Receive weekly Ecommerce strategies and Digital Marketing tips sent to your inbox.
You may have heard about Shopify and wondered how you can use it to grow your Singapore online business. If so, then this is the guide for you.
Read on to learn how you can get started with Shopify in Singapore and embrace the unlimited potential of ecommerce.
Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world today, with over half a million active stores on the internet and collectively generating more than 40 billion dollars in online sales to date.
In Singapore, there are over 12,000 Shopify stores and the number is growing at an extremely fast rate.
A large part of Shopify's popularity is due to the fact that it is super easy to use, with very user friendly interfaces and intuitive commands and actions that allow businesses to create their online storefronts without hassle and most of the time without the need of external technical assistance.
Despite its growing popularity, many people in Singapore are still not entirely familiar with Shopify and how to use it effectively to grow their business online.
Well, in this guide, you will learn all the steps to setting up a winning Shopify store in Singapore, plus some extra tips on how you can market it effectively to your customers.
Shopify is a hosted ecommerce solution that allows anyone to create a website and start selling online.
In trade jargon, Shopify is what is referred to as a software as a service (SaaS), which means you pay a monthly subscription fee to use it, for as long as you wish to.
With Shopify, it is easy for you to build your own e-commerce website even if you have no technical background.
If you're familiar with using common tools such as Microsoft Word or Excel, then you are already equipped with the necessary skills to build your own e-commerce store with Shopify.
There are quite a few good reasons to use Shopify as your eCommerce platform of choice, and here are the key ones:
As mentioned at the start of this article, Shopify is a highly user-friendly e-commerce website builder that anyone can use to build an e-commerce store without any technical knowledge.
Additional technical prerequisites that you need to deal with, such as getting a server hosting provider or having prior programming knowledge, to be able to build a Shopify store.
All you need to do is just go to shopify.com and register for a free account and you are already on your way to start building your ecommerce presence online.
The Shopify website also has plenty of tutorials and help resources that can guide you through setting up and configuring your eCommerce store.
If you have prepared your business and product information, and got them ready on hand, you can actually build and launch your eCommerce website on Shopify in just a matter of days.
Even for people who are new to selling online and the whole eCommerce environment, it is not uncommon that they are still able to get a decent e-commerce website set up and launched on Shopify in just a couple of weeks.
After you have launched your e-commerce storefront on Shopify, the next thing you probably want to look at, is how to improve and enhance its appeal to your customers.
Well the good news is that Shopify offers plenty of information in the form of blog articles and videos that provide additional insights and advanced tips on how to:
Because of its popularity and widespread use around the world, there are many developers and agencies that support and contribute to the overall Shopify ecosystem.
These companies are involved in various aspects of the Shopify community, such as:
A common concern that most people have when it comes to choosing an e-commerce platform, is whether they are able to get readily available help if they ever need to.
This is especially so for Singaporean businesses because most of the e-commerce tools and platforms available in the market are developed by overseas companies that may not have localised partners or developers that can provide further assistance to users in need of help.
Well, you can rest easy on this one.
There are a number of Shopify partners and developers that are based in Singapore, and they would be able to provide you with additional expertise and support if you so require.
In fact, we at Stridec are a Shopify Partner ourselves and have helped multiple businesses in Singapore design and build high performing websites on Shopify. If you need assistance, talk to us.
If you're serious about getting onto the ecommerce bandwagon and are looking for a quick and easy way to get started with selling online, then you should definitely consider giving Shopify a go.
It is undoubtedly one of the easiest platforms available right now that you can use to start and build an ecommerce business within a fortnight, if not faster.
And what's more, you don't even have to pay anything to start using. Shopify has a 14-day trial that you can sign up for and explore the platform for yourself.
You can then decide if it is the right fit for you to build your ecommerce website on.
Now, let's get into a detailed breakdown of the steps to get started with Shopify in Singapore.
It is extremely simple and easy, and only takes a few minutes to set up the basics.
Here's a quick glance at the steps that you're going to go through with this guide to start creating your Shopify store :
One of the first decisions you have to make about setting up a Shopify store is on the name for your store.
