Thinking about building your first Shopify store for your e-commerce site?
Well, let me give you some free advice.
I recently just finished working on my second Shopify store, Fashion Cents Consignment, which made over $500 in the first few days of being live. While this new site is trending positively, there are a number of things that I wish I had known before I began building my own Shopify e-commerce site.
Shopify is a great platform to build your store on if you are a small-to-medium-sized businesses looking to enter the e-commerce market, but be warned: there are a lot of decisions to make. From choosing a Shopify theme to shipping options, I discovered useful and efficient ways to go about creating a Shopify store. Here are a few.
How to Choose A Shopify Theme
Initially browsing through all the Shopify themes can be overwhelming. Whether you are selling jewelry or furniture, there is a wide range of themes—Shopify templates—to choose from, many geared towards specific markets. Shopify themes often have multiple color palettes as well, all of which can be seen in the demos they provide.
It is important to keep in mind that you are looking at demos. Your Shopify store is not going to look exactly like the one you see and it shouldn't. Your store needs to reflect the value of your product to your target audience and should be personable.
The key to doing so is not to focus on how awesome your site looks aesthetically—although aesthetics are important—but by how easily your customers can accomplish their goals (i.g. functionality and use).
When looking at the Shopify themes choose the theme that best fits your customer's goals. You need to step into your customer's shoes and think through how they will use your site. In the Shopify store, Shopify themes are categorized by various markets, but be sure to test all the demos from all sorts of markets to find the right functionality for your unique store.
For example, when looking for a theme to purchase for our most recent Shopify store, Fashion Cents Consignment, I focused on key usability features that customers would want. In this case, one feature I landed on was the ability to sort and filter products. So, I tested out all the demos to see which was best—for me, this particular feature (sorting and filtering) had to be complex in order to serve all of my client's needs.
With that being said, there are many Shopify apps that can be installed into your store if your theme lacks a certain feature. However, most of these apps cost money, so if you are operating on a budget, it's most cost effective to find a theme with the feature pre-built.
How To Create Shopify Collections, Tags & Filters
After choosing and customizing a Shopify theme to your needs, begin to think about the products that you will be importing.
Before you import a single product, decide on your collections, tagging options, and filtering choices for your products.
Note: Categories (such as Accessories) are referred to as collections in Shopify.
Shopify collections are a very powerful tool in Shopify e-commerce sites, but you must be careful when creating them. When you create a collection you have the option to manually add a product, which may be best if you have a small inventory, or the products can be automatically added, which is best if you have a large inventory.
In order for the products to be automatically added, you will need to set conditions. A condition, for example, may look something like this: “Product Type is equal to Accessories.” This way any product added to the Shopify store with that type will automatically fall into the Accessories collection, and thus creating your collection!
Conditions can also be based on inventory, price, vendor, tags, and so on, plus you can have multiple conditions for each collection. Shopify tags are useful and important for both creating collections and for filtering. A tag may be a color, price, size, or whatever you chose based on how you want users to be able to filter your products and how you want to build your collections.
Shopify filters are sometimes built into a theme, but not always, so again, when choosing a theme keep this in mind. If you choose to filter your products, it will be based on your tags. For example, if you want your customers to be able to filter by size, you must first add the sizes to the tags. Most themes only allow you to have three filters, unless the function is custom built.
The conditions are all case and punctuation sensitive, so it is crucial to be very consistent when creating the collections and adding the products. For example, if you tag something Accessories, the condition for the collection must also be Accessories with a capital A, or else it will not be added.
The key to the Shopify collections, tagging, and filtering is to be consistent and don’t get creative when creating collection names or tags. Be clear and concise.
Planning your collections, tags, and filters in a spreadsheet is a great starting place.
How To Import Products into Your Shopify Store
Before diving headfirst into uploading your first set of products into your Shopify e-commerce site, make sure you have your collections, tags, filters, and product types all ironed out. This will make adding the products manually quick, simple, and consistent.
If you are choosing to do a bulk import with the use of a CSV file, this section is for you.
Shopify supplies a CSV template to download so that you can import multiple products at once. However, it can be tedious to fill out all the cells for every product. It is also easy to make errors such as tagging one product “blue” and another product “Blue.” Unfortunately, this small difference can make or break your collection once it is imported.
I suggest building a custom spreadsheet to cut down on both time and errors by safeguarding consistency.
If you have a lot of tags or product types then using a selection from a dropdown list may be a lifesaver. It ensures that spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are always the same. To do this, you must use data validation to create the dropdown lists for your types and tags.
In order for this to be successful, you must have a data input sheet (where all the data is added) and an output sheet (which will mirror the Shopify template). Add a column to input sheet for each type of tag you have, such as color or size.
Once the data is filled in for the tags on the input sheet, you must use a formula to combine the rows of tags into a singular Tags cell separated by commas. All of the columns, including the singular Tags column but excluding the individual tag columns, must then be transferred over to the output sheet which mirrors the Shopify template.
Once your output sheet matches the set up of the Shopify template, you can upload it and import the products to your Shopify store.
I know this sounds complicated. If you need help, download our custom import template to get started.
How To Settle on Shopify Shipping Options & Strategies
One last piece of advice—figure out your Shopify shipping strategy early in the game. Determining your shipping can sometimes be a roadblock to setting your Shopify store live. There are a number of options to choose from and many variables to consider (see articles below). Offering other options, such as in-store pickup, is yet another factor that can affect the shipping process.
Don’t wait until the end to figure out shipping.
As soon as you begin developing your Shopify e-commerce site, or maybe even before that, begin researching your options. Reach out to your various shipping agents, such as USPS or UPS, and discover the rates they offer. Many times they will work with you by providing competitive prices.
Take the time to also research Shopify apps that may allow you to use various shipping methods. It is possible to ship with more than one option, and in order to do so, an app may be the solution.
Here are a few helpful articles regarding your various Shopify shipping options and strategies.
- How to Choose a Shipping Strategy for Your Online Shopify Store
- The Beginner's Guide to E-commerce Shipping and Fulfillment
- Set up your shipping rates and methods
Have fun building your Shopify e-commerce site!