To celebrate our partnership with Shopify, we launched our very own Shopify store to demonstrate just how intuitive the platform can be.
In about an hour, we launched the Plura Interactive Shop – a merch store that functions as a means to provide our clients with quality branded gear. Because the orders that take place on this store are printed on demand and fulfilled by a third-party white label service, all we need to do is generate an offer code whenever we give away gear.
The goal was to deploy something simple yet elegant and in short order, and that meant taking advantage of Shopify’s library of out-of-the-box tools like Shopify payments.
Additionally, we also knew that we could use the Shopify app marketplace to fill in the gaps should we need something that wasn’t already available. Given the time constraint, we limited the number of customizations that required edits to the code. If we had any time left over, we planned to use it to install analytics software such as Google Analytics and develop a few dashboards in Google Data Studio.
There were a few things that we wanted to gather before we launched our store in development mode. This included creative assets (logos, mockups, etc.), content for the PDPs, and an outline of the site’s structure.
In order to create a logo, we spent some time making different logos using Hatchful, Shopify’s free online logo design tool. Hatchful is a fun way to get inspired, and can be used to quickly draft a brand image. Ultimately, however, we found the tool to be a bit too limited for our liking, so we settled on our alternate logo () for the shop.
Product content such as mockups, basic descriptions, and specifications are sometimes provided by the OEM or vendor, and this alone can save retailers considerable time and effort. In our case, the print-on-demand vendor that we chose provided product names and descriptions that were suitable for our shop. Note that if you change product names later, you might need to update its URL string to match the new value. In this case, a 301 redirect is usually necessary to avoid a broken link.
After having gathered the creative assets, it was time to consider the site’s technical and overall structure. From a technical perspective, we decided to launch our Shopify store on a subdomain, so setup was as simple as updating the DNS settings.
Next, we considered our product categorization and taxonomy (classification). Given the scope of the project, this was also a straightforward exercise: we planned to launch the shop with only a handful of products, so we simply binned everything together in a single category called ‘Essentials’.
We launched our Shopify store in development mode and immediately began adjusting our store settings, including the general settings, payment settings, shipping, taxes, policies and more.
Although Shopify accommodates for a variety of third-party payment gateways, we decided to use the platform’s first-party option because a centrally-managed solution made sense given our requirements.
Shopify’s included theme, called Debut, is brand-agnostic and enables a great deal of customization with the point-and-click theme editor. Each pre-built section contains a number of configuration options such as section height, headings, text size, labels and links.
We started at the top of the home page and worked our way through each section by adding images, text, other configurations until everything was built to spec. Debut is a responsive theme, so it works well on mobile by default – however, since the customizer offers both desktop and mobile site previews, we were able to quickly check how our customizations translated to mobile devices.
General settings are accessible via the ‘Theme Settings’ tab in the theme customizer. Here, we configured the site’s colors, typography, favicon, and checkout.
Since the shop is intended to sell branded merchandise, we chose to use a popular third-party white label print-on-demand service available through the Shopify app store. Options like these have lower margins than the alternative (carrying inventory and fulfilling orders), but the automation and low upfront overhead made it a good choice for our branded merchandise store.
After configuring the drop shipping app, we designed three products – a hoodie, a coffee mug, and a tank top – then set variables such as price and collection category, and finally synced the data with the store.
Product detail pages containing specifications, mockups, and descriptions were automatically generated as a result of the bi-directional sync. Each product was assigned to the correct collection and could be edited in either platform.
After making a few final changes to the product and store configuration, both the checkout flow and analytics reporting could be tested.
Although Shopify’s theme customizer includes live previews for desktop and mobile, we tested how the store renders across different devices and popular browsers, such as Mac/Safari, Windows/Chrome, etc. After verifying that the store would resolve and render properly, we began our checkout funnel tests.
Shopify Payments has a test mode which allows merchants to use test credit cards and simulate checkout. Once the output was verified under different circumstances, the store could be taken out of the development mode and into production.
The proper installation of Google Analytics can be quickly verified by using the real time report in GA. We visited the site on its live URL and watched the real time report to ensure that on-page activity was being tracked. We did not create any goals beyond standard conversions, so this test was limited to page loads.
The merchandise shop has a single third-party integration: the print-on-demand service provider. To test that it works, we simply completed a regular order.
The merchandise shop that we developed improves our process in two important ways: first, it facilitates for the automatic fulfillment of gear sent to clients. Next, it provides for a branded experience that allows clients to pick the gear that they like most without having to ask about availability or share sizing details. Better still, it was launched in just about an hour without code or graphics design work!
This experiment was a great way to demonstrate both the flexibility and ease-of-use of the Shopify eCommerce platform. If you are interested in launching your own store, you can start with a free 14-day trial of Shopify using our referral link or contact us for support.
There are many things to consider when opening an online store which include, but are not limited to, tax and regulation. This article is a limited demonstration of software features that are subject to change. The contents of this page should not be considered tax, legal, or financial advice. Always consult with professionals before starting or operating a business.