Top Shopify Stores: Emerging Success Stories in Some of Shopify’s Top Selling Categories
- TRIM Apparel
- Rocky Mountain Decals
- Hello Hair
- Mini Melanie
- Blankie Tales
Is there a magic formula that will allow a prospective ecommerce entrepreneur to distinguish themself from the crowd? Experts will often offer platitudes or insights that can seem commonplace and cliche.
Of course the business owner needs to be mindful of budgets, marketing, production, sales, etc. But when focussing on smaller and emerging businesses, what’s important is passion and history. The easiest way to break conventions is by telling your own unique story; through this, discerning customers can relate to your brand and feel a connection to your business beyond a consumer basis.
Leverage what makes your business special, and share your inspiration to connect on a more human level. You can read a million blog posts or articles from experts but none of them will ever be able to gauge the impact your personal story will have on your customers.
My point is that everyone has a story, and although there are risks and considerations outside of our personal lives, it’s always worth it to take a calculated risk and bet on something you believe in.
This article is not another “Top 10 Tips You NEED to Know About Ecommerce” or “100 Top Shopify Stores in 2018”. This article is to celebrate the small businesses that have grown by sharing their own stories through the Shopify platform and to demonstrate the potential of Shopify no matter what the business model, location or selling category.
To garner some inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of 10 emerging stores started within the last 5 years. We will share with you, dear readers and future ecommerce titans, the personal stories behind these stores and what they have done to achieve success. We’ll also take a look at the design and function of their stores so you can get some ideas for when you start your own.
Enjoy the read.
10 Top Shopify Stores Started in the Last 5 Years
Company: TRIM Apparel
Location: London, UK
Category: Fitness Apparel
Store URL: www.trim-apparel.com
“We identified a gap in the market for affordable premium activewear. Activewear that could be worn to the gym, but also stylish enough to wear out on the street. We custom design each product from the ground up here in the UK. My wife designer the womens range and I created the mens, it was a great collaboration of creativity to create the entire 42 piece range. The products we manufacture in China.” [Shopify, 2018]
Here is a perfect example of a husband and wife team that saw potential and went for it. Sales for this family duo were made organically, starting at consumer expos and then growing the brand through social media. They now generate most of their sales through pop-ups and alternative forms of online advertising to drive traffic to their store.
To learn more about how social media can help increase sales on your store, you can request Shopify’s free social media reading list here.
TRIM uses a variety of Shopify apps to improve the functionality of their store including an auto currency converter and the Better Coupon Box app to attract their customers with offers of free shipping and other promos.
Let’s take a look at the Trim Apparel store:
TRIM uses a custom theme to offer a sleek and modern look to their site. The homepage features a slideshow, featured products and clear tabs on the header linking to their collections. It is easy to see why this has become one of the top Shopify stores so rapidly.
Here is their women’s collection page. Clear photos and prices, stock and promotions listed underneath.
The product page gives the user all the information about the selected item. This includes a description and materials. Once a size is selected, adding the item to the cart is done with one click.
The store automatically knew which region I was in, and informed me of a tax exemption in the local language. This is a good feature because it will do the same for customers in other regions as well.
Here is the order summary and checkout page. We can see that TRIM uses Shopify Payments to accept all major credit cards, and also uses a Paypal gateway.
Top Shopify stores of course need to be highly responsive and fast on mobile devices. Shopify comes optimized for mobile and I’ll include a screenshot and comment on how each store felt on my smartphone. TRIM lost no functionality or design quality on mobile, the site was super fast and the layout was very intuitive.
Here’s what the owners at TRIM suggest to new ecommerce owners:
“To build a business around something that you love and have passion for. If you work on something that you have passion for rather than focusing on the money you can earn is one of the most important factors in making your business a success.”
Location: Palo Alto, CA, USA
Category: Crafts & Jewelry
Store URL: www.dualitas.com
“Dualitas was born from the desire to expand upon the traditional notion of jewelry. Beyond adornment, each piece includes stones that various cultures have believed hold various metaphysical qualities which have a positive effect on the wearer. Our collections were all conceptualized and designed in Palo Alto, California and handcrafted in the gem capital of the world – Jaipur, India. We use natural and hand cut stones.”
Dualitas generated first sales through social media and help from Google Marketing Platform. They have also achieved a lot of word-of-mouth businesses, largely due to their unique product and philosophy.
