Selling Yarn Online with Wooden Spools and Shopify

Recently, Skigen.Digital completed a significant Shopify online store upgrade for popular Denver-based yarn eTailer, Wooden Spools. 

Wooden Spools is a store which offers yarn, fabric, and knitting and quilting supplies. The store quickly gained popularity, and soon, nationwide customers, hearing of the store from their friends and online communities, began calling to purchase items over the phone. Of course, this lead to Wooden Spools creating it's first online store on Shopify in 2013. 

Only four years later and Wooden Spools' online store was in need of attention. The original Shopify theme used for the site felt outdated and was inadequate for handling the now large assortment of yarn and fabric sold via the online store. The store was difficult to shop, unless the user knew what they were looking for. Overall, Wooden Spools thought the experience was lacking and wanted to invest in an upgrade to better compete. 

Skigen.Digital reviewed the site and discovered numerous experience optimization opportunities. From this analysis, a list of recommendations was turned into a plan of action, centered around creating a fresh look and feel for the store. 

A redesign proposal was soon approved, and work began. A new theme foundation was selected, which offered more presentational options, a powerful facet-based browse navigation, better promotional opportunities, extensive control, full responsive compatibility, and overall, a fresher, more modern look. 

To take advantage of many of these new capabilities, data enhancement on the catalog was also necessary. During the course of this project, Skigen.Digital implemented numerous efficiencies to reduce the operational burden of managing the catalog, including automation and custom logic. 

The newly upgraded Wooden Spools Online Store launched in April 2017 to the great satisfaction of the client!

For this project, Skigen.DIgital supplied:

  • Strategic consulting
  • Shopify upgrades
  • Shopify theming
  • Shopify Liquid development
  • Responsive design
  • User experience optimization
  • Image editing
  • Graphic design
  • Copywriting

Click for more information about Skigen.Digital's Shopify Design & Development Services

Visit the new Store.WoodenSpools.com and check out our work!

 

 

 

Shopify Powered Food Ordering with Gourmet Gary's

Gourmet Gary's is a company which delivers high-quality, all-natural meat and organic vegetables to your door. 

Previously operating on Wordpress, but not achieving what he wished with it, owner Gary H. heard about Shopify from one of his clients who recommended Skigen.Digital for development. 

After spending time to learn about Gary's digital marketing goals, Skigen.Digital confirmed that his business was an excellent candidate for Shopify. 

This site was complete in less than one month's time from discovery to launch. 

Gourmet Gary's Key Features:

  • Catalog of 30+ items
  • Responsive design
  • "Subscribe & Save" recurring order feature
  • Social Media & email integration

Services we Provided:

  • Shopify Design
  • Catalog design
  • Copywriting
  • Product photography sourcing & editing
  • Branding optimization
  • Graphic Design

Check out GourmetGarys.com

Need a Shopify Site for your business? Check out our Shopify Development page for more information about Sklgen.Digital's comprehensive Shopify services!

Which eCommerce Platform Should I Use?

Oftentimes, when first meeting with a new client who is seeking help with an online store, one of the first topics to discuss is which eCommerce software platform to use to build their new virtual business.

Nowadays, nearly all the eCommerce clients we support are using Shopify, Magento, Wordpress with eCommerce, or Squarespace/Weebly/Wix. All of these are great platforms for selling stuff online, but with varying feature sets, costs, and technical caveats, choosing which platform to invest in for your online business can be an intimidating choice.

With nearly 20 years of web development and experience using many different eCommerce platforms, we certainly have opinions about which platform is best for the context of each business and it’s specific goals.

To help new online store owners decide which platform is best for them, we decided to put together a no-nonsense guide to quickly aid in selecting the best eCommerce platform for their business.

Of course, this is just a guide and it can’t possibly address every scenario...if you are considering adding an online store to your business, or upgrading an existing one, feel free to get in touch and we’ll help you make the best choice for your organization.

On “Platforms”

We’re frequently going to use the word “platform” in this post, so we thought it worthwhile to make sure we’re on the same page with what it means.

 An eCommerce platform is the foundation for your online store.

