Shopify & Ecommerce Ramblings

A blog about building and extending awesome Shopify stores

To best explain what we do, I thought it might be a good idea to explain how we do it. Not down to the fine details of course, we're not that trusting. You might be a competitor of ours and decide to start copying how we do things. Paranoia aside, and without further ado, here's the what and how we do what we do.

Discovery

Client Discovery ShopCreatify
Screenshot of the ShopCreatify initial inquiry form 

Without a doubt this is the most important phase of any project. If we're not a suitable match for your needs (nor Shopify perhaps) we'll be brutally honest in this phase. Shopify covers most ecommerce needs but sometimes what someone wants just doesn't suit the pre-built nature of the system. There is always the option of writing custom apps, but if your core requirement is too starkly different to what Shopify offers we'll likely advise a different route. If you want to, you can always give Shopify a whirl with a 14 day free trial. That said, a vast majority of ecommerce requirements are catered for perfectly and elegantly with the Shopify platform. Whether you're able to roll out your store with a bare bones "vanilla" flavored version of the system or you want to spice things up with feature rich store including all the bells and whistles, you're well covered. In the discovery phase the most important factor for both you and ShopCreatify is establishing mutual suitability. Mutual respect, professional ethics and a passion for your business are very important to us. Together with you, in the discovery phase we'll also define the overall scope of the project. Some of the key points involved in most projects are:

  1. How many and what type of products you want to sell
  2. What payment methods you want to offer your customers
  3. How you'll be shipping your products
  4. How will the necessary information (product data, images, legal literature etc.) be delivered to us and in what format(s)
  5. Overall readiness of the brand (logos, visual identity etc.)
Once we have established the above factors (and likely others) we can both make an informed decision with regards to costs, timing and resource requirements. This is usually the make or break point where we both decide whether to proceed with the project.

Planning

ShopCreatify Trello board example
An example of a ShopCreatify project Trello board.

If we're in the planning phase it is a given that we've both decided to proceed with the project.  By now we should already be quite familiar with each other and have a good understanding of the project's requirements. We strongly believe that failing to plan is planning to fail. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the process of setting out the tasks required as well as the relevant milestones and deadlines.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. - Alan Lakein
All ShopCreatify projects have a dedicated "customer happiness manager" assigned who will be in charge of setting up a private Trello board for your project. A high level set of tasks will be created in the form of cards which are prioritized in the correct order as logic dictates.

Execution

Editing a theme in Shopify

With all the tasks set out, we start executing them with ruthless abandon. We'll assign you tasks to do too. Things like composing your page content, compiling your product data, getting your legal page content together etc. On a weekly basis we'll send a status update with an executive overview breakdown of the project's health and momentum. This allows you to apply pressure on anyone / anything that is causing a bottleneck or to simply ease your concerns or alert you to any stagnation in the project. The main aspects involved in the execution of most projects include:

  1. Domain registration & pointing
  2. Email setup
  3. Store setup & configuration
  4. Theme implementation & styling
  5. Content loading and formatting
  6. Product loading
  7. Payment facility setup
  8. Shipping provider integration
  9. App integration, configuration & styling
  10. Testing & bug fixing
It is important to note that we are strong advocates of Kanban and agile development. So although things may appear quite "waterfall" in this blog post, that is not the case. We have daily scrums, planning meetings, review meetings and retrospectives. We find this the most productive way of execution and allows all parties to collaboratively create the best end result (your shop).

Deployment

OStrap.com live shop
OStrap paracord products ecommerce store (note, this is a live store)

Now that your site is ready to be switched live, we will -at your bidding- do so with confidence that it will be ready to start receiving your first orders. Depending on the nature of the project and agreement in place, we'll be available to fix any unforeseen teething issues for a set period of time. To believe there won't be any teething issues is naive at best and irresponsible at worst. Being ready to quickly fix snags that get exposed in the wild is an important aspect in any web deployment, ecommerce or not. And that, ladies and gents is how we do it. If you're interested in finding out more, please get in touch.

To best explain what we do, I thought it might be a good idea to explain how we do it. Not down to the fine details of course, we're not that trusting. You might be a competitor of ours and decide to start copying how we do things. Paranoia aside, and without further ado, here's the what and how we do what we do.

read time.

