Episode #27: Headless e-Commerce on Shopify with Kelly Vaughn


Rewind sponsors of Milk Bottle Shopify Podcast


What's in episode 27?

Kelly Vaughn is the founder of The Taproom. A full-service Shopify and Shopify Plus agency based in Atlanta, Georgia. Regarded as Twitter star in the world of developer's, Kelly is a darling within the Shopify community.

Keith chats across a broad range of eCommerce topics including how Kelly got started, the rise of DTC, her love of Klaviyo, all things Headless Commerce and how she self-taught herself to code aged 11.

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Episode 27 Milk Bottle Podcast with Kelly Vaughn

Kelly: [00:00:00] So I taught myself how to code when I was 11 I wanted to build my own community on this website called Neopets

[00:00:14] Welcome to the Milk Bottle Shopify Ecommerce Podcast brought to you by Milk Bottle Labs, Ireland's top rated Shopify experts, Milk Bottle Labs, build, upgrade, migrate and market Shopify and Shopify Plus stores all over the world. Milk Bottle will migrate you onto Shopify with zero interruption guaranteed, or optimise your Shopify store and maximise store sales. This podcast is kindly supported by our favourite Shopify app and the only app we install in every store. Rewind.io is the leading backup solution for your Shopify store. We'll talk more about Rewind later now over to your host, founder of Milk Bottle Labs Keith Matthews.

[00:01:01] Keith: [00:01:01] Hey folks, welcome back to the Milk Bottle Shopify ecommerce podcast. My guest today is Kelly Vaughn. Kelly is the owner of the Taproom Shopify Plus agency based in Atlanta. She is a darling within the Shopify ecosystem. She's one of the most successful Shopify Plus developers that I know.

[00:01:21] She's also a host of The Ladybug Podcast, and she has a wonderful, wonderful story. So Kelly, how are you?

[00:01:29] Kelly: [00:01:29] I'm doing great. How are you doing this morning? I guess you’re afternoon.

[00:01:33] Keith: [00:01:33] Not too bad. Yeah, it's lunch time here. What it was. It's in 9:00 AM with you?

[00:01:36] Kelly: [00:01:36] It's 8:00 AM.

[00:01:38]Keith: [00:01:38] 8am, I do apologise. I got you up.  You are fairly ambitious to talk for a podcast and this are the morning, so thank you very much.

[00:01:45] It's been a while. The last time I met you was, was it the New York event or was it Unite?

[00:01:50] Kelly: [00:01:50] We must have crossed paths at Unite as well. I mean, did you go, you went to Unite last year?

[00:01:56] Keith: [00:01:56] I didn't go to Unite last year

[00:01:58] Kelly: [00:01:58] Oh

[00:02:01] Keith: [00:02:01] I actually, would you believe a got married the week before Unite and…

[00:02:05] Kelly: [00:02:05] You should know better, never plan events around Shopify.

[00:02:10] Keith: [00:02:10] I know, I know. I won't pretend that I tried to arrange my honeymoon to go to Unite. I certainly didn't but the team was there. Loughlin our developer and Peter were there, so they reported back and had a great time. Kelly, I kind of don't know where to start because your success over the last two years it's just been wonderful to watch. You know, the ourselves and Milk Bottle have grown quite a bit. You know, we're getting some great lines, but obviously we're in a market which is tiny. It's probably the equivalent to a portion of, of your state. So let's just start, let us know where you're based and let us know what's the story with Atlanta, what sort of place is it?

[00:02:45] Kelly: [00:02:45] Yeah, so Atlanta geographic wise is in the Southeast. Nobody really knows where Atlanta is. So you know, when we're traveling around, we usually say it's right above Florida, and they're like, Oh, okay. Or they'll know exactly. They're like Atlanta, Georgia, and they'll know exactly what they're talking about, which I'm not really sure where that connection comes from.

[00:03:05] But regardless. I absolutely love living here. I, I did not grow up in Atlanta. I grew up in Michigan, so I moved down South when I was just about to turn 16 and I've been down here ever since. And I love it. I think it's like the perfect one of the perfect areas to live weather-wise because we don't really get tornadoes. It rarely ever snows, so I never really have to worry about snow or ice for the most part, maybe once every four years or too inland to have to worry about hurricanes. So really all we really have to deal with is like the heat in the summer.

[00:03:38] Keith: [00:03:38] Good. And what's the, what sort of facility is it? Is it, what sort of populations there?

[00:03:42] Is there a few million there?

