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How to Run a Successful Shopify Store

Thanks to its ease of use and affordability compared to building an online store from scratch, Shopify has been a gamechanger in the tech space. 

But as convenient as Shopify makes it to set up and run your own online store, you still have to put in the leg work to make your business succeed. From refining your product and optimizing your store to landing new customers and retaining them for years to come, these tips will help make your Shopify store a success.

Tips for making your Shopify store a success

Shopify takes much of the guesswork out of setting up an online business, and you can get started quickly even if you don’t have prior experience with selling online. These tips will help you apply eCommerce wisdom gathered by the many successful Shopify stores running today. You can use them when setting up your own store or, if you already have one, use these pointers as a checklist to identify things you can improve upon to grow your business even more.

Make your store mobile-friendly

When setting up an online store, it’s normal to want to make it look great on a desktop. You’re most likely working from your own PC, so the default is to optimize your site for visitors who are also on desktops or laptops. 

However, as you may know from personal experience, a ton of web browsing today takes place on mobile. According to Oberlo, a dropshipping app owned by Shopify, the share of mobile eCommerce sales as a portion of the total eCommerce market reached 72.9% in 2021.

If nearly three out of four eCommerce dollars are spent on mobile, optimizing your store for a mobile experience should be one of your top priorities. Go through all the pages of your Shopify store on a mobile device to make sure it’s a smooth, pleasant, and fast experience for your customers. The site should be as attractive and easy to navigate on mobile as on desktop, since such a large portion of buyers will experience it this way. Website builders like Shopify are typically mobile responsive, so your main job is making sure that you’re happy with how the different sections on each page are ordered on mobile.

Create brand appeal

A strong, cohesive brand is more likely to stick in your customers’ minds than a generic, unbranded experience. Even if you sell an excellent product at a competitive price, the appeal of your brand can set you apart and make buying from your store more irresistible.  

Brand appeal can help your Shopify store succeed by drawing your target customer to your online store. If your brand is designed to appeal to a certain kind of consumer, and they recognize your brand as similar to the types of brands they usually like to buy from, they will be more likely to trust buying from you. 

Your brand can also evoke quality to legitimize your business. When shopping online, customers don’t have as much information to go off of as they do in a brick-and-mortar setting. They can’t touch and feel your product to gauge its quality, but a well-designed, consistent brand experience conveys quality and trustworthiness. 

Finally, an appealing brand is memorable. Customers are more likely to remember your company if they can quickly associate it with a certain visual style and voice. 

Your logo, font system, colour palette, messaging, and values should work together to support the overall brand experience, and these should all be used consistently at every customer touchpoint, from your Shopify store to your emails and social media accounts. 

Always consider your customer’s experience

Your customer’s experience should be top of mind when you set up a Shopify store, and it’s a good idea to regularly review your shop and other points in your customer’s journey to make sure you provide the most positive experience you can. 

A survey from marketing company Hubspot found 80 per cent of respondents stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience. A popular refrain in marketing is that it costs more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one––so keeping existing customers happy and returning is an important strategy for your business’ bottom line. 

When it comes to building your Shopify store with the customer experience in mind, having an aesthetically pleasing site is just the beginning. You should also make it easy for visitors to get answers to all the questions they may have about your products and brand, either on the product pages or on a FAQ page. It should also be simple and quick to get in touch with your company.

When they receive your product, you may also want to have an automated follow up email sequence to give them an opportunity to share their opinion so you can be proactive about addressing any concerns. The idea is to consider every step of their journey and offer them a great experience every step of the way.

Sell more products

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the more products you sell, the more successful your Shopify store will be. One way to do this is to regularly launch new products or new variations of existing products. This will give your customer base a reason to return to your website regularly, and each new product launch is a chance to generate some buzz and get your brand in front of new customers as well. 

Another important metric to keep in mind is your average order value (AOV). Successful store owners are always trying to make tweaks that will improve their AOV. Imagine that your store gets 1,000 orders over the course of a year. If you can increase your AOV by $15, that’s an extra $15,000 by the end of the year. 

While you might be able to get there by increasing your price, you can’t reasonably expect customers to stick around for price increase after price increase. A better approach is to incorporate upselling and cross selling techniques on your Shopify store. You can install plugins that will do this job for you, prompting customers to purchase more expensive items (upselling) or complementary items (cross selling) before they check out.

Prioritize customer retention

We’ll mention it again because it’s an important point to remember, no matter the type of business you’re in: retaining your existing customers is worth the effort. This is because it’s more expensive to win a new customer than to bring an existing customer back.

