Shopify is an online store builder for small to medium-sized businesses, and is packed full of the features you need to sell your products to a global customer base.
E-commerce is a fast-growing — and lucrative — market. However, this rapid growth has also made it a crowded marketplace. Shopify alone has 600,000 online stores. To stand out and connect with your customers, you must take a compelling product to market and ensure that your online store is optimized.
Fortunately, Shopify is a versatile and feature-rich platform offering e-commerce businesses a full suite of services to build and run a successful online store. Even if you have little (or no) experience running an online store, Shopify’s built-in features lets you set up — and market — a professional, well-run online store.
If you’re thinking of starting a Shopify store, here are a number of tips, hacks, and shortcuts you can use to slash admin time and boost sales in your online store.
- Themes can help make your shop look beautiful and professional.
- Learning search engine optimization (SEO) can be the difference between a successful shop and a dud — make sure your website ends up in the top of search results.
- Utilize social media and creative content to drive sales.
- There are a lot of great tools and apps out there to help you research sales metrics and manage your shop — using them can make all the difference.
Use Shopify Themes to Create a Beautiful Store
Your online storefront must be eye-catching to attract potential customers.
Shopify has over 100 themes that you can use to customize your e-commerce site. Shopify templates include both free and paid themes and cater to a large range of industries. Even with little to no experience, you can create a professional online store.
When searching for a Shopify theme, you can see how other stores use it. This helps you decide whether it fits your e-commerce business well.
Check User Reviews
You can also check the comments for insights from other entrepreneurs using the template. Did they find the theme easy to customize? Are they in your chosen industry, and did they find the theme a good fit?
Scan the comments section for potentially helpful insights.
Customizing at the Code Level
There are plenty of customization options built into the themes. But if you know your way around HTML and CSS, you can customize Shopify themes even further.
Liquid is the template language powering the e-commerce platform’s themes.
It’s open source so you, or a web designer, can easily build your own theme. If you need to hire a web designer, Shopify even has a list of providers you can contact.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Now that you’ve built an appealing Shopify store, you need to make sure your potential customers can find it during their online search. Each day, customers are looking for products online and to be prioritized in the search engine’s results you must put basic search engine optimization (SEO) in place. This is where Shopify’s built-in features really shine.
Get Competitive Advantage via Keyword Research
Shopify offers plenty of opportunities to add keywords which are relevant to your e-commerce business. Before you do this, you must conduct your own keyword research.
New to keyword research and not sure where to start? Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner is a thorough and free keyword research tool you can try.
Once you’ve refined the keywords you want your e-commerce site to focus on, go ahead and add your keywords to your Shopify store.
You can add keywords to four elements of your page in order to improve SEO for your e-commerce store:
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- ALT tags
- A page’s body content
To give you an example, I’ll go through the steps for optimizing your meta description for search engines.
A meta description is the text under a page title in a search result. Get your products found in the search engines by optimizing your meta titles and meta descriptions in Shopify to include your main keyword for each page.
First, choose a theme that allows you to edit your metadata. Once you have a theme in place, you can edit any page. For the homepage:
- Go to “Online Store”
- Click “Preferences”
- Edit the metadata
For all other pages:
- Go to “Online Store”
- Go to “Pages”
- Choose the page you want to edit
- Edit the metadata
For individual products:
- Select a product you want to edit
- Look for “Edit website SEO” and click on this
- Edit the metadata
Keep your meta description under 150 characters, and make sure each page’s meta description is unique.
Avoid Duplicate Content
Pay special attention to avoiding duplicate content. Duplicate content could be the result of sites trying to manipulate the search engines to win more traffic.
To avoid penalizing small business owners who might have the same product descriptions on different pages, auto-generated canonical tags are added to the pages of your Shopify store. This is where Shopify will take care of a lot of the more technical SEO features for you.
Adding Your Sitemap to Google Search Console
Once you’ve added your keywords, add your sitemap.xml to Google Search Console (formerly called Google Webmaster Tools). This will include your site in the search engine’s crawl when it responds to online searchers’ requests.
