Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Top 6 E-commerce platforms to build a website with in 2021

According to a 2019 Gartner survey, only 11% of organizations are able to achieve 100% of their internal launch targets. Are you as surprised as I was upon seeing that figure? But it’s true, and it happens consistently within small and big organizations due to a lack of anticipation and planning. In this blog, we’ll go over the following:

  • What is Time-to-Market?
  • Why is TTM important to your business?
  • Why should you reduce your TTM?
  • How can you improve your time to market?
  • What is Time-to-Market?

What is Time-to-market (TTM)?

Time-to-market (TTM) is a term used to describe the time it takes from the initial idea of the product to the final, finished product being put out in the market. This refers to anything from a marketing campaign, a product, a SaaS tool, or any other operational process.

Why is TTM important to your business?

In a fast-paced economy where there is always someone doing something similar to what you’re doing, it’s important to gain a competitive advantage over them. This advantage can be anything, but the most attainable is a faster TTM. If your TTM is too long, your competitors will push products to the market before you and reach potential customers before you get the chance. However, if you’re able to reduce your time to market, you can create more opportunities for yourself and create a competitive advantage for your business.

Why should you reduce your TTM?

In today’s product development environment, products and the technologies that they’re based on are constantly evolving. The number of competitors along with the market share that each of them holds is also changing. This means that your time to market, and finding ways to optimize your products are critical components that have a direct impact on your revenue.

The better control you have over your product development processes, the better you’ll be able to control and predict your time to market and get new technology out while it’s still new. Furthermore, launching a campaign or product faster will, per definition, give you more time on the market to generate revenue before the market matures and declines.
How can you improve your time to market?

How can you improve your time to market?

1. Have Well-Defined Workflows

To optimize your time to market, it’s important to first define all your workflows. This is a crucial point as it helps in avoiding delays and minimizing downtime during procedures.

So how do you do that? By using technology to your advantage. There are a lot of interconnected tasks that need to be accomplished to create a product successfully. By creating well-defined workflows, everyone understands exactly what is expected of them, removing hurdles and bottlenecks from the way. They can move forward with their work without depending on others and delaying any processes.

A crucial aspect of defining workflows includes documentation: tasks, timelines, resources, bottlenecks, potential hurdles, everything that you need your team to be aware of. By sharing these insights with everyone, you encourage your team to be more active throughout the process of creating the product, and allow them to think critically so they can make suggestions to improve things based on their experience.

A great way to streamline such information is through agile product development. By being agile, your team is able to conceptualize their work better and create smaller work units, called sprints, which allow them to lay out their tasks better.

You’re also able to create a backlog of all your work to help get a better picture of what still needs to be done before the product is released.

Better anticipation of the amount of work and resources needed to complete a project helps reduce TTM. By becoming more agile, your team also becomes more adaptive to changes along the process and becomes quicker to respond to any issues that arise.

2. Create Specific Product Roadmaps

Each product has different requirements in terms of resources, timelines, and costs. To cut down on TTM and make planning more accurate, you need to have development roadmaps for every type of product you create. A clear roadmap also helps you prioritize tasks effectively and provide visibility to the team.

By using project management platforms like Jira and Trello, you can easily set up new projects and keep a record of them for analytical purposes. Each task can be assigned to a specific member, or to multiple members of the team. Once completed, notification emails can be sent, allowing everyone to stay informed on the team’s progress.

Because these platforms allow you to keep track of different tasks, their current status, and timeline, you can identify similarities between different processes and refine your product roadmaps with each release.

3. Automate Processes

One of the most important parts of reducing your time to market is automating processes. We all know the burden of tedious tasks that just never end! While they’re causing headaches, they’re also increasing your time to market. These processes need to be automated immediately!

Depending on your operations, you can automate almost every function to reduce time on tasks that can be done faster through a tool. This way, you can focus on more important tasks, and ultimately reduce your time-to-market.

For example, if you want to automate the process of sending your product data to your stores, you can use tools like Apimio. Apimio helps you create complete digital product catalogs and publish them to your storefronts in one click. So instead of spending hours and hours editing data in spreadsheets, you can have your own cloud-based solution that lets you collaborate with your team to create better product experiences.

Third-party platforms like Zapier help you integrate services. You can create trigger emails rather than manually sending them out to each customer. It’s easier to manually email customers when you’re a small company. But once you’ve reached a certain number of customers, it becomes almost impossible to do this. Every bit of time that you save improves your time to market as the project moves along.

The more efficient you are with your daily tasks, the faster you can move towards creating your products and reducing your TTM. By automating repetitive tasks, you free up a huge chunk of time that would otherwise cause delays in your work. It also allows team members to focus on more complex tasks that may not be automated.

4. Set Achievable Goals & KPIs

You can only achieve a reduced time to market for your products if you set realistic goals for your time. By setting goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), you create a clear path for your team.

At the end of each product release, you should analyze your goals and KPIs and refine them if necessary.

5. Assess the Cost of Delay

There are three major delay costs:

  • The estimated revenue loss for each day your release is delayed;
  • Cost to employ the project team for each day of delay;
  • Cost of lost opportunities during the delay period because resources aren’t available for new projects.

These metrics can help improve your team’s performance. No team wants costs associated with project delays to be visible, but you have to be very careful with such measurements. If you’re not careful, you might end up damaging your team’s credibility and motivation by pointing out things that aren’t in their control.

