How to Choose and Set Up a Shopify Domain Name

Selecting a domain name for your Shopify store is a major decision.

Your domain is the first thing a new customer interacts with, even before entering your store. For this reason, it needs to accurately describe your brand and what your customers can expect shopping with you.

A memorable and well-selected domain name is a key part of your online store’s branding strategy. And it helps establish your online presence.

If you’ve been wondering how to choose and set up a Shopify domain name, read on. We’ll share the best tips and tricks, as well as how to register your new domain on Shopify.
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Why You Need the Help of Shopify Experts (7 Valuable Reasons)

Building a successful Shopify store takes a lot of work. You must have great ideas, and you must understand how to make your business work on the Shopify platform. It’s a lot to ask from a single entrepreneur.

So how do these Shopify stores, both large and small, continue to enjoy immense ROI while scaling their businesses?

Most of these business owners have at least one thing in common:

They rely on the assistance of Shopify Experts.

Shopify experts are third-party agencies that provide store owners with a range of services to help them establish and build their stores.

These agencies are not just self-proclaimed pros — they themselves are named by Shopify as trusted experts due to years of experience working on its e-commerce platform.

We at SKU Agency are official Shopify Experts, so we know a thing or two about the value of such services.

Read on to learn the seven valuable ways in which Shopify Experts can help your e-commerce store thrive.

Continue reading Why You Need the Help of Shopify Experts (7 Valuable Reasons)

Should You Outsource Your Shopify Customer Service?

As a Shopify store owner, you have to take care of every aspect of your business.

You have to prepare financial reports, build a store that attracts a loyal customer base, and market your products.

And you have to hire the perfect team that understands the importance of the customer experience.

With so many responsibilities on your plate, you might start to think about outsourcing some tasks — especially your customer service.

Outsourcing often has a negative reputation. You may think of it as a system that sends your company’s customer service jobs to a foreign entity that pays low wages.

But this is not reality. As the e-commerce industry has continued to boom, so have the technologies and services that power it. It’s common to hire a firm or freelance team to handle all Shopify customer service tasks.

According to SalesForce, 47% of customers will not shop with a store again after an underwhelming customer service experience. 91% won’t even complain directly to the brand. This means that you may not know customers are less than thrilled with your store (until you have a dip in sales, that is).

This is why having an adept customer service team is monumental for your online store.

You have two options in creating the perfect team: in-house or outsourcing.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each, so you’ll know once and for all if you should outsource your Shopify customer service.

Continue reading Should You Outsource Your Shopify Customer Service?

Trust Badges: Everything a Shopify Seller Needs to Know

One of the main responsibilities of an e-commerce store owner is to provide a safe shopping space for their customers.

Doing so is a lot more straightforward than it sounds, thanks to nifty little website security seals called trust badges.

You’ve probably seen thousands of them when shopping online or when engaging in virtual tasks for your Shopify business.

If you haven’t implemented any in your store yet, do it now.

But where do you start? And which ones are best for your shop?

Continue reading Trust Badges: Everything a Shopify Seller Needs to Know

5 Reasons Why You Need Upsell and Cross-sell Shopify Apps

Upselling and cross-selling are common sales techniques. They can benefit your Shopify store by boosting revenues and increasing customer satisfaction.

But using these strategies in your store will only be effective with the right Shopify apps.

The apps we mention here are some of the most popular with Shopify store owners. Below, we’ll explain how they can do all the work for you.

Excited to get started? Continue reading 5 Reasons Why You Need Upsell and Cross-sell Shopify Apps

7 Shopify Apps to Improve Your Business

Shopify is home to over a million stores, with thousands of apps competing for your business’s attention.

But not all Shopify apps are created equal, with many serving to muddy the waters more than drive sales.

That may be fine for those who run a Shopify store as a side hustle. But if your e-commerce store is your primary source of income and you’re serious about sales and taking care of customers, you don’t have time for useless apps.

So how do you know which Shopify apps are worth the hype?

We did all the research, so all you have to do is sit back and read what we found out.

Continue reading 7 Shopify Apps to Improve Your Business

Shopify Plus: Is Shopify Good for B2B?

Shopify is a popular platform for direct-to-consumer e-commerce businesses. But it has also proven to be a powerful tool for established B2B e-commerce shops as well.

In fact, Shopify Plus was created to satisfy the growing need for a platform that manages large-scale B2B services.

So what is Shopify Plus?

We’ll examine what it offers, compare it with traditional Shopify and other B2B platforms, and consider which businesses benefit from its services.

If you’ve wondered whether Shopify is good for B2B e-commerce and are curious about Shopify Plus, stay tuned. Continue reading Shopify Plus: Is Shopify Good for B2B?

What is Headless Commerce and How Can it Help Scale Your E-commerce Business?

When you dip your toe into the wide world of online sales, it can feel like a “Welcome to the World of Buzzwords” seminar. One of those buzzwords you may hear is headless commerce. What on Earth, right? How could something that sounds like literally losing your head possibly help your e-commerce business thrive?

We’ll tell you.

What is Headless Commerce?

In a nutshell, headless commerce is what happens when you decouple the front end from the backend of your e-commerce site, application, or platform. What does THAT mean? Let’s break it down.

The front end of your e-commerce solution is customer-facing. It’s the piece that houses all your branding, user experience, and content.

The backend is everything that happens behind the scenes. It’s where you process payments, inventory, restocking, shipping, order capturing, shipping details, PCI compliance, and all the other elements that make your business a business and not just a pretty website.

