Shopify or Amazon: Which Is Right For You?

Shopify or Amazon: Which Is Right For You?

Whether you want to sell through an online marketplace or sell on a hosted or self-hosted platform, there’s no shortage of options.  But there’s no universal fit when it comes to the best ecommerce platform.

Which is the best ecommerce platform for you: Shopify? Or Amazon?

7 Product Description Tips For Your Shopify Store

7 Product Description Tips For Your Shopify Store

Product descriptions tell your customers exactly what they’re looking at and why it’s the best product for them. While they don’t have to be award-winning pieces of literature, they do require some forethought. Here are 7 tips to help you make engaging Shopify product descriptions!

7 Ways You Can Optimize Your Shopify Store

7 Ways You Can Optimize Your Shopify Store

Shopify allows for countless options when it comes to the setup of your store. Combine that with its intuitive nature and emphasis on functionality, and you have a potent platform you can optimize for maximum success!

Here are 8 ways to optimize your Shopify store and customize it to achieve maximum success for you and your business!

4 Ways Your Shopify Ecommerce Business Can Benefit From Social Media

shopify ecommerce social media

The world we live in today is digitally dominated.  

People spend hours buried in their phones or computer browsing the internet, connecting with friends halfway across the globe, and shopping, all from the comfort of their home.  

Online shopping has risen dramatically in popularity, with the world of ecommerce becoming more and more diverse and competitive. While people may not initially equate any sort of relationship between the ever popular world of social media and the expansive realm of ecommerce, they both benefit each other tremendously.  

Shopify especially allows for social media to easily integrate into your store, making it a great platform for businesses aiming to take advantage of the social media front.  

Here’s 4 ways that social media can benefit your Shopify ecommerce business.

1.)   Social Media Can Act As A Great Storefront

People spend a lot of time on social media.  Whether they’re catching up with friends, following their favorite celebrity, or even following an interest or hobby, social media grabs and holds a large amount of people’s attention.  

That makes for an ideal arena when it comes to the world of ecommerce, and offers a great opportunity to get your target audiences’ attention right now instead of dragging them to your site.  

Shopify offers pretty painless integration when it comes to major social media outlets, including a Shop tab in your Facebook page, the option to turn your products’ Pins into Buyable Pins on Pinterest, and a Buy Now button added to tweets regarding your products on Twitter.

2.)  Social Media Is A Great Way To Connect With Your Customers

Have we emphasized enough how drawn to social media people are?  

It would make sense then that social media also offers one of - if not the - best place to communicate with your customers and establish your brand.  

If you’ve already established a social media storefront as brought out above, then you now have access to very valuable data you can use to track the performance of your products and your customers’ habits and make changes accordingly.  

Reaching out to and monitoring your customers for feedback, communicating any valuable information, and taking a more personal interest in your customers (especially if you’re a small business) can go a long way towards building trust and a good reputation with your customers and provide a more secure future for your business.

3.)  Social Media Gives You A Great Opportunity To Correct Mistakes

As social media makes for a great opportunity for people’s voices to be heard, you can bet any amount of many that if people have a complaint, they’ll take to the internet to vent.  

While this can be troublesome in some scenarios, majority of the power as to the outcome of these situations actually rests in the hands of the seller.

Customers can be as belligerent and unpleasant as they please, but it ultimately comes down to your reaction and how you handle the situation that can affect your reputation and the trust that exists between you and your customers.  

If you handle things in a calm, reasonable manner and attempt to reach a satisfying solution, people will take note of that. Finding some of these unhappy campers on social media can require some vigilance, however.

Be regular in patrolling and keeping an eye on things, and try your best to address any issues as soon as they arise.

4.)  Social Media Also Allows For Customers To Build Your Rep For You!

If people often take to social media to vent negativity, then it’s guaranteed that the inverse is also true: people also take to social media to sing your praises!  

After a great customer service experience or a great deal, a lot of people will excitedly share their happy experience with the world over whatever outlet they use.