Recent Articles

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-market (TTM) is a term used to describe the time it takes from the initial idea of the product to the final, finished product being put out in the market.

In a fast-paced economy where there is always someone doing something similar to what you’re doing, it’s important to gain a competitive advantage over them.

read more
What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

A product variant is a unique variant that is used to identify specific products. Some products share common attributes, but there are some attributes that differ; these are called variants. Each product variant has its own unique identifier, such as price, and every variant is based on the same product definition.

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What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

Top 6 E-commerce platforms to build a website with in 2021

What are Product Variants?

A product variant is a unique variant that is used to identify specific products. Some products share common attributes, but there are some attributes that differ; these are called variants. Each product variant has its own unique identifier, such as price, and every variant is based on the same product definition. 

Also read: What are Product Attributes?

What are Shopify Product Variants?

If your product comes in more than one option, you add variants for it such as size and color. Each combination of those options can be a different variant for that product, for e.g Small, Blue T-shirt, Medium, Blue T-shirt, or Large, Blue T-shirt. 

On Shopify, you can see a list of all product variants on the product detail page and can manage the inventory for each of these from the Inventory page. 

The Different Types of Product Variants: What Can They Do For You?

Barcode

By adding the barcode for each product with a different set of product variants, you can increase conversion rates. 

Price

The public price for every product variant is calculated based on the template price. If you wish to charge differently for a specific variation of your product, then that can be computed as an option for each variant. 

Inventory

Product variants are a great way to manage inventory. For example, if you’re selling t-shirts on your store, the product page will not show the total number of t-shirts in stock. Instead, it will show how much of each bundle variant is available. So if the user is checking out a pink t-shirt in size Small, it will show only how much of that specific type is available.

This is very beneficial as products with different variants have different demands and it helps to know how much of each variant is left in inventory. This way, you can prepare for inventory stock ups. 

Picture 

Each product variant will have it’s own primary picture. For example, if you sell a shirt in 5 different colors, each color will have a different primary picture displayed on the product page. This may not be the case if the variant is the size of the product. 

Include Promotions

By adding promotions to your product for only some product variants is a beneficial tool to market your products and bring attention towards them. Adding promotions to lower ranking variants are a great way to bring those products up, and market them.  

Also read: E-commerce Product Images: Best Formats

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Why Product Variants Are Helpful to E-commerce Stores 

Product variants can create value for e-commerce entrepreneurs, and add benefit to their business. Here’s how: 

Increased Clicks

If a person is looking for something specific, such as a Blue Polo Shirt, they won’t land on your product unless you have used product variants. By including the product variant Colour: Blue in your catalog, it increases the likelihood of someone landing on your product during their search. 

Enhanced User Experience 

Using product variants adds value to the user experience. Each type of variant has its own demand. A black t-shirt will most likely have a higher demand than a purple t-shirt. If you don’t customize the whole user experience on your online stores with product variants, visitors will not be able to browse through product variants and make a customized purchase.

Improving the Customer Experience

Product variations help improve the customer experience by making it easier for them to search through hundreds of products to find the products that they are looking for. It also allows them to compare different products that vary only slightly from one another.

So if you’re selling a product in 7 different colors and 4 different sizes, rather than having separate pages for all of them, your customer can access them all on one page. The customer won’t have to search through all listings for their color and size and they’ll be able to see the different variants available in their selected color and size on one product page. This provides a more organized and engaging shopping experience, as it requires less time and effort from the customer. 

Better Sales

Product variations also lead to increased sales because they give your products greater visibility. This happens because there may be certain colors or sizes of your products that don’t rank well, but variations of those products with greater visibility will help low-ranked products show on the same product pages. Also, by having all variants listed, customers might find something they didn’t know existed, and go through with buying that. 

By being part of a variation, all products benefit from one another. This means that product reviews and queries will be merged and bundled together, and lower-ranked products will benefit from other products that rank higher. For example, if your Black Tote bag has a higher ranking with more reviews, and your Blue Tote Bag has a lower ranking, all your reviews for the black bag will appear for the blue bag too. This can improve the conversion rate and SEO for the lower ranking bag, as it influences a customer’s decision and increase trust.  

 

How Can You Add Multiple Product Variants?

If you’re using Excel spreadsheets, it can be tedious to add multiple product variants for each product. You must also ensure that your CSV file is in a format that is compatible with the platform that you’re using. Another way to add multiple product variants is through a PIM such as Apimio

Solutions like Apimio let you add product variants for each product once, and sync them to multiple e-commerce platforms. This way, you don’t have to add a new product variant each time you upload new products. You can assign previous variants to new products. This is very efficient in instances where you’re selling similar products with similar variants. For example, if you sell apparel in limited sizes and colors, instead of creating a separate variant for each product, you can assign existing ones to your products. You can save time, and get your products to market faster. 

Become more efficient with PIM tools that automatically populate your product variant fields for you. 9 Best PIM Software in the Market (2021). 

Recent Articles

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-market (TTM) is a term used to describe the time it takes from the initial idea of the product to the final, finished product being put out in the market.

