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Shopify Summer Editions: Product Taxonomy

Diving into the latest Shopify Summer Editions 2024 and there is a ton to review! One of the announcements I found most interesting was the rebuild of Shopify’s Product Taxonomy. There are now 10K+ categories for your merchant products spread across 26 business verticals. Some examples of business verticals are: Animals and Pet Supplies, Baby and Toddler, Electronics, Health and Beauty, Vehicles and Parts and much more.

Importantly this product taxonomy is a public repository on GitHub that has all 26 high level business verticals (categories) and then you can drill down 5 levels to properly categorize your product. Making this repository public allows Shopify to collect feedback from merchants and then make updates to the categories and subcategories. As a merchant, when you add a product to Shopify, it will use the new product taxonomy by default. Additionally, ShopifyMagic has been integrated to even give you suggestions based on the taxonomy live in the GitHub repository.

Shopify is also introducing the concept of product attributes which are category specific and function very similarly to product metafields. Swatches are also now natively supported by Shopify’s product taxonomy – this is a useful feature for all kinds of product categories.

Downstream from product creation this revamped product hierarchy should provide some powerful benefits for many of the following functions:

  • Collections
  • Filter and Search
  • Upsells
  • Cross Sells
  • Post Checkout Recommendations

I’m just getting started with my review of Editions, but this one feels like a powerful under the hood update that will end up paying dividends for merchants very quickly!

Chad Fisher

CEO/Founder

Ready to take the next step for your business?

Growing Your eCommerce Brand to $1M a Year

We often get approached by DTC founders who are just getting started with their Shopify site. They have a small product catalog and are starting to get traction on one or a handful of products. The typical persona here is one of a hard driving, DIY entrepreneur who came up with an idea, grabbed a 3rd party theme from the Shopify theme store and has found some level of product-market fit. This entrepreneur is doing everything with their company at this stage: merchandising, marketing, branding, updating their theme, creating content, and much more.

This is an exciting time for these startup brands as they are seeing growth come from their idea and their hard work is directly translating into revenue. As the brand bumps over $500,000 a year, they are going to inevitably hit an inflection point that everyone reaches: there is too much work now for one person to manage. 

What we’ve learned here at Ambaum is that there are 3 pillars required for small DTC businesses to scale.

3 Pillars Needed for Growth:

  1. Dedicated E-commerce Manager
  2. Marketing and Sales Team
  3. Development Team

Dedicated E-commerce Manager

Choosing one person in your DTC business to be the sole owner responsible for the success of your website is the number one thing you can do to elevate your brand. Early stage founders will function as their own e-commerce manager as they learn the ropes of Shopify and test different themes, designs, and marketing strategies. However the role of the founder is broad and their time will quickly get eaten up by: shipping, product creation, finding new sales channels, and the strategic decisions critical for success.

At a certain revenue number, solo founders will bump against the wall of having too many things to do and not enough time. Typically, that kicks in between $500,000 and $1M/year in Shopify sales. At this inflection point the entrepreneur has two choices: 

  1. Continue down the superman path
  2. Realize that the only way to scale the business is to make the hire

Think of the dedicated eCommerce Manager as the Project Manager for the website; they are the hub for making sure the ball is moving forward every day.

We have turned away work from founders that didn’t have a dedicated eCommerce Manager because we knew the founder would be too busy to focus on the growth of the site. This role is the most important hire for growing Shopify sites and when they get this right it unlocks the ability to scale from low 7 figures a year to $10M+ in revenue.

Marketing and Sales Team

With most DTC products, there isn’t a need for founders to close every sale as the site does the selling by describing the product for customers. Founders are involved in selling, but the focus should be on setting up awareness of the product by creating a marketing and advertising function. These roles can either be handled by hiring a full time resource or using an outside agency on a contract basis. 

Side Note: Ambaum doesn’t manage marketing or advertising campaigns for merchants. We focus on design, development, and fractional CTO services to ensure our clients get the best specialized support. 

