Chapter 5 of Shopify Instruction Series - What Does A Million Dollar Online Store Look Like? Elements of a Great Online Store

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Hello everyone, 

What does an online store that sells a million+ dollars worth of merchandise each year look like? It looks sleek and well-planned. It's easy to navigate and professional. It compels its visitors and develops trust. 

We're moving on to the design of the store and discussing the general look plus functionality of everything. 

Appearance is EVERYTHING. 

First though, learning the important elements of a great online store is the foundation of what we'll be covering next. 

This applies to all online stores and not just Shopify. These lessons are based on Shopify Stores, so we will cover how to create all these elements in future lessons. 

Element 1) Free Shipping 

Free shipping: Normally, you would mark up your products about 50% beyond what you yourself pay for them. 

The easiest way to do this is to multiply the price you get it for by .50
3.95 x .5 = 1.975
Then add 1.975 to 3.95 = 5.925
Round it up to $6.00 

Tip: I always price my products like this: $5.95 instead of $6.00. It is a psychological thing that seems to work well. This is something I learned in sales years ago. For some strange reason, it matters. 

Offering worldwide free shipping (suggested) and don't want the nightmare of figuring out shipping for the world? Double the price of the product and offer free shipping for all purchases. 

Just double the price like this: 
$3.95 X 2 = $7.90 so I'd price it at $7.95

This easily covers your shipping costs and eliminates a lot of headaches. 

Note: Some large products might need a much larger markup or might have to be limited to the U.S. and Canada (excluding Hawaii and Alaska) addresses. When I sell my large art canvases, I incorporate the cost of shipping them by UPS into the price of the painting. It's just a lot easier that way. 

Element 2) Email addresses where customers can reach you. 

Because you chose in a previous lesson to manage your email addresses on Shopify, it will be very easy for you to create new email addresses (all you want) and forward them to as many other email addresses as you like. Fantastic! 

Based on Internet norms and traditions, here are some good email addresses for you to consider adding: (whatever your domain name is)
-General information email
-Inquiries about refunds, returns
-for troubles with the function of your site
-sales questions
-general help with your company
-if they think they've been spammed by your website or added to your newsletter list without signing up for it

Tracking of orders, general inquiries about orders

Element 3) A sense of urgency or excitement about your products

This involves things like countdown clocks for sale items (which might be a bit overused in some cases), and great copy. Limited time coupons or sales are a great way to generate action. I've seen an app that displays a wheel you can spin for a discount percentage on your order. I'm not sure how much that works, but it's always worth a test. 
You'll want to make sure you write compelling copy with great titles and descriptions. 
A product should address a problem your customer may have and how it will solve the problem. Once you figure out the problem, you're well on your way. 

Element 4) Way to search your store for products

A functioning search box near the top of your page is a must. 
A search link in the bottom footer of your site is also a good idea. 
It's a good idea to test your search to make sure it works correctly. I've seen themes on other sites I've created have terrible search capability. 
A link to "All Products" at the top of your site is also a good idea in case they don't find what they're looking for. 

Element 5) Categories that make sense

Shopify calls categories "collections." This can be puzzling at first, but you'll quickly become used to it. We'll talk more about this in later lessons. 
Your collections (categories) should be easy to navigate, not nested too deeply, but be as useful as possible for your particular store. 
Below each top collection, create subcategories underneath. 
Let's look at an example of a famous outdoor website's collections to see how this works: 

Fishing Poles
survival gear

In this example, the collection names in bold are the top level collections. The ones below them are the subcategories under those main collections. 
This should give you a pretty good idea.

Sitting down with a large piece of paper and drawing a tree structure of your store's product organization could be a lot of help.You'll probably change this collection organization as your site grows and changes. That's totally natural and fine. This is always about learning as you go.  

Element 6) A way to capture email addresses 

Having a way to capture email addresses without spamming your customers is really important to the future of your business. Using a popup window when someone first visits your store could be very effective. It could also be extremely annoying if it keeps popping up for people who've already been there. (sometimes, people clean out their browser cache so nothing recognizes them anymore because their cookies for that site are gone). 
If you test a popup app for awhile on Shopify, and you get very few signups, it's time to take it down. Some swear by it. I think it's obnoxious, but that's just my personal taste. Many famous sites use these so they probably do work. Some people could get annoyed and leave your store. 

I prefer to capture their emails voluntarily by a visit to the store or if they buy something. 
It's your decision, of course, which way to go on this. 

