We live in a special time for business owners. You can essentially start an online brand for next to nothing thanks to platforms like Shopify.
But getting traffic to your site, and then optimizing it to convert is the key to success. All the bells and whistles of fancy site design mean nothing unless visitors take action and buy.
Many different tactics and elements are usually involved. Yet, at the same time, you shouldn’t overthink it. Crowding your thoughts with endless possibilities leads to no action at all.
An idea means nothing on its own. It’s about execution.
That’s why we do these Shopify store reviews. To ease your mind and give you clarity around how and why they convert so well. Then, you can simply implement the techniques on your own store.
In the spotlight (albeit a scrutinous one) this week is Black Milk Clothing, a bold fashion brand that has grown into a multi-million dollar company with over 150 staff worldwide.
Learn more: Building Your Own Fashion eCommerce Business.
Shopify Australia brand Black Milk
Hailing from humble origins, James Lillis went from selling $10 tights to frontrunning a global brand with a loyal tribe of female fans.
But, Black Milk was actually born out of the power of content marketing - a blog in the legwear fashion niche named ‘Too Many Tights’. Bold and unique designs caught the attention of women around the world and set the foundation for the strong communities of Black Milk fans around the world today.
Remember this muscle leggings design a few years back?
This was Black Milk’s first product that went viral, thanks to a mass of blogs reposting it across the web. Since then they’ve collaborated with George Lucas to create Star Wars merch and even made a range of wildly popular Harry Potter activewear.
Black Milk’s focus isn’t to sell but rather tell. They claim storytelling, social proof and encouraging their customers to engage with the brand is the key to their massive growth over the years.
So how does an eCommerce business develop into a multi-million dollar brand if they don’t focus on selling?
It comes down to being genuine, providing value, creating a community and building trust through great content.
When you have this, you don’t need an elaborate site design or structure. I’ve seen the most basic Shopify sites thrown together with the Debut theme pull in over $10,000 in sales per month.
How’s this possible?
The product solved a problem. The social proof was there. And the site was put in front of the right audience.
Usually, I focus on specific elements for conversion in these Shopify reviews. But because of the unique nature of Black Milk’s rise to success, this article will focus on their individuality, storytelling, content, and authenticity as a brand, as well as how they effectively engage with customers.
Bold & busy site design
First impressions are stimulating. There’s a lot going on as you land on the homepage, with video content on the left and collections images on the right.
Not to mention all the patterns and text overlays. But it works. And it works because the Black Milk brand developed as a result of daring and striking legging designs.
It’s important that your site content reflects the genuine values and nature of your brand.
For example, if you run a natural skincare company that focuses on minimal ingredients, you want a design that reflects this. Simple skincare does it well.
Green represents nature, and white open spaces correlate to clean products with simple ingredients.
Showcasing Shopify Instagram feed
Black Milk Clothing contribute a lot of their success to engagement and having interactions with their customers. One of the ways they’ve done this so well is through Instagram hashtagging.
With this method, buyers use hashtags when uploading to Instagram. Black Milk collects them and feature the images under the products on site.
It turns out their customers absolutely love this 5 minutes of fame.
And in turn, Black Milk get free shoutouts across social media, helping build their brand and credibility.
This is the power of real social proof.
No paid models, Instagram “influencers” or fake reviews. Just real people, from all walks of life, showing off their individuality and style.
The lure of a good Lookbook
I mentioned earlier how great content is one of the cornerstones of Black Milk’s success. Lookbooks let you show off your products, and can generate excitement before and during a product launch.
Consider it visual storytelling.
Black Milk has slapped theirs in the middle of their homepage. If you’re landing here from a marketing campaign or organic search, it’s eye catching enough to deserve a click.
Clicking through shows a collection of vibrant lookbooks, each with a unique name and style.
If you’ve ever wondered what a visually striking lookbook looks like, this is it.
Not only is it bold and vibrant (reflective of the brand), it also instills a sense of playfulness and magic with clever copywriting.
The lookbook ends with a simple call to action to view the collection. This is a prime example of how a picture can speak a thousand words.
Off we go.
Side Note: are you looking for more inspiration with Shopify home page design? Check the best Shopify Store examples list curated by PageFly Team.
Product page impressions
Potent product storytelling
When I mentioned telling instead of selling, part of that is using copy that intrigues. Words that tell a story or invokes some sort of emotional reaction in the reader.
“Endless aqua waters”. “Precious gems that grow on trees”. “Blue Raspberry gummy bears”.
You can picture it now, can’t you? They’re breaking the mold of boring product descriptions and transporting you to another place in your mind, helping you build a connection with the brand and product through visualization.
That's what it means to be a good storyteller. We all know someone like this, who’s words are so descriptive that we see them, not hear them.
