Consumers may not necessarily be familiar with the name Shopify, but the majority of them will absolutely have used it at some point. Shopify powers over 1,000,000 stores of varying sizes, with everything from independent artists selling their own unique designs to billion-dollar companies selling luxury products, so it's no surprise that Shopify is one of the most successful eCommerce platforms around.
Of course, with this many stores running via Shopify, it takes some creativity and effort to make sure your store stands out. In this article, we're looking at what makes a successful Shopify store, and sharing the top tips from successful Shopify stores.
Who are the most successful Shopify stores?
Even if a store is using Shopify, you wouldn't necessarily know it. Keen-eyed Shopify users may spot a store that is using it, but the average consumer likely won't realize that Shopify is powering some of their favorite brands. Here are a few examples of some successful Shopify stores, and how they're standing out from the crowd.
One of the biggest Shopify success stories is Gymshark, and their growth over the years is phenomenal. Having started out in a garage and overcome some pretty crazy hardships, the brand is one of the most recognizable in the world.
Gymshark's site is pretty impressive to look at, and budding Shopify stores can take plenty of inspiration from it. For starters, the layout of the store is very easy to navigate. Men's and women's sections are clearly labeled, and the navigation bar follows you as you scroll down the page, meaning access to your basket, account info and other important stuff is never far away.
The imagery on the homepage is dynamic and appealing to encourage you to explore it, and further exploration will show products that the team have pushed front and center, such as best-selling items or new releases, with a quick and easy add-to-basket feature to boot.
This shows that the team at Gymshark know exactly what their customers want to see, and put it in the most convenient place possible so they can see the stuff they love and buy it in a quick, smooth process. You can see this attitude in the tagline they use to try and get their customers to subscribe to their email list:
This CTA (call to action) exudes confidence that their customers will love what they have to share, and it's delivered in a more colloquial, joky way than more traditional email list signups.
A site like Gymshark's certainly wasn't built overnight, but there is tons of engaging stuff that it'd be hard not to take some inspiration. Try exploring the Gymshark website today and see what catches your eye - it could inspire positive change on your Shopify storefront.
Another clothing brand with a good-looking Shopify storefront is Taylor Stitch. GymShark and Taylor Stitch are both clothing brands, but they are appealing to quite different markets - GymShark's site is very modern, with flashy colors and slick animations, whereas the Taylor Stitch site is much more understated, with a basic white background punctuated by high-quality photos of their products.
Whilst these approaches are quite different, they are both perfect for what their customers want. Knowing your audience is absolutely key to creating a successful Shopify store.
As the market is crowded, it's important to convey to your audience what is different about your brand. Taylor Stitch have a great graphic breaking down the benefits of their product, point by point. The high-quality product image combined with the simplistic graphic makes it easy to convey the benefits of their brand and products, without forcing potential customers to explore the site.
Some customers will want to do more research on the products they're buying first, particularly from an ethical standpoint. Increasingly customers want to understand the impact a brand has on the environment, and how sustainable their products are.
Knowing a lot of their audience will want this information, the Taylor Stitch site presents a link to explore their 'responsibility journey.' Following on this brings you to a page that breaks down how their business is sustainable, from the products themselves to the factories they're produced in.
'Responsibility' is a theme throughout the site for Taylor Stitch, and customers who value this are likely to be impressed - the brand values of Taylor Stitch bleed through for all to see.
I was looking through a few stores researching for this blog, andhad a few tabs open. I hadn't decided on using ColourPop for the article, until I saw the following cheeky message pop up when I had switched to another tab for a prolonged period.
I was surprised, and I clicked back to look around again - if I was a potential customer, there's every chance this would've led to a purchase that I otherwise wouldn't have made.
This serves to show that every tiny part of a store can be optimized. Even something as small as alternate text when someone switches tabs is an opportunity to hook them and rescue a potential lost sale.
Not only that, but I noticed the homepage of the site had entirely changed when I came back to continue my article a day later. Different products and offers were front and center, meaning that regular visitors to their site will constantly be engaging with new content.
Regularly updating your site with up to date offers and rotating which of your products are in the spotlight is likely to encourage repeat purchases.
Common traits of a successful Shopify store
As we've established with our examples, there is no one way to format and design your Shopify store - it's going to be dependent on your audience and brand. There are of course common features between these successful but different Shopify stores, and we've tried to identify as many as possible so you can take a leaf out of their book.
Great customer experience
A great customer experience spans all areas of the business - it's not enough to just have a great or innovative product. The high quality of your product should be consistent in all areas of your business, throughout the buying process.
Customer service is a huge part of this. No Shopify store can guarantee 100% satisfaction 100% of the time, so having a diligent team in place and an easy to process to speak to them is super important.
Many Shopify stores and other sites (including us here at Scribeless) use Intercom for customer support. The advantage of Intercom is the ability to combine livechats, support documentation and videos all in one place.
Shopify store Safari Ltd. uses Intercom in a unique way, using it to promote referrals and special offers. Whilst not the primary purpose of Intercom, it goes to show that it can be used in a variety of ways to promote different aspects of your store. Quality and accessible customer service is a huge asset to your store, but so is promoting ways for your customers to save and earn more money!
This means if your customers do need assistance, you don't have to send them on a wild goose chase to find what they need. Your support specialists can link them directly to the documents or videos that have the answer they're looking for, or provide the answer themselves if need be.
Of course, there are plenty of other chatbot options, such as Drift that offers more conversational support. Do some research before deciding on a chatbot provider, and find one that allows you to communicate with your customers most effectively.
