Testing a proof of concept on Shopify

So you have your big idea. And you want to sell it online. But now what? Do you have product market fit? Does anyone want to buy what you're selling? What happens if they don't? More importantly- where do you start?

This week on commerce tea we're talking how to prove your concept using Shopify.

Let's dig in!




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show notes.

  • [08:06] Set some goals!
  • [13:48] Which theme to use
  • [16:54] What are store must haves
  • [20:28] Which apps to install
  • [30:26] How to accept pre-orders
  • [32:49] Crowdfunding
  • [34:18] Shipping
  • [37:52] Support
  • [39:06] Gathering feedback
  • [43:41] Store shoutout: Our Place
  • [44:38] Store shoutout: Fly By Jing


    Launch theme by Pixel Union 
    Flex theme by Out of the Sandbox 
    Turbo theme by Out of the Sandbox 
    Debut theme by Shopify 
    Narrative theme by Shopify 
    Brooklyn theme by Shopify 
    SEO Manager 
    Shopify Email 
    Shopify Product Reviews 
    Octane AI 
    Section Feed
    Kelly's Newsletter 



    Kelly (00:00):
    So you have your big idea, and you want to sell it online, but now what? Do you have product market fit? Does anyone want to buy what you're selling? And what happens if they don't? More importantly, where do you start? This week on Commerce Tea, we're talking how to prove your concept using Shopify. Let's dig in.

    Rhian (00:26):
    Welcome to Commerce Tea, a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify. I'm Rhian.

    Kelly (00:31):
    And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things commerce.

    Rhian (00:35):
    Hey, Kelly. How can merchants leverage customer data to drive more revenue and increase retention? How can they create personalized experiences customers love?

    Kelly (00:52):
    I recommend Octane AI, the leading buyer profile platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants. How does it work? Octane AI features a shop quiz, Facebook Messenger and SMS, and opt-in tools. Using the shop quiz merchants can get to know customers with interactive questions. From product recommenders to gift finders, you can learn about a customer's needs, preferences, pain points and more. This information gets saved in the buyer profiles and you can sync your buyer profile data with your Facebook Messenger, SMS, email and ad campaigns for personalized customer journeys.

    Rhian (01:24):
    What kinds of returns can brands expect?

    Kelly (01:26):
    Brands using the shop quiz have increased email signups by 16 times and driven a 28% increase in average order value. Facebook Messenger and SMS see 80% to 95% average open rates and drive up to a 20% increase in revenue. Better yet, Octane AI has plans for any size business and offers a 14 day free trial. Every plan gives you access to the shop quiz, Facebook Messenger, SMS and opt-in tools. There are also plans available where Octane AI's experts will help you set up and optimize their tools for success.

    Rhian (01:58):
    It sounds great. Where can merchants go to learn more?

    Kelly (02:01):
    You can learn more, book a demo or try it free at join.octaneai.com/commercetea. Again, that's join.octaneai.com/commercetea.

    Rhian (02:12):
    Good morning, Kelly.

    Kelly (02:14):
    Good morning, Rhian. How are you doing today?

    Rhian (02:17):
    I'm doing well. I'm doing well. Drinking from my glitter cup, you know, the regulars.

    Kelly (02:22):

    Rhian (02:22):
    I know regular Tuesday morning type stuff. What about you?

    Kelly (02:25):
    I'm tired.

    Rhian (02:28):
    Kelly keeping it 100 always. I'm like, "Everything's fine," she's like, "Is it though?"

    Kelly (02:36):
    We made it past the first month of 2021, which feels like it was a very long month. Not as long as March 2020, which feels like it's still around, but we're into February now. So we have some new goals, I think. Maybe.

    Rhian (02:52):
    It is. It is. This did feel like an exceptionally long month where I felt like I spun my wheels a lot and didn't quite get off the ground. And so I'm hoping that coming into February, things... Not saying a new month... It's kind of people are like, "Well, now it's 2021. Things are going to be different." Like, "No, that's not how things work." But I am hoping that because of all the big changes that we saw and everything that happened in January, February will start to resume a shift to not normal per se, but-

    Kelly (03:23):
    Don't say the new normal.

    Rhian (03:24):
    An essence of normality.

    Kelly (03:27):
    The LaCroix of normal.

    Rhian (03:29):
    The LaCroix of normal. It sort of tastes like it, but does it?

    Kelly (03:35):
    It's like if normal was in the other room.

    Rhian (03:37):
    Do you drink LaCroix?

    Kelly (03:39):
    I do.

    Rhian (03:40):
    What's your favorite flavor?

    Kelly (03:43):
    It was coconut for a while. I know you don't like that one.

    Rhian (03:47):
    It [crosstalk 00:03:48].

    Kelly (03:49):
    It reminds me of sunscreen, which is why I don't like it so much because I don't want to drink sunscreen personally, and not really high on my list. I do like the Razz Cranberry one though, and I like the watermelon.

    Rhian (03:59):
    Okay. These are all valid opinions that I respect for you.

    Kelly (04:02):
    I appreciate that.

    Rhian (04:06):
    I like Pamplemousse because its name is fancy.

    Kelly (04:09):
    I like that one too.

    Rhian (04:10):
    That's not the only reason I like it. I like grapefruit flavored things.

