In this podcast episode, we discuss how you can build a high-converting storefront cheaper and faster. Our featured guest on the show is Ben Sharf, co-founder and co-CEO at Platter.co.
Topics discussed in this episode:
- How important is it for an e-commerce store to have a high converting storefront
- The advantages of having a streamlined app and theme integration for an ecommerce store
- How Platter.co's onboarding processes cater to all budgets
- What role does page speed play in the conversion rates of an ecommerce store
08:43 Recommend native mega menu for improved navigation.
11:31 Theme product with easy migration and integration.
14:43 Customized enterprise solution with two design revisions.
15:53 Free storefront audit to improve conversion funnel.
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guest: Ben Sharf
Ben Sharf, a former Division 1 athlete, is the co-founder and co-CEO of Platter, an e-commerce software company designed to help brands improve profitability on their Shopify store. Alongside his role at Platter, Ben actively co-hosts a popular podcast called Turning Pro, serves as an angel investor, and has recently ventured into content creation. His diverse background, coupled with his entrepreneurial drive, has fueled his success in building Platter into a prominent player in the industry, while simultaneously engaging with and supporting the broader entrepreneurial community through various channels.
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Claus Lauter [00:00:00]:
This is episode two seven three of the ecommerce Coffee Break podcast. Today we want to talk about how to build a high converting storefront cheaper and faster. With me on the show, I have Ben Sharf, cofounder and co CEO of Platter.co. So let's dive right into it.
Claus Lauter [00:00:14]:
But before we get started, a big thank you to our sponsors for supporting today's episode.
Claus Lauter [00:00:19]:
Loyalty Llion is a leading loyalty platform helping Shopify brands rocket returning customers with their own loyalty programs. With Loyalty Lion, it's quick and easy to create a program that uses points and rewards to engage shoppers, secure more second purchases, and drive up lifetime value. Loyalty Lion has been increasing returning customer rates for thousands of Shopify stores for over ten years. Visit LoyaltyLion.com to find out more. Find the link in the show notes.
Claus Lauter [00:00:45]:
Have you heard about Partner Hero? They're experts in support on the ecommerce industry known for their outstanding team building skills. Their main pillars, quality people and culture makes them a great fit for your company. Learn more on partnerhero.com or click the.
Claus Lauter [00:00:58]:
Link in the show notes this is.
Voice Over [00:01:02]:
The e commerce Coffee Break, a top rated Shopify growth podcast dedicated to Shopify merchants and business owners looking to grow their online stores. Learn how to survive in the fast changing e commerce world with your host Klaus Lauter, and get marketing advice you can't find on Google. Welcome. Welcome to the show.
Claus Lauter [00:01:27]:
Hello and welcome to another episode of the e commerce Coffee Break podcast. Today we want to talk about how to build a high converting storefront cheaper and faster. Now, a lot of stores have grown organically over time and they're carrying a lot of ballast around and there's a way to do this better and faster. With me on the show today, I have Ben Sharf. He's the co founder and co CEO of Platter Co. An e commerce software company designed to help brands improve profitability in their Shopify stores. Alongside his role at Platter, Ben actively co hosts a popular podcast called Turning Pro, serving as an angel investor, and has recently ventured into content creation. So let's welcome Ben to the show.
Claus Lauter [00:02:03]:
Hi Ben, how are you today?
Ben Sharf [00:02:05]:
I'm doing well. Thanks for having me, Ben.
Claus Lauter [00:02:07]:
Shopify has 6000 7000 apps somewhere on there, hundreds and hundreds of themes. So it should be very easy for a merchant to just pick the right stuff and get started. But actually it's not. Tell me what kind of problem you see there.
Ben Sharf [00:02:21]:
Yeah, so I think it's a couple of things. There's analysis paralysis, to your point. There's a lot of apps out there a lot of themes out there. So a part of it is sifting through the noise and figuring out what you should be using. But the second piece to it is that a lot of the apps in the ecosystem, in our eyes, are features, not products. And so what that does to a brand owner is you get stuck paying for too many apps, dealing with too many support teams, and having a slower website from a bloated tech stack. And so what we've done over the last two years is we've natively built a lot of the most popular app functionality around marketing and conversion into a theme and app combo to be able to unify your support teams, unify your app stack, unify your expenses, and then when we layer in best practices around increasing your conversion and your average order value, we can actually quantify making you money and saving you money at the same time.
Claus Lauter [00:03:12]:
Let's dive a little bit deeper into it. So obviously there is a ton of apps out there that are wrong for a long time. Thousands of merchants are using them. But tell me a little bit about the problems there. So where does that lead to if you just follow that path?
