Shopify is the platform that revolutionized ecommerce for the masses, making millionaires of everyday people who just want to sell their stuff online. That’s not the case for everyone, of course, but the opportunity is there for tremendous success.
We’re curious about what makes a great Shopify store, so we asked some ecommerce veterans how they optimize their online shops. This is what they told us.
How many Shopify plugins and integrations exist at this point? Too many to count, that’s for sure. However, there are a handful that stand out from the crowd and are deemed essential for any store.
“Use Shogun for Shopify,” said Daniel Snow, CEO and Co-Founder of The Snow Agency. “It has the ability to show social proof on pages, highlight specific value propositions, and sell bundles. It is a powerful resource. This one tool alone is directly responsible for helping us get dramatic results and quickly scale our Shopify clients.”
Browse the top-downloaded Shopify integrations and see which ones could benefit your shop.
It’s not specifications or price comparisons that make you stop in your tracks to explore an ecommerce store – it’s visuals! Don’t neglect this critical component of selling online.
“Your site should be a visual experience, with images, videos, bold text, and other elements that pop off the page,” said Brandon Monaghan, Co-Founder of Miracle Brand. “Today’s shoppers are highly responsive to these visuals, and they’ll quickly turn away if your page appears to be even the slightest bit bland or outdated. Step up and pay for some quality video production or photography to add that professional finish.”
There is always room for improvement with photos and videos, so don’t hesitate to try different things and test the effectiveness of new imagery.
Plenty of Info
The last thing you want is for potential customers to scratch their heads in confusion about the details of your products, whether its functionality, dimensions, expectations, or anything else.
“Make sure that your product pages include everything there is to know about the product, yet in an organized and streamlined way,” said Abraham Rahmanizadeh, COO and Co-Founder of Leafwell Botanicals. “Even if you have a short description at the top, you can still include other details by creating buttons underneath this description, such as Ingredients, Directions, and More Information. As long as all of the product information is easy to access and navigate within an aesthetically pleasing layout, you’re on the right track.”
Rule of thumb – always include more info than you think you need!
Building trust in business is never easy, and it’s especially hard in the online arena. With that said, be as open and honest as possible with your customers, and you’ll be rewarded.
“When running an ecommerce site, you want your shoppers to experience your store seamlessly with no hidden agendas,” said Katie Lyon, Co-Founder of Allegiance Flag Supply. “That means excellent customer service, no hidden costs or fees, and a reliable way to obtain emails to continue the experience and add incentive to retain customers for the future. The layout should be user-friendly and straightforward. Nobody wants to get lost in a maze of unnecessary information when looking for the product they desire.”
Put yourself in the shoes of a customer who has never before laid eyes on your site. What are your impressions, and can your brand be trusted?
Have you ever come across a beautiful ecommerce store but quickly found yourself disappointed by the lack of search functionality? That’s something that no customer should have to deal with in 2021 and beyond.
“I think a great search function is very underrated in the realm of ecommerce,” said Ashwin Sokke, Co-Founder of WOW Skin Science. “If your online store has a lot of products, as ours does, customers need an easy and reliable way of sorting through everything to find what they want. This saves them time and improves the overall shopping experience. They’ll be far more likely to come back for more or recommend a friend.”
Better search will help the customer, help your brand, and everyone is better off.
The Right Theme
You may have explored numerous Shopify themes, or even switched between different ones to see what they look and feel like in real time. It’s always worth looking for the next great theme that fits your brand aesthetic.
“Venture is a great free Shopify theme if your store has a large number of products,” said Vincent Bradley, CEO and Co-Founder of Proper Wild. “It’s built with huge catalogs in mind and includes a multi-column drop-down menu with product details and images, a slideshow on your homepage, and product filtering on your collection page. My favorite part is the promotional banner to highlight your latest discounts on your homepage.”
Free themes may not always offer the features you need, so be ready to put some money down for a premium one.
Clean and Concise
This is a general point about design and the appearance of your website, but it’s worth stating anyway. Keep your web pages clean and never overcrowd the screen with too much stuff!
“Overall the web is pretty sloppy, but an online store can’t afford to be,” said Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y Combinator.
Remember that your products are the main focus here – the other stuff is mostly bells and whistles.
Offer the Upsell
How many times have you jumped on an offer to save 20% on an upgrade or double down on your order for extra savings or benefits? More than once, that’s for sure!
“If there’s an opportunity to upsell the customer on a next-level product or service, you’ve got to give them that option every time,” said Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “When people are shopping online, they’re in the heat of the moment, and by the time their credit card is out, they’re ready to buy. You’re missing out on big profits if you don’t throw in little bonuses or discounts for upgrading or adding new products to the cart at the last minute.”
Upselling is just a classic part of sales, and it works extremely well in ecommerce if implemented properly. Give it a try.
Use Those Reviews
Customers are often willing to leave reviews about your products if you make it easy to do, so don’t miss out on this key element. This is essential to building social proof and momentum on the web.
“Optimize your Shopify store using the Product Reviews integration,” said Yuvi Alpert, Founder, Creative Director, and CEO of Noémie. “Reviews and testimonials are important marketing tools for any online site. My ecommerce site, hellonoemie.com, showcases over 5,000 reviews on both our homepage and our own dedicated reviews and testimonials section. The Shopify Product Reviews app is an easy way for e-commerce stores to start allowing their customers to add reviews to your product pages and harness the power of social proof. Once potential customers see happy reviews from your current customers, they’ll be more likely to finally make a purchase.”