 An eCommerce platform is the foundation for your online store.

A “platform” is a base system onto which something is built. In this context, that something is an online.store.

Think of it like a foundation for a building; your store is built upon it. It’s easy to take the foundation for granted, but it is critical to the building sitting upon it. A solid foundation will ensure the structure it supports stands strong for many years. Likewise, even the nicest business will crumble when built on a shaky foundation.


So, Which Online Store Platform Should I Use?

From all our experience building many dozens of online stores, we feel the choice of eCommerce platform basically boils down to this flow chart:


More About Each Platform

eCommerce systems can be categorized into two main groups: Those which you install on a server you control (self-hosted), and those which run on somebody else’s server (Hosted/SaaS). There are pros and cons to each type, which we will discuss further below.

Hosted/SaaS/Cloud eCommerce Platforms

For most organizations new to eCommerce and even many others who have prior online sales experience, a hosted platform is almost always the best choice. Why? Because a hosted platform almost completely eliminates the technical support needs required of a self-hosted eCommerce system.As a store owner, this means you can spend more time working your business, and less time worrying about server performance, security, upgrades, and scalability.

Hosted eCommerce platforms effortlessly scale with your business; as demand for your store increases, the system automatically manages technical resources to ensure your customers have a consistent, quality experience. You never have to think about it!


Squarespace/Weebly/Wix

Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly are software-as-a-service (SaaS) website platforms which support limited eCommerce functionality

Designed to be easy to use and manage, these platforms are ideal for small businesses who wish to manage their website themselves with a short learning curve. Of course, this simplicity results in numerous constraints; your online store must operate the way the system is designed and customizations/modifications are limited.

These platforms are ideal for businesses with a small catalog and a simple, straightforward online sales approach.

 


Shopify

Shopify is a Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) eCommerce platform which launched in 2006. Now powering over 300,000 stores worldwide, Shopify is the leading SaaS eCommerce platform in it’s class.

Shopify does a fantastic job of balancing power, performance, ease-of-ownership, and a significant level of flexibility. It offers a high-degree of customization and a large 3rd party development community offers thousands of extensions, themes, integrations, and apps to enhance the core platform.

Almost every eCommerce business needs to connect their online store into something else...maybe Quickbooks, or a email marketing tool, or a an inventory management system. Given the market saturation of Shopify, many business application providers already offer ready-to-use integrations into a huge variety of complementary solutions, such as email marketing, social media integration, channel sales, accounting, shipping, inventory management, and more. And, if your business needs to connect Shopify into another system which doesn’t already offer an already-made integration, Shopify offers an excellent development API for custom applications.

For these reasons, Shopify is an excellent choice for online store owners who want a powerful and flexible low-maintenance eCommerce site.

Shopify plans typically range from $30-$180 a month. Most stores start on the $30 plan.  The more expensive plans offer advanced features like gift cards, detailed reporting, and real-time shipment carrier quotes.


Self-Hosted eCommerce Platforms

A self-hosted eCommerce platform means you own the system, so you have unlimited control over it. While this might sound appealing, I must stress that owning the system also means you own all the technical burdens associated with such a system. From server maintenance & optimization, security, backup, custom development, & more, a self-hosted eCommerce system almost always requires a significant volume of active work and associated expenses.

Nowadays, we only recommend self-hosted platforms to organizations with the experience, means, and ability to aptly manage them, or, to the resources necessary to outsource management of the site to a company like Skigen.Digital.


Wordpress with eCommerce

Wordpress is a hugely popular open-source website platform. Originally released in 2003 as blogging software, Wordpress gradually became popular as the engine for all sorts of websites, including eCommerce. Powering over a quarter of the top ten million websites across the globe, Wordpress is the most widely-used website publishing platform in the world, so support and third-party development is widespread and abundant.

There are several popular eCommerce extensions for Wordpress, notably: WooCommerce, PrestaShop, and JigoShop. Although both Wordpress and the core eCommerce extensions are free, expect to pay fees for additional modules, which are usually necessary for certain payment gateways, features, and integrations.

