Themes and plugins

Which Shopify Themes and Plugins Are Best For Early Days?

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to offer your products or services for sale. There are many steps in getting to the decision. This article is one in a series of articles regarding selling products or services on Shopify.

Early Days
The early days of store ownership are exciting. When will the first customers arrive? What will be the first items sold? All kinds of openings are tried. In your town, the mayor or other dignitary might say a few words before the ribbon cutting. It’s an event!

More often, opening ‘day’ is really ‘days.’ Soft openings leading to regular hours are the norm in retail. Online selling is nearly always a soft opening approach. The mayor won’t be there at 9:30am. Unless you’re executing carefully planned ad campaigns, it is very difficult to attract hundreds of targeted visitors per day. Two percent of those targeted visitors might buy. But, generating traffic in the early days is a key to success. Then, visitors need to have a pleasant experience in your store. The products or services need to be highlighted and, if necessary, categorized in obvious attributes of color, style, size, use, or niche. Themes and plugins are the keys to building a store in the early days without needing developers.

What about themes?
Go to any site online. News. Shopping. Fashion. Social. Government. All of them have some common components, though implemented in different ways. Each of them has a menu, articles, links, a color scheme, and a footer. As you navigate through the chosen site, those components stay relatively intact. It is obvious that you are still in the chosen site. The theme is working properly. The colors, menu location, imagery, fonts, and visual appeal of the site comprise the theme.

Exercise: Using letter-size paper in portrait mode, draw the key components that visitors expect to see and use at your site: Menu, categories/collections, product page, footer options, checkout experience. It will take 4 or 5 pieces of paper and fifteen minutes. Boxes only, no reason to become a UI designer today.

An Early Days Exercise

Themes have unique features for creating an e-commerce store. Shopify provides a variety of themes, both free and paid. In the early days, a Shopify free theme is going to be more than adequate. A free theme is not the reason for failed attempts at selling a product or service.

Here are some features to seek when settling on an early days theme.

  1. Drag and Drop Sections – The modern way to build pages is by dragging and dropping blocks of functionality. Shopify has built-in functionality for menus, footers, links, product pages, cart management, payment processing, email collection, and other purposes.
  2. Product Tabs – The reason for having a site is to highlight products and services. Themes provide a default layout for product pages. Overthinking layouts before your first week of public availability is probably not a task that will lead to success in the early days.
    • Size Chart Integration – Apparel, shoes, prints, accessories all have size attributes.
    • Swatch Options – Early days are proof that white, black, and navy continue to be the top-selling colors in shirts and hoodies.
    • Product Sale Label – Competing on price is not a good strategy. Pricing displays are useful for audiences sensitive to sales prices and percent discount or original price.
  3. Email form – Successful resellers are united in referencing the value of their email list. It forms the basis of organic growth. The pace and volume of email list growth is an indicator to measure. Response via sales is obvious. Response via emails opened is an indicator of the subject line and content. The call to action can be measured if a link or button is clicked.
  4. Social Sharing – Content should be adjusted for sharing to social media accounts. Know the limits of headlines and copy for shares. Images are displayed differently, too.
  5. Styles of menus – Great ideas on improving menu layouts and options is researched regularly. Advances won’t come from an early days site development. Default menu locations and mobile options are available in all themes. Mega menus up to three levels deep are supported. Menu designs requiring more levels are user nightmares. Run away!
  6. Grid and List Modes – The modes show multiple products per row, or a single product.
  7. Product Image
    • Zoom – See details of a product by closely inspecting it via zoom, and then pan about an image.
    • Carousel – Some products are best shown in a series of images. Themes provide a way to select individual images or to align them in a specific order.
  8. Advanced Typography Options
    • Google Web Fonts Integration – Font pairings for headlines and copy are provided in themes for the early days. Designers have the option to include specific fonts.
  9. International
    • Multi-currency – Displaying prices in the local currency is not an early days idea. Know that foreign currencies – to you – are expected by international buyers.
    • General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the EU and the European Economic Area. The GDPR is an important component of EU privacy law and of human rights law. Selling in these countries requires specific actions. In the early days, selling internationally is not recommended.
  10. Search Engine Optimization
  11. Customer Reviews
  12. Policies
    • Shipping
    • Returns
    • Terms of Service
    • Privacy
  13. Site Branding
    • About us
    • Contact us
    • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Blog
    • Social media links

What about plugins?

Data collection

Other articles in the series, including recommended mentors, are Coming Soon. They include Early Days Estimating for Sales and Costs, Why Shopify Instead Of Etsy Or Amazon?, Analysis Requires Leaving Egos at the Door, Learn From These Folks, The Importance of the Facebook Pixel, and Holiday Sales.