A multi-million dollar company that doesn’t focus on selling? It’s the way to win in 2019. Provide value and a sense of magic through your content and your ideal audience will come to you.
They’ve also stated benefits, sizing guide, and shipping neatly tucked away in tabs.
Promoting engagement with real social proof
Below the product is the ultimate form of social proof: user-generated content. Customers use specific hashtags to get featured on site.
And the best part? No affiliation.
Brands can pay in the thousands for promoted posts from micro influencers like this. This is what I call a win-win. Zoe gets a product she loves, and probably a few extra followers as a result of being featured on their site.
And Black Milk gets more traffic, brand awareness, and conversions.
Note: Yes, Black Milk could have paid this influencer and tried to make it look organic. But, considering the scale of the Black Milk brand and authenticity present throughout the rest of the site, I’m gonna say this is real. Check it out.
Area for improvement: upselling
Upsell strategies like these can be used on the product page to increase the average order value of your customers. But only if they’re relevant.
Black Milk try to make suggestions on products their hoodie would “look amazing with”, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say galaxy hoodies on galaxy dresses might be too much.
A better approach would be to suggest shoes or accessories that could complement the purchase and create a nicer outfit on the whole.
Either way, upselling can increase your average order value significantly and help you stay profitable long-term. Zipify One Click Up-Sells is a great tool to do it.
Black Milk’s Story
Keeping in line with the theme of this review, I went over to the Our Story section of the site.
And I am pleasantly surprised. There’s no video edits, professional photography or even any images at all. Just a big block of text that looks like it would take a lot of focus to get through.
But I was wrong.
Just a few lines in, I found myself smiling, engrossed in the tale of “the guy with the coolest job in the world”.
From humble beginnings, broke mango enthusiast James sold his CD player to buy a sewing machine that would pave a blazing trail to success. A trail that changed his stars forever.
When reading his story, I feel the excitement he did when his friend asked to buy the first pair of leggings he ever made. And as a Shopify store owner myself, I know that’s all that’s needed to set your passion on fire.
Just one sale.
There’s no bells and whistles here. Well-written, authentic, valuable content beats fancy gimmicks and design. Every time.
Think about it. YouTube vloggers are picking up the camera, pointing it towards their face and talking. They’re connecting with the audience instead of focusing on post-production.
Pewdiepie, the largest YouTube channel in history with 98 million subscribers is just a (funny) man with a camera and a mic.
On your eCommerce website, look to genuinely connect with your audience and expect nothing in return.
A self-sustaining funnel
I feel like I could land anywhere on Black Milk’s site and it would still convert. It’s like a closed, self-sustaining conversion ecosystem. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you land on a product page for one of their hoodies. The sales funnel might look like this:
Product Page---> Our Story---> Homepage---> Lookbook---> Product Page--->Checkout---> Sale---> Create a user-generated hashtag post
Then a few things can happen.
- Your friend sees your post with the hashtags for Black Milk and clicks through:
User-generated hashtag post---> Black Milk Instagram---> Collections page---> Product page---> Checkout---> Sale---> Create a user-generated hashtag post
- A stranger sees your picture featured on the Black Milk homepage:
Homepage---> User-generated hashtag post---> Product page---> Checkout---> Sale----> Create a user-generated hashtag post
Homepage---> User-generated hastag post---> Black Milk Instagram---> Instagram Shopping---> Product page---> Checkout---> Sale---> Create a user-generated hashtag post
Either way, the cycle repeats itself. Each sale leads to more exposure for the brand, and all channels are optimized to convert, including Instagram.
Instagram shopping feature
Conclusion & summary
Visit the Black Milk store and you’ll see a lot of different elements that are necessary for conversion.
I decided to focus mostly on content, stories and user engagement for this review because they’re equally as important.
And arguably even more so, as the ever-changing eCommerce markets continue to shift. More people need to connect with your brand than ever before.
People need to know you’re different from the competition.
It’s time to stop competing on price and find your voice in your niche. Resonate with your audience, understand them and provide value before expecting sales in return.
Taking inspiration from Black Milk Clothing, consider the following when optimizing your own Shopify store:
- User attention - Am I effectively capturing attention through headlines, video, imagery and design?
- Audience engagement - Is my content relevant and stimulating enough to promote engagement?
- Value-added - Does the customer benefit from visiting my store beyond simply buying my products?
- Rich storytelling - Are my product pages, blog posts and About Us pages rich enough to form meaningful connection with my audience?
- Authenticity - Do I act with integrity, staying true to my unique vision? Do I prioritize customer experience over profit?
It’s safe to say that in 2019, the average consumer is more heavily influenced by emotions rather than price point.
Focus on providing an experience overflowing with unique brand values, letting your true voice be heard while adding value to users in your niche. This is how you build a strong community and sustainable business that lasts a lifetime.