Happy New Year all! With every new year, we reflect on our business and set our goals for the next year. 2014 was an exciting year for our team, and we’d like to share some of the highlights with you, as well as our plans for this year.
2014 in Review
At the beginning of this year, we didn’t have one, united brand that supported our apps. We’ve owned Product Customizer and BlogFeeder since September 2013 when we acquired them from another developer, so by the beginning of 2014 we were fairly familiar with the codebase, customer support, and started to determine what changes we wanted to make. However, we still acted like they were from different places, as they each had dedicated websites with their own separate support systems.
We decided that one of our biggest goals for the year would be to unite these apps under one brand with a united support system, help site, and website. Not only did this simplify our management (and Kim’s life!), but we also wanted our customers to know who was behind the apps and to provide a public “face” for them and our team. That’s when we decided to launch ShopStorm.
For the first few months of the year, we built the website, our support site, and unified all email and communication under the ShopStorm umbrella. The intent was to give customers an easy way to find us, learn about our team, and to provide a strong brand behind our apps. We were able to launch the new brand in April and migrate everything to ShopStorm.
We also wanted to start our own blog so that we could share tips and news on eCommerce and Shopify, as well as share helpful apps and services. This is where you see a lot of information from Beka, as she tests out new Shopify apps and finds out what questions store owners have. We use this to share information about our team as well, such as our monthly happiness report.
At the same time that we were building the website, we were also working on refining our existing apps and seeking out new ones. In May, we acquired the Happy Checkout App from the Simple Apps team and added it to our portfolio. We’ve since updated it for the Shopify Responsive Checkout, as well as re-added Pinterest support. This is Illimar’s major responsibility as one of our part-time developers.
We also completely rewrote the BlogFeeder app and released the new version in June. This was a monumental process for us, and we were able to build a lot of internal systems for future development. We moved the app to the Shopify embedded SDK so that shops can use it right from the Shopify admin dashboard, and we improved a lot of the BlogFeeder functionality and performance. It can now import blog posts and posts from several social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.
The lessons we learned from updating BlogFeeder and Happy Checkout were invaluable in helping us frame how to build and update apps for the future, and we’re in the process of rewriting our Product Customizer app as a result, which currently involves Emily and myself.
Goals for 2015
We have a few company goals for 2015 that we’re starting to work on. We’ll continue expanding our blog, but we’re also working on building a regular newsletter to share both blog posts and tips / information from other Shopify sites. We’re currently working on building partnerships with other app and theme developers that we’ll be able to share with our newsletter subscribers as well.
We’d like to feature more of the merchants using our apps in our case studies. We really love hearing from merchants about what tools they like to use and the challenges they face while running an eCommerce store, and our case studies focus on these experiences. We have a form available if you’d like to submit your store for a case study!
In addition to these general goals, we have some plans for each app in 2015.
As mentioned previously, Emily and I are working to completely rewrite Product Customizer. When we’d acquired it, the focus of the app was very narrow. However, as we’ve supported shops using the app, we realized that there were a lot of other needs it could fill in terms of Product Customization that it’s structure didn’t support. The rewrite will make the app far more flexible to use and will make it possible for us to add tiers or features to the app.
We’re also working on reaching out to partners to integrate the app with other apps and providers so that it can support almost any Shopify store.
We’re working on adding “one-time” imports to BlogFeeder to support shops that don’t need an ongoing synchronization with an external blog. This should make it far easier for those shops to import all posts and continue blogging via Shopify.
We’re continuing to work with existing blogs to improve the BlogFeeder experience, and we plan to integrate comment imports along with post imports.
Happy Checkout is a great marketing / branding tool, and we know it can be even better. We’re planning to add other integrations to the Happy Checkout thank you page, such as MailChimp, and the option to use preset CSS templates for shops that don’t work with a frontend designer.
We’re also working with partners to include pre-made theme designs for Happy Checkout that will make it blend in better with your store. The responsive checkout styling is already beautiful and simple, and our goal is to make it even more unified with the rest of your shop.
Aside from our existing apps, we’re looking forward to building new Shopify apps and integrations this year following our Product Customizer rewrite.
Thanks so much to each of you for being a part of our community, and best wishes for this year!