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Ever wondered how often to update your online store and what updates matter most? Today, we’re diving into an essential topic for all online retailers: the art of e-commerce strategies for your store.
Joining me is none other than Josh Orr, one of the leading voices in e-commerce today. As the founder of Capital Commerce and the host of The Retail Initiative podcast, Josh specializes in helping brick-and-mortar retailers thrive in the online space.
This episode is a goldmine for indie retailers looking to level up their online game and drive website conversions. Josh shares rarely-discussed industry insights and actionable tips for online selling, along with shedding light on what really drives website conversions.
We’ll also explore common online retail mistakes and get a sneak peek at upcoming trends for 2024. Josh guides us on strategies to merge your in-store experiences into the online world. Get ready for insider tips that can transform your e-commerce game!
[03:08] How can independent retailers merge their in-store and online presence to create a consistent shopping experience for their customers?
[06:11] Why Josh believes these two elements of your website matter the most for bringing the in-store experience to your online shop.
[09:54] Josh’s insider tips on two overlooked techniques that could be your secret weapon for driving increased sales on your e-commerce platform.
[11:40] Why you really want visitors to stop thinking when they land on your website.
[14:37] Two quick wins you can implement today for an immediate difference in your online store’s conversion rate.
[19:02] How often should retailers change out the hero image on their website?
[21:21] Some of the common pitfalls independent retailers face in the digital world and how to avoid them.
[31:18] What emerging trends or technologies should retailers prepare for to stay ahead online in 2024?
[35:13] Josh’s resilience round
Mentioned in the Episode
- Connect with Josh
- Follow Josh on Instagram
- Listen to the Retail Initiative Podcast:
- Try the Tabs Studio app on Spotify
- Read 10x Is Easier Than 2x by Benjamin Hardy
- Read Be Your Future Self Now by Benjamin Hardy
- Read The Gap and the Gain by Benjamin Hardy
- Read Who Not How by Dan Sullivan
- EVOLVE 2024 in Denver, CO - Crystal Media
- Social Media Hooks & Hacks - Crystal Media
- Crystal Media Insiders
- Follow Crystal Media on Instagram
- Follow Crystal Vilkaitis on Instagram
- Crystal Media on YouTube
Best Business Book
- 10x Is Easier than 2x: How World-Class Entrepreneurs Achieve More by Doing Less
- Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation
Best Retail Technology
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Crystal Vilkaitis: In today’s episode of Rooted in Retail, I am chatting with my friend and colleague Josh Orr of Capital Commerce. We were talking about all things ecommerce, selling online, and Josh has a lot of tips for you. In fact, he’s sharing a couple of secrets that he rarely talks about. You’re going to love these.
And one tip that Josh gave was how often you should be updating your website and what you should be updating on your website. It was a major aha for me. I think it’s going to be a major aha for a lot of our listeners. And I love how he structures it. It makes so much sense. And I think that it could be a game changer to your ecomm performance and the conversions and sales that you’re seeing.
He also gives some tips on how to increase those conversions. We talk about some of thecommon mistakes that retailers make. And then we also look ahead to 2024. What are some of the digital trends and things that you need to know as it relates to selling online and retail?
Before we dive in, here’s a little bit more about my guest.
Josh Orr, the founder of Capital Commerce and the host of The Retail Initiative podcast is one of the leading voices in ecommerce today. He specializes in helping brick and mortar retailers gain traction in their online sales. Apart from his company’s ecommerce services, you may have seen him on stages at markets and retail events around the U S.
Or have taken part in his digital classes or in person events related to ecommerce marketing. Apart from his work at Capital Commerce, he lives in Houston with his wife, Kristen and three kids, Ryan, who’s seven, Emily, who’s five, and Ben, who’s three. Outside of his work in the retail community, he’s an avid concert goer, guitar player, and tries to get outside every chance he gets.
You can learn more at madebycapital.com and let’s dive into this awesome ecomm episode.
Welcome to Rooted in Retail, the show that’s dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive in today’s ever evolving retail landscape. I’m your host, Crystal Vilkaitis, and I’m thrilled to have you join me weekly as we explore topics that are vital to the success of your store.
From marketing to mindset, money to merchandising, sales to leadership, we’ll cover it all. Each episode features interviews with industry experts and accomplished retailers who share their real life insights and actionable advice. Get ready for a great conversation on how to build your dream business with Rooted in Retail.
Josh, welcome to Rooted in Retail. I am thrilled you’re here.
Josh Orr: So good to be here.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yes, you are our ecomm friend and expert, and ecommerce is so important. And we have so many retailers who do both, who have brick and mortar, sell online.
I feel like there’s so many questions around ecomm and it’s my goal today to help answer some of those questions, give some guidance, let the retailers know what’s coming. So let’s dive right in. Like I said, most of our retailers are both brick and mortar and have that online presence.
How can independent retailers merge their in-store and online presence to create a consistent shopping experience for their customers?
Crystal Vilkaitis: From your vast experience with Shopify, how can independent retailers seamlessly blend their physical and online worlds to create a unified shopping experience for their customers?
