Hello, Scott Austin here.
This episode marks the one year anniversary of the Shopify Solutions Podcast. I want to thank everyone that has helped make the podcast so successful. I'm amazed by the number of downloads each episode gets and how many countries the podcast has reached. Of course, most of the downloads come from the English speaking countries. But I do love seeing countries like Bangladesh and Algeria listening to the podcast. I do have a favor to ask you at this time and that is for you to submit a review of the podcast so that others can find it. I'll leave a link in the show notes to help you leave a review. Thanks for that.
Now the format for this episode is going to be a bit different. Usually, I cover one topic per episode. For this episode, I'm going to cover several small topics. Let's dig in.
The first thing I want to discuss is some of the recent improvements to Shopify. Shopify is a hosted solution which is also referred to as SAAS, which is an acronym that stands for Software as a Service. What this means is that Shopify runs and manages the servers that your store runs on. Way back in the history of eCommerce, like in 2005, if you were running an online store you had to run it on your own servers which made the whole thing much more complex. Now there are a lot of advantages to a hosted solution. And one of those is that Shopify can add new features to their service easily. And they do this all of the time. In fact, Shopify has rolled out 12 new releases in the past month. They are constantly improving things. You may notice quite often that when login to your Shopify admin that things look different. Your eyes do not deceive you. It just means that Shopify has deployed a new release to their servers. Shopify provides a changelog where they detail out all of their improvements. I've included a link to it in the show notes if you want to stay on top of improvements as they come out.
Let's talk about some of the recent improvements so that you are aware of them and can see if there are any that you want to take advantage of.
First off, there are new views in the Shopify Admin for Products, Customers, Marketing, Orders and Gift Cards. So yes, those pages do look and behave a little differently from what you are used to. Most of the changes are pretty intuitive. I like how there are now more ways to filter in some of these views especially Products. So its now easier to get your product selection down to a desired group and then do batch changes to the set because the new filters let you slice and dice in many new ways.
There's also a new options when duplicating a product on what to copy from the original product to the copy. So now you can specify whether or not to copy Images, SKUs, Barcodes, quantities and availability. The SKUs is really helpful. In the past, when you copied a product, the copy process just iterated on the SKU. So if the sku was Hat3 the copied product's sku would be Hat4, which meant the product had inaccurate data. No you can choose to not copy the SKU and it will be left blank which is a good reminder that you need to enter it in.
The next one is a new feature in the admin and that is that you can set a social media image. Some themes also allow you to do this, but now every store has this in the Shopify admin. What is a social media image? Well, whenever we add a page link on social post, like a Facebook post or a Twitter tweet, the social media platform gets some information about that page and adds it to the post. That information can include an image, title and description. Now Shopify and themes are already set up to tell social media what image to use for most types of pages. Like the article image for a blog post or the collection image for a collection. But not every page in a Shopify store will have an image for social media to pull. So this social media image is the one that will be used across the site for those times when a page specific image is not available. So you should make this image generic for your whole site. I recommend making an image from your logo in the recommend size, which is 1200 x 628 px. The image is set in the Shopify admin under Sales Channels > Online Store > Preferences page in a section called Social sharing image.
Another new feature takes place in the checkout process. And that is that you can separate out your Shipping Methods and your Pick up options (if you offer pick-up). In the past, I would create shipping options for in-store pick up and assign them a 0 cost. And then the customer would see one list that included delivery and pick-up options. Now there are tabs for pick-up and delivery. So its easier for customers to understand their options. The pick-up is tied to your Shopify locations which you are already using for fulfillment. And the thing that I like about this new method the most is that it adds a notification step to the customer for pick-ups. When you get a pick-up order, you'll be able to process the order and then send a notification to the customer when it is ready for pick-up. And then you'll be able to mark it as picked-up in your Shopify admin when the customer does the in-store pick-up. So its easier for you and your store staff to track pick-up orders through their phases of fulfillment of ordered, ready for pick-up and picked-up.
Now the last two Shopify improvements aren't new features but they are new free price points. And I assume that both are a response to the Corona virus, so I don't know if they will be permanent or not.
The first one is that Gift Cards are now available on the Shopify Basic plan. I did a whole episode on Gift Cards in the past. I'll include a link to it in the show notes for those of you that are on the Shopify Basic plan and want to take advantage of gift cards.
The second is that Google Shopping listings are now free in the US with the free price rolling out to other markets over the rest of the year. To enable this, add the Google Shopping app to your store and go through the setup process. I've included a link to the app in the show notes. This is something that every store should take advantage of if they are not already. That's because this app will get products showing up in the Shopping tab of Google search results.
So that's it for this round of Shopify improvements.
Next, I want to move onto two tools that you can use for building trust, and better trust means better conversion.
The first one is email. Some stores, especially new or small ones, don't yet have an email address that is connected to the store's domain. Instead they use a free gmail account or another free email provider. Or they combine everything under one email address. So here's my recommendation. If you do not have an email address with your domain, sign-up for a Google G-Suite account. Its only $5 per month for an account and it helps your business look more legit. If you, as customer, get an email from AcmeCorp.com, would you think more highly of the company if the email came from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Of course the email from firstname.lastname@example.org provides more trust. Its one more sign that this company means business and is in it for the long haul. Now here's two hacks with G-Suite that I want you can use to get the most out of it.
Hack #1. One gmail account can support multiple domains. For example, my agency has a website at JadePuma.com and this podcast has a website at ShopifySolutionsPodcast.com. Now my email with both of those domains is one G-Suite account. So if you send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, they both go to the same email account. So, if you have more than one Shopify store, you can support them under a single G-Suite account if that makes sense for you.
Hack #2. In G-Suite, each account you create gets charged the monthly fee. And you'll probably want a different account for each member of your team. But you can add an unlimited number of distribution groups for free. JadePuma is a one-person agency - its just me. I don't know how many different @jadepuma.com email address I've put out there, but it’s a ton. So I have a lot of unique email addresses that I use like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Those addresses are distribution groups and I get all of them included in the single account that I pay for. And the benefits for using distribution groups instead of a person's account are two-fold:
Benefit #1. You can change who the email goes to as people and roles change over time.
Benefit #2. You can set up rules based on distribution list names to help manage your email. For example, I have a distribution list that I use when creating an account at questionable sites. Let's just say its firstname.lastname@example.org. I then have a rule that automatically archives all emails sent to email@example.com as I know anything coming that email address is not interest to me.
So that's email from G-Suite which does come with a monthly fee. Then next tool is also from Google and this one is free.
Here's the scenario. One thing a store can do to build trust is to publish a phone number on its website. But many smaller business, especially online ones, don't have a dedicated phone line anymore. Everyone just uses their mobile phone. But no one wants to publish their mobile phone number on the web. Instead go to Google Voice. I'll have a link in the show notes. And sign-up for a personal account. That will give you a phone number for free. That's a phone number not a phone. Then you'll be able to manage that number any way you want. You can have all calls go to voicemail. Google will even transcribe the call to text and send it to you in an email which makes it really easy to see what the call was about. Or you can answer calls on your computer. Or you can add an app to your phone and answer it there. This also means that you can transfer responsibility of answering or responding to phone calls amongst members of your team as needed. It’s a powerful and free way to build trust and engage with your customers.
That's it for this episode. Thanks for a great first year with this podcast. And please remember to leave a review of the podcast.
Thanks for listening.