The store name is your shop's identity on the internet and as such, you should take great care to use a name that reflects accurately what your business is about, while at the same time giving your customer audience a clear idea of what you're selling.
If possible, keep it to 12 characters or less.
You should also make sure that it is something easy to remember and spell.
Try to read aloud your name options to listen to the sounds, and determine they could be mistaken for other less-than savoury meanings.
To create a Shopify store, first you need to sign up for an account.
Click here to go to the Shopify signup page and start the account creation process.
Enter your email address and choose a password.
This is also where you will input your store name, which you've come up with in the prior step.
Click on "Create your store" to continue.
Once you get past the initial setup stage, you will come into the dashboard area of your Shopify account.
This is where you will manage all aspects of your Shopify store and go to the various modules and functions necessary to operate your store.
One of the first things you want to do is configure your business information properly, so let's do that now.
To do so, click the "Settings" link at the bottom left corner of your dashboard. You will then be brought to the Settings screen.
Then, click on "General".
On the "General" settings page, you can update your store name and email addresses to be used in conjunction with this Shopify account.
The great thing about Shopify's user interface is that there are quite a number of helpful text on each page to orientate you and give you a clearer idea of why these pieces of information are needed.
You should also fill out your business' registered address under the "Store address" section.
Having a physical address clearly indicated - even if you don't conduct your business from that location - is useful in giving your customers the perception that you're a legitimate business and not some fly-by-night outfit.
Under the "Standards and formats" section, be sure to set the timezone to the correct one (for Singapore it's GMT+8.00).
Finally, under "Store currency", make sure you are specifying the correct currency (SGD for Singapore dollar).
Next, it's time to look at your store checkout.
On the "Settings" page, click on "Checkout".
Shopify does a really good job of being a straight out-of-the-box solution that you can use immediately without too much fanfare.
If you're not sure or familiar, you can pretty much leave all the options on the Checkout settings page as default; Shopify settings are already pre-configured to the common usage needs of most businesses.
If there is any setting you should take note of, it's probably to allow the flexibility of your customers checking out from your store with a registered customer account, or without (i.e. guest checkout).
To do so, go to the "Customer accounts" section, and select "Accounts are optional" as your choice, and save.
At the "Settings" page, click on "Shipping and delivery".
Shipping and delivery is a huge and important aspect of an ecommerce business operation, and it is important that you configure the necessary that best reflects your delivery options to your customers.
A botched delivery process can ruin the entire shopping experience for your customers and affect your ability to retain them for repeat business.
You can configure different rates for both local (Singapore) and overseas delivery.
There is also the option of offering local pickup, if you have a physical outlet where customers can go and collect their purchases.
If you're using FedEx or UPS for your international shipments, you can make the fulfilment process even smoother by connecting Shopify with your FedEx or UPS account, so that the shipment rates offered to your customers are updated in real-time as they go through the checkout and order confirmation process.
This is a happy part; now you get to configure how your customers pay you.
From the "Settings" page, click on "Payments".
Shopify already comes built-in with Shopify Payments, its own payment gateway that accepts payments from Visa, Mastercard and American Express, as well as payments from Apple Pay and Google Pay.
We strongly recommend that you turn on Shopify Payments as your default payment option.
Not only is it the easiest to set up, it also offers the lowest merchant discount rate per transaction, which means you get to keep more of your earnings with every order processed through Shopify Payments.
To turn on this payment, simply click "Activate Shopify Payments".
Activating Shopify Payments will end your free trial period, regardless of whether the 14 days are up.
You will have to choose a subscription plan and pay for it to proceed once you activate Shopify Payments.
So if your free trial period is still not over, or your store is not ready to launch, come back to this segment later to activate the payment option.
If you prefer, you can also add other familiar payment methods such as PayPal and Stripe.
If you need to cater to customers who prefer manual modes of payment, you can also add those here.
There are some default options available in Shopify, such as Cash on Delivery (COD), but you are also able to create your own custom payment such as Bank Transfer or PayNow and the links.
Now it's time to add products to your Shopify store.
From the left sidebar panel of your dashboard area, click on "Products".
You will be brought to the Products page, where all the products that you add to the system would be listed.
