How to Level Up Your eCommerce Presence in Today’s Competitive Landscape – Victoria Wilson, The Taproom Agency

The way consumers shop today has been overhauled. So much is available for purchase at our fingertips through mobile devices, which led many of you to pivot or integrate eCommerce into your business operation. On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Victoria Wilson, Director of Operations for The Taproom Agency to give us some insight on effectively navigating the eCommerce space. She’ll also share some of today’s trends in this area of business.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thank you so much, Victoria for joining us on the show.

Victoria Wilson :
Oh course, I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. So for those that are not as familiar with you and your agency, as we are here at the show, share a little bit about yourself and your company and the solutions that you provide.

Victoria Wilson :
Absolutely. So myself, I have a pretty diverse background. I’ve worked in a fair number of places and spaces. I started off working in communications and marketing, and then over the years I also started my own digital consulting agency. And from there I realized, I really love setting up processes and systems. And so I really pivoted more to focus on project management and found The Taproom. And since then I’ve worked from, started off as a project manager. Now I’m the director of operations and actually a few shifts are happening in our agency where I’ll actually be stepping up as the CEO in the new year. So that’ll be a new adventure for myself.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s fantastic. Congratulations.

Victoria Wilson :
Thank you. Thank you. But yes, in terms of The Taproom, we are a Shopify development agency. We only focus on Shopify and we’re almost full service. So we provide things like UX design. We provide custom design solutions for our clients and we really do value just partnering with merchants to help grow their business and be really successful in what they do and be a strategic partner for them in doing that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. You must be a very busy young lady, you and your staff there because as the world has pivoted to doing everything online now, since the pandemic. Right. Has the pandemic had an impact I mean, on your business? What does that look like? I mean, so many people now want to get into eCommerce, right, because of COVID.

Victoria Wilson :
Yes, absolutely. So there definitely was an uptick in people pivoting and investing for the first time or just investing more into their eCommerce presence and ensuring that their online user experience is top notch. You’re really driving that experience home and building that loyalty and relationship with your customers to help with conversions and increasing sales. And so I think a lot of folks realize it’s not just about the product anymore when you are presenting yourself online, but it really is about fostering that community and fostering that relationship with your customers.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. Which is new to a lot of people. I mean, they know in many cases and I’m include myself in this, you know what you’re doing in your office or in your store or what have you, but when it moves all online, it really takes an expert and a team. I guess that’s why you’re in business because they need to go to somebody to say, how do you do all of this? Right. And have it be seamless to your consumer so it’s not frustrating for them while you learn this process. Right.

Victoria Wilson :
Absolutely. And so that’s usually where we are coming in because with folks having to pivot and focus on not just brick and mortar, where that was their bread and butter before, but having that strong eCommerce presence. That’s where The Taproom wants to come in, be strategic partners, help you identify those areas of opportunities so that you are maximizing what folks are looking at on your site.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. So give us some of the tips. What should small business owners keep in mind as they shift to more digital operations?

Victoria Wilson :
Yeah, so I think a lot of it is, especially if you’re shifting or it’s like a newer frontier for you, looking to automate as much of the process as possible. So this may be partnering with a development agency like ourselves to identify those opportunities and build out those custom automations that fit your needs. And we can help with identifying different apps or plugins, just so that you’re having an easier time navigating this unknown territory or newer territory for you and your team. And then I would also always encourage from an operations standpoint, doing an audit of your current operations to see where you might be able to automate those processes, or even just outsource them. Again, alleviating that pressure from your team. And so we always say, it’s not always about necessarily having to hire a robust agency. Sometime it’s a matter of bringing in a freelancer. Like there are a host of service providers out there to help you get you where you need to go. But we always encourage like, make it easier for yourself so that you can focus on the bread and butter and the things that you’re best at.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. If I’m selling my products locally and I have a brick and mortar operation and have had one and I’m in Atlanta and I’m thinking, wow, Atlanta is a great market. It’s the number ninth media market in the country. And millions of people live and work here. And it’s a great market. As soon as I shift over to eCommerce and set my company up that way. Now I have the whole world at my disposal, don’t I? I mean, if somebody comes across my website, whether they’re in Australia, or New York, or LA, or anywhere around the country, or around the world, for that matter, they can buy my products through that. Right. And that’s very, very exciting for a lot of small businesses to say, wait a minute now, not only is it a 10 mile radius of my store, now I’m an international retailer.

