Update Nov 12, 2020. Please keep in mind the Shopify 90 days free trial offer has expired.
When it comes to eCommerce, there’s one solution that we feel outweighs the rest. Shopify is one of the world’s fastest-growing eCommerce platforms with more than a million merchants using it. If you’re thinking about launching a website to sell your products, then you’ve come to the right place.
Many brick and mortar stores are suffering right now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping through the world. With many countries going into lockdown and foot traffic more or less wiped off the streets, having an online presence for your business has never been so essential.
Shopify knows this, and that’s why they’re extending their 14-day free trial period to a 90-day one . This means that you can enjoy all the features of a Shopify subscription, without having to pay the premium. It’s a perfect way to set up an online store in preparation for a later launch.
It should be noted that you can’t sell products while on the free trial – it’s best to be used as a time to design and test your store, as well as to add products and produce SEO tailored content. More on this later.
I. Get the Shopify 90-day free trial
You’ve seen the honey, now onto the money. To get the 90-day Shopify free trial, follow this link . You’ll be taken to the Shopify COVID-19 Response page. Here you’ll find all the ways in which Shopify is trying to help businesses to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
All you need to do is enter your name, email address, and the name of your store. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be redirected to the beginnings of your new online business. You’ll have to answer some questions about what stage you’re in (just starting out, selling offline, etc.), and what industry you’re in.
That’s it. Now you’re ready to start adding products to your store, as well as selecting a theme and figuring out all the nooks and crannies that you’ll come across in the dashboard. Let’s get you acquainted with all the first steps of setting up your store.
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II. The basics of creating a store
Once your store has loaded, you’ll find yourself presented with what’s known as the ‘backend’ of your Spotify store. This is where you’ll find the dashboard of your store, as well as stats about customer behavior, and links to tools for creating an awesome website.
The backend of your Shopify store – where the magic happens.
Now, the first thing you’ll notice is the tips to get started on Shopify . This is where the platform recommends some first actions like adding a product, changing your theme, and adding a domain name so that everyone can find your store.
We highly recommend that you use this to help you navigate the first steps of setting up your online store. Considering Shopify websites are built around the products listed on them, it makes sense that the first thing you should do is add a product or two. Let’s run you through the basics.
How to add a product to your Shopify store:
- Press ‘Add Product’ in the Get Started section. If you’re trying to add a second product, then go to Products in the side menu and then Add Product.
- Now you simply have to fill out all the information like product name, description, photos, variants, cost, and so on.
- When adding a product name, bear in mind that this is how your product will look on search engines like Google. It’s best to make the name SEO-friendly by including keywords that relate to your product.
- You can also add gift cards as products – be aware that these are advance sales and people won’t spend any money when actually using them. It’s a nice thing to have on your site.
Tip: If you’re dropshipping, go the Shopify App Store (side menu in the backend) and install Oberlo to easily take products over from AliExpress and have all the information auto-filled.
Collections are important. They’re how you group products together to make it easier for the customer to navigate around your store. For example, you might have a collection of footwear or of women’s jackets.
How to add a collection to your Shopify store:
- Go to Products in the sidebar in the backend. Then go to Collections .
- Click the blue Create Collection button in the top right of the screen.
- Fill out the collection title and a short description of the collection.
- Choose a tag for the collection. You can then enter that tag in your product tags and it will be added to the corresponding collection.
- Finally, edit the Search Engine Listing to change how the collection will appear on sites like Google. This helps with SEO.
Changing the store theme
Your theme dictates what your store looks like. This is obviously very important as most customers will make a first impression on your store based on whether it looks professional and well designed. The best themes are somewhat minimal and have a good balance of high-resolution pictures, blocks of text, and white spaces to make things stand out more.
There are plenty of free themes on Shopify – and you can use apps like PageFly to build your own with simple drag and drop mechanisms if you want. You could also hire someone to code your homepage for you, but this really isn’t necessary for first-timers (or even professional eCommerce merchants!).
