Episode 21: Building out a website with the user in mind

Episode 21 trellis marcus

On this episode of Retention Chronicles, we’re joined by Marcus Ohanesian, Partners Manager at Trellis, a full service eCommerce solution provider that specializes in implementing websites. Marcus talks to us about;

  • The differences between ecommerce platforms Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce

  • Auditing to have a baseline to completely understand the whole picture (and the tools to do so)

  • Different technology solutions to implement depending on vertical

  • Building out a whole website experience that appeals to a customer

  • Headless websites and optimization

Be sure to subscribe to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands at gomalomo.com. Try our free trial today!

Episode resources: Our CEO's presentation at the DTCX4 Conference, 1-800-DTC, Trellis blog, The Hard Truth About B2B podcast, Malomo agency program, Shopify Updates

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Mariah Parsons, Noah Rahimzadeh, Marcus Ohanesian

Mariah Parsons 00:03

Hello and welcome to Retention Chronicles, a podcast sponsored by Malomo, a shipment tracking platform that helps ecommerce brands turn order tracking into a profitable marketing channel. On this podcast, we welcome leading DTC brands and experts to chat about all things customer retention, and E commerce. We absolutely love highlighting all the amazing things that our customers are doing in the post purchase space. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out our website, go malomo.com. Maybe you'll even be featured on this podcast someday in the near future, who's to say, to help us continue to bring new guests and information to you, please be sure to subscribe to this podcast, wherever you like to listen. So on this episode of retention Chronicles, which will be our 21st episode of season one and our final episode for season one, so we're going to be kicking off season two in August, stay tuned for what that is going to look like. We're very excited for season two in that we've made it this far. Thank you all for who have listened. But let's get down to it. We have a great episode for our final season one episode, we're joined by Marcus Oh, hi nation, he is partner manager at trellis and trellis is a full service e commerce solution provider. So an agency that specializes in implementing websites, Marcus talks to us about differences between E commerce platforms between Shopify and Magento big commerce, which is really interesting, because, you know, most of the Shopify ecosystem is very, very well connected. But it's interesting to see the different advantages and disadvantages that lay in the other platforms. And Marcus also tells us about auditing, you know, when they get a customer as an agency, they they kind of poke holes, he'll he'll describe this in the episode, but they poke holes in the current strategy, they maximize what is currently working, they'll perform that audit to have a baseline so that they completely understand the whole picture, what tools they can implement, where to keep building on that picture and what tools they can take out to minimize some of the gaps and glaring issues that a merchant might have. Marcus also tells Noah and I about the different technology solutions. These can depend, you know, his his suggestions depend on the vertical and the brand, of course, but what they'll do is they will completely build out a whole website experience that appeals to the customer. So that each step along the way, you know, homepage doesn't make sense, the copy the graphics, the way that each section of the webpage is built out. Marcus walks us through what best practices he's seen, as well as headless websites and optimization. As far as website speed and data driven data back decisions, all that we walk through. So stay tuned. It's a very great episode and I hope you enjoy Hello, everyone, and welcome to retention Chronicles. Today we are joined by Marcus. Oh, honey Shin, thank you so much for being us. Being here with us today. Marcus, we are so thrilled to have you. First we're gonna kick it off. Can you give us your background? Share with us? Tell us what trellis is all about? That'd be great.

Marcus Ohanesian 03:45Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me here. So yeah, my name is Marcus. I am the partners manager over at trellis. My background personally is I come from a design background. So I went to school for it. And I have a little side freelance agency, where I do logo and branding design and WordPress and Shopify and stuff like that. And I kind of came into the Shopify space about three and a half, almost four years ago now when I joined the trellis team, and I started as a project manager, lead into an account strategist. And now I'm in the partners manager role here. So dealing with Shopify and Bigcommerce, and Malomo, and all of our third parties here. And trellis. Phyllis is a full service ecommerce agency and I'll say full service in air quotes because everyone's definition of full service is different. So we primarily focus on Shopify development. And we also have a creative and design team as well. So we have creative director, a couple of senior designers and a couple of junior designers as well. handling everything from brand strategy to UI UX design, and everything in between as far as design goes. We also have a marketing team that handles all of our PPC marketing. So Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Pinterest, all paid ads and things, as well as some organic SEO stuff. Dealing with, you know, analytics and Tag Manager and Search Console and all that good stuff. We've recently rolled out some clay vo manage email services as well. So we're starting to, you know, we've done plenty of services as far as campaigns and designs and all that stuff. But now we're, we're handling the monthly maintenance of that as well, no optimizations. A lot of our merchants come to us for development services, whether that's for a full build of a website and Shopify or that's, you know, a monthly retainer. And then we'll sort of help hopefully grow them into some of the other services and kind of cross pollinate to kind of offer them the gamut of what trellis can offer, you know,

Mariah Parsons 05:37

yeah, no, that's great. And that's why we're so excited to have you here. Just the all encompassing, all encompassing full strategy approach, I think is great, because like you, like you just said, there's different branches that obviously touch different parts of a company. And so whether building out like our entire storefront are coming in for a specific project. I can't wait to dive into all of those different aspects. And I do want to welcome Noah, again, our Director of Partnerships here at Malomo. He's becoming a frequent co host with me, so excited to be here, Noah. So let's let's dive into it. Like you just said you work with kind of different ecommerce platforms, specifically Shopify Malomo, we are very focused on the Shopify ecosystem. So because you are you also deal with these other platforms? Do you think there's any, like anything special about the Shopify ecosystem as a whole? I just love to get your opinion on that.

