywords related to your store and its products to determine which ones you should target. Once you've chosen target keywords, use them on your site and its product pages without any keyword stuffing.
Although search engine optimization (SEO) can help your site move up the search rankings for your target keywords, this doesn't happen overnight. In the meantime, you may want to run some pay-per-click () ads with Google and Bing for your target keywords.
Another way to market your new store is social media. Make sure you register the name of your store with every social network so that no one else beats you to it. Then, you can start posting with your business account on those social networks to build your brand.
When you start using social media marketing, focus on one social network. This allows you to build a stronger following on that one network instead of spreading yourself too thin and not making progress anywhere. If your social media posts aren't getting much engagement, you can also run PPC ads there.
Track Your Results
If you put in some work marketing your store, you should get some visitors and hopefully some sales. To get a better idea of how many visitors you get, where they come from and how they interact with your site, use Shopify Analytics and Google Analytics.
These analytics tools can help you figure out how your site is performing and what adjustments you need to make. For example, you could see that your site has a high bounce rate, meaning you need to make it more engaging for visitors. Or, analytics could show you that certain marketing efforts have a far better ROI than others, showing you where to invest your money.
If you follow this guide, you'll be off to a good start with your store. Going forward, it's all about doing the work required to promote your store and making adjustments as necessary.