How to make a professional invoice: Expert tips and a step-by-step guide

How to make a professional invoice: Expert tips and a step-by-step guide

Now that you have sold a product or rendered a service through your online shop, it is time to get paid. This is great news! This is great news!

What is an invoice? How do you make one? And what information should you include? This step-by-step guide will help you create an invoice.

What’s an invoice?

An invoice (also known as a sales invoice) is a document that bills a customer for your services or products. An invoice is an account receivable, which obligates the buyer to pay. It is a written agreement between you, the seller, and your client or customer (the buyer).

Invoices can also be a great way for your business to track its earnings. Written invoices are a great way to keep your finances organized. They also simplify accounting for tax season.

What is the difference between a bill or an invoice?

Technically, nothing. Bill and invoice are both terms used to inform customers or clients how much they owe on a product or service. The main difference is in who refers to the document.

Let’s first define each word:

Invoice definition

An invoice will be issued by your business to the purchaser detailing the sale of products and services, as well as the amount owed. An invoice is used to:

  • Document a business transaction that involves payment from a customer
  • You must request payment from the customer within a specified time frame
  • Maintains a list of products and services sold to assist with bookkeeping

Bill definition

A document is sent to your customer by you that details the amount of money due in exchange for goods or services. A bill

  • Let a customer know how much they must pay.
  • Provide a detailed record of your customer’s expenses for use in bookkeeping

The document is often referred to by the business as an “invoice”, while buyers get “a bill” which details the amount they owe. This is how it works:

Step 1 – Your company sends an invoicing to your customer

Step 2 The bill is delivered to the customer

Step 3 The customer repays the amount owing

Step 4 – Your business will issue an invoice receipt to prove that payment has been made.

What are some of the most important legal requirements for invoicing?

If you want to create a professional invoice, there are many details that you should include. These are the essential details that your invoice should contain:

  • Your company name: This is your official business name and tax ID number. To make your business look more professional, include your logo.
  • Name of your customer: Identify your customers, including their name or business name and tax ID number.
  • Contact details Enter your address, phone number and customer contact information. This information is particularly useful in the event that either party needs to contact you.
  • Invoice number An invoicing number is a way to keep track of your invoices so they don’t get mixed up. Pro tip Track your invoices easily with an abbreviated version your customer’s name followed by a dash and the month/year. For example: Invoice WIX-0520)
  • A list of costs and services: Invoices generally include the items purchased, whether they are products or services. Prices and quantities can also be included. To avoid confusion, enter as much detail as you can. If you offer a service by the hour, describe the time it took to complete the task. If applicable, include a separate line to account for wire transfer fees or VAT.
  • Dates Your invoice should include all relevant dates such as the date the invoice was issued, when the sale or service occurred, and the time that the invoice covers (for periodic bills).
  • Total amount Draw a line showing all the amounts your customer owes to you. All products and services should be included in the total amount. Before you calculate your total, don’t forget about any additional fees.
  • Payment information Provide your bank information to help your customers pay you. Third-party payment processors like PayPal and Transferwise are also used by many customers. They only need an email address and not sensitive information such as your bank details.
  • Terms & Conditions: On every invoice, write the terms and conditions that you and your customer have agreed to. These could include your rates, return/refund policy, product warranties, shipping information, and privacy policies.
  • Due Date: Avoid confusion later by clearly stating when you expect payment. Write “May 31, 2021” and not “Due within 30 days.”

Tip: Set a time frame for all invoices so that you know when to expect your payment. Your customer should pay you within 30 business days of the invoice’s date. However, it is possible to make this shorter or longer depending upon the nature of your business and how much you owe.

5 tips to keep an invoice looking professional

An invoice is another aspect of your business. Invoices are a professional way of building brand trust and letting customers know that they must pay on time. These are 5 tips to keep in mind.

01. Include branding

To keep your branding consistent, add your logo to your invoice. You don’t yet have one? Use a Logo Maker to create a logo for your company.

02. Use an invoice template to create or modify

You can either create your own template, or you can use one already created. Keep your invoices consistent in appearance and structure so that your clients or customers can recognize them easily and find the information they need. An invoice generator can also achieve the same result.

03. Make sure to check spellings and find any mistakes

Although it may seem obvious, you’d be amazed at how many businesses fail to do this. Customers can see through your business if you have to correct or resend invoices. Before you send your invoices, double- and triple-check them for errors.