Josh Orr: That is a big question and it’s broad. And that’s an okay thing, but it starts with really the way that we think about ecommerce. A lot of the time, in store, and talking directly to retailers here, you probably get that you do more than sell products. The way you give confidence, the way you equip people, the way you make them feel something.
There’s something that goes on in the in-store interaction where you’re doing more than just selling a product. If you were just selling a product, it’s like a flea market. That’s not what you are. You are more than that for your customers. If you have loyal customers, then it’s safe to assume you are more than that.
But when we go online, how many of us just sell products? And it just becomes a thing that’s only about what we sell. So to blend the experience, start by what is the experience? It’s not just what you sell. It’s how you make people feel. It’s what you really do for your customers. And then start to say, okay, how can we bring that online?
A s an example, a lot of times when I’m like, “Hey, tell me what’s so unique about your store.” People tell me, it’s our customer service. Well, let’s start to figure out. First, what is the customer service? In some stores, it’s like shopping with the best friend. And you get a friend that you’re shopping with and that’s what the customer service looks like.
In others, you are the expert and they are going to you for advice to find the perfect gift, or get the perfect toy for their kid, or put together an outfit, and you are the expert that’s helping them and guiding them through that. And in others, you’re like the insider knowledge person. You have a idea of what’s ahead or you’re the toy store that doesn’t just know what’s hot today.
You know what’s going to be hot next Christmas. And you’re able to give that heads up. Why not bring those things online? Clothing’s a really easy one to talk about. If you’re that amazing stylist, help people style online. But just start with some of those unique things that you are amazing at in your store and say, what would that look like in our online experience?
Both from images and all of that. But then of course, in the basic functions of the site. So that’s the best starting place for blending the in store and online experiences. Realize that you do more than sell products. So don’t make your site about just selling products.
Crystal Vilkaitis: It’s a really good tip, because I feel like sometimes retailers will use like a Shopify template and it’s just like you’re plugging in the information and then that’s it. There isn’t that thought or that connection. And I’ve heard you speak before of the importance of photography and that is such a great way that you can bring that physical to the online space.
The importance of photography and site navigation to bring the in-store experience to your online shop
Crystal Vilkaitis: I’ve also heard you talk about navigation and like you said, that’s such a broad question. There’s a lot that retailers can do there, but will you just quickly touch on the importance of photography and your navigation to bring some of that in store over to your online and create more of that feeling and expertise?
Josh Orr: When you think through, let’s start with navigation. A lot of times we either make it so simple where we end up with these massive categories. Or even worse, we say we’re trying to serve people online, but our navigation is home, shop, with a massive menu, and then store hours, location, blog, gift card.
And I see that exact navigation all the time, but that is not how people shop. Is that why they’re there? So instead, let’s think through the ways that people navigate through your store. They, some people are shopping for a specific product. Okay, what would our navigation look like if they were looking for a very specific top, a very specific toy, a very specific whatever.
And then some people are shopping for categories of things. Like they are looking for, they don’t know which top they want, they just know they’re looking for a top. And so let’s think through what that could look like. And then lastly, there are people that are just browsing around. They are bored. They’re on their phone. They’re watching Suits and they’re on their phone while drinking wine.
And we want to make sure that our navigation can also guide them through the things that you’re amazing at. Your curation, where they don’t know what category they want to shop by. They just want to see what you have and they want to see what’s unique about your store. So it’s thinking through those things.
The other big one is bringing out what you do best. It’s likely that you do some incredible things in store and I call this your superpower, but it may not be something really big. If you’re a clothing store, it may just be amazing dresses. Which means you could have a clothing option and underneath that have a lot of different clothing collections and categories, but you’re also going to have a dresses category.
And dresses is also going to exist under clothing, but we’re bringing that superpower to our top level. And then photography. Photography is arguably one of the most important things on your site. And what a lot of people do is, they either go one direction and they just put pictures of their store up.
Which if you think about that, what’s the goal of that section? When someone lands on your site, what I have found, from heat mapping a ton of sites, is around 70 percent of your traffic lands on a site and guess how much they scroll? None.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Oh, my gosh. How much?
Josh Orr: 70 percent doesn’t scroll. Which means you have one little area to make an impression that says, this is a site for people like you.
And one of the best ways to do that is photography. And vendor images probably aren’t going to do that. Think through who does your customer aspire to be? How do they want to feel? What are you doing for them? And how can we showcase that through an image? It probably is not through a picture of your store.
Unless the entire goal is just taking people who’ve been to your store and getting them shopping online. Unless that’s the only goal, you need imagery that your customer lands. And it’s like, yes, this is for people like me.
Crystal Vilkaitis: So good. So action item for the listeners. I would love for you to go to your site. What kind of stories is your photography telling? Can your customers see themselves in those photos? What’s above the fold and the navigation of the site? Those little things alone could make a really big difference for your site.
Josh’s insider tip on two overlooked techniques that could be your secret weapon for driving increased sales on your e-commerce platform
Crystal Vilkaitis: Now, Josh, I want a little insider secret. If you’ve got one that you could share. So you’ve seen countless online stores and worked with various brands. Could you share one tip or strategy that you rarely discuss publicly? Something that might be considered a secret weapon for driving more sales on e-commerce platforms.
