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Shopify Unite 2018

Shopify Unite 2018

Just got back from Shopify Unite and it was amazing!

Just got back from Shopify Unite and it was amazing! This year Shopify held Unite in Toronto (the first 2 were in SF) and brought together ~2,000 Shopify employees, Shopify agencies, Technology companies and Shopify app developers. As I’m trying to mentally download everything I learned, I think it’s best to lay this post out in chronological order.


Arrived Sunday and attended the Klaviyo,, Recharge and Returnly pre-Unite party. Had some great conversations with the Returnly folks, specifically Dave Campbell, Director of Product and Tony Keitel in Sales Development. Returnly has a neat value proposition for returns, by using Returnly merchants can credit their customers right away (paid by Returnly) which increases brand loyalty and drives additional sales. In addition, I met one of the cofounders of Recharge, Oisin O’Connor, Recharge is a subscription billing app on Shopify that has taken off like wildfire and many of our clients are using it already.


Monday was day Zero of Unite, this day was primarily intended for Shopify Plus Partners (like Ambaum) and Shopify app developers. Since we are considering developing a public app in the near future, I played hooky from the Shopify Plus event and attended the app development track. Gathered in the room on Monday were a number of app and theme developers in an open AMA format where they could ask questions of the Shopify app team. There are currently ~2,400 apps in the Shopify app store and many apps are waiting in the queue for review prior to going live. Here are some of the main takeaways from the AMA:

  • Shopify is putting all it’s weight behind GraphQL for their APIs. Historically Shopify has used REST APIs (and still does for many), but Shopify is committed to moving towards GraphQL in the future.
  • App and Theme developers would love to see an API that allows them to see all the apps currently installed in a store, Shopify raised the question of privacy but knows this is useful information for app developers to have to improve perfomance.
  • New Inventory API went live in March that allows for multi-location inventory, this is a big step and a long time coming!
  • Many app developers didn’t know this but as an app developer you can insert a popup to ask a merchant why they are uninstalling your app to get feedback on your app.
  • GDPR is live and many app developers had questions on the level of compliance they needed to go through for their own systems.


Tuesday was the big day. From 10am to noon, Shopify had all their top executives come on stage and lead with new product announcements. The energy in the room was outstanding and it really was an exciting 2 hours, here are the main takeaways summarized by speaker.

Up close and personal with Justin Trudeau who was on stage with Tobias Lutke at Unite

Tobi Lutke, CEO/Founder

Tobi is one of the most impressive CEO’s I’ve seen and he didn’t disappoint for this Unite. What I like most about Toby is that he’s not a showman, he’s not a rah rah guy that is up there raving about Shopify. Tobi’s brilliance is that he’s not just thinking about Shopify, he’s focused 100% on merchants and making commerce simpler and easier for everyone. Shopify also announced it’s opening up a physical store that will be a space for people to learn about entrepreneurship and how to get started selling online.

Amazon wasn’t mentioned once by Shopify (and really no need as Shopify is deeply connected to Amazon), but the CEO Tobi reminds me of is Jeff Bezos. Tobi is looking out many years ahead and trying to think how the world can create more entrepreneurs, it’s a passion for him that resonates through everything he does. Bezos is laser focused on his commitment to providing the best customer service and Tobi is committed to providing merchants the simplest way to sell online.

Some quick facts Tobi announced:

  • Shopify has over 600K merchants and 200K of those stores were started in 2017
  • There have been over 12 million app installs in the Shopify store

Satish Kanwar, VP of Product

Satish came out onstage with a number of POS updates:

  • Shopify is continuing forward with a focus on multi channel retail
  • Shopify POS is used by 70K retailers (more than I thought)
  • With the new multi location inventory API, staff will be able to manage orders and returns across many stores and warehouses
  • Customers will be able to leave tips for staff through the updated POS
  • Public and private Shopify apps will be easier to build now with the Shopify POS SDK
  • The main announcement was the release (Fall 2018) of a slick black, bluetooth enabled Shopify POS reader. Impressive design and form factor (definitely an Apple influence) that will work with Shopify Payments, Apple and Google pay to start. Read more about the new Tap and Chip Reader here.

