eCommerce is BOOMING. There is such a massive need for businesses to get their brands online and often, sell online. I probably don’t need to explain why, right?

Either way, eCommerce was going to explode but the truth is, the pandemic escalated the eCommerce industry from 5-10 years out…till NOW. The need for web designers offering eCommerce is greater than ever.

And while you may not think you’d ever want to venture into building online stores, like I did in the beginning, the good news is, you can do it! It’s easier than ever to add eCommerce into your suite of web design services OR go all in if you love the industry.

To help us navigate the amazing opportunities available for us, I’ve brought in my close personal friend (you’ll hear more about that) Daniel Sheard, who’s the CEO of Shopify Plus Agency Partner and UK based eCommerce agency

Dan is a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to the online commerce world and in this episode, we dive into the many and amazing options we have as web designers to dip our toes in as the need is so big.

So whether you’re already doing eCommerce or you just want to get a feel for the lay of the land, this entire conversation will be worth your time!

P.S. Sometimes the most amazing and fruitful business relationships start while being tipsy in a pool in Mexico…listen to find out how I learned that personally 😉

In this episode:

00:00 – Introduction
04:43 – Greeting to Daniel
09:34 – Honeymoon history
13:26 – A Shopify revolution
19:37 – Future of eCommerce
22:18 – Opportunity for designers
26:39 – How to offer eCommerce
32:28 – UX focus
36:17 – Credit card processing
42:08 – Split pay option
45:07 – Cart abandonment
49:36 – CS support & partnership
52:20 – Develop a flow
56:27 – How to partner
1:00:22 – Looking at the future
1:06:04 – “Help everyone” network

Why Shopify Plus? | Velstar

Connect with Daniel:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #177 Full Transcription

Josh 0:00
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Josh 1:02
And welcome friends in Episode 177. I am extra excited about this episode. for two main reasons. One reason for you in one reason, personally for me, let’s start with you. First off, I’m extra excited about this episode, because we’re going to dive into the topic of E commerce. This is obviously a very hot topic in web design. And more specifically, we’re going to dive into all of the incredible opportunities available to you. With e commerce, whether you want to go the route like I did, which was to offer ecommerce, occasionally and just as needed for clients. And on more of a simplistic level, or for those of you who really want to go all in on E commerce and have an E commerce agency, I probably don’t need to explain why there’s such a need for online stores and help in the E commerce realm. But there is.

Josh 1:54
So you can do e commerce however you’d like to do it in your web design business. And this episode is really going to give you a good lay of the land with how you would like to implement it. And the second reason I’m so excited about this is it’s one of my close friends. In fact, my friend here Daniel shared is the CEO of a UK based Shopify Plus partner agency that exclusively does e commerce sites in the UK called Velstar.

Josh 2:22
Now, you might wonder, how did you become such close friends with somebody from the UK and obviously, we live in a, you know, internet technology world where we can talk with anyone over the world. But Dan and I actually met in person. And we talked about this in the episode, but we actually met on my honeymoon, the last day of me and my wife’s honeymoon, we were floating in the pool. And I heard this guy talking about WordPress. And so I floated over to him with my my little drink. And it was Dan and we started talking about WordPress. And then we exchanged details and then we chatted after the honeymoon. And next thing you know, we were collaborating on ecommerce sites together. And we partnered up with some services. And we’ve been friends ever since.

Josh 3:02
And I’ve seen Dan, take his company of Velstar from nothing to incredible heights, as you’ll hear in this agency. And again, he’s taking it to this point where they are a Shopify Plus preferred agency, which is awesome. And Dan has a lot of insight on the E commerce world and what’s going on now. And how you can implement ecommerce into your web design business and how you can really stand out from other people who are doing e commerce. So I’m super excited for you. And it was great personally to catch up with Dan as well. He also has a really cool accent. So I think you’re gonna enjoy especially to my us friends who loves loves getting an accent.

Josh 3:38
Anyway, really excited for you before we dive in after this episode, if you’re fired up and you’re interested in E commerce, I do have my WordPress WooCommerce course. Now this is a an encapsulation of basically everything I knew and implemented in regards to e commerce. Again, I’m not an ecommerce expert. It wasn’t the main service I had. But in this course it’s more of a beginner style course where I will teach you how to build online stores with WordPress and WooCommerce and you will be able to offer WooCommerce sites e commerce sites after that core so after this if you’re interested, there will be a link in the show notes for this episode at Josh 177 head there and I would love to personally guide you through learning e commerce and without further ado, here’s my buddy Dan, we’re going to talk about all of the incredible opportunities available to you in the world of E commerce let’s go.

Josh 4:37
Dan my man welcome to the show dude. I can’t even say how pumped I am to reconnect with you and have you on the show man.

Daniel 4:43
Yeah, thanks for having me. Josh been a while.

Josh 4:46
It has been a while we were chatting format live it’s been a few years it was funny. I felt like it was like deja vu and I saw your name pop up on Zoom because you and I did a lot of work together years ago.

Daniel 4:57

Josh 4:57
And we had a lot of calls of course your your cross the pond, which we’ll talk about, but we go way back, man, and I’m really excited to have you on because you have done some awesome stuff with your company. You’re the CEO of Velstar. And you guys are doing some incredible things in the E commerce space. Now, I know you’re a Shopify guy, but I’m gonna let that slide. Most of all my listeners listen to us WordPress and stuff. But we’ve got some Shopifyers, too. But I figured what we’ll do is just talk about, you know, e commerce trends that apply to no matter what platform you use. So I’m super awesome. I’m super excited to chat. Before we dive into you want to let everybody know first off where you’re based out of and just tell us about Velstar what you guys are up to?

Daniel 5:41
Yeah, cool. No problem. Thanks for the intro. So yeah, so as you mentioned, Shopify guy, we’re based in the UK out of Liverpool. And even though a lot of companies have gone remote, with remote work and working from home, and we do have a few remote employees, we’ve just signed a new lease on a new building right in the center of Liverpool because the team’s growing really quickly. We’ll get into the shortly I imagine but Ecommerce has been propelled got 5, 10 years into the future because of COVID. Because people have no choice. But to shop online. So yeah.

Daniel 6:18
For us, as an E commerce agency, we’ve been ideally positioned. Obviously, nobody wants a global pandemic to happen. But you got to make the best of the situation. Fortunately for us, we are in a good position to help out a lot of businesses, which I guess we’ll dive into. We FL star, we’re a Shopify Plus partner, as I say, based in Liverpool, and we have a sole focus on building online stores on Shopify, the platform, and then helping the brands grow through growth, marketing, retention, marketing, CRO, those sorts of things. And yeah, it’s going really well. So what Shopify Plus partner means is we work with Shopify directly. So team up on bigger brands, so we recently launched a new store for French Connection over in the UK, famous brand in the UK. So Shopify, speak to French Connection, say, Hey, you want to move on to our platform, you should speak to Dan and the guys at Bell stone, and we partner up with Shopify and how,

Josh 7:21
So they’re helping with lead generation and acquisition as well.

Daniel 7:24
Yeah, yeah. So this, there’s a number of Shopify Plus partners around the globe, there’s probably 20 to 30 in the UK that are similar to us. So not a huge number, like not compared to say, generalist web design agencies, where that’s probably in the 1000s in the UK. Yeah, so we are a preferred partner with Shopify. And we sometimes bring brands to them say, Hey, we got a brand. We’d like your support to bring it onto the platform. And then we team up the Shopify sales team and yeah, on the project, and vice versa.

Josh 7:57
That’s awesome. Well, you already hit on an interesting point, which is that E commerce, like you said, has been propelled, basically, you know, five to 10 years from the future till now, with just demand that everyone is online because of COVID. And I actually, we were chatting before we went live, I teach full time now web design, and that was mainly triggered by the start of the pandemic, I had such a wave of folks wanting to learn web design, that I just got flooded. And it was awesome. I mean, luckily, with with online courses, I was able to serve a lot of people at scale. But it really, really set that motion for me to be able to take the most out of this opportunity and go for it. And that’s awesome to hear that it’s worked out for you guys, too, that that opportunity was there. But I know we didn’t plan it like this. But by golly, if the opportunity is there, you got to do what you do to help.

