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shopify & you the step-by-step guide to opening your online store Thomas Holmes


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the step-by-step guide

to opening your online store


Shopify & You - the step-by-step guide to opening your online store by Thomas Holmes

Published in 2012 by Thomas Holmes 5 rue St. Côme, 34000 Montpellier, France. On the web: www.shopifyandyou.com

Copyright © 2012 Thomas Holmes

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the author and publisher assume no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained in it.


Shopify & You

The step-by-step guide to opening your online store



Table of contents - you are here!   iv Introduction   vi

Acknowledgements   ix

1 SeTTing up your firST baSic STore   1

First steps   2

The Shopify Admin   5

Summary   22

2 THe key feaTureS of an online STore   23

Features of your store   24

The imposters demo store   25

Summary   43

3 cHooSing a THeme for your STore   44

Introducing the theme store   45

Summary   63

4 publiSHing your producTS   64

Product pages   65

Creating and editing products   67

Managing your products   92

Summary   107

5 inSTalling and cuSTomizing your THeme   108

Installing the theme of your choice   109

Managing your installed themes   110

Working with theme settings   114

The template editor   133


6 building your STore navigaTion and collecTionS   140

Creating and managing collections   141

Building your store’s navigation   155

Summary   167

7 creaTing pageS and a blog   168

Introduction to pages   169

Working with pages   171

Introduction to blogs and blog articles   176

Working with blogs and blog articles   178

Summary   188

8 SeTTing up your STore preferenceS   189

Your store preferences   190

General settings   190

Regions & taxes   197

Checkout & payment   203

Shipping   224

Fulfillment services   233

Email & notifications   237

DNS & domains   247

Account   255

Summary   256

9 launcHing your STore, managing orderS and cuSTomerS   257

Clicking the launch button   258

The admin homepage after you launch   259

Managing orders   262

Managing customer profiles   280

Summary   290





I’ve always thought of running an online store as a little like playing a video game. Except this particular video game involves real people and money. Those first few sales are really thrilling. Sales come in during the day and even at night while you’re sleeping, and every time, “beep”, a sales notification comes in on your phone or email. I got my first taste for the excitement of running an ecommerce business when I created an online store to sell sporting equipment in France. We had just started building the store and we only had one product listed and the description was not yet translated into French.

Then, out of the blue, my business partner got a call from a guy asking where on earth his order was! We hadn’t even checked for sales: the store wasn’t launched. It turned out that my partner had posted the store on a public bookmark site, Google had found the store and not one but two people had put through orders!

I had been keeping an eye on Shopify for a couple of years before I had the chance to build a store on it. I loved how simple it was to use and how beautiful the stores created with it were. And then there were the interactions with the sales and support teams - such a positive bunch of people, everything was possible and above all “awesome”. It’s such an inspiration to see all these new stores launching and hear the stories behind them. Real people creating real businesses that work! What’s more there’s the “Build a Business” competition that Shopify runs each year: build an ecommerce business and compete for prizes. That’s just brilliant!

For all these reasons, I really do believe that Shopify is the way to go if you want to develop an online store. And it was this enthusiasm that inspired me to write “Shopify & You.” I hope this book will make it easier for you to build your own business with Shopify. Good luck as you begin on this exciting adventure!


Introduction vii

Who is this book for?

This book is for people who are new to Shopify and want to learn the basics of the software quickly. It’s also for people who already use Shopify and think a book could help them get a better grasp of the software and serve as a handy reference for specific tasks.

In writing the book I assumed that the reader was already familiar with a web browser and web applications (such as Hotmail or Facebook). There’s no need for HTML, CSS or programming skills. They’re not necessary in order to create a beautiful store with Shopify, so I felt they were beyond the scope of this book.

How is this book structured?

This book covers the basics of opening an online store with Shopify using the Classic Shopify Admin. To coincide with the launch of Shopify 2, an updated version will be available to all those who bought the original version of the book.

The book is divided into the following chapters:

1. Setting up your first basic store: This chapter covers creating a first basic store with Shopify and introduces the admin, where you’ll develop and run your store. 2. The key features of an online store: The features that make up an online store and a sneak-peek at the “imposters” demonstration store that we follow the building of throughout the book.

3. Choosing a theme for your store: We take a look at the important decision of how to choose the design theme that will give your store its look and feel. 4. Publishing your products: Find out about effectively presenting your products

online and then learn how to create and manage your products in the admin. 5. Installing and customizing your theme: How to install and customize a design




6. Building your store navigation and collections: Covers how to group products together into collections and build the navigation so that your store’s visitors can easily find their way around.

