Video playlist which help you understand more how to run a E-Commerce business

I often amazed by Shopify as it often offers various kind of documentation and support material to empower store owners / eCommerce merchants to know their business better and how to run their online store more effectively. Recently I receive a note from Shopify that there is a video series which is developed by Ezra Firestone of Smart Marketer, he shares his success business use-case and I find it does bring out some points that I lack of language power to illustrate, here you go:

 


Gain your domain control from Shopify / OpenSRS

You need a domain name for your website / online store. Like my site, gordon-chan.net is the domain. You have your domain share to people so they know how to reach your site.

For people who new from website / online store setup. When they register Shopify for their store, they could also purchase a domain through Shopify so as to get rid of having the store domain as xxxxx.myshopify.com .

Shopify sell a .com domain with USD $13/year, and they help you integrate the domain with the store seamlessly. It seems handy, and yet, you can actually have other choice.

Buying a domain from GoDaddy or some other domain service provider is very easy, and often offer you much more discount if you register for few-year package. Let say GoDaddy sell a .com domain $8 + $120 = $128 for 2 year ($8 for the first year). Of course, GoDaddy is famous with its poor / non-user-friendly interface. Yet it is the cheapest domain seller I ever see. Some other clients use Domain Discount 24 , again, the feature is detail but the interface is quite traditional.

So, having shared alternative option for domain purchase from cost perspective, any other reasons for not using Shopify domain? Answer this, you need to aware Shopify is actually working with OpenSRS, which is the real domain service provider. When you signup a domain through Shopify, you don’t receive any information about the domain management. Like any login information for domain panel. It is indeed when you need to get your domain integrate with GSuite / verify your domain ownership using domain CNAME records etc. You can get your domain panel information with a very simple and feature-less interface only if you call / live-chat with Shopify Support, which sounds weird to me.

Apart from that, domain renew fee is bundled with Shopify invoice, You cannot purchase the domain for X years, or add any additional protection to the domain.

So, I often recommend my clients, either buy domain from GoDaddy and seek for Shopify Expert help on the configuration (link up the domain with the Shopify store) or contact Shopify support to obtain the domain login information as soon as they can, in order to gain back the control of the domain.

References:

Shopify: Buy a domain: https://help.shopify.com/manual/domains/buying-domains/buying-a-domain

Shopify: Managing domains: https://help.shopify.com/manual/domains/managing-domains

GoDaddy: https://hk.godaddy.com/

 

Tips for Shopify Store setup

Here are some tips I would share with people who wanna setup a Shopify Store for their online business.

Seek for a Shopify Expert for help

Not attempt to but fine if you do treat me as sale-person for my own freelance business, just, there are quite fundamental benefit for finding help from Shopify Expert. Apart from the potential cost for consultation, you will definite save costs that you may not necessary need to pay for.

Some clients come to me for Shopify store setup, but they often already start paying Shopify for some time and they fail to get the store work in the way they like so seek for Shopify Expert. In fact, Shopify Experts are authorised to setup “Development store” which is Shopify Store that with majority features but no trial period limitation.

In general, Shopify Experts know how to assist you to technically achieve something you want, and what is technical infeasible before it comes to solid request. People who start paying Shopify while not knowing Shopify limitation will result in a waste of time and money. At worst, they are not satisfied with what Shopify provides and cannot utilise this platform for their business.

Cost for hiring a Shopify Expert can be minimal. Free of charge is not the way we go for, but Shopify Expert like me treat meeting potential clients as friend-making.

Cost for a Shopify Store Setup

There are few area you need to spend money for store setup or running a store in long run.

  1. Consultant fee for hiring Shopify Expert
    • Some Shopify Expert are fine to share with you the detail about Shopify, some other may impose a consultation fee. No matter what, look for multiple Shopify Experts and compare their service pricing models.
  2. Shopify Store Monthly / Yearly subscription fee
    • No doubt you need to pay Shopify for the service, but this cost cans be deferred. Apart from Paid Store, with feature depends on the subscription fee, there is another type of Store: “Development Store” which can be setup by Shopify Experts, having no 14-days trial limitation, but with few restrictions:
      • Cannot install Shopify App which incur fee
      • Cannot perform real payment transaction
      • Cannot link up with your domain (which mean need to stick with *.myshopify.com
  3. Shopify App subscription fee
    • Shopify App provides you features that not supported by Shopify out-of-the-box. Example: Some store wanna customer upload their logo / image as tailor-made T-Shirt. Shopify does not support this, but some app like Product Customizer can provide this capability; Shopify cannot do multilingal, it support translation but only single language can be shown. You can use Langify to achieve this feature.
    • Shopify App can be:
      • Free
      • One-time subscription
      • Monthly subscription
      • On-demand subscription (charge per usage, like some image optimisation)
    • Transaction fee
      • Whenever you receive an order and perform the transaction (captures the amount that customer pay), Shopify will have transaction fee. Additionally, the payment gateway service, like Paypal / BrainTree / Stripe / PayDollar, they will also have transaction fee.
  4. Shopify Expert development fee
    • This is different from the consultant fee. This cost is for the Shopify Expert help you develop the E-Store in the way you wish to. From theme styling to functional integration. The cost and the included services can be quite different among different type of Shopify Experts.

