4 businesses that cannot go without a mobile app

The benefits of a mobile presence are many for everyone, but for some they are even more. There are situations in which having a mobile app is particularly profitable, based on the intrinsic characteristics of the business we are referring to.

shoppy Come assicurarti che il tuo e-commerce sopravviva al Covid-19 la guida completa

How to preserve your e-commerce throughout Covid-19

How to preserve your e-commerce throughout Covid-19

The complete guide

Coronavirus has overturned our lives and has caused an unforeseen economic breakdown all over the world. Physical stores encountered many incredible losses, as a consequence of the lockdowns that caused the sales to fell down during the last year.

Nevertheless, some businesses seem to have benefit (if we can call it so) from this phenomenon. Being constrained in their houses, users have indeed enhanced their online shopping activity. Hence, somebody made it. Somebody twisted the crisis into rise. E-commerce activities, indeed, increased their sales and revenues and successfully coped with such hard times.

The benefits differ from one sector to another, especially considering that food, game and sport industries have been the most rewarded ones. Even cosmetics and electronics registered an increase in sales, which are expected to continue growing.

If your business didn’t observe this rise (or worse, you had first hand experience with its decline) how can you expect it to survive this pandemic? First of all, you must analyse the changes in your customers’ behaviour throughout time and adapt your tools to their renewed needs.

You don’t know how to do so? Don’t worry, here we are 6 suggestions for you, to help your e-commerce resist the crisis in the era of Covid-19.

1.

Adapt your strategies to the new consumers’ habits

It’s clear as day that the pandemic revolutionised our lifestyles from many points of view. Let’s focus on the positive changes that even a negative situation may bring us and conceive some effective strategies to overcome the difficulties.

The restrictions to limit our movement modified the purchasing behaviors. For example, so many people find it unconceivable nowadays, to go to a store and buy just a few things per time. The tendency moved toward the online shopping, thanks to which people can stock up in total relax.

To keep guaranteeing your customers a top-quality service and show them that you care, put their needs first and analyse their purchasing behaviors cautiously. Think, for example, of customised discounts (according to different purchasing preferences). How? With push notifications or in-app messages using the app of your e-commerce! Your support could become an asset in this downturn.

2.

Take advantage of the e-commerce in the era of Covid-19

As previously announced, it’s so sad to observe the decline that sectors such as tourism, real estates, catering industries and  so many others experienced. But, at the same time, we shouldn’t ignore the rapidity in the growth of so many other ones, thanks to the online selling.

E-commerce reached peaks that only in 2025 we would have seen otherwise. In-app purchases have increased too, due to a higher usage of the mobile devices.

A tip? Create an app for your e-commerce. It allows you to offer a unique experience for your customers and engage them more than ever. These are some reasons why your e-commerce can’t live without an app anymore:

  1. In- app purchases are easier and faster. We have always a smartphone on hand, and it can’t be a coincidence that in-app purchases are growing so rapidly…
  2. You need a mobile app to send push notifications. And that’s not all. You can customise the communication according to the different purchasing habits. You can be able to send your customers a memo to invite them buying their preferred items, checking their latest purchases. And what about full carts? You can send the users a limited-time offer to push them in completing their orders! In addition, you could send notifications through the app, in order to communicate that previously sold-out items are available again. Doesn’t it sound incredible?
  3. Integrating avantgarde technologies to your app is essential to show the products at 360 degrees and offer a “real-life” experience through the screen of a smartphone. I’m obviously speaking of augmented reality videos to bring your products to life. This technology gives your customers a practical idea of your offer and their purchases become reliable even considering that they can’t physically touch, try or observe the products.
  4. In the preview of your app  in the app store, you can show the users’ feedback in addition to the description of your program’s main features and captivating screenshots. This allows you to increase your credibility and visibility. But how do you get such positive feedback? Solicit your loyal customers and invite them writing what they like the most and sharing their thought about you on Social Media! Send a push notification and offer discounts on their next purchase: they won’t disappoint you!

If you’re not completely sure about all the great things that I’ve just mentionedread this article and learn more about all the benefits of a mobile app for your e-commerce.

3.

Focus on loyalty programs for your actual customers

I know what you’re thinking. One of the main reasons that pushes company in starting an e-commerce is the opportunity to increase sales and attract as many customers as possible. These factors can’t be ignored, and it’s crucial for your marketing to convince lots of more clients everyday to buy your product. But this is not the key to success. You should focus, instead, on the existing customers and empower the communication you have with them. These are the core activities for your success!

You’ll have to modify your marketing strategies and readapt them. You’ll have to pay attention to the renewed necessities that your customers developed and satisfy them at your best. At the same time, it is essential to show your empathy and promote your offer in a way that they can perceive as useful. Let them know that you’re there to support and improve their lives, and they’ll sure appreciate that.

Do you also want to know a terrific strategy to retain the customers? It’s a walk in the park: send them push notifications. These allow you to communicate directly and show them the products they need or desire the most. Establish a strong relation with your clients and show empathy in such hard times, for example by creating customised discounts or free-shipping bonus codes, to show your support at 100%.

4.