04. Multiple payment options available

It can be helpful to offer customers a range of secure payment options such as digital wallet, credit card, or wire transfer if you want to ensure that they pay promptly and on time.

05. Thank you

It is a good idea to say “Thanks for your business” at the end of your invoice. You can be genuine and let your customers know what you mean to them. This can increase the probability of payment by 5%.

How can I create an invoice?

Invoice generator

It’s now easier than ever to create an invoicing. You can actually create a professional invoice within minutes with a HTML3_ free invoice generator HTML3_. These are the steps to follow:

Step 1 – Add your information

Include key details that will benefit both you and your customer/client.

  • Name of the business
  • Website for businesses
  • Contact information, such as email or phone number
  • Mailing address

Step 2 – Describe the services or products you are charging

Invoice settings will include the invoice number, issue date and due date. Include a description and a line for each product. Then add:

  • Hourly rate or price
  • Quantity (or the number of hours worked)
  • Discount (if applicable).
  • Total
  • Additional terms or notes

Step 3 – Finalize and Send!

Wix’s Invoice Generator will calculate your total automatically. Make sure you have all of the necessary information before you send. You can either email it directly to your client, or download it.

Step 4 – Issue an invoice receipt

After your customer has paid, you can send an invoice receipt to follow up. This will help you keep track all payments received.

Invoice from Scratch

These steps will help you create an invoice directly from scratch if you don’t have a generator.

Step 1 – Open a blank sheet

Use a program such as Google SheetsMicrosoft Excel to open a blank spreadsheet.

Step 2 – Create a branded invoice head

Invoices should include a header with the brand details and billing information.

  • Your logo
  • Contact information for businesses
  • Invoice date
  • Invoice number

Step 3 – Add the information of your client

Include the contact information of your client, such as company name, address, phone number, and name of relevant contact. You can use this example:

The Bill To:

Name of the Company

Address Rd.

State 55555, City

Step 4 – Add the due date

At the top of your invoice, write the date, month, and year due.

Step 5 – Add an itemized sales list

You can then create a table by adding columns that detail the services and/or goods provided, date of order and the cost per unit. Be sure to indicate the currency. Example:

Step 6 – Calculate the total

To calculate the total amount due on the invoice, add a last column. Excel’s SUM function and many other spreadsheets can do the math. Remember to include any applicable discounts, fees, or tax rates in your total.

Step 7: Add payment details

Include relevant payment information such as your PayPal ID. Include your name, account number and SWIFT code, bank and address, as well as the bank wire transfer information. Add a personal note at the bottom such as “Thanks for doing business with me!”


#GROWTHAsia2021 Highlights: Key Takeaways, Expert Insights and Actionable Strategies

#GROWTHAsia2021 Highlights: Key Takeaways, Expert Insights and Actionable Strategies

2020 was a landmark year for businesses in all geographies. It covered many industries and verticals. In order to provide actionable strategies and bounce-back frameworks to our community of marketers and product owners, we conducted #GROWTHAsia 2020. We organized #GROWTHAsia2021 on the 24th of March 2021 in collaboration with AppsFlyer, Mixpanel, and continued our efforts to provide thought-leadership content.

#GROWTHAsia2021 featured expert panel discussions that focused on customer centricity and brand engagement. They also discussed effective segmentation, leveraging data from users, and building an engagement platform. This event shed light on how businesses can increase customer happiness in a mobile-first and post-pandemic world.

Our illustrious panel included marketing leaders from Asia’s most customer-focused brands such as OVO, Kredivo and KapanLagi Youniverse.

We have you covered if you missed #GROWTHAsia2021 This blog will summarize all the insightful and interactive sessions and provide bite-sized key takeaways you can use to grow your business.

Here’s a quick overview of all panels and sessions at #GROWTHAsia2021. Let’s get started.

Keynote: The Impact Customer Happiness has on Business Revenue

Sarika Tulsyan (Chief Revenue Officer at POPS Worldwide) led the keynote session of #GROWTHAsia2021. Sarika discusses how the greatest threat to a business’s survival in today’s uncertain environment isn’t competition, but poor customer service. She stresses the importance of collaboration and driving customer happiness, with a focus to sustainable revenue. One that is reflective of the overall business growth strategy and aims to achieve long-term organic success.