If you’re regular in patrolling said outlets yourself, then this offers a marvelous opportunity to build even further by expressing appreciation or thanks for the good word!

Another opportunity you have to let your customers build your rep can happen on your own site if you implement the option of allowing them to leave reviews!  

This allows you to not only keep connected with your customers and monitor and address any issues as well, but it also gives a nice, centralized location for any visitors to see firsthand your reputation and decide for themselves if they want to buy from you.  

Shopify has tons of options when it comes to integrating this feature into your site.


Social media is a powerful tool that can be put to use for great benefit for you and your ecommerce business.  Expanding your business into new outlets can reach a broader audience and keep you closely connected with your customers.  

Gapstow Design would love to help you accomplish that. As an Ecommerce Consulting firm located in Cleveland, Ohio, we specialize in helping businesses expand and integrate into new channels.  

We’d love to hear from you and see how we can help you achieve your goals!

Shopify & Paypal

shopify paypal ecommerce tips

Shopify offers a few convenient payment methods for you and your business, two of the most popular being Paypal and Shopify Payments.  

Both offer security and convenience for your customers, and Paypal integrates very easily into your Shopify store. In fact, a lot of businesses have decided to incorporate both into their site, as they work very well together.  

However, as with all good things, they are not without cost.

A lot of people find themselves asking then how the fees associated with either item line up? Do they stack on top of each other and compound?

The short answer is ‘no.’  

To give you a more in-depth explanation, we’ll break down some of the fees associated with both Paypal and Shopify Payments.

Paypal Fees

While Paypal has no signup fee and is very easy to integrate as mentioned above, there are some seller fees.  

When selling in the US, you’ll be charged 2.9% of the transaction in addition to a $0.30 flat fee.

When dealing with buyers outside of the US, the transaction fee is increased to 4.4%, and the flat rate is dependant on the currency.

Shopify Payments

When using Shopify Payments, depending on your plan, you’ll get charged a 2.4% to 2.9% as well as a flat $0.30.  

Together?

So Paypal and Shopify Payments both have their own fees associated with them.  

Do those fees stack on top of each other when you decide to use both?

As stated above, the answer is ‘no.’  

You only pay the fees for whatever method the customer uses at checkout, meaning you can still fully incorporate and enjoy both payment options without having to worry about paying extra fees.

Shopify Setup Guide

shopify setup guide e-commerce tips

Shopify is an immensely popular platform for e-commerce businesses.  

It’s intuitive, requires little to no coding knowledge, and is easy to get set up with.  It’s simplistic approach also makes expansion more painless than other platforms.

Website customization and design, inventory management, and more are just some of the features that Shopify offers that make it an excellent choice for starting and establishing your e-commerce business.  

But exactly how do you get set up with Shopify?

This post will cover exactly that.

Signing up for Shopify

Signing up for Shopify is the first step.

The information they collect during this step will help them determine taxes, currencies, and exactly what the best way to establish and start your online e-commerce business will be.  

Add Products

Once that’s done, then adding products will be the next option you can take.  This is where things can get a little tedious.  

You can upload products en masse by using a CSV (comma-separated values spreadsheet), or you can do them manually, one-at-a-time. Either way is going to take some time and patience, but Shopify once again makes the process as simple as it can and walks you through it nicely.

They even offer a sample template if you want to use a spreadsheet to bulk import.

Theme Customization

One of the next things you can do is customize your theme.  

As stated earlier, Shopify makes it very easy to build and customize your store website.  They offer tons of themes you can use just for that purpose, both paid and free. A majority of them are also mobile responsive, which is a big bonus for your website.  

Once your theme is selected, you can go in and further customize elements like font, color, layout, and more to make it unique and perfect for you.

Domain Name

Your domain name is the next important step.  

You’ll have the option here of either transferring a domain name or using a new one, which you will have to pay for then.

Setting up Payments

Setting up payment is the next step to take.  

Shopify Payment is a great little tool: not only does it accept over 70 methods of payment, but it also nicely integrates with Amazon, Paypal, Google Wallet, and more!