Marcus Ohanesian 06:39

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that's a loaded question. We do have, we are partners with Bigcommerce. And we do have some legacy like Magento, Adobe commerce clients. One of my core focuses has always been Shopify. And that's definitely been a core focus for trellis as well. The the general vague answer to that question is, yes, but it's dependent on the merchants requirements, right? And that you can apply that to so many different things. So not every client, not every merchant is going to be a good fit for Shopify, they are pretty all encompassing, right? Like for a startup that wants to get their ecommerce store set up all the way to the million billion dollar merchants and stuff, right. But there are some specific advantages that you know, big commerce for other platforms may have and again, it's specific on the merchants needs. Again, I'm drinking the Shopify Kool Aid over here. So I'm a big fan of always recommending Shopify because it does a lot it will probably take care of 99% of your needs. And especially with different third party apps and things like that, but even just out of the box, you know, as a startup, even a small to midsize business it's it's super easy to get get up and running or even kind of optimize and kind of jumpstart your your ecommerce Shopify journey, you know,

Noah Rahimzadeh 07:56

what our markets, some of like the fringe cases where you would at least recommend that brands take a look at the other ecommerce platforms. And just to like, preface that question a little bit, we're drinking the Shopify Kool Aid 100% Like we don't, we don't even work with brands that aren't on Shopify. So your major Shopify brands, but I'm just curious, from your perspective to get some sort of diversity going here. What are those fringe cases?

Marcus Ohanesian 08:29

Yeah. So when we look at projects, or you know, me, personally, I'm looking at kind of a full scope, right? So a client comes to us and says, it's not just hey, we need to, we need a redesign of our website. Cool. That's one section of the so w in the scope, right? There's, there's how are they managing inventory? There's, are you going to do b2b versus b2c Or both right. And all of those specific scenarios required different use cases and technical requirements and tools and things that will power all that. So me personally, and I've always kind of had this thought, and definitely, it may change my mind, based off what Shopify just released, with all their new updates for summer. But b2b has always been a little bit of a weak spot in the Shopify world. For me, it's always seemed a little like a workaround. I don't even want to say hack, because it still works, but a workaround of using an app using customer tags to power specific pricing and groups and things like that. And they've they've tried, and they've attempted a couple of different platforms and tools and updates and things. So it seems a little bit more promising now, but I'd say big Commerce has some really powerful b2b functionality. And then in general, I think any sort of ERP and sort of back end like Back Office tools and things like that, that's where you get into more of the technical like, getting the solutions diagram all mapped out of what's connecting to what who's talking to Shopify and all those things and things like that. That's potentially where things can get held up in this To apply space, and then one that just popped into my head is sort of the checkout. So if there's specific requirements, right, and you know, if you're on Shopify Plus, Shopify gives you a little bit of flexibility, right, you can add in certain things. And some tools may or may not work within the checkout. But if there are specific requirements for the merchant for a checkout process, then that may or may not be the best fit on Shopify versus another platform.

Noah Rahimzadeh 10:26

Okay, quick follow up to that. With that sort of, if you given all of your experience working with Shopify, I'm sure you've identified some gaps for ecommerce brands, you know, B to C. What would be like top of your list that you would love to see Shopify sort of improve upon? Would it be that checkout or something else?

Marcus Ohanesian 10:49

Yeah. So I think a lot of people hate that Shopify restricts the checkout. I actually like it, I think that they have methodically done that or intentionally have done that, because they've, you know, been tested. So it works. And I think that they're selected that they've probably curated just enough flexibility, and just enough access to do what we needed to do. I guess that will go back to my original point of b2b. I think that's a really missed opportunity. And I know I'm sure if someone at Shopify is listening or, you know, other people have opposing opinions, I love to have conversations with them to understand, especially now I will be totally transparent and honest, I haven't had a chance to dig into those new updates that they just released. So again, I could be wrong, what's coming in the pipeline, but I would say that there's a lot of missed opportunity there or, you know, redirection rather to a potential different platform because of that, because of the b2b requirements. Also, the on the same side of it is the variants, limit the variant restrictions. So in Shopify, forget what how many it is. But they restrict how many variants you can have for product. So product architecture as a whole is pretty awesome and pretty flexible, and really robust and powerful, and Shopify, but there are a few little like quirks that have also kind of said, well, that's the deal breaker, we have to go to a different platform because of that. So again, it's it's a very rare use case, like I mentioned, like Shopify does a really good job of covering the gamut. But there are those rare use cases where it's like, well, Shopify doesn't do this very well, they do it, but they don't do it very well. Or it's really just, you know, what's best fit for the merchant again?

Mariah Parsons 12:31

Yeah, do you find a lot of like, in terms of the timeline, when a merchant is coming to you in the chalice team? Is that usually when they are built, like at the very beginning, looking to build out their entire storefront? Or is it? Or do you? Is it kind of hard to say like, do you kind of get like a split among when, you know, your different clients will come to you?

