Shopify & Ecommerce Ramblings

A blog about building and extending awesome Shopify stores

Email automation for strategic gifting season marketing

Photo by Sergey Zolkin

Gifting season is a few weeks away and many ecommerce merchants will have finalized and even started implementing their marketing strategies by now. In the mad rush to get everything done, it’s important to find ways of simplifying processes so you have time to focus on what’s really important. One simple, but effective marketing and business strategy is to automate your emails.

Email automation for personalized communication

“We’re all just professional email senders!” a colleague said to me a few years ago. Ecommerce merchants can relate to this sentiment. The amount of work it takes to run a business is staggering. Merchants have to manage their website, stock, sales and staff; craft content and troubleshoot customer problems. This leaves little time to read and send masses of daily emails, especially for smaller or newer businesses with limited staff and resources.

Email has become an essential part of business communication. We rely on email for internal purposes, as well as business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) communication. The side-effect of this is large amounts of daily email traffic which is incredibly difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to manage manually.

Bryce Coltrin, marketing manager for US belt manufacturer Grip6,  relates. “In today’s technology-centered world, consumers demand more personalized attention from the brands they interact with. They expect coupons in real time, questions to be answered within minutes, and reviews responded to personally in a timely fashion. For many small businesses, providing this meticulous attention to each and every customer can be overwhelming,” he says.

Automating emails helps  manage communication between company and customer cost-effectively, with consistency and minimal delay. Using customer data, email automation programs can generate personalized messages in response to customer activity. This can include responding to purchases and queries, or marketing based on items customers have shown a preference for.

Coltrin says that automated emails “help to save time, money, and capture additional information for more detailed reporting. It boosts revenue in a more personalized and efficient way previously unavailable.

The benefits of email automation

Customers have come to expect personalized service and they want to receive content relevant to them. Manually drafting email templates and adapting these to individual customer purchases, inquiries, or account sign-ups is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Email automation takes an incredible amount of legwork out of the equation.

“Automated emails take countless hours of monotonous work out of the hands of the business and allows you to send premade emails out based on actions of the consumer,” says Coltrin. When customers interact with a merchant’s web page by making a purchase, inquiry, or even simply creating an account, this triggers an email response. Setting up triggers that send out pre-written emails has a dual advantage: the customer receives a response to their action that is both immediate and personalized.

Using email analytics for targeted engagement

Many email automation platforms take this a step further and provide metrics. They analyze whether emails are being opened, and which emails those are. It can help merchants keep track of new subscriptions too, or of people unsubscribing from mailing lists. The combination of personalization and analysis allows users to target engagement more effectively.

“With automated emails, there are even options to fill certain information out, such as products, dollar amounts, and consumer names, based on attributes or actions of consumers,” says Coltrin. This allows an extra layer of personalization while still reaping the benefits of automation.”

Merchants can use insights provided by analytics to see which customers and prospects need re-engagement. Those people can be sent more enticing content.

Automated welcome and birthday emails, and emails that conduct surveys based on customer activity are a great way to personalize interaction and conduct market research. Abandoned carts can also be converted to purchased goods or services simply by automating an email  reminding a prospective customer of the items they didn’t follow through on purchasing.

ShopCreatify’s Nina Wolf, herself a former merchant, emphasized the importance of setting up triggers and automated emails for the short-term, but with an eye on the future.

"Now more than ever, businesses are running around like mad, trying to get everything done, while losing opportunities. Your email list is growing, but how do you make best use of this long term? You automate. Make setting up triggered emails and flows a priority. It is the tactic that keeps on giving and you'll reap the benefits for years to come," she says.

Challenges for e-commerce merchants

It’s been a tough year for many merchants. The lockdowns and quarantines linked to the Covid-19 pandemic caused exponential growth in the ecommerce sector. While this was positive for online stores, the forced growth and increased demand also added a new layer of pressure to these businesses.

A report by the World Trade Organization noted a significant rise in online purchases of everyday items, household goods and food, as well as a general increase in online activity. Along with increased online shopping, ecommerce merchants will have experienced more signups to their mailing lists.

However, despite customers doing more of their shopping online, the amount they are able to spend is less. The world economy took a beating with the coronavirus crisis. The US department of commerce reports that the country’s GDP decreased by 31.7% in the second quarter. Despite efforts to bolster employment levels, the US still has 11 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic. Consumers, naturally, are more discerning with their spending.

So, while bigger mailing lists certainly present great marketing opportunities as we approach gifting season, merchants will have to strategically target promotions to receptive audiences. Act early to set up and integrate online stores with email automation software products sooner rather than later to capitalize fully on these opportunities. Get ahead of the rush and use the time to get accustomed to the software, iron out any glitches and build momentum to maximize the advantages of email automation.

Marketing strategy for gifting season

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. The US bureau of labor statistics found that in August, the US economy added approximately 1.4 million jobs, with 1.7 million in July and 4.8 million in June. This recovery in jobs, and subsequently spending power, does present an opportunity for the upcoming gifting season. Merchants who use their mailing lists strategically stand to benefit from the return of so many to gainful employment.

The USA Today revealed that customers have been “comfort buying” for months, a trend that’s likely to increase over gifting season. Even though the economic contraction will result in more discerning buyers, the strain of the times and resulting retail therapy, and return of many to work, can lead to excellent returns over gifting season.

Unlocking these returns comes down to targeted marketing using the metrics provided by platforms like Klaviyo. Merchants will be able to use this information to attract customers by formulating general or specific promotions aimed at customers whose behavior shows that they seek certain products or services.

Gifting season not only presents the opportunity to generate impressive sales in the short term, but also an opportunity to establish retail relationships with customers that could have long-term benefits.

Klaviyo email automation for ecommerce

Klaviyo for email automation

Image courtesy of Klaviyo

ShopCreatify recommends Klaviyo for merchants who want to incorporate email automation into their business. The platform empowers merchants to provide their customers with personalized experiences in their B2C communications.

A free version of its software for small and emerging users accommodates an email database of up to 250 customers and prospects. Klaviyo’s pricing structure allows merchants access to more advanced packages as they see increased growth from the product’s use. Klaviyo can be seamlessly integrated with Shopify and other ecommerce platforms. It comes with a guide to install the software from within Shopify itself, or through its own site, within minutes.

Once this is set up, it allows merchants to send emails in response to tailored triggers, which the program automatically adapts to customer information and activity. The platform also lets merchants divide their lists into strategic segments that can be used to send out targeted marketing, driving traffic to their sites and ultimately revenue to their store.

Merchants set the conditions for the segments into which they divide their customers. Customers are automatically included in or excluded from a given mailing list based on how they match up to behavioral conditions set by the merchant. These segments evolve all the time and will grow and shrink as customers change their behavior. While mailing lists are simply fixed lists that expand and contract based on consumers either opting in or out, segments offer a more advanced approach.

To help merchants use their segments more effectively, Klaviyo also provides an advanced, intuitive and user-friendly metrics dashboard. Based on this data, users can assess how well their email campaigns are performing and identify trends over hours, days, weeks, or even months. Merchants can then use this information to refine their marketing strategies and increase their return on investment (ROI).

Small Pet Select’s brand manager, Naamah Stockdale confirmed that email automation was a crucial part of their ecommerce operation. “Email automation is vital to nurturing our leads and turning them into loyal customers. It is a must-have for any ecommerce brand to educate their customer in order to make a purchasing decision,” she says.

Automation with the eye on gifting season

Klaviyo - Shopify integrationImage courtesy of Klaviyo

Email automation adds value to ecommerce merchants on several levels. The time and resources saved is the most obvious benefit. Automatic customer emails will free up significant amounts of time for merchants to grow and improve their businesses.