To land a new customer, you likely have to spend a significant number of marketing dollars. For example, they may need to see an ad for your store several times across different platforms before being interested enough to click on it.

However, you can likely reach existing customers for close to free. If you have their email address and permission to market to them, you can stay top of mind with consistent email marketing. Existing customers are also valuable because, if they love your product and have a positive customer experience, they can become evangelists for your brand. The same Hubspot survey referenced earlier found that customers trust recommendations from friends and family more than advertising or influencer recommendations. 

Make use of email marketing

We hear a lot about the importance of social media in marketing, since the average Canadian spends nearly two hours per day on social media. While social media marketing is a key component of the marketing mix for many businesses both large and small, email doesn’t always get the attention it deserves as a powerful marketing tool. 

Since email has been around for a lot longer than social media, it’s easy to understand why people don’t get as excited about it. However, when it comes to the best ROI for your marketing budget, email is likely to outperform every other marketing initiative. 

You can automate your email marketing with software like Klaviyo, which is either free or inexpensive to use, depending on how many subscribers you have. Each email is an opportunity to remind your customers and subscribers about your brand, share interesting or valuable information with them, let them know what you’re working on, or introduce new products. 

Upgrade your packaging

When setting up your Shopify store, your packaging might not be the first thing on your mind. After all, customers won’t get to touch, feel, and experience it in the same way they would in a brick-and-mortar retail store until after they’ve placed their order. 

While that may be true, attractive packaging can still have a significant impact on whether or not a potential customer will purchase your product. The importance of packaging will vary depending on the type of product you sell, so you can adjust the amount of effort and resources you put into packaging based on the requirements of your specific business. However,  your packaging should never be an afterthought. 

For businesses that sell products such as cosmetics, attractive packaging can help your business stand out in a crowded market. Your packaging will likely be prominently displayed on your product pages, in ads, and in the body of your promotional emails. For this type of business, attractive packaging is very important.

Alternatively, if you sell something like artisanal blown glass vases, the packaging won’t necessarily be visible on your product pages or in any images the customer sees before buying. You may not have to worry as much about making your packaging look as beautiful as your product, but your customers may be interested to know that you ship in high quality packaging that will protect the product.

Finally, the unboxing experience is an aspect of shopping online that many customers look forward to. The packaging you ship your products in is an opportunity to make your customers feel valued and delighted, so taking some time to make it feel special is worth the effort. 

Set up automated cart abandonment emails

When you log into your Shopify dashboard, you’ll be able to see how many times customers added products to their cart without checking out. Each of those is a missed opportunity at a sale, since the fact that your products were added to the cart suggests the potential customer had at least some intent to buy. 

Think about the reasons why you’ve hesitated to make a purchase online. Usually, it’s the total cost that makes people hesitate. Maybe they didn’t realize how much all the items they added to the cart would add up to, or perhaps the shipping total was too high for the order to seem worth it. 

Shopping cart abandonment emails are a great way to recapture some of those potential buyers and, since they’re something you can automate, you only have to set them up once to reap the rewards. One way to set them up is to have a series of emails that each sweeten the deal for the customer a little bit more.

For example, the first email can be a simple reminder that you’ve saved the items in their cart for them. This email can capture the customers who may have gotten distracted before buying, or who really do want your product. If they don’t buy after the first email, your automated series can send a second email after a couple of days offering the customers a discount or free shipping. This can help get back some of those customers who had sticker shock. A third email can offer an even larger discount.

Run retargeting ads

Retargeting refers to the advertising strategy of serving ads to potential buyers who have already demonstrated some interest by interacting with an ad previously. This is a powerful approach that takes some time to build up, but can translate into major growth for your Shopify store.

When you first start advertising online, you won’t be able to use retargeting just yet because you’ll need to build up some data first. However, once your ads run for a little while, you can create new campaigns that are just focused on retargeting, with your whole spend on that ad going only to customers who already demonstrated they are drawn to your product.

Incorporating this strategy can help your advertising dollars go farther, helping you reach your sales goals faster.

Have regular giveaways

Everyone loves free stuff. That’s the driving force behind what makes giveaways such a powerful tool for growing your Shopify store. Giveaways can be a relatively inexpensive tool in your marketing arsenal, because most giveaways ask entrants to share the contest in order to be entered to win.

This technique means your giveaway will spread without you necessarily having to spend extra money advertising it, especially if your budget is limited. This way, the main cost in running your giveaway will be what you actually give as a prize. This can be something like your product or a gift card to your online store.

