Updating eCommerce Technologies – When It Makes Sense to Migrate to Shopify Plus – Event Recap

Posted by Pixafy Team | Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pixafy held its “Updating Technologies for a Fresh Start” panel discussion, with the conversation focusing heavily on how Dormify completed a migration from a Magento site build to Shopify Plus. The conversation included Mackenzie King from Shopify Plus, Ben Stavely from Dotmailer, Tom Mucklow from Addressy, Deanna Hammond from Returnly and Nicole Gardner from Dormify.

To provide some context for the conversation, the ecommerce industry is experiencing meteoric growth, leading to a staggering pace of change in the industry. This is leaving small and mid-sized retailers to shift away from a technological environment focused almost exclusively on platform development and migration to a situation in which organizations must build a complex web ecosystem. Dormify represents a business that has had to tackle the transition head on, and Nicole explained that the site has set a foundation for long-term success with a move to Shopify.

The impetus behind a replatform

At its core, Dormify is focused on selling decorative products and similar items for college dorms, though it does do business in a few other segments, such as apartment decor. This focus on dorm life, however, makes Dormify a heavily seasonal business. The move to replatform came when the Dormify team reached the end of a busy summer sales season and started to talk about what they might want to do for the next year. They realized that going through another year on the same platform would cause too many problems to be feasible. Because of timeline issues, the retailer started looking for options that would allow for a replatform without a redesign, and Shopify ended up standing out because of its rare blend of speed, performance and reliability.

“Dormify’s initial challenge stemmed from needing to learn what Shopify does and doesn’t do.”

What made Shopify stand out

Hosting has long been a challenge for Dormify. To maintain a site setup that is stable and efficient throughout the year, but capable of handling an extremely high rate of sales during a few peak months, requires a careful balancing act. To a great extent, the need to calculate hosting requirements and deal with backend services around these demands was dominating the planning cycle for Dormify. Shopify ended up standing out here because all of the hosting and scaling needs are handled on the Shopify end. Ultimately, this core benefit made Shopify a natural choice even if it didn’t have the bells and whistles that Dormify wanted. The ability to support the core of the business is critical, and Shopify was invaluable there.

As the transition began, the initial challenge stemmed from needing to learn what Shopify does and doesn’t do. Specifically, Dormify had to compare what it was depending on third-party vendors for and what Shopify could take on. From there, Dormify looked at its partners and worked to figure out what it could still use. Dotmailer, for instance, had been handling email for Dormify in the past, and could easily move into the Shopify site with an extension.

Ben Slately from Dotmailer explained that with more robust and diverse platform options available, retailers have a new opportunity to align their web functionality with the different platforms out there. For solution providers such as Dotmailer, this competitive environment creates some pressure to remain neutral between platforms while still providing advice and guidance for clients that want to replatform.

Mackenzie King from Shopify elaborated on this challenge by highlighting the way Shopify has evolved to the point that it can handle a wider range of organizations. A few years ago, the Shopify platform was thought of as being almost exclusively for smaller retailers. With Shopify Plus now in place companies can more easily scale their web presence as their business grows. Shopify provides a base that creates enough flexibility that, even if a feature isn’t there, businesses have options to customize or work with third-party specialists to create what they need.

“Dormify is getting a clearer indication of the possibility of fraud on the site using Shopify.”

With these advances in mind, the conversation at the event turned back to Dormify’s specific experience and how it was able to handle returns, something that was accomplished in the past through a heavily customized solution. The Dormify return rate is between 3.5 and 4 percent, and Dormify is about to launch with Returnly to simplify the process. To a great extent, the choice to work with Returnly came out of a move in the past to create self-service functionality in the backend prior to the transition to Shopify. During this process, the Dormify team found Returnly and realized it was a natural fit because it allows customers to do much of the work for returns and then hand the process back to Dormify with ease.

Mobile optimization also arose as a key issue during the replatform. The Dormify audience is extremely mobile heavy, with mobile making up half of the traffic, but with a relatively low conversion rate, which is fairly standard as mobile users will browse during their spare time and then go to the desktop site to make a purchase. In response, Dormify has worked hard to improve browsing on the mobile site and let users add items to their carts. They are also working with Shopify to establish more robust payment options for mobile, including a PayPal integration.

Another area where Shopify stood out was fraud management. Because items are often being purchased by users who may be shipping goods to a dorm in a distant location, they can’t use typical geographic parameters as a major part of fraud prevention. Working with Shopify Plus, the platform can identify potential fraud and rate the risk as high, medium or low. As a result, Dormify is getting a clearer indication of the possibility of fraud on the site and is working to tighten its parameters moving forward.

Smoothing ecommerce replatforming

The technological burden facing ecommerce companies today can be astonishing. Many retailers are facing an environment in which they need to replatform to align their business and technical capabilities while keeping customers engaged. This panel discussion emphasized how leading platforms are making the transition easier. If you’re still intimidated, reach out to Pixafy and we can help. We have connections with a wide network of technology partners and specialists, allowing us to provide consultants, designers and developers for retailers looking to get ahead on web, mobile and social channels.

Take a sneak peak at the event here. Sign up for our email below to get notified about our future events.