You can find your sitemap in the root directory of your Shopify store’s primary name: example.com/sitemap.xmlShopify’s help section has detailed articles and video tutorials on finding your sitemap and adding it to Google’s Search Console.
Ensure Your Online Store Loads Fast
There are myriad reasons that faster site speeds are better for your e-commerce store. Faster response times are directly linked to higher sales volumes.
Speed also influences your search engine ranking, so faster e-commerce sites will appear higher in customers’ online searches. Use a free tool like Google Page Speed Tool to see how to improve your online store’s performance.
Tip: Free images from sites like Unsplash are popular, but beware. They’re usually very large files. These will significantly slow your site down. Be sure to compress images via a tool like tinyPNG before uploading.
For more tips, Explore this straightforward guidance from Shopify, complete with a downloadable guide, and you’ll be well on your way to success.
A landing page is the first thing customers see when they reach your website.
If you have never built a landing page before, the Shopify app store has several apps you can integrate.
You can put together a landing page with software like MailChimp.
Landing Page Builder is also an app available on the Shopify app store. It is easy to install and provides over 50 templates.
The user interface is a drag and drop builder. You can also customize the design and develop a unique creation from scratch.
Social Media Driven Sales
Social media channels are a great way to drive sales for your e-commerce business.
In its own analysis, Shopify found Facebook was the source of a third of all social media sales on the e-commerce platform.
Install a Facebook Pixel
One of the easiest ways to get started is to install a Facebook Pixel.
A Facebook Pixel is a piece of code you install on your website. It records valuable data you can use to better target your ads and reach customers who’ve already shown interest in your products.
Apart from tracking conversions from Facebook ads, the Pixel tracking data lets you:
- Show targeted ads to customers who have already visited your website. For example, if a customer has added a product to their wishlist in your store, your ad can display that product as a Facebook ad. Facebook ads have powerful targeting capability and the level of detail you want to include is up to you.
- You can also create lookalike audiences. These are audiences who are similar to your existing customers in terms of interests and demographics (based on Facebook’s data.). Because they share characteristics with your existing audience, it’s more likely they’d show interest in your products.
While Facebook dominates the stats for driving traffic to e-commerce sites, Instagram is another powerful sales-generating tool – especially if you know your audience is active on the channel.
Facebook has more users than Instagram but research finds Instagram boasts higher engagement. By integrating Instagram, you can turn ordinary posts into detailed ads.
One cool feature is the price of a product being displayed on the image. These product price tags are great for a visual medium like Instagram. This feature is only available in selected countries.
If you’re new to social media marketing and e-commerce, there’s a wealth of easy to understand tutorials and articles to help you along.
You can also visit the app store and get a tool like Kit to handle Facebook ads. Apps like Kit help you create Facebook and Instagram ads.
Don’t forget to stoke your inspiration. The Shopify YouTube channel features stories about successful store owners.
Publish helpful content relevant to your customers on your blog. Blogging about your products – and industry – can establish you as an expert in your niche.
You don’t need to see each blog post as a sales pitch. Instead, focus on delivering helpful and practical content.
To generate content ideas, think of the most common customer questions about your products and industries. You should also visit industry forums for inspiration.
How Long Should My Blog Posts Be?
When it comes to post length, try to aim for pieces longer than 500 words. Not only are those articles likely to be more helpful, but longer content also tends to rank higher in the search engine results.
Shopify’s help section has step-by-step instructions on how to add blog posts, and the interface is user-friendly.
If you need help with professional photographs to include, you can find high-quality images on Shopify’s Burst portal, pictured below.
Schedule for Future Publishing
As a small business owner, blogging and social media might not be your first priority. You’re going to be focused on running your business. However, posting regular content on these channels can help you generate regular, qualified leads to your site.
A good way to stay consistent on these channels is to schedule your posts. You could set aside a few hours a week and create your content in bulk.
