Relaunch of canvasco.de : A WooCommerce Experience

Hello readers,

What is is this story about? Let me describe it briefly:
In this article I want to share my e-commerce experience with you as a developer and designer from using the great WooCommerce platform plugin for wordpress. I want to give you a short overview about the project’s scope and want to point out the big advantages of using WooCommerce from my personal view.

In the end I’ll give you a brief list of personal lessons I learned in this project.

Who should read this?

This article is for everyone who is curious about and interested in using WooCommerce for their next project. Maybe you want to use it independently or for your next client project.

This article is written from a developer’s point of view but it should also be easy to follow for those approaching WooCommerce from a non-technical background.

Let’s go!

A couple of days ago we (Eric & Me, froux.co) recently relaunched the new webshop of Canvasco Germany — we did everything from concept to design to the whole backend and frontend development. 
We realized this project within 6 months of hard work and for our client it was well worth it. The conversion rate was doubled in the first 2 weeks of the launch and we are very happy that a lot of customers are ordering a broader variety of products than before.

The client:

Canvasco manufactures unique bags from recycled sailingcloth. They are 100% handmade in Germany. These bags look and feel amazing — if you don’t know about Canvasco you should check it out here: https://canvasco.de/en/

The scope:

For sure, the main goal of the relaunch was to improve/increase sales. But the second goal was to create a user friendly, fresh, modern and responsive design. We came to realize that the user experience of the old shop was rather confusing and not really intuitive.

The challenge:

We had to import more than 1,400 products in more than 32 different product categories from an old typo3 webshop — including a lot of existing customer accounts and multilingual content in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. Last but not least there was the big challenge to build a new ‘bag configurator’, which was by far the coolest feature of former Canvasco webshop.

Why WooCommerce:

I have to confess that in the beginning of the project we were struggling with the decision to use another e-commerce platform (cms) to realize this project. But after a couple of hours of research it was clearly…

These are my top arguments to give WooCommerce a try:

The BIG plus arguments

  • it’s open source: you don’t have to pay for it (it has very professional functionalities which every shop needs in its regular scope without any premium plugins)
  • it has a large open-minded community of developers and users who provide good support and an exchange of experiences and solutions
  • there’s a multitude of well coded WooCommerce premium plugins and free plugins that save your time to focus on the work which really matters
  • (++) WooCommerce itself is built on top of wordpress as a plugin — wordpress also has a huge open source user community and again there are many plugins to make use of

More good arguments from my personal taste

  • it’s self hosted (otherwise you can also choose a managed hosting plan from any of 1000 hosting companies)
  • it’s easy to maintain and configure in the backend (the menu and interface are very well structured and the regular features should offer everything you need to get started)
  • a lot of common payment APIs are very easy to migrate within minutes, for example Paypal and Stripe for credit card payments (highly recommend)
  • it’s awesome: there are very good free plugins for multilingual content (we used qTransalteX)
  • the WooCommerce team also offers officially developed plugins to migrate content (import and export automation) via csv, xls and json — it’s working phenomenally well and has spared us from having any sleepless nights
  • all in all: previous knowledge of wordpress made it so easy to debug and write my own extensions very quickly
  • WooCommerce and wordpress itself are updated frequently, which makes them secure and reliable for both you and your client.

My personal lessons you might benefit from:

  • always choose a managed(manageable) hosting solution for your webshop: If you can’t apply the effort and time to handle the maintenance of unknown server/mailing errors and traffic peaks (offline times and server problems also cause conversion stops)
  • WooCommerce with the power of wordpress makes it possible to do anything (for most problems that popped up there was already a solution for it)
  • not every plugin is optimally coded (in Germany we say something like: too many developers(chefs) oversalt the soup), so use plugins with care
  • take control of scripts styles and fonts which are loaded by wordpress an— there are good ways to enqueue unnecessary resources to reduce http requests in the end
  • make your feature work first! (Don’t waste time with unnecessary make-ups, tweaks and fine tuning in the beginning)
  • ask other developers from the community and premium support services when you run into problems or move to the next tasks (come back later to the problem when you have collected your first feedback)
  • create backups as often as possible!
  • develop a good workflow for your code deployments and create a flexible infrastructure to deliver your release to the client side (deploy with git-flow and use multiple test instances to show your progress)
  • shopping on the web is storytelling (keep your customer’s journey appealing and guide customers with a good design)
  • work hand-in-hand with your client — because they know their brand best :)

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience.

My name is Kevin Eulenberg — co-founder of froux.co. I am a frontend developer and ux interface designer from Hamburg, Germany. I’m looking forward to sharing experiences with other WooCommerce developers and also have the chance to hold a flash talk if i can get my hands on a golden ticket for the WooConf :)

Special Thanks goes to Simone, Eric, Felix, Marie and Jan-Marc.