When you think of selling with Shopify, what comes to mind by default? Probably Lip Kits, citrus trees, and clothing, right? (OK, maybe you didn’t think about citrus trees, but like...you should because they’re hecking chic.)
We’re talking about physical products--tangible goods that can be shipped from a place to a customer’s doorstep.
But it appears we may need to expand our view of what Shopify’s good for. In fact, as you’ll shortly see, plenty of merchants are getting creative using Shopify to successfully sell services like education, consultations, rentals, and more.
Buckle up. Ahead, we’ll explore the types of services you can sell via Shopify, some ideas for how to showcase them, and how to get started.
Listing Services with Shopify
The first step in selling any type of service with Shopify is to add each service as if it were a product. Log in to your Shopify account and go to Products —> Add a product. Now start adding the details related to the service you’re about to sell. (See page 7 of our very fancy, very comprehensive Shopify DIY guide for how to do that.)
Don’t forget to dress. it. up. Services deserve stunning photos and copy, just like physical products! Upload images that show your service in action, along with a description clearly conveying features and benefits that will tantalize your customers into making a purchase.
You may also want to address service delivery/execution questions right there within the product description as well, assuming you don’t have another content block on your product page template for that.
So far the process is exactly the same as setting up a physical product, but when you come to the Shipping section, make sure to uncheck the box that says “This is a physical product.”
Next, set the variants and other necessary details depending on the type of services, booking times, and locations associated with the service.
For example, if you’re selling training services, you might offer two types of sessions: 60 minutes or 90 minutes. Each would be a variant. If you wanted to add a workshop, that should be a separate product listing.
Depending on the complexities of your services, you might need to add a few bells and whistles like personalized forms, metafields, and other data fields.
You may also need to disable the overall shipping options (assuming you’re selling only services) and configure Shopify’s default email templates to ensure that they are tailored to your new service business. Alternatively -- and what we recommend -- you can nest all your email communications in one place such as Klaviyo, to ensure a fully cohesive branded experience. This way you’ll have more nuanced control over how your emails look and what they say.
Further customization to your store will probably depend on the exact nature of the service you’re selling. (Not sure? Drop us a line to see how we can help.)
Next, we’ll cover a few of the types of services you might sell with Shopify and the tools you’ll need to configure your shop accordingly.
Customizing Shopify to Sell Services
Services as a Driver for Product Sales
eCommerce has seen some creative uses of this service type recently, such as Warby Parker’s online prescription check or MTailor--a 100% virtual tailor. Services like these provide a convenient, personalized experience for customers and can act as a funnel for purchase of the associated products (glasses and clothing, respectively).
Case in point: Healthy Habits Living (a nutritional supplement store hosted on Shopify) also sells personalized assessments through its Shopify store. Customers can add a consultation to the cart, just as they would do for a physical product.
Consultations and Coaching Services
If your business model is primarily centered on offering consulting or coaching services, the process is incredibly straightforward. Just set up your various service offerings as detailed above and allow customers to go through the standard Shopify checkout procedure.
Only you can decide on the next steps that come in the customer journey, but make sure you’ve planned for them! The customer’s question immediately after purchase (and likely before, during the assessment phase) is “How do?”. Make sure you have email confirmations and flows in place to answer those questions, provide necessary resources like workbooks, and so on.
What About Booking Appointments?
Many conventional service providers like medical clinics, hair salons and spas, and fitness trainers are now offering online bookings. In most cases there is no financial transaction associated with the interaction, with payment occuring at the actual time of service. If all you want to do is allow appointment bookings, that’s easy to set up with a third party app like Sesami.
If you DO want to charge as part of the booking process (such as a deposit to hold the time, or to offer a pre-pay discounted price), Sesami can also lead your customers through the same Shopify checkout experience you know and love.
With growing eco-consciousness (and desire for convenience!) has come the meteoric rise of rental services. Maybe your customer needs a dress she’ll never wear again, but that’s absolutely necessary for her best friend’s cousin’s wedding; no problem. Orrr maybe she’s headed to a crowded event and wants guaranteed parking; hell yeah. Shopify’s got you covered on rental services, too.
Consider the Mobile Locker Co., which uses Shopify’s eCommerce platform to rent lockers for marathons and other outdoor events. Marathon organizers can arrange lockers so runners can acquire individual storage spaces in advance. Runners get the convenience (and security!) of designated lockers at a lower cost than they might otherwise pay for onsite storage.
On the same note--remember that dress for your customer’s best friend’s cousin’s wedding? May we present Fitzroy Rentals, which leverages Shopify to create a totally customizable rental experience for apparel shoppers.
Variants include size, rental duration, and delivery date. What’s more, they’ve included very comprehensive product descriptions for each piece in their “closet”, making it super easy for customers to make an informed choice.
What Do I Need to Sell Rental Services on Shopify?
Your mileage (and needs) may vary, but most merchants will need a combination of a form (to gather additional information during checkout), a booking app (for resource planning), and the standard Shopify checkout. How it’s handled on the backend will undoubtedly be different from one business to the next, so if you’re not sure how to proceed, chat with us!
Got skills? Shopify allows you to market them to potential students, just like any other product or service, by way of a la carte on-demand workshops or recurring memberships that unlock a treasure trove of resources.
Take Buti Yoga, which offers yoga and dance classes that can be joined in-person or online, as well as Yoga Alliance-approved trainer certification programs.
Selling training services follows much the same customer journey as the consulting/coaching model explained above. If a recurring membership is part of your plan, you’ll want the best of the best: the ReCharge Payments app. (And membership program building just happens to be our specialty, donchaknow.)
As a platform known for its human-forward approach to eCommerce, Shopify can help you sell services just as easily as physical products--given the right approach and the right tools.
If you’re looking for something a little more complex or custom and have no idea where to start, we know some experts who can walk you through it.