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Some entrepreneurs are quick to claim the easiness of making money on the internet, but take heed: 90% of new online stores fail within their first four months of launching—a dismal statistic that speaks to the difficulty of entering ecommerce.
So if you’re trying to open an online store on Shopify or another platform, it only makes sense to do your due diligence. In other words, research those outliers that have succeeded. Look for patterns and commonalities in the stores that have prevailed, and continued to prevail, over time.
There may not be a universal secret sauce for guaranteeing your store’s success. However, by carefully studying some of the most impressive Shopify success stories on the web, you’ll certainly get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. For starters, we’ve gone ahead and rounded up seven Shopify stores worth checking out.
Let’s jump in.
UntilGone originally began in 2005 under the name “Yugster” and focused on one thing: consolidating the best deals on the web in one place. Shoppers can browse a curated selection of products like electronics, furniture, household items, and apparel.
In its own words, UntilGone strives to provide its customers “a tailored-to-fit-you shopping experience.” Besides identifying the best deals on products, it endeavors to create “a helpful, efficient, and personal approach to our customer experience.”
In this way, UntilGone’s mission is not just about finding amazing discounts for buyers; it’s also about providing an optimal customer experience. This is reflected in several ways:
UntilGone’s commitment to user experience is no doubt reflected in its stellar 4.5-star TrustPilot rating. An overwhelming 84% of its 10,500+ reviewers rate the site as “great” or “excellent,” praising UntilGone’s fast shipping and excellent customer service.
Invest in customer experience.
Consumers genuinely enjoy UntilGone not only because of its mission to identify the internet’s best bargains, but also because its team focuses on optimizing the shopping experience. Its very mission, after all, is dedicated to helping shoppers save both time and money. With UntilGone, buyers no longer need to spend hours combing through dozens of stores and vendors for a good deal.
If you’re not convinced, just check out UntilGone’s reviews. One happy customer writes:
“Site is easy to navigate. All items I’ve ordered are great. Good merchandise at unbelievable prices. Fast shipping and delivery. Will always shop Until Gone before I look elsewhere.”
Put simply, building a profitable ecommerce store isn’t just about making sales. Look for opportunities to improve your buyer’s shopping experience as well as your business’s customer service. Investing in these can take your brand the extra mile by guaranteeing return customers, a major potential boon to your business. After all, attracting new customers costs 6-7 times more than retaining current ones.
Goulet Pens, run by founders Brian and Rachel Goulet, caters to a niche audience with its wide inventory of fountain pens and writing accessories. The store’s not only for diehard enthusiasts, though. Besides marketing its products, Goulet Pens’s website is also laid out to inform and educate newbies about the world of fountain pens.
Notably, in its navigation menu, Goulet Pens offers a Shopping Guides page that features helpful resources like staff picks, lefty-approved tools, and a variety of gift guides for different types of writers.
To go a step further, Goulet Pens even provides resources like articles and video content all about the ins and outs of fountain pens.
The site’s audience thus isn’t limited to calligraphers and pen collectors; it’s also suitable for beginners considering a new hobby as well as loved ones who want to gift a pen, but do not know a lot about them.
Don’t underestimate the profitability of niche subjects. Pen enthusiasts may be uncommon, but they still exist—and without the competition of more saturated markets, they present a ripe ecommerce opportunity.
Not to mention, a niche may be more profitable than you think once you consider those peripheral to the target market, as Goulet Pens did with its shopping guides for those looking to gift a fountain pen. Consider these groups when marketing to maximize your business’s sales.
The women’s swimwear and apparel brand Cupshe was launched by a group that wanted to capture the beachy California lifestyle, but for more affordable prices. According to Cupshe’s website, it strives to “be the world’s largest and most loved swimwear focused fashion brand.” Thanks to its extensive content marketing efforts, it’s certainly on the way there.
Just take a look at its impressive track record of success. Since it was founded in 2015, Cupshe:
The secret to this success? Cupshe’s wide-reaching content strategy has likely played a major role.
Consider its incredibly active social media presence, which purportedly generates 35% of the brand’s sales. Cupshe regularly shares content and interacts with millions of followers across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat. In fact, its Instagram promotes a thriving hashtag where fans all over the world can share shots of their own Cupshe apparel.
But besides social media, Cupshe also regularly publishes content on its blog.
From styling tips to holiday-themed articles to beachy travel guides, Cupshe offers a well-rounded combination of timely and evergreen content for readers. The result? A dedicated following of readers who not only look to Cupshe for reasonably priced beachwear but also fashion advice.
