Conversion Optimization Process with Raphaël Paulin-Daigle

Raphael Paulin Daigle

Are you sitting on a goldmine without realizing it with a non-optimized website?

Are you doing the right efforts so that your website’s visitors take the actions you want them to?

I’ve had a lot of exciting discussions about those topics with Raphaël since meeting him a year ago at MTL+ECOMMERCE (to which he comes every time!). Raphaël is a CRO (conversion rate optimization) expert and runs Splitbase, a company that offers conversion optimization services for luxury ecommerce.

From his start as a magician when he was 11 years old to becoming a cryptocurrencies expert and then going into CRO, Raphaël is an overall very interesting person. He’s a really great speaker and communicator (Tedx, MTL+ECOMMERCE, Inside Bitcoins), was named one of Canada’s 10 future Dragons by Shark Tank billionaire Kevin O’Leary, and counts the famous Dan Martell as his mentor.

In his awesome interview, Raphaël shares his tips on CRO, entrepreneurship, content promotion and much more!

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Facebook Groups, Mentors & Career Hacking – Vin Clancy

Vin Clancy

This interview first appeared on


Vin Clancy (formerly Vincent Dignan) is one of those people who simply stand out from the pack.

But behind his outrageous clothing style, name change, rags-to-riches story and Facebook group success there is a long-term strategy made of well-thought hacks.

After Vin being a speaker at MTL+ECOMMERCE in April, I wanted him to be the first of my new Growth Hacker Interview series as he encompasses really well the growth hacking mindset as well as life hacking topics I tackle in my blog posts.

Here are answers to questions I’ve crowdsourced from Growth & Life Hackers like yourself!


1. Ambroise Debret: What would you do differently if you were starting in Growth Hacking right now?

Vin Clancy: The best platforms right now for organic content marketing are LinkedIn and Facebook groups- lots of opportunities to get tonnes of engagement. The third, if used correctly, would be cold email.


2. 2 least & most sexy moments of your career? What did you learn from them?

After you learn how to market, and how to sell, comes learning how to manage others. This is an area that I had to massive improve on in the last 12 months. Raising the second round of money for my first startup was challenging, lots of fruitless meetings.


I remember one of my advisors telling me “You looked like you were going to kill the investor in that meeting!” I was like “damn!”


vin clancy montreal

Vin Clancy at MTL+ECOMMERCE on April 26th, 2017


3. What’s your secret to being all over the place at any time? Have you managed to clone yourself?

Using the distribution of social networks. I’m a fan of public speaking too- it is still under-rated in creating super-fans. But being able to sit behind your laptop and make serious waves is amazing.


4. How does Vin Clancy determine the limit between acceptable vs. too spammy/pushy?

It’s never spam if you add value. You *know* if you’re adding value or not. It all needs to be tied to a mission, then everything aligns.


spam oreo


5. Do all Growth Hackers become Life Hackers by extension?

Haha, good question. I’d say the good ones do, yes.


6. What is the #1 mental shift anyone has to make in order to succeed?

Understanding the sacrifice needed. It takes such sacrifice to start to “make it”


vin clancy LA

7. How to growth hack your way to getting rockstar mentors alla Vin Clancy?

Buy their courses/stuff. Most people don’t have unique skills to “give value”, and me/others don’t have brainspace to work out what you should be doing.


Do some stuff for us and charm us. Give us something we don’t have. Most entrepreneurs don’t have a social life, so giving them that can be a good way in.


8. Is changing one’s name the ultimate Personal Branding Hack?

I think dedication is the ultimate growth hack. Most people don’t have it.


9. Your favorite growth hack of the moment?

Whatever is the latest one in my Facebook group, Traffic and Copy 😉


10. Is the Facebook Group strategy still relevant for anyone starting right now?



11. Anything else you’d like to add to this Vinterview?

Montreal was one of my top 5 talks of the world tour (Which had about 150 talks in it in total) amazing turnout I couldn’t have predicted and great afterpartying after. Salut Canada, I hope to return one day!


Want Vin Clancy to coach you? Check out the last three-month mentoring program he’ll ever run here:


Where can people find you online? 

Conference Summary Report #47: Influencers In Marketing Strategy

Influencers In Marketing Strategy

Every marketer knows that content is king. And nowadays, influencers are those who could boost up your ROI like no one else thanks to the content they create and share with their community.

But what really is an influencer and what is the role of influencers In Marketing Strategy?

For this 47th edition of MTL + ECOMMERCE we were thrilled to receive two exceptional speakers: Thierry Lindor, Founder of Influence Orbis and Steve Daniel, Influencer & Founder of MTL PROMOS.

Both conferences allowed us to have a new and fair definition of what is an influencer today and why influencer marketing strategy became so efficient.


What did we learn about influencers in marketing strategy?


First, an influencer is not someone who is “just” famous and good looking anymore. Well, these assets are quite valuable but, nowadays, the real definition of an influencer is more like somebody who brings value to her/his community.