Invest on the quality of your customer service

Be sensitive and try to perceive immediately your customers’ needs, being this such a terrible living situation. Let us feel that you’re there for them and show your support anytime. It’s important to create in their minds the idea that they can count on you whenever they need. 

How to? Provide them with a top-quality customer service! They may always need your comprehension, and your job is to reshape your activity following the guidelines of their needs. This is the only way they can continue trusting you and your brand.

And if you find it hard to manage a stable relation with your audience, try a chatbot. It’s a modern technology conceived to emulate human conversations and allows you to answer automatically (and efficiently) your customers’ questions. This means having a top-quality customer service! You’ll spare time for the easiest requests and have the opportunity to focus on the more complex ones, that require your direct presence. In addition, you could add these automatic response systems in your mobile app! That’s how the users will find it easy to get the support they need.

5.

Build trust-based relations

As previously said, loyal customers play a key role for your success. They’re, indeed, more likely to choose your products rather than your competitors’, and with a major frequency. It’s also easier to adopt upselling and cross-selling strategies with your loyal customers. Simultaneously, it’s important to make efforts in offering valuable services and productsensure a top-of-the-line customer service, effectively respond to their needs and build a trust-based relation.

It’s unexpectedly difficult to cultivate trustworthiness overtime. Your customers should keep believing in you and receiving even a greater value day after day to continue choosing your brand. Hence, you need to centre your attention on customised communication, to make your marketing strategies effective and create unforgettable journeys for your clients.

Remember that transparency is essential in the relationship with your customers. If you can’t guarantee in-time deliveries because of a particular busy or difficult period, send notice to your clients: they want to feel that you haven’t forgotten them and will appreciate your honesty.

Customised messages are another crucial feature in your communication. This leads us again to the importance of push notifications. Thanks to this tool, you can send personalised messages to the right people at the right moment, after studying their activity and purchasing habits. You can also provide automatic push notifications, that go straight to your customers’ smartphones after specific actions have been made (new products added to the wishlist, shipping cart abandonment…).

Be careful to the quality of the information that you share with your customers. Avoid irrelevant notifications, which they can’t take advantage from, and bothering them. Pay attention to the content creation process and work hard to provide them with valuable and tailor-made communications. This will work!

6.

Encourage your customers to promote your brand

Loyal customers can bring you unexpected benefits! Not only they shop from you frequently and contribute actively to increment your sales, but also can promote your brand, attracting new potential clients.

Provide your loyal customers with very profitable prices, to guarantee a wonderful experience and feel their satisfaction. Don’t miss the chance to invite them to leave a comment about you in your app and on your Social Media pages. And it’s even better if you combine this with promising a discount as a reward for their effort. They’ll be more inclined to spread the voice about you.

You can always show these comments in your app and in the description of the app on the app store. You e-commerce will benefit from more credibility and exposure.

No, that’s not enough yet. You’ll be able to collect the number of users that see your products and use the data to convince undecided customers.

To sum up

Covid-19 is certainly challenging us, limiting our decision-making authority and obligating a re-adaption of our jobs and strategies to a new reality. It’s not easy to change our working methods, but we must do it, to survive this terrible crisis. I hope that my suggestions will help you find your customers’ needs, what to work on and how to approach your market.

A little recap on the discussed topics, which you should focus on:

  1. Adapt your strategies to the new customers’ habits
  2. Take advantage of the e-commerce in the era of Covid-19
  3. Focus on loyalty programs for your actual customers
  4. Invest on the quality of your customer service
  5. Build trust-based relations
  6. Encourage your customers to promote your brand

... And now? 🤔

Do you want to create a mobile app for your e-commerce, but you don’t know where to start? No worries, the team of Shoppy is here for you 🤝 start making your app now

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Mobile VS Web

Mobile VS Web

The adavantages of having a mobile app for your Shopify store

If you have a Shopify store, you must be aware of the fact that more than 80% of your traffic originates from mobile devices. This means that you need to satisfy mobile users, if you expect for your e-commerce to be successful. Nevertheless, so many businesses still develop their digital strategies only by means of a website. A few years ago, this would have been enough for a marketer, to spare the competitors and increase his coverage, but not today. This happens because there is a more efficient showcase for your products: a mobile app. A mobile app is a far better alternative than spending loads of money and resources in a more responsive website.

In this article, we will discuss some of the advantages you could benefit from developing a mobile app for your e-commerce store.

1.

A better UX

Just as your e-commerce has eased the shopping for your customers, a mobile app would take the consumers’ UX one step further. A mobile app would allow your users to shop virtually anywhere, but that is not all. The mobile app of your e-commerce would also become a place where your customers can spend their time, just like it happens in social networks. You know well that the number one lesson in marketing is to advertise where the target audience is. In this case, knowing that people always have their smartphone with them, almost 24 hours a day, brings obvious benefits. Your goal must be to gain more and more time and attention from your users, and an app can really help you do that, building the user’s loyalty.

Apps are faster than websites

Your users do not have time to lose! The average time that users wait for loading a page is 3 seconds, after which they abandon the website, if the action has not been completed yet. Capturing new potential users’ attention is not a piece of cake, and I think that you might not want to add another risk factor.