[00:03:43] Kelly: [00:03:43] I think Metro Atlanta. Yeah. I think in the city of Atlanta is probably like close to a 600,000.

[00:03:49] Keith: [00:03:49] Funny that you say, no one knows where it is. I actually used to live in Bermuda. That was one of the airports, one of the gateway cities.

[00:03:55] Kelly: [00:03:55] Oh yeah. Well. That's one of the other great thing about Atlanta is that we have, we have the most efficient airport in the world.

[00:04:01] Keith: [00:04:01] You can pretty much fly to anywhere from Atlanta. I even in arranging flights now for Unite. It's funny how you go onto Skyscanner and some of those sites and once there's a drop off, they try and push you away from New York if you want to go in through the States, and a lot of the options is it most be a hub for Delta because Delta is constantly trying to push me through Atlanta.

[00:04:23] Kelly: [00:04:23] Delta's actually headquartered here.

[00:04:25] Keith: [00:04:25] Oh, very good. That makes sense. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

[00:04:29] Kelly: [00:04:29] I will fly other airlines, but my number one is Delta.

[00:04:33] Keith: [00:04:33] Very good. So before we talk about the Taproom, Kelly, I heard your interview with Kurt Elster, who runs the, a mutual friend of ours who runs the Unofficial Shopify Podcast.

[00:04:42] One of the things that I was intrigued about in that interview was the fact that you never actually learned to code. Basically you're self taught. Just give us the, give us the background on that.

[00:04:53] Kelly: [00:04:53] Yeah, so I taught myself how to code. When I was 11 I wanted to build my own community on this website called Neopets and in order to do so, you had to learn basic HTML, CSS, just the standard basic front end development.

[00:05:10] That is literally the reason why I wanted to learn how to code. And from there I was creating myspace themes. I was selling them for $15 a pop. I built my first site for as a freelancer when I was 14 years old and I was paid a tee shirt. So really good deal. For him. I still have the shirt though. It's like…

[00:05:33] Keith: [00:05:33] You kept it?

[00:05:34] Kelly: [00:05:34] Yeah. Well, actually my dad did. So one of these days, my dad just sent like he's  and he was like, you'll never imagine like you'd never believe what I just found. And he sends me a picture of the super like ratty shirt it is missing a sleeve. It is super dirty. He's been using it as a dust rag all these years.

[00:05:51] And he finally put two and two together to realise where that shirt actually came from.

[00:05:56] Keith: [00:05:56] Well, I, I was just about to suggest that you frame it and put it up into 10 to top room office, but obviously you're not going to do that cause it's dirty.

[00:06:03] Kelly: [00:06:03] Oh no, I'm going to play it up in the office.

[00:06:07] Keith: [00:06:07] Very good. So you taught yourself how to code and, and other things is intrigues me where people is, where on earth they found Shopify. So how did you come across Shopify?

[00:06:16] Kelly: [00:06:16] I kind of stumbled into it. So I was so also to kind of back up a little bit, I went to undergrad and grad school for something completely different.

[00:06:25] So I have my bachelor's in psychology and I have two masters degrees in public health and clinical social work. So completely left field. I was freelancing through college to help pay for school because school or university in the US is really expensive. And. I ended up connecting with somebody on Twitter who said, Hey, I have some extra work. I need some help from a freelancer. And I'm like, Hey, help me. I'm poor. And he reached out to me. We connected, and. I was working on some WordPress sites for him and he's like, Hey, I have this other product for you. I don't really know much about the platform. It's apparently called Shopify if you want to split, you know, go and dig in and see what happens.

[00:07:07] And so that was kind of my first foray into Shopify, customise the a theme for merchants. And I immediately loved it. Just the way the theme was structured. I didn't have to code in PHP, which is an immediate win for me. And yeah, so that was 2014 where we first, I first started working on that, so actually I became a Shopify Expert in October, 2014.

[00:07:34] Keith: [00:07:34] So by the time I think I found it in 2010 or 2011 so by the time you found it, it was a pretty well developed platform. The growth on the surge had started at that stage.

[00:07:45] Kelly: [00:07:45] Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it was. It was wild. Just how many, how many merchants had already existed at that point. And you know, that was five and a half years ago.

[00:07:55] And so as even it's even surged beyond that, like what last year they passed a million merchants.

[00:08:01] Keith: [00:08:01] Past a million merchants yeah, I remember when I found it. Yeah, I think it was 2010 I'm nearly sure. Although as you get older, you do imagine things, but they used to have the number of stores, number of merchants on the front of the website.

