In today's digital era, establishing a strong online presence is vital for business success. Shopify, the leading ecommerce platform, has transformed the way businesses sell online. A crucial aspect of this journey is selecting the right domain name for your Shopify store, as your custom domain name serves as your virtual address and shapes your brand identity.
In this blog post, we'll explore the world of Shopify domains and how they can impact your online business.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a cloud-based, all-in-one eCommerce platform that enables users to build and manage their own online store.
With Shopify, businesses can easily create an online presence to sell products or services. It provides powerful features such as shopping cart functionality, payment processing, product management, order fulfillment, and more.
To get started, businesses need to sign up for a Shopify account and select one of the available plans. One of the hurdles that Shopify merchants face first is choosing and setting up their custom domain and name.
Let's understand more about what a domain is.
What is a domain?
A domain is a unique address on the internet that allows users to access websites and online resources. It serves as a memorable and recognizable name for a website, representing its identity and facilitating navigation in the online space.
Domains are typically purchased from domain registrars such as GoDaddy, Domain.com, Namecheap, though some web hosting providers offer free domains with certain hosting plans too.
Every domain has unique domain settings, that allow users to direct it to their desired destinations (website or email accounts, for example). This is often also called your primary domain, as it is the main URL that browsers use to find your website.
A domain can also be used for branding purposes and establishes your business as a legitimate entity in the eyes of customers and search engines alike.
Setting up your Shopify store
The first step in setting up your store is selecting a suitable domain name – the web address that customers use to access your store. (Okay, actually it's more the third step because you first need to sign up and then browse a bit and then once you decide to create an online store you will start thinking about a Shopify domain name.)
With Shopify, you have two options: you can either choose a free Shopify domain, or purchase a custom domain from Shopify or a third-party domain provider.
A Shopify domain is an easy and cost-effective way to get started, but if you already have an existing domain name registered with another provider, you can connect it to your Shopify store. (we will explain how to do so shortly)
What happens is that you get a free domain from Shopify, you automatically receive this default URL domain name: https://yourstorename.myshopify.com. This is your default Shopify domain.
Thereafter, you are encouraged to then buy your own domain because having the 'myshopify' ending comes across as unprofessional, and it might confuse your clients as they might think they are dealing with Shopify and not your business.
The importance of a domain name
Having a Shopify domain (or an external domain) connected to your store gives you the ability to create a professional-looking website and start selling products right away.
Besides, it helps customers find your business online easily since they can recognize your brand from the URL address.
It allows you to trade on your own name and make your own mark on the online world.
Your own domain with your own online store
As you now understand, a Shopify domain is an online address for your store – the URL you use to direct customers to it.
It's free, and easy to set up with your Shopify store. If you keep the 'myshopify' ending, then it will stay free.
However, you can choose to either buy your own domain directly through Shopify or through third-party providers. Either option allows you to create a unique web address that reflects your brand and gives customers an improved experience.
How does this work?
Buying a domain name with Shopify
You can purchase a domain name with Shopify, which starts at $14.95 per year.
It's super simple to set up, all that you need to do is:
- Log into your store on your Shopify admin
- Look for 'Online store' under the 'Sales channels section'
- Then you will see 'Domains'
- Then you have the choice of either 'Buying new domain' or 'Connect existing domain'
- For this example, we will go with 'Buying new domain'
- Now fill in your chosen domain name. If the domain already exists, then you will have to choose a different name or a different extension (.com is an extension) so you can choose .net or .org
- Hit on that buy button
- Now you just need to wait 48 hours and then you're up and running
Buying a third-party domain:
Buying a domain through Shopify is reliable and easy, but if you do so, the domain is registered with Shopify. That means you do not have access to a complete domain setup, as Shopify doesn't provide access to detailed DNS settings. Moreover, you will have to transfer your domain to another domain provider's dashboard first, if you ever decide to leave Shopify but want to keep your domain.
You can circumvent these issues by choosing one of the many third-party domain providers out there. We have selected a few for you, just in case you'd like to look at them while making a comparison with simply using a Shopify domain.
These third-party domain companies are also known as a domain registrar.
A domain registrar is a company or organization that manages the registration of domain names.
They act as intermediaries between domain name holders and the registry, which is responsible for managing the TLDs.
Domain registrars provide a variety of services including registering, renewing, transferring, and managing domain names. In addition, they may provide hosting services and website-building tools.
Even with a third-party domain, you still need to do the 'external domain to Shopify' connection, which we will explain below.
Here are a few widely popular third-party domain providers.
How can I connect an existing domain?
To connect an external domain to your Shopify store, all you need to do is change the nameservers of your own domain to Shopify's DNS records to point to the entries provided in your Shopify admin panel.
Once you've made this change, it can take up to 48 hours for the changes to take effect.
With an external domain connected to your store, customers can access it using either your Shopify domain or your custom URL.
Here are the steps on how to connect your external domain to Shopify:
- Log into your Shopify admin
- Look for 'online store' in the 'sales channels section'
- Then click on 'domain'
- This time, choose 'Connect existing domain'
- Then enter the domain you want to connect to
- Now it gets a bit complicated because you need to change your domain settings. You need to log into the external domain name and go and change the domain DNS settings to point in the direction of Shopify. The Shopify IP address is, 188.8.131.52 (please double-check this with the information in your Shopify dashboard as it might be subject to change), and set TTL (time-to-live) to now or a similarly fast option. So be sure to change your domain's DNS settings.
- It will now take Shopify about 72 hours to verify this, once they have, you are good to go.
Now, you have your domain connected, and you are thinking you'd actually like to change it. Here is how to do it:
How to change primary domain link
If you are looking to change the primary domain link of your Shopify store, it is a simple and straightforward process.
To begin, log into your Shopify account and select ‘Domains’ from the left-hand menu.
From here, you can add a new domain or edit an existing one.
You can also point an external domain to your Shopify store by selecting the ‘Connect existing domain’ option.
Once you have made the changes, be sure to click save, and it should take up to 48 hours for them to take effect.
For those with more advanced needs, here is a note regarding the CNAME record:
What is a name?
A CNAME (Canonical Name) record is a type of DNS record that points one domain name to another.
It is used to point a subdomain of your main domain, such as ‘www’, to the main domain name.
This helps ensure your customers can access your store regardless of which name they use.
To add a CNAME record, you can log into your domain registrar and go to the DNS settings page for your domain.
You will then need to add the CNAME record provided by Shopify in the appropriate field.
Once it is added, be sure to click save and allow up to 48 hours for the changes to take effect.
What is a sub-domain?
A domain can also have subdomains. How to tell? You will notice it by the string of characters separated by a dot that written in front of the actual domain, the so-called "top-level domain".
The subdomain can be used to redirect to another website with the same brand name. For example, Google has the top-level domain "google.com" for its search engine, and with the sub-domain "mail.google.com" you will find the to the provider's e-mail service.
With Shopify, you have all the tools you need to build a successful Shopify store.
Having your own domain name is essential for businesses, as it helps customers find you online and creates a professional-looking website.
Shopify provides an easy way to set up either a free or external domain, allowing you to get started quickly and easily with minimal effort.
By connecting an external domain or using the free option provided by Shopify, you can create an amazing shopping experience for your customers that reflects your brand identity.
Investing in setting up a custom domain from Shopify will go a long way towards building customer loyalty and increasing sales for your store.
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Natalie MillerMarketing Manager
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