Blog

Interview with Simon Severino from Strategy Sprints

Simon Severino is the CEO and founder of Strategy Sprints. Strategy Sprints helps companies scale quickly whilst freeing up the time of the company’s exec team to focus on building their business.

Simons has great advice on how to scale your business whilst reducing your workload. Productivity should be about delegation, not just about doing things faster!

Interview with Norbert Strappler from Syncspider

In this episode talk with Nobert Norbert Strappler from SyncSpider (www.syncspider.com). Syncspider connects eCommerce tools, for example, reducing stock on Amazon if you make a sale on eBay. Like Zapier, but eCommerce specific.

Integration is a real problem in eCommerce, so it was fascinating to talk to Nobert and why he started Syncspider and what keeps him excited about eCommerce.

Interview with Tomer from Sourcing Monster

Today’s interview is with Tomer from Sourcing Monster. Sourcing monster is a YouTube channel devoted to helping people succeed at developing private-label products and selling them on Amazon FBA. Tomer runs his own FBA business and is very generous with his advice. Setting up a private label business is not easy, but Tomer has inspired me to give it a try!

https://www.youtube.com/c/sourcingmonster

Anatomy of a Shopify Storefront

A Shopify store consists of distinct elements which come together to create the Shopify store. 

Pages

A page is a content page on the site that gives more information to visitors about a business and its product or services.  For example:

  • About us
  • Contact us
  • FAQs

Shopify pages are modular.  Content elements can be added and moved around the page using a WYSIWYG editor.

Blog

A blog is a special kind of page that displays a list of posts in chronological order.  Blogs are used to publish new and other fresh content.

Category pages

Category pages display groups of products.  In Shopify, these product categories are created by specifying product groups. For example, a product group could be items from the same brand, sharing elements of a title or in a price band.

Shop owners can add elements to the category page, for example, recommended product or a description header.

Product pages

Product pages show product details and have a buy now button allowing customers to add the item to their basket.

Basket and checkout

The basket is an area list of the items which customers are collecting to buy.  From the basket, they can change quantities or remove the product.  Once they are happy to pay, they click checkout to go to the Shopify checkout

The checkout is where customers enter their payment details and complete the purchase.

Header, Footer and Navigation

Each store will have a header and a footer.  In the header will be the top navigation and links to search, customer accounts and the basket.

The footer is an area at the bottom of the page that can include links to site pages and other content types such as email signup.

 

Why use Shopify?

There are plenty of website solutions out there, so why Shopify?  In fact, why a website at all?

Why build a website

The popularity and ease of use of Amazon and other online marketplaces mean that many brands do not even bother building their own eCommerce site.  Whilst this saves money and time, there are good reasons to have your own site.

Save on fees

Marketplaces charge a commission of 10 to 15%, whereas selling on Shopify only cost the payment process fee charged by your payment provider (usually 1 to 3%)

Access other sales channels

If you sell on marketplaces, you are effectively outsourcing your marketing to them.  This saves much time and also enables you to benefit from their enormous resources.  However, there are many ways of generating sales and traffic which require your own website. These include:

  • Search engine optimisation
  • Paid search
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Email marketing

Your customers

If you sell on a marketplace, the customer is not ‘yours’.  That means you have to pay every time you make a sale to them.  With your own website, you can pay once to acquire the customer and then use marketing techniques like email to attract them back to your site.

Why Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce website platforms and fast becoming the industry leader. 

Cheap

Shopify starts at £30/month.

Easy to build

The Shopify website is easy to set up.  The system is hosted on Shopify’s servers and so requires not technical knowledge to set up.  The website can be built using a wide range of library themes that are simple to configure.

Easy to use

Shopify is straightforward to use.  It has an intuitive interface for managing orders and updating the website

Extendable

A leading eCommerce platform, Shopify’ functionality can be extended using hundreds to easy to install apps. For example, you can run your eBay business through Shopify using the eBay app.

Run your whole business

Using apps, you can run your whole eCommerce business through Shopify, including

  • Warehousing
  • Despatch
  • Marketplaces
  • Marketing

Take payment

Shopify has a built-in payment option – ShopPay.  ShopPay allows customers to store their information, making it easy to check out on Shopify stores.  You can also add other payment options such as PayPal and Stripe.