In a marketing context, an influencer is an individual who can influence consumer behavior and brand choices. They are highly influential thanks to their status, credibility, position and media exposure.

Powerful, isn’t it?

This power or should we say, this influence on consumers choices, justifies the fact that brands and organizations seek to reach or collaborate directly with influencers in specific marketing actions.

And to ensure a strong and profitable partnership with an influencer, it is important for brands to keep in mind this following rule:

Don’t ask yourself how to bring value to the influence but how the influencer can bring value to your brand.

This requires applying 3 terms define by Thierry Lindor and Steve Daniel: attention, value, and trust.

If you attract the attention of consumers, you can offer them value by presenting a solution (product/service) to their need. Then, you can start to build trust between customers and your brand.


How to figure out a deal that benefits both your brand & the influencer interest?


First, find an influencer that matches your brand and that would definitely buy your products because she/he believes in it.

Secondly, find the influencer intrinsic motivation besides money or exposure. Remember, the influencer must add value to your product so she/he has to believe in it to maintain her/ his legitimacy and loyalty to her/his community.

Finally, give influencers a framework for your message which is going to enlightens the key, objectives, and deliverables.

And last, but not least, the most important tip was given by both speakers during that 47th edition. When we work with influencers, we don’t only do a transaction, but we build a relationship.

How to go Viral in Ecommerce with Alexandre Vanier from Poches & Fils

Ecommerce Viral

Ever dreamt of going viral with an E-commerce idea?

That’s what Alexandre Vanier did with Poches & Fils (P&F). They started selling pocket T-shirts and went viral several times (going on Dragon’s Den as well as with exclusive videos), selling in the millions in the process. They’re Montreal-based but taking on the world, pocket by pocket!

I invited Alexandre to speak at MTL+ECOMMERCE #33 in November 2016, and it was a great talk. He shared actionable growth hacking tips with great humor to a crowd of 100+ E-commerce aficionados.

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Black Friday: How to prepare your e-commerce website for the big day?

black friday : Test your ecommerce

Black Friday is probably the biggest opportunity of the year for all selling products companies, especially online companies. In 2016, Black Friday generated nearly 3.34 billion business profits online. In other words, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.


In the past few years now, an important element has come into play: the online presence. A company that does not have an online platform, even a showcase website, does not exist in the eyes of the consumer.


In 2016, worldwide e-commerce (BtoC) turnover reaches $ 1,915 billion and will exceed $ 3 trillion by 2018!


For companies that already have embraced the digital challenge, here are five points to take in consideration while testing your website for Black Friday :


  • The definition of the test strategy


What is your testing plan? What elements should you test? For example a loading time test, a stress test, the shopping cart and checkout efficiency, etc.


  • The user path


Is it easy for the user to buy on your website? Make sure that your online business is consumer-friendly, from the boutique page to the final purchase.


  • The connectivity


Will your website or app tolerate switch from Wi-Fi to 3G? In case of weak signal, how does the application react?


  • The mobile browsing quality


More and more people are using their mobile phone to do their research and buy products ($1.2 billion amount of purchases in 2016). This is the main reason your e-commerce have to undergo a rigorous testing process.


  • An efficient Back-end services for Black Friday


Make sure that your back-end service is on point and available in case of need (reservation system, payment service, CRM, trigger marketing, etc.).

You can find further details in this article written by our Sponsor: STARDUST.


A lot of companies refrain to evaluate their products on users before launching them; it’s either too expensive or it takes too much time. However user testing can save you several qualitative and quantitative costs. Indeed, if a company release a product that could have been improved, it will cost additional spending sooner or later. These costs could be technical element needing to be rectified, elements to add, or the trust of the consumer.


Nowaday, customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of any business. Their complacency and needs have an impact on every aspect of your business from product development to content marketing, to sales. Therefore, the benefits of user testing are undeniable.


There are several user testing options available: you can either plan a testing phase during your product development process, or you can ask the help of professionals such as StarDust Testing company, which is dedicated to help you improve your products by providing quality assurance services. StarDust Testing has agreed to enlighten people about its activities and the impact of user testing on digital companies.

For its 38th conference, MTL+ECOMMERCE welcomed StarDust company, a company specialized in testing new digital products (quality check, user experiment etc)
For its 38th conference, MTL+ECOMMERCE welcomed StarDust company, a company specialized in testing new digital products.

Who is Stardust Testing? Tell us about your story, your mission and the people behind it.

StarDust is a testing agency specialized in user acceptance testing (validation before product launch).


Founded by François Joseph, Delphine & Guillaume, StarDust helps companies deliver well-functioning and high performing apps, websites and other digital products. Our main motivation is a good user experience – as we all know how frustrating it can be if app crashes or one cannot finish an online purchase because of an error of the site.


What is your target market and what type of context?

