If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has done, it’s to push more people into shopping online. The boom of Shopify and the impressive IPO of Big Commerce are a testament to that. If you’re jumping on board to diversify your business, the process can be intimidating. When the pandemic first hit, we offered free assistance to small businesses looking to get a shop set up. From that process, we developed this easy, non-intimidating Shopify setup that even those unfamiliar with websites can handle.

Decide What Products You Want to Sell Online

The first thing you need to do for your Shopify setup is to know EXACTLY what you want to sell. That means knowing more than just “handmade soaps” or “sewing kits”. If website management has taught me anything, it’s that someone, somewhere, has to fill in all the details. Create a list in Excel or Google Sheets that contains the following information. Create a column for each attribute.

  • Categories for your products (for each product, indicate what categories it should go in)
  • Product name
  • Product description
  • Product price
  • Product variables size or color (if applicable)
  • Is product taxable or not (a Y or N in a column is good)
  • Inventory of product
  • SKU for product (this can be anything you make up without spaces like: SPGH87-GRN
  • Additional product attributes: product measurements, material, weight, country of origin, etc
  • Shipping rates: flat rate for all up to a certain weight or size? Dependent on the area it is going to? Free shipping for orders over a certain amount?

Purchase Domain Name and Shopify Plan

Choosing Basic Shopify at $29/mo should be fine. You should get at least 14 days of a free trial. With every website, there is the domain name (the address) and then the hosting that are the 2 costs involved. The domain is just purchasing that address on the internet. The hosting is the cost of storing all the files that your website consists of. Once you’re created your Shopify account, purchase your domain so you don’t end up being myshop.myshopify.com. Instead, you can just be myshop.com.

Bookmark This Giant Database of Shopify Setup Help

Selecting icons for a Shopify Store setup

Even if you don’t use bookmarks on your browser. I promise you that you’ll be visiting this site over and over. It is a HUGE database of Shopify help.

Select a Free Theme Under “Online Store”

In your initial Shopify setup, keep it simple. There are a lot of Shopify themes available for purchase but they may include features that you’re not quite ready to exploit or understand. Try one of the free themes they offer.

Set Up Your Collections (same as Categories)

Remember those categories you created in your spreadsheet? Now you can create them in Shopify, only they are referred to as “Collections.” You can manually add items to your collections but the easiest thing for you in the future is to have them automatically generate either by common words in your titles, or by how you tag your items.

Create a PayPal Account or Set Up Shopify Payments

If you already have a PayPal account or want to set one up, you can connect it. But, if your products don’t violate any of Shopify’s policies, you can use Shopify Payments, which makes things way easier.

Set Up Shipping

Start thinking about how you will ship your products and what you would charge for shipping. Will it be flat rate or calculated based on weight? Do you want to offer cheaper or free shipping for local orders? I find flat rate saves a lot of headaches if you can figure out the balance of how to price your products to balance out the cost. You can set up shipping to be different for different geographic zones or keep it simple.

Picture Time

Taking photos for your online store

Start taking photos of the products you want to sell. You can even do this with a cell phone. I recommend putting your products on a white background with sufficient lighting. Taking photos outdoors in the shade offers the best natural, no-shadow lighting. Try to have all your images oriented the same way (horizontal or vertical at the same dimensions). Or, just create a square image, which is the online shopping standard. Product images should be at least 1200x1200px.

Link Social Media

If you have one, link your Facebook page/shop & IG to Shopify. Shopify can integrate a shop with a Facebook page so that you can have your shop in both places. People will see your products automatically updated to your Facebook page and be able to purchase from there (it still goes through your website).

Set Up Google Analytics

You want your site to be found, right? to do so, create a Google Analytics account and install the code on Shopify. Don’t get intimated by the term “install the code” since it is basically copying and pasting text.

Too Much? Contact Us

If this Shopify Setup cheat sheet still has your head spinning, don’t worry! Fortunately, we’ve helped plenty of businesses at many levels of computer comfort. We can get the basics set up so you can manage the rest. Hopefully, you’ll soon be taking orders and enjoying some passive income to help your business succeed.