It has been a loong loong pause…

It has been nearly two years since my last blog post…

I won’t claim that I was too occupied to write, but rather that various priorities have diverted my attention and prevented me from sitting down and sharing the topics I’m passionate about. During this time, I made a significant career change, transitioning from my longstanding role as an in-house online application developer/manager to the payment industry. This shift has immersed me in the vast e-commerce landscape, where I assist merchants across different business corridors. I quickly realized that payments play a pivotal role in the success of an online business, and selecting the right service partner is absolutely crucial.

As I refocus on sharing my knowledge online, particularly in the realms of e-commerce, the payment industry, and various e-commerce platforms,

I aim to provide valuable insights and experiences. I’ll discuss everything from generating app ideas to starting the development process, and even the challenges I’ve encountered and conquered along the way. My intention is to offer a unique perspective and provide some actionable takeaways for anyone who happens upon this blog.

So, let’s explore what lies ahead and stay tuned for more exciting content.

Remark: Loong is not a typo, it is intended, there are so many fun topic around the word Loong this year and these days 😏 (The year of Loong, Loong Nine …)

Enabling SSL with Cloudflare

Finally, gordon-chan.net is fully run in HTTPS.

It is shame that as a webmaster I know how HTTPS is essential nowadays, even my website is not a e-Commerce site, it is also essential for SEO ranking.

Cloudflare is famous and a wellknown web performance and security solution company, apart from offering 1.1.1.1 DNS Service, sometime their domain price is also competitive than NameCheap and GoDaddy.

As I wish to get the site run under HTTPS, I know I need to setup SSL. Let’s encrypt is an option on my webhosting, however it requires me manually generate the cert every 3 months, and for every sub-domain, which is tedious process and I giveup or eventually forgotten over time.

Tonight when I try explore Cloudflare, and I find Cloudflare mentions they offer free SSL. I was thinking is there any plan subscription needed in order to enjoy it and insanely it is not. It is completely FREE.

So, I follow the step to turn my site into HTTPS, which basically involves:

1. Sign up a Cloudflare account (fair enough)

2. Login Cloudflare account, go to “Website”, click “Add a website”

3. Fill your domain for Cloudflare to search your web DNS config

4. In the Select Plan, scroll down for “Free plan”

5. Wait for Cloudflare look for your DNS records and review the DNS records that they found (You need to ensure the record are correct, and add any missing records)

6. Click “Continue”, Cloudflare will then show you the nameserver that you need to update in your Domain hosting. For my case is GoDaddy. I login to GoDaddy for my domain’s DNS Records. Be caution, once you update the nameserver, the DNS records in your Domain Host will gone. Therefore once again to ensure all DNS records are exists in Cloudflare. If things alright, update the nameserver and wait for its activation.

Normally the process need for 72 hours. Turn out, my whole process only need to wait for <10mins. I check all my sub-domain, login to my web hosting, and all work normal. What a magic!!!

Just to note, having a HTTPS site is not necessary mean your site is secured. It just ensure the communication between browser and your web server is secured. I came across some store owner with their eCommerce software with security risk and they didn’t apply patch, and turn out their website file being modified by malicious code and security risk exposed.

Wish this sharing helps you turn your website into HTTPS.

Shopify is Great, but these are the things you need to notice

I have been an active Shopify expert in Hong Kong since 2014. No doubt seeing Shopify become a strong platform and I regret not buying their stock in-time…

I believe not only Shopify technical talents and their proactive technology advance bring today Shopify, but also the strong developer community, for which we call Shopify Partners / Shopify Experts contributed in their success. Various apps / theme / tailor-made development services around the world help merchants work out the things they look forward, or providing advices that help giving birth to different success merchant stories.

Yet, even thought you also also like Shopify as of what I do, I have to point out the things below so you could treat that as a reference when you run your store.

Magic number: 1000 and 99 and 16

1000 is a magic number in Shopify, where:

  • A collection can hold at most 1000 products
    • If you have a collection with more than 1000 products, you need to refine your collection to have fewer products. It is not a big deal for Small-Medium business, but for large enterprise / marketplace, it is an obstacle.
  • A collection can holds at most 1000 tags
    • Products in Shopify can has tags. For a given collection, it has an array variable for theme developer to make use of it for function like filtering. Yet, such array can hold at most 1000 tags.

99 is a magic number in Shopify for Product variant

For a given product, you can setup some options, such as size / color / pattern etc. The number of combination of the options form the list of variants. Say, there are size S, M, L, and color with red and yellow. There will be 6 variants. And you cannot have more than 99 variants.