In a fast-paced economy where there is always someone doing something similar to what you’re doing, it’s important to gain a competitive advantage over them.

read more
What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

A product variant is a unique variant that is used to identify specific products. Some products share common attributes, but there are some attributes that differ; these are called variants. Each product variant has its own unique identifier, such as price, and every variant is based on the same product definition.

read more

2 Quick Ways of Importing Products to Shopify (in Bulk)

2 Quick Ways of Importing Products to Shopify (in Bulk)

2 Quick Ways of Importing Products to Shopify (in Bulk)

Top 6 E-commerce platforms to build a website with in 2021

You can one of these two ways to import products from your Shopify stores:

  • Import a CSV file with your products to Shopify.
  • Directly import products from your dashboard to Shopify using a SaaS tool.

If you are new to Shopify go through how Shopify works for Sellers read 

What is Shopify & How Does Shopify Work For Sellers? (2021),

otherwise let’s move forward with the next steps.

Importing Products to Shopify via CSV file

If you’ve decided to go the CSV import route, make sure to follow Shopify’s CSV structure recommendations to export the file correctly. To ensure a successful import, your CSV file can’t exceed 15MB. Otherwise, the Shopify product import may be incomplete or will fail.

 

How can you import products to Shopify automatically (without CSV import/export)?

Alternatively, you can automate the process and increase the speed of importing products with the help of online SaaS solutions like Apimio. It will save you from concerns about the file structure, and you can continue working on your store while your products are being imported.  You can bulk upload to Shopify through a single dashboard without too much manual work. 

More details about how Apimio works here (in detail).

If you’re a manufacturer:

You can install Apimio for Manufacturers: Share All Your Product Data from the Shopify App Store. This will take you to the Apimio Sign Up page where you can create your own Apimio Manufacturer account. Once your account is created, you can invite your retailers to share product catalogs with them.

Apimio lets you create groups of products that you can assign to specific retailers. You can easily import product catalogs to your Shopify store without the hassle of CSV files that need to be formatted every time you wish to import products.

The best thing about using Apimio for migrating your product data to Shopify is that you can also migrate images of your products to your store in one click. 

Once you have all your products on your Apimio account, you can edit and bulk import them to your Shopify store in one click.  

If you’re a retailer: 

You can install Apimio for Retail: Import Products from Supplier from the Shopify App Store. This will take you to the Apimio sign-up page, where you can sign up as a retailer, and import your brands and products to your dashboard. 

You can carry out CSV uploads once you have all your product data on your Apimo account, and also access all your product images in one place. Once you’ve invited your supplier to your account, you can sync all their product data to your Shopify store to ensure your stores are always updated and accurate.

 

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Shopify Import Capabilities

Shopify allows you to import several entities by default. However, because you are bound to CSV files, you can’t automate processes. So every time there has been an update in your product data, you will have to import a new CSV file. Shopify Plus has various data transfer features that can be useful for businesses. Let’s go through those. 

Importing Products from Another Store/Platform 

So assume that you’ve decided to migrate from another platform to Shopify and wish to import all your products to your new Shopify Store. You might have exported a CSV of your existing products from the old platform, but unfortunately this won’t be compatible with Shopify. The CSV file will follow the format of the older platform that you were using. So in order to use it to import your product data to your Shopify store, you will have to edit the file’s format. Even components like a missing header lead to import failure. 

Moreover, your product CSV can’t be more than 15MB in size. So if you’re getting an error while trying to upload a new CSV file, check to see if it doesn’t exceed the size limit. 

To import product data from your CSV on Shopify, follow these steps: 

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to “Products” > “All products.”
  1. Click “Import”.
  1. Click “Choose File” in the Import products by CSV file window.
  1. Locate your CSV file, then click “Open”.
  1. Click “Upload file”.
  1. Once your CSV file is uploaded, you will receive a confirmation email from Shopify on your registered email. 

Re-importing Products from Shopify

Shopify allows you to make changes to your catalog items via CSV, export your products, edit the CSV file and re-import it back to your Shopify store. 

However, if you’re using Oberlo or other similar apps to add products to your website, this method will not work. 

You can import products to Shopify as follows:

  1. Go to Shopify Admin > Products > All products and hit the Import button. 
  2. The Import products by CSV file window displays. Click “Choose File”.
  3. Locate your product CSV and click “Open”.
  4. By enabling the “Overwrite any current products that have the same handle” feature, you override the corresponding Shopify data. For columns that aren’t present in the CSV file, the corresponding product information remains untouched. For instance, if you transfer items without price information, Shopify will keep the existing values.
  5. Upload the file.
  6. A confirmation email is sent upon a successful upload.

Shopify Product Import: CSV File Format

Below, you can see a list that shows the structure of a typical product file supported in Shopify.

Handle: in this field,, you need to specify unique product names using letters, dashes, and numbers. Also note that spaces, accents, periods, and other characters are not allowed. It is also worth mentioning that Shopify uses handles in product URLs.

Besides, Shopify treats every line in the CSV file that starts with a different handle as a new product. However, you can use multiple lines with the same handle to add multiple images to a single product. Since this field is required, it cannot be blank or missing.

Title. This column contains the title of your product — for instance, Women’s Black Stiletto Heels. Since this field is required, you cannot leave it blank.

Body (HTML). Here, you can provide your product description in HTML format or as plain text. It’s not required so can be left blank. 

Vendor. In this field you need to enter the vendor name of the product and should have more than two characters. 

Type. This field shows the product type, such as “Dresses” or “Heels”. You can leave it blank. 

Tags. Here, you can place a comma-separated list of tags associated with the product. Add quotes around the tags if they are absent: “tag1, tag2, tag3”. This one can be blank.

Published. This shows the status of the product on your store: whether it is published or not.

TRUE – the product is published. 