Advanced email automation platforms like Klaviyo take it a step further and enable merchants to not only save time but to also provide round the clock, instant, personalized service. For merchants doing business internationally, this is especially valuable. Klaviyo’s analysis metrics also provide merchants with valuable insights to help them refine their marketing strategies, drive more traffic to their sites, and convert it into sales.

Gifting season presents the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the strategic benefits of email automation by targeting marketing and engagement to prospects with the best chance of success. The confinement of the last several months has certainly contributed significantly to the growth of many retailers’ mailings lists. Email automation is an excellent way of ensuring that this growth also converts into added revenue.

Klaviyo is a partner of ShopCreatify. Contact us if you need assistance getting the most out of your integration of Klaviyo with your Shopify store.

Email automation for strategic gifting season marketing

In the mad rush to get everything done in preparation for gifting season, automation can give you back some time. One simple and effective step is to automate your emails.

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Chase Clymer, host of Honest Ecommerce interviewed ShopCreatify's Ross Allchorn in a recent ecommerce podcast. 

In their conversation they discuss:

  • [00:59] Ross’s journey in Ecommerce
  • [03:02] Serendipity is a part of success
  • [04:10] About their focus on Shopify
  • [06:25] Sponsor: Gorgias
  • [07:15] Working as a remote agency
  • [09:04] COVID changed agency preferences
  • [09:42] The process of working remotely
  • [11:48] Handling projects for BFCM
  • [15:09] Sponsor: Postscript
  • [15:39] Prepare early for BFCM
  • [17:14] Setting your clients’ expectations
  • [18:27] That importance of promptness in emails
  • [18:57] Removing features to go live
  • [21:17] Warning: Don’t rush features
  • [23:02] Considerations for BFCM redesign
  • [23:38] Optimization vs redesign
  • [26:14] Sponsor: Klaviyo
  • [26:44] Setting your priorities when migrating online
  • [28:22] The “vanilla instance” of Shopify
  • [29:16] When to reach out for help
  • [30:47] The life cycle of the Ecommerce business
  • [32:36] Finding your product-market fit
  • [33:35] Why Ross chose Ecommerce over email marketing

Listen to the podcast:

Chase Clymer, host of Honest Ecommerce interviewed ShopCreatify's Ross Allchorn in a recent ecommerce podcast. In their conversation they discuss Ross’s journey in Ecommerce, serendipity as a part of success, their focus on Shopify, working as a remote agency, handling BFCM projects, and more.

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Ronny Sage from ShoppingGives


ShoppingGives’ Ronny Sage tells us why giving helps your growth and conversions, and how your customers prefer to participate. 

Doing good is good for your business’s bottom line. More customers are letting their money talk – moving to brands and products that make an impact and align with their values. In 2015, digital marketing expert Ronny Sage founded ShoppingGives for retailers to donate to causes that are important to their customers. This builds an authentic connection between retailers and customers. It’s also a clever marketing tactic for businesses, especially those with limited budgets.

ShoppingGives’ is a social impact commerce platform. It offers integrated shopping cart technology and a Shopify app, Change Commerce, for Shopify merchants. At no cost to the customer, they can direct donations from your company to more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations. Merchants using this app can decide how much they’d like to donate. The donation can be a dollar value or percentage that is made per sale, or only for certain products and product ranges. The average donation per transaction in July 2020 was $2.18.

Merchants can even temporarily increase or decrease the amounts and percentages they want to donate during events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This enables merchants to engage customers in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy with every purchase. It adds value to the customers’ experience and allows retailers to create a greater impact.

Consumers are increasingly pushing brands to be more socially responsible. 78% of Americans expect companies to positively impact society and not just exist for profit, a 2018 study by Cone and Porter Novelli found. 71% of consumers expect companies to connect with them emotionally on issues that matter to them personally, so having a solution that permits the customer to direct the donations is quite important.

Sage points out that aligning brand values with client values builds  a sense of personal connection to your company, improves conversion rates, average order values (AOV), and ultimately boosts lifetime value. The platform measures this performance, growth and engagement for the online stores. Ecommerce retailers who use Change Commerce have seen a 19% increase in their conversion rate. Their AOV has increased by 23% and customer lifetime value by 18%. 

Taking the admin out of charity

Sage, who is based in the greater Chicago area, says he wasn’t brought up with philanthropy. He started ShoppingGives after working at digital marketing agencies and brands for 13 years. While in the loyalty and incentive space, he saw first-hand how much money was being spent by businesses  trying to attract customers.

“I kept thinking there had to be a better way to spend those dollars more effectively to create loyal relationships with customers. That’s how ShoppingGives was born,” Sage says.

“I believe finding a way to do good as well as prosper is the ultimate goal. I saw the need for action and had a unique set of experiences that positioned me to do both.”

Retailers in the US face a massive amount of regulation around cause marketing. This is one reason top retailers donate to the biggest nonprofits who have proven reputability and high visibility. But that severely limits the pool of nonprofits receiving support. Customers buying from retailers who use  ShoppingGives can support any of 1.5million nonprofits.

Sage says that in 2019, 1,954 different nonprofits were selected and supported by customers and stores. A whopping 3,500 have already been supported this year. 

Making donations requires an enormous amount of paperwork. ShoppingGives handles the donation management which includes paying the charity or cause, handling the tax requirements, and ensuring all regulations are adhered to.

“Us managing the end-to-end integration, regulation and management process makes this platform accessible to any retailer, of any size, on any platform. It democratizes social impact by giving back to any nonprofit. And it incorporates the customer in the conversation,” says Sage.

Personalizing giving

Customers are demanding impact. ShoppingGives has seen a 148% increase in retailers over the past year. Most of the growth took place during the first four months of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the number of retailers using the platform doubled. The significant and forced growth in ecommerce, resulting from the pandemic, has pushed retailers to rethink how they communicate with customers, Sage says.

One reason for the platform’s popularity is that it creates a personalized experience. The buyer, as opposed to the retailer, gets to choose which charity is supported because what matters to customers varies from one to the next.

“Enabling you to align your values with that purchase is what makes it authentic. It says you know this brand understands that you as a customer are an individual supporting a specific cause.” Further, the customer isn’t being asked to spend more by rounding up their dollars or adding on their own donations. This instills confidence that they’re supporting a brand that puts money where their mouth is.

Additionally, the platform keeps track of buyer preferences and, while they’re shopping, automatically recommends specific nonprofits that align with those preferences. It also allows retailers to incorporate personalized impact messages into their marketing.

Improving an online stores’ reach by appealing to consumers’ social consciousness is an organic marketing method. This means that instead of continually pushing money into marketing to improve reach, retailers are able to invest more towards causes.

“Taking a growth approach to impact and aligning your bottom line with doing good is driving these commercial options for retailers and customer adoption,” says Sage.

He adds that customers often donate to causes related to current events – such as the Covid-19 crisis and Black Lives Matter movement. Sages says that through ShoppingGives’ network of merchant partners, more than 5,500 nonprofit organizations have benefited. This translates to more than 8,000,000 meals provided to families in need, medicine supplied to 170,000 individuals in crisis, and housing for 2,000 LGBTIQ+ individuals during Covid-19. This puts into perspective how much support some of these nonprofits are receiving from retailers who use the platform.

Growing pains and gains

As the platform grows, ShoppingGives is continuously looking for new and innovative ways its retail partners can give. In August, Ronny and his team partnered with ecommerce marketing platform Yotpo to allow retailers and their customers to donate using loyalty rewards. Last year it formed a partnership with the PayPal Giving Fund to make it easier and safer for nonprofits to claim their funds, and access more donors.