7. Creating pages and a blog: This chapter looks at how to create a blog to attract interest in your store and create pages to answer your visitors’ questions.

8. Setting up your store preferences: Here’s how to tell Shopify exactly how you want your store to run.

9. Launching your store, managing orders and customers: Learn about the statistics available after launch and how to manage orders and customer profiles.

About the author

I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. After studying mathematics at university and working for Local Ireland, one of Ireland’s biggest web projects, I returned to college again, this time for a degree in fine art. Today I live in Montpellier in the South of France. So what qualifies me to write this book? For a start, donkey’s years playing and working on the Internet. I created my first website in the summer of 1994. A year later I established the Internet Society at my university in Dublin and, with a friend, created an online magazine featuring interviews and reviews of films, plays and gigs. I was hooked and I’ve been working with the web ever since.

I have also created several businesses. In 2006 I set up my first business, an Internet marketing consultancy called logic+intuition. In 2007, with the help of two partners, I created my first online store. Over a period of four years, this second business generated nearly 1.5 million euros in sales. With this book, I launch my third Internet-related venture.


Acknowledgements ix


I was fortunate to have a top team helping me put together this book. For initial inspiration, continual encouragement, proofreading, design, technical support and reading, I have a lot for which to be thankful.

Special thanks go to Daniel Stanton and Camille Decitre. Dan proofread each of the chapters and was the first to come back and say that it was actually “quite good”! This book is much better for his many suggestions. Camille and I collaborated on the design of the book. Her patient, step-by-step approach made a complex project a whole lot simpler.

Thanks to the folks at Shopify for all their help, support and encouragement. I’d particularly like to acknowledge Mark Hayes, Tamara Solomon, Caroline Schnapp and Liz McDonald. I’d also like to thank those who wrote the existing Shopify documentation and the Shopify blog.

Thanks also to Simon Banner and Brian Cameron. It’s great to float an idea and get such a huge ever-positive response. These two always delivered.

For inspiring me into action, I’d like to give credit to Brett Kelly, Chris Guillebeau and Tim Ferriss. Brett Kelly wrote the excellent ebook “Evernote Essentials” on the Evernote software. Chris Guillebeau wrote about Brett in his inspirational book “The $100 Startup” and in an article on Tim Ferris’s blog. Tim Ferriss, of course, wrote the “The 4-Hour Workweek,” a book which I absolutely love.

Respect to Pascal at “atelier 19” in Montpellier, France, who graciously gave me permission to feature the store’s window display on the cover of the book.

Thanks to Dolano for showing me the peace that helped me write this book. Thanks to Stella for her patience, love and ever-smiling presence.


1. Setting up your

first basic store

now it’s time to get started! in this chapter you will see the simple steps involved in setting up your first basic store on Shopify. That then leads us into the admin, where you will develop and run your online store. We’ll do a tour of the admin, show you how to get around within it and introduce you to all the main sections.


Setting up your first basic store


Start the creation of your store on Shopify by filling in the simple form on the Shopify homepage (http://www.shopify.com).

First steps

Let’s open up the Shopify website (http://www.shopify.com). In the simple form on the homepage, fill in your store name, email address and the password you would like to use with Shopify. Make sure to use the store name you want - the address of your store will be based on it. It is literally the store name so you don’t need to put in “www”, “.com” or anything like that. Note down the password as you will need it again.

Click the Create your store now button and Shopify will start putting in place your store. The screen will show you a number of steps taking place and then confirm that your store is ready to go. Click the Take me to my store button to continue.

So you are now on the homepage of your new store. It’s quite basic but it looks good! In the next few chapters, we’re going to look at how you can get your store to look like you want it. Then we’ll look at how you publish your products, general information pages and articles for your blog.


Setting up your first basic store 3

At the top of the page, you’ll notice a dark bar with a button Go to store admin to quickly access the admin for your store. There’s a confirmation that your store is password protected so that no one else can see it yet plus it shows that you are logged


Setting up your first basic store


on (or connected to Shopify) and you have the option to Log out. You can close this bar (by clicking on the x).

If you check your email, you will also have a welcome email from Shopify with the address of your shop, the admin and some tutorials to get you started. We will look at the features of your store a little bit later. For the moment, let’s click the Go to store admin button at the top right of the page and take a look at your store admin. Before we get into the admin, Shopify needs a few more details to complete the setup of your account. Fill in your name, address and the other fields. Click the link if you would like to read the terms of service and click the I’m done button to move to the next step.


