The Ultimate Guide to Shopify

The Ultimate Guide to Shopify

Author – Jason R. Rich

Ultimate Guide to YouTube for Business

10 misconceptions of starting an online business:

  1. Operating an ecommerce business is a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not!
  2. Even if you choose the perfect products/services to sell and create an amazing website, just publishing a website online will not automatically lead to sales, profits, and great wealth. One of the costliest aspects of running an online business (and one that requires a significant time commitment as well) is advertisingmarketing, and promoting your business to generate a steady flow of traffic (visitors) to your website.
  3. Realistically, it could take weeksmonths, or even a year (possibly longer) before your online business becomes profitable.
  4. Regardless of what you choose to sell or who you identify as your target audience, you’re going to have a lot of competition from other businesses, both brick-and-mortar and online.
  5. Operating an ecommerce business is an actual business (not a hobby). It will require a significant time and financial commitment, but you should not quit your existing job until you know your new business can generate the profit needed to sustain itself and provide you with a salary. As a legal business entity, you will need to pay taxes and maintain accurate financial records.
  6. Not all online businesses succeed. In fact, many fail. By reading this book, however, you will learn how to avoid many of the most common pitfalls people encounter as they launch and begin operating an ecommerce business using the Shopify platform.
  7. While the Shopify platform is powerful, constantly evolving, and widely used, it may not be the right choice for your specific business. No single solution or set of tools is ideal for everyone. Once you determine what you want to sell and who your target audience will be, it’s your job to research the tools that are best suited to your needs, budget, and skill set.
  8. Choosing to use the Shopify platform will not replace the need for you to make your own business decisions. There will be plenty of important decisions to make upfront and then moving forward. Mistakes could become time-consuming and costly, and result in the failure of your operation in the long run. As with any business, creating a proper business plan, doing plenty of research, and making sure you don’t cut necessary corners to save time and money will be essential.
  9. Online businesses run themselves. No! This is a common misconception! You will need to constantly update and manage your website, promote and advertise your business, keep your customers happy, and handle a wide range of responsibilities that will ensure your business operates smoothly. While you can set your own schedule and potentially run your online business on a part-time basis, it will never become a “self-running” or “fully automated” venture.
  10. You can’t sell low-cost, imported junk to customers at a high profit margin and expect to grow a profitable business. Whether it’s through social media, product ratings/reviews, business ratings/reviews, or word-of-mouth, if you attempt to rip off consumers, misrepresent or lie about your products, or mislead your customers in any way, your reputation will quickly be tarnished, and you’ll see your sales grind to a halt. As a small business operator, you should offer your customers top-quality productstop-notch customer service, and an overall quick-and-easy online shopping experience.

You need to come up with one or more products or services that are in demand, have a decent profit margin, are easily sourced or manufactured, and do not have an insane amount of competition.
Ideally, you also want evergreen products that are not seasonal or fad-based, and that have a growing niche customer base that you can easily and affordably identify and reach.

Your best chance for success lies in selling unique or unusual items to a niche audience that you can easily target with your marketing efforts.

Introduction to Shopify

Your goal should always be to provide the fastest, easiest, most convenient, and most reliable shopping experience possible-without including anything that could distract or confuse visitors to your website.

You must pinpoint the target audience for your products, understand the online shopping habits of this niche audience, and then cater every aspect of your website’s design to them by choosing the most appropriate ecommerce turnkey solution.

Building an ecommerce business using a pure dropshipping model is seldom the best approach.

“I recommend learning how to use an email marketing strategy to help generate repeat business.”
“The secret sauce with email marketing is creating different segmented email lists and focusing on the quality of content within your emails to your list. In addition, ensure your emails are easy to read quickly and include time-sensitive CTAs and provide incentives that the reader will perceive as valuable.”
“Always maintain an open dialogue with your customers, and make sure your emails are not perceived as annoying or intrusive.”
“Trying to reach consumers, email marketing works very well when the emails are sent midweek and late in the afternoon.”
“You’ll often see less success if emails are sent on weekends or at the beginning of the week.”
“Remember that many people will be reading your emails from mobile devices, so format your emails to accommodate a smaller screen.”
“One of the first things you should do is create SMART goals. Setting goals is too vague. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based.”
“I am a firm believer that every commerce business should have a brand that resonates with the target customer. So start at why and not what.”
“Everyone will know what you sell, but the key is focusing on why they should buy from you specifically.”
“Since ecommerce stores use several images, make sure to use JPEG or WEBP image file formats. Also be sure to add image compression and an appropriate file namecaption, and metadata to each image when incorporating it into your website.”
-Darrell Williams, Growth Hack Guides

Methods of Selling Online

Incorporating multiple apps into your website also has the potential to slow it down, increase load times, and add on-screen clutter that can distract or confuse your visitors.

