Shopify 101: What is It and How to Get Started
Do you know Tesla, Red Bull or Budweiser? If so, you already had your first encounter with Shopify. These and many other well-known brands use the popular system for their online shop. But what makes this platform so special? We asked and we got answers.
So in this article, our partner Eshop Guide will tell you everything you need to know about Shopify and gives you 4 tips for a successful start with your Shopify store.
The story behind Shopify
Shopify was founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, originally with the idea of selling snowboards online. This quickly became a larger project, with offices from Berlin to San Francisco. Today Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce systems in the world and is represented in 175 countries. An impressive number, considering that the world has a total of 194 countries. Not convinced yet? Shopify has about 1,000,000 users - they can’t all be wrong.
What makes Shopify special?
- Shopify is a simple all-inclusive shop system. That means: The cross-channel system combines a wide variety of offline and online solutions for merchants in just one overview. This guarantees the user maximum flexibility.
- Shopify is also known to be reliable and scalable. That means a company scales as it grows. A practical example: Once your business model is in place, it often doesn't matter whether you sell 50 or 100 t-shirts a day. Your sales can be increased without additional resources - this is called a scalable business model.
- The system is cloud-based. A “cloud” describes a system with which you can access applications that do not have to be installed on your own hardware components. The great advantage of a cloud-based solution: it saves resources, it is more cost-effective and can be used from anywhere.
Who is Shopify for?
Shopify is a system for everyone. Regardless of whether it is a group, start-up, sole trader or hobby merchant - whether you sell online, via social networks, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay or in a local shop. Shopify offers a solution for everything and is easy to use. You hardly need any previous technical knowledge.
Overview of advantages of Shopify:
- Easy handling by drag and drop - no programming knowledge required
- Unlimited number of products in the inventory
- Design without designer knowledge - over 70 professional and free templates
- Automatic updates and backups
- Overview of all business processes and customer information
- Flexible shipping methods by the merchant
- More than 2,000 apps and tools available for maximum flexibility and individual expandability
- Support for common payment methods and easy installation with Shopify Payments
- Free support from the Shopify Support Team
What does Shopify cost?
What you want to achieve or what kind of business you already have defines which Shopify plan you need. Are you a one-man army, start-up or do you want to build an empire like Steve Jobs? Shopify has the right plan for each level, which will help you to achieve your goals. The Basic Shopify plan starts with a monthly fee of $29 and includes all the services you need for a successful start in e-commerce.
4 tips for a successful start as a Shopify Merchant
1. Check legal protection at first
Even before you have sold your first product and your shop is online, you should be sure that your online shop is legally protected. This means that you have to take care of elementary things in advance so that you do not run the risk of being warned.
- The imprint
- The data protection declaration
- General terms and conditions and customer information
- The cancellation policy including a sample cancellation form as well as information on payment and shipping
Please note that the requirements regarding legal protection differ in every country. As an instance, if you running your business in Europe, your business must be a GDPR complaint with a special section.
2. What your Shopify Shop needs and what NOT
You surely already have a specific idea of how your shop should look like and what features should be included. Maybe you think of larger, well-known companies and realize: I want an online shop exactly like them! But keep in mind that these shops once also started small.
Start by focusing on the really important things instead of getting lost in details. "Less is more and simplicity wins" should be your motto when creating your online shop. So here is what your shop should include:
✓ Presentation of the most important products / services
✓ Secure processing of payments
✓ Secure handling of data
Not so important (at the beginning):
✗ Perfect domain
✗ Perfect design
✗ Automation of accounting or social media
✗ Complete product catalogs
3. Generate the first sales after launch
Once you have launched your Shopify shop, the first sales are especially important. These sales create a positive dynamic that you can use to refine your marketing strategy. Unfortunately, the first ones are also the most difficult.
You can avoid disappointment though with good preparation.
1. Create an email distribution list. Before the launch, gather contacts who are interested in your products and keep them up to date with news. Contact them at the time of launch and lure them with vouchers that they can redeem with the next purchase.
2. Ask your contacts for support. The easiest thing you can do is to ask friends and family if they want to buy something from you. Choose something in advance that they might like and that suits them.
By selling products that they really need, you will definitely convince them! Not only do you sell something but your friends will tell their friends about it. Referral marketing is the best marketing and your sales will increase soon.
3. Use marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. The advantage of such marketplaces is that they already have traffic and product searches. This gives you a boost and you can continue to work on other things, such as improving organic search, which will help you to be easily found on Google Search.
Further reading: 7 common mistakes of email marketing
4. Use Facebook Community
When starting an online business, a lot of questions appear. You can find answers on google, by asking Shopify experts like Eshop Guide or you can enter communities where other merchants will try to answer your questions regarding Shopify.
Eshop Guide built the largest German Shopify community “Shopify Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz” on Facebook with around 6.000 members. As mentioned, the Facebook community is in German but you can also ask in English and you will get an answer. Such communities are popular all around the world, so just check on Facebook, Linkedin or any other social network that is common in your country whether there is a group of people with the same interests. If not, there is this English Shopify community “Shopify Entrepreneurs”, which will help you get started.
As you can see, Shopify is user-friendly, flexible and has almost endless possibilities for design and expansion through numerous apps and features. But before getting started, don't forget to secure yourself sufficiently first.
So try it out, see for yourself if it suits you and if in the process you find yourself having questions, try contacting a Shopify expert to help you out.
For now, we hope that you found these tips useful and heartily wish you good luck in your beginnings!
Shopify 101 FAQ
Inés Fabienne Gand works at Eshop Guide, Germany’s top-rated Shopify agency, in the area of marketing. Writing, social media and content management are her specialties. She prefers to spend her free time with her son, friends & yoga.