Element 7) A successful email campaign

We all have that one email list we subscribe to that is just compelling, don't we? We read it religiously every single time it hits our mailbox. My utmost favorite is the Shopify emails I get about other business owners. Great stuff! 

You've seen good and bad email lists. Some come too often, some always say they're having a sale (then it's not really a sale now, is it?)

Anything that comes more often than about once a week for me is too often. It really depends on the subject, I guess. 

This is something you'll want to work on a lot because it's going to be your bread and butter in the future. Your faithful customers will buy again and again from you because you've built up their trust. This is not something you want to skip doing. Set aside a specific day each week where you send out a newsletter. Make it funny, make it compelling, with a great title that encourages them to open the email. You're competing with a lot of other emails. 

Element 8) Assurance of Secure Shopping

There are apps you will want to test install on your site that check your shopping cart and your site's security. Many website owners still ask their visitors to send credit card information through unsecured channels like email and submit forms. YIKES! You'll want to test orders and right-click on the page where people enter their credit card information. Make sure it says: 128-Bit SSL Encryption or 256 Bit Encryption, or something to that effect. 

In these days, with so many hackers and data breaches, this is critical step to take for your customers. 

Your customers want to know their information is safe. We will talk more about your Privacy Policy in a later lesson. 

Investigate apps for your store that show an emblem or badge indicating your store is secured from hacking. 

Element 9) Abandoned Shopping Cart Followup Emails

Although abandoned shopping carts are very common, they don't always mean you did something wrong. It could be a whole host of factors that cause people to abandon carts. 
If it happens a lot, it could indicate something is wrong on your site. Perhaps shipping prices scared them off. There could also have been something else wrong with the listing or with the operation of your cart. Your careful analysis and running a test order could tell you what's happening. 

If you can't seem to find anything significantly wrong, it's possible the customer got distracted by something at home or work. Hundreds of reasons could cause this. 
You can try to send them an email within a certain amount of time that asks them if something went wrong and asking if there's anything you can do to help. 
I generally send just one within from 8 hours to about 72 hours. After that, I don't really recommend sending them another one. They could consider it nagging. If you're patient, they'll come back. 

Although, I did recently read a hilarious article about some funny abandoned cart emails in the Shopify newsletter. Here's that article, if you'd like to see some great ways to handle these emails:

There are really so many different kinds of shoppers. Some just go get what they want and get out of there. Some browse endlessly, many times with friends or family. 
Being that "annoying salesperson" doesn't always get the results you are hoping for. Respecting their right to privacy and the right to choose are just as important as your sale. However, writing funny abandoned shopping cart emails could just be what makes them come back. 

Shopify does allow you to create your very own emails to be sent out at intervals you choose when someone abandons their shopping cart. It's all automatic after that. We'll cover this great feature in a future lesson. 

Element 10: Affiliate Program

This works as follows: 

1) Another website owner signs up for your affiliate program. 

2) You approve their application and give them a login to get into the affiliate area of your store. 

3) You provide banners and buttons, complete with instructions and links for putting them on their website to sell your products. 

4) When someone clicks on a banner or button with your link in it, the website owner gets credit if the person buys your product. Your affiliate program in Shopify keeps track of that sale. 

5) You send the website owner a commission for sales they generated by check or Paypal each month. 

You've now used the networking method to sell lots more stuff without doing much work. Once in awhile, you'll happen upon an affiliate who shocks you with how much income they are generating for your site. They're great at sales and promotion but don't necessarily want to produce a product. Those affiliates are a gold mine. 

Element 11) Clear and Easy Navigation

Test, test, test. That's about all I can really say about this. Have friends and family check your site and try it out. Test it yourself over and over again. 

Tip: I test my site not only on my desktop but also on my cellphone each night before I go to sleep. You'd be surprised how much I find I need to fix just before I fall asleep. 

Tip: I create a diagram of my website on paper in a tree format to see it visually in front of me. This often shows me glaring problems like links that don't make sense. 

Take a look at lots of other really famous sites like Cabela's, Zappos, and so on. See what they are doing right with navigation. 

Element 12) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Get family and friends involved in this, too. This will become a knowlegebase for your visitors. You will continue to build your FAQs as time goes by when customers ask you their own questions.

Look at FAQs of really successful stores to get some great ideas. 