Ask yourself:

  • whether each app you want to add will provide useful functionality to your website—will it capture the attention of your potential customers in a positive way?
  • Improve your conversion rate (transforming visitors into paying customers)
  • Help drive more sales?
  • Will it help you convey your core sales message faster, better showcase what you’re selling,
  • Provide additional incentives for your customers to make a purchase?

“Having crystal clear, professional-looking photography is not just important, it’s essential.”
“Invest the time and money you need upfront to make sure that every aspect of your website functions properly and looks extremely professional.”
“It’s important to use your brand identity right from the start to communicate your value proposition to your potential customers. It’s all about building trust with your customers, particularly if you’re hoping for repeat business from them.”
-Alexis Jae, jewelry business

What can be Sold Online

You’ll typically increase your chances of success if you seek out and sell products that are:

  • Not readily available at retail stores
  • Offered in unusual sizes or colors that retail stores don’t typically carry
  • Handmade or somehow customized
  • Collectible, one of a kind, or antique
  • Manufactured only by your company
  • Appealing specifically to a niche audience
  • Solving a problem or meeting a need
  • In demand by consumers but don’t have a lot of competition

10 Questions to determine a viable product:

  1. Can you easily identify the target audience for the product, as well as a secondary target audience the product will appeal to? Will you easily be able to reach this audience (in a cost-effective way) through your ongoing advertising, marketing, and promotional efforts?
  2. Will you be able to acquire or manufacture the items cheaply enough that you can still earn a profit after factoring in all your business expenses, operational costs, advertising/marketing costs, and overhead?
  3. Will you be able to consistently acquire the inventory you’ll need? If one of your suppliers discontinues the product or sells out, can you find more inventory in a timely manner from another source, so you can fulfill your customer orders without delay?
  4. Does each product you want to sell solve a problem or fill a need for your customers? Is it in high demand by the niche audience you want to sell to?
  5. Will you easily be able to communicate the product’s benefits and appeal to your intended customers via a website using text, photos, and/or video?
  6. Is the product evergreen, in that it will sell well throughout the year?
    If the product is seasonal, or will only sell in certain regions, this could make it harder and costlier (and thus less profitable) to promote. Likewise, if the product has a built-in expiration date, you’ll have the added challenge of keeping enough on hand to fulfill your orders without getting stuck with inventory that needs to be thrown away once its expiration date approaches.
  7. Is the product only popular right now because of a consumer-driven fad or trend?
    If so, chances are that fad or trend will die in a matter of months, and you could wind up with inventory that’s no longer in demand. Keep in mind, it will take weeks or months to get your website fully operational and drive a steady flow of traffic to the site. By the time you’re up and running, the trend could already be coming to an end.
  8. Is the product easy and cheap to package and ship, or will you be forced to charge a premium to cover the cost?
    Keep in mind, customers have grown accustomed to free shipping when making online purchases, so charging for this could be detrimental, unless you’re offering something truly unique and that’s in demand.
  9. Will you encounter too much competition selling your product to the same target audience, forcing you into a price war to stay competitive?
    Having to undercut your competitors’ prices will dramatically reduce or eliminate your ability to earn a profit.
  10. Will you easily be able to differentiate your product from the competition and quickly be able to showcase what makes it uniqueappealing, or useful to the potential customers visiting your website?
    Another thing to consider is whether you’ll need to sell multiple variations of each product, in a variety of colors, sizes, or made from different materials.

6 additional strategies for success:

  1. Take all your own product photography. Do not rely on or use the stock photography provided by the dropshipper, manufacturer, wholesaler, or distributor. Not only will this help you market your products more efficiently to your customers, but it will also help you differentiate your brand and business from the competition.
  2. Write all your own product descriptions. Again, don’t rely on the text provided to you. Make sure each product description is written specifically to appeal to your target audience so that it addresses their unique wants, needs, questions, and potential hesitations when it comes to buying from your site.
  3. Do not make any grandiose or false statements about your products or create false expectations for your potential customers. Also, make sure you don’t infringe on anyone else’s copyrights or trademarks. Even if it’s not required by law, make sure you use terms like guaranteed, ethically sourced, handmade, cruelty-free, biodegradable, fair trade, made from (insert number) percent recycled (insert material), eco-friendly, or all-natural appropriately and accurately (even if your dropshipper or competition uses phrases that you know are embellished or outright lies).
  4. Consider comparing, feature for feature, the products you sell with those of your competition. Highlight what sets your products and company apart, and show why potential customers should buy from you. You should be 100 percent confident in your product’s quality and know everything there is to know about it.
  5. Be upfront and honest about shipping time, especially if your products will be shipped from abroad and take weeks (or months) to arrive at the customer’s door. Again, create realistic expectations.
  6. Line up at least one or two backup suppliers you can rely on if your primary dropshipper discontinues the products you’re selling, runs out of inventory, or suddenly goes out of business. Failing to have a backup plan in place could result in your company having to refund outstanding orders or needing to shut down altogether.

What are the main items you plan to sell, and what colors, designs, size, and other options will you offer to your customers?

Start brainstorming related products you could offer to your niche target audience.

Once you identify each of your competitors, become one of their customers and purchase the products that will compete directly with what you plan to sell. As you do this, pay careful attention to every aspect of the experience.

15 questions about each competitor:

  1. Is their website professional looking and well-designed?
  2. How reputable is the competitor? Are their ratings and reviews prominently displayed?
  3. Is their website easy to navigate?
  4. Is their shopping cart experience well-implemented?
  5. Are their product descriptions accurate, detailed, informative, concise, and easy to understand?
  6. How well does the website tell the company’s story?
  7. How good is the customer service? Are the company’s operators easily accessible, friendly, and helpful?
  8. What payment options do they offer?
  9. Does the website have any especially good features, functions, or bells and whistles? Are there any that you believe are confusing, distracting, or unnecessary?
  10. Will you be able to compete with the competitor’s pricing?
  11. Do they offer free shipping or special discounts to first-time or repeat customers?
  12. What aspects of the website particularly appeal to their target audience?
  13. How do they differentiate themselves from their competition?
  14. What are the problems or drawbacks you see with the competitor’s website?
  15. How do you think you will do things better than your competition?
    As you evaluate your competitors, pay particular attention to their brand and pricing.
Make it a habit to reassess your competition at least once per month, and then tweak your business model, website, and marketing accordingly so you can stay one step ahead of them.

When new visitors come to your website, among the questions on their minds will be:

  • “Where can I find a similar product for less money?”
  • “How is this product better than the competition?”
  • “Is this company more reputable than their competition?”
  • “Does this website offer a faster, easier, and more convenient shopping experience than the competition?”
  • “If I have a problem with the product, will the seller help me resolve the problem, process an exchange quickly, or provide a refund?”
  • This website is selling the product I want for more money than I’ve seen it elsewhere. Why? Is paying a premium price worth it to do business with this particular company?

First, however, you must calculate all your overhead business expenses: inventory costs, shipping costs, credit/debit card payment processing fees, Shopify fees, advertising and marketing costs, salary-related expenses, and desired profit margin.

A more strategic approach is to sell your products at a price you can justify by providing a top-notch, easy, and enjoyable shopping experience for your customers. An even better approach is to establish your products and company as a premium brand and then charge higher prices than your competition.

You can charge premium prices by offering a superior shopping experience, better customer service, higher-quality products, better product packaging, and other ways to increase the perceived value of your wares. Customers, especially affluent and well-educated ones, are willing to pay more for a product if you can create a higher perceived value and offer them value-added benefits or perks.

Brainstorm ways you can establish yourself as a premium seller offering superior products your customers will pay more money for.

You need to determine your tool/equipment costs, materials/supply costs, product packaging costs, shipping costs, marketing/advertising/promotional costs, one-time and ongoing business startup costs, and overhead (operations) costs. This includes how much you want to be paid for your time and the profit you’d like to earn from each sale.