To add a new product, click on "Add Product" at the top right corner of the screen, and you will be brought to the "Add product" page.
The "Add product" page is where you fill in all the necessary information about the new product that you wish to list onto your Shopify store to sell.
You don't have to fill up all the fields; you can even just type in the name of the product and save, and then come back to it later and edit further.
But, if you want your products to appeal to customers and increase your chances of selling, these are the most important details to add for every new product that you're adding to your store.
This is the name of the product, and what most customers look at first when browsing products to buy. The title of a product should be concise yet descriptive of what the product is about.
A good format to follow is to always describe the most important feature or function of the product right at the start of the title, such as: "Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Earphones".
This is the additional information that your customers will read about on the product to get a better understanding of what it is about, its benefits and features, before deciding if it's the right product for them to buy.
An enticing copy can help improve your sale conversion considerably, so do put in effort to create unique description content for each of the products you're selling on the storefront.
Some of the information that you may want to include in the product description includes:
A picture paints a thousand words. And so, it is important that each of your products comes with a set of attractive pictures that put your product in the best possible light.
The media section of the "Add product" page is where you add or upload the images of the product. We recommend that for each product, you should have 4 to 5 images showing different angles of the product, to give your customers a more rounded view and complete visualisation of what they may be buying.
You can also upload videos, if you have any.
It is strongly encouraged to include product videos as various research and studies have shown that product videos increase customers' affinity with the product and drives up sales conversion.
It doesn't get any more obvious than this, but you naturally can't sell a product if there is no price attached to it.
Product pricing strategy is a huge topic in and of itself, which we won't discuss here.
What you do want to consider, especially if you're selling consumer products, is that people prefer to buy something with the knowledge that they got a good deal out of it.
So, when setting prices for your products, make use of Shopify's "Compare at price" field in conjunction with the default price field.
What this does is, on the frontend of your store, customers will see the "Compare at price" as the original price of the product, which is then struck off, followed by a more prominent display of the price taken from the default price field.
So this gives your customers the impression that they are now buying the product at a reduced price, which may give them that extra push to make a purchase.
Collections is how Shopify groups sets of similar products together.
Grouping your products into collections helps create a better navigational structure for your ecommerce store.
This makes it more user-friendly for your customers to browse and surf your website, and easier for them to find the products that may interest them.
This is especially important if you have many products.
To create collections, click on "Products" from the left sidebar panel of your Shopify admin screen.
Additional sub-menu items will appear. Click on "Collections" and you will be brought to the "Collections" page.
To add a new collection, click on "Create collection".
On the "Create collection" page, fill in the name of the collection, as well as some text to describe this collection if you deem it necessary.
You can also upload an image to represent this new collection.
What is more important here is that you can define how you would add products to this collection: Manual or Automated.
If you choose "manual", then you have to add products to this collection by selecting the products one by one.
If you choose "automated", then you can define some conditions for Shopify to follow so that it will automatically add products that fit the criteria into the collection without you doing anything else.
For a start, stick to the manual option of adding products to your collections.
Once you have created a collection and save, you will be brought back to the "Collections" page.
Click on the collection again to go to the edit screen.
This time round, you will see a section on the page where you can pick and add products (that you've previously created) to put into the collection.
Another advantage of using Shopify to build your first ecommerce store is that it comes ready with some free themes that you can use to create the look and feel of your store.
If you are feeling more creative, or want to create a really unique look for your online store that accentuates your brand, you can explore premium themes.
Premium themes are high quality themes designed and crafted by professional agencies that you can buy for use for your Shopify store. Most premium themes on Shopify cost USD 180 per site license.
Whether you decide to use a free or premium theme, you can further customise it by adjusting the settings for colours and fonts from the configuration options available.
For the more technically inclined, you can even take the customisation further by adjusting the HTML and CSS codes of the theme.
For setting up your first Shopify website, we recommend that you stick to the free themes that come with Shopify by default.
The Debut theme is a clean, simple theme that is suitable for most online stores, especially if you don't have a lot of products to start with.
If you're selling Food and Beverage (F&B) products, the Express theme is strongly recommended as it is a theme that is designed to get your store up and running and ready to start selling within a short period of time.