Sage says they push themselves to stay true to ShoppingGives’ values when they deal with the daily challenges that come with fast growth. They focus on creating solutions that anticipate their clients’ needs.

With gifting season around the corner, Sage expects even more sign ups. Change Commerce typically experiences a spike in retailer sign-up during the holiday season, especially on Giving Tuesday. But Sage encourages retailers to make giving ‘evergreen’ by adopting it as an integral part of their brand. The Change Commerce app can be added to your Shopify site with the click of a button plus a few easy steps to activate it.

“It’s never too late to start giving. Whether you’re newly launched or an advanced legacy brand, just start!” says Sage. 

ShoppingGives is a partner of ShopCreatify. We recommend it to our merchants who would like to incorporate charitable giving into their checkout process. If you would like to try out ShoppingGives, reach out to us and we can help you get started.

Ronny Sage from ShoppingGives

Doing good is good for your business’s bottom line. More customers are letting their money talk – moving to brands and products that make an impact and align with their values. In 2015, digital marketing expert Ronny Sage founded ShoppingGives for retailers to donate to causes that are important to their customers.

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Customer needs

Photo by Jesse Ramirez

The Covid-19 pandemic changed the ecommerce space dramatically – forcing more shoppers online and causing exponential growth in online retail. Forbes reported that by April, US retailers’ online year-over-year revenue was up by 68%. Conversion rates increased 8.8% in February – a figure more commonly associated with Cyber Mondays – as people stocked up on as much as they could in the panic surrounding the crisis.

This graph shows the online retail activity in revenue growth for the US and UK since January 2020. Graph by Covid-19 Commerce Insight.

As is now the trend with 2020, merchants can expect the fast-approaching BFCM gifting season to look different to previous years. With significant annual increases in sales since the term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005, the annual event saw a 19% increase in total sales in 2019 from the previous year. This trend is expected to continue in 2020, with even more customers than usual taking advantage of online sales due to Covid-19 concerns and social distancing needs. For many people, online shopping has become a part of their lives – a part that’s here to stay.

Then there’s the anxiety that many consumers will feel about being crushed in the middle of crowds of people in the midst of a pandemic. The results of a poll by Morning Consult published in April showed that for 24% of consumers it would take more than six months before they felt comfortable going to a shopping mall. Another 26% said they didn’t know when they’d feel safe enough to visit a shopping center again. This means that for numerous people, online shopping will permanently replace shopping trips of all kinds until a coronavirus vaccine is available. Online retailers can take advantage of these factors in order to attract and maintain customers during the BFCM frenzy.

Despite this, online retailers also need to be more sensitive than ever towards their customers’ situations. Many of them will be feeling the financial pinch caused by the pandemic. They may not be able to spend as much as they normally would on essentials, gifts and the other items that are made available at massively reduced prices during BFCM. Other buyers, however, may be spurred on by the Covid-19 crisis and other events to do good. They may be feeling particularly generous and not only want to buy for themselves, but make financial contributions to charities or other organizations in need.

Whichever category your customers fall in, it’s important to adapt your business to the changes in ecommerce and cater for your customers’ needs. This is the third installment of our three-part series on why you should start focusing on BFCM early and how to prepare your Shopify store for the season of giving.

Financing options for cash-strapped customers


Photo by Morning Brew

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are an opportunity for customers to buy Christmas gifts for bargain prices. But, for many people it is also an opportunity to stock up on necessary household essentials be it non-perishable food, appliances, toiletries, and detergents. Given the detrimental financial impact the coronavirus has had on many families, some people may not be able to make the most of the BFCM sales as much as they’d hoped to. This, of course, could have a knock-on effect on online retailers.

If you’re a merchant who wants to cater for these customers you can look at incorporating an app on your site which gives buyers, who don’t have a credit card, a financing option for their purchases. We previously explored how offering an alternative payment platform for buyers empowers them to manage their purchases in a way that suits their budget, helps them to budget, and gives them more purchasing power.  

55% of abandoned carts are due to a total cost of purchase that’s too high. Being able to offer customers a financing option at point of purchase and on your product pages boosts sales, increases conversions, and drives repeat business. It’s definitely worth considering this as your business starts preparing for what most ecommerce stores experience as their busiest and most profitable time of year.

Because in-house credit isn’t really an option for most ecommerce stores, and it comes with a lot of red tape, using a third-party solution is the best way to go. There are a few financing options available, but we’ve found Sezzle to be a reputable option that can be fully integrated with Shopify stores. Having Sezzle on your site encourages buyers to make larger purchases as it allows for them to ‘buy now, pay later’.

Sezzle pays the merchant in full immediately and assumes all the credit risk. It’s a good option for merchants, particularly smaller ones, who aren’t able to cover large amounts of credit themselves and can’t afford the risk of customers who don’t meet payment obligations.

Another reason why Sezzle is a good option is it lets customers sign-up instantly and securely while in checkout, without having to leave the page. Your customers will browse as usual on your Shopify store, add items to their cart, choose Sezzle as their payment option, create an account, complete their order and pay off their purchase over time in four interest-free payments.

A season of generosity


Photo by Lina Trochez

While some customers are counting their pennies, others may be feeling particularly generous and find themselves wanting to contribute to causes close to their heart. Making a donation as part of an online purchase saves a customer from going through the hassle of donating directly to a charity and doing research to ensure they’re a reputable organization.

On top of this, allowing buyers to make donations through your site is likely not only to gain you more customers, but also help you retain the ones you already have. The Cone Cause Evolution Study found that 80% of Americans are likely to switch to a different brand that’s equal in price and quality to one that supports a cause. When choosing between two companies that each benefit a cause and sell the same product, 53% of Americans would rather support a company that allows them to impact the donation by tying it to a purchase. This is one way that consumer consciousness is driving brands to be more socially responsible.

Merchants who want to explore this route ahead of BFCM can look into the ShoppingGives’ Change Commerce retail program. This shopping cart technology designed for Shopify allows customers to choose a cause or charity to donate to, at no extra cost to them, during the checkout process. It keeps the checkout process simple, while offering customers millions of causes to choose from.

All your customers have to do is shop as they normally would by adding items to their cart, then choose their favorite cause when they get to the checkout, and the retailer donates the money (at no extra cost to the customer). It enables merchants to engage customers in their CSR strategy with every purchase, adding great value to the customers’ experience and allowing retailers to create a greater impact.

And while this app personalizes your customers’ shopping experience, it also gives merchants the flexibility to decide how much they’d like to donate to the causes. The options are endless – from donating a certain dollar value or percentage per sale, to making donations for certain products or product ranges only. During BFCM, when product prices are discounted, merchants may even choose to, for example, give 20% off and 20% donation per purchase. The percentage or dollar amounts that a merchant decides to donate can be increased for events such as BFCM and then reduced again afterwards.

If you decide to incorporate functions like Sezzle and ChangeCommerce into your Shopify site, do it well before BFCM so that you have time to test the apps and make sure everything is running smoothly before you get busy. It also gives you enough time beforehand to market the new services that your platform offers. Even more than that, it gives you an opportunity to make your site more competitive in the long-term as you face increased competition in a rapidly growing and changing ecommerce landscape.

Handle with care

The Covid-19 pandemic changed the ecommerce space dramatically – forcing more shoppers online and causing exponential growth in online retail. It’s important to adapt your business to the changes in ecommerce and cater for your customers’ needs with financing options for cash-strapped customers and charitable retail programs like ShoppingGives.