[00:08:16] Traditionally with software, you know, 10 years ago, software was always was created in the States. Went to Canada or Australia or the UK, and it was never ever available in Ireland. So when I found Shopify, I remember the front of the site said 15,000 merchants worldwide. It, wasn't available in Ireland. And then it went.

[00:08:34] 25, 50, 75, 85, and when it got to 125,000 I remember they, they dropped us from the front of the home page. So I would say at that point, by the time it got to a hundred thousand or 125,000 it was probably accelerating that much that someone said no, we would have, we'd have to update it every day or every week.

[00:08:54] Kelly: [00:08:54] Yeah we can't keep up with this anymore.

[00:08:56] Keith: [00:08:56] Now it's funny that the stat is now back on the site. Did you find Shopify, like most people, eh, somebody in showed you to it. You built a store, obviously you built a number of stores, you got accredited as an expert. At what point did you kind of think that, you know what, maybe my two degrees aren't the way forward.

[00:09:14] You know, maybe I'm more interested in this side hustle. At what point did it kind of click the you could make a living out of Shopify.

[00:09:21] Kelly: [00:09:21] So kind of funny, I realised that I didn't want to use my two degrees about halfway through my grad degree program. So

[00:09:31] Keith: [00:09:31] That happens to most people, by the way,

[00:09:32] Kelly: [00:09:32] Exactly. I went straight through from undergrad to grad school.

[00:09:35] I did not take any time off, so it was. Well, I don't want it. Don't know how to do math. Seven years of straight college, which is a lot. But yeah, so I ended up getting a fellowship at the centres for disease control here in Atlanta. They needed somebody who had their master's in public health who also knew how to code, and not surprising whatsoever I was the only applicant, so I was, she went for the position and I was still freelancing at that time. But I was making more money freelancing than I was through the fellowship. So the only reason why I didn't quit that fellowship program was because I needed that for the health insurance. So once my husband and I got married in 2015 I jumped ship and I went all in on freelancing full time.

[00:10:24] And I was still, I was about probably 75% Shopify, 25% WordPress at the time, and I was using the WordPress. I had a longterm WordPress client that I was using basically to pay the bills while I was building, continuing to build up the Shopify portfolio, and once I felt comfortable at that point, I think I dropped WordPress in February 2016 and went all in on Shopify.

[00:10:46] Keith: [00:10:46] Did you think it was a risk at the time or were you confident with the platform. You, you were doing the right thing?

[00:10:51] Kelly: [00:10:51] Oh, I totally felt like it was a risk. I mean, putting all your eggs in one basket is always going to be a risk, but I only saw Shopify growing, so I felt like it was a a chance worth taking.

[00:11:02] I also real like, you know, recognise that. Working in eCommerce in general is absolutely not going anywhere. So if I had to pivot at some point to like a different platform, for example, my ecommerce development skills are translatable to multiple platforms.

[00:11:21] Keith: [00:11:21] Yeah, very clever. And the other thing of course, Kelly, is if anything does go wrong, you could pick open another platform like Big commerce if you really needed to.

[00:11:27] Kelly: [00:11:27] Exactly. Yeah. Thankfully I haven't had to.

[00:11:31] Keith: [00:11:31] Yeah, like ourselves. We haven't talked to either  some people are doing that and they're probably making a decent living out of both. I remember when I found your website, first I went onto the about us page and I was intrigued to find that your team was entirely female or was entirely female at the time.

[00:11:46] Is that, is that by design or coincidence?

[00:11:48] Kelly: [00:11:48] It is by complete coincidence. I think I was attracting more women to join the team because the more women that were on the team, the more like, Oh, this is really cool. I'm going to keep on growing, or I'm going to, I want to join an all female team as well. I think we hired our first male contractor. It was last year, I think it was last year.

[00:12:09] Keith: [00:12:09] Very good and has anybody commented on that?

[00:12:13] Kelly: [00:12:13] Oh totally. I've been told that I'm discriminating against men.

[00:12:21] That's on the negative side. On the positive side, we attract a lot of female merchants because they're like, I love that you're a team of all women. We're now a team of a majority women, and that's your female owned and operated because I feel like you can really cater to who it is that I'm marketing to, and we use that as a sales pitch because we know how to market to ourselves.

[00:12:40] Keith: [00:12:40] That's funny you say that cause I would too. But the other thing is, is that like, I don't know, you just mentioned that you are a lot of female customers. I would honestly say that the split between male and female inbound leads that we get is definitely in favour of women. There's more female entrepreneurs out there that seem to be attracted to the Shopify platform than men in our experience.

