Some important things to consider before selecting your Shopify theme

by Michael Hill

Some important things to consider before selecting your Shopify theme

Picking out your Shopify theme is probably one of the more exciting parts of setting up your online business — and we get it — it’s fun to customize your store’s logo, colors, fonts and more.

However, it’s also easy to get caught up in all the great options premium themes offer and neglect other important parts of running a Shopify business.

If you’re considering starting a new business on Shopify or moving to the Shopify platform, here’s a quick overview of some important factors to consider before you start building your store.

It's worth noting that, in addition to these tips, all Shopify stores should have a solid business plan before you really dig in and get started.

Content

Having well written content is a key part of both conversion rate optimization and SEO. Having less than stellar content throughout the site is a common reason new stores don’t take off.

  • Make sure you have high-quality product descriptions. It’s often easy to get caught in the trap of inputting generic product information as you set up your store.
  • Your product description copy should not only clearly communicate product information but also read smoothly and professionally — all with the end goal of encouraging conversions.
  • You’ll also need compelling headlines and other text throughout your store in various theme sections. Sometimes it’s easier to just “toss in” some placeholder or quickly written text when you’re customizing your theme, which you'll just want to remember to update before launch.
  • When creating sections or customizing your theme, Shopify typically brings in “placeholder” content that can often, at a quick glance, look real. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see it stick around after launch — although it rarely will make any sense.
  • Also consider a strategy for your blog and content marketing. While this isn’t a “must have” to launch, it’s often a good idea for new Shopify stores and something worth at least having in the back of your mind.
  • Finally, if you don't already, you should have at least a simple brand standards or stylebook. This will come in helpful when setting up your theme's various colors, fonts and layout.

Products

Products are, of course, the core of most Shopify stores — after all, you need something to sell to bring in money. However, whether you’re drop shipping, selling handmade items or fulfilling orders from your own inventory, there’s often more to selling online than posting some photos and a description.

  • Be sure you’ve fully done your due diligence on your products, especially if you’re only offering a small number of items — or a single one. An unanticipated issue with a single product (or low product number) store can effectively shut you down.
  • It’s important to look into taxes, tariffs, rules about importing or exporting your product (and any materials used in it) as well as requirements for selling, labeling and packaging items in certain jurisdictions (a good example of this is the California Prop 65 materials disclosure requirements).
  • Some products that often require extra research are baby and children's items, food, beverages or kitchen products used with food, as well as certain types of fabrics, woods and other raw materials (though this is not an exhaustive list and you should always do your own research).
  • Selling alcohol, CBD and hemp, live animals, food, medical supplies, weapons, tobacco and vaping supplies, certain gemstones or materials may not be able to be sold on Shopify or use Shopify Payments.
  • In some cases, you may be able to sell on Shopify if your product is in one of these categories but won’t be able use Shopify Payments, which typically requires you getting a third-party payment gateway and will subject you to additional processing fees.
  • There may also be restrictions on selling items in specific states, countries, municipalities, or age groups to consider.
  • On a related note, there are also some “higher risk” products that tend to attract more fraud or chargebacks. Because of this, it’s important to note that your payment processor may start “holding” funds for longer than anticipated, which could affect your cash flow. Be sure to research if your product is considered “high risk” and make appropriate adjustments to your business model before setting up your store and Shopify theme.
  • Likewise, many of these product categories also have limits placed on where and how they can be advertised. For example, Google and Facebook, among other popular marketing platforms, may not accept your product or limit how you can target users — so you may need to consider an alternative marketing strategy. In other cases, there may be additional steps required to advertise certain items that should be taken care of beforehand.
  • Finally, you’ll also want to double-check that product pricing is accurate on all variants, so you don’t end up selling a product below cost — or it’s accidentally priced so high no one will ever consider it.

Fulfillment

You might be surprised how often we see this happen: A store owner sets up a great store using a slick Shopify theme and gets their first order — but doesn’t have a clear path to filling it. 

  • Be sure you know exactly how much it will cost to ship your product. Some store owners have sticker shock, particularly with heavier items, at how much they’ll have to pay for shipping. You’ll want to make sure you charge enough for shipping (or build it into the cost of your product in the case “free” shipping).
  • You’ll also need to make sure you’re covering the cost of any packaging — boxes, padding and protective wrap, labels, and even tape. Boxes need to be secure enough to get the item to its destination undamaged and some shippers have specific label requirements, especially to get discounted rates.
  • If you’re working with larger order quantities, there are a variety of third-party fulfillment solutions — all of which should be researched extensively to make sure you’re able to deliver products as promised and on time.

Shopify Themes

With all that out of the way, there’s also some important factors to consider before selecting a Shopify theme. Shopify themes typically take care of how your store looks — and, while Shopify themes such as Turbo and Flex are starting to come with more dynamic features — it’s still worth noting that there’s certain things a theme can’t do without an app or customization.

  • There’s a 100 variant limit for each product — and the only way around this is to use an app or hire a developer.
  • If you’re selling items by a unit such as a length for fabrics, it can be tricky to set up this in Shopify, and you may need a third party app or customization.
  • Likewise, products sold in bundles and quantity breaks can often require additional setup or an app. Alternatively, automatic discounts can sometimes be a great way to set this up that doesn’t directly involve the Shopify theme.
  • If your products are significantly customizable (such as a device that customers can select screen sizes, colors, processor speeds or similar criteria) this can also be challenging to set up and you’re likely looking at custom development on top of the theme.
  • Meanwhile, customizable products that only need a line of text or monogram, for example, can often be handled by modifying your theme to include line item properties.
  • Digital downloads typically take some additional setup as well.
Michael Hill
Michael Hill

Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn. While comments and feedback are always appreciated, Michael regrets that, due to the volume of inquires received, personal responses are not possible. For specific assistance or support with Out of the Sandbox themes, visit the help center.