4 Simple, Low-Cost Ways to Run a More Sustainable Business (2021)

4 Simple, Low-Cost Ways to Run a More Sustainable Business (2021)


Let’s face it—our planet is in bad shape. Climate change is accelerating, plastic waste is plugging our oceans, ecosystems are disappearing, and yet, we continue to extract what’s left of the world’s resources.

If your first instinct is to assume your individual decisions as a business owner don’t matter, imagine a world where sustainable business practices are the norm, rather than the exception.

We envision a future where companies can thrive while also contributing to positive environmental change, and it starts with you.

But getting started can be daunting—which is why we’re simplifying it for you with four of the most impactful ways to make your business more sustainable.

1. Switch to sustainable packaging to minimize waste

In a recent survey of global ecommerce shoppers, 82% of respondents said they would like their parcel packaging material to be recyclable, and 77% said biodegradable. It’s clear that sustainable packaging is a priority for buyers. 

In May 2018, following years of sourcing and product development, Stephanie Devine launched the world’s first zero-waste bra: The Very Good Bra. The bra itself is fully compostable at the end of its life, so it makes perfect sense for it to be accompanied with sustainable packaging.

Woman in a blue coat
Stephanie celebrates her award for Fashion Impact.

The company uses The Better Packaging Co.’s comPOST Packs, which are made from cornstarch, polylactide (made from corn), and polybutyrate adipate terephthalate. Translation: they’re biodegradable. At the end of their life, these packages can be mixed in with food scraps and garden waste and will break down within months. It also uses acid-free recyclable tissue and stickers from noissue. And the company’s efforts are being noticed—in 2020 it was awarded Best In Class for Fashion Impact at the prestigious Good Design Awards.

Another option for sustainable packaging comes from Shopify. We’ve partnered with EcoEnclose, an eco-friendly packaging and shipping supply company, to offer sustainable packaging to US-based Shopify merchants. From mailers and boxes to inner packaging, packing tape, and labels, EcoEnclose is truly a one-stop shop for sustainable packaging. To date, it’s helped more than 50,000 businesses ship more sustainably.

Equally as important as packing your products in sustainable packaging is instructing buyers on how to treat it properly—because what good is recyclable packaging that ends up in the garbage? 

New York–based natural vegan skin care company Meow Meow Tweet does an amazing job of handling this. From paper boxes, glass jars, and paper tubes all the way down to metal caps and seals, there’s an optimal way to discard every element of its product packaging, and it makes that very clear to customers. On every product page you’ll see The Breakdown. Take the page for Meow Meow Tweet’s Rose Geranium deodorant, where it tells you that its paper tube and seal can be disposed of in your backyard or municipal compost.

Deodorant stick in sustainable packaging
Meow Meow Tweet’s Rose Geranium deodorant stick.

2. Offset your delivery emissions for a low cost or for free

In the same survey of global ecommerce shoppers, 73% of respondents said they would prefer the delivery of their parcels to be carbon neutral. And they’re right to think this matters. By Shopify’s calculations, a single delivery emits roughly one kilogram of carbon dioxide emissions. Across 1.7 million businesses on Shopify, this certainly adds up.

Shipping companies like Sendle and DHL offer carbon neutral deliveries. Climate Neutral can help you calculate and offset your delivery emissions yourself.

If you’re a Shopify customer, we offer two ways to offset your delivery emissions. Add our Offset app to your store and enable Shop Pay, and you’ll be able to claim 100% carbon neutral shipping to your buyers.

With the Offset app, Shopify calculates the delivery emissions of every single one of your orders using package weight, distance travelled, and mode of transportation. As part of your bill, we tack on the offset cost (a few cents or less per order). We don’t take a cut, with the full amount going directly to the Jari Pará Forest Conservation Project in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil.

Application dashboard
Shopify’s Offset app helps businesses achieve carbon neutral shipping.

We make sure to never double count. Any time your buyer checks out with Shop Pay, Shopify will automatically pay to offset their shipping emissions with no charge to your Offset app account.

All things offsets: Tune in to this webinar to learn more about offsetting for your business from Shopify’s Sustainability Fund team.

3. Source low-impact materials to make your products

Sourcing is one of the most exciting ways to make your business more sustainable, because it leaves room for so much creativity.

To start, audit your current inputs and calculate how they impact the environment. For example, cotton: it can take 2,700 liters of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt, not to mention the heavy use of insecticides and fungicides and the amount of land it takes up to grow.

Then investigate replacements. There are at least 29 sustainable fabrics you can use instead of cotton. One example is hemp—although slightly more expensive right now, the environmental impact is significantly less, as it yields 220% more fiber per plant than cotton and doesn’t rely on harmful sprays.

If this sounds overwhelming, N.A.bld can help you with sustainable sourcing by giving you access to preferred sustainable fabric suppliers and deadstock fabric deals, and by minimizing material waste during production.

Another alternative fabric is bison fiber. This is what Philadelphia-based United By Blue uses as insulation in its apparel products. Essentially, it’s a layer of the bison’s shaggy coat that is shaved off as part of regular maintenance. When co-founders Brian Linton and Mike Cangi learned about this underused sustainable fiber, they created a supply chain that would give them access to it before it was thrown away, and with that they established a circular business model. And the company isn’t sacrificing quality: bison fiber is warm, moisture-wicking, lightweight, and soft.

Employees removing fabric from a bag
United By Blue employees harvest bison fiber to use as insulation in their apparel products.

We’ve talked a lot about the fashion industry, but the same principle applies to pretty much every vertical, from health and beauty to food and beverage and beyond. 

In Canada, nearly 60% of food is wasted every year for reasons like stock management and consumer pickiness. On a mission to reduce food waste, Canada-based LOOP Mission is transforming rejected food into products like cold-pressed juices and smoothies, probiotic sodas, beers, and fruity soaps. And its sourcing efforts are core to its marketing. Its tagline is “Nobody likes to be rejected, not even food.”

Bottles of juice
LOOP Missions’ cold pressed juices are made from rescued food.

Then there’s AKUA, a company creating jerky and burgers using ocean-farmed kelp, a type of seaweed, instead of beef. The meat and dairy industries account for 14.5% of human emissions, and beef is the biggest contributor

On the other end of the spectrum, kelp actually absorbs carbon as it grows in the ocean and doesn’t take up any land. Don’t think the materials you chose matter in terms of publicity for your business? Think again. AKUA has been featured in over 80 publications, from Time to Fast Company.

Woman sitting on boat eating snack
AKUA’s kelp harvest.

“We create all of our products from ocean-farmed kelp, one of the most healing and healthy forms of food on the planet. Our goal has always been to create delicious meat-alternative foods that can feed the planet sustainably while reversing climate change, and restoring health to our world’s oceans.” —Eve Palmer, Brand Manager at AKUA

The options are out there for you, and now it’s time for you to seek them out. And remember, the more companies that support emerging low-impact materials, the better and cheaper these alternatives become. You can be part of that change.

4. Measure, reduce, and offset your company’s carbon footprint

You can’t fix what you don’t know. 

If you want to reduce and offset your company’s carbon footprint, you need to know your emissions profile first. Which of your business activities emit the most carbon dioxide? Is it the energy you use to power your workplace? Or perhaps employees commuting to and from work?

Once you have a handle on your footprint, the fun part begins. It’s time to figure out opportunities to reduce these emissions, and what remaining emissions you need to offset. Maybe you’ll want to look ahead and set an emissions reduction target or even a carbon neutral or net zero commitment. Businesses of all sizes and governments around the world are setting these kinds of targets—why can’t you?

Two Days Off is an independent, women-owned carbon neutral lifestyle brand based in California. Not only does it focus on thoughtfully crafted clothes, it wants to put consumers at ease, knowing that their clothing manufacturing didn’t come at a cost to the environment.

With the help of non-profit Climate Neutral, Two Days Off has measured its emissions and is taking steps to procure 100% renewable energy for its office operations, work with suppliers to limit the use of air freight, and support factory partners in energy efficiency improvement. Then, it offsets any remaining emissions. In 2020, they spent only $250.98 to fully offset their carbon footprint. 

Woman in beige sweater
Two Days Off founder Gina Stovall.

“Addressing the ongoing climate crisis is an all-hands-on-deck challenge. After a decade working in the public sector on this issue, I have come to realize the unique opportunity entrepreneurs have in addressing the climate crisis. So few companies know what their carbon footprints look like and even fewer are actually investing to eliminate them. I believe it is our responsibility to do both of these things.” —Gina Stovall, founder of Two Days Off

Chia Sisters is the first solar-powered juicery in New Zealand. How did they get there? Co-founders and sisters Chloe and Florence Van Dyke measured their emissions with the help of local non-profit Ekos and saw that they could reduce them by minimizing waste, harnessing renewable energy, using an electric vehicle, and switching to delivering their packages by boat instead of by airplane.

Two women looking at each other
Chia Sisters Florence and Chloe.

So they incorporated these findings and offset their remaining emissions to reach net zero. Most notably, they installed 32 solar panels on the roof of their factory. To celebrate their shift to solar power, they created a fresh-pressed juice line called Bottled by the Sun, which won Best Drink in New Zealand for 2019 in a country-wide competition.

They’re also getting bonus points by looking outside of their own business to others in the Te Tauihu region where they’re located. They’ve already helped more than 50 other businesses become net zero certified and are working as part of a team to have the entire Te Tauihu region be net zero by 2030. Now that’s leadership.

Planning for planet and profit

Ready to start contributing to the health of the planet in addition to your business’ bottom line? By following the recommendations above, you’ll join the growing small business movement to protect the planet for future generations (and entrepreneurs!). What’s more, you’ll find buyers ready and waiting to support you.

PS: We know we need to put our money where our mouth is—that’s why we launched the Shopify Sustainability Fund, which invests a minimum of $5 million annually into the most promising technologies and solutions to combat climate change. Read more about how we’re investing our fund.

Feature illustration by Borja Bonaque



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How to Create A Hype Media Kit (2021)

How to Create A Hype Media Kit (2021)


Getting your business or product featured in a major publication is huge. Imagine the largest publication in your industry, or even a local news affiliate, giving you free press. Now imagine the kind of exposure and traffic that would bring to your business.

Good press coverage allows you to borrow the trust of those publications. It gives your online store social proof when you place their logos on your website. The result? More sales.

How can business owners make it easy for websites, magazines, and publishers to write a story about their business?

With an amazing press kit.

Create your press kit 🎯

Free: Press Release Template

To help you get started, we put together this template to help you structure your story using a common press release format. You can replace each component with your own information and adapt it according to your needs.

What is a press kit?

A press kit, also known as a media kit, is a page on your website that contains resources and information for reporters and publishers. The best press kits make it easy for reporters to learn about a product and brand, and to access photos and marketing materials they can use in a story.

By providing a press kit, you’re saying, “Hey, we love press. Here’s everything you need to put your story together, as well as how to reach us.”

A press kit isn’t only for reporters or major publications, either. Anyone who wants to talk about or promote your business has the tools they need to do it effectively. Whether that’s someone with a podcast, someone with a personal blog, or even just someone sharing your story in an online community.

Press validates a brand and what customers have heard through word of mouth

But even an amazing press pack doesn’t guarantee press for your business; it just makes getting press a bit easier. When you’re networking and reaching out to publications, you’ll always have your media kit to refer to and share with reporters. When you do some of the work for reporters upfront, they’ll be more receptive to your pitch for press. Plus, hey, it looks professional.

What digital press kits are used for

Digital press kits are a common and convenient format to create and distribute content for promotional purposes, especially in the ecommerce space. You can use them to promote:

  • Product launches
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Company news
  • Special events

Traditionally, a press kit referred to a set of documents, photos, and materials that were sent to media outlets for promotion. Technology has changed how press kits are used. Reporters can now come to you to find information about your company. An electronic press kit (EPK) today lives online as a part of your website. It’s become the standard way to get PR in digital media.

Simply create an easily accessible online press kit page on your website so reporters can find it. You might not want to put a link to it in your main navigation, but it’s a good idea to include a Press, Newsroom or Media Kit link in the footer of your site. Most reporters and publishers will know to look for it there.

Website placing press kit link at bottom of page.

You can also put your digital press kit on a flash drive or USB stick. Give these out at events where the media has a presence so they can easily access all the files later on. This is also a good way to distribute high-resolution images without having to download/upload large files.

Press kits are still relevant in 2021 and are a profitable investment for online brands. You can hire a marketing/PR agency to create a press kit for anywhere between $300 and $5,000. Or you can create your own on your company website.

If your online press kit gets media coverage for your brand, it can quickly pay off with new customers and revenue from the added exposure.

What electronic press kits include

What you put in your ecommerce press kit will vary depending on your business and what you have to work with. There are a few essentials that I recommend, as well as a few nice-to-haves if you want to create one of the best press kits out there.

Must-haves

Your story and mission

This is your “why.” Share your story; how your business came to be. Tell reporters a little about yourself and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Clearly and succinctly lay out what makes your brand special in the category: What are you doing that the competition isn’t? Are you offering the consumer greater value? Are you more sustainable? Are you creating a new category?

Jessica Postiglione, CEO & Founder, Bonny

In this press kit example from Annmarie Skin Care, the brand shares itsr story, mission statement, and process, which gives press an insight into what it is as a brand.

about us example

Company facts

How many customers have you served? How long have you been in business? How many units have you sold? Where’s your business located? Where’s your product manufactured?