Element 13) Sales Tax Calculations

Keep yourself out of hot water with your local state sales tax department or department of revenue. Make sure you are properly registered with them so you can collect sales tax from customers who live in your state. You then must reimburse your state for those taxes you collected. 

We'll talk more about how to set up sales tax in your shopping cart in a future lesson. 

Element 14) Clear and detailed photos

There are free courses all over the Internet showing you how to photograph your products. There are also free tutorials teaching you how to edit photos. There are apps for Shopify that are supposed to take the background out of images and leave it white. I've never used these, but it's great to have a white background to photograph your images. I use a white blanket for my artwork and dolls and always photograph out of the sun so it doesn't wash out the colors. 

There are also tutorials about how to make a photography box out of white foam board so you can put your products in there with a light shining in from the back. 

Element 15) Detailed Descriptions 

Tell them everything they would ever want to know about your products. 

How does it feel?
How does it smell? 
How does it taste? 
What color(s) is it? 
How tall is it?
How wide is it? 
How long is it? 
What size is it? 
How heavy is it? 
You get the idea. 

Tip: If you are dropshipping, take the time to convert metric to the decimal system. List both metric and decimal if you're shipping worldwide. 

Tip: I make myself a small table of the most common conversions, such as: 

1 meter = 3.28084 Feet
1 centimeter = .393701 inches
1 gram = .03527396 ounces (16 oz = 1 lb)
Make sure you list different colors as different options. (variants)

Element 16: Nothing "Cheesy" 

No dancing gifs or obnoxious visual stuff. Unless you're selling gag gifts or running a silly site, the more professional the better. 
Granted, your site's not going to please everyone. Making it look cheap or unprofessional could chase people off. 
Use a color wheel. Hire a designer from whatever it takes. 

Element 17) Way for customers to track their packages

Write them personal emails. 
Allow them to see the status of their packages
There are great apps on Shopify that allow this: 
Let them know: 
1) You got their order and how thankful you are they ordered from you. 
2) Send them another email to let them know you are processing their order. 
3) Let them know it's in transit and provide them with a tracking number. 
4) Once the package arrives, ask them if everything arrived in good shape. Ask for a review of the product (pretty please) if they have time. 

Element 18) A way to share your products on social media.

Provide them with easy tools. Things like the Facebook Like and Share buttons, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. 
There are apps that enable this, and there are settings in the Shopify store you can enable. Ask them to share with their friends in your product descriptions. 

 Element 19) Follow Us social media icons

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest icons. These are something you'll want to put in an obvious place - either at the top of your site or in the footer section. These allow visitors to click through to your social media pages. 

Element 20) Social media that isn't dead : 

Post something on each one of your social media sites every single day. There's nothing more telling than a business that isn't keeping up with their social media. Engagement is so critical to developing customer relationships. They will tell their friends about you and so on. 

Element 21) Give the customer an easy way to choose product options

Give your customer the ability to easily choose what they want. Give them dropdown boxes where they can choose sizes, colors, lengths, and so on. 
Tip: Shopify calls options "Variants." We'll discuss variants in detail in future lessons. 
Make it easy for your customers to get EXACTLY what they want and nothing less.

Element 22) 24/7 Support 

 Provide your customers with email addresses, phone numbers, and chat windows so they can reach you whenever they need to. 

Element 23) Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Returns/Refunds Policy

You'll be able to generate samples of these policies and edit them however you like to suit the policies you want for your company. 
We'll cover how to do this in a later lesson. 

Element 24) Clear statement of how long shipping is going to take. 

This is especially critical if you're getting your products through drop-shipping. Make sure your customers are happy. Put the estimation of shipping time in the description on every single product you post. I always post a longer time than expected so they're pleasantly surprised when it arrives earlier.  

Element 25) A lot of ways to pay

Give them choices of things like Apple Pay, Masterpass, and Paypal besides the usual credit cards. 

I also give them the option to send a money order or to fax their order. Some people are nervous about buying online. Give them lots of choices. 
That's it for this lesson. It was a long one, but it gives us the foundation of lessons to come. 
Here's the video outline of this lesson, if you'd like to view it:

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The Dropshipping Database your competitors wish they had access to - Worldwide Brands has been researching dropshippers from all over the world for over 17 years. Click here to see a test drive

 See you in the next lesson, I hope!
You can go there now, if you like: 
Chapter 6 - Element 1 of Million Dollar Stores - Setting Up Free Shipping 

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