Moving an offline business to selling online
When customers can’t shop for your products in-person, selling your products online gives your customers another way to purchase products and engage with your business. It also lets you provide customers with more information about your business, a place for them to leave reviews, and a way for them to sign up for emails from your business.
On this page
Start your online store
Visit shopify.com to start your online store with a free trial. Answer a few questions about your business, and then enter your email and password. Your temporary business name is
My Store, and your default URL is automatically generated, which your customers will use to shop from your store. After you start your trial, you can name your store, and purchase or connect an existing domain for your default URL.
When you post your products online, write descriptive titles, write accurate descriptions, and take clear pictures. Customers want to know much more about a product when they buy it online because they can't interact with it in person.
There are different ways to get your products into your Shopify account, depending on how many products you need to add and whether you already have any information about them online:
- To add products directly in the Shopify admin, refer to Add a new product.
- To add products in bulk using a CSV file, refer to Importing products with a CSV file.
- If your products exist on a third-party POS software, then you can import them into Shopify using the all-new Shopify POS.
After you add your products, you can organize them into collections. Collections let you highlight certain products on different pages of your website, apply discount codes to specific groups of products, or feature certain products on your homepage. For more information, refer to Collections.
Along with your products, you can also sell gift cards. Gift cards are a fast way for your business to sell online. Your customers can purchase gift cards, which are delivered by email. By default, the gift cards that you create never expire.
As you launch new products that can be purchased online or make your products available for local delivery or pickup, customers can redeem gift cards at checkout. For more information, refer to Selling gift cards.
Prepare your website’s pages
Each product and collection that you create is automatically given a page on your online store, but your homepage and any other additional pages need to be manually set up.
Your homepage is usually the first page people access when they find your business online. This page should include your branding, highlighted products, special offers, and any important information your customers need to know.
You can create custom pages for other information that might interest your customers. Many business have the following custom pages:
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Shipping information
For information on how to create custom pages, refer to Pages.
You can create and manage blogs and blog posts in your online store. Blogs are a common way to create additional content around your products, or highlight changes in your industry or niche. Blogs can help increase your website’s traffic, and offer content that your customers can share on their social media.
For more information, refer to Blogs.
Policy pages help customers understand how your business operates, and explain how you handle shipping, refunds, and privacy. These policies are displayed by default in your checkout, but you can create direct links to them in your website’s menus.
Shopify provides templates for many policies, which you can adjust to fit your business. For more information on creating and editing policy, refer to Adding store policies.
If you sign up for a Shopify account in a country eligible for the Shopify Payments payment gateway, then your business is automatically set up with Shopify Payments and you can accept payments right away. Before you accept your first order, make sure that your products are allowed within the Shopify Payments Terms of Service.
If you aren’t eligible for Shopify Payments, then you need to sign up for a third-party payment gateway to accept credit card payments online. When deciding on a payment gateway, research the cost of credit card and third-party transaction fees, terms of service, payout schedules, and available currencies. Check which gateways are available for your country, sign up for an account with the gateway that you want, and then connect it to your Shopify account.
When you sell online, you need to have a way to send your products to your customers. You can provide as many shipping options as you want to your customers to make sure they get their orders in the way that works best for them.
You can create general shipping rates which apply to all your products, and create specific rates only for certain products by creating shipping profiles. Within each shipping profile, you create shipping zones to specify which countries you want to ship to, and then create shipping rates for each shipping zone. For example, if you ship to both Canada and the United States, then you can create a shipping zone for each country, and charge different shipping amounts for each shipping zone.
For more information about creating shipping profiles, refer to Shipping profiles.
You can offer flat shipping rates, conditional flat shipping rates based on the weight or price of a customer’s cart, and live carrier-calculated rates from USPS, UPS, Canada Post, and DHL Express. For more information on shipping rates, refer to Setting up shipping rates. You can also specify local shipping rates for customers who live near your business.
Let shoppers know you’re open for business
There is no guaranteed foot traffic when you open an online business; you need to let customers know where you are. There are many options available for businesses to market online. You might need to experiment with a few different options before you find the ones that work best for your business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A lot of marketing and search engine results rely on specific words being matched to your business. Consider the keywords that you want to focus on. Using specific keywords in your business descriptions, product titles and descriptions, and marketing will help with your search engine optimization, or SEO, which helps you rank higher on search results pages when people search for your keywords. For more information, refer to Developing a marketing plan.
Marketing automation tools can help you set goals and manage your marketing. Review the Shopify App Store for marketing apps.
In general, the more links that exist on the internet that lead to your website, the better. Consider writing a blog article and sending it to various blogs that write about your niche or industry. Asking them to publish an article about you, perhaps in exchange for adding a link to their blog on your website, can be a good way to bring traffic to your website.
Other methods to get more links include reaching out to social media influencers, offering contests, and posting your own blog content.
Using targeted ads in search engines and social media sites is another way to advertise your business to people who you feel are most likely to place an order for your products. You can specify an audience for your ads so that the ad provider displays your ads only to people with the criteria that you choose. For example, if you sell baby clothes, then you can set your ads to appear only to people who have young children or grandchildren.
If you have a retail location, then you can post signage in your storefront to let customers know where they can shop your products online. Use the Shopify storefront signage maker to create a custom sign with a QR code customers can scan to visit your store. You can choose from a variety of templates and customize the sign with a personal message.