Get in Touch

Octane AI Shoppable Quiz Blog

Octane AI Shoppable Quiz Blog

We are excited to share our SMS partner **Octane AI** has released a new product called “The Shoppable Quiz”, and just in time for the holiday season!

Octane AI’s Shoppable Quiz:

We are excited to share our SMS partner **Octane AI** has released a new product called “The Shoppable Quiz, and just in time for the holiday season! The Shoppable Quiz introduces the in-store retail experience online, is not industry specific, and is completely customizable to match your brand’s colors, fonts and more. Brands can add an embeddable, full-page quiz to their website and customers have the ability to add products directly to their cart from the quiz results page. Check out Octane AI’s new product demo video, and listed below is an overview of some key features:

  • Personalized shopping experience: the quiz can be tailored and personalized to customers by asking questions to build buyer profiles and match them with the right product recommendations.
  • Collect valuable data: Data collected from the quiz can be used on-site and in marketing for personalization and retargeting.
  • Opt-in Tool: Customers who participate in taking the online quiz are considered valuable prospects, turning them into subscribers for Email, SMS and Messenger.

Data from Octane AI’s Shoppable Quiz shows a significant lift in AOV for customers taking the quiz, and clients are seeing an increase in email subscribers too. Having the Shoppable Quiz ready for the holiday season will significantly help increase your BFCM business!

Customization:

With each quiz question, merchants have the capability of customizing the layout, size and shape of images. Different product blocks can be updated, allowing merchants the ability to have more customization over how their results pages look. From product image ratios, to desktop vs mobile-specific settings to text size, to choosing what content gets displayed— all of this can be customized based on your business’ needs.

The Shoppable Quiz opens up a ton of personalized shopping and customer profile building possibilities for your brand. Now is the perfect time to roll out this exciting product, just in time for the holiday season!

Interested in learning more about the Shoppable Quiz and setting up a demo? Contact Ambaum here and we are happy to help!

Magento to Shopify Plus: Best Practices for your Data Migration

Magento to Shopify Plus: Best Practices for your Data Migration

This post will explore Ambaum’s thoughts, best practices and lessons learned from multiple Magento to Shopify Plus migrations.

This post will explore Ambaum’s thoughts, best practices and lessons learned from multiple Magento to Shopify Plus migrations. Going through a re-platform event is challenging and to do it right you must be skilled at: project management, programming, design, data migrations, integrations, theme development and much more. This article will focus specifically on our lessons learned during the data migration portion of Magento to Shopify Plus migrations.

Before we walk through the details of our data migration experiences let’s explore the macro trends that are driving merchants to adopt Shopify Plus. 

The Old Paradigm

Since the beginning of the 20th century manufacturers and brands have sold their products to customers through brick and mortar stores. Only in the late 1990’s was there a shift in how customers bought good and online ordering through the Internet became a real way to move your products. Initially the greatest new channel for manufacturers and brands came through Amazon as these companies leveraged Amazon’s established customer base. In 2020, Amazon now accounts for almost 38% of all online sales in the US so it continues to make sense for manufacturers and brands to sell on Amazon.

The old paradigm is a multi-step process for manufacturers to get their products in the hands of customers. A manufacturer sells to a wholesaler then a distributor, then to a retailer and finally into the hands of a customer. Amazon came along and became the online distributor for many manufacturers, but Amazon extracted a heavy toll of approximately 15% (or more) on products sold through their site.

Even with Amazon’s high take rate of ~15%, manufacturers could still make money, but Amazon was extracting a heavy “tax” on everything sold through their site. In addition, brands that sold through Amazon are unable to fully own their customer data and market to customers because Amazon really owns the customer. Brands on Amazon get access to millions of customers, but the brands remain renters, Amazon is the owner in that relationship. Amazon’s high take rate wasn’t sustainable for manufacturers and brands so they went in search of a new model.

The New Paradigm

Manufacturers and brands rely on Amazon to sell a lot of their products, but the trade-off is a heavy reduction in margins. The answer for most brands and manufacturers is to sell their own products direct to customers through the channel they can fully own – their website. This isn’t an earth-shattering revelation, but it’s an important distinction that has fueled the rise of ecommerce platforms in the last 15 years. 

Ecommerce platforms end up in two distinct camps: on premise (Magento, WooCommerce, etc) or cloud-based platforms (Shopify, etc). If you want to learn more about on premise vs cloud based platforms, check out this post from our blog. On premise solutions like Magento, were the very first ecommerce software choices for brands, but over the last 3-5 years cloud-based solutions like Shopify Plus have added enough features that have now surpassed many of the incumbent platforms in the ecommerce space.