Not ready to post a blog post, product, page, or collection? Set it up to publish in the future and streamline your workflow:
For products and collections:
- Go to the Products page and select a single product
- OR go to the Collections page and select a collection
- Go to the Sales channels section
- Click on the calendar icon
- Choose the date and time for publishing
- Click “Save”
For blogs and pages:
- Select the page or blog you want to publish
- Click “Visibility”
- Select “Hidden”
- Click “Set a specific publish date”
- Choose the date and time
- Click “Save”
Adding Images and Video to Create Engaging Content
Images and video will help take your content to the next level. Content with images and videos gets higher engagement and more shares on social media.
Shopify has a built-in toolbox to let you create stunning visuals to appeal to your customers.
Edit Product Images
Use Shopify’s Image Editor to resize images of products in your store and improve them so they look more enticing to shoppers.
- Choose the product you want to edit
- Click the image file and then “Edit”
You have a range of options to choose from:
- Enhance (to make an instant improvement to the image)
- Change the Aspect Ratio
- Change orientation
- Change the colors (saturation, tint, warmth, fade)
- Change contrast, brightness, shadows, highlights
- Draw on the image
- Add text to an image
When you are happy with the edits you have made, click “Apply” to save them.
Another good practice is to make sure all your images have detailed ALT tags.
You can get creative and add product videos. Since search engines and social media channels favor videos, your content will get increased visibility.
Consider adding how-to videos. These also have practical value for your customers.
Don’t worry if you don’t have shooting experience. Like with most features, Shopify’s app stores are a great portal for new businesses who want to use tech features to maximize their online store. Browse the app store for the right video tool.
Positive customer reviews are a vital marketing tool, as studies show they directly influence sales.
When you’re starting your e-commerce store, identify customers who are likely to leave positive reviews. Reach out and ask whether they’d consider leaving a review.
Social Proof Attracts Buyers
Customer reviews have a big effect on buyers because they are an important form of social proof.
- Download the Yotpo app
- Follow the instructions to add reviews
- No coding required
Yotpo claims to generate up to 3x more customer content (site and product reviews, photos) than its competitors.
The app has a free and paid version. The free option is designed for small businesses and comes with review request emails and options to display star ratings. A review tab and star rating can help increase conversion rates.
TIP: Buy the premium version for extra features including sharing reviews on your social account, display your star ratings in AdWords ads, Community Q&A feature, provide coupons in return for reviews, post replies to reviews, and more.
Reduce Abandoned Carts
Cart abandonment rates are notoriously high in the online marketplace.
Shopify suggests ensuring your checking process and account creation options are easy and quick to reduce the number of customers abandoning their carts.
Most top e-commerce platforms will help you reduce cart abandons and Shopify helps you automate the process.
Automating Persuasive Follow-Up Messages
Sometimes, your customers might get distracted and simply forget about their purchases. Shopify lets you configure recovery emails to remind customers about their carts.
You can reduce cart abandonment and make more sales with help from a dedicated app:
- Download and install the Instant Checkout app
- Follow the instructions to set up the app
- Shoppers can bypass the checkout page and make purchases immediately
Recart is another app you can find in the Shopify store. Recart claims 79% of all carts are abandoned and promises to help businesses reduce this rate to increase revenue.
When using Recart, an abandoned cart triggers a set of automated campaigns. This includes an email campaign, and you also have the option to enable push notifications to customers’ computers and phones.
Upselling products is a sure way to boost sales for your ecommerce store. After all, existing customers are far easier to pitch to: they already know and trust your brand.
Upsell products in your Shopify store to make more sales from existing customers.
Set it up to automatically recommend similar products to shoppers when they add a product to their carts.
When customers get ready to check out, the app will recommend products to customers.
Setting Up Product Recommendation Rules
How does it figure out which products to recommend? You configure a series of offers, depending on a combination of products or even which country the customer is ordering from.
