Making your small business look big using your Shopify theme
by Michael P. Hill
When operating a “small” business or a new brand, one of the biggest challenges can be convincing shoppers that not only are your products worth buying, but they can also trust your store. Thankfully, premium Shopify themes give you a wide range of tools to make looking “big” easier.
In today’s world, it’s no surprise that building trust with online shoppers can be challenging.
There are so many great Shopify stores (and, for that matter, stores running on other ecommerce platforms) that offer truly great products and services.
Unfortunately, like with anything, there’s always “bad apples” out there that, thanks to their scheming and scamming, make it more difficult for the vast majority of store owners running legitimate businesses.
When setting up or redesigning your online Shopify store, a great first step is to start with a premium Shopify theme from a trusted developer.
Not only does a well designed Shopify theme set you up for success with the features you need to create a high converting store, it’s also a great way to look polished and professional right out of the box, so to speak.
That said, there’s one solid piece of advice that every store owner using a premium Shopify theme should take: Be sure to fully set up your new Shopify theme.
By default, most Shopify themes come with “dummy” or placeholder text, images, menus and other content.
Because much of this “blends in” to the actual theme, it can be quite easy to go live with your new Shopify theme but overlook replacing some of this default content.
Before clicking “publish” on any new Shopify theme, it’s always a good idea to review every page — from top to bottom — to make sure you’ve updated all of your content.
Forgetting to replace some of that placeholder content makes your store look incomplete and less refined — which could result in a loss of trust from shoppers.
While Shopify themes come with great default styles, we always encourage store owners to update the colors, fonts and other settings made available to them to make the store their own.
Not only does this help establish a consistent look that matches your logo and branding, it also helps set your store apart from other shops that simply rely on the default styles.
While these styles are designed to get you up and running fast, they don’t always match a particular store’s look and feel which may seem like the store was set up quickly, without specific thought into how to make it match the actual store and its offerings.
In addition to making sure your Shopify theme is set up properly and customized, here’s a list of other tips for making your store look as polished as possible — and hopefully make it easier for online shoppers to take the leap and make a purchase from an unknown entity:
Use high quality photos for not only your product pages but anywhere else you feature such imagery. Not only does this help “show” shoppers what your product looks like as best as can be done through a screen, but professional looking photography that looks like it took time and investment can be a great way to build confidence.
Create high quality “about us” and “meet the team” pages. Although the exact nature of these pages will vary depending on what business you’re in, having a company profile, history or staff listing can be a huge step in bringing legitimacy to your store.
If you don’t have a huge team (or any at all), that’s OK. Focus on either profiling yourself or look for other ways to bring in real people — whether it’s customers, suppliers, vendors, or partners.
If you decide to only feature your profile, make it well thought out and be sure to cover, via text or images, how your experience connects with your store. You can spruce up the about page with multiple photos of yourself. In addition to a headshot, consider photos of you at work or even using your own products.
Some store owners also create a “team” using friends and family who have helped or provided input in launching the store. Each person will get a “title” and photo and, on the surface, there’s typically nothing wrong with this approach as long as each individual truly did play a role in your company’s founding.
That said, avoid using stock photos on your “about” pages or, especially, your team page. Many online shoppers are getting super savvy and can sniff out a stock photo of a “fake team” pretty fast.
Create and maintain social media accounts and link to them using your Shopify theme’s built-in social media icons. On the social media accounts, be sure to upload a high quality logo and eye-catching imagery wherever the platform allows — and make sure you’re updating the profile regularly with valuable content. A social media profile that is dormant or looks like it was thrown together can do more harm than good.
Likewise, if you can commit to writing high quality blog posts as part of a content marketing strategy, do so and feature links to your content on your homepage (links to blog posts also make great social media posts). However, if you can’t write content regularly, you may be better off not using the blog feature at this point since an empty or rarely updated blog can raise red flags.
Leverage the built in payment icons that most Shopify themes come with to your advantage. If you accept Shopify Pay, making that logo visible is a nice way to lend some credibility to your store. Likewise, some stores can also benefit from leaving the “powered by Shopify” link in the footer so shoppers know that a high profile ecommerce platform is being used to run the site.
Make sure your site has a well designed contact page. By default most Shopify themes will include a contact form, but listing a physical address, phone number or direct email account can also be vital in building trust with customers. Of course, you may not be able to list all of these elements, but in general, the more you can include here the better.
If you list a direct email address, avoid displaying one from free email providers such as gmail.com, yahoo.com or outlook.com. While it’s fine to use these services to receive and send email, setting up an email address with forwarding that includes your domain name is much more polished looking.
Finally, it’s worth keeping in mind that while having a well designed and polished storefront is certainly important, the design doesn’t always need to be pixel perfect for your store to look like a “big business.” Often the amount of time and money you spend trying to perfect a small detail of store design can be better spent on the content and branding strategies mentioned above — and ultimately be more effective in making sales.
At the end of the day, it’s important to keep in mind that, while online shoppers may make a snap judgment about your store as soon as they see the first page, having a well thought out online store and presence is a great way to not only engage visitors but also boost their confidence as they explore your site.
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. 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.