Branding

Make it easy for content publishers to use your logo or create graphics using your logo by providing high-resolution options in your digital media kit. Also provide high-quality, high-resolution versions with a transparent background to make your logo and graphics easy to use for nearly any purpose, including print. If applicable, include a download to the raw vector file.

Check out this amazing press kit example from ecommerce brand The Mantry. It has images prepped for print (which requires higher quality photos) and digital, all of which are downloadable from their site.

The Mantry visual press kit example

People on your team

If there’s anyone else working with you, share their story, their role, and how they got involved in your business. If you have an executive team, you’ll want to include their bios here.

Melt Organic weaves its founders’ stories into its overall brand story in the following press kit example:

Melt Organic press kit example

Press release(s)

If you have current or past press releases, include them. These could be new product announcements, updates about the company, partnerships and collaborations, etc.

Samples of articles and press coverage

Show reporters other articles and publications that you or your business have been featured in or talked about. This can include blog posts, interviews, magazine articles, articles on other websites, etc. This gives people interested in talking about your business something to work from. “Only share your best press,” Spiegel advises. “As the caliber rises, lose the stuff that’s not as valuable.”

Covry’s press page, for example, highlights major publications that have featured it. These are easily recognizable and validate the brand.

Covry's press page example

Nice-to-haves

Separate press/media email

A separate email address specifically for reporters, journalists, bloggers, or publications to contact you. For example: [email protected]

This ecommerce press kit example from Method has its media contact information with a dedicated [email protected] email address.

method contact info for press room

Name spelling/capitalization

If your business has unique spelling or capitalization, specify how you wish your brand name to be printed in your media kit. For example, if you are “CompanyName” and not “Company Name” or “companyname,” make it clear!

Audio/video interviews or segments

If your business has been mentioned on a podcast, on the radio, or on a local news station, link to the clip or embed the media on your ecommerce press kit page.

To stand out, you need to have really creative and eye-catching content. Video is more engaging than images. We partnered with an animation studio to create an explainer video for our brand, and it’s helped us get both press coverage and significant investor interest!

Awards/recognition

Share any awards or recognition your business has received. This adds validity to your business.

Nonprofit and volunteer involvement

Include any charities you support or nonprofit work your business has been involved with.

Social media and other audiences

If you have an engaged social media following, email list, or other well-established audience, highlight that here. Include both quantitative (number of followers, subscribers, group members, etc.) and qualitative (customer reviews, comments, etc.) information.

Quotes

Create a set of canned quotes that the media can use in their publications. This can be both from your leadership team and your employees. This makes it easier for reporters to attribute direct quotes without having to reach out or coordinate an interview.

FAQs

Again, eliminate the need for back-and-forth with the press by listing commonly asked questions and answering them. This also keeps the information put out by the press consistent (and accurate).

Product samples

If you can, include product samples in your physical press kits. Samples can go a long way in making an impression and proving your product’s value proposition.

Free Worksheet: Brand Storytelling

Use this handy exercise as a guide to help you craft a compelling brand story and build a loyal audience through the power of storytelling.

How to make an electronic press kit

Now that you know what goes into your press kit, let’s look at how you can create one for your business.

1. Choose a format

Before picking out any testimonials or About Us content, choose how you’ll present your press kit. Knowing your format helps you build a press kit that gets the kind of attention you want.

Do you want journalists to contact your PR team? Make assets available to download? Create an interactive experience?

Format impacts how people will feature your brand. If you make it easy to access your press materials, you’ll likely get more press coverage.

Some examples include:

  • Downloadable PDF press materials
  • A file in cloud storage
  • Electronic media kit on your website

Regardless of your format, keep your brading consistent. Use the same colors, fonts, and styles you use across all print and online marketing materials.

If you’re still stuck on a format, try one the following electronic press kit templates:

2. Write your company overview

Describe your brand and its product in a few sentences. You can talk about your company mission statement and its current goals.

You can also include:

  • Founding date
  • Location
  • Size of company or number of employees
  • Background information
  • Press contact information

Keep all your company information up to date. It’s likely the first part of your press kit a journalist will see.

3. List a few milestones

Chronicle your business’ success from beginning to end, starting with the most recent successes. Mention milestones with the most valuable information related to your company’s vision.

This part of your press kit could include details not covered in your overview. Journalists will want to learn about your company, so you may want to also cover:

  • Company background
  • Fundraising stage
  • Key features of your products
  • Competitive advantages
  • Your target audience

Help journalists visualize how your business impacts the market. Remember, they want to feature brands that align with their readers. So if you clearly define your audience, it could motivate journalists with similar demographics to write more about your company.

4. Gather your media assets

Your press kit should include assets that help journalists create a story about your business. These include:

  • Company logo
  • Images and headshots
  • Testimonials
  • Fact sheets
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Press releases
  • Publication logos
  • Media mentions
  • Team or product photos

Make your media assets easy to download. You can use a file sharing service like Dropbox or group assets together and let journalists download to their computer.

5. Add a short founder’s bio

Personalize your company with a short bio. Include a biography of founders and key team members. Give journalists an idea of how it all started.

6. Add to your website

Whether you’re creating a downloadable or interactive press kit, add it to your website. Most journalists will look for a Press, Media, or Newsroom page when searching for information. Adding a digital press kit to your online store also helps with search engine optimization and drives traffic to your website.

Overall, the goal of your EPK is to create a one-stop shop for journalists to get information about your business, products, and mission. If you make it easy for them to build their story, you’ll see more features and press coverage.

Free: Shopify Store Trust Checklist

Shopify’s research team conducted a series of in-depth interviews with North American shoppers to learn how customer trust is formed in online stores. This checklist is a summary of their findings, created to help business owners understand what essential aspects of their online store experience creates trust among customers, along with the trust-busting mistakes to avoid.

Press kit examples: the best ecommerce media kits

If you need additional inspiration, check out some of these ecommerce businesses doing press kits right:

1. FiftyThree

FiftyThree electronic press kit example

FiftyThree uses an image heavy approach to its media kit. It shares the brand’s awards and feature articles and includes photos of its founding team. Journalists can also download its electronic press kit or logos right from the page, or contact its PR team for more information.

2. Holstee

holstee press kit example

Holstee uses a text-based approach to its press kit. However, it helps key information pop with feature quotes. Holstee also lists all the relevant publications it’s been featured in, which establishes credibility in viewers’ eyes. If you want to get in touch, you can find contact information and downloadables at the bottom of the page.

3. Pure Cycles

pure cycles digital press kit example

Pure Cycles shows off its brand with media snippets in its EPK, showcasing popular publications like Wired and Vanity Fair featuring its products. This is an easy way to encourage journalists to feature you in upcoming articles.

4. RT1home

RT1home media mentions

Online boutique RT1home takes a minimalistic approach to its press kit. The brand highlights all its media mentions by showcasing the logo and a link to the feature article.

5. LuminAID

LuminAID press kit

LuminAID includes a series of photos, videos, and blog posts in its electronic press kit. Journalists can read the story behind the brand, download LuminAID’s press kit, or get in touch with its PR team for more information.

Getting press for your ecommerce business

It’s your turn now. When you’re considering putting together a press kit for your store, think about the websites and publications you want to be on and what you can put together that will make it easier to get covered there. If you need help, try using an app to generate a press kit for your Shopify store.

Remember that you still need to network and put yourself out there if you want to get press coverage for your business. A media kit only makes it easier for reporters to talk about you consistently and accurately. You still need to do the work to make it happen.


Ready to create your business? Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required.

Press kit FAQ

What’s included in a press kit?

Press kits include elements such as your company story and mission, facts, branded marketing assets, info on team members, media mentions, press releases, and samples of feature articles.

What are press kits used for?

Digital press kits are used to create and distribute content for media relations. You can use them to promote product launches, mergers and acquisitions, company news, special events, etc.

Are press kits still relevant?

Yes, press kits are still relevant for both online and offline businesses. Many companies now add an electronic press kit to their websites for journalists to find important information, quickly and easily.

How do you make a press kit?

  1. Choose a format.
  2. Write your company overview.
  3. List a few milestones.
  4. Gather your media assets.
  5. Add a founders’ bio.
  6. Add to your website.



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23 Best Free Stock Photos Sites to Get Free Images (2021)

23 Best Free Stock Photos Sites to Get Free Images (2021)


I know your pain.

You’re looking for the right images for your online store, website, or social media feed. You don’t have time for product photography, so you’ve searched far and wide for free images to use but keep running into cheesy stock photos of people high-fiving in boardrooms or laughing into their salads.

The good news: there’s a huge variety of excellent free and paid stock photography websites for commercial use available online. You just have to know where to look.

We’ve compiled an exhaustive (and freshly updated) list of stock photo resources you can use to find free images to build your brand. Whether you need first-rate stock images for commercial use or a blog post hero, you’ll find what you’re looking for right here.

Find your stock photos 📸


Need photos for your website?

Burst is a free high-quality stock photo site powered by Shopify. Browse 1,000s of product and lifestyle images for commercial use.

Get free stock photos from Burst

Free image license types

Before we get into our list of top stock photo sites, let’s look at the different terms and licenses that stock photography websites use:

  • Royalty free means you can use the asset without paying royalties or licensing fees.
  • A Creative Commons license gives you the right to share, use, and build upon a copyrighted image.
  • Attribution refers to giving appropriate credit to a creator’s work. It’s either required or not required when downloading a stock photo.
  • Commercial use describes any activity in which you use assets for financial gain. Stock image sites may permit licensed photos for commercial purposes (like ads or editorial) or may not.
  • Membership means you must register an account with the website to use its images. Some require a membership fee, while others are free.

📸 Note: It’s always best to double check the licensing terms for the stock photo resources listed below. We did our research when putting this list together, but licensing is subject to change and may differ depending on which stock photographers or stock libraries you purchase from. Some may require approval for commercial use, while others may be totally free to download and use.

23 best free stock photo sites for commercial use

Free Guide: DIY Product Photography

Learn how to take beautiful product photos on a budget with our free, comprehensive video guide.

Burst by Shopify

Burst free stock photo site homepage

Burst is a free stock photo site powered by Shopify. Our image library includes thousands of high-resolution images taken by a global community of photographers. New high-definition photos are added every week. These public domain images are free to use for commercial or personal use.

The site has a search feature where you can find images by keyword or popular category. Another neat feature of Burst is its “business ideas” section. Here you can find free stock photos to download and business tips broken down by niche, including women’s fashion, art supplies, socks, and more.


Need photos for your website?

Burst is a free high-quality stock photo site powered by Shopify. Browse 1,000s of product and lifestyle images for commercial use.

Get free stock photos from Burst

Pixabay

pixabay stock photo website

Pixabay is a free stock website with over 2.2 million stock images, videos, and music clips available for download by the Pixabay community. It offers royalty-free photos from contributors, which anyone can manipulate and use without permission or any attribution to the artist.

Stock images on Pixabay have been described as “mediocre for the most part” and cover a wide range of topics. All photos are released under the Pixabay license, which is similar to the Creative Commons CC0, but slightly more restrictive.

Unsplash

Unsplash free stock photography site

Unsplash is home to over 2.5 million free beautiful stock photos shot by a global community of photographers. All images are free for whatever use you wish, and Unsplash adds new images to download everyday. When you create a free account with this stock photography site you can collect photos and access them from your iPhone, iPad, or computer.

Pexels

Pexels stock photo website

Pexels is a free stock image and video library licensed under the Pexels license, which is similar to the CC0 license. You can download, copy, distribute, and modify images licensed by Pexels. This stock image site has hundreds of thousands of images hand-picked from photos uploaded by the Pexels community. All photos are tagged, searchable, and can easily be found on the site’s discovery pages.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock free stock photo site homepage

Shutterstock is a leading provider of licensed stock images, vectors, illustrations, and music for businesses and consumers around the world. It has a growing community of over one million creators and adds hundreds of thousands of creative assets every day.

To date, over one billion images, video clips, and music tracks have been downloaded on Shutterstock. It has a library of over 300 million free stock images, and customers in 150+ countries.

Getty Images

Getty images stock photo website

Getty Images supplies stock images, editorial photography, video, and music from a library of over 200 million assets. Getty Images gears more toward corporations and creative professionals in advertising and media.

Most images are not free—you’ll have to pay for a license to use them. However, you can use some images for free with Getty’s Embed feature, which is only for non-commercial use. The kicker? The free images have the Getty Images watermark at the bottom and you can’t get rid of it.

Canva

Canva free stock photography site

The acclaimed graphic design tool Canva also offers free stock images on its site. The Canva library is home to millions of paid and free stock photos to download or use in the platform’s design editor. You can switch between images and colors without navigating between tabs.

iStock

iStock free stock photo site homepage

iStock by Getty Images is another leading stock photography website. It offers millions of popular photos, illustrations, clip art, videos, and audio clips. It’s also known for paying contributors well for their contributions. While you’ll have to pay a licensing fee for most assets, iStock does offer weekly free stock photos to download.

Freepik

Freepik stock photo website

Freepik is a great free stock image site for creators seeking professional Photoshop (PSD) templates and beautiful stock images. The site has over four million assets, from vectors to illustrations, also available for download. Attribution is required to use Freepik’s stock for commercial or personal use.