Victoria Wilson :
No, truly. I think eCommerce really just opens up a world of possibilities for the expansion of your brand and even just getting in tune with a different section of your audience that you may not have explored before. I think the beautiful thing about eCommerce is that level of accessibility that you’re providing, not just to yourself, but also introducing your product to the rest of the world.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Boy, there’s no question about it. Are there any emerging trends you’re seeing in the eCommerce landscape today? Especially right before we go in, I guess we’re in the holiday season now that we’re in December, but are there any trends that jump out?

Victoria Wilson :
Yeah, so I think a more general trend is one called headless and Shopify actually just released a new headless platform called Hydrogen. And so the whole appeal with headless build is that your decoupling the front end of your site. So what customers are seeing and the backend, which is more like the admin, what you and your team are handling on the backend. And by decoupling those from Shopify on the backend and putting that front-end experience on a different platform, it really does create a slicker faster, rapid response sort of website experience, which I mean, very few people want to wait for a page to load. So helping to increase the load times and just overall user experience is definitely a thing that a lot of companies are pivoting towards or learning more about rather.

Victoria Wilson :
And then in terms of like a holiday specific trend, I’m sure we’re all aware of like the supply chain issues that are going on right now. And there’s no clear vision on when that’s going to end necessarily, but a lot of folks are now pushing for things like gift cards, because then that way it takes the pressure off of you as the buyer and kind of lets the recipient of the gift have that flexibility to order when they want. And we actually have a favorite app that we love using that partners really well with Shopify. And it’s called Govalo, that’s spelled G-O-V-A-L-O. It’s a wonderful thing to add into your customer experience. And just again, it alleviates some of the pressure that’s being put on a lot of people right now during the holiday times for holiday shopping.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
What does the app do?

Victoria Wilson :
So basically it allows you to set up gift cards. So within the Shopify platform right now, it’s not necessarily built in to allow for gift cards, but by using the Govalo app, you’re able to plug it in. It’s a very easy setup process. So that’s another appeal to it. So there are different tiers. It can be from, you’re a smaller business, just want to set up something quick to more enterprise level solutions as well. But again, you walk through the setup process, upload your gift card image, and you’re ready to go and folks can just go on and buy a gift card and give it to their loved ones.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That is fantastic. And so where do you think that most small businesses miss the mark on eCommerce? What are some of the pitfalls that you think they need to avoid?

Victoria Wilson :
Yeah, so I think sometimes merchants, you’re really close to your website. So I think it’s really crucial at times to take a step back from your website, from your brand so that you’re having a bigger picture look at like, okay, what are some things that we could innovate on? What are some things that we could improve upon? And just basically not limiting yourself to what you’re doing right now and opening yourself up a little bit more to opportunities, other ways to attract customers, other ways to improve that experience.

Victoria Wilson :
And then I think another one is being realistic about who your actual competitors are. We always encourage having those goal competitors, like we want to be like a Peloton or we want to be like this larger brand, but it’s really important to have those goals, absolutely. And have those things and those other merchants that you look up to, but it’s really important to identify within my target market, within my current audience size, who are my actual direct competitors? Because that will also help chart an easier path, a more accessible path to growing your business as well. Just keeping an eye on what your true competitors are doing.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, for sure. I find myself, I think I’m the average consumer out there, but I find myself if I’m on Facebook and I see an ad that comes along, whether it be some kind of a special kind of mechanism to wash my car or something like that. And I can just click it and it takes me right to the purchase of it. And then I’ll complete the transaction and three days later it ends up at my front door. So this has also a marketing element and a social media element to it that’s very, very important, right, for the success of that company.

Victoria Wilson :
Yes, I would say so. So we ourselves at The Taproom we don’t do like paid social and paid search necessarily. We focus more on organic SEO, but we always do encourage folks to beef up efforts outside of their website. What are you doing to bring customers back to your website, bring them back to an abandoned cart. And so in situations like that, we always encourage folks to beef up your email marketing efforts, having those abandoned card emails to draw people back to your site. Once people are on your site, having really strong copy, and imagery, and reviews so that they’re getting more acquainted with the product.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Victoria Wilson :
But overall it is just thinking of outside of just the hub of your store, thinking of what are the other channels that you can use to funnel folks into your site experience and get them to convert and make a purchase and then have a buy-in to becoming a loyal customer.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right. Right. Well, Victoria, I know that we’re going to get a lot of questions from our viewers about this. This is a very hot topic. And so I appreciate you joining us on the show today. Would love to have you back though, so that I can ask you some of those questions that are going to come in from our viewing audience. And it’s a very, as I said, it’s a very hot topic. Everybody wants to able to win in this space. And so thank you so much for joining us, Victoria Wilson, director of operations for Taproom agency. Thank you so much. Hope to talk to you soon as a follow up.

Victoria Wilson :
Thanks, Jim. Would love to. Have a great one.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great. Thank you.


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