    Kelly (04:14):
    I do too. I like grapefruit in general. I just love grapefruit.

    Rhian (04:19):
    I have a grapefruit tree outside.

    Kelly (04:21):
    Yeah. You said you'd ship me some grapefruit and Sullivan. But then again, you have an entire box.

    Rhian (04:25):
    Oh my God.

    Kelly (04:25):
    Okay. Use the grapefruit as packing materials. What's the worst that can happen?

    Rhian (04:30):
    I have so much stuff to ship you, it's so absurd. And it's just scattered around my office, like I can see it.

    Kelly (04:39):
    It's going to be like the best delayed birthday/Christmas/2020 present ever.

    Rhian (04:46):
    Just so everyone knows, when I was wrapping Chrismukkah presents, I opened a box and oh my gosh, Kelly, I can't remember what I said, but I sent her a picture and there's a note that says like, "This will be late for your birthday." And it came to my house and I never opened it. And so Kelly got a Breitling sampler that's still at my house.

    Kelly (05:09):
    I will get one eventually.

    Rhian (05:11):
    Yeah, it's in the mail. It's sort of in the mail. So I mean, speaking of just things to ship, what [crosstalk 00:05:23]?

    Kelly (05:24):
    That was a good one.

    Rhian (05:26):
    I did a good segue. What happens when you want to ship your concept, but you don't really know what to do?

    Kelly (05:35):
    Well, let's start with just trying to dive right in and start a store, and then hope for the best. There are definitely scenarios where you're going to get traction and it's going to go great, and you're going to have a very viable business and it's going to keep on growing, and you're going to be a huge success and it's going to be awesome, and everyone's going to have a great day. And then there's literally everybody else. You probably won't be that lucky.

    Rhian (06:01):
    Sorry. I know I'm laughing at failure, but it's true. When you're an entrepreneur, you have to be a little risky, and a little... I don't want to say crazy, because I feel like crazy has a negative connotation.

    Kelly (06:15):
    Yeah. Just be open to adaptation and be open to failure. Exactly. I mean, that's part of entrepreneurship. It's a lot of failure. It's a lot of trying and failing and trying again. And that's why it's so important to be proving a proof of concept before just jumping right into starting your business. And I know it's really exciting to open up your store and be like, "All right. Buy my stuff." But I often see a lot of people forget to, I don't know, make a business plan.

    Rhian (06:47):
    Yeah. Oh my gosh. Well, it's like because everyone can open a store on Shopify, it's important to remember that when you open... Here I'm getting on my SEO Toolbox for a moment. When you open a store on Shopify, it's like opening a store in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no roads to your store. And you have to build that network to your store, otherwise, you've just opened a store in the middle of nowhere, and nobody is coming. Except for like some stragglers maybe.

    Kelly (07:14):
    Yeah, exactly. You can get lucky with those people, but it's luck.

    Rhian (07:18):
    Very rarely. Yeah, you're right. People don't make a business plan.

    Kelly (07:24):
    They don't, and people don't think what you need to include in a business plan either, which that could be a whole [crosstalk 00:07:31].

    Rhian (07:30):
    I was going to say writing down a business plan episode.

    Kelly (07:34):
    Yeah. And then how to revisit that business plan quarterly and annually. Oh, man, we can totally make an episode on that.

    Rhian (07:41):
    Hey, look. You all we're building content while we're building content.

    Kelly (07:45):
    Oh, meta.

    Rhian (07:45):
    It's so meta.

    Kelly (07:49):
    Okay. But let's talk about actually taking this proof of concept to market. What's the first thing that you should do? First thing you should do?

    Rhian (07:59):
    In my opinion, you should check search volume, but that's totally biased.

    Kelly (08:06):
    Well, the first thing I would do is buy a domain, and then maybe consider building a business around the domain I just purchased. Hence, my book Start Freelancing Today because the domain was available. But no, my answer is actually going to be you should probably have some goals in mind first.

    Rhian (08:23):
    Yes, that's a good idea. That's a good idea. And the goal should be getting found on... I'm just kidding.

    Kelly (08:29):
    You know what? If your goal is to get found on Google, then by all means, make that one your goals. But I mean, what is it you're trying to prove here? Why are you building this store?

    Rhian (08:42):
    What are you solving?

    Kelly (08:43):
    What are you solving for? Yeah. Usually a product, especially being sold on Shopify is going to be solving some sort of problem that your competitor is not addressing, or maybe you're kind of splitting into it like a new subset of the market that already exists. And again, you still need to prove this concept to see if it's actually going to be viable.

    Rhian (09:06):
    And I think a lot of people get lost at exactly that step. Do you think it's because they haven't done enough research?

    Kelly (09:15):
    Usually that's the case or they're not doing the right research.

    Rhian (09:19):
    What is the right research? Do you go straight to competitors, or do you say like, "I have a subscription to Bippy, which is eco-friendly toilet paper, and I got it during the beginning of the pandemic because I was like, "I don't want to go to a grocery store, and I do want toilet paper. So now we have a subscription, and it's really cute." But it's like, if I'm putting myself in her brain for a second, and I can't speak for her at all, she was solving a problem in the market or solving a challenge in the market and she wanted to build assumably a sustainable toilet paper. And then you've got to see who else has built it. Right?

