In a candid conversation with Flaunter, April Hardy, Founder and Creative Director of By April Co, delves into the intricacies of crafting a powerful eCommerce website and online presence for brands.

With a creative journey spanning nearly a decade and a hands-on business background, April shines a light on the path to digital triumph.

Hi April! You run a successful business, have experience in eCommerce, nearly a decade’s worth of graphic design expertise and an entrepreneurial mindset. Tell us a little about yourself and the kind of clients you are working with right now.

I first started my design journey way back in 2015 when I completed my Diploma of Graphic Design alongside running a little skincare startup. I found myself DIY’ing my first-ever Shopify site, learning on the fly and sometimes making mistakes. Once I had my diploma and a few Shopify skills up my sleeve, I combined those to begin working with other eCommerce startups. I was lucky to be given the opportunity back then to really learn and elevate my skills, and 8 years later, I now call it my full-time role and absolute passion.

I’ve spent the last few years really honing my skills and working with predominately female-founded eCommerce brands, notably Bella Bronze Tan, Tulum Home and many other amazing brands and inspiring woman in different industries. 

Why is a website crucial for retail and eCommerce brands, and what role does it play in brand identity and perception? 

There are two pieces to this puzzle when it comes to being online: 1. Social media and 2. Consumer behaviour.

Now more than ever before, social media is driving trends and traffic with consumers craving more information, more connection and more community. Consumers are savvy while also possessing limited attention spans. When a website is non-existent or lacks the ability to transition a consumer from social platform to website seamlessly, chances are they could look elsewhere.

Your eCommerce website is your digital shopfront and when done right, a website can be a very important touchpoint for your consumers to form a deeper connection to your brand through the use of your brand colours, your imagery and especially the words and tone of voice you have on your website.

Is Your Website Letting You Down? Insights from eCommerce website Pro, April Hardy

Brand storytelling is often emphasised in marketing. Could you explain the concept and its relevance to eCommerce websites? How can brands effectively incorporate storytelling to create a memorable online presence?

In order for a consumer to become a raving fan, they need to form a connection to a brand and there’s no better way than to weave through brand storytelling within your website.

A tangible example of this could be an intentionally thought out photoshoot of your product that could really speak to the brands demographic that conjures desire and a need to overcome a current consumer pain point. Another way to do this is through creatively written copy that again, bridges the gap between the consumers pain points and the solution or transformation your brands products can offer. Your eCommerce website allows all of these deep connections to happen simultaneously throughout the shopping experience, through clever design, written copy and beautiful images.

In your experience, what are some effective strategies for leveraging website design and functionality to increase sales and encourage repeat purchases?

I’ve found that brands who prioritise quality branding, professional photoshoots and creative copywriting have had the best success.

A professionally designed eCommerce website will only be as good as the assets that fit within it, so hiring an eCommerce-specific designer like myself is key, BUT so is investing in quality brand assets. Consumers first and foremost need to trust your brand. A shabby website that lacks aesthetic, information or strategy is a surefire way to miss sales and possibly even damage the brands reputation.

When it comes to enhancing the conversion rate on eCommerce websites, how can brands leverage product descriptions, images and customer reviews effectively?

As markets become more crowded and ad-spend becomes more expensive, it’s never been more important to ensure your website is optimised for conversions. If a brand is working their little butts off to gain traffic to their eCommerce website but they lack a few key details on their product pages, the overall cost to the brand can be huge. Therefore it is imperative to ensure your product pages offer to-the-point details about the product, highlighting the benefits in very clear to understand ways, clear images of the product and how it is used, how to wear or sizing information.

Never before has it been more important to leverage customer reviews so ensure these are clear and accurate. I always say this to my clients as well – never be afraid of a bad review! They are the perfect opportunity to obviously fix a fault in a product if it does exist or refine your customer service process, or if nothing else showcase how great your customer service is with a well-written, relevant and authentic reply that really demonstrates what a fantastic brand you are!

What are the advantages, if any, of brands leveraging eCommerce features on their websites? How can these features contribute to improved customer experience and overall sales?

The fantastic thing about the platforms I design on (Shopify) is it is purpose-built for eCommerce brands. Shopify offers a huge range of native and app-based functionality and analytics that are second to none when growing an eCommerce brand.

Things like bundle builders, subscriptions, requesting customer reviews, offering wholesale and collecting leads are all available to any brand within the app. By leveraging these capabilities at a click of the button, a brand can expand its reach into new markets, grow an email list, increase AOV (average order value) and so much more all within one place.

Is Your Website Letting You Down? Insights from eCommerce website Pro, April Hardy

With the ever-evolving digital landscape, are there any emerging website design trends or innovative features that you’re excited about introducing to help your clients stay ahead of the competition?

I definitely see the introduction of AI this year to be a game changer for brands. Shopify has just released a tonne of updates where AI is integrated into the platform to help with things like translating a brands analytics into tangible marketing steps, helping to write product descriptions and so much more.

At the moment, AI is only as good as the person giving it prompts, BUT it does feel like AI takes the heavy lifting out of tasks that brands might not be good at. For example, if a Brand was DIY’ing their product descriptions and ordinarily it took them an entire day to think of a witty and conversion-lead product description, now it would take them less than five minutes to prompt the AI and refine out the answer before adding it their eCommerce website store.

If you could share only three practical tips or strategies that would vastly improve any brand’s website, what would they be?

1. If a customer has to take more than three clicks to add their product to cart – it’s too many. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy your products!

2. Your About Us page is more important than you think. Humanise your brand buy showing who you are as the business owner, behind the scenes of your work space, or your processes and do not be afraid to share your reasons behind starting the brand.

3. Your images tell your brand story. Investing in quality photography of your products and lifestyle imagery is crucial for consumer:brand connection.

If you’re looking to improve your eCommerce website or brand assets, we highly recommend having a chat to the lovely April! She’s an amazing source of information, advice and inspiration. Connect with April.


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Images from ByApril Co