 

Magento to Shopify Plus

With so many great new features being added to Shopify Plus each year and Shopify Unite, it’s driving more merchants to consider migrating off their old ecommerce software. The most popular platform we see moving Shopify Plus is companies moving off of Magento. Businesses are moving off Magento for the following reasons:

  • Tired of paying high hosting costs
  • Frustrated with the large cost of general maintenance support fees/time spent by developers
  • Unable to easily implement and rapidly iterate on digital marketing ideas
  • Loss of control over day to day site updates, general pain with making even small changes on Magento

Once the decision has been made to move to Shopify Plus, merchants want to know how the following data can get safely, securely and accurately moved over:

  • Customer records
  • Products
  • Historical orders
  • Product reviews
  • Blogs posts
  • 301 redirects

The rest of this post if going to focus on our lessons learned form moving over customer, product and order data from the merchant’s systems into Shopify Plus.Magento to Shopify Plus Data Migration

Magento to Shopify Plus Data Migration Example

Data migrations can be messy business. The migration must be planned out correctly, the data needs to be mapped from the old system to Shopify Plus and you need a way to test and handle exceptions in the process. After performing more than 10 migrations in the last 2 years, we have a pretty good idea of best practices as well as the things to watch out for during a data migration process.

We recently moved data into Shopify Plus from Magento and multiple legacy systems and data sources which presented data in vastly different formats. This client had three systems we needed to import data from:

  • Magento: ~125,000 customer records
  • Retail Point of Sale System: ~80,000 customer records
  • Mail Order Software: ~70,000 customer records

Each of the customer records was supposed to contain the following fields: customer name, phone number, email, however many of the records were duplicate or missing data. Many of the records only had a name and in order to get them into Shopify Plus we had to create dummy email addresses and if there was no phone number, we left that blank. 

In the case where we had no email record, we would take the first and last name of the customer and combine with @noemail.com to create a dummy record. Because there were so many generic names such as “John Smith” we would encounter a problem with non-unique records. If there were multiple “John Smith” records, we ended up having to use their phone number + @noemail.com for their email record. 

Excelify and Shopify API will migrate data differently

Things to Consider Prior to your Shopify Plus Data Migration

  • Practice proper data hygiene – there is a direct correlation with the hygiene and quality of data going in with the data integrity post-import. The GIGO acronym applies here: garbage in, garbage out
  • Phone numbers can live in different places in Shopify – when importing phone number into Shopify, they can place those records at different levels, depending on how you import the data.
    • Import via Excelify or CSV – the customer record will end up in the “Customer overview” field
    • Import via API – the customer record will end up in the “Default address” section
  • Pre-clean your email addresses – make sure they are correct format and email domains are real
  • Pre-clean your phone numbers – ensure there is a proper phone format, pick a phone format such as: 12063456789, +12063456789, or 2063456789 and use this format for all phone numbers
  • Determine the source of truth – If you are importing from multiple data sources, first and foremost determine which data set is the master and import that last (since Shopify will overwrite previous records). If you are only doing a Magento to Shopify data import with no other systems, this won’t be an issue.
  • Shopify will use different customer data fields to create a unique customer ID – If you have incomplete customer records Shopify checks the customer data fields (in this order) to find the:
    • Shopify ID
    • Email Address
    • Phone Number

For example, if your new data contains a Shopify ID that already exists in your Shopify dataset, Shopify will overwrite the new customer data on the old record. If your data is missing a Shopify ID, your unique customer email address will trigger Shopify to create a new unique customer ID. If your data is missing a Shopify ID and missing an email address, your customer phone number will trigger Shopify to create your unique Shopify ID.

  • Customers should be imported before orders – If you import order data before customer data, Shopify will look at that order data and create a Shopify ID so that the order data is associated with a customer. If you then go in and import new customer data you could end up with data integrity issues because you didn’t follow the proper order of operations.
  • Blank fields in a CSV import will overwrite existing data in Shopify – When you are importing new customer records, if your customer ID matches an ID already in Shopify and your import is missing the address field, your customer record in Shopify will no longer contain address information, it will be blank.
  • Shopify checks email address formatting – Customer and order records will not import if the email address is either:
    •  An improperly formatted email address such as: danny.companyx.com
    •  Not a registered domain name. Shopify is most likely taking each domain name and comparing it to a master list of domain names that have been officially registered.