Daniel Beauchamp, Head of Virtual Reality

Daniel came out with VR and AR updates:

  • Tapcart and Shopify created a 3D lookbook so you can view and match apparel. It was a very immersive experience that allowed you to create outfit ensembles and see them all laid out together and you have the ability to port that over to Instagram and share with your friends.
  • Shopify wants to enable 3D modelling experts to build new features for Shopify merchants
  • There are new 3D APIs coming out to allow Shopify partners to build content and apps that incorporate 3D
  • You can see the official post from Daniel here

Cynthia Savard Saucier, Director of Design

Cynthia came out for Shopify dashboard and feature updates:

  • Marketing campaigns will be more natively integrated into the Shopify dashboard, through a new “Marketing” tab on the left hand side
  • You can create email newsletters directly in Shopify, personally I don’t think this will replace MailChimp or Klayviyo the 2 popular email options for Shopify Plus merchants
  • Automated abandoned cart emails will now be free
  • There are advanced discount types that will allow you to create BOGOs, free shipping and % discounts
  • Dynamic checkout is coming for all merchants on Shopify Payments, this will allow customers to click the buy button directly from a product page and checkout

Lynsey Thornton, VP User Experience

Lynsey came out for Shopify order, inventory and multi language updates:

  • Inventory now can have multiple locations and there is a new Inventory API
  • Shopify went through an entire order management rebuild to allow for multi location. This was a big undertaking and is going to set the stage hopefully for some more BtoB features next year
  • Orders are now filterable by location
  • Fraud protection features coming for all merchants in Fall 2018 along with automated chargeback protection
  • Multiple languages coming to Shopify! This is a big one and also a long time coming, really a great announcement for all merchants

Michael Perry, Director of Product, Marketing Technology

Michael came out to discuss Kit and chat updates:

  • Michael founded Kit, a marketing chat bot and it was acquired by Shopify in 2017 and he announced new skills for Kit that are outside just the marketing space. The vision is to turn Kit into the automated assistant (he referenced Siri and Alexa) that will remind merchants when inventory levels get low, tell them about best selling products and make recommendations to help store owners
  • Kit Skills API will soon be available for all developers
  • Shopify Ping is a brand new product release that will be a messaging platform for all Shopify merchants. Kit will use Ping to communicate with merchants and Ping will have a broader scope to allow merchants to chat with customers directly and integrate Facebook messenger.

Brandon Chu, Director of App and Partner Platform

Brandon made app store and partner announcements:

  • 6 years ago there was 1 app per Shopify store and now there are 6 apps for each Shopify store. I think that Plus stores have closer to 15-20 apps per store
  • There are now connectors for Shopify Flow (Plus product) that allow Plus stores to connect multiple apps through triggers and actions. The example shown connected Loyalty Lion and Klaviyo through connectors.
  • There is a brand new app store launching soon that will focus more on discovery and a more logical categorization of all ~2,400 public apps
  • Shopify announced a new Services Marketplace for their core Shopify stores, the plan is to organize service providers (aslo adding photographers, legal services, accounting and more) is an easier way and allow merchants to communicate and pay service providers directly through the dashboard

There is a lot here! If you want more information on Unite and the announcements, check out this write up on the Shopify Blog.

Shopify Seattle Meetup Event March 22nd, 2018

Shopify Seattle Meetup Event March 22nd, 2018

Last night on March 22nd, 2018 we hosted our 3rd ever Shopify meetup at CodeFellows in downtown Seattle.

Last night on March 22nd, 2018 we hosted our 3rd ever Shopify meetup at CodeFellows in downtown Seattle. The following companies and people participated in the event:

Really great job by the speakers! I kicked things off by giving a brief overview of Ambaum along with some slides showing the amazing growth of Shopify. Accumula followed my presentation with a great overview of their platform for uniting instore sales with your ecommerce store. That was followed by Tom McMahon’s presentation for Flexe, if you aren’t thinking of your warehouses and delivery times as a competitive advantage for your business, it’s time you did!

