Shopify Meetup Leeds Roundup: Insights from Keir Whitaker, Michael Brook and Chris Holmes

After a successful first Shopify Meetup in May earlier this year (2016), we were delighted to launch a second event and gather the northern Shopify community once more, invite some great speakers and meet other Shopify retailers and developers. We were excited to reconnect with those who came along to our previous event, but also see some new faces as well!

This time around, the event was held at The Adelphi in Leeds - a beautiful and charming venue in the centre of the city - and was a perfect fit for an informal, friendly Shopify meetup. We had a fantastic turnout and we’d like to say thanks to everybody who came along.

Up in Yorkshire with the one & only @keirwhitaker to hang out with the Leeds Shopify community & eat some peas. #shopifymeetupnorth - @joelbronkowski

Our Managing Director, Dan, lead the event again by introducing the speakers and, after everybody had enjoyed the free pie and peas and got themselves a drink, we began by sharing some useful Shopify insights, tips and tricks.

We also re-introduced the Shopify swag giveaway, as the Shopify team had kindly given us some t-shirts to giveaway. To be in with a chance of getting hold of some swag, guests were encouraged to tweet using the #ShopifyMeetup or #ShopifyMeetupLeeds hashtag or by sending us a snap with our Shopify Meetup geofilter on Snapchat (very trendy!).

Keir Whitaker: Hidden features of Shopify Themes

Keir kicked off the event with the first speaking slot and whizzed through some of his expert tips for customising Shopify Themes and making them work better for your online store.

Keir Whitaker

He covered everything from improving image sizing, to URL structures, to collections and more, all by tweaking elements and objects in the code so that your Shopify store can be more unique and customised for what you need, and how you want to display your products.

Some @shopify theme knowledge bombs being rained by @keirwhitaker here at #ShopifyMeetupLeeds - @plgrmco

Keir is a member of the the Partner Growth & Community team at Shopify, so we’re very thankful he could make it along to the event and share his expertise - along with Joel who you may have also spoken to if you came along.

Keir is often found at conferences across the UK and further afield and has run many workshops on building Shopify themes - so if you have any questions, he’s your go-to guy.

You can subscribe to his newsletter, read his latest articles on Medium, listen to his podcast, and follow him on Twitter.

Michael Brook: Shopify fulfilment and you

Michael was our second speaker and shared his experience from Konnexus, a third party fulfilment centre who integrate with Shopify and other seller channels.

With many years of experience working in the fulfilment industry, Michael began by talking through the conception of Konnexus, based in Wakefield. When the company was first conceived, Wakefield was a busy hub of fulfilment and logistics companies but many were reluctant to work with smaller brands and growing companies, which Konnexus are proud to do.

Michael Brook


He painted a very relatable picture of smaller Shopify merchants who buy products in, struggle to find storage space for them, package products themselves, schedule regular Post Office runs, deal with returns etc. It’s a common comment from retailers that there are not enough hours in the day, but many haven’t thought about fulfilment, outsourcing or dropshipping before.

Michael talked through the key benefits of outsourcing, and how it can help small businesses, from saving time to work on more exciting areas of the business, saving costs in the long-run (even on packaging materials and bubble wrap!), and having a level of support behind the logistics of your business.

You can find out more about Konnexus on their website and connect with Michael on LinkedIn.

Chris Holmes: Woodbuds & Shopify, a natural partnership.

Chris was our final speaker and gave an exciting and inspirational talk on running and growing Woodbuds, alongside his friend, Simon.

Woodbuds is a brand using the Shopify platform to primarily sell sustainable, hardwood, in-ear earphones. Alongside creating a strong product, they also dedicate themselves to helping the environment with partnerships with The Woodland Trust and 1% For The Planet.

Chris talked through their journey from starting on Magento and struggling with many elements of managing a Magento store, to then embracing Shopify and taking advantage of the simple, easy-to-use nature of the platform.

A key to the Woodbuds marketing strategy, and driving traffic to the website, has been blogger outreach and brand ambassadors - which is something we agree with as a strong marketing tool, here at Statement. Chris even said that their ongoing blogger engagement sees more results than a large feature they had in The Sunday Times!

Chris Holmes

Chris covered many topics in his slot - from platforms, managing a balance between his full-time job and Woodbuds, marketplaces, retailers and investing in content - and I’m sure everybody had more questions about the brand when they got home.

Chris shared six top tips for growing a successful brand on the Shopify platform:

  • Establish brand ambassadors
  • Test new things
  • Time spent vs. value added
  • Every order is an opportunity
  • Take action
  • Invest in content

Everybody seemed to fall in love with the Woodbuds products and their distinctive, strong brand with a Scandinavian, rustic feel (and everybody jumped at the opportunity of freebies).

Great to catch up Chris from @woodbuds at the #shopifymeetupleeds this evening. Take outs: Story, Story, Story + Invest in the content - @ric_gravina
What a pleasure to meet so many interesting people at the @Shopify @ShopifyPartners #ShopifyMeetupLeeds tonight - thanks for having us! - @woodbuds

You can find out more about Woodbuds on their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for coming!

We ended the event with a quick ask-around of where everybody was from and what they sold - from lingerie to beer to retro spectacles to coconut oils - and we then gave away the Shopify swag!

Our next meet up will be February 2017, so be sure to keep an eye out for updates. If you’d like to be kept updated, please sign up to our newsletter where we will announce the next event along with keeping you informed on eCommerce news and insights.

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