Making returns easy is also a great way to keep customer satisfaction levels up. Returns don't always have to be a bad thing - customers may have ordered something in the wrong size, for example, so treat them as if they are coming back for more. If a customer has to go through a long laborious process each time they want to return an item, it's going to put them off repeat purchases.
(don't wanna go into too much detail about this as this is what the next hub piece will cover more. Will leave something here saying this is the tip of the iceberg and link to the hub piece when its live by the end of next sprint)
You don't need to necessarily have incredible developers or a huge budget to make the most of Shopify. There are lots of ways to build an impressive store out of the box. Making your storefront as aesthetically pleasing as possible is a great way to grab your customers' attention from the get go, and Shopify makes that easy for you.
One of the biggest advantages of Shopify is how easy it is to customize. Shopify has tons of templates for your store, some free and some paid, but if none of these ones suit your store, you can create one from scratch. What's more, there are over 3,000 third-party apps available on the Shopify app store (including ours!) that you can use to further customize the experience of your store.
Take some time to search through all the templates, apps and themes Shopify has to offer - you will discover that there is no end to the customization possibilities. With Shopify's powerful backend editor and impressive inventory system, it should be able to handle whatever you throw at it, from starting out to when you're at the top.
Super fast load times
One of the things that Gymshark founder Ben Francis identified about Shopify was it's reliability: “The great thing about Shopify Plus is the fact we fundamentally trust the platform and can do what we want almost immediately and be confident it’s going to work."
A speedy and smooth experience is key to making sure your customers are happy. Especially if they're visiting your site for the first time, you want to make an impression. People don't want to hang around on a site that's going to take forever to load, and the stats back this up.
Seconds count, so anything you can do to minimize your load times is saving you from churning potential customers before they can even browse your wares. Removing any unnecessary images, compressing necessary images in size so that less data is required to render the page, and removing unwanted scripts that run in the background are great starting points.
We've covered this topic in a lot more detail in the 'Bulletproof your Website' section of our eCommerce Holiday Season Guide, aiming to help people prepare for increased traffic during the festive season. That doesn't mean that the points aren't relevant all year round though!
A clear brand identity
We've shown in our examples how Shopify stores tailor their content to Shopify is highly customizable. The needs of your store will be entirely down to what you sell, so identify what aspects of your brand you want your store to convey and build a storefront that represents your brand and your products. The theme of your store will largely be driven by the type of products you sell - if you're selling clothing, for example, a clean, minimalist design is likely to be suitable; however, if you're selling beauty products or jewelry, a more opulent design might be in order.
Once you've established the look of your store, make sure that the copy it contains is just as appealing to your target audience - whether that be through written blog posts, product descriptions, or the way your team interact through the site, such as via live chats with customers. Whatever you choose to include, best practice is to:
- Be clear about your value proposition and what makes you different from any rivals you may have.
- Sell yourself. It's easy to talk about the products that you're selling but remember not to make it all about them - be sure to mention why people should trust you and your store.
- Make sure that everything is kept up-to-date and relevant – this could include things such as your returns policy, terms and conditions, delivery information and so on.
- Keep your messaging consistent across all platforms. You could use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate with existing and potential customers, so make sure your tone stays unified and your brand identity remains consistent.
A post-purchase nurturing process
A successful Shopify store will also recognize that a customer completing a purchase isn't the end of the experience, and will be familiar with the importance of nurturing new customers. Recognizing the value of returning customers is key to growing your store, and there are plenty of apps that can help with this:
- SMSBump: SMSBump is a hugely popular app that allows stores to automate text messages to their customers. There are a variety of uses for this, such as attempting to reignite abandoned carts or reactivating older or churned customers. The ease of SMSBump goes down a treat with Shopify users, and it's one of the top Shopify retention apps.
- Scribeless: Our app, Scribeless, allows you to generate 'handwritten' notes automatically to go with your customer's orders. This can be printed off and incorporated into the unboxing experience, or sent directly in the mail as a thank you post-purchase. The customer often isn't expecting this, and they love the personal touch, driving loyalty. This can work for gift notes too!
- Product Recommendations: Try using Product Recommendations to suggest frequently paired items to your customers as they shop. Fresh customers may have found one product on your store whilst browsing Google, and may not be aware of the extent of your wares. Doing as much as you can to showcase everything you have to offer alongside product reviews is more likely to result in more time spent onsite, and a bigger basket spend.
These are just a few apps Shopify offers to extend the experience beyond making a simple purchase. On average, loyal customers can have an LTV of 10x their original purchase, so make sure you are doing everything you can to make their experience more pleasant and keep them coming back for more.
Finally, take your time
As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were successful Shopify stores. The truth is that successful stores do not have to be complicated. In fact, they can be simple and clean with just a handful of products. If you are looking to create your first Shopify store, then think about this: less clutter means more conversions. The fantastic diversity of apps the Shopify app store has can be alluring, but there's no harm in starting steadily.
We've covered huge stores like Gymshark, but these guys didn't start off selling a million products, or using a thousand apps to enrich their experience. Basically, don't run before you can walk - make sure that you aren't overloading your store and spreading yourself too thinly when starting out. Too many app installs will slow down traffic
Shopify has the flexibility to support you as your store grows, so try adding those nurturing apps or extra features once you've got to grips with the Shopify basics. Maybe start with a free theme, and when you're doing well try building your own - anything like this can make the experience of running a Shopify store more manageable and scalable.
There is no fine art or one-size-fits-all approach to building a successful Shopify store. All stores are different and are trying to appeal to different crowds and customers. But, by ensuring you build a store that appeals to your Ideal Customer Personas (ICPs), makes the most of what Shopify has to offer and puts an emphasis on customer experience and retention, you're giving yourself the best chance of ensuring your Shopify store can grow and become as successful as possible.