How to Sell on Shopify and Build a Thriving Ecommerce Business

If you’re looking for a way to sell your product or service online, you’ve probably come across Shopify. That’s because it’s hands down one of the most well-known ecommerce solutions, with more than 1 million businesses using it worldwide. It’s also the fastest growing online store builder, and by far the most popular in English-speaking markets. 

Shopify is the choice of some of the biggest brands out there, including Budweiser, Penguin Books, Red Bull, and LeSportsac, but it’s also an excellent option for small and medium-sized businesses. With its wide range of pricing plans, easy-to-use set-up system, and scalable capabilities, Shopify has the ability to serve businesses of all shapes and sizes. Read on to learn how to sell on Shopify and see if it's the best ecommerce solution for your business.

Choose the right Shopify ecommerce solution for you

The first and most important decision you need to make is what pricing plan you want to go with. Not only does this affect your budget, it affects what kind of features you’ll have access to when building and running your store. Of course, you’ll be able to switch your plan anytime you choose, but it’s a good idea to think about the kind of store you want to build before diving into the creation tool.

Shopify Lite is the cheapest, most minimalistic plan available. It allows you to sell your products or services on social media or place a Shopify Buy Button on your website or blog. It doesn’t offer a full-fledged, standalone store, but if you’re wanting to just dip your toe into the ecommerce pool, or if you already have a strong website, blog, or social profile and just want to add shopping capabilities to it, Shopify Lite might be your best bet. 

Basic Shopify is the next level up, offering the ability to build an actual online store. You’ll be able to manage your products, orders, and customer information using the Shopify admin tools, and you’ll be able to create a blog and access basic reports to give you insight into your traffic and sales. 

If you go for the standard Shopify plan, you’ll get more in-depth professional reporting to help you grow your business, as well as the ability to accept gift cards.

Advanced Shopify is a significant jump in price, but it provides the ability to create customized reports and track sales according to your referral sources, such as a Google Ads campaign. You’ll have more detailed customer reporting as well. Another feature of this level is you’ll be able to integrate with a third-party shipping service in order to provide your customers with real-time, up-to-date shipping rates and options. 

Shopify Plus is the most expensive option and meant for large, high-growth businesses in need of dedicated support and service, advanced customization, and greater scalability. 

All Shopify options require you to pay a “credit card rate” on purchases, and that rate is lower for the higher level plans. For example, the rate for Shopify basic is 2.9%, while the rate for Advanced Shopify is 2.4%. Shopify only charges transaction fees when you don’t use Shopify Payments, which is only available in certain countries. 

Create a Shopify storefront

Shopify makes it easy for people with minimal technical skills to set up their store. When you sign up, you’ll choose a store name, answer some questions about your business such as what you sell and your revenue, and choose a domain name. You can either go with the domain given to you by Shopify (storename.myshopify.com), use an existing domain, or register for a new one with another provider such as GoDaddy.

The next step is choosing a Shopify theme, which will determine the look and feel of your store. While Shopify offers a limited number of free themes, they are high-quality, well-designed, and good-looking, so you should be able to find one that meets your needs. But if you want to choose from a larger selection, you can pay extra for a premium theme. All themes are designed to display well on any device, and all are completely customizable.

You’ll notice that Shopify themes rely heavily on photography, including some with extra-large hero images that span the width of your store. That means it will be important for you to have some really great shots to use when creating your store. Be sure to have plenty of pictures of your products, both for product pages and the homepage. We’ve got lots of product photography tips for you to check out, as well as powerful photo editing tools for you to use. You can also use some of our high-quality, authentic stock photos for your store to give it a more engaging, vibrant feel.

Add products to your Shopify store

Shopify has an easy-to-use interface for adding products to your store. If you have just a few products, you can go the manual route and fill out all your product information in the Shopify interface. If you have a lot of products, you can save time by importing the details in bulk via a CSV file. When it comes to product photos, you’ll need to make sure that they’re sized right before uploading them, because Shopify doesn’t automatically crop them to ensure they’re uniform. See our tips on creating and uploading Shopify product photos.

In Shopify, product categories are known as collections. Organizing your products into collections will help your customers find what they need quickly and easily. If you have a lot of products and collections, you can once again save time by using automated collections. This entails naming or tagging your products in a consistent way so that they are automatically placed into the correct collection. 

Customize your store with Shopify apps

In order to access the wide array of Shopify features, you’ll most likely need to visit the Shopify app store. Shopify has more than 3,000 apps that you can use to expand, customize, and improve your store in a variety of ways. Some of these apps are free and some cost money, so it’s a good idea to research what features and apps you might want to use when figuring out your ecommerce budget.

For some users, having to get an app for relatively basic functionality might be a tad frustrating. For example, if you want to add a field on a product page where customers can add information or instructions, you’d have to either place some code on the backend or buy a special app. On the other hand, some users will love having so many options for add-ons and specialized features. For example, you can access apps for everything from advanced reporting to accounting to selling in other currencies.

Selling in the real world with Shopify

If selling both online and in the real world is your goal, Shopify offers point-of-sale (POS) hardware and software that you can use to set up shop at a store, market, or any other venue. You’ll be able to set the availability of a product for “Point of Sale” to let shoppers know they can get it at your brick-and-mortar location. You’ll also be able to make sure you collect the right amount of tax according to your specific location.

Shopify can rent you the hardware you need for your POS operation, including card readers for your iPhone or iPad, a cash register, and a receipt printer, or you can get it from another provider. Shopify’s Support team can also help you get up and running with your IRL business. Probably the biggest advantage of utilizing Shopify’s POS system is the ability to integrate your online and offline businesses and offer a seamless shopping experience to your customers. 

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Before joining the PicMonkey editorial team as a senior writer, Molly wrote about topics as varied as politics, finance, global health, and online dating. As a fiction writer, she’s published two books, both available on Amazon through totally non-sketchy retailers. A midwestern transplant who now calls Seattle home, Molly firmly believes that the Space Needle is way cooler than the Eiffel Tower.