StarDust’s target market is the digital industry; every developed product needs testing. With the digital transformation, digital solutions are in every industry nowadays.


With the expansion of the digital world, we help our clients validate newly developed products before the product launch or a new release or to identify potential improvements for products that are already on the market.


With whom and for whom have you worked with?

We work with clients from various industries including major brands in retail, finance, gaming and transportation industry but also start-ups and app developers.


Furthermore, we have partnerships with digital agencies that want to ensure the quality of the products they deliver to their clients as well as with other testing companies to educate about the challenges of delivering a seamless user experience.


What are the challenges that user testing brings forward?

Some challenges that come from exploring the product from a user’s perspective (external view): does the product comply with the user’s expectations? Does it work faultlessly on the users’ devices? It can also be challenging to identify areas and the steps to test such as defining the critical user path.


Lastly, user testing requires you to set priorities and to report detected bugs in a way that facilitates bug-fixing.


What are the signs that may bring a company to consider a user testing process?

Every company should have a phase in their development process dedicated to test their product from a user’s perspective. Simply put, user testing helps determine you whether a product is ready to be launched or, in case it is on the market already, what can be improved to provide a better user experience.

On the contrary, a low conversion rate, bad customer reviews/app rating or low user retention can be a sign of poor quality. Identifying weak points through user testing is a very efficient option


What immediate actions can be taken by any company to face these challenges? Mid and long-term actions?

Treat user testing as an integral part of the project development process and include some time for bug-fixing and improvements.


If deadlines are too tight, testing phases usually get shorter and less attention is paid to product quality which can affect the user experience.


Another action is to develop a testing strategy considering the fragmentation of the mobile market (diversity of smartphones, & tablets), the target user group, and the availability of testing resources. For example, the following questions may need to be addressed: does it make sense to invest in buying new test devices? What tests will be automated, which will be tested manually? Do we have testers to carry out the tests we plan?


At what moment is it necessary to look for a specialized firm, such as Stardust? Where does Stardust’s plus-value lie?

It is necessary to look for a specialized firm if there are not enough or not the right internal resources to cover this area. It is important to note that developers should not be testers!


Reviewing one’s own work can lead to biased results. Moreover, many companies do not have constant need for testing but rather punctual needs depending on frequency and number of digital projects. In these cases, it is often too costly to hire full-time tester.


There is also the question of availability of test devices as there are quite literally thousands of devices that a company’s customers may be using. Additionally, sometimes deadlines are too tight to cover user testing with internal resources.


StarDust can also help clients get an external view on the product to minimize risks and to get feedback from people that are not involved in the development process. By outsourcing, clients can concentrate on the core business as outsourcing QA is a time saving option. Lastly, if the company has little or no experience with testing, QA specialists can help educate about important aspects of testing and help develop a testing strategy that fits the development process.


What are the user testing steps that may lead to success?

The steps really depend on the product; overall all functionalities that have been developed should be tested before launching the product.


Tests should be done from a user perspective: what does the user want to do with the product, how will he use it? This process requires detailed documentation of testing steps and complete description for bugs, which allows developers to reproduce the testing steps facilitating the process of bug-fixing.


For complex projects, it makes sense to write a test plan defining each testing step to ensure each functionality will be tested


What timeframe is required to ensure the maximum results?

The timeframe depends on the product and the time spent to develop the product; usually, the more time spent and the more complex a product the more time should be anticipated for testing.


What’s more, testing often takes only a few days, but there should be time set aside to fix reported bugs nonetheless.


How can we measure the success of this kind of actions? What can be the expected results?

The overall goal of testing is to ensure the quality of product and to minimize the risk of the product launch. Products with good quality will have a positive impact on the customer satisfaction and loyalty as well as on the brand image.


In the digital world, the first impression is crucial as there are very few chances to win back user confidence. To add, depending on the type of product, results can be a higher conversion rate, user loyalty, positive customer feedback, or high rating in app stores.


customer experience

Christian Guy, Vice president of Marketing & Growth at Cakemail, Charles Brun, Director and Enterprise Sales Leader at Dynamic Leader and Noah Goldberg, E-commerce Director at Mackage,  were invited to the #37 Conference of MTL + ECOMMERCE  to talk about their expertise.  

Christian Guy, Charles Brun and Noah Goldberg talked about their e-commerce experience in terms of personalization and the importance of customer experience.


“Just like a kiss, when done properly email marketing leaves a mark.”


Christian Guy, Vice president of Marketing & Growth at Cakemail, spoke to us about the confessions of a digital shopaholic (himself). A lot of people (so called experts) think that email is dead, because of the rise of social media. The same was said about radio when TV came about.


Guy tells the story of how he was struggling with his putting in golf. And so, like any other human being searching for an answer, he used the Google search engine to look for solutions to his problem. He realized his technique wasn’t the issue – his golf clubs were! Hence, this research brought him to look for new ones on Amazon. A month later, Guy was still receiving newsletters, promotional emails, as well as email reminders of his unfinished purchases on the Amazon website.