[00:13:01] Kelly: [00:13:01] Yeah. I think I'm seeing a lot of the same. Again, there's also the level of the fact that we have a lot of women reaching out to us just because we are a team, a majority women, but absolutely even like the introductions we get as referrals from our tech partners. There are majority women.

[00:13:17] Keith: [00:13:17] Oh, interesting. Okay. I suppose you could probably do a study on that, but anyway, probably too busy to overanalyse. And before we started talking this morning, you mentioned about your workspace in Atlanta. So what's the structure of the team? Are you in a, an office within a workspace, or is it like ourselves? Is it a hybrid model?

[00:13:33] Do your team come to the office once a week? What sorts of structured do you have?

[00:13:37] Kelly: [00:13:37] Yes, so we're a majority remote team, so we have about a little less than half of our team is in the Metro Atlanta area, but everyone else is spread throughout the US with one person in Scotland as well. I do have an office space, the same co-working space I've been working out or for the past four years now, and we do have a second desk in here.

[00:13:57] Our project manager comes in once a week to use that desk. Otherwise it just sits there.

[00:14:02] Keith: [00:14:02] Very good. Yes. Similar to the way most Shopify agencies work. Isn't it wonderful to think that you can go online and talk about the fact that you have, you know, a team member so far away in Scotland? Isn't it a wonderful age that we now live in?

[00:14:15] Kelly: [00:14:15] Oh, I absolutely love it and I love that. I think. One of the major benefits of, of just having a routine in general is you can your, your applicant pool expands so quickly and you meet the coolest people who are living all over the world who are incredibly talented. And the one in Scotland is extra special to me because she is actually one of my best friends.

[00:14:35] And she got married last year, so I got to experience my first Scottish wedding.

[00:14:40] Keith: [00:14:40] Ah, I remember that. I saw the, I saw the posts on Twitter. That's that's, yeah. I know. I've just mentioned the word Twitter. For those of you who don't know, Kelly, Kelly, I can talk to you when I was talking about Twitter. Kelly is a... What's the best way to describe it? Kelly is very active on Twitter?? Is that  the best way to describe it?

[00:15:00] Kelly: [00:15:00] Yes. Let's put it that way. I am. I'm rather active on Twitter.

[00:15:06] Keith: [00:15:06] Did you always have that kind of quirky sense of humour or did you learn as, as you became, as you became more experienced developer?

[00:15:13] Kelly: [00:15:13] It's developed over time. I've always had that, that bit of quirky sense of humour, but as my platform crew, I found more and more opportunities to just test the things that were going through my head. And the really great thing is that if you like, say a really dumb joke and nobody likes it, you just delete the tweet.

[00:15:34] Keith: [00:15:34] For those of you who don't know, we will put Kelly's details obviously in the show notes.

[00:15:39] Kelly has a very strong Twitter following. Kelly's shared moments and shared tweets are a mixture of humour around the development. What would you say the development ecosystem or is that the, how would you describe it? It's just that most developers, I guess it’s a developer community.

[00:15:52] Kelly: [00:15:52] My audience is kind of split, is still vast majority developers, but I also do a lot e-commerce tweets as well. Just commerce in general, a lot of direct to consumer related tweets, just things like that. So it's a really, it's really interesting when I post something that's e-commerce related and a bunch of developers respond, and quite often, like for example, I tweeted something in relation to transactional emails and adding to your, uh, your flows on Klaviyo, for example.

[00:16:24] And I had a bunch of developers apply to me, like, Oh, you just want to spam all your, all of your customers, like you're not in this field. Please stop talking.

[00:16:33] Keith: [00:16:33] It's interesting. They released results this week. I'd say probably as a result of Mr. Trump, their user numbers and their traffic is open. Some people seem to think that they can basically argue, or it's a forum for a platform for arguments. When an actual fact on the Shopify side, you're, I suppose, similar to me in Milk Bottle, you know there's, you do tweet actually very interesting pieces of information, which are actually helpful to people in the eCommerce space.

[00:16:59] But I suppose some people can't tell the difference between sometimes your humor and actually your, you know, your informational tweets. I guess.

[00:17:07] Kelly: [00:17:07] Exactly. And sometimes like one of my informational tweets, like about more recent ones was around subscriptions and it how important it is to actually have that email to give you a heads up that your subscription is about to renew, despite the fact that that people will churn because of it.

[00:17:22] It is a sign of good customer service and that is, I guess. A more relatable tweet beyond the Shopify or eCommerce space, because I had a lot of developers reply to that one from being a customer to a subscription service. So it kind of worked both ways in that case.