Setting up your first basic store 5

The Shopify Admin

Welcome to your store admin! It is from here that you will develop and run your store. Your free thirty day trial of Shopify has begun. Let’s take a look at the different elements on this page.

The upper navigation bar

Right at the top of the page, there is a darkened bar that we will call the upper navigation bar. From this bar you can navigate to a number of important parts of your store. Starting at the left and working to the right:

Shopify: Clicking on the shopify logo at the top left, will always bring you back to the admin homepage. You are currently on the admin homepage so it will only refresh the page if you click it now. We will try this again properly later.

View your store: Clicking on this button will open the homepage of your store (or the store homepage). Try it! You will recognise the store homepage from earlier. You can click back on your browser to bring you back to the admin homepage.


Setting up your first basic store


Search shop: Moving over to the right-hand side, you can use the search box to search through and find things in your admin. For example, you might want to search for a product. It’s not going to give you any results yet as you don’t have any products. But try typing in something short into the search box and click enter or return on your keyboard to run the search. After you can always try clicking the shopify logo at the top left to bring you back to the admin homepage!

Support: Focusing back on the upper navigation bar, clicking on the link Support

on the right will open up a new window (or tab) with the Support Center. Here you can browse through hundreds of questions that you might have about Shopify and read the answers. You can search through the questions and answers. This page also provides you with various means to contact Shopify Support. If you click on the button

Ask Shopify a question, you will be presented with a form to contact Shopify Support. Lastly on this page, you can see the latest tweets or public messages, from Shopify.

The Support Center which provides a wealth of information on Shopify in the form of questions and answers. Searching for a “goat” in your admin using the search box at the top of the upper navigation bar.


Setting up your first basic store 7

Clicking the link DOCS at the top of the page will open up the Shopify Documentation which provides a more technical overview of Shopify. Clicking the link FORUM will bring you to the forums, an excellent resource with discussions on many aspects of ecommerce as well as discussion on Shopify itself. It’s well worth a look. The link

SUPPORT at the top of the page will bring you back to the Support Center.

Ok, now let’s go back to the admin homepage. Usually the support center will be open in a new window or tab. So if you close that window or tab, you should be able to see your admin homepage. And at the top you’ll see the now familiar upper navigation bar.

Account: On the right-hand side of the upper navigation bar, you will see the link

Account. Clicking on this will open a page that provides lots of details about your Shopify account. The “Account Stats” show how many SKU (or individual products including variations) you have from the total allowed on your current plan plus how much storage space you are using from what is offered on your current plan. You can see on the screenshot below, I have not used any SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) and I can add up to 100 more to my account. I have 1 gigabyte (or 1GB) of storage space left for storing product photos, etc.

On the account page, you can also find the date of your next invoice, when you signed


Setting up your first basic store


up for Shopify (Member since), your Account status and your Current plan. Shopify offers a number of different plans which allow for different numbers of products, quantity of storage space and other features. If you click on the link Change your plan, you can see the different plans. The best plan for your store mainly depends on how many products you will offer and also how much revenue your store will make. Click back on your browser to return to “Your Account”.

Further down the page you will see a list of staff accounts. You can edit your own account by clicking on the link edit beside your name. You can also invite another staff member to use the admin for your store. Lastly on the page, there is a list of issued invoices and a button to close your store. Don’t do this, unless you really mean it!

Logout: Lastly on the right-hand side of the upper navigation bar, there is the link

Logout. This word dates from the early days of computer software and it means the same as Disconnect, or Sign out. Clicking this, you will be signed out of your account, and you will need to type in your email address and password to get back into your store admin.


Setting up your first basic store 9

The main navigation bar

This is the green bar at the top of the page, just under the upper navigation bar. From here, you can access the most important parts of your admin. Let’s take a look around the different parts of the admin.

Home button : To the far left of the main navigation bar, you will see a little graphic of a house. Wherever you are in the admin, clicking this will bring you back to the admin homepage. You will notice that the home button is surrounded in white. This acts like a tab in a filing cabinet. The section marked in white is the one currently at the front and in this case indicates which section of the admin you are in. You are currently on the admin homepage so the home button tab is the one at the front. When you move to a different section, this will change.

Orders: If you click on Orders, you will be brought through to the orders section. You will notice how the home button is no longer the front tab. The “Orders” tab is

now at the front because you are now in the orders section!


