Last updated on March 10th, 2019 at 09:52 pm
People are searching more than ever before for ways to start a profitable business online and move away from the traditional workspace.
One such way for just about anyone to start up their own online business is to open a drop shipping store with Shopify, a web based platform.
If done right, it can be extremely lucrative. And, as an added bonus, you won’t have the added hassle of having to actually keep any merchandise on hand.
Follow along with this guide and you will have your own store up and running in no time. You’re looking at roughly a day to get everything set up. Seriously, it’s only 9 steps… that’s one step less than most other guides.
Now before you just dive in, you need to have an idea of what niche you will be targeting, get your suppliers lined up and have a basic business plan in place.
1) Register For An Account On Shopify
In order to start using Shopify, you will first need to register for a Shopify account. You can start off with their 14-day free trial to determine if you like it or not, completely risk-free. All you need is an email address and your business name.
Simply go to Shopify.com and enter your name, email address, and the name of your business and hit the “Create my store” button. Next, you will be asked to provide more information about your business.
Once you have completed this step you’ll be redirected to your dashboard which will look like the picture shown below.
Once your free trial expires, you have three options for upgrading your account but will we get into that later. For now, you just want to get up and running to determine if it is the right fit for you.
After you enter your contact info you’ll be asked to use a drop-down menu to give more info about whether your business is brand new or more established. Select the appropriate drop-down option and you’ll be taken to your dashboard.
If you scroll down the page a bit you will see that you have a few options you can use depending on how and where you will be selling your products. and click on the “Add Online Store” option.
Click the button and you will be redirected to your dashboard but with one change: you ow have an “Online Store” link in your sidebar. This link comes in useful when you get ready to purchase your domain name or start editing your store.
2) Buy Your Domain Name
While it isn’t absolutely necessary to rush out and buy your own domain name for your store, it certainly is a smart idea.
You just registered for a Shopify account so what better place to host your store than on your own domain?
Yet again, Shopify has made the process extremely simple for you. With the click of a button, you can purchase your own domain right from your dashboard.
Alternatively, we recommend BlueHost for a place to buy an affordable domain. To do this, click on that “Online Store” link in your sidebar that you received after in the registration process.
When the page opens up, click on the “Domains” button. In the upper right corner, you will see a “buy new domain” button. Click that button and you are on your way to owning your very own domain after you provide Shopify with some more information.
If the domain name you want is available you can purchase it. If not, try, try again. On this page, you can also set it up to use a domain that you already own as well.
After you’ve made you purchase you will be taken to a new page where you will tell Shopify to redirect all traffic to your newly purchased domain. Tick the box and click save.
One last thing about your domain. Check your email for a verification letter from Shopify about your domain purchase. If you don’t verify your domain purchase in a timely manner your domain will more than likely end up suspended.
3) Set Up Email Forwarding
Now that you have a Shopify account and purchased your own domain name for your store, it’s time to take a look at a rather important setting.
I’m talking about email forwarding. When your customers need to contact you for any reason they will likely do this through the contact form on your website.
Since Shopify doesn’t actually host an email account for you will need to specify what email address you’d like to receive these emails. By default, Shopify will use the email address you used to register for your account.
To set this up manually, click the “Domains” link from the “Online Store” menu and you will be presented with the “Manage Domains” page. On this page, you will see a list of all your domains.
Select the domain name you’d like to work on. This will bring you to the “Email Forwarding” section where you can specify what email address you’d like to forward your emails to. Oh, and you can have more than one.
Please keep in mind that any reply you send to a customer will come from whatever email address you have chosen to use as the forwarding address.
4) Pick A Theme For Your Store
Now it’s time to start deciding on how you want your shop to look over all. Luckily, Shopify has a pretty good selection of themes to help you with this problem.
Some are free and some are premium (paid). If you are just starting out it may be best to keep things simple and select a free theme.
However, if you are looking to buy a theme for your store, you can find some really nice premium themes here for about $150.00.
When searching for the perfect theme you can use Shopify’s search filter to help you narrow things down popularity, price or even by niche.
Before you spend any money you can even test out the various themes by clicking the “View Demo” on the theme’s page. Try it out and play around with a few of them and see what each has to offer your store.