[00:17:41] Keith: [00:17:41] Let's take a short break and I'll share the one app we installed on every Shopify build. The team at Rewind.io have developed the leading backup solution for Shopify. Did you know there is no way of recovering lost data from the Shopify store? Rewind.io automatically backs up your store data in the event of a data loss, usually due to human error. Rewind enables you to rewind your store back to its previous state. It's so simple, and it's used by some of the world's leading Shopify agencies, such as Kurt Elster of Ethercycle and Kelly Vaughn at the Taproom. If your store is gaining traction, you may have multiple users making changes. Often store owners allow theme or app developers enter a store to add code. Sometimes mistakes happen and data gets deleted. You can reduce your business risk today and prevent a costly catastrophe by installing the Rewind.io app on your Shopify store. Get your first month of rewind for free by simply responding to any of the welcome messages or emails you receive after you begin your seven day trial and mentioned this podcast. Now. Back to the interview.

[00:18:42] Keith: I remember that was quite recently, actually, the tweets made perfect sense. So I suppose really what you're, you're doing there is not to make a bore out of your Twitter account, but you're adding more value. So in other words, people come to us and keep the people come to you to say, look, want to add 10 or 20% to my Shopify store.

[00:19:00] You say, well, if you've got automated email, chances are, like us you'll say let's set up these flows with Klaviyo. That email and that piece of information that you just mentioned is actually adding more value because you're not just, that's based on experience and based on seeing the kind of the opposite effects.

[00:19:16] So what you're saying there is an actual fact that if you give people the opportunity to unsubscribe before they're charged, that in actual fact they'll appreciate it and they may actually stay subscribed. Isn't that the logic there?

[00:19:27] Kelly: [00:19:27] Also, you have weighed the customer support request. Hey. I didn't mean to get charged again.

[00:19:34] Can you cancel my subscription and refund me and venue, you know, answer into that territory. You're like, well, do I refund them? I mean, obviously it's going to vary from business to business, how you want to handle it, but it adds extra friction to the process in general. You can also use your, Hey, your subscription is about renew. Email has an opportunity to  up-sell one time products with your next subscription too. So, I mean, there are a lot of things that you could do with it. Even though people might churn, you can actually end up creating more value on that email.

[00:20:04] Keith: [00:20:04] Yeah, absolutely. In following you under, you know, in, in conversing via Slack, you are as intrigued with Klaviyo as I am, aren't you?

[00:20:12] Kelly: [00:20:12] Oh, absolutely. I absolutely love it.

[00:20:14] Keith: [00:20:14] It's, it's probably one of the first tools, obviously, besides Shopify and besides apps has an instantaneous effect on client revenue. It's actually very hard to explain that to the clients. Before you're trying to upsell the fact that I'm going to charge you for this, but don't worry because you're going to get 10 times the revenue back.

[00:20:33] Kelly: [00:20:33] Yeah. It's kind of like one of those, like you can't really say, I guarantee you're going to make money from it, but I guarantee you're going to make money from it.

[00:20:41] Keith: [00:20:41] We've never put it into the store and not gained money for the client. So Kelly, I've heard you talk in the past. Obviously I'm in Europe and I'm following plenty of people on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on.

[00:20:52] There's two kind of terms that I'd like to just dig into DTC and which is direct to consumer and headless e-commerce. When that term headless e-commerce was coined about six or nine months ago, you are one of the first people that I know that tweeted or put up a message. I think it might even be on the Slack group that we're in.

[00:21:13] To say that you're in the middle of your first headless e-commerce project. Can you explain to the listeners what headless ecommerce is.

[00:21:20] Kelly: [00:21:20] Yeah. So basically what happens with headless e-commerce is you're, you're decoupling your backend from the front end, so it allows you to use whichever systems make the most sense for your company.

[00:21:31] In this case, you can use Shopify as the backend of your site. So you're storing all of your products there. You're storing a lot of your content there. But maybe you need, you're very content heavy as far as like blogging goes. So you want to use a platform like Contentful to actually store the content side of things and then you can take those two systems.

[00:21:52] Have you, you have Shopify and you have Contentful who talked to a third system that is actually the front end of the site that your customers are going to be interacting with. it really opens up the opportunities for how when you have a more complex setup for a business, how you really want to structure that, the world is your oyster.

[00:22:09] Keith: [00:22:09] What does that pose a risk for Shopify or an opportunity? So in other words, if you have a massive multisite portal with 25 different international domains, and you only want to use Shopify for a tiny part of one of those domains, you would use Shopify for the eCommerce portion and then leave the rest the same.

