How to set up a Shopify online store

  • How to set up an online store
  • Start a free trial of Shopify
  • Add the products you want to sell
  • Create key pages for your store
  • Pick a theme and customize your online store
  • Customize your shipping settings
  • Configure your tax settings
  • Set up your payment gateway and payouts
  • Prepare your store for launch
  • Launch your store
  • 1. Start a free trial of Shopify
    If you haven’t already, you’ll need to start a free trial of Shopify. The 14-day trial should give you more than enough time to build an online store that’s ready to launch if you follow this guide and keep in mind that you can continue to add products and improve your store after it goes live. Email address Enter your email address When you start your trial, you’ll be prompted to enter a store name, which will become your default URL (e.g., You won’t be able to change this, but you will be able to buy a custom domain (e.g., later on, so don’t worry about picking the perfect name right now. After answering a few questions, you’ll find yourself inside your own Shopify account. a new shopify store Here’s a quick checklist of what you should have before you begin and what I’ll be working with to build my store: A business idea. Since so many hot sauce brands brag about being “the hottest hot sauce ever,” I thought it would be fun if my example store, Kinda Hot Sauce, sold great-tasting mild hot sauces for the semi-adventurous. If you don’t have a business idea yet, you can browse our list of business ideas for inspiration. A business name. I used Namechk to see what domains and social media profiles were available before settling on my final business name. Since some .com URLs are hard to come by, I went with as the domain. Don’t know what to call your store? Learn how to come up with a catchy business name. A logo. I worked with a designer to come up with this logo for a “challenger brand” that’s clever, mischievous, bold, and spicy (tongue-in-cheek for a mild hot sauce company). I prepared a .png file with a transparent background so it’s easier to resize it without losing quality. You can follow our guide to create your own logo, for free or by hiring a designer. kinda hot sauce logo for online store setup Products to sell. You can sell physical products, digital goods, or services in your Shopify store. My products aren’t real, but I’ve tried my best to make them realistic. I’ll be adding four products to the Kinda Hot Sauce store: Hot Enough Habanero, Born to Be Mild Thai Chilli, The Friendly Ghost Pepper, and a three-pack hot sauce bundle. If you don’t have any products to sell yet, you can read our guide on how to find a profitable product idea or use one of the many product sourcing apps available on Shopify. Photos. Clean product photography helps you put your best foot forward. I’ll be using mockups of my hot sauce bottles on a white background, along with some stock photos for lifestyle imagery. If you’re on a budget, you can shoot your own product photos, even with just a smartphone camera, or use free stock photos until you can shoot your own custom lifestyle photos. 2. Add your products What’s an online store without anything to buy? Adding products should be one of the first things you do, because your products are what you’ll design the look and feel of your website around. In your new Shopify store, go to Products > Add product to create your first product listing. add a product in shopify There’s a number of decisions we’ll be making on this page, so let’s break them down into steps. Write your product title and description Product pages are where customers go to learn about a product and decide whether or not to buy it. Details matter, and sharing the right information in the right way, from pricing to sizing, through text or visuals, can make all the difference. If you’re not sure what to include, you can look at other online stores in your market for inspiration. Your product title should make it clear what the product is. This is what customers will see as they browse your store and what will help them find what they’re looking for in your catalog. Try to keep it short and use your product description or variants (more on those later) to surface other specific information or product options, such as colors or sizes. For our first product title, we’ll just use the name of our flagship hot sauce, Hot Enough Habanero. Product descriptions describe and sell your product. They’re also a common source of writer’s block. The good news is you don’t need to be a professional copywriter to write a compelling product description. You just need to: Know who you’re speaking to. Think about what your customer needs to know to feel confident buying your product and try to communicate it in your description. Highlight incentives. Do you offer a generous return policy or free shipping? Are your products eco-friendly? Consider what features, benefits, and offers really matter—and cut the fluff. Many stores mix text and icons to quickly communicate these selling points on their product pages. Anticipate common questions or objections. What might make a customer hesitate to buy? Are they afraid of buying the wrong size? Do they need to know what your products are made of in case they have allergies? Do they need to know that your products are ethically made? Make your text easy to scan. Make your descriptions easier to read with short paragraphs, bullet points, subheadings, bolded text, etc. Then ask yourself how quickly a visitor can pull out the information they need. Help customers see themselves using your product. Customers can’t taste, feel, touch, or try on your products. Outside of product photos, you can bring your products to life by listing the materials you use, including a sizing chart, or sharing the story about how they’re made—it all depends on your product. For a product like hot sauce, we can confidently assume customers care about the following details in particular when making a purchase: ingredients, flavor, quantity, how spicy it is, and what it pairs well with. So I’ve done my best to make all this information accessible at a glance for my store’s visitors.In the Media section of your product page, you can upload any visual media that helps you share richer details about your products: photos, GIFs, videos, or even 3D models. Presentation makes all the difference. Help customers imagine owning your product. Help them see it in action or proudly displayed in their space. Here are a few points to remember: Use high-quality photos that put your products in the best light. Avoid blurry or low-resolution images. Try to maintain the same aspect ratio (i.e. the ratio between the width and height) across your product photos so that all your photos appear the same size. This consistency creates a cleaner, more professional appearance for your store. hot sauces bottle product photos with consistent aspect ratios If you’re on a budget, most modern smartphones are capable of shooting high-quality product photos and you can use free photo editing tools to touch them up (like, which lets you remove the background for free). After uploading an image, you can click on it to perform basic edits, such as cropping and resizing. You can also edit the Alt Text for accessibility to describe your photos to people who cannot see them. For example, I’ve written “a 150ml bottle of Hot Enough Habanero by Kinda Hot Sauce” to help anyone with a visual impairment shop with me. I’ll be using a single photo of a hot sauce bottle on a white background. But for products where the customer might need more visual information, such as clothing or jewelry, using multiple photos that offer additional angles or details can help improve customer trust. shopify store media upload Set your price Now it’s time to set the listing price for your product. This is what customers will pay to buy your product. Optionally, you can use the Compare at price field to communicate what the product would typically cost, especially in the case of a sale. For example, if we wanted to show savings on buying our hot sauce three-pack, we could enter the original price of three bottles here. However, I caution against using this without good reason, especially if you’re selling premium products as it could cheapen their perceived quality. The Cost per item field is also optional. If you like, you can use it to track your profit margin for an individual product. On the Shopify plan or higher, this lets you track profit in your profit report. price in shopify While there are some exceptions, businesses that sell goods and services have to collect taxes each time someone orders from them, so we’ll check that box and configure our tax settings later. To keep it simple, we’ll assume that my per-product cost, or the cost to produce and package one bottle, is $5. If I sell each bottle for $15, I’ll be making a healthy margin that leaves some room for discounts and marketing.     