Starting a new store can be both exciting and nerve wracking. Part of you is dreaming of all the possibilities from achieving success while the other part is worried you’ll fail. Creating a week by week case study is one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever been assigned. Despite having built several stores in the past, which all made money, I can’t help but worry about what will happen if things don’t go as planned.
On the bright side, this week is all about building the store. It’s one of the most exciting parts of the whole process. It’s the time when you finally get a chance to turn that idea in your head into a real business. This is going to be super fun!
In case you missed it, last week I covered how to choose a niche for your dropshipping store. And I decided to start a letterboard store. Feel free to check out that article first if you’d like to build your ecommerce store alongside me.
Choosing a Brand Name
One of the first questions you’ll be asked before you start your store is what your store’s name is. The business name you choose is important. It’s the name your customers will share with their friends, searchers will look for in Google, and you’ll be including on your website and marketing materials.
You’ll need to come up with something catchy, SEO-optimized or aligned with how you want to position your brand.
It can be hard to brainstorm ideas on your own. I mean, every time, I come up with a brand name on my own, I do a quick search and… it’s taken. That’s why I usually rely on a list of business name generators I compiled and update regularly. My go-tos? Shopify and Oberlo’s name generators. And those are the two I used during this case study.
Oberlo recently launched their own Business Name Generator that you can use come up with business name ideas for your store.
Since I’m selling letter boards, I decided to use the keyword ‘letter board’ in the search section. A couple of the brand names jump out at me like Letter Board Oasis, Print Letter Board, Eternity Letter Board and Clearance Letter Board.
If I choose Letter Board Oasis, some people might have difficulty spelling oasis so I scrap this brand name.
Print letter board might be good for an SEO-based domain name. I did a quick Google search and found a few online retailers who sell letter boards using those keywords.
Eternity letter board is a cute name for the niche. Most people who use letter boards are either new moms or engaged couples. That’s the kind of love that can last a lifetime. But I almost wonder if it’s too cliche so I press on.
The last one I liked was Clearance Letter Board. However, I don’t actually like the word Clearance. Personally, I avoid using words like ‘clearance,’ ‘frugal’ or ‘cheap’ in my domain name. So I’m actually going to go for an almost opposite feel.
The letter boards I could dropship have a high-ish price tag, at about $25, when you include product cost and ePacket shipping. These products aren’t clearance or even cheap products to buy. While I haven’t exactly figured out what price I’d sell at, the price point might be somewhere between $49.99 to $59.99. So, what if I focused on choosing a brand name around luxury?
Then, the light bulb goes off in my head and a brand name comes to me.
I do a quick search and… it’s available.
Now it’s time to sign up to create my new store.
Note: I’ll be sharing the brand name for this store later in the series to reduce the chances of negative impact on marketing.
Why Do I Need a Shopify Account if I want to use Oberlo?
When you sign up for Oberlo, you’ll be asked to sign up for a Shopify account. Oberlo is an app on the Shopify store that allows you to find products to sell online. Shopify is the platform your website is hosted on. Kind of like how WordPress is the platform bloggers use for their store.
Shopify is the most powerful ecommerce platform you can use. Since it’s laser focused on ecommerce, there are a variety of features and apps you’ll find that’ll help you grow your ecommerce store.
Here are a few perks to using Shopify:
- You can sell as many products as you’d like
- Your website is hosted on a reliable server (so it won’t crash on big sales days)
- It automatically detects if a fraudulent order is made
- You can create discount codes directly on the platform
- There are a variety of free themes, stock photos, apps and tools you can use to set up your store on a budget
- Data reports are within it’s backend so you’ll always know how your store’s performing
- You can process orders easily
- You can edit images directly in Shopify without needing Photoshop
- And much more!
How to Set Up Your Shopify Account
Now let’s build our store.
I head over to Shopify’s sign up page. The first step I take is to add my email address, password and the brand name I just came up with.
Next, Shopify asks me to tell them a little bit about me. So I fill in that I’m not selling products yet and that I’m just getting started and click next. If you own a brick and mortar store (physical location) you’d fill in that you’re selling products and how much money your business is currently making. For me, this is just a new business in a new niche so I’m just starting out.
Next, Shopify asks to add an address. This is the address that your customers will see. If you’re business is at your home and you’re concerned about your privacy you can purchase a P.O. Box or a mailing service where mail gets delivered at a coworking space that you can pick up or get redirected to your home address.
Next, click Enter my Store at the bottom of the page.
And BAM! Just like that, you’re officially a store owner. Time to do your happy dance!
Your new store will come with a free theme automatically. So it’ll likely look something like this.
But there are a variety of themes you can choose from. So let’s go over how to choose the right theme for your store if you want your store to have a different look.
