What is Shopify?
Nearly 1 in 3 online businesses are powered by Shopify’s browser-based eCommerce platform. It’s one of our go-to’s for selling online.
You’ve got a great retail business idea. You know that you want to have an online shop where you can sell your amazing products. You’ve heard great things about Shopify as the platform you should use…but now what?
Shopify currently has the largest eCommerce platform market share in the USA, with nearly one in three online businesses using it to power their stores. They do a great job of making it sound like setting up a successful shop is easy-peasey, but it’s more complicated than that. While Shopify’s interface is user-friendly there are still a number of ways you can get it wrong. No one wants to waste their time or their money.
We’ve worked with shops that have 4 products and shops that have 4,000 products and we’ve seen (and corrected) a number of mistakes that were holding shop owners back from reaching their full sales potential.
These are the top five issues we’ve come across time and again that can hold you back from having the eCommerce shop of your dreams…
Mistake #1: Not understanding your product or market
Take the time to learn who your ideal customers is, their pain points, and what makes them tick and you’ll set your shop up for success.
You have products. You have a brand. You have a Shopify account. What more could you need? Well, you still need an audience and customers.
Unfortunately, “build it and they will come” isn’t a solid eCommerce business strategy. One of the biggest mistakes a Shopify shop owner can make is to not clearly define their target audience and take the time to understand what makes them tick.
Do some research to ensure that your audience has a need or desire for your product. Understand how they communicate and use language that will resonate with them. Learn their pain points and which ones your product can eliminate for them. Find out where and how they engage with content already and discover what matters to them.
By learning what your audience wants and the frustrations they have with the existing options, you can offer things they truly want. Do this well and you’ll be 10 steps ahead of your competition in creating a successful online business.
Mistake #2: Not prioritizing product photos and descriptions
Since your customer can’t see and feel your product, photography and descriptions become even more important online.
If you’re selling physical products, you’re going to need photos and descriptions, since your customer can’t see, pick up, and inspect the item themselves. You may be able to get away without photos or a robust description if you have a digital product, a very unique product, or you’re using your shop to only sell to previous customers who are already aware of your merchandise. But for 99% of cases, good photos are more than a nice-to-have. They’re a need-to-have.
It’s an investment worth paying for, whether that means hiring a professional to shoot your collections or investing in some simple equipment and brushing up on your own skills.
The best item can be made to look unappealing with the wrong photography while professional imagery can make your products really shine.
Photography does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to selling products online, but for a real one-two punch, you’ll want to include compelling descriptions of your products. The photo will catch a customer’s eye but your description should really drive home why they need your product in their life.
Be sure to include all the practical details someone might want to know before buying: dimensions, care instructions, ingredients, etc. but also be sure to include some persuasive language.
Show them that you understand their frustrations and give them a way to solve them. No matter if their problem is needing reading material for a beach vacation, finding the perfect outfit to wear to a summer wedding, or keeping their house free from ants a finely crafted description can help you sell.
Mistake #3: Failing to organize your products
Your shop needs to balance looking good and working well. Your products need to be easily discoverable in order to sell.
Shopify’s method of using collections rather than categories and subcategories can take a minute to wrap your head around but it really does make for a very flexible method of organization. It can also create a lot of confusion for you and your customers.
One of the main jobs of your shop is to make all of your products easy to find for shoppers. After all, they can’t buy it if they can’t find it.
This isn’t really an issue if you only sell a handful of items but if you have more than 20 items you’re going to need a good way to organize them. Throwing everything into one or two categories with no way to filter is a disaster.
Shopify provides a number of tools like collections, tags, brands, and product types that you can use to organize your products. Be sure to choose a theme that comes with filter options so that you can take full advantage of your organization.
The biggest decision you’re going to make is how you’re going to group your products. There’s a sweet spot between having too many subcategories and not having enough. We find that if you have any more than three levels it gets messy.
Mistake #4: Not using social proof
With so many shops online, customers want to know that they can trust you with their purchase. Social proof can help you gain that trust.
If someone is unfamiliar with your brand one of the easiest ways to get them to trust you is to give them some social proof. Shoppers want to buy from brands they can trust. One of the easiest ways to demonstrate this in your online shop is through customer reviews and ratings.
76% of consumers admit they’re less likely to purchase from a retailer that doesn’t have reviews. Since it has become easier and cheaper than ever before to set up an online shop, there is also a rise of low-quality, untrustworthy shops. Providing legitimate social proof is one way to quell any concerns a new shopper might have.
While it can feel scary to open yourself up to reviews, if you’re providing quality products and services, let your happy customers speak up for you! And don’t be afraid to ask for that review either. Customers are much more likely to take time out of their day to leave feedback if you make a point to ask. Include this call to action in your email funnel. Send an email a week after purchase and ask how they’re enjoying their new product and direct them back to your site to leave a review.
You might be thinking, “but what if I get a bad review? I don’t want to show that!” It’s been shown that negative feedback isn’t always disastrous. The way you respond to your unhappy customer can go a long way to creating new happy customers. When you respond publicly and quickly, people will feel reassured that, even in the unlikely event they have a problem, you’ll be there to help them.
Mistake #5: Having limited or expensive shipping options
Free shipping is no longer considered a perk. Shipping options and costs are a big factor in someone deciding if they will buy from you or keep going.
Dealing with shipping is one of the most important decisions when setting up a new store. Set your rates too low and you risk paying out of pocket and losing money on orders. Set your rates too high and you risk losing out on orders in the first place.
Add to that that customers now expect to be offered several shipping options at a low cost, if not free. 79% of online shoppers list free shipping as a top factor in whether they buy from a business or not.
If the cost you’re asking a customer to pay to ship their purchase is nearly the same as the cost of the products, you’re going to lose out on sales. It would be better to bake some of the cost of shipping directly into the price of your products and present your customers with a lower shipping rate. They’re happy and you’re happy.
Always consider offering free shipping once a certain cart threshold has been met. At a certain price point, the value of getting the order will offset the cost you’ll need to absorb to ship it.
If shoppers have items in their cart but fall just short of that threshold, they’re also likely to add something else in order to trigger free shipping, thus increasing your average order size as well as having happy customers.
Do you have a brick-and-mortar storefront? Include free in-store pick-up for your local customers in your checkout.
There are also ways that you can lower your shipping costs as a business owner. Buy and print discounted shipping labels from Shopify Shipping. Compare prices between carriers. Investigate flat-rate shipping options some carriers have pre-paid envelopes with prices based on destination. If you often ship to a certain region this might be a more cost-effective solution.
All of these mistakes have a central theme: put the customer first. Remove as many barriers as possible, from shipping and trust to site navigation and photos.
If you’re ever in doubt about a decision, just think, “how will this make my customer feel?” By putting them first, you’re sure to create a shopping experience that keeps your customers coming back time and time again.