A decade ago, a guy named Tobias set out to sell snowboards online. Unfortunately for Tobias, he could not find an ecommerce platform that suited his needs. Fortunately for us (and many, many others), Tobias threw up his arms, exclaimed "to hell with it!", and decided to build his own from scratch. The result? Shopify.
We looked at a half dozen different platforms before getting introduced to Shopify. From experience on previous projects, I had a personal affinity for Wordpress. It's a great platform. Hosting a Bitnami Wordpress Stack on AWS is a pretty cool setup and has worked well for me in the past. But perhaps similar to the frustrations that Tobias was feeling, we had multiple nights of slamming our heads into our keyboards: we could never get Wordpress configured exactly right for our online store needs.
So after testing a few more of the usual suspects, enter Shopify. Within a few hours of configuration, we were absolutely hooked! Slick storefront, but even slicker backend. At BreakingT, when a trend breaks in the news or on social media, the clock starts ticking. Our vision is to enable our customers to "wear a trend" within 24 hours of the trend breaking. So every second really does matter. Once our graphic design team finalizes the t-shirt design inspired by a trend, Shopify's content management backend enables us to start taking orders for the new tee in less than a minute. We've timed it. New collection, new product, new images, new SKUs...BOOM! Up and running in less than a minute, and beautifully integrated into the existing store.
Here are a few more highlights of our experience with Shopify:
- Solid documentation and community of users. We've always been able to find the answers to our questions.
- Shopify's plugins (they call them "Apps") are amazing. They seem to be attracting great developers and companies to build services to Shopify spec. Our favorites are ShippingEasy for order fulfillment, and Refersion for our Breaker referral/affiliate program.
- The way they categorize products (called "Collections") and manage navigation is perfect for us. One shirt can belong to multiple collections, and navigating through these collections on the store front is about as intuitive as it gets.
- Shopify's SEO seems to be on point. Our site gets crawled and indexed by Google and other search engines fairly quickly, enabling direct traffic to our site which is important to our business model (we want people searching for trending topics to find our related shirts!)
- Their email notifications and templates are great. Customizable and reliable. A couple years ago I was having an issue with PayPal email notifications. When I asked one of their customer support people if a buyer received an order notification, her answer was "it depends". I don't have to worry about that with Shopify.
- They did experience an outage once. This made us nervous, but their response to the situation was impressive. Updates were published every few minutes until service was restored. We all plugged our mobile phone numbers into their support notification option, and all sighed a collective sigh of relief when the text "back online" came in.
So far, Shopify gets a big thumbs up from us. Here at BreakingT, we focus on quality, we focus on speed, and Shopify helps us at both.