Marcus Ohanesian 12:53

Yeah, that's a great question. It's kind of all over the map, we so we, we have a specific offering called the growth spark package. And it's a little bit of a easier entry into the into the market, basically. So it's a very defined scope of work. It's a very defined set, as far as budget and timeline goes. So you get this theme, you get these specific apps, it's a shorter timeline to get at launch. And it's a good entry point. That's obviously for a lot of smaller businesses and startups, and even some midsize businesses that want a little bit of refresh. And we get that up and running and obviously helped grow with them into increasing their online revenue and growing them into different departments and things like that. But trellis deals with a lot of larger enterprise clients as well. So again, it spans from the Grossberg package all the way up to billion dollar merchants that we're helping to manage and grow with Shopify space. And again, their, their approaches and campaigns and strategy behind everything they do are separate from each other, you know, so it really helps that trellis has like a well rounded team. Because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, right? Like we all have our, our core things that we specialize in. And for me, obviously, it's looking at all of the conversion optimization tools out there or increasing the order tracking experience, right? Like, those are all things that I can come to my team and say, Hey, I don't know if you guys new project manager on the Shopify site. But Malomo has a cool tool that does this, this. And here's a potential client that I think they can really use that for, and then taking that strategy or an approach and applying it to all the different types of product review tools out there, right, or the different, you know, upsells and cross sell tools. So that's where I know that I can come in and help provide that valuable strategy to my team. I think a kind of everyone kind of needs to have a little piece of the puzzle because we have clients kind of all over the map at different stages of their their career, you know

Noah Rahimzadeh 14:49

that that's awesome. I feel like the the idea of like bundled packages around Shopify and the apps is super fascinating to me, like when you think about a golden age Shopify stack and being able to sort of like productize it from an agency perspective to the point where it's like plug and play. Obviously, you know, selfishly, for me, a huge goal is to make sure that the Lavaux is at least considered if not the preferred order tracking solution. And those sort of golden stacks, especially for like top tier agents, and it's like, like trellis. But I'm curious, from a partnerships perspective, how to, do you sort of like resell those third party apps? Or do you have clients sign up for them directly? And then you take over the management? Like, what's the expectation from from like, an SMP perspective of what you own and what you need to the clients to own. And if you want to speak about sort of what the technology vendors own as well, that was sort of rounded out?

Marcus Ohanesian 15:52

Yeah. So you know, assuming that we have a partner partnership agreement in program in place, it's a little of both, sometimes they'll come in, and they'll have no idea. You know, they're not as technology savvy, or they're not within the Shopify Ecommerce space to know, which is hence why they're coming to us as the experts. So they're looking for our guidance to say, hey, they say, Hey, we want to do this. And then we kind of map out what the technical solution look like, in includes using these two or three apps to complete that. So it could just be, hey, sign up using this, you know, we might get a demo, or you know, get in touch with our partner manager, do a demo, and they'll sign up using our link, right, so we get the referral. But we definitely, like doing the ongoing strategy, right. So we, and that's sort of my role, too, is to be inclusive to all of our merchants and making sure that I understand what tools they're using to make sure that we're so they understand the value of each. So making sure that we're doing quarterly audits of all of our tools and apps, internally, but also with all of our merchants and stuff. So and then the opposite end of that is, you know, a client already has had a successful Shopify site, they're looking to grow and optimize a little bit more, they're coming to Trello to get, you know, a development team and the design team on retainer, basically. So then we'll usually start with some sort of technical audit, right. So we're buying an existing car, right, like we're buying a used car, we have to look under the hood, to see how that car runs just like the site. So we didn't build the theme, we always start with technical audit, and that unfolds all the tools and things that they're using. And that will kind of help drive some of the conversation of where we need to go. Or if we can save them money by using another tool, right, that accomplishes the same or that just buys their other tool out. And they save money and it's a better user experience or cuts down on some operational time internally on them, then that my rolls come to the table with that sort of those key, those key strategic metrics there.

Noah Rahimzadeh 17:51

And in doing, I'm sure, you know, like hundreds of audits over time, if not 1000s of chalices is are there any, like key areas of the stack or these ecommerce marketing programs that, you know, even like the bigger, bigger merchants that you would expect to sort of have everything filled out? Sort of like are missing? Like, is there something where, you know, merchants come to you and, you know, eight times out of 10, or seven times out of 10? You can be like I bet, you know, they probably don't have this thing? And it's very perplexing why they don't?