Ben Sharf [00:03:25]:
As a brand owner, you have a couple of options when building and managing a storefront, right? So the first one is if you're not technical, you will pick like an off the shelf theme, and then you'll go to the App Store and you'll download an app every single time you want to add new functionality to your storefront. That's option one. Option two is you can hire an agency and if you're not technical and they build your store in a super custom way, you're effectively beholden to them. Every single time you want to make a change, you have to pay them to do it for you. Right. So part of this is you're either adding too much to your tech stack, which thus over time is going to decrease your conversion rate because you're going to have a slower website experience or you're going to choose a path that's super costly. And one of the issues is the further down that path you get, the harder it is to unwind it.
Claus Lauter [00:04:10]:
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Now, if you want to optimize your store, your website, and basically want to start from scratch, as you said, working with an agency, it's a project, it might take a long time and for sure will take a lot of money. Now, you came with better co on the idea on how to solve that problem. Tell me a little bit what your approach there is.
Ben Sharf [00:04:31]:
Yeah. So we've basically over the last two years have productized a lot of the work that goes into building a new storefront. And so what we often see with brands who are building new stores, when you go to an agency or you go to a freelance developer, they start from scratch and they're building everything. On day one, our brands, they benefit from the economies of scale in the sense that we've built over 40 app categories of functionality into our theme and our app combo. So on day one, you're getting access to all of that for the same price. So basically, the way that we think about it, and the reason that the name of the company is platter is we give you all this optionality in terms of what you can use and you craft your own experience and you pick and choose what you want to use. And the other piece of that too is that we scale our involvement up and down depending on what the brand is looking for, right? So we have some brands who come to us who have technical experience in house, who see the value in the operational efficiencies that you gain from using our platform. So we'll just give it to you and you can build on top of it.
Ben Sharf [00:05:31]:
We have others where we'll actually build the entire store from you. And then we have a hybrid option with some brands where we'll help them implement the first version of the store and then later on they might come back to us for some ad hoc work that we'll quote on an hourly basis and implement if they want. But we don't offer retainers like a traditional agency because our whole belief is that we can build on top of our own infrastructure faster and cheaper than anyone else. So it just benefits the brand to utilize it. But just from a holistic perspective, the goal of our business, like if we're successful a couple of years from now, we've debunked this myth that you need to spend six figures in twelve months building a storefront. So, like, as an anecdote for you, we had a brand that we just launched actually a few weeks ago. It was a celebrity backed brand and they had come to us and said they had an agency that quoted them one hundred k to build a store and it was going to take twelve months. We were able to do the entire store in under 60 days for less than $15,000.
Ben Sharf [00:06:30]:
We have some brands, some stores that have been implemented for a lot less than that as well.
Claus Lauter [00:06:35]:
Yeah. Who wants to wait for twelve months for their new store? So that seems a bit not doable. From my experience, by the time the.
Ben Sharf [00:06:43]:
Store is done, the next wave of new technology is already relevant, and so the stores are irrelevant at that point.
Claus Lauter [00:06:49]:
I 100% agree with you there. Now, from what you see, obviously you want to increase conversion rates, you want to increase aov, customer lifetime value, all of that. What are the most common apps out of the integrations that you already bring that a merchants need to start with? Obviously, starting with all 40 of them might be a little bit difficult. So you do it stage or step by step, which are the most important ones?
Ben Sharf [00:07:11]:
Yeah. So I think the one caveat is it obviously depends on what vertical you're in as a brand. What is your average ticket size? Because certain features and functionality work better depending on what your average card is. But if we're just speaking broadly, there's a couple of things that we've noticed when we think about how to increase your aov and conversion out of the gate. The first one is just like gamifying the experience for the customer across different parts of the store. So as an example, we have like a tiered bundle builder where it's like every time you add something to your cart and you hit like a new incentive threshold, it makes you want to continue to shop. Or adding a gamified incentive bar in your cart where it's like, oh, if I just add one more item to my basket, I might get like a free gift. The second piece to it is the cart experience itself is very important.
Ben Sharf [00:07:59]:
So that's both the cart drawer and the checkout experience. So we have a native cart drawer in our product and it's a slide out cart drawer. Because one of the biggest red flags when we talk to a brand is when they have a page load to get to their card experience. Because the way that we think about conversion is every incremental page load will result in a decrease in conversion. And so we have a native cart drawer, and then within that we have upsells, we have gift with purchase, we have the incentive bar, as I mentioned. And then when you actually click check out to go to the payment page, we have pre purchase upsells as well. So there's a lot of different options for upsells. We also have a native shoppable video feature that can live on product pages where you can have testimonials, influencer reviews.