Migrate your .CSV and JSON files to Shopify Plus

General Data Migration Best Practices

  • Data formats – the data you plan to import should be in one of these formats: 1) JSON, (2) CSV, (3) XLSX, (4) XML (but this is a last resort- XML can be hard to work with sometimes)
    • If you anticipate that scripting will be necessary, then JSON is probably the best option for exporting data
    • There are online tools available for converting file formats, here is one we like to use: CSV to JSON file conversions
  • CSV imports are faster than the Shopify API – the Shopify API imposes a rate limit of roughly 2 records per second, so large datasets can take days or even weeks to import into Shopify via the API
  • Utilize Shopify metafields and tags to deal with custom data fields – For example, a merchant might have a custom field for BOGO sales, so in Shopify a tag can be created and then with some code you can look for the tag and then display a sale message on Collection and Product pages to the customer.
  • Leverage migration apps – Excelify is a good one that we have used and had success with, but keep in mind that apps can’t do everything. For example, Excelify is good for importing WordPress Blog Posts into Shopify but it’s not good for importing WooCommerce Orders. The Excelify developers have built the app to automatically map the blog post fields to Shopify but the app will not automatically map the order fields. Store owners can use migration tools to Migrate from Magento to Shopify Plus (including Magento 1, 2, CE, EE, Shopify, Shopify Plus) from Litextension – a company specialized in shopping cart data migration.
  • Migrate a test batch of data and then start analyzing
    • Compare Shopify data to source data and start figuring out what needs to be fixed. For example, maybe the “cost per item” showed up in the “compare at price” field or maybe all product reviews are missing their images. You’ll need to troubleshoot those types of things. Issues might need to be addressed by a custom script, an app, or some configuration in the export or import.
    • Keep in mind that every e-commerce platform has different fields available to shop owners and Shopify might not have a good solution for migrating all of the data. There will be some situations where you need to get creative and find a way to not only migrate the data but how to use it on the frontend. For example, one client had some data that was being used to link customers to specific magazines. We dumped all of the data into a Shopify metafield as a JSON object and then wrote some code to find the link that was needed on the frontend. It turned out to be a good solution because it provided a single source for the client to maintain the data and it was fairly easy to access the data from the frontend.

Project Management and Data Dependency Considerations

Think about dependencies. Which data is dependent on other data? For example, Orders need to be linked to Customers and Products and Product Reviews need to be linked to Products. So with that in mind, I suggest migrating Products first and then Customers. After that the order doesn’t matter but I think this would be a good order: Products, Customers, Orders, Product Reviews, Blog Posts, Pages, Discounts, and then any custom data such as QuickBooks for example. 

After all of the data has been migrated then you need to take care of the redirects because Shopify has different folders structures. For example, WordPress blog URLs look like this: “domain.com/blog-post-name” and Shopify blog URLs look like this: “domain.com/blogs/blog-name/blog-post-name”. The redirects prevent 404s.

Also, keep in mind that while you are migrating data there are still customers shopping and shop owners making updates. So just before launch you will need to re-migrate anything that has been updated, added, or deleted. Such as Products, Customers, Orders, Product Reviews, and Blog Posts. Check with the client to get an idea about what has changed and be sure to work that into the timeline and budget.

Communicate Often to Keep Everyone in Alignment

It’s important to update the client regularly if you are helping perform a data migration. Merchants want to know that progress is being made and they also want to know when something isn’t working as expected. If there is an issue that you need to tell the client about, be tactful and try to present a solution at the same time. 

Data can be complicated, and it pays to plan way ahead when doing a data migration. Hopefully these tips we presented in this post can help make your next Shopify Plus data migration just a little smoother!

6 Ecommerce Strategies for 2020

6 Ecommerce Strategies for 2020

2020 marks the beginning of a new decade and that means it’s time to rethink your ecommerce strategies.

2020 marks the beginning of a new decade and that means it’s time to rethink your ecommerce strategies. Take your ecommerce journey in a bold new direction. Dump the baggage of 2019 and create a faster, better ecommerce experience that not only engages your customers but boosts your bottom line.

Ready to make 2020 your best ecommerce year yet?

Get ahead of your competition by embracing these 6 ecommerce strategies for your Shopify or Shopify Plus store.

Strategy 1: Multimedia

High-quality photos will never go out of style, but your shoppers want more, they need interactive media. This gives more context to your product, not only minimizing returns but boosting customers’ perceived value. This helps them convert more quickly and increases the likelihood that they’ll buy again. 

Video content is becoming more popular in the ecommerce space. But keep in mind that this can’t be a low-quality YouTube rant about your product. It needs to have top-notch production quality and helpful content. Consider doing a product unboxing, sharing an unbiased third-party product overview, or showcasing the product in the real world. Shopify Plus allows merchants to upload these videos directly to product pages

Sometimes, not even video makes the cut and customers will still say the product isn’t what they thought it would be. This leads to pricey returns, which digs into your profits. Go beyond, with truly experiential product visuals like interactive 3D or Shopify AR. These let customers experience your products as much as (if not more than) they could in-store. The experience of in-store without all that fuss of actually having to go anywhere.

Strategy 2: Personalization

Did you know that personalized homepage promotions persuade 85% of shoppers to buy? That’s pretty powerful. When you personalize a product to a customer’s interests, they’re more likely to buy. It’s a perfect way to increase value per order, too. 

