In 2021, two billion people purchased goods online. That’s over a quarter of the world’s population. Safe to say, eCommerce and doing business online is here to stay. But with the rise in online shopping, competition is brutal, and standing out isn’t easy when looking for the right audience.
So before you build (or rebrand) your store and start selling online, it’s essential to ask yourself three questions:
The answer might mean a departure from trusty store templates. (Sorry, template sellers, but hear me out.)
In the past, new stores were easy to set up to start generating online sales. Even today, the internet is awash with small business Shopify stores that are nothing short of cookie-cutter copies of each other, all sharing the same template, layout, and style.
While a templated shop is tempting for small business owners, hobbyists, and side hustlers looking to test the waters, a template could spell disaster for a brand that is serious about public perception and future growth but unwilling to hire a professional.
From layout to design, a lot goes into a successful store, and sadly, many brands are getting burned by the lure of templates to save time and money in the short term to avoid the cost of hiring a professional upfront.
Cookie-cutter templates might seem like a good solution, and they’re undoubtedly popular when building an eCommerce shop, but they’re plagued with problems for serious brands due to the lack of advanced features, inability to drive traffic and no targeted customer base to bring in the right customers.
If you walked past a store in your local town that looked tattered and cluttered, would you walk in or walk away?
The same is true for online stores. Your store’s appearance makes a huge difference to whether new customers place online orders with it or tap the back button and leave forever.
Traditional retail stores spend big money building a customer base and creating an atmosphere and experience that puts visitors into a buying state of mind to sell products and generate more sales The same psychology is played out online.
If your store looks like a template of every other store, does that inspire trust and brand affinity, especially in new markets? Not exactly.
And if your store looks like it was slapped together using ready-made templates, stock images (not your own images), and other “out of the box” designs, does that tell consumers you’re worth more than your competitors?
Another major factor to consider is that templates are not good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Driving organic SEO generated traffic to your site depends on how much custom, unique and professional work is put into the site. Marketing a site
A Stanford University (a highly regarded US university) study concluded that 46% of users judge a site’s credibility solely on the quality of its design. These include layout, fonts, font size & color schemes.
This proves that people buy with their eyes when browsing for items online. Whether they can try on the product they’re interested in or test a sample as they would in-store, all they have to go by is the design of your website which is a major factor in the success of the website .
Don’t sabotage your sales and business identity with a store built on “cookie-cutter” templates, instead invest in a professional with coding experience and start building a site and watch your business grow.
A custom store build website will carve out your identity, grab attention, and show customers you’re unique, passionate, proud, and serious about quality, and you put your customers first.
Visual components on your website, such as the colour scheme, typography, and image choices, don’t just lend credibility to your product or service but create an overall image for your brand.
Developing a strong brand will help you attract customers that want to buy your product and result in the success of your business.
A custom-built store also makes you memorable. It allows you to create a shipping experience that’s cohesive with your brand style, including colors, fonts, graphics, logo & more.
While templates can be modified, you’ll always work from the same baseline as your competitors and you won’t be able to customize your website. With a custom store, you can build something that cuts through and shows the world how unique your brand truly is and generate sales.
Many eCommerce store templates are notorious for poor navigation, slow loading times, and high abandonment rates. You’ll lose customers left and right if your online store is hard to navigate.
Meanwhile, a professional customised store makes it easier for visitors to find what they need, as experts will build it into user experience (assuming you choose the right provider!)
When you hire a professional developer with coding experience and a designer to build your store, you get full after-sales support to ensure that your company can manage the store effectively (i.e; manage inventory, integrate with other apps, add new products, use third party tools) and that the store continues to work correctly.
With templates, the opposite is often true; you buy an “out of the box” solution that’s sold as seen with no SEO support, no way to increase online presence and drive traffic to your website.
In some cases, you might be offered support for your template, but it’s unlikely to be the close, attentive and dedicated support your business needs.
Templated Ecommerce stores may look pretty on the surface, but they’re often incompatible with mobile phones and tablets (they are not built with responsive design built-in).
And those that are will rarely stay that way as technology (web browsers and operating systems) change over time.
Custom ecom stores are built for compatibility today, and good developers offer ongoing updates for future changes.
Templates don’t always offer a compatibility guarantee and are likely inferior in performance to a custom store.
Custom-built stores can also harness the latest SEO optimisation tactics and Google algorithms to help your business appear in Google, particularly if they’re correctly optimised for mobile.
As we discussed earlier, a template store often leads to a poor brand experience, where your brand blends in with everyone else.
There’s a reason why Coca-Cola, Mitsubishi, Mastercard, and many other brands spend several thousand dollars building custom websites (and it’s not just because they love spending money.)
While templates may offer a few customization options for your website, they often do not allow for full flexibility in design and functionality.
This can be a major drawback for businesses that want to create a unique and personalized online shopping experience for their customers.
A custom ecommerce store build, on the other hand, allows for complete control over the design and functionality of the store, making it easier to tailor the shopping experience to the specific needs and preferences of the target audience.
This can be especially important for businesses that want to differentiate themselves from competitors and stand out in a crowded market (and is a key differentiator when it comes to SEO).
Customization options can also make it easier to update and maintain the store, as businesses can make changes and updates as needed without being constrained by the limitations of a template.
Other advantages of a custom store are the ways in which it can fir what is right for your company. Such as email marketing tools, inventory management, easy ways to integrate with your accounting system, simple solutions when it comes to the price of your product and sale options for your items.
Investing in a custom store build can provide greater control and flexibility in creating a unique and engaging online shopping experience for customers.
Today, it’s harder than ever to stand out and be remembered. Even the major brands realise that without a custom approach to their website, it could mean risking their brand, showing the world that this company is willing to cut corners and cheapen themselves to save money. The same is easily true for your store too.
Remember, store templates might save time and money. Still, thousands of other stores will use the same template you’ve just chosen, making your brand generic and potentially harming your credibility as well as organic visibility on Google (SEO).
Another advantage of a custom-built eCommerce store is that you can modify it without limits.
Unlike templates, where modifications and predefined, and anything outside those set options would mean breaking it apart and rebuilding it how you want.
In this case, you should build a custom store from scratch, as it will be easier in the long run and give you more control and a stronger brand image from day one.
However, if you must use a template, then you should at least follow a few rules. Never use a completely free one. Remember, nothing is ever free and if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. You will need to invest some time and resources and go through a process to find a website template that works well for your business and can, above all, generate sales.
In conclusion, using a cookie-cutter template for your eCommerce site/shop can be detrimental to your business. While it may seem like a convenient and cost-effective solution in the short term, it can ultimately damage your credibility, weaken your brand, limit your growth potential, damage your SEO and fail to drive traffic and sales. On the other hand, investing in a custom store build can set your business apart, establish a strong brand identity, and ultimately drive more traffic to your site and sales. While it may require a higher upfront cost, the long-term benefits of a professionally designed and customized store can be worth it for serious businesses looking to grow and succeed in the competitive world of online shopping.