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Nina Wolf and her dog Fergus

Nina Wolf talks dogs, playing interpreter, and surviving fast growth

Nina Wolf understands packs. According to her, the large, fluffy King Shepherd Fergus and smaller English Shepherd Henry, are her pack. But that’s not the only pack Wolf (who prefers to be called by her last name) belongs to. On 1 June 2020, she became part of ShopCreatify’s ‘pack’. The experienced marketing manager has joined ShopCreatify in a strategic capacity with a strong focus on sales, marketing and merchant success. She only growls occasionally.

Wolf was, until recently, the brand manager at Small Pet Select, a large, US ecommerce store that sells quality animal food for small pets. Because the company was very young when Wolf joined, she was involved in more than just brand management. When she wasn’t writing, improving the company’s SEO, or managing writers and graphic designers, she was making decisions about what products to stock, dealing with service providers, and working on plans and strategies for the ecommerce site.

It was during her time at Small Pet Select, that she met and worked extensively with the ShopCreatify team, who did an overhaul of its website four years ago. Ever since then ShopCreatify has continued to support Small Pet Select through its exponential growth by updating and optimizing the site, helping with user experience, and implementing new functions. Wolf assisted the ShopCreatify team by handling some of the simpler back-end technology on the site.

Solid foundations lead to conversions

The ShopCreatify team is excited about the contribution Wolf will make towards conversion boosting. This is a field she’s undeniably passionate about. Instead of always pushing for new sales and customers, Wolf encourages merchants to first STOP. Wolf and her dog, Henry, are training to do search and rescue operations and she says this acronym is frequently used. It stands for stop moving, think about what’s going on, evaluate options, and then proceed.

“Instead of always trying to move forward, STOP. Get your foundation in order. Tidy up, sweep the floors, wash the dishes, fix the roof,” says Wolf. She uses this metaphor to refer to making sure your ecommerce site is built on a good, strong foundation before attempting new strategies and functionalities.

“I’m a big believer in using site optimization for conversion boosting. Make sure everything on your site is working properly including your navigation, links, forms, and feeds. Just by doing this you’ll see a jump in sales and you’ll also be stable moving forward. When you start tacking on apps or doing shiny things, you can often make any existing instabilities worse, so it’s important to get the foundations in order first.”

The interpreter

Nina Wolf and dogs

One of Wolf’s roles at ShopCreatify is to be a ‘project hero’ for its clients – making sure their needs are met. ShopCreatify realized soon after Wolf joined the team just how valuable she is for their interactions with current and potential clients. “Wolf can have a conversation with merchants that I’m not even able to have,” says ShopCreatify founder, Ross Allchorn. “She’s been a merchant. She knows what concerns and pressures merchants deal with. She knows what questions to ask them. She’s sat in that chair.”

Wolf acknowledges that she can play a useful role as ‘interpreter’ or ‘mediator’ between the ShopCreatify developers and their merchant clients. “Although the merchants and developers are in it together, they do see things differently and it’s hard sometimes to marry the two. Often merchants don’t have an understanding of how things hang together on the back-end. So it’s helpful if I can hop in and explain using non-technical language and a lot of metaphors. And sometimes I’m able to explain to developers why something is important from a merchant’s point of view. Trying to balance the different perspectives and priorities is helpful to clients and our own team.”

Working at Small Pet Select is only the tip of Wolf’s expansive CV and merchant experience. Although she majored in political science and economics, Wolf carved herself a niche in the animal world. After working in animal rescue and with a vet, she started a service business to assist people to treat and medicate their special needs pets. She sold that business in 2011 and founded and ran her own animal products retail business – a brick and mortar store with an online shop – before eventually moving on to Small Pet Select.

Wolf laughs when she admits she doesn’t actually feel like she’s started a new job.

“I already know everybody, so it really doesn’t feel new to me at all. It’s kind of an extension of what I’d been doing before. Ross joked that he felt like I had been on the ShopCreatify team for years already, based on our interactions when I was at Small Pet Select.”

And of course, the roles have now been reversed. Instead of Wolf telling Allchorn and his team what to do, he’s now her boss. “It could’ve been really awkward, but it isn’t at all. The whole team is super easy to work with and has been patient as I learn the ropes.”

Dealing with fast growth

Wolf is a wealth of advice for ecommerce merchants, and she’s generous with it too. One of the biggest challenges facing merchants at the moment, she says, is fast growth. This, of course, is due to an increased reliance on online shopping as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. While growth is positive for any business, it can also be challenging.

“In periods of fast growth, it can be really hard to keep every part of a company properly supported and keep the maintenance tasks happening. People become tired and things start to fall through the cracks.” Wolf’s advice on how to handle this is similar to above.

“STOP and get your processes in order because it will take a lot of the burden off your staff. Make things as automatic and as predictable as possible. It cuts down so much on time wasted and the frustration your staff feels.”

She recommends out-sourcing work where possible, to give employees the space and time they need to be productive. “If you find somebody that is really good at what they do, and doesn’t just do cookie cutter kind of stuff for you, it will save you money in the long run.” Taking the time to find a service provider that you can have a personal relationship with is vital, according to Wolf.

“Find someone who is going to get to know your business and will learn to anticipate what’s going to be acceptable or workable for you and what is not. You’ve got to be a good fit personality-wise and in terms of business philosophy. If you go with the highest-ranking agency, the most well-known expert, you may well up wasting a lot of money and time. Don’t be part of a production line. Require a co-operative relationship to get the most out of the effort.”

Grow smartly

Making good use of your analytics right now is also important given the unusualness of the time we’re in. Wolf suggests identifying which new customers are likely to be returning customers and adapting the marketing strategy to retain them. “If the marketing strategy is pulling people in that aren’t your ideal customers, it is time to change things up,” she says. “Grow smartly while you can.”

She reminds CEOs to delegate to trusted employees during busy times and to thank staff for their hard work. “When companies grow at a huge rate it can put a big strain on everyone from the CEO down to the warehouse worker. Remember to thank your staff, from the heart. Get them lunch, call them, email them, text them, because they are struggling to keep up morale.”

Most of all, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Wolf urges merchants to be sensitive in their marketing.

“I see many companies that are trying to monetize the pandemic. Whatever you put out there, make sure you’re paying attention to the atmosphere right now. Talk from your heart about what you are doing as a company, and how you’re addressing things with your own action. Be sensitive. This is an important time to rely on and trust professional communicators. It is OK to be silent. If you are unsure about messaging, be quiet and get experienced help.”

ShopCreatify clients will be privy to a lot more of Wolf’s wisdom as she becomes increasingly involved in the team’s projects over the coming months.

Nina Wolf and her dog Fergus

On 1 June 2020, Nina Wolf became part of ShopCreatify’s ‘pack’. The experienced marketing manager has joined ShopCreatify in a strategic capacity with a strong focus on sales, marketing and merchant success. She only growls occasionally. Wolf was, until recently, the brand manager at Small Pet Select, a large, US ecommerce store that sells quality animal food for small pets. 

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Black Friday preparationPhoto by Jessica Lewis

Are you thinking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday yet? We’re running a three-part article series that shows you why you should be focusing on BFCM now, how you can prepare your website, and how this gifting season differs from those before. We’re all for useful and practical advice, so we’ve compiled a website preparation checklist to help you get your Shopify store ready for the upcoming holiday season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have a habit of sneaking up on you and changes or tweaks to your website require time to do diagnostics, strategize and schedule changes with your development team.

By getting an early start on your preparations you will ease some of the pressure down the line, but you will also have your website performing exactly the way it needs to in order to maximize your sales conversion opportunities. For those merchants who use outsourced or external development teams for your websites, getting in early means you won’t face the possibility of ‘missing the bus’ as development houses fill up their schedules. 