FALSE – the product is hidden.

The field is required. If you leave it blank, the product will automatically be published. 

Option1 Name. If an item contains options, specify its name (e.g. Color). Set it to “Title” for products with one option only. This is a required field and can’t be left blank. 

Option1 Value. If a product is associated with an option, you should enter its value here (White).

For products with only one option, set it to Default Title. Also, note that changing data in this column replaces the existing variant IDs. This process usually breaks third-party dependencies on variant IDs. This is a required field and can’t be left blank. 

Option2 Name. If a product has the second option, specify it here but this column can be left blank. 

Option2 Value. Enter the value of the second option here. This field can also be left blank. 

Option3 Name. If a product has the third option, specify it here. You can leave this column blank.

Option3 Value. Enter the value of the third option here or leave it empty.

Variant SKU. In this column, you need to enter the SKU of a product or variant which is used to track inventory. Unless you use custom fulfillment services, this field can be left blank.

Variant Grams. You need to enter the product or variant weight in grams under this section. You can’t use any letters or special characters here, so if your product weight is 1.789 kg, you should specify it as 1789.

Also, despite setting a different unit on your website, Shopify always imports and exports the product weight in grams. It usually happens even if you set a different unit on your website. Therefore, use only accurate weights so that you can give customers accurate carrier charges based on weight. Since this field is required, you cannot leave it blank even if the value is 0. 

Variant Inventory Tracker. This section contains the inventory tracking details for a variant or product. If your inventory isn’t tracked you can leave this column blank. 

Variant Inventory Qty. This column displays the number of items available in stock but is only related to Shopify stores with a single location. If you have inventory at various locations, Shopify will not include this column for you. 

Variant Inventory Policy. This column lets you specify the action taken towards customers when they order a product or variant that has reached 0 inventory.

deny – a product cannot be purchased after its inventory level reaches zero;

continue – a product can be purchased after its inventory level reaches zero: negative inventory levels are enabled.

You can’t leave this field blank. 

Variant Fulfillment Service. Here, the system displays a fulfillment service responsible for the product or variant fulfillment. Possible values are: 

manual; 

webgistix;

shipwire; 

amazon_marketplace_web.

It is also possible to specify the name of your custom fulfillment service here. Note that it is necessary to use lowercase letters and replace spaces with a dash (-). Also, remove periods and other special characters. And don’t forget to set up a custom fulfillment service in your Shopify admin before adding its name in this column. Since this field is required, it cannot be blank or missing.

Variant Price. Here, Shopify lets you set the price of the product or its variant. You can’t include currency symbols in this field.

Variant Compare at Price. The “Compare at Price” feature of the product or variant is related to this column. The requirements are the same: you shouldn’t use currency symbols. The field can be blank.

Variant Requires Shipping. Here, Shopify contains options that show whether shipping is required or not. TRUE and FALSE are two possible values. If you leave the column blank, the system understands it as FALSE.

Variant Taxable. Here, you need to specify whether taxes are applicable to your variant or not. You can enter True or False. If you leave the field blank, the system will assume it to be false. 

Variant Barcode. In this column, you can add a product barcode, ISBN, or UPC. It can be left blank.

Image Src. This column allows you to specify the URL of a product image. The system downloads images during the import and uploads them back. However, they are not variant-specific. You should specify variant images in the variant image column.

You can leave this field blank. 

Image Position. In this column, you can specify the order of the images to appear on your product page. the sort order for images that appear on a product page. It is shown from smallest to largest, so image set as 1 will appear first. The field can be left blank.

Image Alt Text. Here, you need to enter the Alt text for an image which is displayed when the image can’t load. You can enter up to 512 characters, but the optimal recommended length is 125 characters. You can leave this field blank.

Gift Card. Here, the system places data necessary to determine whether the product is a gift card or not. As you might have already guessed, valid values are TRUE or FALSE. You need to create gift cards in admin prior to changing the corresponding fields in a CSV file. The field can be blank.

SEO Title. You can find the SEO Title under the Search engine listing preview header in the Page title field on the product details page. The SEO Title consists of letters and numbers. The character limit is 70. 

This field is optional, so if you leave it blank, it will automatically be populated with the product title on import. Note that it is optional.

SEO Description. The SEO Description shows in the Meta description field on the product details page and has a 320 letters/numbers limit. You can leave this field blank, and in that case it will automatically be populated with the product description you have provided on importing. 

Google Shopping metafields. It is possible to ignore fields in the columns that include Google Shopping in their names. However, some situations may require using them. Therefore, this field is optional.

Variant Image. In this column you can specify the functioning image URLs of the variant, but it is optional.

Variant Weight Unit. Shopify uses only the following values:

  • g
  • kg
  • lb
  • oz

The field is optional and if left blank, the default unit is “kg”.

Variant Tax Code. This column is available in Shopify Plus only if it is integrated with Avalara AvaTax. Don’t import a CSV file with this column filled in with data into a store that isn’t connected to Avalara. 

Cost per item. In this column, Shopify specifies the product or variant cost for you. Currency symbols are still not allowed and the field is optional.

Status: This shows the status of the products in your store. 

active – the product is available on your storefront;

draft – the product is not active with a draft that needs to be completed;

archived – it is an archived item that is no longer available on the storefront.

This field is required and if you don’t add the column to your CSV file, all products are uploaded as active.

Free Shopify CSV Template

You can download a free CSV template to import products to Shopify from here.

