Our journey began with an idea, followed by a patent, followed by a sh*t ton of work. The initial plan was to sell Stylaquin to large companies, where we would integrate with each individually. Good plan, bad timing. Before the pandemic hit, we were just coming out of beta and the market for new and innovative things was open and exciting. Once the pandemic hit, stores that were interested in testing were fighting for their lives, and online went from being a channel to being a lifeline. We were dead in the water.
When we looked at our options, it was clear that we needed to change our approach, and we also needed to find a partner who was looking for innovation. Shopify was the fastest-growing e-commerce platform with the largest share of customers who would benefit from what Stylaquin has to offer. Choosing to start with Shopify wasn’t a hard decision to make, but it wasn’t all that easy to implement.
It was clear that to rework the app for Shopify, and for scale, was more than David had the bandwidth for and we added Jeff Eisen to the team. Jeff was just out of IBM where he lead teams for both Lotus 123 and Watson, the supercomputer. (So AWESOME!) The pace increased exponentially.
We also realized that to be easy for smaller shops to use, Stylaquin had to be no extra work for whoever was adding it. We changed how Stylaquin displayed the store’s images from using templates to using an algorithm. The Look Book pages are now automatically laid out in a way that is both beautiful, and ever-changing, so customers really feel like they are flipping through a magazine when they shop with Stylaquin.
Stylaquin brings a new level of fun to the online shopping experience. It runs the store’s images through a proprietary algorithm to display them in a beautiful, dynamic layout that works on both desktop and mobile.
Then came pricing. Oy, pricing. So many details, so many ways to get caught up in the infinite complexity of “But what if…?”. In the end, we used a subscription pricing model and a usage plan that was based on the sales volume needs of different sized companies. The temptation to just put something in place and work it out later was always there, but thinking it through based on store size, and trying to make it as affordable as possible, kept our focus on what mattered — helping stores of all sizes delight and engage their customers. We realized that we need to be profitable to grow, but we also need to be customer-focused and not let the pennies get in the way of the dollars.
This was the week we pulled the trigger and sent Stylaquin to Shopify for approval. We are still going through the approval process. There has been some back and forth, a few very minor problems like logos showing or wording for instructions, but nothing of concern so far. Big shout out to Wissem from Shop the look for sharing their journey with us. The Shopify application process is detailed and very specific. You really have to go through it a few times and then go through it again. We created a separate document and worked on it outside the actual application which helped us work as a team without fear of making mistakes. We still made mistakes, but Shopify sends notices on the things bots can find, and then humans take over with more detailed questions.
There’s more to come, and more to do, so much more to do, but the dream of a beautiful, fun, engaging, and kind of magical, online shopping experience is almost here!