Content marketing is worth the investment, as Cupshe demonstrates with its widespread content strategy. According to SEMrush, the ecommerce site ranks for nearly 20,000 organic keywords, including first page positions for phrases like “bikini poses” and “fourth of july swimsuit.”
These stats speak to the efficacy of Cupshe’s SEO efforts in its blog—but organic traffic isn’t the brand’s only focus. It also invests significant time into social media, made clear by its millions of followers across various platforms.
It’s thanks to this extensive content marketing strategy that Cupshe is able to generate strong brand awareness and visibility to land a constant stream of customers. Sure, not all bootstrapped ecommerce stores have the means to go all out like Cupshe—but you can at least start with one or two content channels in your marketing plan.
The mobile phone accessory store Spigen started out in 2008 with one goal in mind: to continually adapt its products to the ever-changing needs of modern technology.
What exactly does that mean?
Consider Samsung. The popular electronics manufacturer generally releases three to five new phones per year; in 2014 alone, it released seven. Though this certainly provides an exciting wealth of options for buyers, the proliferation of phone models also presents a challenge to anyone that buys a new phone but then can’t find accessories for it.
This is where Spigen saw an opportunity. It sought to provide cases and screen protectors for new devices as soon as possible, edging out its competitors along the way. Moreover, Spigen focused on breadth by creating products for a large variety of phones—just take a look at its navigation menu’s dropdown for a glimpse of what’s available.
Compare that to competitors like Otterbox, which offers products for a smaller selection of phone models.
But Spigen doesn’t sacrifice quality in order to quickly release new products; it also prides itself on innovative design. In fact, the brand famously developed a phone case strong enough to earn military certification from the U.S. Defense Department.
Spigen’s ecommerce success speaks to the importance of adapting quickly to customer needs.
Depending on your industry, your customers’ needs may change rapidly. For Spigen, it’s whenever a new phone model comes out. To make a name for itself, the brand adjusts its designs continually and works with manufacturers to offer a quick turnaround—and it’s because of this responsiveness that Spigen has been able to claim #1 on lists like Android Authority’s Best Smartphone Case Manufacturers.
It’s hard work to keep up with your customers’ ever-changing needs, especially in more dynamic industries. However, staying quick on your feet can separate you from your rivals, and make your store the go-to resource whenever another change or update occurs.
Founded in 2013 by Randy Goldberg and David Heath, clothing brand Bombas specializes in comfortable apparel, namely socks and t-shirts. Beyond its straightforward ecommerce mission, though, it also prioritizes giving back to the community by donating its products to the homeless.
Bombas makes this clear on its homepage as well as in a dedicated landing page to its charitable work.
What was the reasoning behind this generosity?
In 2011, Heath and Goldberg saw a post on Facebook about how socks were the most requested clothing item in homeless shelters. This fact struck a nerve—while other companies focused their philanthropic efforts overseas, Heath and Goldberg wanted to improve the lives of those close at home. They noted that homeless individuals tended to walk more but had limited access to washing machines; some even lacked shoes altogether. On top of this, Heath and Goldberg realized that when it came to clothing drives, socks were often an afterthought.
Thus came Bombas, a direct-to-consumer clothing company that promised to donate a pair of socks for every purchase.
The giveaway aspect of Bombas’s mission posed an issue to investors, of course, as it came across as costly and impractical. But the fact that socks in general have missed out on any innovation in the last century also gave Heath and Goldberg an opportunity to create a better product. The two worked to improve the standard sock by making tweaks in the toe seam, arch support, and more.
Sure, Bombas’ socks sell at a higher price than the average pair—generally beginning at $12 a pair. But knowing that you’re getting a better sock than the norm while also contributing to the greater good, each purchase feels well worth it. To date, Bombas has succeeded in donating more than 36 million clothing items to the homeless.
Corporate responsibility is more than just show. According to a buyer’s survey, 75% of consumers are more likely to shop at a company that supports a view they agree with. Ketan Kapoor, the CEO of Mettl, explains why:
“Whatever people purchase is an extension of their being and personality. When they are seeking products, they are not only looking at the direct benefits of the product, but also how it affirms their own beliefs and values.”
This notion is reinforced by the reputation of today’s younger generations—millennials and Gen Zers—as more socially conscious consumers that are drawn to activism.
And that’s exactly why Bombas succeeds. At its heart, the brand’s goal is to contribute good to the world—and its customers love that. Unlike previous generations, today’s consumers look for companies that value social impact, regardless of whether it’s taking a stance for environmentalism or gender equality.
Peak Design creates camera gear for travelers. Its story began in 2010, when founder Peter Dering embarked on a four-month trip around the world. During this time, Dering realized the hassle and inconvenience of toting around a bulky DSLR camera. After returning home, he spent 10 months designing a solution, which he then launched as a Kickstarter campaign.