Recent Articles

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-Market (TTM): What Is It & How Can You Improve It?

Time-to-market (TTM) is a term used to describe the time it takes from the initial idea of the product to the final, finished product being put out in the market.

In a fast-paced economy where there is always someone doing something similar to what you’re doing, it’s important to gain a competitive advantage over them.

read more
What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

What are Product Variants & How Can They Benefit Your E-commerce Store?

A product variant is a unique variant that is used to identify specific products. Some products share common attributes, but there are some attributes that differ; these are called variants. Each product variant has its own unique identifier, such as price, and every variant is based on the same product definition.

read more

Product Attributes: Everything You Need to Know (Definition and List)

Product Attributes: Everything You Need to Know (Definition and List)

Product Attributes: Everything You Need to Know (Definition and List)

Top 6 E-commerce platforms to build a website with in 2021

What are Product Attributes?

Product Attributes are characteristics of a product that help you define your products for users that visit your ecommerce stores. While companies recognize their own products through SKUs which are unique numbers assigned to each product, consumers use natural language that includes the benefits and features of a product. For example, Black Skinny Leather Pants. 

Attributes are divided into two categories: tangible (physical) and intangible (non-physical). 

  • Tangibles include characteristics such as size, color, smell, product design, weight, etc.
  • Intangible refers to attributes like price and quality.

Why do you need Product Attributes?

Using product attributes can make your product stand out to customers in a crowded ecommerce marketplace. It helps separate your products from those of competitors. Companies should list their product attributes in a style that is understandable by the average user. 

Consumer searches and queries have become extremely specific over the years, so your attributes should be designed in a way that caters to those searches. Marketers need to design product descriptions that capture the target market’s interests, with each product attribute being a positive selling point. 

List of Product Attributes 

1. Product Name

Consumers find your products through the product name. These should be clear, concise and give away sufficient information about the product just through the title. The product name is critical to your SEO and is the name through which users will look up your products. It should highlight key features of your product, but don’t overdo it. I’ve gone into more detail on how to optimize your product details in my guide here.  

2. Product Images

Product images help customers visualize your product when they can’t actually touch or feel it.

The ideal product images should meet the following requirements: 

  • Resolution should be at least 1080px*1080px.
  • Size should not exceed 200kb in order to optimize quality and page load times. 
  • Image formats should be either JPG, PNG, or JPEG.
  • The image should be in square format as most e-commerce platforms and marketplaces only accept these. 

To learn more about getting the perfect e-commerce images, read these 8 Brilliant Ways To Make Sure Your E-commerce Product Images Stand Out.

3. SKUs

An SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is a unique alphanumeric number assigned to each product to help you keep track of your inventory. These are mostly based on various characteristics of the products and are broken down into classifications and categories. 

One SKU can only be used for a single product, therefore it can never be repeated.

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4. Retail Price & Cost Price

Retail price is the manufacturer’s suggested price for the product to be sold to the final consumer. Cost price is the price manufacturers charge the retailers for their products. While you don’t highlight the cost price to the final consumer, it’s important to have it in your records. The price displayed to the customers is the retail price. 

5. BARCODE:  (ISBN, UPC, GTIN, etc.)

A barcode is a machine-readable form of information on a scannable, visual surface. The barcode is read by using a special scanner that then transmits the data onto a database to keep track of inventory. Barcodes come in many forms and different countries and companies use different barcodes for their products. We’ll discuss a few of them here: 

GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) is an internationally recognized system for identifying products. It has brought together several systems to ensure they all adhere to a common structure. The types of GTIN that currently exist include:

  • ISBN – International Standard Book Number
  • UPC – Universal Product Code

ISBN (International Standard Book Number): An ISBN is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records, and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.

UPC (Universal Product Code): The purpose of a UPC code is to allow consumers to identify special product features, like its size or color when an item is scanned at checkout. UPCs enable accurate and efficient product tracking from production to the distribution process. 

MSI Plessey (Modified Plessey): These are barcodes used for inventory management in retail environments, such as labeling supermarket shelves. They’re also used across warehouses and other storage facilities to support accurate inventory checking. 

Two-dimensional (2D): 2D barcodes systematically represent data using two-dimensional symbols and shapes. They are similar to a linear 1D barcode but can represent more data per unit area.

QR codes are most often used in tracking and marketing initiatives, such as advertisements, magazines, and business cards. They are flexible in size, offer high fault tolerance, and have fast readability, though they can’t be read with a laser scanner. 

6. Weight

This attribute lets the consumer know how much the product weighs. It is up to you to decide which unit to use for your products: kilograms (kg) or pounds (lbs), depending on the type of products you’re selling. It’s a good idea to have both units listed for each product, but to avoid the hassle, you can just pick one and stay consistent with it throughout your website. 

7. Category

Categories allow you to organize your products. These categories can be based on your product’s functionality, demographics, customer needs, or preferences. When thinking about products, the largest thing is usually a category while the smallest is an individual item. Categories make it easier for your customers to navigate across your website, and find what they’re looking for. 

8. Brand

This attribute allows you to identify your product line.

9. Product Type 

Under this, you can create a custom Product Type with attributes dedicated to your product. Every time you choose this product type for any new products that you add, it will automatically update the attributes according to information provided by you for the product type. 

