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Updates on the horizon for our Shopify tech partner, Rebuy

Rebuy recently held a town hall to kickoff their agency and tech partner programs.

Back in 2017, John Erck and his brother James came up with the idea of Rebuy, born from a love of ecommerce. Rebuy is a personalization tool for driving increased AOV, LTV, and conversion rates. Personalized product recommendations can be implemented throughout the entirety of a merchant’s website to leverage the true power of upsells and cross-sells. (also offers omnichannel personalization for ecommerce brands on Shopify and ShopifyPlus!). Recently, we had the pleasure of attending Rebuy’s partnership town hall, and to say we are excited for their Q3 and Q4 would be an understatement. Let’s check out a few highlights from the event.

First, Rebuy has partnered up with Klaviyo, a leading email marketing and SMS automation platform, to bring personalized and customized email flows to customers and potential customers. This integration brings a unique product experience by directing the user to a dynamic landing page based on their behavior on-site, increasing conversion. They also plan on launching the Rebuy Smart Cart™ App Store, allowing developers to build a customer checkout experience for a more personalized and valuable customer flow.

Next, Rebuy has partnered with Recharge to launch the Recharge Customer Portal Recommendations. This partnership sprung from the need to offer up relevant product add-ons directly to the customer through their portal. With this solution, merchants can offer one-time items, subscription products, and include dynamic discounts for the customer, increasing CLV.  Customers can expect to have desired product recommendations automatically added to their next delivery date, creating a seamless experience for both their Recharge subscription products and Rebuy upsell or cross-sell recommendations.

A huge asset update here is their library for developer resources – the Rebuy Developer Hub. This includes comprehensive guides and streamlined resources to assist developers to work with Rebuy quickly and efficiently. A unique element of Rebuy is that its founders are also developers, allowing the company to have a fuller spectrum of understanding toward the merchant’s needs, and a more seamless flow of communication internally.

“We implement Rebuy in about 3 or 4 different places and it’s immediate ROI.” – Brandon Armoroso, Founder & CEO of Electriq Marketing

With a mind prioritized for personalization, Rebuy wants to continue merchant and partner driven development. We look forward to our continued partnership!
Want more information on how we can integrate you with partners like Rebuy? Drop us a line.

Interview with the Project Manager

Meet our new Project Manager Anne Howrey!

I had the pleasure of discussing the unique background and experience of our new Project Manager, Anne Howrey. Native to Texas, Anne achieved a degree in Math from the University of Texas, where she honed her problem-solving skills. She then began her journey into entrepreneurship and gained an MBA from Northeastern University.

“I wanted to get to a place where I could lead other people to solve problems better.”
“The way I’m going to be able to help clients is that I’ve been there.”

Anne then launched two companies, building the e-commerce of both from the ground up, growing into a Shopify Expert by necessity. Anne has been on both sides now, and the empathy that she is able to bring to the client service experience is sure to impress. Check out the full interview below for her full perspective.

Let us know how we can help you here, and meet more of our team here. Stay hungry!

Top 5 Marketing Trends for 2022

trend: /trend/ “a general direction in which something is developing or changing.”

While consistency is always important, being consistent also means incorporating change. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s new and useful toward your marketing efforts is key to growing your reach and your new converting customers. Let’s break it down to some pivotal elements for success.

  1. A/B Web Testing with SEO

Trends wouldn’t be trends without testing – this is a way to truly understand your audience and their subtle changes. Although A/B testing is traditionally used as a tactic toward paid advertising, a brand can also utilize A/B testing for organic reach and search traffic to the site. A low-cost tactic; identify the blog post or page that drives the most traffic and run some A/B tests. Track conversion, duration, and bounce rates to optimize your site. 

Check out how we were able to help in our partnership with Pair of Thieves to optimize their site and improve their SEO.

scrolling .gif of Pair of Thieves
  1. Motion Graphics and Video

With a reported 8-second average attention span in 2021, grabbing a user’s focus quickly and efficiently is more important than ever. And, with fast moving apps like TikTok, the average attention span is sure to shrink even further. So, how do you compete in this high speed highway of content? Try motion graphics and video content. This can be as simple as switching out a .jpg with a .gif, or creating full-blown videos for social posts and ads as they are proven to be more effective. Leverage and strategize the effectiveness of channels such as TikTok and Instagram Reels. Try different approaches to stop-the-scroll within the first 5 seconds of your content. Of course, as in all things marketing, keep brand authenticity at the forefront.

Pro Tip: Make sure all video content includes captions. This promotes inclusive usability and allows the user to enjoy your content in spaces where having sound on is not possible or preferable. This can also increase conversion rates.