Apps show to be 1,5x faster than websites for mobile devices. The reason is in the ability of applications to memorize the information on the users’ devices, so that “when the user calls” the data can be immediately provided. It is fantastic, right?

Apps can offer customised contents

Users want personalized content. Having a mobile app would allow you to offer them exactly that: a personalized experience based on their interests, behavior, location and preferences. How? Apps allow you to memorize some high-value information that gives you the ability to implement strategies and tactics to build loyalty.

The result is an app that offers your customers the exact contents that they want to see, when they want to see them, directly on their smartphone. Thus, the apps become like virtual eyes for the buyer, making a mobile app a powerful tool for creating and nurturing relationships with loyal customers.

2.

Push notifications and in-app messages

Do you have any idea of ​​the potential that push notifications have? I am not speaking of those annoying pushes that are sent every second, which have the opposite effect of alienating the user. Absolutely not! Shoppy allows you to send personalized push notifications and in-app messages, in order to increase the user retention and engagement.

Imagine how great it would be to be able to send a highly personalized message to your customer at the perfect time. With Shoppy, you can do it! Push notifications allow you to send non-intrusive messages to your customers through the app. Shoppy gives you the ability to customize the notification pop up, the text, the sound, the images and even the timing (you can schedule a push notification or program to send it according to some triggers!). In addition, you can send push notifications based on the location of your users, so that you can present special offers when they are near to one of your physical stores. I am talking about all the proximity marketing strategies like geofencing and beacons.

What do you think about sending regular updates every time that your customers enter your app? In this case, the in-app messages allow you to alert the users with always relevant and updated offers, communicating with them even while they are interacting with your digital product.

If you do not have an app, you have less leverage to increase sales because you cannot use push notifications and in-app messages.

3.

Safer and faster payments

By developing a mobile app, you can include secure payment options and program the app to remember these options for the next shopping experiences. This simplifies the buying process for both the consumer and the merchant.

The mobile added-to-cart rates are still lower than desktops ones, suggesting that while many mobile shoppers frequently reach the point of purchase, they are discouraged when paying. The solution to this problem is in trying to simplify the checkout process as much as possible, removing any obstacles to purchasing, such as registration, and simplifying the forms filling.

Give your users what they want: a mobile app!

The market research shows that 78% of the users prefer to get access to their favourite shopping stores by means of a mobile app rather than using a browser. What are the reasons behind? All the above-mentioned: apps make the shopping experience faster, safer, and users never have to worry about logging in every time they want to see what is new or place their usual order.

Have a look at the numbers!

(Fonte: SaleCycle)

mobile vs web insight

It goes without saying that the first step in optimizing sales for customers on mobile devices is to have a responsive website for mobile devices. This turns out to be more of a necessity, considering that most of the web traffic is on mobile devices instead of desktop.

However, if you do not have a native mobile app, you are losing a lot of money due to the increase in abandoned carts and the inability to drive traffic on demand through push notifications and in-app messages.

... And now? 🤔

If you are trying to develop an app that simultaneously synchronizes with your Shopify store, Shoppy is here to help you! 🤝 Start now building your own app!

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10 Shopify Apps you should definitely try in 2021 (+ Bonus)

10 Shopify Apps you should definitely try in 2021 (+ Bonus)

you should definitely try in 2021 (+ Bonus)

Intro

This is not a visitor-grabbing article. It is not even an article that brings me income from installations or visits. I put this article together as I searched for the most useful apps to scale my store. You will not find the coolest, the most famous, the most obvious apps; I looked for some goodies that could change your business.

The funny thing is, I have not even lined them up. It is not a ranking, I marked the numbers just so as not to forget where I was. Indeed, if you asked me which one I prefer, I would reply that they are all very useful, but my favorite is the number 8!

Before I reveal the 10 apps you absolutely must try, I would like to give you a brief overview of what Shopify apps are. If you know, you can skip to the next section (but you will miss one of my mantras (Are you sure you wanna do that?)!

What is a Shopify app?

Remember my mantra (one of many): “Shopify works because it does a few things very well”. The fact that Shopify is very easy to use, takes care of the most important aspects of building an e-commerce and allows you to get started quickly makes it a suitable choice for anyone who wants to do business online.

What is the limit? Well, that Shopify does a few things. The functions that you can find in the main part of the application are the bare minimum to sell online: a builder for the pages, the product page, the payment process and … that is it! An example: in the standard Shopify skeleton, there is not even the function to collect and display product reviews.

This is where apps come into play. Shopify has created an ecosystem of developers who can create new features which integrate easily and quickly with Shopify to allow you to handle things that are very important, but that Shopify doesn’t care about.

An app is nothing more than a collection of one or more new features, packaged in a module that you can install and connect to your Shopify in a few clicks. There are free apps and paid apps, very simple apps and apps that require a little more work to be integrated with the platform. In general, there are some very, VERY important applications; let me introduce you to some. Plus a mega gem: I have a little surprise for you at the end of the post. Do not skip the leaderboard though! There are some very cool apps you need to know.

