How To Start a Small Business Online In South Africa [Beginners Ecommerce Guide]


If you’re looking to start a small business online in South Africa there is no better time than NOW. There’s a huge market shift from brick and mortar shops to online stores, make sure you follow the trend.

Who am I to give you advice on how to start a business online? Well, I’ve been involved in online marketing in South Africa for four years now. During that time I’ve spent over R5 million on Facebook ads, R4 million on google ads, and with the help of my partner and team, we’ve built 7 successful online businesses that all work together to produce around R1.5 to R2 million in revenue per month. And we’ve been doubling annually for the past four years.

With numbers like that, you probably think I’ve spent hundreds of thousands on a university degree. Well, the truth is all I have to my name is a matric certificate, (with C’s and D’s,) poor grammar, a tendency to change my career path and my mind more times than my underwear, and an average brain.

I’m not telling you all this to boast, I simply want you to realize how possible this is. If I can do it, anyone can. On top of that, take this detailed step-by-step guide seriously! The information I’m about to share comes from real experience right here in South Africa, and not from guesswork.

The best way to start a small business in South Africa is by finding a brilliant product that can help as many people as possible in South Africa, and sell it online using FB advertising. The more people you help, the more money you’ll make. It’s that simple! All that it requires from you is that you get started, NOW!

This guide is dedicated to showing you exactly how you can do this.

Here’s an outline of the method I use to start a small business online in South Africa:

  1. Choose ONE Brilliant Product That ‘Solves a Big Problem’
  2. Register a Domain Name
  3. Open a Shopify Store
  4. Start Running FB Ads

IMPORTANT TIP: Spend less time on planning and more time on taking action. Coca-cola didn’t start with a business plan; they started with action.

So on that note, get pumped, grab a pen, note pad, and some coffee, and let’s get started!

Choose ONE Brilliant Product That ‘Solves a Big Problem’

I always start a new business based around a single product that works. And sell it like it’s the absolute best on the market. I see too many people making the mistake of trying to start an online business with multiple average products. Doing this will spread your effort out way too thin, which won’t work as well as focusing on a single brilliant product.

Only when you’ve managed to make a single product work, then can you start adding other products to your online store. But for now follow the KISS rule, (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!)

In this section, we’ll be going over how to brainstorm product ideas, how to filter them down into a potential winner, and then I’ll briefly discuss how you can manufacture the product.

How to brainstorm product ideas?

I can’t hold your hand and tell you what product you should sell, but I can mention a few points that will help get your brain juices flowing. Go through these steps and write down as many product ideas as possible.

01. Who can you help?

Think about the problems that a pet, friend, or family member is facing right now, and how you can solve it. For example, does your mom struggle with back pain? Maybe there’s a product you can find that will help her and thousands of others like her.

The whole reason why people will buy your product in the first place is to either satisfy some kind of need or desire. The stronger that need or desire is, and the better you can fulfill it, the more money you’ll be able to make.

This is why Doctors can charge so much money, because well, they can save your life.

02. What are your expertise?

If you’re an architect, you could offer online consulting, on the other hand, if you’ve been washing cars for 20 years, you might know a combination of secret car shampoo ingredients that people don’t know about yet. Doesn’t matter what your trade is, there’s opportunity everywhere, you’ve just got to look around.

03. What are your current hobbies?

This is another area you can look for potential product ideas. If you enjoy building things with your hands, then you could sell that design that WOWED your friends and family.

How to filter down your product ideas?

Now that you have a few product ideas, I recommend you wash them through these ‘filters’ that I created for myself through four years of trial and error.

01. The WOW factor

The second someone sees or uses your product, they should be blown away with how it looks, how unique it is, or how well it works. I call this “the WOW factor.” There’s so much competition in the market that you need this to stand out.

Here’s a perfect example, which company would get your attention?

  • Truearth. An eco-friendly company that sells the worlds first laundry strips.
  • Omo washing powder. A company we are all aware of that sells your standard laundry powder.

If you were scrolling through Facebook and you got ads from both of these companies, which one would get your attention? If you chose Truearth, we would both be on the same page. Make sure the product you choose has that same WOW factor.

02. You can sell your product for between R800 and R300

I highly recommend you stick to products that you can sell for below R800, and above R300. There are two reasons for this.