This digital marking ends up somewhere, usually on emails (behavior, triggers, interests, trust and relationships). On search engines like Google or even social networks, the notion of trust is absent. But when you subscribe to a newsletter, you are giving your “permission” to be contacted. Here are a few interesting statistics:


“Every Time you spend 1$ on a retail campaign (e-mail) you pretty much make 38$.”


“There are 8 times more chances for a transactional email to be opened as opposed to any other email.”


“50% of all emails are opened on a mobile device.”


“13 hours is the average amount of time spent by workers on their emails and in their inbox.”


Here are a few concrete tips given to us by this e-commerce specialist



  • Be personal: People are waiting to buy but don’t want to be approached by salesmen. Be human.
  • Don’t use “dead” words (ex. sales, discount). Use keywords (ex. Get this color by tomorrow.)
  • Be timely: You have 1 hour to re-contact someone after an abandoned cart.
  • Never sell: Let them purchase. Tell them stuff that they want to know (ex. available tomorrow at 5 pm) inform them. People buy for different reasons, be close to the person but don’t be too specific. Find their sweet spot.
  • Use ESP (an email service provider like cakemail). It sends emails to a lot of people, using a clean IP address. Abide by the rules and your delivery rate will go up.)



Guy stated – “When you use a search engine, it’s like using e-harmony, you search for specific things, using keywords. Social media is a bit more like tinder, you share, you like, you swipe. Emailing is like a kiss; it implies, proximity, intimacy. A kiss requires permission and consent. That consent is what makes email marketing so powerful. Just like a kiss, when done properly, email marketing leaves a mark.”


Personalization – the key to success.


Charles Brun, Director and Enterprise Sales Leader at Dynamic Yield spoke to us about the importance of personalizing the customer journey. Brun has been in the retail and technology industry for the past 10 years. His main focus was on the personalization of the purchasing experience across touchpoints.

According to Brun, the problem is that companies are funneling customers onto their website, which in itself is very static. Hence, a lot of money is spent on attracting customers, while very little is spent on converting them (which makes no sense). You want to optimize the journey.  Brun states – “This morning I was at Bloomingdales. What’s funny is that the mobile and the desktop version of the website only offer women products, so it was a pretty shitty experience for me. It’s like going out on a date and on the third date the person is still asking you the same questions… You want one to one individual conversations that are meaningful.

Why is it important? A huge portion of your traffic is driving all of your revenue. 2% of visits is worth 200 million dollars, driving all revenues. Treat these guys like royalty. They should be getting a unique experience. So by caring for your customer, you are driving value into your own business. You want to bring the customer down the funnel in the most enjoyable and seemingless way possible (ex. Campaign ads, guide them to category pages). You want to trigger all of these micro-experiences throughout the journey to make it a relevant one.


Here are some real life examples:


  • Homepage: Under Armour has third party data ( that is collected throughout the web) so they personalize their banners. Depending on your likes and wants, if you like soccer that is what you will see on the banner. (Personal info, based on person’s interests or cities, localization, etc.)
  • Notifications or real-time messages: Giving that sense of urgency (ex. three other people booked this flight, bought this object) It works!
  • Cart page: product recommendation


Noah from Mackage – Specializing customer journey from beginning to end


Towards the end of the presentation, Brun and Goldberg had an exchange on how to specialize the customer journey. Noah Goldberg, e-commerce director at Mackage, was excited to try out the concept of personalization simply because of the love-hate relationship he had with his website. Nothing was working! Hence, personalization was a great venue to pursue. He had to do whatever it took to make his customers feel as close as possible to his products.


Although, at the beginning, Goldberg was held back by his lack of content. He stated “We did not have enough content to even begin the creation of that special relationship with his customers. We had to show them that romance – selling them these high-end products.” The e-commerce decided then decided to target his audience based on weather and location. It became the brand’s biggest selling point. Consequently, the content had to be changed in order for it to be relevant to the context in the west coast (considering their weather conditions are different).


When asked where he saw the future of personalization going for him, Goldberg stated: “In five years from now, at the speed that our industry is growing at – our brand awareness will be unmeasurable, and we will have to follow it using a holistic approach.



Audrey Forget, Digital Content Marketing Specialist and manager at Valtech, and Jeffrey Talajic, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Live Out There , were invited at the #36 Conference of MTL + ECOMMERCE,  to talk about their expertise.  

Audrey Forget and Jeffrey Talajic talked about their ecommerce experience in terms of digital content and customer strategies.

The importance of online content

Audrey Forget, digital content marketing specialist and manager at Valtech spoke to us about the importance of putting yourself out there (online) as a business. It’s all about creating brand associations and creating engaged communities. Why? Engaged communities represent high quality audiences. When you choose to associate your brand with an influencer, you get access to these types of audiences, these people, that are more prone to like you and want to be associated to your brand. Also, by having this online presence, your chances of being heard increase more than just having a walk-in store. This online exposure actually attracts customers by creating a new experience for them. It will bring more and more people into your store.

