Shopify makes it incredibly easy for anyone to start selling online. For many first time entrepreneurs, however, Shopify sometimes can offer too many choices.
What do I mean by this?
If you’re only fidgeting with your shop’s appearance rather than your marketing, you’re going to be extremely disappointed on your “launch day” that nobody shows up to your pixel-perfect shop.
The truth is, most customers don’t really care if your buttons have rounded corners or square corners. By deferring your site’s launch until it’s perfect — which, by the way, doesn’t exist — you’re delaying the most important aspect about launching a business: seeing whether you’ll get any sales.
People who’ve done this a few times will resoundingly agree that the most important aspect of launching a new e-commerce site is to simply launch. There’s a saying in the startup world: Better finished than perfect.
Which Theme Should I Use?
If you’re stuck deciding on a theme, pick a free one.
Too many times we’ve seen new shop owners belabour themselves (and delay launching their business) in trying to figure out the perfect theme.
We’ve worked with so many themes that I’m confident to tell you this: there isn’t a perfect theme.
As your business grows, you may — one day — decide to redesign your shop entirely. But until you get to that point, just get started.
Some of our favourite free themes are:
This versatile theme is extremely popular — and there’s a good reason for it.
It’s multiple row layout makes presenting products from various collections neat and tidy. As well, it looks quite nice out of the box — minimal customizations are needed.
Simple is also a very good Shopify theme to consider simply because it’s… well, simple.
Its sidebar navigation is easy to see and keep organized. As well it features a easy base on which to build various integrations if you need to.
That’s it — those 2 themes above should cover you 99% of the time.
Where You (Really) Should Be Spending Your Time
One word: marketing. And by this, one of the best ways you can achieve marketing is by collecting email addresses.
Having customer emails form one of the best ways to successfully selling online. The most successful e-commerce companies have enormous email lists, to which they regularly inform them what sale is going on and what new products just came in.
Sure, some of you may be skeptical about this. But consider this: If this method isn’t effective, why do all the big retailers do it?
Seasoned e-commerce entrepreneurs don’t even blink twice when we talk about e-mail marketing because they know it’s the only thing that separates a successful online business from a dead one.
We recommend a popup email box to collect emails, such as Grow Email.
Once you’ve got the email, you can integrate with Mailchimp or Klaviyo. You can learn more about e-mail marketing at our e-commerce marketing blog.
Finding Your Traffic Sources
Now that you have your (basic) website up, it’s time to drive traffic to it.
Another common mistake a lot of new Shopify shop owners have is that traffic will just come. Nothing is further from the truth.
Shopify is a hosting platform — one that is specialized to host an e-commerce shop. But that’s it. Being on Shopify doesn’t give your business any more of an advantage than that. You need to #hustle.
So where do you find traffic for your website?
Traffic is generally divided into two sources: Organic and Paid traffic.
What’s Organic Traffic?
Organic traffic essentially means free traffic — referral sources you’ve built up over time.
For instance, if you have a popular blog or Facebook Page, you can share your new shop’s website. When you do, a fraction of people who follow you will go to your website.
This is organic traffic — because it’s something you’ve created for yourself.
Generating organic traffic sources can take a lot of time, and this fact frustrates a lot of new business owners. They want things done now, but that really isn’t how making money on the internet works.
You need to build your business up over time.
This means that you need to find where your audience hangs out and being an active participant in those communities.
Blogging is a great way to get started, and we recommend you take a look at this blog post on how to generate organic traffic.
What’s Paid Traffic?
Paid traffic is paying for click throughs. Typically nowadays, this means Facebook Ads or Google Adwords. Buying traffic like this is a whole art and science in itself, but suffice to say this is the expensive way to generate sales.
For everything you sell, a certain part of your revenues go into paying for the traffic source. And not everyone who clicks through buys from you.
Does this mean you shouldn’t pay for traffic? Absolutely not.
Many of the world’s most successful businesses get a large part of their traffic through paid acquisitions. Shopify itself invests a lot of money on ads — you probably signed up for your Shopify account through a paid link ad.
If you’re launching an e-commerce business, probably the worst thing you can do is fuss over cosmetic or minor functionality issues. If you do, you won’t be the first merchant to find out later on that the most important part of running an e-commerce business are actually other things — like building up an email list or finding cheap (or free) traffic sources.