We sat down with our in-house Shopify expert and Kyan Client Partner, Simon Hardy, to chat 'ecommerce', and understand the 'what, why and how' of the powerful platform.
Hi Simon. As our in-house expert, why did we choose to partner with Shopify?
Hi Ben. Great question. Shopify is one of the better ecommerce platforms out there. It’s a dedicated hosted solution where much of the store data such as products, inventory and customer data is handled for you so you can focus purely on designing a store that best suits your offering.
Customers don’t really care how efficiently your back-end works, how your APIs are designed, how well structured your ERP data is, and so on. All a customer really cares about is what they’re seeing on their screen, and that’s what Shopify is very, very good at. So it frees you up to work on the things that the customer does care about, which is the design, the usability – the things that excite us as a technology agency.
Were there any other considerations, or anything else out there that compares to Shopify? How does something like WooCommerce differ?
WooCommerce, Big Commerce, Wix, Squarespace, WordPress – these are all fairly traditional WYSIWYG platforms. Similarly to Shopify, they do a lot of the heavy lifting for you as well, but I think the way that Shopify packages everything into one login screen, one dashboard, a clear menu, and the ability to manage multiple sales channels in a single interface, is unique. All you need to concentrate on is the front-end. And that’s why we like it.
It sounds great for a client, and great for a customer, but how is it for front-end and back-end teams? Is it as easy as just plugging it in to a website, or is there a little bit of setup involved?
There is a little bit of setup for integration, but it depends on your use case. It works perfectly as an ‘out of the box’ product. If there were some specific customer integrations that you’d need it would require a development team and some back-end expertise. But otherwise, it is a ready-made product that you can plug-and-play straight away.
And what about scalability? Does Shopify equally cater for a boutique store selling a small range of products, and an enterprise business with a greater product line?
Absolutely. Shopify has a range of plans and custom enterprise pricing. As a managed solution, there are many sales and marketing tools that enable scalability, and pretty quickly too. That’s things like SSL certificates or Level 1 PCI compliance (customer card data protection). The flexibility of the sales tools really mean that the world is your oyster. All you need is a good product and an internet connection and you’re ready to grow.
Does something like Shopify complement Kyan’s agile way of working?
Yes, it really does. Picking up a Shopify project when using an agile framework like we do means it’s like picking up from the back of a sprint. There’s little to worry about in terms of the solution framing and setting up workflows. A lot of that can be handled relatively quickly as it’s very clear, and there’s lots of great documentation on how to set those flows up and the best ways to work them. So really, for a company working in two-week sprints, it’s easy for us to pick up and go. Theme files are already structured, for example.
One of the drawbacks is that theme developers do make it slightly more difficult to unearth the logic behind some of the functionality within their themes. That’s more than likely a protection measure, as they’ve spent a lot of time developing these themes themselves. And we respect that.
But for the most part, with a good backlog, a product owner, product designer, developer and so on, there’s no reason why Shopify and its various processes wouldn’t fit with an agency similar to Kyan.
Finally, Simon, can you give us a few tips for anyone starting or thinking about starting their Shopify journey?
Don’t forget about your store policies. Everything is setup for you and Shopify does a very nice job of giving you some standard templates to work with. But don’t forget to actually add them to your store. They are there to be adhered to by you and the customer. So for example, make sure you write your own returns policy. It’s one of the most boring parts of setting up an online store, but arguably one of the most important parts too.
Shopify has a mobile app, so utilise that. Just because you’re running your own business, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck at your desktop at home or in an office space. The mobile app is a great help, as you can manage inventories, order fulfilment, products, customer data and so on. This makes it easy to work it around your life.
Pricing. Think about what your products are. Are you portraying your products as bargains? If so, maybe your price point is something like £29.99. If you’re a more ‘premium’ store, think about rounding up, eg: £100. Do your research on what other people are selling similar products for and try to figure out your best positioning.
Update things regularly! Shopify is not the kind of store where you dump hundreds of products into it, and sit back and let it go. Manage your products well. Google will appreciate it a lot more, and it will assist your visibility on an SEO level. It’s very easy to integrate with things like Google and Facebook Shopping. So an up-to-date site really does pay in that respect.
I hope this brief chat has given you some insight into the power of Shopify, why we use it and how you can use it. We’ll be sharing a case study soon, which illustrates how we’ve used the platform with one of our clients. In the meantime, if we can help you in any way with your Shopify project or if you have questions around how it could work for you, get in touch with Simon!
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