If you're a small business owner looking to sell products online, you've probably come across various options for setting up your own website and starting an ecommerce brand. One platform that stands out from the rest is Shopify - the most powerful tool designed specifically for creating online shops.

In this blog post, I'll explore why Shopify is an excellent choice for small businesses and delve into the concept of themes in Shopify websites. I'll also discuss the exciting new features brought by Shopify 2.0 and how it can enhance your websites ecommerce performance.

And who am I to tell you all this? I'm Elle, founder of The Ecommerce Assistant. I empower founders of small businesses with the knowledge and understanding of ecommerce, enabling them to connect with more customers and grow their sales through teaching, coaching, training, inspiring, and guiding.

So, let's get dive in.

Why should small businesses choose Shopify?

Shopify provides an accessible and user-friendly platform that allows small businesses to create their own professional online shop without any coding or design experience required. Here are some reasons why it's great for founders just starting out:

It's easy-to-use

With its intuitive drag-and-drop editor and themes (or templates) getting started on Shopify is a breeze. The platform offers clear instructions and guidance throughout the setup process, making it simple to build your own website and start selling right away. 

It's scalable

Whether you're running a local boutique or aiming to grow into a multinational brand, Shopify has got you covered. It grows alongside your business needs, offering flexibility as you expand operations while providing stability at every stage of growth.

It's supportive

Shopify boasts a vast support network with ample resources available to help entrepreneurs succeed in their ecommerce journey. From comprehensive documentation to active community forums, there's always someone ready to assist you when challenges arise.

So what is a Shopify theme?

Now that you know why Shopify is an excellent platform for small businesses, let's dive into the concept of themes. A theme in Shopify refers to the template or design framework that forms the basis of your online shop. It provides a structure and layout for your website, allowing you to easily customise its appearance and functionality with your branding and tone-of-voice.

But, how do you choose the right theme?

With a huge amount of themes available on the Shopify Theme Store (currently around 170+) selecting one can be overwhelming and it's the most common sticking point I coach my clients through. Here are some factors to consider when you're choosing a new theme:

1. Design & aesthetics

Find a theme that aligns with your brand aesthetics and resonates with your ideal customer, starting with something that feels on brand will make it so much easier to customise.

2. Functionality

But it's not all about how it looks. You need to determine if the theme offers features essential to support your business needs. So if you want a free delivery countdown in the basket or you need easily clickable size guides on your product page then make sure you find a theme that already has these features. This will save you needing to find apps to do this or changing theme again in the near future.

3. Customisability

Ensure that you have enough control over customising colors, fonts, layouts, and sections within the chosen theme. It's so frustrating when you start using a theme that you later find out you want make simple changes to that will improve your user-experience, so check this right away.

If you need more guidance because the 170+ themes to choose from is making your brain hurt, check out my mini course How to Choose Shopify 2.0 theme (without the overwhelm) which takes you through the key considerations, provides you with video demos of my favourite themes and a really handy checklist to start working out what you do actually need.

What is Shopify 2.0?

Shopify 2.0 represents an exciting update to this already robust ecommerce platform by introducing significant changes to its operating system - particularly in relation to themes.

The power of sections everywhere

One notable addition brought by Shopify 2.0 is Sections Everywhere. This feature extends beyond the homepage customisation that you're familiar with and allows you to apply customisable blocks (or sections) across all pages of your online shop effortlessly.

Now you can personalise not only your homepage but also collection pages, product pages, about us page - essentially every part of your website using drag-and-drop functionality.

Enhanced functionality & improved performance

Alongside expanded customisation capabilities through Sections Everywhere, Shopify 2.0 introduces Metafields - enabling merchants to add customised content without relying on third-party apps or coding knowledge.

This is one of my favourite new features and allows you to create really personalised product pages featuring unique information about your products as well as collection pages that have a sophisticated filtering system. They can take a while to get your head around but once you do, they'll help you create a much more professional website.

As well as Metafields, upgraded themes under Shopify 2.0 offer faster loading times and simplified app integrations – streamlining overall performance while reducing reliance on additional apps.

Most Shopify websites I've upgraded to Shopify 2.0, have needed less apps (paid and free) which ultimately saves you money, time and contributes to a faster website.

How do you upgrade to Shopify 2.0?

If you're eager to experience the benefits of Shopify 2.0, here's what you need to know about upgrading your existing website:

1. Update your theme

Ensure that you have the latest version of your current theme or select a new one from the Shopify Theme Store. It's bad news if you're on Debut or any other older free themes as these are no longer available so you've got no choice but to choose a new theme.

2. Customise with your branding

Take this opportunity to review and enhance your website design, making it more aligned with your brand identity and optimising user-experience. Unfortunately, you're kind of starting from scratch so you'll be designing your theme again, don't worry though all your products, collections and pages are still intact.

3. Migrate content & settings

Copy over essential elements such as colours, fonts, sections, images, and configurations from your old theme to the new one. But remember that transitioning to Shopify 2.0 may require some time investment but provides an excellent chance for refreshing and improving your online shop.

How to personalise your Shopify website

While having a functional online shop is crucial, personalisation takes it up a notch by creating an engaging shopping experience for visitors. Because you don't want a website that looks like everyone else and often that can be the problem with using themes, they're just templates and without customising to suit your brand they won't look and feel like you.

Here are the essentials to consider when customising your Shopify store:

Fonts & colors

Choose fonts that reflect your brand personality while ensuring readability on different devices. Additionally, opt for a colour scheme that matches or complements your logo and reinforces brand recognition. If you've got brand colours, use them across the entire website, that means changing every single colour in your theme settings.

Navigation & menus

Crafting clear and intuitive menus helps customers easily find their way around your website. Tailor them specifically to showcase products or categories relevant to customers' interests and make sure there's no unnecessary gubbins!

Integrations

Leverage social media platforms by integrating links into prominent areas of your website such as your footer or product pages – showcasing active engagement with customers beyond just selling products. If you're using email marketing (which you really should be) make sure every opportunity to ask for customers email addresses is personalised to your brand. 

Optimise SEO

Pay attention not only to aesthetic aspects but also optimise key SEO elements like meta titles/descriptions throughout all pages - this will enhance search engine visibility and attracting organic traffic.

Shopify is the best ecommerce platform for small businesses

Shopify presents an incredible opportunity for small businesses looking to establish themselves in the world of ecommerce without breaking the bank or facing technical hurdles.

By harnessing themes effectively within the Shopify platform, you can create a visually appealing and personalised store that captivates customers. And with the introduction of Shopify 2.0, merchants gain access to enhanced customization options and improved performance. Meaning you can create a small business website that looks like a big brand!

Remember to invest time in understanding your chosen theme, exploring its features and personalising your shops design elements for best results.

With Shopify as your ally, you'll be well on your way to building an online presence that aligns with your brand vision while delivering exceptional customer experiences.

If you have any question, you can always contact me here or connect with me on Instagram.

December 06, 2023 — Elle Williamson
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Why learn from me?

Hi, I’m Elle. I specialise in all things ecommerce for small businesses selling and growing online. I created The Ecommerce Assistant to help busy brand owners make more sales on their online shop by teaching them how to use Shopify + Klaviyo.