We know personalization is important, but how can you implement it for Shopify Plus? It’s easy: put Shopify apps to work for your site. 

Use the Personalized Recommendations app to show related products to your customers. This will help you up-sell and cross-sell with the power of AI. Simile is another intelligent Shopify app that uses customer browsing and purchase history to display personalized content.

Strategy 3: Voice search optimization

50% of all search queries will come from voice-only users this year. With more customers shopping through Alexa and Google Assistant, Shopify stores should pivot to serve these customers. 

Voice queries are different than text queries. Take a new approach for your Shopify SEO, targeting more conversational, long-tail keywords. You can check out Shopify’s voice optimization guide for an in-depth tutorial.

This is still new territory for Shopify stores, but the new Voice Search app shows some promise as a plug-and-play solution.

Strategy 4: Create a brand experience strategy

A clean, mobile-friendly website is just the beginning. For 2020, customers care about the mood on your site. What vibe do they get from your store? It’s just as important in-store ambiance. You know as soon as you walk into the store (or even at the door) whether you are even going to spend the time browsing the products. Customers need to be sold on the brand before they will even bother with the product.

Great products and quality content are no longer enough to keep customers from bouncing at first click. To make it in ecommerce, you have to present your site in a visually-pleasing package. Now isn’t the time to rely on shoddy in-the-box templates. For a brand experience that delights customers, invest in good graphic design and storytelling.

Strategy 5: AI tools

AI was once unimaginable for most businesses, but it’s 2020 and we are here for all of the technological advances that now make AI tools attainable for the merchants that need them most. Use this tech to keep your Shopify operations lean, productive, and profitable. There are AI tools available for many different aspects of your Shopify store, like AI-powered marketing or analytics.

One of our favorite AI tools for Shopify is Octane AI, the FB messenger bot made for ecommerce merchants just like you. This tool is customer service on auto-pilot, with the ability to provide customers basic information about products, their orders, shipping, and more. Save time and boost customer satisfaction.

Strategy 6: Influencer marketing

Are influencers talking about your ecommerce store? If not, 2020 is your year to embrace influencer marketing. Don’t think influencers are in your budget? Think again. Smaller influencers (called micro-influencers) are more affordable and have engaged, niche audiences that are primed to buy. It’s all about finding the right influencer for your brand.

If you sell niche products on Shopify Plus, influencers are a slam-dunk for your bottom line. Consider hiring an Instagram influencer to promote your products organically. You can connect Shopify to Instagram so the influencer’s followers can shop your store directly from Instagram, too.

The Bottom Line

Ecommerce brought in $3.5 trillion in 2019. Are you part of that sweet, sweet statistic? Stay relevant in 2020 by following these 6 ecommerce strategies, overhauling your Shopify Plus journey to earn more loyal customers.

Ready to embrace the future of ecommerce? Get in touch with us to brainstorm your ecommerce store’s strategies for 2020.

Ecommerce Data Visualization Tools

Ecommerce Data Visualization Tools

There is an astounding amount of data in the ecommerce world waiting to be collected.

Foundational Tools for Ecommerce Data Collection

There is an astounding amount of data in the ecommerce world waiting to be collected. As an ecommerce merchant, it is necessary to use a variety of tools to capture all relevant information. Here are some of the core data collection tools a Shopify Plus merchant would use:

We will refer to these as foundational tools, used by merchants to collect information about products, marketing campaigns, sales, and customers. Foundational tools are the primary method of capturing data that have a very close proximity to an ecommerce transaction.

These foundational tools hold strategic insights into the overall health of your business. With Google Analytics you can segment your site visitors, see the average time on site, create goals to track conversions and much more. Shopify (and pretty much all ecommerce platforms) have integrated reporting and analytics that will convey your average order value, conversion rate, sessions by traffic source and details about your conversion funnel. Google and Facebook advertising platforms also have insightful data about your ad spend, conversions, ad effectiveness, cost per click and cost per customer acquisition.

How do Shopify Merchants Analyze their Data? 

Foundational tools collect much of the data that you need, but the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming. To find valuable information within the data, time must be regularly spent on each tool’s dashboard. However, your time is also valuable and your focus is likely needed in many other areas of your business. This can make it difficult to dedicate your limited resources towards data analyzation.

In addition to too much data, there are attribution issues that arise between these different foundational tools. For example, if your customer clicked on a Google ad, landed on your site, went away for 2 weeks and then clicked on a Facebook ad and made a purchase, which ad gets credit for the conversion? That is just one scenario among many that may arise where it’s necessary to use attribution modeling for Google and Facebook. While attribution modeling isn’t perfect, it’s still the best method for choosing where to allocate marketing dollars.

