7 Things to Know Before Starting Your Shopify Store
Are you ready to dive into the world of E-Commerce and get your Shopify store up and running? There are a few key things to be aware of before getting started that can make or break your store's success in the long run.
Read below for a few things to lock down before you even think about hitting Publish on your site:
1. How you will fulfill your orders
When you're running an eCommerce business, fulfillment is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. After all, if you can't get your products to your customers, you're not going to make any sales!
Before you can start shipping orders from your Shopify store, you need to decide how you will fulfill them. The three most common options are shipping the orders yourself, using a dropshipping company, or using a fulfillment company.
The DIY Approach
Shipping orders yourself is the cheapest option, but it's also the most time-consuming. You will need to pack and ship each order yourself, and you will be responsible for any lost or damaged items. A lot of businesses start here and then quickly upgrade to a fulfillment center once their order volume is enough to justify the extra cost.
Using a dropshipping company is a more expensive option, but it is much less time-consuming. The dropshipping company will handle all of the packing and shipping for you, and they will also be responsible for any lost or damaged items.
For many businesses, fulfillment is a daunting task, which is why fulfillment companies have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Fulfillment companies are third-party logistics providers that handle storage, shipping, and returns for their clients. They differ from dropshipping companies in that with fulfillment you technically own the inventory and they are just responsible for storing and shipping it, whereas with dropshipping the dropshipper actually owns the inventory.
While fulfillment companies can be a great option for businesses of all sizes, there are also some potential drawbacks to keep in mind—they can be expensive with both a monthly and a per-order fee being charged.
2. Your costs
Before you open a Shopify store, it's important to understand the costs associated with running your business so that you can make informed decisions. A few important figures to stay aware of are:
Your profit is the difference between your cost of goods sold (which includes your materials and labor) and the sale price of your products.
Your fixed costs are costs that are not related to the production of your products, such as your Shopify subscription + apps. These are not tied to the amount of product that you move and therefore are considered fixed.
By knowing your profit and your fixed costs, you can determine how much you need to sell in order to make a profit. This will help you make more accurate monthly goals to aim for and determine what your breakeven point is so that you can understand the health of your business. PS - it may take a couple of months after launch before you break even!
If you're not clear about your costs, it's easy to end up in the red. But, by taking the time to understand your numbers, you can set your Shopify store up for success.
3. Your monthly budget for apps
Taking a closer look at one of the big expenses you'll have in your Shopify business—we're talking apps here—it's important to find a balance between using apps strategically to drive revenue and overspending on a ton of unnecessary apps (that will also bog down your site, harming your site speed + SEO).
Shopify apps can quickly add up in cost if you're not careful—a lot of Shopify owners will install an app and then be surprised when they see the monthly price tag.
Luckily, free trials are super common with paid Shopify apps, so take advantage of them whenever possible to see if the app works for your needs.
Sometimes, the more expensive Shopify apps are TOTALLY worth it and will actually save you time in the long run. If you have to spend an hour every week on a certain task, it might be worth your while to buy an app that will automate that task and only cost you $10/month.
In the end, it's important to prioritize which apps will push the needle in your business vs. chew up your profit margins with little reward.
4. Your target audience
Before you build your Shopify store, it's important to take some time to define your target audience. This will greatly impact things like your store's look and feel, tone of voice, and marketing strategy.
Knowing who you're targeting will help you make better decisions about every aspect of your business. Are you selling products for men or women? What age group are you targeting? Where's their yearly income and disposable income at?
Beyond just looking at surface-level demographics, you should also deeply consider their psychographics. What interests do they have? What are their pain points and main motivations for buying their product? What does purchasing from a brand such as yours say about them as an individual?
Answering these questions will help you fine-tune your store to appeal to your ideal customers. Keep in mind that you can always adjust your target audience as your business grows. That being said, taking the time to properly define it from the start will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
5. How your product helps your audience
In a world full of competitors, it's essential to make sure your product or service and how it helps is defined clearly in the minds of your audience.
What sets you apart? How does your offering help your ideal customer? If you can't answer these questions quickly and confidently, it's time to take a step back and figure out what makes you unique.
Once you have a firm understanding of what your product(s) bring to the table, it will be much easier to craft a message that resonates with your target audience.
The result of this is that when customers know exactly how you can help them, they'll be more likely to give you their business. So, don't underestimate the importance of defining your product or service—it is potentially the BIGGEST factor in making your store a success.
6. Paid vs. Free theme
When it comes to Shopify themes, you have two main options: paid or free.
Paid themes are definitely more robust with more blocks, features, and overall control of your site's appearance and functionality. However, they're also on the more expensive side at about $200-$300 per theme. But, this is actually super cheap if you consider what it'd cost to hire a developer to design just one of the super-cool custom sections that paid themes come with.
If you're on a budget, you may want to consider a free theme—you can still do a lot with the free themes that Shopify offers and they can be great starting points.
Whichever way you end up going, I would generally recommend sticking to themes from the Shopify theme store as they have a strict set of standards they need to adhere to and are fully vetted.
You'll also want to make sure that whichever theme you're choosing is optimized for Shopify 2.0 so that you can take advantage of new features such as sections everywhere and metafields.
7. DIY vs. Expert
When it comes to setting up a Shopify store, you really have two options: do everything yourself, or hire an expert.
If you're the DIY type, then you're probably prepared to put in the time and effort required to research the best way to set up your store and get it running smoothly.
This is the way to go if you're strapped for cash, already have brand guidelines, and have an available 100+ hours necessary for learning about Shopify + building your store from scratch.
However, if you're busy and just want someone to take it off your hands, hiring an expert is often a great option.
You know that feeling when you want to trust someone with simply getting the job done right? Hiring an experienced designer/developer will save you a ton of time (and likely get you a way stronger end result).
These experts are well-versed in Shopify, which means they can get right down into designing or coding without wasting any more precious hours on research. They'll be able to follow the latest best practices for growth and give your store that extra-custom, high-end feel that comes from CSS + Liquid.
So, if you're looking for a stress-free option, hiring an expert is definitely the way to go.
All in all, Shopify is a great platform to start your business, but there are some things you need to know before getting started.
We’ve outlined the seven most important points for you here, but if you still have questions or need help setting up your store, get in touch with us.
We'd be happy to walk you through every step of the process and make sure your store is ready to go live. Thanks for reading!