Charla Session-Reed then spoke for ShipStation and had a very interactive logo game that helped draw the audience in for her presentation on ShipStation and their powerful shipping management tools. Finally, Stephen Smyth was kind enough to drive down from Vancouver and provide an update on the latest Shopify developments. There is so much going on with Shopify right now and it’s a great time to be a merchant on their platform, more announcements to come in May 2018 at Shopify Unite!


The final event of the night was a Shopify Plus panel. I moderated the panels and asked the merchants questions about Shopify, their favorite apps and areas where they would love to see new features in the Shopify platform. Rachel Simmons from TomboyX, John Smersh from Click! Design that Fits and Kaine Kornegay from Paradise Fibers all provided insightful advice for our audience. The app recommendations from the panelists were amazing, if you aren’t doing email capture on your site with an app like Wheelio or Privy, you should start!

I would like to thank Code Fellows for allowing us to use their space for our event, it is such an outstanding facility! We had a videographer at the event and will be sharing the slides on our YouTube channel in a couple weeks. If you want to see a past event, you can see all the videos here from our October 2018 event. We are planning another event this Fall and will make sure to get the word out so we can get even more people and companies in the Shopify ecosystem to participate.


Ambaum Recognized by Clutch as Global Leader in Shopify Development

Ambaum Recognized by Clutch as Global Leader in Shopify Development

As a development agency, we strive to ensure our team delivers high quality eCommerce products and provides the support and best practice guidance to help our clients grow.

As a development agency, we strive to ensure our team delivers high quality eCommerce products and provides the support and best practice guidance to help our clients grow. We have worked on projects in all 50 states and we are extremely proud of our portfolio. This is why Ambaum is excited to announce we were recently named a Clutch Global Leader for our expertise as a Shopify Developer. This list featured more than 475 of the most highly reviewed companies around the world.

Clutch is a B2B rating and reviews platform that provides in-depth vendor research to connect small and medium businesses with the agencies and developers that best fit their needs. To gain a spot on their Global Leader list, each company was evaluated on several factors. These included market presence, ability to deliver services, and most importantly, the company’s client reference reviews.

Our customers mean the most to us which is why we are happy Clutch considers them to be an important part of their rating methodology. We would not be where we are today without them and we have been fortunate to receive such great feedback. Check out some of the comments shared by our clients:

“Their work is very high quality, and there have been no issues with the site.”

“Everything has been on time and within budget…They’re good at staying on top of communication.”

“They value providing a good product, and it comes through in the product and the service they deliver.”

From everyone at Ambaum, thank you to our clients for taking the time to speak with Clutch about you experiences working with us. We have truly enjoyed each project and we are looking forward to what 2018 has in store. We would also like to thank Clutch for including us in their research, we are excited to maintain our standing as a Global Leader in Shopify development!

Shopify Seattle Event – Marketing and Metrics

Shopify Seattle Event – Marketing and Metrics

On October 5th, 2017 we hosted our 2nd official Shopify Meetup of the year.

On October 5th, 2017 we hosted our 2nd official Shopify Meetup of the year. The event focused on marketing and metrics, here is a description of what we covered:

Are you looking for new ways to drive sales for your store? If so, you need to attend our Shopify Seattle Meetup on October 5th where we will discuss marketing tactics and strategy. Our event will feature a panel of Shopify Plus store owners who will share insight into what works for their business. We are also going to dive into marketing metrics and geek out about on things like CAC, churn and CLV and other marketing metrics. Are you wondering if you should attend? If you’re an online retailer looking to scale your business, we want you!

The focus of the event was 2 panels of 7 Shopify Plus merchants. They all did outstanding and provided tons of value to our attendees. I moderated the panels and asked the merchants questions about customer acquisition, which channels work and how they are tracking conversions and sales data. Special thanks to all our merchants for participating:

Also I would like to thank Code Fellows for allowing us to use their space for our event, it is such an outstanding facility, Brandy and Elizabeth you both were super helpful!

Stephen Smyth was kind enough to drive down from Vancouver and provide an update on the latest Shopify developments. There is so much going on with Shopify right now and it’s a great time to be a merchant on their platform, especially with Shopify Plus where Shopify is continuing to add new features at a rapid pace.