In this era of big data, how do ecommerce businesses draw logical and actionable conclusions? We reached out to our Shopify Plus merchants. Here are their answers:

  • Do very little digital marketing (surprising!)
  • In-house digital marketing team
  • Use an outside marketing agency

The first approach may seem a bit shocking but is not entirely uncommon. Some of the merchants we support were born in an analog world and grew through word-of-mouth, then transitioned to online, transferring their offline customers with them. This cohort of merchants already does well enough with an outdated strategy, image how much growth they could achieve with a digital marketing team.

Some of our more digitally-inclined clients have in-house marketing teams managing their ecommerce ad spend and looking at a variety of digital tools. They employ many of the foundational data tools discussed, such as Shopify, Google Ads, Analytics, and SEM Rush to find SEO and SEM opportunities and to monitor performance. Overall, these in-house teams agree on the effectiveness of the tools as well as the lamentation of resources (time and people) necessary to properly use them.

For some ecommerce merchants, the best solution to the resource strain of data analysis is in using an outside digital marketing agency. This approach allows a knowledgable agency to sort through the foundational data tools for the merchant and deliver comprehensive and actional reports based on key metrics. The success of using an outside agency is closely related to the strength of the relationship between both parties. You want your marketing agency to care about your success as much as you do. Simple.

Data Visualization Tools that Sit on top of Foundational Tools

Even simpler? Aggregating the data from foundational tools and displaying that information in a report or dashboard format. Currently, there are many of these data visualization tools. Here are some examples that target the corporate environment (Fortune 5,000 companies are the sweet spot):

These data visualization tools are predominantly geared for industries like health care, hospitality, manufacturing, education, and financial services. They will work for ecommerce, but they are not explicitly designed to accommodate ecommerce merchants. These visualization tools have a lot of functionality but are often overkill for SMB companies on Shopify Plus.

What is Missing in the Market? 

The next wave of digital tools will likely be data visualization software geared for ecommerce merchants on platforms like Shopify Plus. Leveraging foundational tools and providing real-time information and data visualization on the following metrics is the current gap in the market:

  • Average Order Amount
  • Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)
  • Order Frequency
  • Customer Churn
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • CLV with Margin

These metrics will make or break your store. It is amazing how many companies operate without really knowing their core numbers. Understanding your Customer Lifetime Value relative to your Customer Acquisition Costs is the holy grail for an ecommerce business. When you take that information and segment by customer cohort and, more importantly, by marketing source, you know whether your business is profitable and why it’s profitable.

It still feels like ecommerce is in “Day 1” and this could be the next big opportunity for companies that step in to fill this gap.

Shopify Unite 2019

Shopify Unite 2019

Shopify Unite 2019 has kicked off! Today was packed with announcements and features that Shopify will release throughout the rest of this year.

Shopify Unite 2019 has kicked off! Today was packed with announcements and features that Shopify will release throughout the rest of this year. Huge updates to the Shopify Plus experience are rolling out and Shopify Fulfillment could be an amazing option for merchants that want an integrated logistics and fulfillment experience. Shopify thinks of itself as an end to end retail operating system. There are a ton of features being released, read on for our notes.

Next week we are hosting our first trade show booth at IRCE in Chicago and Ambaum will be hosting workshops during the conference. If you are in Chicago, stop by and say hello!

Cynthia Savard Saucier, Director of User Experience

  • 2016 introduced Sections to the Shopify home page, now in 2019 Sections will be rolled out in the entire online store
  • Introducing the idea of Master pages and you can edit multiple pages at the same time, you can edit a single section on a master page and have it roll through to the entire site
  • Apps are coming to sections, you can add an app to a page as easy as it is to add text and images
  • Can create a Product Master page, add product reviews and it will show up on all product pages under the Product Master page
  • Content portability – merchants can switch themes and all of their content will follow
  • Drafts – merchants can try out larger changes to their theme in a “dev” environment
  • Sections API – in developer preview currently
  • Support for new media types – video and 3D images are natively supported on product detail pages
  • 3D Model – when a customer interacts with a 3D model they are 2X as likely to purchase
  • Checkout speed and performance – 20% reduced latency compared to 3 months ago
  • Checkout app extensions – partners can build apps that extend into the checkout
  • Subscriptions – allowing for subscription apps to enter into the checkout flow and customers don’t have to leave Shopify, including a partnership with ReCharge

David Moellenkamp, Director of Product

  • Headless commerce – requires a platform that allows for extensibility and Shopify is primed for growth here with merchants already using Shopify this way
  • Custom storefront tools can now support metafields, multicurrency and shopify scripts
  • Multicurrency – rolled out to Shopify Plus in early 2019, some merchants that have enabled this have seen a 60% lift in their International conversion rates, now multicurrency will be available to all merchants on Shopify Payments
  • Added currencies – Netherlands and Denmark
  • Multi Language API (available today for the developer community) – with these new APIs you can store translated content for blogs, products and serve up localized content for buyers around the world