Daniel 8:46
Yeah, absolutely. And some positives do come out of it. So we hired people who lost jobs in different verticals, different industries, because of the pandemic. So Charlie, our head of marketing, she does all of Velstar marketing internally, she lost her job at another agency because they lost a few clients, they got a little bit nervous with the, with the pandemic. So she actually she was new in our previous job. So she lost the job. So we were able to give her a job because of the busyness of our agency. So yeah, it’s obviously not what we wanted. But we managed to grow the team and help a few people out who lost jobs through the Yeah, different industries were hit in different ways.

Josh 9:34
And so yeah, and now it was interesting, because when we first met i You’ve always been super entrepreneurial man. And facts. Look, I have to ask you, I have to ask you this because we met on my honeymoon, where we were met in a pool in Mexico. I remember so it was so funny. I’m just gonna take us completely off course right in the beginning here. My wife was like, Babe, don’t Bring your business cards. Let’s just you know, enjoy our weekend. It’s like, all right, no business cards, no, no shop talk or anything. And then last day of vacation, or our honeymoon, we’re in the pool. And I hear you talking about WordPress. And I’m like, that dude’s talking about WordPress. I got a chat with him.

Josh 10:15
It was also the last day of our honeymoon, and I was trashed before I think 11am I was like, I’m gonna enjoy this last day. So I don’t even know what your thought was when I came up to you in the pool. A beyond tipsy Josh coming up to you talking about WordPress, but But yeah, it was really cool that that we ended up meeting in that, you know, weird way. And then he never know how connections and partnerships are gonna form when you hear somebody talking about WordPress. So before we kick this off, what were your first thoughts? When you met me in the pool in Mexico? I’ve never started a podcast like that before.

Daniel 10:48
Well, yeah, I always, I always tell that story, actually. Because we actually came out to visit you guys as well, didn’t we? In Columbus? Yeah, it was a great a great trip. But yeah, so I felt like I think when you’re in the sort of mindset, you kind of, you’re always kind of switched on. And I guess, maybe I was, that was a stolen hotel, by the way, I need to go back to that hotel. By the swim up bar. And it’s kind of like, when you get chat about yourself to float around the pool. Just, it was quite a social place. I thought someone must have been asking me Oh, what do you do and back it back then I didn’t actually own a business. I was in the process. Maybe starting up. I was a contract developer. So I was working on a bit of WordPress stuff, but mainly front end engineer and on some big projects, but yeah, I just thought when we got chatting, you know, it’s always great to make a connection then here we are. That was like, how many years? Six? So

Josh 11:45
That was 15 that was 2015. Yeah. So seven almost seven years ago?

Daniel 11:49
Yeah. So yeah. It was a great connection. And yeah, it’s funny how things worked out. We’ve done some work together in the past, obviously. And yeah, it was a good connection.

Josh 11:59
We did and look at the reason I wanted to bring that up is it’s true. You just never know who you’re going to meet where you’re going to meet them and how connections can form and the web design world and yeah, I remember I just I specifically remember you just chatting with a dude with your, you know, Pina Colada and your hand or whatever it was about WordPress and I float it up by my junk gas floated up to you. I was like you do WordPress? I do do and then we actually really hit it off. And yeah, you guys came and visited us in the states here. And we’ve done a lot of work together.

Josh 12:28
And I say that to say to winner entrepreneurial minded, I think the the avenues of whatever you want to do are endless. Like you had you at that point. You knew WordPress really, really well. You were you know, doing coding and stuff like that you actually helped me in those early days with some of my sites. And we partnered up on some stuff with some advanced coding. And I tried we partnered up on a Shopify site. I didn’t I didn’t love Shopify, just because I was so used to Divi and WordPress, but yeah, you you did that was your thing. So you kind of ran with that, which is really cool to see.

Josh 13:02
So now that we’re reconnecting several years later, it’s awesome to see you know, what you’ve done. And you’ve really honed in on the E commerce side and stuff like that. So I’d love to know from you, Dan, like, before COVID hit, what was the E commerce landscape? Like, like, was it? I mean, I imagine it was still steadily growing. And then you said COVID, that really just it kind of forced brands to go online at that point, even if they were just dabbling in it, Right?

Daniel 13:26
Yeah, well, so I actually think Shopify kind of played a part in a bit of a revolution themselves in the E commerce world. So back WooCommerce, as well, will come and buy us. Yeah, it makes it easy to sell online. But before WooCommerce, before Shopify, it was it was really tricky to build an online store, it was quite a custom thing. And you needed a lot of a lot of budget to get going. So when these sort of tools came out, I’d say, you know, they’ve been around for quite a while now, even pre 2010. But they just started gathering pace, and the technology’s got better and better. And when I started Valstar it was 2016, beginning of 2016. And E commerce was really really picking up the big player back then was Magento.

Josh 14:20
That’s right. Yeah,

They can’t afford to go and spend 100k on a web build, but they could spin up a Shopify store and hustle drive ads do some really good marketing. – Daniel

Daniel 14:22
Shopify was coming along and really ruffling a few feathers in the in the Magento world because it was kind of like, do it yourself scalable. But it still had a few sort of kinks that needed to work out. And it was very, like, although it’s been around for six or seven years, it was very sort of raw product. They just continue to innovate, continue to push, and we became Shopify expert, and then Shopify Plus partner and E commerce was gathering a lot of PACE anyway, has been for a while now. A lot of direct to consumer brands, sprouting up people who you know they can’t afford it in most stores, they can’t afford to go and spend 100k on a web build, but they could spin up a Shopify store and hustle drive ads do some really good marketing. So E commerce was really in a good spot pre pandemic. And then COVID Here, march 2020, obviously, like Well, little bit before, but it really hit in March 2020.

Josh 15:22

Daniel 15:23
And at that point, panic did set in for me, because we had quite a lot of marketing clients were quite a lot of big projects on mid mid project. And initially, I thought, everyone’s just going to pause, everyone’s just going to hold their budget hope and you’ve got a new website, come in, just pause that project. Let’s keep the old one up, let’s keep the money in the bank. And a couple of people did at the start. But then it’s quickly started turning where people realized just how big the opportunity was going to be. And then we started getting some, like, tons and tons of inquiry. And we were growing pretty quickly. Anyway, we’ve probably doubled revenue nearly every year that we’ve been in operation, but nothing like what happened when COVID hit. It was insane. And we’re talking big brands as well, really pushing their website because the retail locations were closed, pumping more money into marketing. And yeah, as I said earlier, it’s just kind of really pushed ecommerce forward five, maybe even 10 years to where it got to be.

Josh 16:33
It’s interesting, even now, just a couple years past the beginning of all that we just actually just a few days ago, we saw so there’s a coffee shop my wife and I often go to. And across from that is like a boutique women’s clothing store that’s been there for years. Well, it was they had to actually shut down the storefront. And they have a sign on there says it’s 100% online now. So even at this point, there are brands that have have tried to keep a real retail, like actual foot traffic presence. A lot of those if they’re not making it or they’re not profitable enough. They’re they’re either going to their website, or they’re taking their current website and just boosting it and going full time.

Josh 17:14
So it is interesting, I think this is important because the the opportunity for web designers for my audience to build online stores is is key. And again, I’m a promoter of WordPress and WooCommerce. Some some of my folks use Shopify, but the tactics and the strategies are regardless of what platform.

Daniel 17:18
Yeah yeah absolutely. Like.

Josh 17:36
I was kind of curious. So like you guys, are you as well start working with primarily bigger brands now? Or do you work with small, you know, Mom paw type of businesses? And do you have any lower tier type of packages for them? Or what’s that look like for you guys?