Picjumbo

Picjumbo free stock photography site

Born in 2013, picjumbo is a free stock photo website created in 2013 by designer and photographer Viktor Hanacek. It started because all other photo sites rejected his photos for “lack of quality.”

Today, picjumbo offers thousands of high-resolution images, plus social media elements and other design freebies. Images are easy to find and displayed as collections, so you can see the same image from different views and find the best free images for your project.

Life of Pix

Life of pix free stock photo site homepage

Built by LEEROY Creative Agency, Life of Pix offers true-to-life high-resolution stock images for download. It has thousands of stock photos, including everything from food and people to architecture and textures. The site adds 10 new photos weekly from a handpicked Photographer of the Week. All copyright-free images are available for commercial use, but some restrictions apply for distributors.

Depositphoto

depositphoto stock photo website

Depositphoto is a global marketplace for stock images, with over 202 million assets available for download. You can browse through thematic collections of free stock photography and media trusted by corporations including TripAdvisor, Forbes, and Subaru. Many photos are available for purchase, but the site offers over 69,000 high-quality images you can download for free.

ISO Republic

ISO Republic free stock photo site homepage

ISO Republic is an independent website that curates high-resolution, Creative Commons CC0 photos and videos. It has an ever-expanding library with over 6,000 creative photos, all free for personal and commercial use, no attribution required.

FreeImages

freeimages free stock photography site

FreeImages provides over 380,000 royalty-free stock photos ready to share. You can license them to use for social media, ads, printed materials, websites, or any other project you’re working on. You can find photos for concepts like fashion, fitness, business, family, travel, and more, all free to download.

Gratisography

gratisography free stock photography site

Gratisography is a free stock image website different from any other on this list, created by photographer Ryan McGuire. It offers humorous and whimsical images (think: bigfoot in the forest with a mask on) you can use entirely for free, without any copyright restrictions. If you want to express your brand and make an impact on your viewers, photos from Gratisography are the way to go.

New Old Stock

new old stock free stock photo site homepage

Looking for free vintage photos for your project? Look no further than New Old Stock. While the stock photography site doesn’t actively add new images anymore, you can still browse and download old photos from Flickr Commons–listed institutions and public archives. You’ll find photos taken of everything from gold mining in New England to NASA in the ’70s and so much more.

Kaboompics

kaboompics stock photo website

Kaboompics is another popular free stock image site, with over 20,000 photos. It’s owned by one photographer/entrepreneur and has a stock photo license that covers both personal and commercial purposes without attribution (although it’s appreciated). The site search helps you find photos in over 1,500 collections, with advanced sorting options to find the best match. Kaboompics blog is also full of expert advice on marketing and design.

Freerange

freerange free stock photo site homepage

Freerange is a standard free stock image site with a big library of images ready to download. Photos are shot both in house and submitted by contributors. The collections span topics like backgrounds and textures, animals and insects, technology, and vintage photos. New photos are added daily.

Adobe Stock

adobe stock free stock photography site

Adobe Stock is known for its premium stock photos and high price tag. But did you know it also offers a selection of free pics and videos, too? Browse curated photo collections of trending themes like Springtime and Nature and Landscapes. Or check out its collection of free illustrations, templates, and 3D assets to use in your next personal or commercial project.

StockSnap.io

stocksnap.io free stock photography site

StockSnap.io is a free stock image site created by the same team behind graphic design tool Snappa. It offers hundreds of high-resolution photos, with more added every week. The search function is user friendly and lets you sort by popularity, views, download, favorites, and more. The library is built by user submissions and reflects a trendy, modern style you can use for your projects, free from any copyright restrictions.

Stockvault

stockvault free stock photo site homepage

Stockvault showcases a big collection of over 138,000 photos on varied topics. It crowdsources photos from creators around the world for you to download and use for free. The overall quality of photos are excellent. The only drawback is that Stockvault has three different licenses, so make sure to check that you can use a specific photo for your intended purposes.

Foodiesfeed

foodiesfeed stock photo website

Foodiesfeed is the best free food photography stock photo site on the web. Search through more than 1,700 photos, with intuitive search functionality and tags that are incredibly easy to use. Foodiesfeed is perfect for any food-related website looking for trendy, high-quality photos, free for commercial use.

FOCA stock

FOCA stock free stock photography site

Formerly known as MMT, FOCA stock offers a full archive of free for commercial use stock photos, with new photos added every single week. It has a big focus on nature stock photography and macro stock photography. The site is also incredibly easy to navigate and lets you sort by category, tags, color, and orientation, so you can find what you’re looking for.

Using free images for your website

Now that you’ve taken a look at the best places online to get free high-quality images, it’s time to build the best ecommerce website for your business. With all of these stunning stock photos at your fingertips, your creative juices are no doubt flowing.

So, whether you’re using the images for a blog post, a website, your store, a Facebook ad, a presentation, or whatever else life throws at you, you’re all set.


Ready to create your business? Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required.

Free stock photos FAQ

Is Burst free?

Burst is a free stock photo site powered by Shopify. All photos are free for commercial use, with no attribution required.

Where can I get stock photos for free?

  • Burst by Shopify
  • Pixabay
  • Unsplash
  • Pexels
  • Shutterstock
  • Getty Images
  • Canva
  • iStock
  • Freepik
  • Picjumbo

Is it illegal to use stock photos?

Stock photos are not illegal to use if you have legally licensed the image. The photographer of a stock image must make their work available for licensing, then you can obtain it by paying to use it or through a Creative Commons license.

What can I use instead of stock photos?

There are two options for getting creative images instead of using stock photos. You can take your own photos or hire a photographer to take photos for your business or project.



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How to Set Up & Open a Pop-Up Shop (2021)

How to Set Up & Open a Pop-Up Shop (2021)


With businesses in various stages of closure, it may seem like an odd time to set up a pop-up shop. But as the world recovers, consumers will be hungry for real-life experiences. And while they’ve gotten used to the convenience of shopping online, they miss feeling connected to brands (and to each other) in a physical environment.

Plus, the pandemic has resulted in a surplus of retail space and widespread commercial rent decreases, leading to a market ripe for retailers and brands interested in adding a physical presence to their business. The US, UK, and France saw a 125 percent increase in available retail space listed between June to August, according to research by Appear Here. And as landlords are desperate to fill their empty spaces, they’re dropping their prices and easing up on lease terms, too.

We believe that low-budget, short-term, quick-install pop-ups are set to surge in the coming months. To help you plan, we’ll cover everything from cost to marketing strategies, and share examples of brands leading the charge in trending pop-up experiences in a post-pandemic world.

What is a pop-up shop?

If you’re interested in testing out a retail presence for your business, but you’re put off by the financial risk and commitment of a permanent storefront, a pop-up shop could be the solution for you.

Pop-ups provide an ideal opportunity for emerging, digitally-native brands to trial a brick-and-mortar space. They allow you to meet your current customers where they live and put your brand in front of new shoppers. It’s also a direct way to encourage sales without pouring more money into online customer acquisition.

A pop-up can look like a regular store, but many brands use them to create a unique, engaging physical shopping experience.

How much does a pop-up shop cost?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer for this question. Location, duration, and size are just a few of the factors that can determine the total cost of a pop-up. The sky’s the limit as far as how much you can spend, but you also can pull off a short-term pop-up for as little as $1,500.

Popertee, a retail analytics firm, estimated the total cost of one 30-day pop-up at €29,085 (about $33,000), while Inkbox, an online temporary tattoo brand, totalled the cost of its 2016 two-week pop-up to about $15,000, plus $3,000 in furniture that it will be able to use for other purposes.

It’s worth noting that experts predict pop-up shop costs will be significantly lower for 2021. Historically low commercial rent prices means the bulk of your costs—rent—are more than 11% lower than they were in 2019.

Why run a pop-up shop?

Create an in-person connection with customers

Technology might make purchasing more economical and convenient, but there’s no replacement for face-to-face service and immersive in-person shopping experiences. A physical store allows you to connect with your customers on a human level—and people will be craving connection post-pandemic.

A physical store allows you to connect with your customers on a human level—and people will be craving connection post-pandemic.

A pop-up shop can also play an important role in the omnichannel experience offered by your brand. Consumers learn about products on social media, search engines, in print, and everywhere in between. Complementing your established online experience with an offline experience to match is an excellent way to build a network of loyal, engaged shoppers.

Build buzz and awareness

Scarcity is a proven sales tactic that drives action through a customer’s desire to purchase exclusive or otherwise limited products. A temporary pop-up shop with a definite end date encourages shoppers to visit before missing out.

This approach works especially well when promoting new products or collections, kicking off major campaigns, or simply looking to increase overall brand awareness.

Create a strong sense of urgency by letting your customers know the exact dates your pop-up begins and ends. Create a Facebook event page or send a broadcast to your email list. If you have a limited inventory and want to make your shop feel especially exclusive, consider promoting the closing date as whenever all items are sold out.

Balance customer acquisition costs

The pandemic has forced retailers and their marketing dollars online, driving up the cost of acquiring a customer through paid search and social media. But as ecommerce has boomed, the gap between digital acquisition costs and rental costs has gotten smaller.

But as ecommerce has boomed, the gap between digital acquisition costs and rental costs has gotten smaller.

Indeed, rising consumer real estate vacancy levels have forced commercial rents to record-low levels—37.5% lower than they were in 2019 in places like SoHo, New York City, according to CBRE. To address vacancies, landlords are reportedly relaxing lease terms and eagerly seeking pop-up tenants just to keep their storefronts activated.

This presents an unprecedented opportunity for brands to test out the retail waters, and diversify their marketing to include foot traffic alongside web traffic—in a low-risk, lower-cost environment.

“Soon, a physical impression is going to be more affordable and higher quality than a digital impression,” says Ben Seidl, Founder of Neyborly, a platform that matches brands with commercial spaces.

Test the market for a permanent physical location

Pop-up shops require little upfront investment, which makes them a great testing ground. A successful pop-up can be a good indication that your business is a candidate for expansion into physical retail. If your shop doesn’t end up as successful as you’d hoped, you might need to regroup and find a new way to test your expansion plans. (We’ll look at some post-mortem metrics later.)

Eyeglass brand Warby Parker is a one-time digital-native brand that initially tested physical retail through pop-ups. Its experiment was so successful, the company opened several storefronts, and now has nearly 90 retail locations.

Drive more sales during busy seasons

Black Friday Cyber Monday and any other peak sales periods are excellent times to open a pop-up. A pop-up can drive retention long after your shop is closed and the holiday season is over, turning seasonal shoppers into lifelong customers. If you host seasonal pop-ups regularly, you’ll build a sense of anticipation among your most loyal customers. Denver’s annual Christkindl Market is just one example of a pop-up locals and tourists alike bookmark the date of every year.

Test new markets and gain traction in existing ones

One of the most important things for a new business to do is validate demand for its products—and real product validation only happens when money changes hands.

Manufacturing a small batch of merchandise to test at a pop-up is one way to validate customer demand before investing in a larger number of units. If you have an idea for a new collection or product line, for example, start with just one or two items to see if they have traction.

Pop-ups can also let you test different pricing, product bundles, and merchandising ideas.

Selling in person gives you the added benefit of receiving direct, unfiltered feedback from customers by seeing their initial reactions and finding out if they’re willing to spend money on what you’re selling (and how much).

If you’ve already established your business online and know you have a strong customer base in a specific region, a pop-up shop can help you literally be where your best customers are. It can also assist with word-of-mouth marketing in an area where you know your target demographic resides.

Unload older inventory

Holding on to dead stock is more expensive than you might think. You’re not only missing out on sales, you’re also paying for carrying costs and tying up money that could be invested elsewhere in your business. Plus, that inventory could eventually age out and no longer be sellable, which means lost revenue and capital.

Pop-up shops are a great way to breathe new life into aging stock—especially seasonal merchandise with a short shelf life—by using fresh displays and enticing visual merchandising elements to attract new shoppers. Encourage impulse purchases by offering special deals, such as buy-one-get-one-free, or bundling items together.

How to pick the perfect pop-up shop location

It’s important to find the right spot for your pop-up. There are a number of factors to consider, and one of the most important is determining what type of space makes the most sense for your event. There are a few common spaces used for pop-up shops:

  • Vacant storefront. An empty storefront is a retail space just waiting to be used. All you have to do is customize it to your brand. Look around for vacant storefronts in your ideal area or contact a local real estate agent for help.
  • Shopping center or mall. Many shopping malls have kiosks, booth space, or vacant in-line stores available to rent. Mall space may be less cost effective than other venues, but it can put you in front of the best kind of foot traffic—consumers who are looking to spend their money.
  • Pop-ins. Pop-ins are stores within a store and a great way to piggyback off an existing brick-and-mortar brand’s success. [email protected], for example, is a series of pop-in shop collaborations with other brands, like Away luggage. Hotels are also a great location for pop-ins.
  • Gallery/event space. Gallery or event spaces, unlike pop-in shops, offer a blank canvas for translating your digital brand into a physical space with eye-catching displays. These venues are also primed and ready for events, unlike some typical brick-and-mortar retail environments.
  • Mobile. If you don’t want to limit yourself to one location, consider going mobile and renting a truck or bus to host your own traveling pop-up shop. In 2017, Casper’s Nap Tour traveled from Vancouver to Toronto, offering customers throughout Canada the chance to test out its mattresses. This opens you up to operating in various locations and maximizing your reach—you can set up at a farmer’s market, park, or any public setting that you think your customers would be frequenting.

