Digital Marketing, Management
Over the years, Shopify Plus has become one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world. With over 7000 brands in 175 different countries, it’s fast becoming the go-to platform for mid-market and enterprise retailers who want to scale globally.
Shopify Plus gives merchants the capabilities to take back control of their sales and exceed their business goals faster.
As the landscape of ecommerce becomes more and more saturated, merchants need to find alternative ways of standing out. Creating an exceptionally unforgettable digital experience is at the heart of remaining competitive. This is where Shopify Plus can help. Built with merchants in mind, Shopify Plus offers online retailers the freedom and flexibility to create a store that reflects their brands’ personality.
Here at Velstar, we champion Shopify Plus as the best and most affordable solution for online retailers. From Developers, Solutions Strategists, User Experience & User Inter- face Designers to Ecommerce Growth Specialists, we’ve built a team of experts to help merchants utilise the power of Shopify Plus and craft extraordinary shopping experiences.
In this guide, we’ve combined ours and our technology partners’ years of ecommerce experience to share with you what it takes to build and scale a high-grossing Shopify Plus store. We hope to empower you with expert knowledge and industry insights to ignite your growth. Enjoy!
Site speed is a critical component of running a successful store. Not only does speed impact customer experience, but it also affects where you rank in search engines. But with Shopify Plus, you don’t have to worry. Its cloud-based infrastructure means the storefront loads 2.97 times faster than any other platform on the market. And it boasts of an ultra-fast page response time of 80 milliseconds whilst handling 500,000 hits a minute.
From day one of launching your Shopify Plus store, you’ll receive 24/7 support via phone, email and live chat. And you’ll never have to worry about security threats again because by default Shopify Plus is PCI- DSS Level 1 compliant, which is the highest level of compliance for credit card processing.
Even though Shopify Plus has endless capabilities and features, the platform is extremely easy to use.We guarantee you’ll find managing your store a total breeze. And things like adding products, handling orders, and managing settings can all be done in just a few clicks from your dashboard.
When you choose Shopify Plus, you open up a door to several possibilities. Shopify Plus partners with leading industry third-party apps to give merchants the flexibility to sell how they want to sell. From customer support and reviews to payments and shipping, on Shopify Plus you’ll have access to the broadest range of technology partners. Integrated in minutes.
Shopify Plus comes with several in-built features which eliminate time-consuming, repetitive tasks in just a few clicks. These include…
This is an automation engine that allows you to automate tasks and processes easily, including re-ordering stock and tagging customers based on their preferences. Flow integrates seamlessly with other third-party apps, so no matter what your business needs are, you’re supported.
From product launches to discounts, Shopify’s Launchpad makes scheduling campaigns simple. In particular, brands find this tool useful during big sale events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
This allows you to create a personalised shopping experience for your customers. For example, with Scripts, you can offer bespoke discounts and bundles, and tiered discounts based on customer spend or product quantity in cart.
When merchants move their business to Shopify Plus, they no longer have to worry about their site crashing or moments of downtime. This is because Plus can handle over 500,000 hits per minute with ease and maintain an impressive uptime of 99.99%. Not forgetting, 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.
Last but certainly not least, Shopify Plus removes the barriers to international commerce, so merchants can deliver an experience their customers expect, anywhere and anytime. So, now you know why moving to Shopify Plus is the best decision you’ll make for your business, let’s get building!
It’s no secret that mobile traffic is on the rise and has significantly surpassed desktop. So if you want to create a scaling digital experience on Shopify Plus, you must take a mobile-first approach, particularly if you’re trying to target millennial and Gen Z audiences.
This all comes down to your store’s design, which leads nicely onto our next point…
Customers’ attention spans are shorter than ever before, so your store needs to offer users a clear, concise and engaging digital experience, allowing them to search intuitively and navigate seamlessly. But most importantly, your Shopify Plus store needs
to communicate your brand’s unique story and evoke an emotional response.
The good news is Shopify Plus offers a wide range of themes to choose from. Here at Velstar, we always recommend beginning the design process with a Shopify theme, rather than starting from scratch.
This is because a theme can save you time and money, and because each theme has been rigorously tested by leading ecommerce experts, you can be safe knowing that your store is bug-free. We recommend you opt for a paid theme, rather than free themes because
they’re more customisable and of higher quality.
Next, you need to choose a theme. This will depend on multiple factors including the aesthetic you’re trying to create, your SKU volume and the solutions you wish to implement. Once you’ve selected your theme, you can start bringing your vision to life.
Don’t forget to use high-quality product images, extensive product descriptions, and accurate size charts across your store. You could go one step further and implement augmented reality and 360-degree views of products and video to give your product pages the real wow factor!
A surefire way to boost sales is to give your customers a faster shopping experience with reduced load times. It doesn’t matter how flashy your site looks or how much time you invest in marketing, if your site is slow, customers will leave and you can bet they’ll go straight to your competitors. In fact, a one-second delay in load time can affect conversion rate by up to 20%. And with 53% of mobile users admitting that they’ll abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, it’s imperative that your site is fast.
As we previously mentioned, with Shopify Plus speed isn’t much of a problem, but there are few things you can do to make it even faster:
• Remove excess apps
• Optimise on-site images and media
• Reduce HTTP requests
• Minimise redirects and broken links
• Integrate a Shopify AMP app
All too often merchants spend massive amounts of money on great marketing, but fail to adapt to the increase in customer demand and neglect their inventory management process. This leads to longer shipping times, a chaotic fulfilment process and A LOT of dissatisfied customers. All of which have a detrimental impact on your customer relationships and business’s reputation. So, whether you’re storing inventory in a warehouse or a brick and mortar store, it’s imperative that you have an effective inventory management system in place.
Here are some things you need to consider for inventory management:
You should have a minimum level of inventory at all times when running your ecommerce business. You need enough inventory to satisfy demand, but not so much that you overstock and risk profit loss. That’s why determining your MSL is an integral part of inventory management and budgeting.
Forecasting product demand is an essential part of running a successful ecommerce business. It allows you to prepare for spikes and drops by offering insight into sales patterns. If you don’t have this data, we’d suggest investing time in research and trend checking.
