From Apprentice to Lead Developer in three years

Star Digital, a Northampton-based digital commerce agency have a proud history of supporting the development of young people in the workplace through apprenticeships and internships. Many apprentices who start with Star Digital move into permanent positions having spent a year learning relevant skills actually working on client projects. For one of our past apprentices, Callum Roper, this route has proved highly successful in a short space of time. Callum is now Star Digital’s Lead Developer, supervising a team of eight web developers. Callum’s journey with Star Digital started back in October 2012, when he joined as an apprentice from 3AAA in Bedford. Initially, Callum began his apprenticeship building emails and Pageflip brochures whilst learning the intricacies and application of HTML, CSS and JavaScript coding languages. Through hard work, tuition and mentoring from senior members of the development team at the time, Callum quickly started to make an impact. He even gained his Magento Frontend Developer certification before his apprenticeship had finished. On completion of his apprenticeship, Callum was offered a permanent position with Star Digital as a junior developer, and continued his progress, working on some of the largest Magento implementations in the UK at the time. Then in February 2016, after a meeting with the managing director, Roger Martin, Callum was promoted to the position of Lead Developer – three years and four months after arriving fresh out of sixth form college as an inexperienced apprentice. Callum said of his success, “It has been an incredible few years. Roger and Andrea gave me a chance to learn in this industry when I was an 18-year-old fresh out of Sixth Form and I can’t thank them enough for the all the support and help they have given me since I started. I came into the apprenticeship not knowing anything about web development and it is a testament to Roger, Andrea and all the senior developers and figures in this company that have given me the knowledge, support and experience that I have picked up over my time here. I’m looking forward to helping people who are up and coming apprentices, so they can gain everything that I have and I continue to work hard and strive for further development and success.” Roger Martin, managing director, Star Digital, said,”We have embraced the apprenticeship programme since 2012 and Callum was our first apprentice. He has seen a lot of change, which is to be expected in an industry like ours, and he has embraced and grown with that change. Calm under pressure and a delight to work with we are proud to have Callum heading up the developer team here.” “We have a policy of having two apprentices in the business at any time, and most have gone on to be offered full-time roles. Some have moved on after a further year to progress their careers, one is running their own agency in Spain, another has just decided to go to Canada!” “We are big believers that an apprenticeship is a viable alternative to University for youngsters looking to build a solid vocational career in our industry, and if we can help to produce a new batch of skilled junior web developers every year, then the system works in everyone’s favour.”

Shopify Plus Ecommerce – Focus on Delivering ROI

Shopify Plus is an extended enterprise level commerce application that has been designed to make it simpler to sell online and in person. In February of 2017 Star Digital became one of the first Shopify Plus partners in the UK and we are looking forward to developing our Connector Plus agnostic systems integration software to open up this platform to larger and more complex merchant requirements. Whether you are looking to sell a million a year or a million a day, Shopify Plus is built to make delivery of those goals as low maintenance and cost efficient as possible. With over 2,500 clients using the Shopify Plus, Shopify  is focussed on high growth, high volume merchants who don’t want the added complexity of ongoing hosting and maintenance charges – particularly software patching incidents that might be a threat to the security of their business.   Shopify Plus - sell online and in person Shopify Plus – multi-device, omni-channel commerce at a fraction of the cost of other enterprise commerce solutions

Key Operational Advantages with Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus ships with core support and maintenance included covering the important operational cost base areas of;
  • Application Management
  • Database Administration
  • Application Performance Monitoring (APM)
  • Security Patching
  • Security Auditing
  • Application upgrades
  • Application Bug Fixes
Competitor products such as Magento and WooCommerce do not manage these elements for the merchant, but rely on the merchant being aware of the issues and working with a 3rd party to fix/patch as required. This represents an operational time and cost overhead for the merchant, to be managed by the marketing or IT teams and to be included on their e-commerce governance checklists. When it comes to hosting its important to understand its all included in the price, its a cloud based fully hosted SaaS solution built on an infrastructure that includes a massive 8000+ CPU cores and 200Tb of data storage. It offers 99.99% server uptime and can handle in excess of 8,000 orders every minute. With over $29 billion of transactions already processed through the Shopify hosting system you can be sure its robust and most importantly not your responsibility as a merchant, so its operationally cost effective. Add to that the 24×7 priority support should anything go wrong and you can be sure you’re in good hands. Shopify Plus is simplifying enterprise level deployments and typically requires 1/3rd of the time that a similar project would take in a competitor product such as Magento Enterprise. This allows merchants to earmark more budget to a quality front end build out and support services such as PLA feeds, marketplace integrations, SEO and email automation. The Shopify Plus open canvas and liquid templating is entirely agnostic to presentation, themes can be completely customised using unrestricted design to deliver compelling responsive front end experiences, and these can be delivered by less senior front end developers, making budget go further still. The load speed on Shopify Plus is fully optimised making the sites extremely fast, all of which helps with user experience and Google reputation. With over 1,300 current apps in the Shopify App ecosystem including tools for easy migration from other e-commerce platforms alongside marketplace integrations and ERP/WMS/OMS connectors the Shopify Plus application has matured considerably. The integrated Shopify Plus channel management is impressive, with packaged services for selling on Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz and more. The channel software development kit enables us to connect to any number of marketplaces and channels and the Shopify POS system allows you to take payments in person on a mobile device. There’s even a free mobile app for iPhone that allows merchants to manage their stores on the go. Shopify also understand the importance of being able to run e-commerce promotions anywhere, and they’ve introduced a lightweight js library that allows us to add a buy button to any web page that generates a checkout url for a single product or an entire mixed cart of items. This makes the addition of a shopping cart to an existing microsite or informational site really easy.

