Fashion, Apparel & Accessories
Sell Online: Custom Plugs’ Switch from Shopify to Magento
Custom Plugs needed a platform for serious growth to sell online.
Matthew Massey and Chris Mcintosh met while working in a restaurant in the North of England. They shared an interest in tattoos and wore ‘plugs’—the large earrings that stretch the ear, made popular by body piercing aficionados. Their idea for a business happened almost by accident. One night the boys were playing Xbox when Massey realized he’d lost one of his plugs. “Nowhere sold anything that was half decent,” he recalled, “Flaming 8-balls and skulls with top hats seemed a bit boring.” The boys imagined a website where you could buy unique plugs, designed by real tattoo artists and illustrators. Spending £1,200 ($1,800) on a credit card, in 2011 they launched UK Custom Plugs Ltd., and sold their first products from a sports bag to stores in Manchester, Liverpool, and London. The next few years became a blur, as their business grew exponentially, reaching a peak of up to 1,500 orders per day.
Custom Plugs quickly outgrew their first headquarters (Massey’s parents’ dining room), and they moved into a property in Leeds, UK. They hired staff (Mcintosh’s Dad and Massey’s brother) and expanded their product range to over 1,000 SKUs including clothing and iPhone cases. Custom Plugs further expanded their product line with customized, laser-engraved products, and launched online stores in Europe and America. They moved from a home-brewed eCommerce solution onto Shopify Plus–but realized they were quickly outgrowing that too and started looking for an alternative to sell online.
With Shopify, Custom Plugs was forced to manage and maintain three separate Shopify stores (UK, EU, and US). This also meant paying for a separate extension to sync their stock, which was an unnecessary expense. The team had to log into three different accounts before being able to pick and pack products for delivery – a logistical nightmare – especially for their customized products. When Shopify doubled its pricing, Custom Plugs decided to look for a platform with a lower TCO, and one that could easily scale and adapt to their future success.
Custom Plugs ruled out Shopify early on...Magento offered so many more options for showcasing their products to their customers.Lewis Sellers
Sell online with a revolutionized customer experience.
The company’s business objectives were to improve the customer experience, enhance the site’s general flow, boost conversion rate, and improve business efficiency. They also wanted to simplify back-end operations, especially the pick and pack process. The Custom Plugs team pitted many vendors against each other, including Drupal Commerce, Kentiko, and Shopify Plus. They even considered a custom-built eCommerce platform to sell products online. But after much research and evaluation, they chose Magento Commerce, and the Yorkshire-based Magento partner, Pinpoint, to transform their online business. “They ruled out Shopify early on,” said Pinpoint's Lewis Sellers, “Layered navigation [how users see and filter products] on Shopify is not good, and Magento offered so many more options…Custom Plugs and Pinpoint are both design-led companies, so we put a lot of thought into the UX and how to best showcase products to their customers.”
Magento Commerce offered so much of what Custom Plugs needed right out of the box, including such Magento features as product staging and preview, which they found particularly useful. But the company also implemented a few third-party Magento extensions to support their unique business needs for selling online. Pinpoint was able to create an intuitive, layered navigation system and added a quick-buy option so customers can buy engraved wood plugs or brass pyramid ear weights faster than ever.
On the back-end, they implemented a third-party Laravel app so the team can use barcode scanners to generate feeds to shipping carriers, making picking and packing a breeze. Custom Plugs can now manage orders and delivery logistics of all their eCommerce platforms from a single interface. No more logging into three Shopify accounts and dealing with the associated pick and pack headaches. The dotmailer integration with the platform was also important to Custom Plugs’ decision to choose Magento, as enhanced email marketing is one of their key business strategies.
A serious back-end = serious online sales.
The team had to act fast, because Custom Plugs’ Shopify Plus license was expiring soon. But from the first line of code to the day of launch, it took just 71 days for Pinpoint to implement Magento Commerce and start to sell online. When their new site went live, the results were incredible: The Klevu-powered site search and native checkout made shopping for plugs and earrings faster and easier. Their conversion rate soared 33 percent and revenue increased by over 28 percent. The bounce rate dropped.
While Custom Plugs started as a ‘mom and pop’ store run from Massey’s parents’ dining room, it has now grown into a thriving international business with a back-end capable of efficiently serving their customer base and easily sell online.
Recently, they upgraded to the latest version of Magento Commerce, 2.2, which reduced deployment time by 50 percent. “Now Matthew and Chris have more time to focus on promoting the store rather than updating the site,” said Sellers. “The operational side is easier, and with Magento if they want to launch into another territory it’s easier too. You can roll it out very quickly.” Custom Plugs is now working on a product-builder app so users can upload their own images and create their own designs. For a business that started with credit card debt and selling products from a sports bag, there is now no limit to what Custom Plugs can do. As the owners recently wrote on their website: “The dream continues!”