Shogun Blog | Shopify Stores for Sale: Purchasing Steps and What to Consider

Shopify Stores for Sale: Purchasing Steps and What to Consider

Shopify Stores for Sale: Purchasing Steps and What to Consider

Kiersten Holine

Have you been keeping a close eye on the current Shopify stores for sale? It’s not a bad idea. E-commerce grew by 16% in 2017, reaching $453.46bn.

Graph showing US eCommerce sales between 2012-2017

Image via Sale Cycle

Don’t jump to purchase just yet, though. You might not be aware of some of the steps involved in the purchase process and crucial aspects to consider before you even start browsing.

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know when it comes to buying your first Shopify store, what tools can help, and what you may have missed before if this isn’t your first rodeo.

Visual of the title, Shopify Stores for Sale: Purchasing Steps and What to Consider

 

Why Should I Buy an Existing Shopify Store (Instead of Creating One From Scratch)?

 

So you may be wondering why you should buy one of the Shopify stores for sale that someone else made instead of your own custom creation. There are numerous benefits of purchasing one (or more) of the established Shopify stores for sale.

Image via Amazon

  1. Save Your Valuable Time. The prime benefit of purchasing an existing store instead of creating one from scratch is an obvious one. The hard work has been done for you—the site has been built. All that’s required is optimization and customization (this is super easy to do with Shogun Landing Page Builder—more on that later).
  2. Learning Experience. If you’ve never had a Shopify store before, purchasing one of the Shopify stores for sale is a perfect way to “learn on the job”. You’ll get hands-on experience running a store by actually running a store.
  3. Profitable Products. An already established eCommerce business will (hopefully) have successful products already thriving in their store. Knowing what your best-sellers are is incredibly helpful for sales and marketing purposes.
  4. Built-in Success. Piggybacking on the last point, the eCommerce store should have an established business model. This is like having a VIP look into how a store can succeed.
  5. Chance to Improve. If one of the Shopify stores for sale that you come across complements your skillset, this could be a perfect opportunity for you to improve a store and truly make it thrive.

Much like finding a Shopify theme, you may find a store that’s almost perfect but just isn’t quite right. That’s where Shogun comes in.

After purchasing your shiny new online store, you’ll be able to easily customize your store with Shogun’s Drag and Drop editor. Shogun makes it simple to create beautiful custom landing pages, homepages, blog pages, and product pages.

Here’s how online store, Eight Sleep, used Shogun to create their features page:

Screenshot of Sleep Eight's features page created with Shogun

 

4 Things to Consider Pre-Search

 

1. Budget As Per Your Experience Level

 

Are you a beginner in the eCommerce world? Think of buying an online store as a sort of internship. This is your chance to jump in head-first and learn on the job (trust us—you’ll learn a lot).

Since this is your first time purchasing an online store, aim to stay at the lower end of your budget. According to Shopify, most eCommerce businesses in the low-end market are valued at 10x – 24x monthly earnings. What does that mean? If a Shopify business is making $1,000 per month in profit, it’s probably going to cost you between $10,000 – $24,000 to buy.

Aim to choose one of the Shopify stores for sale that already has standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place. This is a great way to get an inside look at successful business processes and carry on with what’s been working thus far.

Go a step further to educate yourself and try to find a store with a helpful owner that’s willing to teach you a thing or two. You can take a look at their bios to get an idea of their experience level:

Example of a Shopify user bio

Image via Shopify Exchange

2. Find A Store You’re Actually Interested In

 

Let’s face it, you’re going to be spending a lot of time focused on your store’s industry (especially when it comes to market research). It’s crucial to be genuinely interested in the products you’ll be selling. If you aren’t, there’s a good chance people will catch on.

Customers love when an eCommerce business shows how much care a company has for their products. That’s one o the reasons why eCommerce store, Rebecca Atwood, is so successful.

Screenshot of Rachel Atwood's "About" page

Image via Rachel Atwood

Glance over your resume or write down all of your hobbies and craft a list of categories that interest you. This could range from outdoor activities to interior design. This should help you to figure out a niche that fits with your interests.

From there, you can search the Shopify Stores for sale to find a business that sells the products you’re interested in.

3. Keep Your Skillset In Mind

 

Have you come across one of the Shopify stores for sale and thought, My skills could really help this business grow? This is the right way to go about the purchasing process. It’s vital to make sure you can actually help this store thrive and that it can be further optimized with your skills.

Before your search, write down what you can bring to a Shopify store.

Are you an SEO wizard and know the online store could use some help in that area? Consider yourself a social media guru and think a great Instagram Shopify strategy could help this store?

Do you have an eye for design and know that with the help of better visuals and properly laid-out pages (another great opportunity to enlist Shogun’s help), this store could seriously increase their sales? Do you simply have more time to put into the store than the current owner has? It could be the right store for you.

The main thing to consider is if you can bring something to the table to make an impact with this online Shopify store.

4. Don’t Forget to Be Discerning

 

We can’t go without advising that it’s important to be discerning when purchasing an online store of any kind. Although Shopify vigorously vets their sellers to create a safe marketplace, it’s crucial to be careful with investments of any kind.

Avoid getting sucked into pitches about how successful a store may become and instead focus on the facts. Look at how this Shopify store has fared so far instead of how it might do. It’s unwise to invest in such unknown possibilities.