The 10 Shopify apps you must try

1 – Smile: Rewards & Loyalty

There are other apps like this, but Smile does everything right, in a simple and intuitive way. To increase sales, encourage users to come back, talk about your e-commerce and create a connection, the tools that Smile provides are great.
Plans are not cheap, sure, but what Smile allows you to do is vital for your store. There is a free version that includes limited functionality, but it is a great way to evaluate the ease of installation and use. And, in any case, you can start managing the collection of points and encourage word of mouth. A good start, huh?

Free plan available: Yes
Category: loyalty and reputation
LINK: Smile

2 – Plug in SEO

If you are not a part of it yet, I guess you will be joining some Shopify groups on Facebook or similar soon. You will hear (too) often “Shopify cannot handle the SEO part”. I will not go into the matter, but I will limit myself to suggesting you try Plug in SEO.
It is not the cure for all ills, but the free version allows you to check your shop and understand how things are from an SEO point of view. Sure, the pro version obviously gives you more tools to fix problems and improve; I believe, however, that knowing the problems is half the battle. Endless articles and free videos will do the rest: you just have to study a little bit 🙂

Free plan available: Yes
Category: SEO
LINK: Plug in SEO

3 – Fera Social Proof

This is a super treat, once free now paid (although the basic plan is pretty cheap). Fera will help you increase your sales by making your shop more “reliable”. What does it mean? It can help you manage the reviews and testimonials of your customers, but also leverage social proof, one of the most effective mechanics in e-commerce.
In a very short time, Fera can manage a series of popups and automations that show visitors the actions that other customers are performing on the site. “Carlo added this product to his cart”, “Justin made a purchase from Chicago” and the like. This very simple mechanism does nothing but show the visitor that others trust you and are buying; this will increase his confidence and make it easier for him to buy. Cool, huh?

Free plan available: No, trial period only
Category: sales optimization
LINK: Fera

4 – Facebook Messenger Marketing

Another very interesting app that has a free plan to get started. It is not the only app that uses Facebook to increase sales, so maybe do a little research, maybe there are more suitable for your needs. Facebook Messenger Marketing takes advantage of the fact that, instead of letting you leave the email, you can contact your shoppers on Facebook and that the percentage of messages opened (about 80%!) Is enormously higher than the email open rate.
FMM allows you, without the need to write code, to use different strategies to incentivize the user to give you access to his Facebook Messenger and then use that preferential channel to create a connection with him. For example, you can send him discounts, updates on products, on his orders. All super customizable so that it reflects your way of communicating with your customers.

Free plan available: Yes
Category: sales optimization
LINK: Facebook Messenger Marketing

5 – Yotpo: Photo & Product Reviews

If you are obsessive-compulsive like me, you will go to see the pricing and you will notice that to know the cost of the pro version you will have to do a demo with the developers. Ugh, I hate it too. BUT be patient (and maybe use Google to find the price anyway!) Because, in case you don’t like Yotpo, you can find more. It is the concept that matters here.
In a few clicks, you can integrate Yotpo into your shop and you can immediately use it to collect reviews of your products, an overall opinion on your site, the photos that users take of your product, the answers to frequently asked questions. Yotpo will help you increase the level of trust that a visitor places in you, seeing a store with reviews, photos and care in the responses that your customer service (which could be yourself) provides customers.

Free plan available: Yes
Category: loyalty and reputation
LINK: Yotpo

6 – Bulk Image Edit

There is not much to say about this application. You know it better than me: photos in the e-commerce world are one of the elements that make the difference between a successful store and one that is struggling. If you find yourself dealing with a lot of photos and management becomes complicated, you can use Bulk Image Edit to make your life a little easier.
Bulk Image Edit will take care of optimizing your photos to improve your SEO performance; for example, it will adjust the size of the images to make the site faster, clean the alt-text (a sort of invisible caption describing the image content) and optimize the names of the photos to optimize your positioning on search engines and bring more traffic and more sales. Oh, and if you take photos of your products, you can add a nice watermark (your logo or your shop name) to prevent others from using them on their site. 🙂

Free plan available: Yes
Category: SEO (photo)
LINK: Bulk Image Edit

7 – Infinite Options

Infinite Options does not have the free plan, but you can try it for 14 days and see if it fits your needs. If you sell customizable products, then it will probably be interesting.
In short, Infinite Options allows you to add any type of option for your client. Do you offer printed sports shirts? Ask for name, shirt number and color. Do you offer custom bracelets? Ask for the message to print. There is no limit, just your imagination!

Free plan available: No, free 14-day trial
Category: product
LINK: Infinite Options

8 – Kit

Do you need help promoting your store? Kit can help you! Before talking about features, get to know that one of Kit’s strong points is customer service (or rather, customer success). Kit has many positive reviews that point out that the support is top notch, which is extremely important for a Shopify app.
Kit is a particular app. It is a kind of invisible assistant that analyzes everything that happens in your store and turns it into recommendations. He is the marketing expert you have always wanted by your side but you still cannot afford it. Anything I can say about Kit would be an understatement: I recommend that you explore it, look for some video on what it can do and, maybe, try it. You can thank me later. 🙂

Free plan available: Completely free app
Category: sales optimization
LINK: Kit

9 – Seguno

You must definitely try to differentiate yourself and use other tools to stay in touch with your customers, very true. It is also true, however, that email marketing is always a very powerful tool.
Seguno is an email marketing app that lets you manage the entire flow directly from your Shopify store (finally!). Create the flow, activate the automations to stimulate customers to buy, resume purchases, offer discounts etc. A very useful tool to generate revenues and always remain in the minds of your customers. Note: there is a free version for a certain number of subscribers, so it’s great for trying out its features.

