It’s Thursday 6th of October 2016, 8pm and i’m sitting on a train back to my hometown, Glasgow. I should be shattered given my schedule for today, woke up at 3am to get ready, and was on the first train to Manchester at 5:40am and have been here all day attending the Shopify Retail Tour (#ShopifyRetailTour). I’m writing this as I am heading back with enthusiasm fuelling from the well organised #ShopifyRetailTour.
Initially, I was in two minds in coming as I had taken a look at the schedule and wasn’t sure who this event was aimed at. It’s safe to say it was a mixed event from the beginner to the pro level seller, an approach I wouldn’t have personally taken.
It was extremely well organised. Hands off to the entire team for pulling it off in terms of venue, workshops, sponsors and the guru workshops (nice touch).
I’ll take each in turn and give my opinion and feedback for future tours.
The venue, Ziferblat, was brilliant. I don’t think Shopify could have chosen a better location, in the heart of Manchester City Centre. It was easily accessible via the main Piccadilly train station and various bus stops nearby. The arrangements within the venue were top notch, free food and drinks (amazing coffee!) were welcoming given the hectic schedule and for individuals like myself who have traveled from far away. The decor was in-line with the culture of Shopify, it was perfected down to every inch.
I do believe Shopify could have held an event in Scotland. This would make it easier for Scottish merchants like myself to attend. Note to Shopify: happy to help and assist if you ever decide in doing an event up here.
The day started off with a beginners styled presentation and I was dreading it. Questions such as “why am I here” came to mind whilst I sat through it. Topics like” how to start off with a theme” and “adding products to a Shopify store” were being discussed by the presenters and I felt that this was not the best of directions to have (more on this later).
The day eventually got better when topics such as SEO came into play. It only get better from thereon forward; product photography, growth hacks and marketing were interesting topics.
Shopify were in Manchester for 3 days. I would have personally split the 3 days as follows:
Wednesday: Shopify for beginners
Thursday: Intermediate sellers
Friday: Pro level sellers
I would have also had a mixture of entrepreneurs giving talks in-between the sessions, rather than having an evening function. It was uncomfortable sitting on chairs all day which weren’t the most comfortable of seats. There was a huge technical area in the foyer, perhaps if groups were formed and then taken in-turn to these stations for an activity / live demo it would have made it more engaging, it could have led to better ice breaker sessions between the merchants who were in attendance. I think a quick ice breaking session at the start would have led the merchants to a more comfortable start i.e. “Hi, my name is X and I sell…. i’m here because I want to learn more about X”. From this, the Shopify gurus could have measured what people are really here for and what should be focussed on in the sessions and allows the merchants to interact if they knew the answer to another merchants problem.
I also feel that there should have been some sort of brain storming session between the merchants. It felt as if the entire day was just learning from Shopify and not enough of learning from peers in the field. Huge brownie points if this aspect can be improved in future tours.
I had originally booked for the full day session plus the additional evening in-formal Entrepreneurial Hustle session. Due to my travel arrangements and having to go back the same day, I had to leave and felt disappointed in not being able to attend this. Had the day of been better organised in terms of the “status” of the merchant (beginner, intermediate and pro) - it would have been good to have this informal session earlier on in the day.
This was a welcoming touch, thanks Shopify. They were extremely helpful and confident in what they were saying. I might not have agreed with everything (Shopify Payment chargebacks VS Sagepay) I appreciated the fact that there was a face to voice my disappointment to. The team was extremely easy to approach and anything they didn’t know, they walked away for a few seconds to bring the very person who was more knowledgable in that specific area.
I didn’t think I would ever touch on this or say what i’m about to say - it was actually quite decent. It was a great move on Shopifys part to have the sponsors onboard throughout the day (Mailchimp, Kit, Quickbooks, Strawberry). Personally, I think they can do with a few more in the coming years - maybe ask some more of the devs on the app store? Out of all of them, MailChimp was my favourite touch on the day simply because we have been used them for the last couple of years but always had questions and doubts, all of which were cleared up on the day with their presentation and live demo areas. Thanks guys!
In terms of areas for improvement for future. here’s what I would recommend. I would hold a raffle for all the merchants attending on that day and choose maybe 2-3 merchants and provide a stand for them to showcase their products. The idea won’t be to sell on the day (if they want to, let them - Shopify POS!) rather, to showcase their unique range and let them voice their Shopify story. I think this would be really nice and would be more easier for merchants to interact and get feedback and tips from current Shopify merchants. This idea will link hand-in-hand with what is being presented in the sessions and gives merchants an idea to speak to someone who has built a successful store. It may also provide synergy for merchants such as distribution.
Absolutely. Here’s what I took away from it:
If your looking to go, Shopify Retail Tour is going to London in the next few days so book up!
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