The campaign’s rousing success eventually led to a full-time team and the beginning of Peak Design, which continues to look solely to crowdfunding instead of traditional investors. In fact, Peak Design proudly calls itself “the world’s most crowdfunded active company” and credits Kickstarter for helping it find “the most passionate, loyal, straight-up stoked customers in the world.”
Now the brand offers over a hundred products with customers all over the world, but it’s not just Kickstarter or crowdfunding that makes it successful. Peak Design deserves credit of its own accord—most notably for its success in email remarketing.
Whenever a customer abandons their cart on Peak Design—that is, adds items to their cart but leaves without making an actual purchase—the brand is quick to follow up. Thirty minutes after the user’s exit, it sends an automated email. This is nothing new in ecommerce; plenty of online shops use cart abandonment email campaigns all the time. However, Peak Design’s approach doesn’t follow the standard formula.
Rather than taking a salesy approach, Peak Design’s first follow-up:
(Image credit: Neil Patel)
If the user still hasn’t made a purchase within the next 30 hours, another email goes out—this time, offering a 5% discount to further encourage them.
What if the user still doesn’t convert? Nothing—Peak Design doesn’t send any more emails, even though best practices typically recommend three follow-ups in an abandoned cart campaign. Unusual as this may be, Peak Design’s head of marketing, Adam Saraceno, was deliberate about this decision; he didn’t want users to get irritated.
The result of such email remarketing: an average 12% recovery rate. Compare that to the average conversion rate for cart abandonment emails, which has hovered around 8-9% over the last four years.
Customers abandon their carts all the time for a variety of reasons: a long and onerous checkout process, unexpected taxes or shipping costs, worries about payment security, or something else. In the effort to reel back these users, many ecommerce businesses tend to get extra salesy rather than address the true underlying issue. This, in turn, drives users (and sales!) away.
When it comes to ecommerce email marketing, be extra attentive to your target audience’s needs. This is exactly what Peak Design does with its customer-centric remarketing emails. How so? It uses a smaller amount of follow-up emails—just two compared to the usual three—and focuses intently on customer needs. Doing the same for your store might mean recovering more abandoned customers as well as a stronger sense of brand loyalty.
If you’re a fan of the YouTube series “Hot Ones” by First We Feast, then you may have heard of Heatonist, “purveyors of fine hot sauces.” Though Heatonist runs a brick-and-mortar location in New York, its spicy wares reach an even larger audience through its online store and subscription service.
What makes the brand a worthy Shopify success story? Its tongue-in-cheek branding. Just take a look at Heatonist’s website. Hover your cursor over each displayed hot sauce bottle, and you’ll find language that playfully echoes that of more sophisticated wine connoisseurs.
Whether you prefer a hot sauce that’s “aromatic” and “herbaceous” or “hellish” and “peppery,” you’ve got a wide range of choices—and Heatonist makes it clear with these simultaneously entertaining and informative descriptors.
To go a step further with its wine analogy, Heatonist’s chatbot even invites visitors to talk to a “sauce sommelier.” It’s a fresh and humorous take on hot sauces—treating them with the same amount of prestige that’s typically reserved for wine.
This fun and lively brand voice doesn’t end with its website, though; it’s also apparent across Heatonist’s social media channels. Just check out its Instagram page.
Its Twitter follows suit by curating enthusiastic retweets about hot sauce, Hot Ones, and product-specific announcements. How does this all work in Heatonist’s favor? It’s the perfect example of brand consistency, which can go a long way in distinguishing a company from its rivals.
Creating a distinct and cohesive brand voice can go so far as to build community and culture among customers. Heatonist exemplifies this with its website and social media. But beyond these channels, it even gets more granular with details like:
And of course, it doesn’t hurt that some of its hot sauces have been used on a popular YouTube series. Heatonist owns this by creating a product page dedicated to the sauces seen on “Hot Ones.” Altogether, these branding efforts have an accumulative effect: they market not just a great product, but also a personality that fans enjoy.
It takes a lot to build a successful Shopify store, and while there are no shortcuts, you can at least study the best examples. Of course, how you adapt each of the aforementioned takeaways to your own store will depend on your product and industry, as well as your existing competition. Though no blueprint for a perfect store exists, you can use insight from these ecommerce victories to guide you in creating the next Shopify success story.
About the Author
Joyce Chou is a Content Marketing Strategist at Compose.ly, a content platform that matches businesses with seasoned freelance writers. Apart from managing and writing for Compose.ly’s blog, Joyce also contributes to other publications about digital marketing, personal finance, and business and ecommerce.
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