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Creating a Shopify Product Collection

Collections are accessed from the LH main menu

Collections in Shopify are used to group together products.  These collections can then be used to populate the navigation or in featured sections of the website.

Types of collections

There are two types of collection: automated and manual.

  • Manual.  Products are added manually to a collection.
  • Automatic.  Products are added to a collection based on product attributes, e.g. title contains words or price threshold

Automated collections are convenient but less flexible as products cannot be excluded if they meet the criteria.

Collection attributes

Title and description

Users should take care to create compelling keyword-rich title and description as this information is used on the navigation elements and also picked up by search engines.

The page <title>, URL and meta description are populated automatically by this information, though the content can be manually edited.

Image

Images should be square and a maximum of 4472 x 4472 px.  Take time to select a compelling image for your collection as this will be dispatch on your storefront. 

SEO

In this section how the collection page will appear in the search results is shown and the user can edit the information for the <title>, meta description and URL.

Previewing your collection

To see how the collection will look on your website, click view in the top RHS.

Choosing a theme for your Shopify Store

A theme determines the look and feel of a Shopify storefront.  Shopify provides a range of free themes, or if you require something different, there is also a paid-for theme option.

Themes are selected in online storefront > themes.

Customising themes

All themes can be edited in a theme editor.  We will discuss editing the theme in another video.

Duplicating themes

If you wish to edit your live theme, it is best to duplicate the theme and then edit it before putting the new edited theme live.  This allows you to get the theme right before doing live.

Uploading a theme

A custom then can be uploaded via the upload a theme link

Theme actions

  • Preview.  Preview a theme before it goes live
  • Rename.  Change the name of a theme
  • Download theme file.  Download the theme for external editing
  • Edit code.  Play with the codes of the theme (advanced users only)
  • Edit languages.  Edit the text used in standard theme buttons e.g. 404 page
  • Remove.

eCommerce Business Blueprint

Ecommerce platform

To run an eCommerce business of any scale will require an eCommerce platform. This will organise product data, publish to channels and manage sales. Platforms come in all shapes and sizes and there is a monthly or yearly cost involved. If you are running a business then it will be worth it.

For a company starting off I would recommend 2 options:

  • Stand-alone eCommerce platform. Good examples are Linnworks and Veeqo. These products are strong on back-end processes and listing but will required a separate website.
  • Shopify. Shopify can be extended from a website to an ecommerce platform using plugins.

Product Content

Take care when creating content. When creating product descriptions, the more details the better. Include:

  • Multiple high-resolution images (2000 x 2000px is a decent size)
  • Detailed description
  • Attributes and dimensions
  • Product identifiers e.g., EAN barcode

If you are launching across multiple channels, plan the content you will need for all the channels before creating your inventory. This will cut down on rework in future.

When creating a product, it is always easier to upload using a spreadsheet.

Marketplaces

Marketplaces are a fantastic way to get started selling online as they require less technical knowledge than launching a website. The larger marketplaces (i.e., eBay and Amazon) have a huge international userbase allowing merchants to reach customers all over the world.  Recommended marketplaces for retail start-ups are:

Amazon

Amazon is the world’s largest marketplace with hundreds of millions of customers. Amazon is a catalogue-based system where sellers simply add their offer to a listing that already exists.  This makes it super easy to get started as no content creation is required.

eBay

eBay is not the eCommerce force it once was but is still a major eCommerce player and well worth selling on.  The listing process is straightforward and sellers have much more opportunities to brand their listings than on Amazon.

Fruugo

Fruugo is a growing UK based marketplace that focuses on international sales.  It is easy to produce via a product feed and Fruugo take care of all transaction and currency conversion.

Etsy

Etsy is the leading marketplace for handmade and vintage products.

Website

Shopify is the market-leading website solution and an easy platform from which to launch your business. It also supports an ecosystem of apps that can extend its functionality. Other options include Wix, Big Commerce and Magento.

Categories

Research your categories carefully to ensure that their names match high volume searches. Ensure that each category has quality descriptions and complete metadata. Keep the number of top-level categories low – 6 to 8 maximum.  Take time to build a user-friendly structure that will make navigating your site easy.

