by Adam Pearce

Understanding how to create a Shopify store from scratch is one of the biggest challenges for many entrepreneurs and businesses looking to sell online with Shopify. From choosing the best Shopify plan for your business to choosing a Shopify Expert developer, there are many questions to answer.

In this blog by Blend Commerce, we answer some of the key questions on how to create a Shopify store and share useful resources to help you get set up. As ever, always feel free to connect with us or comment below if you have any questions.

Which is the best Shopify Plan?

Shopify offers five varying plans, which provide you with a fully hosted, cloud-based system on which to sell online. Before you officially launch your Shopify store, it’s a good idea to start with a free trial. In the Shopify free trial period, you’ll be able to:

  • Build your Shopify store using a Shopify theme or Custom Shopify theme.
  • Amend the theme settings to your desired specifications to match your brand.
  • Install Shopify apps.

It is important to note that

  • You must select a paid plan after your trial ends in order to sell online with Shopify.
  • If you do not select a paid plan, your Shopify store will be paused.
  • Your work will be saved, but you will not be able to make any more changes or start selling online with Shopify until you select a paid plan.

The table below shows the different plans and their pricing, with full details available from Shopify here.

Plan name

Monthly fee

Shopify Lite

$9 per month

Basic Shopify

$29 per month

Shopify

$79 per month

Advanced Shopify

$299

Shopify Plus

Approximately $2000 per month

For many Shopify merchants starting out, Basic Shopify provides the essential tools needed to run a fully functioning Shopify Store. One of the key benefits for upgrading to Shopify is the ability to offer onsite gift cards to customers. If you’re selling products that are likely to be desired as gifts (such as clothing, bags, phone accessories) then upgrading to Shopify could be a good option.

For Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus, the decision to upgrade to these options are usually based on the volume of sales in a Store. If you’re a larger retailer on another platform, such as Magento, Shopify Plus could be an excellent option. Book a call with one of our Shopify Experts at Blend Commerce to discuss in further detail if this is an option you’d like to investigate.

Some of the key questions to consider when planning which Shopify plan to choose are:

When do I think my site will be fully built? When your building your store, it's important to think about your target market, and how you are going to reach them. Having a marketing plan in place before you go live is crucial to your success.

How long will it take me to build my Shopify store? In terms of setting up a theme with some basic theme setting changes, this can be achieved in a few hours. For many Shopify merchants who are looking to grow their business rapidly and achieve a point of difference with their competition, it's important to customize their Shopify theme. Shopify themes are built with Liquid, which is an open-source template language created by Shopify and written in Ruby. It's the backbone of Shopify themes and is used to load dynamic content on storefronts. If you don’t have experience with using Liquid, it's a good idea to consult with a verified Shopify Expert for support and figuring this into your estimations of when you’ll need to purchase your chosen Shopify plan.

What do my customers expect?If your an existing business selling online, considering a switch to Shopify is a positive step. When doing so, it's important to think about the current functionality and services you offer on your current e-commerce store and check you’ll be able to maintain or exceed the functionality and service you currently provide. We recommend booking a free consultation with a Shopify Expert to discuss your current setup and the best plan to support your customers' needs.

What is the best Shopify theme?

A Shopify theme is essentially a website template that can be customized by a Shopify merchant through Theme settings, Shopify apps, and Shopify theme customization. The video below shows how settings can be changed on a Shopify store to customize a theme:

 

When it comes to selecting a Shopify theme, Shopify merchants have a choice from:

For merchants starting on a low budget, many opt for free themes available through the Shopify theme store. Some of the most popular include Debut and Brooklyn. Prices of ‘pre-built’ themes (from Shopify and third parties) range from free to $350, with the more expensive themes offering greater levels of inbuilt functionality, functionality that if required, would need to be extended with existing apps or custom built by a Shopify Expert developer.

Themes built by Shopify are fully supported by Shopify themselves, and there is a ton of help and guidance available from the Shopify Help Centre and the Shopify gurus. In terms of Shopify themes from third-party providers, two of the most popular are Out of the Sandbox and Pixel Union. At Blend Commerce, we chose to specialize in the use of the Turbo theme by Out of the Sandbox, due to its huge amount of inbuilt functionality, speed, and user experience. Some of those inbuilt features include:

  • Live Search
  • Customisable page templates
  • Infinite scrolling
  • Interactive mini cart

More details on why Blend feel Turbo offers excellent value for Shopify merchants can be found here. Here is a great example of one of the in-built features from Turbo, Mega Menus:

 

When it comes to fully custom Shopify themes, Shopify Expert developers can provide merchants with a fully custom solution to meet the exact needs of a client. Often, when we build fully custom themes at Blend Commerce, this tends to be for larger businesses who already have significant traffic or sales on Shopify or another platform. Pricing for fully custom Shopify themes can range significantly but generally start from around $25,000. Some of the key questions to consider when planning on which Shopify theme to choose are:

What is the best theme for my product type? Many themes on the market are now being optimized to help specific businesses to sell with Shopify. For example, the Artisan theme by Out of the Sandbox is focused on helping businesses with small product ranges selling more unique products such as art, handmade goods and bespoke clothing. Discussing your product with a Shopify guru, or getting feedback from other Shopify merchants on online forums is a good way to help you decide.