    Kelly (09:55):

    Rhian (09:56):
    And learn more about toilet paper. Like there's still much to do.

    Kelly (10:01):
    Yeah. We're going to pull some marketing basics terminology out here. You should perform a situational analysis.

    Rhian (10:09):
    Oh God.

    Kelly (10:12):
    Rhian recently enrolled in the Quantic Executive MBA program, and I am waiting to find out if I got accepted, which I will know this month. And so we had to do some introductory courses to make sure the way the lessons are taught actually aligns with how we like to learn, and I'm just pulling from my notes from that.

    Rhian (10:34):
    I love that though. I love that. So yes, I am starting an EMBA program, and I'm very excited about it. But one of the things that we talk about besides situational analysis, or that I've learned so far, and it's something that I know. It's something that I know, but it's something that the program made me think more about was product market fit. Are you building a product that fits into a market? Does anybody care what you're building? Or is it that in space, no one can hear you scream situation?

    Kelly (11:10):
    Yes. And so you're looking at how you would be positioning yourself in that market. So who are your target customers and what are their unmet needs? Why are you creating the product that's going to address those needs? What alternatives already exists in the market? Again, like taking the example of Bippy, I can buy toilet paper from my local grocery store, but how does it vary compared to what Bippy is offering? And why is Bippy better than the alternatives out there?

    Rhian (11:44):
    Right? Why Bippy?

    Kelly (11:46):
    Why Bippy? So these are the kinds of things you really need to be thinking about upfront, and really establishing some goals around how you're going to measure whether you actually landed the product market fit. And this is, of course to level going to be in terms of your sales, your early sales, your crowdfunding, how many people are backing your product, whether it's on Kickstarter or you're actually doing it through Shopify. I mean, there are a number of ways that you can measure this, but it's just important to actually take this step to set some measurable goals to make sure this is actually going to be a feasible product. Of course your profit is another piece of this.

    Rhian (12:26):
    Yeah. And how to validate that you actually have a product that people want to buy.

    Kelly (12:33):

    Rhian (12:34):
    And I think that's just something... Recently somebody launched a store, and they're selling a face product for like $400.

    Kelly (12:45):
    A face product?

    Rhian (12:46):
    Like a face oil situation.

    Kelly (12:48):

    Rhian (12:48):
    And part of me is like, "That's just a lot of money to spend. What is the market? Who is your demo?" And no, I'm not saying there's not a luxury demo, there absolutely is a group of people who will spend $400 on a face pod. But how do you build that trust once you have the product when you're brand new to market and you're selling DTC? It's like there's a lot to unpack in that. And it's just something to be aware of when you're building this, and you're like, "Obviously, people are going to want this." Just makes sure that it's not a, you're telling yourself obviously that people want it and you're checking that the people that you think will want it will want it. And survey people.

    Kelly (13:29):
    Talk to people.

    Rhian (13:30):
    Talk to people.

    Kelly (13:30):
    Talk to more than just your friends and family.

    Rhian (13:33):
    Yes. Because they will sometimes just be nice.

    Kelly (13:35):
    Yep. Sometimes. Most of the time, they're just going to be nice like, "Oh, yeah. I would totally buy that."

    Rhian (13:43):
    Great idea.

    Kelly (13:44):
    And they have absolutely zero intention of ever actually supporting you financially.

    Rhian (13:48):
    Exactly. Exactly. Okay. So you have some goals, you're building your store, you're choosing a theme. What if you don't have a real product and you just have like a mocked product?

    Kelly (14:03):
    Sort of like a prototype?

    Rhian (14:04):
    Like a prototype or even if you're like POD, print-on-demand, or drop-ship or any of those type of where you don't have to hold any physical inventory, which honestly are the easiest to experiment on, because you don't just know financial investment upfront.

    Kelly (14:20):
    Yeah. So what is your question?

    Rhian (14:23):
    So my question is, what theme do you use?

    Kelly (14:27):
    So if I am testing a proof of concept for a single product, I really like the Launch theme. It's kind of built like a Kickstarter campaign, hence the name. It's 180 and it comes from Pixel Union. I think it's a really great option for just getting started. And it is not only just for like single product stores, it's optimized for single product stores but if you have like six variations of the same product or whatever, then that's also still totally feasible with this theme. It's not like it's limited to just one product, I guess.

    Kelly (15:06):
    Outside of that, I mean, if you're doing like drop-ship or print-on-demand, you can have any number of products on your store so you're not limited by the theme and then just becomes, what is it you're looking for in a theme? What do you want it to do? I'm personally a big fan about Sandbox. And so I really like Turbo from them, I really like Flex. They are the priciest themes that I know of, but they're well-built themes.

    Rhian (15:32):
    Yeah. You kind of get what you pay for. Right?

    Kelly (15:34):

    Rhian (15:35):
    Like a tattoo. If you pay $100 you get a $100 tattoo.

    Kelly (15:39):
    What do you think about my $75 tattoo?

    Rhian (15:42):
    That it was too inexpensive. But yeah, when I think of a theme as well, I will say out of the free themes, I like Brooklyn, Narrative. Yep, that's it. That's it.

    Kelly (16:02):
    I like Debut.