Marcus Ohanesian 18:28

Yeah, that's a that's a delicate question. No. You put me in a position where I don't want to throw anyone under the bus. No, but it is a really good question. Because it does. There are of course polls, you know, with all the partners, and that's sort of what I'm slowly learning to every partnership, every partner program is different between all of the vendors. So obviously, you can think of like some of the top contenders have like, besides the platforms like Shopify, right? But you know, there's like gorgeous and clay, VO and iapo. And, you know, recharge and ribeye and those types of tools, right. And they, they're all amazing people and have great partnership programs and things. And sometimes when we have merchants come in, right like another agency or someone develop their site. They come to us for retainer services or, or rebuild. You know, sometimes there isn't a proper upsell cross sell tool, and that's where rebuy can come in, right? Or they're using another subscription platform. And they they don't see the value of what recharge can can offer, right. Like I said, that's sort of my, my goal is to cross pollinate, right? So see why they're using the tool first, and audit that and understand the strategic approach of why they chose that. And it could just be like, Oh, we just did a Google search. We found it in the Shopify app store and it was cheap enough, like okay, well then let's let's dive into that a little bit more because you could either spend a couple of dollars more and get such a more powerful robust app or or the same you know, there's there's more reputable apps and you know, the app store this 1000s of apps out there. So that's kind of what clients value us for is coming to the table and saying, We're trusted partners with these people, we meet with them on a monthly or weekly basis. Like, we have a handful of clients already using them, here's some links, check it out, look at their user experience. And I think that's, that's key in that. That's that proactive strategy that clients don't typically get with a lot of other agencies. So we always try to hone in on that. And I was doing that as a project manager as an account strategist. And now obviously, as a partners, manager, to always keep in touch with the merchant to let them know what's going on. Because no one has the time, if they're a merchant to keep up with all the cool stuff that all every single one of our partners is doing. Right. So I don't even know if I answered your question on that. To be honest.

Noah Rahimzadeh 20:50

There was a tough one, I think he did a great job. For I'm gonna let you jump back in here in a second. But I do have one, one quick follow up. So like, obviously, Shopify ecosystem, and now with the App Store being what it is 1000s of apps like, how do you it? I guess, do you proactively look for new apps and like innovative technologies that you can integrate into stack and bring your clients? Or is it more sort of opportunistically presented, like, for example, you and I got connected because we were on a podcast episode, believe it with, with Chase at recharge when we were in Santa Monica, for charge x. And so you know, based on your discussion around retention, it made sense that we connected, but I'm curious if that's sort of normal, and like it's opportunistic, or you actually go look for look for new apps? And if so, like, how, how do you sort through the CEO? In infinite amount of solutions out there?

Marcus Ohanesian 21:52

Yeah, it's right now we have in our internal partners database, we have hundreds of partners, and some of them, you know, we ranked them obviously, we have our tears, right. Some of them are just sort of recommendations, it could just be a cool Shopify app that doesn't have a partner program, right. But we don't want to forget about them saves us the time of doing the research, and Googling and whatever. And then all the way up to like our gold partners, right. And I think it's mainly, like, you'd hear about it, right? We're all in the industry, we get the email newsletters, we read blog posts, we see social posts, like we go to conferences, we end up seeing these names, even if it's just being sponsored on an event, right? We like I had no idea what Malomo was, that's perfect example, I guess, right? But being that we're all in this ecosystem, and this little network, we eventually find out about this. And same thing with a lot of the newer tools that are coming out, you'll eventually cross paths with them, I feel like, I'm not really like doing a lot of Googling and like, outreach, you know, it's been a lot of inbound stuff, because we just have such a huge partners database already. And we're actually trying to take them out of there to really hone in and like, get the valuable ones and make sure that like, you know, we get get it down to like 100 partners or something like that. And we have ongoing relationships with them. And we're actively working towards growth with each other, versus just adding new partners in there. So as I came into the partners manager role, I was very hesitant. I don't even know if I said this email to you guys. Yeah, about like, be having our partnerships on hold and stuff. You know, like, I don't want to take on any more partnerships, because we just have an abundance. So I need to kind of filter and sift through them all. So I've been hopping on demos, and I don't want to shoot anyone down, right? Like we I want to learn what's out there. Because again, if there's a better tool, my due diligence to learn about that and empower myself and empower the rest of the trellis and empower our client and merchant and understand that as well. So but now it's now it's getting to the point where it's like overwhelming how many tools are out there. So I'm always getting hit up on LinkedIn. Especially when I put the partners manager title in my LinkedIn. There was an influx of DMS in my LinkedIn. And I don't I'm not a huge fan of the cold emailing cold messaging on LinkedIn personally.

Mariah Parsons 24:05

Yeah, no, that's, that's great. No, did you want to do you have another follow up?

Noah Rahimzadeh 24:09

Or? No, I was just gonna say, we're, I think, Marcus, I mentioned this to you. We're sort of revamping our partner program right now. And so I'm doing a bunch of, I'm not doing the cold messaging thing, when I am connecting with a lot of agencies on LinkedIn, and more of like a passive aggressive, I'm not going to blow you up on LinkedIn, because I agree, that is so annoying. But hopefully you see my announcement feed, you may you may maybe get an email if I'm lucky enough to get personally connected, but happy to get that feedback from you because I'm on the same page and I was kind of on the fence like, should I go? Should I message them, you know, initially with the with the connection request, with some information about the program and I sort of decided against it so happy to hear your validation there.

Marcus Ohanesian 24:57

Yeah, yeah, I mean, I'm all ears. I I love meeting people. And I love talking with people especially, I'm a creator, I guess you can kind of, say at the, at the core parts of of being a designer and, and, you know, coming up if you're building a partner program or if you're you have this, this new thing I want to learn about it, but maybe the timing just isn't right right now, you know. So I'm not trying to say that I'm, I'm rude to people on LinkedIn by any means. But timing, timing is key and important in all aspects.