Inventory If we were dropshipping or using a print-on-demand service, we wouldn’t need to track inventory. But since Kinda Hot Sauces makes, sells, and ships its own hot sauce, we want to keep track of inventory in Shopify to know how much we have left of each sauce and how much more we need to produce as orders start coming in. If it’s your first time selling online, you might see a few unfamiliar terms here, so we’ll quickly run through them. SKU. A stock keeping unit is used to track and manage your inventory for specific products and variants. Create a consistent system using numbers or letters that makes it easy for you to identify what the exact item is at a glance (e.g., MHS-HEH tells me it’s the medium hot sauce Hot Enough Habenero). Bar code. Bar codes (ISBN, UPC, GTIN, etc.) are typically used if you’re reselling products or eventually want to add scannable bar codes to your items for easier inventory management. We can leave it blank for now since we’re making and selling our own products. Quantity. This is how much of a specific product you have on hand. If you have multiple locations holding inventory and have them set up in Shopify, they’ll display here. In the case. of my example, I’m starting out with a small batch of 10 bottles for each hot sauce and using my own space to hold inventory. Since it doesn’t take long to make more of my product, I can turn on “Continue selling when out of stock.” But you can turn this option off and mark items as “Sold out” if your inventory is limited or it takes longer to replenish your supply. Shipping In the shipping section, you’ll enter details that will automatically calculate shipping rates and print the appropriate shipping labels for each order. For my Kinda Hot Sauce store, we’ll check “This a physical product” and enter the following information: Weight. The weight of one bottle on its own. I’m going to enter 0.5 lbs. Customs information. This is important if you plan to sell internationally. We’ll put “Canada,” since Kinda Hot Sauce is made in and shipped from Canada, and use the search bar to find the Harmonized System code for condiments, which is 21309. Setting the actual shipping costs and options that you’ll offer to your customers will come later on in this tutorial. shipping information example on a shopify product page Variants I’m not going to be setting up variants for my products, but I still want to cover how since many Shopify store owners do. If your product comes with different options, like sizes or colors, instead of adding each one as its own product, you can simply add them as variants of the same product. Each variant can have its own image, price, tracked inventory, and individual settings associated with it With variants, you can even add additional product options, for example, offering multiple colors that come in different sizes. product variants in shopify When you add variants to your product and hit save to refresh the page, the Media, Pricing, Inventory, and Shipping sections we covered above will need to be set for each specific variant. Since our product comes in one size and doesn’t have any variants, we’ll leave this section alone. If you’re selling distinct variants of the same product, however, be sure to edit each variant with the appropriate product page information. For example, a photo of an orange t-shirt for the orange variant if you offer different colors. product variant settings in shopify Organization and product availability In the Organization section, you can label your products to help group them together and make it easier to manage your store’s product catalog, curate products for customers to shop, and apply rules or discounts to specific products. Here’s what each label means: Product availability: You can choose from a multitude of sales channels, like Facebook Shops or Amazon, to list your products on, which we’ll go into later. For now, just make sure your product is available in the “Online store” or it will be hidden. Product type. A product category that you can use to identify certain products (e.g., t-shirt). Each product can have only one product type. We’ll just use “Hot Sauce.” Vendor. This is the manufacturer, wholesaler, or third-party vendor for the product. You can filter your product list by vendor, which can speed up ordering inventory. Kinda Hot Sauce is the manufacturer, so we’ll list it as the vendor. Tags. Tags are keywords that you can associate with your product. You can add multiple tags to a product to help customers find it through your online store’s search bar. You can also use tags to automate actions in your store, like adding a product with a specific tag to a specific collection. I’m going to leave this blank since I don’t have any reason to use tags yet. Collections. Collections are important. They let you organize and curate your products for specific purposes and audiences. For example, an apparel brand could create a collection based on products for women, products for men, a summer sale, or new arrivals. The same product can be included in multiple collections. We’ll be setting up our collections after we’ve added more products. product organization settings in shopify 3. Create key pages for your online store So far, we’ve focused on products. But your online store needs to do more than just have products to purchase. It needs to help shoppers understand your business, give them reasons to trust you, and make other essential details available to customers who are looking for them. You can create most of these pages under Online Store > Pages. You don’t need to have all your pages ready for launch, but some of the most helpful ones to create include: Contact page. This page gives customers clear ways to reach you if they have questions or points them to a place to find answers, such as an FAQ page. About page. An About page connects personally with customers, explains your business model, and/or shares the reason you started your business. A persuasive About page can go a long way in earning trust for new online stores. FAQ page. A frequently asked questions page helps alleviate some of the more common customer support inquiries. Policy pages. There are certain legal pages customers expect and that can help protect you in case of disputes, such as your return policy and privacy policy, that you can set up under Settings > Legal. For our store, and for the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll go over how to create an About page (called “Our Story”) a Contact page, and essential policy pages (Privacy Policy, Shipping Policy, and Terms of Service), but you can create whatever pages you think will help you earn your customer’s trust. About page About pages are a great way to embrace the “small” in small business and earn trust as a new store. You can have a video introducing yourself as a founder, links to awards and press mentions, images that explain your supply chain, or include anything that helps this page tell your customers who you are and what you’re about. For Kinda Hot Sauce, we’ll be creating a simple About page, written like a letter to the customer that explains our philosophy and our reason for starting the business. When someone visits my store and they’re not quite sold on making a purchase, I want them to be met with an endearing and heart-felt message if they choose to