Looking to grow your business through a slick online store? Well, you’ve come to the most popular e-commerce platform out there. In this guide, we’ll show you the basics of how to build a Shopify store from scratch, break down your monthly plan options and show you how to use a few key Shopify features.
Time: 2-3 hours
Cost: $50 / monthly
- Shopify account
- Custom .CA Domain
Follow these steps
Start by signing up
Kick-off your Shopify journey by heading over to shopify.ca. Enter your email address and click the big “Start free trial” button. This will let you create an account and try Shopify free for 14 days.
Next, Shopify will ask you for a few more details, like your chosen password and store name. Your store name needs to be completely unique, so tap into your creativity and make it great! Otherwise…well, Shopify won’t let you buy the domain.
You’ll also need to tell Shopify how much you plan to sell and if you’re already selling on another channel.
Once that’s sorted, it’s on to building your Shopify store.
Add products and start building your Shopify store
Next, you'll be whisked off to a Shopify admin page. On the left, you’ll see your main navigation menu. Sales figures are on the right side of your screen and in the middle are three construction tool shortcuts: “Add product,” “Customize theme,” and “Add domain.”
Let’s start with adding products to your shop. Click the “Add product” button to get started selling physical, digital or service items. The actual process for adding products is super straightforward. Fill in a name, add a description and upload an image. If you scroll down, you’ll find other fields and details that can be filled in, such as the barcode, weight and size variants.
Once you’ve filled everything out to your liking, be sure to click the “Save product” button found in the top and bottom right corners of the page.
Edit the look and feel of your Shopify store
After adding products, move over to the “Customize Theme” button to start tweaking your Shopify store’s look and feel. There are three options for themes: You can stick with “Debut,” Shopify’s signature (default) theme, pick one of around eight free themes or pick from the over 60 paid templates that range in cost from $140 to $180 (USD).
Once you find a theme you like, click either “Start with this theme” or “buy theme,” then install your chosen theme by clicking “Publish as my Shop’s Theme.” Don’t worry – you can always change themes if you change your mind later.
Now that you’ve chosen your theme, let’s go over how to customize the look feel of your Shopify store. On your left-hand navigation menu, select “Customize Theme.” This will take you to a new page that allows you to perform a number of actions, such as:
- Uploading logos, images and videos
- Editing and adding text
- Repositioning/dragging and dropping elements on the page
- Tweaking colour schemes and fonts
Want to add new sections to your page? Click the “Sections” tab in the top left-hand corner of your screen and then hit “Add section” and pick a section category. These categories range from blog posts and photo galleries to maps and testimonials.
Add a custom domain
To add a new domain name within Shopify, head on back to your main Shopify admin menu. In the left-hand navigation, go to “Settings,” then “Domains” and type in your domain of choice. If it’s available, you can buy it right then and there. Otherwise, you can just stick with the free Shopify-supplied subdomain that comes with your website. It’s not the most professional look for your store, though, so we recommend spending the money on a unique domain.
Shopify also lets you connect a domain you might have purchased elsewhere. Under “Domains,” click “Connect existing domain” and then type in your domain name. Psst – we can help you search for and register a .CA domain!
From here, you’ll have to log into your domain provider account and update the following DNS settings:
- Your A record should point to Shopify's IP address: 188.8.131.52
- Your www CNAME record should point to shops.myshopify.com
Set up payments
Now that your store is looking great, let’s focus on the money-making side of things! Here’s where we’ll set up your payment gateways. Have a look at your main left-hand Shopify Admin menu, click “Settings” at the very bottom and then select “Payment providers.” From here, you can enable Shopify Payments, which allows you to avoid transaction fees.
To add other, third-party payment gateways, like Square or PayPal, navigate to the “Third-party providers” section, then click “Choose third-party provider.” Next, pick the provider you want from the list, enter your account credentials for whatever provider you’ve selected and then click “Activate.” Keep in mind that you’ll be charged transaction fees on every purchase when using third-party payment gateways.
Set up shipping
Head back out to your “Settings” menu and then click “Shopping.” This will take you to a page where you can add shipping zones, purchase shipping labels and even set out how much you’ll charge your customers.
Add some helpful Shopify apps
Taking advantage of Shopify’s solid App Store can enhance your online store’s functionality and generally make the whole selling process smoother and easier. Go back to your main, left-hand navigation menu and select “Apps.” You’ve got over 2,400 free and paid apps to choose from that cover everything from accounting and shipping to social media integration. Once you’ve found an app you like, simply click “Add app” and it’ll be added to your site.
Pick your monthly plan
There are three main monthly plans, so you can pick a price point that matches your budget. Here’s a quick overview of the plans and what features and functionality you get. The following prices are in United States Dollars.
At the bottom-end of price range is the “Basic Shopify” plan at $29/month. This gives you all the foundational tools for getting your full-fledged online store up and running, including:
- Fraud analysis tools
- A discount code engine that lets you generate promotional codes for products on your site
- Shopify point-of-sale (POS) app
- The ability to upload an unlimited amount of products
- A free SSL certificate
- Unlimited file storage
- 24/7 support
As part of the Basic Shopify plan, you’ll also pay an additional 2.9 per cent and $0.30 per transaction. Pick this plan if you’re looking to set up a basic online store for your business and don’t want to spend a small fortune while doing it.
Next up is the “Shopify” plan at $79/month. You’ll also pay 2.7 per cent and $0.30 per credit card transaction. This plan gives you everything included with the “Basic Shopify” plan, along with several key upgrades, including:
- The ability to offer gift cards
- Professional reports
- Abandoned cart recovery
The abandoned cart recovery tool can be a game-changing feature for your online shop. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons most Shopify users tend to opt for this particular monthly plan. With the abandoned cart recovery feature, you can send automated emails and promos to further entice customers that may have left your site without buying the items in their shopping cart. Be sure to pick the “Shopify” plan if you’re planning to scale up your business quickly in order to do higher-volume sales.
At the top of the pile is the “Advanced Shopify” plan that will set you back $299/month. This gives you all the features from the previous two plans, along with a number of advanced features designed for businesses doing higher-volume sales each month. Some of those advanced features include:
- Completely unlimited storage capabilities, which allow you to upload as many products, videos, images, etc., as you like
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- An advanced report builder tool
- Slightly lower transaction rates at 2.4 per cent and $0.30 per transaction
More about Shopify Payments
What is it? Put simply, Shopify Payments is Shopify’s own, in-house payment gateway and works similarly to Square, Stripe or PayPal. You can set it up to process all your store’s payments and it’s designed to accept most major payment methods.
The basic idea behind using Shopify Payments is that it eliminates the hassle of connecting a third-party payment processing provider (like PayPal) to your site. This keeps all your transactions and payments neat, tidy and in-house. Using Shopify Payments is the only way to avoid Shopify’s transaction fees and support multiple currencies on your store. So, by default, it’s your best option for processing payments.
Publish your Shopify Store
Until you upgrade to a paid plan (from the free 14-day trial), your Shopify store will be password protected and not visible. To push your site live, upgrade to a paid plan of your choice, then go to “Online store” from your main left-hand Shopify admin menu, click “Preferences” then “Password protection” and uncheck “Enable password.”
With that, your newly minted online Shopify store will be live and ready for business! If you're looking for some inspiration, check out these Canadian sites that were built on Shopify like 24hockey.ca and faircrochet.ca.