Again, this is fine for most of the scenario unless you have business like color lens, which ash different diopters (0.5,1,1.5,2…8.5, 9…etc) and colors, it likely results in huge variants list.

16 is the latest magic number newly in Shopify Store 2.0,

With Shopify Store 2.0, theme can has sections and block beyond homepage. Many theme developer build theme allowing merchant to add sections / blocks for configurable content like FAQ as the example, merchant can create a FAQ section and add questions. With such new magic 16, you can at most add 16 blocks for the FAQ questions.

Discount code oversell

As a merchant sometime you may run Flash Sale with limited discount for a given period of time as well as number of usage. Shopify allows you setup discount with period and no. of usage and some merchant shall use it as a way to control how many discount take place. Yet, I have merchant who run the Flash Sale for PS5 and some attractive electronic applicants using discount code with limited usage. Yet, the campaign is very success with probably near couple hundred people fight for the competition and turn out, oversell happens. The explanation from Shopify Plus support sharing it is possible to happen: for an order creation, it is allocated to some thread process. When there are many order fall to different process for the transaction/order creation, different threads have chance to get a non-updated copies of the discount code usage, leading the oversell. It sounds sensible to me, yet, it is a problem for merchants and what merchant can only do could be reducing the discount availability such as reducing the quota.

Discount code quote being occupied by abandoned checkout order (for checkout with 3rd payment service provider), no way to release

It is related to previous item. My merchant use 3rd payment service provider, meaning the customer will redirect from Shopify checkout to the payment gateway for the payment. For a hot campaign, there could be many customers attempt to checkout but didn’t complete their checkout, while those discount code would be classified as used. Imagine there are other customer also attempt to use the discount and it being feedback as discount code has no more quota.

From merchant perspective, they see the used quota is not fully redeemed from counting the transaction records, say, there is 5 quota for the discount code, the merchant sees the discount being used by 5 times already, while he only see 2 code applied to completed transaction. They try to find which orders are using the code but they fail. It is because the discount code detail only show the number of count being used but has no information of which 5 orders applied the code. Merchant can only find the code in Abandoned Checkout section manually. Yet, since it is abandoned checkout, there is no way to cancel such checkout for releasing the discount code… The lack of control of the discount code usage upset merchants.

No collection hierarchy

Merchants with large product size will find it hard for merchandising their product collection in Shopify. Shopify goes for flat collection principle. You can at most try combine with tagging / vendor attribute to form sub-collection. If your business work like marketplace, with collections have multiple sub-level. Shopify can only achieve this visually, but it does not offer the collection hierarchy. Say, if you want to have collection hierarchy like Women > Clothing > Dress, it is not having such logic in Shopify upon collection setup. Some developer leverage Navigation menu to accomplish such hierarchy-concept, and to have Women collection created with rules cover Clothing and Dress collection, as well as Clothing with rules that cover Dress Collection.

Too simple Member System

As a merchant, they wish to have member system which allow them to customer information including phone / preference. In Shopify….. no phone field, no additional profile attributes. You could accomplish similar feature by means of using customer tagging or otherwise to use App in aid of it, this leads to problem like data sharing with 3rd party, or difficulty on account spam prevention.

Not only that, for customer, when they login to their account, they cannot change email / reset password. The only way for reset password is to proceed Forget Password…

As a merchant, lacking of Date of Birth or phone number make limitation in marketing strategy or premium customer service.

The list is not stop by here. I shall further update the post when I can articulate what I encountered in the future. Wish the shared information enrich your understanding toward Shopify. You can also consider to checkout my consultant service so I can help you resolving the questions that you encountered.

You can sign up Shopify with this link, or you can ask me for help setup Shopify store with me has a collaborator access to guide you through the onboarding or store setup.

Bespoke by Shahina

Some days ago, I helped a merchant onboard Shopify from Square-space.

She wanna have a much easier way to manage her product, and eventually help her tailor made various widget to facilitate adding different type of her products to cart.

Bespoke by Shahina is a self-own brand business providing diamond & gemstone concierge service, making precious, beautiful jewellery with diamond and gemstone. There are different type of jewelleries: band / ring / ear-ring / necklace and various accessories. Some items are new to me, like:

Signet:
https://bespokebyshahina.com/products/signature-diamond-signet-ring
You can mark your name to the ring. Good for couple.

Custom Silver Cufflinks:
https://bespokebyshahina.com/products/custom-silver-cufflinks

Have your baby footprint print on a cufflink, good for parents.

