Optimising project balance with Shopify

Rickard Lindgren
Tre Case 001

Orchestrating a seamless e-commerce platform switch

As a developer-turned-project-manager with a passion for customer service, I get a special pleasure from working on projects that enable us to help both our clients’ customers and the client themselves. Each of our projects has this in at least some measure but in e-commerce projects, this comes to the fore.

Balancing act
When building web-shops, one can easily fall into the trap of focusing too much on integrations, platform choice, future-proofing and many other back-end aspects that the end user of the service doesn't care one bit about. These concerns are of course very important. However, one needs to carefully balance the time spent on each aspect to create as much value as possible for both the client and their customers.

We were able to increase the value for both our clients and their customers without having to think too much about backend functionality. This is because we decided to move the Samuji web-shop to Shopify and renew the World of Tre web-shop on Shopify. As a SaaS solution for e-commerce, the Shopify platform has built in most features that a client needs. One of the most important features being a genuinely easy-to-use user interface for web-shop administrators. This is not a given for e-commerce platforms, not even in 2018. This feature enables us to shift most of the time allocated for the project to improve the customer experience on the front end. Since Shopify is a hosted solution, not having to care about servers and back-end code is a nice change of pace for our developers, who usually work on both front end and back end.

Front-end continuity
Choosing Shopify gives you access to hundreds of themes so you can start selling in minutes. However, our customers come for more than what ready-made themes can offer. If a budget is particularly tight, we are not against using a ready-made theme and making a few tweaks to improve the user experience. Unfortunately, most themes are rather locked down: making anything other than minor changes usually results in code that is difficult to maintain. Since we value longevity in both our products and our customer relationships, everything we build needs to be maintainable and thoroughly documented. This is something that our in-house built themes have, inherently thanks to a component-based development approach and our use of design systems and style guides.

Building web-shops is a long-term process, not a one-time project. Continuous improvement and analysis are necessary for figuring out the specific needs and demands of a shop’s customer base. It will help improve the customer experience. Since this is the case, maintaining and customising the web-shop front end needs to be simple. Thanks to the use of components in development, making changes is straightforward and fast.

Payments, handled.
The ready-made integrations to Finnish payment providers Maksuturva and Paytrail make Shopify a platform to be taken seriously. These are great solutions for any customer looking to renew their e-commerce platform, in Finland or abroad. They provide a simple way to get access to online banking payments and popular payment methods such as Klarna, MobilePay, Apple Pay and others. Using payment method service providers and integrations built by these providers themselves is a solid and secure solution. This is because they don’t need ongoing maintenance from the web-shop administrators. This is what veterans of e-commerce will surely appreciate and value.

Content management?
While Shopify is a solid platform that covers most needs of a web-shop, e-commerce is moving towards being more content and experience focused in order to accommodate all opportunities for storytelling. After all, it is an integral part of a webshop's content strategy. Shopify has only the most basic content management system for non-product content (blog and simple page creation functionality). This is not at the level for content managers to be able to create and display content in a way distinctive enough in a competitive marketplace. The limited options for adding videos and galleries on a product page are seemingly small issues that have a huge difference on the customer experience. We are hoping that Craft Commerce will be the solution for this, and thus we are currently doing initial tests of the system to see its suitability as an e-commerce platform for our customers. The initial impressions are very promising.

Conclusion
With Shopify, we are able to deliver reliable and high-performing web-shops quickly. The value of this is difficult to overstate. Nonetheless, we are constantly on the lookout for new solutions and are looking forward to trying out new platforms in the future.

If you’d like to know more, you can check out our case study for the Samuji web-shop.

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