In-Cart Upsell comes with an offer builder, and you put together a range of different types of offers.
- Offer a selected product to all customers at check-out
- Customize country-specific offers
- Display discounted or free products
- Target repeat customers
The app will continue to monitor the response to your offers to determine the most popular combinations. The built-in analytics tells which offers were accepted the most and the daily revenue it generated for your online store.
Split Test Product Pricing
Once you’ve got all the basics in place, you can start to refine your offering.
The top e-commerce sites are always testing to find the price and products that best serve their market. Split testing can help achieve a range of business goals.
Split Test Calls-to-Action (CTAs)
Split testing product pricing is crucial, but pricing is only one component of your complete sales strategy. You should also be testing your calls to action and other elements on your page.
Calls to action are very simple — they’re instructions to your audience to take an action. This could be to download an ebook or call your business for more information. Some stores observe a spike in click-through rates on their ads even with slight changes in their wording.
The copy you use for your CTAs can affect conversion rates. For example, you could get different amounts of sales with variations like:
- “Add to Cart”
- “Buy Now”
- “I Want It”
To split test the copy of your CTAs on a Shopify product page:
- Choose a testing tool that works with Shopify stores like Convert
- Add the scripts, choose your goal, and configure the test settings (most tools have detailed guides for Shopify stores, like this guide from Convert
- Run your tests
Convert’s software kit can perform several different tests including URL tests and personalization tests.
Optmizely is a more affordable Shopify app, and you get a free 7-day trial.
Optimizely will test for a few different experiences, including:
- Navigation bar
- Blog posts
If you’re new to A/B testing and you’d like to start experimenting with the concept, Google Analytics Content Research is a basic, free tool. While its features might not be as advanced, it’s a great starting point.
Find a full guide for how to run a test, or hire a conversion rate specialist to run the tests for you.
Make Use of Tags
While your storefront must be professionally presented to the world, you need to make sure the back-end is also well-organized to improve your own productivity.
Tags can save you a lot of time by labeling orders, customers, products, and more. Once you have tags in place, you can filter and search faster.
There are six types of tags to choose from:
- Draft Order
- Blog post
To add a tag:
- Open the product, blog post, etc, that you want to tag
- Go to the “Tags” section
- Enter a name for the tag (or choose an existing tag)
- Click “Save”
You can then search for a tag whenever you want to when using Shopify:
- Go to the search bar
- Type in the name of the tag
- Select from the results
Track Your Products With Custom Barcodes
Apart from great built-in features, Shopify has free tools to help you along your ecommerce journey. Some of these are aimed at entrepreneurs who are just starting out.
Shopify provides a custom barcode maker. It’s easy to use when you following quick steps:
- Enter your email address and the text you want to appear with your barcode
- In seconds, your barcode is generated
Other free tools include a logo and slogan generator.
Import Data Using CSV Files
While managing your store you might need to import large volumes of data into your Shopify store.
Use CSV (Comma Separated Values) files to import and export products, orders, and more to save time with large tasks.
You can create, edit, and export CSV files in a spreadsheet app like Excel or Google Sheets.
Use these to edit details of your products and import them directly into your store. This might be useful if you are switching to Shopify from another platform. You might also need to import customer details from one of your marketing databases for a campaign.
Once you have your CSV file ready:
- Go to Admin
- Click on “Products”
- Click on “Import”
- Click “Choose File”
- Find your file
- Click “Upload File”
NOTE: The maximum file size is 15 MB.
Track Your Shipping
Shipping is a critical aspect of your online store. You’ll need to research to find the best shipping strategy for your e-commerce business. And once in place, regular monitoring and evaluation will help you determine if it’s the right fit for you.
Along with tools to help entrepreneurs generate logos and business cards, Shopify’s package of free business tools includes a shipping label generator.
