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Shopify: Your Complete Guide to Starting an eCommerce Store Shopify: Your Complete Guide to Starting an eCommerce Store

Shopify: Your Complete Guide to Starting an eCommerce Store

Shopify is one of the most powerful eCommerce platforms out there. It’s very easy to use and for those that don’t want to get involved in coding, it can be used without any knowledge of using a back end.

But as with most advanced eCommerce platforms, there are some nuances that you need to know before you start an online store. Below you will find an ultimate guide on how to start an eCommerce business using Shopify.

We’re going to help you answer that and other questions you might have about Shopify. From the pros and cons of Shopify to opening a Shopify store, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s get started.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an eCommerce platform that lets you start an online store with zero coding knowledge. It takes care of everything from hosting, domains and even payment processing–depending on your plan.

When it comes to eCommerce platforms, Shopify is one of the most well-known and highly-rated around. It’s also one of the easiest to use. This makes it a good choice for those starting out with online stores who have limited or no coding knowledge.

What is Good About Shopify

Shopify makes it easy to get started.

When you’re starting out in eCommerce, you don’t want to worry about complicated bells and whistles. Shopify takes care of all that for you.

If you’re unsure about getting started, they offer a free 14-day trial. It gives you access to all the features a paid subscription has.

You also don’t need to be a web design expert for your Shopify store to reflect your brand. You can choose from hundreds of free and paid Shopify themes.

On top of that massive selection, you can customise a theme’s colours, layout, fonts and much more.

Shopify has exceptional customer service.

Shopify is known for going above and beyond when it comes to customer service.

You can reach them 24/7 via phone, email and chat.

Shopify makes opening your store and everything else easy for you. However, if you run into a problem you can’t solve on your own, it’s good to know that they have experts you can reach out to if you need them.

You can’t say the same about its competitors.

Squarespace, a similar eCommerce platform, only offers chat and email support. With the WordPress eCommerce plugin WooCommerce, you have two options.

You can either post your question on the WordPress forum and wait until someone answers, or open a ticket on their official website.

Needless to say, Shopify leaves its competitors behind when it comes to customer support.

Shopify gives you marketing tools.

Every Shopify site comes with a blog and other content marketing features.

Content marketing is super important when you’re doing business online. It lets potential buyers know you’re an expert and gives them more information about your product.

Shopify lets you post useful content on your site that will help improve your SEO ranking and lead customers to you.

Speaking of SEO, it also lets you optimise your store for search engines…without having to learn complicated coding.

Some of the SEO features include the following:

  • Page Titles – You see these at the top of your browser whenever you access a website on a new window or tab.
  • Meta Descriptions – Have you ever noticed that when Google shows you search results, there are brief descriptions under the link? They’re called meta descriptions and are a huge factor when users are figuring out which search result they should click on.
  • Alt Text – These are the brief descriptions of images on your site. For example, when an image takes too long to load, you’ll temporarily see the Alt Text in its place. You can add Alt Text when uploading product or blog photos.

Shopify takes care of your store’s security.

You might not think so, but opening an online store can be a risky endeavour.

You handle sensitive information from clients all the time. Credit card numbers, bank account numbers, addresses and so much more.

If you create an online store and host it yourself, you’ll have to take care of PCI compliance–a requirement for doing credit card transactions online–and making sure your site isn’t hacked by malicious users.

All that might be too much for someone starting out.

Shopify takes care of all that for you. They make sure all transactions are PCI compliant and update all necessary software.

Shopify has an amazing abandoned checkout recovery feature.

An abandoned checkout is when a user adds a product to a shopping cart and begins the checkout process, but for some reason, doesn’t complete the purchase.

Maybe they got distracted by something. Maybe they thought the shipping fee was too high. Who knows? The bottom line is, you lost a sale.

Shopify gives you a chance to recover that sale.

As long as the abandoned checkout is on a Shopify store and the user gave their contact information, you have the option to send them an email reminder about their abandoned cart.

Not only that, Shopify gives you two options.

Manually send the email.

This is a great option if you feel like you’ve built a “relationship” with your customers. You can create an email to remind a potential customer about their abandoned checkout along with a cart recovery link.

Automatically email the cart recovery link.

This is a great option if you’re short on time, like most business owners. You have the option to send the reminder email after:

  • 1 hour
  • 6 hours
  • 10 hours (recommended)
  • 24 hours

You might be wondering why Shopify chose these intervals. Don’t worry. They’re not random.

According to Shopify, they “found that customers are most likely to return and check out after one of these amounts of time, especially 1 hour later or 10 hours later. We chose these times to maximise the number of recovered checkouts for your store.”

What is Bad about Shopify

Shopify only includes reporting features with plans that cost $79 and above.

There’s no denying that Shopify has impressive features and benefits…depending on your plan.

Reports that tell you how your customers find you, what they were looking for in the first place and other useful information for your business are only available for the $79.00 plans and above.

There are other eCommerce platforms available that offer the same features for cheaper prices.

For example, a $26 plan with Squarespace can get you the reports only available with Shopify’s more expensive plans.

