If you’re thinking about selling products online, you don’t want to miss today’s podcast. Drew and Michael walk through the Shopify app and reveal the hidden costs of launching your store.

Part 1 Recap

In Shopify, Part 1, we walked through the costs involved with monthly plans, paid themes, accepting online payments, shipping products, point of sale hardware, and entering product information. And we’re not even ready to launch the store!

Shopify Walkthrough

Today we take a deeper dive into getting your online retail store ready for success. Let’s start with the single most important thing in your product listing.

Product Photography: Pro vs DIY

Photography is king in the world of online retail. High-quality photos that show lots of detail and multiple angles will help your customers decide whether that product is right for them. Crappy photos erode trust and kill your chances for a sale, no matter how good the product actually may be.

Often, you can get high-quality photos directly from your product vendors. Sometimes they’ll have a wholesaler website where you can download photos and descriptions. For everything else, you’ll need to take pictures.

As a business owner, you’ll need to decide whether to outsource to a pro or photograph your products in-house. Hiring a pro can get you better quality, but you’ll pay a premium and need to work around their schedule to get your products online. In-house product photography can streamline your process, but you’ll need the right equipment, a fair amount of expertise, and lots of time to get it right.

Either way, you’ll need to make photography a part of processing every single item that goes onto your Shopify store.

Essential Shopify Apps

Shopify is pretty basic right out of the box. To create a really solid customer experience, you’re going to need some apps.

Apps are add-ons that enhance your Shopify store. There are apps for rewards programs, interactive navigation menus, gift registries, and almost anything else your visitors might expect when shopping online. But almost all of them cost extra.

Many apps will have a free option or limited-time trial so you can test it out before making a commitment. After that, you’ll pay a one-time, monthly, or annual fee for each one. Make sure to think about what you actually need because these costs can add up fast.

Most apps are available right in the Shopify Admin. If you’re using a third-party app from another site, make sure it has a Shopify integration with clear instructions.

Additional Pages on Your Shop

Your shop comes with 3 pages by default – Home, Catalog, and Contact. You’re going to need more.

To start with, you’ll need to create “collections” to organize your products into categories that feel logical to your customers. You can organize groups of products by various criteria, such as vendor, tags, or price. Then, you need to add each collection to your site navigation menu.

This is a manual process. And even though it’s pretty easy, it does take a lot of time. You’ll either need to do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you.

Other types of pages include your About Us page, information about your in-store events, a blog, and other information that customers will find useful. Each one of these will need to be written and designed.

Finally, you’ll need your legal information. This includes your store policies regarding returns, terms of use, and privacy. You should consult your attorney about the content of these pages. They keep you in legal compliance and protect you in the case of customer complaints or even lawsuits.

Maintaining Your Store

One advantage to using a platform like Shopify is maintenance. They take full responsibility for keeping their software up to date, improving the functionality, and securing their app from hackers. Your site isn’t likely to just go down unless your credit card expires.

But that doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. You need to keep your product listings up to date, swap out products featured on the homepage, and continuously make adjustments to improve conversions. Not to mention the constant process of adding new inventory when it arrives in-house.

BTW, in the middle of all this, hopefully, you’re shipping orders.

Driving Traffic to Your Shopify Store

Your new Shopify site is live. Woo hoo! Crickets.🦗

Online retail is a highly competitive business. There are literally billions of other sites already online competing for eyeballs and wallets. You will not open a store and automatically get traffic without paid advertising. It doesn’t matter how many of your friends and family have told you this was a great idea. That’s a very small fraction of the customers you will need to keep your doors open.

One of the biggest expenses you’ll run into is pay-per-click advertising. These are the ads you see in Google Search, Facebook feeds, and the websites you visit every day.

And you’re not just paying for placement. Someone has to create the content in those ads. And you’re not going to trust this to just anybody. You need to pay an expert who knows what they’re doing or you’ll end up throwing all that ad money right out the window.

Reality Check

This is a long couple of videos. The blog post just hits the highlights and we’re only talking about one aspect of running a retail business. We don’t even have time to go into market research, trademark law, taxes, and the myriad other things that you have to be prepared for in this highly competitive industry.

If you’re looking into this option thinking oh I just love this product and it would be so much fun to sell them online, stop. Go do something else with your life because you will grow to hate that thing you love. Before you invest tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, do your homework and understand what it takes to really run a business. Not a fun side-hustle. A real business that will support your family.

If you do the research and decide you’re ready, Shopify is an outstanding platform to launch with. But understand it’s not easy and it’s definitely not free.

Action Tip

Before you start building your own online store, take a critical look at your own experience shopping online. Which sites and features do you like and why? What creates friction in the purchase process? Understanding what makes a great online shopping experience will help you succeed when creating your own store.

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