How To Figure Out What You Need

an easy step-by-step guide to help you make decisions about the future of your store

All The Parts...

Your Shopify store is the heart of your business...every single pixel should be working for you, and working hard. Once truly optimized, your store works for you 24/7 without complaint.  (OK, we are talking about technology, so there are occasionally hiccups with some glitch or another, but while you are playing basketball or bingeing Netflix, your Shopify store should be making you money.)

Wasting opportunity at any step along the way not only loses you sales, but actually costs you money. Fewer sales mean higher overhead.  You are already paying to be on the Shopify platform, paying hosting fees, ads to drive traffic to the site, so why get less than you can out of that online footprint?

Customers Still Want The "IRL" Feel

Online shopping, at its best, is really much like brick-and-mortar shopping.  

Think about it for a moment: you walk into your favorite store.  You’re greeted with a friendly smile, then given space to explore.  You feel good in this space...the vibe works for you. You can find what you want easily. Everything is organized and tagged well.  Sales and promotions are clear and attractive. If you have questions, there is immediate help.  You make your choices, go to the checkout counter, and are out the door with a smile on your face, texting to your friend about what you just bought.

More and more shopping has shifted to an online experience, from necessity as much as preference. Customers are missing their more in-person shopping experiences.  If you can come as close as possible, you win.

Visit Your Own Store

Take a hard look at your online store.  Walk in the “door”, through the “aisles”, look at a few items for sale.  Be the customer instead of the shop owner.  Compare it to your favorite shopping experiences, and be honest about what is missing.

Are your customers seeing the important items and info at the “front” of your store? Are customers finding what they want, fast?  Are sizes, colors, flavors, effectively and attractively displayed?  Are detailed (zoom-able) photos of your items available as early in the customer journey as possible? Can customers find items related to items in their cart without any fuss? Can they buy batteries or a case without having to search? Can customers keep an eye on their cart as they move through your store, adding or revising without any extra clicks?

Once a customer gets to checkout, is all the info they need readily visible and assuring?  Is it easy to checkout with whatever payment type they prefer? Is all of the above optimized not only for desktop users, but for (more importantly) mobile users who may have poor eyesight or big fingers? Does the customer leave your store knowing who you are, what you sell, and wanting to come back again? Did they join your mailing list, and maybe even bookmark you? Are they now brand evangelists? Do they have a way to tell everyone about how awesome you are, and did you ask them to do this?

Get Family And Friends Involved

Seriously.  If you don’t already have an app to show you customer behavior (and you should have one, FYI!), do this.

Go find a cousin, neighbor, or bowling buddy to sit with you for 20 minutes.  They should not be familiar with your store at all. 

Pick one item from your store, and include a specific size, color, and any other variation a customer might need to choose.  Write this down on an actual piece of paper.  Like with a pen.  Old school.

Hand this paper to your test customer/aunt/book club friend, and ask them to find this item in your store, add it to the cart, and do all of the checkout except the very last step where they are charged and the sale is complete. 

Ask them to talk you through what they are doing as they complete the task.

Move them away from the computer screen. Ask them if the item they just found was guaranteed in any way.  What did other customers have to say about the product?  Did it have a star rating? Can they remember if there was a cost for shipping, or an expected delivery date?  Were they asked to sign up for a mailing list? Did they find anything confusing or frustrating? Was there anything on the site that made them trust the transaction, gave them confidence?

If they were willing to use their real email address during this exercise, did they get an email about the purchase they abandoned?  Did they get a welcome email for joining a mailing list?   

Real customer behavior analysis is much more involved, but this will give you an idea of what your pain points might be.

Study Your Metrics

Your objective opinion, and that of your “test shopper”, need support from data.  Dive in to your Google Analytics, your reports from social media accounts, your Shopify dashboard, and whatever else you have to work with.

How long do people spend on your Shopify site?  Where do they spend this time, and where do they drop off?

What is the average purchase amount vs. the life-time value?  Are your customers returning? Are your customers signing up for auto-ships? Do your customers buy related items? Are your customers responding to any promos or specials? Do you new items get plenty of clicks? How many abandoned carts are you seeing?How many of your abandoned checkouts ultimately complete purchase? What are your most common customer service requests? Are you increasing your mailing list?

If you are seeing problems with any of the above, it is time for a redesign or even a new store.  

You've Got Options

Shopify stores best practice says update/refresh your site regularly, with a new build every three years or so.

Your Shopify store might be in pretty good shape, needing only a few upgrades and tweaks.  Maybe you want to add something to your cart page to encourage the “submit payment”.  Or you think you might like a different header. Perhaps you want to change your branding, and work on your customer journey.  Upgrade your cart or checkout page.

Maybe you want us to optimize what is already there.  A good fit might be our Conversion Optimization, where we make sure your existing site is doing all it can to get your customers to hit “submit payment”.

Or you need major work, and it will be best to start from scratch.

How To Talk To Developers

It is important to find the right fit in a developer.  Know what will be done, by whom.  

We’d really like to talk to you about your Shopify store, of course.  Go ahead and let us know more about what you need.

The best way to determine what you are looking for is to come up with a “scope”.   This will help you discuss your pain points with potential developer partners.  Include what problems you are seeing. Add screen shots and links to where the issue is happening.  Link to other sites that you like, as examples of where you’d like to go. (You can see some examples of stores we’ve worked in here for some ideas.) Be clear about what you can do in house and what the developer will need to handle.

Be prepared to allow (and in most cases pay for, if you want good info) a “teardown” of your site, where a developer does a site evaluation. Developers know current best practices, and will be able to add valuable insight in addition to what you noticed on your own.  They can also help you prioritize what needs to be done, and what is not as important for driving sales.

What seems like a minor change may be much more complicated on the back end, and what seems like a huge deal may not be complicated at all...so don’t assume. 

During Your Store Upgrade

Take snapshots of your metrics prior to work starting, and throughout the changes.  This will be helpful when analyzing the results of the new features.

Make sure your site is backed up before any changes are “pushed”, or made live.  Know how to revert to the old site, in case something goes wrong.

Often, faster is not better.  Be patient if your developer builds in time between stages.  Typically, one thing must be in place for another thing to be addressed. Your stage 2 options may be more clear once stage one has been up and working for a few weeks.  Making changes slowly allows you to see what individual upgrades and additions are actually doing for you.  If you change everything at once, it is harder to determine what had the biggest impact.

Ta-Da!

Your Shopify Store is in Great Shape. Good job, you’ve done the work.  

Celebrate (but don’t relax).

Technology changes every day.  Next week customers may find some trend they want.  Google may change the way something works.  Shopify may add new functionality.  

So stay awake, and stay in touch with your developers. Kinda like raking leaves and shoveling snow, it is easier if you stay on top of it. Your developers are your allies in keeping the sales rolling in.