The easiest way to manage your inventory is having everything in one place, so you can focus your time and energy on what’s important: scaling.
Brightpearl is the number one digital operations platform (DOP) for the retail and wholesale sector. Built to manage the complexity of a modern business, the scalable platform offers flexibility to respond to rapid changes in demand and smooth integration with other
core operational systems within the organisation.
Brightpearl’s complete DOP solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfilment, warehouse and logistics. In addition, the solution has high-performing connectors to the major ecommerce platforms and technologies. Over 1,400 businesses in 26 countries use Brightpearl, and it manages over 10 million transactions and $3bn of business a year.
Designed for retail and wholesale businesses only, Brightpearl understands what you care about most. Focusing strongly on service, Brightpearl’s in-house implementation team gets its customers up and running in less than 60 days – that’s 70% faster than traditional ERP implementations. Faster implementation time means faster results.
Whether you’re just getting started, or are looking for additional ways to gain efficiency using Brightpearl, you’ll have customised team training, unlimited support, community forums, and detailed help documentation to ensure you have what you need for success.
Brightpearl allows you to manage orders, inventory, shipments, payments, and multi-currencies across your Shopify Plus store(s) within one account. As soon as an order is placed in Shopify Plus, Brightpearl’s integration downloads all details and automatically routes them to the fulfilment centre, while updating inventory levels in real-time across all channels. Updates are automatically sent back to Shopify Plus when orders are shipped, including tracking references so your customers are kept informed, no matter how busy you are.
Also, you can build on customer loyalty by delivering a frictionless buying experience. For example, research shows that 77% of negative reviews on Trustpilot are directly related to operational issues like overselling and late deliveries. Brightpearl helps to eliminate these issues by ensuring accurate inventory levels, improving accuracy in the warehouse and automating fulfilment processes.
Without a real-time inventory control system, merchants will find themselves double-selling inventory, then having to reach out to customers to explain that they’ve oversold, processing refunds, and dealing with unhappy customers (who may be so frustrated that they leave negative reviews or never purchase from you again).
You’ll want to plan for busy seasons like BFCM based on seasonality and using a demand planning tool can help you forecast what inventory is needed to meet demand. This is essential for you to avoid selling stock you don’t have.
Using automation to further enhance demand planning could reduce the time spent on operational tasks. In fact, automating the back office can save you 20% on average, meaning you can spend more time acquiring new customers.
Together with Shopify Plus, Brightpearl gives you a fully integrated storefront and back office which enables a single, end-to-end view of the transaction and the customer.
Powerful inventory reporting: With Brightpearl connected to Shopify Plus stores, eliminate the need to wait for a daily report to gain access to performance insights. Instead, empower staff with tools that give them quick and accurate access to inventory insights to make the right decisions faster.
Shopify Plus order management: As soon as a customer places an order, Brightpearl’s integration downloads all details and automatically routes them to the fulfilment centre, while updating inventory levels in real-time across all sales channels.
Inventory demand planning: Understand exactly how your inventory is performing with access to data like seasonality, out of stock periods, average sales, trends, and product lead times. Take the guesswork out of ordering by knowing what products you need, when, and for whom with true demand-driven forecasting.
Fully integrated warehouse management: Integrate warehouse management with Brightpearl’s complete retail operations platform, connecting all inventory corrections, returns, sales orders, and purchases with real-time inventory management and accounting.
Multi-location inventory mapping: Map Bright- pearl warehouses to Shopify Plus locations for inventory and fulfilment. Based on where an item is located, automatically route the order to the proper warehouse for fulfilment.
Packing products and sending them to a customer might seem like a simple logistical process, but for many growing ecommerce businesses it ends up costing a lot of time and money. And with so many factors to consider, things can get complicated, quickly.
To help, here’s a list of things you need to know for shipping and fulfilment management success:
It’s hard to get excited about boxes and envelopes, we get it! But they’re necessary for smooth shipping. If you don’t package your products correctly, they’ll damage in transit and you’ll be left with lots of disgruntled customers. Keep in mind the fragility of the items you’re shipping: clothing wouldn’t require much padding, but anything breakable (porcelain, electrical) will need something substantial.
Besides protection, packaging is great for building brand recognition. Packaging with a distinctive design and attention to detail can help turn an ordinary product into a luxury item.
Ultimately, packaging is an extension of the customer’s experience with your brand. For many consumers, the unboxing process will be just as important as the product itself. So, make it memorable!
Most shipping couriers charge extra based on size and weight, so it’s worth putting some effort into making your packaging as small as possible.
Depending on your business and product line, consider carrying a variety of package sizes and packaging materials.
There are many factors that contribute to the overall shipping fee. This includes:
• Package size
• Package weight
• Departing and destination country
It’s difficult to compare services as they all offer slightly different options, and every business will have their own unique needs. If you’re planning on shipping and fulfilling orders in-house, here’s a list of shipping calculators for some of the largest and most popular
shipping couriers so that you can begin comparing pricing and options:
• UK Royal Mail
• Australia Post
• Canada Post
Alternatively, we recommend exploring Shopify Plus’ third-party logistics partners that will pick, pack and ship every order using national and international couriers. This is useful for cutting down time spent on operations.
Shipping costs can significantly affect purchase decisions, so you need to be sure that your pricing strategy is fair and reflective of your products and business financials. There are several methods you can choose from, but here’s some more common shipping options:
In the age of Amazon dominant commerce, customers expect free shipping. In fact, research shows that 84% of consumers admit to making a purchase because shipping was free, and 30% say they always increase the size of their orders if it qualifies them for free shipping.
But as you might suspect, shipping is never free. Someone always has to pay. To make free shipping work for your business and ensure it doesn’t eat away at your profit margins, you have a few options:
• Increase product prices to cover costs for shipping (customer pays)
• You pay the full price of shipping out your margins (you pay)
• Increase prices of products slightly to cover partial costs of shipping (you and customer pay)
• You offer a discount code to customers for free shipping
Another effective strategy is to charge real-time carrier rates for shipping. This is where Shopify Plus comes in really handy because it integrates in real time with couriers to generate shipping options and live pricing. This allows customers to choose the service they want.