There are different ways of gaining online exposure, through blogs and many other different platforms where you can share ideas and information with consumers and attract new potential customers. Pinterest is one of Forget’s favorite means of social media. It doesn’t allow you to sell a product or a service per say, but it doesn’t need to! “The images are so powerful, so beautiful – all you need to do is add a link to your product description. This will create à smooth and easy process for all potential consumers.”

People want to be proud of what they buy, because they want to share their purchases with their surroundings. Being human is important- you want to make the experience emotional for your target audience. There are different ways of doing this, such as using live chat – people want to spend less time searching for information, they want easy access, they want you to feed them this information directly. Reminders can also do the trick. It’s so easy nowadays to get distracted by our day to day routine, you want to send your customers an e-mail or two and maybe a voucher to remind them of your existence! Most importantly, let people speak about you! The power of word of mouth is not to be underestimated. This can only help build your brand’s credibility and reputation.

A word of advice from online marketing specialist, there is no need to invest all of your budget on new technology. However, there is a need to embrace change and try to personalize your customer’s experience. Finding new ways to find data is key to any company’s survival. “Be there, be relevant!”

The key ingredients to attain ecommerce success

Jeffrey Talajic, VP of sales and marketing at Live Out There, specialized in active outwhere (ex. Columbia, North face) shares his views on how to be successful in ecommerce. Mr. Talajic says it’s all about customer acquisition and retention. These are the two key ingredients to a successful ecommerce strategy. But which on of the two should managers focus on more?

People often say “It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to find a new customer than to keep an existing one”. How accurate is this statement? Has anyone actually tested this? Jeffrey Talajic decided to conduct an experiment based on his line of work. February was the end of season sale for his company, Talajic created and published a few online ads on Facebook. So Facebook has what we call lookalike audiences – you basically upload a list of email addresses and ask Facebook to find emails that are similar to the ones on the list that was uploaded. These are what we call “acquisition groups” on Facebook. Talajic worked with 3 retention groups. Here are the results of his experiment:

  • Reached 50 000 through these ads between February 15th – 22nd for a total of 1 500$
  • Talajic was able to acquire 48 new purchasers. (Not bad!)
  • This comes out to about 10$ spent on each new consumer

We think it’s safe to say that the statement above is not always true. Not in this case anyhow – in Talajic’s case, it costed him 3 times more to acquire a new customer than to remain with the ones within the group. It’s all relative to what your cost and selling prices are. There are no set rules. It’s important to understand that managers don’t really care where your consumers come from, old or new, they just want people to BUY their products! The most efficient way to spend your budget is where your cost is at its lowest. This depends on the stage of your business as well (growth, mature). If you’re a startup then don’t just focus on those few customers, focus on growing!

If you have the time or money to focus only on one group, focus on recent buyers. You need new people to get new recent buyers, you can’t just live on recent buyers. It is important to focus on a larger audience and to focus your attention on new people! Acquisition ads are easy to run and help business grow much more. It is said that “New buyers buy more than recent buyers and that the first purchase is the usually biggest purchase in terms of value.”

All in all, we have learnt the importance of online content strategies, as well as customer strategies, in the world of ecommerce. These two categories of strategies can be used hand in hand, as they will allow any business to move forward with their brand.



Alok Ahuja, Head of the Plus Experts Program in Shopify, and Benjamin Crudo, CEO at Diff Agency, were invited at the #34 Conference of MTL + ECOMMERCE,  to talk about their expertise.  

Alok Ahuja and Benjamin Crudo talked about their work with Shopify Plus. They were accompanied by their client and merchant Yellow Shoes.




When people think about Shopify Plus, they wonder how that ecommerce platform works. Shopify is always thinking about the future, the long term. Being at its head means implies answering the questions that buyers didn’t even ask yet. It means being one step ahead of the game. It is a real challenge and you have to be very passionate about it to succeed.


Nowadays when you think about ecommerce, Shopify is one of the first things coming to mind. That’s speaks loudly of what Shopify has achieved in such a short time in the ecommerce industry.

Alok has been in the industry for over 16 years, witnessing its ups and downs. He spent a lot of time finding solutions for his retailer clients.


Back in 2008, things were really different. Alok would spend hours in the office talking to clients and trying to find out how he was going to fix the next problem. Clients would spend hundreds of dollars in license fees and administrators to maintain the hosting and the architecture of their websites. With his team, he could spend twelve to fourteen months working on a website, to the point of being sick of it.


That’s when he started to think that it was not the good or effective way to launch websites. It just didn’t make sense.

With the launch of Shopify and other platforms, the ecommerce industry is changing really fast. Nowadays, clients want to focus on the social aspect and have a fresh website as quickly as possible. The Shopify Plus team has started to show people how quick websites can go live.