There are a lot of aspects to being BFCM ready, which include marketing strategy, operations, and production side of things - but we’re focusing on enhancing your Shopify store so that it is ready for Black Friday well ahead of time. 

1. Implement infrastructure for sales and discounts

    Sales and discounts

    Photo by Markus Spiske

    Offering discounts is the crux of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so it is important to make sure that your Shopify store is set up to support it. There are a number of ways you can offer discounts, including a specific monetary value, a percentage discount, sale prices, bundled discounts (eg. different products but in the same range or brand), bulk discounts, cart value threshold discounts (over a certain value for example gets free shipping), or straight up shipping discounts. These can be set up to be automatic, or you can set sale prices for individual products or ranges, or you can even create discount codes (such as using BFCM2020 at checkout to get a 50% discount off the entire cart). 

    There is a lot of flexibility here, and many generic discounts are easily set up on your Shopify platform. However if you are looking for something more complex or bespoke, you may need to get a developer to help customize some functionality for you or find a Shopify sales and discounts app with the functionality you need.

    2. Test server load capacity 

    Test server load capacity

    Image from

    The predictable surge in website traffic during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend can feel like a blessing and a curse. All too often, popular ecommerce sites buckle under the immense weight of double or triple their usual simultaneous traffic. That is why it is recommended that you ensure that your server can handle a spike in requests. You can run diagnostics and test your server load capacity with tools like or Google’s Lighthouse Report Viewer. These will help you improve your website’s performance including speed, accessibility, best practices, and SEO, on both desktop and mobile. Testing server load capacity is more important for other platforms, because if your online store is on Shopify you don’t need to worry about this.

    Warning: it is best to test on your stage environment so as to avoid crashing your server on your live site. 

    3. Lower your cart abandonment rate

      Lower your cart abandonment rate

      Photo by Rupixen

      The average cart abandonment rate on Black Friday 2018 in the US was 82%! Keeping cart abandonment figures low needs to be a high priority for you, and it is something you will need to keep your finger on. There are a number of factors that affect the cart abandonment rate, the number one reason being extra costs such as shipping tax or fees. However, there are many more factors which include the user experience and usability of the shopping cart functionality and the checkout page. Consider a deep dive into what factors might be contributing to your low sales conversions and fix those immediately, then you can use the months running up to BFCM to monitor for any improvements. 

      An abandoned cart can also be seen as an opportunity to recover the sale. Make sure that your first step in your checkout process is getting a potential customer’s email address, that way if they abandon you can contact them. There are a number of ways that you can recover an abandoned cart, which include offering a discount, offering to save their cart for checking out another time, or offer free shipping if it’s within your budget. Shopify makes this easy with built-in abandoned checkout recovery and a wide selection of abandoned cart apps in the Shopify App Store.

      4. Be mobile-first

        Be mobile-first

        Photo by Meghan Schiereck

        In 2018, in the US, 66% of sales from Shopify merchants happened on mobile during BFCM versus 34% which occurred on a desktop. Ensure that your website is mobile responsive and that the user experience is easy and intuitive. Examine your checkout process to ensure that it is a painless experience, especially on mobile, as filling out long forms or using complicated payment methods can be a real conversion killer. Try and reduce keystrokes and clicks required to make a purchase. Use tools like Google’s Lighthouse Report Viewer to run diagnostics to uncover issues likely affecting your mobile user friendliness, such as ‘tap targets’ (eg. buttons) or font sizes being too small for mobile users.

        5. Consider implementing live-chat

          Live chat

          Image from

          Live-chat has enabled many online stores to boost their conversion rate by up to 45%. It allows the user to get real-time answers to questions that help them make a buying decision. If you’re not ready to commit to having live chat staffed and monitored at all times, you can still implement live-chat by only enabling it in strategic areas, like on products featuring Black Friday deals or anywhere during the checkout process.

          6. Do user experience testing

            User testing

            Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

            User feedback helps you to gauge how well your store is meeting the needs of your customers. It stands to reason that a store that meets their needs adequately will result in a sale, and also the return of the same customer. There are a number of apps and tools out there to help you find issues that could affect the user experience, such as Google Pagespeed Insights, which shows you real-world data of your site. You will be able to uncover issues or areas of your store where simple improvements can vastly improve your user experience. Remember to extend your UX testing to the mobile experience too.

            7. Add tracking pixels

              Tracking pixels

              Photo by Will Francis

              Most online retailers participating in BFCM will be making use of paid campaigns such as Facebook Ads or Google Smart Shopping campaigns, which can be set up in Shopify. You will need to place retargeting pixels on your website so that you can remarket ads to your BFCM sale traffic. Generate a tracking pixel code for your website with Facebook Ads and Google AdWords now so that you can use this valuable data to improve your conversion rate.

              8. Set up Google Analytics

                Google Analytics

                Photo by Myriam Jessier

                If you haven’t already got Google Analytics tracking on your website, you need to add it as soon as possible. Google Analytics tracks valuable user data to help you understand how your customers shop in your online store. You can use the insights you gain from it to optimize your cart, product, and checkout pages. You can also more easily track where your customers drop off and troubleshoot the issues. Shopify has a beginner's guide to Google Analytics if you need help setting it up or if you want to make sure you are using it correctly.

                9. Use heatmaps

                  Crazy Egg heat map

                  Image from

                  If your ecommerce store has been up and running for a while with purchases neatly ticking over but you’re not seeing the surge you expected to see by now, heat mapping is certainly something you should be adding to your process of optimization. Heat maps could very well be one of the keys to understanding what problems your users are experiencing on your site and where they’re getting caught up instead of making purchases. There is a wealth of data available via your website’s analytics both on Google Analytics and Shopify’s analytics and reports that you could be using to pinpoint any issues or potential hurdles. However, heat mapping is arguably the easiest tool to use for this very purpose that almost anyone can understand. It’s visual and intuitive, making it a very popular tool for ecommerce optimisation amongst merchants. 

                  10. Use analytics from your Shopify Reports

                    Shopify dashboard

                    Just checking your dashboard alone will give you a good understanding of how your site is performing at a glance. 

                    We cannot stress how vital it is to track user behaviour on your website, including tracking how your marketing efforts are converting into sales. There is a lot that you can learn from your Shopify analytics; this is what you will be able see on your Overview dashboard: 

                    • check the value of your recent sales and compare them to a previous time period
                    • compare how well your sales channels are performing
                    • track your average order value
                    • see where your visitors are coming from - by region or by social media source
                    • monitor the trends over time

                      We hope that we’ve given you something to think about, and that you will take our advice and use this time wisely to get ahead and capitalise on the opportunities ahead for your ecommerce store. Sign up for our newsletter if you want to make sure that you don’t miss the last installment of our BFCM readiness article series.

                      Black Friday preparation

                      Black Friday and Cyber Monday have a habit of sneaking up on you and changes or tweaks to your website require time to do. By getting an early start on your preparations you will ease some of the pressure down the line, but you will also have your website performing exactly the way it needs to in order to maximize your sales conversion opportunities.

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                      Focus on BFCM
                      Photo by Kevin Ku

                      As an ecommerce brand you probably have these auspicious dates circled in red on your calendar, those specific holidays or seasons that affect shopping behaviour in such a massive way that you plan your business strategies around it. We’re talking about Black Friday, Cyber Monday - and the festive season that follows shortly on after that. BFCM and the gifting season combined are the bread and butter of many online retailers, who refine their marketing campaigns and boost their production efforts to meet the demands.

                      Every year we have seen BFCM grow, with more and more brands being represented online; the ecommerce aspect of the gifting season has simply skyrocketed. Shopify merchants broke records in 2019, with $2.9+ billion in worldwide sales over Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. Online commerce has brought independent businesses and direct-to-consumer businesses to the fore, allowing them to compete with the multinational conglomerates who previously stole the show. 