Daniel 17:48
Yeah, it’s a mixture. So we do have some big brands who work with so people I gave on French Connection, Castor. These are like brands, like let’s say 100 million dollar plus brands, you know, swimming in those pools, but the principles are still the same, then we work with some startups as well who, you know, we have different packages to take them from, take them up to a million dollar turnover, that sort of thing, and then move on to Shopify Plus, and just keep helping them scale. So yeah, we can work with smaller brands. They tend to be larger now in nature. Because the thing our specialism, as an agency is, is kind of like end to end ecommerce. So we’re not just designing and building a website, we’re supporting with marketing, so driving traffic and that side of things, and then all the way right, right through to integrations with warehouse management systems and ERPs and that sort of thing. So getting the sales is one side of it, but operations and supply chain and getting the getting the products out the door is an aside.

Josh 18:56
There. Oh, I was just gonna say there’s there’s the customer aspect of all that too. Like, when somebody buys a product, where does their email address go? Is it in the CRM? Are you guys handling some of the customer management side of things as well?

Daniel 19:11
Yes, so we help set up those processes and we partner with the right sort of technology partners in that sense of there’s a really good product called gorgeous, it’s like GLR G IAS, which is an incredible customer service platform. So they held a big direct to consumer event last year that I spoke and things like that we partner with.

Josh 19:33
Is that a replacement for like MailChimp or something?

Daniel 19:36
No, not from email marketing point of view that’s from a customer service point of view. So in all your channels, so he’ll pull an email or pull in social media, absolutely everything into one dashboard and allow you to automate, automate all your customer service, but that’s where these things are moving now with E commerce, customer experiences What’s gonna win? And for web designers, so how would that benefit your audiences, the boundaries are going to continue to be pushed online, in my opinion. So the High Street is going to going to change. Shopping malls are going to change, they’re going to become, in my, in my opinion, more experiences.

Daniel 20:19
So you are going to a store and see every item you could buy being stocked that that is now it’s going to where you’re going to go into a store and like have experiences, try things out and be sort of, you know, for kind of premium brands and luxury brands on that side of things, which means online, you’ve really got to push the boundary. So how do you keep returns down like you push returns technology, like size guides fit in things. So how’s that going to be pushed from a web design point of view, there’s a lot of plugins, but they need customizing and managing. And then things like Home wear and furniture, I want to see them in my living room. So AR and VR technology is going to be huge.

Josh 21:04
So I was going to mention that too. So we’re we’re building our new home right now and looked for a couch for the main room. And of course, we started online. And then they actually went into the store to actually sit on it and see how it felt and everything. And then the the gal who we ended up purchasing that from, we’re actually just waiting back to get like the they’re gonna mock it up in a picture of our room and then give us some idea. So like you said, it’s it’s much more experience based. It’s kind of a hybrid between which Yeah, this isn’t going to be the same for all businesses. But any business like that, that is going to have a retail front. I do feel like there’s this hybrid approach that has to be working well together, right?

Daniel 21:42
Yeah, absolutely. That’s kind of what I mean. And saying, you’ve got to, you got to, you’re never going to give an offline experience online. There’s nothing like feeling a product touching a product, obviously, but trying to merge the two as much as possible. And those technologies are being really pushed right now. And then you’ve got crazy Facebook Metaverse, and things like that, that are coming along and the world is shifting and COVID has lit a fire under that and sped a lot of these things up. And yeah, we’re going to see that across the board, I think but it’s a great opportunity for web designers.

Daniel 22:18
Learning the right skills, focusing I think niching down not being a kinda something for everybody, then what we did really well at Valstar. And you know, it just gets scary at the start. But we said we build ecommerce stores, and we build them on Shopify, that’s it. And we don’t get people who come to us and say, oh, I want to build a store on Magento we don’t want to do that. I want to build a store on even even WordPress to a certain degree. And we did cheat a little bit and take the odd project but yeah, the second we sort of niche down focused in this is what we do it makes it so much easier.

Daniel 23:02
You set up your processes you get the team in that can really focus we become ecosystem experts it’s easy to onboard new employees because this is how we work these are the tools this is what we do so really hone in and focus in on that as seldom was massively and I couldn’t recommend that enough whether that’s Divi to your bag or whether that’s like your specific ecommerce WooCommerce developer whatever it is like think really being the master of that specific and you could even go deeper so what we started doing at Val stone our same we only work in certain verticals so we’ll go sports, fitness, lifestyle, which does cover quite a few I would say.

Josh 23:44
Yeah, your niching down from the industry as far as generalists industry so you niche down to Shopify Ecommerce online stores and then you take it further to certain niches without so you’re not just doing websites for a certain type of industry right now but you’re getting you know, you’re you’re probably weeding out some of the ones that maybe you’ve experienced aren’t a good fit or maybe you know, not not the perfect type of client for you or something.

Daniel 24:12
Absolutely, that’s it and it just allows you to think it can be scary you know, someone comes along and says I’ve got a big budget and I want to build another WordPress store with no e commerce but I’ve got 100,000 pounds to spend or $100,000 spend and you have to say no yeah, that’s your money. But in the long run, it’s going to benefit the business I think.

I don’t know anyone who does ecommerce well that is looking for work like they, there’s so much demand for a good web designer or a small team agency. – Josh

Josh 24:36
And I do have some students who are solely doing e commerce which is pretty cool. As you know, Dan, I balanced the two I started doing WooCommerce sites along with my regular website designs and I think that’s a great way to start if you do I agree if you feel the urge to just go ecommerce there is a massive opportunity for that and it’s needed because I don’t know anyone who does ecommerce well that is looking for work like they, there’s so much demand for a good web designer or a small team agency, whatever you want to call it, to do online stores and do them well, and to help out with all these other aspects of running an online store, which I figured we’ll talk about here.

Josh 25:13
But I say that to say if you do want to incorporate ecommerce, that’s a great way to get started, because that’s what I did. And what was interesting is I found out that if I did a really good job on a website for a client, an E commerce function might come a year or two later, like I had one client that was a business consulting firm here in Columbus, I design their website, it was awesome. And then I think six months later, they were like, we have this ticketing system. That’s just a nightmare. We’d like to bring this into our website, and then we were able to use WooCommerce for that for their ticketing and further further online sales. It was awesome. Like, that’s a great way to go.

Josh 25:51
What Yeah, what are your some of your tips for somebody who has maybe before we talk about some of the specifics of all these aspects with E commerce? For somebody who’s interested in online stores? What are maybe the first few things they should consider thinking about? Well, it doesn’t have to be, you know, tool specific, but I think a lot of people see commercials now where it’s like, you know, Squarespace, start your online store and start selling $1 A day No, no big deal. It’s not a hassle, as you know. And as I know, there’s a lot more that goes into a successful online store. So where would somebody start? If they’re thinking about ecommerce?

Daniel 26:25
So do you mean from the sort of web designers point of view or from stone an online store point of view?

Josh 26:31
Yeah, helping a client with their online store, if they want to add this to their service and just kind of, you know, dip their toe in it? What are some of the initial principles you would recommend?

Daniel 26:39
Well, the first thing to be aware of, and you do find this out the hard way is any an online store and e commerce Store, it’s always on, like, so what I mean by that is, if you’ve built websites for an accountancy, a lawyer, a, you know, you know what I’m where I’m going, a building contractor, if that site goes down for a couple of hours, the site’s down for a couple of hours, sure, they’re not going to be happy, you might have a client who saying, why is my site down, this isn’t great, get it up ASAP. If you have an e commerce Store that goes down, and that’s their only source of revenue, the pressure is really, really on.

Daniel 27:20
So it’s worth bearing in mind that E commerce clients are probably the most demanding. And for good reason, really. It’s their storefront, it’s their sole means of revenue, they’ve got a team themselves, probably warehouse, they’ve got bills they need to pay. So if that stores down for a couple of hours, that could be dependent on the size of the store that could be hundreds of pounds, 1000s of pounds. So they are demanding clients and bear that in mind.

Daniel 27:51
But a good place is and you’ve got to think about the whole end to end solution as well, in my opinion. Again, when you’re talking about general web design, you build it, people can move it around and play with it, maybe fill a form and read a blog post. But with an e commerce Store, you’ve got to think about the whole journey that landed on a homepage or a collection page or a product page they’re adding to cart. So you’ve got to really understand the whole sort of flow. So my first port of call would be and obviously, most people have bought something online now, so understand an e commerce Store.