How to choose your pop-up location

After you’ve determined what type of pop-up you want to have, you can begin deciding on a location. Knowing what your shop’s goals are is one important factor to consider. If you’re looking to launch a new swimwear collection, somewhere tropical or near a beach might be best. If you’re trying to decide whether to make a permanent move into physical retail, use current sales data (if you have it) to figure out where most of your existing customers are.

Once you have a general area in mind, look at some other factors to help you zero in on an exact spot.

Nearby retailers and events occurring in the vicinity are other important considerations. Look to see if surrounding retail stores are complementary or competitive to what you’re offering. Complementary is good, but you may want to steer clear of direct competitors. When established shops feel threatened by competing stores, you lose out on making a potential ally. Take the time to introduce yourself and establish a rapport with other shop owners in the area. From them, you can glean valuable information on what makes your shared target demographic tick.

Finally, one of the biggest considerations has always been foot traffic. Is the neighborhood or street you’re considering a high-traffic area? Are there plenty of people walking by the location you’re scouting—and, most importantly, are those people your target customers?

But buzzy downtown destinations may no longer be on the top of the list for pop-ups. Following the pandemic, brands have increasingly popped up in local neighborhoods and suburbs. For example, in London, the five hottest pop-up locations have been Westbourne Grove, Neal Street, Curtain Road, Columbia Road and Golborne Road, while Paris’s top five are rue de Turenne, rue Pierre Lescot, rue du Roi de Sicile, rue de Charonne and rue Debelleyme, according to data from Appear Here.

Following the pandemic, brands have increasingly popped up in local neighborhoods and suburbs.

Still, other brands are staying put in cities and adapting their experiences to accommodate a more cautious consumer mentality. Ultimately, it comes down to who your customers are, where they are, and how they want you to show up.

💡TIP: Analyze your customer email data to see where customers are located and if they’re congregated in certain cities or neighborhoods.

Things to consider when choosing a pop-up shop venue

Here are a few more factors to help you narrow down your venue options:

Type of pop-up shop

First things first—you need to figure out what type of event you’re having and understand what specifically makes that appealing to a pop-up shopper. There are a few common types of pop-ups:

  • Press preview. Usually an invite-only/exclusive look at your shop for local journalists and bloggers who can help you spread the word about your store.
  • Launch party. Pop-up shops make for great launch parties, whether it’s your pop-up debut or the launch of a new product line. Remember, if you’re billing it as a party, you need to deliver on your promise. Consider hiring a DJ, serving food and drinks, and promoting social sharing to further your reach.
  • Experiential. Entice visitors with immersive experiences they can’t get anywhere else. Think about what types of featured workshops, speakers, and individuals work best for your brand. For example, HutchLA once ran a pop-up shop with a tattoo artist on premise because it aligned with the brand.
  • Influencer party. Tap into an influencer’s audience in your niche by allowing them to host, curate, and be the “star” for the night. Ask them to build anticipation before the fact by posting about it on social media, and view the opportunity as a collaboration that ends up paying big dividends for both parties. They’re presented with a unique opportunity to do a meet-and-greet with their fanbase—and their fanbase becomes your customer base.
  • Sponsored event. While even a one-off piece in the media can be advantageous, investing in a sponsored event can land you even more coverage. A partnership with a local magazine in your niche, for example, can provide you with coverage before, during, and after your pop-up happens.

Exterior factors

  • Frontage. Does the storefront have a sidewalk for walk-ins and foot traffic? Is the frontage big enough so that you can easily manage curbside pickup orders? These will be important considerations for pop-up venues in the coming months.
  • Signage. Check to see if the location you’re looking at comes with signage and, if so, whether you’re allowed to customize it. Some spaces may already have branded entrance or storefront signs, which could prevent people from noticing your shop. Other spaces may not allow signage at all. Determine what you need and how customers are going to find your pop-up.
  • Condition and cleanliness. Landlords typically ensure the interior of a pop-up space is pristine, but the exterior can be susceptible to the elements. You’ll likely have to assume responsibility for its cleanliness. Get out there with a broom, bring your own potted plants, or invest in a bottle of Windex to get every last face smudge off of the venue’s windows.
  • Parking and access to public transportation. The easier it is to visit your store, the more customers you’ll have. An on-site parking lot is ideal, but not always realistic. So create accessibility any way you can. Research public transit routes, check on parking meter rates and times, and look for nearby paid parking lots.

Interior factors

  • Browsing space/square footage. Even as stores begin to reopen and the pandemic abates, health and safety will still remain a top priority for shoppers. that the space is big enough to allow shoppers to browse while keeping a distance.
  • Internet access. WiFi is usually included with most spaces, but double check with the leasing agent to make sure high-speed internet access is available. This is critical for your point of sale software to run smoothly, but also for your customers to be able to browse your online channels while exploring your physical store. It also means you can equip your sales representatives with a mobile POS to help pull up customer profiles on the spot and personalize the in-store experience.
  • Stock space. Visible inventory not on display can make even the largest spaces look cluttered, so make sure you have a storage area. Many spaces won’t have a back stockroom, so see if it’s possible to create a makeshift separation or partition using curtains or a room divider. This will make the space seem more professional and tidy.
  • Lighting.Proper lighting sets the mood and makes your merchandise stand out. The right lighting for your store ultimately depends on the mood you want to create. If your brand is more modern, brighter lighting may work. Soft lighting pairs well with brands that feature a classic aesthetic. Ask to see if the bulbs are on dimmer switches or if lamps and portable lighting are available as an alternative.
  • Anti-theft features. Tyco Retail Solutions estimates that 34% of retail shrinkage is due to shoplifting and crime. Find a space that has adequate loss prevention measures in place. Surveillance cameras and alarm systems are both great tools for preventing shoplifting. If a retail space doesn’t have cameras, see if other tactics were employed by previous pop-up vendors.
  • Display space. Every space is different, so make sure the spot you’re considering is equipped with whatever you need to display your products or materials.
  • Speaker system. Music is important for setting the mood in your store. It’s a big bonus if the space comes equipped with a speaker system. If not, make sure to bring your own bluetooth speakers and do a sound test before you launch.

Where to look for pop-up shop venues

You can contact realtors directly to see if they have any pop-up shop venues. There are also many online databases you can search to book properties yourself. Here are a few:

Tips for closing the deal on your pop-up shop venue

There are several legal documents pop-up operators need to be familiar with before securing a space:

Lease

The lease is the most important document. Under a lease, the renter is considered a tenant and given exclusive possession for the time agreed to by both parties, otherwise known as the “term” of the lease. The term will outline what you’re allowed to do in the space, such as modifications, hours of operation, and several other key aspects.

When evaluating a retail space, request a comprehensive estimate of your monthly payment. Depending on your space, additional expenses could equal base rent, doubling your monthly payment amount. This could devastate your budget if you weren’t prepared to pay for it.

Licenses

Depending on your geography and the length of your pop-up shop, you may need a license rather than a lease. A license gives you, the licensee, the legal authority to use the landlord’s asset. In some cases, without a license, using the property is unlawful.

Generally, licenses are given out for short-term occupants and come with a limited arrangement that sometimes doesn’t guarantee exclusive use of the property.

Permits

Each region has its own legal regulations and business permit requirements. Many cities, for example, require a permit to sell food and alcohol. So, if you plan to serve champagne at your opening, you’ll need to secure the appropriate permit.

To ensure you’re set for opening day, check with your real estate agent, landlord, and/or the city to make sure you’re doing everything local law requires.

Insurance

Business insurance (or commercial insurance) is different from personal coverage. Without the proper insurance policies in place, you’re not only putting your business at risk, but your employees and customers as well.

Some rentals include insurance coverage, but you may want to look into consulting a risk management expert or firm.

Questions to ask before you book a space

To make sure you have a complete understanding of what you’re getting into, have the following questions ready for your property manager or real estate agent:

  • What’s the rental cost? Find out the daily, weekly, or monthly rate (depending on how long you plan to be open). Be sure to check out multiple spaces and weigh your options, and don’t be afraid to negotiate on price before you sign.
  • What’s included in the rental cost? Drill down on what you’re getting for your money. Make note of specifics like square footage, amenities, and occupancy dates—and get everything in writing.
  • Are there any additional utility costs? Clarify any additional costs and how they’re split up. Make sure you determine which expenses you’re responsible for—and whether they’re reasonable. Utility costs for a pop-up rental can become a major unexpected expense.
  • What’s the layout of the space? Have a good grasp on the shop’s current layout so you can visualize what your final presentation could look like. It might help to sketch out a scale drawing to make sure the space will work for your needs.
  • What are the specific dimensions of the ceiling, windows, doors, counters, pillars, etc.? Know exactly what you have to work with—and work around. This information is good to have when you start designing your displays or printing signage, and it’ll give you a sense of how much or how little you’ll need to dress the space up.
  • Can the space be modified? Know how much control you have over the space. If you’re sharing a gallery with multiple vendors, you might not be able to drill holes into the wall or make significant changes. Determine the landlord’s dos and don’ts and whether they’ll work for you.
  • Who’s liable for what? Property owners typically will attempt to limit their liability, so read the fine print on your lease. If something happens, like a fire or a plumbing issue, it’s better to know ahead of time who’s responsible instead of disputing or creating a claim down the road.
  • Is there internet or WiFi? You’ll need an internet connection to process transactions and accept credit card payments, whether you’re using Shopify POS or a mobile card reader. So determine if it’s included or if you need to set it up yourself.
  • Will you need insurance? Getting property insurance is often a prerequisite when signing a lease agreement. This kind of coverage protects you from a number of things that could go wrong, including, but not limited to, theft, venue or glass repairs, and merchandise damage.
  • How much of a deposit is required to secure the venue? Often, if your pop-up shop will span multiple months, the rental deposit is equivalent to a month’s rent. For shorter timelines, you might be expected to put down a third of the total rent payment. Be sure to find out how and when you’ll get your deposit back after the pop-up is over.
  • What type of foot traffic can you expect? It’s a good idea to do your own research on foot traffic, but sometimes the property owner will have numbers they can share with you. This becomes even more pertinent if you’re getting a booth at a trade show.

Evolving your pop-up shop for a post-pandemic world

The pandemic will have a lasting impact on shopper behavior, so there are some key services you’ll want to consider offering to ensure a safe, convenient, and profitable pop-up experience.

We’re already seeing a demand for “dark stores”, where retail sales aren’t fueled by pedestrian traffic, but by curbside pick-up and same-day delivery. With proximity becoming the selling feature for your pop-up, alternative pickup and delivery options should be top-of-mind.

Consider offering the following:

  • Curbside pickup. Also known as click and collect or buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup is a safe and convenient way to shop, allowing shoppers to order from you online and then swing by your pop-up shop to pick it up curbside or at a designated pickup point.
  • Contactless payments. As health concerns grew in 2020, more consumers began seeking out safer options for transactions. According to our data, 62% of buyers are now more comfortable making in-store purchases with digital or contactless payments, according to Shopify’s Future of Retail Report 2021.
  • QR codes. The use of QR codes makes the retail checkout disappear completely.With QR codes, mobile shopping is even easier. Shoppers can use their smartphone to scan a code and complete their purchase online via their mobile devices. If you’re a Shopify merchant, Shopcodes (Shopify’s QR code app) lets you generate QR codes within your store.
  • Appointment shopping. Another option for safer shopping is to reduce the number of people who are in the store at a given time. One way to do this is with appointment shopping, where you only book one or a handful of shoppers for a particular time slot. According to Shopify data, 50% of shoppers indicated that this would be relevant to them—especially among shoppers in Italy, Spain, France, and the UK.

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How to market your pop-up shop

When determining your promotional strategy, remember what consumers go to pop-ups for: an immersive, unique, in-person brand experience. According to Retail Touchpoints, most consumers want unique services and products, localized assortments, and optimal pricing. If your pop-up offers any of those things, spread the word!

There are plenty of ways to go about getting PR for your event, including targeting traditional media, leveraging influencer marketing, and pitching your pop-up to local bloggers.

Targeting media and influencers

Keep your target customer in mind when creating a list of media outlets to contact, thinking about where they most likely find information on local events and what publications and websites they might regularly read.

Audience size isn’t always the most important factor when it comes to promoting your pop-up.

Micro-influencers may have smaller followings, but dismissing them completely could mean missing out on a potential partner who doesn’t have a large geographical reach but is influential in your pop-up’s area. Here are a few other tips to consider:

  • Create a list of the key influencers, bloggers, and digital creators that best represent your vertical and reach out to them, highlighting different incentives for them to get involved. Set aside some budget to offer free products in advance of your pop-up launch if they’re not already familiar with your brand, and/or offer them an exclusive discount code to share with their audience.
  • Understand who you’re pitching and what their needs are. There’s nothing wrong with using a template, but you’ll still have to customize it to elicit a good response rate.
  • Give the media enough advance warning about your event to leave them time to do a story. Aim for two to three months before launch for local print, and two weeks for online media.
  • Keep your media pitch short and simple. Be considerate, and make sure all of the important information about your event is prominent and easy to find.
  • Open your pop-up shop on a high note. Pretty soon, gatherings and parties will be safe again. When that time comes, consider throwing a launch party and inviting an exclusive list of who’s who in your local region. For example, when apparel brand Kith opened a pop-up in Paris, it had a fantastic turnout and received great coverage from influential local blogs read by its target demographic.

