Think Tank Photo

Custom Shopify Integration

PROJECT OVERVIEW

CHALLENGE:

Photography and technology gear powerhouse Think Tank Photo needed to migrate their highly successful website – handling more than 4500 users and upwards of 20k page views per day – from a proprietary ecommerce platform that was no longer supported, to a modern, reliable application. They set their sights on Shopify, as it was already powering their successful subsidiary brand, MindShift Gear.

Having found us through the Shopify Experts network, we were delighted to learn that they were not only the standard for professional urban photographers but were also just a mile away from our own office. The Think Tank Photo project allowed us to continue to focus on our commitment to local business as a part of our overall strategy to cater to sustainable enterprise.

SOLUTION:

Our custom integration skills were put to good use during this project while successfully implementing a complex set of requirements. From supporting world-class, flexible customer service needs, through a unique approach to a broad affiliates network, through accommodating the needs of accounting and automating inventory via a third-party fulfillment house, to serving information-rich product content and deeply stunning imagery, we were able to understand, manage, and deliver to the complexity and high expectations of both the company and their talented, professional consumer base.

We chose to create a seamless integration between Shopify and a custom built CMS using Python’s Django framework as a canvas. Because of the highly variable and individual requirements of their consumer-oriented offerings, we chose to separate the two environments in order to have complete control over and access to the codebase where custom features were needed. Shopify’s mature API allowed us to access information and serve to the intended specifications of the project.

The ecommerce-specific features were approached with a conservative eye towards leveraging existing add-ons to Shopify and creating custom, private apps where needed. Custom, non-ecommerce features that would be stunted by an attempt to shoehorn them into Shopify were developed in the sister platform, and the two environments were seamlessly integrated so as to appear to the user as a single application.

SERVICES PROVIDED

  • Customized Shopify Integration
    • Seamless integration of three independent systems
    • Complex and frequent use of Shopify’s API to handle information requirements in all environments, including a third-party fulfillment house
  • Custom-Built, Feature-Rich Store Locator
  • Accounting & Inventory
    • Customized transaction file import
    • Support for two sales tax zones
    • Per-order automated inventory update from fulfillment house
    • Hourly fulfillment notification sync with tracking id and automated, per-shipment email notification to customers
  • Customer Management
    • Product registration database
    • User registration synch between CMS and Shopify so users registering in one database are synched with the other automatically
  • Affiliate Program
    • Cookie features to activate reward based upon any URL entrance
    • Activation of over 1500 deprecated affiliate codes and thousands of product-related links
  • Customer Photos
    • Submission management for quality control
    • Shopify tie-in so product pages display customer-contributed images
  • Private Shopify Apps for Custom Requirements
  • Stunning and Fully-Responsive User Interface Design
  • Mega Menu Interface for Enhanced Navigation and Mouse-Over Images

Full Project Specs

  • Seamless integration of Shopify with a highly customized content management features
  • Complex and frequent use of Shopify’s API to handle information requirements in both website environments, a third party fulfillment house, and to integrate user access permissions
  • Custom built, feature rich Store Locator
  • Customer management
    • Product registration database
    • User registration synch between CMS and Shopify so users registering in one database are synched with the other automatically
      • All user profile information is shared
      • Multiple registration avenues feed into both databases for seamless user experience
    • Customer content submissions with centralized management
    • Differentiation between registration segments and ability to filter and download files for direct marketing and contest winners
  • Private Shopify apps for custom requirements
    • Customized Recommended Products App for customer-specific marketing efforts
    • Custom Product Marketing App built for below-the-fold product details and imagery
  • ~200 products with reviews imported from previous ecommerce platform to maintain mature products
  • Highly customized theme interface for improved admin usability
  • Stunning and fully-responsive user interface design
  • Custom JavaScript slider features for home page hero slider and product page detail enhancement
  • Additional information configured for sidebar at-a-glance information including:
    • Variant alternatives with unique images, pricing, and skus visible
    • Technical specs
    • Associated products, accessories and cross over fittings
    • Materials, warranty, etc
  • Mega Menu interface for enhanced navigation and mouse-over images
  • Customized submitted image gallery for customers to contribute content, including:
    • Submission management for quality control
    • Search and filter for ease of contribution management
    • Shopify tie-in so product pages display customer-contributed images
      • Includes automated category and product syncing between Shopify and the CMS
      • Default category-level images if a product doesn’t have a corresponding submission in the contribution database
  • Customized features for integration with prominent affiliate program
    • Custom rewards based upon affiliate type and cart subtotal
    • Cookie features to activate reward based upon any URL entrance
    • Integration with affiliate application tracking program
    • Integration with affiliate program API to validate affiliate type
    • Integrated login and registration
    • Activation of previous affiliate code to avoid re-registration of over 1500 affiliates and to maintain thousands of product-related links
    • Customize cart-level code activation for both current and old affiliate codes without the need for a hyperlink
    • Shopify product-level designation of availability as a free gift
      • Admin notifications for low free product levels
      • Pop up gift selection
      • Automatic discount for specific affiliate criteria
  • Accounting features
    • Customized QB file import with separate item names from front end display
    • Support for sales receipts and credit memos
    • Support for 2 sales tax zones
    • Customer-level unique tax code designation
  • Inventory sync with third party fulfillment house
    • Per-order automated inventory update from fulfillment house
    • Hourly fulfillment notification sync with tracking id and automated, per shipment email notification to customers
    • Manual, per-item fulfillment for in-house inventory separate from fulfillment house’s inventory
    • Rich error handling and admin notification to identify and diagnose sync failures
  • Pre-existing app installation and configuration:
    • Wish list
    • InStock Reminder
    • SEO traffic
    • Metafields for enhanced product information
    • MailChimp integration
    • Product Reviews
    • LiveChat
    • Quarterly Reports
  • Domain integration and seamless interface between three separate application environments
  • Rich security and stable deployment strategies using version control to manage individual stage and production environments.
  • Support suite for regular and urgent support needs

“Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to create such an amazing new website! It is so rich with content, so easy to maneuver, and so visually striking.”  
Brian Erwin, Co-Founder & Marketing Advisor, Think Tank Photo

COMPANY INFO

Think Tank Photo designs camera carrying solutions for professional photographers and multimedia producers with the goal of creating the most inventive and effective solutions for all photographic situations. The company was founded in Santa Rosa, CA in January 2005.

WEBSITE URL:

www.thinktankphoto.com

INDUSTRY:

Manufacturing, Photography