Daniel 28:33
But I would set one up and play around but okay, I’ve added all the products to the store, it’s all the data in correctly, or the pages laid out, like go through the whole process, what happens? Can I take payments get like just check absolutely everything, do a lot of end to end testing before you even sort of delve in to the to the ecosystem. And that’s good. Platform is, is obviously an important one. Most of your audience are obviously Divi or WordPress people so it’d be WooCommerce. Again, it’s just about making sure that you understand the whole flow and user journey of of E commerce because it is just it’s very obviously transactional. It’s the only thing that matters is the conversion is very different from a static website.

Josh 29:22
Those are great points, man, a couple solid points there. I think there you do have to be aware that these commercials that in ads that we see about just start your online store for $1 a day with Wix or Squarespace it’s it is not that simple. And at the same time, a needy client also means that you can charge more and to put a positive spin on that aspect. It means that you have a client for as long as they’re your client. So that’s one cool thing about e commerce right is when you land an E commerce client, you don’t need that many of them to potentially make a six figure income because they might be paying you two 300 $500,000 a month depending on what you’re doing no more, we’re way more depending on how invested you are.

Daniel 30:07
It’s a that’s a great point, an ecommerce store is never finished. Because they can’t, they’re constantly going to need updates. So you see those Squarespace is like yes, start store, but then you’ve got to think about okay, shipping plugins, payment gateways, taxes.

Josh 30:24
What is the customer information going? Are you using emailing?

Daniel 30:28
A tree management CRM, there’s so many things that you need to think about. But yeah, you are absolutely right. They are lucrative plans because you launch the store. And then the next day, the next week, there’s new products to add new collections, new banners, there’s so many things that need doing on an ongoing basis to an e commerce Store. The stores that standstill are the ones that don’t generate the revenue that they need to generate. And you go on any of these big stores. It’s constant innovate, like innovation, Ganeshan updated products. Sort of making sure you get in the using the best tools, and I know there’s a lot of plugins for WooCommerce to do that. So yeah, the they are lucrative clients because then they need constant support.

Josh 31:15
And the cool thing is, it’s it’s fairly easily easily measured. I know a lot of my students, we’ve been talking about conversions and offering conversion based design. But then the question is, how do I actually measure that, for my clients with an online store? Revenue is the number one. It’s like, did we make that we make enough this month? Or do we make more than last month and there’s little tweaks can make a big difference? Something you mentioned a little bit ago was like the entire checkout experience.

Josh 31:41
I was notorious when I got started with E commerce for making the front end of the site look really nice, some good conversion based stuff initially. And then I would just throw the checkout page on there and be done with it. And I really wouldn’t give enough emphasis to the whole checkout experience. And then post checkout like, what do you put on your checkout page, once somebody purchases, then the follow up steps. So I’d love to talk about some of that kind of stuff that you’ve seen work. But I think that’s what you mean by encapsulating the whole journey, right? Like the customer journey through all that. And I would say, too, for anyone who’s like, Good God, that sounds like so much work. I don’t know if I want to do this. The cool thing is, if you do it once you can replicate that system. Have you guys done that, like have you do, you almost have like a templatized approach with the entire customer journey for all your sites?

Daniel 32:28
Every store that we design and build has a custom UX, generally, nine out of 10 is custom one is maybe a pre built template that we adapt. But with tools like WooCommerce and Shopify, this you can kind of read so Shopify as a checkout flow, that doesn’t change, you can change the branding and the layout a little bit. And you can add, like steps and things like that when you’re on Shopify Plus, but the checkout is kind of it is what it is. And I think WooCommerce is the same and you can reuse kind of pre built checkouts, which I’d highly recommend, because that is that the point that the people are putting the credit card details in is the most critical. So that just needs to be seamless.

Daniel 33:15
So don’t try and reinvent the wheel that UX because Shopify is a prime example. This is $100 billion plus company new imagine the money there spends optimizing that checkout process. And that’s a good point. And we get this, we get this, we get this quite regular client said it last week, they’re like, oh, we’d like to move a few things around in the checkout process. Now, it’s like guys, no offense, you sell T shirts, or whatever it is, I can’t even remember, you sell clothes. That’s your thing. You design clothes, you sell clothes, you’re recommending to change Shopify, the multi billion dollar SaaS companies, check out experience, the power is probably 1.5 million stores globally. I mean, you are not qualified to make those recommendations.

Daniel 34:06
Let’s stick and also the benefit is, with these things that are used so much people getting used to them, like Amazon, people are used to the Amazon checkout, people are now used to the Shopify checkout, because so many stores are using it. And the same will be with WooCommerce stores that are using similar sort of flows. So I wouldn’t try and reinvent the wheel and that sort of thing. But you’re totally right with post purchase experience is really important as well, getting the right emails when people receive when people buy something they want to know where their orders up to how long it’s going to be they want to track and things like that. So all these things you got to pull together.

Daniel 34:44
However, if you put the work in and the effort in and go and learn about it, there’s a lot of tools that can help with each each part of the process. I mentioned one before when I mentioned Gorgias that’s customer service. There’s MailChimp there’s Klaviyo for email marketing as well. There’s things like ShipStation for shipping, shipping, things like Brightpearl for warehouse management system. So there are tons of tools out there. It’s just about putting the effort into learn the different sort of elements to it.

Josh 35:16
That’s a great challenge, because I’m actually just about to start revamping and tweaking my checkout experience on my website, at Josh, because right now it’s fairly canned. It’s not great. But Divi just recently added some WooCommerce modules where you can tweak the customizing or tweak, tweak the checkout and customize it a little bit, but still in the confines of the layout of WooCommerce. Because similar, it’s a great point, Dan, you don’t want to customize something that is a proven system that’s going to work.

Josh 35:46
So that’s that’s kind of one reason, I haven’t really done too much on the checkout end of my site. However, it’s fairly lackluster as of talking with you right now. So beginning of 2022, here, it’s one of my first big goals is to really improve that to help the conversions. That way, when people have something in their cart, they’re moving forward, because you just said it, that’s a hot key point that you just hit, which was, wherever they’re putting their credit card info, that is the most important page in regards to a sale. So absolutely, yeah, whatever you can do to boost that.

Daniel 36:17
You don’t want any friction, you don’t want any blockers, let them put the card in, make it really easy for them. No, don’t give them pop ups. Don’t give them anything like just make it really clean, strip everything else. You got the forms, make it secure. Obviously reassure people strip all that back, make it nice and clean. Like and the best thing to do is get gone the biggest stores in the world and check it out. So a good one for Shopify, if you wanted to look at a good Shopify checkout, it’s probably GymShark, huge, obviously, sportswear brand, go look at their checkout flow. Those guys on Black Friday process, insane numbers, insane numbers, if they didn’t have a completely optimized checkout and spend a lot of money on making it that way, then you you know that you’re sort of piggybacking off the off the best practices there.

Josh 37:08
That’s a good point.

Daniel 37:09
And you can do the same for stores on other platforms as well go and look at Amazon’s checkout, look at what people do there, strip the checkout back. And like steal from the from the greatest e commerce companies. I mean, it’s just proven practices.

Josh 37:24
That’s a good point. So let’s just tactically on the the checkout window here. Great point, strip things away, make it simple. Now I’ve seen a lot of people really encourage having reviews, or any sort of elements that really kind of help in increase engagement to make sure they do convert. In fact, when I signed up with my business coach, I’ll never forget on his checkout form with the credit card, there was a video of him. That said, just a reminder, when you sign up for this, I’m going to I coach you directly. And that was a really it was a big boost for me to do that. So are there any elements you might recommend adding as long as it looks okay, and it’s not jumbled or anything like that, that you might recommend on a checkout window? Do you like just a plain sign up credit card? What are your thoughts on that?

