Is Building a Shopify Store as Easy as It Sounds?

May 31, 2024 | Platinum Consulting
Is Building a Shopify Store as Easy as It Sounds__

E-commerce is booming, and in 2024, more businesses than ever are moving online to reach a global audience.

Of the tens of millions of online stores out there, at least 4.8 million of them use Shopify. This online platform is widely touted as incredibly user-friendly, but still robust enough to meet the needs of all kinds of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

If you’re thinking of creating an online store, Shopify is undoubtedly one of the top platforms you’re considering – but is building a Shopify store actually as easy as it sounds?

As experienced web designers and developers, we know our way around the entire Shopify platform, and we’ve seen its processes, challenges, and benefits. In this blog post, we’re diving into the ins and outs of building your own store – as well as the reasons you might still need a professional’s touch.

About Shopify Stores

Established in 2006, Shopify has rapidly become an industry leader, empowering millions of businesses across 175 countries. The platform’s intuitive interface makes it accessible for entrepreneurs and small businesses, while its advanced tools cater to the needs of larger enterprises.

Today, the platform holds a 27% market share in the United States, making it the leading eCommerce platform ahead of competitors such as Wix and WooCommerce.

One of Shopify's standout features is its scalability, which allows businesses to grow seamlessly from small startups to major online retailers. If that’s your goal, this might be the right choice for you – so let’s take a look at the steps to get started.

The Process of Building Your Own Shopify Store

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or new to e-commerce, Shopify’s user-friendly platform arguably provides all the tools you “need” to create a professional and functional online store.

Let’s review the essential steps of setting up your online store. By following this process, you can ensure a smooth setup process and set a strong foundation for your online business – potentially without the help of a professional designer or developer.

1. Sign Up for a Shopify Account

The first step in building your store is to sign up for a Shopify account. Visit the Shopify website and click the “Start free trial” button. You’ll be prompted to enter your email address, create a password, and choose a unique store name. Once you’ve filled in these details, click “Create your store” to proceed.

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, allowing you to explore the platform and start setting up your online store without any initial cost. During the trial period, you can customize your store, add products, and configure settings to get a feel for how Shopify works.

We highly recommend using this trial period as an opportunity to experiment with different features and decide if Shopify is actually the right fit for your business. Remember: just because it’s the most popular ecommerce platform doesn’t mean it’s the only one!

2. Choose a Theme

After signing up, the next step is to choose a theme for your online store. Shopify offers a variety of paid and free themes in its Theme Store, catering to different industries and styles.

Your theme determines the look and feel of your store, so you need to choose one that aligns with your brand’s aesthetic and functionality needs.

Browse the available themes, preview them, and consider how they will effectively showcase your products. Once you find a theme that fits the bill, you can easily apply it to your store.

Of course, you can always customize your Shopify store theme to help it stand out more. The more personalized the design, the better the user experience, which can positively influence your performance in search engine results and revenue streams.

But we’ll talk about that more later in this blog.

3. Customize the Store

Your next step is to get specific with your store’s features and setup. Shopify’s drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to modify your theme without technically using any coding skills.

Without touching the code, you can change colors, fonts, and layouts to reflect your brand’s identity. Add your logo, adjust the header and footer, and create custom pages such as an About Us or Contact page.

You can also configure the navigation menu to ensure a seamless browsing experience for your customers – which is crucial.

This customization process allows you to create a unique and professional-looking online store that stands out from the competition. Although working with a designer is the best way to build a truly unique store, even just minor customizations on your own can make an enormous difference.

4. Add Products

With your store design in place, the next step is to add your products.

Navigate to the “Products” section in your Shopify admin dashboard and click “Add product.” Enter detailed information about each product, including a unique title, description, price, and high-quality images. You can also organize your products into collections to make it easier for customers to find what they need.

Shopify allows you to easily manage inventory, set up variants (such as different sizes or colors), and optimize product listings for search engine results. Make sure to provide detailed and accurate product information that will enhance visitors’ shopping experiences and improve your store’s credibility.

5. Set Up Payment Methods

Setting up payment methods is a critical part of enabling transactions on your online store. A huge bonus to the Shopify platform is that it supports a variety of payment gateways, including Shopify Payments, PayPal, and third-party providers like Stripe.

To set up payments, go to the “Settings” section of your Shopify admin and select “Payments.” From there, you can choose your preferred payment gateways and configure the settings.

Shopify Payments is a popular choice as it integrates seamlessly with your online store and offers competitive transaction fees. Whatever you wind up using, be sure it’s a secure and convenient option that will build trust with your customers and facilitate smooth transactions.

6. Configure Shipping Options

Configuring shipping options is an essential part of setting up your online store, as it determines how products will be delivered to your customers.

In the “Shipping and Delivery” section of your Shopify admin, you can set up shipping zones, rates, transaction fees, and methods. You can also offer free shipping, flat rates, or calculated shipping costs based on the carrier.

Additionally, you can configure local delivery and pickup options if applicable. Shopify allows you to connect with various shipping carriers to streamline the fulfillment process.

7. Launch!

After completing the setup steps, you’re ready to launch your Shopify store! But before going live, thoroughly review your online store to ensure everything is in place. Test your navigation, checkout process, and payment methods.

After all, you only get one chance at a first impression!

Make sure all product listings are accurate and that your store’s design is polished. Once you’re satisfied, remove the password protection in the “Preferences” section of your admin dashboard to make your ecommerce business accessible to the public.

Then, it’s time to announce your launch through your marketing and sales channels, such as social media and email newsletters, to attract initial traffic. Think of this as a grand opening for your digital storefront, and celebrate it accordingly!

