The thing with building a business is that there is no one right or wrong way. Every day you are taking risks and making decisions based on the current information, the available choices, and time constraints. Since we bootstrapped, we didn’t have the money to invest in what is required to build our technology from the bottom up.
Beardbrand is a men’s grooming company. Nearly all our revenue comes from the online retail stores: one for European imports, and another for the rest of the world. Roughly 20 percent of revenue is generated through our wholesale channel.
Our day-one option, according to a recommendation of a friend, was to proceed with Shopify. Right now, Shopify charged a proportion of earnings for the standard package. But the unlimited platform did not charge that proportion. We looked at our goals for the company, where we wanted to take it, and decided we could bear the costs of the unlimited package, to get off the floor. We can launch our online shop in a couple of days of the decision.
At the time we just had three products and business was 100% ecommerce. Once we got a little volume, we discovered a shipping-software solution proved to be a monumental benefit in cost savings and operations. We used — and use — ShipStation. But we have heard amazing things about ShippingEasy, too.
After we added the wholesale channel, we had a much better way to manage inventory. That led us to Stitch Labs. We were a fairly early customer and have been through quite a few Stitch’s growing pains. However, its system has enhanced through the years and serves as a core element within our enterprise. We use Stitch Labs for our wholesale and retail orders.
On the marketing spectrum, we use Yotpo for our review engine. We signed up with that company on account of the pricing — it was free — since it was rather easy to integrate with Shopify. As we’ve grown, we’ve upgraded to Yotpo’s premium features.
We also incorporate our Shopify store with MailChimp, for email marketing. We use ReCharge to care for our subscription service. Like many other ecommerce companies, we use Google Analytics to keep an eye on traffic patterns. To improve the experience of our shoppers, we use Visual Website Optimizer — VWO — for A/B testing.
The matter with cloud-based providers is that they frequently change their pricing and characteristics. Packages that were available to us early on may not be available from the current version — or pricing could have shifted. We’ve been loyal customers to these companies and it’s been interesting to see how they have changed, updated, and enhanced.
There are limitations to Shopify. It doesn’t serve our business perfectly. Occasionally it feels like we are linking our technology stack together with a shoestring. However, there are lots advantages to this route.
The most significant benefit is that we never should consider our website going down because Shopify has built a solid infrastructure. We’ve been around the Shark Tank tv show and the episode has rerun twice. Our website didn’t flinch. In theory, building a customized platform would assist our organization. But when you factor in the chance to develop the platform, the costs of expansion, as well as the possibility of downtime, it will become evident that cloud solutions are the way to go.
There are tons of dangers, however. Imagine if Shopify or Stitch Labs goes out of business? How would that affect us? How quickly could we change to other suppliers? We are placing faith in these companies that they will develop technologies that will make our business better. We recently launched a totally redesigned website. We decided that Shopify will meet our needs for at least another 3 years. We are awaiting Shopify and another providers taking us into an eight-figure enterprise.
Ultimately, we’re a men’s grooming company — not a tech firm. The energy and brainpower we devote to technology is that the time we could spend making the experience better with our customers, creating better products, or working on our marketing message. Having that centre vision for what your company is will help you in making technology choices.
Here are the software platforms we use.
►►► ConnectPOS is a cloud-based POS software compatible with multiple platforms including Magento, Shopify & Shopify Plus, and BigCommerce.
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