She has many products offer customization, you can select how many diamond / gemstone, or add chain extender, or even add letters (which could be for your name initial)

See if this is a good gift idea source for upcoming festival or your memorial days.

Bespoke By Shahina: https://bespokebyshahina.com/

Shopify Product.Gift_Card attribute boolean check

Tonight being bothered by a Shopify attribute weird syntax.

Having a Gift Card product page, I want to show different UI vs normal product. I user product.gift_card and try to obtain the boolean value for the different UI. But I keep receive nothing.

Normally I try look up the product.json by adding .js at the end of the product URL. And I find there isn’t.

I have use line_item.gift_card for similar purpose, which give me expected value, so I am surprised I cannot get the expected value upon calling product.gift_card.

I connect with Shopify Plus support, and they typically say it should be my theme related rather than any regression in the system. Fair-enough~

Until a moment, I spot the product.gift_card in the developer doc has a Questionmark, i.e. product.gift_card? where that questionmark sounds to me to be a typo. But honestly not! It is the killer character that cause me fail to get the expected boolean. I cannot find another attribute has such un-usual suffix character. And I hope you didn’t struggle too long like me.

Related links:

https://shopify.dev/api/liquid/objects/product#product-gift_card
https://shopify.dev/api/liquid/objects/line_item#line_item-gift_card

Useful blogs for continue advancing as a web engineer

As a web engineer, you need to keep yourself advance, learning from giant tech company is a good choice. Here are some of the blogs I follow:

https://shopify.engineering/
As a Shopify Expert, no doubt I need to follow what’s happening in Shopify Engineer world. By knowing how they continue scale up the platform or any news in advance on storefront rendering will help me plan about my development for development opportunities.

https://netflixtechblog.com/
How can a over-the-top content platform and production company support operating their platform / video delivering to numerous video consumers smoothly and gather the statistic to come up a big data analysis, their blogs share such golden insight.

https://medium.com/paypal-engineering
As a new joiner of PayPal (since Aug 2020), I start following the blog to know more about what is happening PayPal engineers are working on to improve our customers and merchants end-user experience so as to achieve the great 2021 initiatives.

https://engineering.fb.com/
Although someone would say Facebook start outdate, or suitable to adult but not teenagers, no-doubt FB is a social platform that backed up various technical advancement. The contribution on GraphQL / MySQL and articles about their data centers are really cool to follow.

https://eng.uber.com/
Uber famous in how they handle the huge live-time data in organising every transport / car moving. Their articles about how they architect their system, money movement, how they use latest technology to empower their system and services are awesome!

https://medium.com/asos-techblog
https://medium.com/ynap-tech
As an ex-fashion company tech person, I need to be aware of how other fashion company tech advancement. ASOS and Net-a-Porter Tech blog are 2 majors source of Tech nutrients I would absorb from so as to learn what advancement we could adopt.

Although the content in the blog / Medium mentioned above could be quite backend side, as a web engineer (I am try step into an area somewhere beyond frontend development), it is challenging but also they are valuable resources to learn from them, which often got insight like something they probably have been failed for lots of time and finally got overcome the technical bottlenecks. This kind of insight are essential for excelling oneself to achieve higher technical advancement. If you not yet start having such habit, act now and build up such habit~

my FITNATURE is coming to town!

my FITNATURE

Today I am delighted to see Joemary Leung, a Personal Trainer, Online Coaching, starts her new business: my FITNATURE.

https://myfitnature.com/

my FITNATURE is an athleisure brand for people to bring out their uniqueness through wearing our fitness wears. Joemary seeks for me assisting her to work out her business with Shopify, while the world is still concerning COVID-19 striking everyone business. She believes in her products and really look forward to share it with people who need it.

It is not an easy start to anyone, as investing right now is just like investing in an unknown result. Yet, I try my best to clarify her for questions she feel unclear about:

  • How online business works?
  • How Shopify works?
  • What is needed to run an online business?

I shared with her what cost would need for running a e-store, sharing the focus of her preparation and what else technical parts that I can offer my services.

We confirm the business relationship virtually at night around 11pm, the majority journey are through email / Whatsapp and Google Meet, until a week before the site launch.

Honestly Shopify platform cover most server side functionality and I focus on the visual / theme customisation to match my FITNATURE’s brand identity. And also setup the related tracking, site launch preparation. And I believe the hardest part is the Shopify + Facebook Page integration, which is a headache recently when I work with various parties. There are problem screening over the Internet and we are not lucky enough to avoid this, resulting the FB related integration is delayed.

