Setting Up Your Business on Shopify

    According to Digital Commerce 360, online shopping has grown 25% since the beginning of march, presenting a new opportunity for brands to reach their consumers. Website builders and commerce platforms, like Shopify and SquareSpace, offer an excellent opportunity for businesses to continue to market to and sell to consumers. 

    In this guide, we will show you how to optimally set up your Shopify account. In addition to creating a fully-functioning online store, we explain how to personalize your website, so that it best reflects your business and your brand story. Finally, we will compare the pros and cons of Shopify to Squarespace, so you can decide which ecommerce site works best for you. 

    History of Shopify

    Shopify started in 2004 as an online store for snowboarding equipment. Dissatisfied with the available e-commerce products, computer programmer Tobias Lutke decided to create his own. Shopify officially re-launched, as we know it today, in June of 2006. Since then, the Ottawa-based company has rapidly expanded its business and become one of the biggest ecommerce sites. 

    Benefits of Shopify

    The success of Shopify is in large part thanks to the simplicity of the site. Unlike many sites, which require a fair amount of technical know-how and skill to set up, Shopify offers a simple, user-friendly experience. Shopify also offers wide ranges of customization options, meaning you get to decide what your site looks like. This is an excellent tool for getting your site to reflect your business. Finally, Shopify offers several different plans, so you have the flexibility to go with the one that works best for your business.

    Setting up Shopify

    Shopfiy provides a shopping cart solution for food businesses looking to offer online retail services. If you’re looking to sell your food products online, Shopify is a great place to start. 

    Signing up

    To get started, visit and add your email to the sign-up form. Your Shopify subscription will begin with a 14-day free trial, after which the subscription costs $29/month for Shopify Basic. 

    Once redirected to the full sign-up form, you’ll be asked to fill out additional information like store name, address, country, and contact number. You will also be asked what products you plan on selling. If you’re just looking to become familiar with Shopify, you can click the “I’m just playing around” option in the dropdown. 

    Selecting a Theme

    Once you’ve completed the sign-up form, you’ll be immediately redirected to your business’s admin screen. You can begin to customize your store here. You can upload products and set up payments and shipping. Shopify also allows you to choose from a number of different themes at

    If you wish to see and interact with your store before actually making it live, you can preview your theme by clicking the “View Demo” button.  Make sure to include your business’s logo, color scheme, and other identifiable branding features. 

    Once you’re satisfied with the theme, go ahead and click “Publish as my Shop’s Theme.” Should you ever wish to make further edits, you can always change your theme via the Theme Manager feature.

    Adding Products to Your Store

    Shopify allows you to upload products as individuals, collections, or groups. If you’re looking to consolidate and filter products with similar features, consider creating collections. Creating a collection works exactly the same way as adding individual products, but with the added benefit of being able to manually or automatically add products to a collection once it’s created:

    • Manually add products: add and remove products individually

    • Automatically add products: set up selection conditions to automatically include products that meet certain criteria 

    After uploading the product, you’ll want to provide information about the products. You can do this by navigating over to the “Products” tab on the left-hand side of the admin page. Remember to make your product description as detailed as possible and with keywords to boost SEO ranking. 

    You are also able to upload pictures of your products here. Uploaded pictures should be well lit, high resolution, and of the same dimensions. This will help your store look clean and organized. Once you’re satisfied with the description and look of your product, hit “Save Product.” 

    Setting up payment

    When setting up your Shopify store, you’ll have to choose a payment gateway. This is a plan that facilitates the receipt of payment from your customers via your website. Keep the following in mind when selecting a payment gateway plan: 

    • Transaction fees: some gateways will charge a small percentage or flat fee (or even both) for using their service. Make sure to compare these to your projected sales. 

    • Card types: Take note of what card/payment types are accepted by certain gateways. Nearly all will accept Visa and Mastercard, but only some will accept American Express. Paypal, especially as it’s becoming more popular, is also a legitimate option to consider.

    • Offsite Checkout: some gateways will redirect your customers to their own checkout platforms, and then redirect them to your business’s confirmation page. Remember that payment gateways will charge their own transaction fees, which are added on top of Shopify’s own transaction fees. 

    Depending on the type of Shopify subscription, you’ll also be subjected to the following fees: 

    • Shopify Basic: 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction

    • Shopify Plan: 2.6% + 30¢ per transaction

    • Shopify Advanced: 2.4% + 30¢ per transaction

    Getting Your Shop Live

    Your page is almost ready to officially go live. However, there are a few last considerations to account for. 

    Firstly, review and confirm all of your business information is filled out and accurate. After this is done, turn on the Google Analytics feature, which will collect information about your store’s visitors. 

    Next, ensure that taxes are accurately applied to each transaction. You can do this by navigating over to the “Variants” section under the admin panel of your products page. Check the boxes titled “charge taxes.” While you’re there, make sure that “requires shipping” is also checked off for each relevant product that needs to be shipped. Now it’s time to set up your shipping instructions. Navigate to your shipping page through “Settings” and see if you’ve set a weight-based shipping rate. Adjust it according to your product’s specifications. The weight of each product should also be included in the product description. 

    Once your page is ready to go live, use the Shopify Bogus Gateway feature to test your store settings. Instructions on how to do this can be found here

    The final step to going live is adding a domain name. If your store doesn’t already have a domain name, you can choose to buy one directly from Shopify. This costs anywhere from $9-$14/year. If you already have a domain or would like to purchase one from a third party, such as GoDaddy, then you’ll have to redirect the DNS records yourself. Instructions on how to do this can be found here. Once this is all completed, your store is officially live! Hurray!

    Shopify vs. Squarespace

    Both Shopify and Squarespace offer great services for businesses looking to launch their products online. However, there are some differences. Consider the following points about Shopify and Squarespace: 

    • Shopify:

      • A $29/month subscription after a 14-day free trial

      • Dozens of theme/website templates with various customization options

      • Option to integrate into several other third-party platforms

      • Need to select a payment gateway provider, who will often charge an additional transaction fee on top of Shopify’s own processing fees

    • Squarespace: 

      • Subscription starting as low as $18/month

      • Dozens of templates to choose from, with some customization options

      • Integration with existing Squarespace website and Mailchimp account for email marketing

      • Use of Squarespace’s in-house payment processing system that accepts Apple Pay, PayPal, and Stripe

      • A 3% process fee for Business Plan holders, and no additional fees for Commerce Plan holders

    By now, you should have a fair idea if you want to use Shopify. We also went over how best to set it up and personalize it to your company’s needs. While businesses are facing an unprecedented challenge right now, ecommerce websites are an excellent tool to help businesses continue to grow.

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