    Rhian (16:04):
    Yeah. Yeah, you're right. I do like Debut. Debut basically does anything you want it to do, if it's very basic. And those are just the free ones. Sometimes it's nice to, especially if you don't, you're bootstrapped, you're doing this yourself, you can't afford a developer. I get it. We've been there. Maybe it might be fun to play around and just do some stuff on a free theme before you sit there, especially if you want to customize things and you don't know what you're doing. Because there's tons of tutorials online, so you can do some amount of customization. Nothing bonkers, but you can do some amount of customization. And it might be good to learn it on a free theme before you spend-

    Kelly (16:41):
    Go ahead and spend $180.

    Rhian (16:43):
    I mean, it can be worth. It just depends on your financial position. I really like the Flex theme and that's like almost $500.

    Kelly (16:50):
    Yeah. I think it's 450.

    Rhian (16:54):
    Okay. So you've got a theme you're building, what are the things that are must haves in your opinion, Kelly, if people are listening, and they're like, "I want to prove this concept."? What are the must have things that you should have on your store?

    Kelly (17:11):
    An about page and FAQs page. You know me.

    Rhian (17:16):
    A slider cart.

    Kelly (17:19):
    Not necessary, especially if you're a one product store. These are the kinds of things that do add to the experience of the store, but if you're testing a proof of concept, it's like a frill. It's not necessary. Focus on your story, focus on your message, focus on educating the customer, your potential customer on who you are, what you're selling and why they should buy from you when you're still testing this proof of concept.

    Kelly (17:44):
    And now, it's going to be representing itself differently if you're kind of testing a prototype where it's not actually ready to ship. Because now you're asking for them to trust that the product is actually what they want, when you don't have any examples in the real world or people who you can kind of go to as a testimonial. So you're going to have to get really specific about what it is that the product is going to do that is going to solve a certain problem. I recommend having some very clearly written out terms in terms of like, what is your returns policy? When is this item going to ship? And what if it doesn't work out? Because again, it is a prototype, it's something that you've never actually sold before, and people want to know that they can get their money back if they end up not liking it.

    Kelly (18:31):
    Now, I will say not everybody has the luxury of being able to give you your money back, especially if sometimes it's like a one time. Let's say you're selling underwear or sanitary pads, you're probably not going to be returning those for health reasons. Just to make that clear.

    Rhian (18:56):
    For health and legal reasons. You probably shouldn't accept returns. Or if you do accept the return, be like, "Keep it. Here's your money back."

    Kelly (19:04):
    Exactly. So just make sure you have those policies written out.

    Rhian (19:07):
    Yes. And be very clear about them.

    Kelly (19:10):
    What else do you have on your website? What do you think?

    Rhian (19:13):
    Well, you definitely the alt text, and you definitely need meta descriptions, and you definitely need title tags. And you definitely just need compelling copy. I've seen so many stores launch with a good product and they're like, "Rhian, why aren't we getting traffic?" And you go to their store and you're like, "A, it's hard to navigate. Like yeah, your product is rad, but A, it's hard to navigate. B, when I do navigate to it, there's nothing on your product description page that makes me say, "Oh, yeah. I totally want to buy this." And there's nothing on the product description page that anchors any type of keywords for Google to find you.

    Rhian (19:45):
    So even if you're paying for traffic and what I mean is placing or buying ads, at some point if you don't do the right things, A, your product won't convert, but B, in the long run, no one will ever find you on Google, so you're just throwing money, and then your cost of acquisition is through the roof.

    Kelly (20:09):
    And probably already is going to be. [inaudible 00:20:12]. I mean, I'm not speaking from experience or being really bad at ads, but...

    Rhian (20:17):
    Oh my goodness. Sounded so exhausted just, "Yeah. Your cost of acquisition..." Cost of acquisition is hard. It's a tough nut to crack and to get it as low as possible.

    Kelly (20:28):
    It is. Yeah. Okay. So we've talked about which theme to use, we've talked about some content or what your store should have. I think the next piece in this puzzle is, what apps should you install from day one?

    Rhian (20:46):
    Well, I'm totally biased.

    Kelly (20:49):
    I don't really think SEO manager is a very good app to install on day one.

    Rhian (20:54):
    But also I do, because-

    Kelly (20:57):
    I mean it's actually really a great app so.

    Rhian (20:59):
    But in part because they're structured data. There's a lot of things that are not native to Shopify themes, unstructured data is one of them, for most Shopify themes. If you don't have structured data, basically, you haven't formatted the information on your store in a way that Google finds readable, for whatever reason. I don't make the rules, Google makes the rules, I just comply with Google's rules. So the other apps that I really like are-

    Kelly (21:30):
    Let's start with email, so email marketing. I mean, at least start collecting those email addresses and send them like a welcome email, and then be able to have some kind of way to communicate with them when you're running to get feedback from your customers or potential customers, because you're testing a proof of concept. And again, this is something that's very important to do is talk to your potential customers. So you have some options, you can go super basic, and just do a Shopify email, or you can kind of jump right into using something like Klaviyo.

    Rhian (22:04):
    Do you know of the top of your head, how much Shopify email costs?

    Kelly (22:08):
    It was free for a while. I'm still free. I wonder if it's still free.

    Rhian (22:13):
    I'm just wondering what the delta is between Klaviyo and Shopify? And is it best to just go straight to Klaviyo, set it up right, do it once, do it right?

