If you are looking to build and run an online eCommerce store, then you are going to want to use an effective platform. Shopify is often touted as the best solution, but does it offer you the ability to completely customize your store? Having built and run numerous stores on the Shopify platform, I would like to answer this and other associated questions here today.
So, can you customize Shopify? Shopify was designed to enable complete customization. So, whether you want to re-design your stores home-page or individual product pages you can do so. You can customize your Shopify store by changing theme or making changes in the theme editor. Equally, if you can install apps to add customizations and functionality. It is also possible to learn the Shopify code language, Liquify, and customize your store this way.
Shopify is one of, if not, the largest eCommerce platforms. Its no surprise really – it is one of the easiest to use and has all of the functionality and tools you need in one place.
Online digital customers are forecast to exceed the 2 billion mark during 2020 (or in other words 25% of the global population).
Taking it one step further, there are over 500,000 active stores running on Shopify; and there are of course other eCommerce solutions out there.
So the importance to have an online store that gives you the competitive advantage is more important than ever.
One of the things I personally love about Shopify is just how customizable it really is. Let us know take a closer look.
How Customizable Is Shopify?
Shopify was designed with simplicity in mind. As such, it aims to provide all of the tools and functionality an eCommerce store owner would need.
If this functionality is lacking; then there are thousands of apps that have been coded and setup to step in and fill the gap.
The result is a powerful platform that enables you to not only build a professional looking store, but manage all of your business operations simultaneously.
While this may sound complex from a business perspective, from a technical perspective, Shopify was also designed to be very user friendly.
In fact, this is one of the main reasons I will always build a store on the platform. All it takes is a couple of minutes to sign up, there is a comprehensive free trial, and you can have a professional store running for you in under an hour.
You control your stores look and feel from the ‘back-end’, and as you make changes it appears on your store on the ‘front-end’. Its very clever. You literally have two separate interfaces – one in which you edit and update, the other where you see what your customers see and how they experience your store.
And Shopify have enabled customization abilities site-wide. This means that you are able to customize your home-page, other standalone pages (about us, terms of service etc) and all of your product pages
Better still, Shopify is a very intuitive and beginner friendly tool. All the changes you can make are in a clear, easy to follow visual editor. There is not need to edit or manipulate the underlying code (known as Liquify).
But, if you have a knowledge or desire to make changes to this code – its all available with a few clicks in your dashboard.
Shopify has in many ways been created with the store owner first; letting you customize your store to the look and feel that you want.
Its very easy to do so, and Shopify literally walk you step by step, even from the very beginning and the moment you sign up:
There are 5 free themes that a new site owner can leverage. These will give a base template and layout across your store.
The Debut theme is selected by default and enables you to quickly get started. The idea is that with this theme little to no customization is needed. Its all done for you. (But you can make changes if required of course).
The Debut theme, as the name suggests, is ideal for new store owners. Its minimal and ready to use right away. You just need to add your products, update your settings, assign a domain, setup payments and enter your business information. Then you can launch.
However, you can upgrade to a premium theme (with advanced functionality) if you wish.
You can get these off of the official Shopify Theme Store (easily accessible via the Shopify Dashboard). Alternatively, you can look at third-party developers and online marketplaces such as Themeforest.
Either way, themes offer you quick access to a pre-formatted store, but all of which are completely customizable.
Let us know take a closer look at how a Shopify Store owner could make some customizations and how easy it is to do so.
How To Customize Your Shopify Store
There are generally four main ways a Shopify Store owner can customize their store. These are:
- New Theme
- Editing Current Theme
- Installing Apps
- Editing Your Stores Code
Each of these different options serves a purpose and enables customization. The first two are most effective for beginners, whereas the other two tend to come in time as you become more advanced, familiar with the platform and as your requirements and business grows.
Getting a new theme is simple enough – all you need to do is purchase one from the Shopify Marketplace or through a trusted third-party vendor.
For the latter you will need to download the themes files and upload them in your Shopify Dashboard:
Its simple and easy to do.
I’ve actually written an article on the best converting Shopify themes following a lot of research, experience and testing. You can take a look at that if you are interested by clicking here.
Editing Current Theme
Once your have your desired theme on your store, from there its all about customizing it to your needs. This is where you can make it your own.
You can customize your theme settings easily and quickly from your Shopify admin by using the theme editor. You just need to click the customize button from the themes interface:
Once you’ve done so, you’ll be taken to the theme editor. This includes a real-time theme preview and a toolbar that you can use to add and remove content, and to make changes to your settings.
As you can see, there is a panel on the left hand side which outlines all of the different ‘sections‘ – where content types sit on the page and whats included there:
You can edit current sections and add more too. You can:
- Customize the Header
- Customize the Footer
- Customize Individual Sections (Images, Text, Alignment)
When you start a new store, you should go through each one to ensure your store looks and fits your unique brand.
Depending on what you sell, you may want to showcase your products. This is already a section included in the Debut theme as you will see below.
As you add products and make changes to the section, you can see them update and reflect on your store’s preview (in real-time).
You can also see how your store looks across different devices (desktop, mobile and tablet).
Once you are happy with your section, you can move on to your settings.
Here, you can further control the style of your store:
As you can see above, you have the ability to change the color scheme, text style, connect social media, and alter your checkout layout.
Applications are not for everyone, but they do offer extra functionality for those who require it. It may be a discount pop-up or it may be something more specific and specialized.
Either ways, there are a number of free and paid apps that you can install onto your store.
They’re very easy to add (and also remove if they are no longer required).
All you need to do is click on apps from the homepage of your Shopify admin area:
There are over 4,000 apps at present to take a look at and potentially use.
Some add small functionality boosts to your store whereas others offer integrations.
Either way, they do enable a store owner to do more with their store if required. Yet, they are not required and full store customization is available without them.
Most paid apps come with a subscription model and these charges will be added to your monthly payment.
Editing Your Stores Code
If you are a developer, or want to hire a developer, you can edit this code to change how your store looks and works.
In fact, when you install apps (or make any other changes to your store in the visual editor), the themes code is actually updating at the same time.
While it is not recommended to change your themes code, it is an option which is great.
Equally, its difficult enough to get to to protect your site, but accessible enough to make changes if required.
Again its from the themes page, and can be accessed via a dropdown:
Once you click this button you will be taken to the full code of your store. It works in many ways to other CMS’ (Content Management Systems) like CPanel (if you use WordPress).
Shopify is one of the best, most customizable and easy to use eCommerce platforms available for new store owners.
With a suite of eCommerce tools, it has literally everything you need to build, manage and showcase your products to a growing audience and online customer base.
The best way to gain the competitive edge is to enable a visually superior and effortless shopping experience. Shopify enables this, but how you customize your store, is ultimately going to be up to you.