Opening your online store: Guide to getting started with Shopify in South Africa

Shopify is the fastest growing and most innovative eCommerce platform in the world. Now with over 1 million stores worldwide in 2022 you can be sure you’re in good company when using Shopify. Think of Shopify as the BMW or Audi of eCommerce platforms, it’s not cheap but it’s reliable and powerful.  While some will question the customisability of Shopify it truly has the majority of what you need to out of the box. Compared to open source platforms like Magento, WooCommerce and Prestashop you have the benefit of being supported by a platform that guarantees your site to work. Shopify has become popular enough in South Africa that there’s plenty of agencies and freelancers to support. Local payment and shipping providers have also created enough integrations to ensure your well looked after.  Today we’re going to walk you through getting started with Shopify in South Africa.

Sign Up

Shopify makes signing up easy and risk free. You can get started without committing to a subscription or entering any card details. To sign up simply click the button below and get started. Use our video walkthrough to see how easy signing up is.

Choosing a Plan

As mentioned Shopify offers a free trial for 14 days before you will need to pick a plan. If you are just starting it’s likely the entry level Shopify Basic plan is going to be your best choice at $29 a month (R480). View the breakdown of the 3 plans you can choose from here. We’ve also created this handy calculator that helps you understand the long term costs of using Shopify and at which point it will make sense to switch to the $79 or $299 plan. The major considerations for moving to these plans are the lower payment fees that Shopify charges on top of the fees you will pay your payment provider.

Select a Theme

Think of themes as a style and template for your pages and products. Bundled into a theme are specific layouts for your homepage and other pages. Themes also often have functionality in them such as filters or search. Premium themes often bundle even more features in them that you might otherwise need to accomplish by buying apps eg: product reviews, enhanced filters, expandable menus. While choosing a theme is a big decision it’s something you can always revisit later. Your products, pages, content and blogs will remain as is should you decide to switch themes at a later time.

Shopify offers a ton of high caliber themes for free, choosing what theme to use can be tricky when you are getting started. Some themes cater for specific types of businesses or businesses looking for specific features. To help you choose we’ll share the most popular themes in South Africa below. You can also use our Store Navigator to see what other stores in South Africa are using. 

Store Navigator was designed to help you see real life examples of themes you might consider using. When you head over to the Store Navigator filter as much as you like to narrow down your selection. Keep in mind that even if you choose the same theme as any store there’s still ways to make your site look and feel very different from others. Everything from colours, fonts and layouts are easily changed from the editor (more on that later). Should you be feeling adventurous you can also make changes to the code of your site and theme. Shopify backups your code and settings so tinkering is fully reversible. 

Debut will come pre-installed on your Shopify site. You can browse other free themes by selecting ‘Explore Free Themes’. To try them out you can simply install them. To make changes to the theme you simply click on Customize under ‘Current theme’. 

Top Free Themes in South Africa

1. Debut 
2. Supply
3. Venture
4. Brooklyn
5. Narrative

Top Paid Themes from Shopify in South Africa

1. Prestige
2. Testament
3. Pipeline
4. Empire
5. Blockshop

3. Edit Settings

While Shopify’s default settings cover a lot of bases there are some things to add and change to make the most of your shiny new store!

We’ll take you through it step-by-step. Start by clicking the Settings button at the bottom left of your dashboard.

General Settings

Here you will edit your store name, email and store address. If you’ve changed your store since signing up, feel free to update it now.

The Account email is the email Shopify will send  you notifications through. The Customer email is the one customers will  email you through. 

Enter the Legal name of your business if you have one, and edit your address if needed.

Next is the Standards and formats section, this is where you will set your timezone and information like weight units. The settings should be preset to the metric system, SAST and ZAR. With Shopify you can only have one currency per store so if you intend to sell in a currency other than ZAR this is where you’ll change it. Make sure to click save after making changes to your settings.