[00:22:29] Kelly: [00:22:29] That's right.

[00:22:29] Keith: [00:22:29] Yeah. So, but what we would do with most customers is migrate the entire international operation on Shopify. Is the future of it that is an opportunity for Shopify to go to places where they never went before, or is it an opportunity for other customers just to take the little pieces of Shopify that they want.

[00:22:46] Kelly: [00:22:46] It's, it's actually both, I think is a really great opportunity. It's a definitely a value proposition on the Shopify end because you have these more complex enterprise level merchants who couldn't really fit into the box of what Shopify or Shopify Plus has to offer. They need to use these, these other systems that they already have integrated into their company.

[00:23:06] And by opening up the the storefront API on Shopify, and they've now given those merchants and opportunity to take advantage of what they need from Shopify. And they're able to use Shopify to actually power the commerce part of things while still keeping all of their other systems intact.

[00:23:23] Keith: [00:23:23] Okay. So for you then running an agency, do you have to be an API expert then to work as I would all works, or you know, is there, is there information readily available from the Shopify side?

[00:23:34] You know, given that it's kind of early doors, although it has been talked about, but I mean, it's early, early doors for headless in principle, isn't it?

[00:23:40] Kelly: [00:23:40] It is. Yeah, it's definitely still early and I think the documentation that they have for the Shopify storefront API, which is powered by graph QL, it's very well documented.

[00:23:53] There are platforms out there, like the one that we are partnered with is called mysql. It is a huge US based platform and I can give you the, the lead to put in the show notes for that. They actually handle all of the heavy lifting on the graph QL side of things. So really all you're doing is connecting your store by creating a private app within the store, grabbing the API key and password for the, for the storefront API.

[00:24:16] Plugging them into the South, and then it automatically grabs all of your products, all your pages, page content, all of your blogs, everything that you need in there, and all you need to do is actually build out the front end. Just now you have all the data ready to go. So in that case, you don't really need to do, you don't really have to have the knowledge of the API and how to, how to work it.

[00:24:34] Although I will say that there's definitely a lot of value with it.

[00:24:37] Keith: [00:24:37] Oh, very good. Yeah, so you have described to be simple, but obviously this is quite a bit of work.

[00:24:43] Kelly: [00:24:43] Yeah, there is. We're saying that headless commerce is not a good fit for all merchants. If you have a pretty basic set up, if you're not doing too high of revenue.

[00:24:58] I think that you need to be doing probably at least 2 million a year to really make sense for it because there are additional costs that come with having a headless setup you're paying for multiple servers and like your, your site is not deployed on Shopify is you're also paying for wherever that is being deployed to wherever it's being hosted.

[00:25:18] So there are additional costs that come with it. There are also a certain apps that are within the Shopify ecosystem that don't currently integrate into headless front ends. So basically the way that these these companies like mysql has had to approach things as they needed to talk to the app developers who built, let's say, Oh, Kendo reviews app, and they're like, Hey, we want to be able to offer a Kendo to our Nussle customers, but we need to rewrite the entire app in order to make that happen.

[00:25:50] So they have to work with these app developers to see if it's even possible. So there are definitely some apps that don't translate into a headless front end because they're just not built to communicate via API.

[00:26:03] Keith: [00:26:03] so as you say, it suits some people and there's obviously an investment required. I'm assuming then that if you've got thousands and thousands of pages that are indexed by Google, you have to keep that old system the old host alive?

[00:26:16] Kelly: [00:26:16] For a while, keep the, the URLs, all the same as well when you move over to the cell. So, so you kind of have that. Then again, the cell is one of the many platforms that are okay. There aren't that many. One of the platforms, it's just the one I'm most familiar with, but yeah, you have complete power over how you actually want this, those URLs structured so you can keep everything intact, but you are of course, pointing to a new website.

[00:26:41] Keith: [00:26:41] Kelly, I have seen some of the work that you've done and I've noticed that probably the biggest buzzwords on, on your side of the world in terms of Shopify and successful stores is DTC brands, which are simply cutting out the distributor channel and cutting out the kind of reseller channel on the going direct to consumer.

[00:26:58] From where I'm standing. It doesn't seem like there's too much of a difference for most companies to do that, but it's, it's a big step change for companies if they already have a distribution model or a different forms of distribution in place. So are you seeing many DTCs come to you for Shopify work?

