Turning a dream into a reality takes a lot of elbow grease. When Mike and Manny from Casa M Spice Company first contacted 1Digital Agency it was because they were just getting things off the ground. They knew they would need some expert help and were searching for a Shopify Plus design and development partner. The business they were building was based on Mike’s personal spice blend called Chain Reaction that he had been perfecting since his days as a full-time chemistry Ph.D. For years Mike and Manny had only been able to share Mike’s creation with family and friends. Until one day they finally decided to do what they’d long talked about and transform their pet project into a fully fledged business. That’s a lot easier said than done. They new in addition to a great product they’d need all kinds of infrastructure, employees, distribution, and of course, a storefront. So they reached out to us at 1Digital, not only to design and build their online store but also to market it and provide ongoing services as the business adapted to changing realities.
Choosing An eCommerce Platform
A good house needs a strong foundation. No matter what we’re able to do in custom design and development, if the eCommerce platform we build on is not right, the site will always experience problems down the road. Fortunately for us, Mike and Manny were interested in building their site on Shopify Plus. Shopify Plus has emerged fairly recently onto the scene as a fully fledged competitor to other SAAS hosted eCommerce platforms for enterprise-level businesses. Because Shopify Plus is cloud-hosted we knew it would be able to scale as the Casa M business grew. They would never need to worry about upgrading server space as the store needed to handle more visitors and take more orders. Also, because Shopify Plus offers guaranteed pricing, the monthly fee the Mike and Manny agreed to when they signed on would stay the same no matter how big the business grew.
Not only that but we’ve been a trusted Shopify Plus design and development partner as long as the platform has existed. We work closely with the Shopify team so we always know what’s achievable on this platform, what its strengths are and where it’s limitations lie. We were confident the Shopify Plus platform, with a little custom code, could be used to achieve every one of Casa M’s requirements.
Casa M Spice Company came to the design process with a lot of branding work already done. They had worked out a logo and a color palette for the company. It was our job to take those elements and use them as a starting point to create an engaging eCommerce design that highlighted the strengths, and the story, of Casa M Spice Company. We went through our design process with Mike and Manny using our expertise synthesized with their vision for the business. The design we created is image heavy in order to show off the beautiful food photography that Casa M provided. The design also takes pains to introduce products based on their ideal meat pairing so that new customers wouldn’t have to know all that much about the brand in order to navigate to the spice which is right for their recipe. The interior pages are designed to provide the visitor with a lot of information. We hijacked the Shopify Plus blog and turned it into a recipes section that not only highlights the strengths of the products, but it is also a great way to introduce upsell combinations and to draw new visitors onto the site.
To further aid in the creation of the Casa M brand, our designer created a custom Brand Manifesto page. Separate from the About Us and Our Team content, the Brand Manifesto page was meant to communicate the mission statement of Casa M Spice Co. We were able to take print design work on the Brand Manifesto that Casa M already had, and translate that aesthetic to work for the web. These kinds of pages are important to give extra design time to because they will often play a role in the way your customer build their relationship with your company. For a lifestyle brand like Casa M, the value of that relationship cannot be understated.
Though you wouldn’t know it to look at the site, the Casa M store has quite a bit of custom development laid on to of the standard Shopify Plus framework. We take great pains to make sure that any custom development features are seamlessly integrated with the site at large so that the user experience flows smoothly at all times. For example, the middle of the homepage contains a custom developed section in which the customer can select a spice blend to see more information and a video link appear in the section above.
The recipe pages also contain a useful custom area. When a customer checks out a recipe they can click Buy The Recipe. A popup feature will appear with each Casa M product mentioned in the recipe and a button which allows the customer to immediately add those spices to their cart. The idea of good eCommerce custom development is to compliment your design wherever possible, never to distract from it. The best eCommerce features just help the customer take the next logical step, to find more information or continue down the sales funnel.
We’ve also taken the opportunity to utilize Shopify approved plugins to augment the features of the Shopify Plus platform where possible. For example, Mike and Manny wanted customers to see recommendations of products often purchased together. We utilized the Also Bought app from Shopify’s app ecosystem and employed some of our own custom development to make their recommendations show on the site’s cart page. This gives the site one last chance to upsell as the customer is inspecting their cart before checkout.
With a new business, establishing a brand is so important. Obviously, design goes a long way towards telling your customers about the visual language that they should associate with your products, but brands are built on and off the internet. The Casa M team has done a stellar job getting their name out there, and custom functionality on the site has allowed them to double down on that work and bring it to the attention of their online audience.
For example, we used simple Shopify informational pages and customized them to give Casa M a repository for their video work. They had booked appearances on the Food Network and WE tv. This page allows them to simply embed the clip, and provide a short explanation of what they discussed on the show. This not only allows them to further promote their TV appearances but it also helps SEO by signaling to Google that the site contains rich media content.
Casa M was a brand new business so they knew that marketing would be a big part of the equation. After all, a new brand can’t hope to compete until people know it exists. We settled on a two-pronged attack involving SEO and PPC marketing which is typical for a new eCommerce business. PPC marketing starts things off. Because you’re paying Google for the traffic you get, PPC allows a new domain to compete with its more established competitors immediately. However, this comes at a cost of a good piece of the margin on every conversion bought this way. Which means relying on PPC traffic should not be the long term plan for any eCommerce digital marketing campaign. This is where the second prong comes in. SEO marketing is an exercise in building Google’s trust in your site until they see fit to rank you more highly. For a new domain, this is even more difficult. Google has no history with your site and no reason to trust you. For Casa M we put them on an extremely aggressive SEO plan to build their domain authority quickly and offset this disadvantage. It may take years to adequately build domain authority for a new domain, in that time PPC will work to bring traffic and new customers to the site. The goal is that as organic rankings get stronger and more organic traffic comes to the site, the business can start to spend less and less on PPC traffic.
Many people, from all backgrounds and all levels of experience, call our office because they’re finally ready to start the business they’ve been thinking about. However, not everyone who calls realizes the sheer amount of work involved with setting out on this path. Casa M Spice Company began this journey with a plan in mind, resources to commit and the fortitude the hang in for the long hall. 1Digital Agency is a fantastic Shopify Plus design and development partner for any new business that needs an eCommerce expert on their side. We can provide guidance as well as flawless execution for everything involving your online storefront, which leaves you time to focus on every other arm of your eCommerce venture. Call us or visit our site to get in touch with our Shopify Plus experts today!
- Joe Chilson
- January 11, 2019