In our Behind the Shop series, we take a closer look into the people that have been building your favorite online stores.
The ecommerce and online shopping revolution rages on. We usually only encounter the storefronts, so we asked ourselves: who are the storebuilders behind the scenes? And what can they teach us about building the perfect online store?
This time around we spoke to Jason Stokes, CEO and Founder of Award Winning Shopify Agency, Eastside Co. This premier Shopify agency has been around for nearly a decade and specializes in design, development and ecommerce marketing solutions for global brands. Here's what Jason had to say!
Hi Jason! Please tell us a little bit about yourself
Hi! I’m Jason, CEO and Founder of Eastside Co, a Shopify Plus Partner agency. I’ve been in ecommerce and marketing for 15 years now. Over the years I’ve worked with many clients across a range of industries, and held directorships at several organisations.
I founded Eastside Co in 2012. The past decade has been quite the journey! It’s really satisfying helping ecommerce businesses grow and thrive in one of the most competitive markets on the planet.
What’s the biggest agency challenge you struggled with recently?
The last year saw obvious challenges as we moved to a remote working model, during a period of growth as ecommerce boomed around the world. As well as challenges, it presented us with lots of opportunity.
But it was really important that we managed the situation well to make sure we were able to thrive in the new way of working, while at the same time taking on new clients and team members.
And what steps did you take to overcome this challenge?
Firstly, the way the entire team handled it was just superb. The switch to working from home last year went really smoothly and while there were learning points along the way, overall it was really successful.
We kept regular contact with the team and made sure everyone was happy during the transition, offering things like subscriptions to the Calm app as people adjusted to lockdown.
We were able to scale quickly as we took on new clients and expanded the team, and the remote model also let us recruit from around the UK so we have colleagues in lots of locations now!
More about Eastside Co. Why do people come to your service and how can you help them?
We’ve built our reputation over the past 9 years and have a great portfolio of work to draw on now. We’ve grown a team of true ecommerce experts, covering client services, branding and design, site development, marketing, app development and website support.
If an online business is looking to scale, we can help them to do it. Having the endorsement of Shopify as one of the first 3 UK Plus Partners also helps us demonstrate our credentials.
Shopify recently released Shopify Markets to empower international commerce. Could you share your thoughts on this?
While Shopify has always enabled merchants to operate in different territories with multi-currency functionality and international domains, the introduction of Shopify Markets further removes complexities and hurdles to international commerce, so we think it’s an excellent step forward.
It will enable merchants to expand into new territories more easily, connect more efficiently with specific regions thanks to tailored experiences, make operations in different territories more efficient using region-based analytics, and give a central management platform for all regions.
In summary, it makes international ecommerce easier for merchants and customers - and I think that can only be a good thing!
How do Shopify and social shopping support each other? Any valuable insights into where this is going in 2022?
Social commerce has been evolving for a couple of years now. Remember when Instagram was just a photo-sharing app, or when Facebook was just a way to see what old school friends were up to?
Those days are long gone. In essence, everything has been ‘shopified’ - the recent partnership between Shopify and TikTok shows how this will continue to develop in terms of brands using platforms to get in front of their audiences.
With the talk of the metaverse, I’m sure AR and VR will be next to be monetised from a social shopping point of view. It makes perfect sense from the perspective of viewing products.
How is Eastside Co helping their clients prepare for BFCM? Are there any specific tips, tricks or insights you can share?
Well we’ve just put together The Ultimate Guide to Boosting Ecommerce Sales (plug alert!) which is free to download. It has tips and insights into turning visitors into customers, from onsite technical tips to engaging your audience.
One tip would be to understand your conversion funnel:
- Use heat mapping and visitor recording to see how customers move around your site, where they are going, how you can capitalise on their journey, and how you can improve their experience.
- Use behavioural analysis from Google Analytics to understand how users funnel through your website to goal completion. The Behavior Flow report in GA allows you to see the path visitors travel from one page to the next and provides insights into what content is most engaging, or which areas of your site may need to be improved. It shows how people arrive at the website (the landing page) where they go from there (interactions) as well as where they leave your website (drop-off points).
Can you suggest 2-3 people from your own extensive Shopify network every agency owner and merchant should follow for inspiration? And why these people in particular?
Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s President. He posts fairly regularly on LinkedIn and following him means you’re always in the know with Shopify developments. He recently interviewed Pharrell, for example, who gave some really sound advice for entrepreneurs.
Nancy Duarte specialises in creating visual messaging for business, so that storytelling is incorporated into business comms.
I like Gary Vaynerchuk (or Gary Vee). He speaks plainly and is frank when it comes to what he thinks, and always has a practical but humorous approach.
Everyday, there are thousands of people venturing into ecommerce. What’s your biggest piece of advice?
The ecommerce industry is obviously huge now and is only going to get bigger in the years ahead. My advice would be - don’t be daunted by this.
If you’ve identified a gap in the market and have a product or service that acts as a solution to a problem that exists, go for it.
It may be harder to stand out in a crowded space but if you work on your online presence, value proposition and marketing, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be the next Wild Deodorant or Gymshark.
Interested in participating in our Behind the Shop series? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.