Start from simple, plan for longterm maintenance, evolute gradually as progressive enhancement

Shopify provides you the fundamental function for you to run a E-Commerce business. You need not worry about most technical concern. But it does have several factor that lack of flexibility or feasibility. Say:

  • It allows:
    • You can manage Product / Collection / Page / Blog setup with its decent admin panel
    • You can manage theme / possible to customise / switch from one to another them
    • You can integrate with well known online payment gateway
    • no effort on having your site’s media asset like images / files be delivered with the well-known Content Delivery Network (a.k.a CDN) to fasten the site loading
    • Fundamental reporting allow you know how many sale / discounted amount / return amount reports
  • It is weak or no support on some factors:
    • You cannot change url pattern (if you very keen on SEO), you cannot imagine to have multilingual site with different context path like {domain}/en/… for English, {domain}/tc for Traditional Chinese
    • You may have low grade on some online SEO report saying there are many inline CSS/JS for which are Shopify needed scripting that you cannot remove
    • You cannot change your checkout flow (unless joining the Shopify Plus! plan)
    • You cannot expect your site can run very well in China region as Shopify is a foreign country where their servers located beyond China boundary.

(To be continue)

Mamedio Swimwear

This should be the most sexy project I get involved. A Brazil brand swimwear Shopify store is just launched:

Mamedio International

It has various style for both Bikini and One Piece. And the site owner pays much effort on showing you how good fit their products are with modal wearing their products and having attractive shot from different perspectives:

Mamedio International Lookbook

The story of Mamedio is just begins, apart from assisting the store for initial launch (both Internation and Brasil site), I am going to strength the site by further enhancing the SEO aspect, and facilitate the site owner to manage their stores easier.

Shopify plans pricing change and comparsion

Shopify changes their pricing on 1 Jun 2016. The plans’ name are changed accordingly: Basic Shopify, Shopify and Advanced Shopify. It still has 14 days trial, and of course, the most economic and clever way is to contact a Shopify Expert to work with you for a longer trial period for the store development.

From previous experience, most of my client would just need the Basic Shopify plan, as they only put items in store without need for detail report or gift card support. If clients need specific feature that only available in particular Shopify plan, before suggesting them to select the plan with that specific feature, I would show them the different of the potential cost among different plans.

I have the sheet below which I wrote for a client who original  have the Unlimited Shopify Plan (Advanced Plan) and consider how would it be different for his store if he downgrade his plan.

In the sheet, I have 3 tables:

  1. $299 Plan and $79 Plan the change in total running cost
  2. $29 Plan and $79 Plan the change in total running cost
  3. $179Plan and $79 Plan the change in total running cost

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 上午7.50.52

In each table, I show the plan cost, the gross transaction, the corresponding transaction fee (using third party payment like PayPal / PayDollar) and the total store running cost. You can see if your store has around HKD$350000 or USD $44872 gross transaction. Use $299 plan would be more economic.

So if you are running very simple Shopify store with $29/mo, if your monthly transaction is more then HKD$30000 or USD$3846, using $79 would be more economic.

For my client, he is currently using the old Unlimited $179 Plan, Shopify does not change this monthly price unless he changes the plan; When I help review, his plan will only be economic to him if his business cans produce $157000 gross sale per month. Yet, his business is still require some time to reach this sale level, and he needs not the advanced report feature, I recommend him to downgrade the plan so as to save the cost.

For my client, he is delighted to see this information and suggested arrangement for him; For me, my monthly commission is actually reduced by almost half. However, I believe this is definitely good for my client so as to help them running their business in lower cost. The lower the cost for their business, the higher the chance of success of their Shopify business.

