Shopify is very easy to set up and the learning curve is relatively low. I have compiled a list of steps you may find helpful when setting up your store based on my experience with the platform. Shopify also has many great resources such as step-by-step tutorials and branding tools that you may find useful.

Signing Up


1. Shopify offers a 14 day trial period. Signing up is simple: head over to the Shopify website, fill in a few details (name, email, password, address, store name, estimated revenue) and Shopify will begin building your store.

2. There are three different subscription plans to consider. I’m currently using the $79 per month plan, but you may find the $29 better suits your needs as you get started.

The Basics

3. When you’re finished signing up, you’ll be directed to the admin panel. This is where you’ll spend the majority of your time adding products, fulfilling orders, and monitoring sales performance. I recommend going through each of the tabs a few times you familiarize yourself with the dashboard.

4. Choose a theme for your storefront. There are hundreds of beautiful designs that fit any budget. Although premium themes have more advanced features and functionality, you may not need more than what free themes offer to get your store up and running. Take some time to look through the selection of themes and preview how they work on other stores. Once you find a theme that best fits your needs, simply click “get theme” and it will be automatically installed for you. Don’t worry–you can always change the theme later if want to!

5. After the theme is installed, you can customize the colors, fonts, layout, logo, and overall functionality. If you’re happy with the default settings, there’s nothing more you need to do. If you would like to make changes, look for the “Online Store” tab in the dashboard to customize your theme.

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Shopify dashboard.
Shopify dashboard.

Products & Collections

6. When you’re ready to add some products, you’ll find the “Products” tab in the menu of the dashboard. Adding products is probably the most time consuming part of running your store. Although it’s very easy to add new products, filling out all of the different fields and uploading pictures can take a while especially if you have a wide variety of products. It’s important to fill out as much information as possible so that potential buyers can find your website when they are searching for certain keywords on Google. When uploading product pictures, make sure the dimensions are consistent. Some themes don’t automatically resize images, so if you upload pictures with varying dimensions, the page may be uneven and distracting to visitors.

7. You can also create collections of products, such as “Accessories.” Products can be added to collections manually or automatically. With automatic collections, products will be added to a collection only if it meets certain criteria. For example, if you create a collection called “Accessories” and set the criteria to include products with the tags “handbags” or “jewelry,” products containing those tags will be automatically added to the Accessories collection.

Payments & Shipping

8. Shopify makes it very easy to accept many forms of payment, from PayPal or Apple Wallet to all major credit cards. There are different “payment gateways” that you can choose from, the main differences being the transaction fee or payout terms. If you’re not familiar with Stripe or other payment gateways, I suggest using the default “Shopify Payments” gateway as it’s much easier to configure and is much less of a hassle to your customers since it’s essentially already built-in to your store.

9. If you’ll be selling and shipping products within your state, you’ll most likely need to collect taxes (visit your states tax website for more information on tax compliance). Fortunately Shopify makes it super easy by collecting taxes on your behalf, however, you need to review the tax rates and settings before officially opening your store. Look for the Settings tab to find the Taxes panel to review information and make any necessary changes.

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10. Shipping rates are easy to set up. If you’re planning on shipping exclusively within the US, make sure the “Rest of world” shipping option is disabled. International shipping can get pricey (and confusing) very quickly if you’re not familiar with shipping rates. Ship within the US first to get a better understanding of how shipping rates are calculated based on package weight and shipping zones. Shopify offers realtime shipping rates on the professional plan, however, there are many “apps” available that allow you to create USPS, UPS, and Fedex shipping labels at a discounted rate. I’ll explain more about apps later.

11. Before you launch, you should take advantage of the built-in “test order” feature. You can place fake orders using a bogus gateway to ensure your payment system is accepting credit cards and functioning properly. The feature is free, however, make sure you cancel the order immediately to avoid paying any transaction fees. Make sure you disable the “test order” mode when you are finished, otherwise your customers will be able to place orders without being charged!

12. Make sure you write up some basic site policies in the “Checkout” panel under Settings. You can easily generate a sample policy or create your own.

Final Steps

My boutique powered by Shopify.
My boutique powered by Shopify.

13. Finally… review all of your settings and make sure you are no longer in test order mode. Now you’re ready to launch your site!

14. If you want some inspiration, feel free to check out my online boutique!

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