Checkout Settings

Under checkout settings, switch Customer accounts to “optional,” and customers can create an account but aren’t required to unless you want to require customers to create accounts, generally this is not advised. 

View the remaining settings on the page and ensure they’re set to your preferences. If you’ve set up Google Analytics or a Facebook pixel, add your custom conversion code in the Additional scripts box.  When you’re done, click Save.

Shipping Settings

This section will require you to have made some decisions about how you are handling shipping. 
1. Are you shipping in your province only, nationally in South Africa and Internationally. For each of those do you want to charge different prices or standardise pricing? 

If you’re dropshipping: you can use “Price based rates.” Someone with a R150 order can pay one rate, and someone with a R300 order can pay a different shipping rate.

Tip: Regardless of how you ship, you can offer free shipping. You build shipping into your pricing and set rules for minimum order. This is likely to increase conversions and average order value. 

For local delivery and local pickup add your address. Shopify has more recently enabled the ability for you to indicate which location your products are based. If you are just getting started this is likely not relevant but down the line who knows maybe you’ll have products in different warehouses or locations.

Plans and Permissions Settings

Shopify allows you to enable different users with access to various functions within the platform. Depending on the plan you are on you will have access to various levels of staff accounts. To add a staff member click ‘Add staff account’.

Legal Settings

Legal settings are not to be overlooked without setting this up correctly, you could be operating illegally.
Every online store needs a Refund Policy, a Privacy Policy, and a Terms of Service (ToS) Agreement.

Fortunately, Shopify can generate one for you based on your settings. Again, remember we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. Once your store starts generating revenue, I recommend having an attorney review these documents for you.

Simply click the three Create from template buttons under each section.

Next, create pages for each document. Right-click Online Store and open it in a new tab (so it’s easy to copy and paste from the Legal settings page).

Title the first page “Refund Policy”. Go back to your legal settings tab and copy the entire refund policy, then paste it in the new Refund Policy page in the other tab. Click Save. Repeat for your “Privacy Policy” page and “Terms of Service” page.


This is the only primary setting that you will not find under the “Settings” page; instead, go to Online Store > Preferences.

First, make sure you edit your store’s meta title and description this is the text that will appears in search engines.


All stores are automatically assigned a .myshopify domain. To setup a custom domain you can purchase a domain from any provider that allows you to make changes to the domain name server [DNS] settings. You can buy domains directly from Shopify or you can buy a local domain from GoDaddy for R80. Shopify makes it really easy to connect your GoDaddy domain to your Shopify store. 

If you are torn between using a .com or .org domain vs a or .africa domain the simplest way to think about this is whether you have plans to focus on South Africa or an international audience. If you have international aspirations for your store then consider going with .com if your focused only on South Africa go with 

4. Payments

In South Africa you will need to choose between selling in ZAR or USD.  

To select a payment provider go to settings >> select Payments. You’ll be selecting from third-party payment providers. Here’s your options in South Africa for primary payment providers.
You can compare different plans to choose the one that is suitable for you.

Once you’ve setup your account with one of the providers above you’ll copy your public and secret API keys from your payment provider and copy them into your payment settings in Shopify.

5. Adding Products

Time for the fun part, let’s add products to your store. To get started click Products and Add Product.

Title and Description
Enter your product title and description. 

Make sure your images are high quality, bad images will lead to less sales.

Product type
This is the type of product or category you sell. Product types are one of the ways to create product collections, more on that later.

If you have different people selling on your store or want to list seperate brands then consider using Vendors. Otherwise you can leave this blank.

These are groupings of products that enable you to display products together. You can create collections like Newly Added or Featured to easily create pages with products that you’ve added to a collection.  

To organise and group products you can use as many tags as you like. These tags can then be used by your customers to find specific products.

Your Price is the price customers will pay. Your Compare at price will be shown crossed out next to your actual price to use for price anchoring.