4 steps for setting prices:

  1. Calculate the cost of your materials/supplies per item. For this example, let’s say your materials/supplies cost is $10 per item. You’ll also need to calculate other costs related to each item, like packaging costs, and shipping costs that you might want to pass onto the customer. Add this to your total cost for a product.
  2. Amortize the fixed tool costs and overhead costs for your business and calculate what percentage needs to be covered per item you will be selling. Let’s say this comes out to $15 per item. (Your bookkeeper or accountant can help you come up with a list of these costs, which will be specific to your business.)
  3. If you’ll be customizing, crafting, or manufacturing your products in-house, figure out how long it’ll take you to make each item. Next, calculate the cost of your time, based on the hourly wage you set for yourself. So if each item takes you two hours, and you opt to pay yourself 10���ℎ���,�ℎ������������������������20. If you’re not creating your own products, add an hourly wage for your time that covers the work you do.
  4. How much profit per item do you want/need to earn to keep your business afloat and stay happy? This markup should be realistic and acceptable by your customers. Let’s go with 5�����������ℎ����������.��������ℎ���ℎ��������������������1 4.����ℎ���������,������������50. This is your cost to create or acquire the item for your inventory. To calculate your wholesale price per item, double your cost. To calculate the retail price(what you will charge customers on your website), double the price you’d charge for this item online would be $200.

Geographic and demographic identifiers:

  • Age
  • Buying/shopping habits
  • Club or association memberships
  • Computer usage
  • Employment status
  • Family composition
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Hobbies
  • Income
  • Level of education
  • Level of technical knowledge
  • Marital status
  • Mobile device usage
  • Occupation
  • Physical attributes (including height and/or weight)
  • Political affiliation
  • Religion
  • Residence type (house, apartment, condo, etc.)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Social media habits
  • Spending habits
  • Where they work and the company they work for
  • Whether they have one or more credit or debit cards
  • Willingness to shop online

After clearly defining the primary target audience for your business, consider additional secondary audiences your products will likely appeal to.

Cater a major event in their life (such as an engagement, marriage, divorce, birth of a child, job promotion, bar or bat mitzvah, sweet 16, graduation, or retirement).

In just a few sentences, your product description needs to make it clear why someone from your target audience needs your product, why they should want it, how it will solve a problem they have, how it will save them time or money, and how using it will somehow improve the overall quality of their life.
At the same time, your product description needs to highlight the key features and functions of the product, its quality, what sets it apart from the competition, and any other key pieces of information about the product that your target audience wants or needs to know.

Only use language that your target audience will understand, relate to, and respond favorably.

Include at least one or two precisely worded calls to action that will ideally make the potential customer immediately click or tap on the Buy Button.


  • Equally important is being able to showcase crystal-clear, well-lit, highly detailed, and professional-looking photographs of those products.
  • Every product for sale on your website should be accompanied by several product photos.
  • The photos should be taken against a simple background, be well-lit, and allow customers to see the product and its features and functions from a variety of different angles.
  • 3~5 images with each product listing.
  • You’ll also likely want to include several lifestyle photos with each product listing.
  • If you can afford it, including at least one short video that showcases and demonstrates that product will go a long way toward helping you sell it to potential customers.

“I believe it’s important to establish a brand for a company at the very beginning, and the brand should represent something you’re very passionate about that has a definable and reachable target audience-not too broad or too niche.”
-Bob Herman, graphic t-shirt designs

Establishing your Business

In one sentence or less, you should be able to communicate a slogan(tagline) that describes what your company does, what it sells, and the core values it represents.

Your company’s brand is a combination of its name, logo, marketing slogan, reputation, customer service, and story.

Your company’s brand should convey your core values as a business owner(such as honesty, integrity, quality, and top-notch customer service)

“For us to do things right, we take longer and need to charge more, and our customers are willing to pay for that added value and level of service.”
“If you truly believe in what you’re selling, the price point you set will set the level of expectation your customers will have for the products. If you set a high price point and then deliver on those expectations, you won’t have any problem charging higher prices.”
“You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional copywriter, but you do need to invest a lot of time and effort into composing and proofreading your text, and then studying how your target customers react to it.”
“Focus a lot on your product descriptions and the product photography, but also on customizing your selected Shopify theme, so it does not look generic and like hundreds of other websites. Take time to select your color scheme and focus on how everything flows together. The instant vibe a visitor gets in the first few seconds of visiting your website will be a huge factor in whether they choose to stay and then buy something.”
“Display customer ratings and reviews.”
“I have always asked my clients to share their own photos in use, which we display on the website, and that too goes a long way in helping increase future sales. Both of our websites include a client gallery page, which is dedicated to showcasing real photos of our products taken and shared by past customers.”
“If someone is thinking about shopping on a website they’ve never been to before, they want to know the people behind the company as well as its story. This is how the About page should be used. Figure out what your target audience really values about the companies they opt to do business with, and then share that information on the About page. Tell people why you do what you do and what made you want to do it, and explain what sets your business and products apart and why you believe so much in what you’re doing.”
-Kristin Berry Mastoras, wedding services

Creating your Online Store

About Us
This is where you should tell your company’s story and profile the people who founded or play a large role in the operation of your business or who invented the products you sell. The goal is to make your business more personal, set it apart from your competition, and share information that’ll help build loyalty among your customers.

