We’re still buzzing about our latest Shopify Meetup, hosted at Seven Bays Bouldering in Halifax, NS. It was (as usual) a great venue for local entrepreneurs to come together to learn, network and connect with fellow Shopify and ecommerce experts. This meetup featured speakers that shared their success stories from the perspective of local, family-owned businesses.
If you couldn’t join us on June 26th, here’s what you missed:
Track 1: A Recap of Shopify Unite 2019
Augmented Reality (“AR”) with 3D for all plans
In 2018, this game-changing technology was released for Shopify Plus merchants. It felt exclusive and potentially out of reach for smaller merchants, but with this year’s announcement that it will be available for all plans, it opens up new opportunities for everyone, from Expert Marketplace opportunities for 3D modelers to competitive advantages for merchants in fashion, furniture and “gear” (such as bikes, brewing equipment or baby strollers). Customers can see how a product looks and get a feel for its size and abilities before purchasing.
You can try it out here.
This will change everything for D2C merchants of any size! Shopify is on a mission to “democratize commerce”, and their next step towards this removes obstacles to D2C growth and success, in part by reducing dependency on traditional gatekeepers.
This is already happening; fulfillment centres have already been built across the US, and Shopify POS hardware store has been using it for some time. They are investing $1 billion towards their goal of 2-day delivery in the US.
How it works: merchants send inventory to Shopify Fulfillment, then machine learning predicts the best inventory locations and levels. This sort of technology and warehousing has been previously unavailable to entrepreneurs, only tech giants, but now D2C merchants of any size can take advantage of this network, which can currently manage a volume of 10 to 10,000 orders/day, aiming for a planned volume of 3 to 30,000 orders/day.
New Store-Design Experience Coming
Shopify announced several major updates to Themes, all of which are brilliant. These changes are wrapped up into a new user interface, with better tools to make navigating store creation more intuitive. The result is a beautifully-improved user experience.
- Sections - Home page has had this for over a year, but it is coming soon to every part of your theme (pages, collections, blogs, cart, account, etc.).
- Master pages - These allow merchants to define content that will appear on multiple pages. You can easily apply changes to all pages under a specific page type, just by editing the master page.
- Starting points - These make store setup faster and easier to do yourself. Themes can offer a selection of pre-configured content sections; you just need to have your content.
- Content portability - Content will no longer be stored in themes; you can switch between themes without having to transfer content manually.
- Drafts - They have created a safe place for merchants to draft changes to their online store prior to publishing. With this new update, you can change the appearance and content on existing and new online store pages, then publish when ready.
Track 2: Helping Entrepreneurs Pursue Their Ecommerce Dreams
Matthew Melvin, Business Development Manager at Chit Chats, spoke about why shipping matters to ecommerce entrepreneurs.
Shipping plays a huge role in any product-based business, and shipping costs can easily be a make-or-break factor in sales. Stats cited:
- 64% of ecommerce customers say shipping prices greatly affect their decision to buy
- 44% of shoppers abandon carts due to unexpectedly high shipping charges
Matthew brought to our attention current and looming considerations in the shipping industry, notably the impact of the US’s impending threat to pull out of the Universal Postal Union (UPU). In this case, where shipping from historically-manufacturing nations such as China has been subsidized for over 100 years, a change to the UPU will mean economic challenges to dropshipping models.
He also discussed the relationships involved in shipping between Canada and the US, and how closely merchants work with Canada Post, especially the importance of the “last mile” - getting your product right to your customer’s door.
Chit Chats has integrations with big names like Shopify, Etsy, Amazon and eBay. Their mission is to help Canadian entrepreneurs pursue their dreams. They promise to deliver and make Canadian commerce borderless, seamless and boundless so you can deliver your goods to the world.
Track 3: The Importance of Brick + Mortar and Online Marketplace
Jeff Bishop of Dormie Workshop discussed how he and his team have formed their successful business, and the importance of having both brick and mortar as well as online presence in today’s marketplace.
An entrepreneur starting a small-to-medium business requires a well-thought-out business plan, with considerations such as initial money to invest versus a loan, deciding whether the business will be export- or locally-based -- each of which shapes a plan differently (e.g., marketing, logistics, taxes, etc.) -- and knowing and playing to one’s strengths, specifically, choosing where to apply effort versus investing in experts.
In the case of Dormie Workshop, almost all of their brand exposure comes via the online stores that carry their product. They realized that, in order to gain control over their brand image and messaging, they needed to invest in their own digital presence. In effect, their own ecommerce platform is their brick and mortar, and it was in need of “renovation”. They knew what they were good at, so rather than spending their time learning specialized new skills, they continued to focus on excellent design, product development and sales, then hired a company with expertise in branding and a --ahem!-- delightfully professional ecommerce agency for their new website.
Finally, he emphasized that their success has been due in a large part to consistent online marketing and smart partnering with businesses that were able to support and promote their product within the industry.
Brothers and PGA Professionals Jeff and Todd Bishop created Dormie Workshop based upon three principles: innovative design, highest quality craftsmanship and industry leading customer service. Allowing golfers to express themselves through customization and fresh original design while fostering Junior golf initiatives has established Dormie Workshop as a grassroots golf innovator in a global marketplace.
...all this and good snacks, drinks and good company too! The meetup was well received by the attendees, a mix of existing business owners and developers who asked great questions. We hope you’ll join us at our next Shopify Meetup in September (date TBA).
If you’d like to speak at one of our meetups, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.