Beer Shop

Updated ecommerce store incorporating extra functionality to help with customer retention as well as streamline the operations side of the business.

Beer Shop
The client

A retailer of craft beer based in Hertfordshire with 2 shops/tasting rooms based in St Albans and Hitchin, as well as an online presence, which became increasingly important during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

The brief

Combine the contents of the two existing sites into one which was based on the existing Shopify store, as well as adding in extra functionality such as local delivery and store pickup.

The outcome

Launched towards the end of the 2021 lockdown period, the revised site helped drive up sales, customer retention as well as making order processing in particular far more efficient.

What we did

At the start of this project, the client’s site was split in two: a custom, non-transactional site with a Shopify-based store linking off it. This was then simplified so that all the extra content was added to the Shopify site, which then also took over the www subdomain.

Working with the client and a designer, we selected a Shopify theme which would portray their products (mostly beer) in the best way possible. This theme was then modified considerably to match the client’s requirements, using extra Shopify apps for additional functionality such as facet-based filtering and custom delivery/pick up options.

This led to two main pieces of extra work:

  • There was a need to make all the product images square, so they provided a consistent look on the product list and product detail pages. This was done using the Shopify API to download each product's images, process them into a square by adding extra white space and then replacing the original files, again using the API.
  • One of the Shopify app’s pricing structure was based on the number of products in the store. Due to the fast-changing nature of beer sales, the client had thousands of old products still in the system which were never likely to be needed again. We identified these products and built an external system that stores their data and images before deleting them from the Shopify store. If required the products can be added back in through a simple interface. There is also checking in place to ensure the number of products in the Shopify store is kept below the required threshold.

Functionality compromises and ways round things
As with all templated systems, there were some compromises which had to be made. However, where possible we tried to think of workarounds. For example, the client wanted most product pages to have stock information for the physical and online locations. This was possible through an app, but it was relatively expensive and didn’t quite meet the requirements. So we made our own solution which has none of the compromises (or ongoing expense) of a Shopify app.

Banner generation
With busy shop staff, there isn’t always the time or skills to generate content to put on to the web site, which can lead to out of date messages and inconsistency. So we built an external online banner creation system which generates correctly sized and formatted graphics, with a consistent look, that’s easy for users to select product images or upload new files that can then be modified before adding into a selection of background images.

Tech stack
  • Shopify (Themes and API)
  • .NET 5
  • SQL Azure
Upgrading our site on Shopify has been made much simpler by MB’s flexible approach

John Gudgin - Beer Shop