Getting started with a Shopify site

Shopify can link directly to several cloud-based accounting solutions, providing them with data from your sales. Most of the work will be done on the other here at Webselect, we love Shopify sites because of how adaptable they are. No matter what you’re looking to sell, there will be a Shopify theme and plugins that can support you. That’s why we specialise in building Shopify sites, but if you’re new to the concept, you might wonder what makes them so helpful, and how one can help with the journey of your business.

We’ve put together this short introductory guide to Shopify, which will cover why you’d choose a Shopify site instead of another provider like Wix or Wordpress, what themes are and how to choose one, and some of the most useful plugins we’ve found for our many happy clients.

Why choose a Shopify site?

A website is a tool that’s been built for a specific purpose. What are you looking to get out of your site? Do you want to sell products or services, or is there something else you had in mind?

The “front end” of your website is the part that visitors see, but there’s also the “back end” to consider. This is the Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to easily make changes and add pages and other content to your site, and you’ll want to pick a CMS that’s user-friendly, especially if you are the user!

So how do you choose? If your business doesn’t have a selection of products, you might look at Wix, Squarespace or Wordpress site.

Wix and Squarespace are both set up so that you can use them without knowing code, or having to learn about website design, but that also makes them more limited in the ways they can look, and the things they can do.

Wordpress is more flexible, but also more complicated. Wordpress sites are more of a “jack-of-all-trades”, and so they can do lots of things, but this also means they’re not designed to be helpful to businesses like a dedicated e-commerce platform like Shopify is.

If you’re not sure what kind of site you need, we can help you work it out. Just drop us a line, or give us a call.

How do I choose a Shopify theme?

Once you know that a Shopify site is what you need, the next step is to decide what you want it to look like, and the functions you want it to have.

The way a Shopify site looks is determined by the theme that it uses. The starter theme that’s included as standard is called Dawn, and if you’re an SME, it’s probably all you need.

It’s not as feature-rich as some of the themes that are available from specialist third-party developers, but it’s the perfect skeleton to begin your e-commerce journey.

If your company is already established and looking to scale up, you’ll want to look at some of the richer themes on the market. There are specific themes available for different industries. For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, you might want to look at the Prestige theme by Maestrooo. It offers lots of specific functionality out of the box, along with great performance and accessibility.

Often, companies have already made a choice before we become involved in the process, and that’s fine too - our job is then to work with you to make sure it’s delivering what you need.

We can custom-build elements for specific themes, so even if you’ve already made a financial commitment but are feeling limited by what your theme offers, you’re not locked into the default set of features.

What’s the difference between a theme and a template?

When it comes to the look and feel of your site, the theme decides how it will look as a whole, and your templates define the layout and components of the individual pages. Shopify’s v.2 CMS allows you to create side-wide page templates, providing your theme also supports this.

For example, you might want to have a page for news, a top-level catalogue page, and then sub-category pages for the different kinds of item that you sell. If your theme doesn’t include a template that you want, we can build a bespoke version.

What are Shopify plug-ins?

If you’re running a business and using a Shopify site, plug-ins exist to make life easier for you and your customers. They can automate tasks, let you implement loyalty schemes and integrate with third-party systems to provide an entire range of services. Our team have suggested some of the plug-ins which they have used to help make the lives of our clients easier, so let’s take a look:

Easier postage - Royal Mail Click & Drop Shopify plugin

Do you have to parcel up and send lots of items via the Royal Mail? Their Click & Drop plug-in connects to your site so it knows what you’ve sold, and allows you to pay for postage and print the corresponding labels without having to enter the details from scratch.

Accounting software - Quickbooks Online, Xero, etc.

side of this connection, but it’s still a great way to save yourself some time, and take back some of the time you’d spend doing your accounting.

If you’re s new business and your product range is small - Swatch King

If you’re a clothing retailer that’s just starting out, this plugin can maximise the impact of your inventory by generating variations in your product listings to enhance your customers browsing experience. This includes swatches, making it not just a clever name.

Integrate email marketing with Klaviyo

This one is more of an integration than a traditional plug-in, as a lot of the processing happens on the Klaviyo side. This data-driven integration will allow you to use customer data from your Shopify site to carry out email marketing campaigns, SMS campaigns and to send push notifications via Klaviyo.

This is more of a self-service product than the ones covered above, but we are able to help once we’ve been given access to your Klaviyo setup. We can also help advise you on your privacy policy so that your customers know how you’ll be processing their data, which is especially important if your customers are in the UK and/or EU.

Start your own referral scheme with Referral Candy

If your business thrives on returning customers and referrals, this plug-in makes it simple to provide rewards to your customers. It will automatically include referral options in your checkout process, and as a bonus, also tracks their success and provides statistics on how they’re improving your business.

Start building your trust signals with Judge.Me

Having a product review system in place is a great way to build consumer confidence, and with Judge.Me you can easily build them into your Shopify site. Even better, the free tier contains all the functionality you need to get started, with a paid tier available once your business needs to further expand.

Make your events easy to find with Elfsight Event Calendar

If your business has a packed calendar of events, Elfsight Event Calendar can turn your site into a showcase. Features allow customers to add the events to their own calendar, plus you can group listings and highlight any offers you’ve got running if the event is paid.

The Golden Rules of Shopify development

To close out this blog, we asked our dev team to give us the golden rules that they apply to help our clients. They said:

  • Keep it simple - more complex sites introduce more friction for their consumers
  • Don’t have too many plugins - as great as they are, the more you have, the greater the chance that they’ll clash
  • The Dawn theme really is a great starter - don’t financially commit to another theme before you’ve spoken to us about what it can do
  • Tell us what you want, and we can then find the best theme for the job

If you’re looking to make the first step into e-commerce, or you’ve already got a Shopify site that you want to upgrade, we can help. We’re official Shopify partners who are already trusted to help lots of customers build a presence online, so contact us today.


Getting started with Shopify