These days, Shopify Plus is powering some of the world’s largest enterprises, without compromise. From luxury fashion brands to celebrity names, here are 15 top grossing Shopify Plus stores…

Gymshark

Kylie Cosmetics

AVON

FashionNova

Public Desire

Morphe

Beardbrand

ColourPop

Cosatto

Victoria Beckham

ThirdLove

KKW Beauty

Tesla

Allbirds

Linda Farrow

Your Shopify Plus Partner Agency

As you can see, Shopify Plus is the go-to platform for many global brands. And it could power your business too.

Whether you’re thinking about migrating to Shopify Plus or just want to hear more about the platform get in touch with our ecommerce experts today!

Over the years, Shopify Plus has grown in popularity amongst merchants across the globe. Despite this, there are still some misconceptions surrounding Shopify Plus and its capabilities.  

From concerns around price to doubts around inventory capacity, many merchants are still wary when it comes to the Shopify Plus platform. 

Here at Velstar, we know that when you’re a merchant researching and evaluating ecommerce platforms for your business, it can be difficult to sort the misinformation from the truth. 

But fear not, Velstar is here to help: we’ve made a list of the 4 most common misconceptions about Shopify Plus and explain why they’re completely unfounded.  

Misconception 1: It’s Expensive

Merchants are often reluctant to make the move to Shopify Plus because they feel it’s too costly. 

For enterprise-level brands, Shopify Plus pays for itself and works out much cheaper in the long run. This is because from the get-go a merchant has everything they need on the platform with no hidden extra costs. 

The initial price can seem steep, but the benefits it can bring certainly justify the cost. For example, Shopify Plus is PCI-DSS by default which saves merchants thousands of pounds every year on store security. Also, the platform comes with built-in tools such as Shopify Flow and Launchpad which help merchants automate operational tasks, saving them time and money. 

Misconception 2: Shopify Plus Is The Same As Regular Shopify

This myth often makes merchants think that the price of Shopify Plus isn’t worth the switch. But, as we discussed above; Shopify Plus comes with various in-built features which make it perfect for high growth businesses – many of which do not exist at the core level of Shopify. These include, but not limited to: 

  1. It’s customisable: Shopify Plus is a lot more customisable than believed. For example, Shopify Scripts (a Shopify Plus exclusive feature) allows merchants to fully customise their checkout. 
  2. More API endpoints: The platform’s richer technology infrastructure means that it can support more complex integrations. 
  3. Unique features: For example, Launchpad and Flow have been created specifically to help out high growth brands, providing with the tools to simplify work processes and offload time-consuming tasks. What’s more, Multipass is great for merchants who want to keep their content platform (e.g forum) separate from their ecommerce side of the business. 
  4. A point of sale platform: Shopify Plus provides seamless retail integrations, including those from its deep app ecosystem.

There are many more unique benefits when it comes to Shopify Plus all of which you can find here

Misconception 3: Shopify Plus Can’t Handle Large Inventories 

This is another common misconception that merchants with large inventories have. However, as we mentioned before, Shopify Plus has a large number of integrative apps and existing features that make it easy for merchants to manage their inventory. 

This includes third-party apps such as Brightpearl which allows brands and retailers to automate their inventory management regardless of how extensive it is. 

Need proof? Shopify Plus powers mega-brands like Kylie Cosmetics, Public Desire and GymShark, all of which have large inventories & high sales frequencies. If Shopify Plus couldn’t cope with such demands then these brands wouldn’t be on the platform in the first place.  

Misconception 4: Shopify Plus Is Not For Enterprise-level Businesses

Again, this is not the case at all. 

As previously mentioned, Shopify Plus has a number of exclusive enterprise features that have been created specifically with high growth brands in mind. This makes it the perfect platform for fast-growing brands, as well as those looking to scale. 

But don’t take our word for it – the results speak for themselves! For example, through the power of Shopify Plus, Kylie Cosmetics was able to handle 200K visitors simultaneously during the biggest product launch in ecommerce history and helped Kylie become a million-dollar brand in just three years. 

Is Shopify Plus For You?

It’s clear, many of the doubts about Shopify Plus’ capabilities are due to a lack of understanding about the platform. 

If you want to hear more about the platform or find out how your business can scale with Shopify Plus, just get in touch with our team of ecommerce experts and we’ll be happy to help.