For many online storefronts, these two elements are interwoven completely. When they want to update something on the front end, they have to simultaneously update the backend to ensure a smooth transition, which risks breaking the site and causing no end of trouble.

By decoupling and creating a headless commerce solution, you increase your agility and adaptability, allowing two teams to operate simultaneously and independently without crossing any wires. The two communicate vita APIs so your backend remains functional and undisturbed while your front end receives updates on any schedule you choose, which is essential in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Why Make the Shift to Headless Commerce?

website code

Now that you know what headless commerce is, you’re probably wondering what benefits it offers and why you should make the shift. There are a number of reasons why this type of solution will improve your business operations and satisfy your customers.

Flexibility and Speed

One of the biggest benefits of opting to decouple your front and backend is that it offers you a ton of flexibility, which in turn grants you speed. In a rapidly changing online marketplace, speed is of the essence when you’re trying to remain relevant and keep up with customer expectations.

Online sales continue to take a larger and larger piece of the overall sales pie every single year and those numbers show no signs of slowing, especially with 2020’s pandemic and less access to brick-and-mortar stores. The internet is oversaturated with e-commerce sites looking to earn their business, so they’ve become much more discerning. It’s not only about who can provide the best price – it’s also about who can provide the best experience.

The ability to quickly refresh your customer-facing site with a new design, updated branding, relevant content, and new product marketing is essential to keep up with customer demand. Trends shift and you have to remain on the ball. With a coupled e-commerce solution, you can’t update your front end without also ensuring the backend is right there step for step. Decoupling lets you focus on user experience first while you work steadily in the background to deliver.

Reliability

Headless commerce allows the front end and backend to operate with a level of independence that ensures reliable performance from both. You don’t have to worry about crashes and slow load speeds on the storefront due to an overworked backend.

Of course, to make this solution work, you’ll need a dedicated team and lots of testing to ensure your site can handle a high-volume load. However, headless commerce gives you the opportunity to perform plenty of tests without having to alter the backend every single time. Once you have all the data you need, you’ll be able to reliably predict how well your site will perform during busy seasons, which matters a great deal for a positive user experience, which in turn affects your sales.

Personalization

If there’s one thing customers love, it’s a personal touch. With traditional sites with integrated front and backends, an e-tailer typically has no choice but to work off a predesigned template that pairs with the backend. This leads to a generic site without much customization. That can be a killer when it comes to creating a cohesive brand.

Decoupling provides the opportunity to maintain the integrity of essential business operations like payment processing while offering personalization and UX focus on the customer-facing site. Customize and brand your site to your heart’s content without losing any critical functionality, ever.

Multichannel Capability

headless commerce development

Is your brand accessible on multiple platforms, including social media? Have you considered customers who shop on mobile? Do you offer in-person pickup? You need to have a cohesive brand experience across all platforms and devices in order to maximize sales. Unfortunately, that can be tough to manage when you’re dealing with a storefront with a predefined template.

Harvard Business Review goes into great detail about how today’s customers are shopping. Very few people shop only online or only in stores. Instead, they use all the tools at their disposal. That includes mobile apps, in-store technology like interactive catalogs and tablets, various shipping and pickup options, price comparison tools, and more.

The linked article also details how customers who spend more are also doing more research online before making a purchase, and even looking up products online through multiple venues before ultimately making the decision of where to purchase.

It’s important to develop your touchpoints or the points at which a customer “touches” your business – sales reps, advertising, product exposure, branding, and similar. Headless commerce gives you the ability to create new touchpoints without dropping big time and money investments into creating a new backend for every new site. Storefronts can link to the same decoupled backend!

Scaling for Growth

When business picks up, it’s a time for celebration, but that celebration can be marred by a storefront that can’t handle the increase in traffic. When the site is decoupled, the front end can be appropriately scaled to handle a surge of new customers without adversely affecting the backend, which is huge.

Ideally, you want to see those touchpoints and sales channels from the previous topic result in steady growth and an increase in sales. A headless commerce solution gives you plenty of opportunities to operate in real-time to keep up with customers while protecting your essential operations from getting bogged down.

Using Shopify Headless Commerce

Shopify is one of the many headless commerce platforms available to retailers today, and in our opinion, easily one of the best. When we discuss Shopify headless commerce options with our clients, it’s all about customization and flexibility.

Users who migrate to Shopify have the opportunity to access robust personalization options for their storefront while enjoying the strong selection of useful applications and backend software. There’s a great deal of support for marketing and reaching customers through newer technological touchpoints like home assistants, smart speakers, and smart appliances.

When you want to enhance your customer experience via mobile access, voice shopping, and custom apps, Shopify is the perfect all-in-one platform.

Through decoupling, Shopify users can now treat their customer content and backend logistics as separate entities, which means no waiting on one to update before the other can launch. Your teams can operate independently and operations go a lot smoother!

Are You Ready to Lose Your Head?

Not literally, of course! What we really mean is, do you think you’re ready for headless commerce? We’ve given you a lot of information to help you determine whether it’s the right choice for your business. Consider the following when making your decision.

  • Does my current infrastructure allow for fast updates and no downtime for the live site?
  • Am I ready to reach customers through new channels?
  • Is my site mobile-friendly?
  • Is my checkout experience fast and easy for my customers?
  • Can I build a custom storefront or am I limited to templates?
  • Are my load times abysmal during high-volume periods?
  • Could I use more apps to streamline my marketing and logistics?