Daniel 38:10
Yeah, straight, straight credit card, like step and make it really clear what what about the process and the step they’re up to? So like your address, shown the address form. Next, your billing details, your order summary, just really clear, really focused. And you know, we mentioned this earlier about ecommerce clients being looted. Customers, the beauty of it is just because you finish it, it doesn’t mean it needs to be finished. So just test test test. So if you think you know what, and it’s a good point, the video that you just mentioned, might really helped conversion, try it out. There’s tools out there where you could drive 50% of the traffic at a checkout without the video and 50% of the traffic at a checkout with the video. See your choice. Best roll with it

Josh 39:02
It may depend on the product to this was a high level coaching type of program. Yeah, if I’m buying it, if I’m buying a t shirt, I don’t need the owner to say this T shirts gonna look great on you, Dan. You know, like, it definitely might depend on where you might want to spice up a comment or a conversion checkout, but that’s Gosh, that’s a great point, man.

Daniel 39:20
Absolutely, yeah. For those type of products where it’s a coaching sort of thing, it’s a very personal thing you’re buying you’re buying into that guy essentially you’re buying time with him and it’s all about him. So that is a great you know, you’re just getting one last reassurance message just before you hit pay. I think that is definitely a totally different journey from I’m on Instagram I’m scrolling through stories and then I’ve seen someone post a shirt and and my aren’t going to buy that. And then at that point, I want to get to the quickest checkout possible on a product page checkout, hopefully and you can do this on shop, pay and There’s loads of tools for this Apple Pay or shop pay. You don’t even need to put your card details and just check out straight through.

Josh 40:06
Yeah, let’s talk about that since we’re there. Because there’s all this talk about different currencies, cryptocurrencies, and whether those are going to integrate with sites. There’s, I still just use PayPal and Stripe, which luckily, Stripe I mean, gosh, they have they killed it, or what like, do you? What are your thoughts on PayPal? Do you still integrate that? Or do you just do stripe? Or you know, what are these other? What are other payment payment platforms have you guys trusted integrating?

Daniel 40:32
I would include? I’d include a few and give people auctions. Because these days, the way the world’s gone, people have different accounts with different things. So like there’s Apple pay, Google Pay, Amazon pay, include them. I don’t see the downside in that because it’s literally a button.

Josh 40:53
I debated on just using Stripe for my side. But I’m so glad I stuck with PayPal, particularly in the web design world. I think it’s a good I would say I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’d say it’s a good like 40% of orders through PayPal. Yeah, nearly half.

Daniel 41:10
Yeah, every store we build us PayPal on it. It’s like the OG of payment gateways. PayPal, it helps conversion, it does help conversion. A lot of people just like paying with PayPal, rather than.

Josh 41:26
I do I do for some stuff. Because sometimes I’m like, I don’t have my card, I’ll just use my PayPal. If I don’t have it saved, or Yeah, it’s sometimes it’s nice to have those different options. Particularly a lot of people are using PayPal to separate business expenses from subscription software, you know, like there’s, yeah, that’s a great point.

Daniel 41:43
And then there’s the New Kids on the Block. They’ve been around a few years, but there’s still the new kids, which is buy now pay later. So you guys heard a Cloner over there, which is buy now pay later or split in three. So okay,

Josh 41:58
Oh, I have her I’ve now is that connect with PayPal and at any at any point or function.

Daniel 42:08
But in the UK, in Europe, one of the biggest startups in Europe is Klarna, which is a buy now pay later platform or split in free is another option. So you buy an a share for $90. And it’s the same experience. So a lot of people have accounts with multiple ones. So that one’s called laybuy. That one’s called afterpay. So people might have different accounts. So we tend to include the buttons for those and they click the button, the window pops up, and they could check out instantly and away they go.

Josh 42:42
That’s a that’s a good point to these, these software’s that will automate the payment plan basically option because I did payment plans on my site for a little while, but ended up being quite just cumbersome and really tricky. And I had some issues with it, I ended up just stick with one time payments. However, I know PayPal does have that option now to where you know, I get the full payment, but then the customer has the option to pay. Or whatever it is. Yeah. Which for me, I’ve got my business course is 500 bucks, my bundle, which has all my courses, it’s 1500. So it would be nice to have that option for some folks who really need some help. Yeah,

Daniel 43:18
That definitely worth it depends on the brand and the product. So for you, I think splitting it is a I’d say it’s a must like if you can split it with PayPal or one of the other platforms, I would absolutely do that if I was you. Because it just spreads the cart and you get paid straightaway spreads the cost for the user.

Josh 43:37
I’m taken notes because now this has turned into now this has turned into a coaching session consulting for me, which is awesome, but I know it’s helping everybody else do so refining my checkout page, the the split payment options and PayPal or some other platform. That’s huge.

Daniel 43:51
Yeah, definitely, I think so it’ll help conversions. It makes it easier for maybe it makes it easier for the person who wants to do the course as well swallow they think, you know, spread this over three months or three payments, whatever that may be. Yeah, doesn’t work for every brand. If I’m Louie Vuitton and I put Klarna on my site. It’s a little bit silly if you’re spending $2,000 on a handbag. Yeah, it’s a luxury.

Josh 44:16
Yeah, you can pay the two grand right.

Daniel 44:18
Yeah, exactly that that I think there’s certain brands that it wouldn’t be right for both Yeah, for you and a consultant and a coaching kind of way I think it’d be ideal.

Josh 44:28
Yeah, that’s good. Challenge accepted. That’s great, man. What about cart abandonments and you had mentioned MailChimp a little bit ago I’m still using MailChimp The reason I have stuck with it and reason I like it is they’ve really added a lot of from the E commerce component to where I’m I have it all connected with my revenue I can see email campaigns connected with my E commerce which is really cool. And I’m about to again as I’m kind of working on all this for my site. I’m looking into more cart abandonment sequences and stuff like that. What are your what’s your thoughts on that? Do you recommend most all shops have some sort of, you know, it’s all this was in your cart. If you have any questions, let us know what are your thoughts on that?

Daniel 45:07
Every single store on the planet needs this, okay? There is only two channels that you’re going to own as an E commerce business owner, your website and your email data are the only two you’re going to earn everything else you rent. So you rent and Google ads, you paying Google for every click, you get. Same with Facebook, same with tick tock all these different channels, all these different marketing channels. You may be great at SEO, but it’s you you’re ranking on Google, you’re not ranking on your own store, you own your email list, that’s your list and you own your eCommerce store. So email marketing for somebody who’s selling online is the number one fundaments fund, one of the number one fundamentals that you’ve got to set up on the day launch that needs to be settled, and all different sort of all different sorts of flows as well. So cart abandonment is a huge one. So maybe offering maybe not for you as a consultant or a coach with courses, maybe not a discount, but maybe a small discount for it depends on the brand.

Josh 46:15
I would be comfortable with that. Like, Hey, I saw you were you know, you’re interested in this. Here’s a 10% off discount that you can use for you know, one or multiple courses if you’d like I’m I would be comfortable with doing that or a credit.

Daniel 46:27
Absolutely. Yeah. So for you cart abandonment, absolutely. You can also do browser abandonment. So we use a platform called Klaviyo, to do our email marketing. And we offer email marketing as a service. So we set these flows up for our clients, and we design the emails and that sort of thing. So browser abandonment would be if the store knows me when I log on, so they know it’s me because they have my email and they’ve dropped the pixel and that sort of thing. You can see what products are viewed. And then maybe later that day, or the next day, I can send an email and say, Hey, I saw you looking at my Divi course. It’s ready, come and check out you know, that sort of thing. And then there’s like weekly newsletters that you can send out and straight back into your store. There’s two inflows,

Josh 47:20
The browser abandonment is that different than like when you click out of a browser, there’s like a pop up that’s like, hey, heads up before you leave? Is that what you’re referencing? Or is that something a little bit different,

Daniel 47:30
It’s something a little bit different, but that’s a great way to push people back with exit intents, essentially, isn’t it? So there’s tools like privy that help with that. So when you go to move to the x, it brings a pop up, don’t leave or enter your email address for 10% off and that sort of thing. So it’s similar but slightly different. So it’s just you need you need the you need the customer to have an account, basically, when they’re on your store. But then when they are you can see what the browsing.