Now, a website can be launched in 8 or 6 weeks. With this kind of effective team, people can focus on their social strategies and we realize the technical part of it. This is important when regarding e-commerce today.

When people think about Shopify Plus, they ask Alok what is different? There are a lot of key points that differentiate it and it is the most effective solution for an enterprise at the cost level. Shopify Plus allows you to focus on your purpose while getting a good customer experience.

With today’s mobiles applications, you are able to do so many things and so easily. That is the goal of Shopify Plus : to simplify the construction of a website and to allow the customization.  




Benjamin started his career as a retailer in his dad’s company.

He came to appreciate how technology had a huge impact on a retailer’s ability to administrate their business in an efficient manner and achieve their goals. Through fighting with point of sale systems and Yahoo stores back in the day, he became an enthusiast with the application of technology and how to make things even better.

He left his father’s company and went to Concordia University where he got a degree in software engineering. He learnt the skills that were necessary to understand the fundamentals of the technology, its limitations and ultimately to develop his own ability to innovate.

He took a part time job as a student in a local company of electricity that needed a new website. They had a previous experience but they were disappointed. So he had to prove to them that he could deliver. At that time it was 2011 and Shopify was a much lesser known player in the market place. The platform was less evolved than it is today. Nonetheless, it was still a really good platform to work with. Its ease of customization has always been one of the pillars that makes it so good.


Shopify Experts Program


A Shopify Experts Program was then launched and Benjamin got involved in the community and started contributing to it. Today, there are thirty staff members who work for over than 250 plans. Through that Experts Program, they were able to accumulate reviews and demonstrate to customers that they could do a good work.


Any kind of ecommerce project generally follows these general steps:


  1. Trying to understand your buyers better
  2. Focus on the design part
  3. Develop a launch (Shopify makes that a bit easier)
  4. Grow the content


As a retailer you basically have three different levels to control the success of your business:

  • The amount of traffic that the website gets
  • The conversion rate
  • The growth margin


Traffic is a commodity. You have to give money to Google to get traffic.

The growth margin is tougher. It is constricted by your suppliers and your own ability to produce a margin rise. The conversion rate is the secret asset. That’s where you have the ability to take the platform and craft an experience that really speaks to your customers. If you can take your conversion rate to a profitable spot, you can buy traffic and increase your cost of acquisition. Therefore you’ll be able to use more revenue to bring traffic into the site. Ultimately, profit is gonna go up. It’s really important to focus on the conversion rate aspect of a website.


The design process that developers follow is also really important. You have to settle who you want to benchmark yourselves against and what it is exactly about the competitors that the customers appreciate. Trying to identify the exact features that are well known and that you have seen is a great starting point. This will help you to uncover ideas of how you’d like your design to come out in the end.


Persona development is also important to take the time to consider who the target market is, and to understand their motivations and behaviours. A website has to speak to everybody that is coming to it. Therefore, keeping in mind these personas really allows you to separate your own opinion from what works for the site.   


A really good exercise is to consider all the different paths that people might take to come to the website and understand the utility of it. Very often we might wonder if they heard it on the radio, or if they googled “winter boots” and they were brought to our winter boots collection? We no longer live in a tiny place where you land on a homepage of whatever website. People are coming in and out from a multitude of websites and too many different places within the site. So we have to keep in mind that somebody might come into a random page of the website and may have missed a lot of information that you thought they received. There are many motivations and devices that could lead people to the site. You have to consider all of them in order to provide the best user experience.


The core of any well handed site is a very strong information architecture to offer a good browsability and searchability of the website. You have to think about the technical information that you present to the users, quantify it and then arrange it in a way it can be followed very easily. This is a simple concept but as the site grows, it becomes more complex.  


The last stage of the user experience process is the wireframing, which is a low fidelity version of the site. After you have figured out that you wanna talk to a specific individual, that you have staged a few features of competitors, that you have thought of a couple of scenarios… That informs our ability to create a really intuitive wireframe that shows the relative importance of the information on the page. If you are rushing into the design without doing all this, then you will find yourself kind of redoing this. The best way is to start coding from day one and just make your modifications through it.

A lot of customers often have this experience where they feel that the web developer doesn’t get their objective. Very often, it is not because they are not good software developers but because the customers did not take the time to truly place all their concerns on a map to achieve the best possible experience wanted.


As you continue to put content on the website, it’s really important that you consider a few different lenses. In order to be confident of our website you have to consider all the experience that you deliver through it. The marketing motivations: do you have the right content, are you listing all the right details, are you using the right ads, … You want to keep the message consistent, and of course the development has to be done well.

The cost associated with development has tremendously declined due to Shopify and other kind of platforms.

The next question is, which technology do you use to develop your website? There are a lot of defining characteristics proper to each kind of e-commerce. There are software services where you just pay for your website’s confection like Shopify Plus. You can also download a WordPress theme and they give packages for each type of e-commerce. There are advantages to each method.