visit my About page to learn more. Since we’ll be relying mostly on text, I’ll use the formatting options available in the toolbar to make the copy more eye-catching. about page example shopify Check it out Just like you did for your products, you should also customize the Search engine listing preview section of your pages based on what you want the URL to be and how you want the page to appear in search engine results. Contact page Your Contact page is what customers will look for to ask a question or get support. Most Shopify themes let you create one easily. Simply create a new page, go to the Template section on the right side, and choose the Contact template. This should add a form to your page. You can then write some instructions to help customers get in touch or even link out to other pages, like an FAQ, to help shoppers troubleshoot their own problems first. how to create a contact us page in shopify Check it out There are also live chat apps you can install to make support even more accessible to shoppers. Policy pages Policy pages are standard practice for online businesses. They give your customers a place to understand how you conduct your business and what to expect from you. They also help protect you in case of a customer dispute. Under Settings > Legal in Shopify, you’ll be able to generate templates that you can customize according to your business and local laws: Return policy. What’s your policy regarding returns and exchanges? How long do customers have to initiate a return? What condition does the product need to be in? A generous return policy can help customers buy from you with confidence. Privacy policy. A privacy policy describes how you collect information about your customers. Terms of service. Your terms of service policy is an agreement between you and your customers outlining how you will operate and what rights you reserve. Shipping policy. A shipping policy helps you set customer expectations around shipping costs, manufacturing times, and delivery speeds for the regions you ship to. (Please note that these templates aren’t legal advice and should be adapted for your store.) 4. Customize your online store Now that we’ve got some products in our store and some pages ready to go, it’s time to head over to Online Store > Themes in Shopify and start thinking about what we want our website to look like. Choose a theme The first step is to choose a theme: a template we install in our store that we can use as a starting point to design our website. The Shopify Theme Store is home to both free and paid themes, each with its own set of styles and features. 5. Set up shipping Shipping can be one of the most complex considerations involved in running an ecommerce business. Between product weights, packaging costs, shipping destinations, carrier rates, and your potential profit per order, there are a lot of variables to juggle. Luckily, we can boil it down to a few main approaches, which you can even blend together depending on the unique needs of your business, to find a shipping strategy that works for you: Offer free shipping. Free shipping can be an effective incentive for customers to shop with you, whether it’s applied to certain products, order amounts (e.g., if they spend over $50), or regions of the world. Keep in mind that you will need to factor this into the retail price of your products if you plan on absorbing the cost of shipping on behalf of your customers. Charge real-time carrier rates. Shopify integrates in real-time with various carriers like USPS and Canada Post to generate shipping options and live pricing. This allows your customers to choose the exact service and price they want. You can take advantage of discounted rates through Shopify Shipping. Charge a flat rate. Flat rate shipping works best when your products have similar sizes and weights, making actual shipping expenses easier to predict. Offer local pickup/delivery. You can also give local customers the option to pick up their online order at one of your locations, setting specific notification settings, pickup instructions, and other details for each location. For more advice on creating a shipping strategy, you can read our Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment. Remember that, like most of what we’ve done so far, this is something you can revisit and adjust over time. 6. Set up taxes As a business that sells goods or services, you have to collect taxes to send to the government each time someone orders from your store (some exceptions apply, such as for digital goods in many jurisdictions). Shopify will help you automatically handle most tax calculations using default sales tax rates around the world. Even so, it’s a good idea to conduct some research or ask a tax professional to ensure you’re charging the correct amount of sales tax. You can override the default tax settings if there are specific requirements for your region, such as taxes for specific products or for shipping. Go to Settings > Taxes in Shopify to set up your tax regions. Here you can edit the default rates if you like, or apply overrides if specific conditions apply in your region or to your products. Since Kinda Hot Sauce operates in Canada, we’ll set up our default tax rates for Canada. If you have a tax number you can enter it here or you can do so later. You’ll be able to see how much tax you’ve collected under Analytics > Reports. shopify tax settings None of this should be taken as tax advice and you should consult with a tax professional if you’re uncertain about your tax situation. Shopify doesn’t file or remit your sales taxes for you. 7. Setting up payment gateways and payouts We’re in the final stretch! Next up is deciding how your store will accept payments and how you as a store owner will get paid. Go to Settings > Payments to set up your payment provider. Shopify has made it easy to start accepting all major forms of payment with Shopify Payments. As long as you operate your business in one of the supported countries and aren’t considered a prohibited business, you can activate Shopify Payments in just one click and pay 0% in extra transaction fees. You can also choose from over 100 third-party payment providers here or offer your customers additional payment options, such as PayPal. In my case, I’ll Complete Account Setup for Shopify Payments by entering my business and banking information. I can also Manage my settings for Shopify Payments and do things like: Choose the payment options I want to offer, like different credit cards (e.g., Visa), and accelerated one-click payment options like Apple Pay and Shop Pay. Shop Pay is Shopify’s one-click payment option that lets any customer of any store with Shop Pay enabled save their payment information for future purchases. Sell in multiple currencies, which will automatically convert your prices into the customer’s currency if you enable it. Since we’re selling mostly in Canada and the US, we’ll add the US dollar and the Canadian dollar to our enabled currencies. Set your payout schedule. You can receive your payout daily, weekly, or monthly—it all depends on your preferences when it comes to your cash flow. Toggle extra fraud prevention measures such as CVV and postal code verification to add an extra layer of security. Customize how you appear on your customer’s bank statements. We’ll use KINDAHOTSAUCE to make our brand recognizable to customers on their credit card statements. The currency you sell your products in can be set under Settings > General. I’m going to be selling in US dollars since it will be familiar for both US and Canadian customers. 