Accepting Payments

Two popular methods for accepting payment online are:

  • PayPal.  A popular alternative checkout solution previously owned by eBay.
  • Stripe.  A payment gateway which is easy to setup and use with reasonable fees.

Implementing these two options for your customers will give your customer the option of paying via an alternative checkout or by card.

Blog

A blog is a wonderful way to communicate with your customers about new product launches and other company news. It is also an invaluable tool for search engine optimisation as Google love fresh content.

Information pages

Comprehensive information pages for your site which give your customers the information they need to make a purchase.  This will increase conversion rate and decrease customer service queries and returns.  Information to include:

  • Content details
  • Terms and conditions
  • About the seller
  • Delivery and returns.

Search Engine Optimisation

When creating content for your website, make sure to write compelling content for each page that includes your keywords.

Keyword Research

Research the keywords you wish to target for your site.  Keyword research and content creation is covered in chapter 4.

Google Search console

By registering your website will Google search console and submitting a sitemap, you can quickly get your site indexed and potentially included in Google natural search. The search console will also give information on the natural search performance of a site over time.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing webmaster tools is a similar tool to Google Search Console except for the much smaller Bing search engine.

Google My Business

Google my business is Google local business solution.  By adding your business to Google My business your business will attract more local search traffic and

Link building

Links are an important part of building search engine authority.  The following are easy sources of links for startups:

  • Supplier websites
  • Local directories
  • Press release websites (free and paid)

Social Media

Social media is the best way to connect with your customers and reassure them that you are a reputable business.  It is also a source of free traffic and promotion. 

Facebook

Setting up a Facebook page is obligatory for all businesses.  Many customers will contact businesses through their pages so ensure it is checked regularly.  Integrate a product feed from your website into the Facebook business centre and use this to create a Facebook shop.

Twitter

Twitter is a popular platform, but not as retailer friendly as Facebook and Instagram.  Due to it high profile it is worth creating an account and regularly updating it.

Instagram

Instagram is an especially important platform for fashion and homeware brands. As it is owned by Facebook it can be managed from the same interface as your Facebook account. Set up an Instagram business account and launch an Instagram shop to highlight your products.

Pinterest

Pinterest shops are a reliable source of website traffic and can be created automatically via a product feed from your website platform.

Cross-posting

Social media platforms should be set up to cross-post where possible.  For example, you can post links to blog posts on your social media platforms and Tweet your Instagram posts.

Paid search

Google Paid search generates traffic quickly and smart bidding programmes like Google smart shopping take all the pain out of the setup.

Google Merchant Centre

To appear in Google shopping, a seller must submit a feed to the Google Merchant centre.  Once a feed has been accepted, the seller can create Shopping Ads.  They will also be eligible for free traffic from Google Shopping.

Google Shopping Ads

Google shopping ‘Smart’ ads are easy to set up and manage. They only require a feed from the merchant centre and the seller to set their ROAS goal.

Email Marketing

Email marketing helps sellers retain customers, so it is never too soon to start building a list.  Tools such as Klaviyo and Mailchimp are easy to use email platforms. 

The most successful email campaign is abandoned cart, which encourages customers to return to the website and complete their purchase.

The benefits of web analytics

Web analytics can give business owners essential metrics about the performance of their website. These metrics can tell merchants:

  • Who their customers are?
  • How they find your business
  • What they do when they get to your website

From within these metrics, businesses can choose Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) against which to measure their website’s performance. These are the metrics that have the most impact on your business’s bottom line.

Website Analytics can help an eCommerce website improve in three principal areas:

Online Promotion

As covered in this book, there are many different methods of promotion available for promoting a website. Web analytics can help identify which ones work best for your business by allowing the measurement and comparison of different sales channels. The data collected can help answer several questions about your marketing:

  • Which marketing channels refer visitors to your site?
  • How much traffic do they drive?
  • What products do customer buy?
  • What do customers spend?
  • Where do your site visitors live?
  • What are the demographics of your audience?
  • What is the conversion by channel?