To grow sales, brands need to spend money on advertising to drive customers to the site. The key here is to test out different marketing strategies to find what works best. For some companies, it’s Google Product Listing Ads, for others it’s Facebook or Instagram ads, or for some it’s influencers/KOLs. You need quick feedback so you can pivot and test out different: ad copy, ad platforms, products, bundles, conversions, landing pages and much more. Your Marketing or Sales team needs to set up key performance indicators (KPI’s) and track them on at least a monthly basis.

This eCommerce Manager is the point person that will meet weekly (or as needed) with the marketing and advertising team to evaluate results. This constant feedback loop will drive innovation on your site: building landing pages, integrating product reviews, setting up wholesale orders, creating a robust filter and search function, as just a few examples.

Development Team

The third and final pillar a brand needs to fill is an in-house developer or a development agency. Ambaum, as an example, is a Shopify Plus development agency that also serves as a fractional CTO for eCommerce merchants. Early in the lifecycle of the company, founders are hands on and most make changes to their own site. Eventually, founders will bump up against technical limitations and will need to go in search of more professional programming help. Many founders will hire a freelancer or a Shopify expert to make updates to the site.

Hiring part-time developers will get your site to $500,000/year or even close to $1M, but eventually you will find out that part- time help is unreliable or doesn’t have the skills you need to build what’s required. The next inflection point is deciding to hire a full time programmer in-house or to use an agency like us that can supply fractional development time each month. This is the point where Ambaum adds the most value to an eCommerce brand. We step in as a fractional CTO to help advise your team on best practices for Shopify Plus and the app ecosystem.

Summary

For DTC founders at the initial stages of their Shopify journey, achieving growth hinges on transitioning from a solo effort to a structured team approach. As an entrepreneur reaches $500,000 to $1M in revenue, managing all aspects of the business alone becomes untenable. At this point, it’s crucial to establish sustained growth in hiring a dedicated eCommerce Manager to oversee the website’s success, building a Marketing and Sales team to drive traffic and sales, and hiring a Development team for technical support or a solutions agency like Ambaum for support. By focusing on these areas, founders can scale their business effectively, ensuring continued success and expansion beyond the early stages.

Ready to take the next step for your business?

Fractional Shopify CTO

One of the best things we did last year was change our messaging around our services. Ambaum has always been a Shopify Plus development agency, and that’s how we used to explain ourselves to prospective clients. We made a decision last year to lead with fractional Shopify CTO and it’s really resonated with the brands we’ve talked to.

What does it mean to be a Fractional Shopify CTO?

  1. Listen and advise, don’t immediately jump to “fix it mode”

What are the long term implications of this technology choice? Should your brand take on more complexity and support more systems? Discuss alternative paths and the corresponding trade-offs; both today and tomorrow. Unpack build vs. buy scenarios and attempt to identify all possible consequences and outcomes.

  1. Alignment with what merchants really need

Ambaum is your trusted partner, not just a service provider. If you ask us to do something, let’s first talk about why you’re doing it and what are your different options.

  1. Treating Shopify as the technology “Hub” for DTC brands

As a DTC first merchant, Shopify is your primary platform and as you grow you will have other systems “spoke” out of your site (ERP, custom software, etc). Merchants need someone to run point and be an advocate for them during conversations with other technology vendors.

It’s been rewarding to find product-market fit as an agency. We see the results daily as our messaging allows us to connect with Shopify merchants that need a fractional Shopify CTO.

Interested in speaking with one of our Shopify Professionals? Schedule a complimentary consultation here.

The TL;DR on Shopify Editions ’24

Shopify recently released a list of over 100+ product updates in the Shopify Winter 2024 Editions; both already launched and launching soon to Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants alike. What do these updates mean for the everyday merchant? Let’s boil it down:

Conversions

Product Merchandising

  • Shopify Combined Listings app allows merchandising products with multiple variations under a single parent listing. Exclusive to Shopify Plus.
  • Rich attributes per product category for easier organization.
  • New APIs supporting up to 2,000 variants per product to handle complex catalogs.
  • View and bulk edit multiple variants, including price and availability information for single and multiple inventory locations, using the variants card.
  • Color and pattern swatches can be displayed directly on product listings, facilitating easier product discovery and purchase decision for buyers
  • Access all media files in a single file picker, available on the products and variants pages for easier product creation and editing.
  • Add or edit metaobjects directly within the online store editor, configuring metaobject-powered pages without leaving the editor interface.