To select a theme, click on the "Online store" link on the left sidebar panel of your Shopify admin screen.
By default you will be redirected to the "Themes" page.
Scroll down to the "Theme library" section which is near the bottom of the page.
Click on the "Explore free themes" button under the "Free themes" subsection to view the available free themes.
Once you've picked the one you prefer, click on "Add to theme library" to apply it to your store.
Selling online the proper way isn't just about adding products and grouping them into relevant categories or collections.
People buy online from websites that they feel are trustworthy and pose the least amount of risk.
Customers also tend to buy from websites that they feel familiar with.
So, besides just adding products, it is important to also tell website visitors and potential customers more about your business, with the addition of the following 3 pages:
This page tells your customers who you are and what your business is about.
You can share what motivates you to start your store and what is your vision for it, as well as the unique proposition that you're offering your customers.
Having a captivating About Us page is a great way to let your customers become familiar with your business and build up trust with them.
Customers want to know that they are not buying from a fly-by-night outfit and will be available to provide them assistance, if they encounter issues with the products or services they bought.
This is where the Contact Us page comes in.
The best way to give assurance to your customers is to provide as many options to contact you as possible.
Typically a Contact Us page consists of:
Adding a Contact Us page is easy in Shopify, as it is a default feature that comes with all Shopify themes.
Follow the steps shown in the video below to create your Contact Us page.
One of the first things that online buyers want to know before making a purchase, is to know how long it would take for their orders to be delivered.
Stating clearly how you are handling the delivery of your customers' orders goes a long way in alleviating their concerns and gives them the confidence to buy from you.
If you have multiple delivery methods with different cost options, be sure to list them out and indicate the additional delivery cost (if any) clearly. There is nothing that turns a customer away from you faster than a misleading or misrepresented delivery charge.
You should also provide customers with instructions on how to track the delivery status of their purchases, if this applies to your delivery methods.
This is especially important if you are selling pricey products.
For high-ticket items, it is always recommended to offer a trackable delivery method.
Shopify gives you the power to extend the functionality of your Shopify store via an ecosystem of code modules - or "apps - developed by Shopify itself or 3rd party developers.
These apps allow you to expand the capabilities of your website without having to incur massive time and financial resources to custom-build them yourself.
Through the Shopify ecosystem, these apps can simply be installed and added to your store with just a click of the button, making it extremely convenient and hassle-free.
Some are free for use, while others require a monthly paid subscription to enjoy the full set of features.
To install these apps, you have to go to the Shopify App Store, which can be accessed directly from within your Shopify account.
On the left sidebar panel of your Shopify admin screen, click on "Apps".
There are over 4,000 apps available on the Shopify App Store, so there are definitely some that are suitable for your needs.
To help you get started, we recommend the following apps to give an immediate boost to the user experience of your website.
The default search function that comes with Shopify is quite basic at best; you can search for products by name or brand and that's pretty much it.
If you wish to provide your customers more sophistication and flexibility with the search, such as searching by product attributes and filtering of search results, then you need to get this app.
Onsite search plays a huge part in your customers' interaction with your website, and having a powerful and feature-rich search mechanism helps your customers find the products that they're looking for more efficiently, thereby increasing the chances of them buying.
If there's a function that should be prioritised to add to your Shopify store, it should be this.
More details click here.
It is a known fact that people don't like to browse slow-loading sites.
Especially for ecommerce websites, a delay of 2 seconds in loading time could just be enough to make your customers bail and move on to the next website for their shopping needs.
Rather than manually compressing and optimising your products images one by one on your own, this app does it automatically for you directly on your Shopify store.
More details click here.
It is a widely known fact that reviews and testimonials from people who have previously bought from your ecommerce website can influence the buying decisions of new potential customers.
However, it can be a manual and tedious process to canvas for reviews from your customers. As such, this is where this app comes in the save the day.
By installing this app, your Shopify store will be able to automatically follow up with customers via email after they've made their purchases, and encourage them to leave a review on the products they bought.
You can further incentivise your customers to leave their reviews by offering them credits or vouchers that they can use with their subsequent purchases on your website.