I was able to hire a videographer for the event and captured each of the questions for the panelists. If you’d like to watch more of these videos shoot me an email and I can get you access. We are going to be sharing these videos with our clients to help give them inspiration for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday push coming up a month from now. Here is an example video, in this one we discuss Instagram, what’s working and what’s not working for merchants:

Looking forward to hosting another event in the February/March time frame at Code Fellows. The preliminary topic is going to be inventory, how do you manage inventory, what tools do you track and how does it all integrate with your Shopify store.

Shopify Flow – Increase Productivity by Automating Tasks

Shopify Flow – Increase Productivity by Automating Tasks

Shopify Flow is a brand new Shopify Plus app designed to increase your productivity by automating manual tasks in your Shopify store.

Shopify Flow is a brand new Shopify Plus app designed to increase your productivity by automating manual tasks in your Shopify store. Shopify Flow allows you to create automated workflows from “trigger” events that happen every day. If you have ever used If This Then That (IFTT), you will quickly understand the purpose of Shopify Flow and how powerful it can be for streamlining your day to day operations. Flow will help you save time and can free you (and your employees) up to spend time creating new products, exploring partnerships or testing out a new customer acquisition channel.

Sample Workflows

You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to Flow, there are many types of workflows you can create. I recommend first cataloging all the manual tasks you have to perform in your store on a monthly basis. What are the top 3-5 manual tasks that take up your time each month, can you automate the entire task or at least a portion of it? Here are some ideas for workflows:

  • Add Tags to customers – loyalty tags for customer spend
  • Cancel orders based on Shopify risk level
  • Archive orders after fulfillment
  • Notify a Sales Rep when a wholesale customer places an order
  • Send reorder emails when inventory quantity drops below a certain threshold

Creating Triggers

With Shopify Flow you can build multiple workflows by combining the following concepts:

  • Creating Triggers
  • Establishing Conditions
  • Adding Actions

Triggers are all based on internal events that run with Shopify. Here is the list of trigger events that Shopify Flow allows you to create:

  • Customer Triggers
    • Creation of a new customer
  • Order Triggers
    • Order creation
    • Order fulfillment
    • Order paid
    • Order payment
    • Order risk analyzed
    • Refund created
  • Product Triggers
    • New products added to store
    • Inventory quantity updates

To create your first workflow you will need to select just one of the triggers and then create conditions and actions. No coding is required to utilize Flow, there is an easy to use graphical interface (screenshot below) to set up your workflows.

When Shopify Flow is enabled you will see the first thing you need to do is create a Trigger:

Flow Triggers

Establishing Conditions

After you have chosen a trigger for your first workflow you will want to develop conditions. Conditions make sure that your actions only run when the conditions you create are met. Think of your conditions as one (or a series) of IF…THEN statements that occur once your trigger event initiates. The order of your conditions matter, so keep in mind that each of the conditions cascade down, the conditions at the start will take precedence (in order) over the conditions at the end of a series.

You can see in the image below there are many conditions you can use (the screen shot only captured a few of them) for your workflows. I chose “Order created” as my trigger and the list of conditions (on the right of the screenshot) available will differ based on the initial trigger event that you select.

Sample Workflow

You can combine multiple conditions, in my sample workflow my trigger is an order creation and my 2 conditions are order discount code + order discount code starts with November:

Workflow Conditions

Adding Actions

Now that my conditions are set, it’s time to create an action (or even multiple actions) for my workflow. In my example I have an order creation (trigger) and checking for a discount code (condition) + checking to see if the discount code starts with November (condition) and now it’s time for my action. My action is to send an email to our sales team so they can follow up with the customer directly.

Adding Actions

You can see that over on the right there is a template for structuring your emails, you can add multiple emails, a subject and a message.

Once you are done creating your workflow you can save it and come back to it later to edit if needed. Also if there are issues with your workflow and it can’t run you will get a validation error from Flow letting you know where you need to make the update. You can also see how many actions and triggers happened in the last 7 days for each of the workflows you create.