  • You need to have the experience to be able to sell high ticket items. Don’t take on expensive products when you first start out.
  • Your product needs to be over R300 so that it’s easier to convince your client to pay for shipping. Very few people will pay R80 shipping on a product that costs less than R300.

03. Product needs to have at least a 6X profit margin

For example, if your product costs you R50 to make, you need to be able to sell it for at-least R300. In the online space, advertising is often our biggest expense, so you need as much profit margin to spend on advertising as possible.

To give you an example, we sell a weight-loss product that only costs R60 to manufacture, however, it costs us R600 on Facebook ads spend to gain a single customer. Because of this, we price the product at R690 and we make most of our money on repeat sales.

As Ryan Deiss put it, “the person that can spend the most money to acquire a customer, wins!”

But don’t let this confuse you, just try to stick to the 6X rule for now.

04. Stay away from the health niche

This includes weight loss and health products. I can’t stress this enough, I’ve been in this industry for the past four years, and it’s been nothing but headaches. In that time I’ve had 14 banned FB ad accounts, and a few letters from government agencies you never want to hear from, even though I tried my best to play it safe. If I could start again I would stay far away from this industry.

05. Your product should be ‘scalable

‘Scalable’ pretty much means that you’re able to manufacture the product at larger quantities without too many roadblocks. For example, it’s a lot easier to ramp up production with a shampoo product compared to a handcrafted wooden desk.

How to ‘manufacture’ the product?

Well you have a few options mentioned below. But if I had to summarize them all into three words then i’d say, “just be creative.”

Here’s a further explanation.

  • Make the product yourself. *Warning, since you’ll be doing all the work yourself this will be difficult to scale, especially if the product is difficult to assemble.
  • Partner up with a friend or a brick and mortar business that already does a great job at making the product, but doesn’t have an online presence.
  • Order in bulk from another company. This will take capital upfront, however, it will also be the cheapest cost per item. Generally, the more you order, the cheaper you’ll be able to source the product.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON MANUFACTURING: If you’re just starting out, I recommend you start with making the product yourself to test the waters or only order a few units. Once you’ve proven the business model, then you can setup a proper manufacturing company or order in bulk. Just DO NOT invest a huge amount of capital BEFORE you’ve proven that there’s a demand for your product idea.

Register a Domain Name

Now that you have a product idea and you’re ready to get started with it, it’s time to get a domain registered. Since we’ve tried A LOT of domain hosting companies in South Africa, we have a pretty good idea of who you should use, and who you should stay away from.

Stay away from 1-grid.

We used to host our websites with 1-grid, however, we slowly started moving all our domains and website hosting packages over to Host Africa because we just had too many problems with 1-grid. Customer service started slacking on us, and more importantly, we had too much downtime on our websites usually at the busiest times, which over time cost us A LOT of money with lost revenue.

Use Host Africa.

On the other hand, Host Africa has been brilliant and we’ll never go back. We’re actually still in the process of moving over all our domains from 1-grid to Host Africa.

Here’s how to register with Host Africa:

  • Go to their website here. This package they offer will cost R69 per month and you’ll get a free domain and a free SSL certificate. That is all you’ll need.
  • Click on “Order Now>”
  • Select the “Web starter” package. It has everything you need so don’t be tempted to buy a larger package.
  • Now insert the domain name and click on check. Honestly, the actual name doesn’t matter too much. Keep it short, keep it as a .co.za if you’re only selling to South Africans, and keep it to the point. Just make sure you’re not infringing on another trademarked name. You can use this free search tool to check if the name you’re using is copyrighted in South Africa.
  • If the domain is taken, try a different variant. If the domain name is available, then click on “Continue.”
  • In the next screen, they’re going to attempt to up-sell you on as many things as possible. Leave the SSL as “none,” you already get a free basic SSL which is all you’ll need. Leave the free “cWatch Basic Security” checked, you don’t need anything more than that.
  • Now click on “Continue.”
  • Review the domain name and click on “continue” again.
  • Next screen will show you one final review. Don’t be tempted to add anything else to the cart.
  • Now click on “checkout.”
  • Insert all your personal details. You can let it will the details automatically if you “sign up with Facebook.”
  • Once you’re happy that all the information is correct, scroll down, choose your preferred payment method, check the terms and conditions box, then click on “complete order.”
  • Make payment, then you’ll be done.