Semantic Search

  • Offers AI-powered search understanding customer intent. Exclusive to Shopify Plus.
  • Swatch filters and configurable filter logic improves discovery, and allows merchants to choose what display filters in a scenario with no product results.

Subscriptions

  • Full release of Shopify Subscriptions app for managing product subscriptions.
  • Bundles now support up to 30 products, enhancing average order value.
  • Draft orders support discounts and metafields for increased sales.
  • New discount types like free automatic shipping and fixed amount-off promotions.

Checkout & Shop Pay

  • Can now customize Shopify Checkout with apps, no longer requiring coding experience.
  • Checkout Extensibility offers customization with 14 new APIs and UI components. Exclusive to Shopify Plus.
  • New one-page design reduces checkout time, supported by infrastructure improvement, delivering a higher conversion rate.
  • More customization allowed via Functions (apps) or through checkout APIs.
  • Integration of Shop Pay with any enterprise checkout.

Channels

Shopify POS

  • New POS Terminal for in-store checkout, supporting various payment methods and customizable displays.
  • POS Go available in the UK and Ireland, offering mobile POS functionality.
  • Manage UI extensions and language settings for POS devices from the admin.
  • Customize printed receipts to match your brand using Liquid code editor.
  • Brand-matching receipts and easier fulfillment from retail locations improve customer experience.

B2B on Shopify

  • New out-of-the-box Shopify theme optimized for B2B wholesale businesses. Enables customers to place bulk orders using quick order features and customizing Trade to meet business needs.
  • Create promotional discounts for B2B with ability for discounts to be applied on top of customer-specific wholesale prices assigned in Catalogs. Exclusive to Shopify Plus.
  • Partial payments made outside of Shopify (checks, bank transfers, etc.) can now be recorded in the Admin with paid and outstanding balances visible in B2B and D2C orders.
  • Sales reps allowed new permissions and custom discounts for B2B customers.
  • Launched B2B storefronts with headless architecture, digital product support, and ERP integration.
  • Enhanced retail inventory management, staff access control, and tax handling.

Shopify Collective & Marketplace Connect

  • Improved filters and supplier details on Shopify Collective for discovering new products.
  • Real-time inventory syncing and streamlined listing processes on external marketplaces like Amazon.

Shopify Markets Pro

  • Shopify Markets Pro simplifies international selling with operational features and localization tools.
  • Performance analytics, multi-currency order editing, and deferred payments facilitate global expansion.
  • Enhanced search functionality and multi-currency order editing streamline translation processes within the Translate & Adapt App.
  • Comprehensive guides to assist in international expansion and matching inventory to target markets.

Marketing

Shopify Audiences

  • Retargeting boosted with smarter algorithms, doubling potential buyer reach.
  • New benchmarks aid in measuring ad performance against industry standards.

Shopify Collabs

  • Discover and manage creators more efficiently with intuitive filters and consolidated profiles.
  • Automate commission payments via Shopify Billing, manage applications in bulk, and customize affiliate offers.
  • Sync products to TikTok Shop, now available to all US businesses
  • Set customized commission rates on orders with ability to segment affiliate offers by segment.

Shop

  • Shop Campaigns (formerly Shop Cash) expands to Meta and Google, offering real-time estimates and analytics for scaling campaigns.
  • Shop Minis, lead capture, and AI-powered shopping assistant enhance user engagement and conversion.
  • Shop Minis allows shoppable videos through apps and product recommendation quizzes from Shop Quiz.
  • The Shop AI-powered assistant grows smarter, suggesting product ideas to customers.
  • Easily switch between multiple stores in Inbox, create custom email templates using HTML and Liquid, and receive email notifications for Shopify Forms submissions.
  • Display reviews across more surfaces with new partners, and sync customer data from third-party marketing channels for enhanced insights.