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#GROWTHAsia 2021 Keynote speech

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Get Actionable Tips:

  • It is a well-known fact that 20% of a business’s revenue is derived from 20%. It is important to know the difference between customer satisfaction, and customer success.
  • Customer satisfaction can be used as an efficiency metric. However, customer success can be used to measure revenue. There is usually a large gap between these two metrics. Every customer is not a success customer. Therefore, satisfied customers will always outnumber those who can be called successful customers. It is up to you to understand why this gap exists and what you can do about it.
  • This can be done by looking at the various metrics that affect customer satisfaction across a consumer’s journey. Businesses need to pay attention to the “micro-moments”, which are key to customer satisfaction and business growth. A micro-moment for an ecommerce site could be an offline experience (word-of mouth or billboard) that prompts a customer to make an online purchase via a smartphone.
  • This should not be a secondary goal. It should be about understanding these micro-moments, and how to leverage them to drive business growth. This will reduce the customer satisfaction gap and increase customer success.

Expert Insights

  • Businesses can sometimes be hurt by over-personalization that is based on customer segments. A great job at creating customized content might lead to increased conversion rates and checkout rates. However, it may not always lead to higher RPOs or average revenue per user/viewer. Why? Customers aren’t discovering anything new. Over-personalization could actually lead to stagnation rather than growth in your business. It is crucial to find the right balance between these two.
  • Next-generation marketers are responsible for driving the business through understanding the next “trigger” that is informed by data. This helps customers to be more informed and enables them to grow their business.
  • Organizations often define success metrics for different departments in silos, rather than looking at it as one common success metric that can be applied to all departments. A common metric can reduce the gap.
  • It is possible to align our organization’s goals with department goals in respect to marketing, customer service, and product. This creates a level of competence between departments in terms of understanding and defining key responsibility towards the goals. You can create a well-oiled, harmonious business by mapping success metrics to departments. This will ensure that everyone works together towards common goals and maximizes revenue. The three P’s, i.e. People, Process and Product must be in perfect harmony.
  • Only if customer satisfaction metrics are being measured by the right people and monitored properly, can they be considered great. Marketers will only win if they do this.

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Session 1 – Effective Segmentation Strategies for Customer Engagement

Divya Jagwani, Senior Manager, SEA and MoEngage, moderated the first #GROWTHAsia2021 session. Indina Andamari (VP), Head of Product Growth at KapanLagiYuniverse), Cahyanto Arie Wobowo (Head Marketing & Communications at Kredivo), Dian Gemiano, CMO at Kompas Gramedia, and Khalid Raheel, CMO at Amar Bank joined as expert panelists.

#GROWTHAsia 2021 Session 1 Segmentation

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This session will discuss the many practical and effective segmentation strategies that can make a big difference in driving customer engagement. This session also demonstrates the importance of having a strong segmentation strategy. It also explains how different industries use segmentation strategies.

These are the actionsable takeaways

  • Segmentation is a key engagement strategy for organizations. Organizations that segment effectively experience higher profits than those that don’t.
    Segmenting users is a way to give personalized experiences, rather than generic and spammy communications.
  • Start small by using unique preferences and behavior patterns to create your segmentation campaigns. Focus on the following: behavioral patterns, year-on–year aggregated consumer data and current preferences (at a granular scale), repeat behavior, purchase drivers, incentives that resonate with the audience, communication channel. Advanced segmentation can be done by looking at the user’s predicted lifetime value.
  • You can run targeted campaigns by looking at the user journey. Then, work backwards depending on your business goals.
  • The GDPR is the gold standard when it comes managing the fine line between privacy and personalization. Transparency with users, which must be a part of every organization’s DNA, is crucial.

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Experts Insights

Agnes Lie

  • The behavioral segmentation approach is the most sophisticated form of segmentation. It involves dividing audiences based upon how they behave on our platforms, from their in-app behavior to actual transactions.
  • This allows us to target more precisely and makes it possible for A/B testing.
  • This yields better results, as the treatment we give to users is based upon real data and not on presumed knowledge.
  • This allows us to combine behavioral data with predictive and deterministic modelling to achieve business goals
  • Segmenting users requires that you look at the product funnel journey to determine where traffic originated and whether it was acquired via big channels like TikTok or Facebook.
  • Before you dig into transactional or behavioral data, look at the segments of the channels.