    Kelly (22:22):
    Yeah. I mean, when you're just getting started, it looks like Shopify email is free for the first 2500 emails per month. And then after that it's $1 for every 1000 emails you send. So honestly, when you're testing a proof of concept, unless you're funneling a ton of money into marketing and Facebook ads and getting people to sign up for your newsletter, you're not going to hit that threshold.

    Rhian (22:43):

    Kelly (22:44):
    And again, we're not talking about diving into sending marketing emails, we're talking about using this email marketing platform, this ESP, as a way to communicate with your potential customers and people who actually placed an order to get feedback from them. And remember, you can always switch email platforms later. So my vote would be again, starting basic do something like Shopify email.

    Rhian (23:13):
    What about reviews app? I go Shopify reviews first, because it's free. So this is all like, "Hey, free apps."

    Kelly (23:19):
    That's actually where I disagree.

    Rhian (23:21):
    Fair. Fair.

    Kelly (23:22):
    Because there's a lot you can't do with the free Shopify reviews app. I would start with Judge.me. And honestly, they have a free plan that you can start with, but you can always upgrade to their very expensive $15 a month plan.

    Rhian (23:38):
    The fancy plan.

    Kelly (23:40):
    The fancy plan. That's where they literally maxed out at. And get the full suite of features that they offer. But I feel like it's an easier growth option, because then you're not having to migrate platforms as well. And then migrating all your reviews after you start getting reviews. And you definitely want to make sure you have the automated review request emails enabled, especially if you have products that are immediately shipping.

    Rhian (24:04):
    Okay. So we've talked email, reviews, SEO, what else?

    Kelly (24:12):
    Oh, I have a good one. If you're looking to do like a Kickstarter kind of campaign, I think it's Crowdfunder is the app. Yes. The app is called Crowdfunder. It's actually built by our friends at Ethercycle. Kurt was on our podcast some time ago last year and his consultancies built this app. Really, really great opportunity to own the whole customer experience and run a Kickstarter campaign on Shopify instead of actually building on top of Kickstarter, Indiegogo or something like that.

    Rhian (24:48):
    I also think it might be worth using Octane here, especially because you're still in that gathering data about your customer phase and they have the shop quiz available in their start-up plan.

    Kelly (25:02):
    They do. You're right.

    Rhian (25:04):
    So I think that would be a really valuable thing, especially if you're still trying to figure out exactly... You're like, "I know I have product market fit, but I still don't quite know exactly where my product fits in the market. Like, what demo is buying me? Or, are people kind of looking for something like my product, but maybe just a little bit adjacent to it?" And with the quiz, the shop quiz from Octane, you really are able to get that data that you can make actual change on and get some insights.

    Kelly (25:38):
    That's a great idea. Also shout out to our sponsor, Octane AI.

    Rhian (25:43):
    Yeah. But I said that for free because I really think you should do it. Because I just feel like so many people just don't know enough about their customers.

    Kelly (25:51):
    Yeah. Now, let's talk about... Okay, the one last one I would maybe include that's not built into your theme is some kind of app that gives you an Instagram feed. Because it just bridges your content, so it pulls your Instagram content over to your store. These apps I mean, Instafeed is, I think that's still an app. I haven't installed one in a while.

    Rhian (26:15):
    I know everything I don't normally see right now is custom.

    Kelly (26:19):
    Yes, Instafeed is still an app. And then the other one that I used somewhat recently is... There's Covet.pics is another one as just Instagram Feed plus Photo Gallery on the Shopify App Store. And then there's one that I cannot find it in here. It was like a Shopify or like an Instafeed section, Instagram Section app. I don't know. I'm butchering the name. I will find it eventually. But there are a lot of Instagram feeds in... Oh, Section Feed. That's what it's called. It's free, so it does the trick. And I am a really big fan of free apps when you're just getting started. Now let's talk about some apps that you should not worry about when you're just getting started. For example, if you are-

    Rhian (27:11):
    Whenever Kelly takes a deep breath before something, I'm always like, "Okay, here we go. Hill to die on."

    Kelly (27:17):
    I don't think it's that hilly, but it's maybe just like a little mound.

    Rhian (27:24):
    A molehill.

    Kelly (27:25):
    Like a molehill. For example, a loyalty program. If you're testing a proof of concept, you don't need to get people signed up for a loyalty program, convincing them to do affiliate stuff. It's just it's not worth it.

    Rhian (27:44):
    Loyalty, referrals, it's just pointless at that stage.

    Kelly (27:52):
    I would also say, and this might be a spicy take, I don't know if I would bother with any of the page builder apps. Because again, work within the theme that you're doing, you're testing a proof of concept. Unless you have the financial backing to pay for these extra apps like LinkBuilder.io or Shogun, then just skip it for the immediate moment. You can always add those in later.

    Rhian (28:23):
    Time for that later, the time is not now.

    Kelly (28:26):
    Yeah. And then just in terms of... Oh, add live chat to your store. I forgot about that one. Something like Tidio that's free. You don't need anything super expensive, super fancy, but it's a way to communicate with your customers immediately. And it turns into like a, "Will email you back," if you're not manning it at the time. So I feel like that's an easy one. Another app, I would not add... I feel like I'm going way out of order here, but-

    Rhian (28:54):
    There is no order.