[00:27:15] Kelly: [00:27:15] We absolutely are, and we're seeing a lot of merchants who, as you said, they have these, these other systems set up where they're working through a third party distributor. we were speaking to a client last week who basically said 95% of our businesses through other retailers, and only 5% is still being sold direct to consumer.

[00:27:33] And we want to grow that 5%  exponentially. So we're seeing a lot of interest from merchants wanting to shift to that DC model because it, by removing the middle man, they're also increasing their margins as well in their products.

[00:27:48] Keith: [00:27:48] But for Shopify, there's no real difference. So there's not, I mean, you're, you're building a standard Shopify store. The consumer is transacting as normal. Are those DTC brands, are they still keeping their distribution channels in place and possibly using Shopify for wholesale, or have you seen that.

[00:28:03] Kelly: [00:28:03] It definitely varies from merchant to merchant. We see some of these merchants using Shopify to really focus on selling  directly to the customer and then keeping their distribution wholesale side separate outside of Shopify.

[00:28:17] Keith: [00:28:17] Speaking of Twitter, an old thing, social am I meant to mention your Ladybug podcast, which you launched, what was it about six months ago?

[00:28:25] Kelly: [00:28:25] Yeah, we, I think our first episode launched the first week of July.

[00:28:28] Keith: [00:28:28] And like everything that you do, it's just exploded very quickly. So tell us about how you met the girls and what you talk about.

[00:28:36] Kelly: [00:28:36] Yes, so we could, we're all friends. We connected over Twitter and I don't know, I don't know who actually started their conversation, but we had a, like a group Twitter direct message chat. Well, we think about starting a podcast. Oh, that sounds kind of fun. Yeah. We could talk about all these fun little things and just, you know, kind of like this.

[00:28:58] It's a very conversational, just fun things, but also educating people at the same time. And next thing I know, we are buying podcasting equipment. We're getting everything arranged to set up. We launched a we did like a a 10 day countdown and then launched a teaser episode, basically announcing that, Hey, we started this podcast and you're going to be hearing from us every Monday from here on out, and it immediately blew up.

[00:29:25] I was not expecting the traction that we got from that. We immediately had people, companies reaching out to us saying, Hey, we want to sponsor your podcast. I'm like, I don't even have any episodes out yet, but that's awesome. We had somebody get a tattoo of our logo.

[00:29:39] Keith: [00:29:39] Oh, I thought that was a joke when I saw it on Twitter.

[00:29:41] Kelly: [00:29:41] No, it is absolutely legit. They got a tattoo of our logo and, okay. It is a super cute logo.  That is, that is some passion. I think that was when we, I think we had released our first episode at that point.

[00:29:57] Keith: [00:29:57] Okay. Your colleagues at your cohost, Emma and Ali, are they, are they more technical than you, as technical?

[00:30:04] What's their background?

[00:30:05] Kelly: [00:30:05] Yes. We're all software engineers to to some capacity. Ali actually teaches people how to code through General Assembly and Emma, or is a software engineer in Germany. So Emma is. She, she went through the, uh, through undergrads and she has a CS degree, a computer science degree, and Ali started can start it undergrad to getting a CS degree ended up dropping out and teaching herself the rest of the way. And I am self-taught, so we kind of bring difference, different skills to the table and it's really created a fun conversation. Since I'm very business focused, I'm, I'm very entrepreneur, entrepreneurially focused. That's a word to say.

[00:30:49] Keith: [00:30:49] Kelly, I'll help you out. You're commercially focused.

[00:30:51] Kelly: [00:30:51] We'll say that. Perfect. It's a much easier word to say, but yeah, so, so it's, it's really led to some really interesting conversations and we've been able to interview other people who specialise in various areas of tech, whether it's actually, we got to interview one of my friends, which that episode released this week, who specialises in building games.

[00:31:10] Like she works for a company that builds casino games.

[00:31:13] Keith: [00:31:13] Wow.

[00:31:14] Kelly: [00:31:14] It's super fun.

[00:31:16] Keith: [00:31:16] The funny thing about running a podcast is you're interviewing people and you're learning yourself as well. Like not only are you learning as the host of, I mean obviously, you know we've meet on, I know quite a bit about you, but I'm, I'm learning about you because you're saying things that I wouldn't have already known, but also that the listener is getting educated.

[00:31:32] It's a fantastic medium. I mean, are you enjoying this? Do you find that stressful or, you know, for me it's, I do, at the moment I'm doing two interviews a week and I used to get really nervous. I know. I just love us. So like, we're, where are you out? Are you really enjoying this?

[00:31:46] Kelly: [00:31:46] Oh yeah. I absolutely love it.