Indina Andamari

  • We look at cash transactions of users and map out the customer journey to identify key drivers for each stage. Then, we prioritize users according to which group will have the greatest impact. This could be the pool’s size or the ones with the highest revenue. It is important to collect enough data so that you can make a more precise hypothesis.
  • To score demographics, geographical, and psychographic data, we use a data science model. The heat map is what we use to help us prioritize which segments to focus on. After collecting this data, we profile each segment in order to create a user persona. We then look at the segments to see if they have similar characteristics. Then we personalize messaging to test with a control group. This is where you test your hypothesis before making it a fully-fledged campaign.

Cahyanto Arie Wibowo

  • We have three categories of user data based on the data we collect:
    i) Demographic data, such as gender and/or age
    iii) behavioral data used to split our user action
    iii. Technographic data that shows which technologies are used by our users.
  • These factors are used to analyze our internal theme. To improve the features of your product, you can factor in metrics like usage frequency or time spent on-site.

Dian Gemiano

  • Because we all cater to different audiences in the media industry our segmentation strategies differ. We have three types of customers at KG media: the flyby, moderate and loyal. We study the content consumption habits of our customers to determine what content resonates with them most. We aim to make the fly-by customer more loyal and moderately loyal.
  • Advertisers are more passive. We look at basic demographics, consumption behavior and segmentation of purchase intent to help them understand their needs.

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Khalid Raheel

  • Segmentation is about looking at need-based segments (people who “need” a loan), but also taking into account outliers who may be ‘want-based users (for instance, someone who wants to purchase a second-hand smartphone and might be interested in a loan).
  • Segmentation at Amar Bank tells us what our Tg is. It is also important to understand what customers don’t want, and what they want.
  • Segmentation is essential. It is crucial to know what the need, necessity, and demand are at each stage of life. All three elements are constantly changing. Once you have the user data, you can start to create micro-moments that reflect the needs and benefits of the user.
  • Segmentation should begin with empathy. Understand what the customer needs in order to fill that gap. It is important to integrate the product backwards into a forward-integrated behavior, or vice versa.

Session 2 – Using User Insights for User Retention

Arijeet Rana, Senior Manager, SEA and MoEngage, Rajeshwari Kanesin, Innovation Manager at U Mobile, Joshua Tan (Head CRM at NTUC) and Vineth Kallarakkal, (Head Marketing at theAsianparent), moderated the session.

#GROWTHAsia 2021 Session 2 user insights

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The session focused on huge data volumes about user journeys and how these can overwhelm modern growth and product teams. It is important to avoid analysis paralysis and understand the key user insights that must be monitored, as well as how they tie into the overall goal of increasing engagement.

These are the actionsable takeaways

  • Customer retention is a key aspect of today’s business environment. One surefire way to achieve this is to leverage user insights to increase user retention. Product teams and growth teams often get lost in the mountains of user data and don’t know which user paths they should be following.
  • The real question is: What are the most important metrics for engagement that you should track and monitor? You can use the RFM model to guide your digital buyer journey.
  • However, user paths and journeys are getting more complicated. Businesses need to be able to identify the key user insights that they are trying to obtain, as well as key metrics to monitor engagement and create feedback between the lifecycle, marketing, and product teams. They must also analyze the warning signs for users who are about to become cranky so you can know the extremes of a user’s lifecycle on your app/website/anyother medium.
  • These valuable data can be used to increase user retention through referral programs, better personalization, optimal frequency of messages, building a community with like-minded users, and so forth.


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Expert Insights

Kushal Manupati

  • It is important to consider engagement metrics from both the perspective of the stakeholder as well as across different stages.
  • With the multitude of channels and users having their own preferences, the user journey is becoming more complicated.
  • A lifecycle framework is essential to determine the life stage of the user, where they want to be, and the relevant KPIs for each stage. A robust tool can help you achieve this and many more.

Rajeshwari Kanesin

You should have separate user journeys for different users to be able to classify them as trusted, verify them and ensure that your user data is accurate. The data can then be scored accordingly.

Joshua Tan

  • Before you can understand which engagement metrics to look at, you need to first identify your North star goal.
  • Next, consider what the job of each channel is to achieve that goal. Then look at how users interact with the channel to determine the engagement touchpoints you really want to capture.
  • It is important to consider not only what engages customers but also what disengages them.