How to use Shopify Analytics

Shopify Analytics

Shopify has a native set of website performance reports (called Analytics) which is accessed from The LHS menu.

Shopify Analytics enables sellers to understand the behaviour of their customers and make adjustments to their store to increase sales.

Analytics has three main sections

  1. Dashboard.  Overview of your store’s performance, e.g. sales, orders, conversion rate over a specified time period.
  2. Reports.  A range of reports which give detailed information on your store’s performance
  3. Live.  Performance of the website right now (e.g. number of visitors currently on the site) or in the last 10 minutes

Analytics terminology

These basic web performance metrics make up the basic building blocks of understanding what users are doing on your website.

Sessions

A session is a period of user activity on a website. For example, a user may come to your site, browse some pages and then make a purchase. If they are inactive for 30 minutes, the session ends.

Note: that a second session will be recorded if the user returns later that day.

How to use this metric: Sessions is an excellent metric to understand how attractive your site is and how well you are doing as a marketer to attract users to your site.

Users

This is the number of visitors with at least one session on your website within a given period. If a visitor returns twice in a day, they will be recorded as one user.

How to use this metric: User number is a measure of the number of people who are visiting your to your website.  It can be used to measure the effectiveness of your marketing activities.  Broadly speaking, more users means more sales.

Pageviews

The number of pages visited on your site in each period. It is a measure of how sticky your site is, i.e. how much the content appeals to users.  More pageviews mean that users are viewing more of your site

Pages per Session

The average pages viewed during a session on your website, calculated as page views divided by sessions.

How to use this metric: More pages per session mean that users are more engaged and visiting more of your site.

Average Session Duration

The average duration of visitors’ sessions.

How to use this metric: Longer sessions indicate that are more engaged.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visits where users viewed only one page and left.

How to use this metric: A high bounce rate suggests that people leave your site because they are not finding what they are looking for. You can minimise bounce rates by ensuring that landing pages are relevant to the advertising campaigns.

Percentage of New Sessions

The percentage of new visitors to your website. A successful website will have a mix of new and returning visitors.

Conversion

A conversion (a.k.a. Goal) is the completion of a user action on a website, e.g., making a purchase. The website owner defines conversion types that they wish to track.

Dashboard

The dashboard gives an overview of the performance of your site. Some of this information is a summary of a report, and some can only be seen on the dashboard page.  Sections include:

  • Total sales. Net sales (gross sales minus discounts and returns) plus taxes and shipping. Includes orders from all sales channels
  • Online store sessions. The number of sessions on your online store. A session is a period of continuous activity from a visitor.
  • Returning customer rate. The percentage of customers that have placed more than one order from your store, out of customers that placed an order within the selected date range
  • Online store conversion rate. Percentage of sessions that resulted in orders, out of the total number of sessions.
  • Average order value. Total value of all orders- including taxes, shipping, and discounts, without subtracting the value of returns – divided by the total number of orders.
  • Online store sessions by traffic source. Number of online store sessions grouped by the type of traffic source.
  • Sales by social source. Total online store sales that came from a social referrer source.
  • Sales by traffic source. Total online store sales grouped by the type of traffic source.
  • Online store sessions by social source. Number of sessions on your online store that came from a social referrer source.
  • Top referrers by sessions. External websites from which the most sessions came to your online store.
  • Top landing pages by sessions. The top pages where visitors entered your online store and the number of sessions associated with each landing page.
  • Sales attributed to marketing. Total sales that can be attributed to traffic driven to your online store by marketing efforts.

Reports

The reports section has a large number of reports which help you to dig down in the performance of your site.  Note that not all reports are available on the basic plan.

Reports are divided into the following sections:

Acquisition

These reports show how you acquired your customers. 

  • Sessions over time
  • Sessions by referrer
  • Sessions by location

They are helpful for gauging the effectiveness of your promotional activity.

Finances

These reports give information on the performance of your business. View your store’s finances, including sales, returns, taxes and payments.

  • Finances summary.  Total sales minus refund and discounts.  Gross profit calculation
  • Total sales
  • Taxes
  • Tips
  • Payments

Behaviour

These reports show the behaviour of customers on your site. Improve your store by understanding how visitors move through your site.