Setting up your first basic store


In the orders section, you can manage everything to do with orders. Given that you’re just starting out, you’re unlikely yet to have any orders. In this case, Shopify have kindly left us with a graphic that explains a little the main orders page.

If you put your mouse over the different parts of the graphic, it will show you a description of that part of the main orders page. On this page, you can manage your orders, filter your orders by specific criteria (paid or unpaid for example) and apply various actions (like capturing payments) for a group of orders that you have selected.

Customers: Next, let’s click on the Customers tab and take a look at the customers section. We don’t have any customers yet so this page will have a graphic that explains the page. Put the mouse over different parts of the graphic to read more.


Setting up your first basic store 11

For each customer that makes a purchase in your store, a customer profile will be available in this section. Here you’ll be able to sort, search and filter through your customers. For example, maybe you’ll want to see which customers spent the most or which customers passed the most number of orders. All this information and much more is contained in this section.

Products: Of course, before you will have any orders or customers, you’re going to need some products. And naturally, it’s in the products section that you will create and manage your products. Take a look at the graphic provided in this section, to see how an individual product looks like in the admin.

On this page, you will be able to add new products, export products and import


Setting up your first basic store


products. Once you have some products in place, in this section you will also be able to sort, edit and publish or hide your products.

Collections: Your products can be grouped together into collections. So for example, if you were selling kitchen products, you might group all your coffee makers (including the one shown in the screenshot) into a coffee makers collection. If you then make this collection available in your store, your store’s visitors will be able to see all your coffee makers grouped together.

So far, as you can see on the screenshot, there is only one collection called “Frontpage”. This is a collection of products that are displayed on your store’s front page.

There are two different types of collections: custom collections and smart collections. In a custom collection, the products are grouped together manually by you. In a smart collection, the products in the collection are grouped together automatically according to a set of conditions (all coffee makers that cost less than $100 for example).

Blogs & pages: Your store however, will be made up of more than just products and collections. You will also need to provide pages with information about your business.


Setting up your first basic store 13

For example, most stores have a customer service page which describes how their service works. You might also need a page about you and your store, your terms and conditions, and many other things.

With Shopify, you can also have a blog on your store. A blog is a section on your store, where you can publish up to date information. For example, an article about a special new product, or an article related more broadly to your industry. Providing just information about your products in your store is only of interest to so many people. But with a blog, you can talk about far wider topics that are of interest to your target customer base. Plus a blog can be fun and inject a bit more personality into your store!

Navigation: Providing your store’s visitors with an easy and useful way to get around your store is very important. Say someone is buying a coffee maker in your kitchen store but they also want to buy a juicer. You want it to be really easy for them to find


Setting up your first basic store


the juicers when they are finished in the coffee maker’s section. They will do this through the navigation.

Of course, at the moment, we are working through the navigation of your admin for Shopify. Hopefully, you are already seeing how well laid out it is!

So in the navigation section of your admin, you can control the navigation for your store. This is done through the editing or creation of link lists. These are, to put it simply, a list of links. On the web, a link is a way to move from one page to another. In your link lists, you can put in links to the front page of your store, specific collections, products, pages or the blog.

To start your store off, there are two existing menus: the “Main Menu” and the “Footer”. These you will see in action when we look at the navigation on your store. Notice

how the “Main Menu” link names below: “Home”, “Catalog”, “Blog” and “About Us” correspond directly to the navigation on the store, to the right of the store name,


Setting up your first basic store 15

“Imposters Poster Prints” in the screenshot.

If you are moving from an existing store on another platform, the URL Redirects, also available in this section are very useful. Using them you can redirect from your old web page addresses to the new addresses on your Shopify store.

Promotions: The promotions section ties together a number of different marketing related features. If you sign up for a Shopify Professional Plan or higher then you will be able to create discount codes to give a customer a special discount or free shipping. You can also publish your products to Google Product Search and the Shopify Marketplace. Plus you may be able to cash in some credits for ads on Facebook and Google.

The navigation “Home”, “Catalog”, “Blog”, “About Us” comes directly from the “Main Menu” link list in the navigation section.

The “Promotions” section is the place for creating discount codes, publishing to Google Product Search and Shopify Marketplace, and to redeem your Facebook and Google Adwords ad credits.


Setting up your first basic store


Apps: On the right-hand side of the main navigation bar, there are three more sections. The first is “Apps” and you will notice when you click Apps, rather than changing page, it will open up a small menu that presents you with two choices: Manage Apps or Get More Apps.