Automate Your Shipping Tracking and Customer Updates
Keeping track of your shipping and making sure customers receive their products on time is an important part of delivering good customer service. In the event of delays, you need to be aware of this — take the necessary action and communicate to your customer. Use Shopify apps to:
- Enable your customers to track their orders
- Create a branded tracking page
- Send SMS and email alerts automatically to save time
- Import all your shipments automatically
- Track deliveries with over 380 couriers
- Alert customers to different stages of delivery: in transit, out for delivery or delivered
- Filter your shipments by couriers, dates, statuses, and more
An important aspect of keeping your business in order is a proper invoicing system. Added to that, you should also provide customers with professional-looking invoices, preferably aligned with your brand.
Shopify’s free invoice lets you put together branded invoices in a matter of minutes.
Use Shopify Bulk Actions
Bulk Actions help you carry out multiple actions all at once, saving you time. You might need to complete bulk actions to fulfill large orders or publish a large volume of products.
To use these:
Go to Admin
- Select the items you want to edit
- Go to “Bulk Actions”
- Choose the action that you require
There are many bulk actions to choose from, with different options available depending on the Admin page you are on.
- Fulfill orders
- Capture order payments
- Archive orders
- Unarchive orders
- Add tags
- Remove tags
- App functions
Orders > Drafts:
- Delete draft orders
- Add tags
- Remove tags
Orders > Abandoned checkouts:
- Archive checkouts
- Unarchive checkouts
- Publish selected products
- Hide selected products
- Delete selected products
- Add tags
- Remove tags
- Add to collection
- Remove from collection
- App functions
Products > Inventory:
- Disable selected Gift Cards
Products > Collections:
- Publish selected collections
- Hide selected collections
- Delete selected collections
Products > Gift Cards:
- Disable selected Gift Cards
- Delete selected customers
- Add tags
- Remove tags
- Disable Discounts
- Enable Discounts
- Delete Discounts
Online Store Content Areas
The following areas are to do with your online store’s content.
- Publish selected blog posts
- Unpublish selected blog posts
- Add tags
- Remove tags
- Delete blog posts
- Publish selected pages
- Unpublish selected pages
- Delete pages
Navigation / URL Redirects:
- Delete selected redirects
Settings / Files:
- Delete selected files
Shopify Keyboard Shortcuts
Speed up your use of Shopify by mastering the many shortcuts available. To see a list of all the shortcuts, press “?” while you are in the admin area. To close the list, press “Esc.”
TIP: Where the shortcuts involve pressing multiple keys, press these in the order that they are displayed from left to right.
FAQS About Shopify
How long will it take for my Shopify store to start making money?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here because many circumstances come into play. First, it’s important to realize that there are already 600,000+ Shopify stores out there, almost 400 million Tumblr blogs, hundreds of millions of WordPress posts, and well, you get the idea. There’s no “build it and they will come” fairy dust available. But there are solid tactics that do work, and we’ve listed a number of them in this post. Most people give up early because they have unrealistic expectations of immediate or easy success. Online success — whether in blogging or in online sales — is a marathon endeavor, not a sprint.
Can I buy a Shopify store that’s already making money?
Yes. Visit the Exchange, a marketplace of existing online Shopify stores that are for sale. Familiarize yourself with how the Exchange works. You can buy starter stores, established businesses, print on demand shops, dropshipping shops and more. There’s a wide range of prices and revenue to choose from. You can sort stores by price, age, and business location. The cheapest stores are under $100 and the most expensive are over $10,000.
I found a Shopify store online that has a cool theme. How do I find out what theme they’re using?
Try a site like Shopify Theme Detector. Just pop in the URL of the store you like and you’ll discover the theme.
What free tools can I get from Shopify?
- Logo maker
- Business name generator
- Slogan maker
- Pay stub generator
- Gift certificate template
- Invoice generator
- Purchase order template
- Shipping label template
- Refund policy generator
- Bill of lading template
- Business loan calculator
- CPM calculator (for online ads)
- Profit margin calculator
- Exchange marketplace
Find out more about these Shopify free tools here and sign up for notifications of releases of new free tools.