  1. Mobile Optimization

With the marketing world becoming even more fast paced, on-the-go convenience will be vital to a brands success. In fact, we know that in 2020, about half of global website traffic came from mobile devices. Having the ability to purchase, navigate, and otherwise interact with your site is pivotal as millennials and Gen Z increase their buying power. Always check how the output of your content interacts on mobile devices, and with different mobile devices, ensuring the user’s journey is reflective of a more fast-paced and cross-channel user for the following key elements:

  • Ensure products are explained with the least amount of clicks. Include FAQs about the product, reviews, and images that can be zoomed in on a mobile device.
  • Consider additional customer service options. Be sure to give users many options if they have questions about your product or service – via email, phone, or live chat.
  • Make the payment process as easy as possible. This can be done by allowing the user to create an account and save their credit card information for easy check-out in the future, to allowing alternative payment options such as ApplePay or GooglePay. But, keep the fillable forms as short as possible so you do not lose the users interest or attention. In this independent study, creating payment options resulted in a 101% increase in conversions.

Pro Tip: Do a double-check on your email content, as well, to make sure it is optimized for mobile.

Example of a websites view on mobile
  1. User-Generated Content (UGC)

Often overlooked, and with minimal effort on the brand’s part, is cultivating brand loyalty through UGC. This is a direct way for users to feel like they have a voice, are valued, and increases word-of-mouth awareness. User-generated content can incentivize influencer and partnership programs, as a clearer channel toward customer reviews and feedback. Incorporating UGC into your marketing channels is cost effective, and takes a bite of content-creation off your Social Media Manager’s plate. Shopify offers a UGC app to make this easier such as Cevoid or even Shoppable Instagram & UGC.

Another tactic here is to make sure you give back to the community, especially the users helping through UGC. This could be in the form of a promo code for them and to share with friends, free product for their review, or feature them in a sweepstakes to build followers mutually.

Example of UGC from gopro

Featuring these users as Brand Ambassadors gives them a VIP feeling, and creates a partnership between them and your brand. But, don’t stop there. Reach out to your team, and empower employees to advocate for your brand. Word-of-mouth is statistically proven to be one of the most effective forms of lead-to-customer conversion, so take every opportunity to promote real-life interactions with your product.

  1. Personalization

Especially in times of bulk discounts or times where KPIs need to be met, personalizing your content output can get lost in the fray. A few ways to tighten the scope:

Identify buyer personas

How can you create content without knowing who the audience is? See how granular you can make the buyer personas. Find stock images, write out what their hobbies are, if they consume content on a Mac, PC, or mobile (and, if so, what type of mobile?), what music they listen to, what they do after a long week, etc. Writing content toward a specific audience will evoke a more emotional response and keep them engaged.

Email segmenting

Keeping a good email database is like keeping a carefully pruned bonsai. It takes careful attention and pruning to ensure that the overall channel is healthy and growing. Segmenting your email list by data points identified in your personas and customizing those emails and promotions toward the consumer increases open rates, click-through-rate (CTR), and ultimately conversions. 

Think of the consumer’s journey

From usability to personalization, keep trying to think of each personas experience as they navigate through the journey you’ve built for them. If a user converts from an email, how is their journey different from a user converting from word-of-mouth? From a social media post? From digital paid advertising? Even, from traditional physical advertising? Then, how does that user journey change over time after they are now a converting customer? Taking a look at the Human Design of each user’s path toward the main road of your core customer is key to maintaining and measuring a user’s customer lifetime value (CLV).

Infographic of success

Listen to your audience, provide opportunities for them to express their feedback, and try for those subtle changes to your interface. Interested in talking more about how we can help you on optimizing your user experience? Drop us a line.

Your Need-to-Know for Shopify Online Store 2.0

What’s new in 2.0, and should your brand upgrade now?

The summer of 2021 saw some significant changes from Shopify with the launch of Online Store 2.0. As a partner that is ever-listening to their customers, and optimizing their service, this upgrade offers streamlined solutions for developers and merchants alike.

But, when has anyone ever accepted transition without a modicum of hesitation? We’re here with our expertise and services to help. Let’s dive into some of the major updates.

  • Themes and Editor Update

On earlier versions of the online store, we were limited in the number of blocks we could include in the store, with a wide range of templates for products. Now, usability is improved with adding sections to each page (not just the home page). As opposed to needing Liquid code for templates, we can now use templates with JSON files to get even more granular with the UI both frontend and backend. With the updates to the app extension and app blocks, apps can also integrate with the themes for greater consistency across multiple themes. This means a development team can greatly improve the site for faster and easier functionality.