8. Prepare your store for launch With all the work we’ve done so far, we could actually launch our store now if we wanted to. We would just disable the password protection under Online Store > Preferences, which is the final step to flip the open sign and let people in to start buying our products. In fact, if you’re in a rush to go live, you could skip some or all the following steps and revisit them later when you have time. But in this tutorial, I’m going to ensure that my store not only makes a strong first impression and offers a smooth customer experience at launch, but is also in a good place for me to start marketing. That said, here are the final steps we’ll be going over: Adding a custom domain Installing relevant sales channels (Optional) Customizing your email/SMS notifications Setting up your store for marketing (tracking and analytics) Adding a custom domain Buying a domain is like claiming land on the internet. That’s why it’s called a “web address.” A custom domain is a fully branded URL that replaces the default URL that was created based on the store name you chose at setup (e.g., you could buy to replace as your public URL). Under Online Store > Domains, you can buy your domain directly through Shopify in a matter of seconds, or you can transfer your domain from another registrar and connect it to your store. Since the .com is taken, I’ll be buying the .shop extension for KindaHotSauce through Shopify. is now my store’s URL. buy custom domain in shopify Installing relevant sales channels One of the advantages of using Shopify to power your business is that your online store is just one of many sales channels you can use to sell your products. You can connect your products to additional sales channels to meet your customers where they are, while keeping track of your products, inventory, and reporting in the same Shopify account so you always know what’s going on in your business. While you don’t need to connect all of them right away, it’s good to have them in mind when you’re ready to explore new ways to get your products in front of the right shoppers. Not every sales channel will be relevant for your unique business, but here are some that are worth highlighting: Shopify POS. Our point-of-sale solution for accepting in-person payments and easily syncing physical retail sales with your online Shopify store and inventory. Social networks. You can sell your products through a Facebook Shop on your Facebook page, product tags in your Instagram posts, Pinterest, and more. Marketplaces. Many shoppers start their purchasing journey on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. Google channel. Google is the most popular search engine in the world. With the Google channel, you can run Google Shopping campaigns and list your products for free in the Shopping tab in Google search results. Buy button. If you have an existing website or blog where you want to sell your products, you can install the Buy button sales channel to embed your products onto another webpage, allowing customers to purchase them and check out there. You can even create checkout links to send directly to a customer and have them jump straight to checkout. shopify sales channels You can quickly add sales channels by clicking the + button next to Sales channels or view our full list of sales channels in the Shopify App Store. Then, on your Product pages under Product Availability, you can choose which products are available on which sales channels. I’ll be considering the Facebook and Instagram channels for sure since a brand like Kinda Hot Sauce will rely heavily on social media marketing. Customizing your email notifications (optional) Shopify comes with a series of ready-to-use automated email and SMS notifications to let customers know about order confirmations, status updates, and more. I’ll be leaving them alone for now, but if you need to customize these for any reason—to communicate specific information or simply reflect your brand better—you can edit these notifications under Settings > Notifications. customizing shopify notifications Setting up your store for marketing Marketing is different for every business, but regardless of your strategy, it’s important to set up the right foundation as soon as you can so you can get the most out of your efforts as you drive traffic to your store. In particular, I want to cover the fundamentals of nearly every ecommerce marketing strategy that are important to know for new store owners. Analytics Shopify Reports (under Analytics > Reports) not only helps you monitor traffic and sales generated by your store across all your sales channels but also serves as a treasure trove of great insight for improving your business over time. You can learn where your traffic and sales are coming from, your overall online store conversion rate, traffic and sales over time, and more. shopify reports For more granular analytics and flexible reporting, you can set up Google Analytics for free. Facebook pixel Have you ever visited an online store, considered a product, but left without buying it, only to see an ad for it a few days later? Or have you ever seen an ad for a product from a business you’d never heard of that seemed like it was made for you? That’s made possible through something called the Facebook pixel, an intelligent code that learns from how people interact with your brand and your website—from liking your social media posts to making a purchase—and makes it possible to personalize how you advertise to them over time. The Facebook pixel learns from all the traffic you send to your online store, so if you plan on advertising on Facebook or Instagram at any point in the future, it’s important to have your Facebook pixel set up. You can get clear instructions on how to set it up for your Shopify store by using our free Facebook Marketing app (note that this process will require you to also set up a Facebook page and ad account for your business). Search engine optimization (SEO) Many shoppers turn to Google and other search engines as part of their purchasing journey, whether it’s to find a product they saw or heard about through a friend or they’re conducting some comparison shopping for a purchase. Helping your online store’s pages and your products appear in these search results can create passive streams of relevant traffic for free. However, it takes time to grow this source of traffic. You can lay the right foundation through a practice called search engine optimization (SEO), which we were first introduced to when we set up our Products and Pages in our store. Another area of your store where you’ll want to keep SEO in mind is the Title and meta description fields, which can be found under Settings > Preferences. For Kinda Hot Sauce, I want to make sure I include my brand name and a description of what my business is about, based on the keywords people might search for to find my business. You can use a free keyword research tool like Ubersuggest or Keyword Surfer (Chrome extension) to estimate how many times people search a specific query in a month and what types of searches happen around that keyword. Estimated monthly search volumes aren’t always 100% accurate and the more popular a search is, the more competitive it usually is. Always remember that the job of a search engine is to show the most relevant results to the user, so you should try to prioritize keywords that are directly relevant to your business. Let’s take Kinda Hot Sauce as an example to illustrate some of the key findings that can come out of even the simplest keyword research: “Medium hot sauce“ and “mild hot sauce” come up with 480 and 40 estimated monthly searches, respectively. Since they relate closely to what my business is about, I can prioritize them in my homepage title and description. Many people also search for a variety of recipes for spicy foods (e.g., “how to make crispy hot wings”), meaning I could introduce a blog later on to create content around searches related to recipes that involve hot sauce. optimizing store for search and social While I’m here, I’m also going to add a Social sharing image to make sure that I create a strong first impression whenever a link to my store is shared on social media or in direct messages. Recommended: Check out our SEO checklist for other steps you can take to help your store show up in relevant search engine results. 9. Launch your store I’m finally ready to launch! Is my store perfect? No. But I feel good enough about it to bet time and money marketing it and learning from the feedback I get to make it even better over time. I can remove my password page (under Settings > Preferences) and start telling the world I’m open for business.]]>