Ben Sharf [00:08:43]:
We have a native mega menu that we really recommend to most brands because that really helps guide a consumer through the shopping experience. And as a brand, if you have strong creative or certain promotions that you want to push, you can use those assets as a means to guide your customer through the experience. I can keep going on and on, but those are some of the high level ones that we look at. I would say page speed is like the first thing we see. So number one, if you're on a Shopify 1.0 theme, you got to move to a 2.0 theme as soon as you can to be able to leverage checkout extensibility to make sure that your store is just faster. And then from there it's about continuing to make incremental improvements, right? So our belief as a business is you shouldn't have to hit a new revenue threshold and then tear down your entire store and start over. Because we oftentimes see like a brand will build a custom store, they'll get to a new threshold like well, this store doesn't suit what we're doing now that we're doing 20 million in revenue. So we got to start over.
Ben Sharf [00:09:40]:
Our belief is that you should continuously make incremental improvements and so our goal as a business is like to meet you where you're going and always be that partner along that journey. Because we have brands doing 100k in revenue and brands doing up to 70 million in revenue that are built on platter.
Claus Lauter [00:09:56]:
And now a quick break to thank the sponsors of today's episode.
Claus Lauter [00:09:59]:
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Claus Lauter [00:10:27]:
You also get a five star support.
Claus Lauter [00:10:29]:
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Claus Lauter [00:10:39]:
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Claus Lauter [00:11:05]:
What I hear there is that you're coming from the view of conversion rate optimization. A lot of things that you just were talking about are very common to me. So that makes perfect sense now, getting a store with a multiple number of apps from different developers into platter code, what's kind of the implementation process? Because you need to obviously bring data to what you have. How does that work?
Ben Sharf [00:11:31]:
Yeah, so if you're using our theme product, that's the thing we focused on the most. Because oftentimes the first point of contention you'll get from talking to a brand is like there's really high switching costs. Like you're asking me to retheme my whole store. But that's the thing that we've perfected where we can actually take your assets and your existing infrastructure and migrate that in days or weeks instead of months if you have certain apps that you use that aren't part of the platter stack. So one note is like everything we have, we build in house, we don't piecemeal together other apps in the App Store. It's all natively built. But again, I'd be naive to tell you that we're planning on doing everything that you can do on a store. So our theme has the ability to integrate with any other third party app the way that any other theme does.
Ben Sharf [00:12:18]:
And so the way that we operate is like, we'll look at your app stack, we'll give you our recommendations around the changes we would make to your store from a customer journey perspective to optimize for conversion and aov. And then from that we'll see, are there existing apps you're using where we have that functionality? Can we replace that? And then what are the apps you're using that you want to keep that will just layer in on top of our store or on top of a platter? Excuse me, for your store, do you.
Claus Lauter [00:12:45]:
Have some examples of case studies? You don't need to name the brands where you can talk about the KPIs. So basically, what kind of improvement did they see when they were switching to platter?
Ben Sharf [00:12:54]:
I'll give you one that I'm happy to disclose the brand because it's actually like on our website as a case study. But we worked with a supplements brand called Caged and they were basically working on an outdated theme on a store that they've had for like five years. And they basically got to the point where they were ready to move to a new store and so they were exploring different options. It was the same thing. They had an agency that told them it was going to take about eight months and it was going to be a six figure build, and we were able to go from signature to live on their store in under 60 days. And they saw a 45% increase in conversion rate, which effectively took them from a seven figure to an eight figure brand.
Claus Lauter [00:13:33]:
Well, that's an impressive number. I mean, 45%. You very seldomly hear anything like that. Usually when you're talking about increasing conversion rates, we are in the single digit area, like three, four, 5% more, something like that. And people are happy with that. We were talking about the implementation process. What's the onboarding? How do I get in touch with you guys? And then what are the different steps to get started?
Ben Sharf [00:13:53]:
Yeah, so in terms of getting in touch with us, you can go to platter dot co and sign up there. We don't have a fully self served product today, so you'll always interface with someone on our team. I would say it's a little bit more of like a white glove approach in the current state. The way that it works, we have two different offerings. So one we call the install only, which is for brands that have maybe less budget, but they know intuitively that their store can use improvement. That offering actually enables you to get a new store for zero upfront cost. So the way that that works is you fill out an onboarding form, you give us your assets and your requirements, and we'll actually build new design wireframes and build a backup theme and send it back to you. Which I think, to my knowledge, is one of the first times you can get an entirely new storefront that's built around best practices for conversion for zero upfront cost.