One of the best aspects of a Wordpress with eCommerce website is that your site can be so much more than just an online store; Wordpress has thousands of extensions to add virtually any type of functionality imaginable like wikis, social networks, blogs, forums, & many more.

GIven it’s popularity, one of the main caveats with Wordpress eCommerce is security. Wordpress sites seem to be the biggest target for hackers and malicious bots, so special attention must be paid to security in order to ensure the site and it’s sensitive customer data does not get compromised. Skigen.Digital is an expert at Wordpress security and can help ensure your Wordpress eCommerce site is safe and in compliance with payment security requirements.


Magento

Magento, first released in 2008, is an open-source eCommerce platform which works with webservers running PHP and SQL (typically Linux). It is available in two editions, Magento Community Edition (CE) (which is free), and Magento Enterprise Edition (EE) (which requires an annual license and includes additional features for larger businesses, as well as technical support).

A powerful and infinitely customizable eCommerce system, Magento is ideal for businesses who need complete control over their online store system and it’s data. All of the source code is accessible and customizable, so any feature imaginable can be added to Magento.

Intended for organizations focused on eCommerce, Magento is a beast of a system which requires regular security patches, advanced server management, dedicated support resources, and proper development practices.

A proper dedicated-server hosting environment is also necessary. Monthly hosting for Magento is a few hundred dollars at minimum and may well exceed thousands of dollars for multiple web servers and scalable environment scenarios.

Magento is a serious eCommerce investment for organizations who require the utmost level of power, control, and flexibility.


Which platform generates the highest conversion rate, best SEO, or most awesome website?

It’s important to note the platform itself will inherently not make an online store successful or beautiful.  Several clients have come to us under the impression that merely switching to a different platform would double their conversion rate. This is not the case. What matters most to the success of an online store is what is built on top of the platform and how the business is promoted.

All of the solutions described above are capable of making an optimized, great-looking, high-converting online store.  Conversely, they are also capable of delivering poor-performing, boring stores. Success is ultimately dictated by the business you build on it!

Conclusion

For the first fifteen years of eCommerce, a self-hosted online store was the only way to play in the big leagues of online shopping. However, operating one often meant a business must not just sell things online, but also build the software development resources and expertise necessary to stay ahead of the competition and the swiftly-moving development of the internet. Not to mention paying oftentimes tens of thousands, to even millions of dollars annually for servers and licensing fees.

Then, next-generation SaaS solutions like Shopify became available offering power similar to a self-hosted platform, but with dramatically reduced technical burden and operating cost. These solutions allow a merchant to focus on selling their products instead of being distracted by security patches, complex upgrades, server performance optimizations, etc. As a result, these platforms have made it possible for even the smallest business to offer an online store delivering a fast, modern, and professional user experience.

For most new online stores, we almost always recommend a hosted solution like Shopify, Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix for their ease of ownership. For certain stores and applications, a self-hosted solution may still be the best approach provided it can be adequately supported by it’s owners.

Need Help Developing Your eCommerce Program?

At Skigen.Digital, we specialize in eCommerce and we’d love to help your organization meet its online sales goals. We hope you found this guide useful! Feel free to get in touch; we look forward to helping you with your next eCommerce project!

LibertyWristband.com: Shopify store by Skigen Digital

Skigen.Digital is proud to announce the launch of our newest Shopify eCommerce site, LibertyWristband.com!

Liberty Wristband created a cool hands-free dog walking device designed to make walking your dog a hands-free experience, but without sacrificing any control. The device features a novel quick-release catch for easily latching your pet's leash, but also makes it easy to release it quickly should you need to let go for any reason.

Founded by a US Navy veteran, Liberty Wristband makes walking your dog easier and more comfortable. The company's prior site was built on a self-hosted platform that was cumbersome to use and difficult to find support for. When the owner contacted Skigen.Digital, we recommend Shopify due to it's power, flexibility, and ease of use.

For this project, Skigen.Digital provided:

  • Shopify Site Development
  • Product Photography
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Graphic Design
  • Copywriting
  • Google Apps

 

ReLeeCo.com : New Shopify Online Store by Skigen.Digital

R.E. Lee Co ("Lee") is a brand of accessories and tools for professional pipe fitters and pipe welders based in Denver, Colorado. Since 1918, Lee has been manufacturing their products in the USA, which have come to be trusted by generations of pipe workers. 