    11 things Shopify users often get confused

    Shopify Support v. Shopify Experts One common point of confusion is the difference between Shopify’s official support and Shopify Experts. The key difference, however, between these two is important to understand. Shopify Support team members, also referred to as gurus, are employed by Shopify and officially trained on the Shopify platform. On the other hand, Shopify Experts are completely independent from Shopify. Shopify doesn’t have any official way of certifying or training Experts and therefore has no control over the work and services provided. However, in order to be listed as an Expert on Shopify’s website, the Expert does have to meet certain minimum criteria in terms of experience with the platform. While Shopify Experts and Shopify Support can help out with many of the same areas, Shopify Experts typically are able to provide more extensive assistance, especially in the areas of customization, development and design. Shopify Support, meanwhile, typically won’t be able to assist with designing your site or making customizations to your store or theme. Instead, gurus focus on helping merchants understand how the Shopify platform itself works.

    Theme v. templates v. layouts

    A Shopify Theme is a general, overarching term that refers to the files that control the look and feel of a Shopify store. From a technical standpoint, a Shopify theme combines HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Liquid and image files into what shoppers see on screen, or the “front end.” Often, however, there’s confusion between a Shopify themes, templates and layouts. In the Shopify system, layout files are used to control the overall layout or composition of the repeating elements of the site, such as the header, footer and other areas that appear on all or most pages. Most Shopify themes only have a single layout since multiple layouts is typically a more advanced feature. A layout file will also have a special Liquid tag that tells Shopify where to output the specific content of the page, which, in turn, is controlled by templates. More specifically, Shopify templates refer to specific files that are outputted inside of a layout. All Shopify themes contain a base set of templates that control the layout of the homepage, collection pages, product pages and other pages such as contact, about or gallery type pages. A Shopify theme can have an essentially unlimited number of templates. For example, creating a new separate template is often the best way to create special layouts for certain product types, such as items requiring personalization.

    Collections v. categories v. subcategories

    The use of the word “categories” is actually a bit of a misnomer for Shopify users. Officially, Shopify products are always organized into what Shopify calls collections, not categories. There’s also no way to create a hierarchy with collections — in other words there’s technically no such thing as a subcategory or subcollection in Shopify. That said, it’s still possible — and fairly straightforward — to create a hierarchical relationship between collections by using Shopify’s built in navigation system. For example, a store owner can “nest” links to specific collections under links to others to create a subcollection or subcategory. It’s also possible to filter a collection by tag and direct shoppers to what is essentially a subset of a larger group. For example, a menu link to a “Jeans” collection could actually be a link to a more general “Bottoms” collection that has been filtered to show only products that have a “jeans” tag. The lack of hierarchal organization for Shopify collections can be a bit confusing from a store owner’s perspective because all collections will appear within the same master list of collections in the Shopify admin. Also keep in mind that many users have a tendency to think of collections as folders similar to the folders you have on your computer’s hard drive. However, this is a bit inaccurate because a single product can belong to one or more — even hundreds — of collections, unlike folders, which typically only allow a file or object to be located in a single folder at any one time. Note that collections can also be used to organize products in non-hierarchical ways. For example, many Shopify themes use collections to determine what items appear on the homepage or in another part of the shop, such as a more custom version of the “related images” section for a given product.

    Vendors v. product types v. tags

    Shopify offers three additional ways of organizing and classifying products: by vendor, product type and tag. However, many store owners are confused by the differences between these and how they should be used. Vendors is probably the most straightforward of these three labels, and is typically used to associate, as you might expect, a vendor, designer or manufacturer with a product. It’s typically best to restrict the use of the vendor feature to these types of uses since many themes use the vendor label for features such as filtering and browsing (it’s also possible to use the vendors feature to show different size charts for each vendor in your store). It’s also important to remember that, in Shopify, products can only have a single vendor — so it’s not possible to label a product with more than one vendor. If you don’t want to use the word “vendor” it’s easy to change it to something more appropriate for your business such as “brand” or “manufacturer” — though the word “vendor” will continue to be used within your admin panels. Product type, meanwhile, is another distinct identifier that each product can have. Like vendors, products can only have a single product type. Product type is a helpful way to further organization products and, like vendors, is often used by themes for filtering or sorting features. Like all of these labels, product type is also helpful for you, as the store owner, to help organize and locate specific products. The final label, tags, is perhaps the most flexible. Tags are unique in that a product can have one or more tag, unlike vendor or product type. Tags have a wide variety of uses and many themes make use of them for related product functionality or for, like the other labels, filtering and sorting. The one downside to tags, however, is there’s no way to group them. For example, you can’t say that the tags “green” and “red” are colors, while the tags “silk” and “linen” are fabrics. Shopify’s built in search tool also heavily relies on tags, so it’s important to keep this in mind when adding tags. All of these labels are extremely useful when using automatically generated collections since they can all be called upon as criteria for items to be included or excluded from a particular collection. This can be incredibly powerful if you need to create highly specific collections.]]>

