We should all now be well aware that Shopify is at the forefront of eCommerce which is one of the reasons why we recommend it to many of our clients looking to move their business online, not to mention the 500,000 or so other people who have chosen the same route.
From shipping to marketing, inventory, SEO, accounting, and social media we’re going to outline some of our favourite plugins available from the Shopify app store now.
So, much like the Oscars, we’ll start with the most boring first – let that not detract from there importance though… actually, you’ll never make it to the bottom if we do that…. Ahhhhum…
Starting with the best first and getting better as we continue… Here are a selection of Diffusion Digitals top apps of 2018, presenting the top three in each category starting with:
Incorporating your social media channels into your Shopify store is a fail-safe way to drive up brand awareness, increase quality traffic to your store and ultimately increase conversion. So if you aren’t already, you should start looking at how to bring a sociable side to your store.
As described on the tin, this app allows your store to auto generate posts or tweets and send them out to all of your social media channels whenever you upload or launch a new product or add a new blog post to your store. Whilst this sounds simple we all know how easy it is to forget and by taking your mind of the social media side of selling, you can concentrate on what counts.
Customer feedback is hugely helpful, not only for in helping you understand how your products are being received, but also in demonstrating to Google that your site can be trusted. This widget allows you to add all the social media buttons that you need to each product page enabling your customers to be able to comment share and tweet about your products. You’ll also receive notifications whenever someone does engage in them thus helping you improve your customer service.
Video is becoming an ever more important format in online selling. Recent studies show that people engage with video content for longer than they do written and with Yottie, no longer do you have to redirect people to your YouTube channel, you can seamlessly curate your videos (whether they are yours or ones that just fit your brand) directly through your Shopify account. This enables you to bring all your exciting new content to your customers on the same platform, whether they be promotional videos, blogs or channels that you think fit your style.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
As we should by now know, SEO is becoming a fundamental part of driving up sales. From writing good Meta data to optimising images to allowing customers to easily give their feedback, SEO needs to be a fundamental part of your sales strategy going forward and here are three apps to help you do so.
Whilst page speed sounds mundane and a minor detail, it is essential for SEO as Google looks down on slow loading pages. Minifier allows you to easily optimise your image file sizes, Alt tags and Filenames thus radically speeding up the page loading time which in turn will improve your ranking on the search engine results page (SERP).
Whilst it is scary on the surface, giving people the ability to feed back is not only good for you but also really useful for SEO. Not only does it constantly add content to your pages, which Google likes, but you can also choose to have them appear as rich snippets on SERPs thus making them more enticing to your potential customers. Judge Me automates the review process by contacting your customers via email after a sale.
Price: $15USD/month for unlimited use
Managing Meta data can often become a cumbersome task, especially for product heavy sites. SEO manager improves your SEO for all major search engines and has a number of powerful tools that will help you optimise each of your products to the smallest detail and, when you need suggestions it will provide them. Whilst this might come across as expensive, as we often say, when it comes to SEO, the ROI is healthy and you tend to get out more than what you put in.
Price: 7 day free trial. $20USD/month
Attracting and retaining a customer base is no easy task for anyone, on or offline. As such you have to make the most of the tools out there and when it comes to marketing it is easy to become overwhelmed with the choice on offer. Email marketing helps you stay in touch with an existing customer base whilst reaching out to new ones (Ensure you are on the right side of General Data Protection Regulation which comes into force on the 25th May 2018).
We’ve all been at the check out cart on a device and for some reason had to leave. On returning using a different device we find our cart empty. Frustrated we leave your shop. With Consistent Cart this is no longer a problem as it syncs customers carts across all devices. You can also monitor live activity on shopping carts around your site including when people who have abandoned carts come back to make a purchase. If this isn’t enough, you can contact customers who have yet to complete their purchase through Facebook Messenger. The Pro version has several more features.
