Launching a Shopify store in 18 weeks | Insights from Forthglade

Barney Cox
minute read
Written By
Barney Cox
March 7, 2024

Forthglade produces natural, grain-free recipes for dogs. 🐶 They’ve been in the retail space for 50 years and, five years ago, they made the move to sell their products online. 

During that time Rebecca Polding, the brand’s Senior Digital Trading Manager, has worked on some transformative projects like revamping their ecommerce website and launching their subscription program. 

In this episode of Ecommerce Marketing 101, Rebecca explains how her team revamped Forthglade’s Shopify website in just 18 weeks. She walks us through the process, offering tips on working with an agency, testing your new website and increasing conversions. 

6 tips on launching a new Shopify website 

Forthglade have always run their online store on Shopify. When Shopify 2.0 launched, they took this as an opportunity to improve the site for mobile shoppers and update their technical infrastructure. This prompted them to do a full-blown website overhaul. 

From these learnings, Rebecca offered her top tips for brands who’re thinking about doing the same. 

1. Find an agency that aligns with your brand ethos 

Reworking your website is no small feat. That’s why Forthglade chose to work with a Shopify Plus agency. But they didn’t want just any old agency—they needed one that aligned with their needs and the way that they worked. 

After asking around their network for recommendations, Rebecca and her team picked Quickfire Digital

Quickfire is an agency that specialises in building Shopify stores that are optimised for conversions. Not only do Quickfire have a roster of clients that are at a similar size and scale to Forthglade, they also align with the brand’s ethos. 

“The ethos and the things that Quickfire cares about are the things that we care about. And they have such a strong track record with businesses of our size. We didn't want to be a big fish; we didn't want to be a small fish - we just wanted to be just right. And we wanted to find an agency that fits this project, as well as the ongoing needs of our development team.”

Quickfire worked really closely with Forthglade as the website was being overhauled. Rebecca was in regular contact with Quickfire’s design and development team, which meant they could turn feedback around quickly. Plus, Rebecca and her team could learn how the website worked whilst it was being built, which saved them loads of time in the long run. 

💡Quickfire Digital are a partner of Dash. If you’re a customer of ours, Quickfire will give your store a free conversion rate optimisation (CRO) audit. Contact our team to find out more. 

Key takeaway: When picking a Shopify agency, consider how they align with your brand. You can ask around your network and take a look at their previous clients to get a sense of the type and size of brands they work with. 

2. Have a discovery day 

After Rebecca and her team picked Quickfire, they went into a ‘discovery day’. This was an intense session that helped Forthglade and their agency create a requirements document for the website project.

“We spent an entire day with senior strategists, project managers and designers to formulate a plan for the project. We knew we wanted a certain volume of new customers every month, so this helped inform our design requirements.” 

Rebecca says they had easy communication with Quickfire’s design and development team. This meant they could sign off on designs really quickly. 

Key takeaway: An intensive discovery day is a great way to quickly build a list of requirements for your website project. If you can, try to do this with the key team members of your agency, including designers and developers, to help speed up the process. 

3. Gather best practices from other industries 

One of the best ways to get design ideas for your new website is to look at brands outside of your industry. Whilst competitor research is important, it’s equally crucial that you’re looking at ways to differentiate yourself. In Rebecca’s case, she specifically looked at brands that host on Shopify. 

“A brand that’s using the Shopify platform is Ritual Multivitamins. I really love what they've done because it feels like they have a lot of really complex information, but the website is still incredibly usable on mobile. They make everything look and feel like their brand, but super, super usable.”

Ritual Multivitamins website

She also looked at bigger brands like Gymshark and Finisterre to see what design elements they were using, and how Forthgade could take inspiration for their own website.
Here are some of the elements we love on Forthglade’s website. 😍

Forthglade's website design elements

Key takeaway: When you’re looking for new ideas, don’t just stick with your competitors. You want to differentiate yourself, so make sure you’re drawing on inspo from brands outside of your industry. 

4. Use tools (like Dash) to organise your product content 

Visual content is hugely important to Forthglade. If you look at any of their channels, you’ll see they have a strong brand identity which is supported by high quality product and lifestyle images. 

A selection of assets from Forthglade

To manage all of this, they use Dash’s (that’s us!👋). Our digital asset management (DAM) tool helps them to find, organise and share all their visual content. Here’s a sneak peak of their account (which you can read more about in Forthglade’s customer story). 

Forthglade's Dash account

Dash integrates with Shopify so it’s really easy for Rebecca and her team to drag and drop images into their product pages. Dash also proved to be a crucial part of their website rebuild. 

“We used Dash to get images into Shopify. Shopify would then auto-compress and resize our images to meet the recommended sizes. It was just a really good way for us to take content straight from the source when rebuilding all of our product listings. It saved us loads of time.”

Key takeaway: Your visual content is a vital part of your website. Make sure you’re doing it justice by using a DAM tool like Dash to help you get images and videos into your website. 

💡 Learn more about the key features of digital asset management

5. Get people outside of your team to test your website 

When you’re working closely on a project, it can be hard to miss the small details. That’s why Rebecca recommends asking people from outside of your team to test your customer journeys. 