Free plan available: Yes
Category: sales optimization
LINK: Seguno

10 – Persistent Cart

This app is also a real bomb! With Persistent Cart, the contents of your user’s cart will be associated with their profile and will allow them to abandon the mobile purchase process, resume it from their computer or tablet and find everything they had added to their cart.

Persistent Cart does not have a free plan but the cost is very low and the advantages that such an application can give are enormous. Imagine having composed the cart, accidentally closing the page, reopening the site and… finding the empty cart. On the contrary, think that you can accumulate things to buy as soon as you receive your salary; to be able to keep them there, ready, waiting for a click. This is a user experience that makes the difference!

Free plan available: No, just a 30-day free trial
Category: sales optimization
LINK: Persistent Cart

Bonus

I hope you enjoyed these 10 apps. For me, they are really cool! Try them, experiment, look for other similar apps, but remember the features that each of these brings to your store because they can really make the difference between a successful store and one that converts little.

As a bonus, I wanted to introduce you to the Shoppy app and make you an indecent proposal. In a nutshell, we built Shoppy to give you the ability to create a mobile application for your Shopify store in just a few clicks and without spending a fortune.

Shoppy is a unique way to always stay in your user’s pocket. Manage your store from Shopify, send news, posts, discounts, promotions, photos, etc. to applications and notify your customers with a push notification. Some of our customers have taken their e-commerce to another level with Shoppy and I’d like to understand how we can help you do that too.

Since you’ve read this article all the way (now a rarity) you deserved the bonus I was talking about: half an hour of call with one of our Shopify marketing experts who can help you understand how to grow your business and take it. to the next level. To access this bonus, click here and register. 😉

Conclusions

Your success on Shopify certainly does not depend on an application. But I believe that using the right apps at the right time can give you a very strong boost and shake up your business. Always remember, however, that the rules of e-commerce are not completely different from those of traditional commerce; it is true, some mechanics are different, but what matters are always human relationships and attention to customer needs.

Find a problem, fix it flawlessly, help people do it right, and you’ll have no problem distinguishing yourself from others. In my opinion, this is the real recipe for success. Now go find your problem and solve it! Good job!

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How to be successful with Shopify in 2021

How to be successful with Shopify in 2021

Intro

If you are looking for some little tricks to boost the visits, create ads that bring you more purchases or something like that, you are going to be disappointed. If you have already read some of my articles, you know that the I am not sure about tricks; if this your first one, instead, well – now you know. The title is also misleading, I admit; this is not about the methods to be successful in 2020 with Shopify. This is about methods to be successful anytime with any activity, physical or digital.

Having that said, I suggest you read anyway because I will tell you about universally valid principles that is good to remind every now and then. If you are like me, you will forever feel the desire to open thousands of articles and videos by experts or self-proclaimed ones who want to teach you the latest trick to optimize your store and make it irresistible to your users. There is nothing wrong with wanting to stay informed, even if it is often a huge waste of time. But I see it as a good sign, a symbol of your passion.

It is normal wasting some time with gurus and shortcuts, also because they sometimes help us think of interesting strategies. The important thing, and this is what I want to tell you about in this article, is that you keep in mind the basic principles which your entire business rests on. But first, let me see if I can make you a little angry.

What is Shopify?

No worry, I do not want to explain what the platform is. For that, you can find millions of articles online, and if you care particularly, I have also written one here. This question is just a provocation because it is so easy to talk about e-commerce, but a very few people stop thinking about what the e-commerce really is.

To me, the difference between opening a physical store and a digital one, namely an e-commerce, does not exist. Do not stare, you know it. Of course, having an online store has many advantages from a practical point of view; what I want to make you think about is that the missions of an e-shop and a physical store overlap.

If we wanted to summarize it in an expression, I would tell you that a store mission is to put those looking for something (the demand) in communication with those who want to sell that product (the offer). This is it. There are a thousand frills, many facets, theories, etc. But, if you stop for a moment to think, everything can be reduced to this formula.

Do you think this is a simplification? Then surely you will be shocked by how I will try to simplify the speech even more! 🙂

E as in Experience

Experience not as in “you have to gain experience before opening a store”, of course. I do not want to tell you that this is not important, but the experience should be gained in the field, studying hard and trying to come up with something unique. The experience that I am speaking of is related to this sense of uniqueness. Follow me through the discourse.

Today, out there, shops sell products and services of almost every type. Companies that manage to sell something unobtainable are a very little few (I would even say that you can count them on one hand).