Vineeth Kallarakkal

  • Your engagement metrics will vary depending on which channel you’re measuring, whether it is an app or a site. It is also important to consider how you cater to different user segments. It is also crucial to determine what metrics are most relevant for your user segments.
  • Because users’ needs change at every stage, you need to create user journeys and map them out. A path can be tailored to different users and ensures that your product is well-received by them.
  • To assess the risk of churning you should first examine the usage patterns and determine if there is any decreasing trend in the use of your product. Learn more about why engagement has dropped.

Session 3 – Building the Best-In-Class Customer Engagement Technology Stack

Scott Pugh (APAC Director at Mixpanel), Bibaswan Banerjee, Mark Birch (Startup Advocate APJ, AWS), Khairold Sfri Ibrahim (Digital Products Manager, TM) and Dr. Raymond Chan (Head, Data Science, Chope), as experts.

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Session 3 building engagement stack

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This session brought together subject matter experts to discuss the evolution and design of customer engagement technology stacks.

These are the actionsable takeaways

  • Modern customer engagement has seen a paradigm shift, and new technologies and tools have been created to give brands the cutting-edge they need.
  • No matter if you are a startup or a telco company, every company must decide what tooling is best for them at each stage of their lifecycle. The customer engagement stack must be continuously monitored and updated.
  • It is crucial to hold tech providers accountable and maintain a constant dialogue. Consider technology as an extension to your team when you buy it.

Expert Insights

Bibaswan Banerjee

  • We are always trying to solve the biggest problem, which is how to connect things. It can be dangerous to work in silos of technology. Why? It paints a partial picture. It is important to use a constantly-evolving tech stack to make sure that they all talk to one another properly.
  • Look for tech stacks that offer customization and scalability. Big providers have the ability to provide a solid foundation through cloud-based solutions. This could be the foundation. Next, you should add layers that are specific to your business. To be more flexible in customizing your solution, you can leverage a hybrid stack.
  • It is important to strike a balance between what can be taken over from third parties and what parts you need to be highly agile so that you can do it in-house.

Mark Birch

  • Startups in the early stages should concentrate on their core product. They also need to focus on getting the right features.
  • When choosing the right tech stack, you must not compromise the uniqueness or differentiation of your product. Look for solutions that don’t require you to create your own analytics.

Khairold Safri Ibrahim

  • The first thing you should ask when deciding on a tech stack is whether it is necessary at all. Also, do you need to automate these integrations or can they be done manually?
  • You will also need to change the culture within your company in order to encourage people to try new things.
  • It is important to keep your stack of tasks simple. Do not try to do it all at once. Instead of focusing on technology, modeling, or other aspects of the business, start with customers.
    The framework.
  • We discovered that attractiveness is only half the story. The other half is how it works within the company’s context–taking into account the culture, openness to new technology and the availability of resources.

Dr. Raymond Chan

  • Our engagement stack was primarily driven by the need to learn how to personalize search and recommendation. This is why we use event tracking tools to track individual behavior.
  • Here’s how it works: We collect a lot of data and then store it in data warehouses. The models are then used to predict the interests of users. The app then integrates this information back into it, so that our tech style is optimized.


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Session 4 – Recalibrate and Recover. Reopen. Recovering from the Pandemic

Ronen Mense, President and Managing Director of APAC, AppsFlyer moderated the session. A panel was comprised of Lakshmi Harikumar, Dyah Wulandari, Marketing Director, SEA and MoEngage, and Alicia Vo, User Acquisition Lead, Amanotes.

Session 4 bounce back

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This session will discuss what it takes for businesses to recover, recalibrate and reopen after the pandemic. This session summarizes how the pandemic has increased the digitalization of businesses over the past several years, and addresses the important questions:
i) How can businesses recalibrate?
ii) Should businesses recover?
iii. What’s next in digital marketing when regions reopen fully?

These are the actionsable takeaways

  • The AppsFlyer & iPrice report shows that overall online spending in SEA rose by 19% in 2020. People who have never purchased online are now more open to shopping online. The pandemic has increased the speed of digitalization in businesses, not just by a few weeks but over many years.
  • Businesses need to rethink their marketing strategies and see if every industry and segment behaves in the same way. Mindful marketing is about being happy and not insensitive to people’s feelings.
  • Each brand may have its own reality. However, the common theme for the future must be ‘positivity’, ‘agility’, and ‘adaptiveness’.