Mariah Parsons 25:26

That yeah, I mean, this is real time learning, right? Like, that's what this is all about. So absolutely. Get your opinions on that. Hopefully now, too. I mean, people are reaching out left and right on LinkedIn after listening to this podcast. Let's see what the breakdown is on that one. I do want to ask, though. So I think your background is so interesting, in that you have a lot of different perspectives and opinions. And now in this partnership role, you can have kind of like that more the overview of different technologies all working together. But in terms of when you're going to a merchant and advising, like looking at one technology versus another. Do you have any? Or can you share any insight into like what data metrics you're like focusing on so like, we work closely with recharge and rebuy? You mentioned both of them, like gorgeous as well. So like, I guess, if it's easier to break it down by a vertical and give an example there. What like, what optimization Are you looking for? Is it like specific percentages? Or is it based off of like, goals that the merchant themselves set or that sets? What can you kind of give us more insight into that? Yeah. All that that data science analytics?

Marcus Ohanesian 26:41

Yeah, absolutely. Again, it's going to be dependent on who the client and the merchant is, right? That's okay. Yeah, yeah. And no, I'm sure I'm gonna sound like a broken record. Because this was on that I mentioned this on the recharge podcast that we were on with Chase. But it really depends on their industry vertical, as far as personalization goes. So that's just obviously one approach you can take to conversion optimization, right. But when clients come to us, specific tools work better. So I guess like, you can kind of think of octane for a product quiz, right? So that works really well with what's your skin type, right? So if your skin beauty care brand, right, like Octane is a no brainer, that the easy way to go through five questions for the user to go through five questions, and then have a recommended product given 10% Discount there and convert them into a customer, you know, and then that's thanks to clay VO, you know, the domino effect after that. That's one example of sort of like the industry, in the type of client kind of dictating what tool would work best. Obviously, a product was may not work best for some of the other verticals. So that's just one example of a tool. I think going along with analytics and metrics, we always like to get access to Google Analytics, right, and obviously, getting access to their Shopify store, we have their analytics tool as well. So we always kind of do a deep dive of that, just like we look under the hood, for the technical audit that we do on clients come to us, if they have an existing site, we always look at the analytics, and even involve our marketing team kind of ad hoc to do you know, an hour or two or so or more of helping us kind of helping the project manager helping whoever the main stakeholders on our side to go through analytics, and just, you know, obviously, we can say, okay, mobile is probably going to be very popular, right? Where are they coming from? What are the demographics, like, all the basic analytics stuff, to make those data driven decisions, right? So we have our own gut instincts, because we know what worked best for some other clients and other merchants. And we can kind of keep that in the back of our head, but looking at their actual analytics, it will, it'll show what's doing really well, right? So we can lean into that more, and build that out and scale it to some of the other products, more landing pages, whatever it may be. But also, it pokes holes in what isn't working well. And that's sort of where we can come in, and bring the strategy to say, hey, is great, you guys are doing this stuff really well. That's working out great. And using these, these tools in a lot of success. But where we can help is I'm just being general and vague here. But you know, you can kind of say we're looking and we're seeing a low conversion rate on these people are dropping off on this page, let's really deep dive into that. So using tools like you know, hot jar, Lucky Orange or any screen recording tool like that, you can kind of see a lot of the the analytics there. So it's definitely a lot of the analyzation that comes from it. And then making those data driven decisions based off who, who they are. But you know, a lot of based off their business goals too. It's like, part of my role as an account strategist before was to have these like zoomed out monthly or quarterly meetings with clients and say, enough of the day to day like, that's what your project manager, I'm your contractors, let's zoom out and like let me know what your goals are in the next three to six months and how we can help support you. So your new product launches, content creation, whatever it may be. Right. Again, every merchant has their own goals. So I'm always thinking from a technology standpoint, again, they may not know what tools could help them accomplish their goals. So we always just like to listen, take it back to the team, and strategize together. And then obviously, we get more billable work out of our merchants because of that. And we're being proactive with it, we're not being reactive of them saying, hey, fix this bug, fix this thing. We're kind of coming to the table saying, we heard you had issues with this, or you really want to grow this part of your business. So subscription program, whatever it may be. And that's where we can kind of chime in with our strategic advice.

Mariah Parsons 30:36

Yeah, no, that that's very helpful to understand. I know, of course, obviously, there are differences between each different brand is going to look a little bit different. But I love that piece about being proactive, rather than reactive and Malomo, we definitely stand by that as well, you know, like, just in terms of communications with your customer, and making sure that you are very thorough in your analysis. And just from Yeah, you know, like trellis, the way that you approach kind of like, all those different audits and like looking under the hood, and making sure that wherever, you know, you can maximize how that space and be proactive is definitely I think, the preferred method. And so they're not It happens every time that's usually up in the air. That I yeah, I appreciate that perspective. And so with that, what are can we dive into, like, the actual strategies that you can build out for, like, different scenarios? So set? Like what would be? Obviously Malomo, we're really concentrated on like the user experience and how the customer feels at each touchpoint. So how would you if they're, if say, there's a brand that you're working with that they're just starting out? What would you recommend for in terms of like, starting to build out their customer experience like front? What's taking taking that step back? Where do you say like, Okay, you need to make sure you do this, this, this and this with your customers so that they have that seamless customer experience?