10. Variants 

When shopping online, you’ll see that the same product is available in different sizes, colours, materials, or price points. These options are known as product variants. For example, if you’re adding a clothing item, your two variants can be Size and Colour. However, if you’re adding a laptop, your two variants can be RAM and Screen Size. In most cases, you must also assign a unique SKU to each variant. 

11. Custom Attributes

Custom Attributes allow you to add unique attributes to existing Product Types. For example, one Type that you may have is a Mobile Phone. If you wish to add custom attributes to this product such as a Secondary Display for your Mobile Phone listing, you can do this through custom attributes. See our guide on Custom Attributes to understand how.  

12. SEO Fields

For each product that you upload, you’ll have to fill out SEO Fields to help it rank on Google. These include the META Title, META Description, and the META Keyword. Let’s go over what each of these is and why they’re important.

META Titles

Also known as Title tags, these are the titles used by search engines and visitors to understand what any given page on your website is about. This is the text you’ll see at the top of your browser. Title tags are supposed to be as concise and accurate as possible. META Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of their search result, and how it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used by visitors to decide which information to click on, hence, these must be of high quality. 

META Description

This is an HTML attribute that provides a concise description of your product next to its META Title. It explains to search engines and searchers themselves what your page is about. The META description is extremely important for the click-through rate. A compelling META description could entice visitors to click on your link to view your product and learn more about it.

META Keyword

META keywords are another type of META tag that appears in the HTML code of a web page. These allow search engines to know the topic of your page. The keywords that you use must always be relevant to the content of your page, otherwise, they won’t add any value to your content. 

Stand out from your competition 

Make sure to highlight all your product positives, include a custom attribute that makes your product stand out, and create a product description that immediately resonates with the customer. They should think “Yes, this is something I need!”. Having the right product descriptions and attributes in place can give you exactly the boost in sales conversions that you’ve been aiming for.

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What is Shopify & How Does Shopify Work For Sellers? (2021)

What is Shopify & How Does Shopify Work For Sellers? (2021)

What is Shopify & How Does Shopify Work For Sellers? (2021)

Top 6 E-commerce platforms to build a website with in 2021

What is Shopify?

Shopify is a cloud-based e-commerce platform that giant brands and new entrepreneurs alike use to create online storefronts.

Shopify has a large customer base, and with time the platform has become extremely adaptable for different types of users. It takes minutes to set up a store and customize it to your liking. There are hundreds of extensions available to turn your store into a multinational, multilingual platform enterprise e-commerce operation.

To meet these different needs, Shopify offers three subscription levels ranging from $29/month to $299/month. We’ll discuss these further in a later section. 

Who should use Shopify? 

Small to medium-sized brands

Shopify’s user-friendly interface allows less tech-savvy people to create and run successful online stores. It supports businesses that are just starting out, or are already established and have small to medium-sized operations. The Shopify App Store offers multiple integrations that help create a fully functional online store that offers a one-of-a-kind customer experience. It has SEO features and other marketing tools, providing a strong marketing foundation for brands trying to make a name in the market. 

Enterprise-level brands

Companies like Tesla and Nestlé use Shopify to manage their e-commerce functions. However, for companies with such large operations, Shopify Plus websites are more viable. Shopify Plus websites offer an open API and have more customizable as well as automation options for brands. The plan also comes with advanced omni-channel and multi-channel selling features. 

New website owners

If you’re looking to create a new website, or have just started an online store, Shopify is your best friend. The e-commerce platform gives a range of themes to pick for your store. You don’t require any technical skills in particular to develop a website and have it up and running. Within minutes, you can create your product catalog and customized web pages for the ultimate customer experience. 

Shopify vs Other Platforms

Shopify vs BigCommerce

BigCommerce is best suited for companies with big operations. The platform is built for large enterprises offering a wide range of products, or for startups looking for immediate expansion. This platform, however, isn’t as user-friendly as Shopify. While you can use customizable templates to enhance the functionality of your store without having any particular coding knowledge, users must possess some knowledge on web design to efficiently use the platform’s advanced features. 

Shopify vs Magento

Magento is an open-source solution, having both self-hosted and cloud-hosted options, and is more suited towards brands that have IT and development teams on hand. Magento lets you keep 100% control of your e-commerce business, unlike Shopify where you can only customize certain aspects of your websites or storefronts. Having full control of the Magento platform means regular bug updates that need to be done by your own team, and requiring entire site integrations. 

Shopify vs WooCommerce 

WooCommerce is not your typical standalone ecommerce platform. It’s a free plugin that can turn your WordPress account into a fully functional site. Since it’s actually a plug-in, it doesn’t come in comparison to Shopify. 

WooCommerce is more applicable to those who already have a website. This could be an issue if you don’t have a website, or beneficial if you just want to integrate a plug-in to speed up traffic and sales. 

Shopify vs SquareSpace

SquareSpace is the ideal platform to use when you’re looking for a sleek and simple website. However, it offers limited customisable options for your store. However, when it comes to really flesh out your store with additional features, Shopify’s app store comes to the rescue.

Shopify vs Wix

Wix has long been touted as beginner-friendly and being targeted towards those online stores that are small or have less than 100 products. Shopify, on the other hand, is more targeted towards businesses that may start off small but are looking to quickly expand and grow. 

Wix definitely scores points in product presentation and it has features to extend your brand beyond your actual store, in the form of a website, a blog, or email marketing campaigns. 

