Unlike some other eCommerce services, like WooCommerce, Shopify provides a hosted service. Think of it as a full-service eCommerce platform.
Hosting is like a home for the website code. It’s basically a fancy computer called a server and from time to time, like your computer at home or in the office, it has a hissy fits and needs some attention.
The great news is that unlike your home or office computer, Shopify has over 100 people (and growing) dedicated to making sure all the sites stay live.
First thing to check if you can’t load Shopify
Shopify runs a handy little site called Shopify Status. It will tell us if it’s having any issues with the different sections in its system. For example, the admin login, check or storefront. 99.9% of the time it looks like this…
Green ticks in every area. Good times.
However, when they have an issue like they did on Wednesday 12th Jan 2022 it can look like this…
This means Shopify is having an issue, and more importantly, know about it. In the above example, Shopify store owners couldn’t log in to the backend to process orders and make changes, customers couldn’t check out and their in-store point of sale/tills weren’t working!
This was a pretty big outage and lasted about 2 hours. It was a global outage, but sometimes they can be localised to specific countries like Australia. It just depends on what has gone wrong.
What to do if Shopify Status is showing issues?
If there is an issue showing on the Shopify Status page there are 100 people at Shopify running around trying to fix it. There is no point in trying to contact them. They know and are trying to fix it as quickly as they can.
I make a note in Google Analytics using annotations so when I look back on the month and see a dip in sales I can remember what might of caused it. If it last more then 20 minutes I’ll turn off any ads on running on Google or Facebook for example and make sure if I’m sending out an email campaign it’s delayed until it’s back up.
Then I like to make coffee and put my feet up. There is nothing I can do so might as well take a well-deserved break!
What to do next if Shopify Status isn’t showing issues?
You might be one of the first few people to see the issue if it isn’t showing on Shopify Status. However, that is pretty unlikely. I normally just wait 10 minutes and Shopify Status shows the issues.
It sounds obvious, but if you’re in a rush check your internet connection is working. Googling anything will confirm this. Also, try a different device like your mobile or a laptop.
If all that is working you need to identify exactly what isn’t working with Shopify.
- Login to the backend/admin of Shopify? If you can that’s a good sign.
- Complete a purchase on your store? If not it’s a checkout issue (or you maxed your card out buying something late night on ebay!)
- Load product and collection pages? If not it could be a change made to the site via the theme.
With the exception of not being able to log in, which is unlikely if the Shopify Status is ok, you’ll need to contact the person or team who make changes to the Shopify theme aka how it looks. This is normally your web developer or someone technical. There is a good chance they’ve made a recent change that is affecting the way the site displays.
What causes Shopify outages?
The internet is a pretty complex beast made up of lots of different elements. To simplify it you can think of a ecommerce website having 3 main parts.
- Domain name (www.mybonzashop.com.au)
- The code that does all the clever stuff
- The server where the code lives
Shopify could be down because of any or a combination of these 3 things breaking.
For example, a domain name is like a phone number. When you type it into your browser it “calls” a server to ask for the code. If the internet has lost the details of where to route your call (the geeky term is DNS) your browser/computer can’t find the server where your code lives and the site won’t load.
Or some code on one Shopify server that has been updated chucks a hissy (technical term) and causes part of a site not to work.
Shopify also uses Google Cloud hosting to host sites. So if Google Cloud hosting has an issue then it can have a knock-on effect on Shopify and more unfortunately your store.
How often does Shopify go down?
It’s rare. It might happen a few times a year and is often only for an hour or two. There have been cases where it’s been longer but after working for a web hosting company I can guarantee you Shopify is down for less time than if you host a website yourself!
It gets the highest return (amount back compared to how much you spend) because the cost is low, and if used correctly, generate a lot of sales.
For example, this food store we work with. Each of the big sales peaks is an email going out to 3,500 previous customers.
The example above is from sending 3 simple emails, 1 a week, with messaging about new products in high demand being available.
The 2nd email (biggest peak) had a 20% off a specific product they were over stocked in. Note the promo was to clear a product with too much stock, not just a blanket 20% off (that just kills your profit).
What not todo
The above examples were send to customers who had showed some type of interest. Basically don’t email everyone on your list. That will see your open rates drop and subsequently sales.
If you’re new to email marketing, it’s time to start reading up on it and investing your time and energy in it. You won’t be disappointed!
I’m not talking about just an eCommerce website, but a trading business.
It’s by far the quickest way to get up and running if you don’t have a site or want to expand your business.
Setting up a new eCommerce business is risky. Finding a product, buying stock (don’t get me started on what a farse drop shipping is), setting up a website and finding customers.
You can reduce the risk by buying an existing eCommerce business.
Where do you buy existing eCommerce businesses?
The two main sites are…
Exchange is Shopify’s official marketplace for buying and selling Shopify stores.
The main advantage is all the visitors and revenue is verified by Shopify, meaning you have less chance of some drongo scamming you.
A marketplace for all types of eCommerce (and none eCommerce) websites.
The advantage is there is greater access to more eCommerce businesses, but all results (sales etc) aren’t verified.
If your eCommerce store is built with Shopify and you’re using Google Shopping ads, this tip is for you.
Google Shopping pulls product information directly from Shopify, for example, product title, cost, delivery fees etc.
It’s really easy to setup (guide to setting up Google Shopping with Shopify).
However, because it’s relativity easy to set up, store owners often overlook some important settings.
Opportunity to beat your competitors
A quick win is making your product titles more appealing to potential customers.
Google Shopping product titles are the blue text under the product image (see below).
The product title is really prominent. Make sure they explain how your product solves their problem.
How to change Google Shopping Product titles
For those of you on Shopify, this is a pretty easy and really quick win.
Step 1. Login to Shopify
Check you have the “Google” App installed.
This sends your product information to “Google Merchant Centre“.
If you don’t have the app these instructions might not work for you.
Step 2. Check what product info is getting sent to Google
Once in the Google app click “Manage accounts”.
Then scroll down to “Product settings”.
Make sure the option under “Product Title Preferences” is “SEO product title”.
This means the product title you choose to show search engines (For SEO purposes) will be used for Google Shopping ads, instead of the standard product name.
If it isn’t set to SEO titles, change it and save.
Step 3. Get creative copywriting
Now we’re going to customise each product title one by one.
If you’ve optimised your product titles before for SEO, you most likely won’t need to to do this, as this will change the SEO titles for each product, not just Google Shopping ads.
However, if in doubt and you get help with your online marketing, check it’s ok to changes these. You could affect your SEO rankings in Google.
In theory, you should be fine, as you’re improving SEO and Google Shopping ads, but you can never be too careful.
With the warnings out of the way, in Shopify go to…
Products > (Select A Product)
Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a section that looks like this…
Click “Edit website SEO” and channel your inner Don Draper from Mad Men and show off your advertising skills with Google as your canvas.
The trick is to describe and sell the benefits of a product in a maximum of 70 characters.
For example, instead of
“Blue Dog Collars from [Your store name]”
“Scratch free blue dog collar”
This will be more compelling to potential customers.
Do this step for each product you want to improve results for in Google Shopping.
How do I know it’s worked?
Ultimately you should see more sales through your Google Shopping campaign.
However, this might take a few weeks, depending on how many visitors you get and your ad spend.
Have a look at the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your Google Shopping Ads in your Google Ads account. It should be going up, as more people see your new product titles and choose to click your ad rather than your competitor.