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This is a Guest Post by Jamie Sutton. He runs Evolution Design and is a part of our Partner and Expert program. He has built many Shopify stores for his clients.

As a Shopify partner for the last 5 years, I have seen a common thread in how I sell Shopify to my customers as the platform to build their online business on. Many times I get customers who simply want to try a product or service to test what sort of public reception it will receive. Shopify is a very easy sell for any potential client that needs to proof an online business model. A concept site can be up in mere days using a free or paid theme from the Shopify Theme Store.

For this article I'm just going to hit on a few of the ways that you can consistently and successfully sell potential clients on Shopify as a solution for their online shopping presence.

Always size up your customer's needs and evaluate how to make the need match up to the solution. Luckily with Shopify that's really not a hard thing to do for small, medium, and yes! even large customers. We have amazing tools at our disposal.

Let's take an average shop owner... They have one central job: buying, selling and marketing their wares or services, and dealing with customers. Most do not have the time nor the inclination to learn more than the bare basics of what they need to run their shop day to day, and they shouldn't have to. It's our job as designers and developers to make their life easy. Easy is what Shopify is best at. Easy is a selling point. Let's look at "easy" for a minute.

  • The admin interface is easy and intuitive to explain to your customer.
  • If a site has been well coded and designed around your customer's needs then they will only have two admin areas that they need to look at day to day, the orders tab and the products tab.
  • SSL certificates? Taken Care of. They never have to think about this.
  • Software updates and server updates/security patches et al? Again, something they will *never* have to think about.
  • Hosting? Shopify is a hosted platform. Done, mark this off the list of anything your customer will ever have to deal with. 
  • PCI compliance? Most will never know, or need to know, what this even means, Shopify handles all of this.
  • Extensibility. A host of apps in the app store with more being added every month
  • In the hands of a well versed designer a site can be built entirely around a customer's needs.

On that last note, let's look at the role that you take on as the designer and ambassador/partner of Shopify. It is your job to transition the client into their role as online shop keeper. The better you do your job here, the more successful your customer will be. The better they are trained and transitioned, the less you will need to help them on a day to day basis, and the happier both you and your client will be. 

One vital part of this, and perhaps the most important is building the site around the customer's needs and building in a way that keeps things as utterly simple as possible. If a feature isn't needed then don't sell it. If a feature is needed, make it as simple as possible. Whether it's a lookbook, a calendar or a store finder, make it easy for the enduser to update. If they think they need a feature that is complex, examine it and convey a simpler alternative if it exists. Sell them on simplicity when possible. If, for instance, you know your customer has only the barest knowledge of the web and does not have a full time employee who does, then do not set them up a site that is too daunting for them to maintain, the likelihood of failure becomes too great.

In cases where a site has needed complexity, then theme settings are your best friend. Theme settings remove the layer of complexity between the code that powers a site and the content that populates it. It may take an extra day or two to fully embed a site with theme settings, but your customer will love you for it. The ease with which your client can update their Shop content independently will have you loving theme settings as well. Everyone is a winner.

As an example lets have a look at the anatomy of a successful Shopify site and some of its unique and complex layouts and how we can kill the complexity with some theme settings kindness.

Take a layout like http://www.huggalo.com/pages/causes. It's a fairly complex layout for a shop owner to have to update or change on their own. This could be a severe drawback, both for you and the customer. We all love our customers, but getting emails constantly for small updates and changes to pages like this is a drain on our time and a drain on the customer's wallet when we have to bill them. With the help of theme settings, we can make a page like this 100% editable, safely editable that is for a shop owner with zero knowledge of HTML. An empowered customer is a happy customer.

With theme settings, layouts like this can be modularized and duplicated easily. Lets have a look at the theme settings on this page and see all the ways we can make the layout as basic as possible for the shop owner to maintain:


And here is a mapped version: 


So what does this leave our customers to deal with on a day to day basis? Nothing more than any business owner the world around has to deal with: products and inventory and delivering their goods or services. The only thing left is keeping up their domain name, the equivalent of making sure the power bill is all paid up to keep the lights on.

As a Shopify customer, they can look forward to great support after you have finished the project. With personal assistance from a Shopify Guru and a toll free support number, you can rest easy knowing that your customer will be well cared for after they have launched their new shop.

Follow Jamie Sutton on Twitter.