Depending on your answers, headless commerce could definitely be the solution for you. It’s not for everyone. You may have an e-commerce site that works exactly the way you need it to without having to worry about decoupling. However, if you want to adjust quickly and keep customers happy, you may find it’s a great option.

Shopify offers its users a great deal when it comes to building a cohesive e-commerce business. You may not have the scope or budget to have multiple internal IT teams for each element, but there are Shopify Experts available now who can offer the support you need. At SKU, we offer our clients services including storefront customization, logo and branding updates, data migration, custom applications, and a lot more. We’re happy to help you brave this new world.

Do you have any other questions or thoughts on headless commerce and whether it’s right for your business? Please reach out anytime.

How Can Shopify Partners Improve My E-Commerce Business?



Whether you’re brand new to the Shopify platform or creating your tenth online store, step up your game by partnering with Shopify experts. They’ll take your e-commerce site from acceptable to spectacular. How? Read on.

What are Shopify Partners, anyway? A Shopify partner is a business or agency that has partnered directly with Shopify and been vetted on their expertise with the platform. They are experienced in working with Shopify storefronts, marketing, site design, customization, and much more. Their purpose is to create a smooth road to success for merchants in the online space.

Why Do Shopify Partners Matter?

Shopify is a robust online selling and marketing platform and the preferred system for many online retailers, from small mom-and-pop sellers to major Fortune 500 companies. It’s extremely customizable and capable of acting as a hub for order tracking, email marketing, social media, inventory, customer support, and everything else you’ll need to run a successful e-commerce site.

However, all that capability is only useful if you know how to tap into it. That’s where Shopify Partners come into play. Working with a Shopify Expert gives you access to their breadth of knowledge so you can take your store to the next level. Whether you’re setting up a shop for the first time or you need help expanding you existing site as you grow, your partner will help you make the best choices and streamline your process.

The biggest benefit of working with a Shopify Partner is their tech-savviness and familiarity with the platform. If your strengths are in retail, marketing, and selling, you may find yourself spending far too much time battling with your online system. Having your partner take care of the tech side while you focus on your strengths is what’s best for your business.

Who Gets to Be a Partner?

This question doesn’t have a cut-and-dry answer, because there are levels to Shopify’s partnership program. In a nutshell, anyone can technically claim to be a Shopify Partner if they regularly refer new clients to Shopify through the referral program. This doesn’t make them Shopify Experts, however.

In order to obtain the Shopify Expert designation in the partnership program, a service provider must have a proven track record of successful Shopify storefronts under their belt. That includes setup and execution. This portfolio of work is reviewed by the Shopify team and must include at lease five successful stores, if not more. After review and internal approval, the provider earns the title “Shopify Expert.”

When selecting a Partner to work with, it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure you’re working with someone with the Expert ranking. While a basic Partner may very well be able to set up a functional shop, they don’t have the proven history that an Expert does. Before you hire an individual or agency, you can look up their Shopify listing for details about their experience, portfolio, reviews, services, and more. It goes a long way toward making the right choice for your business.

What Can Partners Do?

We’re glad you asked! Your Shopify Partners are capable of constructing an entire e-commerce site from scratch using the Shopify platform, as well as provide marketing solutions, customization, unique code, migration or integration, and much more.

Here’s a breakdown of the areas a Shopify Partner can help with. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a solid start.

Site Development

Before you can focus on anything else, your storefront needs to exist. Working with a Partner gives you the freedom to focus on your business while they take on the technological challenge of building an online store for you. They know the Shopify platform inside and out and will be able to provide the design and development expertise your business needs.

From there, they can recommend various tools and applications that will give you full control over your sales, marketing, inventory, shipping, and anything else you need to succeed.

Logo and Branding

Some, though not all, Partners may offer logo and branding design services. This is worth consideration if you want a custom look for your site that matches your current branding, or you’re developing branding for the first time. Shopify is highly customizable, so now’s the time to decide on your company design Bible – fonts, colors, look, feel, and language.

SEO and Content Marketing

Shopify SEO

Search engine optimization and content marketing are going to be major players if you want to be found in the massive sea of the online marketplace. With search engines becoming more sophisticated with every passing year, a site’s content must be on the ball to make a dent. That means content that is relevant, engaging, and informative.

SEO strategy used to be fairly straightforward. No longer. Search engines now recognize keyword stuffing and attempts to “game the system” by sneaking in keywords inauthentically. The new normal is in understanding what customers are searching for and giving them what they need. Your Shopify Partner will be able to guide you in crafting content or, in some cases, offer services to provide blogs, web page copy, and email content.

Custom Themes

Similarly to custom logos and branding, a custom Shopify theme incorporates your website’s look and feel so that your storefront doesn’t feel like a different site. When users are browsing your shop, they want to feel a consistent follow-through from page to page. Utilizing a custom theme gives them that consistency. Shopify Partners are able to both design and integrate these themes for you.

Custom App Development

Shopify offers hundreds of apps to make online retailers’ lives easier, from restocking options to review apps. Even so, some sellers may find they require a unique solution on their site. Perhaps you want to have a closed system to keep your customer data safe or you’re interested in creating a pop-up quiz or game for customers to play.

Whatever your needs, Shopify Experts are capable to building custom private apps for use on your shop and your shop alone. You may already have something in mind or you might have a general idea of your goals. All you need do is let your Shopify Partner know what you need and they can offer you a solution.

System Migration

There are many other e-commerce platforms out there, but more often than not, online sellers find Shopify to be their preference. When they’re ready to make the move from Magento or another system, they may need help migrating their store to a new platform.