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    Building Nested Navigations with Shopify Link List

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    Nested navigations are a popular solution for effectively organizing collections, products, and pages. A Shopify link list is a simple collection of links, and these items can be created to point to a collection, page, or product within Shopify, or to a URL outside of the store’s domain. Link lists are used for a variety of different use cases. In this tutorial, we will cover how to use link lists in a Shopify theme to create a nested navigation using an unordered list. By using link lists and Liquid, we’ll have full control over the menu from within the admin, giving flexibility to the merchant running the store.

    Create a development store

    Before we start let’s set up a development store that we can work with. That way we can test, break, and fix things as we build, and once we’re happy with our code we can move it into production.

    Creating a nested navigation

    In 2017, Shopify added the ability to create a nested navigation menu, up to three levels deep from a single page, by using a new menu editing interface. Previously, menus were created using multiple menus, and the handle for each menu to tie it to its parent menu link. At the time of writing this article, all newly created stores have the new nested menus user interface, where you can easily drag, drop, and nest menu items, meaning you no longer have to link handles to menu names. While it’s common to include the navigation in a layout file, the default one being theme.liquid, you can test out the nested navigation concept in any template.

    Creating navigation menus

    We’ll begin by creating a new menu, our parent menu, by heading to the Navigation tab in the Shopify Admin, which resides under the Online Store linkin the sidebar. All new stores have a predefined default menu called “Main Menu”. To add items to the list, simply click the add another link button, and give your new item a “link name” and a destination. The select drop down will allow you to easily link to internal sections, such as a particular product or collection. Alternatively, you can enter your own URL (either internal or external) by choosing “web address” from the options. Once we have this in place, we can start to consider the Liquid code we’ll need to output this in our theme. You can drag and drop nested menu items to create a multi-level navigation, and with some JavaScript and CSS easily style it into a “super-menu” or “drop-down menu”.

    Outputting the menu

    In order to output the menu in a theme file, we’ll need to know the handle of the menu. Handles are unique identifiers within Shopify for products, collections, link lists, and pages. Let’s begin by outputting all the items from the Main Menu link list. We can use a simple for loop we’ve used many times before to output the link list items in turn:
    The key thing to pay attention to here, is the for-loop that’s been included around each <li>.

    We are using the variable link to hold the data relating to each item in the link list, as we loop over all the items. This keyword link could be anything, it’s just a variable for the for-loop to output data for the menu. In order to access link data, we need to access all the links in the link list with a handle of main-menu, hence linklists.main-menu.links. Remember, the default Main Menu that exists in a Shopify store has the handle of main-menu, which is why it’s being used above. If our menu had a handle of social-media, the syntax would be refactored as:

    Each link item has properties which include:

    • url
    • title
    In the example above, {{ link.url }} will output the url we entered or generated in the Shopify Admin, and {{ link.title }} will output the link text specific to that url.

    You might also like: How to Manipulate Images with the img_url Filter.

    Multi-level navigation

    Now that we have the basic Liquid structure in place for a single level menu, we need to consider how to create a sub-menu for our top level items. Firstly, we need to head back to the Shopify Admin and create our first sub-menu. It might not be 100 percent clear initially, but every link in a link list, in addition to the menu itself, has a unique handle that we have access to in Liquid. Let’s have a look at an example. If our main-menu has three levels of links as follows:
    • Home
    • About Us
    • Women
      • Accessories
        • Earrings
        • Scarves
    What’s great about using nested menus in Shopify is that nested menu items can be obtained directly from their parent link using Liquid. This greatly simplifies the markup required to render a nested menu — meaning you don’t need to know the handle of the parent to render its children. Here’s an example of how we can use these related handles to output a three level deep nested menu:
    You’ll notice that we’re now introducing an if statement in our refactored example, directly after we output the first level of our main menu: This if statement checks to see if a child-link for the current link item in our loop exists. If it does exist, the template moves forward and loops over all the items in the sub menu. Additionally, in this example we handle child_link sub-menu and a grandchild_link sub-menu the same way, by checking with an if statement to see if there’s a child-link for the current link item, and if it does exist, the template loops through and outputs the sub-menu. In the example above, child_link is just a for loop variable we use to represent the current item in the loop; it could easily be replaced with sub_link, and grandchild_link with sub_sub_link. We’ve used child and grandchild in this case to illustrate the hierarchy of the nested navigation a bit more clearly.

    Final touches

    I think it’s important to mention one extra link property that will be very useful when creating menus — and link.child_active. These are both boolean properties (true/false) that allow you to easily tell if the current page is active, as well as if it’s nested items are active. The syntax is as follows: In this example, we’ll add a CSS class of active if the current page URL is the same as the list item, and a class of active-child if the current page is also part of the active nested item. Here’s the full code example for completeness:

    Start nesting those menus!

    Link lists are a very powerful element of the Shopify platform. Having the ability to create an array of list items that can be changed in the admin gives you lots of flexibility. We’ve seen theme developers use them far beyond menu structures. However, knowing how to create nested navigation that can then be styled with CSS is a great tool to have at your disposal.

