Getting Started with Shopify: A Maker's Guide to a Seamless Launch

Hey there, makers! Welcome to the Makers side of where we, Merina and Bjorn, share what we've learned as bootstrapping entrepreneurs with you!! We get it—you're a tech-savvy maker, whose honed their craft and is ready to be share it with the world. But hey, we know the struggle too—getting lost in a sea of details when it comes to setting up your Shopify store. 

With our combined eight years of experience working behind the scenes at Shopify—doing tech support, dishing out business coaching, and accelerating merchants into success—we've seen it all. After we were both laid off, we applied everything we'd learned to our own business and generated multiple 6-figures in our first year. And guess what? We're about to spill the beans on what works.

To guide you through this process and get the most out of your Shopify Free Trial, we've curated a checklist based on our extensive experience working with thousands of merchants like you. So, let's dive in and turn that overwhelming whirlwind of details into a clear, actionable plan for your Shopify store launch.

Note: Throughout this guide you'll find links to the Shopify Help Center - which is a beast of a user guide, but we got you! We'll point you to the info you need.

1. Set Up Your Payments

First things first – let's make sure your customers can buy from you! Connect your bank to Shopify Payments and PayPal accounts to streamline the payment process. Shopify makes this easy, ensuring that your customers can checkout securely (woohoo trust!) and receive your hard-earned money seamlessly.

For more on getting paid with Shopify, take a look at The Shopify Help Center | Payments.

2. Add Your Products Strategically

Start with a focused product range – between 1 and 10 products. This allows you to showcase your creations effectively without overwhelming yourself or potential customers. Quality over quantity is the key here, because remember your goal is to launch your Shopify store. You can always come back and add more products later - and then let your audience know there are new items available! 

For a step by step guide, take a look at The Shopify Help Center | Products.

3. Expand Your Reach with Sales Channels

Shopify excels in providing various sales channels beyond your online store. Make it easy for your audience to buy from you on social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, eBay, and market places like Google Shopping, and Amazon.

Pro Tip: Ensure you meet the channel requirements to save time and avoid complications.

4. Connect Your Custom Domain

Your brand deserves a unique online identity and a custom domain enhances your brand's professionalism and builds trust with your customers. Don’t have one yet? Shopify’s got you covered. 

5. Set Up Tax and Shipping Options

Ensure your tax and shipping settings align with your business model. Clarity on these aspects prevents any surprises for your customers during the checkout process.

This guide will walk you through how to set up your Shopify store to charge taxes. Not sure if you need to charge taxes? We recommend reaching out to a local accountant who specialized in e-commerce sales. 

If you've never shipped your product before, we recommend going into your local post office and asking a few questions as a place to start. You'll want to have an idea of the size of your products, and the weight so they can recommend a package, and how much it would cost to send. 

Click here for more on setting up shipping in your Shopify Store.

6. Choose a Theme and Build Trust with Key Pages

We like to think a theme as the final touches to your online store. It lays over top of all the rest of the framework you invest time in building in the backend. Shopify has tonnes of beautiful themes in their theme store to make your site stand out and look amazing - but in our opinion? Keep is simple and opt for one of the free themes (we've always used the default theme, Dawn). Why, you might ask? The free themes are build by Shopify and fully supported by Shopify Support. If something goes wrong with a theme you paid for, you'll have to contact the developers directly, Shopify can't help.

These are the essential pages you'll want to focus on to establish trust and transparency with your customers:

  • Homepage: Make a memorable first impression.
  • Contact Page: Provide a way for customers to reach out.
  • About Page: Share your brand story and values.
  • FAQ: Add a page to address common queries proactively.
  • Product Pages: Add or remove blocks of content to your product pages.
  • Policies: Clearly communicate your shipping and returns policies, and add your terms and conditions. Shopify provides some templates to get you started. 

Pro TipEven if you're only using social platform sales channels it's still important to add your policies. Build trust and CYO, ya know!

7. Refine Automated Emails

Review and customize your order confirmation and shipping emails by adding your logo and theme colors. Consider adding abandoned cart notifications to win back potential sales. 

8. Soft Launch and Gather Feedback

Before going live, meticulously review every aspect of your site. Test the checkout process with a test order and, more importantly, have friends test it too. Gather feedback on what works well and identify any confusion or issues. This step is crucial for a smooth customer experience.

Pro Tip: DM us a like and we'll take a look! Get ready for some honest feedback :)

9. Add Billing Info for Site Launch

Ready to make it official? Head over to the billing section of your admin to add your billing information, and your site is ready to go live! Celebrate this milestone as you embark on your journey to online success.

Pro Tip: Remember to remove the password page

10. Track Analytics for Continuous Improvement

Utilize Shopify apps and Google Analytics to track your site's performance. Monitoring analytics helps you understand customer behavior and fine-tune your strategies for optimal results.

Pro Tip: We love the Lucky Orange app, which lets you see how customers navigate through your store. And they offer a free plan to get you started. 

Congratulations! You've now successfully navigated the initial stages of setting up your Shopify store. Remember, this is just the beginning, and as you continue to create, innovate, and learn, your online presence will evolve. Happy selling, and may your unique creations find their way into the hearts and homes of your customers!

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