Afternoon “T” feat. Amer Abu-Khajil of Shop Studio Live

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In our recent chat with Amer Abu-Khajil, Director of Product & Innovation at TTT, he talks about Shop Studio Live (SSL) which is a result of the product development process here. SSL lets merchants use live streaming in their online store within Shopify to create immersive experiences with their buyers.

Read some of the favorite bits from the episode below:

Tell me more about the product you’re innovating. What is the product and what does it do?

Definitely, well, we’ve landed with a product called Shop Studio Live. So this came out through parts of our new product development process and was built there. In shops, a live video doesn’t quite exist, and SSL’s main goal is to help e-commerce merchants build that trust with their shoppers online. It’s really all about trust and authenticity when people are out there trying to buy things from online stores and thinking about the shops themselves. Shopify, for example, has 1.6 million merchants, with some of them being very established and legitimate, but there’s kind of this middle ground of people who want to sell products and want to build that trust. However, people come to their website and aren’t really sure if they can trust that product or that commerce store. And what we really focus on, in Shop Studio Live is how do we combine, aspects of live streaming, that you see on Twitch and Instagram Live, and Facebook Live, and ultimately bring it to these online stores.

What made you decide to build it within Shopify?

I mean, part of it for us, as I said, was just being able to access that many merchants on day one. Like, you know, again, obviously, we still have to find merchants and talk to them. But you know, actually just telling someone that they can install this app with a click of a button and integrate it in your store is a much stronger value proposition than asking them to input code into their website. So we’ve embedded everything into Shopify so that it looks as seamless as possible through the store in the Shopify platform.

During our market research, we started to ask questions like, how has your marketing changed with live shopping on social media apps? How are you implementing it into your strategies? And more often, there was that gap between say- the merchants saying, you know, we’re doing it, but it doesn’t really have an impact on our business. It’s just kind of this top of funnel thing that’s maybe happening on Instagram, where people are maybe engaging with us, but not really converting.

We figured well, how about we bring this to the website, where buyers are already in that maybe the middle of funnel consideration stage, they already heard about your brand, and are able to see the live aspect. On Instagram, you might have, 300 viewers, and on your website, you might have like 50. Ultimately, those 50 are people who are already looking and browsing and want to buy something, and if you can kind of bump up that conversion rate on that website, it will be much more impactful on that bottom line.

What good advice could you give to a young entrepreneur about to start on their journey?

I think my biggest piece of advice, which I’m sure is pretty common, is to focus on the problem. Try to look at the problem and the solution as a pair. So again, as you start thinking about solutions, you’re constantly revisiting, is this gonna fulfill the need, and I think the only way you can do that is by constantly talking to customers. I would say in the early stages, maybe, again, a little less. So when we started to head down with the actual product development, but definitely in the earliest stages, it was almost a daily kind of ritual where I had to reach out to someone or I had to do an interview with you know, whether it’s a merchant or a shopper to talk to them. I think that is really important. Just talk to your customer, focus on the problem, when you start having an idea about the solution, start dropping hints about the solution.

Amer Abu-Khajil, Shop Studio Live

Having supported multiple tech and healthcare startups, Amer is a natural entrepreneur who is driven by his passion for innovation. Holding an MBA from the University of British Columbia and a M.Sc. from the University of Waterloo, his knowledge enables him to solve business problems backed by strong technical expertise.