Download Shopify’s ultimate guide to shipping and fulfillment here.
Here’s a look at Dualitas Shopify store:
This store was beautiful, relying largely on the great photography that really highlights the products and gives a sense of well-being following Dualitas concept.
A list of the various collections offered on the store.
Great collection page using the same technique by drawing the users eye to the products.
I was also impressed with Dualitas on mobile. The photos filled the screen without obstructing anything else. The loading time were very fast as well.
Dualitas owes their success to constantly trying to improve:
“Continue striving to improve; there is always work that can be done to make the website function/look and feel better! Also linking up social media, retail, and any other channels of communication is key.”
Company: Rocky Mountain Decals
Location: Thunder Bay, ON, CAN
Category: Home Decor
Store URL: www.rockymountaindecals.ca
“I needed a cute wall decal but couldn't find any that suited my space. Everything on the market was too bland, outdated or costly. After much online and offline research I realized I wasn't the only one having trouble finding fun, quirky wall decor. That's when Rocky Mountain Decals was born! I began producing cute wall decals for kids, and kids at heart. Our popularity grew exponentially within a few months. Now, our vision is to inspire moments of childish joy and to provide wall makeovers worldwide! Our decals are made from the highest quality US vinyl, and cut in-house. They are completely removable, making them perfect for renters and those who like to change up decor regularly!”
A fascinating approach by a mother who wants us all to reconnect with our inner child. Rocky Mountain’s first ever sale was through a customer seeing the product on their Instagram, and it has grown to be the source of about 80% of current sales. Referrals and blog posts are the second major source of traffic.
Thanks to the owners bright personality and keen eye for “lifestyle” photography she was able to successfully establish this brand image through social media.
Rocky Mountain also uses the Better Coupon Box app and handles all shipping internally. They counteract inefficiencies with national postage services by guaranteeing that all orders are shipped within 48 hours of order. This is a great tip for new entrepreneurs when starting small - you can count on yourself (usually)!
This is how the Rocky Mountain Decals store looks:
A really clean and bright homepage suits the brand very well. The “React” Shopify theme was used to design this store. The homepage displays featured products and customer testimonials.
The collection page allows the customer to really see the artistic value in the decals.
The layout on mobile was really sharp, and I suspect this may be due to the theme that was used. There was no lag or disorganization when browsing the store from my phone.
Here’s advice from the owner at Rocky Mountain Decals:
“We would recommend new store owners to really focus on 1 or 2 media channels. Instagram and Twitter have worked really well for us in terms of conversion rates. Posting to multiple media outlets is time-consuming however, so for a small business just sticking to a low number of media ensures you have enough time left over in the day focus on other business aspects.”
Location: Brighton, UK
Store URL: www.onske.co.uk
“We felt there was a gap in the market for retailing a curated collection of high quality, contemporary, designer inspired and industrial-style furniture together on one website with a very personalised service, rather than a high volume sales driven site with poor service and delivery times.
We contacted suppliers both in the UK and overseas, established trade accounts with them, went to trade fairs and did a lot of online research into the companies we wanted to trade with. We are very picky about what suppliers we use, as quality is of paramount importance.”
Onske used a mixture of social media and Google analytics to make sure that their name was appearing in customer searches. Now that they’ve grown, a lot of their business is generated through email or phone inquiries from clients with large orders.
“We find Shopify brilliant as an ecommerce system. It was easy to learn and navigate, and its reporting is first class with Google Analytics linked.”
Onske use the built-in Shopify blog page and the Mailchimp app to manage subscribers and newsletters. Because shipping furniture can be arduous with varying weights and dimensions, they’ve chosen to facilitate shipping internally, working with couriers and parcel services to get products out within 3 days.
They also emphasize quality customer care, making sure that the customer always has recourse if they are not satisfied and that they receive immediate attention. They do this by not only relying on Shopify’s auto-generated email confirmations, but by also following up with each customer personally to clarify when they can expect delivery and making sure any other details are clearly communicated. The client testimonials for Onske clearly reflect this extra effort.
Onke’s sharply designed site looks like this:
My first impression of this store was that the homepage looked quite “busy”. What I mean is that the design doesn’t utilize quite the minimal style that seems to be the trend with most others nowadays. But once I looked closer, I realized all the words you see on the screen are valuable information that will help the customer navigate the site and decide on products more easily.