Get Started with Flow

If you have any questions about how to use Flow or set it up, drop us a note we would be happy to help!

The Numbers will Make or Break Your Store

The Numbers will Make or Break Your Store

The calendar has only just turned to August (it’s almost 100 degrees here in Seattle!)

The calendar has only just turned to August (it’s almost 100 degrees here in Seattle!) but the holiday season is right around the corner. Your peak selling season is fast approaching and it’s time to get geared up for the November and December rush. The best way to prepare for the busy season is to understand the metrics that matter for your store.

Learning your numbers will make you understand what it costs to acquire customers but even more importantly what you earn over the lifetime of each customer. You can then scale your marketing channels by doubling down on the areas that are the most profitable. So without further ado, let’s get started on some of the key metrics.

What are Customer Acquisition Costs?

Do you know your customer metrics down cold? As Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank often laments, many entrepreneurs don’t know their numbers. If you are trying to run your company by feel and are afraid to dive in to statistics, you are putting your business at risk.

The first data point you need to know is your customer acquisition cost or CAC for short. For your business to flourish new customers have to come to your store and make purchases. Acquiring these new customers has an associated cost and it’s best to think about your CAC by channel:

  • Paid Advertising (by source)
  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Events and Conferences

I recommend using an Excel spreadsheet to calculate your numbers and pick a time period to evaluate everything (I prefer looking at yearly data to get a large enough sample size).

What is Customer Churn?

Before I founded Ambaum I was doing some freelance work for other agencies. Mark Portrait from Snapshot Group gave me a great quote that I will never forget: “10% of your customers have fired you, they just haven’t told you yet”. This is the reality with all businesses, but instead of accepting an arbitrary number as your churn rate, you need to calculate it.

Here is how you calculate customer churn: Pick a time frame to review (I like to choose a year) and then determine how many customers you had at the beginning (say 1,000) and how many you had at the end of the year. This is easy to calculate for ecommerce companies that sell monthly or yearly subscriptions. If you are like most ecommerce companies you will want to look at a longer time period for customer churn because many customers might skip a couple years between orders. I recommend looking at a 5 year period and if a customer goes the last 3 years without an order consider them dormant and churned.

Average Order Amount

This is an easy metric to calculate, take a time period (1 year is usually fine) and then sum up all your orders and divide by the number of orders and this equals your average order amount. You should calculate this every year and compare year over year numbers to see if you can find a way to increase your average order size. Work on improving your cart and checkout pages by adding related products and exit popovers and you can bump this number 10-20% with minimal effort.

Order Frequency

For Order Frequency I like to pick a longer time interval, I think 5 years is a good time period (similar to the churn measurement). Download a list of all your customers and then determine how many times each customer orders. If you are getting an average order frequency of 2.5X or higher your doing well, many businesses I have reviewed have order frequencies in the 1.25 – 1.75X range.

Customer Lifetime Value

Now that you have determined all your baseline metrics you are ready to ascertain your customer lifetime value (CLV). The customer lifetime value, is the value you get from a customer through the lifetime of their purchases.

There are many, many ways to calculate your CLV, here is a simple one:

(Order Value x Order Frequency) – Customer Acquisition Cost = Customer Lifetime Value

The key here is the first part of the equation (Order Value x Order Frequency) must be larger than your CAC. You will also want to segment this calculation by channel to get the most useful results. Let’s assume we have been advertising by using Google Product Listing Ads for the last year, here are some sample numbers:

(Order Value $60 X Order Frequency 1.5) – $40 CAC = $50 Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value with Margin

To further refine your CLV calculation you may want to apply your gross margin to the formula. Here is how that would look in our sample above:

(Order Value $60 X Order Frequency 1.5 X Gross Margin 70%) – $40 CAC = $23 Customer Lifetime Value

Many people like to add gross margin into the formula to account for the overhead required to sell each product.