    The Shopify Collaborator Account: What You Need to Know

    The Shopify Collaborator Account: What You Need to Know

    As a Shopify Partner, you’ve almost certainly come across development stores, the free Shopify account that allows you to build stores for clients and test out new themes and apps. Development stores are a key component of building for Shopify, and offer tons of opportunity to explore what the platform has to offer. But what if you have a client who already has a Shopify store? What if you’ve been hired to spruce up the design of an existing store, or launch a new marketing initiative? In that case, it’s time to use a Shopify collaborator account. In this article, we walk you through what a Shopify collaborator account is, how to request access to your client’s store, and how to use collaborator accounts to make your client’s experience even better. Before the introduction of collaborator accounts in 2017, you had to be added to a merchant’s store as a staff account if you wanted to do any work on it. This wasn’t ideal—staff accounts are limited depending on which plan the merchant is on. It also meant that you had to keep track of all the different logins for the multiple stores you were working on. Collaborator accounts were the solution. Today, you can simply request access to your client’s store directly through your Partner Dashboard. The store owner receives an email with your request, approves you for the specific permissions you need to do your job, and you’re good to start working.

    “Managed stores are all accessible from your Partner Dashboard, so no more remembering a dozen different logins.”
    Your managed stores are all accessible from your Partner Dashboard, so no more remembering a dozen different logins. And since collaborator accounts don’t count towards a merchant’s total staff number, merchants have the flexibility to add you whenever they need you.

    You might also like: How to Customize Shopify Email Notifications for Clients.

    Requesting access to a client’s store

    The process for requesting access to your client’s store is simple.
      1. In your Partner Dashboard, click Stores.
      2. Click Add store.
      3. For type of store, choose Managed store.
      4. Enter the URL of the store.
      5. In the Permissions section, select the sections of the store you want to access, or check Full access. Remember that the store owner can change these permissions after your account is created. See below for more information on permissions.
      6. If you’d like, include a message to the store owner in the Add a message section.
      7. Click Save.
    Once you send your request, an email will be sent to the store owner and a notification will appear on their Shopify Home, asking them to approve you. Requests expire after seven days, but don’t worry—you can always re-request access after the expiration date.
    shopify collaborator account: client notification request
    Your client gets notified when you request access to their store via a collaborator account. 
    shopify collaborator account: access message
    Collaborator accounts give you access to your client’s Shopify admin but don’t count toward their staff account limit.
    Once your client has approved you, you’ll be able to access their store—and all the other stores you work on—via the Stores tab in your Partner Dashboard.

    You might also like: 4 Quick Ways to Build Trust With a New Client.

    Removing managed stores

    Once you’ve finished working with your client, the merchant can remove your account from their store. You can also remove your collaborator account by visiting the Stores page, clicking on the store in question, and clicking Remove managed store. Removing managed stores also helps you maintain security for the merchants you’ve worked with.

    How to respond to your client asking why you need access to their store

    The permissions you should request from a client depend greatly on the work you’ll be doing for them. For example, if you’re going to be designing a store, you don’t need access to the store’s finances. You could, however, need access to the following:
      • Navigation
      • Themes
      • Blog Posts and Pages
      • Orders
      • Products
    A full list of possible permissions with their descriptions can be found in our Help Center. It can be helpful to take the time to explain to your clients why you need access to certain parts of their store—it builds trust, and helps your client understand the different aspects of the work you’ll be doing for them. If you send them a request for access without letting them know it’s coming, this can cause confusion and delay the project. Here’s a short script template you can adapt to let your clients know you’ll be requesting access to their store via a Shopify collaborator account:
    Hi [client name], Hope you’re well. We’ve reached [current stage of your client project]. To move forward, I will be requesting access to your store, [name of your client’s store], via a Shopify Partner collaborator account.  A collaborator account allows me to only access parts of your store you want me to see, and it doesn’t count toward your store’s staff account limit. Based on the nature of our work together, will need [areas of your client’s store you need access to] access permissions. I will request access and you will receive an email from Shopify shortly notifying you. Please accept my request so that I can make the following updates: [list of changes you have discussed with your client]. If you have any questions, please let me know. You can also check out this Shopify Help Doc for more information about collaborator accounts. Thanks, and have a great day. Kind regards, [Your name]

    A Shopify collaborator account establishes a smooth working experience

    A Shopify collaborator account establishes a collaborative environment that gives you an opportunity to do great work for merchants everywhere. They allow you to easily access the parts of a merchant store you need to do your job, while ensuring that the merchant experience is safe and controlled. Collaborator accounts make the process of working for existing Shopify merchants much smoother, and builds your reputation as a trusted Shopify Partner.

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    How to Customize Shopify Email Notifications for Clients

    How to Customize Shopify Email Notifications for Clients

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    Why customize Shopify email notifications for clients? As online businesses become increasingly engaged across various channels, customers have come to expect a seamless experience at every touchpoint (take a look at subscription-based email marketing for example). Email can often be overlooked in favor of more immediate UX considerations—but given that every customer will receive email notifications, it’s critical that email communicates with your client’s customers effectively and appropriately.

    “It’s critical that email communicates with your client’s customers effectively and appropriately.”
    Personalized emails allow your client to maintain a look and feel that’s consistent with the rest of their brand. By embedding on-brand images, and rewording text to conform with a brand’s tone, your client can stay close to their audience. It’s also possible to amplify the value of your client’s products by adding extra content to these notifications. Some products may have instructions that can be included as text within these emails, while others could link to a video. Being strategic about how abandoned checkout emails are sent can also open up a range of marketing opportunities. By applying a discount code to the abandoned checkout email, your clients can leverage this chance to boost conversions, since the discount would be an incentive to complete the sale.