“Try and find as many “blind users” as you can. We use some people outside of our digital team to run through common customer journeys. Once that's all signed off and the initial bugs are sorted out, you can then push your website into a live state.”

Key takeaway: Get as many people to test your website as possible. Use people from outside of your team to run through some common customer journeys and spot mistakes you might have missed. 

6. Ask customers for feedback

Once you’ve pushed your website live, you can continue asking for feedback from your customers. Here’s how Rebecca manages it: 

“We put signs up all over the website to tell customers we’d revamped the site. We asked them to fill out a form if they found any issues, and we were happy to give them a call to help fix them. But, mostly, we were just after feedback so we could make improvements and enhancements based on what was happening out in the real world. That enabled us to keep the website live and weed out issues quickly.” 

From this feedback, they found some issues around the website’ third-party widgets, as well as a few button responsiveness issues. 

However, they did see their tracking working really well, which gave them reassurance that they were making the right decisions. Here are some results from the move:

“Since the website's gone live, our conversion rate's up by about 1.5% and our average order value has increased by £2 due to additional functionality around cross-sells and upsells. We were a bit sceptical at first because that's quite significant and we hadn’t expected an uplift in those areas. But they've been really consistent since we've gone live.”

Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to ask customers for feedback on your new and improved website. Being able to test it in the real world can help you spot issues early on, and make enhancements that’ll improve your website’s performance. 

How to increase website conversions 

Once you’ve launched your new website, it’s time to encourage conversions. Here are some of Rebecca’s tips. 

Nurture your marketplace customers 

Many consumers think it’s cheaper to shop from marketplaces like Amazon. But, as Rebecca told us, if they’re buying Forthglade products regularly, they’ll make bigger savings by bulk-buying or signing up to a subscription on Forthglade’s website. So if marketplace shoppers land on Forthglade’s website, it’s important they’re nurtured through email flows to encourage them to shop directly. 

Create high-quality visual content for your site 

People who aren’t ready to buy need to be educated about the product benefits. To do this, Forthglade leans heavily on their visual content to make the products speak for themselves. They use a mix of professionally shot, bespoke imagery and use user-generated content to make their landing pages pop. 

💡 Forthglade uses Dash to manage all this visual content. Read about how they have created a gorgeous visual library, and help free up time for the design team

Use surveys to find out how customers first heard about you 

Forthglade surveys their customers to find out where they first heard about the brand. This information can help them focus on specific channels and make improvements to encourage conversions. 

Improve your subscription offering 

Forthglade subscriptions are relatively new. But, as Rebecca told us in her ecommerce predictions for 2024, this has become a big part of their DTC offering. It helps build a loyal customer base and increases repeat revenue. Here are some of Rebecca’s tips to improve your subscription offering. 

  • Plug in software to increase your subscriptions: Forthalde uses the SaaS tool, Relo, to help manage subscriptions. When they first plugged the tool into the website, the uptake was totally unexpected and has continued to grow. 
  • Get your customer service team clued up on your offering: It’s important your customer service team knows about any new subscription offerings. In Forthglade’s case, the team wasn't prepared for the influx in new subscriptions—so it was a little chaotic to begin with! 
  • Clearly define the benefits of the subscription: Finally, make sure you make it super clear to customers how a subscription will benefit them. Your USPs need to be clearly defined, so customers understand why a subscription will be financially beneficial, in comparison to one-off orders. 
Forthglade's subscription page

Rebecca’s takeaways for building and improving your Shopify store

Rebecca gave us loads of fantastic tips in our podcast. Here’s a round up of key takeaways: 

  • Find a Shopify agency: A Shopify agency will have loads of experience working with DTC brands like yours. If you’re not sure where to start, consider asking around your network and checking for agencies that have worked with similar brands to yours.
  • Get design inspiration from other industries: When you’re looking for website design inspiration, don’t just focus on your competitors. Instead, look at brands using Shopify outside of your specific niche.
  • Use tools (like Dash) to organise your product content: Your visual content is a vital part of your website. Make sure you’re doing it justice by using a DAM tool like Dash to help you get images and videos into your website. 
  • Nurture your marketplace customers: Despite what lots of people may think, marketplaces aren’t always the cheapest way to buy products. Make it super clear why shopping directly from your website is the best way. 
  • Lean on your visual content: Images and videos are so important for DTC brands and it’s a topic we write frequently about on our blog. Here are some articles to help you improve your visual content strategies: 

8 ways to use UGC in your campaigns 

How to create Facebook ads that sell your products 

An ecommerce guide to Instagram content 

How to get started with TikTok marketing

Tips for creating thumb-stopping video ads 

  • Improve your subscription offering: Focusing on your DTC subscription offering is a great way to improve your recurring revenue. Check out our podcast episode with Hairstory, for tips on improving your repeat revenue channels

Listen to Rebecca’s episode on:

  • Apple
  • Spotify 
  • YouTube 

Want a better way to manage your visual content like Forhglade and other DTC brands? Sign up to a 14-day free trial of Dash—no credit card required. 

Barney Cox

Barney is the Marketing Lead for Dash. He writes about small business marketing strategies and how DTC brands can boost sales.

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Barney Cox

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