31/05/2022

eCommerce: How to Sell Online with Shopify

Shopify is a very intuitive and user-friendly eCommerce platform, but online sales still require careful planning and excellent fulfillment process. Let's see how to sell online with Shopify and optimise the fulfillment process.

The spread of the internet and the affirmation of eCommerce as a valid (and sometimes preferable) alternative to in-store shopping have created countless business opportunities for all those interested in marketing their products, whether they are structured companies or individuals looking for an alternative source of income.

The countless eCommerce platforms that have emerged in recent years allow supply and demand to meet online quickly and intuitively. From books to technological devices, from clothing to basic necessities: online commerce is suitable for all kinds of purchases.

Shopify is one of the most used platforms to create eCommerce sites, as it allows you to easily create a store, sell products of all kinds and receive payments through different methods. It is therefore a great platform for small businesses and start-ups looking for a simple and affordable way to start selling online.

So, it's no surprise that it generated over $5 billion in revenue in 2020 and that over 1,5 million sellers use it. Shopify, in fact, is not only popular with those who want to sell their handcrafted goods, but it is also used by structured multinationals, which through Shopify Plus can handle a large volume of orders.

However, online sellers should not make the mistake of underestimating some of the most insidious aspects of online commerce, such as the fulfillment phase. In this article, we'll cover everything a seller needs to do to start marketing their products with Shopify.

Choosing the right sales plan

Shopify initially offers a fourteen-day free trial, during which you can sell your products online. This period is very useful for evaluating all the features of the platform, such as the choice of the various themes for the site, the apps and scripts and the different payment methods.

Shopify also allows you to test payments and order receipt to avoid problems once the eCommerce is up and running: through Shopify's Bogus Gateway it is possible to simulate a transaction using a real payment service provider and immediately cancel the order. By doing so, you can ensure that all the settings are correct and verify that the payment page is optimised, as well as test after-sales notifications and emails.

At the end of the free trial, Shopify will send a notification to allow you to choose one of the three sales plans or cancel your eCommerce. The costs associated with selling with Shopify include a monthly fee and a commission on each sale. The price and the value of the commission depend on the chosen plan:

Basic – $29 with 2.9% + 30¢ USD commission;

Shopify – $79 with 2.6% + 30¢ USD commission;

Advanced – $299 with 2.4% + 30¢ USD commission.

The Basic plan offers all the features you need to sell your products online, as it allows you to create an eCommerce site, install themes and features within the platform, create offers, promote products and log in with two admin accounts. Additionally, Shopify's support will be active 24/7.

In case you need to switch to a different plan – for example, to obtain advanced reporting or the ability to issue gift vouchers – it will be possible to do so at no additional cost. Additionally, for brands with a high volume of monthly orders, Shopify Plus offers an open API, customisable payment options, advanced reporting and dedicated support.

For more detailed information, you can consult the dedicated page.

5 things to do to start selling online with Shopify

Shopify allows you to create an online store without any coding or web design knowledge. Once you have chosen the domain for your eCommerce, you can choose the theme from the predefined ones made available by the platform and the additional features. When you have created the structure, just upload the tabs with the images of the products and start selling online. However, it is important not to underestimate the fulfillment and the management of the orders.

In order not to be caught unprepared, let's analyse 5 specific steps to take to create a successful eCommerce and ensure an excellent user experience.

Choose the most suitable plan

Once you have planned your business strategy – so after you have identified your target audience, found your market niche and analysed your products and those of your competitors – you will need to select the Shopify plan that best suits your needs.

This phase might seem trivial but, as we have just seen, the cost of Shopify's monthly fee is not among the cheapest. It is therefore necessary to carefully analyse the available options and choose attentively.

Set up or purchase your domain

Shopify offers two options for creating the domain (Internet address) of your eCommerce. The platform allows you to create one for free, but by doing so you will have few possibilities to change the URL (which must be www.yourbrand.shopify.com). This type of domain may not be the best for those who want to start a solid eCommerce business supported by online promotional activities, as it might appear too unprofessional.

However, it is possible to purchase a domain through external hosting services and customise it, without having to give up any Shopify functionality. Also, in case you are still undecided on which name is best for your brand, Shopify provides a useful tool for generating business names.

Design your eCommerce

Once these preliminary steps are done, it's time to design your eCommerce. Shopify offers a variety of predefined templates and layouts, as well as options for giving your eCommerce the desired look. Many apps and scripts are also available to further customise the website with sections and features of all kinds. It is not necessary to have previous knowledge of coding or web design because the functions are very intuitive and there are also countless guides and support tutorials.

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You should also pay close attention to privacy regulations. So, make sure that cookies and tracking comply with the current regulations and publish data management and privacy policies. By doing so, you will not only comply with the law but also show your buyers that you care about their privacy and safety.

Speaking of transparency, it is very useful (and necessary for selling in Italy and other countries) to create a section in which the return, replacement and refund policies are explained.

Create product listings

It will then be necessary to draw up an inventory of the products that you wish to sell online and add the related tabs on your eCommerce. If you need to upload many products, you can import them all at the same time using a CSV file.

The admins of the eCommerce can access the product pages from the control panel at any time to easily add new goods or update the information on the price or availability of those already in the catalogue.

It is extremely useful to add multiple high-resolution images for each product (between 4-6 images approximately) and detailed information about them, as well as to indicate the possibility of adding other goods or selecting alternative methods of packaging, payment and shipping.

Furthermore, it is equally important to use simple and clear phrases, containing keywords related to the product in the title and description, in order to maximise exposure on search engines. For more tips on how to set up your eCommerce site, for example how to make it suitable for mobile browsing and add a F.A.Q. section, we recommend that you check our article on how to create successful eCommerce.

Manage inventory and shipments

Once the pages dedicated to the products on sale are online, it is about time to start preparing the orders. This is the most delicate phase, because it does not only involve the packaging and shipping of the product to the address designated by the buyer, but also all the various processes that fall within the broader definition of fulfillment.

Fulfillment also includes the management and control of the inventory, the preparation of shipping documents, the compliance with bureaucratic regulations and the management of returns. These processes require time, precision and specific skills that could be underestimated by those entering the world of online commerce for the first time.

Relying on an outsourced professional fulfillment service such as that of IFS Italy brings numerous advantages and is often the quickest and easiest choice to ensure that orders and requests are processed in a professional and timely manner. By integrating the management system of Shopify with the one of IFS, it is possible to immediately transmit the orders received to our warehouses and automatically process the goods. Real-time integration ensures that you avoid to have products on sale when they are actually out of stock.

Conclusions

eCommerce created with Shopify are an excellent and simple solution for selling online: the platform allows you to create a website by choosing between different themes without the need for web design and coding skills. In addition, you can upload products in minutes and create custom product sheets in no time.

However, you must not be fooled by the simplicity with which you can set up a virtual shop and sell products to a huge pool of users, since fulfillment still needs to be managed carefully.

IFS offers its twenty years of experience in this area to promote the economic growth of the countless businesses that rely on its services, from small artisans who wish to sell their creations to companies that need to ship large quantities of goods all over the world.

For more information on the fulfillment services offered by IFS Italy, you can download the brochure or visit the fulfillment & e-commerce section directly.