Josh 47:58
Yeah, that’s great, man, this is interesting, because there are these little components that make such a big difference for an online store. Which is why whenever I remember I had a client one time who I had previously done artwork for in the band world, I design their CD artwork for super cheap. Of course, as you know, Dan came coming from I came from the band world stuff. And then years later, they circle back around one of the online store, and I only bid out like $2,000 for this. This was years ago, which I was one of my first online stores I was gonna do. And he basically came back and said that it was Posterous and was ridiculous that I would charge $2,000 When you can set up an online store yourself. And I was like, Fine, go go freakin do it yourself and see how it goes.

Josh 48:38
It’s another Ask. But yeah, it’s all these other aspects that are inside of this that are really apart from the actual online store itself, the entire flow, the whole UX experience, like you talked about. And then the other thing is I think a lot of ecommerce clients are not prepared for is after the fact kind of stuff. So maybe we can touch on that. Where again, we’ve talked about CRM, customer data management, where does their information go? How do you keep up with them on email, but then also support?

Josh 49:08
I think a lot of ecommerce clients don’t think about support, or they don’t have their terms and conditions or refund policy, or any of that in place. I mean, I imagine it’s probably common sense. If you’re a web designer, you’re going to offer this you need to help guide your clients through that stuff, too, right? Because I’m sure clients, they’re just thinking about selling their product, and then all of a sudden, they’re like, oh, I need a support channel. And then we need email. And then we need what’s our refund policy? Like, do you guys do you help folks figure that stuff out as well?

Daniel 49:36
Yeah, absolutely. And it depends on the size of the client as well. So if your listeners watches, the smaller brands are going to need a lot more support. So things that you just mentioned, they’re going to need support that so there are tools out there that help with this. So a little recommendation of mine would be partner with those tools. They can introduce you to customers. So we With the I like to think the leaders in the sector within e commerce.

Daniel 50:07
So for us, Shopify is the E commerce platform, we partner with them Klaviyo email marketing platform, we partner with them. ShipStation for like shipping rules and helping customers get the best shipping provider, we partnered with them. Trustpilot for reviews, we partner them yacht po for reviews, but also user generated content, gorgeous for customer service. So we do then is you really investing time and learning the tool, but then you partner with the with the tool and the brand, you’ll also earn some commission on the back end. So you get a revenue share, quite rightly so because you bring in the customer, to, to the partner.

Josh 50:53

Daniel 50:54
But then you build it up your sort of Swiss Army knife of how you develop an e commerce Store. So when you’re on these calls, or when you’re in these meetings and saying okay, so you’re going to help me with my website, but what happens when I ship an order, and I needed to go to my warehouse, and then you go out on a limb works partner, I can sell the call me, you and limb works actors, like you’re kind of consultant guy. Okay, what about when I want to send an abandoned cart email? Well, I’m a MailChimp or I’m a clay, VO partner I can sell. So it’s about having the whole. I mean, you could just go pay and design the stores I handed over. And it’s good luck. But in my opinion, the way to get those sticky clients is really act as a partner with these vendors, because they’re going to need a lot of vendors. So yeah, like this pulls for returns this…

Josh 51:49
What a value add for clients who are overwhelmed already. So if you can say listen, we handle this and this and this for you. This is why we’re premium. This is why it’s $500,000 a month or whatever. Again, you don’t need that many clients to bring your business to a six figure level for a lot of my audience. If you just handle some of these things I even right now you might think are terrifying. But I would you say that once you get familiar with some of this stuff, it becomes second nature. And then again, when you when something works for one client, you just replicate that for the other one and tweak accordingly.

Daniel 52:20
True. Yeah, like we’re scratching the surface in a way because we’re talking from a web designers point of view, rather than if I was talking to an E commerce business owner or a b2c business owners. It’d be a different conversation. But if you are reusing the same tools over and over again, in the WooCommerce space, I guess, you’d have your sort of base theme or base template that you’re going to spin up, you’re going to have these things, develop standard operating procedures, develop these flows. And you’d be following your own flow. You’ve said oh, yeah, this is the steps are follow. Okay. Have we got the terms and conditions in place? Yeah. Have we got the returns policy? Yeah. Have we got the privacy policy? Yeah, is the checkout set up. And we have all these checklists of elstone stuff. Really basic stuff, but you want to tick every box as you go through.

Josh 52:22
And it’s easy to forget about all those if you’re building a site, and you don’t have some sort of SOP, that’s just a even, just a standard checklist of all the little parts.

Once you break it down, then yeah, it becomes less overwhelming. – Daniel

Daniel 53:28
Once you break it down, then yeah, it becomes less overwhelming. And it’s more we check in every box, can I land on this store fresh in private browsing, so it doesn’t cash it doesn’t remember me and go right, the way through place an order, the order goes through to the warehouse or whoever it needs to go to the money ends up in the bank account. And then eventually, the product can shift, and you just start rinsing and repeating. And obviously, they still need tools now that we learned about was six years in.

Josh 53:57
And you know, I was just thinking for anyone who is just utterly overwhelmed by doing all these aspects. You can always add things in phases for clients to particularly if they’re maybe they maybe they have a tighter budget, they could always have the basics that you absolutely need to have. But then if you you know in two months, if you want to add the cart abandonment sequence, and then add maybe some tweaks to the checkout page, and some more email marketing after that, you can always add those things on eventually, which I think for web designers is really empowering because we don’t have to necessarily do everything in one shot. It can it can build, like you said, Any commerce site, just like all websites are never done. So it’s always gonna evolve.

Daniel 54:36
It’s true. And we do work with like even big brands work in that way as well. They say okay, we want to get the migration done. We want to get on the new platform. We want to have the basic setup email, like we want everything set up. But then maybe we wanted a quiz that asked our customers questions and then gave them the perfect product for them. That’s a phase two, you know that So thanks. So yeah, a lot of brands work that way. Another thing to do as well, if it’s a little bit overwhelming, if you’re the designer, or like the web designer, and you know, you’re comfortable in creating the store, but then maybe you’re thinking, Oh, what about ima? You could partner with someone who knows that stuff, right? Like, you could, you could, and we work with that.

Daniel 55:21
So even now we’ll have a designer approach us, for example, and I’d say, Hey, we’ve done the UX, and we’ve done the design for a brand. But we’re not developers, can you partner with us to take our designs and turn them into an online store. And that’s one way that you can sort of alleviate those fears. Or you can say, to an email marketing agency, and there’s this specific email marketing people out there, say, a built, I’m building a store for a client, they’re gonna want a really good email marketing package, they’re gonna need a lot of email support. Can we partner on this brand, so you can reach out to the community in the WordPress community is a good one, there’d be a lot of places and, you know, people support you in the early days.

Josh 56:11
Speaking of partnerships, one thing I meant to ask a little bit ago was when you talked about partnering with like MailChimp or Shopify Plus, or all these, you know, legit companies. How do you go about that? They just have applications on their websites, do you have to be at a certain level to qualify for that? Or what does that process look like?

Daniel 56:27
Yeah, so it depends on the it depends on on the company rarely. So Shopify is a tricky one, you’ve got to prove the you can. So to be a Shopify Plus partner, you’ve got to prove that you can build Shopify Plus stores at an enterprise level, have a portfolio, prove that you can bring new business to Shopify. You’ve got to have certain staff members in place. I’m just trying to wrap my brain thinking back to where…

Josh 56:55
I was just kind of curious what that looks like.

Daniel 56:57
Yeah you got to either. Like someone who manages projects, you got to have so many managers, clients, so many managers, like you’ve got to have these people in place. So you’ve got to be at a certain scale, depending on the partnership, but then there’s other ones like, I’m not sure on MailChimp specifically because we use clay vo but clay Vo is a good example. You can start the button wrong clay VO and you can say hey, I’ve got a client. I want to bring them on to clay vo you can learn how clay vo works. They’ve got a lot of really great online tutorials. And I don’t think it’s that difficult to learn the coding element of Clay Clay vo clay VO.

