As we continue our series of blog posts dealing with the nuts and bolts of Shopify, it’s time to talk about third-party domains. A third-party domain is one that is purchased from another provider rather than directly through the Shopify platform. Store owners who previously hosted sites on other platforms typically come to Shopify with third-party domains. Likewise, new store owners may purchase their domains before deciding to use Shopify.
The thing to know from the start is that Shopify supports third-party domains with no problem. You do not have to purchase a domain from them if you don’t want to. Here is how domain names work:
- Certain companies are designated by ICANN to be domain name registrars.
- These companies register domains on behalf of their customers; ICANN keeps records of these transactions.
- Once a new domain is registered, ICANN uses the information provided by the registrar to list that domain in the global DNS directory. Included in that information is an IP address linked to the domain.
- When a web browser is looking for a particular website, it communicates with the DNS database in order to find the IP address it needs.
If you have already purchased a domain, the registrar has provided ICANN with the IP address of its servers, assuming that’s where the domain is parked. So to use the domain with Shopify, you simply need to alter the IP address to point to Shopify’s servers.
Modifying DNS Records
Shopify is very helpful in that it provides step-by-step instructions for modifying DNS records for 10 of the most popular domain name registrars. You can look in the documentation for information about GoDaddy, Namecheap, and more.
Fortunately, the process is not difficult no matter who your registrar is. Modifying DNS records is relatively straightforward across-the-board. Here is a generic process that should apply to most registrars (your registrar should be able to help you if you run into any trouble):
- Log in to your account with your third-party provider; navigate to the page where your domains are listed.
- Click on the domain in question to manage it. Note: the language used by providers is different. You may have to ‘manage’, ‘edit’, or ‘modify’ the settings of your domain.
- Once you find the right link that allows you to edit domain information, look for an option that allows you to manage the DNS. Click on that link.
- Once inside, you will have to enter the new IP address, which you’ll find in the Shopify documentation.
- Some registrars ask for name servers, but you can still use the IP address anyway.
Once you enter the new IP address and save your settings, the process of redirecting your domain will begin. It could take up to 24 hours to complete the redirection and repopulate the new information across the internet, but that is rare today. Most directions are usually completed within an hour or two.