Sample Customer Acquisition Strategies

Now that you you know your numbers it’s time to find some new customer acquisition channels! If you happen to be looking for more sales, here are some great suggestions:

  • Reach out to a supplier or partner about a co-marketing/co-branding opportunity. For example we host Shopify events in Seattle and are able to leverage the Shopify customer base to get a large group of people together. Shopify loves this as we are marketing for them and it puts us forward as an expert in our industry.
  • Resend your email newsletters a 2nd and a 3rd time but just to the population of users that never opened your original email.
  • Scope out websites that rank for your product phrases. Identify key acquisition targets and send them an offer to buy their site. If the site is mostly informational you can 301 redirect that site to your main site or install a store on the information site and sell through a new brand.
  • Update old content and republish in a different channel. For example if you wrote a great blog post last year but never sent an email out about it, repurpose that post for your next email newsletter.
  • Create an affiliate program. If you have a lot of people talking about your product, incentivize them to help sell more by giving them credit for each new sale they refer to your store.
  • Answer questions on Quora. If your product vertical has a lot of questions on Quora you can create an account and respond to questions posed by others. This will put you out there as a 3rd party expert and help drive traffic to your store.

There are so many unique things you can do to drive incremental traffic and revenue to your ecommerce store. If you know your numbers and can capitalize on the channels that are the most effective for your brand you can dramatically increase sales.

Acquisition, Activation, Retention and Engagement

Acquisition, Activation, Retention and Engagement

I attended a local Vistage Technology event yesterday and had a great time listening to Jason Gowans give a presentation on ecommerce personalization and data.

I attended a local Vistage Technology event yesterday and had a great time listening to Jason Gowans give a presentation on ecommerce personalization and data. Jason is a Vice President of Marketing Analytics & Technology at Nordstrom and he shared strategy as well as tactics on their approach to customer data, segmentation and personalization.

Nordstom’s is unique in that it has a full price brand – and a discount brand, the Nordstrom Rack. A question that came up during the presentation asked if The Rack brand cannibalized sales from the full price brand. Jason said they had done numerous studies and they found that the discount brand is additive to the full price brand, in fact customers that shopped at both spent 25% more on average than a customer that just shopped full price.

Jason referenced a favorite book of his: How Brands Grow, a 2 part book on how advertising really work, what price promotions mean for your brand and how loyalty program impact customer loyalty. Jason did add a caveat that the book isn’t overly favorable towards loyalty programs, but the data they have at Nordstrom shows that loyalty programs are absolutely a success.

My biggest take away from his presentation was the acronym AARE that Nordstrom uses internally when referencing the customer journey. AARE stands for: Acquisition, Activation, Retention and Engagement. I think this acronym is a fantastic way to look at your ecommerce customers and evaluate your customer data at each step.

For example, do you have defined customer acquisition strategies? When you evaluate the following channels: paid search, paid social, email marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing do you know which ones perform the best for you? How well do you know your numbers?

For activation, how many days on average does it take for your customer to make a 2nd purchase? Nordstrom found that customers that make another purchase in the first 90 days had a markedly higher lifetime value than customers that took longer to make their next buy (online or in store). What are you doing to incentivize your customers to make that 2nd purchase?

Retention is a critical and overlooked component of the customer lifecycle. What are you doing to keep your customers interested? Are you informing them about your new products? Have you created win back emails to offer discounts for customers that haven’t bought from your store in a long time?

How are your customers engaging with your brand? Are you using CRM (customer relationship management) software to manage all the touch points with your customers? You can get really sophisticated and track click stream data for visitors to your site and find out the products and pages on your site that resonate the most.

Personalization and segmentation is an exciting topic, there is so much data available to store owners it can almost be overwhelming. I find all the data interesting, it’s your store and your opportunity to give your customers a fantastic experience with your brand.

Shopify Seattle Meetup

Shopify Seattle Meetup

Last night at CodeFellows, Ambaum hosted a Shopify Seattle Meetup.

Last night at CodeFellows, Ambaum hosted a Shopify Seattle Meetup. There were over 60 attendees, many from the greater Seattle area and some people flew in from Ottawa, Austin, Vancouver and even Brazil. Shopify did a great job providing us the support to pull off the event and we are excited to do this again in the near future!