Daniel 57:32
The real skill in email marketing is the strategy and the design and the copywriting rather than coding. And then you can start from the bottom and work your way up. And then so think was like a Platinum Partner with clay vo but you can start right at the bottom and just work your way up. Bring on more brands and say, Hey, I’m a clay vo expert. And when you business that way, so it depends on the platform really, but most of them will have. So we shall fight you’d start out life as a Shopify partner. So you’d bring Shopify few clients that pay some commission, you’d get access to so like tutorials and that sort of thing.

Josh 58:11
Yeah, yeah, no, that makes total sense. Yeah, this is great, Dan, man, we’ve really covered a lot as far as particularly just the conversion base aspects of online stores and the cart checkout experience, abandonment sequences, all the other aspects that are entailed with an E commerce site, whether it’s massive, or whether it’s small, and you’re just selling a few products, you still need to have privacy policy, or as you guys say, in Liverpool privacy, which I always enjoy are different, are different accents on certain stuff.

Josh 58:43
Gosh, a lot of those other aspects that come into play that you need to have. But again, I I think overall despite ecommerce being a very complex type of build and type of industry, it is awesome. And the demand is here, man like it is and what do you see moving forward as we get towards wrapping this up? Like, what do you see the landscape looking like over the next maybe five years or so? Because I can only imagine it’s going to get you know, more and more robust. But do you think you mentioned the experiential kind of aspects to that? Do you think that’s going to be a big play? Yeah. What do you see in the next five years?

Daniel 59:17
Yeah, well, I think the beauty of these things, and it sounds crazy to say cuz e Commerce has been here since officially probably the late 90s. You know, very, very, sort of old school stores and things like that. Really, it? We are right at the start of this thing, even 20 years, and it’s the start. You think about other industries this is the start. So the opportunity.

Josh 59:41
That’s a good point. That’s a really good point.

Daniel 59:44
Yeah, I wouldn’t like so I don’t think anybody should think I’ve missed the boat or that. You think about how many brand new brands new businesses starting up all the time. There’s so many potential clients out there, and we are right at the very start. of this industry, like we’re at the beginning of, or the beginning phase rather, of E commerce still. So it’s a great time to get in, learn the tools. We’ve been all around the houses today. And it’s a huge, huge topic because it’s literally buying a product line. Where does that start? And it’s an absolutely monster of a topic.

Daniel 1:00:22
But we’ve touched on a few good points, as you say. But the next five years, I think it’s just going to keep going and a real quick pace. I think a key thing was different generations, older generations, for example, had no choice but to go online to on the pandemic stores were closed. So it’s forced everybody online, and not everybody’s gonna go back offline. So yeah, fingers crossed, this pandemics gonna fade away, and we start seeing more of normal life, and we can get out there more and things like that. But the rapid innovation that we’re seeing now is really going to continue,

Josh 1:01:02
I think it’s also going to cause some hesitancy for a lot of brands who do have brick and mortar stores, like they may open up a small shop, but maybe it’s not like 10 locations, maybe it’s just a couple locations, and it’s just less inventory, it’s more boutique, and they’re still going to keep a big bulk online. That’s, that’s what I would foresee. That’s what I would do if I was that kind of business owner, because you never know, if someone’s going to, I guess, for lack of a better term flare up again, you know, like, depending on what happens over the next five to 10 years.

Daniel 1:01:31
Absolutely. And the beauty of E commerce is and with products like WooCommerce, Shopify, and let’s say Squarespace as well, why not? You can sell anywhere, it’s borderless, it is literally we’ve got clients in the UK, who sell in Hunt like tons of countries, all across the globe. So it really does open up new markets that people just wouldn’t have had access to. So COVID has spent this thing up. And then as I mentioned earlier, a few sort of trends that I think you’re going to really ignite is the AR VR experience sort of model because trying to replicate that in store experience, but online, like even I think trying on clothes and stuff like that, that really kick on, I think that’s going to be a big thing.

Josh 1:02:22
You know, about this, I didn’t think about this, but the the chat widgets that are on pretty much every online store, now at least a high percentage of them. Those kind of act is like an in store, per se, I help you right, I didn’t really think about it like that. But they are like, Hey, how can I help you? If you have any questions? I guess that’s kind of a virtual way to do that.

Daniel 1:02:39
That’s absolutely and this so now that are really advanced, where they pull the products into the chat and you can, you know, talk about specific products and things like that. So, yeah, that’s gonna be one route, I think, a big thing to look at if people want to look at a side hustle. Or like something to really focus on is SMS text marketing, emails, big emails navigate away, and people underestimate email, and then they realize how powerful it is.

Josh 1:03:08
I think it’s back. I think the resurgence for emails has come back over the thriller since COVID. For sure, yeah, thank you. I’ve seen a lot of people boost up their their email marketing and everything.

Daniel 1:03:18
Absolutely. And the next one to go along with that is Text Messages, SMS marketing. So cart abandonment, yes, send an email send a text as well. Yeah, tools out there to do that. With WooCommerce with Shopify with Magento with Squarespace. So that’s going to be a big one moving forward. And if you can set up those kinds of flows, Clay vo does it so clay vo has got email marketing and SMS marketing, if you can sell that. That’s really powerful. That is a great. It’s a great add on service that you could offer to clients. In the E commerce space, I think

Josh 1:03:55
said again, that just goes back to you know, there’s all these options, what do you want to part, what do you want to do? And then maybe if you don’t want to do certain things, who can you partner up with and who’s in your circle of web designers to help?

Daniel 1:04:07
That is one thing that I put down one of the biggest growth, if not the biggest growth of Val star, the biggest factor story of growth has been partnerships partner in the right people at the right time, the right platforms, the right paths. So it’s a great way. Even on a smaller scale, maybe someone just wants to be a freelancer. They don’t want a lot of staff in the agency. Totally fine. That’s a great opportunity to partner with big agents.

Josh 1:04:36
That’s what I did. I never I did I didn’t want to be the next Dan, CEO of elstar. I just wanted to be Josh with some really good clients and a small team of subcontractors and that’s that’s what I did. So that’s what’s so cool is you can do both at different levels if you want to. Yeah, as far as partnerships, you might be floating in a pool in Mexico and then there you go. Because dude, I was thinking back to this. You actually Well funny enough, we almost started a podcast together. In fact, I created a logo for us, we were almost going to do a podcast called the Business geeks. Before we ended up, you know, we started out but then I think we realize we’re both not in the place to consistently do that I know how much work goes into a podcast, and you got to be committed.

Josh 1:05:17
But anyway, it was interesting, because I, two of the main things that are passionate topics for me now are podcasting and recurring income. And you really helped me kind of think about those seriously, when we were in that pool together in Mexico, you were you were talking about recurring income, you eventually were the one who really partnered with me and got me started with our maintenance plan. So man, I personally thank you, Dan, for helping me be entrepreneurial when thinking about all this stuff, man, because at that point, when I met you, I was just building websites. And then I did you know, start we started partnering up on some stuff that you were really good at, and vice versa. So yeah, I think it’s a good point, in all honesty, just to keep an open mind about who you might end up partnering with. And you never know where it can go.

Daniel 1:06:04
Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, no, you’re welcome. It feels like yesterday that we did that. But it’s like six years now. Things have changed so rapidly. So a bit. Yeah, a big part of our agency model is our retainers and working with people on an ongoing basis. There’s a lot of value there. But yeah, it’s No, it’s true. You don’t know where a connection could lead. I’ve always had that kind of that kind of mindset of help everybody that you can, you know, if someone asked for advice, or give them advice, you just don’t know where it’s gonna lead. And we, I’ve helped people in they’ve turned out to introduce us to big brands and things like that. So, yeah, well,

Josh 1:06:45
that’s great. Yeah. And I know you have a heart for helping and it’s one reason I was super excited to bring you on. And it’s interesting you say that, because I just invited a guest on who’s an agency owner of a brand that I love as an example of an agency. But I, I’m not sure if he’s gonna come on, but he said something that kind of rubbed me wrong. And that was that he was leery about coming onto a web designer podcast because he would create more competition. And I was like, Are you really worried about my audience competing with this big web design agency? Because first off, I don’t think that’s going to be issue. And second, there’s so much demand now. Web designers would you would you back me up and say, We don’t need to worry about competing with each other at this point.