Questions that the About Us section should answer include:

  • Why did you start the business, and why are you passionate about its products?
  • What is your company philosophy, and what is its mission?
  • What sets your business apart from its competitors?
  • Share other relevant information, such as your company’s affiliation with a charity, or offer a behind-the-scenes look at how it operates (or how your products are made).
  • Should be primarily text-based, concise, and compellingly written. However, when appropriate,
  • Can also use photos, video clips, or other branding materials to help tell the story.

Contact Us

  • Display a menu button on your page, which takes visitors directly to a contact form that will email you.
  • Prominently display your phone number and email address on every page of your website.
  • Offer a live text-messaging/chat feature that allows visitors to communicate with you immediately and in real time.

The goal is to make yourself accessible.

FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions)

  • Anticipate what the most common questions will be and answer them.
  • As you start interacting with your customers, update the FAQ to answer at least 10 of the questions they ask you most often.

Product Showcase(Product Listings)

  • The most important part of your ecommerce website is where you showcase the products you’re selling.
  • Will include text giving details about the product along with photos.
  • Can also include video clips and product reviews.
  • The text in each product description should be accurate, informative, upbeat, and attention-grabbing, while not giving readers any false expectations.
  • Showcase the product clearly, allowing visitors to see it up close, from various angles, and see the quality and detail the product offers.
  • Keep in mind that the title, description, photo captions, and other information in each product listing should include SEO-friendly keywords.

Shopping Cart

  • You’ll collect their name, email address, payment information, billing and shipping addresses, shipping preferences, coupon/promo code (if applicable), and any other information you’ll need to process and ship the order.
  • When providing customers with checkout options, keep things as simple as possible.
  • Within the shopping cart, you can add incentives for your visitors, such as free shipping, or use optional Shopify apps to showcase recommendations for additional products, product bundles, or add-ons they might be interested in (offered at a discount), based on items they’ve added to their shopping cart

Ratings & Reviews
If you’re not 100 percent confident that your products and customer service will receive top-notch ratings and reviews, do not implement this functionality.

Press & Media
This section should showcase press coverage and positive product reviews your company has already received (again, to boost your company’s credibility). It should also make all your press materials (press releases, company background information, product photos, and other useful content) available to members of the media interested in covering your company and its products. You should also include contact information in case the media want to speak to you directly.

Social Media Links
Anytime you’re taking visitors away from your website always open that content in a separate browser window.

Newsletter, Blog, or Podcast

  • Publishing a weekly or monthly newsletter, blog, or podcast is a powerful sales and marketing tool that allows them to build a closer relationship with existing and potential customers.
  • Promote it heavily on your website and either embed the content there or provide links to the content for website visitors to easily access it.

You will not be able to start selling anything from your website until you set up a paid account with Shopify.

One extremely important field you'll need to fill in for each product listing is Tags.
  • These are keywords or search terms you believe people will use when looking for the product.
  • These should be SEO-related terms that are descriptive and relevant to the product.

“As someone is checking out and finalizing their purchase on your site, make sure you turn on the feature that encourages that customer to provide their email address to be kept up-to-date on their order’s shipping details. Make the option state that the customer is automatically subscribing to your company’s email marketing list unless they opt out, as opposed to vice versa.”
-Zoe Chapman, kid portable toilet

Sources of Help

The most important advice in this book is that you should not try to do everything yourself.

If you hire freelancers and experts to assist with tasks you’re not yet proficient at, you wind up saving yourself a lot of time and money.

Some experts to consider outsourcing:

  • accountant
  • bookkeeper
  • branding specialist
  • content writer
  • customer-service specialist
  • editor/proofreader
  • email marketing specialist
  • graphic designer
  • lawyer
  • online advertising specialist
  • photographer/photo editor
  • public relations specialist
  • SEO marketing specialist
  • Shopify store expert
  • social media marketing
  • videographer/video editor
  • website designer
  • web developer

“When it comes to ecommerce, customer acquisition costs are the new rent.”
“Platforms like InstagramFacebook, and even Twitter now have native shopping integrations with Shopify, so you can sell through your storefront directly on social and shorten the pathway to purchase considerably.”
-David Wagoner, digital marketing agency

Advertising and Promoting your Products and Business

Realistically, a conversion rate of between 5 and 10 percent should be considered very favorable.