Marketing Reporting and Metafields & Metaobjects

  • Sync data from 3p channels to understand ROI across: Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Seguno, Pinterest, Google, Snapchat, TikTok, and more.
  • Gain insights into customer cohorts’ long-term value with historical and predictive spend metrics.
  • Import/export customer metafields, review customer email history, and filter customers based on the app that created them.

Operations

Shopify Magic

  • AI-enabled image editing features for professional product photos.
  • Introduction of Sidekick, a personalized Shopify advisor.
  • AI content generation for quicker creation of store pages such as an About Us or FAQ.

Shopify Lending & Shopify Balance

  • Flexible financing solutions with three new lending products.
  • Line of Credit, Term Loans, and Cash Advances available to eligible merchants.
  • Annual percentage yield (APY) rewards on idle cash in Balance account.
  • Automatic sync of invoices for bill payments, tax savings with Balance.

Shopify Tax, Bulk Data, & App Enhancement

  • Simplified US sales tax reporting with detailed state, county, and city breakdowns.
  • Integration with Vertex for tax services, VAT recommendations for EU merchants.
  • Import/export smart collections and metafield data for faster store setup.
  • At-a-glance performance tracking with widgets on iOS devices.
  • Creation of 3D product models directly on iOS devices.
  • Customizable metrics and personalized admin branding options.
  • Granular staff permissions in Orders, access to 60+ reports for all plans.

Shopify Flow

  • Code actions for complex automations, enhanced task discovery, and workflow failure notifications.

Shipping & Fulfillment

  • Automatic address validation and correction to prevent delivery issues.
  • Fulfillable inventory to prevent overselling based on shipping configurations.
  • Shopify Fulfillment Network integration with Flexport for outsourcing fulfillment.
  • Native support for exchanges in addition to returns.

Developer

Online Store

  • New theme blocks with features like block reuse, nested customization, and block presets.
  • Introduction of Console REPL for Liquid code testing.
  • Webhooks support metaobjects so third party apps can now be notified when they are created, updated, and deleted.
  • Identify errors quickly with code completion with all LSP features included in the online store code editor
  • Build custom dashboards through Shopify’s public RUM API to better view web performance.

Hydrogen

  • Subrequest Profiler for performance optimization and insights into query performance.
  • Error tracing to local source code for quick error resolution.
  • CLI deployment with h2 deploy or integration with CI/CD systems.
  • Improved automated end-to-end testing support.
  • Share Hydrogen storefront previews with tokenized links.
  • Upgrade Hydrogen projects via CLI (h2 upgrade) with updated dependencies and migration guide.
  • Integration of Customer Privacy API and Customer Account API for personalized experiences and consent management.
  • New Shopify theme optimized for B2B businesses, with quick order features and custom promotional discounts.

Checkout Extensibility

  • Expanded styling options and validation functions for checkout customization.
  • Checkout Extensibility is now available for Thank You and Order Status pages giving more control over customizable experience across checkout flow using UI extensions and web pixels.
  • Public apps can now incorporate custom logic into the cart and checkout using Cart and Checkout Validation Functions.
  • Apps now able to ask for and verify privacy consent during checkout process, simplifying compliance across markets
  • Additional UI components for checkout apps such as: Map, ChoiceList, ToggleButtonGroup, Payment Icons, and Product Thumbnail.
  • Checkout Sheet Kit integrates checkouts into iOS/Swift, Android, and React Native mobile applications.
  • Cart Transform API creates add-on products with custom pricing, allowing merchants to modify titles, images, or prices on any line item, or to customize price allocation across bundles.
  • Selling Plan API now facilitates automatic discounts on subscription products, allowing more compelling recurring offers.

