Pratikkumar P. Gaikwad | 10 min read | Oct 23, 2020
What comes to mind when you think of Shopify? If it’s a t-shirt company or a manufacturer’s shop, you’re likely to think of physical products — small companies that produce and curate merchandise and sell items online or in stores around the world.
But when we say “product,” we talk about more than just material things. Many traders use Shopify in innovative ways to sell, well, almost anything and anything else. Experiences, online course portals, rentals, and digital goods are only a few business ideas outside the well-trodden road of selling physical products.
If you’re just beginning your path to entrepreneurship, and you haven’t decided to sell a product online yet, consider the intangible, too.
We looked at 15 shops offering everything from appointments to humanitarian gifts to dress rentals to help motivate your own entrepreneurial lightbulb moment.
We’ve also recommended hand-picked applications and software for every form of the company so that you can make the most of your Shopify experience.
2. Services (supplements)
And though shoes have benefited from the growth and convenience of online shopping, there’s nothing like an in-person visit to find the right pair. Traditionally, consultations have become part of the distribution platform for spas and lounges, but retailers that offer individuality of clothes, cosmetics, accessories, and beyond have started to embrace these in-person sessions to better communicate with their clients and craft the items they prefer.
Toufie, a women’s shoe manufacturer, sells handmade accessories designed to suit every client. Their goal is to make shoes that you don’t have to walk into, so getting the customer’s measurements in person helps a lot in the process. “Appointment bookings are an important aspect of Toufie’s risk-free shopping experience,” says Meliza Salim, co-founder of Toufie. “And thanks to the Appointment Scheduling application, arranging for a 30-minute appointment is smooth and comfortable. It’s a problem-free operation for us and our clients.
Suggested app: Appointment Scheduling adds a customizable calendar to your shop, enabling consumers to schedule their favorite time slots with real-time availability. The software syncs with the Google Calendar and sends approval emails to you and the consumer automatically.
Organizations like the California Native Plant Society will sell Shopify memberships to consumers using a mobile app. Memberships operate more like a corporate delivery box, depending on a monthly payment setup.
Suggested app: Recurring memberships enable brokers to sell one-time or recurring memberships online that can be used by physical companies (say, a yoga studio) or to handle member-only access to content on a website.
When the goods are commonly used to accomplish a particular result, there might be a possibility to sell the services in the form of teaching or advice. All, from home designers, to exercise coaches, will use the e-commerce platform to book and sell online or in-person appointments. Good Behaviors Living sells dietary supplements from its online pharmacy, and owner Carly Neubert also delivers on-site customized dietary tests.
Suggested apps: Sufio helps handle the payment for service-based companies. Also, try the Shopify Invoice Generator tool.
5. Digital Products
‘If I Made’ creates original innovative course material for business experts and offers multimedia learning to students. Digital goods can also refer to music files, fonts, or other interface features. Laura Thomas from Beautiful Presets uses Shopify to sell Lightroom presets to photographers.
Suggested applications: applications such as Sky Pilot, SendOwl, and Wireless Downloads will quickly distribute files to consumers after purchasing, or send a connexion to where files can be downloaded. Also, consider applications like Simple Video to add video samples or free videos to the product pages.
Mobile Locker Co. leases and delivers mobile locker banks for the marathon and outdoor activities. Event managers arrange lockers for the organization, and Mobile Locker Co. uses eCommerce features to allow runners to book individual lockers (listed by event) via the website.
Parthenon Foods produces a range of gourmet imported food items from over 45 different countries and has customers from all over the world while they ship globally. For those consumers who order food for activities, the nuances of taste profiles, unusual ingredients, and holding them faithful to recipes can all be explored directly with Parthenon Foods via the chat app built on their website.
Suggested apps: scheduling systems for individual events include special details to be obtained from consumers and an online booking application for safe event dates. Try downloading the Powr Type Maker or the Tidio chat software and the BookThatApp.
Experience-based companies can range from traveling and exploration to wine tasting and realistic seminars. Aspen Expeditions Worldwide promotes rock climbing experiences, international guided tours, and camping expeditions through its e-commerce store — and provides an outstanding product overview as an example of inspiration.