With Magento 1’s ‘End-of-Life (EOL) occurring back in June 2020, many online retailers had no choice but to make the move to Magento 2. And with it came excessive expenses, bundles of technical issues, poor reliability and serious security concerns. This has lead to a significant number of merchants migrating to Shopify Plus

Why Should I Move To Shopify Pus?

Here at Velstar, we’re one of the very few Shopify Plus partner agencies in Europe and proud to recommend the platform as the best ecommerce solution on the market.

Across the globe, thousands of big brands rely on Shopify Plus to power their online stores including, Linda Farrow, Gymshark, Kylie Cosmetics, Personalised Co and Femme Luxe. Here are some of the reasons why:

On traditional platforms like Magento 2 or WooCommerce migration is exhausting and takes up to 6-12 months. In contrast, with Shopify Plus your new online store can be up and running in less than 3 months! 

Shopify Plus is already PCI-compliant and saves merchants thousands of pounds every year – keeping their customer and business data protected. 

Brands on Shopify Plus are growing 126% YOY and the reason for this success is that Shopify Plus has been built to handle and encourage high volumes of traffic. With 99.99% uptime and unlimited bandwidth, Shopify Plus’s support team work around the clock to ensure your site can deal with demand. 

What’s more, Shopify Plus has a cloud-based infrastructure which means its storefront loads 2.97 times faster than other ecommerce platforms, including Magento 2. And has an amazingly fast page response time of 80 milliseconds whilst handling 500,000 hits a minute. 

Another huge benefit of migrating to Shopify Plus is that you can automate many of your business functions and therefore significantly reduce the back-end management of your online store. Also, the Shopify Plus dashboard is incredibly simple and the platform comes with exclusive features, such as the Launchpad and Shopify Flow which allow you to automate many of the routine business processes in just a few clicks. 

Last but certainly not least, Shopify Plus has a world-class app ecosystem with a broad range of technology partners each with their own area of expertise, including email marketing, customer services, subscriptions and reviews. 

Sounds good right? We think so too considering the above are only just as few of the fantastic benefits of migrating to Shopify Plus

 How Do I Migrate From Magento To Shopify Plus? 

So you’re feeling confident that Shopify Plus is the platform for your business (we don’t blame you! ????), now you’re probably wondering what a replatform looks like. 

To help, we’ve put together a summary about the stages of a migration from Magento 2 to Shopify Plus: 

Step 1: Data Review & Planning

At this initial stage, our team of ecommerce specialists learn more about your brand and identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current site. For example, we use tools like Google Analytics and heat mapping to better understand how your customers interact with your site and how well your Magento platform performs. 

We then review all of your data that you want to migrate such as customers, products, page content, orders etc and create a migration plan. 

Step 2: Consultation

Once we understand your business goals, we will have an open and honest discussion with you about the scope of your migration. We’ll run through what areas of your ecommerce store are working and what isn’t, as well as opportunities for new features and functionalities. 

If you’re happy with what we’ve proposed, you’ll then be assigned a Project Manager who will work with you on roles, responsibilities, timelines and deliverables.

Step 3: Design 

Before the replatforming process can begin you’ll need to think about the design of your new site, particularly when migrating from Magento 2 to Shopify Plus. 

Shopify Plus is highly customisable and offers an array of theme designs to choose from, whilst offering you the flexibility to create your own bespoke design. 

Our team of designers will help you marry function with functionality, to create an exceptional customer experience that will guarantee results. 

Step 4: Development 

We’ll then create a roadmap. We’ll use this site roadmap to create and code a brand new Shopify Plus website, where all of your business data from your original Magento 2 store will be safely and securely transferred.

Step 5: Migration 

Data migration 

With Shopify Plus data migration is simple. Your Shopify Plus Project Manager will guide you through the best replatforming tools for your store. We’ll then transfer your specified data onto your new site. 

SEO migration 

For many merchants their biggest concern when considering a migration is the impact it will have on their SEO ranking. However, with Velstar managing your migration you don’t need to worry! Our team of SEO experts will work with you to maintain your store’s search rankings. 

From the offset, we’ll put together a checklist to follow, including monitoring duplicate content, tracking 404 errors, testing site speed and installing page redirects to minimise the changes to your SEO performance. 