Your inventory settings help with keeping track of inventory (shocking, I know!). You can create a custom SKU for your products if you want. Otherwise, you can leave these settings alone.

This is where you add variations of your products such as size or color. Eg if you’re selling clothes, you can add size (S, M, L) or color.

6. Creating Pages

You can create pages by selecting Online Store and then Pages. Here’s a few pages you should consider creating: 

A Contact Us page
An About Us page
A Shipping Policy page

Make sure to have a look at the pre-made templates in the drop-down menu under Templates to make this process easier. 

7. Top Apps

Shopify has several thousand apps to choose from many of which are either free or have free trials. Keep an eye on our blog for more information on apps and services. Below are the most popular apps used by Shopify stores in South Africa.

8. Shipping 

South Africa has come a very long way in terms of shipping costs and solutions for eCommerce retailers. We are not going to touch on couriers themselves in this post but below are apps that make it easier for you to create waybills and automate shipping in South Africa with multiple couriers.

9. Selecting Suppliers

Comparing different competitive suppliers in the market and choose a most valuable one is always important when considering product category\ product quality\ the wholesale cost. A good supplier will definitely help you grow your online store compared to your competitors.

Wrapping up

We at ShopShipShake have been working with businesses like yours with fulfilling experiences. We offer one-stop services, including an efficient supply chain, over 10 thousand of China’s suppliers, over 1,000,000 SKU and more. With a successful track record of over 100,000 South african clients, we are sure to deliver your orders requirements. Let’s get in touch to build, sustain, and grow your businesses.

If you would like to know more details about us, please contact with us:

If you are interested in cooperating with us. Please register on:

Article reference:

People Are the Key Asset of Us

Thandiwe, 34-year-old, is doing multiple jobs at the same time: a nurse, a primary school teacher as well as an influencer of ShopShipShake. With an interest in buying and selling, she has been in many related industries and strongly believes that “people are the key asset” in the business world. Now She has landed in ShopShipShake to continue her passion with all the experience learned from before.

Could you please tell us when you joined the influencer team of ShopShipShake, and why?

I was buying from ShopShipShake first, then l followed your website, studied everything, and became an influencer. I bought goods made in China from other people before, with ShopShipShake, I can buy directly from China, and the shipment is much cheaper than other companies like Alibaba, so there is lots of room to make profits.
Besides, I loved to be part of the group, because I loved marketing, and working with people was always my passion and desire. Promotion business is a great experience that l have been doing with other companies like Avon Tupperware. So I saw ShopShipShake as an opportunity to learn, grow, and help others to start their business too.

Please tell us about your job, What are the main duties?

I am a part-time influencer. What I do is promoting ShopShipShake, and advertising products on the website by sending links on different social media platforms to help people register. I am also going out to meet people in church groups, families and communities. In the future, after the lockdown, I am considering distributing flyers and catalogs in neighborhoods in person. If it is possible, I also plan to have an office where people can register accounts and have guide on how to start their business.
After the registration is done, I need to teach and guide new recruits on how to use ShopShipShake website. At the moment, I do more teaching than recruiting.

How do you evaluate ShopShipShake? What impressed you the most?

One thing I love about ShopShipShake is the shipment.
The price of the shipment is very low, what I don’t understand is that people still complain about it. They think the shipping fee of ShopShipShake is expansive because they are too lazy to do any research, compared with other companies, the shipping fee is actually low. So we are able to generate profits out of it. Plus, ShopShipShake is the only website that transport goods from China to South Africa with drop shipping.
What impressed me the most is ShopShipShake uses rand payment and delivers products to customers via door-to-door service which is a one-step service. If we choose other delivery companies, we have to collect the goods ourselves.

After joining the team, which aspect of your work do you think is better?

I am good at recruiting new people and helping them.
As you can see, I have worked in many industries and have met different types of people, hence my good ability to deal with problems. People are the key asset when you do business. For example, as ShopShipShake develops, we need people. People are keys assets for any organization. People matter most to you and your business, they generate profits for you, this is why I make efforts on helping new recruits finish the verification and make sure they can place orders later on.