Price: basic features for free. Pro – $14USD/month
Manners Maketh Man. As opposed to chasing people who have abandoned their carts, Happy Email has a slightly jollier disposition and allows you to automatically send a thank you email from store founder/owner to new and existing customers. Furthermore if you feel you don’t come across particularly happily in your writing, Happy Email will write to them for you. If your looking to boost your brand awareness then you should start by making customers feel good about their experience in your shop and this is a pretty good place to start. (And it’s free!!)
Targeting high value customers is one of the biggest attractions to email marketing. This app allows you to easily sync your customers and purchase data to MailChimp and from here you have a number of features at your disposal such as; setting up marketing automations, reminding customers about abandoned carts, showcasing product recommendations and tracking detailed data based on which of these campaigns is and isn’t working. You’ll also be able to find new customers and drive them to your website with Facebook and Instagram ads, then set up Google remarketing ads to turn your site visitors into shoppers.
Price: Free trial followed by custom monthly fee depending on the features you require.
Shipping is becoming an ever more important part of driving conversion with 88% of British shoppers electing to shop online providing there is free shipping, and 86% saying they prefer free shipping over fast shipping. As such, most businesses offer free shipping – provided you spend a minimum amount.
More often than not the simplest things are the most effective. The Free Shipping Bar plugin gives a way for storeowners to introduce a fully customisable slide out bar to the top of their site showing customers free shipping offers. For instance once someone puts something into the cart a bar will slide down indicating how much more the customer needs to spend before they are eligible for free shipping. You can fully customise font and colour to fit with the style of your website. A final perk is that there is no Hextom (the developer) branding meaning you maintain the integrity and professionalism of your site.
ShippingEasy is a cloud based shipping platform where merchants of all sizes with products of all weights, shapes and sizes can manage their orders quickly and efficiently through their automated system. From printing labels, to automated tracking, to keeping accurate inventories, to advanced reporting, ShippingEasy guarantees the best rates and allows the merchant and customer alike piece of mind.
Price: 30 day free trial. Plans ranging from $29USD/month to $149USD/month
If you are trying to ship in a lot of products from abroad but cannot fill a full container then this plugin opens up your options for shipping freight by sea. Shippo will collect your goods at an arranged time and date, load them into a shared container, unload the container and deliver the goods to your door. The fee is agreed at the beginning and you pay a one off all-inclusive invoice once the delivery is made… with no hidden costs. It also covers label printing and tracking for you and your customers.
Price: Rates vary depending on packages.
Keep track of your stock and managing orders is a critical part of any successful business and nowadays there is no excuse not to be on top of it. There are countless apps that allow you to easily update, synchronise and monitor your products and variants.
Trade Gekco allows provides you with all the features to save time, sell more, work smarter and grow your business. Seamlessly integrating with Shopify, this plugin is ideal for companies looking to scale up, as once the initial setup is complete — a process that in and of itself is extremely simple — the plugin gives you the flexibility to expand by growing along with you. Trade Gecko also has a B2B portal that allows you to easily change between your business dealings, whether it be the B2B sourcing of your products etc. or the B2C your online retail store.
Price: 14 day free trial. Plans from $79USD/month
Missing sales because your stock has run low is inexcusable and not only will you miss out on money but you’ll also potentially push returning and prospective customers away. By measuring demand and sales you can stay on top of your stock levels and when inevitably your product is featured on a popular blog or article, your stock will be able to withhold the stampede of new customers. You can receive weekly reports that show which products are in most demand and even the quantity you need to order; “know rather than guess what your customers want”. If worse comes to the worse and you do run out of something then you can set up automated emails to your customers that inform them when the item in question is back in stock.
Price: 30 day free trial. $19USD/month
As one of Trade Gecko’s biggest rivals, DEAR Inventory is a worthy challenger. Some of the many features include intelligent purchasing decisions (retaining customer purchase history), sales tracking, a manufacturing module that allows you to track the cost of raw materials / labour / and production of goods, accounting and stock control. By simply connecting your online shop and shipping platform with DEAR Inventory, you can handle everything under one roof.