Selling on Shopify

1. Build your plan 

There is no business in the world that you can jump into without a plan in mind. A Shopify store is no exception. Before you start signing up, there are various questions you need to ask yourself regarding your store. Here are some examples of the questions you should be asking yourself: 

  • What is your marketing strategy?
  • How do I want to display my products to the buyers? 
  • Who is my target audience?
  • How will I accept payments?
  • How will I handle shipping?
  • Will I be selling internationally?

Your Shopify store will become the foundation that your branding and marketing strategy will be built upon and how you sell products to customers. So it’s important to think through your whole business strategy first before designing and developing your website.

2. Set up your Shopify account

To start your Shopify journey, you (obviously) have to create an account. The best part is that you get a free 14-day trial, and don’t need to enter any credit card details for it. This period gives you enough time to navigate through the platform, become accustomed to it, and see if it’s suited for you. 

When you get started with the free 14-day trial, you will be required to enter your email address and password, and create a store name. The store name here is very important as it will be the name customers will use to find your store. It will also be part of your URL as “my-store.myshopify.com”. 

Once Shopify creates your account, you will be asked for some other preliminary information, including your name, business address, phone number, what you’re selling, and your business’s revenue (if applicable). You can also add billing information, set a store currency, and add a custom domain name. After all of this, you will be guided to the Shopify admin through which you can begin the process of setting up your store.

When your 14-day free trial expires, your account will automatically be disabled, and in order to re-activate it, you will have to select a paid plan.

3. Enter a Domain Name

A domain is a URL that links to your website, for instance, acde.com. Customers will type this when they look for your store online. Shopify gives you a primary domain name which users see in the URL tab when they browse your website. 

As a default setting, your primary domain is written as my-store.myshopify.com, but you can purchase a different custom domain or connect a custom domain that you already own. You can have only one primary domain; you can choose your root domain or a subdomain as your Shopify store’s primary domain. You can go to Bluehost or GoDaddy if you choose to buy a new domain. If you have a unique company name, you can always choose this as your domain name but sometimes your choice of domain name may be unavailable as someone else might already be using it. 

4. Adding your products 

To start adding products to your Shopify page, you can navigate to the Products Page on your Shopify admin. Now, if you already have all your products listed in a CSV file, or you’re migrating products from a different platform, software such as a PIM, or marketplace, you can use the Shopify Bulk Upload option.  

If you have to add products manually, there are a number of ways in which you can organize those and choose how to present them to your customers. Shopify will ask for various fields when entering your products. This includes the product’s title, description, price, images, SKU code, shipping information, and any product variants. 

The product’s title, description, and images can have a huge impact on your store’s success and SEO ranking, so make sure to optimize each. 

Once you have created your product catalogs, Shopify allows you to group them into different collections for customers to find them, for example, sale items, seasonal products, etc.

5. Choose your Shopify theme

Your Shopify theme is what your customers will see when they come to your store. Choosing an aesthetic and highly functional theme is important in engaging customers on your site, and delivering a professional image.

To select a theme for your Shopify store, go to “Customize Theme” from the “Home” tab to pull up your theme options. On this page, you’ll have a variety of options to choose from that will customize the look and feel of your Shopify Store. 

Shopify themes are predesigned store designs that you can use to feature your products without having to hire a designer or a developer to create a beautiful online store front for your business.

Initially, your store is using the default “Debut” Shopify theme. It’s free and it looks fairly good. If, like many e-retailers, you want something with a more unique look or different options, you can click on “Explore free themes” to see a variety of other themes (and their variants) that you can choose from. 

You can also buy themes from the Shopify store or use a site like ThemeForest to see hundreds of potential options. The only real advantage of picking a theme from the Shopify Theme Store is that you can instantly add and customize your new theme. If you pick a theme from an external site, you’ll need to download the theme and then click “Upload theme” to add your new theme.

Once you’ve decided on a theme, you’ll need to click “Actions > Publish” to activate it. However, there is still a lot of customization needed once you’ve picked out a theme.

6. Installing relevant sales channels

One of the advantages of using Shopify for your business is that your online store is just one of the many sales channels you can use to sell your products. You can connect your products to additional sales channels to meet your customers where they are, while keeping track of your products, inventory, and reporting in the same Shopify account so you always know what’s going on in your business. 

While you don’t have to connect all of them right away, it’s good to have them in mind when you’re ready to explore new ways to get your products in front of the right shoppers.

7. Adding Apps that enhance the functionality of your store

While the basic Shopify options are enough to have a store up-and-running, there’s a possibility that you’ll need to add some additional features to help give your store that boost and lock in sales. 

In this situation, you can either hire a developer to create a custom solution or check the Shopify App Store. The Shopify App Store offers hundreds of apps that you can add to your store. 

For example, when adding your products, you might want to consider a tool that enables you to optimise your product descriptions and share them with your channel partners. A PIM solution helps streamline product feeds across Shopify. For this function, the Apimio PIM is available on the Shopify store and comes with a 14-day free trial. 

If you want to send your customers reminders when they abandon carts, you can use Pushowls. It sends automatic email notifications to anyone that comes to your Shopify store and abandons their carts. Cart abandonments are common in ecommerce, and can damage your sales and conversions. Read our guide on how you can reduce your store’s CAR. 

There will always be customers who would want to return their products. As a matter of fact, having a return and refund policy on your Shopify store will build trust for your brand amongst customers. You can use the Return Magic app on Shopify to set up your returns. 