Thanks Joemary for her kindness patience and we work hard to finalise the site to get it well ready for launches and it is great the site can launches smooth in a sunny Sunday!

It is just the beginning, setting up a e-store is not hard nowadays with various tools and platform available. But keeping the business success in such a pandemic situation is challenging to every ambitious new merchants. I wish I can provide an affordable services to support my clients and help their business continuous grow with overcoming any challenges in such abnormal Era~

Celebrate again to the site launch of my FITNATURE.

@my_fitnature

If you are interested about how to run your online store on Shopify, why people choose, or why I propose people to use Shopify, don’t hesitate to jot me a message or try out by signing up the 14 days trial Shopify Store.

Something about Shopify Support and Shopify Expert / Shopify Partner

Being a Shopify Expert / Shopify Partner, there are questions relates to this role often from my clients and my friends. And I try to share some and welcome feedback.

First of all, Shopify Expert are people who experiences and solid work history on various Shopify projects, across store setup / theme development / marketing and app development. I started my Shopify affiliate journey since 2014, and once reach 5 clients, I applied to be a qualified Shopify Expert. I also wrote a blog shared the reason for seeking Shopify Expert help for Shopify store setup.

For last 6 years, I have managed more than 10 clients, although I cannot work with each clients every moment. Yet I am open for them to connect with when they have questions for their store or even their business, act as a helpful hand if they seek for advices.

Shopify is a listed company, providing the SaaS E-Commerce platform which help store owner setup their store in a handy way. They do have a support team for handling various store owner issues. So they provide well documents to store owner / Shopify partner for theme / app / development etc. They have Shopify Forum for people to raise questions. Official FAQ system so as to shortlist common questions. And ultimately they offer Live Chat / Email / Phone call support. Although with various support channel, it cannot replace the need for Shopify Expert.

A proper Shopify Expert work with you for business, to help your business grows, care your difficulties and provide solution and even implementation. There are Shopify Expert who care dollar sign and initiate various development works, or someone like me treat freelancer as a personal habit for building various stores to help different business, or to learn how to do business by mean of offering my web development skills. Shopify Expert should have skill set in theme development, store configuration to facilitate the business, they work close to the clients and know their store well. Meanwhile, Shopify Support represent Shopify, they provide support which sometime requires investigation from backend, where Shopify Expert cannot access. Shopify Support often not close to your business, if you are unluckily, you may even reached out from a Shopify Support who mis-understood your issue and brought you walk through the garden and keep sharing information that not useful and off the topic.

A good Shopify Expert should be able to communicate well with the client in order to understand their situation better and able to think on behalf of the client so as to work out the things that work right to the client. I am not yet well in communication and time is the most scarcity item which cause me fail to commit some client raised demand, it is the problem of solo proprietor.

If you are a Shopify store owner. I look forward you can find your right Shopify Expert as a partner, they are happy to build a relationship with you especially if you can let them help you setup your store (as we have a little commission scheme as incentive to be active in Shopify community).

Win City Coffee

Welcome Win City Coffee launches with Shopify.

https://wincitycoffee.com/

WinCityCoffee is a Hong Kong based speciality coffee roaster since 2016. They source coffee beans over the world, having real visit to know the manufacture and their products to ensure the production is responsible and sustainable, and offers 3 collections to their customers.

Products – Signature Blends

Eric and his partner, Ben, approaches me and look for having the site run on Shopify because of the Shopify benefits that they heard.

I evaluate their business, where their website used to be hosted in Wix.com. I explained to them how the business work different between Wix and Shopify. The order fulfilment journey, the way to manage inventory, product setup, theme management which are all new to them, but they have picking them up. The store setup complete in a month time, despite there are some imperfect migration regarding the domain transfer, which add the complexity of the migration.

Now, with the fresh new platform, with proper site performance facilitates, I wish that help Eric and Ben run their business and able to have their roasted coffee beans deliver to people who love coffee.

Give it a try if you are a coffee lover!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WinCityCoffee/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/wincitycoffee/

If you are interested in Shopify, follow this link (with my referral) to learn more about Shopify: https://www.shopify.com/?ref=gordon-chan-net

Number-33.com

Congratulate No. THIRTY THREE migrate to Shopify for their E-Business.

No. THIRTY THREE is a fine jewellery brand owned by Melissa; Crafted with the finest materials weave together an abundance of personal memories and fond feelings. I will assist No. THIRTY THREE for this transformation and aim to allow her business to share more success stories.

number-33.com
Number-33.com

https://number-33.com