Marcus Ohanesian 32:11

Yeah, that's a great question. It's pretty loaded. There's lots of different angles, so we can go down.

Mariah Parsons 32:17

They're coming after? Yeah, you know? Yeah, I love it.

Marcus Ohanesian 32:20

I love it. Yeah, there's a lot of areas and again, kind of depend on the client, right? But you got to have the foundation in place. So again, zoom out and get the foundation in place and get the core and the structure and the bones in place, then optimize on top of that, right? So if your theme, if your speed or performance of your Shopify theme is horrible, especially on mobile, right, then let's work in that first before you start adding upsells and cross sells and releasing a subscription program and all this sort of stuff, right? So that's key, we do a lot of the audits from a technical audit, like looking at the code speed and performance audit, Ada, accessibility audit, a UI UX audit, which is kind of just all encompassing, you know, kind of taking a look at the site, and coming to the table with some suggestions and recommendations. And then there's specific ones like a subscription program audit, right? So it's mainly focusing on that side of the business. And we we work with partners like recharge and stuff like that to kind of CO strategize it, you know, I think a couple couple of high level touch points is one, keeping your site super simple. A lot of brands tend to over overcomplicate not just the design, the UI and the UX side of it, but the messaging. So even the content on the page, like the homepage is overwhelming, right? There's no call to action there. We don't even you know, your brand name could be something funky, like Google, right? or something's wrong, where it doesn't say what you do, right. But then they're already diving into the product pitch without talking about a little bit of the brand and the mission and the values, and then having that combined brand experience with the E commerce experience. I mean, personally, I feel like that's a good balance to have for the homepage, specifically right for obtaining a new customer. Because you want to understand their perspective, right? Someone that's never heard of it. Heard of your brand. So that kind of leads into the product page, I guess, right? So say there, they've gone through the process homepage directly into the product page or collections, the product page, right. The PDP is obviously it's probably the most important page on your Shopify store for multiple reasons, one, SEO, so really looking at your product descriptions, product titles, specifically, but product descriptions to really hone in on using keywords but intentionally not obviously fabricating it. Someone was someone else's make a joke the other day back in the day in the Twitter's of the website, you have like web design, Massachusetts web designers, and it was like a chunk of SEO tech that you'd like put, some people would even cheat and put like black text on a black background. And it was just like this hacky way. I don't know I'm dating myself because I was like back in the day In the early 2000s, but having your PDP search engine optimized with the product descriptions, and then you know, below the fold, right, so you have your images, your title, your quantity selector at ARPA and little product description, and then you might see like a free tab section under that, right? Where you might even see some icons. So we've been doing a lot of optimizations of that to call out, you know, are there eco friendly initiatives that your company stands for with that specific product? Is there eco friendly ingredients, right, or some of the stats and analytics that can be translated visually into an icon, that helps break up the content. So you're not putting all of that into chunky text in the product description, right. And then, you know, adding in some social proof. So obviously, having product reviews somewhere, usually at the bottom of the page, but sometimes even having some user generated content, pulling in from Instagram, or wherever, or video testimonials, right? Videos, obviously very engaging, there's lots of different content to put in, but keeping it in check in line to be not overwhelming, and really go back to the core of your brand. And the product, it should always kind of those are the kind of the two pillars, right. And there needs to be that like happy medium, and that balance between the two. So it's not all sales, the product, here by this by this, and it's not all brand talking and not talking about the products and vice versa, you know. So the other side of it is product, so homepage, the product page. And then going from the product page to the cart and the checkout, right, those are different touchpoints. So upsells, and cross sells, we can use as an example. Right? So doing that hastily, because no one wants more pop ups in a modal window, right, they have to x out that you don't want. So there's implementation ways to approach that. So tools, like ribeye, kind of do it very eloquently, where it's implemented very strategically and intelligently. But it's also done on the personalization side of things. So they're a really good tool that integrates a personalized experience. And really, really important upsells, and cross sells. So we're not just adding more fluff and more crap into the page, taking away from the user experience, right. And again, that's on the homepage. But you know, also the PDP, the cart and the checkout, even post purchase as well, on the order confirmation page. So those are all important touch points, I'd say that, like, once you get the foundation in place, then we can really work on improving and optimize that. And really like setting the expectation with our merchants that it's a long term play to like, we're going to do these updates. And we're gonna go through a design process and maybe development process and talk about the strategy, make sure we're all aligned, we're going to launch it, implement it. And then we're going to look at do a little bit of a retrospective, you know, three to six months down the line and see how those are performing. Like I said, look at the analytics and make data driven decisions based off those updates, a B test things, right, those are all important to look at,

Mariah Parsons 37:56

ya know, that makes a ton of sense, would you say like you you'd says three to six months, like that's usually when you're looking at those, like giving that timeframe to really like, say you do a whole new, you know, whole new website redesign, like, you want to make sure that you get at least enough time. So would you say like, on average, you guys are usually looking at like three to six months out once all development and design and implementation has done?