The answers to these questions will enable you to focus your marketing efforts, showing you the channels to invest in and which to abandon. They can also help you define and understand your target audience.

Website Design and Performance

Online promotion gets people to a site, but it is what they do when they get there which matters. The navigation and usability of a website can have a massive effect on its performance. Installing tracking software such as Google Analytics allows the analysis of users’ navigation path through the website, outlining usability issues. Insights include:

  • Exit points. Are users leaving the site at particular points before completing a conversion?  For example, when shipping is quoted.
  • Shopping cart abandonment. What percentage of your items are added to a cart but never bought?
  • Bounce rates. The percentage of website visitors who leave the site after viewing only one page. This indicates that the site does not meet user expectations.
  • Page traffic. Which pages on my site get the most traffic?
  • Site speed. How quickly do my site’s pages load?

These insights give you concrete ways of improving your site performance. For example, you could learn that certain products are getting lots of traffic but few conversions. By enhancing page element (e.g., description, images and prices), you can run comparative tests to learn which features improve performance.

Search Engine Optimisation

Analytics insights also provide valuable insights for improving your search engine optimisation. The Web analytics can help answer questions about how users find and interact with your site including:

  • How much traffic is from natural search?
  • Which landing pages get the most traffic?
  • Popular search queries driving traffic to your site.

Using this information, you can see what content on your site attracts search engine traffic and the keywords driving traffic.  You can use this information to discover where you are performing poorly and create higher quality content.

Choosing your Shopify account level

Setting up a Free Account

You can try out Shopify free for 14 days without the requirement of entering credit card details.  When creating a Shopify account, you will need the following information

  • Name and address
  • Email (verification required)
  • Shop name.  This is the name that is used in your free Shopify URL, e.g. name.myshopify.com, which is the default URL for the storefront

Shopify and Shopify Plus

When setting up a Shopify account there are two top levels of account types to choose between

  • Shopify.  For small to medium enterprises.
  • Shopify Plus.  For enterprise customers selling thousands of orders a day

Shopify accounts can be created online, but Shopify Plus accounts can only be created by contacting Shopify directly

Shopify Plus accounts will not be covered in this course.

Shopify Account levels

The ordinary Shopify tier has three account levels:

  • Basic – $29/month
  • Shopify – $79/month
  • Advanced – $299/month

The levels have the same basic functionality with the following main differences

  • Users. Upper tiers get additional users
  • Card processing fees.  Card processing fees are lower for upper tiers
  • Locations.  Upper levels can store inventory at more locations
  • Shipping.  Upper tiers can use third-party apps to calculate shipping rates at checkout
  • Internationalisation.  Upper tiers get more control over international pricing.  They can also have separate international domains (e.g. hellobabydirect.fr, hellobabydirect.de)

What level should I choose?

Based on just the payment processing fees, at the following approximate levels, it makes sense to upgrade as you will save money:

If using ShopPay:

  • Basic – Under $20000
  • Shopify – £20000 to $50000
  • Advanced – Over $50000

If you are using your own payment gateway, for example, Stripe, Shopify charges a payment processing fee for each order.  This is 2% for a basic account but only 0.5% for an Advanced account.  The levels for using your own payment gateway are:

  • Basic – Under $5000
  • Shopify – £5000 to $50000
  • Advanced – Over $50000

Remember, you can upgrade at any time, and so you can always start at a lower tier to save money.

Chloe Thomas from Ecommerce MasterPlan

Our latest podcast interview is with the wonderful Chloe Thomas from eCommerce MasterPlan. Chloe runs a successful eCommerce Podcast as well as being a writer of several books and a speaker.

We talked about:

  • Tell us about what you do?
  • How did you get started?
  • How do you describe yourself – a writer, podcaster, ecommerce nerd?
  • You work with a number of channels e.g. podcast, books etc. Which gets the best engagement?
  • Which do you enjoy most?
  • How long do you think it requires to get traction with a podcast/training business?
  • What has inspired you recently?

If you have time I recommend checking out the eCommerce MasterPlan podcast and also her other podcast Keep Optimising

Enjoy!