Has the work of ShopShipShake helped you gain some skills?

ShopShipShake helps me again lots of skills, such as proven ability to multitask, ability to work under pressure to meet deadlines, how to be a good team player, and skills to communicate with various kinds of people.

During work, what is the biggest difficulty you encountered? How did you solve it?

Lots of customers have problems finishing their account verification, they need guide on this. There are also people complaining about and insulting ShopShipShake if the goods are not satisfying.
To solve the problems, I asked for help from my team leader Shirley, Chimmy and Sharifa. In addition, I made videos and documents with images to help people to solve their problems. Also, I try to prove that ShopShipShake is a legit company by providing the evidence, for instance, sending them videos of goods I received to let them know the quality is good, and ShopShipShake ensures all of the customers receiving their products.
If the customers are angry, there is no need to make them more furious, all I need to do is to calm down, explain patiently and offer them support.

As for solving difficulties, what insights would you like to share with us? And how do you balance life and work?

We have to listen to our customers and believe them, give them what they want and provide good service to them, so that they stay and buy with ShopShipShake.
I work from 7am up to 5pm, so that l can create time with my family. During working hours, l do my work, l don’t mix work and life. My husband goes to night shifts, so I have him looking after the kids and make sure they don’t interrupt my work.

Any thoughts on being selected as ShopShipShake influencer, please?

This is a good opportunity, and all the assistants are very helpful.

Do you have any tips or suggestions to tell people who want to join the ShopShipShake influencer team?

Yes, l have tips. You look at people who are hardworking and has potential effects to do it when recruiting.
Potential candidates are those who can bring new people to ShopShipShake, actively comment in the group and are willing to help others.

Please tell us your motto of life.

My motto is we may encounter many problems but we must not be defeated. Quiters never win, keep on trying.

What thing about ShopShipShake you think has to be improved?

What ShopShipShake must improve:
Filter good suppliers for the customers;
Add shipping costs price on the items to charge once;
Add kg for people to see when estimating goods.

Like Thandiwe said, people are the most important assets for ShopShipShake too. Every registered customer has an exclusive assistant to help them solve all kinds of problems, this is how we value the people of us.

South African Find Business Opportunities on ShopShipShake

Influencer Sandra: Keep Pushing for the Better

28-year-old Sandra, a former businesswoman, now is a full-time influencer of ShopShipShake. She believes that ShopShipShake provides a good opportunity for everyone who wants to start his own business and help them do so. Although she encounters some difficulties, she stays positive, continues to share what she learned and “keep pushing for the better”, not for anyone else, but herself.

Could you please tell us when you joined the influencer team of ShopShipShake, and why? 

I joined ShopShipShake in May 2020.

The reason why I joined is that this is a good job opportunity for me, and a good opportunity for people who want to run their business. Besides, I love sharing information, and enjoy being a leader, so I became an influencer.

Please tell us about your job, what are the main duties?

My main duties are recruiting new people, and explaining everything step by step to people who want to order on ShopShipShake.

What I do every day is posting links on Facebook and Whatsapp groups to attract people to purchase from ShopShipShake, and then help people who registered under my name make successful orders. Below are the things I help people with:

-how to use ShopShipShake website
-select products of better quality
-how to deposit
-how to pay for their orders
-how the shipping works and the shipping fee is separate from that of the goods.

How do you evaluate ShopShipShake? What impressed you the most?

The service is good and fast, I started buying from ShopShipShake myself, so I know it. The assistants are very helpful, whenever you have a problem, you can always get help from them.

And most importantly, the products on ShopShipShake are much, much cheaper, it’s amazing.

After joining the team, which aspect of your work do you think is better?

I’m really good at recruiting new people and helping them from step one to the very end, from ordering to shipping.