You can offer customers a flat rate. We find this option works best when products are all a similar size and weight. The key to success is making sure you don’t undercharge or overcharge your customers.
The other option is to let your customers skip shipping fees altogether. With click and collect, customers can pick up their orders in your brick-and-mortar store, curbside or at an alternative location.
Depending on what you’re selling and its value, consider shipping insurance and tracking for that extra bit of security. Some shipping services have insurance already built into the price, so keep this in mind when you’re comparing courier prices.
Communicating shipping speeds at checkout can help improve conversion rate, provide clarity and transparency to boost consumer confidence.
As of January 2021, businesses shipping goods to and from the UK will be subject to new regulations, customs, and duties resulting from Brexit. This has a direct impact on merchants selling to and from the UK by reinstating a customs border between the
EU and the UK and by introducing new VAT rules for items imported into the UK.
So, if your business is selling into or out of the UK, there are a few things you need to do to ensure you’re not affected by Brexit:
• Register for VAT where applicable (using one of the following service providers to get VAT registered: Avalara, Hellotax, Simply VAT, Taxually or Your company formation)
• Adjust your tax settings in Shopify
• Review your shipping options
• Update your shipping policy
• Update your returns and refunds policy
• Apply for a UK and EU EORI number to clear goods
• Review customs documents for new customer compliance
Veeqo is a shipping platform for ecommerce businesses, helping online retailers deliver the experience their customers deserve. With Veeqo you can ship orders faster – all from a single, easy-to-use system.
Use Veeqo to quickly bulk shipping orders from any sales channel, automate repetitive shipping tasks and track every delivery in one place.
• A tool that your team will love: Veeqo puts all the information your support team will ever need right at their fingertips. Tracking information, order history, taking manual orders–it’s all there in a single login screen.
• Update sales channels: Easily track information and send out confirmation emails, keeping customers informed without overwhelming your support team.
• One click printing: Set default printers for labels, pick lists & invoices. Then bulk print thousands at a time in one click–no more PDF downloads or choosing devices.
• Automate shipping workflows: Put repetitive tasks on autopilot based on custom triggers and conditions–like defaulting to an expedited service for next-day orders.
• International shipping: Easily ship customer orders overseas, with pre-filled customs forms and paperless commercial invoices. Handle all your returns: Without a spreadsheet or email thread insight. Create returns, record the reason, update stock and issue refunds–all from one platform.
• Customise labels, invoices and tracking emails any way you like: You’ll create a unique experience that showcases your brand at every touch point.
Customer service allows you to address the day-to- day needs of your customers whilst tackling any misconceptions they may have about your brand. When customer service is great, this will be reflected in your retention rate, satisfaction rate and sales. Here are 5 tips for mastering exceptional customer service that will help turn customer support into a profitable part of your business:
The most common mistakes merchants make include:
• Long response times: If you leave a customer waiting, they’ll go to another store. It’s that simple.
• Misunderstanding a customer’s needs: If you don’t understand what your customer wants, they’ll leave your store with a sour taste in their mouth.
• Unresolved issues and unanswered questions: Failing to answer your customer promptly will leave them dissatisfied.
• Lack of human touch: AI is great, but it can’t answer all of a customer’s questions.
• A lack of personalisation: Sending a generic message will backfire because it shows the customer you don’t really care about their needs.
You must set and track KPIs in order to assess the impact your customer service is having. In particular, employee satisfaction is often a clear indicator of how successful your customer service is. For example, when customer service is poor, employee engagement is low and workload is high.
Over 80% of customers will try to solve a problem on their own, before talking to a customer service representative. So make finding a solution easy. You can do this by keeping navigation around your store simple and including an FAQ page that answers most common customer questions.
The easiest way to improve your customer service experience is by actively collecting feedback from your customers. For best results, embed feedback surveys into your emails and offer incentives for responses..
Connect your email, social media, live chat and phone to a centralised system. This will improve customer service efficiency and reduce the likelihood of errors.
Gorgias is a customer support platform. Integrating seamlessly with Shopify Plus, Gorgias allows merchants to handle customer service tasks from one centralised place. From email and live chat to social media and SMS, it makes communicating with your customers as easy as possible.
Gorgias comes with many outstanding features that make managing your customer service experience simple. You can track sales data, edit customer orders, subscriptions and access refund information all from your helpdesk. And the tool goes one step further by allowing you to connect with other Shopify Plus and marketing platforms such as Yotpo, ReCharge, LoyaltyLion and Aircall. The tool offers an entire customer service solution with AI features that will automatically answer common customer questions, saving merchants time and money.
Gorgias users can harness the power of macros to send website visitors engaging, pre-written responses. This works wonders for driving efficiency. Let’s take the all-too-often-asked customer question: “Where’s my order?”
With Gorgias’ macros, your customer service rep doesn’t need to waste their time and energy writing tailored responses to each new customer asking this question. Instead, you can use a macro to respond and sign off with your name. Gorgias gives you everything you need: automation tools, machine learning, and, of course, macros. This goes a long way to ensuring your customer support team priorities urgent queries rather than wasting time on repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
Gorgias provides all the tools you need to automate the customer support ticket tagging process. This is handy for brands receiving high volumes of messages.
With Gorgias you can rank ‘urgency’ of a massage according to the customer service channel, the nature of the inquiry and the type of request – the choice is yours!
One of Gorgias’ best features is that you have your customer’s order history in front of you. This empowers your customer service representatives to view all kinds of information about a customer, including order history and previous communications. If the customer contacts you using a different email address, you can merge their info into a single view.
Below are just some insights Gorgias provides:
• Product demand: You can tag product categories such as women’s shoes or men’s hoodies. This enables you to see how many customer tickets come through regarding each product category, allowing you to monitor inventory demand.
• Fulfilment and operations: If you’re receiving lots of messages from customers asking where their orders are or complaints about damaged items, you might have a problem with your fulfilment process, supply chain, or logistics. In which case, you’ll need to look into this and address any issues.
• Tracking trends: If you want your customer support reps to serve your shoppers best, they must know your customer’s needs. Gorgias monitors your customer-brand interactions to understand why some agents sell more than others, which upselling methods convert best, what wording best resonates with customers, etc.
