Getting started with your Shopify online store

This guide provides the main steps that you need to set up your Shopify store. You can use it as a starting point and as a reference to make sure that you don't forget any key tasks.

Step 1: Configure your basic administrative settings

Before you start adding products and setting up your payments, there are a few administrative tasks that you should do:

  1. Complete the initial setup so that your store address, email address, and other store settings are up to date.
  2. Know where to manage your account and access your billing information.
  3. Add staff accounts so that each of your staff members has a personal login account and all sensitive account information remains secure.

Step 2: Add and organize your products

Now that you’ve completed your initial store setup, you can add products to your Shopify store.

Tip

If you are selling digital products or services, make sure you are familiar with the differences between digital and physical goods.

If you don’t have anything in your store yet, then you can start with some of the basics:

  1. Add your products to your store.

  2. Configure the taxes for your products.

  3. Add meta descriptions to your products to increase your website’s visibility in web searches done with search engines like Google and Bing.

    If you're not sure where to start, then you can find out more about Shopify’s features to improve your store’s SEO.

  4. Create product variants if you will be selling multiple versions of your products. For example, you are selling art prints in multiple sizes, or you are selling a shoe style that is available in different colors.

  5. Create a collection to organize your products into categories and make them easier for your customers to find.

    You can add drop-down menus and create links to collections right on your storefront.

  6. Get familiar with product inventory and transfers since you'll want to keep track of the products that you have available in your store.

    You can even find inventory apps in the Shopify App Store that can help you with this task.

Step 3: Configure your taxes

Charging sales tax is an important part of running your business. Depending on your location, there are different rules and regulations about sales tax that apply to your products. To make sure that your store meets those rules, take some time to understand Shopify’s tax setup process.

Note

If your store ships to Europe, note that there are regulations that apply when selling digital products.

Charge taxes based on your shipping destinations

When you set up your shipping, you can apply shipping taxes to your products based on the customer's provincial, state, or regional tax regulations. These are calculated automatically by Shopify.

If you need to adjust taxes manually, based on a region with unique tax restrictions or based on a specific collection of products, you can do so with a tax override.

Keep track of your taxes

When you configure the tax settings for your products, you should also think about how you are going to keep track of your taxes throughout the year.

If you’re not sure about what system you are going to use to keep track of your taxes, you may want to look at some accounting apps in the Shopify App Store.

Step 4: Set up your shipping

It's very important to set up shipping rates and shipping methods correctly before you launch — you don’t want to be refunding customers for overcharging them, or emailing them and asking them to pay more because you didn’t charge enough to cover the shipping of their order.

Need some background on shipping? Have a look at this Shipping and Fulfillment guide.

Note

If you are selling digital products or services, then you need to disable the shipping option because your customers won't be receiving any physical goods.

To set up your shipping:

  1. Add your shipping address to get accurate shipping rates based on your location.

  2. Add shipping destinations to enable shipping to different regions, states, and countries by configuring shipping zones.

  3. Configure your shipment dimensions if you're using carrier-calculated shipping rates. Many carriers use volumetric weights of your shipments (the height, weight, and depth of your package) to calculate their shipping rates.

  4. Set up shipping rates for the shipping zones that you've created.

  5. Pick a shipping strategy that works for your business. You might find it helpful to look through some options and see what best fits your needs before making a decision.

  6. Look through fulfillment services and decide if you're going to ship the orders yourself or let someone else do it for you.

Step 5: Activate your online sales channels

You can use Shopify to reach your customers wherever you do business, whether it's in person, through your Shopify store, or elsewhere online. Each place where you sell your products appears in your Shopify admin as a separate sales channel.

There are several online channels that you can add to your Shopify admin to sell online:

Note

Each sales channel has eligibility requirements that are based on your region, your product types, and sometimes on your Shopify plan.

Shopify Buy Buttons

The Buy Button sales channel lets you turn your website or blog into an ecommerce site by adding Buy Buttons that connect to your Shopify checkout.

Buy button example

Facebook

The Facebook sales channel adds a Shop tab to your store's Facebook Page, where your customers can buy featured products from your Shopify store.

Facebook shop tab

Pinterest

The Pinterest sales channel turns Pins of eligible products from your Shopify store into Buyable Pins for customers using the Pinterest iOS app. Customers using the app can buy your products directly on Pinterest, and their order details are synchronized with Shopify.

Buyable pin example

Twitter

The Twitter sales channel lets you add Buy Now buttons to tweets for your products and collections. Using the Twitter iOS app, customers can view the product details, enter their shipping and payment information, and confirm their orders. The customer and order details will then be synchronized with Shopify.