Congratulations, you’ll now be the owner of your first domain!

Set Up Your Email

You’ll need to set up an email address that you can use for your businesses’ customer support, as well as to open a Shopify store.

You could use your personal email however I highly recommend that you don’t do this. Your personal inbox will get FLOODED and on top of that, using your personal email doesn’t exactly look professional.

How to set up a professional-looking email address in Host Africa:

  • Login to your Host Africa account by clicking here.
  • Once you’re inside your Host Africa portal, click on “Services.”
  • Then click on your website.
  • On the left, you’ll see an “Actions” menu, in that menu click on “cPanel.” You’ll now be taken to the cPanel of your website. This is where you’ll create your email address.
  • Scroll down to the email section.
  • Click on “email accounts”
  • On the right, click on the “create” button.
  • Insert the name you would like. I would create something general such as “hello,” “info,” or even “admin.” So you’ll email will look like something like this “hello@domainname.co.za.”
  • Set a password that you won’t forget.
  • Under storage space, I would change it to “unlimited.”
  • Click “create” at the bottom right.
  • You’ll be redirected to the “email accounts” list.

Great that’s your email fully setup and ready to go. Now you can access your email through here. All you have to do is click on “Check Mail” next to your email address, and then click on either “horde” or “round cube.”

Use Mailbird to access emails on your desktop (Optional)

However I highly recommend you install a windows app that will help you better manage your emails, and it makes accessing your emails a lot quicker. For that, we’ve also used Mailbird which has a free plan, so if you would also like to try it out then it won’t cost you anything.

Here’s how to setup your email with Mailbird.

  • Go to the official Mailbird website here.
  • Click on “Try Mailbird Free.”
  • The instillation file will begin downloading.
  • Open the file once ready to install.
  • Go through the installation prompts.
  • Once done, open the program.
  • Click on the hamburger menu on the top left of your screen.
  • Click on settings.
  • Click on accounts.
  • Click on “add.”
  • Type in your email address, and password.

Then you’re done! It’s as easy as that. You’ll now be able to manage your emails through Mailbird.

Open a Shopify Store

Ok so now it’s time to officially open your Shopify store with the email address you just created.

  • Visit Shopify here and start your free trial by entering your email address in the space provided. I think the trial lasts for 14 days, from then on its around R500 a month for a basic plan.
  • Next, provide your password and your store name. For your store name, insert the name you chose for your domain. For example “doggytreats.” If it’s already taken then simply add something to the beginning or end, like “mydoggytreats” or “doggytreatshq” etc. Don’t overthink this too much, once we’ve fully set up your store the URL will look the same as your co.za domain.
  • Now go through the prompts and fill out the required information.
  • Click on “Enter my store.”

Ok great, at this point you should have a Shopfit store, congrats! Now before we get to the fun part of creating product pages etc, we need to first connect your Host Africa domain to the store.

At the moment you’ll notice your Shopify URL looks something like this http://yourstorename.myshopify.com, we need to clean that up so that when someone visits your website, all they see is the domain name that you registered with Host Africa. For example; mydoggytreats.co.za.

Here’s how to connect your Host Africa Domain to your Shopify store:

  • While inside of the Shopify store platform, click on “Online Store” on the left menu.
  • Then click on “Domains.”
  • At the top underneath “Domains” click on “Connect existing domain.”
  • Now type in the domain you would like to connect then click on next.
  • You’ll now receive instructions, but you can ignore them if you want. I’ll show you how to set up your domain to connect to Shopify within Host Africa below.
  • Go back to your domains cPanel. This is the same place where you set up your email address.
  • Once you’ve logged into your cPanel, scroll down to the “Domains” section.
  • Then within this section click on “Zone Editor.”
  • You’ll see your domain name, to the right of it click on “Manage.”
  • You’ll now see all your domain records, you’ll need to edit two records.
  • First, edit yourdomainname.co.za A record from 102.130.121.55 to “23.227.38.65“. Then click Save.
  • Next, edit your www.yourdomainname.co.za CNAME record from “yourdomainname” to “shops.myshopify.com“. Then click Save.