10 things to consider when planning marketing and advertising:

  1. What the overall objective is
  2. What audience you’re trying to reach and why
  3. What perceived value you’re providing to your target audience (from their perspective)
  4. What core messaging you’re trying to convey
  5. What results you’re after
  6. How much time you’ll need to invest to achieve your goals
  7. What the immediate and ongoing costs will be
  8. Whether each individual strategy you adopt is working the way you hoped
  9. How you can tweak your efforts to generate better results with a smaller time and financial commitment
  10. What your competition is doing to attract new customers (and how you can do it more effectively)

Some objectives for your newsletters/blogs/podcasts:

  • Compare your products to the competition
  • Delve deeper into your company’s story and philosophy
  • Introduce readers/listeners to yourself and your team members
  • Share informative “how-to” content related to your products
  • Explain how your products can be used to benefit the user in unexpected ways. Focus on how your products can meet the audience’s needs and wants, provide a solution to a problem they’re facing, enrich their life, or save them time or money.
  • Preview new products you’re about to launch on your website
  • Promote special sales or incentives that are exclusive to your readers/listeners
  • Discuss industry trends or major advances that directly relate to your products
  • Answer questions from your audience about your company and its products

15 strategies for email marketing campaign:

  1. Use a powerful and customizable email marketing tool (see below for some suggestions) to manage all aspects of your email marketing campaign and become proficient at using it before you start sending out emails.
  2. Most email marketing services offer automation tools, which you should use to save yourself time.
  3. Make sure each email you send out is personalized, relevant, and timely and caters specifically to the recipient.
  4. The wording in the email’s subject line is essential. It should be attention-grabbing and preview what the recipient can expect by reading the message.
  5. Each email should be perceived as offering value to the recipient. Yes, offering a discount is worthwhile, but make sure the email also offers information they will find useful and valuable. Your goal is not just to sell products, but also to build a long-lasting and positive relationship with each recipient.
  6. Do not focus on the hard sell. Keep things upbeat and casual. Use the emails to build an ongoing relationship with the people on your list.
  7. Keep your emails brief and to the point. People have a very short attention span. If you don’t have something important to say, don’t send it.
  8. Each email should include a clearly worded and easy-to-follow call to action and repeat it twice (including at the end of the message).
  9. Proofread each email carefully to eliminate all spelling and grammatical errors.
  10. Always be truthful. Do not create unrealistic expectations about your company or products.
  11. Use email marketing to share your company’s story and philosophy and to remind the reader how and why you do things differently or better than your competition. Make sure to focus on how this benefits the reader.
  12. The formatting should be visually appealing. Use fonts, type sizes, and a color scheme that your target audience will relate to and be able to see clearly on whatever size screen they’re using to read their emails.
  13. If someone opts out of your email list, remove them immediately.
  14. Be respectful of your subscribers. When they opt into your list, make it clear how often they can expect to receive messages from your company, and then stick to that schedule. Never share your email list with other companies or online marketers, who might then harass your subscribers.
  15. Before sending out a mass mailing to everyone on your list, be sure to test the message with a small and select group.
    Every email or series of emails you send out to your list should have a specific, clear objective.

You company should have its own branded presence on all the various social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, TikTok, Snapchat, and potentially YouTube, but you should focus most of your time and energy on the platforms your target audiences use.

21 types of content to create and share in social media:

  1. Promotes your products
  2. Showcases your company’s brand and philosophies
  3. Compares your products with the competition’s
  4. Demonstrates what sets your products apart
  5. Shows how to best use your products with how-to tips and information
  6. Solicits and answers questions from potential and existing customers
  7. Encourages your followers to discuss your company and products through your social media presence, where you can moderate it
  8. Promotes upcoming new products
  9. Encourages interaction by posting trivia questions related to your products and brand. (You can offer prizes, such as free products or product discounts, as incentives. However, make sure that anytime you host a contest online, it adheres to local, state, and federal laws and does not involve gambling.)
  10. Offers online-only sales to your customers (specifically for your followers or subscribers)
  11. Cross-promotes your products with other companies that target a similar audience but that are not in direct competition with your company
  12. Shares relevant news stories that relate to your company and its products
  13. Offers a behind-the-scenes look at your company and its products (such as how they’re made). This might include a video tour or short interviews with your company’s founders or product inventors.
  14. Solicits feedback from your followers and subscribers about your website’s approach, branding, product descriptions, product selections, photography, product quality, etc. If you ask for honest feedback from your loyal customers, you’ll often receive it.
  15. Allows you to sell individual products within each post (via integration with Shopify)
  16. Focuses on providing a higher level of customer service and personalized interaction with your customers in an informal way
  17. Introduces potential new customers to your company and what it offers, while providing value-added information and content for existing customers that allows you to strengthen your relationship and encourages repeat sales
  18. Encourages your followers and subscribers to help you promote your business and products by asking them to share your posts and/or reviews of your products via their own social media feeds. In other words, you can use social media to help generate word-of-mouth advertising or encourage existing customers to post reviews of your products.
  19. Uses appropriate and targeted SEO keywords and hashtags that make it easier for your target audience to find your social media content
  20. Offers polls that allow people to vote on various questions. You can use their responses to figure out trends and pinpoint preferences among your followers and subscribers.
  21. Uses photography or video clips to showcase your products being used in the real world by real people. This includes sharing content created and submitted by your customers, followers, and subscribers (with their permission).

It’s a good strategy to plan your posts several weeks in advance and publish new content on a set schedule.

Whenever possible, try to work special holiday-themed content into your social media publishing schedule.

Pinpoint who the most powerful influencers are on each platform that caters to your target audience and then hire those people to promote your company and its products through their social media accounts.

One of the biggest benefits to YouTube is that each video you post becomes searchable on YouTube and Google within minutes.

A successful public relations campaign requires:

  1. Develop a compelling story to tell, with appropriate messaging.
  2. Compose a well-written and properly formatted press release.
  3. Create a comprehensive list of media outlets you want to target and determine the most appropriate person to contact at each, based on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to be interviewed as an expert in your field by a TV show, radio show, newspaper, magazine, or podcast, you’d typically want to reach out to the talent booker, producer, editor, or a specific reporter who covers your industry.
  4. Send your press release with a cover letter to each person on your targeted list. You can do this via email or U.S. mail.
  5. Wait a week or so and then follow up once with each recipient via phone call or email. Offer to send them a product sample and/or additional information or to set up an interview with a spokesperson from your company.
  6. Publish all your press releases or media kit content (including detailed product images) on your website, under a menu option called Media or Press.
  7. Without harassing members of the media, try to develop an ongoing relationship. Ideally, as your company makes new announcements or releases new products, the media professionals you have a history of working with will continue to provide free media coverage to your business.

“Conversion for shoppers who watch video is usually five times higher compared to the online store’s average conversion rate.”
“We have found that video-based reviews work for almost all product categories, but they work well when they’re related to any type of tech or related gadgets, cosmetics, fitness, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, and home hardware. We have not seen as high conversion rates with video-based fashion-oriented reviews, however.”
-Claudiu Cioba, shoppable videos

Start with the three advertising and marketing strategies that you believe will have the greatest impact, based on the money and time you’re able to invest.

Top-Notch Customer Service is Essential

One of the most important is to consistently provide the highest possible level of customer service.

Your company’s customer-service policies and practices should be well-thought-out, written down, and consistently observed. You might also want to include them in the About Us section of your website.

Accessibility, whether it’s by telephone, email, text messaging, chat rooms, or social media, your prospective and existing customers want to know that they can easily reach an actual person at your company, not an AI chatbot or an automated email responder and that their questions, problems, exchanges, returns, and refunds will be handled quickly.

10 best practices for ecommerce customer service:

  1. Create accurate and detailed product listings
  2. Display your order return/exchange policy
  3. Display your company’s order fulfillment and shipping policies
  4. Stay in touch with customers and show gratitude
  5. Implement live-chat functionality on your website
  6. Keep things simple when communicating with customers
  7. Be proactive in addressing problems
  8. Use social media as a customer-service tool
  9. Use a FAQ to provide self-service answers
  10. Solicit feedback from customers

Return polices

  • Whether returns are accepted and what the return period is (7 days, 14 days, 30 days, or 45 days)
  • The condition you require returned items to be in. Do you require the product to be unopened and in its original packaging, in resalable condition, with its original tags (or labels) attached, unused, unwashed, or unworn?
  • How and when refunds will be issued
  • What happens if the item is defective
  • What happens if the item arrives damaged from shipping
  • Who is responsible for paying the packing and shipping costs for returned items
  • Where returned items should be sent, and what shipping service or method should be used. Will you be providing a return-shipping label? Will it be prepaid? Will the package be picked up by the shipping company, or will the customer need to drop it off at a local post office, UPS, or FedEx location or drop box?