What makes a store different is the experience. And that goes for your Shopify store as well. I know, experience is a somewhat overused and fairly generic term; I will try to make you understand what I mean when I talk about experience. Experience is the set of interactions that a store has with the user, before, during and after the sale. Experience is, in a nutshell, the relationship between the store and the customer. There are many points of interaction, but I will try to touch on the ones that I consider fundamental.

To begin, there is the first meeting, the first time you hear about a certain brand or store. It may happen that you see an advertisement, that an acquaintance tells you about it, that you see someone wearing or using the product of that company; in my imagination, the first meeting is essential. How much more likely would it be for you to try a certain brand if a friend had previously talked to you about it very well, than if you were faced with a trivial advertisement while scrolling Facebook? How you connect with a brand can forever mark your relationship with it, especially if the first encounter is negative.

The first meeting turns into the first real contact. For example, people see your ad on Facebook and decide to click on it. Or a friend tells them about you and they search for you on Google (or Instagram, for example). What is it? Where is it catapulted? What do you want to show them? The first contact is the one that conveys the values behind your brand to your user. If they land on your Shopify store and read “All Out, Big Discounts” they will think of you as a generic store that focuses on convenience; if they read “dog products for dog lovers” they would understand what you sell and why you do it. There are millions of shades which you can manage the first contact with, but give them the required attention. That is what you would personally say when someone asks you, “What is your business about?”

If the first two steps convince the user, the store exploration process would probably begin. While I deserved the description of how to present the product for the next point, here I am interested in making you understand how important it is to take care every detail of the visitor’s experience when they are looking for products in your shop. Always try to remember how similar an e-commerce is to a physical store and draw parallels, even if they sometimes seem excessive. For example, if you had to open 3 doors to enter a store, and you cannot even find the handle on one of those, how would you start your shopping experience? Flood the user with banners, pop-ups, discounts, and as soon as it lands on your site it is exactly the same. Each popup or banner is a barrier that you place between your customer and your products. Are you sure that is the right thing to do?

Keep building parallels with a physical store. Think about product positioning, for example. Would you highlight the latest arrivals or best-selling products? Would you put those that cost less first to encourage the user to put something in the cart, in order to break down the barrier of distrust? There are no people born with this knowledge, so study. Study, study, study. To open any business, you need skills and abilities; e-commerce is not an exception, quite the contrary. The fact that anyone can improvise, create a professional site and claim to be the market leader in your sector should push you even more to study to be more credible and make your store unique. The product is not enough, of course, but it can help. Let’s see how.

P as in Product

Ah, the product. You already smell money just reading the word product, huh? Well, that is not what I want to talk to you about. I am very little interested in what product you decide to sell because, in my humble opinion, there is a market for everything at the right price. Do you know that service that allows you to send a box of poo to the people you hate? A service that literally sells… come on, we understand each other.

Of course, the price also falls into the product, but that does not interest me either. The same necklace can be sold for 3 euros, 30 euros or 300 euros. I am not interested in the ethical question, but I want to emphasize that the price of a product is not made from the price of production or from what people are willing to pay for it. If we want to give an example, I would say that Apple is a perfect case, no? It is a perfect example because Apple does not sell products, it sells identities.

Identities, in what sense? Fake documents? No, but it sells its buyers the opportunity to be part of a certain group of people. People who see the world in a certain way, who want to convey certain values to those around them. Yes, you now get it: I am coming to Simon Sinek. “People do not buy what you make, they buy why you make it.” If you do not know Simon Sinek, I suggest you to see his very famous TED Talk (here the link).

This is exactly what I mean by product. Nobody cares if your dog brush has 1 cm or 3 cm long teeth. Sure, you have to show the technical specifications at the bottom of the page; but tell people why your shop sells this brush. It tells a story related to the use of the brush. Start with your user’s problems, explain to them why you want to help them, and finally show them how. Think of teleshopping on TV. Why do they last so long instead of throwing the product in front of you with a super discounted price? Because they tell you about your problems (you sleep badly, you wake up with back pain, the day becomes a nightmare), they tell you why they care (Mattresshop explains to you that they have always been alongside families to make their life more active by making young and old ones rest better, and blablabla) and how it can help you (here is the new Venus air space mattress for only 15 euros, etc.).

An extreme example? Try selling a glow-in-the-dark collar. If you saw it like this, thrown on a website, with a technical description and two photos, you would think that it is a useless obscene and you would not buy it even under torture. But if I told you about the thousands of cats that die every night hit by a car, and how this collar that lights up in the dark saved the cats of three buyers who, over the years, have never been able to keep a cat for longer than three months without being them hit by a car? How would you see this product now? You would talk to your friends who have cats, right? It would create a deep connection with the product, almost emotional (if you love animals, of course, this has to do with the target).

You will not be able to sell a product simply by throwing it on the site with a mega discount and a timer that says “only 3 left”. You can certainly sell some for the law of large numbers, but success over time is achieved with a real strategy, similar to the one that big brands adopt to occupy a place in the customer’s heart. The cool thing? The techniques exist, they are out there and, to a large extent, they are accessible at a very low cost (if not for free). Be wary of those who promise you quick success: build something worth sharing and you will see that success will come.

