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Case Study: The Bespoke Product Builder That Manages Complex Made-to-Measure Pricing Requirements on Shopify Plus

Migration, design, build and bespoke app development … our Australia team have certainly been busy with their latest project! Find out how we helped Veneta Blinds leave behind their clunky website and legacy technology, for a new life on Shopify Plus (complete with details on the custom product builder that can handle 744 billion variants per product record!).

Written By
Catherine Partridge

Brand overview

Pure play ecommerce brand Veneta is busy transforming homes across Australia with beautiful, yet affordable, custom-made window coverings.

Central to its offering is the promise of a trouble-free online shopping experience, whereby customers can easily create blinds, curtains and shutters that match their exact specifications. Veneta products are sourced directly from one of the world’s leading producers of blinds, who have been handcrafting quality window fashions for over 40 years. The bespoke finished products are then delivered directly to customers’ doors.

The challenge

Before enlisting Swanky Australia’s services, Veneta’s ecommerce store was built on PrestaShop, which was hosted on premises. Not only were Veneta paying for server and maintenance fees, they were also experiencing problems with the server crashing if they had large volumes of traffic.

From a development perspective, Veneta’s site was restricted by legacy technology, meaning each update had to be implemented by developers. This made it difficult to stay agile and respond to new customer behaviour and technology trends. Creating or updating products and changing content on the website was a lengthy process, and Veneta were ready for a refresh of the whole site.

One of the biggest challenges for the design of the Veneta site was translating their diverse product range onto Shopify. All Veneta’s blinds are fully customisable, giving customers the opportunity to pick not only colour, style and thickness – ranging from transparent to full blackout – but also to input the exact measurements required. The blinds are priced to the exact dimensions, as well as factoring in weight for shipping costs. This means that every order on the store creates a unique product with a unique price.

Whilst Shopify offers up to 100 variations per product on the platform, this wasn’t enough to cover the bespoke nature of Veneta’s products. The company needed a solution that was as bespoke as the products they sell.

As ever, the Swanky Australia team rose to the challenge.

The solution

Migration from PrestaShop to Shopify Plus

Having found their old site to be awkward, slow to update and restricted by legacy software, Veneta were looking for a new platform. Enter, Shopify Plus.

“We had previously used PrestaShop which became more and more cumbersome to maintain and limiting to the needs of our business. Shopify has automated many of the manual processes that we previously encountered and provides a wonderful reporting structure for us to work from. We are also now seeing a whole new set of data from Shopify that was not visible in the past to assist us in refining our marketing efforts.”

Frank Gosdschan – General Manager at Veneta Blinds

With Shopify Plus, we were able to build Veneta a modern, flexible store that interacted effortlessly with their other technology. We updated their tech stack and incorporated new platforms such as Gorgias, to streamline their customer support, Klaviyo, for their email marketing processes, and Okendo, to add social proof to their site.

Shopify is a user-friendly platform, making it easy for Veneta to continue updating and improving their website going forwards. They can upload an unlimited number of products quickly and easily. And since Shopify integrates seamlessly with all social media platforms and marketplaces, Veneta can sell effortlessly across multiple channels. The improved communication between the store and the manufacturers means that XML feeds for each order can be automatically sent directly to the factory, avoiding errors and saving time.

“We are only in the early stages of our experience with Shopify and with each passing day we are discovering more features that support our business and specific needs.”

Frank Gosdschan

UX design informed by audience analysis

To design the new Veneta store, the Swanky team first conducted a detailed research phase.

We carried out an audience analysis, using Google Analytics to understand who Veneta’s customer base is and how they were interacting with the old site. We found that although Veneta had more female customers than male visiting the site, conversion rate and average order value (AOV) was higher among male customers. We also discovered that 81% of their customers were returning customers, demonstrating a loyal customer base.

Next, we created detailed customer personas to inform the UX design of the new site. Each persona scoped out a typical customer for a given demographic, hypothesising their likes and dislikes, and what they’re potentially looking for from Veneta.

Finally, we did extensive competitor research to assess Veneta’s position in the market.

“Swanky were thorough in understanding our initial business requirements, reviewed our competitors and similar custom design and make retailers, and then set out to create the very best website in the window furnishings ecommerce environment. The journey of development was made a lot easier through their can-do attitude and calm nature.”

Frank Gosdschan

In terms of final design choices, the site is clean and bright, with a focus on lifestyle and product imagery.