Josh Orr: Secret weapon, I’ll give you two.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Ooh, okay.
Josh Orr: Okay. Number one, when I talk about photography, every client I have that does over a million a year online, 100 percent of them, do you want to guess what equipment they use? They’re using iPhone photography and I don’t just mean for their product photos. I mean for all of their photos.
Do not think that getting good photography means going out and hiring a photographer and getting professional equipment. In fact, I would say, unless you’re a professional photographer, the iPhone will get better photos than your Canon 5D with the $10,000 lens that you buy. Unless you really know what you’re doing there. The iPhone is built for people who have no idea what they’re doing, which for guys like me, I’m so excited about that. Get your iPhone out and remember that when you’re getting photos, the goal is not good pictures of you. The goal is not good pictures of your team. It is about connecting with your customer. So that means if you’re trying to make people feel warm and excited that they’re there. Laugh at the camera, like visibly be laughing while your product is filling in the story of that image.
It doesn’t matter if you look goofy. What matters is that we’ve created an image that your customer can relate to. And it might mean that you put some stuff out there that you’re like, I look so weird.
Why you want visitors to stop thinking when they land on your website
Josh Orr: And thing number two I talk about is, or I don’t really talk about a lot, but it’s the importance of making people stop thinking. When they land on your site, we want to give them just so much clarity that it is just obvious what to do. So let’s go back to navigation for a second. I talked about these different ways that people shop. Some people will take that and directly translate it on their site as shop by category, shop by style, shop by room, shop by something else, and then shop by some other thing.
Think about that for a second. What did we just make your customer do? We just made them make a decision for how they want to shop. We want to make things so obvious that it’s just like walking around your store. Would you put a lobby in the front of your store? That was like to shop by this, go left, to shop by this, go straight.
And to shop by this, go right. I’m going to get confused and be like, I don’t know. I’m going to walk out. We want one path that your customer just, this is where I go. And so when you put that navigation together, don’t overthink it. And it’s okay to have like main categories and those types of things.
And then the things that are your superpowers. Let’s say, your home decor and you have the ability to shop by room. We’ll put that into your other categories, have your living and then underneath living, have the rooms, have your biggest brands, and then have the categories listed. Those would be easy things, but get your customers not thinking when they’re on your site, because if they’re not thinking, dopamine is just dripping in their brain and the longer we can keep that dopamine drip going, the more likely it is that they’re going to buy from you.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah, more money, more sales. It really makes me think of Catbird. It’s a website that I will often show when I’m talking about ecomm. They have in there gifts for Mother’s Day, for teachers. They’ll switch out, depending on time of year, for the different holidays. And again, it makes it just so easy to know who I’m searching for.
They’ll break it down by budget. And so if I know I’m looking for a new earrings and I want to spend 50 or less, it’s so easy. I know exactly where I need to go. And so they’re a really great example to take a look at their navigation, but yeah, make it easy.
And I love your point about photography to connect. It is all about connection. It’s not about you looking fabulous and being this supermodel. It is about bringing your authentic self through so people can really relate and connect with you. And that’s the type of content that’s going to work better on social media.
So if you are promoting that way, it’s just gonna work better. Such good tips, Josh. Love it. Thanks for sharing some of those secrets.
Two quick wins you can implement today for an immediate difference in your online store’s conversion rate
Crystal Vilkaitis: Now I wanna know. What’s one thing, maybe a low hanging fruit, that you’ve observed that could make an immediate difference in an online store’s conversion rate? And which listeners could maybe implement today or this week. Like something that’s not super hard to implement, but could increase their conversions.
Josh Orr: It’s hard. It’s always hard for me to give one. Every time someone’s like, give me one, I’m going to give two. One, and I want to come back to what I’ve said before, but it really is so important, is that hero image. That big one on the top of your website, change that out. Now think about it as, you merchandise your store probably like it’s second nature.
You know exactly what your brand’s focus is right now. You know what you want your customers seeing. Think through, okay, why would that not be the same online? See your site as not updating, but as merchandising. And so change that hero out and really think through what would make someone land on my site and just feel understood.
Like someone made a store for people like them. So change that out and don’t get complicated with it. Like you can go get a simple template on Canva. Load in your image, change the copy and load that to your site. The thing that I just talked about takes minutes. Like, actual minutes to do. And so that one’s low hanging fruit.
And then the other one is to get to the product page. So when we’re actually on the page where there’d be an add to cart, think through what questions would your customer have at that point? Let’s even assume that they’re sold. They love your image. They love the description. They’re like, yes, I want this.
Then we start to ask other questions. How long is it going to take to ship? If I don’t love it, what’s the return policy? How much is it going to cost to ship these things? The biggest conversion killer is any surprises at checkout. So if the customer doesn’t know exactly how much shipping is going to be until they check out, it’s going to kill your conversion.
But if they know it beforehand, it’s an interesting psychology thing. If we know it at the beginning and then we shop, we’re fine with it. But if you throw it in at the end, it will kill your conversion rate. So I love to use, there’s an app called Tabs by Station. Just Google it, Tabs by Station, and you can add tabs to your product page and you can add a simple shipping and returns tab to every product page and put a shortened version of your shipping policy, how fast you ship, your return policy.