Luckily, once you have built the store, told your story, and convinced the customer to buy your work, it seems done. Sure, right? Well, it has only just begun. Assistance is the part of the process that can really make your business explode. You believe it, right? Let me tell you how I feel about.

A as in Assistance

I have to admit that things have now improved considerably when it comes to successful brands; almost everyone has understood that the battle is won in assistance or, as we used to say, in after-sales. When I talk about assistance, I do not onyl mean a chat where the user can write to you asking for help while visiting your store. Assistance is a huge topic that embraces all those that I have talked about above and, in reality, so many more.

I always go back to my initial speech: e-commerce with or without Shopify is no different from a physical store. When you are in a shop, a visitor can ask for information at different times and in different ways. I frequently ask for information when I enter a store, to find out if they have a particular product; in e-commerce, this part should be managed by an effective product categorization strategy and a well-done search function. While browsing the store, I may also have questions about the specifications of a certain product, which may not be indicated on the packaging; in an e-commerce, you could manage these curiosities with a mix of well-written technical specifications on the product page, a section with frequently asked questions and a chat for the most sophisticated ones.

An then we have questions about shipments, gift wrapping, returns and refunds, origin of products, advice… so on and so forth. Some of these aspects can be mitigated with automations (an in-depth section of the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ), a chat with a bot that leads the customer to the answers, etc.) but a large part will have to be managed directly with e-mail, chats in the store, social media chats, etc.

The key, in assistance as in any other aspect of your store, is transparency and honesty. If you sell products that come from China, say it. If you work part-time in the shop and can only answer customer questions an hour a day, do not write that chats are active 24/7. Users are not dumb and they understand perfectly well when you are fooling them. Honesty always pays. If you know that your supplier ships the goods in 21 business days, do not write “fast shipping worldwide”. Every little lie will backfire, perhaps in the form of negative reviews, a wave of refund requests, suspensions from payment providers that block your business for weeks.

Conclusions

Did the last point scare you? I hope so! Remember: e-commerce = physical store. Put your face to it, do not write half-truths, always be honest in your transactions with the customer and you will build a reputation that will lead your business to success. Anyone who promises you to earn quickly and easily with a couple of tricks of the trade (perhaps by selling you a course worth thousands of euros) lies, and they are aware of the fact that they are lying.

Be careful, I absolutely do not want to say that the courses are not useful. In e-commerce, there are a myriad of things to learn and there are many experienced people who can help you avoid some mistakes. But avoid the psychological trap of the “secret method to earn € 10,000 a month without working” because – drum roll – it does not exist. You can earn 10,000 euros a month, you can automatize part of the process, you can get to work much better (not less, ok? better) but only after having worked hard to lay the foundations for your success, after having overcome moments of despair, after making mistakes with your social strategies, the price of the products, or the refund policy.

Do not improvise. Study, try, learn from your mistakes and you will be able to build a successful business. What matters is that you do not lose sight of the concept that e-commerce is no different from a physical store; the satisfied customers cannot wait to talk about you. Hence, again, pay attention to experience, product and assistance. Success is only a natural consequence of the attention that you put into these three aspects.

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What is Shopify?

What is Shopify?

Intro

There are a lot of sophisticated products, that only a few experts manage to handle properly, ending creating many more problems than solving.

Shopify is the exact opposite, and in this article I want to tell about its pros and how you can start using it. Not before telling you something about its story, which will surely surprise you. Bet it?

The brief history of Shopify

As all the companies that have a great success online, Shopify was born in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco (California).

Ok, I am just joking. Shopify is a Canadian company, founded in Ottawa a couple of years ago. No, I am joking again (this is the last one, I swear). Shopify has existed since 2004. I mean, the same year that Facebook was founded and the “Social Media” phrase was also coined. Sixteen years ago, they are almost adult.

As in the best entrepreneurial  stories, Shopify was conceived from a problem: the three founders, Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinard and Scott Lake wanted to create an online shop for snowboard equipment (Canada, you see? Cold, snow.. brrr). After noticing that whichever already existing platform was quietly bad – which is far, considering how bad even Faceebook was in 2004 – decided to create one on their own, using Ruby on Rails – note to all the geeks like me.

In 2006 the e-commerce platform was officially launched with the name of Shopify. After a few years of self-financed growth, Shopify entered the venture capital system and collected $22 millions in two financial rounds between 2010 and 2011.

In the following years, Shopify focused on the acquisitions and became public in 2015, enjoy such a great success that the initial share price was $28 instead of the $17 estimated during the pre-IPO (a 64% higher value!).

Recently, Shopify followed unexpected growth rates, thanks to the collaborations with Amazon, some high-profile acquisitions (including the one with Oberlo, which is the most famous and curious) and the new technologies developed. During the last years, the company was able to also leave a mark in the physical retail, coming up with innovative and easy-to-use solutions for the merchants.

A wonderful story, so many achievements, champagne and caviar for everyone, ok. But the question is: why is there so much talk about Shopify nowadays?

Shopify: the E-commerce available to everyone

When I talk to customers or acquantainces related to the e-commerce world, I prepare myself for the inevitable criticisms – and sometimes the insults – that they address to the most popular e-commerce platforms.