Price: 14 day free trial. $199.00/month
There are very few of us out there who can honestly say they look forward to this little (hmmm?) task at the end of the week or month. But to keep the taxman at bay it is essential that it is done and in the digital age that we now find ourselves in, there are hundreds of apps out there to help you keep on top of your bookkeeping. Here are our top 3.
This online accounting software is designed to ease the burden on the shoulders of small businesses. Some of the key features include the management and production of; process invoices and quotes, reconciliation, inventory invoicing, purchase orders, bills, expenses and employee pay amongst many others. Should you need further advice from specialist accountants or bookkeepers (aren’t they the same thing?!) Xero’s directory will connect you with one should you need.
Price: Plans range from $9USD to $70USD/ month
Like Xero, Quickbooks is aimed at smaller merchants and the self-employed who can access all of their account details through the Quickbooks intuitive mobile app. With features including; invoice creation and tracking, cashflow insights, expenses, VAT management, payroll and ability to connect with your accountant this platform is a quick and easy way of keeping your eye on your accounts. You can also set up reminders for overdue invoices.
Price: Free 30 day trial. Plans range from £3/month to £15/month (for the first 6 months).
Knowing how much your unsold stock is worth at any given time and managing cost of production or costs of goods sold is a critical part of controlling your profit margins. Profiteer is a cost of goods sold (COGS) plugin that helps you do these things. Features include tracking profit margins for all sales, viewing cost price in Shopify Order Reports, replacing free sale items with accurate prices, record sales with automatic currency conversion and calculating COGS for any day of the year.
Making a sale is only half of the battle, the tricky part comes afterwards in the form of retaining your customers and encouraging them to advocate your brand or product long into the future.
People are forgiving and whilst the customer is always right (even if they are wrong) or they make a mistake, the infrastructure must be in place for them to amend or cancel their orders should a problem arise.
“91% of customers state that a good return policy is something they consider when making an online purchase.” (Harris Poll Study)
The following are three apps that will help you remain on your customer’s good side:
Returns Manager views after-sales as a marketing strategy as much as anything else and as such they put the customer experience (rather than the vendor) at the forefront. A few of the features that the customer get are: Easy return of one or more items from an order, add custom notes on return, view notes that the store adds to a return, view status updates and other details, get email notifications on status updates, doesn’t require a customer account and crucially is mobile friendly. These features are guaranteed to put your customer at ease when visiting your store, which in turn does wonders for your organic marketing.
Price: 30 day free trial. $19.99USD/month
This is not only a useful tool for your customers should they wish to talk to a ‘shop assistant’, but it is also incredibly useful for the vender. ChatPirate gives you the ability to track your customers around your store, monitor what items they have put in their basket, and allows you to send trigger conversations to the customers before they abandon their carts. Designed within a minimalist and smart interface, your customers can rest assured that there is always someone there to answer the queries when they need.
Price: 14 day free trial. Plans range from $7USD to $99USD/month
Encouraging the customer to find the answer to their question themselves is more effective than many appreciate. People are willing to look and feel better about themselves when they find what they are looking for themselves. Some of the Helpdesk Center (It’s an American plugin hence the spelling!) features include: Creating an easy-to-navigate and searchable FAQs page, publish searchable articles, sections and categories and, let the customer submit questions they cannot find the answers to.
TRAFFIC & SALES BOOSTERS
Whilst I admit not all, most eCommerce companies want to drive up sales and increase their profits. The following plugins are all about driving more people to your site and ultimately getting people to convert.
Customer advocacy is one of the best ways to drive up traffic and giving people an little incentive to tell there friends about your product is a sneaky little marketing trick that has worked wonders for years. First you choose your rewards (cash, store credit, discounts or free products) then set up your theme to reflect you brand, then its down to promotion and start the little snowball rolling down the hill. You can constantly track your campaigns through detailed yet understandable reporting.