Arpan Podduturi, Director of Product

 

Speaker Arpan Podduturi
  • Shopify POS now powers over 100,000 merchants, driving billions in sales
  • Shopify Retail Kit (rolled out in April 2019) – new tap and chip case (merchant’s logo can be added to case) accepts credit cards and contactless payments anywhere in the store, no more checkout lines
  • POS Cart App Extensions – automatically surface loyalty and promotion awards during checkout, include a customer and the extension will call a loyalty app
  • New Shopify POS – ground up rebuild and apps get first class treatment, home screen includes a smart grid that shows merchant specific workflows and can include specific apps
  • Camera based scanning and POS search uses the core Shopify search technology
  • Retail Staff roles – store managers can give staff a login that is tailored to their role
  • Buy online and pickup in store – buyers can check out online and pickup in nearby stores (currently in a closed beta with merchants)
  • All new POS – available later in 2019

Lynsey Thornton, General Manager of Core Product

Speaker Lynsey Thornton
  • Shipping Profiles – assign delivery rules and rates by product and location, use the API to create custom shipping solutions for merchants through the GraphQL API
  • Fulfillment – GraphQL Fulfillment API, add visibility, flexibility and control through the fulfillment process
  • Changing a Customer’s Order – order editing now exists! In the next few months every merchant will now have the ability to edit an order
  • Order Editing API now released – alter orders, add custom items and even send a notice for additional payment from the customer
  • Shopify launching in 11 more languages, spoken by 2B people in the world

Shopify Plus

Speaker for Shopify Plus
  • Over $1B in sales from Plus merchants
  • New Shopify Plus Dashboard – use a single merged identity account to access information across all stores
  • Information and Analytics will be available in one single location
  • In Shopify Plus – stores are added with a few clicks, in the future support will exist for expansion stores
  • All staff accounts in Plus will be managed from one central place
  • Multi Store Tools – global customer view now in Shopify Plus, searching for the customer will bring up a single customer record across the business
  • Shopify Flow – 1.8B tasks automated so far in Shopify Flow, enable workflows across all stores
  • Launching in the next few months for Plus customers

Vanessa Lee, Director of Product

4 major goals for the app platform:

  • Easier to build – Shopify app command line interface and helps manage all development stores and populate a sandbox store, Shopify APP CLI
  • Making apps more embedded in Shopify – EASDK and POSDK overhauled with the Shopify app bridge, works with development tools: supports context bar, product picker and barcode scanner (merchants can scan barcodes with your app)
  • Speed – Doubling down on GraphQL, today with REST you’d have to make 11 API calls just to get the details of one order, with GraphQL it’s now just one API call and you have to parse through less data, still supporting REST but leaning in to GraphQL even more, 2,000 apps now using Graph QL (new documentation rolling out)
  • Stability – Admin, storefront and checkout API versioning, will roll out updates each quarter and be supported for at least a year

Craig Miller, Chief Product Officer

Speaker Craig Miller
  • Merchants have numerous 3rd party logistic/fulfillment issues – complex pricing, increased inventory costs, incompatible technology, poor performance
  • Marketplace fulfillment – large merchants only, unfair competition, using merchant data to compete with the merchants that use them
  • Shopify Fulfillment Network – fulfillment centers setup all throughout the US and use machine learning to figure out where merchants’ SKUs should be located
  • Here’s how it works – install the Fulfillment app, select the products, get quote and then send Shopify the products
  • Shopify Fulfillment channel supports – retail, wholesale, social channels, custom packaging, returns and exchanges as well as kitting and supports merchant of every size even merchants sending 10K+ packages/day
  • Deliver to 99% of the continental US in 2 days
  • If you run a fulfillment center and are interested in partnering with Shopify they are partnering as well
  • Spending over $1B to build out the Shopify Fulfillment Network

Harley Finkelstein, Chief Operating Officer

Speaker Harley Finkelstein
  • 820,000 merchants on Shopify
  • $41B of products sold in 2018
  • 218M buyers have purchased something off Shopify in the last 12 months
  • $100M paid to app developers in 2019

Hit up Shopify’s Unite blog post for more in-depth details. What are your thoughts on the announcements? Let us know!

Shopify Plus Happy Hour

Shopify Plus Happy Hour

Our Shopify Plus Happy Hour event was a hit last night!

Our Shopify Plus Happy Hour event was a hit last night! Thank you to everyone who showed up and contributed to the good vibes. A special thanks goes to Do The Extraordinary for allowing us to host the event in their speakeasy (what a cool venue!) and to The Catering Company for providing amazing food and beverages!