Step 6: Test & Launch 

Both before and after your site launch, Velstar will review and test every part of your store’s performance in detail – with no stone left unturned. This is because we pride ourselves on providing our clients with world-class websites and want to ensure that every ecommerce site we design and build is one that customers love using. 

But that’s just the beginning of what we offer, our team of Digital Marketing specialists can work with you on an on-going basis to help you establish your presence online. From PPC and social media management to email and influencer marketing, we know how to drive engaged traffic to your site across all digital channels. 

Contact Our Shopify Plus Experts Today!

If you’re an online business looking for help with your store migration from Magento 2 to Shopify Plus, we’d love to hear from you. 

Our whole ethos is about partnering with online retailers to help them grow. We’ve moved some the biggest brands in the world to Shopify Plus and generated some amazing results. Let’s start the discovery process today – get in touch.  

searching-website-on-shopify-plus

Over the past few years, you may have noticed many big brands across the globe making the move to Shopify Plus. Here we deep dive into why it’s become the ecommerce platform of choice for these merchants.

What is Shopify Plus?

First things first, it’s imperative to understand what Shopify Plus is before you decide whether it’s the right platform for you and your business. 

Shopify Plus is a cloud-based, self-hosted enterprise ecommerce platform, developed by Shopify to meet the needs of high-growth online stores. Its the only multi-channel enterprise platform that enables merchants to focus on growth without worrying about the technical complexities of running an online business. What’s more, it offers businesses everything they need without a steep price tag and the hassle of other platforms on the market. 

shopifyplus-ecommerce

Why Shopify Plus? 

Since COVID-19, ecommerce has fast-forwarded 5 years into the future. As more consumers shop online, merchants are trying to find new ways to get ahead of their competitors and therefore looking for a platform that allows them to do this. With Shopify Plus, they can get all the benefits of Shopify and then some. As one of the very few selected Shopify Plus partners, we have helped hundreds of merchants scale globally by harnessing the power of Shopify Plus. So let’s delve a little deeper into why they chose to migrate to Shopify Plus…..

Unrivalled App Ecosystem 

Shopify Plus offers merchants endless opportunities to scale and advance their ecommerce offering. Shopify’s app marketplace is unlike any other. From reviews and customer service support to payments and shipping, the platform boasts a range of first-class technology partners. With each app, ready to integrate seamlessly to support your business at all angles. 

Unquestionable Security 

The platform comes PCI-DSS compliant, which is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard for organisations that handle credit card information. Which means your business and customer information is kept secure. What’s more, Shopify Plus is PCI-DSS by default which saves merchants thousands of pounds every year and means they don’t have to worry about credit card security. 

Handles High Order Volumes 

Its a concern for many merchants that their online store will crash during high surges of traffic, which is typical of flash sale periods such as Black Friday Cyber Monday. However, for merchants on Shopify Plus, this isn’t a concern – the platform is built to handle over 500,000 hits per minute with ease and maintains an impressive uptime of 99.99%. Furthermore, there’s no limit to the number of products or bandwidth your store will need to deal with the demand. All this and your online store’s performance remains untouched. 

No Transaction Fees

Unlike most ecommerce platforms on the market, Shopify Plus charges a 0% transaction fee. At its highest non-plus plan, Shopify charges 0.5%. The move to Shopify Plus is often justified on the savings made from the transaction fees alone. 

Easy To Use

Shopify Plus is easy to navigate and merchants across the globe find it incredibly very easy to use. With a simple store editor, Shopify Plus lets you focus on selling, rather than worrying about the technicalities. 

It’s Flexible 

The platform is hugely versatile and makes customisation easy. As mentioned above, Shopify Plus has one of the largest app ecosystems in the world, all of which can be easily installed in record time. But Shopify’s flexibility doesn’t just end at the design to launch phase, the platform futureproofs your store and evolves with your business.  

24/7 Customer Support 

Every merchant knows that having an online store means your business is open 24/7. So you need around the clock support to ensure issues are always attended to. Shopify Plus can help with this, offering its customers support 7 days a week, day or night. As well as ongoing access to a support team and knowledge base, Shopify Plus also offers guides, API documentation and themes to help its customers wherever and whenever they might need it.  