GraphQL API

  • New GraphQL product APIs supporting up to 2,000 variants per product. 
  • Introduction of a Shipping Discount Function and improvements in Shopify Functions for discount handling.
  • Discount dedicated webhook topics sent for discount-related events keeping discount apps sync’d.
  • Can now utilize order cancellation via GraphQL.
  • GraphQL Admin API support for combined listings facilitating multiple child products grouped under a single parent product.
  • Detailed customer behavior insights through Web Pixels API on DOM events.
  • Sync ad cost and impression data across multiple channels for cross-channel marketing performance analysis.
  • Email and phone number capture when submitting online store forms through Visitor API.

From the introduction of new features like Hydrogen’s Subrequest Profiler for query optimization to Checkout Extensibility for more customized checkout experience, Shopify continues to innovate. We’re especially excited for the B2B advancements, making it easier for wholesale businesses to enter the Shopify ecosystem, as well as how these updates open the door for enterprise merchants alike. 

Need help further deciphering the Shopify Winter Editions? Drop us a line today and let’s dive into actionable items for your business.

Exploring B2B on Shopify

Shopify has leveled up their B2B experience dramatically in the last 2 years. The functionality built into the dashboard for Shopify Plus merchants is really impressive; you can create companies, multiple locations, price lists, set payment terms, vault credit cards, do partial payments, and so much more. On top of this, there is a robust API stack allowing you to customize workflows and build connectors for 3rd party software like an ERP.

There are still some elements that are getting worked out such as discounts on price lists for B2B where you don’t want to use Shopify Scripts (they are getting deprecated this summer). Additionally, Shopify Functions work for DTC, but not fully with B2B.

Overall though, the experience is so much better than the old Shopify Wholesale Channel. If you are primarily a DTC merchant but want to explore the B2B features on Shopify, there has never been a better time to start.


We’d love to dive into the possibilities of your site with a complimentary consultation call. Let’s chat about how we can scale your business today.

Shopify Scripts Deprecating August 13

As most Shopify Plus merchants know by now, Shopify Scripts will soon be deprecated and replaced by Shopify Functions.

Here are the important timelines to know:

  1. As of August 13, 2024, checkout.liquid for the information, shipping, and payment pages will be turned off and no longer supported.
  2. As of August 28, 2025, checkout.liquid for the thank you and order status pages will be turned off and no longer supported.

To prepare for this, Shopify Plus merchants need to first upgrade to checkout extensibility. The upgrade will give you access to the new checkout editor as well as the ability to create Shopify Functions (which effectively are replacing scripts).

Shopify Plus merchants can build unique discount, payment, and delivery customizations with Functions. Functions are deployed via apps and configured alongside native features directly in the Shopify Admin. 

Need help keeping up and ensuring your website is optimized? Schedule a call with one of our Shopify Professionals today and let’s chat.

NRF 2024: Keynote from Shopify’s President

Recently we had the opportunity to attend the National Retail Federation, and we had the pleasure of reconnecting with old friends, making new acquaintances, and learning about new Shopify app companies. We hit up some of our oldest tech partners like Rebuy and Recharge, then wandered the Exhibit Hall to learn more about new possibilities from Nibble with an innovative AI negotiation chatbot app. You can attend all the online webinars you want, but sometimes the best insights unfold over hanging out with friends in real life over drinks and tapas.

During the conference, Harley Finkelstein took the stage to unveil the company’s upmarket evolution into enterprise retail. The interview highlighted Shopify’s commitment to recruiting more enterprise retailers; addressing their unique concerns and the challenges that large eCommerce companies encounter.

Commerce Components

A new aspect of Shopify’s enterprise strategy is the introduction of Commerce Components. Launched last year, this feature allows brands to selectively adopt specific parts of Shopify’s tech stack. Commerce Components currently carries 38 customizable options, inducing Shop Pay as one of those options, handling 10% of U.S. eCommerce transactions. This flexibility addresses critical business concerns such as uptime, omnichannel experience, and system integration. 

Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future

Shopify is committed to learning from past experiences, such as the divestiture of Deliverr as a valuable lesson. In his keynote, Finkelstein acknowledged the importance of taking corrective measures promptly, stating “We take our medicine when we need to.” This ability to remain introspective demonstrates Shopify’s dedication to continuous improvement.

