So you have a stellar idea for a product or service, you’ve put your heart and soul into preliminary research, strategising, and eventual development of your Shopify store, but for some reason, something isn’t quite right. How is it that you can have such a professional storefront with products to die for, but your only customers are the virtual tumbleweeds that keep rolling by? After all, if you build it, aren’t they supposed to come?
The thing is that business - especially e-commerce - is an incredibly fine art. It’s one that is already difficult to jump into and even harder to master. Tactics aren’t black and white, you can’t expect tried and tested methods to always work in your favour, especially if the markets don’t mix. However, there are still some universal truths in Shopify development that everyone should know.
Simplicity Is Paramount
Let’s be clear here - you’re trying to sell a product to someone who, right now, probably has no idea you exist, let alone is aware of your product. Those first few seconds where the customer meets your business are absolutely crucial to nail - nothing will crush your chances faster than overwhelming your target audience.
Whether it’s an obnoxious layout, clunky user interface, or slow startup, discouraging your potential customers by throwing too much at that too quickly is a surefire way to find yourself high and dry. Throughout the design and development process, remind yourself what it is your product does and try your hardest to boil that down to its bare essentials.
Eventually, you’ll find that the product speaks for itself rather than the unnecessary fluff and invasive design choices. Keep in mind that a chunk of your userbase might be connecting through their phones and ensure that your design choices acclimate to mobiles accordingly. Take a step back and think about how you would feel entering your site for the first time - what would catch your attention, if anything?
It’s absolutely imperative that you remember your brand doesn’t just stop at Shopify. When looking for a product, users aren’t searching for Shopify-specific stores, so you’ll be competing with everyone and anyone out there. Use marketing to really make yourself stand out from the crowd.
There’s a reason why McDonald’s put over 377 million USD into advertising alone, with an additional 83 million put into TV and radio advertisements. It can make or break a company, it defines what exactly you are and where you stand. Without marketing materials and practices, the chances of your intended audience finding your company are about as slim as finding a penny in a ball pit.
Your main tool in this regard is social media since it’s quick, effective, and most importantly, free. Try to stay on top of what your intended audience is talking about and create an invigorating platform that brings people back again and again. If you’re feeling a tad more adventurous, you can also try blog writing, email marketing, and even PR.
Marketing is unbelievably important when considering where your customers will come from, so use it wisely. Naturally, your marketing tactics are at the forefront of your brand’s identity, they’re the face your company wears when it is interacting with the consumer. It’s up to you to decide what that face should look like.
Time To Theme
Using themes on your Shopify store is one of the simplest ways to really stand out. Often times it's difficult to know how exactly to approach design and development from scratch since Shopify allows you to make so many decisions, so themes are a great place to start.
If you’re not quite tech-savvy enough to start making your own theme, there are plenty of ways to grab a stylish new site format. Currently, there are just over 100 themes on the official Shopify site. However, there are several third-party sites that showcase thousands of free and paid themes to choose from. You can also find specific Shopify theme developers that commission unique formats for you at a varying fee depending on the developer you choose.
Remember that having a theme isn’t quite enough. You need to synchronize your marketing approach and general design decisions to really stand out. Remember, there are lots of themes to choose from, but that doesn’t mean they are all going to be great.
As well as theming, Shopify also features a plethora of different apps and extensions that can be game-changers. From neat widgets to vital integration apps, there are so many paid and free extensions that are available to help your site flourish.
There are nine categories of apps to choose from, with a few crossovers depending on the app you choose. Consider what is really important to emphasize in your store and use that to select the perfect apps for you. For instance, if you have an issue with abandoned carts, you might want to include an app that allows for discounts and other handy retention methods.
ShopHub itself is an app that prides itself on offering amazing loyalty & reward programs to really boost your returning customers. Using a stamp-reward system to help encourage repeat purchases, it’s a prime way to take advantage of your growing sales. It’s incredibly simple to use, too!
Remember the rule on simplicity, however. Whilst widgets are super useful for the customer and yourself, too many cogs in the machine could lead to a clunkier site. Don’t sacrifice usability for features that aren’t essential and you should be fine. This is only in exceptionally rare cases when pop-ups become too overwhelming for the customer - you’ll know when enough is enough as a savvy business owner.
Have you ever been browsing on Amazon and noticed a little tab slightly below the product page that shows you commonly bought items? That is one of the most powerful ways to up your Shopify sales and get repeat purchases. People are completionists and love a good, cheap package. If you market two products as complimenting each other or show them off as a set, you're in the money!
This works with services, too. Adding addendum services as an extra for large purchases not only makes you look good, it helps convince customers that it's a worthwhile enough package to purchase.