  • Online store conversion over time
  • Top online store searches
  • Top online store searches with no results
  • Product recommendation conversions over time
  • Sessions by landing page
  • Sessions by device
  • Online store cart analysis (Premium report)
  • Online store speed

Marketing

The marketing reports give insights into where your online store customers are converting from.

  • Sessions attributed to marketing
  • Sales attributed to marketing (Premium report)
  • Conversion by first interaction (Premium report)
  • Conversion by last interaction (Premium report)
  • Attribution model comparison (Premium report)

Inventory

Track and understand the movement of your products for more efficient inventory management.

  • Percent of inventory sold
  • ABC analysis by product
  • Average inventory sold per day
  • Month-end inventory snapshot
  • Month-end inventory value

Live

The live board shows the performance of your site right.  This is useful if you think you have a problem with your site, or have recently made a change e.g. send out an email. Metrics displayed are:

  • Visitors right now. Number of online store sessions that were active within the last five minutes.
  • Total sales. Total sales (gross sales plus shipping, taxes, discounts, and returns) from all sales channels so far today.
  • Total sessions so far today. Total number of visitor sessions on your online store so far today.
  • Total orders.  Total number of orders from all sales channels so far today.Page views in last 10 minutes
  • Customer behaviour. Sessions within the last 10 minutes that had items in the shopping cart, reached the checkout, or completed a purchase.

There is also a globe showing where today’s customers and orders have originated.

Shopify Menus, Filters and Redirects

Navigation

Your site’s navigational elements are edited in Online store > Navigation.  Here the site’s menus (e.g. main menu, footer menu) can be configured, and new menus added.

The menus included in a site are defined in the theme. Adding new menus requires changing the theme’s code.

Creating your navigation

Your navigation is a vital part of your site, and you should construct it to enable customers to find your product quickly.  One possible structure would be:

  • Product categories.  Divide your products up into logical categories.  This is done by placing the products into collections
  • Brands.  Categorise your products by brands
  • Info pages.  Have these in a separate menu item

Menus

A menu is a navigational item that contains multiple elements from the site.  These can be

  • Site homepage
  • Search
  • Product collections
  • Individual products
  • Pages
  • Blogs
  • Blog posts
  • Policies

Items are added to the menu and then can be repositioned using a drag and drop system.  Nesting items creates a menu hierarchy.

Filters

Collection and searches can be filtered using several user-defined filters.  These are either:

  • Availability
  • Price
  • Product type
  • Brand (Vendor)
  • Product options

Product options are the variant options defined at the product level (e.g. size, colour etc)

Search Engine Optimisation

When creating titles, remember then they are used by Google and other search engines to categorise the content of the page.  Choose navigation titles that represent the content on the destination page.  Research the most appropriate keywords to use for your titles using keyword research tools such as Google trends.

See our video on Basic SEO for Shopify.

Re-Directs

If you remove a page from your site or a navigation item, it is best practice to create a redirect.  If you do not create redirect:

  • This will negatively impact your search engine performance
  • External links to this page will be broken

Re-directs are managed from a link in the top RHS of the navigation page.

Adding a Page to Shopify

Adding pages to your Shopify store, e.g. About us and contact us, will provide the customer with more information about your company, reassuring them that you are a reputable business. 

Typical pages to add

Most online stores will have as a minimum:

  • Contact us.  Adding contact details will reassure customers and allow them to contact you if with questions
  • About us.  Giving some information about your business will help differentiate you from the competition

Creating Pages

Pages can be added or amended from Online Store > Pages.  Each page will have

  • Title.  Make this a meaningful title that includes relevant keywords
  • Blog content.  Text as well as media
  • Theme.  The layout of each blog page is determined by a theme.  Themes can be added or amended in Online storefront > Themes

When creating a page, you can duplicate and amend an existing page to save time.

Search engine preview

Shopify shows a search engine preview (i.e. how pages will appear on search engines).  This includes

  • Title.  This is the <title> tag for the page
  • Description.  This is the meta description
  • URL

These will be set by default to the page title and an excerpt of the description but can be optimised if desired.

How to create a Blog on Shopify

A blog is a great way to publish news and communicate with customers.  They also allow fresh content to be created that gets picked up by search engines.

Creating a blog

Multiple blogs can be created by visiting Online store >  Blog posts and clicking ‘Manage Blogs’. 

A blog’s layout is based on a template.  By default, the blog will use the default Blog template.  Creating new templates requires editing the site code.