Marcus Ohanesian 38:21

Yeah, I'd say initially, I mean, if we're talking right out, you know, post launch of the new site, we're definitely looking at it in that first month, make sure everything's obviously firing properly, right, with all the event tags and everything, making sure that data is feeding in properly. But yeah, every month, we're we're looking at our monthly retainer budgets with our clients. So we always want to make sure that we're again, proactively coming to the table with these things are working really well. Or let's AB test some other things because this isn't working well. And again, it's it's I guess, to answer your question, it should probably be every month, but every three to six months is more of like the long term initiatives to make sure we're understanding the trajectory of it, you know,

Mariah Parsons 39:01

right. Like before you start making changes kind of Yep. Yeah,

Noah Rahimzadeh 39:05

exactly. Question mark is when you so you kind of talked about the foundation, obviously being super important before you start thinking about enhancements. I'm curious, what's the foundations laid? You've got the store up, you know, events are firing correctly? What is their typical, like, first thing that you always like to add? To kick things off and sort of make that first that first jump? Like, maybe it's support via gorgeous or product tracks via ribeye? Like, what is typically what you like to think about is like the lowest hanging fruit that you can, that you can get started with in terms of building on top of that foundation.

Marcus Ohanesian 39:48

Yeah, great question. So I think for us because we're, a lot of clients come to us for development services, right. We're very technical focused. So speed and performance will probably be number one, making sure that you're mobile optimized. Again, looking at the data, I'm sure it's going to say that most of your users 80%, or something is coming from mobile. So really focusing on that experience, and doing multiple tests to see how pages load, and really using the audit to do that a lot of the remediation work. Again, some clients that came to us because they need ADA remediation services, right, so completely different. But we ended up continuing to work with them on development retainer services as well, you know, and obviously, with color contrast, and things like that, that dives into a little bit of the creative design side of things, too. I think getting the core foundation of the theme, especially with shop choice, Shopify 2.0, stuff that came out, not even recently, now it's been out for a while, but all of their themes are, the 2.0 themes are really great foundation, they'll load really well. They're great to build on top of as well, which we've done a few taking, like the DOM theme, for example, and building on top of it. That's, you know, that's the the meat and potatoes of your of your site is the theme, essentially, you know, so starting there, because a lot of the add ons and the apps, and the tools are, I don't want to say nice to haves, because some of those are essential, like you said, gorgeous, but you know, getting a live, live chat kind of support program in place, but making sure that the merchant can support that as well. Right. So not just getting not just throwing a bunch of stuff on there. And then people are sending messages and not getting replies, obviously, that's a bad user experience, you know. So checking in with the client to work on a lot of that. So that was part of, again, my role as a strategist doing an audit, like an all encompassing holistic audit of your site, looking at your app, and saying, Alright, cool, you guys are doing this. But did you know you could be doing using gift cards using this other tool like valo, or rise that AI? Or, you know, obviously checking off the core boxes of once you get start to get sales? Make sure you're getting the reviews in there. So we use it for your product reviews, you know, what's your email campaign look like? Right? Like, what's your email strategy look like? Hopefully, they're in the strategy there. And also, what's your SMS strategy? Because a lot of merchants still don't see the value behind estimate. So are you talking about the opcode, SMS bump, or attentive or any of those tools out there? There are so many tools out there that do so many different things. But I'd say like all those are like the nice to haves. Just getting the theme in place first. And it sounds like a no brainer. It sounds like Well, yeah, we're gonna get a team in place that right, like that's, that's literally how our site's gonna launch. But you'd be surprised how many people kind of jumped the gun on that, you know, and then kind of optimizing it with all the proper tools in place. Search and filtering is probably another missed opportunity. Which, you know, you can really scale it up to get something like algo LEA or search string, something that's really powerful, robust. And obviously, there's a little bit of a price tag associated with it because of that, so may not be ideal for the startup or the smaller to midsize businesses, but even just kind of using a lot of the robust Shopify functionality, but really honing in on that collections page to make sure that the user can drill down to size and color and whatever other variants you have for your products. You know, I think that's super important.

Noah Rahimzadeh 43:14

Yes, yeah, there's a lot to unpack there. We shameless plug, we are very big fans of the Shopify 2.0 themes, we actually released Malomo v map. So for any brands on Shopify two point no, they can just sign up for Malomo, grab an API key and then drop in a tracking block on any one of their pages using that the map. Again, only caveat is they have to be on Shopify 2.0. But it allows us now for the first time basically to have like a true product like growth motion, because because of how simple it is. Literally can get started just like any other theme right on onto point now, but it's not specific to Malomo. But in order tracking it is like literally get an order tracking page set up in 10 minutes or less, and then drop other, right like to point out things in there, like rebuy, so you could have a rebuy widget on your tracking page in 20 minutes. And now you've got product recommendations in your post purchase experience pretty cool stuff. And we're starting to see brands like do that on their own, which is cool, because in the past, we've done a lot of the hope building of pages and hosting on our end. But now that brands are sort of have the ability to take control. And they're actually thinking about, like, how can we integrate the rest of our stack into the order tracking experience? Super cool to see that they're sort of taking that, taking that on their own and thinking through that without, you know, the need for like somebody like us. And I think a lot of times too, it's their agencies who are supporting those initiatives, which makes it even better because you obviously have like a much more holistic view of all of the other initiatives across across the merge And so we're working well together. Yeah. Just real quick with like the speed and optimization being big focus. I'm curious if you've done any work on the headless front end, what you're sort of stance is there?