Nosto is a market-leading, complete Commerce Experience Platform that makes it easy to quickly deploy a fully personalised, integrated commerce experience with fine-tuned control of merchandising rules.
Nosto’s integrated suite of data-fueled personalisation and merchandising solutions work together to make every customer interaction count. These include:
Great commerce experiences rely on effective customer segmentation based on behaviours, demographics and affinities. Segment audiences based on almost any combination of factors, such as category affinity, brand affinity, gender, life cycle stage, and more.
Understand how different experience variations applied across your site improve KPIs like conversion rate, AOV and average revenue per visit. With Nosto’s Continuous Optimisation feature, traffic is automatically sent the winning variation, minimising any risk of revenue loss.
Nosto analyses shoppers’ online and offline activity using machine learning algorithms to understand what each shopper truly wants. With almost unlimited customisation options and an interface built for action, it’s easy to deploy and adjust personalised product recommendations across every part of the shopping journey.
Most product discovery happens on category pages, yet the majority of shoppers never get past the first page. With Nosto’s Category Merchandising, you can ensure that the right products are shown where shoppers will see them. Personalise based on shopper behaviour, and layer in product filtering strategies based on performance metrics and rich product attributes.
Showcase complementary products in recommendations to drive higher average order value (AOV). Manually select products to showcase, or create advanced filtering rules to show products automatically from specific categories on product detail pages.
Nosto’s machine learning algorithms allow you to dynamically customise content directly tied to each shopper’s preferences so that the entire experience is unique and relevant.
Nosto’s pop-ups can be triggered by a variety of different behaviours, and are fully integrated with segmentation capabilities to ensure consistency across the shopping experience, push shoppers towards action and recover potential abandonment.
Nosto allows you to send timely emails to shoppers after they’ve taken a specific action. Plus, you can use your onsite data to make emails even more relevant with personalised product recommendations sent through whichever email provider you use.
Merging onsite and in-store data to create experiences that feel seamless is a must for delivering true omnichannel experiences. Get a
single view of both data sources, which ensures every experience is as relevant as possible.
Convincing shoppers to download and engage with a mobile app is hard enough. By using cross-channel data to personalise the content, message and product recommendations in-app, you can create mobile experiences that not only convince shoppers to download and engage with their apps but also drive purchases.
With Nosto’s Commerce Experience Platform, your brand can:
• Build and launch personalisation campaigns in minutes: Your shoppers aren’t waiting for what they want; why should you? Nosto’s intuitive interface gives commerce leaders the ability to deliver personalised shopping experiences with speed and ease.
• Integrate your personalisation needs easily on Shopify Plus: Nosto’s patented implementation methods and out-of-the-box integrations ensure easy migration, risk-free deployment, and fast time-to-market.
Tapcart is Shopify Plus certified mobile app provider for over 20,000 of the world’s fastest-growing allowing Shopify brands including Fashion Nova, Princess Polly, Urban Planet, Chubbies, Fanjoy, and more. Brands can build their app with a Drag & Drop app editor, transforming their Shopify Plus store into an app in minutes and customising it on the fly. No developers. No months in the making. No fortune spent.
With Tapcart, you get access to unlimited push notifications, which are sent directly to a customer’s phone. Merchants can increase sales by over 1000% within two hours of sending a push notification and never worry about reach cost – whether you notify 1k, 10k, or 100k subscribers.
• Push notification open rate is 10x higher than email
• Push notifications result in an 88% increase in-store engagement
• 71% retention rate increase within two months of sending your first push notification
Unlike a mobile website, mobile apps are native and offer sub-second page-loading and 5-second checkout. With an app merchants can boost retention by up to 80% and increase site traffic, session length, AOV, and conversion.
From customer reviews and marketing automation to personalised recommendations and loyalty programs, you can smoothly blend other integrations into your mobile app for a clean carryover.
Tapcart’s mobile-commerce experts are here to help you every step of the process, from getting started to launching live and beyond.
But choosing the right payment processor is not a simple decision, nor should it be taken lightly. There are several factors to consider such as…
When picking your payment gateway solution, be mindful of where you want to expand your online business. Customers prefer to pay in their local currency, so forcing them to pay in your business’s default location currency is a surefire way to kill your international sales.
Make sure the payment gateway you choose is accepted in every country you’re selling in!
Most third-party payment gateways charge a monthly fee. But you also need to be aware of other fees such as annual fees, chargeback fees, and cancellation fees. Knowing what these extra costs are will help you identify which payment processor is most profitable for your business.
The payment gateway you choose should accept a wide range of global debit and credit cards. This includes Mastercard, American Express, Visa, etc.
Fraud is one of the biggest threats to your online business. Protect your customers by ensuring that your payment gateway is secure, risk-free, and comes with fraud protection capabilities. This will boost customer trust and protect your business from fraudulent
Klarna is a shopping service and the UK leader in buy now, pay later services. Its pay in 30 days and pay in 3 instalment products has been used by over 10 million consumers in the UK through 10,400 retailers. Pay in 30 days is a deferred payment option which allows the consumer to ‘try before they buy’, bringing the fitting room experience into the sitting room whilst pay in 3 instalments allows consumers
to spread the cost into 3 equal payments, a third on day 1, a third at 30 days and a third at 60 days, with no interest or fees for the consumer. In just 3 steps, Klarna easily integrates with Shopify Plus.
• Offering a better checkout experience and payment choice: Payments have to be flexible, fast and seamless. When customers have made their decision on what to buy from you, they expect a convenient checkout with payment options that suit their needs. A long and cumbersome checkout process with limited payment choice is the largest driver of disloyalty amongst shoppers. Klarna delivers payment choice through a smooth UX.
• Fewer steps at checkout mean fewer abandoned baskets: Klarna only collects need-to-know customer information at the checkout, meaning the transaction can be completed quickly. For returning customers who are already part of the Klarna community, fields are pre-filled to allow purchases in just one click. This means less abandoned baskets for you.