Partners excel at both integration and migration. They’ll be able to move your carefully created code, data, customer information, and everything else to the new platform so that you’re not starting entirely from scratch. Your life will be easier for it.

Backend Development

Shopify Design and Development

As mentioned above, Shopify offers literally hundreds of applications to help sellers maintain their storefront and marketing in one central location. Shopify Partners can offer recommendations for the tools that will most benefit their clients on the backend.

Those tools can include automatic tax calculation, shipping information, drop shipping, order details, email notifications, inventory tracking, restocking, discounts, and a whole lot more. Your Partner likely has favorites that they’ve worked within the past and trust, so let them know what you need.

Online Marketing

Speaking of apps, we can’t forget to mention Shopify’s extensive catalog of online marketing tools. From a central hub, you can easily manage email marketing, social media, coupon codes, newsletters, remarketing, and everything else you need to succeed.

For anything Shopify doesn’t offer in an app, such as the content you need to fill those emails or the social media management you don’t have time for, Partners can provide solutions. If they don’t offer the services outright themselves, it’s likely they have trusted recommendations they can offer.

Shopify POS

If you are a multi-channel retailer and have a brick and mortar location (or locations) then a POS system is imperative to the success of your business. Good news, Shopify has a full-scale POS system which is fully integrated with your entire Shopify e-commerce backend. Add a product and make it available in your online store on your retail location(s) and keep the inventory in sync across both channels. Managing your multi-channel operation has never been easier. Finding the right Shopify Partner to manage the migration from your existing POS system or setting up your Shopify POS from scratch is an important decision. As a 5-star Shopify POS partner, SKU Agency has the know-how to bring your multi-channel business online and provide the right growth marketing strategies needed to grow your business. 

Where Can You Find a Shopify Partner?

Your perfect match is out there waiting for you! Sounds a bit like a dating site tagline, but it’s true.

Shopify does offer an extensive listing of available Shopify Experts and Partners that you can review by services offered. Consider your needs, then use the tools at your disposal to find the Partner that’s right for you.

You can also naturally find a Shopify Partner by searching online for local providers in your area. More often than not, you have a nearby agency to contact and work with directly. If it’s important to you to meet with your team face-to-face, this is an option worth considering.

Of course, with today’s digital accessibility, you can choose to work with the agency of your choice. Our advice is to lay out your budget and list of requirements so you have a reference point on your search. Odds are good you’ll find a Shopify Partner that can provide everything you need on a pay scale that meets you where you are.

When Can I Get Started?

Right now! SKU Agency has been proud Shopify Experts since 2017. We offer our clients an extensive background in e-commerce from our very own shops, as well as those build for other successful online sellers. We invite you to check out our portfolio to see what we can do. Our services include everything you’ve read about in this post. We’d love to get to know you.

Have any other questions or need us to help you design/development and grow your e-commerce business, please reach out. 

Shopify Expert

What is Augmented Reality and What is The Future of AI in E-Commerce

 

Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed augmented reality fitting into everyone’s daily life in a multitude of ways. From the rise of Pokémon GO and other related Niantic games to Instagram filters, internet users everywhere are experimenting with programs that overlay the real world and give them a more immersive experience.

While this sort of technology is ready-made for gaming and selfies, it may be less apparent how to harness it for e-commerce. However, many companies have managed to do just that, and we’re already seeing augmented reality and AI in e-commerce settings.

We’re watching this trend closely, as Shopify itself has unveiled its very own AR-powered software to help online retailers make more sales. By staying ahead of the curve, your online storefront could reap the benefits of this rising technology.

What is Augmented Reality?

Let’s get down to brass tacks: what is augmented reality, anyway? What does it look like?

In the examples we mentioned above, we discuss Niantic, Inc., a revolutionary AR platform that utilizes geolocation and mapping to give users a unique experience right in their own backyard – literally.

Augmented reality uses existing cameras or images to overlay elements and create an immersive experience. In a game world, it might be an adorable blue monster hopping around in your neighborhood. In the world of e-commerce, it can take the form of placing a virtual piece of furniture in your living room or testing the way a certain lip color looks on your face before you buy.

Many current AR platforms rely on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. In theory, a user gives an app or website access to their phone’s camera, which in turn looks at the surrounding area to detect ground, floors, walls, faces, and more. With this detection software, it can then project and appropriately place 3D rendered objects into the environment, viewable on the user’s screen.

For a quick example, all you have to do is open Instagram and start an Instagram Story. You’ll immediately have access to all kinds of filters that create a range of effects, from applying virtual makeup to objects floating around your room.

The possibilities for e-commerce are endless, regardless of your product. Cosmetics, hair products, clothing, jewelry, furniture, food, décor, electronics… any vertical can benefit.

What is AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

 

artificial intellegince

When we talk about artificial intelligence in an e-commerce setting, what do we mean?

In this case, we’re not talking about androids or plotting supercomputers. We simply mean any technology that’s able to manage itself without human involvement.

In the automotive industry, this level of automation is known as “Level 5,” or “full automation.” This would be a self-driving car, operating completely on its own without human intervention. There are all sorts of legislative hoops for cars, but in the world of e-commerce, expect something more along the lines of a virtual help desk or programs that can recommend a product based on a customer’s needs.

For the most part, this technology is still out of our reach as a general rule. Many automation programs used in online shopping are good at algorithmic recommendations, but they can’t necessarily answer a nuanced question about which blouse will best accentuate a pear-shaped body. That information still has to be programmed in or augmented by a human being.