Price: 15 day free trial. Plans start at $49/month
Give out virtual coupons that turn visitors into email subscribers or social followers so that they can be targeted further down the line. One example is an exit intent coupon popup that appears whilst your customers are browsing your site, although a powerful technology can detect when they are hovering over the leave tab (for example) and so the popup appears and offers them a discount that can be entered at the checkout.
Targeting customers with similar products to what they have in their shopping baskets is an effective way of driving up sales. Upsell and cross sell offers encourage customers to add higher-valued items or purchase bundles to their baskets. Excite customers by motivating them to buy a little more in order to achieve a goal and receive a discount offer.
Price: 15 day free trial. $30USD/month
Whilst these final instalments might tickle a moral nerve, if it’s profits you’re after, apps that encourage engagement are a essential.
Well there you have it… Hopefully this has given you a little insight into how you can launch your eCommerce store into stratosphere and realise your businesses full potential.
This list has been compiled based on feedback we get directly from our clients and as future clients, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share or comment on whether you agree, disagree or frankly couldn’t care less about. Or, if you have any suggestions of your own we’d love to hear from you.
We’ve all heard the term ‘User Experience’ (UX) and how the design and functionality of a website should be providing the best experience, but what specifically should we be aiming for to reach this?
First it is important to know what user experience is. Simply put – user experience is the experience a user has and how the user gets the best out this to reach their needs. This could be a user wishing to purchase a product online, or navigating through a website to get some specific information from it. The experience the user has from purchasing the product or finding the information will either result in the user repeating the experience in the same manner next time, or they will find an alternative solution.
If the user has a good experience buying a product from your website, then they are likely to come back and purchase further products in the future. Similarly if a user has easily found the relevant information they were searching for on your website, they will also return again and pass on the ease of finding the information to others.
If you are redesigning your current website, it is crucial to look at how users are currently using the site and seeing any issues with the current UX to create a better user experience. It is important and a continuously evolving skill to use design to solve these issues while also maintaining a great look and feel of the site too. The benefit of a good user experience is therefore a win-win situation for both the user and for you.
Jakob Nielsen, who is thought of as the ‘Godfather’ of UX, had 5 principles that are still as valid for using design as part of user experience today. These principles are listed out below and include key questions to be considered when creating or updating the user experience for a new design:
How easy is it for users to learn/do the basic tasks on the site the first time they use it?
Once users have learnt the tasks, how quickly can users perform the tasks?
When users return, how easily can they reestablish the tasks and what to do?
4) Error management
How many errors do users make while using the site, how severe are they, and how easily rectified are they?
How pleasant is it to use the design?
If you take the Amazon site as an example, you can see that this site has encompassed all of these 5 principles and provides an excellent user experience. Users are able to instantly learn to search, browse, and purchase products from the site, whether it is a book, DVD, CD or a different product. The process is exactly the same across the site, and is easily replicated and remembered the next time users visit the site and wish to purchase a product. It is hard for a user to make many errors in the searching and purchasing of the site, and if so, it is easily rectified. Although you could argue that the site is not the most aesthetically pleasing, the design is simple and transferred across the site, allowing ease for the user to know where they are in the site and the process of purchasing their chosen product. Jakob Nielsen’s 5 principles have therefore all equally been addressed. If the design changed now, many users would be flummoxed and have a much less satisfying user experience.
So, what specifically should we be aiming for to reach good user experience then? This will be subjective to the designer, business owner and more importantly to the various users. What might help the business objectives may hinder good design, and what may be aesthetically pleasing may reduce the user’s experience to find the relevant product they wish to purchase or information they require. The challenge is therefore to address the needs and goals of users while still maintaining the business analysis, visual design and functionality of the site.
UX is key to building a successful website. Read more on how Diffusion Digital can help transform your WordPress or Shopify website into a genuine crowd pleaser whilst also taking into account SEO guidelines.