Rehumanizing The Shopify Experience

Don’t get me wrong — Shopify is an utterly fantastic platform. While I don’t have ample experience with too many others and will have to admit that I was swooned by the immaculate customer service, it’s clear that Shopify reigns supreme in the top echelon of e-commerce platforms. 

A large reason behind Shopify’s efficacy is in its uber easy-to-use, templated and cookie-cutter approach to making e-commerce wholly accessible for innumerable users. It’s versatile, dynamic, simple and incredibly easygoing. That being said, such a far and wide reaching approach comes at a costly sacrifice – the ability to personalize, to humanize an increasingly synthetic experience between merchant and consumer.

While Shopify offers ample customization ability, those who don’t want to pay for an upgraded theme have less than a dozen templates to choose from – each with its own variants. But it’s not really about the lack of free themes. It’s about how everything it oriented towards selling a product rather than selling a brand, selling merchandise rather than a lifestyle.

Now, I’ll be the first to confess than I’m exaggerating just a bit. Shopify does great with its importation of imagery, blogs, social media channels, product organization, etc. But when it comes to humanizing the shopping experience for the consumer, something’s lacking.

Think of it by way of this lackadaisical analogy: that shire-like log cabin nestled comfortably in a charming neck of the woods that offers personable (and maybe even over-priced) souvenirs to all visitors entranced by the allure of this unique and eccentric haven for peculiarity; compare this to the modern, edgy, sleek but cold building that offers everything you need at a moment’s whim, a convenient and efficient experience trumping that of a personal and memorable encounter with a merchant or business.

Sometimes, not always but sometimes, that personal charm is everything and everything in an experience. And so, unless someone has ample resources to throw around or sufficient coding experience, their Shopify store may not reflect their proper intent and ambitiously unattainable design. In other words, a vision is settled upon amongst the templates of ease and convenience.

Let me reiterate that this isn’t necessarily a flaw of Shopify as it is a flaw of all e-commerce platforms – to lack the ability to truly humanize a shopping experience for consumers. Adjustments can still be made within the narrow confines of development that’s afforded to shop builders – blogs can elucidate meaning, striking visuals and inspired product collection-line strategies can breath life into the products but, truth be told, it entails swimming against the currents that most will find themselves floating atop.

So how do we inject as much personality into the bare bones of creation that we’re afforded? At the end of the day, it seems to be about capturing the imagination of the consumer and running with it.

- Product descriptions matter more than ever – a tiny window of opportunity to catch the imagination of the consumer. Each word counts: too many will render the whole description irrelevant, not enough will dull the sharpness and effectiveness of the hook.

- Visuals are the golden key to instigating a customer’s imagination – allowing striking visuals to immerse and entrance prospective consumers.

- The basics – font style and color, organization and layout – the overall design counts. Darker colors will create a more closed in atmosphere whilst light colors allow for a more open air, though sometimes light can look too artificial. All the nuances behind font selection, page layout – they truly matter to create a feeling behind the eyes of the consumer.

- Sacrificing – sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice simplicity in order to pursue the vision of a brand; sometimes it’s necessary to go against the grains of what typically works for most in order to stand out above most.

- Focus on the intangibles first – stay conscious of the general feeling, the brand, the mission statement of the shop rather than price points and inventory concerns – these should fall second in line on the priority scale.

- Lastly, aim ought to always be directed at the minds of consumers, not the wallets. To creative engaging content rather than convincing content because, while convincing alone can be easier said than done, engagement usually greases the cogs of persuasion.

All in all, many seller’s approach Shopify and other ecommerce platforms as though they’re creating the proverbial popup shop, selling a product rather than an experience. And this is fine, but many more want to sell more than just a product. Shopify can be, by all intents and purposes, reformed to sell much more than just a product. It can sell a lifestyle, a way of being, a feeling. This is, ultimately, how brands are formed – on the sentiments and passions of consumers, not the convenience or ease of purchasing.

Everyday, more and more people are embarking upon the very beaten path of ecommerce, largely due to the fact that it offers up a viable side-business opportunity; however, the more people, the more noise - and the more noise there is, the louder the creativity has to be, the stronger the brand has to be and the more personal the experience has to be.