The future is coming, however. Companies are investing heavily in this technology (upwards of $15 billion by 2021), so it won’t be long until workable AI is available on a wider scale.

What is the Role of AI in E-Commerce Now?

Currently, AI can be used to enhance your customers’ shopping experience by answering simple questions and recommending items related to their purchase. Many algorithms are currently available through Shopify to enhance your site navigation and predict products that will be most appealing to customers based on what’s already in their cart.

Platforms like EPICA are already being used by major brands like Adidas and Coca-Cola. Their AI engine, called Sophia, uses available data to detect patterns in customer behavior and deliver personalized results. This is one of the AI platforms offered by Shopify.

Every time you’re shopping online and you see a product page that includes a section for “customers who like this product also like…” along with a variety of similar products, you’re witnessing algorithmic AI in action.

You may also witness AI in a simplistic customer support capacity, where an automated system is able to understand basic customer questions and offer answers. This may take the form of a branching FAQ section or even a pop-up letting customers know a representative is ready to chat. While the program itself might not be able to handle lengthy customer interaction, it can notify a representative that someone is waiting for their response.

These are only a few of the ways you can merge AI and e-commerce.

What is Augmented Reality and its Role in Shaping E-Commerce?

What is Augmented Reality? We’re seeing AR technology grow by leaps and bounds in the e-commerce sector and it’s very exciting.

While we’ve already discussed filters, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Social media is rapidly pivoting toward using filters both as ad space for their clients and a creative playground for their users. Both Instagram and Snapchat allow user-created filters on their platform, and many users have taken off with this newfound freedom.

Much of the available content is moody or silly, offering users a specific aesthetic, but advertisers are also very much getting in on the game. Certain ad buys for some platforms are very affordable and a great way to build awareness and create interest in your products.

Major makeup brands, musicians, food and beverage brands, and more have made an impact through branded filters. While branded or promotional filters do not show up in the Effect Gallery for users to find, you can still create them for access on your Instagram page. You can also make creative or social cause filters that don’t necessarily promote your brand but will show up in the Effect Gallery.

Read all about how Instagram AR filters can increase your reach and improve engagement to learn more.

Beyond social, augmented reality branches into mobile applications and many online shops are using AR platforms to give customers a more intimate experience with their brand.

When we think of online shopping, what’s one of the biggest hurdles toward purchase? The fact that a customer doesn’t have a tangible product to examine, touch, or try on. They may not be able to picture the exact dimensions or how it will look in their home. Many customers won’t pull the trigger on an item because they’re just not sure it’s right for them.

Augmented reality completely changes the game here. Using Shopify’s own 3D Warehouse app, you’re able to create 3D rendered versions of your products that any user with an Apple mobile device can view in their chosen environment.

How to Use 3D Warehouse from Shopify

The process for creating your very own augmented reality experience is pretty straightforward. It requires you to sign up and install the app on your Shopify store domain, and from there, you get to work with an expert via the Shopify Partner Program.

After you sign up, you’ll go through several steps to flesh out the app with your products.

  1. Hire a Shopify expert to create 3D models of your products.
  2. Answer any required questions and provide the necessary product photos and dimensions.
  3. Receive the renders from your expert and check them over for accuracy.
  4. Make changes if needed.
  5. Add your approved 3D models to the app.
  6. Update your theme to allow the app to function, then add the AR badge to your product images.

Seems pretty simple, right? Of course, getting the necessary photography and dimensions can be time-consuming, and hiring a Shopify expert does require a service fee. However, the investment is well worth it.

Video by Shopify and Pure Cycles

AR products allow customers the opportunity to really test out your product in a way that was previously unheard of for online sales. This increases the likelihood of a purchase dramatically.

You also have ample opportunities to upsell based on your industry. Do you offer styling services? Have your stylists make recommendations to online customers and give them the ability to “try on” the clothes by using AR. From there, once they like what they see, the stylist can recommend accessories and complementary items, or similar outfits.

The possibilities are endless!

The Future is Now

Our current world and the technology available to online sellers is extraordinary. E-commerce continues to forge its own path and every year its share of overall retail sales grows. In order to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace, it’s vital to keep a close eye on emerging trends.

Augmented reality and AI in e-commerce are two of those trends. Offer your customers everything they crave from the brick-and-mortar experience and watch your sales soar.

With the complications facing us in 2020, it’s never been more important to offer customers an excellent online shopping experience. Need help setting up the AR app or creating a one-of-a-kind Shopify experience? We’re happy to offer our services.

How to (Legally) Grow a Cannabis E-Commerce Business

The Cannabis Business Is Growing

2020 General Election update: As we close out 2020, there are some big changes coming down the pike. Ballot measures on marijuana usage passed in five states — Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. According to a recent Pew Research Center finding, two-thirds of American adults now favor legalization, and as many as 91% are in favor of considering medical usage. Public pushback on these measures is becoming less and less frequent and it’s looking as though federal legalization is on the horizon. This is an ideal time to consider how to bring your cannabis or hemp business online and make sure you’re aware of the rapidly changing tide of local laws and regulations. Soon, online shipping options may be even more varied.

Times are changing, and one industry that’s really feeling those changes right now is the cannabis business. Marijuana legalization is spreading across the nation-state by state. The federal government is now regularly considering legislation that would overturn the federal cannabis ban and allow states to make their own call without interference.

For those in the cannabis industry, things are looking up.