Check & Double Check

Once all the above steps have been taken, double check your work.

Make sure that Google Analytics is set up properly so you can keep proper tabs on your store, and that everything is properly optimized for best SEO.  If you’re unsure how to do that or exactly what that means, check out our post on effective Shopify SEO.  

Test Your Site

It is highly important to test your site out before you launch it to make sure everything is functioning properly and customers will be satisfied and able to easily navigate your site.

Once everything is set up as effectively as possible and your site has been tested, then you’re ready to launch your brand new e-commerce website!

If this is all overwhelming for you, then don’t worry; you’re not alone!  

The world of e-commerce can be incredibly tricky to navigate, and it can really help to have someone experienced to guide and help you.

Gapstow Design can do just that. We’ve been there, and can help navigate you through the world of e-commerce and help get your business wherever it needs to be.

Whether you want to sell through your own site, a hosted or self-hosted platform, or an online marketplace, Gapstow Design can help.

We offer a variety of services and packages to best suit the needs of your business.

Shopify SEO: Effective Tips & Tricks

Shopify SEO tips tricks Cleveland Ohio

Effective SEO, or Search Engine Optimization can be a difficult thing to achieve, especially with Google’s ever-changing algorithm.  

In order to maximize your ecommerce business’ organic traffic, growth, and sales, an effective SEO strategy is vital. Here are some tips you can use for effective SEO for your Shopify store to get you ranked higher on Google searches and draw more traffic.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT URL DOMAIN NAME

The URL domain name is the very first piece of your site that both customers and search engines will see, often times before they even decide to visit your site.

While it won’t single-handedly make-or-break your site, having a good domain name acts as a good opportunity to get your foot in the door. It would be wise then, before you select a domain name, to take a few things into consideration.

Firstly, picking a solidly important keyword to stick in there will do wonders for your ranking.  

As mentioned above, the search engine sees the URL first, and sticking a keyword in there will immediately let it know what you’re all about.  And don’t forget to have your brand name in there too; those two together can go a long way in ensuring both consumers and search engines remember and rank you highly, respectively.

The second thing to remember is to keep your domain name short and sweet.  

This makes it more simple and easy for not only search engines, but also consumers to remember.  And avoid using symbols like hyphens, at signs, or really anything not a letter or number, as they generally just muck things up.

The last piece of your URL to keep in mind is that people generally trust .com sites more than others, so try to stick with using that.

YOUR SHOPIFY THEME

Your Shopify theme is an important area when it comes to proper and effective SEO.  

Picking the most eye-catching or flashy theme is not always the wisest move as typically those take longer to load, and a good fast pagespeed is an essential part of good SEO.  Not to mention too, that those themes don’t lend themselves to being too mobile friendly either, which can definitely do some damage to your traffic and turn people away in frustration.

So picking a good theme is clearly an essential part of successful and effective SEO, with the key, then, being to pick a theme that effectively blends style and speed to create a satisfying user experience, with mobile responsiveness being a good bonus to look out for.

ON-PAGE SEO: KEYWORDS, TITLES AND IMAGES, & CONTENT

On-page SEO in Shopify sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is.  

In general, once you get some practice and understanding with on-page SEO, the techniques and principles can apply in many other areas outside of Shopify.


KEYWORDS

Keywords are, as we explain on our SEO Packages page, like the seasoning of your website.  

They’re very important, but should be used to the proper degree for best results.  To figure out what keywords are best, the best thing to do to start is figure out your target audience and get in their heads as far as what they’ll be looking for and what they’ll want out of your site.  Then use a tool like Google Ads’ keyword finder to figure out some keywords with high traffic and low competition to work with.

Long-tail keywords are another important thing to keep in mind.  Rather than a single word, long-tail keywords are more focused phrases that people search for, and if encorporated properly, can bring some good traffic to your site.


TITLES

Optimizing your titles is another important step, as (again), it’s one of the first things that consumers and search engines see and judge.  