Automation Is Made Simple

Shopify Plus has built-in tools such as Launchpad, Flow and Scripts which help automate everything from marketing to operational flows saving merchants time to focus on what matters: selling!

Unmatched Scalability 

Shopify Plus is ideal for retail brands who want to scale up and break into new international markets. The platform removes the barriers to international commerce, so merchants can deliver the experience their customers expect, in any language or currency. For example, Shopify Payments allows you to sell in your customer’s currency and get paid in your own currency.

What’s more, Shopify Plus’s tools are backed by intelligent insights which allow you to get ahead of your competitors and strengthen your international presence. In addition to this, the Shopify Plus app store offers a range of solutions to optimise localisations and operations when selling internationally. 

Unlimited Staff Accounts

Another benefit of Shopify Plus is unlimited staff accounts. This allows you to grow your admin team as your business grows. 

Are The Benefits Of Shopify Plus Worth It?

If you’re still not sure whether to make the move to Shopify Plus or simply want to find out how much Shopify Plus costs, then get in touch with our team of Shopify Plus experts today. From the outset, we will discuss your requirements and personally advise you on the best solution for your business. Let’s get started!

velstar-logo-ecommerce-liverpool

Shopify Plus has established itself as the fastest-growing ecommerce platform in the world. Unmatched in scalability and function, the platform is powering some of the biggest brands across the globe. From household products to big celebrity names, more and more brands are turning to Shopify Plus to host their ecommerce store. 

Want to know what brands use Shopify Plus? Here we take a look at some of the biggest names who made the switch to Shopify Plus to sell online….. 

Heinz

With the onset of COVID-19, the 150-year-old food giant wanted to ensure its consumers had access to its much-loved products with ease, so quickly made the switch to Shopify Plus. 

Heinz-shopifyplus

Gymshark

Outgrowing its slow Magento platform, Gymshark migrated to Shopify Plus to scale globally and hasn’t looked back! Since the migration, the leading fitness and accessory brand has become the UK’s newest £1bn company and has customers in over 131 countries. 

gymshark-website

Finlay & Co

The iconic eyewear brand, Finlay & Co needed to make the move away from their slow Magento platform that had failed them during surges of high traffic, so made the switch to Shopify Plus. The new platform allows them to showcase their beautiful eyewear products in a new innovative way. 

finlayandco-website

Lindt 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became unquestionably clear to the international chocolate pioneer that it needed to adapt and start selling online. So Lindt turned to Shopify Plus to sell its seasonal chocolate to its loyal customers. The brand’s online store is also an example of how quickly a Shopify Plus stores can be created and launched.

lindt-website

Kylie Cosmetics

Global sensation and cosmetic queen, Kylie Jenner uses Shopify Plus to support her entrepreneurial empire. Marrying a simple design with sleek customisations the Shopify Plus platform has allowed the brand the scale. After launching on Plus, Kylie’s matte liquid lipstick sold out in seconds. 

kyliecosmetics-website

Red Bull 

Through Shopify Plus, the energy drink enterprise is able to create a seamless and speedy store, one that perfectly reflects its brand image and customers’ demands. 

redbull-website

Adele

Through the power of Shopify Plus singing sensation, Adele is able to sell merchandise to her international fanbase. The reliability of the platform ensures that even during high influxes of traffic following new album launches and tour announcements, Adele’s fans can purchase the latest merch with ease. 

adele-website

Morphe

Global make-up brand, Morphe has been taking the cosmetic industry by storm, inspiring creativity in its cult following with bold-coloured eyeshadow and innovative make-up brushes without breaking the bank. With Shopify Plus the beauty brand is able to deliver an exceptional customer experience to its fans wherever and whenever. 

Morphe-website

Linda Farrow 

Since launching in 1970, the luxury eyewear has gone from strength to strength. Frustrated with its slow Magento 2 platform, Linda Farrow needed a simple, stylish and slick platform which would allow them to display their stylish products in a user-friendly way, so migrated to Shopify Plus. 

lindafarrow-website

Huel

Founded in 2015, the band has grown rapidly, with 9 global online stores and over 120 staff. To improve the efficiency of onboarding new staff Huel moved to a Shopify Plus admin. The brand can now quickly assign and unassign new staff roles across its global workforce. 