We had a lot of fun getting to catch up with some old friends as well as meeting new people and establishing new connections. We hope everyone enjoyed the happy hour as much as we did and we look forward to the next event!

Shopify Multi Currency Roll Out

Shopify Multi Currency Roll Out

At Shopify Unite in May this year, Shopify announced the upcoming plans for offering multi-currency functionality for their stores.

At Shopify Unite in May this year, Shopify announced the upcoming plans for offering multi-currency functionality for their stores. This was a very big deal for a couple reasons: many other ecommerce platforms already offer this and secondly there were workarounds to make this work for your Shopify stores, but they were very clunky. For example if you wanted to sell in multiple currencies, you could create multiple versions of your store (in different currencies and languages), but there was no way to sync all your reporting and data between them. When this goes live for Shopify Plus stores in December this should be a huge benefit to everyone that wants to offer products in the 9 currencies listed below.

If you have any questions on how this could work for your store, don’t hesitate to reach out and we’d be happy to chat! Here are notes from a recent Shopify multi-currency webinar that happened earlier this week:

Currencies:

  • Great British Pound (GBP)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • United States Dollar (USD)
  • Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
  • New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
  •  Japan Yen (JPY)
  •  Singapore Dollar (SGD)

Additional Notes:

  • Only for Shopify Payments customers, but still in beta and not live yet, but planning to go live before end of year (will be after BFCM)
  • Initially just for Shopify Plus customers
  • Currency selector in top right-hand corner
  • Selector can automatically detect country and will default to shop currency
  • You can apply rounding to prices
  • If a customer selects another payment option like PayPal on checkout it will default to shop currency
  • In the Admin panel to go settings and then within the Shopify payments section there is a new section for Shopify currencies and you can toggle on and off different currencies
  • On the product page in Admin you can see exchange rates for different currencies to give you an idea of your products price in that currency
  • Flow can present the currency code displayed to the buyer
  • API: presentment currency – currency shown to customers and the shop currency – currency used by merchants
  • Debut theme is updated to allow multi-currency
  • Shopify scripts will also allow multi-currency
  • Multi-currency migration guide soon to be released
  • Long term the intent is to allow merchants to be able to set individual prices (in different currencies) per product
  • Currency rate check happens approximately every 15 minutes
  • Draft orders doesn’t yet support multi-currency

Thank you – Shopify Plus Seattle Meetup – September 20

Thank you – Shopify Plus Seattle Meetup – September 20

The event on September 20th, was a lot of fun!

The event on September 20th, was a lot of fun! I really appreciate everyone that made it down to Code Fellows and a special thanks to our speakers! The following companies and people presented:

 

After I gave a brief introduction to Ambaum and our services, David Stober from Guided came on stage and we hosted a Q&A session that walked through David’s experience as one of the first companies ever on Shopify Plus. David went through the apps he’s tested and tried – some examples: Kit.com, Intercom, Product Reviews and many more and explained how they each help his business on a daily basis. David was very open about his business and walked us through how Shopify has helped him increase sales!

Janice Yao presented and discussed multi location inventory and multi-currency updates that will be rolling out very shortly to Shopify stores that are currently using Shopify Pay. She also gave some examples of Shopify Flow and automating tasks within your Plus store, this is an untapped area that a lot of Plus merchants should start using. She also gave us a explanation of Transporter, a new tool for importing customer records, orders and even bulk product loads. It was Janice’s first time presenting and she did fantastic!

The final presenter was Brian Mackin from Avalara and he walked us through all the new tax laws that are rolling out over the next year. There has a been a big shift in how states are going to collect taxes, moving from the old system of primarily using physical location as the primary rationale for collecting taxes to the new way of economic nexus – which many states will use a threshold of $100,000 or 200 transactions a year in that state as the baseline. There are many different rules on a state by state basis and the big takeaway is that if you are selling products all over the US you should really consider using Avalara to help you manage a very complicated compliance process!

Here is a link from Brian’s presentation that contains tons of helpful information regarding the tax rules that you might run into as an online seller:
https://www.avalara.com/us/en/learn/sales-tax/south-dakota-wayfair.html

I would like to thank Code Fellows for allowing us to use their space for our event, it is such an outstanding facility!

Why Shopify Plus is the SMB Platform of Choice

Why Shopify Plus is the SMB Platform of Choice

Shopify Plus is Shopify’s enterprise software that is ideal for merchants doing $1.5M a year or more in online sales.

What is Shopify Plus?

Shopify Plus is Shopify’s enterprise software that is ideal for merchants doing $1.5M a year or more in online sales. Shopify Plus offers a ton of additional features above and beyond the “core” Shopify plans. With Plus you get dedicated support, discounts on apps, access to Shopify Scripts, Shopify Flow, access to Wholesale ordering and much more.