Here is the collection page, again with great descriptions listed below each item.
This page was immediately accessible from the homepage. I like that they have a clear guideline to their shipping and return policies. Because shipping large pieces of furniture is much more strenuous than shipping clothes, it’s important that these methods and policies are clear to the customer.
As with the other stores so far, Onske was a pleasure to use on mobile. This screenshot is of their customer testimonial page.
Onske has this to say to new Shopify entrepreneurs:
“Having an online business has the same challenges as a brick and mortar store in many ways. Keeping your retail display fresh - online this means updating stock images and online content. Customer service; interact - don't leave it all automated. Setting up the business will take more time than you may anticipate but it will be worth it - as with anything - you will get out of it what you put into it.
We still get a little smile when we are out and about on Brighton beach on a sunny day and our Shopify mobile app sends a notification to our phone, showing a dollar sign and telling us another order has been placed.”
Are you impressed with any of the stores you’ve seen so far? Remember you can register for a 14-day free trial at any time and start building your own store.
Location: Camberley, UK
Store URL: www.novanym.com
“We’ve been working in creative marketing and branding for more than 20 years, and we were increasingly being asked by clients to develop brand names that had a perfect .com domain. We realised that the vast majority of startups really struggle to find a good business name with a domain that didn’t rely on awkward compromises. Although there are countless domain sellers out there, we couldn’t find anyone who seemed to take branding as a start-point. The names that were available to buy were mostly bizarre creations that had no realistic potential as brand names for real businesses. So we decided to fill the gap ourselves. We make the naming process less painful for startups by providing a pragmatic and straightforward branding solution that is more like a retail experience than an agency experience. We have a real advantage here. Because we’re experienced branding creatives, we develop all of the business names on our store ourselves and design all of the logos, too.”
Here is a prime example of some experienced people recognizing the potential of Shopify as an avenue to offer business services rather than sell tangible products. Novanym made their first sales using pay-per-click advertising which now comprises about 50% of their revenue. They also stay active on social media and contribute regularly to publications, generating referral sales. These combined with email campaigns allow Novanym to maintain a steady stream of traffic to their online store.
Novanym follow SEO principles and use Mailchimp and Tidio Live Chat on their site.
“Needless to say, the Shopify app is invaluable, and gives us easy access and control over all parts of our store, wherever we are. Our business model means that we don’t have a physical product to deliver. When a customer purchases a business name from us, we send them a unique code which allows for the transfer of the .com domain from us, to them. We also email them a full set of logos in a range of digital formats. So all fulfilment is handled by email!”
This statement from the Novanym owners clearly displays the value of Shopify in giving the merchant full control and convenience over how to run their business.
Here’s Novanym’s store:
Though the design is somewhat basic, what’s important is what Novanym has placed on the homepage. Immediately below the main image, there is a grid from which you can select a style or sector and begin the process of getting a one-of-a-kind name for your business.
Here is the grid mentioned above. This store gets straight to business without the need for “fluff” or unnecessary filler on the site.
No surprise here - the Novanym site functions flawlessly on mobile. Here is a screenshot of their blog section viewed from a smartphone.
Here’s Novanym’s tips for success on Shopify, even outside of retail:
“We’re improving our site all of the time, and we’re getting better at managing the site and driving traffic to it. So we’d say that best thing to do is to get up and running with a good product or service - then start making it better. Don’t wait until everything is perfect. Shopify is great for this, because from day one, everything works and looks great. We’d also say that Shopify isn’t just for retail businesses! I think we’re proving that it’s also great as a business-to-business platform, too!”
Company: Hello Hair
Location: Melbourne, AUS
Store URL: www.hellohair.com.au
“Hello Hair came about after realising we'd been endlessly searching for an all natural hair mask, which wasn't filled with chemicals and preservatives. While many salon treatments, serums and masks claim to be all natural, we were disheartened to discover that they all contained ingredients we could barely interpret, let alone pronounce! We created the Hello Hair Hydrating Mask to help our own distressed tresses - damaged by years of colouring, heat styling and environmental stress - and were so impressed by the softness, shine and new-found manageability of our healthier hair, that we knew others would fall in love with the product too! www.hellohair.com.au exclusively sells Hello Hair products that we have developed ourselves. Hello Hair prides itself on being Australian owned and Australian made.”