Apps is short for applications. There are hundreds of Shopify applications that can add useful features to your store. When you have apps installed, you can manage them through the “Manage Apps” section. To look at what apps are available, click on Get More Apps.

Through the Apps menu you can add and manage apps for your store.


Setting up your first basic store 17

We will come back and look at apps in more detail later. Many of them are invaluable add-ons to your store!

Themes: Let’s go back to your Shopify admin - you might have to click back in your browser. When you click on Themes in the main navigation bar, another menu will open up. Each store that uses Shopify is styled using a theme - it provides the store’s look and feel. There are hundreds of themes available, some are for free and some are premium (costing upwards of $80). You can design your own theme if you have the skills, or if you prefer, you can pay a designer to develop a unique theme for your store. In the theme settings you can adjust the settings for the theme currently live on your storefront. When you first create your Shopify store, it will use one of the default themes, either Radiance or New Standard. All the themes have different aspects that you can customize. On both the default themes for example, you can customize various colors and fonts used on the page, as well as choosing a background for your store. The template editor is for those experienced with HTML and CSS. If you have the skills,

you can customize your store exactly how you want it. Don’t touch this area unless you really know what you are doing as you could easily break your store!

In the theme manager, you can manage the themes that you have already installed. You can change which theme is currently live on your store. You can also work on a

theme or improve an existing theme without it being live on your store.

If you click Find more themes, you will be brought to the theme store. Here you can


Setting up your first basic store


browse, read about and view the more than one hundred themes available. When you have chosen one you like, you can then purchase it and have it installed on your store.


Setting up your first basic store 19

It’s worth noting that you can also have a second active theme: one that is designed for mobile devices! Shopify estimates that for Christmas 2013, 43% of all purchases in Shopify stores will be made using a mobile device. So it’s important to cater for those that want to buy in this way.

Preferences: Using the back button on your browser (several times if necessary), return to your admin. To the far right of the main navigation menu, is the Preferences

menu. Clicking on it will open a menu with seven options. It is through this menu that you can control your preferences and settings for your store.


Setting up your first basic store


We’ll look at the preferences in detail later but here is a quick overview of what is in each section:

General Settings: Set your store name, description, email preferences, phone number and address. Adjust standards and formats for your store, like your timezone, units (metric or imperial), currency and language. You can also set up Google Analytics, a very useful statistics package for your store. Lastly you can set or remove a password for your store. If you’re still on a trial, you’ll have to sign up for a plan to remove the password.

Regions & Taxes: On this page, you can set the tax rates that will be applied to customers coming from different countries. The tax rates will be based on your country of business. Shopify will pre-fill what it understands the tax rates to be based on the country you chose when you set up your Shopify account. You may need to check these with your accountant though. From this page, you can also choose whether or not to include taxes in your product prices

The Preferences menu provides access to all the settings for your store - it’s essential to get these set up properly to have a smooth running store.


Setting up your first basic store 21

and whether taxes are also applied to shipping rates.

Checkout & Payment: As an ecommerce store, you need to offer your visitors a means to pay you. You can offer well known options like Paypal or Google Checkout. If you have a merchant account and a payment gateway in place then you can take payment through these. If you are selling enough volume this can reduce the commissions you pay on accepting credit card payments. In this section you can also set a number of important settings relating to checkout and order processing.

Shipping: In the shipping section, you define how much shipping fees will be charged on each order. You can define shipping based on individual destination countries, weight based rates and price based rates. On the two more expensive Shopify plans, you can also have real-time shipping rates from the big transporters like UPS, FedEx and USPS.

Fulfillment Services: If you have an external service offering order fulfillment, real-time inventory and other shipping related services, then you can use this section. You can set up your store to work with Amazon Services, Shipwire or Webgistix. Or if you work with another service, you can set it up so that they

are emailed orders.

Email & Notifications: Customers are sent an email from your store when they pass an order, an order is shipped or is cancelled. In this section, you can customize the design and text in these emails. You can also customize emails that are sent to you or your team when orders are passed.

DNS & Domains: In this section you can choose the address that visitors will use to access your store. You do this using what are called domain names or domains for short. Well known examples of domain names are: shopify.com, google.com, etc. In this part of the admin, you can register your own domain (for an annual fee) or set up your store with an existing domain that you already own.


Setting up your first basic store



In this chapter, we went through the simple steps to create your store with Shopify. We looked at the navigation of your store admin and we did a tour of all the different

sections that make up your admin. You should feel pretty comfortable getting around the admin now. In the next chapter, we will look at the key features that make up an online store.


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