I would recommend you always check the Shopify App store before hiring a developer as there’s a good possibility you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. It’ll be more convenient and cost effective for you to purchase those apps. You can also read the reviews before adding an app to your store. Some developers charge you a monthly fee to use their app, while others only charge you a one-time fee.

Keeping that in mind, think about all the features you want to add to your store and how those will add value to your site and customer experience, and then find the right apps for the functions.

8. Set up shipping 

Shipping costs can become a headache. Trust us on this one. So it’s absolutely vital that you have these figured out before you take your first order. Determine your shipping rate and method beforehand: do you want to charge a flat rate? Will you have a varying rate depending on the size of the package? Do you want to offer free shipping? Create a list and weigh the costs. Free shipping largely depends on your retail pricing.

Once the pricing is figured out, you have to see the weight of the products you’re selling, and the sort of packaging you’ll be using for these. Following on, you have to determine what regions and countries you will be shipping to. All of this information will be used to calculate your shipping rates that will vary depending on which shipping partner you contract with. You can choose to use a third-party carrier like FedEx, UPS, or USPS, a fulfilment or drop-shipping service, or fulfill orders manually.

Shopify members can also use Shopify Shipping, a built-in shipping suite that gives sellers access to calculated rates through shipping companies including USPS, UPS, and DHL, and the ability to print shipping labels.

9. Set up payment settings

Any online store will only be successful if it offers the customer their preferred form of payment: PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, it should include all. To accept credit card payments on your Shopify store, you can either use Shopify Payments or a third-party payment service provider, such as Stripe. Note that Shopify charges an additional fee to use a third-party provider with its system.

You can also allow customers to pay without putting in their credit card information by enabling payments through PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or Amazon Pay. Shopify also provides the option to accept cryptocurrencies as payment, which by the way, is a form of payment we expect to take over e-commerce by storm this year. 

You can handle your payment methods from the payment providers section of your Shopify admin.

10. Set up taxes

As a merchant, you will need to charge sales tax and pay those to the government, Shopify helps in handling basic sales tax. You can also configure your tax rates based on which country you’re selling in. Shopify also caters to unique tax laws that you can set up according to your needs and requirements.

11. Store Policies

One of the last logistical steps you must take before opening your store is setting your store policies. This includes your return and refund policy, customer privacy, terms of service, as well as legal information and shipping policies. All these policies will automatically be linked in the footer of your checkout pages.

How much does Shopify cost? 

Shopify Lite

Shopify Lite is Shopify’s cheapest plan at $9 per month. However, with this plan, you can’t actually create an online store. The plan lets you sell via an existing website or Facebook page via a buy button or with a Facebook plugin. 

When you sign up for Shopify Lite, you can upload your catalog to Shopify and then integrate it with your third-party platform. All Shopify customers will receive a free mobile card reader when they sign up to process in-person transactions. Note that Shopify charges a 2.7% fee for every in-person credit card transaction.

Basic Shopify

The Basic Shopify plan costs $29 per month and provides all the basics you need to start an online business. Perks include the ability to upload an unlimited amount of products, add up to two staff accounts, and use Shopify Shipping. 

With Basic Shopify, there is a 2.9% + $0.30 fee on all online credit card purchases, and a 2.7% fee on in-person credit card purchases. Shopify will also charge you an additional 2% fee if you use a payment service provider other than Shopify Payments.

Shopify

The Shopify plan is for larger businesses that also want to sell in physical stores. At $79 per month, users will receive all the benefits of the Basic Shopify plan plus five staff accounts, the ability to accept gift cards, and professional reports on their business’s performance.

Users will also receive POS hardware, including barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers, and shipping label printers, plus unlimited POS staff PINs, and the ability to integrate with third-party POS apps.

Credit card rates are 2.6% + $0.30 for online transactions and 2.5% for in-person transactions. There is a 1% fee for using a payment provider other than Shopify Payments.

Advanced Shopify

At $299 per month, Advanced Shopify is designed for businesses with high transaction volumes and rapid growth. You will receive all of the aforementioned benefits plus staff accounts for up to 15 employees, more advanced sales reports, and the ability to show third-party calculated shipping rates to your customers at checkout.

There are also lower credit card fees. Online purchases will cost 2.4% + $0.30 while in-person purchases will cost 2.4%. There is a 0.5% fee for using a payment provider other than Shopify Payments.

Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus is designed for high-volume merchants. Users will receive personalized assistance and a completely customizable ecommerce solution. Pricing is quote-based and varies depending on your business’s needs. Reach out for a free quote.

What can I sell on Shopify?

You can sell physical products, drop-ship products, digital products, or services on your Shopify store. As long as there are no legal implications or restrictions or the product or service you’re selling (such as liquor, weapons, or medicine), Shopify will allow it. 

There is a section on the Shopify website called “Ecommerce by Industry,” under which you can find the unique solutions for a variety of different types of products, including antiques, electronics, comic books, car parts, magazine subscriptions, music, and wedding dresses. 

Conclusion 

Well, that’s it! You’re now well equipped to launch and run your own Shopify store. However, setting up a good-looking, and well functioning store is just the beginning. To get the most out of your site, you must optimize it for various functions, such as marketing, SEO, sales, and conversions. 

But don’t worry, we have plenty of guides on how you can do that. We got you!

8 Brilliant Ways To Make Sure Your Ecommerce Product Images Stand Out (Quick Guide).

7 Steps to Creating Powerful Product Descriptions that Sell.

 

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