Build buzz for your pop-up shop with social media

Be ready to maximize your exposure through social media before, during, and after your event—not only with your current and future customers, but with the editors and influencers whose interest you’ve piqued.

Pre-pop-up

  • Keep any buzz you established with your initial outreach going. Include a branded hashtag in your press materials and other collateral to help you find and curate content posted about your event online.
  • Identify co-marketing opportunities. Ask hotels and restaurants near your pop-up to mention you on their social media feeds, offering them some free promotion in return. Tourists love to return home with a unique product and story they discovered on vacation.
  • Post behind-the-scenes content on your own social channels, showing your pop-up being built and set up. Give users a sneak preview of the products they can expect to see. Host an online contest and announce the winner at your pop-up.
  • Send influencers, bloggers, and creators your products and ask them to post about them. The more products they can touch and feel, the more likely they are to connect with one of the products and post about them. Note: make sure to schedule this beforehand and get in contact with them 3-4 weeks before your launch.

At the pop-up

  • Music for the mood. What kind of mood are you trying to create in your store? Make sure your playlist matches that. If you’re a streetwear fashion brand, orchestra music may not be the right fit.
  • Encourage user-generated content. You have to create moments around your store that make customers want to take a picture or a video. In other words, you have to make your store Instagrammable. This could mean a selfie wall, a personalization of the product, or funny signage that people want to share and remember. You want customers taking as many pictures around the store and posting them online—you benefit from the free advertising and positive word of mouth. You can even gamify it to incentivize sharing with contests.
  • Encourage influencers to create content. Taking it a step further, encourage Instagram influencers and TikTok creators to create and share content while at your pop-up. This will help you build a community around your brand—and bring their entire fanbase to your pop-up and/or website as well.

When Bev and Highline Wellness teamed up with Neyborly to launch a Valentine’s Day-themed pop-up called “The Dating Shop”, they invited TikTok creator David Suh—a photographer who creates content promoting self-love—to be a part of their experience. The pop-up provided David with a unique opportunity to do a meet-and-greet with his fans, while also creating fresh content featuring customers engaging with the products in real time.

At the same pop-up, florist brand Petal Mistry did a flower wall installation for couples to take photos in front of—a concept quite literally borne out of people’s commitment to getting the perfect Instagram shot. (And people are willing to trek for a perfect backdrop—especially when they’ve been stuck on their couch for a year.)

Post-pop-up

  • Don’t let the conversation stop once your pop-up is over. Keep up the buzz you worked so hard to build and continue engaging with people talking about your brand and the pop-up experience.
  • Leverage user-generated content on your website, social feeds, product pages, and other online channels. Bazaarvoice found that more than two-thirds of shoppers prefer real customer photos of brands, not just on display or professional shots. Interesting product page photos can increase conversions by as much as 24%.
  • Use your point-of-sale to collect email addresses and run targeted social media ads to drive shoppers to your online store. The lessons you learn from your pop-up can inform future digital campaigns.

Evaluate your pop-up shop’s success

Among the first things you should do when planning a pop-up is identify your shop’s goals and set specific key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help you understand what you’re trying to accomplish and eventually help you determine whether your venture was successful.

Conducting a postmortem will show you what you can do differently next time and whether selling in person is an effective channel for you.

Be sure to closely analyze your pop-up’s metrics, such as sales, foot traffic, brand awareness, and new email leads.

Examine sales metrics

There’s more to retail than just sales, but strong sales is the ultimate end goal. When you dig into your data, consider the following sales metrics:

  • Sales by date. Sales by date can help you determine the best timing for your next pop-up. Knowing which days or hours were particularly busy is also useful information for planning special promotions and giveaways and for knowing when you need to add more staff.
  • Sales by customer. Sales by customer can be broken down to both the average total items and total dollars spent. You can use this data to create refined customer profiles, which you can then analyze to segment your customers. You’ll also gain insights into price sensitivity, purchasing habits, and product preferences that can inform online promotions and campaigns.
  • Sales by product. Zooming in on things like sales by stock-keeping unit (SKU), variants (e.g. color, size, etc.), and vendor can help you evaluate your products themselves. This information can tell you which product lines to invest in and which to consider scraping. Your bestsellers will also inform your visual merchandising and window displays.
  • Sales by employees. Knowing which of your employees generate the most revenue can provide insights you can incorporate into the hiring and training of future employees, even if you’re not running a traditional commission-based compensation structure.

Track foot traffic

In the past, measuring foot traffic was hard to do and often yielded less-than-accurate data. Now, there are foot traffic counters that make it easy to learn not only how many people are walking into your store, but who they are and what preferences they have.

If you have room in your budget, consider using a traffic counter like Dor, Aislelabs, or ShopperTrak. These tools provide accurate, by-the-minute foot traffic analysis.

Once you have a grasp on how many people entered your pop-up, you can drill down into other metrics, like conversion rate (the number of sales divided by the total foot traffic).

Measure social media mentions and engagement

What happens offline is only half the story. Just as important is how an offline experience impacts your brand online. One way to look at this is by analyzing your social media mentions and engagement before, during, and after your pop-up.

Look at how many conversations your promotional hashtag inspired and how customers engaged with it via user-generated content. If you used a branded hashtag, track and measure impressions or conversations. And if you ran a contest or specific giveaway, look at how many entrants you had and how many emails you gained.

Here are some tools you can use to get a clear picture of just how much traction your pop-up shop brought to your brand:

Qualitative analysis for your pop-up

Perhaps the most meaningful information you can take away from your pop-up isn’t a metric at all—it’s in-store customer interaction and feedback. Seeing customers react in real time to your products can be an eye-opening experience, especially if you’ve previously sold only online.

Being able to talk to your customers about everything from your branding to displays to products to layout can be vital feedback for thriving in a retail environment.

Examples of pop-ups to inspire new and emerging brands

Many of the qualities of a successful pop-up have stayed the same, but the pandemic has brought about some key changes in consumer behavior that are being reflected in the pop-up experiences we’ve seen recently. The desire for human connection, the interplay between online and offline, and profound support for local vendors are chief among these trends.

Below are some examples of emerging brands who have launched successful pop-ups—without huge budgets—that reflect the new shopping landscape. Keep reading for inspiration.

The Dating Shop

In this collaborative pop-up leading up to Valentine’s Day, human connection led the strategy. The pop-up was meant to raise awareness for sparkling wine brand Bev and CBD brand Highline Wellness. And while the products were clearly placed throughout the store, they weren’t the focal point.

In fact, to market this pop-up, singles in the Bay Area were asked to answer a personality quiz and applied in advance to be matched for blind dates while at the shop (socially distanced and with masks, of course). And they were incentivized to bring their friends. For couples, private bookings were taken for photoshoots in front of photogenic flower installations.

📌TAKEAWAY: People crave connection and miss social experiences. Although brands with existing customer bases will continue to benefit from the transactional element of pop-up shops (e.g. stores serving as locations for same-day pickup), most new and emerging brands will need to create immersive experiences to stand out from the crowd.

Petal Mistry

What was once an at-home business, Petal Mistry validated her business idea with a pop-up concept before launching her business online. This may seem like an unusual route, but it’s one that we expect to see more of in coming months as brands realize that some in-person acquisition tactics may actually be more affordable than digital advertising.

Setting up shop in a strip mall in Palo Alto, surrounded by cafés and complementary brands, founder and florist Priya filled the small space with her unique and tropical floral arrangements. She made more than a month’s worth of sales in just two days.

 petal mistry

📌 TAKEAWAY: Pop-ups aren’t only valuable as a testing ground for a permanent retail space—they can also serve as a way to validate your business idea and build buzz before you launch your business online. Of course, this isn’t feasible for brands that require heavy product investment and manufacturing, and are best-suited for DIY brands like flower arrangements, candles, and similar at-home businesses.

Paka Apparel

Not all pop-ups need a physical space—or even inventory. Take Paka Apparel for example. The brand’s clothing is made from one of the most functional and sustainable materials on earth: alpaca wool. Three months into the pandemic, Paka Apparel founder, Kris Cody, decided to go on tour with his two alpacas—Chaska and Luna—to meet customers in-person.

“While everyone was going online, I really wanted to go offline and connect with people. I saw how much fear technology and the media was causing. I wanted to give people a break from it. Alpacas are magnetic creatures, so I made them the focal point of my tour instead of pushing the products in an unnatural way,” says Kris.

Knowing that the bulk of his customer base was in the U.S. West Coast, he organized the “Paka Tour” down the coast with his alpacas and trailer in tow. All he had was his mobile point-of-sale and unique wood-carved $20 gift cards that could be used to purchase anything on Paka Apparel’s website. He brought his alpacas to farmers markets, parks, and surfing competitions, offering free alpaca hugs to whoever wanted them. “Without any product we created this incredible funnel from offline to online just by collecting emails in exchange for gift cards. We got 5,000 customers into our system over the course of two months,” says Kris.

📌 TAKEAWAY: You don’t need a physical space or even inventory to connect with your customers. Ensuring that you’re equipped with the right technology so that you can drive customers to your website at a later date is a low-budget and highly effective tactic for driving brand awareness and sales.

No Free Coffee

No Free Coffee, an LA-based coffee shop also known for their colorful merch, launched their Tiny Café pop-up concept in March of 2021—a hole in the wall (literally) decorated as a tiny door where baristas serve customers coffee from the other side.

The concept was inspired by wine windows that became popular in the 1700s during the bubonic plague or “The Black Death”. To help prevent transmission and keep society lubricated, wine producers sold their wine through small windows. Similarly, No Free Coffee knew their service was essential during the pandemic and went to great and creative lengths to safely serve their customers.

The brand shared promotional pre-launch videos and behind-the-scenes footage explaining the history of the Tiny Café and letting their followers know when they’ll be launching their tiny pop-up. The video content alone earned them over 100,000 views and grew their social media following significantly leading up to the launch.

📌 TAKEAWAY: Creating behind-the-scenes content and tapping into your online community is a powerful way to build buzz for your pop-up shop.

Neighborhood Goods

Neighborhood Goods is a new kind of department store with an online presence and three retail locations. They work with more than 100 hand-selected brands, from major international names to direct-to-consumer startups to bootstrapped local concepts. The company strives to bring together brands, restaurateurs, musicians, and artists to engage with customers and support local communities. And they’ve seen a lot of success recently in hosting local vendors’ pop-ups in their own stores.

For two weeks in March, Neighborhood Goods hosted a pop-up for Austin-based noodle cup company Chop Chop at their store in South Congress. Chop Chop’s founders offered mouthwatering specials for Neighborhood Goods customers while also selling their famous noodle cups.

chop chop pop-up

And this summer, Neighborhood Goods is launching a pop-up space, Common Goods, that will provide a free platform for brands, restaurateurs, musicians, and artists whose businesses have been affected by COVID-19 to engage with their customers for the first time since the pandemic hit.

📌 TAKEAWAY: This “store in a store” pop-up concept will continue to rise in popularity in 2021 and beyond as brands increasingly seek collaborative partnerships. In particular, expect to see more big brands and department stores partnering with local vendors. These partnerships are mutually beneficial: brands can leverage each other’s mailing lists and marketing muscle, and also mitigate risk by using existing real estate.

Moving forward with your pop-up shop

A pop-up shop isn’t just a way to generate quick sales—they can be part of your overall brand strategy. They’re a powerful customer acquisition and retention tool, an accessible way to test ideas and gather data, and a great way to build buzz and awareness for your brand.

No matter how post-pandemic retail trends shake out, one aspect of pop-ups will remain unchanged: they offer an affordable first step into physical retail for digital brands who want to connect with their community. Online will always be a key distribution and marketing channel, but physical retail is where brands can create long-lasting connections with their customers.

As the world reopens, consumers will be looking for fun and safe ways to mingle with like-minded friends and brands. With this guide, you’re ready to plan, execute, and analyze your own pop-up—no matter what form it takes.





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Lounge Underwear’s Story of Building a Multi-Million Industry Disruptor — Podcasts (2021)

Lounge Underwear’s Story of Building a Multi-Million Industry Disruptor — Podcasts (2021)


With nowhere to go last year, many of us found ourselves lounging around at home—in Lounge Underwear. 

The UK-based direct-to-consumer giant just closed out a banner year: they earned $19 million in sales, a 3X increase from the year before, and quadrupled their team to 80 employees. In this episode of Shopify Masters, we chat with the life and business partners behind Lounge, Dan and Mel Marsden, to learn how they created a brand beloved by influencers, and how they are incorporating sustainability and inclusivity into their day to day operations. 

For the full transcript of this episode, click here.

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to Shopify Masters.



Combining business savvy with female empowerment 

Shuang: Take us back to 2015 when you first had the dream of starting this business. What inspired you to start Lounge?

Dan: I think the way Lounge was built was very different to other companies that were built at a similar time around the boom of social media because I think a lot of other companies were built around people finding a gap in the market where they couldn’t find a product that perfectly suited to them or they were really passionate about the product. Lounge was built in a different way because I’ve started up a load of businesses before Lounge. Lounge was reverse-engineered because we knew the perfect way to market a product but we didn’t have that perfect product. So there were loads of criteria that went into it. It had to be small to ship even down to the granular level.