    Kelly (28:55):
    There is no order. Exactly. A wish list app, skip it.

    Rhian (28:58):
    Oh God, yeah. Skip that.

    Kelly (29:00):
    I see so many people put wish lists on their site when nobody's ever going to use them.

    Rhian (29:05):
    You know what you should definitely skip, and this is the hill I will die on, I don't know what it's called anymore, but the wheel app.

    Kelly (29:14):
    Oh, yes.

    Rhian (29:16):
    I don't know if it's called wheel anymore.

    Kelly (29:17):
    I don't know if it is either.

    Rhian (29:18):
    But I still see it everywhere, like the spin the wheel, pop up the slides from the side or like is it the [inaudible 00:29:25]. Please just don't do it.

    Kelly (29:28):
    There are a bunch of them. Here's the thing. Whether you are testing a proof of concept, or you're a business that's been on Shopify for seven years now, don't install that app. There are so many spin the wheel apps. There are two pages of them. I'm so angry about this.

    Rhian (29:49):
    Yeah. If you want to gather... We all know I have some really strong thoughts about pop-ups, but that being said, there are ways to do it that are effective, if you want to gather information.

    Kelly (30:01):
    Yes. Oh, okay. Privy is actually a really great thing to use for collecting that information.

    Rhian (30:09):
    Or Justuno.

    Kelly (30:10):
    Or Justuno, or Klaviyo even. Just use one of their pop-ups. So definitely some options that are not spin the wheels.

    Rhian (30:16):
    Just make sure it's timed five to 10 seconds after, and it's also not wall to wall on mobile. Otherwise Google will downright queue. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

    Kelly (30:26):
    It's like a TED talk. I would attend that one again. Okay. So we have a bunch of apps for you, which I believe I will be linking in the show notes so you can go back and look it. I'm listing the apps that we actually recommend not the ones that we don't recommend, so you could do your own research on those that we don't recommend. There's a reason why I'm not. Okay. Let's talk about accepting pre-orders. Let's say you have a prototype, but you don't actually have a product ready to sell. What is your take on doing pre-orders through Shopify?

    Rhian (30:57):
    I think it's good, just make sure you're not being sketchy.

    Kelly (31:04):
    Talk to an attorney.

    Rhian (31:05):
    Talk to an attorney. We are not attorneys. I think whenever I do a pre-order, and it's very much a mocked product, and I can see it's a mocked product, I'm like, "Okay. They're probably using my money to make the product." That's okay, but make sure you set really realistic shipping expectations, especially now because there's a lot of supply chain disruption. So I don't mind accepting pre-orders, and that's something that Birch and Bone does a lot. And she's a florist out of Los Angeles, the floral designer. And she accepts pre-orders all the time, because she's like booking for Valentine's Day.

    Kelly (31:51):
    Yeah. It's all about communicating and having that clear messaging on your site.

    Rhian (31:57):
    Yeah. And it's like, "This is not for today. This is for in three weeks or two weeks, or whenever Valentine's Day is.

    Kelly (32:03):
    I also want to make it very, very clear that if you're not authorizing the payments upfront, if you're manually authorizing those payments once the order comes in, you have 14 days, and then the authorization expires. So if you're pre-ordering, I would accept the payments now, and then if for whatever reason something happens, you can always refund. But you can't go back to that customer and be like, "Whoa. I need that money again."

    Rhian (32:34):
    Yeah. That's not a great user experience. It's always important to give great customer experiences, but in this early stage, oh my word, like you need to sparkle in your customer experiences.

    Kelly (32:45):
    Yeah. It's very, very important for sure.

    Rhian (32:49):
    So what about crowdfunding? I know we talked about Crowdfunding app. What do you think of crowdfunding as a practice? Is it a good way to validate your product? Is it risky business? Is it all those things?

    Kelly (33:08):
    It's all the things. There's always some level of risks that comes with crowdfunding. Risk on your end and risk on the customers. Absolutely, there's risk on the customers end because they're buying into a product they've never seen before. They're basing it off of a landing page, essentially. So yeah, I mean, there's definitely some inherent risk there but that's how crowdfunding works.

    Rhian (33:32):
    Yeah. I don't think that's new news to anyone at this point.

    Kelly (33:35):
    Yeah. I feel like maybe five years ago, it would be a much harder sell, but it's just kind of become the norm of raising money to do something.

    Rhian (33:47):
    Absolutely. Well, you have the product, people have bought it, you're going to have to ship it. There's some challenges with shipping. There's some logistical challenges, there's like a bunch of rules that I don't fully understand. There are shipping apps and there are some native features built into Shopify.

    Kelly (34:06):
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Rhian (34:09):
    What is, and maybe Kelly this is a direct, what are your biggest takeaways from shipping physical goods?

    Kelly (34:18):
    Always list how long shipping is going to take and overestimate it for one thing. Second, you're going to be receiving emails from people being like, "Hey, you said my order would arrive on an X date and it hasn't arrived yet. What's going on?" And then you have to be like, "Well, there's this thing called the pandemic, and..." Okay, that's very specific. I mean-

    Rhian (34:41):
    But it is specific for the next like year or so.