The key to a successful title is to balance informative and descriptive with short and concise: say as much as you can in as few words as you can.  That also applies to the optimization of the meta description that sits just beneath the title.

IMAGES

Images are the next thing you’ll need to optimize.  

If not optimized, then they will slow your website on all fronts and significantly reduce its mobile-friendliness.  One of the easiest ways to optimize your images is to use TinyJPG.com: you simply drag and drop the desired image into the box, and it compresses it into a much more manageable size while still looking fantastic.  You can have your cake and eat it too!

CONTENT

Content is the last thing you can add that can really draw people to your site and act towards good SEO.  

This can be in the form of an informative and relevant blog dealing with the good or service you offer. This lets both consumers and search engines know that you’re knowledgeable on the topic you’re dealing with, resulting in (once again) better traffic and a higher ranking.

IN CONCLUSION

Good SEO on Shopify is relatively easy to achieve compared to some of the other platforms out there.  While podium placement is in no way guaranteed, optimizing your product listings according to the above guidelines will allow Google to better utilize them to steer customers towards your website, resulting in increased traffic and sales.  

If this is all a little overwhelming for you, don’t worry: we understand.

We can work with you to help figure out just what your business needs and work to maximize the effectiveness of your listings.
Contact us to see exactly how we can help you!

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR ECOMMERCE STORE MORE SUCCESSFUL

5 tips for successful e-commerce Cleveland Ohio Gapstow Design

The world of e-commerce can be pretty tricky to navigate, and success can be a difficult thing to achieve, especially given the scale of that world.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to successfully navigate these seas!

Here are five things you can look out for and work with to increase the success of your e-commerce business!

COMPETITION

Survival is the name of the game in the business world.  Undoubtedly that’s an idea you’re already familiar with.

The same goes for your competition as well. Your competition can serve as a great mirror for your e-commerce business. Doing some cross-examining can highlight strengths, weaknesses, areas you may need to improve on, and any advantages you may have.  

Build on what you’ve found and bolster your business. While there may be a lot of competition out there to face and overcome, given the size of the ecommerce world, there are still nearly endless ways to establish yourself and stand out from among the crowd!

VALUES AND IDENTITY

Think about what drives your business.  What’s the passion at your core that ignited this fire?  

Bringing that passion to the table and integrating that into the soul of your business will make marketing and selling your product a lot easier: customers can tell when someone is passionate about their good or service, and that can have a huge influence on their purchasing decision.  

CONSUMER EXCITEMENT

Businesses evolve and grow, branch out into new territory, and expand into previously unexplored avenues. What’s responsible for that growth? Customers! So it really wouldn’t make sense, then, for your loyal patrons to be pushed away or turned off when your business expands in some way.  

Keep your customers involved and - more importantly - excited when it comes to growth!

Your objective should be for them to grow with you, not for you to outgrow them.  If you’re new and don’t really have a customer base yet, then you can still drum up some enthusiasm and excitement by reaching out through marketing channels like social media and drawing people in.

MARKETPLACES

Selling on online marketplaces could be a lot easier than you think.  Although it does require some forethought and advanced planning, in the end it can really expand your customer base.  

Our blog on this topic goes more in depth on the pros and cons of online marketplaces; give it a look and see if it’s an option that can work for you!

INVENTORY

Inventory is a very important aspect of any e-commerce business.  

A mismanaged inventory can lead to disgruntled or angry customers, stunted growth for your business, and ultimately a loss of profit and poor reputation. Nothing’s more frustrating than ordering a product online and having your order suddenly cancelled some time later because the item was actually out of stock, despite the listing saying that 12 remained available.  

Personally, that’s enough to typically make me avoid dealing with a seller again. That doesn’t mean that overstocking to act as a cushion is a solution either. If unsold goods are just sitting on a shelf collecting dust, then that creates a huge waste of space and money.  As with all things, balance is key.

