Whether you’re an experienced Shopify store-owner or new to the game, there’s one thing the numbers can confirm: you’ll benefit from taking your business international, no matter when or in what sales sector (although it’s even surer that now is the time to launch into heavy shopper traffic, with holiday season approaching and ecommerce sales getting ready to take their yearly trip through the roof, all over the world).
We’ve gone through our extensive client archives to pick out this year’s standout Shopify themes that will surely prove irresistible to your international customers. What is more—these ones are all tried and true for multilingual stores: if you choose to set up or migrate your store onto one of these themes, you can be 100% sure that the entire sales process will be translatable (with Weglot) for your clients abroad.
1. The classic: “Prestige,” a multilingual theme made in France
Distinguishing feature: Built-in text-on-image overlay
Maestrooo, a Paris-based web agency specialized in Shopify store design, has five themes available for purchase in the Shopify theme marketplace—including Prestige, a sleek, responsive theme ideal for accessory and fashion retailers.
So why does Prestige stand out from other themes—from a multilingual point of view?
One of the Prestige theme’s standout design elements—that also makes it, from a technical standpoint, a standout theme for multilingual sites in particular—is its built-in capacity to let you superimpose text onto your images.
We’ve been through this a few times on the blog, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind: images with integrated text are tough to translate. It’s absolutely possible to do—in fact, we even have a guide to explain how image translation works—but you’ll save yourself a lot of time by keeping your images text-free and taking advantage of a dynamic feature, like Prestige’s, that allows you to keep your text elements separate—and thus more easily translatable—from your visuals, while still formatting them beautifully.
Anette Caumont, a French jeweller, takes full advantage of this feature and makes their images just as readable for francophone and anglophone customers.
2. The 3D experience: “Parallax”
Developer: Out of the Sandbox
Distinguishing feature: built-in, customizable scroll animations
If you’ve dipped your toes into the world of web design, the word “parallax” is probably one you’ve heard thrown around quite a lot in recent years.
Some people think it’s a fluke—a five-minutes-of-fame kind of trend that’s on its way out; but the truth is, parallax sells. So much so that Out of the Sandbox, a Toronto, ON-based Shopify marketing and design firm, named one of their most popular themes after it.
And, to no one’s surprise, the Parallax theme is in fact built with lots of pre-programmed scrolling animations — in other words, it lives up to its name.
Parallax is already making waves on the multilingual web. Vaja, a luxury leather mobile phone case brand, gives their site a techy appeal (appropriate for a company selling tech accessories) with scroll animations on their homepage.
Parallax doesn’t force its adopters into over-animating, either: the Vaja site is proof. While several of the sample Parallax sites use the theme’s namesake animation style on their homepage banner images, the Vaja team decided to keep theirs static. And frankly, it works for them; they show off their theme’s pre-coded capacities further down the page.
3. Grids on grids: “Icon”
Developer: We are Underground
Distinguishing feature: full-width Instagram display
The “Icon” theme goes heavy on one of our favorite web design elements: the grid (we’ve talked about this one before).
Icon’s grid-friendliness applies not only to page layouts in general—which, of course, helps keep your site looking organized and pro—but also to its external widget integrations. It’s especially adapted to displaying the most iconic grid of the 21st century: the Instagram grid.
Anyone with an online store—or online business in general—knows it: having a social media presence is basically indispensable these days. There are numbers to back up how much Instagram has revolutionized online shopping, especially on mobile: Instagram users are at least 60% more likely than non-users to engage with a product, and a third of them have made at least one purchase from their phone.
Instagram-influenced buying habits are an international phenomenon, and it’s likely that they’ll continue to be so.
What is more, the countries with the highest—and fastest-growing—Instagram usage penetration rates are not English-speaking: Brunei, Iceland, and Turkey were the 3 highest in 2019, to give an idea of how geographically widespread and diverse the big Instagram markets are.
A Shopify store with a built-in Instagram interface, then, is likely to have an immediate leg up on the international scale, especially in regional markets where ecommerce and social media usage/penetration are both growing at exponential rates. The Middle East, where Turkey (56% Instagram penetration) is located, and the Asia-Pacific bloc, home to Brunei (60% Instagram penetration), are currently, alongside Latin America, the world’s two fastest-growing ecommerce markets.
Knok Berlin has taken full advantage of Icon’s Instagram-integration feature, keeping their homepage fresh with all of their social content.
4. The raconteur: “Story”
Distinguishing feature: Timeline builder tool
Brand storytelling may just be the future of brand identity, in a market saturated by sameness. It’s been proven that our contemporary digital habits tend to homogenize us—in terms of our tastes, our experiential preferences, and, by extension, our brand preferences, or at least what we expect brands to offer us.
Of course, no matter what similarities may exist between the identities or offers of two brands, behind every brand is a person (or several people). And, in spite of the last decade’s alarming trend of homogenization in brand identity—especially as expressed in the digital sphere—the people behind every brand are still individuals, with their own struggles and successes that eventually can be put to work as material for a brand story.
The “Story” template for Shopify is in touch with its time: stores with this theme can easily set up a beautiful timeline, on any page, to tell the unique history of their brand.
Every milestone on the timeline is accompanied by its own image, and can be edited to fit your website’s distinct style. That’s what PS Seasoning did to tell their family-entered saga—available in French, German, and Spanish, for their readers abroad.
5. The shopaholic’s enabler: “Impulse”
Developper: Archetype Themes
Distinguishing feature: customizable popups
“Story” and “Parallax” are far from the only very appropriately-named Shopify themes: “Impulse” goes a bit further into the conceptual side of things.
This theme puts promotion first, and definitely plays to the tune of impulse buyers—who might find themselves unable to resist a purchase at a 50% discount, or 50% de réduction, or 50% de descuento if it appears in big, bold text on a popup.
One of Impulse’s distinguishing features is just that: custom promotional popups. This makes it easier for store-owners to personalize their onsite CTAs and add little visual and interactive details that can shift the user’s interaction just enough to induce a purchase.
These can be made multilingual, too—so that every member of your target market will be just as tempted as the next to hit “add to cart.”
Norwegian footwear brand Sapatos knows that the Scandinavian and European market, its major targets, is inherently multilingual—and its site is accordingly translated into all its neighbouring countries’ native languages, for maximum regional reach.
Since they’re running on the Impulse theme, Sapatos’s promotional popups and other design items—banners, image carrousels, and “Sale” menus—are all translated, into all of their customers’ languages.
How does Shopify translation reel in the international ROI?
There isn’t a single correct response, but making your Shopify store multilingual is a sure way to get started—after all, over 55% of ecommerce shoppers prefer to buy in their own language.
Getting off on the right foot with customers from different cultures, with different customs and buying habits, starts with empathy: improve their user experience by translating your store, and you’ll have results to celebrate. 🎉