Shopify doesn’t automatically crop or resize your photos.

Imagine uploading photos of your gorgeous products online. You’re proud of them, and you can’t wait for your customers to see them. You already know you’re going to make a lot of sales.

When you look at the product photos on your website, you’re surprised to see that some of the photos are bigger than the others. They look uneven, and even worse, unprofessional.

Manually resizing or cropping photos can be a huge task for someone running an online business, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of products.

There are programs available that let you resize multiple photos. You will, however, have to purchase and learn how to use them. This one task alone can take a lot of time and resources.

You need to purchase a third-party app to bulk import blog posts.

Let’s say that you previously sold your goods on a self-hosted WordPress website. You’ve been in your industry for years. As a result, you’ve created a lot of content you’re proud of around what you’re selling.

You come across Shopify and decide that it’s a great place to set up shop. When you try to export all the blog posts you’ve created throughout the years, you discover that, well, you can’t.

I mean, you can, but you’ll have to do everything manually by copying and pasting all your blog posts.

Shopify does have an app store. They offer apps that let you import blog posts from other platforms. You will, however, have to pay for the privilege of using the app on top of your Shopify subscription fee.

You need a third-party app to let customers upload files during the buying process.

Let’s say that you sell customisable iPhone cases in your Shopify store.

You have several colourful designs your customers can choose from, but you also want them to be able to choose or even create their own designs. They would need to upload images of the designs they want before completing the transaction with your store.

But that option isn’t available with the standard Shopify plan.

If you want to add that feature, you have two options:

You can purchase a Shopify app.

Apps that offer this feature usually range from $10 – $20. You would have to pay for the use of the app on top of your Shopify subscription fee.

You can manually insert the code into your website.

This option won’t require you to pay for an app, but it does require more technical and coding knowledge than the average Shopify newbie has.

How to Open Your Shopify Store

After learning about Shopify’s pros and cons, you’ve finally made up your mind.

You’re going to open your Shopify store, but you have no idea where to start.

Not to worry. In this section, we’re going to discuss how you can get your Shopify store up and running.

1. Create your Shopify account.

Let’s assume you’ve determined your product as well as your supplier. It’s time to create your Shopify account.

Go to and click Sign Up.

Enter your email address, password and the name of your store.

Shopify will then prompt you for more specific information regarding your store and how you’re going to use the platform.

After you’re done entering your information, Shopify will create your store for you. You can begin customising it and upload your product information.

2. Customise your store.

Once your store is created, it will use the Debut theme by default.

If you prefer to use something else, Shopify has ten free themes. You can also buy a premium theme from the theme store. Prices range from $140 to $180.

Let’s pretend you’re fine with the default theme. You just need to spruce it up a bit, so it reflects your brand.

Click on Online Store on the left sidebar.

It will lead you to a page called Themes. Click on Customize.

You can go ahead and start customising your Shopify store. You can upload your own images or choose from Shopify’s collection of stock photos. You can also change the fonts, colours and text.

Shopify’s themes, even the free ones, are all responsive. The editor lets you see how your store will look on mobile and desktop.

3. Choose your Shopify plan.

Your store is up and running, but your free 14-day trial is over. It’s time to choose the Shopify plan that fits your needs best.

Shopify Lite

  • $9 per month
  • Doesn’t come with an online store but allows you to use the Shopify checkout functionality.
  • Allows you to embed a Buy button and sell your products on your website or Facebook page.
  • Recommended if you have a site already and just want to add a way to sell things online.

Basic Shopify

  • $29 per month
  • Includes an online store and also allows you to sell your products through other sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Credit card rates amount to 2.9%+$0.30 per transaction
  • 2 accounts for staff
  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited file storage


  • $79 per month
  • Includes an online store and also allows you to sell your products through other sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Credit card rates amount to 2.6%+$0.30
  • 5 accounts for staff
  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Includes reporting on your store’s performance

Advanced Shopify

  • $299 per month
  • Includes an online store and also allows you to sell your products through other sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Credit card rates amount to 2.4%+$0.30
  • 15 accounts for staff
  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Includes reporting on your store’s performance
  • Lets you create and customise your own reports

Shopify Plus

  • $2,000 per month
  • Includes an online store and also allows you to sell your products through other sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Credit card rates amount to 1.6%+$0.30
  • Unlimited accounts for staff
  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited file storage
  • Gives you access to reports regarding your store’s performance
  • Lets you create and customise your own reports
  • Recommended for large businesses


Shopify has its pros and cons.

Overall, it’s a great platform for people to start up an online shop quickly. You can choose themes, upload products and start selling your products all on your own.

If you’d like to customise your store a little deeper, you either have to spend money on Shopify apps or ask for professional help.

Carefully review its plans before deciding on what you want to do.

If you’re still on the fence, you can go ahead and sign up for their 14-day free trial and give it a test run.

Whether you want to open a Shopify store or you want to bring an existing store to the next level, Cornerstone Digital would love to help you. Talk to us today. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected].

Darlyn Herradura

A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.

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