CONCLUSION

Success in the e-commerce world is certainly achievable.  Know your competition and your business’ core values, make sure your customers grow with you, expand into new territory and balance your inventory as best you can.  

Using these building blocks, you can build a solid foundation and start paving your way to success.


E-Commerce Consulting: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SELLING YOUR PRODUCTS ONLINE

e-commerce consulting Cleveland

Today’s world is becoming more and more digital.  

Buying and selling products has extended from a merely physical transaction, and now selling goods online has become the principal way to reach more people and expand your business like never before.  

But if it’s your first venture into this realm, things can get very overwhelming very quickly.

This guide will give an overview of some of the different channels and options that are open to you, whether you’re a small business preparing to venture into the digital world for the first time, or a seasoned e-commerce veteran looking to expand into fresh territory.

One of the first things you have to think about is whether or not you want to go with a hosted or self-hosted e-commerce platform, if you want to sell your goods through a marketplace like Amazon or eBay, or if you’d like to build a hybrid of both.

A hosted/self-hosted platform would allow you to build your own site and show customers your product alone. While the focus on your product alone and minimal immediate attention to the competition is great, that kind of solution won’t necessarily appeal to or reach as broad of an audience as selling Amazon or eBay.

HOSTED OR SELF-HOSTED: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Using a hosted platform means… well, that someone else is hosting you: you’re subject to their rules and wishes more so than your own.  But they cover a lot of expenses that you’d otherwise have to cover yourself, and are typically more straightforward and easier to use.  

A self-hosted platform, however, gives you a lot more freedom to do what you want, how you want it. But without experience with coding, that typically ends up being more costly and difficult to understand. 

In short, hosted is easier and less of a hassle, but limited in areas, whereas self-hosted grants way more freedom, but requires more knowledge and know-how to use.

For the record, we DEFINITELY suggest a hosted site, and we’re happy to make a suggestion for you based on your business and e-commerce goals.

We’ll go more in depth and look at a couple of the top hosted e-commerce platforms and see the pros and cons of each to help you make the best choice for your business!

E-Commerce: HOSTED PLATFORMS

1. )  SHOPIFY

One of the most popular hosting platforms, Shopify is a Canadian ecommerce platform that makes setting up a website a relatively simple task, with a wide variety of features and designs available.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

  • Shopify comes with tons of themes and designs to determine the look of your website, all of which are generally mobile responsive - meaning they react and adjust to whatever device your viewing from (This is SUPER Important to organic SEO on Google and other search engines).  This makes for a smoother, more enjoyable buyer experience and makes purchasing from your site very convenient.

  • A basic Shopify package is just $29, which allows you get your site up and running with unlimited support. The only catch here though is that some of the necessary features you’ll need for your store will be charged as add-ons to that initial cost. Generally, a good e-commerce consultant can help navigate the 1000’s of apps and make suggestions on which is best.

  • Shopify also offers great support to its customers through many different means, including phone, email, live chat, and forums. In addition, they have other resources to help even the most inexperienced learn the ins and outs of e-commerce more quickly, such as their E-commerce University.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is ridiculously important in any e-commerce venture. The beautiful thing about Shopify is that your theme can easily be coded by your e-commerce consultant to automatically build in any of the aspects of good SEO practices that will be helpful to your store.

  • Shopify also offers great security, as all transactions are processed with 256-bit SSL encryption and, not to mention, are level-1 PCI compliant. While this might seem like boring mumbo-jumbo, it’s important to note that this stuff keeps you and your customers safe.

  • Shopify also has an offline version with a point-of-sale credit card reader, allowing you make sales on the go, as well as manage your business almost anywhere.

2. ) BigCommerce

Bigcommerce is an online shopping platform that started out as a self-hosted platform, but has evolved into a popular hosted platform, typically used for medium-to-small sized businesses. This is the option that we generally suggest to clients based on advanced needs that store like Shopify might not be equipped to meet.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

  • Like Shopify, BigCommerce has a large selection of website designs and formats available for free, some of which are also mobile responsive.  However, the amount of mobile responsive sites is only 2 out of the 16 free, which is less than what Shopify offers.