The Shopify Learning Curve

The truth is that no ecommerce platform is without its quirks and challenges. While Shopify is designed to be user-friendly, there is still a significant learning curve, especially for those new to e-commerce.

Beginners might initially find it challenging to navigate the Shopify platform, customize themes, and integrate third-party apps. It can also take time to understand and use Shopify’s advanced features, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics.

Fortunately, Shopify provides extensive resources, including tutorials, documentation, and community support, to help users overcome these challenges. With patience and practice, any user can learn their way around the platform and unlock its full potential to create a successful online store.

Common Challenges for First-Time Users

Time & Effort Required

Although you can still create a Shopify store quickly in the grand scheme of things, the process still demands significant time and effort – particularly for first-time users.

As we just discussed, setting up your store involves multiple steps. Anyone who tells you it takes less than an hour is fooling themselves (or just used to creating subpar websites).

If you start digging through online forums, you’ll find that most people report spending at least a few days if not one or two weeks creating their first Shopify store. The less familiar you are with the platform, the longer the process will take.

Additionally, ongoing tasks such as inventory management, marketing, and customer service require continuous attention and time that not everyone has. If you’re already stretched for time, building and managing your own Shopify store might put you over your limit.

Costs Involved

While Shopify offers various pricing plans starting at $29 per month, additional costs still can add up.

Premium themes, which provide advanced customization options, can range from $100 to $180. Essential apps for SEO, marketing, and inventory management often come with monthly fees. There are also costs for domain registration, transaction fees, and potential professional services for design and development.

All-in-all, it’s safe to say you won’t just be paying $29 per month. It’s important to know what an accurate budget should account for as you build and launch your online store.

Planning & Organization

Before they can start selling online, first-time store builders may struggle with defining their store’s structure, categorizing products, and mapping out the customer journey.

You need the time and know-how to develop a clear business plan that outlines your target audience, product offerings, and marketing strategies. You’ll also need to start organizing your tasks and setting realistic deadlines to keep the project on track.

Finding the Right Resources

There are many helpful resources out there, but navigating the wealth of information available for Shopify can be overwhelming.

First-time users often struggle to find reliable guides, tutorials, and support forums that address their specific needs. In the end, you may waste hours (or even days) trying to find answers from legitimate sources.

This brings us to our next topic in this post: understanding when it’s worth seeking guidance or services from the pros.

When You Need Professional Help

Despite Shopify's user-friendly design, it’s difficult to achieve a truly polished and functional online store without a certain degree of experience. Many of the most successful stores you see were built with professional help, especially when it comes to…

Custom Design & Branding

If you really want to take your Shopify store to the next level, you need a design that’s one-of-a-kind instead of cookie-cutter. A unique and cohesive brand identity is crucial for standing out in a competitive market and attracting customers.

Professional designers can create visually stunning logos, graphics, and themes that capture your brand’s essence and resonate with your target audience. Their expertise ensures that your store’s design not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also enhances usability and reinforces your brand message.

And trust us – their designs go far beyond what most free or even paid Shopify themes can offer.

Complex Functionalities & Features

There’s no way around it: constructing a Shopify store with complex functionalities and features requires specialized technical knowledge and expertise.

Professional developers can create custom solutions tailored to your specific business needs, whether that means implementing advanced product configurators, integrating third-party APIs, or developing custom apps. Their experience ensures that advanced functionalities are implemented seamlessly, without compromising website performance or security.

Search Engine Optimization

Effective SEO is essential for driving organic traffic to your Shopify store and increasing visibility with both search engines and digital customers. Although you could stick to using the platform’s built-in SEO tools, that alone isn’t likely to put you at the head of the pack.

Professional SEO services will help optimize your online store for relevant keywords, improve site structure and navigation, and enhance on-page elements such as meta tags and headings. Experts can also develop a comprehensive content strategy, including blog posts, product descriptions, and landing pages, to attract and engage your target audience.

Scalability & Performance Improvements

As your Shopify store grows, scalability and performance become critical factors for maintaining a seamless user experience and accommodating increasing traffic and sales volumes.

Professional developers can assess your store’s architecture and infrastructure and implement scalability measures to ensure it can handle growth effectively. They can also optimize your store’s performance by identifying and addressing bottlenecks, minimizing loading times, and enhancing server capabilities.

In other words, seeking professional assistance helps you future-proof your Shopify store and ensure it remains fast, reliable, and responsive as your business expands.

Time or Bandwidth Constraints

As we mentioned, launching a successful Shopify store requires time, dedication, and attention to detail – no matter how streamlined the platform might be.

However, as a business owner, you likely have limited time or bandwidth to devote to building and managing your store effectively.

Professional assistance can alleviate the burden by taking on tasks such as setting up your online store, configuring themes and plugins, and managing ongoing maintenance and updates. This allows you to focus on core business activities and strategic initiatives while ensuring that your eCommerce website is built and maintained to the highest standards.

In Summary

Shopify makes it possible for many to set up their own online store, and that’s great! Still, that doesn’t negate the many benefits of working with a professional to optimize your store and gain a much-needed competitive edge.

Whether you’re looking for custom designs, complex site functionalities, expert SEO, or simply to save time, investing in professional assistance can lead to a more successful and efficient e-commerce operation altogether.

Are You Launching a Shopify Store? Let’s Talk.

Your eCommerce website visitors may come from all corners of the world, but they all want the same thing: a smooth, personalized shopping experience. That’s why Platinum Consulting Services develops and maintains Shopify websites that function seamlessly and stand out from the crowd.

Our Shopify experts will sit down with you and discuss your website needs down to the smallest detail. Together, we’ll build an online store that fits your business’s personality, objectives, and target audience like a glove.

Ready to get started? Schedule a call with our Shopify development team today.