Once you finally settle on that one that you can’t live without, all you have to do is click “Install Theme”.
Now you will have the option to either publish your theme which essentially makes your site take on that theme immediately or you can opt to simply not publish it yet while you work on it.
5) Add Appropriate Pages To Your Store
You’ll want to add pages to your site so your customers can navigate around your store easily. By default, Shopify adds some basic pages for you but it is recommended to change these to suit your own store a bit better.
There are five main pages that we recommend you have. These are:
- Homepage – This will be your website’s front page and the first thing your customers will see
- About Us – Include information about your store such as a mission statement
- Shop – This is where your customers can see all the products that you sell
- Terms Of Service – This page should contain your store policies such as shipping and returns
- Contact Us – This page should include a contact form or another way for your customers to contact you
Shopify makes the creation of these pages really easy. To get started, you can head over to your Shopify dashboard and click the “online Store” link in the left-hand sidebar.
Then you will select the “Pages” tab which will redirect you to a page that looks like this:
Shopify starts you off on the right foot by giving you two default pages complete with default content on them to give you ideas of what type of info to include.
One for the “About Us” page and one for the “Homepage”. These are meant to guide you through the process of creating pages.
Of course, you don’t want to leave the default content on those pages so when you are ready to begin filling them in with your own information, click on one of the page titles.
You will be taken to the content editor for that page where you can change the text or other content that appears on that page.
When you’re ready to see what your page looks like with your new content you can click the “Preview” button to see how it looks without having to actually make it public.
If the preview looks great and you are fully satisfied, simply click the save button and go ahead and add all of your other pages by clicking the “Add page” button.
For the moment, don’t spend too much time working out all the fine details you want on the pages. The goal is to get all your main pages set up and come back and tweak them later.
If your pages need to have images or videos, you can do this with ease. Simply copy and paste the image or link if it is a video and you are done. Don’t forget to double check the page by using the preview button again before you save it.
Once you’ve got all of your main pages created you need to make sure that they are showing up properly as links in the navigation menu of your Homepage.
To do this you just need to click on the “Online Store” link in your sidebar and then click “Navigation”. From here you can also specify where each page will be linked to.
6) Get Your Products Added
Now that you’ve got all the basics of your store set up, it’s time to start getting all of those products added!
Go back to your dashboard. On your sidebar, there is a link called “Products” that you need to click. Now click the “Add Product” button and this will open up a product detail page. Here you can input all the info about your product, images, and pricing among a few other things.
The main product description section is you can tell your customers what your product is and list its features or specifications.
It is fairly self-explanatory so we will need be wasting too much time on that. You will be spending most of your time working in this section but there are some other areas that you need to be more familiar with.
In the right-hand sidebar, you will see a section titled “Organization” and this is where you can enter the type of product that it is and what vendor it is from, add it to a collection and include tags for the product.
All of this is information that Shopify will use to group similar products together which makes it easier for your customers to find the products they want quickly. The Organization section gives you these four options:
- Product Type: This option allows you to group products together based on what type they are (i.e. shirts, watches, desks, etc.).
- Vendor: The Vendor option allows you to group products together by brand.
- Collections: The Collections option allows you to create custom groupings (i.e. “Software for business owners”)
- Tags: With tags, you can make the aspects of any product search-able (i.e. material, color, measurements, etc.)
Scroll down the page and you find an area for you to upload your product images.>Scroll down a little further and you will see the “Pricing” section.
The pricing section is very useful as this gives you the ability to show your customers your pricing versus your competitor’s pricing.
This shows your customers how much money they will save by shopping at your store versus your shopping with your competition.
If you have multiple colors or styles of the same product that you need to price differently or allow the customer to choose from, you are in luck. Shopify allows you to create what are called variants. Adding in your product variation is simple.
Create your variants, adjust prices accordingly and hit the save button and you are done.
7) Customizing Your Theme
So, you have your store online, you have installed a theme and even have all of your products uploaded to your store. What now?
It’s time for you to start making your store more visually appealing to your customers who will be spending their time looking at it.