It had to go into what was classified at the time as a large letter mail so we could go globally for relatively cheap. It had to be brandable so when people posted in it in social media, you knew who it was. Had to have large margins because we didn’t have any money at the time, we didn’t have any outside investment. Had to be cheap to store because we didn’t have any offices or warehouses at the time. Loads of criteria. And it just so happened that it was underwear and the first triangle design that we sketched up to fit around that marketing strategy perfectly.

This is a story of two halves. So you’ve got those business foundations and then you’ve got Mel’s side, the brand, and community, and the female empowerment side. But admittedly in the early days, it was about building a solid business, which in turn allowed Mel to build this amazing female community. 

Mel: I think we essentially built meaning and realized what we wanted our values to be over time. The name Lounge was battered around and then we laughed when we came up with the name because we literally sat in our living room and it was like, “Oh, Lounge. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the one.” And I guess that story of female empowerment and inviting our community into this space that they felt safe and they felt like they were with their best friends even though it was in a social space. That came and has developed and evolved as the brand has and we’ve been scaling at such a pace the way that that journey has happened and the values that we can now share with massive social media and the wider community has become really powerful.

  A model in a purple set of intimates by Lounge Underwear.
Life and business partners Dan and Mel Marsden built Lounge by thinking about how it can succeed as an ecommerce business before landing on a final product. Lounge Underwear 

Shuang: Because there were already a lot of established global brands, how did you plan to differentiate your products and your service?

Dan: A lot of people obviously say it’s a very saturated market. I think when we started and even probably more so now, short of one or two brands, it doesn’t feel like there’s any competition out there. Five years ago, there wasn’t anyone. Obviously Victoria Secrets is of the big players, but they’re in decline. Short of that, every underwear brand out there feels very archaic. It doesn’t feel like they’ve got a strong brand. A lot of them feel like they’re in a mess so they don’t know who they cater for. It didn’t and it still doesn’t, feel like there’s any competition which I think is what makes lounge so exciting for everyone that works here because it feels like we’re scratching the surface, it doesn’t feel like we’re in a space where we wondered how we are going to compete with these guys?

Mel: But I do think that’s the underlying beauty of Dan’s personality. It sounds so cheesy as we’re a couple but he isn’t scared of anything. So the way we started our journey was with this really calm but underlying confidence that we will make this work between you and I with, you’re yin, I’m yang, we’re going to build something powerful here. And I think by having that mentality from day one, that was very humble, not arrogant, but just we were going to do this and we’ll have to figure out how we’re going to get there. I think that was a real golden nugget at the beginning of our journey.

Designing a brand based on first principles

Shuang: I understand Mel you have a journalism branding background and Dan has the business operation background, but the two of you actually didn’t have a design or fashion background. So how did you start to tackle design and production?

Mel: I think we’re both very in tune anyway as a couple. And although we don’t have a design background, we’ve got good taste so it meant that we knew what we wanted our product to look like and we knew what women wanted and we knew what do I like, what our community likes. And it started with literally just sketches and scrap pieces of paper, didn’t it Dan?

Dan: In the early days with the basic design, I think me and Mel got very similar tastes which flows through the brand. And even now with the design team, I’ll say to them, “I don’t know what it is that we need but when I see it.” Because we’re not designers but I think one of the beauties around the fact of being inexperienced and naive to an extent is you don’t follow the trends. I think if you’re brought up through another company, you get stuck in their ways. Because we didn’t have any experience. Everything we did was so fresh and it’s from the bat. We didn’t do a spring summer, autumn, winter collections, our collections lasts forever and I think that might have been probably a bit of a different strategy of what a lot of people do and they were bringing out seasons, they’d sell out, they’d bring out another collection. We don’t do that. We don’t work that way because we weren’t brought up in a fashion background I guess.

Two models in lounge intimates wear. One in a red set the other in a black set.
Without design experience Dan and Mel leaned into their intuition and away from industry trends when designing the initial products for Lounge. Lounge Underwear 

Mel: Five years in we’re still so ingrained in that design element of the brand to ensure that that vision that we had from day one doesn’t get lost when looking around and seeing what’s going on elsewhere in the market. We stay very focused on what it is that we want Lounge to be and what we want Lounge to offer.

Dan: Still to this day we don’t follow trends in any essence. So we don’t follow any kind of catwalks. We still to this day build what we think is cool and design what we think is cool and still go with that same strategy. We don’t get influenced by anyone so we just do what we want to do.

Selling through influencer marketing and creating an inclusive community 

Shuang: So after those initial designs and you’re ready to start the store, how did you convince people to start buying their undergarments online and on your website?

Dan: In the very early days, it was pure influencer marketing. But the landscape of influencer marketing was totally different years ago to what it is now. We were very lucky in regards to we were brought up in a time where ecommerce and social media were blowing up. We’ve done a lot of things right and I think we’re very good at a lot of things, but timing plays a massive part in any company that grows at our rate and we have very good time in regards to there was a space in the market and I feel there still is because I don’t feel like there’s massive competition. You had social media that was about to boom, or was in the middle of booming and then ecommerce exploded at the same time.

Mel: And it goes back to what Dan said at the beginning of making sure that as soon as you saw that product and then feeling you knew exactly what it was, and that brand recognition was just there instantly and that was part of that power that allowed us to then build upwards from there.

Shuang: How did you start building this inclusive and empowering community of influencers?

Dan: This goes back to obviously being in a completely different landscape but I feel like now we’ve got the best influencer marketing strategy in the world because there’s not many companies that could grow up with it like we did. So five years ago, we didn’t have any money, there were very few brands, literally a handful that were doing influence marketing. So we could essentially test and learn from that space with little to no money, essentially just gifting products. Completely different to what it is now and just test and learn. So you could try different influencers, figure out what type of account worked with no real investment. If you came into it now you’d need to have a hell of a lot of knowledge of what you’re doing and a hell of a lot of money. We were very lucky to be in a space that was very new and essentially test it before it boomed. Now we’ve managed to build a massive knowledge base over five years in the early days without putting huge amounts of investment in, and we’ve been able to scale that knowledge and that investment as social media scaled.

A pair of models in Lounge’s sets, one in white and the other in pink.
A big part of Lounge’s growth is due to their extensive influencer marketing program that goes beyond campaigns to develop strong relationships with social creators. Lounge Underwear 

Mel: It’s an element of consistency and making sure that from day one, we built relationships with these influencers that were just young women, at the time, they were still learning what it meant for them as well. But we introduced ourselves personally and we explained the brand to them, we tried to build a connection from the very beginning. So even now some of the girls that we worked with right at the beginning of our journey, they feel so deeply rooted and connected to what our values are now. The relationship is just so authentic and that then promoting our products just comes naturally to them because they actually love the product. And I guess making sure that that relationship was built right from the foundations through to where we are now, it was really important.

Shuang: How did you track all those relationships and ensure items were shipped to the right influencer and if the campaigns were performing as intended? 

Dan: In the early days, we used to track shipments and if people posted by hand manually just from a database and the emails used to have almost a traffic light system.

Mel: We sat back to back with a different little database with different influencers.

Dan: Literally just an Excel document. And then in regards to an ROI, this is the real tricky bit because there’s still no perfect attribution system in regards to Influencer marketing. There’s obviously ways and means around it, some obvious ones like discount codes or affiliate links or swipe up links in [Instagram] stories. But because we were growing up in this time, you’ve got the knowledge and the experience of what works and what doesn’t work and to a degree, it comes down to making a call off the back of that experience of what you think works and doesn’t work. If you haven’t got a perfect attribution model and pixel like you can on Facebook or Instagram, you have got to make a judgment call to an extent and think, are they going to add value to my brand? Bear in mind, it’s not always just a monetary value, it’s a brand piece as well as an ROI piece.

Mel: It’s the best feeling, from the early days when you used to see an influencer posting your product, you’ll be like, “Oh my God, that’s what we designed.” But now the goodness comes when you see someone just organically wearing it. So they might just be peeking out of a sheer blouse or you see it poking out the top of their jeans and you think, “Oh, they genuinely love it.” I don’t blame them because I live in it too. They love the product which makes our whole strategy just that much easier. 

Dan: There’s very few influencers that we work with just on a one-off basis. We tend to work on extended long contracts to actually build that authentication. I guess this isn’t just a business deal, it’s got value to it. We’d like to say we’re trying to build a relationship with these individuals and show that they have bought into the brand and it’s not just a one off deal. I think that’s where the real value comes into it.

Shuang: Why was it so important for you to make sure that it represents a very inclusive and safe community as well?

Mel: The way the brand was started to where we are now, we’ve been on a huge journey. But I think we wanted to offer more than just a product. We didn’t want to just offer underwear, it sits in your drawer and you don’t really have any real connection to it. I think what we’ve created is what we call our female family. At the end of the day, we are all different and I think that sounds like such a basic statement, but as a young woman, who’s grown through a world where you don’t love every single part of yourself. I think what Lounge has almost allowed me to do personally is grab my personality and push it out to a social audience is such a huge portion of women and speak to them in a very real way and just talk like you’re talking to your friends and make sure that they… Because you put underwear on every single day. You want to make sure that you feel amazing in it.

And if you can then also feel part of something that is more than just that project, that’s pretty powerful. Dan and I have just had a little girl which makes it even more important knowing that she can hopefully grow up in a world where women are celebrated in every single shape, every single size, no matter where you’re from, no matter what your story is, where you’ve been, there’s a brand out there that can speak to you just in a normal, authentic way that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable.

Building a business with sustainable practices and social impact 

Shuang: Speaking of going beyond the product, there’s a huge component of sustainability and charitable giving with Lounge. Talk to us about the importance of being socially responsible within your business.

Dan: In regards to the sustainability side of stuff, it was probably about 18 months ago we decided a brand that we were getting to a size where we could start putting that investment into that side of stuff. We made a conscious effort to say, okay, we’re going to set ourselves some goals in regards to our product and packaging side of things. So I think within six months, we had essentially moved all of our packaging from virgin materials to either recycled or sustainable materials. So everything from the product, the mailing bags to the swing tags to the returns cards, all went to sustainable options and then we started to focus on the products. And we started to switch all of our products to either recycled or sustainable options, ideally recycled options which a lot of it is. In the past 12 months, about 60% of our product that we’re launching is made again from sustainable or recycled products. We’ve said to ourselves, “Listen, let’s draw a line in the sand. Everything we launched from now on has got to be sustainable or made of recycled products.” As a brand, that’s how passionate we feel about it. A lot of companies that will say they’ve got a negative carbon footprint but they’ll just buy the credits associated with that which is kind of a cop-out but we’re trying to make a conscious effort to actually make a difference as a brand. Personally we feel passionate about it not just from a corporate responsibility point of view.

A model in a red set from Lounge against a white background.  
Making a commitment to sustainability, Lounge Underwear are committed to recycled and sustainable materials, something that’s often neglected by lace and embroidery makers. Lounge Underwear 

Mel: Definitely. We talk about it as a brand, as looking after our mother nature, looking after her, and that’s almost inviting the world to search into our female family as she is a woman and she looks after us. As Dan said, it’s personal. The brand is so much bigger, the business so much bigger than Dan and I now, but some of those deep rooted decisions obviously naturally do still come from the two of us. We wanted to make sure at the same time that we didn’t lose that luxury feel about products. So we didn’t want to have to lose the quality and I think that it’s been really challenging but really exciting at the same time to know that we’re able to still offer such beautiful products, packaging, everything that we do is still really gorgeous.

And one way a nice touch that we have as an example of how we ensure people still feel that value is the bags of the products that they now come in is made from a recycled plastic and it might essentially on the journey get a bit bruised and scratched and we’ve got on the outside of the package, we say something like, “My marks and scars just mark a part of my journey to you.” And it’s reminding you as a woman that your stretch marks and your cellulite and all those natural things on your body are part of your journey. And then we’ve tied that into this green sustainability message. I think we try to make sure that people really engage with it and notice it so that they think, “I’m actually contributing myself now as a customer to the planet.” Which is really cool.

Dan: It’s also a real challenge being an underwear brand as well because I think there’s a lot of developments in regards to suppliers that go into general apparel and everyday wear, but there’s not huge investment in regards to other companies that make lace and embroideries that go into a bra because the more companies that do it, the more accessible this cost to stuff comes and the more commercially viable it is. At the moment we’re taking massive hits on our margins and not passing that onto the consumer. We’re actually swallowing that ourselves. Because not a lot of the big players are doing it, it’s still a very challenging thing to do but totally worth it.

Mel: Yeah. And being the brand that can lead the way in the underwear space for leaving a mark in sustainability is a golden ticket for us.

Dan: One of the biggies as well is, we’re not fast fashion. We market ourselves as the opposite of fast fashion. The idea behind us is that you buy something and it lasts which massively contributes towards sustainability as well. It’s obviously creating less pollution in the world from the off set.

Shuang: How do you take on different charities to support and align yourselves with an initiative?