The basic one. If you have exclusions, don’t write 10 paragraphs accommodating for every single one. Say most products can be returned within X amount of time, who pays for shipping, communicate that there. But put those things, just answer their questions, but we want to do it on the product page.
And the reason why we want to do it there is if they scroll, if they are like, okay, how fast is this going to ship? They scroll to the bottom, they click on shipping, they read it. Let’s just assume that we crush it. And 80 percent of those people that planned on buying the item click back, which is probably a high percentage of people that actually will.
Not because they changed their mind, but because they got distracted.
If 80 percent of people do that, we just lost out on 20 percent of the sales that we have the opportunity to make. Answer the customer’s questions on the product page. Don’t make them go search for those things. Don’t be nervous that people aren’t going to buy because of your return policy.
That’s likely true anyway, but at least we get to capture the sales that we would have missed by making them search for it. So use a simple thing to add a tab to every single one of your product pages, communicating those things. And if you need to link to the full one, that’s fine. Link to it.
But at least at that point, you’re only getting the deep researcher who’s like, no, I need to read the fine print first, but we don’t build our site around those people. We build it around those quick buyers that are just like, they just want to see it. There’s checking a box in their head of, can I return it?
Yes or no. Are they okay with whatever that answer is? And then we move forward.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I love how easy both of these tips are. They seriously are things that retailers could do right away. And some often the smallest of things can make the biggest difference.
How often should retailers change out the hero image on their website?
Crystal Vilkaitis: I do have a clarifying question for you. How often should retailers change out the hero image?
Josh Orr: It’s not even adjust the hero image. It’s featured collections and your navigation. Those things are not static. Even your navigation should be changing all the time. And so there’s not a set rule of how often to do it. I would ask, how often do you merchandise your store? It’s likely that every day, this thing gets moved here and that thing gets moved there and you got a new shipment and it goes here.
That’s adding products. It’s just adding products. That’s all that is. But then it’s likely that once a week, every other week, you’re like, hey, let’s redo some of this table. Let’s redo this display. And so you’re going to put some new things there and you’re going to move some things around.
That may be changing out your hero image, or a featured collection, or a small navigation shift. And then what once a month, you may move three or four displays throughout your store. Okay, let’s a hero image, multiple featured collections, and likely a bigger shift in your navigation.
And then how often do you completely remerchandise everything? Like the easy one is going into the holidays, and then going into what is normally a January sale and then launching spring. At least for most brands, almost all industries, that tends to be what I see. Why would we not re-merchandise our site at the same time?
And so I love to think of it as what are we doing in store and just how can we do the exact same thing online? So if you’re merchandising in store, think I probably need to merchandise these same things online in some way.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I have a feeling at least one person listening to this. That blew their mind and really helped them see the connection between both, because they’re not separate. Like we started this conversation with. It’s not I have my brick and mortar and I have my online. It needs to then just be the process that when we are remerchandising in store and changing displays, the next thing we do is we’re going over to the website and implementing the exact same thing.
And that’s such a beautiful tip to help create that consistency for the retailer, both online and offline. So good, Josh.
Some of the common pitfalls independent retailers face in the digital world and how to avoid them
All right, Josh. We often hear from independent retailers about challenges they face in the digital world. Can you talk about some common pitfalls they should avoid and how they can do so?
Josh Orr: Biggest pitfalls. There’s a few. One is not being really clear on what you want. I know that seems, you’re probably hoping for a tactical pitfall. You forgot to do this one SEO button that was hidden only for developers to know where it is. And that’s what unlocks Google. That button doesn’t exist.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I wish it did.
Josh Orr: It’s defining what we actually want, and when we know what we want, we’re willing to take steps to get there. Once we define it, we actually have to believe that it’s possible. And what I mean by that is if you go into January one and you’re like, I want to lose weight, I want to get healthy, but in the back of your mind, you’re like, I’m not going to lose weight.
And even if I do, I’m just going to put it right back on. That next Tuesday morning, when you wake up and you don’t feel like getting into the gym, you’re not going to. And so really defining, do I actually want online sales? Do I actually want an ecommerce presence? There is like an energy. I’ll get woo woo for a second.
You can feel it when the owner doesn’t want it. It comes across through the site. And if you don’t want it, why put all this energy into it? And when you put all that energy into it, as soon as it becomes inconvenient. You’re going to start asking the questions. Not how do we maximize our online sales? How do we shift our buying strategy?
How do we create a rhythm to leave our site merchandise? You’re going to start asking questions like, but what if we spend all this time shooting and then it sells in store before we ever even had it listed online? You’re going to start asking those questions, which those are scarcity driven questions.
So those are questions that are , I don’t want to put in the work to get there. So if you’re clear on where you want to go. And believe that it could actually happen for you. You’re going to be willing to do those things because it’s going to help you reach your goals. And the good news is if you decide that’s not your goal, that’s okay.