Shopify’s leadership has positioned the platform as a composable toolbox for eCommerce merchants. Harley’s focus for the future involves more storytelling, both externally and internally, to further emphasize Shopify’s power in the evolving eCommerce landscape. Shopify remains dedicated to innovation, creating solutions for complex needs, while creating a path for adoption by enterprise businesses.

Ambaum is already looking forward to attending even more events and conferences throughout the year. 

Attending an upcoming conference or event? Let’s set up a time to chat about bringing your eCommerce business to life.

4 Proven Strategies for Boosting Sales

Optimizing every element of your Shopify brand brings to mind the timeless adage, “When everything is a priority, nothing is”. This, coupled with the ever-evolving eCommerce landscape, can make it difficult to get the most out of your purchase funnel. To help with this, we’ve compiled our top 4 actionable strategies and insights we’ve seen to be successful for Shopify brands:

  1. Highlight Your Top Performers: Display your best-selling products prominently on the homepage and relevant collection pages. Research shows that a significant portion of successful merchants generate the majority of their sales from a select few products.
  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Bundle. We’ve implemented bundling solutions such as Rebuy which does a fantastic job at guiding businesses new to upselling, cross-selling, and bundling. Here are some of the common reasons our merchants set up bundling in their Shopify store:
  • Greater Product Selection: This helps maximize AOV by showcasing frequently purchased items, incentivizing customers to add more to their cart with a bundle discount.
  • Personalization: Personalizing your product offerings will help increase loyalty, email and SMS open rates, and conversions.
  • Cross-Selling: Enhance the customer experience by bundling add-on products with the main product to encourage a higher AOV and a better purchasing experience.
  1. Experiment with Subscriptions to ensure a reliable and predictable revenue stream enabling better planning. Subscribers tend to be more loyal, leading to long-term retention and increased LTV. This also helps reduce acquisition costs while fostering higher engagement and providing valuable insights into the customer journey.
  1. Add Product Upsells in the Cart and Post checkout. For example, Malomo sees users coming back 4.6 times on average to track their order. The best pages in the purchase funnel that get the most traction for our clients are typically dynamic landing pages, product upsells in the cart, and product upsells post-purchase.

Implementing these strategies can enhance not only your transactional efficiency but also establish a last connection with your customer. The key to staying on top of the ever-evolving eCommerce ecosystem lies in strategic adaptation and continuous refinement. Unlock the full potential of Shopify by setting up a call with one of our Shopify Plus Professionals here.

BTI Direct

Company Summary

Leveraging 80 years of agricultural experience from the American heartland, BTI Direct serves as the dependable supplier for genuine John Deere equipment such as: large tractors, combines, sprayers, and other farm equipment, along with a variety of lawn and garden parts such as mower blades, belts, and filters. Every item is guaranteed to be original, sourced directly from the manufacturer, and crafted to the highest quality standards.

Project Summary

BTI Direct collaborated with Ambaum to explore a solution that would expand the number of SKUs available in their store. BTI wanted this functionality because they had a large demand from farmers (BTI’s primary customer) for parts that were not listed for sale by BTI in their online product catalog.

Scope of Work

We jointly determined that launching a new Shopify theme + the custom product builder would give BTI exactly what they were looking for. It’s important to note that all Shopify development was completed within a Shopify Theme so the client could view the progress in real time.

The big lift on this project was Ambaum created a custom middleware application for products, here is the scope of that work: 

  • Company login to manage raw product information
  • Search bar for name, ID, Part Number, SKU
  • Results page representing all product variations, sorted by most recent at the top
  • An intuitive page of all products that have changed from the last update, so the client can verify or modify products before pushing to Shopify
  • Organizing product information by date and “raw” when the information is gathered
  • Once the information is modified by the client, the information is saved as “modified” for transparency
  • Option via a button to “Update Shopify” on the Product Edit Page which will update that product information immediately with the new “modified” product information
  • Option to schedule an update. The schedule can be paused and changed and only update Shopify if a new version of the product information exists.