NOTE: Yourdomainname” will show the name you chose for your domain.

DONE! That’s all you need to do on your end. Now you can test if you did everything properly. To test all you need to do is go back into the “Connect existing domain” section in your Shopify store, then click on “Verify.”

If it can’t verify, give it an hour to try again.

If the process above blew your mind and you are worried you’re going to mess it up, contact Host Africa support. They have a chat tool at the bottom right of your screen after you logged into https://my.hostafrica.co.za/. This chat tool will give you access to a live support agent at any time during working hours.

Setup Shopify ‘Debut’ Theme

Since 70% of your Shopify visitors will visit your store on a mobile device, it’s extremely important that you install a Shopify theme that is mobile friendly. When I edit my store I always make sure it looks great and works correctly on a mobile device before I look to see what it looks like on a desktop.

Shopify comes with the “Debut” theme already installed, which is perfect to start out. Don’t get tempted to waste your time trying out other themes, this one will work just fine.

That being said you will need to go customize it and make some minor changes to the font and colours to make it look more appealing, so let’s go ahead and do that.

NOTE: These changes are also recommended in the product page YouTube video below, so if you would like a visual aid when doing this, jump over to the first video you find below this.

Font and colour changes you need to make to the debut theme:

  • Log in to your Shopify store.
  • Click on “Online Store” on the left menu.
  • Click on “Themes” just below the “online store.”

You’ll now see that the debut theme is active. This is shown as the “current theme.”

  • Click on the “Customize” button. You’ll now be taken to the theme editor.
  • Click on “Theme settings.”

Change Colours

You’re now in the area where we will be editing the themes “Colours and Typography.” Let’s get started with the theme’s colours.

  • Click on “Colours.”
  • Change “headings and links” to a dark black #1D1E1F
  • Change the “Body text” to a darker text colour of #3F3F3F
  • Change “Sale price” and “Primary buttons” to #06B5EA

Change Font

That’s all we’re going to do with the colours. Next let’s move on to the themes font.

  • Hit the back button on the top left.
  • Now click on “Typography.”
  • Click “Change” underneath “Headings and buttons.”
  • Search for “OSWALD.
  • At the bottom left change the font-weight from “Regular” to “Medium.”
  • Now click on “Select” at the bottom right.
  • Change the size of the headline text to 28px.
  • Now let’s change the body text to “Assistant.”
  • Change the text size to 18px.
  • Now click save.

That’s it, that’s all the changes you need to make with your Shopify theme for now.

How to Setup All The Pages You Need To Have A Fully Functional Shopify Store

Ok, this is the fun part where you take your product and present it to the world.

But before we jump in, I want you to imagine this, it won’t be hard because it has already happened to most of us. You walk into a restaurant, it’s dirty, the pictures on the wall are skew, your chair is wobbly and your waiter is an a-hole.

At this point, you can almost guarantee the food is going to be bad too, so you get up and leave. Trying the food is not even worth the risk, you already know it’s going to be kak too.

Notice how the restaurant’s atmosphere helped you make a decision about the food, you didn’t even have to order it.

Your Shopify store is the same. No part of your online store mentioned below will be a make or break, however, how you present everything to your potential customer will have a cumulative effect on your client DESIRE for the product even though they don’t physically have it in their hands.

If done correctly your site visitor will stay and ‘order a meal,’ if done incorrectly, your site visitor will leave your website faster than you left that restaurant.

In this section I’ll show you the best way to set up these Shopify pages that all online stores need to be fully functional:

  • Product Page
  • Home page
  • About us
  • Contact us
  • FAQ’s, (Frequently asked questions)
  • Refund policy
  • Privacy policy
  • Terms of service

I’ll try to make each page as simple to understand as possible, and I’ll also provide an example for each. So let’s get started.

Product Page

The product page is the critical page on your entire website because it’s generally the very first page your visitors will see. And as you know, boy oh boy do first impressions count, especially in the online world.

I’m going to use Organifi and boombycindyjoseph.com as an example, because of two reasons. Ezra Firestone⁠—CEO of Smart Marketer and boombycindyjoseph.com⁠—did a brilliant job with summarizing everything a site visitor needs to know before making a purchase into a few hundred words, and second, Boom and Organifi both run on Shopify.