Most every week we hear a story about drone delivery, autonomous vehicles and floating distribution centers. The shipping and logistics market is going through a structural revolution and to operate a successful eCommerce business you need to stay on top of the latest trends. Because of this, we wanted to host an event that would provide real-world examples from people who have been through it. Our event featured speakers from Shopify, Flexe and Shipstation who explained their company’s role in the new shipping and logistics world order.

The event kicked off with speeches from Chad Fisher (Ambaum), Phil Vanstone (Shopify), Matt Yip (Flexe), and Josh Burdick (ShipStation). These speeches were followed by a panel of Shopify Plus merchants who engaged in a lively discussion that covered what it takes to run an ecommerce business and how Shopify Plus has impacted their business.

The 4 Shopify merchant panelists were outstanding and really opened up about their experiences working in the fulfillment space. The audience asked great questions about the panelists favorite tools and apps they used (ShipStation was popular!) in their logistics process.

Overall, we are very happy with the results of the meetup. We really appreciate everyone who attended and want to give a special Thank You! to all of the speakers and panelists. We hope to see you at our next event!


Email Marketing

Email Marketing

Many people have been foretelling the death of email for years, but it’s not going anywhere and only continues to grow in importance.

Many people have been foretelling the death of email for years, but it’s not going anywhere and only continues to grow in importance. As a merchant you send your customers order confirmation emails, shipping emails and a few other standard emails that come with Shopify and WooCommerce, but are you really driving revenue with your emails?

Why does Email Matter?

You need to start thinking of every email you send as incremental revenue. It’s hard for many merchants to make this transition as they only see email as a cost for their business and that’s the wrong mentality.

For example let’s say that for every 100 emails you send you earn $5 of additional revenue. Only $5 you say? Well now let’s get into some larger numbers, if you send 1,000 emails a day you are now making an extra $50/day from your store. If you double your customer base in 6 months and start sending 2,000 emails a day, now you’re making an extra $100/day just from your emails.

Different Categories of Emails

There are many types of emails that are relevant at different points in your customer’s life cycle. For example a brand new person on your site might only be interested in learning about what you are selling and we will call that person a lead (or a prospect). Eventually a percentage of those prospects will turn into a customer and some of those customers will end up dormant, this is the life cycle of your customers. Here are different categories of emails:

  • Lead Capture Emails (for Prospects)
  • Lead Capture Welcome Series Emails
  • Order Confirmation and Shipping Emails
  • New Customer Welcome Series Emails
  • Abandoned Cart Emails
  • Win Back Emails
  • Promotional Emails
  • Segmentation Emails

If you don’t already have these emails setup and customized for your business, it’s important you start making plans to create emails for each of these categories.

Email Services

There are some fantastic email marketing options for both Shopify and WooCommerce. Here are 3 that we recommend:

  • Mailchimp (their Mandrill service)
  • Klaviyo

We are very familiar with Mandrill and have installed that on many client sites. It works great and can be an extremely cost effective solution.  Klaviyo is newer to us, but the reporting dashboard they use is really impressive. In addition you can create many custom emails from their dashboard and it works well with Shopify. is brand new to us, but it’s received outstanding reviews on the Facebook Shopify Plus Private Facebook Group.

Time is running out on Magento 1.x are you Prepared?

Time is running out on Magento 1.x are you Prepared?

All Magento 1.x store owners will stop receiving support from Magento in 2018. When Magento 2 was released in 2015

All Magento 1.x store owners will stop receiving support from Magento in 2018. When Magento 2 was released in 2015, Magento made it clear that they will provide 3 years of support to Magento 1.x users and then store owners would be on their own for updates and security patches.

Here is the scoop straight from Magento Tech Resources : “Use the latest version of Magento to ensure that your installation includes the most recent security enhancements.” Magento is very clear that when support for Magento 1.x runs out you are on your own.

When summer 2018 arrives what will that mean for my Magento 1 Store?

If you decide to stay on Magento 1 past the summer of 2018, you are accepting the following risks with your store:

  • No Security Patch Support
  • Unsupported Extensions
  • Increased Monthly Maintenance Costs
  • Difficulty Maintain PCI Compliance

Magento 1.x Security Support Stops

In 2018, Magento will stop releasing security patches for your store and you will need to support your code base in house or with external programming support. With no central authority releasing regular security patches there is an increased risk that your transaction and customer data could be vulnerable to hacking attacks.

