by Joshua Hobson

After many weeks of preparation and excitement, we launched the very first Shopify Meetup North event at Futurelabs in Leeds on 25th May. We received such a positive response and had a great turnout so we’d like to thank everybody who came along!

After many weeks of preparation and excitement, we launched the very first Shopify Meetup North event at Futurelabs in Leeds on 25th May. We received such a positive response and had a great turnout so we’d like to thank everybody who came along!

The event started with Dan welcoming everybody and introducing our guest speakers, Ben Prince from Bunting and Nicole Szekeres from Fusion Bags. We also had a small giveaway of branded swag from the lovely team at Shopify so we told everybody to tweet using the #ShopifyMeetupNorth hashtag and, at the end, we picked out five lucky winners who won themselves a Shopify t-shirt and a sticker (if you won, we hope you’re wearing your t-shirt with pride around your office!).

Dan Conboy: Welcome & Unite Conference Roundup

Dan introduced the event and discussed what the aim was - to build a network of like-minded Shopify users ranging from established retailers using the platform, to those interested in finding out more, to agencies and app developers who work on the technical and design side of the platform. It’s much easier for traditional high street retailers to build a community where you can ‘pop next door’ and have a chat about business. For online retailers it can be harder to have that community so that’s one of the reasons why Shopify Meetup North has been created.

He then went on to talk about Statement’s journey. We started as an internal team for a growing retailer of automotive lighting products after we had a series negative experiences with agencies. Slowly, more and more external companies also needed our help and then Statement, the agency, was born. After separating from the lighting company a few years ago, we now work with a diverse range of clients; from childrenswear brands to a national retailer of health supplements, local sports teams to a hot water cylinder manufacturer.

Dan also discussed some key takeaways from Unite (Shopify’s first partner conference in San Francisco) and what these mean for merchants:

  • Online Store Editor - now it’s much easier for retailers to edit and make design changes to the layout of their online stores.
  • Shopify Scripts - a more efficient way for retailers to make pricing rules
  • More Sales Channels - more integration of marketplaces like Amazon but also allowing retailers to sell on Facebook and Twitter and managing these in one central place.
  • More Focus on Mobile - Shopify are making it easier for retailers to offer more mobile-first experiences.

Ben Prince: Personalisation, What Is It and Why Should I Do It?

Ben Prince from Bunting then went on to discuss personalisation and why retailers should take advantage of this.

At its heart, personalisation allows you to emulate the in-store experience of friendly, knowledgeable staff who know what you like and who will offer recommendations based on what they know about you (hence the ‘Open All Hours’ reference).

Ben mentioned Amazon as a company who uses personalisation and many attendees were familiar with this and said they’d seen use of it. Did you know that 30% of Amazon’s sales come from personalisation and recommended products?

- @BuntingPro #shopifyMeetupNorth 30% of @amazon sales are via recommendations , #Ecommerce
— Spencer Hudson (@spencerhudson) May 25, 2016

Ben discussed three major types of personalisation that retailers can look to use - product recommendations, personalised content and cart abandonment recovery.

Product recommendations, based on what users have previously bought or showed interest in, can offer a more relevant experience for visitors and can generate much more revenue for merchants.

Personalised content uses information you know about a web visitor to present slightly different web content to them - such as where they are located, if they’re a new or returning customer, or their gender. For instance, if you know that a web visitor is an international customer, you can let them know that you ship internationally instead of letting them know about free UK delivery (which is obviously not relevant to them).

Cart abandonment was the third type of personalisation and allows retailers to reach out to potential customers who added products to their cart but then didn’t check out for whatever reason. You can then email them a few days later with a special offer on delivery or a discount to push them to make that sale - an effective way of giving targeted offers to customers who are clearly interested in the product.

Ben’s last tip was to make sure that you split test everything. Make sure it all actually works and drives sales. You might add a piece of personalisation to your website but how do you know if it’s driving more sales? His advice when launching a new test was to try it out with 50% of visitors and then the other 50% wouldn’t be personalised - then measure which group had the highest conversion rate to really consolidate that what you’re doing is worth the investment.

Nicole Szekeres: Growing a Business Using Shopify

Nicole was the last of our guest speakers and shared her start-up story with us - right from the simple idea of Fusion Bags to the excitement of her first sale.

Fusion Bags are a retailer who currently use Shopify to sell their high quality, beautifully designed bags for musical instruments.

Nicole was refreshingly open about her story and how she had always considered herself as ‘unemployable’. After being unhappy in many jobs, she decided to start her own business with a few friends. They were originally interested in selling laptop bags but when they travelled over to Asia to meet with a potential manufacturer, they changed direction at the last minute and decided on bags for musical instruments. Over the first few weeks she said that they pretty much just lived on adrenaline with the thought of ‘global domination’ of the music industry.

- Great to hear real stories from founder @fusiongigbags #ShopifyMeetupNorth
— Amanda Evans (@evansamanda) May 25, 2016

They began their journey by attending three major trade shows: Music China in Shanghai, NAMM Show in California and Musikmesse in Frankfurt. They managed to sign some crucial distributor contracts right before the recession and whilst they did see setbacks and the shut down of smaller retailers during this time, they managed to stay in business because of smart strategies and quickly learning from their mistakes. They made the decision to have more of a focus on selling directly to customers and so they launched their online store and began their Shopify presence.

Nicole kindly shared some of the tools and apps that they use at Fusion Bags including Shopify (of course), TradeGecko, Xero, Robin, Product Reviews, MailChimp, Google Shopping, Out of Stock and Bulk Product Edit. If you’re looking for smarter apps for your Shopify store, we recommend taking a look at some of those.

After talking about her journey with Fusion Bags, Nicole then gave away some top tips for retailers to help grow their online stores.

Use Good Quality Photos - she strongly advised that you don’t skimp on product photography as this can really sell your products.

Offer Excellent Customer Service - take the time to over deliver for your customers.

Create Brand Ambassadors - having customers who love your products can be very powerful

Have fun - “This is the thing you have to do all day, every day, so you have to have fun with it!”

Thank you for coming!

We’d just like to finish this roundup by saying a big thank you to Ben and Nicole for joining us and offering to share their insights on Shopify and eCommerce.

We have a provisional date for our next meetup - Wednesday 14th September 2016 - so do keep your eyes out for more information on this! If you’d like to be 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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