Before 2.0, the only fully customizable drag-and-drop sections was the homepage. Now, you can get  all that flexibility on every page of the site; no hacky duplications or workarounds with blocks to mimic the homepage sections. - Bree Therkildsen, Lead Developer at Ambaum
  • Metafields

Although integration to external apps is easier, Shopify’s Online Store 2.0 has implemented user-friendly metafields that can be edited directly from the admin view, making those apps or special urls obsolete. This is a major change, as the merchant is now able to modify metafields, as well as add content to product pages (i.e. lists and size charts). This update makes metafields more flexible and simpler for developers to keep the UI for merchants clean across market verticals.

supporting screenshot showcasing the new metafields

The metafields can simply be linked on the frontend through a field already in a section’s settings so now supported PDF files and images can be directly integrated without needing to hard code into the theme. Last, the theme editor now showcases a side view, with movable sections to allow frontend arrangement of those sections. 

  • Developer Tools

Previously development teams needed to create complex systems in order to deploy updates. Now, the Shopify GitHub integration provides streamlined use of the Shopify CLI tool and theme check for a more direct experience on deploying changes. 

supporting image showcasing the Shopify GitHub integration.

Another fantastic update is the functionality to scan the theme for errors with Theme Check. This scan highlights the possible errors of the platform and Liquid language, providing best practices before implementing. These tools enable developers to test their work, improving overall processes in Sandbox. The Shopify GetHub integration into the themes allows the developer greater collaboration in deployment before pushing updates live, with the new CLI tool giving developers a more exact view of the final customizations.

  • Do I need to update now?

At this moment, Shopify does not plan on disintegrating any older versions, but the advancements in the Online Store 2.0 deployment are hard to deny. In some examples of the clients we helped migrate, we saw a significant jump in pagespeed. Previously, even the most optimized Shopify stores would score in the mid 50’s, but our clients are now seeing 98 – 100 Google pagespeed scores with the switch to Shopify Online Store 2.0.

Example of one of our current clients on Shopify 2.0.

With the Online Store 2.0, new and expansive opportunities are available for developers and merchants alike, making the Shopify experience easier than ever before. Having more extensive sections means we’re able to reuse templates rather than repeatingly building out new ones, and simple content updates no longer require lengthy development recycles. 
Shopify has detailed the process of migrating to Online Store 2.0, and we’d love to help. Questions? Drop us a line.

Web 2 and Web 3 Collide, NFTs and Shopify

Web 2 and Web 3 Collide, NFTs and Shopify

As the founder of Ambaum, most of my 9-5 is spent on hiring, strategy and client services in support of merchants. However, in my free time, crypto (web 3) has been a passion of mine – I bought my first Bitcoin in 2014 and the Pandemic reignited my interest, especially in NFTs. I thought of my time in the NFT space as a way to learn new technology and when I started out I didn’t think it would impact ecommerce, at least for a few years. Fast forward to 2022 and NFTs and ecommerce are converging in unique and fun ways and it’s happening much quicker than I could have imagined.

I just got back from ShopTalk 2022 and it was fantastic to see our partners in person, shout out to ShipStation, ReCharge and Rebuy from the Shopify ecosystem. There was an energy in the air following the almost 2 year absence of in person events. The majority of the exhibitors at the conference were in the following categories: payment providers (buy now pay later, so many!), headless commerce and retail analytics. I was amazed at how many of these exhibitors had raised more than $100M in the last year with a handful raising more than $300M.

ShopTalk and NFTs

The first session the Ambaum team attended was a Shark Tank theme pitch presentation event, companies had 3 minutes to present and then 3 minutes for questions. Out of the first batch Niftmint, a NFT Commerce Infrastructure company stood out – loved the QR code on the back of Jonathan’s t-shirt. We have already partnered with NFTeapot, a NFT minting app that allows customers to purchase NFTs through the Shopify checkout, but it’s exciting to see more companies jump in the space. 

NFTs are so new that most brands don’t yet have a clearly articulated strategy, which is why I was so impressed by PacSun’s President Brieane Olson and her Metaverse presentation on the ShopTalk main stage. PacSun has minted their own NFTs: Pac Mall Rats and they clearly have considered scarcity, authenticity and long term value which is very important for brands as they get into NFTs. In addition PacSun has partnered with Roblox to show off clothing NFTs in Roblox, this is ideal as PacSun’s average customer is 17-24 years old. 

CryptoPunks: Details for Punk #1719

Shopify and NFTs

Tobi Lutke, Shopify CEO has started warming up to NFTs since the summer of 2021 and the first clue was changing his profile picture on Twitter to a Cryptopunk. Then in the Fall of 2021, Shopify created a landing page for selling NFTs on Shopify, that explains how merchants can mint and list NFTs for sale through their Shopify store. In February 2022, Shopify and Doodles (a popular NFT collection) combined to create an in person experience for people to use NFTs as tokens for gated merchandise, all powered by Shopify and their POS system. 

It’s still very early for NFTs and brands have to be careful how they choose to introduce their customers to the concept while staying true to their core. Here at Ambaum we are following very closely and getting engaged with our brands already as we want to help our merchants navigate the NFT landscape. This is an exciting time for Shopify and NFTs, I see an opportunity that could be as large as subscriptions are on the Shopify platform. It’s going to be an exciting time for those who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and dive in!