Buyable tweet example

Step 6: Make sure customers can pay you

To make sure that customers can pay you, you need to set up a payment gateway. A payment gateway lets you accept credit card payments securely. Shopify offers its own payment gateway (Shopify Payments) as well as a variety of supported third-party payment gateways.

To set up a payment gateway:

  1. Select a payment gateway from Shopify or from a supported third-party.

    Tip

    When you choose to use Shopify Payments, you can avoid paying additional transaction fees and you can view your payouts right from your Shopify admin.

  2. Enable Shopify Payments or a third-party payment gateway in your Shopify admin.

  3. Choose how you want to capture and authorize payments when customers buy something from your store.

Now that you've set up your payment gateways, you need to configure your checkout page so you can process customer orders.

To set up your checkout:

  1. Decide how you want to process customer orders so you have a strategy to fulfill the orders.

  2. Add your store's policies so your customers are aware of them before they complete checkout.

  3. Collect customer emails and use them to update customers about events and promotions.

Tip

The checkout page has some customizable options, such as editable customer fields and some design options, that you can configure to fit your needs.

Step 7: Place some test orders

Now that you've configured your payment settings, you should try out a few transactions to make sure that everything is working. Running a test order will help you understand the process your customers go through when they buy products from your store. You can access all of the orders that customers place from the Orders page in your Shopify admin.

You can run test orders for a few different types of transaction:

As you create, refund, and fulfill orders, you will see the emails that your customers receive at each stage. You can edit the templates for these emails from the Notifications page in your Shopify admin.

Step 8: Add a domain

Is your store still showing a .myshopify address to your customers? Make sure you have a professional look by setting up a custom domain. A domain is the URL, or the website address, that your customers go to to find your store online.

Using a Shopify domain

If you decide to buy a domain name from Shopify, you can do it directly from your Shopify admin. There are a few things you need to do:

  1. Purchase your domain through Shopify.
  2. Enable auto-renewal so that your customers can find you at all times. Make sure you know the regulations for expired domains.
  3. Set your Shopify domain as your primary so it becomes the domain that your customers see and the domain that appears in search results and on social media.
  4. Set up email forwarding so your customers can email you at your @mycustomdomain.com address.
  5. Send yourself a couple of test emails to make sure that you can receive customer inquiries.

Using your own domain

If you already have a domain, or if you want to purchase one from a third-party provider, you will have to point it to your store. If you decide to go with a third-party provider, you need to:

  1. Purchase your custom domain from a third-party provider.
  2. Follow the instructions for custom domains to set up your subdomains and your root domain. If you use one of the popular domain providers, you can follow the instructions for that specific provider.
  3. Claim your Shopify domain to identify yourself as the owner.
  4. Set up your primary domain so it becomes the domain that your customers see and the one that appears in search results and on social media.
  5. Set up email forwarding so your customers can email you at your @mycustomdomain.com address.
  6. Send yourself a couple of test emails to make sure that you can receive customer inquiries.

Step 9: Make your website look great

After setting up your products, it's important to make sure that you are happy with the way your online store looks. Shopify offers hundreds of beautifully designed themes in the Shopify Theme Store, many of which can be edited and configured to fit the style of your store.

Tip

If you’re looking for a theme that supports a specific feature (for example, themes that have a built-in newsletter signup), you can browse themes by features.

To download a theme for your store:

  1. Visit the Shopify Theme Store and find a theme that you like. You can browse themes by price (free or paid), by industry, or by other categories (such as popularity or relevance).

    Note

    All free themes in the Shopify Theme Store are made by Shopify and are supported by Shopify. Paid themes are developed by third-party theme developers and are not supported by Shopify. You would have to contact that developer for support.

  2. Install the theme in your store. Make sure you preview the theme before you download it (especially if it's a paid theme).

  3. Publish your theme to your store.

  4. Customize your theme to give it the look and feel that you want.

Theme customizations can range from basic to advanced. If you aren't comfortable customizing a theme on your own, you can contact Shopify Support or look for a Shopify expert to make the changes for you.

Step 10: Promote your store

Ready to launch? Now that all of the setup is done, it's time to tell people about your store!

Whether you are selling in person or online, your store comes with some placeholder content on pages and blog posts that you can replace with your own content. There are a few differences between pages and blog posts:

  • You can use pages for content that you won't be updating frequently such as an About us page or a Contact page.
  • You can use blog posts for more interactive content, for example, regular updates about products, events, or promotions in your store.

Tip

If you're new to blogging, find out how to get started.

Don't forget to set up your navigation so that links to your pages and blog posts appear on your storefront.

As you build your business, you'll discover different ways to engage your customers and keep them coming back. The marketing and promotion guides on the Shopify blog are a great place to start:

You can also join the Shopify community to find great resources and connect with other Shopify merchants.

Want to discuss this page?

Visit the Shopify Community

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