And it gives you a weight off your shoulder of I don’t have to focus on these things. And that’s the other pitfall that people make all the time is we chase squirrels. Thinking we have to do everything. Oh my gosh, Threads came out. We need a Threads strategy. How’s your Pinterest strategy going that you chased after you weren’t implementing your Facebook strategy that you chased after you weren’t implementing your Instagram strategy?
And it doesn’t matter, pick any one of those, but don’t feel the need to do everything. It’s okay. It is actually okay. If you need permission, I’ll give you permission. It is okay for you to not focus on growing online sales. It is okay for you to not be on Facebook. It is okay for you not to be on Instagram, not to be on Pinterest, not to be on TikTok, not to be on Threads or whatever new thing comes out, whatever year you’re listening to this episode. But it’s likely that one of those channels, a couple of those channels are going to be major needle movers for you. But when we spread ourselves so thin, we don’t really get to maximize those needle movers because we’re trying to do everything.
And so when we look at growing online sales, believe that it’s possible. Put in the work to get there and then focus on what’s actually going to move the needle. Not just chasing whatever webinar told you was a good idea. And look, Crystal and I are doing those webinars and we hope we can continue to give those good ideas to you. But that sometimes is like okay, great. I’m going to do that as we maximize this strategy. That’s what’s next. And it’s okay to say that’s what’s next.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yes. That’s so good. I am so grateful that you gave that permission that you don’t have to sell online. Like it is, I always say it’s like opening another store location because you do have to give attention and resources and time and market. Just because you have an ecomm site now doesn’t mean that you get floods of traffic.
You’ve got to market that baby. You’ve got to drive the traffic there. And so I think that there’s a lot of pressure. Especially since COVID of needing to sell online. I have to have an ecomm, I have to be there. And I love that you just gave that permission. You don’t necessarily do. You have to get clear on what it is that you want, what that model feels good for you.
And this is a perfect transition into a story I want you to tell our listeners. We were talking about this before we hit record of one of your best successes, one of your best case studies. Because she made a decision to not be ecomm for a bit, and please just take us through what happened with this success story.
Josh Orr: Yeah, it’s a fabulous story. And I’ll get to the story in a second because I am giving permission not to focus on online, but I will say, you will lose sales. Consumer habits are shifting and they are shifting online. So you either have to decide to enjoy it and get fascinated by it and go into it. Or you need to make your in store experience so incredible that it doesn’t matter.
It is not permission to stay just as you were. The leveling up is going to happen to stay competitive. You just get to pick where you level up and that’s the cool part. And so whichever direction you go, go all in there. And that’s what my client did. Her name is Becca. She owns a incredible store in Fort Worth called Hale House.
And she has this massive local following that she built over years and she went heads down on her store. She had a website, it was not good. And she was updating it, but it wasn’t really a priority. It was really, everything was about the store. She was heads down on the store. Well, then after she built her audience, she built her list, she launched her site, and within a year, her online sales and her store sales were equal to each other.
And so here’s the two choices that you have. If you’re like, okay, maybe not now, but down the road, there are two approaches you can take as you’re building up when you’re choosing when to go online, how to go online. So one, you can launch now, get into it and say, this is going to be a priority right now.
You may not have the following you want. You may not have the list you want. And the good news is with the right foundation, your audience is going to grow. Your list is going to grow. And as it grows, so will your sales. You get to reap the reward as you build. Now, the negative of this is it does spread you thin.
So you have to be willing to put in the work or the investment financially to have the team that’s really making that possible. On the flip side, to use Becca as the example, the longer she was heads down on her store, building her audience, building her list. Picture a spring just pulling down and the longer you do it, the further you’re pulling down that spring.
And then when you let it go, it just skyrockets and that’s why her growth happened so fast. I’m happy to take credit for some of the things that we equipped her with, but ultimately her success was because of what she had put in, not just when she launched, but for the 10 years before it. Now, the downside of that is there was 10 years of not reaping those sales.
For you, it’s really choosing which of these are we going to do? They’re both okay, but we have to pick. And what I don’t want for you is for this to be a passive decision. Don’t passively do one or the other. And say you passively choose the first one, you spend a bunch of money on a website, and you get on these tools and all the ninja stuff, but then you don’t really do it.
You just kind of passively got it. And then you never really reap the reward. And you’re not doing the things that are going to help with the spring. But if you know, like five years from now, it’s on our vision board, like we know we’re going to have it. It’s on our plan. And we’re going to really focus on online in five years.
You can start to reverse engineer and say, okay, what’s going to make that super successful? I know I need a large following. I know I need a massive email list. Well, if you know that. Are you going to be scared to tell your team gather emails at checkout? Absolutely not. You’re going to make sure, “Hey, you get every single email.”
If they say no, whatever, that’s fine. But you’re asking every single customer because that is success for my business five years from now. So that’s the story. It opened my eyes to a lot of things to see that. Cause there was a while where I operated under the belief everyone needs to do this.
Everyone needs to do this now, but it’s okay to wait.
Crystal Vilkaitis: And to your point, but you don’t just sit still and just keep doing what you’re always doing. Like you do really need to focus on then building something that I’m starting to talk more about is being 15 mile famous, and really looking at how you can connect locally, and have you done enough to really build your community locally.