Adding a post

Posts can be added from Online store >  Blog posts.  A post has the following elements

  • Title.  Make this a meaningful title that includes relevant keywords
  • Blog content.  Text as well as media
  • Excerpt.  A summary of the post which is shown on the blog homepage in the ‘Blogroll’
  • Featured image.  This will appear at the top of the blog post
  • Theme.  The layout of each blog post is determined by a theme.  See not above

Answering Comments

Hopefully, your blog will be popular and gets lots of comments.  Comments can be managed by visiting Online store >  Blog posts and clicking ‘Manage Comments’.

Comments can be disabled or allowed at the blog level.

Search engine preview

Shopify shows a search engine preview (i.e. how pages will appear on search engines) at both the blog and the individual posts level.  This includes

  • Title.  This is the <title> tag for the page
  • Description.  This is the meta description
  • URL

These will be set by default to the post title and excerpt but can be optimised if desired.

How to Customise your Shopify Checkout

Configuring the Shopify Checkout

One of the benefits of using Shopify is that the platform has a standard checkout that customers are familiar with from the many other Shopify stores from which they will have purchased.

The Shopify checkout has been optimised using the data from the millions of transactions that have gone through the Shopify checkout.  Consequently, the layout for the checkout cannot be altered in the standard Shopify plans (Basic, Shopify or Advanced). 

Whilst the checkout design cannot be changed, there are a number of options that sellers can configure in Settings > checkout

Design

The look and feel of the checkout (e.g. background, logo) is configured in Online store > themes > Checkout.  The layout cannot be changed, but there are several options for making the checkout fit with your company’s identity.

Customisations include:

  • Background colours or images (recommended image size: 1000 x 400px recommended)
  • Logo (recommended image upload size: 450 x 250px recommended)
  • Logo size and location (left of right)
  • Fonts
  • Form fields
  • Colours for buttons, errors and highlights

Options

When configuring your account, is it best to enable most options so that customer can choose their preferred options.

Customer accounts

Shopify can be configured in three ways:

  • Disable customer accounts, i.e. customers can only check out with guest accounts
  • Enable customer and guest accounts
  • Customer accounts required

The best practice is to enable customers to choose whether they use a create an account or not.  Returning customers may value creating an account, so they do not need to re-enter their details with every order. Other customers may not wish to have their details stored.

Customer contact

Checking out

Shopify has the option to enable customers to checkout using phone or email.  Whilst allowing the customers to check out using a phone number may improve conversion rate, email is a more convenient way to send customer messages for the following reasons:

  • Free.  Contacting a customer by phone can incur charges
  • Less intrusive. 
  • Fewer formatting issues.  Phone numbers can be written in several ways, which can cause issues when searching for orders
  • Searching.  Easier to search for order using emails

We recommend only allowing customers to checkout using an email address.

Shipping updates

By enabling customers to opt into shipping updates, you will potentially cut down on customer service queries.  Note that this does require adding keeping shipping details in order processing up to date.

Form options

When collecting customer information, it is best to collect the maximum information about the customer to ensure better deliverability. 

We recommend enabling the following options:

  • Full name or just last name.    Collecting the full name may help the courier to locate the customer if there are delivery issues.
  • Company name.  This field should be included as some delivery addresses will be to workplaces
  • Address line 2.  This option should be allowed to enable longer addresses to be correctly entered.

Order processing

When choosing order processing options, bear in mind that reducing the number of checkout steps will probably increase checkout completion.

  • Use the shipping address as the billing address by default.  This option reduces the number of fields required to check out. The billing address can still be edited.
  • Require a confirmation step.  This option will increase the number of steps and so reduce the conversion rate.  However, enabling customers to check their order before committing may reduce the number of customers making purchasing mistakes
  • Enable address autocompletion.  Helping customers enter their address will speed the checkout process and so may increase the conversion rate.

Marketing

Enabling customers to subscribe to email and SMS marketing at checkout will allow you to drive repeat purchases through marketing campaigns.

With email, there is the option to preselect the subscribe option.  Whilst this will increase sign up, it may annoy some customers and may be illegal in some countries.

Abandoned checkout emails

Abandoned checkout emails are one of the best ways to win back customers who left your site before making a purchase.  They are also free, so a no brainer!