Budweiser

Shopify Plus powers beer giant, Budweiser making it easier for them to sell their trademark alcoholic drinks and manage their multiple storefronts worldwide. Because Shopify Plus is a hosted platform and a lot of the development work is taken care of, Budwiser has been able to test out the market for various new branded beverages, such as Red Lights

budweiser-website

Public Desire

After significantly outgrowing its previous Magento platform global footwear brand, Public Desire needed a store that was fast, flexible and functional so made the move to Shopify Plus. The new platform allows the brand’s customers to find the perfect shoes for them with ease and offers a streamless customer journey. 

publicdesire-website

Nescafe 

With a turnover of over $9 billion and more than 5000 products to its name, Nescafe is the largest brand in the Nestle family. Its array of creamy coffee products are available to buy on its Shopify Plus store. 

nescafe-website

Personalised Co.

Personalised Co has revolutionised the way people across the globe consume nutritional products. A DTC supplement brand, Personalised Co is bridging the gap between technology and fitness. From an innovative nutritional quiz to an advanced loyalty program, Shopify Plus has completely transformed the brand’s customer experience. 

personalisedco.website

Jeffree Star Cosmetics 

American make-up artist, fashion designer and singer, Jeffree Star relies on Shopify Plus to power his beauty empire, Jeffree Star Cosmetics. Jeffree invested his life savings to start the makeup line back in 2014, the company is now estimated to sell over $100 million every year. 

Jeffreestarcosmetics-website

Femme Luxe

The multi-million-pound fashion brand has it’s own mass celebrity following and needed an ecommerce platform that supported this. So made the move from Magento to Shopify Plus. The brand now has a slick, fast and functional online store, that allows it’s customers to shop with ease and purchase their favourite influencer inspired collections in just a few simple clicks.  

femmeluxe.webiste

Bonus. Taylor Swift 

Country-pop icon, Taylor Swift launched on Shopify Plus to sell her merchandise. The new platform allows the megastar to reach her beloved fans across the globe and with ease.

Taylorswift.website

AAB Collection 

The worlds’ leading modest fashion brand, AAB sells its bespoke and limited edition clothes on Shopify Plus. Since launching on the premium platform, the brand has reported a significant uplift in traffic and conversions, in comparison to the previous site. 

aabcollection.website

Lazy Oaf

Inspired by teenage rebellion and youth nostalgia, Lazy Oaf sells its irreverent streetwear collection on Shopify Plus. 

lazyoaf.website

Victoria Beckham

Ex-spice girl and fashionista, Vicotria Beckham has become one of their most iconic designers of the 21st Century. To scale globally, Victoria Beckham uses Shopify Plus. 

victoriabeckham.website

Rebecca Minkoff

To display her extensive footwear, jewellery, accessories and footwear collections, Rebecca Minkoff utilises Shopify Plus.  

rebeccaminkoff-velstar

The New York Times

With 1 million digital subscribers and a revenue of over $800 million, The New York Times leverage the power of Shopify Plus to sell books, branded merchandise and photography to its worldwide audience. 

Newyorktimes-website

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

To sell its variety of products including books, clothes, home decor and entertainment the BBC use Shopify Plus. Since launching on the platform they have seen significant revenue growth. 

bbc-website

Tesla  

The electric vehicle and clean energy company, Tesla relies on Shopify Plus to accelerate business growth. Via Tesla’s online shop, customers can purchase anything from charging devices to hats and toys. 

tesla-website

Lavish Alice

Contemporary women’s wear label, Lavish Alice is selling more thanks to the scalable, flexible, and secure self-hosted Shopify Plus platform. 

lavishalice-website

ColourPop Cosmetics

Colour Pop redefines luxury beauty by creating high-quality products at affordable prices. Because of Shopify Plus the brand has been able to scale globally, whilst also displaying its products in a way their customers love.

colourpop-website

Fitbit

The fitness fast-tracker sensation, Fitbit is able to stay one step ahead of its competitors with Shopify Plus.

Fitbit-website

Missoma

You’ve probably seen Missoma’s modern jewellery collections being worn by A-lister across the globe. The brand chose Shopify Plus to drive its online business forward. 

missoma-website

KKW Beauty

Following in her younger sisters footsteps, Kim Kardashian West’s global beauty enterprise is powered by Shopify Plus. The platform allows KKW Beauty to handle peaks in traffic and big product drops following item purchases of highly anticipated products. 