                      Even though the first notion of Black Friday sales were documented in Philadelphia, America, this sales holiday has now become a global phenomenon regardless of whether Thanksgiving is celebrated or not. But all this was before 2020; and so much has changed.

                      The pandemic inadvertently set off a global shutdown, retail has been limited - in many countries even for ecommerce. Yet ecommerce has also been the first to reopen due to the convenience and safety of shopping from home. Thousands of retailers who had never been online launched their stores during this time, and tens of thousands of online shoppers who had never shopped online now did so out of necessity. The global pandemic has accelerated nearly a decade of ecommerce evolution into just ninety days as businesses pivoted to thrive in this new environment. 

                      This is our first of a three-part article series wherein we get you thinking about BFCM readiness and what you should be doing in the coming months running up to (hopefully) your busiest time of year. We will also share some valuable tips on how to adapt your business to thrive online.

                      Get an early start on BFCM

                      BFCM and the subsequent gifting season is the period when many merchants see the lion’s share of their annual sales in the year, and could be the much needed monetary relief that many are relying on. While we cannot predict how things will be for merchants during this holiday season, it does appear that it could be a favorable one for ecommerce again. Our best advice would be to get an early start on your BFCM strategy - and especially for ecommerce brands that will have a strong website focus. 

                      Bear in mind that even a modest amount of custom functionality can take over a month to progress from specification to go-live, so focusing on making your website ready - with BFCM in mind - this early in the year allows you ample time to iron out the kinks and squash pesky bugs in time for the big day. You can even test your new functionality or processes in the market by using seasonal sales as a kind of pilot run. This will quickly expose any positives or negatives, in real-time, for you to revisit in retrospection. Also, it is inadvisable to put any extra pressure on yourself during BFCM if you’re worried about your website infrastructure not being thoroughly tested - because let’s face it, your attention will be pulled to putting out fires! Knowing that your platform is sound, and also optimized to convert the maximum sales, will allow you to divert your energies where they’re needed.  

                      Website Improvements

                      There are always things to be done that can drastically improve your online store, not just your conversion rate but also your search results, user experience and marketability. These will include bugs that you or customers have encountered, improvements to the User Interface (UI), new features that you would like to implement, improving website discoverability (SEO related), and other changes to boost upsell and conversions.

                      Review the current performance of your website using all the tools at your disposal, including performance measurement tools like Google Analytics, Google PageSpeed Insights, Google Mobile-Friendly Test, Backlink Checker, etc. Using real data from your users allows you to make more informed decisions when it comes to prioritizing your tasks. Obviously, pain points that directly affect your customers will be your most pressing issues to tackle (as opposed to backend issues that only affect you and your team) such as 1) things that affect your customer’s experience and 2) things that affect sales/conversions. 

                      Compare the results to your goals as it will highlight any glaring issues and help you identify where you need to be focusing your improvements. These items will become your to-do list, and your next step is to determine the importance or urgency of each. If this is too much of an undertaking for your business right now, then ConversionBoost is far better suited to help you see exponential growth in your online store conversion. ConversionBoost is one of our specialised services, where we use an evidence-based approach, with data collection and analysis, to improve and enhance your store. It is designed for established stores that already have a baseline of performance, and stores that already have a certain level of traffic and sales will see the best results.

                      Marketing Infrastructure

                      Digital Marketing forms a firm pillar in the model for successful ecommerce, and a well-thought out marketing plan for growing your audience in preparation for the gifting season is key. You will be competing against every other ecommerce store during this time, so try to grow your marketing base and social following as much as possible from now. 

                      These are our top six marketing initiatives to channel your energies into:

                      • Organic - includes word-of-mouth, viral marketing, PR, social media, network marketing, direct sales, and anything else where customers come to you naturally over time.
                      • Content - these include blogs or articles, creating education media (about your product or the need thereof), useful pieces of content like free guides or infographics.
                      • Paid - online affords many places to pay for advertising including Google Ads and Facebook/Instagram Ads (this includes boosted or sponsored content).
                      • Social - all the social platforms that your market frequents, often includes Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.
                      • Email - keep in touch with your potential customers via email through newsletters and other email campaigns. Optimise your transactional emails to boost repeat sales using tools like Spently to automate it. Get to grips with a tool like this so that you can use it for your BFCM campaigns with full confidence. 
                      • Automation - automated marketing campaigns can be ‘always-on’ lead generating channels. They can be set up once and run automatically, warming up leads and bringing in sales - if you start now you can have some hot leads by the time BFCM rolls in. Look into implementing an automation flow tool like Klaviyo to take full advantage. 
                      • Reviews - customer reviews are new age, ‘word-of-mouth’ gold. Incorporate social proof into your completed sales follow up and your automated processes to ensure that most of your products have reviews on them. 

                      Product/Stock Functionalities or Apps

                      Take a moment to go back to the basics - starting with your product. Make sure it is these 5 things:

                      1. In demand
                      2. Of high quality
                      3. Well explained on your website
                      4. Well presented
                      5. Correctly priced

                      If even one of these don’t meet the criteria, then you still have time to tweak your product and website. Implement at least these three functionalities (listed below) now, so that you know they’re solid later because they will help you boost your sales conversions and have happier customers:

                      Stock level indication: Nothing gives a sense of urgency or touches on the consumer’s sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) like a stock level indication (only 6 items left in stock!). An app like While Supplies Last will enable you to implement this functionality.

                      Back-in-stock notification: Don’t lose out on sales simply because a product is temporarily out of stock, capture the consumer’s details and send them an automated reminder when the product is back-in-stock again with functionality like that of the BackInStock app.

                      Abandoned cart recovery: “The typical shopping cart abandonment rate for online retailers varies between 60% and 80%, with an average of 67.91%.” Abandoned carts are the ultimate low-hanging fruit for picking up on lost sales - consumers were literally selecting items for purchase and for some or other reason didn’t complete the sale. Provide an opportunity for them to pick up where they left off (or even offer a discount to tip them over the edge). If you're on Shopify Plus or higher, you already have abandoned checkouts available to you as a feature, otherwise for a lower plan there are still plenty of options in the form of apps.


                      Will you be able to keep up without compromising on something? Be smart about keeping track of your stock, look into implementing Shopify apps like Stock2Shop to monitor stock levels to ensure you don’t sell products you don’t have stock of. This helps you to avoid customer frustration and to keep to shipping deadlines. If the turnover for shipping is expected to be longer, due to greater demand such as over BFCM weekend, then strategise now how you will make your customers aware of changes to expected delivery times or find a way to optimise your fulfillment processes well ahead of time. Try as much as possible to keep your fulfillment fast and efficient, while keeping your customers in the loop as much as possible.

                      We hope that we’ve given you something to think about, and that you will take our advice and use this time wisely to get ahead and capitalise on the opportunities ahead for your ecommerce store.

                      Focus on BFCM
                      Photo by Kevin Ku

                      BFCM and the subsequent gifting season is the period when many merchants see the lion’s share of their annual sales in the year, and could be the much needed monetary relief that many are relying on. While we cannot predict how things will be for merchants during this holiday season, it does appear that it could be a favorable one for ecommerce again. 

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                      BJ Minson, founder of Grip6 inspecting his product made in USA

                      Grip6’s BJ Minson talks belt flaps, Chinese manufacturing, and marketing mess-ups

                      Grip6 Work Belt

                      Taking risks, accepting failure and doing things himself are all part of Grip6 founder BJ Minson’s recipe for success. The American belt manufacturer, and ShopCreatify client, sold 350,000 belts in 2019.