Daniel 1:07:31
100% I totally agree. I totally agree. I I think yeah, that that’s a bit of a negative mindset there I’d say. I think you got to be comfortable enough in your own business and grown your own clients and I would happily help people get started even in the Shopify world, I’d help people get started there’s so many brands so much business that’s one good thing about the Shopify community actually that I’ve got a shout out is that all the agency owners we all go to events together and everyone gets along.

Josh 1:08:07
I was wondering what the cuz I’m you know me I’m, I’m heavily involved in the Divi and WordPress community. I was wondering if Shopify had a nice community as well.

Daniel 1:08:15
Yeah, we have the pandemic’s got in the way, obviously, but pre pandemic, show five, a yearly conference called Shopify unite. And the last one was in Toronto. So everyone flew to Toronto, and it was great and a big party. Everyone trades war stories, this competitive edge and things like that. And yeah, we come up against these guys for pitches all the time. But it’s kind of friendly competition. That’s it. There’s no real nastiness, certain thing. Well, quite powerful in a community.

Josh 1:08:47
It really is. Yeah, particularly when it comes to this, you know, this idea of coopetition, which is my favorite word of the of recent years, and just, you know, cooperating with your competitors, and being friends and helping each other out. I know, one thing that the guys from base camp, have said in their books is that their goal is not to advertise, or do they just want to educate all their competitors. And if you just share what has worked for you and share your knowledge, it makes you the authority. And again, going back to what we said earlier, if somebody right now is interested in doing online stores, you don’t need to do every business that needs a website. In an online store. That’s not what you need. You just need maybe a dozen or a handful of online stores and you’re good for a while and you can scale at whatever length you want. And again, if the if somebody wants to be the next Dan, CEO of elstar, they can do that too. And go on.

Daniel 1:09:39
Well, if you just think about the the numbers on Shopify alone is 1.5 plus million stores 1.5 Plus millions dollars and he said like in this nice and that’s just one platform. How many some WooCommerce probably more probably more than Shopify.

Josh 1:09:56
Yeah, that is interesting. I wasn’t sure what the recent no Want to look at WooCommerce stores? I don’t know exactly how they track that. But because with Shopify being its own hosted platform, I would imagine that would be a little easier to track exact numbers, whereas WooCommerce being on WordPress might be a little more fuzzy. But either way, I would imagine they’re fairly comparable. I think WooCommerce may still have more stores,

Daniel 1:10:21
I think. Yeah, I looked at some trends the other day, I think more, there’s a few more WooCommerce carts than there are Shopify carts on the planet. The point of that is like, there’s literally millions of online stores, you need maybe 10 to 20 clients to make business. There is enough work to go around. And similar to you inviting the guy on the podcast back before I start the Shopify agency, I reached out to a guy who lived on another continent. I’ll say, I want to get too specific.

Daniel 1:10:56
But it wasn’t North America. And it wasn’t Europe, and asked him some advice, because he owned a Shopify agency, little mini agency, he just completely blanked me, didn’t didn’t come back to me. Six years later, his business doesn’t exist anymore analysis, like going from strength to strength. So I think that sort of nature of being open and friendly. And there are basic questions as well. I wasn’t trying to steal his secret sauce or anything, just after a bit of advice. We were on a forum together, basically, he just completely ignored what I was saying. And yeah, they don’t exist.

Josh 1:11:33
Dude, I just I love your spirit with that day. And I think that’s why we connected so quickly. And it is interesting, it’s like for the people who are nervous to share their knowledge. I’ve heard it said before in a variety of podcasts and stuff, and that is that if knowledge was the answer, everyone would be billionaires and have six packs. You know, it doesn’t like it’s its implementation and partnerships, a networking connection. That’s, that’s the real key to business, I believe. I mean, I have shared bait literally every I don’t know if there’s anything I know in business that I have not shared. In my podcast, or YouTube channel or my courses. It’s, it’s all there. But it’s awesome. Like, it feels great to be able to help others know that as well. And, and the fact that things are changing so fast, I think that has changed a lot too. And businesses, things are evolving so fast that I don’t know if you know, what you knew 10 years ago is as valuable as it is now. Because you might learn something that is equally important next week that I learned about, you know.

Daniel 1:12:33
Yeah, especially in, in web design and development. It moves so quickly. I mean, I was a front end engineer, as I mentioned, six years ago, five years ago, maybe.

Josh 1:12:44
Yeah, yeah, cuz you’re just doing CSS and coding, listening to podcasts all day, right?

Daniel 1:12:49
Yeah, I promise you now, I promise you, I wouldn’t know where to start. I would not. If you put a gun to my head and said, Go and build a website. Now. I’d be it’d take me months to get back.

Josh 1:13:03
Yeah, cuz Yeah, cuz yeah, you’re focused on higher level stuff and all this dino strategy and everything else you’re doing, I can only imagine. Yeah, it’s kind of funny. I think that’s pretty common. When you’re when you’re out of the flow of building websites, you go back and you just see a blank screen and you’re like, How can I not know what to do? Yeah, yeah, very common for everybody.

Daniel 1:13:26
It’s true. It is. It’s, it’s a fast moving industry. The key is just let’s just nail the fundamentals and all these fancy tools that come and go, you can pick those up.

Josh 1:13:36
Yeah, that’s great. Dan will do thank you so much for your time. And where would you like everyone to go to to find out more about you? Do you want them to just go to the website? Or is there a certain resource or anything you want them to check out?

Daniel 1:13:46
Yeah, if you just check out If you want to see some of the work we do, but if anybody wants any advice, so if you’ve got any questions, they could just drop me an email I’ll respond. It’s just Dan at Val startup

Josh 1:14:02
Awesome, man. Yeah, we’ll have that stuff linked in the in the show notes for this episode. I really appreciate all you’ve shared today man this would be really cool it’s been really awesome to catch up and to talk shop again with you man i i honestly love seeing your passion for E commerce because I tend to see a lot of questions about e commerce and it ends up being more of an overwhelming subject for a lot of web designers but to see somebody who’s killing it in the industry is super excited and you’re not like you know burnout from for me ecommerce and wanting to sell your agency. That’s awesome. So great, man.

Daniel 1:14:33
Yeah, no, thank you. Thank you very much for having me on. It’s been great to catch up. It has been a little while but he keep up today on Instagram and stuff. But it’s not the same as that when a proper catch up. But yeah, e commerce is just, it’s exciting. It’s fast pace. You get to work with exciting brands. There’s no sort of stuffy clients. So we’re selling something online and we need to make it look the best so it kind of keeps the fire going for me really.

Josh 1:14:56
Yeah, that’s awesome. And definitely next time you come into a conference to the states man zip up to Columbus and we’ll go out for a handful more beers again.

Daniel 1:15:06
Hey, I’m in. I’m actually I’m In Miami next week, actually.

Josh 1:15:09
Oh, no kidding. Well, that’s probably only about a two hour flight, maybe something like that.

Daniel 1:15:14
That’s a crazy thing in the US. You got a flight in the UK for two hours, you’d fly past the end of it.

Josh 1:15:19
Well, we talked about that with driving. But I remember. I remember. I told you that we were going to drive to vacation and you were like, it was like a couple hours. I was like, oh, no, it’s like 13 or 15 hours. And we’re like, What is the matter with you? Like, that’s not uncommon, especially for the Midwest or not like us? Like, you know, we drive 15 hours to the beach. It’s no big deal. But yeah, you did up in the freakin North Africa. If you if you did that.

Daniel 1:15:45
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Right.

Josh 1:15:47
Right. Yeah. Well, that’s awesome. And well, I’m looking forward to the next time we hang out in person, for sure, Danny. Thanks for your time. Really, really appreciate it. This has been awesome. And yeah, I’m really excited to see what you do from here. And I definitely would love to have you back. Maybe we can talk about some of the other outlier topics we covered today for E commerce.

Daniel 1:16:05
Absolutely. Thanks again, Josh. Appreciate

Josh 1:16:07
it. All right. Thanks, Dan. Cheers, man.


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