So you wanna decide which platform to use. These are all the major concerns that you have when employing your particular technology: have you got the hosting cost associated to it? Have you got the support fees that you may encounter? Is there any upgrade that needs to be performed, maintenance, insurance?

We are going to explore each of these individually.


Let’s have a look at Shopify Plus. It has an initial cost but over time you’ll see that the cost remains the same. When you sign up for Shopify there is a particular monthly fee unrelated to the traffic on your site or the amount of products. It is a very simple cost basis to understand, which means that when your business grows and traffic increases, Shopify isn’t going to ask you for any more money. It is a great benefit for a growing business.

Platforms like Magento might seem cheaper at the outset but with Shopify, over time consideration for hosting comes in. With Black Friday coming up, Shopify triples the number of servers so you could deal with a higher traffic. This way, everyone could continue to sell. Magento has a cost associated to this. You have to pay more applications fees, more store space, license fees…

These are the criterias that you have to consider when you are hosting your own solution versus signing up for a simple service model like Shopify.


Whatever platform you choose, you are going to find that the design is basically the same. But there is a new difference in the developing costs. Shopify, in contrast to other hosting platforms, is less expensive for the development part. The reason for that is because on Shopify the way that you customize the platform is by focusing your developers attention only on the esthetic component of your website. We don’t need to worry about the engine in the middle. The developer’s responsibility is just to deliver the website without writing it.


A platform like Magento gives you the full responsibility of the software : the presentation area (where you deal with the esthetical aspect of the design), the middle area (where all the logistic is set), and the persistence area (the maintenance of the website).


Shopify only forces you to focus on one of those three aspects while a system as Magento forces all of them to you. Very often, you will find that accessing to all of that is not always necessary. With Shopify, you don’t have to worry because there is a team of professionals worrying about it for you, which is a huge benefit.




The manager at the Yellow Shoes said that since recently, while they were developing an ecommerce store, they became ecommerce Team Leader. They initiated the contact with the consulting company Diff Agency. Quickly, they became knowledgeable on ecommerce. Therefore, they gave the retailer point of view about Shopify.


This year, Yellow is celebrating its hundreds anniversary. The manager’s grandfather started the business. He turned that into one of Quebec’s largest and most popular shoes business. The reason it became so popular was the self service method of selling. You had the shoes on display with all the sizes under it. Customers could come much like in a grocery store, see the shoes and then pick the size by themselves. No need for a staff employer. This was a big change in retail.

Currently, Yellow has a hundred plus stores in Quebec. They are not necessarily located in Montreal. The biggest stores are in Gatineau, Sherbrooke,… They have a limited selection of quality products at a reasonable price that we are very proud of.


Now about our first experience online: as a traditional retailer, we had no experience online. But we knew that a huge demand came through online stores. Customers and store managers were demanding it. We knew that in order to be competitive, we had no choice but launching our online store.


We used the traditional Shopify Platform. We didn’t want to invest a lot of money and we wanted to launch our website quickly. Originally we just put our shoes online. We used the first generation Shopify Platform and we presented our shoes in a form of catalog. Immediately, in the first month we saw a huge increase in our sells. It was more than we had planned. We wanted to give a more optimal experience to our clients so we decided to really invest.

One of our first strategies was to find a technical partner, someone who was a Shopify expert. It’s when I met Benjamin Crudo. He and his team helped us build a really good foundation.

What was a key to us was that we wanted to build a site that really cared about our customers. We presented our goals and our targets and they helped us with the strategy and the realization of the entire project.  


One of our key things was targeting our clients. We built a client profile. We wanted to increase the conversion rate. With Shopify Plus we could start using promotions and boosting the shopping experience for our clients. Of course, we wouldn’t have to pay our transaction fees as the growth continued to go up.


We took a very mobile approach. Our goal was to limit the path to purchase, so our customers would be able to navigate through the website easily. With Shopify Plus, we were able to get a personalized site and were able to build our Yellow identity.

By using Shopify Plus, we were able to triple our conversion rate. This was a serious turning point for our business. We started this online project in May to be able to launch it in August, right on time for the “back to school” period. This was a huge sell period for us. We were able to complete all of this in three months. We are really proud of that achievement and we met our customers’ expectations.


In the future,Yellow is going to use our increased budget to invest more into the website. We want to expand our ecommerce influence. We are now able to merchandise our collections online, change words or columns on the homepage… Things we never thought we would be able to do. We can actually take control and do it ourselves. Therefore, I am very happy with our Shopify experience.


SSENSE à la conférence 33 de MTL+ECOMMERCE


On the #33 Conference of MTL + ECOMMERCE, Maximilien Meilleur, director of the Customer Experience in SSENSE, explained his vision of nowadays customer service.