Outdated Magento stores running older versions of the software are susceptible to scripting attacks. Hackers can use scripts to steal users’ credit card information and in late 2016 it was estimated that over 4,000 Magento store were left vulnerable to an attack.

Magento 1.x Extensions Unsupported

Support for Magento 1.x extensions will start to wane in 2018 and then accelerate into 2019 and beyond. Development companies that have built Magento 1.x extensions will have no incentive to maintain support for a dying platform and will sunset their older extensions. Many extensions have complex code that would require professional programming experience to update and maintain. In addition, when old extensions are not supported they can become susceptible to external security threats.

Increased Monthly Maintenance Costs

Running Magento requires you to manage your own server, CDN and website with a team of professional programmers. Most merchants outsource this work and pay significant monthly retainers to contractors to ensure their site is running smoothly and stays online. When the summer of 2018 comes along your monthly maintenance costs are going to go way up because you will now be responsible for your security updates and the maintenance of your extensions.

Difficulty Maintaining PCI Compliance

With Magento you will need to make sure you are compliant with the PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). If your store is processing more than 20,000 ecommerce transaction levels a year, you will be required to meet the bar of PCI Compliance Level 3. There is significant work involved in meeting PCI Level 3 and you will need to bring in outside consultants to conduct security and vulnerability testing. Your security testing after 2018 will reveal security issues that were previously covered by Magento security patches. It will now be your responsibility to update the security vulnerabilities in Magento 1.x software to maintain PCI compliance.

What are my Options for Moving off Magento 1.x?

If you decide you want to move off Magento 1.x you have 2 primary options:

  • Upgrade to Magento 2
  • Move your Store to another Platform

Magento 2 is a substantial upgrade and it’s important you think through the pros and cons before committing to the best answer for your store.

Upgrade to Magento 2

If you are familiar with Magento 1.x your initial reaction is to upgrade to Magento 2 so you can receive support from Magento. However the upgrade from Magento 1.x to Magento 2 is significant and there are some issues:

  • Magento 2 Issues & Performance
  • Magento 2 Extensions are not all Compatible

Magento 2 has many known bugs and issues and new Magento 2 stores have reported extremely slow page speed times. With any new platform it takes time to stabilize and these issues will hopefully be ironed out over time, but your store may suffer initially after the upgrade.

Magento 2 doesn’t have all of the same extensions that exist in Magento 1 so when you go to upgrade you may be missing some core functionality.

Move your Store to another Platform

Moving to a new platform is a major decision, but if you are currently on Magento 1.x this is the time to consider a move. If you are going to re-platform your store you should consider moving to a fully hosted platform like Shopify Plus. Shopify Plus will help you:

  • Save money on license and server fees
  • Save time moving all of your customer, order and item data each time Magento releases a new version
  • Save time and money managing your own server

These are the primary reasons that many people are thinking of switching from Magento to Shopify Plus and now let’s do a detailed side by side comparison.

Magento 2 vs Shopify Plus Feature Comparison

Price and feature comparison of Magento to Shopify Plus based on a store with ~$10M in yearly sales.

  Magento 2 Shopify Plus
Server & Database Self Hosted – MySQL Cloud Based – Proprietary
License Fees/Cost* $4,000/month + $2000/month
Server & CDN Costs $1,000/month + Included
Security & SSL Certification Your Responsibility Included
Maintenance Hours Significant Limited
PCI Compliance Your Responsibility Included
Feature Enhancements Extensions Apps
Mobile Friendly Yes – with Customization Yes – with Customization
Wholesale Ordering Yes – with Extensions Yes

*License Fees/Cost estimates based on $10M/year in ecommerce revenue.

We have created an in depth guide that compares Magento 2 to Shopify Plus, click here to get access to our free comparison and migration guide.

Are you currently on Magento 1.x and want to consider your options? Send us an email and Ambaum can help you find the best answer for your ecommerce store.