Marcus Ohanesian 45:15

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we definitely have a, have done a few headless sites here. We have a whole department, we acquired a headless agency, actually, they probably, I don't even know when, when the time was maybe about a year ago, might even be less than that. But yeah, super powerful agency that we've hired on to bring on some of the specific developers and sort of a head of head of the strategy. So using tools like Shogun, the headless version of that, as well as Contentful. And a couple other tools. Again, it's really dependent on updating your site, you know, speed and performance helps, right with headless, we have a headless site for our WordPress, our trellis Dotco. And it works great. And like I said, it's really just dependent on if you have multiple Shopify sites, right, or what your architecture looks like. So if you have a US site versus a Europe site, or Canada or wherever else, maybe a good example there, I'm definitely not an expert in the headless world. That's why we have the team that we acquired. But I think there's definitely a use case for it. But I think it's also a bloated buzzword, and then in the industry now that it's this new, shiny object syndrome, right? It's this new toy that's came out where everyone wants to get this headless site. But as we bring our solutions strategist into our discovery phase with the client, and they say, yep, we want to have this play. And we kind of poke and prod and ask the right questions. And eventually, we have this solution as diagram and you know, the s, O W, and all the things that come out of our discovery, we on on, unfold and reveal to the client like headless isn't the right move for your you know, you probably heard about it on a podcast or something like and you think is this cool thing that you need, but we're actually going to save you a ton of money and accomplish the same thing. And here's why. And here's how we do it, and kind of unpack it. So there's pros and cons, just like any new tool or solution that comes out, you know?

Mariah Parsons 47:17

Yeah, no, that makes a ton of sense. I'm sure No, ask because we have our Malomo. JS, which supports headless. And so it makes a lot of sense. But to hear that, you can have different ways that for each merchant, you know, you can it headless? If it's for you, it's for you. And if it isn't, then it isn't. And there's other solutions out there. I'm sure that's just as motivational, because I do think you know, something new comes out. And of course, like you said, the shiny new syndrome. You can't but help be intrigued and want the best of the best. And usually we equate best, as new and so definitely interesting to hear your perspective on that. And I know we're coming up on time, we're very close, one of the things that we love to do love to ask is resources. So this can be any resource that you would recommend whether it's, you know, specific to Shopify, or specific to anything in, in general that you want. But what are some resources that you go to, you know, when you're looking to learn about, I don't know, whatever, whatever it may be tech stack or anything?

Marcus Ohanesian 48:28

Yeah. Let's see. I'll pull I'll pull some out of a hat right now randomly. So I think I think it was gorgeous. That has DTC EC, DTC x.io. Right. Yes, they huge, huge community for a bunch of events. That's been great. Anytime they have events that sound somewhat relevant or interesting, I should sign up and try to join it if not, you know, watch the replay. But they've been great building that community around ecommerce. And some of their summits and events have been really powerful. And I've learned a lot. So that's definitely a great resource. If you haven't heard of it, or join any of the events. Also DTC related, I just came across the one 800 dtc.com. You guys

Mariah Parsons 49:11

come on the podcast actually. Oh, cool.

Marcus Ohanesian 49:13

Awesome. Yeah, that's they, I think I just stumbled upon it. But it's so cool. It's such a great showcase of really awesome Shopify sites and obviously, mapping out all the tools that they use, right. So you don't have to use like the built with Chrome extension to kind of look at what's under the hood there. So that's pretty cool. And then shamelessly plug the trellis.co/blog at the trellis blog. We put a lot of tips. Talk about the state of the industry. Talk about our opinions, whether you want to hear about them or not. And then our CEO Isaiah has a b2b podcast called The hard truth about b2b. So he has a bunch of episodes that interview people in the b2b space. Could be merchants could be cool. post all sorts of stuff like that. So that's on our website as well. And I'm sure we'll put some some notes in the podcasts and stuff in the podcast notes here for this one. So I think yeah, I think that's that's a good handful on top of my head I can think of.

Noah Rahimzadeh 50:15

Yeah, that's, that's cool. Cuz like Mariah said one 800 was just on on the podcast. And we, our CEO actually spoke at DTC x a couple of weeks ago. So we are big fans of those resources to can echo the sentiment to definitely go check those out to our listeners. Awesome.

Mariah Parsons 50:37

Yeah, thank you so much. I'll definitely make sure that all those resources are linked in our episode description. But Mark is this has been phenomenal. I know there's so many good golden nuggets for our listeners to dive into and learn from. So thank you for taking the time and sharing all of your insights, your perspectives. It's been wonderful and we love you know, working with you and your team. It's it's a blast.

Marcus Ohanesian 50:59

Awesome. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Noah Rahimzadeh 51:02

Thanks, Marcus.

Mariah Parsons 51:03

Thanks. Already, I hope you enjoyed that final episode of season one of retention Chronicles. I know I definitely did. Now it is time for our final fact check of season one. And it's a great fact check because we actually have no facts to check. The only thing I wanted to mention is Marcus talks about the Shopify updates. We're including that in the resources but there's a lot to cover there. So we're not going to focus on that during this episode, but if you want to go and read it, it is linked in the episode description along with the other resources that Marcus and Noah both recommend. Thanks for listening and we're excited for season two. Be sure to tune in subscribe