SSENSE is an international online retailer, and currently, it sells four hundred designer brands on its website and counts more than two millions page views per month. SSENSE has indeed developed an outstanding marketing process. During this conference, Maximilien gave some pieces of advice to help the startups, businesses and companies based on his experience with SSENSE.


What does “customer service” really mean?

Everybody talks about it and it’s natural because the customer is at the center of everything we do. But it came to a point where it has become meaningless. We should stop talking about customer service and start trying to figure out what is it that we really do for our customers and tell the world about it.

So, what is customer experience and how should it be approached? If we talk about customer experience we think about champaign in business class, having someone waiting for you and asking you if you need something, free beers…And it looks like the right thing to do. But it’s the first biggest mistake that we can observe. It’s quite the opposite.

There is no magic recipe. What works for one company will not necessarily work for the others. But there are still some basic points that we all have to follow.


1.    Meet customer expectations

What really matters is just to meet customer expectations. If you do it all the way, they’ll stick with you. Achieve basic things like: shipping on time, fulfilling the visual basic expectations from the site…Think about what your customer expect at the minimum. The thinkline is easy, but the execution is hard.

Being consistent is the key. Everytime your customer has an interaction with you, you are training them and setting their expectation of you. Let’s use chat as an example. One day the customer comes in, asks you a question on chat and you answer in 30 seconds. If that happens more than one time, the next time the customer will come, that’s what he or she will expect. That is called the relative expectations. If one day, you are not there in 30 seconds, in a minute or more, then you will not fulfill the expectation that you build with your customer.

Expectations can be tricky so before building them, you need to know what league you are playing in. When you get “the free glass of champaign at the Dollars store” it’s weird. It doesn’t feel normal or natural. Customers comes with a personal expectation so if you don’t deliver that, it doesn’t matter how many free beers you give.


2.    Be aware of the big players setting the “absolute expectations”

You can’t always control customers’ expectations. Customers of one brand still browse in other company’s store so they come in with a bunch of absolute expectations. The big players (Amazon, Facebook, Ebay…) are the ones setting up those expectations and you need to be aware of them.

Out of e-commerce, a completely different example of that is the smartphone and its app design. When you open an app and you can’t find the “delete app” button, you are displeased because you already expect it to be there .That is because it is always available in the big players sets.

Maximilien gave the example of when he discovered the “wish list” in Amazon giving the option to save items for later, he didn’t see its utility. But now if he goes online and he doesn’t have a wish list available, he’ll feel like something is missing.

So the expectations are set both by the big players around (absolute expectations) and your interactions with your customer (relative expectations).


3.    Avoid the frustration moments by being honest

The problem is that the expectations of each customer are different and unclear. And in a company, what we want to offer is consistency. So, how should we deal with this?

First of all, we have to make the difference between frustration and disappointment. A frustration moment is when you expected something to work as announced and it doesn’t. When the system doesn’t deliver something that was promised. It is really hard to come back after that kind of situation because the customer is frustrated from now on.

In the other hand, a disappointment moment is when the customer had higher expectations. They thought you would deliver the moon and you take them back to reality. For example, if they wished to be delivered in a day, they’ll be disappointed to learn that you can only do it in three days. So they came in with an expectation that you cannot meet but at least they can’t be mad at you because you were honest about your real capacity.

If you lose your customers over a frustration moment you will likely lose them. Very few customers will give you a second chance. After a disappointment, it is easier to win them back. So to avoid frustration, you have to tell them the moment they come in what is it that you can do or not.


4.    Try to win back the displeased customers

If you still didn’t deliver your promise and a customer is really upset, it’s not the end. The interaction of the customer with you ends the moment you decide it to. So instead of ending it like that, get back to the customers, try to win them back. If you have any gifting budget or any kind of resources effort that you want to invest, focus it on the experiences that didn’t go well. Because if you offer them a compensation and keep trying to win them back, they’ll stick with you even more than before.

To support that point, Forester, the famous car company, made a study where they compared the number of customers who switched from one company to another when they were displeased versus those who stayed with them and bought even more than before after they won them back. That was a very positive experience. Numbers were three times higher when they fought to win back the customers that went away.


5.    How to talk to the current customers?

The millennials are a very demanding generation. If they want something it’s here and now, right away. But on the other side, they are easy to understand. They like to find the information by themselves. You just need to build your network so the entry points will lead them to ask questions and let them come to you. Always be there to listen to them and answer to their questions as an adviser. You have to let them know that you are there and wait to jump on the occasion when they contact you.


6.    Find your marketing differentiator

This whole strategy for customer service sounds really boring and in a great part, it is. But it is important to nail those goals. Make sure you invest a lot of time the firsts years to build this up.

Once you nailed all of the five points above, it’s time to find your marketing differentiator. Pick the right interaction aligned with your marketing strategy, your branding, your messaging and your customers. Pick only one instead of various but less unique differentiators, and tell the world about it. For example: free shipping in the US, etc. This will make all the difference and you will reach the real quality customer service.