• Gain new customers: Offering Klarna means you can tap into gateway’s own customer base and marketing payment options investment, to gain access to 90 million potential global customers, who already love using Klarna. Klarna can help drive consumer traffic and acquisition, which means you can potentially reduce your own spend on tactical marketing efforts and re-distribute it to drive even higher engagement and a closer connection with your existing customers. Klarna’s broad appeal can help you gain a foothold into new customer segments and demographics, which are currently an untapped opportunity for growth.
• Convert more customers: Klarna delivers a stress-free shopping experience that converts more of your customers at point of sale. In the case of pay in 3 Klarna increase your AOV by 40% depending on sector. By empowering customers to pay in a way that suits them, you can convert more customers, increase their lifetime value and speed up your growth.
Consumers have been well-conditioned to purchase subscriptions online thanks to early efforts by digital and media companies such as Netflix and Spotify. Nearly 50% of all online shoppers have purchased a subscription of some sort. And this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Research suggests the subscription ecommerce market is projected to reach $473 billion by 2025, which makes it a fantastic opportunity for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs.
However, subscription as a category is vague and not useful when trying to decide how to build recurring revenue into your business. There are three different subscription models that can be adapted to nearly any ecommerce business:
• Curation: The most common subscription category, making up 55% of subscriptions and is defined as a subscription which the merchant, not the customer, chooses the specific products included in each order. This model is especially popular in apparel, beauty, and food verticals.
• Replenishment: This makes up 32% of subscriptions and consists primarily of commodity items. This category is defined as a subscription to a specific product chosen by the customer, and that product does not change on an order-to-order basis.
• Access: This makes up 13% of subscriptions and represents a wide variety of businesses from luxury apparel to food. This category is often used to offer member-only product access or prices.
Once you’ve decided which category best suits your business objectives, you then need to ensure the model is profitable and has customers hooked. So, here’s what you need to do:
In the subscription space, certain product categories are over saturated. This makes it incredibly challenging to enter the market. So, do your research and keep an eye on your competitors.
Many subscription customers have a high churn rate, so don’t over-invest in discounting and free trials. More often than not, a customer will take the freebie and cancel their subscription soon after. We suggest continually testing and evaluating your pricing structure, that way you can adapt to the ever-changing demands of your business and customers.
As we mentioned earlier on, customers expect a personalised experience, and subscriptions are no different. For many customers, personalisation is one of the most important reasons to continue with their subscription. So be sure to invest in it.
In the early stages, it’s best practice to prioritise acquisition in order to drive sales. But once you’ve got a steady stream of customers coming in, it’s time to change tack and focus on retention.
The subscription model you end up choosing will determine which marketing channel you use to attract new customers and engage with existing subscribers. However, if you’re only just starting out, we recommend leveraging the power of influencer marketing to help build your online presence quickly. To find out more about influencer marketing head to Chapter 16.
Make sure you constantly monitor the number of customers cancelling their subscriptions. This is the best way to continually improve your service and customer experience.
Launching a subscription business is easy with Shopify Plus. All you need to do is install one of Plus’ subscription management apps and you’re good to go.
ReCharge helps you transition to a more reliable revenue model by solving the most critical problems with recurring payments and subscription management. ReCharge’s tools allow you to customise, analyse, and manage your repeat orders while seamlessly integrating with dozens of other apps. It currently powers over 15,000 merchants including FIJI Water, Billie, Manscaped, Soylent and
ReCharge is built to help scale and optimise subscription revenue. Time and time again, high-growth merchants choose ReCharge over competitive solutions to help move these key subscription levers:
Build a stellar UI/UX in the Customer Portal where engaged customers stay subscribed 50% longer. To measure this, visualise your data and filter for custom cohorts in the Analytics Suite or use CSV exports to analyse data sets outside the ReCharge platform.
Implement custom retention strategies to offer ways to keep subscribers. ReCharge sees a 15% increase in retention when any action is taken in the Customer Portal other than cancelling. Additionally, use apps to reduce churn due to dunning or credit card declines. Involuntary churn accounts for up to 20% of total churn, a useless giveaway that should be recaptured intelligently.
Allow your customers to shop for additional subscriptions and one-time products frictionlessly in your Customer Portal and marketing stack. Educated subscribers spend more over a longer period than those unaware of the options within the Customer Portal.
ReCharge’s only product is its recurring billing solution. While this may seem counterintuitive because of the various features and tools needed to scale a merchant’s business as a whole, ReCharge recognises its strengths and admits its weaknesses. This sense of ownership leads to platform advantages when it comes to flexibility, scalability, and customisability and manifest themselves via its subscription tools:
The Enhanced Analytics feature helps you make informed business decisions by measuring recurring revenue, retention, churn and forecasts. ReCharge uses Looker for front-end visualisation and Snowflake and Matillion for stability and accuracy in our data pulls.
ReCharge API: The API allows you to have more control to meet the unique requirements of your business. Utilise over 25 different endpoints to customise each step of the user journey, including customers, products, and discounts objects. Designed to update
processes that would have otherwise been done manually, the API will save you time in automating your business rules.
Theme Engine: Build a modern UI/UX that will make things more intuitive for your end subscriber to manage their own subscriptions. Give them the ability to add or swap products, add one-time products, skip the next shipment, ship now, or edit other aspects of their subscription orders. Utilise ReCharge’s expanding theme library of pre-built themes for faster customisation.
ReCharge integrates seamlessly with best-of-breed tools across your technology stack. Create a frictionless subscription experience using our growing number of available integrations.
Fraud is fast-becoming a major revenue leakage for many merchants. In fact, Aite Group estimates that online fraud will cost brands and retailers as much as $7.2 billion this year. So, it pays to put in place some protective measures.
There are three key fraud-related causes that will drain your money and cause unnecessary overheads that you need to look out for:
• Fraud chargebacks: If a fraudster buys a product from your site, chances are you will incur a chargeback, which is pretty much what it sounds like. A fraudster uses a stolen credit account to buy something from you. The rightful card owner discovers the fraud and asks her or his credit card company to refund her or his money. The card company does and then turns to you for reimbursement. You’re out the product and the money.
• Consumer abuse: A customer falsely claims that an online order never arrived. In this case, the card company refunds the customer’s payment and you guessed it — turns to you for reimbursement. In fact, 30.5% of UK consumers admitted making such a false claim.