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The decision to base our entire business around servicing another company's customers was not one taken lightly. I mean we could have just become another ecommerce consultancy. We could have wined and dined and schmoozed our way into people's back pockets. One can spend hours, days, weeks, months (even years) drawing up specifications, wireframing, designing mockups, prototyping, setting up development environments, registering SSL certificates, getting your PC DSS compliance underway and more, but we chose not to.

Why we didn't faff with all that

Messing around with all that stuff is no longer necessary. It's redundant, it's just not the way things need to happen anymore. Yes, there's absolutely a place for all that in the enterprise market (aka big, ugly and expensive), but frankly we find that boring, stifling, slow going. Ultimately in most normal cases it's a massive waste of time and money. You want to get online and selling fast. We want you to experience the feeling you get when you receive that first order. You need to focus on aspects like marketing, branding, customer service and most of all, making, sourcing and selling those awesome products. We've packaged a roadmap and set of tools to rapidly set up your store for you. All you'll need to do is strap in and enjoy the ride. We'll guide you every step of the way.

SaaS to the rescue

These days, in the time of SaaS (Software as a Service) and cloud computing, a vast majority of the heavy lifting is done for you. You no longer need to worry about hosting your site on a (possibly) shared server. The responsibility of maintaining the core software running your shop is no longer on your shoulders. The acronym laden legislated requirements for owning and running an online store are effectively "outsourced" to your SaaS provider and payment gateways. This means that your costs are lower, you'll be quicker to market and you can focus on more pressing issues than bureaucratic appeasement.

You're smart enough to choose wisely

We're relying on you to some degree. You need to do your homework. You need to be confident in the platform you choose for your store. We'll even help you make that decision if you like. In fact, drop us an email with a question about Shopify or ShopCreatify and we'll do our best to advise. Who knows, maybe you need something else, but I doubt it. We only do Shopify stores and we're proud to be affiliated with such a great ecommerce platform. In future posts we'll cover more reasons that Shopify could be a great fit for you, but this one was just to give some insight into why we chose to follow such a specific path... in case you were wondering.

The decision to base our entire business around servicing another company's customers was not one taken lightly. I mean we could have just become another ecommerce consultancy. We could have wined and dined and schmoozed our way into people's back pockets.

read time.

Read More

Oh how I wish I could think of a clever and witty way to captivate my audience with my sharp intellect in this, our first blog post. I suppose it is not to be, but at least we have a beginning, a launchpad... some starting blocks as it were. Who are we and what the hell is digital shopfitting you ask? You didn't ask? I'm going to tell you anyway... "Digital shopfitting" is a term we coined while voraciously scouring the web for names that best represent what we do and although as a domain name it sucked, we thought as a tagline it was rather appropriate.

Shopfitter noun. A person whose job it is to fit the counters, shelves, etc. with which a shop is equipped.

In case you're not familiar with what a traditional shopfitter does, I've taken the liberty of defining it above for you. What we do is the digital (or virtual) equivalent of what the old-school, bricks n' mortar shopfitter does.

Lets say you have something you want to sell online. By something, I don't mean just one of these things (we're not ebay), we mean you have these things in numbers. Whether they're T shirts, custom made knives or handmade woolen willy warmers (we don't judge) we can help you get online and selling these things fast and affordably. We take the complexity out of the process by simply setting your shop up for you.

We have tons of experience... literally tons, like as in we weighed it on a scale and it showed over 2000kg's. No, seriously, we've been doing this for a while. Our founder breathes, eats and sleeps ecommerce (it's not healthy, but it's true). We even have a couple of our own shops that tick away on the side.

We do as much or as little as you need with your online shop deployment. Simply need a basic store setup with a couple of products? Done. Need something a bit more customized and have a product catalogue of 150,000 products? It'll cost you a bit more, but your wish is our command.

Sure, you can figure it all out yourself. I could also learn out how to overhaul the engine of my car but I don't plan to because that would be a waste of my time. We speak ecommerce and will handle payment gateway integration, shipping setup, product loading, help and guide you with other topics like domains, email and even give you some of our operational tips via our blog and through direct communication in the setup process.

Well, that's about it for the first post in this blog. I truly hope you were entertained and if not I'll try harder next time.

Oh how I wish I could think of a clever and witty way to captivate my audience with my sharp intellect in this, our first blog post. I suppose it is not to be, but at least we have a beginning, a launchpad... some starting blocks as it were. Who are we and what the hell is digital shopfitting you ask?

read time.

Read More