As the web descriptions for each trip need a lot of copy to better inform, educate, and encourage prospective buyers, Aspen Expeditions organizes the details by applying tabs to the web summary.
Suggested app: Travel or experience-based companies can need to obtain additional customer information, such as medical and emergency contact information. Use the Powr Form Creator to construct stable, customized types.
8. Learning, lessons, seminars
Buti Yoga fuses exercise and cardio heavy dance into calorie-burning lessons that can be done in-person and online — customers have the choice to work out at home by viewing films, going to resort retreats, or joining their annual meeting. Participants must now be completely trained to become a teacher. Art, music, language schools often offer online class passes or memberships and also use user accounts to handle member information.
Suggested apps: Consumers can book their own lessons and class passes by using the Appointment Scheduling app at the time of order. Recurring membership is also a fantastic choice for gyms and exercise studios.
Rental firms are providers that make tangible goods available to consumers for a fixed period of time. In a way, customers pay not to own the product and all its associated costs.
Mannequin Madness sells shopping props to other companies from its online store but also leases them temporarily.
“I’m an unintentional entrepreneur. I saw a mannequin on Craigslist and I was going to purchase it for an art project,” the creator, Judi Henderson-Townsend, told us. “When I found out that the mannequin seller owned the only mannequin rental business in town and fled the state, I purchased his whole collection of 50 mannequins.” While their rental catalog is available online, Mannequin Crazy.
10. Installations (and quotations)
GoGreenSolar.com is marketing and installing renewable energy systems for homeowners. Due to the custom design of the product and the extra work involved in the installation, consumers can request quotations and professional recommendations through the feedback forms available on their web.
Suggested apps: Quick quote will help you receive customer quote requests from your website, and the software also lets you monitor quote status and chat with customers. Fast Zit also fits with any company of larger custom projects — for example, graphic designers, furniture manufacturers, or contractors.
Most charities use Shopify as their organization’s merchandise arm, establishing a logo and distributing t-shirts and other promotional products with proceeds that benefit the cause. Charities and non-profits also use the e-commerce platform to “offer” one-time and ongoing contributions.
The Calgary Public Library Foundation uses Shopify to do exactly that by selling items and taking donations digitally to fund their libraries.
Suggested apps: ReCharge is a helpful app if you wish to take periodic contributions, and tax receipts enable you to send streamlined and personalized charitable contribution receipts to clients. Finally, Share the Love is an app that lets non-charity shops give a charity contribution option at check-out, in situations when you wish to assist an organization to help them make extra contributions.
12. Tickets for Events
Shopify shop Undertow partners with chosen artists to sell tickets digitally for music festivals throughout the United States. They use a paperless distribution system to submit free PDF tickets to consumers.
Suggested apps: Try Events Planner (an app that syncs with Shopify and Google Calendar) to let consumers and fans know about upcoming events. Digital distribution tools like Sky Pilot or SendOwl are perfect for ticketing. Also, you could find Shopify’s free QR Code Generator helpful.
13. Digital Gift Card
Gift Cards are the easiest non-tangible items to be applied to every platform. From Shopify, you can allow gift cards for your store (if you are on the Shopify plan or above)—work for both product and service-based companies, if redeemed digitally.
Suggested Tool: Use our free prototype to customize your gift card design.
What is fascinating with utilities and other intangible goods is that whilst they can be at the core of your online business, they may often act as a beneficial add-on to your physical products business. Both types can be sold side by side in the same Shopify store, as many of the examples above illustrate.
To discover your first advantage, pay particular attention to why people are purchasing your goods now, and discover opportunities to make it quicker or simpler for them to get the result they want. A similar concept holds if you wish to add a tangible product to your predominantly service-based company.
One final notice is that if you may not ship physical items from your Shopify store, you can need to disable shipping settings and customize email templates to suit your company. More nuanced organizations may also consider recruiting a Shopify Specialist to optimize the features of the store.