Shopify Unite 2021

Shopify Unite 2021

Online Store 2.0

3 Areas Rebuilt

  • Themes and editor improvements
    • Completely modular and built out of sections
    • All of the themes codes in in sections
    • Theme editor – template picker – multiple templates per page
  • Store content – populates the design – metafields
    • Metafields – define and edit directly in admin + bind data sources to sections directly in the editor – no more hardcoding metafields
    • Can add validations and descriptions
    • Metafields will also power a new content management platform – entirely new custom types using metafields – create content once and publish to different channels
    • Pages and even collections have templates now
  • Developer tooling 
    • Theme app extension, apps can have their own sections and blocks, apps can contribute liquid in their own app blocks
    • Easier for apps to inject scripts
    • Blocks, assets and snippets – can ship in one single repo, script tags will be deprecated in the future

Migrating to Online Store 2.0 – https://shopify.dev/themes/migration

Liquid improvements

  • Dawn, new open source theme available https://github.com/Shopify/dawn
  • Dawn was built:
    • For modern browsers, focused on semantic markup and progressive javascript
    • Creative visual design – improving features that affect funnel – collections
    • Lean and maintainable – cart api lines of code reduced
    • Performance – fast theme by default

Performance and Developer Tooling

  • Full git integration and extended Shopify CLI
  • 10% first page speed increase equates to a 7% conversion rate bump

Storefront Renderer – 5x speed improvement
GraphQL – shopify admin and shop App both built on graph ql and supports 60K active partner projects

  • Averages 1M queries/minute
  • Shopify within 50MS of every buyer is the goal

Storefront API

  • Can retrieve via storefront API
  • Can query local pickup via storefront API
  • Selling plans – can enable subscriptions and Admin APIs released. Can retrieve selling plans, price adjustments + other relevant metadata
  • New cart capabilities – rebuilt for speed, can pass cart ID, support for discounts
  • Storefront schema redesign later this year – removing cruft

Checkout

  • 450M people checked out on Shopify in 2020
  • 5B processed on BFCM
  • Checkout page load times 2X as fast
  • In past could make changes to editor, can now extend checkout through apps – from simple changes to complex logic: checkout UI, overhaul of scripts + new payment platform
  • Checkout extensions – example adding warning message for prop 65 in CA using metafields and looking at customer address
  • Component library for checkout extensions
  • Checkout promotions example app – build a free gift with purchase checkout extension
  • Works on Shop Pay and for all merchants
  • Post Purchase extension – show offers post checkout – opening this up for devs in Q4

Shopify Scripts v2 – rebuilt using web assembly, improved speed and can scale up, can build scripts and deploy using apps 

  • Can turn your script into a public app available for everyone 

Payments

  • Shopify merchants sell all over the world – for all payment developers – can create payment gateways as Shopify apps
  • Payment apps will be easy to customize and quick to install
  • Once approved merchants can onboard directly, will rely on OAuth for onboarding

Build an app from scratch

  • Subscription app extension – go to shopify dev docs and tutorials
  • Shopify create node to scaffold it and look at partner dashboard
  • Bulk of the setup from the command line
  • Developer console – can test with real data and render from local environment

Power of Discovery

  • 1.7M merchants on the platform – matching and recommendation algorithm
  • New app home page catered to each merchant
  • Enhancing app ads program

Partners and Developers

  • 2020 – 12.5B in partner and dev revenue – 4X what Shopify did
  • 12.5M app installs in 2020
  • August 1st, removing first 1M in rev share earned

Hydrogen

  • Built on JavaScript and React, Hydrogen provides a quick-start toolkit and set of components, so you can focus on building the fun parts that make your store unique
  • Add “Hydrogen channel”, then connect Git Hub
  • Similar to React projects, uses react router
  • React server components – going all in on this
  • Shipped with Tailwind CSS

https://shopify.dev/hydrogen

Shopify Wholesale Orders

Shopify Wholesale Orders

Shopify Wholesale; State of the Union as of May 2021

The Pandemic was a major event that changed how businesses operate and will continue to operate in the future. Manufacturers saw many of their physical retail channels dry up as consumers began to order more online in 2020 and that trend has continued into 2021. Manufacturers are waking up to the fact that to sell their products they need a website to connect with their wholesale customers, this isn’t new, but the Pandemic has accelerated the trend here.

Even now in 2021, most companies use spreadsheets, emails and phone calls to process wholesale and B2B orders. Not only is this inefficient and very manual intensive and it creates friction in the ordering process. When you move your wholesale ordering process online you eliminate manual processes and you will see an increase in your wholesale orders.

