How To Launch A DIY E-Commerce Website in About 15 Minutes

Because of the work I do helping people set up new businesses, I’m often asked about how to set up new websites. Starting a website from scratch can be expensive. Really expensive. There’s a lot involved, mostly in the coding side of things. That’s all outside my wheelhouse. So I defer to a platform that does it all for you. If you’re looking for a safe, simple, affordable, and DIY option to start a website, I highly suggest Shopify.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce system. For a low monthly rate, you can host a web store and have access to all of their design, product management, and online shopping tools. Everything is right at your fingertips and very easy to use. I recommend it for the majority of my new branding clients because I feel it’s the best choice for most online sellers.

Having everything all under one roof streamlines and simplifies the task of running the shop, leaving you more time to work on your business, not in it. It’s a great resource for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on website development and maintenance.

Why Shopify?

There are literally countless reasons to choose this platform as your e-commerce super-station. Having worked with hundreds of clients on website development, setup, design, management, and maintenance, Shopify is a Godsend.

Especially if you’re new to the online selling scene. Back in the day, a new seller had to go to one site to secure a URL, another to set up hosting, find a content management system (CMS), choose payment processors, find a shopping cart provider and then figure out how to put it all together. On top of that, they had to hire a designer and developer to produce the visual brand they had in mind. Getting started was a full-time job all its own. But gone are those days. Shopify has it all and, beyond the customization options which are all yours, the majority of it is done for you, right in one centralized place. No extra fees for every little change or update. I can’t say enough great things about it.

Some key features include:
Storefront
  • Hundreds of intuitive themes make customizing your own brand a snap
  • Eliminate the need for a developer with their intuitive design tools
  • Quickly and easily customize every facet of your storefront
  • DIY content management system
  • Expert assistance is always available
  • Includes a built-in mobile commerce shopping cart
  • Use your own domain name, or purchase one through Shopify
Shopping cart
  • Free SSL certificate to show shoppers your store is safe and sound
  • Multiple languages helps translate your store and reach more people in more countries
  • Integrates with over 70 external payment gateways from around the world (from bitcoin to PayPal)
  • Shopify will automatically handle major country and state tax rates
  • Set up shipping rates your way (fixed-price, tiered pricing, weight-based, and location-based rates available)
  • Get automatic shipping rates from major shipping carriers like UPS, USPS, and FedEx
  • Recover lost sales by automatically sending an email to prospective customers with a link to their abandoned shopping carts
  • Accept credit cards
Store management
  • Know who’s buying from you with the Customer Profile feature
  • Encourage repeat shopping with account creation, or let customers check out as a guest
  • Capacity to work with drop shippers and fulfillment centers
  • Plenty of professional Email templates available to customize your communications
  • One click order fulfillment
  • You can even manage everything from your phone
Marketing & SEO
  • SEO is automatically optimized for you
  • Create your own coupons, gift cards, and discount codes
  • Help with email marketing
  • Product reviews
  • Simple social media integration
  • Sell on Facebook, accept credit card payments, and use Buy Buttons for only $9 per month
Products
  • Offer product variation (size, color, style)
  • Manage inventory with ease
  • Sell physical or digital products
  • Organize products by category, type, season, sale, and more
  • Use multiple images to showcase your items
  • Sell an unlimited amount of products
  • Import or export your products using CSV files
Web hosting
  • Never run out of space with unlimited bandwidth
  • Daily backups
  • Email forwarding (Create email addresses like info@yourstore.com)
  • SSL certificate
  • Instantly updates the latest features
  • 99.99% uptime and 24/7 monitoring
Analytics
  • Actionable dashboard shows everything in a single snapshot
  • Google analytics so you get the whole behind-the0scenes picture of your traffic
  • Product reports seeing what’s selling and what’s not
  • Traffic and referral source reports available

One of the best features is their 24/7 support. You’ll always have help when you need it through a dedicated support team, a knowledge base, forums, and detailed tutorials.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Open a Shopify account.

Head to their website and click the Get Started button in the upper right hand corner. Enter your email address, then your desired password and store name. If your store name is already taken, you’ll need to choose some derivative of it for the purposes of getting set up. For example, if your shop name is TLC Designs, you may need to opt for TLC Designs Online.
You’ll be prompted to a form where you can add your address to set up currencies and tax rates. Then, a few more simple questions to help them do their part to set up your store and get you up and running.

2. Customize The Look

You can perfect customize each element of your visual brand and storefront using from colors to logos and beyond. Choose a theme of your own or visit their online theme store. There are literally hundreds to choose from. See what strikes your fancy.

3. Set up your domain

You can register a new domain name or use one you already have. The process is simple and the prompts walk you through exactly what you need to do.