 

NodeJs In Action 聊天室範例 (使用Socket.io with v1.4.5)

最近想深化對 NodeJS 的基本認知,參考一本 NodeJS In Action 的書,當中有一個聊天室範例應用到 Socket 。依據範例做當然錯不了,但範例使用的 Socket.io 版本是舊版本  (0.9.6),當昇級至 1.x (比如1.4.5),運行時便有林林種種的問題。

因此我以範例作根本,以 Socket.io 1.4.5 的方法編寫了能運行的 Example:

https://github.com/gordonchanhk/NodeJsInActionChatRoomExample

nodejs-in-action-chatroom

Getting Laravel (5.2) works with Heroku for Shopify Embedded App Development

Inspired by REVENUE AFTER 3 YEARS IN THE SHOPIFY APP STORE, I start exploring the world of Shopify App Development using my favorite PHP Framework: Laravel and hosts it on Heroku. I don’t have solid idea what App I am going to code, the work that I am going to share is how I finally get Laravel basically work inside Shopify as Embed app and get it running on Heroku.

I assume you have basic understanding what is Heroku / Laravel / Shopify Embedded App (EASDK).

Continue reading Getting Laravel (5.2) works with Heroku for Shopify Embedded App Development

Shopify Expert - 找他們合作的理由

利申:我是 Shopify Expert 的一員

Shopify 作為 SaaS 服務供應商的表表者,其申請以至運作方法皆以簡單快捷為主,所以有志利用它開站的人在一般開店的過程中一般都沒什麼困難。自己一手一腳開的店亦更能讓店主全程體會箇中的血與汗。這麼一說, Shopify 所提供的 Shopify Expert 「工種」卻顯得有點無謂,因為既然開站的工作基本能一手包辦,還有什麼難的東西非 Shopify Expert  協助不可?

作為 Shopify Expert 的一員,我很認同以上講法,更敬佩為己站一手包辦一切的他們。Shopify Expert 的存在,其服務對象並非他們,而是為一些需要在技術上、運作統籌上、以至日後後續運作、平台優化的層面上的提供協助的 Shopify 用家。

Shopify 提供了最基本的網店運作平台。然而其背後其實包含很多進階的功能,或要進行較深入的功能開發時,便需要一些對 Shopify 有較深了解的人提供協助。以下一些案例作為參考:

- 多語言功能開發

Shopify 其官方預設語言為英語,但提供了翻譯功能。然而這僅代表你的網站在某一當下只能有單一語言。要達至多語言功能,即是要讓網站同時做到中英語言選擇,若沒有特別編程下,你只能申請兩個網店來運作。 作為 Shopify Expert,我們則會利用適用的 Shopify App ,如 Langify 讓網站達至多語言功能。當然這不單單只是「安裝App」就足夠。在整個與 Langify 的 Integration 中,會預到許多 Langify 自身不直接支援的功能。Shopify Expert 需要理解 App 的運作原理,有時更要與 App 的開發人員溝通以理解如何應對某些開發協調問題。

-產品款式設定

Shopify 提供產品款式設定。即是說一件商品,你可以設定其可供選擇的樣式、如顏色、尺寸大小、度數。單一商品若只有一項樣式選擇問題倒不大,但若是單一商品有多於一項樣式選擇,其設定難度便會大增。比如某一商品有三顏色和四大小可選擇,其總商品共有4 x 3 = 12 項商品細明需要處理,每商品細明要有其對應的 SKU、存量設定。我曾預上一產品有十款顏色、左眼20項選擇,右眼20項選擇,依 Shopify 的設定法,我需要選定10 x 20 x 20 = 4000 項細目,這是人根本不能勝任的設定工作。作為 Shopify Expert 我們的職責是面對開店時預到的客戶要求,要考慮客戶的要求如何與 Shopify 的運作法則相磨合,來得出兩者兼容的開發方案。

- 更長的試用期限

一般 Shopify 申請能讓你得到 14 天的免費試用。而作為 Shopify Expert  我們能夠開設無限試用的網店。你可以透過他們開設網店獲得更長的試用期。他們的無限試用期主要是配合他們開發網站需要長時間調設網站之故,而你若確定日後付費開店,他們會獲得分成。所以這益人利己的事實在值得參考。

不同的 Shopify Expert 所提供的服務與收費、項目管理的方法和起貨/開發期可以有很大的差異。國外與本地的服務形式也會不同。說到底不同開發者的性格各有不同,貨比三家是一般的常識吧!