• Return fraud: Professional fraud rings have
expanded their portfolios by, for example, profiting from returning fake designer products in place of the genuine products they originally purchased. They’ve even gone so far as shipping back a box of sand in order to approximate the weight of a valuable product they’d purchased in order to receive a refund and keep the product.
So, what can you do?
You could go about finding the experts with experience protecting merchants from fraud. You’d want to provide them with sophisticated tools. The best tools rely on machine-learning models and big data to sift legitimate from fraudulent orders instantly and spot potential abuse and dodgy returns.
With Shopify Plus, you can also install various apps to help reduce the chance of fulfilling fraudulent orders. They use a range of technologies to combine web proxy detection, machine learning, behavioural analysis, and order linking to ensure full protection
Signifyd protects thousands of merchants and enterprises from fraud and consumer abuse and is a Shopify Plus certified app. Its Commerce Protection Network means that Signifyd sees millions of transactions and has prior knowledge of more than 98% of consumers shopping online. Signifyd also backs its decisions with a financial guarantee.
• Revenue protection: Signifyd leverages data, machine learning and human intelligence to provide a 100% financial guarantee against fraud on approved orders that turn out to be fraudulent. This effectively shifts the liability for fraud away from you, allowing you to increase sales and open new markets while reducing risk.
• Abuse prevention: Signifyd uses the same big
data and machine learning to protect your business from customer abuse by detecting suspect orders and providing a financial guarantee in cases of friendly fraud chargebacks, such as item-not-received (INR) and item significantly not as described (SNAD) claims, for instance.
• Fulfilment automation: With Signifyd, you can streamline the order review and fulfilment process. When a customer places an order with your Shopify Plus store, Signifyd’s learning machines automatically review the order instantly and provide a ship-or-don’t-ship decision that allows your order flow to automatically capture orders Signifyd has approved for guarantee, and cancel ones that Signifyd has declined.
Whether it’s a buggy app or a human error, like a CSV import or theme code update gone wrong, your data faces many threats. As an entrepreneur, sometimes you just don’t know what life is going to throw at you.
Even though Shopify Plus backs up all of its data, as a user, you don’t have access to those backups. When items get deleted, they’re gone forever. This means it’s your responsibility to secure individual account-level data. This includes everything from store themes to product images. If your store goes down for any reason, Shopify can’t restore your data (even for a fee).
If you don’t backup your data, you risk leaving your
bottom line vulnerable. Data loss, whether accidental or malicious, can lead to store downtime, missed orders, lost sales, and compromised customer information. So, ignorance is not an option.
To avoid data loss, we suggest integrating a dedicated backup service so you can rest easy knowing if disaster strikes, your data is protected.
Rewind’s suite of apps offers data security and control for businesses looking to secure their data. With Rewind, you can backup, restore, and copy the critical information stored in your Shopify Plus store.
You can use Rewind to restore information in just a few minutes. You can restore an individual item, a group of items, or your entire store. Rewind backs up more item types than any other solution.
Rewind automatically backs up your store’s data every 24 hours, so you always have an up-to-date backup to fall back on. If something goes wrong, simply restore your data from an earlier backup, and get back to business.
Rewind’s team of experts will help your store get back up and running as quickly as possible after a data loss. Available by chat, email, and phone, Rewind is always on hand to help.
Spamming your customers with generic emails jam packed full of sales copy isn’t effective, and you’re only damaging your bottom line in the long run. You need to segment, target and follow-up with customers at various interest levels.
To ensure your email marketing campaigns are a success, we’ve outlined 4 tactics that will get your customers opening, clicking and buying in no time:
The foundation of any successful email marketing campaign is a strong subscriber list. You must prioritise building your audience as soon as possible. The larger the better – you’ll reach far more people and ultimately maximise revenue for your business.
Throughout the customer journey, there are various opportunities to capture email addresses. For example, you should add a sign-up form in the header or footer of your site. And we’d recommend adding in-line forms to your most visited pages for maximum visibility.
Also, as part of the check-out process, you’re already asking your customer for their email address, so add an opt-in option and use this data for retargeting email campaigns.
Some shoppers don’t intend to buy from your store immediately, this is where ‘Wish Lists’ or ‘Favourite’ buttons come in handy. Allow guest shoppers to save their favourite items and offer them the option to receive these selected items if they sign up.
Finally, take advantage of your current customer base with a referral program. Your existing customers are already familiar with your business and love your products, which make them excellent brand advocates.
The best way to get ahead of your competitors is to find out what they’re doing. Pay close attention to the frequency and the type of content they’re sending. But remember competitor analysis isn’t about stealing ideas, it’s about identifying new opportunities. What works for your competitors won’t always work for you.
The best way to personalise your emails is by segmenting your subscriber list. First, we recommend doing this by customer demographics such as age, gender, income and education. Then build behaviour based segments based on website activity to help convert leads into sales.
Sending the right email at the right time can be incredibly time-consuming if you’re doing it manually. This is where automated email flows come in. Rather than tracking each interaction with your ecommerce store separately, it’s easier to automate email flows responding to specific actions, such as abandon cart or post-purchase.
Data-driven decisions are the difference between good and great marketing. When it comes to determining what resonates with your audience, A/B testing will be your greatest ally and should be a core part of your email marketing strategy. Let your email subscribers, aka your most engaged audience, show you what your customers want to see more of.
To ensure you’re accurately testing your email campaigns, here are some best practices:
• Develop a hypothesis
• Test one variable at a time
• Make no more than 4 variations
• Ensure you have a big enough audience
• Never edit a live test
Klaviyo is the leading owned marketing platform aimed at helping online businesses – like yours – to accelerate revenue and grow faster via channels you own like email, web, and mobile.
By capturing customer data through owned channels, Klaviyo gives you the insight and tools to connect with your customers on a deeper level to build sustainable, meaningful, and engaging relationships – ultimately converting your customers into advocates for lasting growth.
Also, Klaviyo doesn’t force you to compromise between advanced functionality or ease of use, so you can maximise your sales quickly.
Alongside integrations with all the leading ecommerce platforms, Klaviyo offers over 100 pre-built ecommerce integrations, including:
• Facebook and Instagram
Owned marketing is all about taking ownership of your company’s growth by taking back control of the entire customer experience.