[00:31:48] I honestly feel like because I have so much more of a focus on the business side of things, I feel when it comes to the technical stuff. I learn so much from Emma and Ali and when we're putting together like a list of the episodes that we're going to be releasing for that season. I'm like, so you guys are taking the reins on this one.

[00:32:05] You're taking the reins on this one. I know nothing about this one. And it ends up being a really fun conversation cause I start the up podcast episode saying, Hey, I know nothing about this. Teach me.

[00:32:15] Keith: [00:32:15] Yeah. And, and honesty is the best policy. Like when I started, I remember I used to edit this bit out of the podcast and that bit, but in actual fact, you know, just be honest with the audience and just had a flow.

[00:32:25] And that's still there. The episodes people enjoy.

[00:32:27] Kelly: [00:32:27] Exactly where we're all human and we all have our areas of, or our gaps in knowledge. And we also all say really stupid things. So keeping those things in those mistakes in actually adds to some of the, some of the fun of the podcast and really makes it real.

[00:32:45] 100% agreed. And look it's just been fantastic talking to you and I'm looking forward to meeting again at Unite. But before we go, Kelly, I want you to plug your store, and the reason I want to plug it is because this is a prime example of how somebody can take a hobby or just a thought and use the Shopify ecosystem to actually sell and transact online.

[00:33:09] Keith: [00:33:09] So your online shop, Kelly, tell everybody what it sells.

[00:33:13] Kelly: [00:33:13] It's all merch for developers. It's just fun, dumb jokes or really clever things. Occasionally, and yeah, it's got mugs, shirts, stickers. I think there are some blankets and pillows, just like a bunch of really fun stuff that people have. The, the quotes and I have basically turn a lot of my, my Twitter jokes into it products that people buy.

[00:33:39] Keith: [00:33:39] Yeah. So like it's not as much is mugs that sort of Merch.

[00:33:44] Kelly: [00:33:44] Yeah.

[00:33:45] Keith: [00:33:45] Did you ever think that anybody in the world would buy Kelly Vaughn's Merch?

[00:33:51] Kelly: [00:33:51] No, not ever. And honestly it was, it was actually headless commerce that started a store to begin with. I was curious about how headless commerce work now is working with Gatsby, which is a react based front end.

[00:34:05] And I connected this Shopify store for an API into it, and I'm like, I need a product to work with. I can actually sync some data to it. And so I took one of my tweets, I took a screenshot of it, and I put it on a mug, and I use a service called Printful to actually do the fulfilment. So I don't have to do any of the printing fulfilment shipping.

[00:34:23] It's amazing. And it generates these, these mockups and there was a picture of, of ah, really sad, get commit log of, just need very clearly frustrated about development in general. And it was the mug. Surrounded by donuts. It was hilarious. And so I posted that on Twitter and I'm like, I just made this fake product and it's, it's really funny.

[00:34:46] And I had a multiple people be like, no, seriously, I want to buy that. Okay. So I put it up on my store.

[00:34:53] Keith: [00:34:53] In the conversation we had previously, you were mentioning about the places that people are buying, like he's shipped all over the world.

[00:35:00] Kelly: [00:35:00] I have, yeah. I don't know what my country town is anymore, but it's getting up there.

[00:35:05] It's at least 30

[00:35:06] Keith: [00:35:06] fantastic. And are you adding to it all of the time, you know, or, or have you just kind of let us sit still and like does it become a diversion, I suppose really is my question. So exciting when your phone  goes ching ching.

[00:35:17] Kelly: [00:35:17] Oh, absolutely. And I love when that happens. But also, you know, as, as I run three businesses now with the Taproom, the podcast, and now the store, and unfortunately the store is kind of taken last place as far as getting things done.

[00:35:31] And my husband keeps on reminding me, he's like, Hey this is free money. You need to keep on working on this. And so I actually have him starting to make products too, because he's also in it.

[00:35:42] Keith: [00:35:42] It's very hard when you've got a few different balls in the air to it. There's only so many hours in the day. So Kelly, it has been absolutely wonderful talking to you.

[00:35:51] I will see you at  Unite and thank you very, very much for your time.

[00:35:59] Thanks for listening to the Milk Bottles Shopify Ecommerce Podcast. All of our episodes are available on Spotify and iTunes. We really appreciate the support of our sponsor. Rewind.io, the leading backup solution for your Shopify store. Get your first month of Rewind for free. Just to respond to any of the welcome messages or emails after you begin your seven day free trial and mention our podcast until the next time. Take care.