Your Shopify Plus site is live, now what?

The amount of effort you put into launching your new site was likely as exciting as it was stressful. The pressure to remember all key functionality plus all exceptions across your brands’ workflow is a daunting task for anyone.

Now that your site is live you are maybe noticing some things that were missed or tabled for post-launch review. You are hopefully using the Agile approach allowing you to gain valuable feedback from what your customers are asking for/struggling with to help you prioritize what is next.

One key thing to keep an eye post launch on is your analytics. Ensure you have benchmarks set up so you can monitor your KPI’s and adjust as needed. Maybe your Google Analytics is telling you a story that you can’t ignore that indicates adjustments to your UX/UI or that additional context for products and services you are providing is needed. Closely monitoring 404 and 301 errors will also help offset any SEO hit and ensure pages and links are working as expected.

The good news is that Shopify makes it easy to be nimble and adjust your approach based on what is happening in the economy. For example, COVID-19 turned what we thought we knew about how our customers shopped on its head. Prior strategies were tabled, and new ones were added to address the unexpected struggles so many of us encountered during this unprecedented time. Brands were needing to add additional messaging regarding shipping delays or inventory struggles. Maybe Live Chat was something you were considering down the road but with customers unable to go into stores your customer service was becoming overwhelmed and a new method of communicating was warranted. The Shopify app store has an app for just about anything you can imagine, and you can get that feature with just a click of a button. If you need design tweaks to align with your brand, no worries, SD can handle it!

What if you are considering a new feature but aren’t sure if it’s worth the investment? One of the prime opportunities I see our clients utilizing to gauge their customers wants/needs is A/B testing. There are plenty of apps available, both simple and complex, to determine if a new feature will likely provide the ROI you are needing. For example – it’s amazing to me how the color of a button can have such an impact on conversion rates. Setting up a quick A/B test to validate the winner for your target audience is a simple test and can have significant impact on your conversion. Simply stated – investing in conversion rate optimization (CRO) and A/B testing pays off. A few vendors we have worked with are Google Optimize, AB Tasty, and VWO.

Another highly valuable exercise is investing the time to do a digital marketing audit. This will translate the data you are seeing into actionable tasks to course correct as needed. The audit itself is a small effort but the impact to bringing awareness to your customers’ struggles sooner than later is priceless. Being actively aware of how customers are using your site can also help provide some insight and of course, there is an app for that! Watching videos of customers navigating your site and seeing where they are struggling can also provide guidance on what you need to tweak to allow for a better user experience as well. A tool we have found helpful for doing this is Inspectlet. It’s user friendly and inexpensive but extremely valuable when trying to troubleshoot issues or learn about customer site usage.

Now that you have all the core features to run your business, you need to consistently assess site performance. The ability to add apps is so easy on Shopify that we can sometimes go a bit crazy adding new functionality therefore it’s important to identify a baseline when adding a new app so you can quickly determine if it causes any significant performance slowdowns. Being aware of the page speed load times and best practices is key as it has a significant impact on your conversion, bounce rate, user experience and Google rankings. A free tool we use for our clients when reviewing performance is WebPageTest. This tool will analyze and rate your site on security, caching, first byte time etc. It’s a great starting point to help identify areas you need to focus on and does so by scanning your full site within minutes.

There are always ways of improving upon what we are doing and how we are doing it. Reviewing back-office tasks that are executed manually that may be possible via Shopify automation or an app is another area to consider. Less administrative work allows for more time to grow your business.

Ultimately, post-launch you want to take advantage of the feedback your customers provide and actively track and measure your KPI’s along the way. Not every action will produce the desired result. Not every action will work. As Lily Tomlin stated, “The road to success is always under construction”.

Checkout Zen Brings Enterprise-Like Analytics to Shopify Merchants

When it comes to the checkout process, Shopify takes the Apple approach: we did the research, we have the experience, trust us, this is the best experience possible. Shopify Plus merchants have a bit more leeway, but for regular Shopify stores, checkout is on lockdown.