How to Survive Amazon Account Suspensions Ecommerce Odyssey Podcast

As an Amazon seller, getting your seller account suspended can be a terrifying experience. The process is opaque, unaccountable and it is not possible to talk to anyone. In my opinion, it is a manifestation of Amazon’s unaccountable monopoly at its very worst.In the episode, we look at the cause for Amazon account suspensions, how to avoid them and how to deal with them if they arise.Ecommerce odyssey is presented by Trevor Ginn from vendlab.com, an eCommerce agency specialising in online marketplaces and e-commerce sales platforms.
  1. How to Survive Amazon Account Suspensions
  2. Chloe Thomas – Ecommerce MasterPlan
  3. Rosie Bailey from Nibble – Negotiation Chatbot
  4. Interview with Neil Twa from Voltage Direct Marketing
  5. Interview with Dr Traffic – Social Media Agency

Boosting your Amazon sales: Sponsored Products, Amazon Business and Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic Pricing

With price being a significant factor in determining which offer gets placed into the buy box, it is vital to monitor price carefully and adjust pricing to remain competitive. If you are selling many products, it becomes impractical to price manually, and it is best to use one of the many ‘repricers’ available to manage pricing based on rules. Typical these tools work in the following way.

  • Select products. Import details of the products whose price you wish to manage.
  • Select competition. Set the parameters of the products against which you wish to reprice. For example, you may only want to compare prices against products with the same fulfilment method, of the same delivery timescale, or sellers above a specific feedback score.
  • Set pricing. The tool will need a floor price and a ceiling price, i.e., match prices against competitors but do not go lower than X or higher than Y.
  • Set pricing rule. For example, match pricing, go lower by a certain amount, go lower by a certain percentage.

Repricing is an effective way to boost sales but will eat into your margins. Example repricing tools include Bqool.

Amazon Sponsored Products

Amazon’s Sponsored Product programme enables traffic to be driven to listing based on specified keywords. Sponsored Products ads are charged on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis.

As mentioned, Amazon search performance is primarily based on the listing’s sale history. As new products do not have any history, it will often be necessary to buy traffic to build a sales history. Once the listing’s natural sales performance picks up, sponsored products ads can be scaled back.

Amazon sponsored product works similarly to other PPC programmes such as Google Ads, i.e.:

  • An account is organised into campaigns and ad groups.
  • Advertisers specify specific keywords to drive traffic to listings.
  • Negative ad targets can also be added, e.g., keywords not to appear for.
  • Bids set at the Ad groups or keyword level.

For example, a merchant of iPhone cases might bid £0.5 to appear for the keyword ‘iPhone 5S case’. They might only have iPhone 5 cases, so use ‘iPhone 6’ and ‘iPhone 7’ as negative keywords.

There are several options within sponsored products:

  • Sponsored products. Promote products to consumers actively searching with related keywords or viewing related items on Amazon.
  • Sponsored brands. Rich, engaging adverts highlighting your brand.
  • Sponsored display. Rich display ads promoting your brand or products.

Amazon for Business

Amazon’s B2B programmed called ‘Amazon for Business’ enables businesses to buy from Amazon and get the following benefits:

  • VAT invoicing
  • Quantity discounts for bulk purchases as specified by sellers
  • Request quote for bulk purchases from sellers

To enrol in Amazon Business, a seller must be a VAT registered business. They can then set quantify discounts based on the following criteria:

  • Percentage discount based on order quality.
  • Fixed price based on quantity.

Amazon says that selling to businesses through their platform can boost sales by up to 30%.

Sell Globally

Most of Amazon’s international sites are open to international (i.e., non-domestic) sellers. Each Amazon site works the same way. If you are familiar with one site, selling internationally will be straightforward.

As Amazon is a catalogue system, you may find the much of your inventory will already exist on international sites. This means that you will not need to translate your products and can get selling straight away. Products should have the same ASIN in each country, so it is easy to identify the products you want to create.

In the EU, the Pan European FBA programme allows merchants to deliver their inventory to one country but have prime eligible offers throughout the EU.

Amazon Fulfilment Options: FBA, SFP, Pan-EU FBA and FBM

Fulfilment is a significant factor on Amazon as it is a crucial factor in buy box ranking. Merchants can choose between Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM), and Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP).