KKW-website

Santo Remedio 

Last but certainly not least, health and medical experts, Santo Remedio. The brand relies on Shopify Plus to deliver a seamless customer experience, as well as contribute to the growth of founder and best selling author, Dr Juan Rivera.

Santoremedio-website

If you want to make the move to Shopify Plus get in touch with our team of ecommerce experts today. Let’s build something together!

It’s easier than ever to start an ecommerce business, but it’s more difficult than ever to scale one. As customers increasingly turn to online retailers for the things that they need, effective ecommerce operators know that innovative products aren’t enough – they also innovate on experience. Here are 7 brands that will inspire you to innovate on your own store’s customer experience: 

1. Bruvy, SMS Coaching

Even though SMS is a hot topic in ecommerce nowadays, it’s important to note that it is not the “new email”. That’s a feature, not a bug. The brands that use SMS to spam post-purchase upsells, sale notifications, and product drops are missing an opportunity to connect with their customers on an extremely personal medium. Check out how Bruvy, a men’s skincare brand, uses SMS to offer deeply personalised value to their buyers with their cleverly named “Guydance” coaching program.

2. Personalized, Product Recommendations

Even though SMS is a hot topic in ecommerce nowadays, it’s important to note that it is not the “new email”. That’s a feature, not a bug. The brands that use SMS to spam post-purchase upsells, sale notifications, and product drops are missing an opportunity to connect with their customers on an extremely personal medium. Check out how Bruvy, a men’s skincare brand, uses SMS to offer deeply personalised value to their buyers with their cleverly named “Guydance” coaching program.

3. Condor, Product Customiser

Bicycles are difficult enough to purchase in-store while leaning on employee guidance – Condor Cycles takes this to the next level and allows you to customise your bicycle entirely online. The site does a fantastic job of walking the customer through all the various steps of a custom bike, as well as describing the implications of each option. It almost feels like you’re creating a character in a video game. 

4. Rebecca Minkoff, Referral Program

Legendary brands like Rebecca Minkoff know that your happiest customers are also your most effective salespeople. Check out their referral program: 

5. Seek Discomfort, Offer Expansion

In order to build a true lifestyle brand, teams need to grow their offer beyond physical products. Seek Discomfort, the apparel arm of the YouTube influencers “Yes Theory”, has done a fantastic job of offering their customers unique offers in the form of online classes. Their ideal customer is someone who loves to try new things, and these classes are a natural evolution of their adventure-seeking apparel.

checkout-ecommerce

In The Boston Consulting Group’s Thinking In New Boxes, the core argument – naturally wrapped in 350 pages of management consulting excess – is that it’s fundamentally a waste of time to “think outside the box”. Once you step out of your metaphorical box, instead of having infinite ideas that are ripe for the picking, you actually just end up totally directionless in the face of infinite options. The author’s assertion – as the title suggests – is to instead create new boxes through which we can perceive familiar situations. 

The most illustrative case study in the book is about BIC, who at the time was a pen company that was struggling to innovate on its core product. Every attempt at a new product was limited to its “box” of writing utensils: pencils, coloured pens, ballpoint pens, etc, and so there was a clear ceiling to where the company could ultimately go. Naturally, they tasked themselves to “think outside the box”; naturally, the exercise failed. In the spirit of “thinking outside the box”, it would theoretically be plausible for someone around the brainstorming table to suggest that they expand into the pizza business…or become a motherboard manufacturer…or, or, or. You can see how this quickly became a fruitless exercise. Instead, the consultants advised them to reconsider the “box” that they had placed themselves in. In contrast to seeing themselves as a “writing utensil” company, what if they defined themselves as a “disposable goods” company? In the face of the actual structure, the ideas now had a clear direction – which brings us to the BIC of today with disposable razors, lighters, white-out, and a whole host of quick-use disposable product lines. Thinking outside of the box gives you infinite options that are largely useless; thinking in a “new box” gives you fewer directionally useful options.