Brief History of Ecommerce

Historically the ecommerce platform space has been extremely fragmented with no company powering more than 11% of online stores. The top 4 leading companies in terms of # of stores (a different metric than platform gross merchant volume) are: WooCommerce, Magento, Shopify and Big Commerce. The first 2 platforms on the list are self-hosted platforms, the final 2 (Shopify and Big Commerce) are fully hosted SAAS solutions. If you want to learn more about fully hosted vs self-hosted ecommerce solutions, take a look at this post from earlier in the year.

Self-Hosted Solutions Require Extra Work

When you opt for a self-hosted solution you are required to manage your own servers and deal with infrastructure issues like: PCI compliance, credit card security site uptime, CDN’s and much more. To power Magento Enterprise or WooCommerce you need a programming team that can design and build your site, but they also need deep technical skills to power, manage and maintain your servers. If you think of the technology stack as a pyramid, self-hosted solutions require you to manage the bottom layer of the tech stack that is no longer value add for companies in the $1.5M – $50M space.

The Transition Period

Merchants have begun to realize that managing the bottom layer of the tech stack isn’t going to help them grow top line sales. Now the arms race has shifted from server administration to growth, how can merchants test new customer acquisition strategies, landing pages, products and apps that will help them grow their business.

Ten years ago the dominant player in the SMB space was Magento, but with the launch of Shopify Plus over 4 years ago there is now an enterprise level SAAS solution targeted towards businesses doing between $1.5M and $50M a year online. The introduction of a SAAS based enterprise solution has started a mind shift in merchants and they are rapidly moving towards fully hosted platforms.

Shopify is Pulling Ahead of Other SAAS Solutions

Five years ago, Shopify and Big Commerce both had approximately 40,000-50,000 stores on their respective platforms. Now in 2018 Shopify is at 600,000 merchants and Big Commerce is close to 80,000. Shopify is gaining momentum in total merchants, gross merchant value and most importantly the Shopify features have caught up to and surpassed many of the SAAS solutions. Shopify has been heads down creating augmented reality features, multi-language support, POS updates and making things simple for business owners. The announcements at Shopify Unite 2018 were an impressive list of advanced features that Shopify has on its roadmap for 2018.

Shopify Plus is Easy

Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 3,600 Shopify Plus stores. Shopify realized early on that small merchants don’t want to remain small, they want growth and a path to get there. Shopify Plus has many great features that allow for growth: customization of the checkout page, Shopify Scripts, wholesale channel, Merchant Success Manager, Shopify Flow and so many other great growth enablers.

“Something that potential investors must understand: we do not chase revenue as the primary driver of our business. Shopify has been about empowering merchants since it was founded, and we have always prioritized long-term value over short- term revenue opportunities. We don’t see this changing.”

Tobias Lutke, Shopify CEO illuminates the long-term vision he has for Shopify and the fact that Shopify is a purpose driven enterprise. Tobi has a mission to bring ecommerce tools to merchants everywhere and that resonates through his public presentations and give us the playbook to where Shopify is headed.

Rapidly Iterate on Customer Acquisition Strategies

On Shopify it is extremely easy to add functionality to your store without requiring extensive programming knowledge. There are over 2,400 public apps in the Shopify app store that you can quickly install on your site and test new features such as: loyalty programs, email capture, social media, shipping, customer service and much more. Connecting your social media and advertising channels through your store is simple and allows you to test out new ad copy, landing pages and other ways to bring new customers into your purchase funnel.

You can create custom designed landing pages and promote a special offer or giveaway to attract new customers. Implement Google Analytics and use the native Shopify reporting to gauge the quality of traffic to your site. Test many different traffic sources, does Facebook convert the best for you? What about Google product listing ads? Are you having a lot of success with content marketing? Dive in, iterate quickly and then drill down farther on the traffic that converts best for your store.

Shopify is the Future for SMB

Shopify announced support for multi-language, multi-currency and multi-location inventory support at Shopify Unite in May 2018. These 3 features were critical infrastructure updates as they set the stage for future Shopify Plus features. A common request from Shopify Plus stores is for multi store dashboard and analytics support and now that there is the ability to track inventory across different locations I wouldn’t be surprised if Shopify announces support for organizing data across many stores.

Shopify is now over 3,500 employees (in comparison WooCommerce has ~100 employees) and with these resources Shopify can tackle a multitude of new features each year. With Tobi as Shopify’s CEO and his commitment to making ecommerce simple for merchants, it makes my life easy recommending Shopify Plus to our SMB merchants.

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.

Sunday

Arrived Sunday and attended the Klaviyo, Smile.io, 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

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

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.