  • While BigCommerce’s basic plan also starts at $29.95 a month, it’s free trial offers a lot more features than even something like Shopify does.  In addition, a lot of add-ons that are necessary that you end up having to pay for with other platforms come free with BigCommerce, like built-in shipping dates, 24-hour support, and some email marketing tools

  • Bigcommerce, like Shopify, also has some strong game in the SEO department. They also have a ton of apps to add on to integrate your entire e-commerce infrastructure into one platform.

  • Bigcommerce is also level-1 PCI compliant, in addition to having the option of sharing an SSL certificate or having your own. (again, for the safety of both you and your customers)

  • Bigcommerce does charge a transaction fee of 1.5%, although this can be dropped if you upgrade to a higher plan.


E-Commerce : Sell on Online Marketplaces

Hosted and self-hosted platforms aren’t the only way you can sell your goods online.  

Online Marketplaces (such as Amazon and eBay) can also be great options to expand your reach and get your product more exposure.  Click here to read our article on Online Marketplaces and see which option might be best for you!

In addition to those online marketplaces, as your e-commerce business grows, you’ll qualify to list your products on marketplaces like Sears, Walmart, etc. Again, this is something your e-commerce consultant can help you with.


Whether you choose to use a hosted platform, a self-hosted platform, to sell your goods through an Online Marketplace, or to tackle a far-reaching hybrid plan,
the decision comes down to what would really be best for your product, your customers, and what would allow you to build your business to wherever you see fit.  

Gapstow Design specializes in e-commerce consulting - helping you make that decision and figure out what direction and options are best suited for the wants and needs of both you and your e-commerce business.  

Click here to see how we can help you navigate the world of e-commerce!





HOW TO MAKE YOUR E-Commerce BUSINESS MOBILE-FRIENDLY

mobile-friendly e-commerce website.png

Mobile commerce is rapidly rising in popularity.

Consumers today have access to the web and thousands of apps and marketplaces in the palm of their hand, wherever they go, resulting in great opportunities and growth for e-commerce businesses.  

Improving your mobile presence can result in great profitability and growth potential for you and your e-commerce business.

There’s a few different things you can do to improve your mobile commerce and make yourself more accessible to your customers.

The first thing you can do to increase the mobile sales of your e-commerce business is develop a more mobile-friendly site.  

A hefty amount of e-commerce traffic comes from mobile devices, making it extremely important that you have a mobile friendly website that’s easy for customers to navigate and, more importantly, purchase from.  

If you’re using things like flash, small fonts or large amounts of text without breaks, your site’s going to be very slow and difficult to navigate through for mobile users, and that’ll mean less sales and business for you.  

Make sure you compress images to reduce your load time, make the buttons large to add products to the cart, and use large fonts.

These will make your website significantly easier for mobile users to navigate, resulting in more sales and business!  

Gapstow Design specializes in helping e-commerce businesses create a website suitable for many platforms, be it a mobile device or a home computer.

Another great way to increase your mobile-friendliness is to create a mobile app.  

This makes things even simpler and easier for customers to purchase products, as well as promotes brand recognition.  

People will see your logo and be aware of your presence every time they use their phone, which brings you better odds of sales and keeps you fresh in consumers’ minds.

Another way to improve your mobile presence is to consider selling through multiple channels, such as online marketplaces, social media, or messaging apps, just to name a few.  

Consumers already browse these looking for products and goods they need, and expanding into this territory allows you to reach more customers than you previously could.

Check out our article on online marketplaces to see if this option could work for you and, if so, which marketplace would best suit your needs!

All in all, focusing on your e-commerce business’ mobile-friendliness can boost your sales and traffic by a considerable degree.  

Gapstow Design offers specialized help in making your e-commerce business more mobile friendly, including designing mobile-responsive websites and implementing strategies to expand your marketing channels into fresh territory.  

Check out our e-commerce consultation page for more information on exactly what we can do to help you!