Last week we headed up to Bristol to attend the first Shopify Retail Tour event to hit the UK. The Shopify Retail Tour is essentially an opportunity for Shopify Partners and Experts to meet store owners face to face. The event ran over two days, with daytime and evening programmes including sessions to help store owners get to grips with SEO, product photography, email marketing campaigns and more. Our particular favourite was the Growth Strategies & Hacks workshop where experts and store owners shared lots of neat ways to increase profitability and growth in small businesses. Further Retail Tour events will be hitting London and Manchester in the coming weeks so it’s an exciting time for the UK Shopify community.

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The event was held at the Arnolfini on the waterfront. Nice setting!

We took a few of the SwankyApple team – we met a few clients (some invited independently and some invited by us) and connected with a lot of other store owners from across the South West.

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Our Creative Director Matt and App Programmer Stephen Kelly sharing a bad joke.

Great food throughout. We were giving out coffee from our client Crankhouse Coffee – a local coffee roaster. We had launched their new store on Shopify the same week and it was great to be able to partner with one of our clients in this way.

Daytimes: we had an allocated space along with MailChimp, KIT (a promotional marketing natural language app) recently purchased by Shopify, and Quickbooks. We spent a lot of the day chatting to store owners – talked about the role of Shopify Experts (independent from Shopify) and what it means to be a Shopify expert – lots people curious about that. So many visitors had recently launched stores (w/in 12 months) and were lapping up the free advice. Lots of discussions about Shopify Plus and how it differs from Shopify – particularly what it offers in terms of checkout customisation functionality – we were of course happy to chat seeing as we’re Shopify Plus Experts. There were also some more established store owners looking for how to take their store to the next level, increase conversion rates etc.

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SwankyApple Director Dan McIvor and Matt Dimond of Bright Pearl shooting the breeze.

Also great to meet the Shopify Gurus – Shopify’s fabulous support staff – to find out more about their role and how we can better work together with them to serve Shopify store owners. They had come over from Ireland and had lots of good things to say about being employed by Shopify, which is always nice to hear.

Evenings: The first evening included a talk by Inspira Digital (North Devon) -in chatting with them and our Shopify chums it became apparent that our two agencies are 2 of just 5 European Shopify Plus Experts – and we’re both based in Devon, UK- talking about the Shopify Ecosystem and the relationship between clients, partners, gurus, experts etc. After their event we joined in for a sit-down Q and A. The goal of the evening was to host an informal discussion about how we ended up using Shopify originally, joining the Partner programme, becoming Shopify Experts and most recently Shopify Plus Experts. It’s been quite a journey and it was fun sharing some of our story with delegates.

If curious for specifics you can view the full Bristol schedule and other details here.

Shopify retail tour evening session

We fielded various questions – ranging from general entrepreneurial advice to the more specific. A few highlights from the Q and A include:

  • What kinds of services do you offer merchants? Why are you passionate about helping businesses?
    We offer an end-to-end service, with flexibility to cover everything from technology strategy consultation at the pre-brand stage of businesses, through to marketing with SEO and adwords for successful and growing stores. Since Shopify is such a fluid, rapidly growing platform with store owners at so many stages of development and growth we’ve shaped our service delivery so that our clients can get in touch at virtually any point in that journey and still benefit from the specific services which fit within their operations.
  • Why do you continue to use Shopify?
    We started using Shopify almost 5 years ago, building retail and trade stores for a national toy retailer – even though timelines were short and needs many, delivering the project on Shopify was a pleasure and so we haven’t looked back since. The positive, outward looking, outcome oriented philosophy that Shopify take in developing their software is reflected in the development community around it. We love how Experts, Partners and -most importantly: Shopify- all work together with a shared goal of making commerce better for everyone.
  • In the last year – what would be the main changes that you’ve seen in your business / commerce in general?
    This is the change, and the challenge: Entrepreneurialism and small business startups seem to be at an all time high. The internet, new communication tools, manufacturing technologies and innovative service startups are making it easier than ever for creative individuals and teams to design, manufacture, market and sell their own products. The middle man is on the way out. We think this is inspiring, exciting and healthy in many ways. However this also means that there are lots of small businesses with wild new products and ideas all competing for attention. There’s more than enough business to go around but being heard is difficult. An amazing product and website certainly doesn’t guarantee success.

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Overall it was fantastic to spend time with the wider Shopify community. We are really excited about where Ecommerce is going and it’s a privilege to play our part in that journey by sponsoring and attending events like the Shopify Retail tour.

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Great food and drinks on-tap throughout.

The Retail Tour has been running in North America for a while now, and it’s exciting that it’s now landed in the UK. We are exited to be working with Shopify, who are a company that always seem to find new ways to add value to the businesses which use their systems – with events like this really hitting the spot.

What Next for Shopify Retail Tour in the UK?

Manchester October 5-7, 2016 has just concluded (we weren’t there but look forward to hearing more from folks who were!) and the London Retail Tour kicks off for 3 days on October 11-13, 2016. We’d encourage store owners of all levels of experience to consider attending.

If you’re keen to attend the London event you can view more details and register here.

We’d love to be part of the Bristol event next year and we might even venture out of the South West to visit a couple of others. We’re also planning to attend Shopify Unite in San Francisco in April 2017, which is essentially the Shopify developer conference.

We’re also planning to get involved in more grass-roots type events in the South-West where Shopify users can connect with Experts etc. More information to follow shortly!

Written by EcommerceRVW
EcommerceRVW is a dedicated Ecommerce Blog bringing you regular ecommerce articles, reviews, case studies and guides. We're passionate about helping ambitious store owners take their business to the next level.