                      Grip6 has humble beginnings. For 10 years after school, Minson did odd jobs from construction to painting houses. He also tried to start a business making and selling specialized hospital beds, but was frustrated when he was faced with structural problems he couldn’t solve.  

                      “I was sawing and welding and doing what an engineer without a degree would do. I realized projects weren’t working out as well as I’d hoped,” says Minson. During this time, he started a family and soon realized he couldn’t afford a house or reach his other financial goals on odd jobs alone. So Minson went back to school. It was a long process and he had to take six semesters of math before he was at the level of the other mechanical engineering students.

                      While Minson wrapped up his studies, he worked as a junior engineer for a medical company. He continued with his own side-projects in the hope it would give him the experience he needed to apply for a product design job.

                      The beginnings of a belt

                      One of Minson’s side-projects was a wallet: small, flat and rectangular. It fitted six cards which popped up when the sides were squeezed. “The wallets were fairly complicated inside, mechanically, and I couldn’t just make them myself because I knew nothing about manufacturing.” After failing to find an affordable, local manufacturer, he gave up on the wallet.

                      BJ Minson demonstrating the strength of the Grip6 beltDemonstrating the strength of the G6 belt in a video on the Kickstarter campaign back in 2014

                      Soon after that he designed a belt – Grip6’s signature product – after being irritated by his own belts. He’d thought cutting his leather belt shorter to stop it from flapping around was a good solution, but his wife disagreed. “She said it was the ugliest belt she’d ever seen and that it looked ridiculous!” He then used a nylon army belt, but didn’t like how the thick buckle stuck out under his shirt.

                      “I then thought if I design a belt that’s really simple, it should be easy enough to manufacture myself.” The belt he designed uses a single piece of webbing, a single piece of metal for the buckle, doesn’t require any sewing and has no buckle holes. Unlike traditional belts, the material properties of the Grip6 belt creates friction that holds it in place without slipping.

                      Marketing and manufacturing mishaps

                      In 2014 Minson launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. He was stunned when he received 10,000 belt orders. He reached out to local manufacturers to make the belts but was met with slow responses, long timelines and quotes that were much higher than he’d priced the belts. Even worse, Minson was repeatedly encouraged to manufacture his belts in China. “Everybody told us that if you don’t make your belts in China, you’re dumb and probably not going to succeed.”

                      Minson was dead set against this. He’d been astounded by the bad quality of his children’s toys, most of which were made in China. “They’d use the toys once before they’d break. It made no sense from a moral perspective that people were producing garbage and shipping it around the world just to be thrown away almost immediately.

                      “I wanted to make the belts locally in the United States, so that the quality would be high and to reinvest in ourselves as a country and in manufacturing.”

                      Without a manufacturer, Minson and a friend set about making the 10,000 belts themselves, by hand. “I bought a couple of small hand tools and started production in my garage. For six months we worked our butts off. We’d finish at our full-time jobs and then work another eight to 10 hours at night. I had got myself stuck in a situation that I hadn’t thought through very well, but at least I had a product people wanted.”

                      Minson spent the following year figuring out how to market his belts. “We didn’t know anything about marketing and that scared me.” He hired the best marketing company he could find, paying them with money left over from his Kickstarter campaign and by selling belts at county fairs and trade shows.

                      But the marketing company let Minson down with a website that despite being attractive, was built on the wrong platform and marketing campaigns that lead nowhere. He then hired someone a friend recommended to do Facebook marketing for his company. It worked and Grip6 sold 70,000 belts in its third year.

                      Now in its sixth year, Grip6 employs 43 people and its sales are up 80% from 2019.

                      Grip6’s belt sales have increased significantly since it launched in 2014

                      We do it ourselves

                      After his negative experiences with manufacturers and marketers, Minson decided to do as much as he could inhouse.

                      “If we can do something ourselves, we should so that when a problem comes along, we’re not relying on somebody else to fix it. We like to be in control. This concept of relying on somebody else just means you’re running away from gaining the knowledge yourself.”

                      This philosophy has seen Grip6 invest significant amounts in machinery, people and learning processes. “Ultimately that’s meant we’ve been able to do things cheaper, more efficiently and at a better quality.”  

                      Grip6 Product PageGrip6's conversion optimized product page showcasing their unique products.

                      Despite this, Minson says it wouldn’t have made financial sense to hire a full-time web developer. After using numerous Shopify developers, they found ShopCreatify two years ago and have been a client ever since. “Ross [Allchorn] fills that gap and his team does well as an extension of Grip6. If you have to use outside people, use those who are as close philosophically and capability-wise as you are.”

                      Take risks, learn from failures

                      Minson’s philosophy doesn’t stop at doing things in-house. He isn’t afraid of taking risks or failing, so much so that the Grip6 website says: “Follow us as we struggle, misstep and learn.”

                      He’s trying to add two new products to the Grip6 range: the wallet he designed eight years ago, and socks. Both have already seen Grip6 make significant investments into failed manufacturing, new machinery and time spent learning how to use the machines. Six months after starting on the wallet and a year after starting on the socks, Grip6 is at last producing test products before being manufactured for sale. The socks endeavor alone cost the company around $250,000.

                      “If we’re not risking something, we get into a mental state where we’re too afraid to grow, because growth involves risks. We’re willing to take many risks as long as it’s not so big it puts the company out of business. It might cost us a lot of money but if we’re successful it really pays off. I’m perfectly fine with failure as long as it comes with a lesson to be learnt.”

                      Minson says that despite taking so many risks he’s actually financially conservative. Grip6 has only ever taken out a loan to buy a particularly expensive laser cutting machine. “Every other machine in our shop, millions of dollars’ worth, has been paid for in cash. We’ve been cash positive from the garage onwards. We don’t believe in getting into debt.”

                      Covid-19 and the future

                      Minson believes that these philosophies have helped Grip6 weather the Covid-19 crisis. When the virus hit the USA, sales dropped by 25%. But Minson’s best friend, who is now in charge of Grip6’s marketing, noticed that online advertising had become significantly cheaper after many people stopped advertising when the pandemic started. Grip6 decided to increase their ad spend and “all of a sudden we’re hitting months that are far above what we’re used to and very similar to our busiest time of year”.

                      And because Grip6 manufactures everything itself, it wasn’t affected when international trade came to a grinding halt. It’s business as usual at the Salt Lake City, Utah plant, with staff wearing masks and adhering to other safety and social distancing protocol.

                      Despite this, Minson is nervous about the future. He knows that Covid-19 is likely to slow the world economy down for the next 12 to 18 months and is aware that his good business run is unlikely to continue indefinitely.

                      “We’re being extra cautious financially and building up the bank account in the expectation that the sales will probably drop off in the near future. We’re saving our money, launching new products and looking for other growth opportunities.”

                      He has encouraging words for other online businesses:

                      “There’s this once in a lifetime thing happening, and it’s pretty bad. But if you’re smart and you look around, there are opportunities to grow and to find silver linings.”

                      BJ Minson, founder of Grip6 inspecting his product made in USA

                      Taking risks, accepting failure and doing things himself are all part of Grip6 founder BJ Minson’s recipe for success. The American belt manufacturer, and ShopCreatify client, sold 350,000 belts in 2019. BJ Minson talks belt flaps, Chinese manufacturing, and marketing mess-ups.

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                      Chase Clymer, host of Honest Ecommerce's interviewed ShopCreatify's Ross Allchorn in a recent podcast. In this episode they discuss how the pandemic has affected Ecommerce in South Africa and around the world, and what merchants should be focusing on during this time. 