Expert Insights

Lakshmi Harikumar

  • Brands that are successful differentiate themselves from others by being agile in adapting their business models is what makes them stand out. This meant that mobile was not only considered as a channel, but also as a business model.
  • Jimmy, an Australian client, is a good example. He’s in the online delivery of alcohol. Given the increasing demand from consumers, he quickly added toilet paper to their entire inventory. This is how brands can be flexible and remain relevant over the long-term.
  • A report we published recently shows that one of the major trends in this pandemic is digital and mobile adoption. Organizations that are not digital were forced to adopt mobile or digital technologies. Additionally, organizations that were digital were required to reinvent themselves in order to stand out from the rest.
  • Businesses need to be innovative partners, make changes in their business models, and communicate openly with customers. It’s about being one with customers and being transparent about your business. Let’s say, for example, that your supply chain is down and orders may be delayed. Businesses will be able to communicate this information with greater transparency, which will strengthen their image and quality.
  • For obvious reasons, there has been an increase in marketing budget. Brands want to keep their voice heard and don’t want to lose the momentum they have built over the years. Paid activities also have an impact on organic traffic. They want to maintain brand positivity.

Dyah Wulandari

  • Businesses must be flexible and focus on the short-term (say, for the next three month) instead of long-term planning. They must also be positive and refocus their attention on “maintenance people”, which is the greatest asset of the company.
  • Our marketing strategy is to balance user needs from the discovery phase to the point when they make a purchase. We are providing enough information in our apps for users to be able to make informed decisions when they reach the ‘consideration phase’.

Alicia Vo

  • We have created lighthearted, cheerful, and warm campaigns that revolve around the “stay at-home” theme. However, we are also sensitive to the stress and anxiety that users are constantly exposed to. We make sure that our messages are not serious and encourage our users to use our apps as a way to escape.
  • We need to build a solid foundation with industry partners. To create a supportive business environment and to offer mutual support.
  • Communication and coordination between various stakeholders can improve the efficiency of your business and provide positive opportunities for the future.

Shopify’s App Store Is Good and Bad, Says ‘Unofficial’ Expert

Kurt Elster’s”The Unofficial Shopify Podcast” has been downloaded over 1 million times. His service, Ethercycle, helps Shopify merchants drive profit and revenue. Along with his newsletter at contains hints and strategies to scale a Shopify shop.

“I eat, sleep, and breathe Shopify. I have a Shopify license plate,” Elster told me.

You may call Elster the unauthorized Mr. Shopify. I recently spoke with him about the platform, notable merchants, along with his pet peeves, among other subjects. What follows is the whole audio version of the conversation along with a transcript, which can be edited for clarity and length.

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Eric Bandholz: Tell us about yourself.

Kurt Elster: I have been a Shopify specialist since 2011. I’ve worked on Shopify exclusively since 2015. I eat, sleep, and breathe Shopify. I have a Shopify license plate.

Bandholz: Is Shopify the place to be? Is it hot?

Elster: Yes. More than a million merchants are on Shopify. Some of the actual power of it’s the partner ecosystem. They are up to 12,000 partners. Having access to an army of people who can assist you to grow your shop, whether it’s via apps, integrations, or services, adds a bunch of value to the center platform.

Bandholz: What are you seeing from individuals who reach out to you for consulting? Are they bigger companies on the Shopify Plus side? Or startups?

Elster: It’s all over the board. Right now there’s a gold rush into ecommerce. I’m seeing new store builds than previously. Our clientele will be Shopify merchants who’ve bootstrapped and validated their enterprise. They approach us to take it to another level.

We do a good deal of front-end work, preparing the theme. That’s the toughest part for merchants. Many merchants can not see the forest through the trees on their own site. They spend more time on it than anyone else, making it hard to see minor difficulties. So using a third party do it may be beneficial.

Bandholz: What are a few of the biggest mistakes people make on Shopify?

Elster: The best thing about Shopify is that the app ecosystem — the app shop. And the worst part about Shopify is your app shop. Regardless of what integration or feature you require, there’s likely one or more apps for this. And, probably, they are all reasonably priced. Some will even be free. Nevertheless, it is easy to become hooked on apps. You begin playing app roulette. You think,”If I only get the best one, it is likely to seriously boost my sales.”