On top of that, the app can also automatically share out your customers' reviews onto your social media accounts to get more exposure.
Social proof is a big part of having a successful ecommerce business and we highly recommend that you consider installing this app on your Shopify store.
More details click here.
Managing the processes and workflows for cross-selling and up-selling on your Shopify store can be a daunting task that consumes a lot of your time.
This app is a one-stop solution that takes care of all these - and more - for you.
Based on the preferences that you configured in the app settings, your Shopify store will automatically recommend additional products to your customers where appropriate, as they shop on your website. This helps increase the order value of their purchases.
It also handles abandoned cart recovery automatically to recapture sales where possible.
On top of that, the app can also send automated notifications to your customers on their birthdays with special promotions or discounts.
You can also create a referral workflow via this app, to incentivise customers who share and recommend your store to their network of friends.
Having an app like Reconvert installed on your Shopify store can streamline and automate your sales processes that would otherwise overwhelm you, especially if you're fresh to the ecommerce environment.
More details click here.
For simple sitewide discounts, Shopify does a decent job of implementing with the default options available.
However, if you want to create different scenarios for various discount tiers, or to have discounts only applied to specific collections of products, then you need something more powerful.
The Sale & Discount Manager app gives you that power by granting you the flexibility of creating different rules and conditions upon which specific discounts can be applied.
You can also configure and enable the option of including a free gift with your customers' purchases if certain conditions are met.
At the same time, you can create tiered pricing structures for your products with the app, so that customers are encouraged to buy in larger quantities to enjoy a lower per unit price on the items.
More details click here.
Before you launch your Shopify website, or at the end of your 14-day free trial, whichever comes earlier, you have to pick a subscription plan to continue using Shopify.
Shopify in Singapore does not have Singapore dollar rates for the subscription plans; it maintains a universal pricing structure across the markets that it operates in and the subscription plans are billable in US dollars.
There are 3 Shopify subscription plans to choose from, starting at USD $29 per month, followed by $79 per month and finally $299 month.
When you're just starting out on your ecommerce journey, the most basic plan at $29 per month should suffice.
You can always upgrade to a higher subscription plan anytime when you feel that you need some of the more advanced features.
There are 2 main costs associated with your use of the Shopify platform, one being the main subscription fee for the platform itself, and the other being the payment processing fees chargeable when customers pay for their orders on your website.
If you're using a 3rd party payment gateway such as Stripe or PayPal, Shopify levies an extra percentage fee on top of what your payment processors charge for the transactions. The percentage fee ranges from half a percent to 2 percent, depending on the Shopify subscription plan that you're on.
Because Shopify Payments is built into the Shopify platform by default and is highly secure and easy to use, we recommend that you use Shopify Payments as your default payment method, so that you don't have to pay additional processing charges on your transactions.
Your domain name (e.g. "yourwebsite.com") is the web address that your customers type into a web browser to go to your Shopify website.
If you have not registered or bought your domain, you can do it directly from within Shopify itself.
Most of the time, you would have bought your domain from another registrar.
Specifically, as a Singapore business, if you're looking to have the ".com.sg" or ".sg" domain name, you have to register the domain elsewhere as you can't buy and register domain names ending with ".sg" directly on Shopify.
Here, we assume that you've already registered your domain.
So now let's connect your domain name to your Shopify store.
Follow through the steps as shown in the video below:
If you have gone through all the stages described above and performed the necessary, you would have more or less completed all the foundational steps for a basic, functional ecommerce website.
However, before you go live with your new Shopify store, it is always prudent and advisable to run through the entire site one more time, just to make sure that you have not missed out anything.
Some of the checks that you should perform include:
Once you're satisfied that you have done all the necessary checks, it is time to launch your Shopify store.
Going live with your Shopify store technically does not involve anything more than linking your domain name to the Shopify account and making sure that the domain name's DNS has fully propagated.
If you have followed the steps in "Set up your domain name" correctly and updated your domain's DNS prior to this, you should now have a live online store.
Congratulations! You now have an online business that is ready to sell to the rest of Singapore and the rest of the world.