So make sure you open the above links in your browser so that you have a visual aid to follow along with.

Brilliant video using real examples on how to create the perfect product page.

EVERY product page should answer these 6 important questions:

  1. What exactly does your product look like?
  2. How does your product work?
  3. How big or small is your product?
  4. How quickly can you deliver the product to them, and how much will delivery cost them?
  5. Do you accept returns? Or in other words, do you offer some kind of protection guarantee.
  6. How can they trust you?

[SOURCE]

Photos, videos, stories, reviews, trust badges, chat boxes, and even the price of your product are all elements that work together to answer one or more of the above questions. Based on my experience, here are the most important elements your product page must-have when starting out.

Product title.

Use your brand name in the title, especially if you have a generic product.

Make your product easy to research. Site visitors will copy and past titles into google to do research on your product. So if your title says something generic like “Soap bar” then you won’t be among the first google suggestions, and your potential client will more than likely wind up shopping elsewhere.

On the other hand, if your include a brand name to your title, for example, “Lillies Soap bar,” then you’ll be easy to find on google and other social platforms.

Give your site visitor a sense of how much they are getting. I also like to express how long or how much of the product the user is getting, this increases the perceived value so they know exactly how much they are paying for. This also helps them compare your price easily to the competition.

For example, “Lille’s Soap Bar⁠—Lasts For 64 Washes.” Gets a lot more information across than just “Soap bar,” doesn’t it?

In our boombycindyjoseph.com example, you’ll notice their title is a bit creative. Don’t be tempted to do the same. Ezra is a skilled online marketer with decades of experience. So until you get more experience, remember the KISS rule⁠—keep it simple stupid!

Organifi example. Notice how they included their brand name in the product title.

Create a compelling offer by marking down the price.

Most people only have the price of the product, without showing any discount. You want to create the impression that the user is getting a ‘special deal’ right this minute, so show a constant marked down price to stand out. This creates that FOMO, (fear of missing out) feeling and it will help you stand out from the crowd.

Example: If your product price is R350, rather price it at R400 and ‘mark it down’ to R350.

In-depth product description.

Great product descriptions will answer these 4 questions:

Boom product page highlighting answers to what is it, what are the benefits, and how can I trust you?
  1. What exactly is the product? Explain in detail what your product is, how much it weighs, what does the box it comes in looks like? Etc.
  2. What are the product benefits? What exactly does this product do for you? Here you’ll want to focus on the desire that has the most significant pain point. Don’t overwhelm the reader with too many benefits. It might push your benefits past the point of believability.
  3. What are the ownership benefits? Instead of talking about what the product does for the user, focus on what the product stands for. For example, all-natural ingredients, ethical business practices, cruelty-free, organic, halal, etc.
  4. How can I trust you? The product description can display trust by using correct grammar, using a clean layout, having good quality images, and videos of your product.

Use rich media to answer the four questions better.

You can also use photos and videos to help answer these four questions in a more appealing way.

Get at least 5 product photos. Pictures truly are worth a thousand words. You can use your phone for this but make sure you get create high-quality pictures on a white background. High-quality pictures display what your product looks like, how big it is, and the quality of your pictures also affects how much trust people put in your brand.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON PICTURES: Once you have your pictures ready, you need to make them as small as possible without sacrificing too much quality. This improves the user experience by keeping site speed low. If there’s one thing that can make or break your site, it’s site load speed.

I recommend resizing them in Microsoft paint to 600X600. Make sure they’re perfectly square! Once done, compress them using this free online tool, and try to get them down below 40kb.

Product videos. If photos are worth a thousand words, then videos are worth a million.

Try get at-least these two videos on your product page:

  • A product in use video. This can be something as simple as an unboxing video or even someone using your product.
  • A single video review that best matches the person that would want your product the most. For example, if you’re selling a kitchen cutting board set you’d probably want a video review of a married mom describing how amazing her shopping experience was and how much she loved the product. This will give your potential customers someone to relate to.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON VIDEOS:

Once you have your videos ready, I have a few free online tools you can use to make some quick edits.

