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by Michael P. Hill

The winners of Shopify’s sixth annual “Build a Business” competition have been announced — and among them is an Out of the Sandbox Shopify theme user whose success with a simple and straightforward use of a theme is worth noting.

The competition uses the sales figures of Shopify stores created in the past year to determine a winner in a variety of categories. The winning stores receive a week-long retreat at the Oheka Castle, which is also known as the Great Gatsby mansion, with hands-on mentoring from Tim Ferriss, Daymond John, Russell Simmons and more, including Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke.

Happy Trunk, founded and owned by Emily Wilford and Jon Wedel, sells elephant-themed and other hip, boho-style jewelry, watches and clothing, with part of the business profits benefiting the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.

The business took first place in the Fashion and Apparel category.

Happy Trunk chose Out of the Sandbox’s Parallax Shopify theme for their shop, and they’ve used this versatile theme to create a winning store design that generated thousands of dollars in sales during the competition period.

Happy Trunk uses Parallax’s dramatic homepage banners to spotlight beautiful photography in a natural setting. The hero image does a great job of conveying a good sense of the brand, catching shoppers’ eyes and drawing them in to explore the store further, They’ve also made a great decision to highlight their best sellers right on the home page, with these featured products positioned just below the main image

The store also uses the Shopify theme’s flexible grid system to create clean and approachable informational pages that include customer testimonials, background information about the business (including their unique story gives the shop a personal touch!) and a frequently asked questions page.

The site credits its money back guarantee as one of the keys to its success — and their FAQ page makes it easy to communicate this message to potential shoppers. Happy Trunk also dedicates an entire page to customer kudos, tweets and testimonials, which reinforce the genuine connection and engagement that the shop is making with its audience and reassures potential new customers that this is a shop that cares.

Happy Trunk’s configuration of the Parallax theme is also a great example of how little to no customizations are needed to build a successful store as long as you’re starting with a solid foundation.

For example, the site uses simple text formatting in its product descriptions to convey a fair amount of information without using custom formatting or styles. The homepage is also kept elegantly simple, which creates an efficient and appealing page.

Happy Trunk also doesn’t try to overthink the design of its homepage banner section — forgoing the use of text entirely while using a single image to convey its message and entice users to explore further. They’ve also kept the header and footer area clean and simple, allowing their products to shine in an uncluttered environment.

While these approaches won’t necessarily work for every store out there, it’s still worth keeping the simple and straightforward approach that Happy Trunk uses in mind when creating your own store — and it’s proof positive that Shopify stores can be very successful without tweaking every single design element or making use of every possible theme setting.

One of the key reasons this works, is that Out of the Sandbox themes are designed by experienced, professional designers with ecommerce and conversion optimization best practices in mind, so that stores using the theme are able to quickly and easily build an online store without having to know how to write code or design web page layouts This allows shops like Happy Trunk to focus on what they do best — bringing their unique story and products to market and building relationships with the customers who love them!

Out of the Sandbox's Sharon Austin contributed to this article.

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. 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.

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