Mel: So after the breasts campaign, which is the campaign we were in every October for breast cancer awareness, I suppose it feels natural as an underwear brand for one of the first charitable campaigns that we ran for that to be around breast cancer awareness, something obviously that’s pulling in for women and men but proportionately more for women. And I think that whole campaign essentially was built to raise awareness. We raised donations and raised incredible money for our two chosen charities, Trekstock and Coppafeel!. But the awareness that we can then push out across social audiences is just so powerful. And I think, again comes back to why we do our sustainability work as well is that it’s personal to be able to have that impact on young women and make them sit and think and realize how important this stuff is.

Our audience is really young and I think those people think that, oh, you only get breast cancer when you’re old and there’s this rhetoric around it that is so false that the relationships that I personally built with the girls in that campaign that we now work with every year that we call our legends is, they’re just incredible women and I think they’ve all had these experiences themselves. So to allow our brand to then speak out in a search, again, that authentic voice that says, look, just sit back and think about this and check your boobs, I don’t know how you word it down but it just felt like it’s something that we had to do. It was our responsibility to make sure that our community was looking after their health. There’s obviously other charitable campaigns that we do that maybe we don’t sing and shout about as loudly as we do with breast cancer awareness campaigns. We’ve got this huge voice now across social media. We need to make sure that we’re using it in a responsible way.

Growing exponentially while instilling culture virtually 

Shuang: I know that Lounge had an historic year last year. How did you manage 2020?

Dan: We’ve seen unprecedented growth that very few companies have experienced over the past five years, but the last 12 months has just been a different animal. I think when you couple that with the fact that we’ve had COVID restrictions which has been massively challenging from a logistical point of view mainly. We’re very lucky in the fact that we’ve got a really young workforce. I think we’ve got an average age of about 25. So when we went into lockdown in the UK, pretty much a flick of a switch, everyone went to remote work in the office, short of the warehouse guys had to have to still work because they couldn’t do their job from home. But overnight, we went to remote work the next morning after we sent the message out, everyone came and grabbed their laptops, everything they need from the office and they’ve pretty much been remote working for I think the past 12 months.

It was seamless, which it’s just insane really because before that we were in-house five days a week. And to have that change but with no real stress on the workforce or our output is pretty magic, and a testament to the people that work here. But then from the logistical point of view, it’s a whole new bunch of complications because you physically need people to actually get that product out the door. You’ve got social distance and you’ve got massive problems with the couriers because they’ve got the same issues in regards to people in space and that nightmare. You’ve then got massive delays in regards to goods coming in on the seas and in the ports. So we’ve just gone a year where you’ve got massive logistical nightmares and we’ve grown over 250% year on year which is just insane. 

Mel: I think the magic for me and I think the same for Dan is the way that we’ve managed to retain our culture within our team essentially. The way they have responded to the pandemic and essentially kept that business scaling at this crazy pace is seriously impressive and something we’re incredibly proud of. But I think we’ve put a lot of effort as well as founders and that with a few key people across the teams such as our head of people, Georgia, is to ensure that everyone still feels connected because that is really how we create what we do is the fact that our team is so damn good. We’ve done yoga from home, we’ve done tea at three which is where we all jump on with random groups because there’s too many of us with a cup of tea because we all love a good brew and just chat and play games. Just making sure that our culture stays sound to the moment we all step back into the office, there’s still that magic there between everyone. 

But also we’ve recruited at such a crazy pace through the pandemic as well. Due to the growth that we’ve had over that period. But to then make sure that all those people feel connected in that group of Lounges was a challenge but I think one that hopefully they’d all say they’ve lived the experience even working at home.And I think something really exciting that is happening now is that we’ve just expressed to everyone at work that we’ve made a decision to move into a bigger HQ and we’ll be moving there early this summer. And now there’s this real buzz amongst everyone that one day we’re going to get back in the office and it’s going to be this beautiful, shiny new glass building that is built to be the best HQ in the world essentially. It’s been a really strange year but one way I think everyone just comes out stronger essentially.

Lounge’s headquarters on a sunny blue skied day.
Lounge Underwear invested in a new headquarters in 2020 by taking over an old Oracle office. Lounge Underwear 

Shuang: I read that beautiful article where you’re taking over the old Oracle building and there’s going to be a cinema and a yoga studio. 

Dan: It’s probably the biggest risk we’ve taken as a company to date. It’s a huge I guess level up from a business point of view for us which comes with the overheads of running a really large company. But this is essentially future-proof, scalability is a brand definitely in the UK. We’ve had a massive growing pains where I think we’ve had five HQ moves in five years now which is a nightmare in itself so this is a huge step up to secure lounges future and we’re investing massively in the facilities and the culture that we can then breed this new HQ and it’s put an investment into the guys that work at Lounge and then also to attract that new world-class talent which is inevitably going to be needed to where we want to get to as an ambitious brand that we are.

Shuang: Lounge has about 100 employees and you’re looking to double the team within the next year. When you’re hiring, what do you look for?

Dan: It’s definitely, and it’s quite cliché. In today’s age, everyone seems to say the same thing but it’s definitely a culture first thing for us. Personally, I don’t look at people’s qualifications. It doesn’t make a difference if you are in a university or not. We hire a lot of young people like I touched on earlier, but we see if you are going to fit into the business from a cultural point of view? We’re very lucky in that we’ve built this community of people that are so close and have created such amazing friendships that when you work here, it just feels like a really energetic environment because everyone’s friends. It doesn’t feel like work and I think that’s one of the major successes to Lounge is growth because everyone’s so passionate about their jobs. So it’s a case of skills you can learn but you can’t learn to be a decent person. It’s definitely a culture first thing for us.

Apps and tools used to build Lounge Underwear 

Shuang: And growing the business, are there any apps or tools that you’ve really enjoyed building your store or just operating the business to make it more smoothly?

Mel:  We also didn’t have a tech background so having Shopify at your fingertips, that just adds to jump in so easy to learn and create a pretty cool looking website, even from day one. Obviously now it’s completely evolved and changed. I think one thing we always say about Shopify is that there’s a lot of platforms that over the years we’ve outgrown and you have to move on but with Shopify we know we can scale the same pace that we are now and Shopify will still be at the core, really which makes everything super easy for us.

Shuang: Are there any Shopify apps you guys have used in the past or currently that have been super helpful?

Dan: There’s apps that allow integrations to become a lot easier like literally a simple plugin with your accounting softwares and your CRM platforms. Most of them have partnerships with Shopify so it’s a case of downloading an app and just plugging it in which is priceless again. But like I say, it depends because there’s different apps that we used back in the early days. So the ones that we use now, we used in the early days even apps as small as, I think it’s called Orderly Emails which allowed you to generate a packing list and an invoice.

Mel: We would then walk around with a piece of paper around the warehouse with a couple of invoices and make sure we sent the right thing to the right people.

Dan: Yeah. It’s crazy because before Shopify you’d have had to be a techie to build those things in, but it allows people without technical background or specialists, that kind of stuff to do all this stuff with no real experience. It’s breaking down those barriers.

Mel: I think Launchpad is a big one in terms of an app that we rely on, especially as we start to scale and we start to launch more products. We used to do that very manually and I would literally take the products that we wanted to launch that particular time, make sure, okay, it’s 7:00 PM. Click. Go live. And now obviously the Launch Pad is great. You can make sure that everything goes live all at once and you’ve got this gorgeous launch because we’re launching a product that’s a couple of times a month.

A model in a white intimates set by Lounge Underwear.
Integrating apps to help manage emails and launches allowed Lounge Underwear to customize their Shopify store while they scaled. Lounge Underwear 

Shuang: How did you manage campaigns and also the logistics behind the scenes for Black Friday?

Dan: From a logistical side it’s very hard because we can do up to 25% of our yearly revenue in a week and it’s that concept around scaling up massively over a short period of time and a lot of it comes down to in distribution these days. A lot of it’s still manpower so it’s how’d you go from zero to 100 times that in 24 hours. It’s a massive complication and stress on the businesses. But I think these peaks around Black Fridays are such a new problem as well. It’s not like it’s been going on for the last 50 years and people have come up with perfect solutions.

They are still headaches and ultimately even with the businesses that have got it down to a T, there are ultimately delays in those periods. You can’t physically scale up 1000% overnight. It’s just not possible. There are going to be delays but obviously we’re pretty good at distribution as a company. And we’ve had those growing pains over the last five years, but there is still an element of delays that I think there’ll be a way around that just because the peaks are so high. 

Mel: I think the pressure from the consumer at that time of year as well is like, “Wow, if your website does crash or if you order takes X amount of time to get to that person, you can see, evidently a lot of brands’ reputation just falls through the floor. If you just have that one tiny error that happens throughout that sale period, especially at the beginning of that sale. You finish one Black Friday, you’re already thinking of what the hell are we going to do next year?

Dan: There’s the stress from a distribution point of view, but more so in the last couple years is then the stress from a technical point of view, can your site and systems then essentially feed through to the warehouse? Can they cope with that level of traffic and that volume. You’ll find that if you haven’t got the right systems in place that all connect to essentially put that product out the door. If they can’t cope with it, they’ll collapse and then you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands. It’s actually putting that infrastructure in place from a tech stack point of view to cope with it, not just a case of actually being able to pack and get it out the door. That’s obviously a whole of the problem in itself.

Mel: Yeah. And then on top of that, you’ve got the fact that social is so instant that the minute you… And we’ve built this community of people that feel like they can chat with us through DMs, through comments. We’ll reply we’re there for them, we’re here to chat, we’re here to hear your feedback. The minute you do anything wrong through that Black Friday week, wow, is that pressure and we’ve obviously then got this full team of people that are there ready to make sure that people don’t panic, you can’t, it’s not going to disappear or whatever their questions are. 

On pricing for value and using sales sparingly

Shuang: These are great problems to have so a sign of the fact that you guys are growing so beautifully. Has there been ever a challenge with pricing around Black Friday? 

Dan: I don’t think it’s Black Friday that does that. I think this is where a lot of brands go wrong and they’ll get themselves into a rut where they’re going from sale to sale to sale. We do essentially that we do two big sales a year and that’s it. We do Black Friday and our birthday sale. Short of that we don’t go into sales which I think builds that brand reputation and that real value that you get for your product. It’s a quality product. I think that is where a lot of companies get into trouble where they’ll see quick wins when they’re young and they go into sales and they make a lot of money and they’ll start to do it more and more often and you totally lose your brand authentication. The problem is, is it then your consumer is catching on and they won’t buy unless you’re in a sale because you go in it so often so they’re waiting for the sale. So you find that when you’re not in sales you haven’t got a business. We’re very strict in that essence that we’re not, I say we’re not a fast fashion brand, we’re not a brand that runs on sales. We do two main ones a year and that’s it.

A model in a bright turquoise intimate set from Lounge Underwear.
Pricing strategically to indicate value allowed Lounge to not rely on sales to stimulate revenue. Lounge Underwear 

Shuang: You are also looking to expand with offices to America and Germany. What are some things that you are prepping for as you’re expanding your footprint globally with offices?

Dan:I think places in Europe like Germany, France, and the US you can target them from the UK and do a good job in regards to localization, but you can’t really get the culture unless you’re actually German and you’re living in Germany. You can’t mimic that. It’s very hard for us to understand the German way of doing things and who’s popular or what’s cool over there, unless you’re actually on the ground in Germany. It becomes a case where if you really want to break that market and go big there, you need to be immersed in that market, you need to understand how things work and you just can’t do that from the UK. And being brought up in the UK, it’s just a different way of doing things so you need to have that perspective in the country hence why international offices start to build out.

Mel: And balance that obviously stay true to your core as a brand, but make sure that that tone of voice actually makes sense out there in that culture, whether that be in Germany or in the US or wherever that might be, having those boots on the ground, actually out there in that space and even people within your team then are from that, what’s the word, from that history I guess is that their livelihood was brought up there. It then allows you to really start to understand different cultures.

Dan: You’ve got obvious challenges in the likes of France and Germany because there’s a language barrier. But even if you go to the US where it’s the same language, they speak differently even when you go down to the East and West coast. It’s the same language but the way they speak is differently. It’s getting that real localization where it feels like a local brand.

From teenage sweethearts to business partners to parents 

Shuang: I wanted to ask you guys about working together as life partners and how you intertwine personal professional lives so seamlessly together.

Dan: To be honest with you, it’s never… You hear about a lot of couples that go into business and they always seem to moan, but it’s never really felt like a challenge to be honest with you. Because we’ve been doing this for five years now and work together every single day and live together. It doesn’t seem to have caused us any problems. I think what helps is that we do very different parts of the business. Because Mel’s like I say is always on the brand side and the creative side nom and more than the numbers of strategy and scaling side. So what we do is very different so we’re not under each other’s feet all the time, I think that does make a big difference. 

Dan and Mel Marsden wearing beige clothing along with their daughter in a stroller backdropped by their new headquarters.
Dan and Mel are very realistic about the scaling Lounge and explains that it goes beyond just a job, it’s very much their lifestyle. Lounge Underwear 

Mel: We knew each other back in primary school and then we’ve been together since we were teens. Prior to Lounge, we started a small fashion boutique together. It almost feels even weirder now because we’ve had a child together so I’m now working from home with the baby crying somewhere downstairs with my mom. And that is now the bit that feels weird is that we’re not together everyday. It feels really unnatural to begin with. It was kind of like losing a left arm. 