Wholesale Functionality You Want for Your Site

There is a baseline level of functionality you need for your online wholesale system: custom price lists, unique customer logins, product recommendations and data analytics to name a few. The typical workflow is that a wholesale customer will log into your site and see a custom curated catalog with specific pricing. In addition, you can include sales rep information, data and analytics about their account and give them the ability to reorder from previous purchases. Most companies will also include new products, upsells and related products so wholesale customers can get an idea of all your potential products. So now the question is how do you set this up on Shopify?

What are the Wholesale Options on Shopify?

There are three primary ways Shopify merchants setup wholesale ordering, here are the 3 most common options:

  1. Shopify Wholesale Apps
  2. Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel
  3. Custom Development 

As a Shopify Plus development agency we will consider all 3 options for our clients. Which of the 3 options you choose for your business will depend on your current business process and how much you are willing to flex your process to work with a technical solution. The best implementations are where you adapt a bit to the technical solution AND take the opportunity to streamline your business process and remove inefficiencies at the same time.

Shopify Wholesale Apps

We recommend looking at Shopify wholesale apps to start as many of them can help set you up with a simple solution for accepting wholesale orders. There are two wholesale apps we have seen our clients use:

There are more than these two apps, so invest some time in the Shopify app store and try and find one that is right for you.

Shopify Wholesale Channel

The Shopify Plus wholesale channel lets you expand your business into wholesale by creating a separate, password-protected storefront that’s an extension of your online store. All your wholesale customers and orders are trackable under your current store’s Shopify admin.

Your wholesale store is based on your online store, so you can offer your wholesale buyers (referred to here as wholesale customers) the same products that you offer your online store customers, but at different prices. You can also add wholesale-only products that are available in your wholesale store only.

Your wholesale store has a different storefront (and requires different login credentials) from your online store. Customers cannot access your online store from your wholesale store.

Our recommendation is thoroughly vet the Shopify wholesale channel to make sure it works for your Plus store. Only a small percentage of our clients end up going with this option as the native functionality isn’t typically robust enough to meet their needs for processing wholesale orders.

Custom Development

If you can’t find a Shopify app that works and you’re not a Plus merchant, custom development might be your best choice for implementing wholesale ordering. Custom development for wholesale doesn’t have to be super complicated, often by using tag and metafields in addition to updates to the Shopify liquid templates we can create a wholesale process that works just fine. In addition, you only need to use one site and your wholesale customers log in and based on their tag they see the appropriate pricing specific to them. Another popular option is using both a Shopify public app + doing some custom development around the app to create the ideal system for your company.

Handshake

Shopify purchased Handshake in 2019 and relaunched the service in late 2020 as a wholesale marketplace for suppliers and retailers. There are rumors of a deeper integration with wholesale and it will be interesting to find out if Shopify has more plans for Handshake here in the future.

Shopify Unite 2021 and Wholesale

I am looking forward to Shopify Unite 2021 to find out if there are announcements planned for wholesale. Shopify has a huge opportunity to attract B2B clients that are on the fence about migrating to Shopify until they see a wholesale solution that works for their business. Stay tuned in this area, I expect big things from Shopify in 2021 and 2022 in the B2B space!

Behind the Scenes With the Ambaum Rebrand

Behind the Scenes With the Ambaum Rebrand

Reinventing the Shopify Plus Partner Agency experience.

BTown Web, a Seattle based Shopify Plus agency, announced they have fully rebranded to Ambaum Labs, LLC, or Ambaum for short. As a Shopify Plus Partner Agency, Ambaum brings both merchant and agency experience – helping clients navigate and grow their business through the online shopping path. With a seasoned team of Shopify Plus developers, the agency supports client’s technical needs with site development, migrations, integrations and custom development. 

Over a cup of coffee from Seattle’s Seven Coffee Roasters (Ambaum client), we went behind the scenes to chat about the exciting rebrand with Founder & CEO Chad Fisher and COO David Stober. 

Why initially BTown Web?

“I grew up in Burien, Washington and the name BTown Web was a special name for me when we created the company 7 years ago. The Company began its life in a one-room office next to a small ‘locals’ restaurant in downtown Burien called Angelo’s. Like the restaurant and City of Burien, BTown Web was started with grit and boot-strapping with my first two development hires, Andrew Crawley and Matt Peters (both still with the Company). Early on, our small little Company cut our teeth on custom WordPress, WooCommerce and really any other little development projects we could take on. We not only survived in the early days, but managed to add team members and more clients. Fast forward to 2014 when everything changed with the broad acceleration of eCommerce and the emergence of a new SaaS technology platform company Shopify,” said Chad Fisher.

What made you decide to rebrand?