However, as with many controlled substances, there’s no ability to sell cannabis online through an e-commerce storefront. Naturally, that puts a damper on anyone’s plans to expand into online sales. If your cannabis dispensary can’t sell the product that acts as your main source of income, then what can you sell?

We have an answer for that.

Continue reading How to (Legally) Grow a Cannabis E-Commerce Business

Top 5 Core Shopify Apps for New Merchants

New to Shopify? Welcome to the powerhouse! You’re now using one of the most diversified and effective platforms for e-commerce available today. Using it to its fullest potential, on that note, can be easier said than done for the unfamiliar. No worries, though. As seasoned Shopify users, we know the best tools for getting the most out of your new Shopify store. We know you’re probably on a shoestring budget, so we’ve kept the price point pretty low. Learn all about the Shopify apps below.

Yotpo

Before we delve into anything else, we need to talk about one of the best ways to increase traffic to your storefront: word of mouth and reviews. Any small business owner knows how challenging it is to get that ever-elusive customer content, and Yotpo helps with that. It’s a fantastic management and curation tool that encourages customers to generate content through a number of different channels (email, social, review sites, etc.) and collects them for you to use to generate more traffic. Neat! You can also take advantage of Yotpo’s expanded growth options with coupons, rich snippets, product recommendations, and more. The core app is free, with additional options available for a fee.

Product Reviews Add-On

We’re going to push these review apps quite a bit, so buckle in. They really are that important! Product Reviews is another (free!) app that offers great features to encourage customers to leave reviews. They offer a few exclusive features, like Checkout Reviews and Video Reviews, which are awesome additional methods of getting great customer-generated content. The most powerful visual social media giant, Instagram, is included, too. Any of this content can be collected and used to drive new sales to your storefront.

Privy

Using review content will get people to your site, but how do you go about email collection once they’re there? You use an app like Privy. By utilizing a number of cool features like coupons or “spin to win” games, Privy uses exit pop-ups to get potential customers to pause and take one more look at your site before they leave. It’s super customizable and mobile-friendly, allowing you to determine how and when users receive a pop-up for the best results. You can focus on number of visits, cart abandonment, referral site, and tons more. This is a high-conversion application that integrates well with most, if not all, email marketing platforms.

Omnisend

Now that you have an email list to use, you need some help with email and SMS automation. No problem! All you need is Omnisend. If composing snappy marketing emails isn’t your strong suit, you can use one of their many effective templates to get the job done. Manage your welcome emails, newsletters, campaign boosts, cart recovery reminders and more all from the same convenient app. It maintains lists, segmentation, and website tracking so you don’t have to. Make your life easier and install this app. Omnisend offers you a 14-day free trial of their Premium program, which requires a monthly fee, or you can choose to switch to their free base program.

Product Upsell

You’ve got the reviews, you’ve got the email list, you’ve got email segmentation marketing on lock… what else could you want? More sales, of course! This app manages your cross-marketing and upsells for you. You get to select relevant add-on items, bundles, or related products to show customers when they add a product to their cart, checkout, or even after a sale. If you’re not sure which products will lead to the best conversions, let the app do the work for you – it crunches the data from your Shopify store to figure out which products upsell best. If Amazon can make 35% of their revenue off of upsells and cross-sells, so can you! Plans for this app start at $9.99 a month for smaller e-shops (200 views) and can go up to $89.99/month for unlimited views.

These are our top five recommendations for new Shopify users, but there’s tons more on offer. If you have questions or need some additional guidance on how to take your e-commerce business to the next level, hit us up.

Start & Grow Your E-Commerce Empire at San Francisco Small Business Week

SKU Agency at SF’s Small Business Week

San Francisco’s Small Business Week is coming up fast – May 15th, to be exact. This is an awesome week-long celebration of small businesses and the people who make them work. More than 80 speakers and facilitators are offering up presentations, workshops, and more designed to help business owners succeed. This year, SKU Agency is excited to take part with a presentation of our own.

Now more than ever, the internet makes it possible to reach a variety of audiences and find consumers who want your product. As our Managing Partner, Ramin Ramhormozi, likes to say, “The barrier to entry to starting your own business is the lowest it’s ever been in history with e-commerce and Shopify leading the charge.” In our 1.5 hour workshop, that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing. Learn everything from where to source product to how to succeed at digital marketing, with an emphasis on the powerful Shopify platform.

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SKU Agency is headed by Ramin Ramhormozi and Michael Trang, both of whom have extensive backgrounds in e-commerce, graphic design, SEO, business development, and more. From them, you will learn how to take your product from concept to storefront. Also learn how to find your customers based on where they hang out in the digital world, what they are interested in, and what is important to them. Want to learn more? Join us on Tuesday, May 15th at 10:30 am at San Francisco’s Small Business Association on Market Street!

What Can Shopify Do For Your Business?

If you’re here, you already know that Shopify is hands-down one of the best online store software options available on the market. You know that it’s capable of centralizing your online sales, helping you sell across multiple channels, tracking your sales, giving you a marketing boost, and personalizing the whole shebang to match your branding. It makes everyone’s job so much easier. That’s why we love it and we love working with it.

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Small businesses can get a lot out of a Shopify store, but for larger businesses, it truly sings. Having a single powerful hub to manage a warehouse of products on your own site as well as multiple major marketplaces is a huge boon to a consistently growing company. There’s less room for error and loss, and that’s music to any business owner’s ears.

So you know what the base Shopify package can do, and it’s nothing to sneeze at. But it’s capable of so much more.

