Having gone through a few different eCommerce platforms including Magento, Zencart (back in the day), BigCartel and more, Shopify is one of my favourites because it is easy to use, secure and has plenty of integrations.
While maybe less suitable for the high-powered user, I would think it is a great option for many small-medium direct to consumer brands willing to push a little harder with some small custom development and design to present a fully polished store.
Here is the marketing tech and automation stack I use, roughly in order of the sales funnel:
- Facebook Ads
- Flexify Facebook feed
- Staped.io Reviews
- Return Magic
- Google Analytics
- Google Sheets
With brands, unless there is existing brand awareness, Facebook and Instagram advertising appear to be the very main channel. SEO and organic search less so because your product is likely to compete with tonnes of similar ones in the category.
Facebook and Instagram play nicely with Shopify if you integrate a product feed. This means you can import products directly into Facebooks ads for regular ads retargeting – and customers click through to the product page.
PayPal and Stripe are obvious payment providers. Stripe is great because of it’s lower fees. PayPal I would say is still necessary because I think that people’s awareness and trust of the brand helps with conversion.
Newsletters and Automations
You might be suprised if you are newer to eCommerce but email is huge for the industry. In fact, the strategy I see employed a lot currently (2017) is the use of social ads to acquire customers and email to get the 2nd+ sales at full margin (or near full margin). This seems to have enabled to very rapid growth for many brands as they go all in on that first customer acquisition.
MailChimp integrates well Shopify because it allows you to drop the products directly into the email content itself.
Make sure to not be cheap and upgrade your MailChimp so you can create automations. Some basic ones to setup:
- Birthday congratulations email + offer
- Welcome series
- Anniversary email
If you’re sending out thousands of shipments, lost and stuck deliveries can really build up into a serious problem. Your client satisfaction will go down and you will either lose money from refunded / cancelled orders and poor reviews.
Use an order tracker like AfterShip to get notifications when there is a problem with a shipment detected.
Reviews with Shopify are a bit tricker than you might first anticipate.
There are some great tools out there like Yotpo that are very polished and make collecting reviews automated and credible. Unfortunately, the downside to many of these tools is that they keep your reviews inside their platforms and it can be hard to extract and reuse them, if you want to move to another tool. Maybe this changes in the future.
I use Staped.io because it allows you to both automate the sending of review requests (after X days of product marked as shipped) and you can reasonably customise the invites to look properly branded.
Managing returns can be a pain with fashion or multi-size/variant brands because people will tend to buy a couple of things and return a few of them.
It’s not personal, it’s convenient for picking out the right style and part of the new way of shopping.
Handling the returns by spreadsheet is absolutely not going to cut it. You will get yourself a bunch of angry customers. Use a proper solution like Return Magic so that all returns are logged by customers and they have self-serve options for generating return authorisation codes (RACs) and shipment directions.
Analytics and Reporting
Shopify provides some good analytics on the backend but you won’t be able to add other figures to it to do your reporting all in one place.
Use Google sheets to collate your data. If I had more time, I’d even work out a way to have a ‘copy and paste’ system with a few data sources being collected in different tabs, which are referenced by a master Google Data Studio sheet to create a universal report.
Some key figures I’d track would be:
- Traffic m/m
- Conversions m/m
- Average order value m/m
- Number of orders m/m
- Number of returns m/m
- Number of reviews m/m
Suprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be so much need for eCommerce teams to work in the same location compared to other lines of work. I think this is because creative work is usually silo’d and staged. For example, one person is writing the copy for one manager to approve – and the people in logistics don’t care.
Because of this, using tools like Slack can be handy for internal communications if people are working from home.
Gmail / Gsuite is still a must for the shared calendar, group calls and calendar invites. I’d recommend sharing one internal calendar for the whole team, plus sharing your individual calendars to between each team member.