“BTown Web was a perfect name in the early stages of our company, but as we grew it became clear we needed something with a broader appeal. One of our first Shopify Plus clients came by way of an elementary school friend of mine who I had recently reconnected with, David Stober.  David at the time was running a print manufacturing business that happened to be scaling to include online small-run custom print and packaging services as a Shopify Plus merchant (he later found out he was one of the first 50 merchants on Shopify Plus). Through this business relationship and friendship, one thing led to another and then in 2019 he and I began to map out a plan for David to join BTown. Then in 2019 David formally came on board as COO to help scale our growing Shopify Plus Partner Agency and one of the first things he began to drive was the need to rebrand,” explained Chad Fisher.

The meaning of Ambaum

“Ambaum is the road that our agency is located on in the heart of Burien, WA. Ambaum started off as a muddy wagon trail built in 1912 by locals with wheelbarrows, picks, shovels and hard work. Jacob Ambaum was a German immigrant from Ohio that had the inspiration for the creation of the road after which he is now named. Ambaum for us is a symbol of the hard work it takes to build something out of nothing and the power of connecting people and places,” said Chad Fisher.

Jacob Ambaum and wife Mary Sit on their porch with family house guest in 1905. Photo credits to Mary Ambaum Deleuw & WestSeattle.com

Why should merchants choose Ambaum as their Shopify Plus growth agency?

“Ambaum is a team of Shopify Plus Experts, development professionals and business builders that partners with brands looking to grow their digital business and online revenue. Historically, selling online was at best a single channel and at worst, simply a box checking exercise for mos CMOs. In today’s commerce climate though, a digital strategy is no longer simply a nice to have – now digital is an absolute necessity which has been accelerated even more by Covid-19,” said David Stober. 

“As fellow merchants, we have intimate knowledge of the daily challenges our clients face. The reality is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method when it comes to scaling an eCommerce business. It takes an openness to change, correct context and a holistic approach. Success takes not only building a great digital foundation and the marketing systems to acquire customers, but also a true owner’s empathy- taking into account the broader business objectives and impacts to operations and finance.  At Ambaum,  we believe we set ourselves apart as an Agency by viewing our merchants through the lens of the merchant and really putting ourselves in the shoes of the business owner,acting as if it were our own Company,” continued David Stober.

A look ahead and the future of Ambaum

Chad and David shared that Ambaum aims to be the premier Shopify Plus Growth Agency for high-growth digital merchants and passionate brands. “We will accomplish this by heavily investing in our team of eCommerce and development professionals to scale a world-class organization that delivers best-in-class design, development, growth marketing and custom apps to our clients and the broader Shopify ecosystem,” said Chad Fisher.   

Shopify vs WooCommerce; Which eCommerce Platform is Right for you?

Shopify vs WooCommerce; Which eCommerce Platform is Right for you?

If you know that you want to start selling online you now need to consider which platform you want to use to build your store

Sometimes taking the first step is the hardest part of the journey. If you know that you want to start selling online you now need to consider which platform you want to use to build your store. Shopify and WooCommerce are 2 of the most popular platforms around and both have their pluses and minuses. This article will review the features of both eCommerce platforms, if you have any questions about functionality for either one, reach out and we can assist.

PRICING & FEATURES MATRIX

 ShopifyWooCommerce
Monthly Fee$29, $79, $299 and Shopify PlusFree
HostingFreeShared Host $10/month, VPS $40/month and up
SSL CertificateFreeFree – With Let’s Encrypt
Credit Card Processing Fees2.9% – 2.4% + 30 cents2.9% + 30 cents
Multi Currency PaymentsYes – With Multiple StoresYes – With Custom Development
Multiple LanguagesYes – Apps or Multiple StoresYes – Variety of Options
PCI ComplianceYesYes – With Certain Processors
DesignFree Themes + Custom OptionsFree Themes + Custom Options
BlogYes – Limited Compared to WPYes
Uploading ProductsYes – via CSVYes – via CSV, XML
Discount CodesYes –  but only 1 code per purchaseYes
ShippingYes – Requires CustomizationYes – Requires Customization
Cart & Checkout PageCart Editable, Not the CheckoutBoth Fully Editable
Developer OptionsYes – Experts ProgramYes – Experts Program
Quickbooks IntegrationYes – with AppsYes – with Plugins
Salesforce IntegrationYes – with AppsYes – with Plugins
TaxesYesYes
SEOYes – with limited AppsYes – plenty of Plugins

Hosted Platform vs Self Hosting

Let’s start the comparison off by discussing how hosting works with both WooCommerce and Shopify. With Shopify the answer is easy, they will host your site for you and it’s included in the monthly price you pay of $29, $79 or $299.

With WooCommerce you will need to find a hosting company for your new site. We recommend getting a virtual private server (at a minimum) because if you opt for a shared host (these are typically cheaper like $10/month or less)  there is a stronger chance your site could get hacked.

SSL Certificate

What is a SSL certificate? SSL certificates allows you to transmit encrypted transactions via the HTTP protocol, it adds the “s” on the end so that your URLs all become HTTPS. Shopify includes a SSL certificate with their hosted store so there is no need for you to set one up on your own.