When you’re already winning the online retail game, the only real option is to continue winning. Right? (Cue DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” here). You’re already seeing solid returns on your process, your Shopify is running smoothly, and everything looks good. So how do you take it to the next level?

You break out the Shopify apps.

When it comes to online storefront software, the general consensus is that Shopify is easy to use but ultimately limited. This couldn’t actually be further from the truth. While the basic software can only go so far, developers are constantly working to improve the system with webhooks, API connections, Shopify apps, and a ton of other integration to beef it up even more, which expands your options more or less to infinity.

What are some examples of what Shopify can do?

Customize and control storefronts with Shopify themes bringing in $1-$500 million or more.
Yes, million. With a 126% year-over-year average growth for their merchants, Shopify’s specialized program for growing brands, Shopify Plus, boasts tons of extra bells and whistles backed by Shopify’s truly solid platform. More sophisticated than meets the eye, this software offers up a robust API so you can connect with other APIs and complex ERPs to offer your customers everything they need and more. With automated campaigns and the ability to handle high-demand sales, this program has teeth, and it uses them. You don’t need to know any code, and your IT employees will breathe a sigh of relief when they realize they don’t have to babysit the system.

Create your own sales channel.

Are you ready to be the next major sales hub for people to find? You can be! Shopify not only connects you to all the major marketplaces for easy access and management to sell your products, it also offers an SDK that lets you create your very own sales channel. Create new sales channels and connect with other Shopify merchants to offer your customers the very best of all worlds so they can find a variety of items through your shop. Best of all, Shopify manages the entire thing.

Source products that would be a great fit for your business.

Whether you sell apparel or novelty gifts, there’s a application that will help you find great products to populate your virtual shelves. Save your staff tons of time scouring the market for products and let apps do the work for you, especially if you’re looking into drop shipping or print on demand.

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Boost your marketing.

Marketing can be the bane of a business’ existence. It requires time, strategy, and endless hours of design and composition, not to mention implementation. Save yourself the headache by utilizing apps that can manage your meta data, title tags, and URL handles, as well as plenty of support for email marketing and online advertising. Need stress-free search engine optimization? There’s an app for that, too.

Keep customers interested and motivate more sales.

You know when you visit those major player storefronts and they have all the nice tools that send a reminder when there’s still an item in your cart or upsell you in an appropriately subtle way? Now you’ve got those tools at your disposal, too. Flesh out your store with smart recommendations for customers buying certain products, or something that helps select product bundles.

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Shipping and tracking just got easier.

You don’t have to deal with the potential for human error when your shipping and tracking system is automated. Stop losing revenue on missed orders and integrate with the major shipping carriers in your area to streamline your process and make everything so much simpler.

… and so much more.

Really, we’re barely scratching the surface here. There are so many potential tools to customize and build out Shopify into something that’ll help you rule the world. Access to sales channels, help with accounting and customer service, better ways to track inventory… you name it, there’s an app for it. We keep abreast of all the most useful and innovative solutions, so the sky’s truly the limit. Bring us your ideas and we’ll Shopify a solution.

Setting Up Shopify Stores: Expectation vs Reality

You’ve got yourself some shiny new Shopify software. Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward creating and managing an online storefront with a precision that you’ve never had before. Feels good. Now all you have to do is get everything set up. According to all the advice you’ve read, it should be a snap. Right?

It’d be nice if things were as easy to assemble right out of the box as the nice, neat instruction say, but unfortunately, that’s rarely the reality. Setting up a Shopify online store isn’t necessarily difficult, but there’s a long list of steps to keep track of, which can be difficult for someone who isn’t familiar with the software. With so many different items to potentially troubleshoot, the setup can become a headache quicker than you’d like to imagine.

Carving out the necessary time to go through a 25-step online Shopify store setup is a big ask, and it’s one you don’t have to do alone.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty list of everything you need to know, set up a Shopify store, and take care of before your store can launch:

What Steps are Necessary to Setup a Shopify Store?

  1. Choose whether you want to sell online or in person
  2. Select the sales channels where you’d like to list
  3. Consider your pricing plan options
  4. Log in
  5. Password protect your shop
  6. Name your shop
  7. Input your legal business name and address
  8. Input your billing info
  9. Set your default currency
  10. Set your default weight units
  11. Hire staff if necessary
  12. Set up a domain online
  13. Design your site out with an appealing and on-brand theme
  14. Add in your product catalog
  15. Organize products as needed
  16. Set up shipping options
  17. Do all that fun tax stuff
  18. Test your transactions
  19. Test order refunds and cancellations
  20. Test fulfilling both partial and complete orders
  21. Test your order archive system
  22. Remove password protection so customers can access the store
  23. All that social media marketing stuff
  24. All that online advertising stuff
  25. Don’t forget to define your homepage metadata

 

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Yes, that’s 25 steps, you’re reading it correctly. Yikes, right? Not exact plug-and-play. Granted, some of these steps are relatively simple and straightforward, but when you get into the nitty-gritty of inputting each of the products from your catalog along with their information and descriptions or designing a functional theme, things can get unwieldy fast. Before you know it, you’ll have lost hours of time on work that you may or may not end up using.

Don’t get us wrong: Shopify is an incredibly powerful and useful tool for growing your online retail business. We wouldn’t work with it otherwise. Getting your products online and exploring all the available marketplaces is absolutely necessary to succeed in this rapidly growing industry, and a central hub like Shopify makes your job so much easier. It provides a singular dashboard where you can manage your products across channels, see all of your stats, track order history, market through Facebook, and so much more. It’s a powerhouse.