No doubt it’s a terrific experience, and one less thing to worry about for merchants launching an ecommerce site for the first time. But to a company like HiConversion, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all checkout. Here’s why: every brand is unique, and so is the way its customers interact with its site. Some customers won’t purchase above a specific price point on a mobile device, while others think nothing of it. I know people who won’t convert if a site doesn’t accept PayPal. Why enter all that data and customer number when they can easily buy something similar elsewhere? Others feel the same way about Amazon Pay.

And as my colleague Megan DeLeonardis said, the same customer exhibits different behavior on different sites, which means no merchant can make assumptions. One needs to test on a continuous basis.

Enter HiConversion, and its app for Shopify merchants, Checkout Zen.

To a lot of people in the business, HiConversion is an enterprise play, offering sophisticated analytics options for major brands with teams of data scientists tasked with analyzing every aspect of user behavior. But that’s changing. With 500,000 businesses relying on Shopify, HiConversion realized that the ecommerce platform represented the next generation of merchants and decided to make a play in the market. A bit more on that later.

According to its app description, HiConversion “spent months experimenting on hundreds of real checkouts. Our tests on design, payment preferences, copywriting, and location revealed a generic checkout is costing you up to 15% in new revenue.” To recapture that revenue, merchants need to tweak, test and optimize their checkout experience, which isn’t easy to do if you rely on Google Analytics. To address this challenge, HiConversion designed the initial version Checkout Zen around three core capabilities:

Checkout Zen Score: an eCommerce site index that assesses the effectiveness of a site’s checkout funnel, specifically, likelihood that users who enter the checkout process will actually complete the process. The score, per HiConversion, “is calculated from the merchant’s own checkout funnel KPIs and it is continually updated to accurately reflect the dynamic nature of eCommerce.”

Checkout KPI Analytics: Set of charts that share insights into the KPIs that drive the Checkout Zen Score calculations. The purpose is to help merchants identify where, in the checkout process, they lose customers

Actionable Recommendations: “Dynamically-generated” recommendations based on results of the store’s overall score and KPIs.

The overarching concept is rather simple: every merchant wants to earn more revenue. Typically, they attempt to reach that goal by investing in campaigns that attract more users to their sites. Checkout Zen takes a different approach, asking: what if you figured out a way to convert more of the people who enter the checkout process to begin with? They’ve already arrived at your site, they’ve already discovered products that interest them, so why not go the extra mile to uncover and implement the checkout experience that works best for them?

A Place to Start

What I like about Checkout Zen is that it gives time-strapped merchants a place to start. The whole concept of optimization is huge, spanning the very top of the funnel all the way to the Thank You for Your Order page. It encompasses literally thousands of data points, and to a smaller shop it can feel like trying to boil the ocean. With Checkout Zen, HiConversion is essentially saying: your checkout process is where the business of your site actually occurs, and it’s important to focus on it and get it right. Here’s a methodology to do just that.

Interestingly, Checkout Zen is also a starting point, of sorts, for HiConversion. The company wanted a way to initiate conversations with the 500K Shopify merchants who collectively represent the future of ecommerce. But how? Shopify is a platform that does what it does very well and supports a vibrant ecosystem of developers to fill in the gaps. Through the years, most of those gaps have been filled, and there are tried and true plug-ins that most merchants use almost by default.

Discovering the unmet niches is a challenge for companies like HiConversion seeking to get into this slice of the market. But it saw an opportunity with offering enterprise-like analytics to the checkout process, which is a real boon for smaller retailers. It levels the playing field, allowing SMBs to compete with established brands by helping them to better understand what their customers actually want, and using those insights to build lifelong relationships with them. That’s always been the enterprise’s forte, their firewall, if you will. Checkout Zen allows SMBs to breach that wall, and I’m really curious to see how these types of initiatives will transform the retail landscape.

Executive Series

Something Digital’s Approach to Shopify Site Builds  

Are you considering building an ecommerce site in Shopify and wondering what’s involved? Something Digital regularly design and build such sites for a wide range of businesses, and through the years we’ve developed a process that ensures the best possible customer experience, while maximizing efficiencies in your budget and schedule. This post describes the drivers behind our process.