And often we haven’t. So that could be a good start there. If you’re not really excited about the ecomm and the more that you’re building locally, it’s exactly like Josh said. That spring, you’re just pulling down until you are ready to then launch the ecomm and then you have just such a bigger launch because you’ve built so much more for yourself. So focus wherever you are today. This is such a good conversation, Josh.
What emerging trends or technologies should retailers prepare for to stay ahead online in 2024?
Crystal Vilkaitis: I want to know, just looking ahead to 2024, what emerging trends or technologies should our retailers be prepared for to stay ahead of the curve in the online space?
Josh Orr: I hate that this is everyone’s answer because it’s everyone’s answer, but if you’re not using ChatGPT, like what are you doing? Here’s what’s fascinating. By the time this publishes, the event will be passed but like we’re hosting a workshop next week and we’re recording this in the beginning of October.
So that’s just timeframe for context for you. But what we’re doing is walking people through, we’re going to give ChatGPT a ton of context about our brand, our brand focus, our holiday calendar, describe who our customer is. And then write 30 email subject lines optimized for open rate that blah, blah, blah, per day through the month of November. Get it to shoot out subject lines.
And then we’re going to say okay, rewrite in this voice because it didn’t nail it. Rewrite with less discounts. We’re going to refine the subject lines. But once you get that, you can get it to outline your emails, tell it exactly what you want, write one email per whatever.
But then after that, so you get all your email outlines. Then you could say, give me three real ideas per email that are inspirational or educational or entertaining. One of each per email. Then give me three social captions per email. Then give me site copy for this section. And the whole time it’s gotten your brand voice.
It’s gotten your plan. It’s gotten each of these pieces within about 10 to 15 minutes. You could have an entire month of content all written for your site, for your social, for your emails. You have Reel ideas. You can even ask it what kind of pictures you need to get. All of these things in minutes. Imagine like going into the holidays or going into spring saying, I have all my content done.
Now when something needs to shift, what’s fascinating is a lot of times when we go into a season, and we need to pivot, or we need to shift, or we need to do something different.
We actually are taking our eye off the ball of what we need to be focused on and we’re having to shift and focus over here instead. But if you have all your content, all these things done, and you do need to pivot, you are no longer taking your eye off of something. It’s done. You now have the freedom to pivot, to shift, to throw in a new promo, to get those sales when you need to get sales. Because the rest is done.
AI is unreal, and my encouragement is don’t be scared to use it. Like it’s not going to hurt you. I mean, it might someday, but not today is not going to. Get in and try and biggest hack here that I’ll give you is if you don’t know, tell it, I’m wanting to increase online sales and I want to do this through email marketing. Ask me 15 questions that’ll help you formulate a plan that will help me do this and then answer its questions. And it now will have enough to help you. Ask it to ask you. It’s a such an easy hack, but it works. It’s so good.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I couldn’t agree more. I am so on the ChatGPT AI train. This is our future. This is where we’re going and it can save you a ton of time. Josh said you can have your holiday emails, social posts, reel ideas, site copy done in 15 to 20 minutes. You didn’t hear that wrong. 15 to 20. It is so fast.
It saves you so much time. And like Josh said, it’s such a good tip. If you don’t know what to ask, have it give you those prompts and then you’re going to see how easy this is to use. This is not hard technology. It’s so easy to use.
Josh’s Resilience Round
Crystal Vilkaitis: All right, Josh, are you ready for the resilience round?
Josh Orr: Absolutely. Let’s do this.
Best business book
Crystal Vilkaitis: Let’s go. Best business book.
Josh Orr: Best business book. This is a challenge because I read way too much. The best business book I’ve read lately is a book called 10x Is Easier Than 2x. It’s by Ben Hardy, And it opened my eyes to so many things. And so here’s the basic premise. And I encourage everyone, entrepreneur or not. Or retailer or not, you probably should be an entrepreneur.
But for all entrepreneurs, is this idea of, he has what he calls a 2X mentality. And then he has what’s called a 10X mentality. When you say 2X is growth, I want to grow by 10 percent next year. How do we grow by 10%? We’re going to do exactly what we’re doing now, but we’re just going to do 10 percent more of it.
It’s what you do now, but more of it. You don’t have to shift a lot. You don’t have to change a lot. You just do more. But when you, if you were to ask yourself the question, let’s say you were at a million a year right now. And I said, but hey, within the next three years, you need to be at 10 million a year in revenue.
And if you ask that kind of question. Now, what do you need to do to get there? What are you focused on as the owner? What does your team look like? What channels are we going to focus on? Like these different questions, the answers tend to be far less nuanced. There tends to be like if I had to get there, me as the owner, I’m going to spend my energy here, here, and here. You’re probably not getting on that sales floor as much.
Because you are focused on this, this, and this. You’re probably not focused in these other pieces because you have bigger goals and you’re high producing, the things that produce a disproportionate outcome. When you do this, the result is so much bigger than if you try to delegate that to someone else. That’s where you need to spend your energy.
And so this idea of we’re not just going to keep doing more and more. Instead, we’re going to say, if I really want to get here, I’m going to have to focus on the things that actually move the needle and build systems and process and team to get these other things. That 80%, the 80/20 rule, to get that 80 percent off my plate.