  • Use this tool to make your videos square or landscape. You don’t want vertical videos, they take too much vertical space and it forces your user to scroll too far down.
  • Use wistia.com to embed your videos into the product page. I’ve been using a free plan for years now, so don’t be tempted to use the paid version. At least not for now.

Trust badge & money-back guarantee.

These are important to your website because they provide another element of trust. It’s become standard practice to include them, however, I have noticed that major e-commerce brands have started to use them less and less, for example, Boombycindyjoseph doesn’t have any of your “typical” trust badges on their website at this moment, even though a few months ago they did. It’s obviously something they’re busy testing, however, let’s stick to KISS.

You’re new so I advise that you embed these two trust elements around your ADD TO CART button:

Money-back guarantee. Offer at a minimum a 30-day money-back guarantee. The more the merrier.

Trust badges that people recognize. We like to use this badge below every add to cart button. Feel free to use it in your own store.

Embed this trust badge below your products “add to cart” button. See the video below to find out how.

Highly Recommended Shopify Apps

Review harvester. Organic reviews, also known as user-generated content are extremely important to the success of your store. They give your website visitors someone to relate to, and they provide another element of trust. I use Yotpo to gather reviews, however, it can be expensive. If you’re looking for a free alternative, use Shopify reviews.

Example of Shopify product page reviews.

FOMO apps. Fear of missing out is a POWERFUL motivator. Ever walked passed a busy shop or restaurant and it kind of gives you that feeling that you’re missing out on something? This app called action feed will give your online store that same feeling by showing real recent orders.

Example of FOMO app on shopify.

Create Your Home Page

Since you’re starting with a single product, and you’ve already built out the concept on your product page, your home page should be quick and easy to setup. There are four main elements each home page should have.

Example of a home page.

  • Hero shot of your product with a call to action that goes straight to the product page. Use an image of your ‘ideal customer’ using the product. Make sure this image is below 100kb.
  • An image of your product on a white background, (use your product page image,) with a summary of its key benefits.
  • Add any credibility that you can get a hold of. Watermarks, customer selfies, and reviews, etc.
  • About us section and ownership benefits. This is optional, however, if you feel the story of your brand or the ownership benefits is a big part of what your brand stands for, then add it. For example, Boom by Cindy Joseph prides itself on being cruelty-free, which is why they add it to the main page.

Create About Us, Contact Us & FAQ Pages

About us page.

Example of a about us page.

  • Talk less about yourself, and more about your customer and what they are going through. If you created a product that solves a specific pain point of a friend or family member, tell that story! Chances are your customer will be able to relate. Don’t bore them by writing about how many units you sell and what your dog’s name is.
  • Have a link that goes straight to your product page. Make it easy for them to find your product again.

Contact us page.

Example of a great contact us page.

  • Contact details. Here you’ll want to provide the email address you created earlier, as well as a working phone number. I highly recommend using a separate cell phone number for your business and offering WhatsApp as a point of contact as well. Whatsapp is becoming extremely popular, and we’ve definitely found that our clients prefer it.
  • Include opening hours, and make sure they’re accurate. People are extremely picky.
  • Address. I don’t recommend using your home address for this, rather use a P.O box address. Just put something. People like the peace of mind that you’ve provided some kind of address.
  • Pictures of yourself, (optional.) Just a casual photo of you and your family will work. Or even a few of the manufacturing staff holding the product. This gives the reader that feeling that you’re a real company and not just another scam.
  • Have a link that goes straight to your product page. Make it easy for them to find your product again.

Frequently asked questions.

Example of a great FAQ page.

  • At first, you’ll have to kind of pre-empt frequently asked questions you’ll get. One way you can do this is by going to Amazon.com, find a product that is similar to yours, then read through some of the frequently asked questions they have there and use those on your FAQ’s page.
  • Update FAQ’s page frequently. However, once you do start getting people asking real questions I highly recommend you make notes of every question you get, then including some of the frequent ones on your FAQ’s page.
  • Include a link straight to the product page.

Create Privacy Policy, Terms of Service Pages & Refund Pages

Don’t overthink this step, Shopify comes with built-in privacy policy, terms of service generator, and refund policy generator. Follow the instructions in the video below. Once done, add the policies to your theme’s footer.