Take buying a used car, for example. You wouldn’t simply ask the seller how it might perform in the future—you would want to know how it’s performed so far.

Screenshot of Shopify exchange

Another aspect to consider is if the store is relying on trends. Online stores that do this simply aren’t sustainable due to the fact that trends die off.

Aim to find a Shopify store that maintains sales year-round (here’s a tip—holiday wrapping paper stores probably aren’t a great investment). Your store should certainly focus on holiday marketing, but it’s unwise to base your store on holiday products.

Get your Questions Answered

 

Photo of a lightbulb

Contacting the seller is the most important part of this process. When making an investment, you can never ask too many questions. The more information you have, the better.

What to ask:

  1. Like a job interview, ask them to tell you a bit about themselves and the history of the business.
  2. Why they’re selling. You’d ask this if you were buying a TV, so you should definitely ask the same to purchase a business.
  3.  To see verified revenue (this should include screenshots of the Shopify revenue dashboard). Don’t accept anything other than authentic screenshots.
  4. Profit and loss statements with monthly reports.
  5. Access to Google analytics and screenshots of Shopify analytics. You want to know where buyers are coming from. Do they have special resources where they’re getting their users? If they’re coming strictly from paid advertisements or only from a channel the owner is not willing to hand over, abort immediately. This is not a sustainable store for you (or anyone). If you can, hire an SEO consultant to take a deep dive into this or use a website like SEMrush.

    Screenshot of SEMrush's homepage

    Image via SEMrush

  6. Try to get an idea of the time needed to run this business and tasks the current owners do to operate the business. If you’re purchasing this as a side project and come to find it takes 80 hours a week just to maintain the store, it’s not right for you.
  7. Are are SOPs in place? If you’re a beginner, this is a must. Without an established process already set up, this could be a ticking time bomb for the store (and your wallet).

Have you gotten all of the information you need and have a bad feeling about a seller? Report them. This will be a huge help to keep the marketplace safe and protect other buyers like yourself.

3 Steps to Purchase Shopify Stores for Sale

 

Feel good about the store and have all of the information you need? It’s time to purchase! To make the purchase process safe and trustworthy, Shopify partnered with Escrow.com.

This third party protects the money until you (the buyer) and the seller agree to the all of the conditions of the purchase. Here are the 3 steps involved in this process:

1. Terms + The Escrow Period

 

The seller will make a list of terms for the sale of their Shopify store. These terms typically include what’s included in the sale, whether the seller will be offering you any support, as well as how long you’ll have to look over the store after the exchange (AKA the escrow period).

During the escrow period it’s important to do 3 things:

  1. Take a look at the suppliers to evaluate their customer service and quality.
  2. Change all passwords for the accounts you received access to and remove the original seller.
  3. Take advantage of whatever support is offered to you by the seller. This is the time to ask as many questions as possible answered (use the questions we mentioned earlier) so you can learn how the seller has been operating the store and so you can keep the store running smoothly.
Visual of how the escrow process works

Image via Shopify

Image via Shopify

2. Payment

 

You will then pay Escrow.com the amount that has been agreed upon. From there, they will hold your money until you and the seller are completely satisfied with the deal and the transfer has been completed. Escrow.com will then give the seller their money.

To learn more about this process, take a look at the FAQ section of the Shopify Exchange website.

3. Ownership Transfer

 

Transferring a store typically takes 3-5 days. To make sure you don’t miss anything, Shopify recommends writing down everything that will be included in the transfer (assets, accounts, etc.).

This is also a great time to contact Exchange support with any transferring questions.

After the escrow period ends and the exchange is complete, you officially have a new store to do with what you’d like! As mentioned before, this is the time to improve your store but customizing to your tastes with Shogun and optimizing with your skillset.

Computer with a sign that says "yes we're open"

Image via Bidorbuy

Summary of Shopify Stores for Sale: Purchasing Steps and What to Consider

 

Make sure you don’t forget these tips that will take you from pre-search to purchasing by copying and pasting the below checklist to your notes.

With these 9 steps during, you won’t miss a crucial part of the process in your journey to becoming a proud owner of one (or ten) of the Shopify stores for sale!

  1. Budget According to Your Experience Level. First time purchasing an online store? Stick to the low end of your budget and find a store with SOPs in place.
  2. Find a Store You’re Truly Interested In. Write down all of your interests and search for a store according to products you actually find fascinating (you’ll be spending a lot of time with them).
  3. Keep Your Skillset in Mind. Aim to find a store where your skillset can improve areas of the store that need the expertise that you’re capable of providing.
  4. Be Discerning. Be careful and cautious when purchasing a store. Avoid the pitches and stick to getting the facts.
  5. Get Your Questions Answered. Don’t be afraid to ask a plethora of questions (in fact, it’s recommended). It’s crucial to get authentic information about the store’s marketing and sales history.
  6. Check into Suppliers. When it comes time for the escrow period, make sure you check into suppliers the seller has been using to check for customer service and quality.
  7. Change Passwords. While still in the escrow period, keep everything secure by changing passwords and removing the seller
  8. Take Advantage of Seller’s Support. The escrow period is also the time to get whatever support the seller is willing to offer. This is incredibly valuable, so take advantage of it as much as possible.
  9. Write Down Everything Included in Transfer. To make the transfer as easy as possible, write down every asset and account that will be included to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Ready to start searching? Check out all the current Shopify stores for sale—new stores are added every single day.

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