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Case study: Designgrotten

My name is Thomas Clausen and I run a danish site selling beautiful and affordable industrial design. I have a full-time job on the side as a project manager, and I have 3 kids.

This of course is a time consuming setup running a couple of jobs and also having three kids. But it’s possible, to a large extend, thanks to WordPress and WooCommerce. I absolutely love these two: WordPress a scalable foundation, and WooCommerce a beautiful way to sell stuff using custom post types and taxonomies.

Childtheme and customization

I haven’t done much customization to the nice Argentum theme. But below are some areas that have undergone some revisions.

Feed mashup of post types

I created a child theme and combined different post types into one RSS feed with this little addition to the functions.php.

function myfeed_request($qv) {
if (isset($qv['feed']) && !isset($qv['post_type']))
$qv['post_type'] = array('post', 'product', 'feedback');
return $qv;
add_filter('request', 'myfeed_request');

And I’ve ensured that the thumbnails are present in the feed with this little extra stuff in the functions.php.

function rss_post_thumbnail($content) {
global $post;
if(has_post_thumbnail($post->ID)) {
$content = '

' . get_the_post_thumbnail($post->ID) . '

' . get_the_content(); } return $content; } add_filter('the_excerpt_rss', 'rss_post_thumbnail'); add_filter('the_content_feed', 'rss_post_thumbnail');

I was kind of surprised, that it wasn’t already being used in the theme as a standard.

More content

I have added a little custom section at the bottom of the page (see picture). That way I could show more products on the homepage.

The Designgrotten homepage with a custom built module highlighted.

I wanted to tell some of the good stories that other users had from buying, so I created a custom post type for feedback. This was of course before the Woo-ninjas released the testimonials plugin, that I will be migrating to soon.

And I added a custom taxonomy called designers for the blog, where I write a lot about designers and what I think is great industrial design.

Automatic stuff

Since I’m a busy man, like everybody else 🙂 I use the feed mashup I had made, to create automatic newsletters via Mailchimps RSS-to-email feature. This of course lacks the personal feeling in the newsletter, but I can live with that, when it buys me time. And my opening-, click- and conversion rates are acceptable. Of course they always could be better.

But speaking of automatic stuff, I made the ultimate combo, that really is a time saver.

The Ultimate combo

Personalised customer emails.

I have received very positive feedback from my customers on many aspects 🙂 But one thing they really compliment for, is our communication. I used to write a customer comment in the backend every time I did something with the order.

  • When I have received money (if it’s a BACS order).
  • When I have packed it making it ready for shipping.
  • When I have delivered it to the postal service

Every time I wrote a personal message. This was cumbersome and a stupid approach. I had in an early stage bought the WooCommerce Follow-Up Emails plugin, and in conjunction with WooCommerce Custom Status I now had a lethal combo. Or at least time saving.

To make the combo work. I created 3 new statuses to match the three cases above: money-received, packed, delivered.

I hacked a bit around in the Follow-Up Emails plugin

This is a worst practice approach and should of course only be done when you can only ruin stuff for yourself 🙂

but I added these lines the appropriate places.

'money-received' => __('money-received', 'wc_followup_emails'),
'packed' => __('packed', 'wc_followup_emails'),
'delivered' => __('delivered', 'wc_followup_emails'),

And these lines as well but further down in the plugin (beware I think this is a bad approach, but it works for me).

add_action('woocommerce_order_status_money-received', array(&$this, 'new_order'));
add_action('woocommerce_order_status_packed', array(&$this, 'new_order'));
add_action('woocommerce_order_status_delivered', array(&$this, 'new_order'));

Then I set up a Follow up email campaign to email the customer every time I changed the status to one of these. The feedback has been great. And of course I try to get more reviews and sell more stuff in these emails.

My WooCommerce related plugins

I use a bunch of plugins, but here are the Woocommerce ones I can’t do without

  • WooCommerce CSV Export I need this because when I do my taxes the existing reporting tool is just not good enough
  • WooCommerce Custom Status To make the above mentioned custom statuses to send out emails
  • WooCommerce Follow-Up Emails that realy saves me a bunch of time
  • WooCommerce Subscribe to Newsletter to get more subscribers in the buying process. About 5% of my buyers become newsletter subscribers
  • WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping I ship by the Danish postal services’ standard rate, therefore I need this plugin
  • WooCommerce Variation Swatches and Photos A beautiful way to let people choose variations
  • Stealth Publish is needed when I create new products, that I don’t really want to show, or pictures that I want to hide.
WooCommerce Variation Swatches and Photos in action.

What’s WooCommerce missing?

Let me start of by saying, that I really think the Woo-team is doing a fantastic job. Therefore this is a very humble opinion. And I know these belong in the ideas forum.

Manually creating orders

This task is a hassle when done from the backend. I often find myself firing up another browser and doing it from the front-end.

I think it should be just as easy both places. The biggest problem is when calculating tax and shipping. Often I find myself puzzled how it reached a given number, and I end up just giving up 🙂

Deeplinking to reviews

Why isn’t this possible to deeplink to a review form? I just don’t get it. When I sell a product to someone and write them a email 5 days later using WooCommerce Follow-Up Emails asking for a review. I want to be able to deeplink to the review form of the product. And adding #review_form to the product URL doesn’t do it 🙁

Statuses and emails

The management of statuses and what should happen when a given status is activated is so important to the e-commerce experience. I think WooCommerce could do much better in this aspect. WooCommerce 2.0 has a little more in this respect, but I still feel there’s a lot of opportunities to be explored

This is all for me, hope you enjoy my little showcase, leave me a little comment below, it will make my day, and I promise to answer every comment 🙂

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