Dan: I think on the flip side, in my eyes to get a brand like Lounge off the ground and to scale it at the rate that we have, you’ve gotta live it. It’s a lifestyle, it’s not a job. So if my partner wasn’t the other half of Lounge, I don’t know how it works because I don’t know how the other half would appreciate all the hours that go into it day and night, then you’ve got to come home and essentially still carry on working. It’s okay for us because we’re both under the same umbrella and we’re both creating the same situation but I don’t know how you balance that if the other one wasn’t in the same shoes as you. I think you’d have to have a very understanding partner.

Mel:Yeah, actually living and breathing it. Obviously having some balance in your life where you don’t just get buried in Lounge but honestly that’s just what happened.

Shuang: So you guys started dating when you were teenagers but at which point did you feel like we could actually be business partners and we can actually work together?

Dan: So what happened in the really early days where Mel came out of university, we started up a fashion brand that was essentially just bringing in off the line dresses from China and we’d just sell them on eBay. So it was a gradual process and then we built a website with that brand and then eventually started Lounge. So it wasn’t just a line in the sand, it was gradual so we started doing bits and bobs together and then eventually started Lounge so it was eased in. 

Shuang: Do you have any tips or suggestions for other couples who actually want to start a business together?

Dan: Like I say, I think if you’re going to go into it, in my eyes, I know a lot of people go on and on about work life balance which I totally agree is usually important, but in the early days, and if you’re scaling a fast brand, this is a lifestyle, it’s not a job. It is day and night and that’s the reality of it and it might not be a reality to a lot of people.

Mel: And I think as a couple you’ve got to be prepared to challenge each other and we’ve been together for 12 years. So over that time, you learn what buttons not to press on a personal level. You know where you stand but from a business point of view, in a brand point of view, it’s sometimes you’ve got to press those buttons to create what we do so I think understanding that challenging each other does actually create the magic that we do at Lounge and I heard Dan said that we’re in different parts of the business, but there’s also a huge breadth of stuff that we work on together, obviously that’s natural. You see each other, respect each other and just know what you’re good at and know where you overlap and just ride the wave. 



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What is Shopify and How Does Shopify Work? (2021)

What is Shopify and How Does Shopify Work? (2021)


What is Shopify? You might’ve watched a YouTube video about starting an online store on Shopify. Or maybe your friend keeps talking about Shopify and you’re too embarrassed to ask. Well, fortunately for you, we’re going to share what Shopify is, the pros and cons of using Shopify, what it offers, and so much more. So, let’s dive in.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an ecommerce platform that you can use to build your store both online and offline. Bloggers use WordPress. Store owners use Shopify. It allows you to sell both online with your own website and/or in person with Shopify POS. This ecommerce website builder has features for everyone from beginners to ecommerce experts

You can sign-up for a free 14-day trial of Shopify to test it out for yourself. During your trial, you can build your own online store, test out free Shopify apps, and if you promote hard enough, make your first sale. Shopify’s pricing starts at $9 a month if you use the Lite plan. However, most first-time store owners start on Shopify’s Basic plan at $29 a month. If you’ve been running a business for quite some time, you may prefer Shopify, Advanced Shopify or Shopify Plus depending on your business needs. 

What Does Shopify Do?

Shopify provides you with the foundation to run an ecommerce business. As you venture into the online selling space, you’re expected to open a storefront, showcase products, engage with customers, accept payments, and more. Shopify offers all the tools you need to manage each of those activities. Think of Shopify’s platform as a facilitator working to ease the process of selling products over the web.

What is Shopify Plus?

Shopify Plus is Shopify’s enterprise ecommerce platform for larger businesses or businesses looking to scale. It offers advanced reporting features, higher priority customer support, capacity to handle higher order volumes, and more.

What is Shopify Lite?

Shopify Lite is an affordable plan that allows you to sell products on an existing website. If you have a website that isn’t hosted on Shopify, sell with a Buy Button without Shopify’s hosting. You can also use Messenger chats, sell both online and offline, and send invoices on the $9 plan. 

What is Shopify POS?

Shopify POS (Point of Sale) is an application that allows you to sell products offline. You can sell products at a physical store, trade shows, pop-up shops, or other events in-person using Shopify POS. You can accept payments with your iPhone, iPad, or Android using the POS app.

Why Shopify? Pros and Cons of Shopify Ecommerce

Why use Shopify for your ecommerce business? Well, Shopify offers several advantages over other platforms. Here are a few:

Shopify Pros

1. Detailed Shopify Admin

In the backend of your Shopify store, you’ll find a whole range of reports and features that help you understand how your online store is performing. You can view the number of orders at a glance. You can find your best-performing product pages. And you can even watch a real-time view of your website visitors to see what stage in the funnel they’re in. Shopify is a comprehensive tool for an online retailer, allowing you to get an in-depth understanding of all of your online store’s details.

what is shopify

2. Free Features

If you’re building a new website, you probably need to pay for a theme (the design/look of your website). But on Shopify, a free theme is loaded onto your store automatically that you can start customizing any way you want. This is why Shopify is ideal for beginners wanting to dive in or play around to see what the possibilities are. You even have the freedom to customize your website to suit your branding style. You can choose free fonts (already installed on your store), or change up the color scheme, add your own photos, and more. There are also thousands of ecommerce-themed stock photos you can choose from taken by Shopify photographers. You can find them in the “free images” section of your Shopify theme. The other option is to send your items to a professional photography service. Besides all of that, you can take advantage of the various Shopify tools and to build a better, more powerful website.

shopify themes

3. Shopify is on a Cloud Network

When I switched from WooCommerce to Shopify, my favorite pro was that my website would be on a cloud network instead of a server. Anyone who has ever paid for a server knows very well that they crash at the wrong times, making you lose a lot of money from downtime. Servers often crash on Black Friday or during big events. If you share a server (which is what most new entrepreneurs can afford), you kind of have to hope that the other websites aren’t as popular. By being on a cloud network, the odds of your website being down are rare, allowing you to run your business with ease. And this cost is bundled into your subscription, making it one less thing to worry about. 

4. There’s a Plan for Everyone

Let’s be honest, there are costs associated with running a business. You’ll need to pay for products, marketing costs, new domain, and of course Shopify. But Shopify has a pricing plan for everyone. If you’re on a really tight budget, you can pay for Shopify Lite for only $9 a month. If you’re looking for a white-glove service, you can use Shopify Plus. You can move through the plans as your business grows, too. 

5. Tons of Apps

There’s literally an app for almost everything in the Shopify App Store. You’ll find countdown timers, image background removers, product sourcing apps like Oberlo (that’s us), and so much more. While there are a lot of paid apps, there’s also a bunch of free apps in the store. Adding an app to your website isn’t necessary. But if you’re looking to add products to your store, consider checking out the Oberlo app (the Explorer Plan is free and includes up to 500 products on your store). 

Shopify dropshipping app Oberlo

6. Tons of Support

If you’re still wondering, why choose Shopify?, the depth of support the company offers should offer a convincing reason. Shopify wants you to succeed on their platform. That’s why they have their own blog where ecommerce experts share their best tactics. That’s why they created Shopify Academy (now referred to as Shopify Compass), where you can take free ecommerce courses and learn at your own pace. And that’s why they have so many customer support reps who will happily answer any questions you have. There are even Facebook Groups created by Shopify users who want to help new store owners succeed. The support ecosystem at Shopify is massive. There’s always someone willing to help you grow. 


7. Low Barrier to Entry

Anyone can start a Shopify store. It won’t be easy. But it’s a heck of a lot easier than it was to build an online business 20 years ago. Did you know people had to mail in checks to Amazon when it first launched? Yeah, those days are over. And the truth is, as time passes, it’ll get even easier to build an online business. Shopify is leading the initiative of lowering barriers to ecommerce. Compare Shopify with other solutions, and you’ll know why thousands of businesses sign up to this platform every year.

Shopify Cons

1. There’s a Learning Curve 

When building a Shopify store, what you’re really building is a business, not a passive income stream. And starting a business isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do. Figuring out how to use Shopify and build a profitable store takes months of experimentation. It can take a while to know where every section of your store is located in the admin. But for the most part, Shopify is intuitive. It just takes some practice.

2. Shopify Alone Won’t Guarantee Your Success

Shopify has so many great features and apps that make running an online store easier than building something custom from scratch. The problem is that it’s actually up to you to make your store a success. You need to have the right mindset pushing you to learn. You need to have the marketing chops to promote your business better than the competition. Your success is in your hands, not Shopify’s. 

Shopify Overview: How Does Shopify Work?

Shopify is an ecommerce platform that hosts your online store. It helps organize the layout of your store’s appearance through themes (which you’re free to modify or change any way you want). It also offers payment processing, which allows you to accept and receive payment for the products you sell. Shopify owns the popular dropshipping app called Oberlo, which allows you to choose from millions of products that you can start selling the same day, without having to pay for inventory upfront. Here’s more on Shopify dropshipping.

So how does Shopify work?

Well, first you need to design or modify your Shopify store, include products on it, and test your website to ensure that both desktop and mobile are ready for public view. 

Then, you promote the heck out of your products. If you’re selling online, a customer visits your online store. You can view in real-time in the Shopify admin whether that customer is adding a product to their cart or completing a purchase. If a customer buys from your store, Shopify will process the payment for you and you’ll get paid. After a payment has been made, you can process the order so that the customer receives the product. You can access Shopify reports to better understand who your audience is. Customers can opt-in to your email list when they become customers allowing you to remarket to them. 

Ultimately, Shopify allows you to not only build an online store but gives you insights about your customers so you can better serve your audience. With so many features, it’s basically your go-to tool to building a successful online store

What Can You Sell on Shopify

On Shopify, there are always new trending products that you can sell on the platform. You can sell anything – from fashion to beauty to home and garden. Here are a few popular products you can consider selling:

  • Clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Home accessories
  • Travel products
  • Baby or maternity products
  • Bags and luggage
  • Fitness accessories
  • Beauty products
  • Kitchenware
  • Pet products
  • Automotive accessories
  • And much more!

Here are some fashion products you can upload to your Shopify store using the Oberlo app.


However, Shopify does have some strict guidelines on what you can’t sell, too. If you sell restricted products like the ones on this list, you risk getting suspended from the platform:

  • Certain firearms and their parts
  • Counterfeit or unauthorized goods
  • Gambling products
  • Regulated products or services
  • Adult products
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Event tickets
  • High-risk businesses such as bankruptcy lawyers, computer technical support, telecommunications equipment, etc.
  • And more.

Basically, if it’s illegal or regulated, it’s likely also not permitted to sell on Shopify. For those new to online selling, it helps to know how to avoid counterfeit goods when sourcing products for their store’s inventory.. 

How to Grow Your Shopify Store

You can grow your Shopify store a number of ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started on Shopify:

  • Create Ads – You can run ads on various platforms such as Facebook, Google, and almost any other social network. Ideally, you want to pick the platform where your audience spends the most time. It’s also important to choose a platform where the targeting options are expansive, allowing you to exactly pinpoint the ideal customer. To date, Facebook and Google are the most popular ad platforms. But ultimately, you want to pick the one that’s best for your niche.
  • SEO – SEO is a powerhouse at bringing in relevant traffic to your website. Almost all new store owners neglect ecommerce SEO as a growth tactic. Oftentimes, new entrepreneurs want to make a quick buck so they focus on ads. However, after months of investing in ads they realize that their acquisition costs are too high.With SEO and content marketing, you can drive free organic traffic to your website. The right strategy can also lower your acquisition costs and improve the conversion rate.
  • Social Media – Before you make your store public, you should already be building an audience. For example, starting an Instagram account a few weeks before launching your store allows you to promote to an audience at launch. With an audience in place, you’ll potentially be able to generate some sales with the link in your bio or Story. 

Shopify Customer Reviews

There are plenty of Shopify customer reviews on the internet, so you can seek third-party validation about its credibility at any point. You’ll find people sharing their experiences with Shopify on G2, Merchant Maverick, and many other websites. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Shopify

Is Shopify legit?

Yes, Shopify is 100% safe and legit. Since its humble beginnings in 2006, Shopify has released many features to help common people create their own online store. You can use the platform to set up, design, and manage your ecommerce store across multiple sales channels, including mobile, web, social media, and marketplaces. Shopify ratings indicate that people are incredibly satisfied with Shopify’s technology and ecosystem. So you can be sure that you’re investing in a legitimate solution when you subscribe to Shopify. 

Is Shopify good for beginners?

Absolutely! Shopify is built in a way that beginners and non-tech savvy folks can use it without problems. The platform comes with an already built store structure, so you just need to put the remaining objects (theme, products, etc.) on top to get your shop going. Everyone from college students to retirees can use Shopify to start an ecommerce business.  

Is Shopify good for small businesses?

In a word: yes. Shopify’s pricing and user-friendliness make it one of the best options for small businesses. Signing up to Shopify gives you access to a store builder, free themes, payment gateways, unlimited products, and more. For just $29 per month, you get all that plus tons of learning resources to help you launch successfully. Shopify is also easy to use – you don’t need any tech or coding skills to get the most out of its features. 

What Is Shopify and How Does It Work? The Verdict

To really answer the question, “What is Shopify?” it’s best to create your own online store using this ecommerce platform and see for yourself. If you’re looking to make money online, Shopify is the best platform for online retailers. Take advantage of the free trial to test it out for yourself to see what all the hype is about. Shopify is all about making commerce better for everyone so it might just be the perfect platform for you.

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