希望這文章讓你對我們 Shopify Expert 有更多認識。

Naturali Japan – 美曈 Shopify Store

naturali-japan-shopify-site-responsive-displays

Naturali Japan 是近來參與的 Shopify Store 開發。當中包括的挑戰:

  1. 與日本人合作
  2. 由開發至發佈為期一個月
  3. 讓網站能以 3 款語言和 3 種貨幣運作

當中最具挑戰性是讓網站能以 3 款語言運作。Shopify 基本功能支援翻譯功能,但只能於一網站上使用其中一款語言。要讓網站能支援多項語言,則需要使用其他 Shopify App 。客戶選用了 Langify ,所以我主要的工作是讓站台與 Langify 整合。

在整合過程中,遇上 Langify 與其他 App 的支援問題,比如客戶也選用了 Product Customizer 來處理商品的屬性。縱使 Product Customizer 的支援網站提及曾得到 Product Customizer 的回應說能相互兼容,但在與兩方一連串的電郵查詢後,得出的回應是他們基本不能互相兼容。Product Customizer 雖表示他們正部處更新版並可望令其功能與其他 App 更相容,只是未有公開期限。雖然這樣,作為 Shopify Expert 的價值就是利用對 Shopify 編程的熟悉來為客戶解決問題,最終還是能利用一些略為轉折的方法得出了解決方案。

此方案我也利用了 Taiga.io 作為與客人溝通問題、改良要求的 PM 工具。它容許使用者建立客戶戶口、定義 Ticket 類別、狀態。美中不足是沒有附件功能,但經已方便和客戶的基本溝通。

Shopify 收費不平宜但你還是可能選擇它的原因

上篇談及「利用 Shopify 架設網路商店的例子」,這一篇嘗試進一步協助剖析 Shopify 是否真正適合你。

shopify-google-search-onlineshop-result

雖然網路上伸手即有的一大堆網上服務平台可選,隨手一找這些也是你可能有興趣而又與 Shopify 相類似的網店平台:

  1. storenvy.com
  2. shopline.hk
  3. shopio.com
  4. volusion.com
  5. bindopos.com‎

基本上是即申請即可開店,又或是風格相近而又有名氣。

付費㗎喎!又唔係平

要找平宜的實在有許多選擇。這些平台的服務收費有分一次性成立費、月費、按交易收費、功能附加費等等。有些平台開店成本低至 HKD$500,月費HKD$50。(Shopify Basic Plan 要 USD $29 (~HKD$230) 另加交易手續費。)然而 Shopify 在這方面並不是平價網店服務平台。在商言商,一個服務供應商要有合理的收費才能支持其持續營運。有營利才能驅使平台有更穩健的發展。所以要是選擇的話, Shopify 不會是你的選擇。只因 Shopify 不是最貴的那一家,但要比它平宜的大有人在。

自主程度與開發者協作

那麼 Shopify 為何在云云選擇中被我看中?我被 Shopify 吸引的是其提供的自主度比其他平台優勝。它除了提供不同 Theme / Template 來讓技術能力較缺乏的用家選擇外,其自家的 Theme Configuration Tool 讓建立 Template 的製作者定義一些基本設定,讓其他不善編寫網頁的用家也能有自定義的空間。 除此之外,Shopify 自家的 Theme Editor 編輯工具再其自定義的功能之上,提供以 Liquid 這項 Template Language 讓開發者進行更進階的編程來製作更多樣化功能的網店。若果 Shopify 用戶想達到較複雜的網店設計而又沒有現成的 Theme / Template可選擇,有這類 Template Language 再找懂這項編程語言的網頁開發者協助便能達到他們的目的。Shopify 對開發者亦有很豐富的支援。除了完善的支援文件外,收益分成也是驅使 Shopify 開發者更積極協助其商家優化他們的網店,網店生意更好,他們所得的分成也會更多。

所以(利申),作為 Shopify 開發者 ,如果我為更多人建立 Shopify 網店,而他們的業務不斷發展收益增加,我也會漸漸有更多的分成收益。亦因為這種分成制度,讓 Shopify 開發者對 Shopify 有更多交流,以獲得更多支援、改進,讓他們為其客戶達到更多設計/功能目的。而 Shopify 開發者也務求與其客戶建立良好關係去優化他們的業務。換句話說,找一個 Shopify 開發者去開設網站能讓你的網店發展事半功倍。

歡迎你對 ShopifyShopify 的開發者協作計劃提出疑問以了解更多。