Unlike other channels, your email list is all yours.
No frustrating social media algorithms, no devastating Google updates—it’s just you sharing your story, products, and offers with subscribers who want to hear from you.
• Advanced segmentation: Use any combination of events, subscriber demographics, alongside Klaviyo’s predictive analytics to segment your email lists.
• Email automation: Send emails while you sleep with pre-built email automations, including abandoned carts, back-in-stock alerts, win- backs, and more.
• Personalisation: Use Klaviyo’s web tracking to see what your customers are doing on your site. Launch campaigns for those who haven’t stopped by recently, who’ve looked at a product but didn’t buy, or segment your lists by frequent visitors, and much more to provide more memorable experiences.
• An easy-to-use marketing platform: Grow your email list with codeless popups, flyouts, and signup forms, and launch campaigns in minutes with simple drag and drop editing and pre-built email templates.
• Deep data insights: Dig into individual campaigns and build dashboards to stay focused on important metrics. See more than just opens and clicks discover how much revenue you’re generating from each campaign and automated email.
If you want to get started with SMS marketing, here are 5 ways to leverage this highly effective channel.
The biggest hurdle to successful SMS marketing strategies is getting customers to opt in. The more you can leverage your engaged customers across your marketing channels, the more subscribers you’ll get. You can opt-in consumers in a variety of ways, including:
• At checkout: Incentivise shoppers to sign-up to receive a special offer on the next order via text.
• On-site: Engage shoppers visiting your online store with a pop-up window and offer to incentivise SMS subscription.
• On social media channels: Encourage your followers to text a keyword to opt in to receive texts from your brand.
• Through emails: Invite customers already receiving communications from your brand via email to opt-in for special SMS-only discounts.
• In-store: If you have a brick-and-mortar store, ask customers at checkout for a phone number to receive SMS alerts.
Like email marketing flows, automated SMS flows seamlessly nurture a shopper through to purchase. These flows are automatically triggered by customer events and engagements, so you can ensure they are sent at the right stage of the buyer journey. Here are the three SMS flows that every marketer should have in their arsenal:
• Welcome flow: Convert new subscribers to customers with a highly engaging welcome flow. Offer discounts to incentivise purchases, and add a link to make the purchase experience easy.
• Abandoned cart flow: Send customers who have abandoned their card with a message reminding the customer to return and complete the purchase.
• Win-back campaign: Send a series of messages to bring lapsed customers back to your store. You can choose a timeframe based on your customers’ purchase history so you can send messages at the right time for maximum engagement.
Transactional flows allow you to deliver top-notch customer care and service experiences by updating them about their recent orders directly via SMS. Transactional flow messages can include order confirmations, shipping notifications, or subscription information.
Again, just like with email marketing, make sure your SMS content is personalised.
SMSBump by Yotpo knows the value of text marketing and automation. Its enterprise-grade SMS platform will integrate with Shopify Plus and give you a powerful tool to help grow mobile subscribers, boost sales and retention, and track the success of campaigns with in-depth analytics.
SMSBump by Yotpo gives brands the unique ability to engage consumers with personalised, high converting experiences that will help you acquire new customers and turn your existing ones into loyal brand advocates.
• Most advanced SMS flow builder: Maximise ROI with Yotpo and SMSBump’s easy-to-use SMS flow builder. Send each customer down the optimal path with real-time event triggers, custom conditions,1:1 conversations, and a series of personalised text messages.
• Biggest automation library: Leverage the biggest library of out-of-the-box SMS automations and flows that drive quick ROI, including cart abandonment, customer win-back, personalised cross-sells, and more, all built to enable your brand to quickly scale your SMS marketing strategy.
• Robust segmentation engine: Create hyper-targeted segments to engage your audience based on advanced behavioural and transactional data.
• One off text campaigns: Easily launch single campaigns to notify subscribers about timely new product releases, sales, and more.
• 1:1 conversations: Manage 1:1 conversations with customers when they respond to an SMS, building relationships via in-app conversational marketing functionality and customer help desk integrations.
LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform that powers ecommerce growth. Using LoyaltyLion you can set up a loyalty program that’s about more than points and rewards, inspiring and re-engaging shoppers, increasing your customers’ lifetime value and lifting your bottom line.
LoyaltyLion’s insights and analytics allow you to create a more coherent picture of your customers beyond simple demographics. You can identify who’s loyal, who’s at risk, and who has churned all together. You can then re-engage each of these segments with tailored campaigns including:
• Giving your most loyal customers VIP perks (such as membership to a private Facebook group)
• Re-engaging your at-risk customers with reminders of low-effort ways to earn loyalty points and their existing balance
• Winning back churned customers by surprising and delighting them with a surge of loyalty points credited to their account
This year, ecommerce has seen the equivalent of ten years’ growth in just three months. That’s a surplus of competitors entering your space and seeking the attention of your customers. So how can you set yourself apart?
Using LoyaltyLion you can build a fully customisable loyalty page that amplifies your brand.
Also, LoyaltyLion enables you to set up custom rewards. With this feature, customers can earn points for completing purpose-driven actions (such as sending their packaging back to be recycled). And you can also donate their points to charitable causes.
• Average order value (AOV)
• Customer lifetime value
• Customer retention
• Repeat purchase rate
• Reward redemption rate
In the ecommerce space, customer advocacy and UGC are paramount for acquiring new customers more cost-effectively. 76% of individuals admit they’re more likely to trust content shared by real people than content created by brands. LoyaltyLion gives you the tools to turn your existing customers into brand ambassadors.
Firstly, you can award your customers points each time they leave feedback by integrating LoyaltyLion with your reviews platform. They can then use these points to redeem rewards (such as free products). At the same time, you get social proof that boosts your SEO and convinces new customers to buy your products.
You can also reward customers every time they refer a friend to your brand. All your shoppers need to do is share their unique referral URL (which is easy thanks to our refer-a-friend modal). When their loved one purchases through the URL, your advocate will get a reward in their account. Meanwhile, you’ve acquired a new customer who’s more likely to convert as they’ve been recommended by someone they know and trust.