Jumpstart the Design Process with Shopify Premium Themes

When building a Shopify site it isn’t always necessary to start from scratch. The Shopify Theme store has over 100 free and premium themes. Themes are professionally designed ecommerce website templates that jumpstart the design process. All themes have a defined set of features, such as homepage design, navigation, layout style of product pages, treatment of images, number of products on a page, and so on, which means you have the code for a fully functioning site right out of the box.

To a large degree, coming up with an initial design for a site is a matter of clicking the options that you had in mind for your site — number of products in your catalog, layout style, product page features, navigation style, homepage features — and the store will present all of the pre-built themes that will accommodate your choices.

 

You can click on any of the options to read more about the key features of each theme, such as whether the page layout is optimized for large images, or if slideshows are available the homepage.

The costs for each theme range from $150 – $200 per theme, which means they’ll fit well with a range of budgets.

Rigorous Testing of Themes

Your site is a critical asset and the last thing you need to worry about is faulty code that results in poor brand experiences and lost sales. Something Digital would not recommend Premium Themes if they weren’t high-quality code.

All themes go through a rigorous testing and review process by Shopify prior to being offered in the store. If you buy a Premium Theme, you can be assured that it is fully functional out of the box (which, in turn, means you’ll have a fully operational site from from day one, and your site is launch-ready as you go through the build process).

Far from Cookie Cutter

Your brand is unique and you want a site that reflects the care you put into product selection and the customer experience. A site that’s built using Premium Themes can easily reflect your brand, your values and your brand voice.

Something Digital will apply your branding to the Theme templates. All of the colors, typography, imagery and copy that define your brand are applied to your site so that it is fully branded and unique.

We created a site for Omi that looks very different from the Premium Theme we started from. You have no need to fear a cookie-cutter site.

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

One of the best reasons to use Premium Themes is it allows you to focus your budget on the elements or customizations that have a material impact on your user experience and conversion rate, such as a product configurator or a virtual sizing chart.

When you meet with Something Digital to discuss your project, we will identify the areas where customization will deliver a strong ROI. We have deep experience with a wide range of B2C sites, which means you can leverage our expertise in a wide range of verticals, from Food & Beverage, Footwear, Health & Beauty, and so on.

Premium Themes Are Not for Everyone

There’s a lot to like about Premium Themes, but that not for every brand. Some sites need a highly specialized customer experience from start to finish, and there’s no getting around that fact. Something Digital regularly builds Shopify sites from the bottom up.

But a surprising number of sites can benefit from the time and cost efficiencies that are inherent in Shopify Premium Themes, which is why, in the cases where they make sense, Something Digital is happy to recommend that approach.

If you have questions about building on Shopify Plus let us know!

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Shopify Launches Sections for Themes

Shopify continues to increase the functionality of their platform by adding new features that both SI’s and merchants can utilize. The newest feature on deck, ‘Sections for Shopify Themes.’

You can think of sections as being customizable components of a theme. With this new feature you can now add, reorder, and remove different sections of content including videos, products, or collections. Need to preview your changes in real time on a desk-top or mobile? No problem, Sections has it covered and now you can test even when you’re on the go.

Some other theme development updates include easy image uploading with image picker and simplified resource referencing with URL setting.

The new feature will not only help simplify development work but change the way an SI hands off the store to their client.

Interested in the full article? Find it here, Introducing Sections for Shopify Themes.

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Something Digital Partners with Shopify Plus

Something Digital is excited to announce our partnership with Shopify Plus. Joining their partner program expands our offerings and ensures that our agency meets the evolving demands of online merchants.

Shopify Plus makes commerce simple for high growth, high volume merchants. Built on the back of the Shopify platform, which powers over 275,000 merchants in over 150 countries, Shopify Plus gives large merchants world-class scalability, reliability and flexibility. With Shopify Plus, large merchants can design, set up and manage their stores across multiple sales channels, including web, mobile, social media, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops. Shopify Plus helps power the commerce needs of companies like Tesla, RedBull, P&G, GE, RadioShack, Nestle, Kanye West, and many more.

View the official press release here.