Solutions

To meet BTI’s requirements, Ambaum divided the project into three distinct custom apps to cater to their specific needs. These apps were strategically designed as follows:

  • App 1: Shopify Automated Product Pricing & Inventory Updates
  • App 2: Product Data Aggregators
  • App 3: Automated Product Image Resizing & Watermarking

Ambaum employed open-source software to create the custom apps for BTI. Although there were a number of languages and frameworks that were considered, our decision to choose open source software best served the client’s long-term objectives.

App 1: Shopify Automated Product Pricing & Inventory Updates 

Numerous businesses in the parts industry seek ways to gather real-time product and pricing data from external sources. The software development process for BTI Direct’s specific needs unfolded as follows:

  1. Development took place in PHP and Python, utilizing the Laravel framework and a MySQL database.
  2. The Shopify App incorporates a user-friendly management interface accessible via Shopify Admin for BTI’s convenience.
  3. The app’s functionality involves BTI inputting product part numbers or SKUs, either individually or in bulk through CSV uploads.

This streamlined approach aligns with the overall objective of efficiently enhancing BTI Direct’s product offerings on their Shopify store.

To streamline operations and avoid excessive API calls to Shopify, we write the inventory values to a JSON file, storing it on AWS CDN. This file is regularly updated during business hours, ensuring the latest information is readily available for loading onto the corresponding product page in Shopify. Using this approach minimizes the need for frequent API calls, enhancing efficiency in the data update process.

App 2: Product Data Aggregators

Merchants often encounter challenges when consolidating product data from diverse locations and formats for bulk import into platforms like Shopify. While tools like MS Excel, Google Sheets, or Matrixify facilitate bulk manipulation, some scenarios like those involving CSV files and various websites demand a more automated approach. BTI, managing an extensive catalog of 20,000 SKUs, faced inefficiencies with manual processes; working with CSV files and various websites to acquire product information then moving that information to Shopify. This resulted in a system that was not scalable with the business.

In collaboration, we developed a Shopify App that automates data acquisition, syncing with Shopify, and product management. The system intelligently navigates online pages housing BTI’s product information, utilizing overlapping data to automate decisions on titles, descriptions, etc., based on client-defined rules. 

In essence:

  • BTI supplied us with product data sourced from various online platforms.
  • We engineered a Python-based system to systematically retrieve and compile data from each source into a central repository stored in a MySQL database.
  • Addressing the intricacies of these processes, we implemented comprehensive error checking and logging using the ELK Stack.
  • Complex logic was developed to intelligently determine the optimal data for utilization.
  • Scheduled updates, defined by BTI, automatically refresh all product data. Additionally, users have the flexibility to manually request an immediate data update within the App.
  • The application maintains a meticulous log of the complete history of data acquisition, Shopify updates, and any encountered errors.

App 3: Automated Product Image Resizing & Watermarking

BTI sought a solution to streamline their extensive catalog’s image processing to optimize and watermark product images for Shopify. While Shopify offers a native image resizer, it has a limitation of resizing only six images at a time and this is not a viable solution for merchants dealing with a large SKU count. In response, we collaborated to create a Shopify App that not only automates resizing and watermarking but also automatically acquires and syncs all product images. 

BTI initially faced a time-consuming task of photographing individual products, followed by manual resizing, watermarking, and adding to Shopify—a process unsustainable with a catalog of one million parts featuring multiple images each. Our tailored app for BTI now seamlessly manages product images based on SKU, processes them, and is queued to Sync to Shopify. Each step of the automated process is fortified with error checking, rules, and logging, ensuring a meticulous review of the image’s status and progression through the system.

This Shopify App designed by Ambaum to handle the intricate process of importing, resizing, watermarking, and syncing product images addressed BTI’s concerns about the labor-intensive task of individually processing images for their extensive catalog. This particular app not only automates these tasks but also incorporates error checking, rules, and logging for a seamless and error-resistant workflow. Furthermore, the collaborative effort resulted in an intelligent system that acquires and optimizes product data from multiple sources, ensuring BTI’s product listings are always up-to-date and accurate. These solutions collectively showcase Ambaum’s commitment to providing tailored, efficient, and scalable solutions for businesses navigating the challenges of extensive product management.