So I can focus on the 20 percent that really moves this forward. So it was a fascinating book and it will shift so much. And honestly, everything that Ben Hardy’s written in the last few years, some of it was with Dan Sullivan: Who Not How, Be Your Future Self Now, The Gap in the Game. All of these books are so powerful.
So go on a kick. Listen to everything or read everything that guy’s written. It’s so good.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Love it. I couldn’t agree more. I was journaling just this morning about 10X and what that looks like for Crystal Media and what kinds of things we need to do. And I will be honest, I feel like it’s a little challenging to think that way.
Like you do have to push yourself than what we’ve always done. And that’s what’s beautiful about this book and that exercise. Such a good suggestion.
Josh Orr: I love it. I love that he talks about even your 10 X goal should feel somewhat, not necessarily unattainable, but you don’t feel like you’re good enough to do it. Cause it’s going to require a leveling up that is within you, but it’s not going to be within you if you operate as you are today.
And that was a fascinating thing to think through. And honestly, if you paired that book with another book, he wrote called Be Your Future Self Now., Which is this idea, you have this version of yourself in the future that you see is better. What would it ,look like to see yourself as them now? Or see yourself as this person now and make decisions for their benefit.
Like they are a different person. Let’s think about them. And so practically an easy example that he talks about that I love is. Like you’re a parent and you’re having a hard day with your kids. Is it possible that 20 years from now, your kids are all gone, they’re out of the house. That you would pay any amount of money to get back to that day and be with your kids when they’re little? Absolutely.
On the worst days where they are just little jerks, you would pay any amount of money to be with them when they’re little. So if you could adopt that level of gratitude that your future self will have for who they are today, live through that, and that’s going to give you an extra level of patience, an extra level of generosity and confidence.
So it’s fascinating. The other book that I just have to give a shout out to, because it’s not business. If you have not read Surrender by Bono. Listen to that book. He’s an amazing storyteller. He goes through all these different U2 songs and tells the story. It’s such a thought provoking book and there are some business principles you will pull from it.
But that’s been my like gym listen lately is listening through Bono’s book. And I just think everyone should read it.
Crystal Vilkaitis: I love it. And I can’t wait to read, I haven’t read Be Your Future Self Now or Bono’s book. I am so excited to read those such great suggestions.
Best retail technology
Crystal Vilkaitis: Okay, next up. Best retail technology, like software or an app.
Josh Orr: There’s the obvious ones like Shopify. I know there’s all these other ones. Your point of sale made a level ecommerce platform. Nothing even competes with what Shopify is. So that one, I’ll die on that hill until someone makes something better. I’m going to die on that hill. Klaviyo for email, like the ninja stuff you can do is unreal.
Those are my two big ones. Shopify and Klaviyo. I’m a big believer of, I never liked to start with the app as though the app is going to be this secret ingredient to our success. A lot of the best brands that are doing so well online started with very simple sites, but they were obsessed with building connection. And then once they got more complex, then it just helped skyrocket growth, but it didn’t create the growth to begin with.
How do you keep up with the ever changing retail landscape?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Excellent point and excellent tech suggestions. Now, retail is ever changing. So how do you keep up with the ever changing retail landscape?
Josh Orr: One, I have a shopping addiction. be Can I share a funny thing? I actually shopped for my wife a lot, I think cause I work so much with women’s apparel that I shop for her, but I love shopping in stores, seeing in store experiences. And then of course, I’m in a ton of Facebook groups. I’m on Twitter stuff.
You should see my email and the amount of newsletters I get. The podcasts. I’m a nerd. I read a lot. I listened to a lot of stuff. I just surround myself with it. And so it’s not even like this one place that I go. And I love to also, I’m in very active in The Boutique Hub. I’m in the whiz band group.
I’m in these communities and even just reading what they’re experiencing. And then I compare that with these other pieces and that helps me keep my ear to the ground, so to speak.
What’s a foundational best practice for e-commerce stores?
Crystal Vilkaitis: To help retailers be stronger, more rooted in success, what’s a foundational best practice that’s related to ecommerce?
Josh Orr: Yeah. So number one, back to what we talked about earlier, see your site experience and your store experience, not as in store, you do this incredible thing and online, you just sell products. See it as like your brand serves its customer. And it can do that through an in store experience. It can do that through an online experience.
And so think through, how does that play itself out? So it plays itself out by we merchandise our site. We don’t just throw a bunch of products on there and create a navigation that looks like a point of sale report. We think about how our customers shop, and we merchandise. And there, keep it merchandised.
Don’t let this stuff get static and think that we have a site, and we launched it five years ago, and we haven’t really touched it since. Instead, think through like how much have you merchandised in the last five years? That’s how many site updates there should have been.
And so start there. You’re in the right place, if you’re listening to Crystal. Grow your list, grow your social following. Even if you aren’t online yet, focusing on that area. You don’t have to be nationally famous. In fact, the people in retail that I know that have national audiences now that are getting orders from all over the country. It didn’t start by them getting on Instagram and getting 1.5 million followers within a month.