                      While ShopCreatify has a distributed team that spans the world, there are a couple of teammates and customers with Ecommerce stores based in South Africa, giving Ross a unique perspective to offer.

                      Chase Clymer, Ross Allchorn

                      Chase Clymer, host of Honest Ecommerce's interviewed ShopCreatify's Ross Allchorn in a recent podcast. In this episode they discuss how the pandemic has affected Ecommerce in South Africa and around the world, and what merchants should be focusing on during this time. 

                      While ShopCreatify has a distributed team that spans the world, there are a couple of teammates and customers with Ecommerce stores based in South Africa, giving Ross a unique perspective to offer.

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                      Ecommerce order being fulfilled
                      Photo by Bench

                      If ever there was a time to focus on boosting your online sales, it would be now.

                      Despite the extenuating circumstances of what is facing the world right now, eCommerce is booming and it’s time to get on top of your conversion optimisation. First things first, if you want to accurately monitor your sales and revenue and ultimately your sales conversion rate, you need to set up Google Analytics on your site and set your conversion rate goals. Now you’re ready to take a deeper look at your ecommerce store. 

                      We’ve set down a list to help you identify where your website might be losing sales - and a few things to consider if you want to be more likely to make a sale. We’re not focusing on ads or general marketing right now, but rather the ways you can tweak and improve your site to better convert your current traffic and see a marked growth in sales and revenue.

                      If you’d rather have a Shopify Expert optimise your store then take a look at our ConversionBoost product, for a limited time only we are offering 20% off for COVID-19 relief. Apply now to reserve your ConversionBoost slot.

                      Home Page

                      There are a number of things you can do to optimise your Home Page for supporting better sales conversions, including the following:

                      Don’t use it as a landing page

                      The Home Page is designed for every kind of visitor and so does not work well as a landing page for marketing of a particular product. This is why a lot of Home Pages have such high bounce rates. Rather use your product pages as landing pages and optimise them better, or custom dedicated landing pages for special offers. 

                      Improve your navigation

                      Most Shopify themes come with "sufficient" navigation options with the ability for dropdown and fly-out menus, but merely sufficient isn't going to earn you any extra points with your customers. Make use of a good mega nav type structure, which allows you to merchandise products from within your navigation and drastically improve findability and subsequently your customer's user experience. Also, make your navigation laser-focused by segmenting it into logical groupings such as keeping product related navigation together and your "other" information like customer service, returns, t's & c's and account related stuff in their own place.

                      Enhance your Search 

                      Search is an expected feature on every eCommerce website, and it can help your customers navigate through your catalogue of products as well as even help you convert better - provided they can easily find what they are looking for. Ensure that yours has error tolerance for misspellings, is enhanced for mobile search capabilities, offers autocomplete for faster results and better suggestions, and includes merchandising capabilities like pricing and even images. Use your Search to your advantage, it’s more than a navigation tool.

                      Add a Site-wide Promo Bar

                      Offer promotions or communicate value propositions like free shipping or a link to a clearance collection by implementing a site-wide promo bar. It enables you to provide value to the customer as well as drive traffic to your easier converting pages. 

                      Product Pages

                      This is where you need to spend the most resources on optimisation. The buyer makes their decision to purchase here; they have a lot of questions and concerns that you need to adequately address. Product pages have high abandonment rates and you won’t be able to increase your conversion rate unless you fix this. Our answer? Create solid product pages that convert! 

                      Better product descriptions

                      Avoid sticking to a template when it comes to providing information on your product pages, rather serve the information to the customer that will help them make an informed buying decision. Use well-written product descriptions that answer the questions that your customers might have, and lead with the good stuff. Don’t make them dig for the information they need. Include videos, demonstrations, how-to guidelines, size guidelines, dimensions, etc. to help put your product “in their hands”. 

                      Professional photos

                      Product photography is a way for customers to verify the quality and value of your product. It is important that what you sell and what you have on your website are identical, as your transparency and trust hinge on this as a brand. It always looks better to do your own photography, rather than using what is supplied by suppliers as it lends more legitimacy to the product. You will also have the added benefit of getting less returns. 

                      Stock Level indication

                      To promote urgency, it's useful to show the customer how many items are still in stock. This sense of urgency can inspire the customer to purchase sooner for fear of losing out. This can be done quite simply with an app like While Stocks Last or if you have a suitably skilled Shopify coder at hand, they should be able to implement a solution fairly quickly in liquid. Similarly, provide a back-in-stock notification rather than leaving “empty shelves”, no one likes finding the product they’ve been searching for only to find a dead end and a red “Out Of Stock” label.

                      Clear Call to Action

                      Make sure your Call to Action (Add to Cart button in most cases) is impossible to miss, but without being gaudy. To make them stand out, you can use any or all of the following techniques:

                      1. Placement - Fairly simply, make sure your call-to-action is placed in a location where your customers will expect it to be.
                      2. Isolation - If you can separate the call-to-action from the rest of the content on the page with physical whitespace, it'll draw attention to itself and stand out more on the page.
                      3. Contrast - The more different the call-to-action looks in relation to the rest of the content, the more it will stand out. You can use colour, size and shape to create contrast between your call-to-action and the rest of the page.
                      4. Proportion - Related to the contrast technique above, having your call-to-action proportionately different in size to the rest of the content on the page allows it to stand out and draw the user's eye.


                      Use customer reviews

                      User reviews heavily influence buyer decisions, in fact they’ve become so powerful that 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. They are proven sales drivers, and customers now expect to see them on all Ecommerce stores. Don’t fear the negative reviews, they are opportunities for you to react in a way that gives all future customers a glimpse into how you handle customer care issues. We have a detailed article as to why customer reviews can be your secret weapon to boosting conversions.

                      Cart and Checkout

                      Abandoned carts are a major hurdle for merchants, however there are a lot of ways that you can take back this platform to your advantage. 

                      Smooth, fast and easy

                      Customers want fuss-free, and simple checkout. If there are too many steps, they will likely drop off - especially if they checkout on mobile. Limit the amount of steps by not enforcing sign in (by offering guest checkout), not having a CAPTCHA, or by offering tools like Shopify Pay. This enables customers to opt-in to save their personal and shipping information, so that they can checkout with just one tap or click.

                      Be upfront about extra fees

                      Extra fees like shipping costs can be major sticking points for online shoppers, and it can be quite a shock when the first time they see the cost is right before making the purchase. Be upfront about the costs and you will have less abandoned carts, or offer free shipping if you are able to. 

                      The Follow Up

                      It is a missed opportunity if your interaction with a new customer ends at their first purchase. Also, don’t give up on your abandoned carts - they are low hanging fruit and there are ways to recover them. 

                      Recover your Abandoned Carts

                      Make sure that your first step in your checkout process is getting their email address, that way if they abandon you can contact them and try to recover the sale. There are a number of ways that you can do this, which include offering a discount, offering to save their cart for checking out another time, or offer free shipping if it’s within your budget.

                      Up-sell, Cross-sell and Bundle

                      While technically not conversion optimisation, offering your customers superior alternatives, accessories and items that commonly go with the one they're buying is going to increase your average order value (AOV) which is much the same thing in the long run. You can use your promotional newsletter to promote these or optimise your transactional emails to do this automatically for you. We wrote a dedicated article about transactional emails if you’d like to know more. There are a large number of apps to choose from when looking to provide up-selling on your store but our usual go-to apps are the ones offered by Bold. We prefer Spently for transactional emails.

                      Ecommerce order being fulfilled
                      Photo by Bench

                      If ever there was a time to focus on boosting your online sales, it would be now. Despite the extenuating circumstances of what is facing the world right now, eCommerce is booming and it’s time to get on top of your conversion optimisation.

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