Each theme is going to be a little bit different. Some have more options, some have less. But there are a few basic things that you should do before you get ready to launch.
Head back over to your “Online Store” section and click the “Themes” link in your sidebar. Next, you will see a screen that has a “Customize your theme” button. Click that button and this is where you will be able to do all your theme customizations.
I recommend you go ahead and visit the Social Media section and set up your social media accounts there. When you do this, Shopify will place social media icons that redirect to your accounts, on your store pages.
Next thing you need to do is set up your sales channels. This can be found by going to settings and clicking on “Sales Channels”.
Here you can select all the ways you intend to sell your products. You can learn more about how these work on the same page.
One last thing to consider doing is telling Shopify what should or should not be displayed on your product pages. To do this, go to the “Product Pages” link while inside the “Customize Your Theme” menu.
There are quite a few options here that you can tinker with to suit your needs. From here you should also enable product reviews.
In order for the product reviews to work properly, this is one app that you’ll need.
8) Add Shopify’s Product Review App
Shopify has a well-rounded app store of which you can and should take full advantage. Apps are a kind of plug-in or add-on that can be added to your Shopify store.
It is here that you will find an app for just about any purpose. They can add new functionality and features to your Shopify store.
Shopify offers its users a one really nifty app in particular. It is the Product Review App and it does exactly as its name implies. It allows your customers to leave reviews of your products which will be displayed on that products page.
This is great for two reasons; for one, it adds more content to your pages and two, reviews can help persuade your other customers to purchase that product.
Adding this app to your Shopify store can be a bit tricky but lucky for you I will guide you through it. While you are in the app store, search for the Shopify Product Review app and visit its page.
Download the app and you will be redirected back to your own store and asked to confirm that you want to install the Product Review app. Confirm it by clicking “Install App” and you will be greeted with a page like this:
Here’s where it can get a little tricky. But if you follow the four steps that the installation walks you through, it will work flawlessly.
There is one more optional feature that Shopify will ask if you’d like to install. This is the star rating badge and it allows your customers to leave a star rating to their review.
Go back to your dashboard and you should see that you have the Product Review app installed.
If you click on the apps logo it will take you to that apps page where you can set other options to determine how it works. You can set up email notifications anytime your products receive a review.
Choose to allow reviews to be made public automatically or need your approval and can even specify what fields on the review form are required in order for your customers to post a review.
Congratulations, you now have a fully working Shopify drop-shipping store. The only thing left to do now is to upgrade your Shopify plan.
9) Choosing The Best Shopify Plan
If you have made it this far and have had a little time with the free trial period, it’s probably time to upgrade your account to a plan that has a few more benefits so that you can keep growing your business.
Shopify gives you four plans to choose from once your free trial has expired. Each one of these plans offers you something different.
Before you rush off and buy a plan, however, there are a few things that you should know about how the plans work:
- You can purchase a month to month plan or you can sign up for an annual or biennial plan and receive special benefits
- Annual contracts will receive a 10% discount on plan rates and Biennial contracts will receive 20%
- You can upgrade or downgrade from any plan to another at any time
- You can cancel your contract at any time
Shopify offers four plans that you can choose from. These are Starter, Basic, Pro, and Unlimited.
- Starter Plan: $14 per month. Your store is limited to only 25 products. This plan is not eligible for phone support.
- Basic Plan: $29 per month. Your store can host an unlimited number of products. 24/7 support. You are able to sell on social media.
- Professional Plan: $79 per month. You receive all of the Basic Plan plus gift cards. Cart recovery. Lower credit card processing fees.
- Unlimited Plan: $179 per month. You receive all of the Professional Plan plus enhanced reporting and shipping. Lower credit card processing fees than the Professional Plan.
Ultimately it is up to you to pick the plan that suits all the needs for your drop-shipping business. But my recommendation is to start small but not too small if you are just starting out and upgrade your account to the Basic Plan.
An investment of $29 per month into your business is not a lot for what you get in return. While the starter plan is less expensive, it also lacks a lot of the features that would really help bolster your business. Go with the Basic Plan, you won’t regret it.
The WiseSmallBusiness Team is full of industry experts and successful business owners willing to contribute important business articles.