Video explaining the process in full.

Connect your payment methods

In South Africa, we generally give the client two payment options when they’re checking out.

Bank transfer. We’ve found that around 30% of our clients still prefer to do a manual EFT payment. The only drawback with the EFT option is that you have to wait to see the funds reflect in your bank account, and then you have to manually mark the order as paid. This does affect the delivery time for the client, however, some people don’t trust using their credit cards online. Here’s how to set up and bank transfer payment option.

  • Log in to your Shopify store.
  • Click on “Settings” at the bottom left.
  • Click on “payments.”
  • Click on “manual payment methods”
  • Select “bank transfer/eft.”
  • Now insert your banking details and payment instructions. Make sure they are correct. These are the banking details your client will receive when they make a purchase.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON BANK TRANSFER: Make sure you add this into payment instructions so that you’ll be able to see their payments in your bank account. “Make your payment directly into our bank account. Please use your Order Number as the payment reference. Your order won’t be shipped until the funds have cleared in our account.”

Payfast. This allows the client to pay instantly with a credit card. Here’s how to set it up.

Open a Payfast account. Once done, you’ll be provided with a Payfast merchant ID and a private key. You’ll need this to connect to shopify.

  • Log in to your Shopify store.
  • Click on “Settings” at the bottom left.
  • Click on “Payments.”
  • Under “Third-party payment providers” search and select “PayFast.”
  • Insert your Payfast merchant ID and private key.

DONE! Your customers will now be able to use PayFast as a payment method.

Setup Shipping Options

I highly recommend you go through this shipping guide provided by Shopify. You’ll learn how to set up your shipping options within your Shopify store.

Once done, you’re almost ready to launch your Shopify store.

Setup Email Automatons, (Optional)

Email automations are important because they provide customer service automatically, which takes the load off your customer service team. It’s like having mini-robots working for you around the clock, which if done right can make your business a lot more money. Neat right?

To set up these automated emails I use MailChimp. I’ve found that they are relatively the cheapest and they also offer a free trial here.

There are literally dozens of automation you can set up, however through years of experience, I’ve found that these two automations are the most important.

Abandon cart email series. Around 70% of people who add a product to their cart will abandon it. It’s the abandoned cart email series job to reduce this number by automatically emailing them a series of emails over three days to get them to come and finish their order. Here’s the Mailchimp guide on how to set this up.

Customer thank you series. Once someone makes a purchase on your store you want to provide a series of emails that keep them informed, with delivery time, directions on how to use the product, etc. You also want to get them excited so that they don’t fall into buyers’ remorse, by telling them they made a good decision, (this can be done with reviews etc.) And you also want to get some feedback on their experience so that you can improve your business. Here’s the Mailchimp guide on how to set this up.

TEST Your Store

Before you start spending money on FB ads you need to make sure everything is working properly. I’ve been to too many online stores where an “Add to cart” button was broken, or the store wouldn’t let me pay…what a waste. And they’re probably sitting on their hands wondering why their Facebook ads aren’t working.

Test every single page on your website, click on every button, and go through the whole checkout process. I recommend you also test your bank transfer payment option, see if Shopify automatically emails you the banking details. Once done also use a credit card to test Payfast, and make sure the order automatically shows as paid.

Start Running FB Ads

Once you’re confident everything in your store is working correctly, it’s time to start marketing your product with Facebook ads.

I could write another 6000 words on how to run FB ads. However, I think you’d benefit more if I just point you in the direction.

Perpetual Traffic is a brilliant podcast where I first learned how to run FB ads successfully from the start. I highly recommend you get a fresh notepad, a new pen, and binge listen from perpetual traffics episode 01 all the way to the most recent episode. Once you’re ready, dive in and begin marketing your store!

Final Thoughts

Man, this blog post turned out A LOT longer than I expected. There’s so much more I wanted to say, however, I didn’t want to overwhelm you guys. I’m planning on making a video of me walking through this entire guide step-by-step. If that’s something you guys would find useful make sure you let me know in the comments below.

All the best with your new journey!

YOUR TURN: Have you ever started an online eCommerce store? What worked for you and what didn’t? Let us know in the comments below so that we can all learn from each other!

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