Hello Hair had a significant Instagram following which contributed to the majority their sales in the beginning. Peer-to-peer marketing has also been an effective technique for them for getting people talking about their brand. They use their presence on all social media platforms and are constantly exploring new avenues for increasing awareness of their brands quality.
“Shopify has been a game-changer for Hello Hair. It's very hard to imagine if our business would have had anywhere near the levels of success without us using the Shopify platform from day one.”
Hello Hair uses all the built-in Shopify tools highly effectively amongst a few other applications, while shipping is an ever-evolving process as they seek to completely refine their best processes. As shipping from their base in Australia can be conducive to longer shipping time, customer feedback on how they can improve the experience is integral to their consistent growth and improvement,
Let’s take a look at Hello Hair:
I landed on a region selection page when first visiting Hello Hair. This is a great tool for the owners to assess where traffic is coming from and adjust their strategies accordingly. New entrepreneurs should definitely consider a similar tool to better understand who your customers are.
With this site, things got a bit dodgy from the beginning. If you take a look at the above GIF you can see that this homepage is seriously loaded with photos and information. Unfortunately, this significantly increased the initial loading time and actually caused me to have to refresh once before I could view the entire page.
New store owners take note: your homepage should be attractive and only contain the essential information that you need your customers to see. The “less-is-more” principle applies, just make sure your customers can clearly navigate to other pages from the homepage.
Here is the collection page from Hello Hair. Clean and clear.
Though the site looks great on mobile, the same issue from above applies. A huge amount of information loading simultaneously from the homepage is burdensome on the processor, especially on a smartphone.
“Ask questions! Take a look at your business from a customer perspective, so that you can deliver what's missing from their lives. Great customer engagement is so important in today's marketplace, and your customers are usually delighted to offer their opinion.”
Company: LOOP Phone Strap
Location: Gatineau, Québec, Canada
Store URL: https://phoneloops.com/
“I was constantly dropping my smartphone on the floor, inevitably leading to one dysfunctional device. I then started to look over solutions to solve this common issue that mobile users have. It all started in a pub, with a straw and my broken phone. I developed the prototypes in-house with the help of 3M Innovation representatives. Soon after I partnered with local suppliers and labor companies, then with promotional product suppliers in Canada, then USA.”
This a simple product borne of necessity, but it’s sometimes the simplest ideas that make the most sense. This practical strap prevents users from dropping their mobile devices, especially when using them with one hand.
First sales were made through word of mouth, then quickly expanded to social media. Now the bulk of their sales are made from their Shopify store. They also ran a Kickstarter campaign to attract attention and acquire their first significant order.
Here is another example of a store thats homepage is loaded with a lot of high resolution images. It’s always worth it to consider whether this is affecting the stability or loading times of your site. That being said, it’s a very well designed homepage.
Simple product that is customizable at the customers will. This makes it very easier to organize logistics.
LOOP suggests clarifying your marketing goals clearly to improve traffic to your store:
“Elaborate a marketing strategy - a cute store with no traffic is not useful. Think of a functional and effective user experience before style. Choose a template that quickly serves the features and style you need without too much customization.”
Company: Mini Melanie
Location: New York, NY, USA
Category: Food & Beverage
Store URL: www.minimelanie.com
“I started a boutique baking business in late 2014 in New York City. I have a background working in Michelin-starred restaurants, and I had always wanted to start my own desserts company, selling unique high quality sweets. I've always been in love with the beauty of jewels, and I wanted to create chocolates and mini cakes which are as celebratory as pieces of jewelry - but which taste as excellent as they look. After almost a year of recipe testing, we achieved this and created our signature jewel truffles and mini cakes.
Our products are produced at Hot Bread Kitchen in New York's East Harlem. It's a wonderful incubator kitchen for small food businesses. We receive our ingredients from wonderful local vendors and bake our cakes and create our truffles each day. We do deliveries in New York City from the kitchen and ship nationwide as well.”
Here we have someone with prestigious industry experience that had an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to go it alone. A community-driven, wholesome concept to supplement a really neat product.
Instagram and Pinterest were the driving force behind Mini Melanie’s first sales. They’ve received a lot of local interest, advertised on Facebook and Yelp, and also been featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan.
They use the the Quantity Breaks and Local Delivery Apps to simplify and expedite their pricing and delivery models. They use a company called Periship which specializes in the shipment of perishable food items to fulfill long-distance deliveries.