“Magento is too complicated”, “What a mess with Prestashop”, “Who made me do it to develop a custom e-commerce”. I could go on for hours, but I am pretty sure that this is not what you are looking for. If you had a passion for offenses against the e-commerce frameworks, you could call any e-commerce owner / manager and surely be able to fill a bucket.

In the midst of this sea of complaints, I have never heard speaking of Shopify badly. I want to clarify, in order not to convey the message that Shopify is the definitive tool that can solve the problems of the whole world, that it is not so. But it has so many pros – which some people consider as cons.

For example, it is a fairly closed system. As anyone with a minimum of familiarity with a computer will tell you, “great flexibility comes with great responsibilities” (and, in general, great messes). As a software developer + marketer + business guy, let me tell you something. Unless it is absolutely vital to the survival of your business, do whatever it takes to remove the complexity.

Shopify does exactly that and it does it very well. I like to think of Shopify as the crasis of Shop + simplify, in other words making it easy to have an online store. I do not find any evidence to support my thesis, nor articles that disprove it, so I will embrace this interpretation, not giving a damn about everything and everyone.

By creating an ecosystem that leaves little room for the user’s imagination/madness, Shopify has managed to create an almost perfect machine that allows everyone, even those without technical skills of any kind, to open their own store and start selling online.

What are the concrete benefits of Shopify?

What are the concrete benefits of Shopify

Shopify has numerous pros and a few cons. The very funny thing is, if you try ask ten people, they will probably tell you more or less the same ponts, but sorting them differently. It is understandable that a software developer raised on bread and code may have some grievances towards the almost hermetic Shopify system; but the opposite is also understandable, namely that a person who has been working on e-commerce for years and has understood that the problems are always the same is ready to raise hands and give up flexibility in exchange for fewer problems.

Certainly, a person that wants to sell products on-line cannot but appreciate the simplicity of Shopify. Even those who do not have excellent technical skills can build their own store in a little time, perhaps even searching for some tricks to do it at best, both among the free researches made available by Shopify itself and the ones created by the other people that browse the same environment.

Let’s see the most common pros used to support Shopify.

1 – Ease of use: have I already said it? 🙂 Obviously, this is one of the points which Shopify has built its success on. Clear pricing, direct management of the issues related to the checkout and payment processes, well-done documentation and many free courses make the platform very suitable for non-technical users.

2 – Flexibility: Shopify gives you access to the code and, if you have the skills to do it, you can customize your shop and connect external services to it without problems. Ease of use + flexibility = bingo!

3 – Design: There are many themes available to customize the look of your shop, and they are ready to use and perfectly responsive. Not able to find what you like? Or maybe do you want a unique and unmistakable one? You can buy themes created by other developers or hire someone to develop your own customized theme at attractive prices.

4 – Scalability: whoever is not familiar with a website has no idea of the numerous activities required to put it online and keeping it active. One of the most critical points has to do with managing the users’ flow.

Imagine this scenario: one day, an important influencer who you follow sees your product somewhere, decides to repost it with a couple of hearts and a foolish hashtag. Hordes of avid fans flow to your site.

Scenario 1: You or a friend of yours have set up a nice and simple site. But the wave of visits crashes everything, your site is unreachable and you lose 99% of the possible present and future revenues deriving from this megagalactic shock … well, good luck.

Scenario 2: You are using Shopify and the user load is not a problem for you. The site stands with no effort, you sell all your products and drive your suppliers crazy as they have to handle so many orders that even Amazon could have not to. With no problem, Shopify handles the emergency for you and leaves you free to have fun with your cash gun.

5 – A community of experts and developers: even though whoever friend of yours is good at fiddling with the computer, it cannot compete with the number of professionals who love Shopify madly and now help people who use Shopify as their main job. Who has two thumbs and is perfectly recognizable in this description? Me! 🙂

You can always find someone to help you improve your store, modify your message, advertise on social media, sell more and better. The Shopify community is growing steadily, and many people are extremely proud to be a part of it (I truly am one of those).

In addition to the experts, you can find many ready-made applications to connect to your shop. Some require a very few clicks and help you manage or automate certain aspects of your store; some others are more complicated, require a little more patience and experience, but they can help you grow your business and make it better from different points of view.

I also include the support team in the community. Yes, I know it is not quite the same, but the support team @ Shopify is super human and friendly. I often ask them for help, advice, or information on what I read about Shopify when browsing around. Usually, they answer me very quickly and are always very helpful. Hence, the support is a huge pro!

Do not be fooled, there are also some downsides to Shopify, but that is not what I want to write about today.

What are the first steps to get started with Shopify, then?

How to start using Shopify

I add this section because many people ask me about how to start using Shopify in the right way. Well, we can say that a proper “right way” does not exist. My advice is always to try it out, get your hands on it, look for some beginner’s course or additional resources that can guide you and throw yourself out of your head.

In practice, you can register on their website and follow the instructions step by step. Frequently, Shopify offers trial periods with variable duration; in any case, the cost to open a shop and do some tests is certainly not prohibitive.

What is my advice? Take a scientist’s approach: do experiments, see if they work, and based on the results, change your strategy or go ahead with it.

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