We leveraged several tactics to create an immersive experience for consumers:

  • Some of the product pages include animated GIFs to demonstrate the functions of the different products and help customers to visualise them in their own homes, alongside detailed product descriptions.
  • Customers can enjoy an interactive experience on the site, as they select different styles or colours and see the product images change accordingly.
  • When ordering a product, customers walk through a step-by-step, interactive process to select each feature of their bespoke purchase.

To help new customers explore the site, we created landing pages that walk the customer through the benefits of Veneta’s products, showcasing images and product benefits. There are also inspiration pages and how-to guides throughout the site to educate the customer on how to get the most out of the products. And since sustainability is an important factor for many online shoppers, the site also details the environmental aims of the company too.

 

Custom-pricing for made-to-measure products

Whilst the bespoke nature of all Veneta’s products is one of the brand’s biggest strengths, it also presented the biggest challenge from a technical perspective.

Veneta has a wide range of product types, from curtains and venetian blinds to shutters and skylights, all with different pricing and density. For the Honeycomb blind alone, there are 744 billion variant options (!), combining:

  • 3 material types
  • 40 colour options
  • 3 cellular blind cell sizes
  • 3 different drive control types (corded, chain driven or cordless)
  • 2 different fit types (flush mount or face mount)
  • 2210 width options
  • 1950 height options
  • 2 pole attachment options (extension pole or no extension pole)
  • 4 fascia rail colours

Creating a solution was no mean feat!

To begin, we scoped out each item’s parameters, understanding which products combined which features, as well as the limitations of each product in terms of size. Once we had mapped out the full product range, we built in the pricing calculation.

A major part of the project was the creation of a ReactJS bespoke product builder to deal with the custom pricing requirements. The solution addresses a key issue for any made-to-measure product range.

For this app, Swanky partnered with Disco Labs in Melbourne. Disco Labs specialise in building custom software for Shopify Plus merchants. Thanks to their deep knowledge of the platform, they are a global leader in designing complex projects for Shopify. In this instance, Disco Labs built a custom pricing API for which Swanky developed a React.js app, which we then mounted on Shopify.

Setting up product level pricing per mm2 in Shopify, and then based on the dimensions that customers input, the app creates a new product. In this way we could bypass Shopify’s variant threshold on a single product, and each bespoke product can be priced individually according to the exact measurements and weight (for shipping).

In addition to adding the new product onto Shopify, the app also creates an XML feed for each product. At the end of each day, all XML feeds are then sent directly to the manufacturer, who then makes and ships all the products to order.

The impact

“Swanky’s role was to build a website for Veneta Blinds, but the team committed themselves to a deeper engagement, building a website that not only looks great but works to maximise conversion and performance. I could not recommend Swanky highly enough as a valuable partner for our ecommerce business.

The day of the launch was exciting and somewhat of an anti climax as everything went incredibly smoothly. The team from Swanky were here for the launch and when they announced we were going live I/we were expecting something to go “pop” … well it didn’t … we simply had a very smooth and easy transition.

We tested the payment platforms and they worked perfectly, we tested the XMLs and they worked perfectly. By the end of the day we already had $2000 in orders and 8 sample orders in the system…. it worked!!!!!”

Frank Gosdschan

Following historic problems with mistakes in the XML feeds being sent to the manufacturer, the new system since the launch has so far been error-free (aside from the occasional human error, of course!). This saves Veneta time and expense, giving them the peace of mind that their orders are all being manufactured to the correct specifications.

In terms of the impact on key ecommerce metrics, Veneta’s daily sales figures are accelerating quickly, and the site has already seen more than a 70% increase in conversion rate – and all in less than a month!

Check back soon for a full round-up of results from the project.

What’s next?

Since building the app, Swanky have been speaking to other businesses with similar custom order products, to help them develop a solution for their product pricing. For one business we are also now looking at the possibility of converting the product XML feeds into a robotic manufacturing facility, so they can be automatically programmed, streamlining the made-to-measure process even further.

Our partnership with Veneta continues to evolve, too. Impressed with our understanding of their business and the hugely positive impact their Shopify Plus site has had in such a short amount of time, they’ve engaged Swanky’s services in paid media management and retention and conversion strategy!

Shopify Plus Experts

Whether you’re looking to replatform your ecommerce store, want to make sure your site design hits the spot with your customers, or need a solution for some complex pricing requirements, we’re your people! Get in touch with our team to find out how we can design a site that is tailor-made to the needs of your business.

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