    How to customize email notifications

    Shopify sends notifications to customers when different actions take place. There are 16 notifications that customers can receive, including order confirmation and abandoned checkout. Each one of these notification templates can be customized to include custom HTML and CSS, which means there’s a lot of room to showcase your client’s brand. It’s important to carefully consider what kinds of customizations would suit each particular client. There’s a range of email-specific Liquid variables that can be used for many different purposes. Whether you’re looking to output customer info or product features, we’re sure that you’ll find something that can improve email notifications for your clients. With this in mind, here are two customizations that can add advanced functionality to Shopify email notifications.

    1. Add conditional content using Liquid operators

    It’s possible to display specific content for individual products on an email, using conditional Liquid operators. With if statements you can add text, or images, that will appear when a product fulfills criteria that you set up. As well as Liquid operators, you will also use the line item object, which allows you to reference particular properties of a product that’s in a customer’s shopping cart. Each line item represents a single line in the customer’s shopping cart and they can also be used in email notifications to isolate individual properties of a product. You can see all the different variables in our Liquid documentation.

    You might also like: How Smart Design Patterns can Improve Store Conversions.

    For example, your client could have a set of products that have a unique set of instructions—maybe they are downloadable products and there are specific steps to follow for a customer to get one of them. In this case, you could add conditional Liquid if statements that would output these instructions, if a product contained a specific word in its title. The code for this would consist of an if statement using contains to check for the presence of a specific word, in this example “Book”, within the product title: The location of where this message appears would be up to you, but a common placement could be below the title of the product. In that case, you could add the code within the cell that contains the line.variant.title line item, and above the closing </td> tag. This could look like the below image: shopify email notifications: location Now when a customer orders a product with “Book” in the title, they would see the specific message on their order notification email below the product title. To the customer, the email would appear like this: shopify email notifications: customer notifications This is a simple yet powerful way to display product-specific content within emails, and could potentially save clients from customer frustration if products require installation or other post-purchase actions. Even if clients simply want to send a friendly message for certain products, it’s a perfect way to introduce creativity into email notifications.

    You might also like: The 10 Best Markdown Editors.

    2. Apply discount codes on abandoned checkout emails

    According to the Baymard Institute, 69 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes a sale, which represents a huge loss of potential sales for your clients. Recovering abandoned carts can be a huge challenge, so if you can improve results in this area, you’ll add a lot of value to your client projects (and potentially be able to justify charging more).
    “According to the Baymard Institute, 69 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes a sale.”
    Generally, abandoned checkout emails are sent a few hours after the potential customer “bounced” away (you can read our guide to decreasing bounce rate), so if they receive an encouraging email with a discount code, they could be motivated to complete the sale. Thankfully, it’s possible to apply an automatic discount to an abandoned checkout recovery email to incentivize these would-be customers. To achieve this effect, you would first need to create a percentage discount code or a monetary discount code, depending on the type of promotion your client would like to offer. Once this discount has been created, make a note of the name assigned to the discount code, for example “WelcomeBack”. This name will be needed when you are customizing the notification template. Next, on the abandoned checkout notification template, you’ll need to change the destination of the “Complete your purchase” call-to-action button. Usually when a customer clicks to complete their purchase, they’re directed to the checkout, and their previously chosen products are pre-loaded. We can follow this same process, but apply the discount we created, by changing the default URL to a URL containing the discount. You’ll need to find the line that includes: <td class="button__cell"><a href="{{ url }}" class="button__text">Complete your purchase</a></td>   And the line that includes {{ shop.url }}: shopify email notifications: abandoned cart email notification code The URL variables here will need to be replaced with a code snippet that appends text to the URL so that it includes the discount. This snippet of code would look like this: Once you’ve replaced {{ shop.url }} and {{ url }} with the snippet noted above, your email notification should appear like this:
    <td class=button__cell>
    <a href={% if url contains ‘?’ %}
    {{ url | append: ‘&discount=WelcomeBack’ }}
    {% else %}
    {{ url | append: ‘?&discount=WelcomeBack’ }}
    {% endif %} class=button__text>Complete your purchase</a></td>
    {% if shop.url %}
    <table class=link secondary-action-cell>
    <td class=link__cell><a href={% if url contains ‘?’ %}
    {{ url | append: ‘&discount=WelcomeBack’ }}
    {% else %}
    {{ url | append: ‘?&discount=WelcomeBack’ }}
    { % endif %} class=link__text><span class=or>or</span> Visit our store</a>
    view rawemail-notification-discount-code.liquid hosted with ❤ by GitHub Finally, you can add some text to the abandoned checkout email template informing your client’s customer that a discount was applied. This could look something like this:
    {% capture email_title %} Your shopping cart is waiting for you {% endcapture %}
    {% capture email_body %}
    {% if billing_address.first_name %}Hi {{ billing_address.first_name }}, w{% else %}
    W{% endif %}e noticed there {% if item_count == 1 %}was an item{% else %}were some items{% endif %} left in your shopping cart.
    If you’re ready to complete your order, your cart is waiting for your return, and you can even have a 15% discount on us.
    {% endcapture %}
    view rawemail-notification-discount-text.liquid hosted with ❤ by GitHub Now when a customer clicks on the call-to-action button on the email, they’ll be directed to the checkout of your client’s store, with their pre-loaded products and a discount applied. This is exactly the kind of sweetener that will drive conversions for your clients!

    You might also like: Canonical URLs: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

    Make sure that you test!

    Regardless of your design, you’ll have to test each email to ensure the output looks right from a customer’s perspective. As developers, we should always be thinking about how the end product will look and feel for our client’s customers. On the notification settings page there are two options for testing, by previewing the notification or by sending a test email. The preview function is very helpful if you are making quick edits, but it’s advised that a test email should be sent once you’re finished working on a template. Better still is to go through the actual process with a test order, to look out for any possible pain points you could have missed, so that you are 100 percent sure that everything will run smoothly.

    Have you experimented with customized Shopify email notifications and added new functionality to emails? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!