Fulfilled by Amazon

FBA is Amazon’s wildly popular fulfilment service. Items are stored in Amazon warehouses and shipped by Amazon to fulfil merchant orders. FBA has three main advantages:

  • Easy. Ship the products to Amazon, and they do everything else. The merchant does not need their warehouse or customer service staff.
  • Buy Box. FBA orders get preference over FBM orders.
  • Prime eligible. FBA orders are eligible for Amazon Prime.

FBA is a great programme and makes a lot of sense for retailers and brands looking to sell to Amazon customers. It works best under the following circumstances:

  • Fast moving product lines. You do not want to be paying storage for products that are not selling.
  • Small catalogues. Managing many items in small quantities in FBA is a headache.
  • Sturdy products. Breakable products will not survive the process.

FBA Fees

There are four types of FBA fees:

  • Carrier fees. Charged if you use one of Amazon’s carrier partners to collect and deliver inventory to an Amazon fulfilment centre.
  • Storage fees. Charged based on the volume of inventory stored every month.
  • Fulfilment fees. Each order incurs a fulfilment fee based on the size of the product.
  • Optional fees. Amazon offers a range of product processing services that incur additional charges, e.g., re-barcoding, product furbishing.

Pan-EU FBA

The Pan-European FBA programme enables delivery of Prime eligible orders across the EU from a single inventory pool. Inventory is delivered into a single EU warehouse, and the fulfilment will be charged at the local rate. To be enrolled in Pan EU FBA, a product must have a live listing on Amazon DE, FR, IT, ES.

For example, a merchant has a listing for a product live on Amazon DE, IT, ES, FR and delivers the inventory into Germany. The inventory level displayed will be the same on each site (pooled inventory). When an order is placed, the fulfilment fee charged will be at the local rate of the site on which the order was placed.

ROW FBA

The FBA programme is available in most countries where Amazon has operations and is available for international merchants. For example, a UK merchant can use FBA in the USA, but they will need to manage the importing process, including freight and customs clearance.

FBM and SFP

Fulfilled by Merchant is where the order is shipped directly from the merchant to the customer. This gives the seller complete control, but FBM orders will be ranked lower than FBA offers, all things being equal.

A hybrid option is Seller Fulfilled Prime. SFP enables merchants to ship Prime eligible orders from their warehouse. This option has the advantages of FBA (Prime eligibility) without managing stock in two warehouses.

Shipping order via SFP has the potential to boost sales but has the following disadvantages:

  • Lack of control. Amazon gives itself full right to refund Prime customer’s orders for any reason. If you think that a refund is not justified, you need to put in a Safe-T claim to claw back the funds.
  • More returns. Returns are automatically authorised for Prime members.

Amazon for Brands – Brand Registry, Branded Storefronts & FBA

Brand Registry

Amazon actively encourages brands to sell directly to Amazon customer and has launched a range of tools to enable brands to protect and promote their brand on Amazon. Brand Registry enables brand trademark owners to register their brand with Amazon. Once the brand is registered, brand owners can do the following:

  • Create a branded storefront
  • Run sponsored brand advertising campaigns
  • Add A+ content to listings
  • Remove counterfeit products
  • Amends listing details

Branded storefronts

A branded storefront shows the products listed under a brand. The store has a vanity URL and is organised by categories. Page Sections can give product information and highlight products.

Tangle Teaser’s Amazon Storefront

A+ Content

A+ (or Enhanced Brand) Content is an area of rich media content added to the product listing page by brand owners. According to Amazon, adding A+ content can boost conversion rates by 5-10%

A+ content for Firepot dehydrated meals

FBA Brands

Amazon offers brands a fully functional ecosystem for selling their products.

  • Publishing platform of listing products
  • Traffic via Amazon natural search or sponsored products
  • Fulfilment via FBA

The ease of setting up with Amazon has heralded the launch of many ‘FBA Brands’ who only sell their products through Amazon FBA and no other channels. They get products produced in China and shipped directly to Amazon fulfilment houses from where Amazon does all the fulfilment and customer service.