How to change your Shopify store theme:
- Go to Customize Theme in the Getting Started section.
- You can customize your default theme or select a new free or paid theme from Shopify.
- We’ll explore the Free Themes to begin with.
- We’re going to select the Simple theme. Press Add theme to library.
- Now press Actions next to the Simple theme. Select Publish from the drop-down menu.
- This will change your theme to Simple. It’s worth noting that the default Debut theme is actually very popular on Shopify thanks to its minimalist design and ease-of-use. You might find that you don’t need to change your theme at all!
Creating a domain name
Now that your store is looking good and has some products on it, you’ll want your very own domain name so that people can find your store and it’ll look more official.
How to create a domain name:
- Go to Add Domain in the Getting Started section.
- You can transfer an existing web domain or simply press the Buy Domain button in the top right corner.
- Enter the domain name that you want to buy. It should reflect what your business does, for example, www.annesbakerydowntown.com rather than www.annesbusinessonshopify.com .
III. Important things you need to know
Now that you’ve got the basics covered, we’d recommend that you take some time to play around with your store and get familiar with how things work in the backend. We’d also suggest that you look at the educational materials in the Shopify Partners Academy . You’ll need to create a free partner account to do this.
The Partner Academy is a great place to learn about how to run an online store.
There are some other important things that you need to know about this Shopify 90-day free trial specifically.
1. You can sell products with the free trial once you’ve chosen a plan
Once you choose a Shopify paid plan, which you’ll pay for once your 90-day trial is over, you can begin selling on the platform. This is incredibly useful for those who want to get out there and get it as soon as they can.
You would have noticed that at no point during setting up your free store did you have to enter your credit card details. You won’t be charged at the end of the 90-day free trial unless you select a plan and enter your payment details.
The Basic Shopify plan is the most popular starter plan for small businesses.
2. Can I set up the 90-day trial through the partner dashboard?
The short answer, no. You can only get the 90-day free trial by following this link to the COVID-19 response . If you’re already on a 14-day free trial, then no worries, simply contact Shopify Support and they’ll help you to convert your trial over to the 90-day one.
While you won’t find the option to extend your trial through the partner dashboard, Shopify is helping users who are on the 14-day trial to extend to the new 90-day one. Please do bear in mind that customer support is receiving an increased amount of queries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re currently on a 14-day trial but you haven’t actually put any work into your store yet, then you could simply delete your store and start again with the 90-day trial to save you the hassle of having to contact customer support.
Shopify hasn’t announced when the extended trial offer will end – as it stands, this is based on the developments of the coronavirus pandemic.
3. Is the 90-day trial a ‘closed trial’?
Once your 90 days is up you will have to select a paid plan. The store that you’ve designed will remain intact, however. You’ll be able to carry on building on what you’ve already created in the 90-day free trial. In other words, build your store in the trial as the store you will actually use – because that’s precisely what it is.
That being said, if you just want to use the trial to play around with Shopify, then you’re under no obligation to stick to that one store. You could simply delete it later on and make a new one. If you’re just here to experiment, then fire away!
Update: Nov 12, 2020. The 90 Days Shopify trial has ended. However, Shopify runs supporting programs from time to time. Learn more here.
Final words – wishing you luck
Shopify is an excellent platform to launch your online business. If you’re new to the platform, then we would recommend digging into those courses in the Partner Academy – they don’t take long and they will equip you with the knowledge necessary to maximize your potential when using Shopify.
These are strange times for all of us. COVID-19 has made things difficult for businesses, employees, the self-employed, and everyone else alike. If you’ve made it this far, then we’re assuming you’re ready to take the plunge and open your first Shopify store.
This doesn’t have to be a time of negativity. Having to stay indoors in isolation is the perfect excuse to get things done that you’ve always wanted to do, expand your knowledge, and start planting the seeds that will later grow into the next chapter of your life.
Good luck, stay safe and remember to be gracious for what you have in these difficult times.