Summary

In response to BTI’s challenges managing a lot of parts, Ambaum devised a comprehensive set of custom Shopify Apps, each strategically tailored to address specific pain points. Leveraging leading open-source software, we built automated product pricing and inventory updates, product data aggregation, and streamlined image processing. These solutions not only automate tasks that were once time-consuming and manual but also enhance efficiency and scalability in managing BTI’s extensive product offerings.

Need custom solutions for your business? Let’s talk about how we can help today.

Alcohol Industry Three Tier Compliance

In the eCommerce space, today’s modern wine and spirits brands are similar to their consumer-packaged goods counterparts, such as food and non-alcoholic beverages. These alcohol brands want to expand beyond physical retail and they aim to engage with their customers at a deeper level and own the data related to their customer demographics, interests, and geolocation. These brands are keen on prospecting new markets, launching new products, and rapidly testing their viability. They strive to curate both online and offline experiences that fortify their brand’s presence. However, in the alcohol industry there are laws and regulations that make selling online challenging. The compliance issues faced by these wine and spirit brands is often referred to as the “three-tier-system” or “three-tier compliance.”

To give a brief overview, the “three-tier system” for alcohol distribution in the United States emerged after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. This structure was introduced to curtail certain malpractices that contributed to Prohibition, such as tied houses. In these establishments, breweries owned bars and strictly controlled what could be sold. This led to reduced competition, potentially heightened consumption, increased criminal activity, and violence.

The three-tier system was comprised of these distinct levels:

  • Producers: This category was made up of entities like distillers, wineries, and breweries that create alcoholic products.
  • Distributors: These are intermediaries who purchase from producers and then sell to retailers.
  • Retailers: These are the entities licensed to vend alcohol to the end consumers.

Beyond curbing the aforementioned malpractices, the system ensures:

  • Comprehensive control of the entire supply chain by both Federal and State Governments.
  • Effective mechanisms to guarantee that substantial taxes are duly collected and reported.
  • Fostering competition.

For this particular discussion, we’ll bypass the nuances that differentiate wine, beer, and spirits, the labyrinthine state-specific regulations, and debates on whether the system truly nurtures competition or inadvertently curbs it. Instead, our focus will be on the extensive measures that alcoholic beverage companies undertake to sell their products online and how Ambaum assists them in this endeavor.

Enhancing the eCommerce Alcohol Industry

Ambaum was approached by a select group of tech firms striving to empower the alcohol industry with comprehensive eCommerce solutions, all while maintaining compliance with the three-tier system. Ambaum’s client has fostered a nationwide network of retailers who cater to in-store customers and also legally ship to various locations. In support of these retailers, Ambaum’s client has also coordinated with licensed clearinghouse wholesalers. Brands sell to these wholesalers, who then distribute to the retailers. The outcome? Three-tier compliance! The icing on the cake is Ambaum’s client overseeing the Shopify website, ensuring that the financial transactions don’t flow directly between the end-customer (or retailer) and the alcohol brand.

The Technology Challenge: At its core, the challenge is to facilitate intricate order routing based on various parameters: brand availability, distributor presence, inventory status, shipment readiness, and geographical constraints like state and zip code.

The Technology Solution: The creation of a bespoke Shopify app. This app, once integrated into each brand’s Shopify store, streamlines the routing and syncs with Ambaum’s client management app. The app has predefined routing based on factors like location, Shopify merchant specifics, product details, inventory, retailer network, and the nearest retailer authorized to ship to a specific geographic location. The result is a blend of intricate routing logic, a seamless bridge between expansive ERP systems and Shopify, and streamlined facilitation of Ambaum’s client’s workflow. This empowers them to efficiently oversee hundreds of Shopify stores simultaneously.

Are you ready to talk about taking your business to the next level? Contact us today for an informal chat.