Lee came to Skigen.Digital to help upgrade their original eCommerce website based on OS Commerce. Lee felt the site was outdated, difficult to use (for both customers and staff), and most importantly, was causing lost revenue and sales.

After we analyzed the site, we agreed that the site needed a complete overhaul and proposed moving forward with a new site based on Shopify. Lee approved our proposal and we immediately began work on the new RELeeCo.com 

In less than 30 days, Skigen.Digital produced and launched a brand new Shopify eCommerce site for Lee.  

The new RELeeCo.Com Shopify Site by Skigen.Digital

The new Shopify site features:

  • Clean, responsive design
  • Clear, optimized shopping experience
  • All new imagery & refreshed product descriptions
  • Strong on-site SEO 
  • Powerful administrative interface

If you're looking for a great online store for your business, Skigen.Digital, based in Denver, Colorado, specializes in developing quality online stores powered by Shopify, click here to learn more about how we can help your business succeed online with Shopify!

Check out the new RELeeCo.com online store!

Shopify: Our #1 Recommendation for eCommerce

When I was in high school, I built my first eCommerce business in 1997 selling homemade computer link cables for Texas Instruments graphing calculators. The official cable cost nearly $100 and I discovered how to solder my own for just a few dollars in parts from Radio Shack. People wanted these cables in order to download apps and games onto their graphing calculator to make the school days a little less tedious.

To sell the cables, I built a website in hand-coded HTML..there wasn't any "easy" solution for eCommerce at the time.  Since this was before accepting online payments was as easy at it is now, customers mailed in checks. Other than the website to advertise the cables and ordering instructions, nothing about it was automated. Before long, orders were pouring in and I became completely overwhelmed by the demands of supporting the business and had to quit. Looking at it in hindsight, if only there had been a better way to manage the business at the time, I could have made a fortune. 

Since then, hundreds of prebuilt eCommerce solutions have come and gone. I've had the opportunity to work with many of them, nearly all of which are plagued with annoyances, limitations, bugs, non-existent support, technical nightmares, and oftentimes simply poor design. 

But in 2012, I discovered Shopify and immediately fell in love.

 

Here's why I love building eCommerce sites on Shopify:

  • As a hosted platform, Shopify's server layer is completely a non-factor for developers and users. You don't have to spend a moment's time dealing with servers, or hiring expensive consultants to try to squeeze performance out of the system. With Shopify, you never have to worry about your site getting hacked, waste time installing patches/upgrades, or trying to improve page speed. Shopify just works all the time, and it is ROCKET FAST.
  • Shopify's administrator interface is clear and intuitive for most business users. When your business depends on eCommerce, you want a system that works with you, not against you. Shopify is designed with the business user in mind, allowing you to focus on what matters most: selling stuff online. 
  • It's powerful! Out of the box, Shopify's core feature set is usually sufficient for most of the businesses I work with. When a business desires functionality that is not supported by Shopify itself, it is very likely there is a third party extension that will achieve the goal.
    Which brings me to my next point:
  • HUGE support community. As a platform powering hundreds of thousands of stores globally, Shopify has created an attractive developer economy with a large network of third party high-quality extensions & themes. Why reinvent the wheel when you can take advantage of the expertise of developers around the world.
  • Integrates with lots of other things - From accounting systems to email marketing to social media to sales marketplaces, there are dozens of software integrations available to Shopify to make managing your online business easier while spending less time copying and pasting. 
  • Frequent upgrades. Since I first started with Shopify, the platform has been frequently improved and upgraded. New features, such as Point of Sale, Shipping Labels and Gift Certificates have been added and I am confident that Shopify will keep up with industry and social trends.

I've built and managed dozens of successful Shopify stores for businesses in Denver, Colorado and beyond; I'd love to help your organization succeed with Shopify. I offer a free, no-obligation consultation: Get in touch today to see if Shopify makes sense for your business.