4. Choose a 3rd Party Payment Processor

Click on the Payments tab to select from over 70 different payment processors such as Paypal, bitcoin, Stripe, Authorize.net, etc. Shopify also offers its own easy to use payment processor. (Hint: If you’re new to online selling, I recommend starting out with the Shopify proprietary payment processing option.) Select the ones that you’d like to work with and follow the steps to activate and set them up. And just like that, you can accept payment for your goods and services.

5. Add your products

Shopify makes it very easy to populate your site with products. Just fill in details (title, description, price, vendor, etc.), add your image(s), and click save.

6. Launch It

That’s about it. Click the ‘Launch’ button to bring your store to life.

FOR ADDED FUNCTIONALITY

For maximum efficiency you can add some optional apps to your shop.  I suggest:

1. Reviews & Testimonials

This review app so customers can leave reviews on things they’ve purchased from you. On average, reviews produce an 18-25% uplift in sales.

What’s nice about this app:

    • It’s popular: Listed as one of the Top 5 Most Popular Apps and recently named as the #1 Recommend Shopify App.
    • It works: Average customer conversion rates are 22% higher.
    • Simple to get started: It’s easy to install and quick to set-up. Have your upsells up and running in minutes.
  •  
2. Abandoned Cart

 This abandoned cart app to prevent people from navigating away from your store never to return. Reduce your abandoned cart rate and boost your sales. This handy app saves all items in your browsers’ carts for when they return later, automates abandoned cart emails, and is one of the few apps that lets you send push notifications to remind your customers to complete their purchase.

What’s nice about this app:
 

    • It shows every cart ever created in your store.
    • It completely automates abandoned cart emails and push notifications.
    • It comes with an ‘Add to Cart’ popup which helps to increase conversions by up to 30%.
3. Offer a Subscription Box Service

Subscription boxes are all the rage these days and demand for them is growing daily. With this app your customers select how often they want their order to recur. Then, every month (or time period they select) the app automatically charges the credit card and generates the order directly in your Shopify order admin.

What’s nice about this app:
 

    • Allows subscriptions on individual products, a mixed cart, or an entire cart.
    • Access to exclusive power features: Give dynamic discounts, convertible subscriptions, bulk discounts, expiring subscriptions, gift subscriptions, build-a-box and more.
    • White-labeled: Your customer sees only your branding, not theirs.
4. Super Simple Done-For-You Marketing

This app provides users with a free suite of email capture tools, including exit-intent driven website popups and banners. It’s designed to help you grow your email list right from your Shopify store, social media channels, and mobile devices. Best of all, there are no coding or development skills needed. This popular app is trusted by over 100,000 businesses to capture and convert website visitors. Their integration with Shopify lets you set up your account in seconds and get your first campaign live right away, all for free.

What’s nice about this app:
 

    • Effective, high converting popups: Including fun gimmicks like spin to win.
    • Trigger your popups: Choose what makes it pop from exit intent to time on site and more.
    • Run split testing: Use their A/B test campaigns to see what’s converting best.
5. Create an Affiliate Program

Create an affiliate program for your own offerings and watch your traffic and your sales soar. With the this app you can set up your own branded program in a few clicks. Each affiliate is automatically provided with their own dashboard, just like you. There they can access their unique link, update details, run reports and grab creatives to assist with marketing efforts. They offer affiliate coupon code tracking, full end-to-end affiliate tracking, and
they even calculate the total commission due.

What’s nice about this app:
 

    • Super easy to install and use: No technical knowledge or coding skills needed.
    • Fun fact: Several of their entrepreneurs have been featured on ABC’s Shark Tank.
    • They offer a started guide to help you connect your cart, add branding and adjust your account settings in 7 minutes or less.
6. Add a VIP or Rewards Program

As a shopper, I love the idea of a rewards program. There’s just something so nice about feeling appreciated. This Points, VIP, and Referral Program app helps you show your buyers how important their business is to you. Reward your customers for things like purchases, referrals, birthdays and other milestones, social shares, social follows, and more. Start your own branded rewards program in just a few minutes and give your customers a reason to come back again and again.

What’s nice about this app:

    • It’s highly customizable: Develop a totally branded rewards program using custom imagery, color, and your own logo.
    • It’s the real deal: They’ve got over 5 years and 15,000 merchants worth of experience under their belt.
    • Tier your programs: VIP tiers allow customers to earn additional rewards and earn points faster based on revenue or points.

That’s it. Congratulations! You now have a fully functional online store of your own.

P.S. If you’re hesitant and want to test drive it first, follow this link to a free 14 day trial to have a look around the back end and see if it’s a fit for you.