You might know that the grand majority of customers abandon ship when it comes time to put in that credit card info. That’s a problem you need to focus on fixing in your Shopify store.
“It should be completely painless and easy to wrap up a transaction on your site and submit a payment,” said Kelli Lane, Chief Marketing Officer at Genexa. “Shopify makes this fairly easy, but you can improve the process with certain plugins that accelerate the process further.
Now that credit card info is saved in browsers and digital wallets, this is becoming more advantageous for ecommerce pioneers like you.
You might be wondering this whole time – why Shopify? Just like WordPress or any other widely-used platform, it’s simply the most established and broadly respected of the bunch.
That’s why so many companies work directly with Shopify and create software specifically for the platform.
“Our website is a really good tool to help businesses on Shopify as well as other ecommerce platforms,” said Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover. “We’re a Shopify app. That means that essentially we’re a one-click install for any and all Shopify merchants through either our website or the Shopify apps marketplace or their app store. The one-click install was why we started in Shopify because of the low barrier to entry.”
There are ways to navigate ecommerce without Shopify, but why take that chance?
Apply SEO Tactics
We admit that SEO can seem a bit intimidating for newcomers, but if you just learn the basics of the strategy and apply it to your Shopify site, you’ll be well ahead of the curve.
“In case you are wondering, your Shopify store needs a little SEO love, too!” said Heidi Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of Because Market. “Just like a regular website, researching and using both main and supporting keywords are important, especially on your pillar pages or blog posts. As with any other type of site, you’ll want your Shopify store to rank on the search engines, so be sure to apply some SEO basics, and you’ll see that needle begin to move!”
Don’t forget that Google is the kingmaker for ecommerce, so you can’t ignore the power of search rankings.
The best way to cultivate repeat customers is to simply give them an incentive to return after they’ve made their first purchase. With Shopify’s numerous integrations, this is more simple than ever.
“Creating a loyalty program is astoundingly easy with just a few plugins and forms, so don’t skip this step if you think it’s overcomplicated or unnecessary,” said Dr. Blake Livingood, Founder and CEO of Livingood Daily. “A big segment of your audience will be eager to sign up to a program that gives them rewards, points, bonuses, or whatever entices them. Give the people what they want and you’ll further the loyalty of your base.”
Many shoppers will not want to sign up, and that’s fine. The ones that do will be with you for a long time to come.
You may not be aware, but backlinks are a huge determinant of a website’s rankings on Google. Essentially, backlinks are links to your site from other reputable, high-authority pages. Think of them as a “token of trust” that lets everyone know your site is worth a visit.
“To optimize your Shopify store, start a stellar backlink-building campaign to attract even more site visitors,” said Travis Killian, Owner and CEO of Everlasting Comfort. “As this is a very prominent part of most any SEO strategy, there are numerous ways to go about gaining this type of exposure. Consider writing guest posts for high-traffic sites, find companies willing to collaborate and exchange links, or supply expert quotes to journalists to use in upcoming articles. Look at your connections as opportunities, and get started!”
Quality backlinks can take some time to obtain, bit they are worth getting if you have the resources for SEO.
Design Comes First
If your brand is visually oriented in a space like fashion, fitness, food, or something like this, your site better have a slick design to show you know what you’re doing.
“To optimize your Shopify store, start with the design,” said Jordan Dwayne, CEO and Founder of 6 Ice. “Your store should be both user-friendly and intuitive. A consumer shouldn’t have to search too long for the right button leading to the right collection of products. Your Shopify store should use the data from your buyer’s purchases to help them find exactly what they’re looking for – every time they visit.”
Thankfully, you don’t need front-end web design expertise to make this happen with the simple design features offered by Shopify and its many themes.
For the Long Haul
Too many eager ecommerce newcomers expect overnight success with their Shopify stores. Slow down, because this is a long-term project that will take time and dedication.
“You must be very patient, very persistent,” said Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airlines. “The world isn’t going to shower gold coins on you just because you have a good idea. You’re going to have to work like crazy to bring that idea to the attention of people. They’re not going to buy it unless they know about it.”
There will be times when you want to give up or change focus, but you must take these options off the table and keep moving forward.
Grow the List
How many emails do you need to gather before you have enough? Trick question – it’s never enough! You should always be asking for email addresses and offering promos or free content in exchange.
“Your email newsletter list is like a golden treasure chest that you should always be working to expand and improve, so make it a central feature in your store,” said Tyler Forte, Founder and CEO of Felix Homes. “Give shoppers the opportunity to sign up when they arrive for the first time, when there’s a new promotion, when they check out – anytime, really. This will keep customers in the loop and compelled to return.”
There’s a reason why people pay a premium for email leads these days. They are truly so valuable, no matter what business you run.
What is the ultimate turn-off when shopping or navigating any customer experience for that matter? When it’s more difficult than necessary! Browsing and buying should be easy, fun, and carefree – not in the least bit challenging.
“When it comes to keeping your website relevant, make sure you are investing time in SEO,” said Jim Beard, COO of BoxGenie. “Find the keywords that’ll bring the traffic to your site. You also have to ensure your site is as user-friendly as possible. Users will immediately click off of a confusing website to navigate. Add that into having a great way for consumers to connect directly with you to hash out shipping or product concerns and you will see success in your online shop.”
We are excited to see what the future of Shopify has in store – no pun! Take these insights from real business leaders and apply them to your own ecommerce venture today.