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I'm Tiana Coats, and I am a candle-maker and small business owner
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Tools & Gadgets
Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms for small businesses, and it’s no surprise why: it’s fast, easy to use, and has tons of great features to help you succeed. Whether you’re looking to sell a few items or you have a huge list of products, there are so many reasons why Shopify is the perfect platform for your business. I personally have used Shopify since I started selling on windingwickcandles.com, and I find it super easy to build a customized and appealing website. In this article, I’ll outline how to start a Shopify store so you can sell your candles on your very own website.
Before you start building your website, it’s a good idea to check out some sample e-commerce sites and see what they have in common. When I started my Shopify site, I looked at the websites of big candle companies to see how their site was set up. Obviously, they have professional designers on the team to create a high converting website so it’s helpful to see how their site is laid out. With Shopify, there are lots of themes you can choose from and customize until you like the way your site looks.
There are a few free themes to choose from, but if you have a little money to invest you can purchase paid themes from the Shopify theme store. You can also find unique themes on Theme Forest. Make sure your site is easy to navigate to increase your website conversion rates. Just remember, the more clicks it takes to get to the checkout the more chances there are for the customer to abandon their cart.
To start building your website, sign up for a free trial (it lasts 14 days) by clicking the button on the top right corner of Shopify’s page that says “Start free trial.” Once you do this, Shopify will prompt you to choose a theme and enter the URL for your store. Make sure the name of your store is something recognizable and memorable—this will be a part of your domain name and address bar once it’s set up!
I recommend purchasing your own domain as soon as possible. I find that Namecheap.com has the best prices. Then, you can get rid of the Shopify domain and own your domain name. This costs about $9 a year so it’s a great investment.
The first step to starting your Shopify store is to input a name and physical address. Your store name is the name that will be used in the title of your website, and what customers see when they go to check out. Therefore, this is where you should input your business or brand name—not your personal address or legal business entity.
Your physical address can be a bit trickier. Shopify requires you to provide either a physical storefront address or home office location for all stores created on their platform unless you are using their POS system. The reason why Shopify needs this information is because it’s required by law, necessary for collecting sales tax if applicable, and helps them verify your identity as an authentic seller—which in turn helps protect against fraud within their network of stores. If you are uncomfortable using your home address you can set up a virtual mailbox that you can use for your business address.
Adding products to your store is the next step to get your business up and running. Shopify makes it easy for you to add products in bulk, or one at a time. When adding a product, you can upload photos, title, description, price and SKU, choose variants like size and color, and add tags to help your customers find what they’re looking for. After you’ve added all of the necessary information about your product(s), hit save.
My advice is to create collections for your items right from the start. This will help a ton when creating a navigation menu for your shoppers to easily find what they’re looking for.
Setting up a payment processor is the most important step in getting your Shopify store off the ground. Take time to research which processors will best suit your business needs and then follow these quick steps:
Once you have your store up and running, it’s time to think about what apps could help you extend your functionality. Here are some of our favorite apps:
The next step to creating your store is to set up shipping options for your customers. What you select can depend on the type of product you are selling. Nowadays, customers expect some type of free shipping option. I recommend setting up a flat rate shipping profile, and another free shipping profile. The reason for this is that customers don’t want to be surprised by shipping costs. I have my shipping rates listed on the top banner of the site right when customers enter the store.
It can be tricky to figure out these costs. From experience, customers don’t really want to pay more than $7 for flat rate shipping. If one candle costs you around $8 to ship out you can absorb some of the costs into the price of the product to create a more appealing shipping cost for the buyer.
You can incentivize a bigger purchase by offering free shipping to people who buy 3+ candles. This is where you want to play with your product size and packaging. Try to create a product that will fit in a box that makes sense for shipping. If your packaging is unnecessarily large then you may be paying more in shipping.
Pro Tip: Shopify charges to print shipping labels. Sign up for an account on Pirateship.com and you can print shipping labels for free. You can import your orders right into Pirate Ship to make packing and shipping a breeze!
Before adding products or making any sales, there are a few things that need to be done. One of these things is setting up an email address for your new business.
Zoho.com is an email service I’ve been using for years. They have a free plan that will set you up with a professional email address. You can’t beat that! Once this is set up, make sure that it points properly so that customers can contact you directly from their email address rather than from your online store. Zoho has great resources to help get your email set up correctly.
Next, it’s important that all the photos and other files associated with the product are uploaded in .jpg format. Photos can also cause your website to load slower so you can use a site called imagecompressor.com to compress the images before uploading them to your website.
These simple steps will help you start your Shopify store. If you follow these tips you can ensure smooth sailing once orders start rolling in!
In 2015 I was working in a cubicle typing up prescriptions. I wasn't fulfilled with the work... Read my full story