Ben Sharf [00:14:43]:
And then the second offering is more tailored towards the enterprise brands, where they have a little bit more of a vision around it being pixel perfect to exactly what they want. The way that that works is same onboarding, where they'll give us their design or their assets and their requirements, and we'll build a set of wireframes and then they can actually go through two rounds of design revisions with us until it's exactly what they want and then we'll implement the store for them. The difference there, and the reason that there's a bigger price tag associated, is because oftentimes brands with more budget will request certain changes that require customizations. So the idea is that our product can get you a lot further out of the box than most theme app combos can. But with some of these larger bespoke brands, they'll still have customizations that we don't have built natively into our product. Not that that's a problem. It obviously has a higher dollar figure associated with it. But from the perspective of efficiency, our most complicated brands, you're still looking at less than 60 days to go live.
Claus Lauter [00:15:46]:
No, that's speed of light. Is there any kind of homework the merchants have to do before they get started or get in contact with you?
Ben Sharf [00:15:53]:
There's no homework they have to do. Typically, it's much better for us to talk to brands that are genuinely curious about ways that they can improve their storefront. We actually offer a free audit up front where we'll break down your storefront for you and analyze each section. Like when we think about looking at an audit, we think of it through like a conversion funnel. So you have the different steps of the funnel and different features and pages that are associated with each step. And so in this audit, what we'll do is we'll actually break down each step of your funnel and explain to you where we would change things and why, and also the parts that you're doing great, that we would keep the way they are. And you actually get that for free up front. So if you want to just go to the website and sign up and click get started or request a free feature audit, you can get that.
Claus Lauter [00:16:35]:
Okay, that's a great idea to do that. I mean, that makes it very easy and you see what you get to a certain degree beforehand. Cool. Before we come to the end of the coffee break today, is there anything you want to share with our listeners that we haven't covered yet?
Ben Sharf [00:16:48]:
The last thing I would say just to brand owners is don't believe everything you hear. My advice is to make sure that you're getting multiple opinions about how to manage storefronts. I think one of the things we realize is a lot of brand owners in the space, they listen to their friend who also has a brand because they didn't know any different. And it's really like the challenge for software like us is just getting our product out there and in front of you. Because when you have a disruptive product, it's just like getting the eyeballs right. So to be able to get a new storefront that's high, converting that has functionality across 40 categories for zero upfront cost is definitely something that hasn't been available to the market to date. So we're just really excited to push this to the masses.
Claus Lauter [00:17:31]:
Yeah, I can definitely see the advantages and benefits of Platter Co. Ben, where can people find out more about you guys and how can they get in touch with you?
Ben Sharf [00:17:38]:
Yeah, so they can find us online at Platter Co. Our social handle is getplatter on every social and then you can reach me at Ben B-E-N at Platter Co. That's Pl atter Co.
Claus Lauter [00:17:53]:
Okay, excellent. I will put the links in the show notes and you just want to click away. Ben, thanks so much giving us an overview of Platter Co. As said, I think it's a great product. Makes lives from version so much easier unless you want to deal with 50 different apps in your store and every kind of headache that comes with it. Thanks so much for your time today.
Ben Sharf [00:18:09]:
Thanks for having me.
Claus Lauter [00:18:11]:
Hey Klaus here.
Claus Lauter [00:18:12]:
Thanks for joining me on another episode of the e commerce Coffee Break podcast. Before you go, I'd like to ask two things from you. First, please help me with the algorithm so I can bring more impactful guests on the show. It will make it also easier for others to discover the podcast, simply like comment and subscribe in the app you're using to listen to the podcast and even better if you could leave a rating. Secondly, please take a moment to check out today's episode sponsors. They play a crucial role in keeping the show in our newsletter available to you for free. Thanks again and I'll catch you in the next episode.
Claus Lauter [00:18:40]:
Have a good one.
Claus Lauter [00:18:42]:
Before you leave, don't forget to visit the sponsor of today's episode. Have you heard about partner Hero? They're experts in support on the e commerce industry, known for their outstanding team building skills. Their main pillars, quality people and culture makes them a great fit for your company. Learn more on partnerhero.com or click the.
Claus Lauter [00:18:58]:
Link in the show notes Loyalty lion is a leading loyalty platform helping Shopify brands rocket, rejoining customers with their own loyalty programs. With Loyalty lion, it's quick and easy to create a program that uses points and rewards to engage shoppers, secure more second purchases, and drive up lifetime value. Loyalty Line has been increasing returning customer rates for thousands of Shopify stores for over ten years. Visit loyaltyline.com to find out more. Find the link in the show notes.
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