When setting up WooCommerce you will want to purchase a SSL certificate. These typically cost about $70/year, but just recently a new company sprang up called Let’s Encrypt that allows you to install a free SSL certificate and automate it so that it gets renewed each year (this is a huge plus!).

Credit Card Processing Fees

Both Shopify and WooCommerce offer comparable fees for payment processing. With Shopify you need to use Shopify Payments to process credit card transactions unless you want to pay an extra .5% – 2.0% to use your own external payments gateway. You can use your own payment processor and pay 0% for gateway fees with Shopify if you upgrade your account to Shopify Plus, that’s a much higher level monthly plan that we will discuss further on in this comparison.

I’m going to choose Stripe for the WooCommerce payment processor. Stripe is very easy to work with, has good rates and a strong API (which comes in handy if you want to do custom development work). You could also use PayPal, but working with their API is no picnic and accepting credit card payments via Stripe is much easier than doing the same thing with PayPal.

 ShopifyWooCommerce (Stripe)
Credit Card Rates Online2.9 – 2.4% + 30 cents2.9% + 30 cents
Credit Card Rates in Person2.7% – 2.4% + 0 cents (using Shopify POS)2.9% + 30 cents (using Stripe app)

Overall you can see the credit card processing fees are in the same ballpark with both Shopify and WooCommerce.

Multi Currency Payments

Shopify doesn’t have an elegant solution here. The easiest way to do this is to setup multiple “clone” stores in the countries you want to sell in so that you can show the native currency price on your checkout page. It’s important to note that Shopify will only show one currency per store on your checkout page and you are unable to edit your checkout page. If you upgrade to Shopify Plus you can add clone stores to sell in multiple countries and you can also edit your checkout page.

One way to help mitigate the multi currency problem in Shopify is to set up geo IP location and pop up a notice to direct your customer to your other Shopify site. For example if you determine that a Canadian customer is on your US site you can create a popover that will let them know they should navigate to your Canadian store to see your store in the proper currency.

With WooCommerce you have almost unlimited customizations and setting up multi currency sites is possible. It will require custom programming to set everything up but there are no inherent limitations.

Multiple Languages

For Shopify merchants that want to set up their store with multiple languages there are two primary options: choose an existing app or set up multiple stores (as covered in the section above about currencies). Langify is a popular multilingual Shopify app that will do automatic language detection (based on IP address) as well allow for language switching back and forth.

WooCommerce can support sites with multiple languages and you have a few options. You could install Google Translate with a drop down option to switch languages and while this is the easiest implementation, Google Translate is notoriously inaccurate. The better route is to have your content translated by a professional and setup your site so there are drop down options for users to select different languages. You can put each of the languages on a separate sub domain if you want to keep each of the different languages clean and separate from the main site.

PCI Compliance

Shopify is PCI compliant and certified as Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. With Shopify your store is automatically PCI compliant and their certification covers your store.

With Stripe you will need to make sure you are compliant with the PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). The easiest way to do that is to setup Stripe Checkout as it meets the requirements and security constraints of the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), SAQ A, by performing all transmission of sensitive cardholder data within an IFRAME served off of a stripe.com domain that is controlled by Stripe.

Design

There are oodles of themes for your Shopify store, both free and paid. If you are just starting out with your business, choosing a free theme can help you get rolling. If you have an existing business and want to start out with Shopify you can hire an agency to create a custom design and develop a store that fits exactly what you need.

Like Shopify WordPress also has a variety of free and paid themes for you to choose from.  WooCommerce will require more customization of the purchase path than Shopify and you will need a developer to help with that, we’ll cover that in more detail in a section below.

Blog

Shopify comes with a built in blogging engine that can be enabled and styled to allow you to start creating posts about your business. The rich text editor that Shopify uses isn’t as robust as what WordPress has setup and you will find many people have issues with it. The HTML markup that Shopify’s blog creates can make it difficult to work with especially if you are coming from using WordPress as your regular blog.

WordPress is well known as a robust blogging platform and is very easy to use. There are number of plugins and customizations you can make to WordPress to get setup and blogging with your WooCommerce store.

Uploading Products

Shopify allows you to bulk upload products from a CSV file. You will need to include the following information: Handle (unique name for the product), Title, Body (which is the description of the product), vendor, type, tags (these allow for additional search functionality on the site), options, price, images, skus, variants and much more.

With WooCommerce you can import products via CSV or XML file or even CSV via AJAX. There are a number of plugins that you can use to help you import your product catalog if you have created it somewhere else or you are migrating platforms. WooCommerce also has a CSV product import suite for importing products with prices, descriptions, images, meta fields and you can even create custom fields depending on what attributes about your products you want to store.

