Top Tips for Growing your Business with Shopify

by Keir Whitaker

on October 23, 2013

in Business/Freelance

Claire Gatenby is Operations Director at Squashed Pixel, a Yorkshire UK based web design agency. She is responsible for leading all Squashed Pixel’s Shopify projects, from the design phase through to the build stage.

Some designers might be discouraged by the thought of designing an online store. Just thinking about the work involved to make the shop experience run smoothly might be enough to put you off. Throw in the potential support you’ll need to offer the client afterwards and you might start seeking alternative projects.

But don’t despair – designing and building an online store might be the best move you could make for your business, and you won’t even break a sweat.

Squashed Pixel are a high quality website design and online marketing agency based in the UK Squashed Pixel are a high quality website design and online marketing agency based in the UK.

When you think of e-commerce, you might think of complicated to use platforms that don’t allow you the freedom of design that you really want or need.

Squashed Pixel are just one such agency who could easily relate to this. Prior to using Shopify, Claire was using Magento along with a variety of custom CMS platforms for her e-commerce projects.

Say Goodbye to Complexity

Whilst these platforms were incredibly powerful, the user interfaces were complex, which meant making simple changes and updates a complicated and frustrating process, especially for her clients.

“We believe in empowering clients so that they can take control of their own websites and businesses,” explains Claire, “without feeling beholden to a design company for updates.”

Claire went in search for a platform that would fit the bill, and she became aware of Shopify. “It was refreshing to see a platform that had been designed with the people actually managing the sites in mind.”

Since discovering Shopify – a hosted ecommerce platform used by over 70,000 stores, Claire and her colleagues at Squashed Pixel haven’t looked back, and it’s easy to see why – the statistics speak for themselves:

  • Roughly 60-70% of their work is Shopify-based and growing rapidly
  • About 30-40% of their work is generated via the Shopify Experts programme alone
Collect London by Squashed Pixel

Squashed Pixel worked on the theme build, custom functionality, content development, and product import for Collect London, all using the Shopify platform.

Make Shopify Work for You

There are a number of ways that Squashed Pixel make Shopify work for them, as Claire explains:

“Client satisfaction is first and foremost the most important element of a successful business. By providing clients with a platform that enables them to take control over their own site, the need to keep going back to the design agency for small changes and updates is eliminated.”

The benefits of this are twofold: the clients kept their costs down by being able to make changes themselves; and Claire found that as a business, Squashed Pixel was able to spend their time more wisely, finding new projects to work on and keeping the business healthy.

As well as ease of use, Shopify allows designs to be flexible, meaning clients really are able to get a site that very specifically suits their needs.

“We design the websites that we believe the client needs, and then make the platform fit the site, rather than designing a site to fit the platform. With Shopify we’re able to do this.” The result is that every site can be truly unique and tailored to each individual client.

“Become a trusted sounding board for your clients as well as being their site designers.” Claire advises, “We have a very laid back, friendly approach to working with our clients, and take the time to get to know them and their businesses.”

Squashed Pixel worked on the set up, and mass data and products import (consisting of over 4000 products) from a custom CMS

Squashed Pixel worked on the set up, and mass data and products import (consisting of over 4000 products) from a custom CMS

Useful Resources

  1. The Shopify Theme Store – With over 100 themes available it is a great resource not to be overlooked. “This is a fantastic starting point for clients with smaller budgets,” explains Claire, “allowing them to get a site online and generating money before having to worry about affording a bespoke design.”
  2. SublimeText 2 – “We’re massive fans! Combined with the Shopify desktop theme editor, it has made life so much simpler!”
  3. Shopify Experts – “The majority of our clients still come to us directly through social media and word of mouth, but the number of contacts coming through the Shopify Experts programme is growing month on month. At the moment between 30 – 40% of out work comes from this programme.”
  4. Ask for Help – If you get stuck anywhere along the design and build process, don’t be afraid to ask for help! “Make use of the support team and the forums, which are jam-packed with useful information and friendly experts offering advice. On the rare occasion the forums can’t answer your questions, the support team have always been quick and easy to get hold of and really helpful.”

Claire’s Top Shopify Tip

The app that Claire has been the most impressed with has been Yotpo social reviews:

“I can see how almost any site would benefit from this app, with the way in which it integrates with your site right through to the automated emails. It’s seamless and very professional – it allows users to rate and post reviews on your products and site, share them socially on their timelines and yours, and also sends automatic review requests and reminders via email to people who have already made a purchase through your site.”

Become an Expert

If you’re already using Shopify and have a few theme builds under your belt you’ll most certainly be eligible for joining the Experts programme. If you’re keen to get going you can apply to be an expert here.

If you haven’t tried Shopify and would like to learn more about how it can help you grow your business yet you can learn more by visiting shopify.com/fordesigners, a page dedicated to designer focused resources including 25+ short screencasts focused on building themes.

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About Keir Whitaker

UK based Shopify Designer Advocate, one half of Viewport Industries, publisher of Digest & co-host of The Back to Front Show podcast.