What do I need to offer to my customer? Depending on the product you are selling, the way customers want to buy will be different. For example, if your selling iPhone cases on Shopify versus selling a high-end clothing subscription, the way the customer will want to buy (and their expectations of the Shopify store) will be different. For example, the amount of information you show to the customer on the product. Think about these expectations and then choose a Shopify theme that enables you to sell your product most easily.

What are the best Shopify apps?

A Shopify app is a way to add to core functionality to your Shopify store. They help you market, sell and manage your store. At the time of writing, there were over 1200 apps on the Shopify App Store, providing a huge range of ‘extra’ functionality to a Shopify theme. In terms of pricing, Shopify apps range from free to fees of over $200 per month.

In terms of the best apps, some will be dependent on the type of product or service that you're selling on your Shopify store and the Shopify theme you are using. In terms of the most popular apps, this article and list by Optinmonster has some of the most popular listed, based on the objective of the Shopify Store owner.

From our perspective at Blend Commerce, many of our clients opt to use the following apps.

App Name

What does it do?

Orderly Emails

Enables Shopify merchants to customize their Shopify notification emails. Helps Shopify stores incorporate their branding into the standard, ‘built’ in notifications without the need for coding knowledge.

Klaviyo

Enables Shopify merchants to create powerful email campaigns and use data points to segment and personalize their approach to email marketing. Klaviyo has developed a number of great integrations with many other service providers, including Shopify and Facebook.

Gorgias

Enables Shopify merchants to manage all client and customer contact in one dashboard, including email, Facebook messages, and social media notifications. Gorgias helps Shopify merchants to maintain better communication with customers to drive sales.

Recharge Payments

Enables both small and large scale Shopify merchants to offer recurring payment facilities to customers, which can be especially powerful to merchants offering subscription-based products and services.

Shopify Theme Updater by Out of the Sandbox

Enables Shopify merchants using Out of the Sandbox themes to more easily upgrade their store between theme upgrades, without the need of a developer.

Some of the key questions to consider when planning on which Shopify apps to use are:

What do I need to offer to my customers that my Shopify theme can’t? It’s worth remembering that by adding apps to a Shopify store that more code is being added. The more code you add, the bigger potential impact this will have on the site speed. With that in mind, it’s important to check that you only add Shopify apps that really add to the user experience on site and increased sales.

What would help me manage my Shopify store more easily? As there are many apps also focused on the ‘management’ of your store e.g. SEO, accounting, it's important not to overlook these. Using apps to save time, increase traffic or improve engagement on social media for trust are as important as driving the customer to a sale onsite.

How much does a Shopify Expert cost?

The Shopify Experts Directory was established by Shopify to create a fully vetted and approved list of true Shopify Experts in four key fields: Development, Design, Marketing, and Photography. By doing so, Shopify merchants can review previous work, testimonials, and skills of the potential agency they may work with. Owing to the global nature of Shopify, the Shopify Experts program gives access to a global marketplace of Shopify Experts.

Working with a Shopify Expert can be on many levels. From installing some more complex apps, to creating Facebook ads, to designing and developing a store, Shopify Experts can assist Shopify merchants in all aspects of their business.

With respect to the cost of a Shopify Expert, the cost will depend on the experience and skills of the team. For example, Shopify Store setups can start at around $1,500 and range to $25K+, dependent on the complexity of the project at hand. For small tasks and projects, Storetasker offers a great solution. Fees are charged at a flat rate of $65 per hour, with Storetasker Shopify Experts offering their services at this rate.

Some of the key questions to consider when considering whether to use a Shopify Expert are:

What specific projects have the Shopify Expert worked on? Each Shopify Expert will have a testimonials section of the Shopify Expert listing, which should detail feedback and details of projects recently undertaken. By taking a look at the stores and details of the projects undertaken, you’ll be able to make an initial assessment of whether that Shopify Expert is a good fit for you.

Have I tried an app and does it meet my needs? With so many apps available, it's likely the objective that you’re trying to achieve could be met with a Shopify app. Whilst this is the case, sometimes our clients find that an app solves one part of the issue and not another. In this instance, consulting with a Shopify Expert for an initial consultation is certainly worthwhile.

Adam Pearce
Adam Pearce

Adam is the chief copy writer, marketing consultant and maker of tea at Blend Commerce. Oh, and he helps Shopify store owners Launch, Grow and Automate their businesses.

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