Though we’re as sceptical of management consultants as the next DTC marketer, this framework can also be applied when picking a niche for a new ecommerce store. Instead of trying to boil the ocean, focus on a specific area to fish. From there, when needed, introduce new product lines that are tangentially related to your core “box”. We’d wager that millions of entrepreneurs task themselves with “thinking outside of the box” every single day when in reality it’s a fruitless endeavour at any stage of a business. Spending the time upfront on choosing the right “box” (or “niche”) allows you to start and scale your business more thoughtfully.

ecommerce-laptop-business

Choosing Your Niche

Our minds and bodies are constantly processing thousands of pieces of information at any given moment, but it’s unrealistic for us to prioritize everything equally. Instead, our Reticular Activation System (RAS) is the function of the brain that chooses what information we’re conscious of, and what information we don’t call attention to. It’s why you never notice any red cars until you buy one yourself…and then you start seeing them around everywhere. They’ve suddenly become relevant information. To circle this tangent back to choosing your niche, like any art, it’s difficult to actually teach idea generation – but by putting in hours of practice, you can activate your Reticular Activation System and subconsciously be alert to new ideas. 

Think of finding your niche as a progressive set of smaller and smaller “boxes” of thinking, until you strike gold. We’ll illustrate an example:

Box One: Apparel. I have experience in designing clothing, and so this is an easy place for me to start. Now I know that I can shut my “Reticular Activating System” off to all other potential business opportunities, like a skincare product or a supplement brand. I’ll only focus on apparel opportunities.

Box Two: Because of its relatively low barriers to entry, apparel is likely the most competitive ecommerce category that exists. So I need to niche down further. Since I know that “thinking outside of the box” to find a niche isn’t productive, I instead list my interests/hobbies to add some sort of structure to my brainstorming. The goal is to see if I can focus on a smaller, hyper-engaged market, instead of just selling clothing for everyone. I train various martial arts, so I’ll start there.

Box Three: Martial arts for everyone is too broad. I need to niche down further – I’d choose Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, because I know the majority of people who practice it are hyper-invested in the sport.

Box Four: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for everyone is too broad. Let’s focus on males for now.

Box Five: “All males” is too broad of a category. Everyone trains for different reasons – I need a particular group of men to build for. I have a few friends who train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as an outlet for their anxiety, and so I’ll build a brand that specifically builds a community for these men. I’ll donate X% of profit to a relevant charity.

Ideas are everywhere – you just need to approach them with structured thinking. Once you have an idea, the next step is to test the market.

Vertical Expansion

Once you’ve identified a niche market, you can dive deep and create products that provide value for them in targeted ways – even if it’s outside the original scope of your business. If we refer back to the “boxes” in the brainstorming above, we can take “box five” (my Brazilian jiu jitsu males who train to rid their anxiety) and match it with a new “box one” (currently “apparel”). A great example of this is Kinda Fit Kinda Fat, an apparel company for athletes who love to eat as much as they love to lift. After spending years designing apparel for their specific type of athlete, they realised that there was a gap in the market for their fans: supplements. They’re expanding vertically to offer new products to the same group of raving customers. 

Horizontal Expansion

Let’s fast forward 10 years: let’s say that the above Brazilian Jiu Jitsu For Men With Anxiety brand has become an absolute mammoth of a business. It’s expanded into every possible geography, vertically in every possible way, and tapped the “box” dry. Like BIC and their writing utensils – where does it go from here? In order to expand horizontally, it would need to move from “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” back a few boxes up back to “Martial Arts” – and begin the research once again from there. Perhaps “Boxing” is a sport that has a similar community of men with anxiety who’re also looking for an apparel brand that supports them. Every box is a new opportunity. 

Though this was originally written with new founders in mind, “thinking in new boxes” can be applied to any stage of a business. We’ve worked with hundreds of founders during our years in DTC ecommerce, and found that – as natural-born operators – we often get lost too deep in the weeds; I sell mattresses, and therefore every product iteration is just a different type of mattress. But when you see the world through the lens of “new boxes”, you quickly realize that by moving up one “box” of thinking, you’re actually not selling mattresses – you’re selling “peace of mind”. Now, your future product opportunities look quite different: weighted blankets, meditation retreats, sleep trackers…the list goes on. And just like that, you’ve opened up a new world of growth for your ecommerce business.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a new founder or the operator of a successfully scaled business, if you take some time to consider the boxes of thought that you’re currently sitting in, we’re confident that you’ll be able to find some interesting new opportunities to grow.