LoyaltyLion integrates with all areas of your tech stack so you connect and accelerate your marketing efforts. Check out LoyaltyLion’s integrations page for a full list of the tools we integrate with.
You can link LoyaltyLion with your email service provider (ESP) to send hyper-personalised emails. This lets you add loyalty components to your emails (such as your customers’ point balance, the tier they’re in or the rewards they can redeem). These emails have a 2.5x higher open rate than the industry average as the content inside is unique and beneficial to each shopper.
If you have a help desk provider, you can use LoyaltyLion to better solve customer issues. Your customer service teams can gift shoppers loyalty points as an apology for their troubles. This shows you care about giving your customers the best experience.
And, finally, you can motivate more shoppers to sign-up for your subscription-based product with LoyaltyLion’s subscriber tiers. Start by placing all your subscribers in this tier where they can get exclusive perks (like early access to your sales). If regular shoppers see the extra benefits of becoming a subscriber they’ll get, they’ll be more likely to opt-in.
So, knowing how to generate both high quality and a high quantity of reviews will contribute immensely to your Shopify store’s success.
Here’s what you need to do:
If leaving a review is a hassle, your customers will be less likely to do it. This means you need to make leaving a review simple and pain free. We recommend giving your customer prompts and ensuring customers can easily leave reviews on product pages.
Your customers’ time is valuable, so make sure you’re giving them a reason to leave a review. Offer incentives to make your customers want to leave a review, such as discounts, offers, gift cards or loyalty points.
When asking your customers for a review, it’s essential that you ask at the right moment in their user journey.
Think about it: If you ask a customer for a review when their order hasn’t arrived yet, it could result in a negative review that hundreds more people read when considering to buy from your business.
Ask for customer reviews at strategic moments in the customer journey, such as when their order has been successfully delivered, when they re-purchase or re-order, when they tag your brand in a post on social media or when they’ve referred another customer to you.
As we’ve mentioned throughout this guide, meeting your customers where they are the most is the best way to offer a seamless shopping experience, and reviews are no exception. Ask your customers for a review via email if that’s the channel they communicate best on, or drop them a text if they prefer mobile.
With more than 100 million reviews of over 425,000 companies, Trustpilot gives people a place to share and discover reviews of businesses, and it gives every company the tools to turn consumer feedback into business results. Its mission is to bring people and businesses together to create ever-improving experiences for everyone. Trustpilot reviews are seen more than 5.5 billion times each month by consumers worldwide.
Your business or product is only as good as what your customers say it is, Trustpilot can enable your customer’s experience(s) to become one of the most powerful tools in your online marketing strategy.
You can automatically invite all your customers after they have had a specific product or service experience, utilising Trustpilot’s simple review forms means you can benefit from a high conversion rate from your invitations.
Trustpilot has incredibly powerful insight and analysis tools that enable you to assess your product or service at scale, you can see how satisfied your customers are through the various months, or read about how happy they were regarding the quality of your product.
With Trustpilot, you can take advantage of its in-house AI and Machine Learning “Review Insights” tool that actually reads every review a business receives and then generates a comprehensive report on the findings. It can pick out positive sentiment within negative reviews and negative sentiment within positive reviews, allowing you to deep dive into your reviews and learn much more than just a star rating.
Trustpilot reviews are very versatile, they can be fed into your website, shared across your social channels such as Facebook, featured in newsletters or email marketing, used offline in your physical store or catalogue and even used on packaging or delivery vans!
Trustpilot is a Google Review Partner, which means its reviews can actually allow you to unlock certain Google Products such as seller ratings or rich snippets, for example. If you spend money on PPC, Trustpilot can help you obtain the Seller Rating extension, which will appear as gold stars on your paid ad, they increase CTR by 10% averagely and can even reduce your CPC by the same amount.
Trustpilot can also help organically, rich snippet stars appear on organic search results for products, Google recognises them as a ranking signal which can positively affect how you rank. In fact, they’re proven to drive CTR by as much as 25% more!
Some merchants think it sounds too good to be true, but the numbers don’t lie: For every $1 businesses spend on influencer marketing, they make $18.
Influencer marketing is not a fad, it’s here to stay. If you’re not using it, you’re falling behind.
The problem that many brands face is finding an influencer and agreeing on a collaboration at scale. It’s a time-consuming process and a lot rests on finding the right influencer. For best results, follow these 5 simple steps:
A great place to start is looking at what other brands are doing, paying close attention to your competitors. You’ll learn a lot about what kind of content works best, but remember not to copy exactly what they’re doing. We also recommend researching your brand story and monitoring accounts who share a similar story.
While influencers should always have the creative freedom to produce content that they know their audience will love, it’s a good idea to give them a clear set of brand guidelines to follow. This will ensure influencers are representing your brand’s values and understand the content you want to be associated with.
Once you’ve created clear brand guidelines, you can finally set out to find relevant influencers. Getting this part wrong can be an expensive mistake so it’s worth investing a bit of time into it.
There are influencers within every niche. From fashion to fitness, you’ll have a lot of options. To avoid trawling through hundreds of Instagram accounts, utilise tools like BuzzSumo to find people who are sharing popular content, and use HypeAuditor to get stats on certain influencers.
Now you’ve found the influencers you want to work with, the next step is to reach out to them and ask to collaborate. You’ll need to confirm timeframe, payment, content usage, content usage rights and campaign goal.
Repurposing influencer content makes for very powerful UGC across other channels. For example, you could use the influencer content on your product pages. Not only will this make your products look great, but it also provides social proof and may even lead to other customers submitting their own content as well.
As influencer marketing develops into a fundamental part of the marketing mix, the definition of what makes an influencer has adapted. From mega and mid-level to micro and nano, anyone with a passionate and engaged following is now considered an influencer.
Today, there are 4.66 billion internet users on the planet and competition to get their attention has never been tougher. Customers are becoming more demanding, and it’s your job to adapt and evolve to meet their needs. The strategies outlined in this guide will help you do exactly that. Armed with the world’s best platform and the most innovative third-party technology providers, you’ll be able to build and scale your online business in no time.
If you want to hear more about what we have discussed in this guide, please don’t hesitate to contact us.