    Kelly (34:43):
    It's going to be an issue for a while longer. But no, I mean, it's just important to, as with anything with running your business, clearly communicate what's happening across the board in terms of anything that you're doing. Clearly communicate your shipping terms, clearly communicate how you're shipping. I mean, you could use if you're like dropshipping, or if you're doing something like print-on-demand through Printful, I definitely recommend paying the extra, I think it's $20 a month for having courier calculated shipping rates enabled on your store, and using the Advanced Shipping Rules app to automatically calculate how much shipping is going to cost, which is based on what let's say Printful says it's going to cost. You can mark it up if you want, but it's a very, very, very useful app.

    Rhian (35:34):
    I think also some thought should be given to how you're going to ship it ahead of time, how much your packaging materials are going to cost? If you ship a perishable good, do you put like a little hot thing or a little cold thing inside of it to make sure it gets there? Do you want a cool unboxing experience? Do you not care? There's a lot in the shipping process. And then also, let's say you're piloting in North America and let's just say the United States. Make sure you are fully aware of how much it costs to ship internationally, because it's never not surprising to me to ship something internationally. Like $100? What?

    Kelly (36:15):
    Yeah. Especially when it comes to customs, and you don't realize that there's extra money that people are going to have to pay to receive their package. And this is why when you're testing a proof of concept, I recommend starting with the country in which you're living in. Because you're also going to have to manage paying taxes in different countries once you hit their version of what is called nexus here. Being that you've hit a certain dollar amount like threshold, and you have to start paying taxes in that state, or you have employees based in that state. It's completely different from country to country, and you'd have to register your business with the European Union and various individual countries that are not part of the EU. It's a whole thing.

    Rhian (37:05):
    It's a whole thing.

    Kelly (37:07):
    So not to scare you away from shipping internationally by any means. Do your homework, do your research before jumping into it. Speaking from experience. There are also apps that help you with the taxes side of thing that are definitely worth mentioning. Things like TaxJar is a good option. Quaderno is another one that is helpful for international. If you do go the international route, it helps keep track of when you are going to hit certain shipping thresholds. They do states as well, like in the US too, so you kind of cover both things there. These are not cheap services though. So again, start with basics before expanding out.

    Rhian (37:52):
    Yes, absolutely. So as Kelly mentioned earlier, sometimes during the shipping process, customers will get frustrated and reach out to you. Sometimes, I mean often. How do you support those customers? And I mentioned it earlier, if you don't give great customer experience out the gates, people will remember it and they will never come back, and they'll also talk about you on the internet and it'll be a whole thing.

    Kelly (38:19):
    It will be a whole thing. Here's a really great opportunity to try out Gorgias, for customer service. They actually have, I don't know what their plan starts at. I'm going to Google it as I'm actively speaking about this stuff. So their pricing starts at, okay, it's not cheap, it starts at 60 a month. So that could be a little pricey for just kind of just getting started. You know what? Here's a really easy, basic one. Create an email address with your domain, and respond to emails there. Done. Make sure you have a contact form on your website. This is another opportunity to use live chat without spending that extra money.

    Rhian (39:06):
    Yeah, absolutely. And then through support, you can gather feedback. Through Octane AI, you can gather feedback. What are some other ways to gather feedback?

    Kelly (39:20):
    I was just going to say email your customers.

    Rhian (39:22):
    Yeah. You know what we do every time someone uninstalls our app? We have an email that says, "Hey, thanks for using us. Sorry we weren't a good fit. Can you give us any feedback as to why we weren't a good fit?"

    Kelly (39:34):
    Those emails make me laugh because everyone has a different approach to them. So sidebar, I just shut down my Shopify store, so I just uninstalled the apps that were costing money. And I got a lot of those emails. Some of them were like you explained, like super nice, just like, "Sorry, it didn't work out. We would love any kind of feedback." I got one where the subject line was, "Why did you uninstall my app?"

    Rhian (39:59):
    Shut up. No. Don't do that.

    Kelly (40:02):
    Don't do that. That's so aggressive.

    Rhian (40:05):
    That's so yikes. Oh my God. You can't see me, but I have my hands on my face. I'm so mortified. Don't do that you all. Don't do that.

    Kelly (40:19):
    I almost sent an email to the app company being like, "Look, try something else."

    Rhian (40:26):
    "This isn't it."

    Kelly (40:26):
    "This isn't it."

    Rhian (40:28):
    "This is not it." But yeah, email your customers after they... And this kind of I guess goes back into the review part. It's like, once you're gathering their view, and if they give you good feedback, you're like, "Hey, do you mind leaving that as a review on the product? If not, that's fine too."

    Kelly (40:45):
    Yeah, exactly.

    Rhian (40:47):
    Or, "Can I use this as a testimonial?"

    Kelly (40:51):
    I have another one.

    Rhian (40:52):
    What's that?

    Kelly (40:54):
    Install Hotjar on your website. There is a free plan. I think you get access to surveys on a free plan. You can actually ask for feedback right on the website as your customers are shopping. And you might see this kind of thing on like Net Promoter Scores. They're like, "Is this article useful?" or something like that. But what I recommend is that when you're viewing the product page in there, about your pounds, ask them, "What prevented you from placing an order today?"

    Rhian (41:25):
    I like that.