Which is why we understand how frustrating it is to make it halfway through the setup process and then lose the thread. In order to access all of these incredible tools, you have to make it through the build phase, and the build phase can be overwhelming. Whether you’re strapped for time or you’re just not that familiar with website setup, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds.

You’re hardly alone. This is exactly why SKU Agency exists: we’ve been there and we know how it goes. Our personal experience in running our own storefronts has led us to virtually every software configuration you can think of, and hands-down, Shopify has been the best for our needs. We know it’s the best for yours, too. Let our trial-and-error be your gain. With extensive experience in setting up dozens of online stores, we can get you up and running pain-free.

No matter where you are in the process, you’ve got the support you need. Our Shopify experience in selecting and customizing themes, finalizing shipping and tax information, crafting and uploading effective product descriptions, and more makes us the right choice for the job. Owning a small or mid-sized business is a constant juggling act of finding time to manage the business you have, find ways of growing, figuring out how to squeeze in a promotion, and saving time for the dozens of other things you need to worry about it. Carving out the necessary time to go through a 25-step online Shopify store setup is a big ask, and it’s one you don’t have to do alone.

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Don’t get frustrated, get help. It’s okay to ask, we promise.

SKU Agency is a certified Shopify Expert.

Shopify Stores: Rise of Online Marketplaces & E-Commerce Software

It’s nearly 2018 and by now, you know the drill: online marketplaces are building, building, building to the sky, accounting for more and more of the United States’ total retail sales every single day. E-commerce sales are currently hovering at around 8.4% according to 2017’s third-quarter report from the Census Bureau, and every prediction shows that they’ll only continue trending upward. This isn’t peanuts — it’s billions of dollars in sales. The retail landscape is changing, which means it’s time to roll up our sleeves and learn the new ropes so we don’t get left in the dust.

Where to start?

With the third-party sellers, we know so well. These are the giants, the household names, the first sellers that spring to mind. We’re talking Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Jet, and other major players. This is where e-commerce sellers are seeing their biggest success — massive well-oiled machines sprawled across every conceivable industry and accessible by virtually every world citizen. They’ve been steadily growing and improving their holdings for decades, learning the nuances of every market so well that newer competitors can barely lay a scratch on them. There’s still room for a few niche markets who’ve found a home, though… e-sellers like Houzz and Lyst, for example, or even Etsy.

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Shopify Stores give you a piece of the action.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with your boutique shop or modest online marketplace, then buckle in, because you’re about to go on a wild ride through the intricacies of online marketing channels and how to utilize them to your advantage.

First things first: let’s talk marketplace channels

A sales channel is a particular avenue you can use as a marketplace to sell your products. Virtually every major third-party seller offers an outlet for online sellers to use their existing infrastructure and customer base to sell. You know these channels as Amazon Seller Central and Vendor Express, eBay storefronts, Jet marketplace, and similar. They can be added as sales channels within Shopify stores.

Channels are predicted to rake in more than $500 billion in revenue by 2020

These marketplaces, or channels, differ from a standard online store in a few different ways. Shopify stores are owned and operated by your business alone, allowing you full control and all the room you need to do your own thing. They’re great for companies looking to build their own solid brand and control the message 100% of the time. The tradeoff, however, is that your visibility is limited by your own reach and marketing efforts. Marketplaces, on the other hand, don’t offer much in the way of strong branding or setting yourself apart from the crowd, but their existing customer base is absolutely massive, paving the way for a much bigger ready-made audience than you might be able to reach on your own. In exchange, they take a small commission on each sale, the amount of which can vary from marketplace to marketplace.

The fact that these channels are predicted to rake in more than $500 billion in revenue by 2020 (according to Forrester) means they’re well worth your consideration if you’re serious about succeeding in the online retail market.

How To Manage Your Online Marketplaces

Now the question becomes “HOW?” How do you reap the biggest possible benefit from selling through these online marketplaces, and how do you manage so many different channels at one time?

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This is where a platform like Shopify comes in to simplify your life and give you the support you need.

Attempting to manage multiple shops across multiple channels gets messy fast, and Shopify has found a way to distill the process down so you’re not stretched thin. Add a product one time and you can sell it anywhere, right away. There’s no need to maintain giant spreadsheets of data in order to make sure your messaging is the same everywhere. The unified platform does it for you – do it all within one Shopify store with ease.

From one dashboard, you can access more than a dozen sales channels across the internet’s largest platforms, including Facebook, eBay, Amazon, Wish, Wanelo, Houzz, Kik, Lyst, SiBi, eBates, and more. Beyond maintaining your product listing throughout the marketplaces of your choice, you also have more marketing options to a wider audience than you’ve ever had before. Access the massive audiences perusing BuzzFeed each day, or create your own pins on Pinterest to bring browsers directly to your virtual door. This is only the tip of the versatility of Shopify Stores.

Hard as it is to believe, this is the easy part. You can compile your products and sell them across channels easily, but now you have to decide which channels are right for you and your business. Every marketplace has its own rules and regulations, which means you still need to do your due diligence or enlist help to make sure you’re staying on top of all the requirements.

Shopify stores streamline this process as well, offering a central hub where you can browse and edit your listings as necessary.

Ultimately, the best way to grow your business will be to use any avenue available to you to access customers, and selling through multiple marketplaces in addition to your own online Shopify stores is going to be the best way to do that. Through using a platform like Shopify, you can use their fantastic back-end integration with key marketplaces to amplify your long-term e-commerce strategy.