It started by them getting an audience locally and then it just grows. And then eventually, yes, like you have a national following, you’re getting orders from all over the country. But it does start locally to, from what I see, it starts locally. And so focus your energy there and let it grow naturally outside of that.
I’m not saying you can’t do ads. I’m not saying you can’t do these other things to grow national sales, but grow that list, grow that following. Cause whether you’re online now, or you’re going to be online in the future, that is what’s going to make it take off. So those are the best practices.
One thing Josh would do differently if he had to start his business all over again
Crystal Vilkaitis: So good. If you had to start your business all over again, what’s one thing you’d do differently?
Josh Orr: Oh boy. My business, the thing that I would do different is I really would have thought what I want my life to look like. How does it feel when I wake up on a Thursday morning? Do I feel like I have to rush to get somewhere? Do I have to respond to react to things, or does it feel peaceful and feel like I can focus on the things that I want to focus on?
What I did was I just chased money. And look, I get that some of us have that season and that’s okay. But we have to have in our mind what our life, the life that we want looks like. Because if we don’t really define that, we may say we want more sales. That’s the life that I want, but you don’t probably just want more sales.
You want the freedom that you think more sales is going to give you. If you want the freedom that you think more sales is going to give you, why would you build a beast that controls your life rather than a business that fuels your life? Define what you want, and then you can start to reverse engineer.
What things do you need to start doing today? Maybe you’re not going to have that freedom for a couple of years. That’s okay. I’ve been through that. I bet Crystal has too.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yes.
Josh Orr: But you can start to say, okay, but what things can I start to get in place that will make that freedom possible? The systems, the processes, the team, those things will make it possible.
And so don’t just think what sales goals you have. Think through what life you want. And I wish I had started there because I missed out on a lot of things that I wish I’d been there for because I was letting a beast control my life.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Wow, that’s a big one. That’s a good one, Josh.
What do you think the future of independent retail looks like?
Crystal Vilkaitis: Finally, what do you think the future of independent retail looks like?
Josh Orr: The future of independent retail. I think the future is really interesting. One, I think it’s the coolest time ever to be in retail.
Think through what it looked like 50 years ago. If you wanted to take out an ad, like what did that look like? And how did you track its success? Let’s even go back 15 years.
There’s a store or a brand called Red Dress Boutique. They’re probably one of the biggest boutiques in the boutique space. She went on Shark Tank and was looking for an investment in the six figures. And you know what that investment was for? Developing a website. She needed a Shark Tank level investment to develop a website.
It is so easy to get into these things. I’m not saying you don’t need help. For example, even with our services, the foundation we’re putting in place is incredible and it works. But even that is at a fraction of the cost of what you had to. It is such an amazing time to be in this space.
Like even going into an economic difficult period, bad economies create brilliant businesses and amazing businesses. And if you’re willing to figure that out, because the good news is if it’s difficult for you, it’s difficult for other people. And if you can be the one that figures it out and can navigate it, you will come out on top. So one, if you were like, Oh my gosh, it’s so hard. This is the best time ever to be in retail. And I really do believe it. We are going to continue to see just a blending of experiences where it’s not just about the store.
It’s not just about the site. It’s not just about social. It may be about things that we aren’t even aware of yet, but we’re going to see the importance of serving our customers, however they want to be served in that moment and customers will get to a point that they just expect it.
If someone wasn’t able to navigate through your site seamlessly the night before while they were watching TV, they are not going to visit you the next day. These things we’re going to see continue to grow. Brick and mortar is not going to go anywhere. People will love in store experiences. They will love the interaction that they get. It’s not going to go to checkout where nobody’s checking you out. It will at places that just sell products. But not at places like your store.
Be encouraged, one, that this is the best time ever and know that your customers are going to want your brand experience everywhere. So I think that’s the future, but it’s such an exciting time to be in retail.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Yeah, I think you’re so right. And I love that you gave the example of Red Dress Boutique raising six figures for a website, like the times have so changed and the technology has just gotten so much easier. I want to give a plug to your Momentum program because we have several retailers that have been through it.
And so if you are building a website. If you don’t have a website or you have one, but it’s just not working for you, check out Josh’s Momentum program and we’ll link to it. But Josh, how can people learn more about you and connect with you?
Josh Orr: Yeah, two things. One, follow me on Instagram @RetailJosh. I share a ton of tips and strategies, occasional cute pictures of my kids. All that good stuff. And then the other, you can check out our website at madebycapital.com. And you can connect with us there, see what we have to offer.
We love helping retailers that really want to grow online sales without sacrificing their storefront. Ultimately, it’s about the whole brand. So Crystal, this has been so good. Thank you.
Crystal Vilkaitis: So good, Josh. Thank you so much for being here and sharing your expertise. We so appreciate you and everyone remember that I am rooting for your success. Have a great week ahead. Thanks everyone. Bye.
Josh Orr: Bye.
Crystal Vilkaitis: Thank you so much for being here. It means the world to me. Don’t forget to join the Rise and Shine newsletter, which is social media news. You need to know sent via email every Monday morning, go to crystalmediaco.com/rise to join. And don’t miss the newest episode of Rooted in Retail, which drops every Sunday morning.