When designing your giveaway, think about what business goal you are trying to meet by having the giveaway. If you’re trying to gain exposure for your brand, an Instagram giveaway that asks people to tag their friends and follow your account to enter can help you get in front of new potential customers.

If you’re really focused on sales rather than metrics like follower count, running a giveaway to collect email subscribers is a good technique because you can keep getting in front of those potential customers with your newsletter. Either way, running giveaways regularly can help you steadily find new customers, grow your following, and create some excitement around your brand.

Offer repeat buyers a discount

By this point, you know how important existing customers are for your business. Show them how much you appreciate them by offering them a discount on their next order as a thank you for supporting your business. 

Getting something like a 15 per cent discount toward their next order will not only delight them and make them feel appreciated, it will also increase the chances each customer will come back for another order and try more of your products, increasing the value of that customer to your business. 

There are a few ways you can go about this. If you’d like, you can send an email to the customer once they receive their initial order or a little while later thanking them for their business, encouraging them to leave a review, and offering a discount.

Alternatively, you can include a postcard with their order that has a discount code printed on it. This will make the process of opening up your package more memorable, and it may be easier for them to remember to use the code if they have a physical reminder of it. 

You can also run a special campaign just for repeat buyers, sending those who purchase from your store two or more times a special discount.

Offer a loyalty program

Well-designed loyalty programs help customers feel rewarded for supporting you and create incentives to keep coming back for more. They also create a feeling of exclusivity by belonging to a club that not everyone else belongs to. 

The most basic structure for a loyalty program is a simple points-based system that allows your customers to redeem their points once they reach a certain amount in exchange for a dollar amount towards their next purchase, or in exchange for full-size products.

However, if you want to tap into the psychology of exclusivity, instead of just offering points towards existing items that are available to anyone, consider offering member-only gifts and perks. That way, if someone wants a product, they can’t necessarily just buy it. Instead, they have to join the club to access whatever desirable perks you’re offering. 

Ensure your product pages are high quality

A high quality product page can translate into more conversions on your Shopify store, because customers will be less likely to click away when they can’t easily find all the info they need. Luckily, the product pages that come with Shopify’s templates are designed by pros, so you don’t have to worry too much about designing the pages yourself from scratch. 

If using a template, the areas you should focus on are your product images and copy, or text. Your images should be clear, professional, and give the customer as much information as possible. For example, if you have a clothing Shopify store, consider showing your pieces on a model from several angles. This way, a customer won’t hesitate just because they don’t know what the back of a garment looks like. 

Your copy should be clear and descriptive, but also reflect your brand voice. If you tend to use a cheeky tone elsewhere, your product copy should bring in a little bit of that voice as well. This will help your customers stay immersed in the brand experience that drew them in in the first place.

Avoid extra fees

Hidden costs are a great way to lose sales. Shoppers love to know exactly how much they are going to spend before they reach the checkout page. The most common extra cost is shipping, so if you can make your shipping costs clear on the homepage of your website with something like a banner, your customers won’t be surprised when they’re ready to pay for their products. 

You may also want to consider offering free shipping over a certain amount. Shopify stores that do this know exactly how much shipping costs them and roll this cost into their product prices. You can reduce your costs by using a shipping software that lets you take advantage of bulk rates, even if you’re a small business. From the perspective of the customer, they are getting something for free, which increases the desire to purchase.

What makes Shopify special?

Shopify offers entrepreneurs the possibility to create a business from scratch with relative ease. In Canada, the most recent figures from 2020 show that nearly $30 billion is spent annually on eCommerce. If you have a product you want to sell online, you no longer have to hire a developer to build a custom website from scratch to get a piece of that very large pie. Instead, you can focus most of your energy on marketing and getting your website out there. 

This democratizes the world of eCommerce in a way that would have seemed unimaginable less than a generation ago. You don’t necessarily need a ton of money to turn your business idea into a reality. While it still takes work and dedication to make your Shopify store a success, you now have an arsenal of tips you can start implementing to drive the results you want.

Why do some Shopify stores fail?

Shopify won’t sell your product for you; you still have to have the know-how, time, motivation, and resources to get your website in front of potential buyers. You also need a product that people actually want to buy. A Shopify store alone, no matter how well-designed, isn’t guaranteed to drive sales. 

However, there are thousands of successful businesses running on Shopify using the exact same tools available to you through the platform. Having a beautiful, functional online store is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to running a successful eCommerce business. However, it’s an important piece, and Shopify lets you take care of this aspect of your business with ease.

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