Choosing a Theme
When choosing between Shopify themes you’ll want to consider a few things.
First, you can sort by Collection, Industry and All Themes. Personally, I usually go to All Themes. However, some of you may rather sort based on what type of store you’re creating (industry) or the look and feel you’re going after (collection).
Under Collections, you’ll find themes based on their minimalistic design, big imagery or popularity that week.
Under Industries, you’ll find some of the most popular ecommerce niches like fashion, home and garden, and health and beauty.
And if you head to All Themes, you’ll find that you can further narrow down what you look for in a theme. For example, if you’re on a shoestring budget, you can choose to only view free themes. Or if you only sell one product, you can choose a theme based on the number of products you sell. For example, single product, small catalog, medium catalog or large catalog.
There are even a few other categories you can choose to help you find the perfect theme. For example, I personally always look for top navigation instead of sidebar navigation. Most people are accustomed to seeing the navigation on the top of the website which makes it a bit more user-friendly and intuitive. Fortunately, you can sort through this under Navigation > Horizontal Menu.
Since I usually check out All Themes, I’ll show you my process for narrowing down a theme from there. However, feel free to browse under Collections or Industries if you’d prefer to find a theme targeted to a certain style or industry.
First Under, all Themes you can choose between Free or Paid. After quickly browsing, the free collection, I choose to focus on paid themes so that I can find a premium design.
Next, since letter boards is a pretty narrow niche. I choose to sort by Small Catalogs under Number of Products.
For Layout Style, Product Page, and Homepage I have no major preference as I’m flexible. So I move onto Navigation where I choose Horizontal Menu.
Under Marketing and Social Media, I choose Instagram Feed. Why? Letterboards is a visual product and I think it’d be cool to have a few design examples shown on the homepage.
For Industry, I leave it blank, so I can view a wider selection of themes. In the end, I’m left with 14 themes that match my criteria. They range between $140-$180 in price.
The first one I decide to look through is District. The design popped out because of its cleaner, minimalistic look. I first browse the Shop. When I hover over the product, I can view the second image in the collection which is pretty cool.
When I get to the product page, the design is simple. What I like about it is that the call to actions ‘add to cart’ and ‘buy now’ are above the fold, meaning you can see it when you first land on the page.
Next, I look at the blog. I usually like writing blog posts for my online stores as they often help with boosting conversions. You can read about how I got a 9x ROI on a Facebook ad by targeting my blog traffic. The design is simple but could work well.
I browsed a few of the other pages such as FAQ, About Us, and Contact Us page. They all looked pretty standard.
Next, I browse the Handy theme.
First, I browse the Shop.
When I click on the product page, it pops up onto the screen instead of directing me to a product page. While this is unique, I’m a bit put off by it. When a customer clicks, View Product Details it directs to the product page. It almost seems like a click too many should the customer need more information.
The blog has a clean, minimalist design. I like that the two blog posts are side by side allowing you to have more content to click through on the page instead of having to scroll one by one.
The About Us page and Contact Us page were all pretty standard.
I decide to continue my search for the perfect theme.
The next theme I checked out was Grid. Normally, I don’t like Grid designs but this one seemed pretty cool. There’s a lot of emphasis on images, on the homepage. Since, I’m selling a visual product, it’d be cool to have the images play a big role on the website.
As you scroll along the homepage, you’ll notice that there’s even a product featured that you can add to your cart directly from the homepage. I can already picture my future bestseller featured on that part of the page.
I decide to check out the catalog. I notice how big the images are. I really like that there’s rows of three. It has a nice clean look to it. The middle image is a bit longer than the others. But I can likely change this should I want to down the road.
I click on the product page but I’m disappointed. While the images play a huge role which is cool, the ‘Add to Cart’ button is minimized by being below the fold. I want people to be able to click to buy as soon as they land on the page. It’s not an intuitive theme. Kind of bummed out, I was really liking this theme. This is a deal breaker for me. Onto the next one.
After browsing a few more themes, I got kind of bummed out because I really wanted the Grid theme. So I decided to email the developer to ask if I can use a different style product page from another theme they designed. Fortunately, Pixel Union responded back sharing good news. So, when in doubt, always reach out to the theme creator to request the possibility of theme modifications. I’ll dive into modifying your theme when we discuss store design later in the series.
The focus for next week will be on adding products to your store. You’ll learn how I choose which products to import to my store. I’ll also walk you through the process of ordering samples to do quality assurance.
Want to learn more?
- How to Choose a Niche for Your Dropshipping Store
- How to Launch Your Ecommerce Store in 30 Minutes Flat
- How to Pick the Best Shopify Theme