Here’s what the Mini Melanie site looks like:
Nice looking store with some seasonal imagery and featured products. They also include publications that have written about them in the past - great way to boast about your success without being tacky!
The collection page. I like the uniform photography.
The mobile experience was very responsive and aesthetic. Here is an example of their catering page viewed on a smartphone.
Mini Melanie suggests taking advantage of the theme store to supplement your store:
“Research the theme store in depth. There are so many great options it will be hard to choose, but you'll want to explore the functionality of each closely.”
Company: Blankie Tails
Location: Bristol, PA, USA
Category: Toys & Games
Store URL: www.blankietails.com
“I saw a post on Facebook of crochet blankets in the shape of mermaid tails which had gone viral. No one was commercially making mermaid blankets. I thought I should jump on the trend. Facebook just did my consumer testing and told me there was demand! First thing I did was reach out to two fellow entrepreneurs who had experience in manufacturing and distribution (consumer goods). I said I've got the vision if you can help execute the logistics. Two weeks later production began.”
It’s great to be observant like the owners at Blankie Tails. They recognized a viral trend and had the business sense to notice that it was not being produced commercially. There was no time wasted in launching this great brand.
Initial Facebook campaigns proved immediately fruitful due to the current market trend and desire for the product. Since then Blankie Tails utilizes all social media platforms to advertise their products.
Here’s a quick tour of the Blankie Tails store:
Blankie Tails has a fun design but experienced some of the same increase in load times as Hello Hair.
Cute photography showing off the variety of products.
The design appeared to change when accessing the site from a mobile device. This tells me they’ve taken the time to adjust the code to optimize it for mobile users. This is good idea, especially when considering the homepage was a lot for a computer to handle.
Make sure that your customers are given ample opportunity to make purchases, say the owners at Blankie Tails:
“Give your customer as many opportunities as possible to buy on your ecommerce website. If your goal is direct-to-customer sales, be a social media lunatic. Don't get hung up, continually re-evaluate your traffic and conversions and adjust accordingly.”
Location: St. Louis, MO, USA
Store URL: https://greetabl.com/
“greetabl is a greeting card that quickly folds into an adorable gift box allowing you to wrap gift cards, jewelry, treats and more with your personal message.
The idea struck me when I was trying to figure out a special way to give a very close friend my standard wedding gift--a check along with a personal note. I knew the memorable part of the gift was the note, but I couldn't shake one simple thought: a gift is a lot more fun to receive than an envelope.
After a lot of tinkering, I had a handmade card and gift in one...it wasn't until people raved about the little cube AND I did a little research into the market (turns out Americans alone buy seven BILLION cards each year) that this concept turned into a company.
In a most serendipitous turn of events, a manufacturer in my hometown happens to be an industry leading box and packaging printer. We went to work...and after many dozens of iterations, developed what today we call greetabl.”
greentabl attributes their early and continuing success to content marketing and public relations. They also have presence in retail outlets across several states.
They rely on the Lettuce app to track stock, use Mailchimp for emails and consistently test new Shopify and third-party web tools.
Now let’s take a look at a great example of a collectibles Shopify store:
I landed on an email subscription page with a discount offer for first-time buyers. This is a great technique for gathering information about your clients and being able to conduct email marketing but also enticing them to make a purchase during their first visit.
The homepage has a tool where you can choose a box design and a gift side-by-side. This is great because the customer jumps right into the creative process that is part of their concept.
The same process looked great on mobile as well.
greentabl says it’s worthwhile finding help with things you’re not good at:
“1. Keep it simple: We messed around with a couple of different online platforms and custom designs before committing to host everything on Shopify. We implemented a great theme and now everything is clean, easy, and looks great!
- Find a good ______: Whatever you're good at, find the opposite. For me, it was a graphic designer / photographer...I could write the copy, run the business, etc, but I could NOT make simple things look amazing. My co-founder does these with ease.”
Now you’ve got a better idea of some of the concepts behind some of the top Shopify stores,
What you’ve seen throughout this article is a good representation of how diverse the mix of businesses using Shopify is. The owners of these stores have all achieved success through their own unique style but there is one thing they all have in common, and one thing they all agree upon:
Shopify is an integral part of their business.
Remember also that all of these stores were started within the last 5 years, some significantly less than that. This demonstrates that through hard work and conviction, with the right tools and concept the potential is limitless.
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Happy selling, bonne chance!