    Kelly (41:26):
    And people respond to it. Especially when it's like a super easy question. You can even add a checkbox on there if you want to be like, "I'm open to having a follow-up conversation via email," or something like that so you can get more information from the customer. But it's totally optional. So your customer is not having to give any personal information if they don't want to.

    Rhian (41:48):
    I like that. I like that a lot. Especially because sometimes I feel like, I'll click into an ad, obviously it's an ad dollars there. I click in. At this point, I'm a buyer. And then I get to checkout, there is no Shop Pay, there is no Apple, this is assuming I'm on mobile which I probably am. There's no Shop Pay, there is no Apple Pay, and I'm like, "I am not getting up to find my wallet which is somewhere in the house because I don't leave my house to do this." And how many sales do you lose if you don't have fast checkout enabled?

    Kelly (42:19):
    Okay. Rhian did not know this, but this episode gets published on a Tuesday. I publish a newsletter every single Wednesday that goes out at 10:00 AM on Wednesday morning. That's literally what I'm talking about this week.

    Rhian (42:32):
    Are you?

    Kelly (42:33):
    Yeah. I wrote a whole thing about why you need to be offering more than just credit card payments on your site.

    Rhian (42:40):
    Yes, fully cosigned. I didn't know that. But yes, I agree with you.

    Kelly (42:45):
    I love when the stars align. I'm like, "Oh. I can go personal about my newsletter."

    Rhian (42:50):
    Should I use a business term that I don't like? Synergy.

    Kelly (42:56):
    No. You take that back.

    Rhian (43:00):
    I can't say it backwards. Take it back. I was just trying to do it in my head. I'm like, "I don't know how to say that backwards. That's a lot of letters.

    Kelly (43:09):
    I'm glad you did not try. It's okay. No, I think that's a good place to end things, well on an absolutely terrible word that I hate.

    Rhian (43:19):
    Me just shutting down the conversation with a terrible word. Okay. But let's do our store [inaudible 00:43:24].

    Kelly (43:24):
    Store shout-outs.

    Rhian (43:27):
    Let's do our store shout-outs for the week, because they're both food themed, unintentionally.

    Kelly (43:37):
    But they're both great.

    Rhian (43:39):
    They're both great. Okay. Kelly, what's yours?

    Kelly (43:41):
    So mine is Our Place. The website from ourplace.com. I ordered a pan around Christmas time and it came in early January, I believe. I finally used it for the first time and I am in love with it. I mean, I like cooking. I'm a pretty decent cook as well, but I like to believe that it made my food that much better. I'll just say it's beautiful. Also, this is a really great example of a site of like how to market a product that's in very high demand.

    Rhian (44:18):
    Yes. What color did you get?

    Kelly (44:21):
    I got the green sage.

    Rhian (44:24):
    Woo. Nice.

    Kelly (44:26):
    It's very pretty.

    Rhian (44:27):
    I have a pink one, dusty thing. I don't know what the actual title of it is, but that's what I'm calling it.

    Kelly (44:34):
    I like it. All right. So that's mine. What's yours?

    Rhian (44:38):
    Mine is Fly By Jing, and it's food... Well, it's not food, it's like condiments, accessories of food. I don't know what that would be, a food accessory. I am enjoying this on basically everything. There's like a beautiful Zhong sauce. It's like sweet and spicy and umami. There's the chilli crisp and it's spicy. You can throw it on ice cream though and really twist it up. There's a spice mix that's more of a dry rub situation. I'm just... Okay. A, the product is yummy in my tummy but B, the website is rad.

    Kelly (45:21):
    The branding is so fun.

    Rhian (45:23):
    It's so much fun. It's a brand you're like, "Yeah. I can have this out on my counter in my kitchen." So I love it. They're a bootstrap company which is awesome.

    Kelly (45:36):
    Big fan. Big fan.

    Rhian (45:37):
    I'm just a big fan of their company overall and you all should check it out. And the store, it is the opposite of blending, which is something we see a lot in DTC or direct to consumer. It is literally the opposite. It slaps you in the face with color, and I like it a lot.

    Kelly (45:54):
    It's so fun.

    Rhian (45:55):
    Yeah, yeah. I don't know who built it, but they did a good job.

    Kelly (45:58):
    I just ordered their Triple Threat last week.

    Rhian (46:01):
    Oh, that's what I have.

    Kelly (46:03):
    I'm very excited to get it.

    Rhian (46:05):
    Oh my gosh, I just opened up their source code and they have a Garfield.

    Kelly (46:09):
    I was going to comment on that and decided not to actually say it out loud.

    Rhian (46:13):
    Oh, it's cute. It's cute.

    Kelly (46:16):
    Okay. So that wraps up our journey through testing a proof of concept on Shopify. If you liked this episode, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts reviews. Make us really happy. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you to our sponsors for supporting this episode. If you're interested in sponsoring the podcast, you can reach out to us at hello@commercetea.com. We would love to hear from you. We do have a YouTube channel that I promise we're going to get back to actually recording YouTube videos. It just kind of requires me to actually like wash my hair, so I haven't done that in a while. That's at youtube.com/commercetea. And you can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday, so grab your mug and join us then. We'll see you next week.

    Rhian (47:03):
    Bye-bye. ClockedIn is a time clock for Shopify. With ClockedIn, your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet or mobile. Check it out at clockedin.io or in the Shopify App Store.

    Rhian (47:26):

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