Take a step back and appreciate what you have just achieved.
Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back; you deserve it.
This is just the beginning of your ecommerce journey and there will be more challenges ahead as you grow your online business.
But for now, you've arrived.
Now that you've launched your Shopify ecommerce website, it is time to market it and let the rest of Singapore as well as the world know about it.
There are a number of strategies and channels that you can consider, some more important to the long term value buildup of your ecommerce business, while others offer a more immediate return rewards on your time, money and efforts.
So let's take a look at these options right now.
Anyone can start a Shopify store and start selling some stuff online, but to build a sustainable ecommerce business that keeps customers coming back and continues to attract new ones, you need to build and be a brand.
Especially in the digitised world that we live in now, where physical interaction is reduced and the online space is increasingly cluttered, the need for strong branding has never been more critical than before.
This is so that your business' message and pitch is clearly understood by your target customer audience, and allows you to rise above the noise and stand out from the competition.
Branding is a huge topic in its own right, so if you want to learn more about branding, check out this article on branding.
The best traffic that your Shopify website can get is the free organic search traffic from search engines, particularly that of Google's, as it accounts for over 96% of all searches in Singapore.
This is user traffic that you do not have to pay for, unlike paid search advertising such as running Google Ads, or other similar pay-per-click campaigns on other channels.
Because of this, SEO - or search engine optimisation - is more often than not the digital marketing strategy that delivers the highest ROI across the board.
This is because when people search for something on Google, they are looking for a solution to whatever issue or problem that they're trying to solve.
So, these folks are more or less predisposed to buying something, if said item or service can solve their problem.
Therefore, these people who landed on your website via organic search are likelier to convert into paying customers.
The other cool quality about being highly visible on Google search is that buyers tend to perceive your Shopify website as more credible because your site is among the first to be displayed on the search results.
This is why we like to consider SEO as more of a branding strategy than a marketing one.
Regardless, one cannot deny the enormous benefits that SEO can bring to your ecommerce business, once your Shopify website is ranked high on Google.
If you want to find out how to perform SEO for your website, click here.
To say that we are now living in a social media world is an understatement.
Indeed, the use of social media in everyday life is only going to increase, hugely influencing how people interact with brands and businesses that they buy from.
Regardless of whether you're selling to consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), having a strong presence on social media should be an integral part of your overall online strategy to grow your brand awareness and exposure with your target customer audience.
You should invest adequate time, efforts and resources on the main social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to grow a following that you can either convert to ambassadors and advocates for your business, or customers who will buy from you.
While SEO is the most effective at capturing traffic with search intent, the downside is that it takes time for SEO to produce results, especially if you're in a competitive industry.
So, to be able to generate immediate results and sales, you can consider using Google advertising.
Google advertising is what is known as PPC - or pay-per-click - advertising, whereby you only pay when people click on your ad to go to your Shopify website.
If this is the first time you are exploring Google advertising, you can test its suitability and effectiveness for your business by allocating a small budget to start with.
The most common type of Google advertising is search ads, which are the text-based ads that you see at the top of the search result page whenever you search for something on Google.
Another option is Google Shopping Ads, which has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years with the growth in ecommerce activity in Singapore and around the world.
The shopping ad format allows advertisers to display their products directly on Google search result page whenever users search for keywords relevant to those products.
People are generally more likely to check out a product or service if it is mentioned or recommended by a known personality that they follow or pay attention to on social media or the internet.
These "influencers" as they are commonly referred to, can help you bridge the initial familiarity gap between your business and your target customer audience, and make your potential customers more receptive to give your product or service a try.
With the right strategy and promotion mechanics, collaboration with influencers can produce great results at a relatively low cost within a short period of time.
It is therefore useful for drumming up initial awareness and interest for your business, while at the same time bringing in sales.
Shopify is one of the most popular and widely used ecommerce platforms in the world today, and certainly gaining strong traction and a following in Singapore.
If you intend to start selling online in Singapore, then Shopify is definitely worth investing your time into.
The best part is, you can try out Shopify for 14 days at no cost, so there's really nothing to lose by giving Shopify a go.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a Shopify account and start building your ecommerce business!