Well, no, it does not work like that. But the bigger problem is because you put in these apps, each one has a payload. Each one adds weight to the website, and they also enhance your monthly recurring expenditures. So in case you’ve got one app, fine. If you have got eight apps, fine. But 40 apps — that is a problem.

I’ve been retained more times than I can count merely to find out installed apps — which ones to keep and which to eliminate. So that is a trap that individuals can fall into. It’s comparable to WordPress plugins.

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My current pet peeve is the primary menu. It is the front door to an ecommerce website. It is how visitors find products. However, if I load up a random independent online store, the main menu is”Home,””About,””Blog,””Contact,” and then there is a single word that says”Shop.” And it is a drop-down menu. That’s the main part! It is entirely concealed behind a drop-down.

Proceed to major ecommerce websites. None of them do this. The main menu is dedicated to shopping. All that other stuff is in a secondary menu or the footer.

Bandholz: Tell us about some innovative brands.

Elster: My favourite client right now is Hoonigan, an automotive lifestyle brand. They market lifestyle apparel, mainly. At one point years ago they had the most viral movie on YouTube for a car video named Gymkhana that is like half driving. Think if you combined driving and, I do not understand, a Cirque de Soleil show. It is quite the activity.

It is stunt driving, essentially. It is very cool. So it went viral, and an automotive lifestyle brand was born from that. It’s a really creative group, about 30 people in Long Beach, California. They do a phenomenal job in their advertising, their designs, and their advertisements. They’ve built a community. That is the magic that a whole lot of brands overlook — building a real sense of community.

Bandholz: We have talked about Shopify topics. Do you have recommendations for topics? There are tons of them.

Elster: I have opinions on Shopify topics . So does the motif team at Shopify. I’ve talked to members of the team in the various Shopify Unite conventions. The group is extremely selective about what is in the theme shop. Themes which are finally approved typically have limited settings and options to make them easier to use and less intimidating.

My favorite in the past few years is the Turbo theme by from the Sandbox. They have been consistently upgrading it. I really like it. I used it on [Jay] Leno’s Garage. I have used it on CORSA Performance. Only an endless list of websites.

But although Out of the Sandbox has many topics from the shop (including popular ones like Parallax and Retina), Turbo isn’t in there. That is because it has a slew of options jammed into it. I don’t think it would be approved since it is intimidating to a different merchant.

There is a balance there. If you are starting your first Shopify shop, I would not begin with a large, expensive theme. I would begin with a simple free theme and then switch to a larger, more involved one after.

And the last thing I’d do is purchase a theme from whatever market. Anytime we have used themes outside the Shopify store, we’ve regretted it. Again, the staff is extremely stringent about what gets in there.

Bandholz: So how can you differentiate websites once the bones are the same?

Elster: a common fear. It is unfounded, however.

By way of instance, I live in a subdivision with, possibly, 200 homes. Three are equal to mine. All 3 seem completely different because they have different landscaping, different lots, they face different directions, and they have different decor and paint. They do not look like the exact same house.

The exact same is true of topics and much more so. A theme is only a means to showcase your content and brandnew. But do not use the default styling, colors, and fonts and simply fit your own logo. At the very least, change the colours and typography to coincide with the brand. It seems simple, but a great deal of people bypass it. Change the design of this header. That will instantly alter the whole feel.

See also:

Bandholz: a great deal of companies with enormous catalogs have shied away from Shopify. Is that a valid fear?

Elster: No. We are working on a big site right now. I wish it had been public so that I could tell you the title. It’d 80,000 products when we began working on it. It currently has 120,000. From the end of the year, we will have 200,000.

Certainly we had to handle some things. But the site is currently among the quickest I’ve ever worked on. When we first began, it took 30 to 40 minutes to load a set page due to the amount of products we had been filtering through. However, Shopify is giving us new technologies like React. A catalogue with six figures worth of merchandise can load in two to three seconds.

Bandholz: I could talk all day about Shopify. Unfortunately, we do not have all day. How can our listeners find you?

Elster: My Twitter manage is @Kurtinc. Apart from Twitter, the best way to reach me is through my newsletter. Head to, subscribe to my newsletter. It comes from my true email address. You may hit reply, and it’ll go to my inbox.