Now I have several WhatsApp groups and one Facebook page, reaching over 3000 people.

Has the work of ShopShipShake helped you gain some skills?

Yes, I’ve learned some good and bad. The bad is that I have to face insult on Facebook and people are calling me a scam, sometimes I feel like crying.

The good is I have more self-respect now and the bad side helps me improve my self-control and social skills so that I can keep pushing beyond to make more money.

During work, what is the biggest difficulty you encountered? How did you solve it?

I am facing insult from jealous rivals and mean people every single day, many of my accounts have been reported and blocked, thus I have to create new accounts to continue my job. I post the links of my Whatsapp groups on Facebook, Whatsapp is a safer place.

What I’ve learned from dealing with haters is that I need to ignore the bad influence and keep pushing myself to do the best.

As for solving difficulties, what insights would you like to share with us?

People have to be patient and wait for us because influencers need to teach many people, and it takes time. Besides, we all in a difficult situation and the shipping fee cannot go down for now, people are complaining about it, but there is really nothing we can do.

To be honest, work takes up 90% of my time, my life has changed a lot since I started doing this job. But I’m happy doing this work, even though it takes so much of my time–I am doing it for myself and keep pushing for the better.

One benefit of being an influencer is that I don’t need to sit in an office, I work from home and able to take care of my 9-year-old daughter.

Any thoughts on being selected as ShopShipShake influencer, please?

It makes me feel excited and happy, helping people makes me feel good, especially when I receive positive feedback from people and people are satisfied with my service.

Do you have any tips or suggestions to tell people who want to join the ShopShipShake influencer team?

If you want to be an influencer, you’d better know how ShopShipShake works very well before teaching new recruits, like shipping time and refund issues, so you can explain every step to people with confidence. You also need to tell the customers that it is an excellent opportunity, the products on ShopShipShake are very cheap and unique if you know how to help people select.

Please talk about your expectations for the future.

I am looking for long-term employment of ShopShipShake, having more recruits every month, and letting people register and buy.

What thing about ShopShipShake you think has to be improved?

ShopShipShake has to filter the suppliers for customers, if your clients receive products of poor quality, they will not trust suppliers on ShopShipShake any more.

It is an honour for ShopShipShake to have devoted influences like Sandra, If you have questions, you can also turn to ambassadors as well as our most reliable assistants for help. For every South African with a desire to start their business, ShopShipShake can help you make one step forward. On ShopShipShake, the products are at low prices so you can start with a small amount of money. What’s more, ShopShipShake is an online platform, you order online, and have your parcels at your door. Yes, we provide door-to-door deliver, you don’t need to collect your goods.

The first time you place an order with ShopShipShake, be careful to avoid pitfalls

With the improvement of people’s living standard, their pursuit of material is also getting higher and higher. As they are not satisfied with the existing South African goods, more and more people will choose to purchase goods directly from China. At the same time, due to the asymmetry of information, some criminals see the opportunity, a large number of consumers always buy fake and inferior dissatisfied goods, which seriously damages their legitimate rights and interests.

Especially for those who have no cross-border shopping experience, it is easy to step into some pitfalls.

Although online shopping is always risky, it does bring great convenience to our life. Whether shopping in South Africa or cross-border shopping, as long as we keep our eyes open and compare products, online shopping can be guaranteed to some extent. So, as ordinary consumers, what pitfalls do we need to avoid when making our first factory purchases under shopshipshake?

Supply problem

The first one should be the problem of supply, which is also the most worrying problem for everyone. After all, everyone wants to buy the goods with good quality and low price. In all the way to purchase, supply the choice of the most problematic, because for shopshipshake don’t understand the way of service, for the first time, a lot of shopping friends only when picking goods value commodity prices, can buy to the poor quality of goods not carefully, for such orders shopshipshake platform is a long story, shopshipshake as generation mining platform, have been trying to help you filter on the supply of goods and factories.