Quick and easy superior customer service:

  • Prominently display your contact information throughout your website, making it clear that you and your team are available to provide support.
  • Make your customer service available during the most extended hours possible, keeping time zone differences in mind and remembering that your customers will likely be doing their online shopping after work and on weekends.
  • Your customer-service team should be empowered to help the customer (without needing to check with a supervisor) and have clear steps to follow so they can fix problems or address concerns immediately.
  • Your customer-service team should never rely on prewritten scripts. They should be able to provide personalized service and solutions based on the customer’s questions, problems, or concerns.
  • Remember that a customer-service interaction is an opportunity to build goodwill and trust with the customer, not a chance to upsell them.
  • Reward customers for being understanding. In addition to apologizing for a mistake or problem and taking immediate steps to fix it, offer an additional remedy, such as a generous discount on a future order, a refund of shipping charges, or a partial or full refund of their purchase price.
If a customer reaches out to you over social media with a problem, try to switch the conversation over to email or a phone call, to prevent the conversation from spilling over publicly on social media.

Fulfilling your Orders

5 basic categories of things that can be sold via an ecommerce website:

  1. Tangible Products. Tangibles are any products you’ll be selling and shipping directly to your customers with inventory you’ll maintain. This includes products you create or manufacture.
  2. Downloadable Items. eBooks, audiobooks, videos (downloaded or streamed), electronic publications, NFTs, digital artwork (including photography), computer games, apps, and any other items that can be purchased online and then immediately downloaded by the customer.
  3. Items That Will Be Dropshipped by a Third Party. These are tangible items that your ecommerce website promotes and sells, but the inventory is manufactured and/or maintained by a third-party dropshipping company that will fulfill (ship out) the orders on your behalf to your customers. Order-fulfillment companies will also warehouse your inventory and process incoming orders on your behalf for a fee.
  4. Print-on-Demand Products Created by a Third Party. These are tangible products that you promote and sell via your website, but they will only be created once you have an order by a third-party company, which will then ship the products to your customers.
  5. Services. This includes any type of service that is sold online but is then performed virtually or in the real world. For example, hiring a plumber or landscaper online and then having humans come to the customer’s home to perform the work.

Packing and shipping:

  • shipping boxes
  • packing tape
  • Styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap
  • shipping labels
  • thank you cards
  • packing slips and customer receipts imprinted with your company name and logo

Shipping companies option parameters:

  • What you’re shipping (weight and dimensions)
  • Shipping volume (the number of packages you’ll be shipping per day or per week)
  • Insurance and delivery-speed options
  • Pricing
  • Company’s reputation
  • What shipping services (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.) are offered
  • Ability to track packages
  • Integration options with Shopify
  • Package pickup or drop-off requirements (and daily cutoff time)
  • International shipping options (if applicable)
  • What shipping supplies (if any) are offered for free
  • Customer-service availability

10 strategies for shipping costs:

  1. Try to reduce the size and weight of packages.
  2. Select the right size box for what you’re shipping.
  3. Take advantage of flat-rate shipping (with package tracking and insurance), such as USPS Priority Mail, when possible.
  4. Use discounts offered by Shopify Shipping or other shipping services.
  5. Based on your shipping volume, negotiate rates directly with shipping services.
  6. Make sure all outgoing packages are trackable and properly insured.
  7. Automate as much of the shipping process as possible to reduce time spent fulfilling orders.
  8. Regularly check with the various shipping companies to track rate increases and seek out lower rates from competitors.
  9. Avoid adding a separate “handling” charge to fulfill orders. Instead, build the cost of shipping supplies and “handling” into your product pricing and pass along exact shipping charges to your customers if you do not opt to offer free shipping.
  10. If the shipping company charges for package pickups, deliver your outgoing orders directly to their nearest office or package drop-off location.

From a business operations standpoint, you want the inventory management and order fulfillment process to be as streamlinedautomated, and cost-effective as possible, while still being able to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations by providing fast and reliable order processing.

Many ecommerce business operators will start processing their order every weekday at 3 pm and then drop them off or arrange for a package pickup by 5 pm, but this schedule will depend on your location and the shipping services you’ll be using. Develop a daily routine that allocates ample time to handle order fulfillment but also gives you time to juggle all the other tasks you’ll need to handle.

“You need to record and track everything about your business that’s happening in real time.”
-Jeri Wambeek, inventory management