Discount Codes and Coupons

On Shopify you can create discount codes for a dollar amount, a percentage off or for free shipping. You can create multiple discount codes and maintain them via your Shopify dashboard. However a customer can not use more than one discount code at a time on Shopify and this can be a painful situation. Say you want to offer free shipping and 30% off as 2 different coupon codes a customer can’t use both of those during checkout at the same time.

WooCommerce has a dashboard for managing and adding coupon codes. You can create cart discounts, for example if the customer purchases more than 2 of 1 item they get a discount of 15% on the entire purchase. You can set up product discounts for fixed amounts ($20 off) and you can create percentage discounts. In addition you can create free shipping coupons (very popular) and you can limit how many times a coupon is used in total or per customer.

Shipping

You will need to decide which carriers you want to use to ship your product, UPS, Fedex, common carriers, etc. Once you decide that you need to think about how you are going to manage your shipments (printing packing slips, tracking inventory, etc). Many of our clients are very happy with ShipStation and use them to manage shipments across all their channels: Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Jet, their website, etc.

With Shopify you can easily integrate ShipStation (make sure that you don’t set your inventory status set to “fulfilled” in Shopify or ShipStation won’t sync) or you can manually track your shipments offline. Next you need to set your shipping rates and this is where Shopify starts to have some issues. You can set your shipping rates by state, but if you want to get more granular and set your rates by zip code you will need to install an app and upgrade your Shopify account to the $79/month for the carrier calculated shipping feature.

With WooCommerce you can fully customize your shipping settings via 3rd party plugins or you can customize your shipping rates, fees, charges etc by custom coding everything. You can get shipping rates from UPS, USPS, print shipping labels and much more with WooCommerce.

Cart & Checkout Page

Both Shopify and WooCommerce will let you customize the shopping cart page, customize buttons, colors, layout, etc. With WooCommerce you can customize the checkout page fully, but on Shopify you are restricted from updating the checkout page. This can be a problem for Shopify stores that want to display different currencies (as described in the currency section). The best option here is to set up “clone” stores in Shopify or even better is to upgrade to Shopify Plus and you can fully configure the checkout page how you need it.

Developer Options

If you need a developer for Shopify, the best place to look is the Shopify Experts page. If you are a large eCommerce store you will want to consider reaching out to a Shopify Plus Expert.

WooCommerce also has an expert program, you can search by agency, their service and product specializations and the project scope.

Quickbooks Integration

Shopify merchants can install the Intuit Quickbooks app to sync up Shopify with Quickbooks online. Once you connect the 2, you can save hours of work each work entering in sales, tax and customer data that will automatically be ported over to Quickbooks. You will need to choose a date range for the orders you want to export from Shopify to Quickbooks and then you can set how often you want to sync your orders, daily, weekly or monthly.

WooCommerce also has a Quickbooks extension to sync your accounting data on a regular basis. You can also matchup up customers by name and company in Shopify and Quickbooks so you can make sure you are sending over the right information.

Salesforce Integration

If you are looking to keep track of your Shopify customers in Salesforce, you can consider using the Zapier app. You can add customers as contacts in Salesforce and track the products they’ve purchased in Shopify. Bit of caution with Zapier in that depending on how you are using Salesforce (and Shopify), the mapping may not work out smoothly. We had a customer where we had to create a custom cron job to sync up the data between Salesforce and Shopify to make sure everything was working correctly.

Zapier also has a an app for WooCommerce that functions very similarly to the Shopify one. You can create triggers and actions for different events: when a new account is created, new task built, new contact etc.

Taxes

Shopify will track and show tax information based on your retail location. Shopify doesn’t automatically set up tax rates for countries outside of your home country, it’s up to you to set that rate up. If you are a Shopify Plus customer you can get access to Avalara tax rates, which are much more accurate and comprehensive than the standard Shopify tax rates.

WooCommerce has settings where you can enable tax calculation and the display of taxes on your checkout page. There are a lot of options in WooCommerce for taxes, you can change how you calculate the taxes, how you display the rates, totals, etc. You can even upload your own tax rates with Woo, there is a lot of flexibility in how you set everything up.

SEO

There are a lot of things that go into SEO: site architecture, content, images, video, social signals, backlinks and much more. The majority of your rankings will come from areas that you can control, adding unique content, getting links and creating a site that is worthy of being ranked by Google. As far as site architecture Shopify does all the things that you need to create and rank a site. WordPress has a head start with overall SEO and especially with their thriving plugin ecosystem. The Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin has tons of features, keyword and content analysis, meta tag configurations, breadcrumbs, sitemaps and much more. Shopify has some SEO apps, but none as comprehensive and established as Yoast – in time it wouldn’t surprise me if Yoast developed an app for Shopify.

Chad Fisher

Born in Burien, Chad fell in love with ecommerce, Shopify and development ever since he left PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007. Sports fan who follows all the local teams, I also like running and spending time with my wife and 2 awesome daughters.