Avoid pit if of no confidence in your ability to distinguish fake goods, had better choose in comments to buy goods, or ask WhatsApp group purchasing before, listen to their views.


Customs, it should be the one barrier that all overseas online shopping consumers can’t get around. Customs do not release goods, even detention, all kinds of bad things can be encountered. The worst thing to say is that goods are taxed or can be cleaned for a long time, except waiting is waiting.


Avoid pit is a round hole, however, cross-border is inevitable. However, shopshipShake has adopted formal customs clearance. In terms of the customs inspection rate, due to the standard operation, the South African customs has been on the low inspection list.

 Forwarding agency

Cross-border purchases cannot be shipped directly to South Africa. Although there are many direct mail websites to South Africa, most still do not support it, which requires a forwarding company. The goods are first sent to the transport company, and then sent back to South Africa by the transport company. The transport company is simply an intermediary. The transport is a long process. If you encounter unreliable transport company, the goods out of the accident, express is not to force, there is bitter not to say.


Choose well-known formal transport company. Although the transfer of freight is also not small expenses, but this aspect is mainly decided by the change of transportation costs, in the case of their weight is not enough to package the proposal that we can use the way to share the cost of transport.

 After-sales Service

The biggest drawback of cross-border procurement is after-sales service. Thousands of miles away, if there is a problem with the goods, it is too much trouble to return and replace. Especially for clothes and shoes, the size of Chinese people is different from that of South Africans. It is easy to buy the wrong size if you are not careful. If you want to exchange the goods, you will have to wait for a long time because the returning and changing procedure is too complicated. In addition, international postage can sometimes be prohibitively expensive if a heavy item is damaged and needs to be repaired.


Do your homework, go to department store in South Africa try clothes purchased goods, accomplish know fairly well. Be patient, increase your tolerance, buy whatever size you want, I’m the size I want, I’ll change hands if I can’t fit.

How it works — ShopShipShake Order process

How SSS works and how to purchase Chinese goods must be your focus issues. Firstly, apply key words search, image search on SSS or pasting link from 1688 to SSS website. Adding selected products to cart and charge account by credit cards or EFT before paying the orders. We will help you to purchase from Chinese sellers after you finishing the payment. About 2-5 days, your parcels will be collected in Chinese warehouse.

The next step is shipping your parcels to South Africa! Create your shipping order and recharge for your shipping fee. We will arrange international shipping after you completing payment. Usually, it takes 7-15 days from Chinese warehouse to South Africa with door to door delivery.


SSS provides keyword search, image search, category search and paste link to help you find your prefer products.

Place your order

Add your products into cart and then pay. Usually there is quantity requirement, please do not forget fill out your address. Before the payment, you need to recharge account firstly.


Please recharge your account under the recharge page. Here is our bank account number and branch, please fill out your ref. number correctly. Usually it takes 0-2 days for bank processing. Please contact your business assistant if it takes more than 3 days.

Pay for your order

When your account is charged with money, you can pay for goods under the “orders – cart” page. Please click “confirm and pay”. After you pay successfully, you can check your order details under the “orders” page.

Pay for your shipping fee

When your parcels collected in the Chinese warehouse, you can pay your shipping fee then. Under the “To ship” page, please click the parcels to ship and you will see how much to pay.

Track your order

  • Track your logistics in China

You can find the status of your products which have been paid under the “Orders – Purchase” page. Click the yellow title of product and enter the detail of your order. The details of your parcel track in China can be found under the “More information”. Under the “Orders – To ship” page, you can track which parcel has been collected in Chinese warehouse.

  • Overseas logistics

Under the “Orders – In Transit” page, you can track your international parcel, and you will know where it is. Click the order number, and the detail of your parcel will be shown. From order confirmed to client received, you can follow up the whole process.

Please read the guidance for more details:

If you need more help, please contact your assistant.