Who Should Look at Shopify Plus?

  • The Shopify Plus environment is ideal for existing Shopify clients that are seeing high growth and moving through the £400K pa ceiling and require closer account management and access to merchant success managers to help them develop their commerce success.
  • Merchants looking to migrate from other enterprise platforms that are adding to the cost base through excess development, hosting, support/patching costs and increasing licensing costs or speed issues would find it advantageous to do a cost comparison as part of any RFI process.
  • Brands looking for speed to market for niche product or new product e-commerce or high volume flash sales. Brands who run their business on flash sale model should be aware that if you need it delivered fast, and able to cope with large campaign driven volumes, involving large email and TV campaigning Shopify Plus has a RESTful API that supports rapid integration and auto scaling high volume cloud hosting. It makes sense to have the Shopify Plus solution on your RFI.
As a Shopify Plus partner we offer full service design, user experience, 3rd party systems integration and retained marketing service contracts wrapped around the Shopify Plus product and we are happy to discuss upgrades from Shopify standard, crossgrades from Magento and WooCommerce and of course new RFI’s for enterprise level e-commerce projects. To see examples of Shopify Plus designed stores check out the Beautiful Stores Blog, and check out the Oreo case study to see how a major brand got to market with a smart ecommerce concept in just 2 months! We know that Shopify Plus can deliver budget efficiency at the outset, and your total cost of ownership (TCO) is much more efficient than it would be with Magento, NetSuite, Hybris or Demandware. The increased margin potential for high volume sellers is significant. Please get in touch with us to find out what the TCO would look like on your project. We’re fully backed up by the channel partner team, including the launch team and the merchant success managers. We work together and would be happy to go over any RFI’s and put together discovery calls to see how Shopify Plus can benefit your commerce business. Call +44 1604 696385 or email and speak to Shelley or Roger.    

Shopify Plus Launches B2B ecommerce Solution – Wholesale Channel

Shopify Plus, today 9th March 2017, launched their B2B commerce solution for the Shopify Plus channel called ‘Wholesale Channel’. This all new channel can easily be added to Shopify Plus builds in the admin section at no extra cost and takes the Shopify Plus omni-channel commerce solution to new heights for enterprise level merchants. The software is designed to sync with an online store’s customers, products, and collections to allow Shopify Plus merchants to easily sell to their wholesale customers. Once installed, Wholesale Channel creates a password protected wholesale store. Merchants can then invite buyers to purchase their products at their assigned wholesale price. Merchants can customise prices offered to wholesale/trade buyers by:
  • Setting percentage-based discounts across the entire store or across a collection.
  • Setting variant-specific prices in price lists (such as a flat price).
  • Providing different prices to different buyers.
  • Setting a minimum order amount for all wholesale orders.
Price lists can contain:
  • All products offered at the same percentage discount.
  • A set of collections (categories) of products offered at different percentage discounts.
  • Specific products offered at set prices. Prices set on products will override any discounts applied.
Customers can be assigned to multiple price lists. It is possible, and often likely, for a product to be offered at different prices on different price lists. For example, you could have a regular price list that offers all products at a 40% discount and a clearance price list that offers set prices on a few lower moving products. To run a sale, you could simply assign the clearance price list to the customer. You can make sure that customers submit orders that meet or exceed a specified fiscal amount, by choosing a minimum order value on the Wholesale store page in the wholesale channel. Understanding the pricing that different customers pay is easy with Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel, just go to Accounts in the Wholesale Channel and click the price look up button, select the customer and you will see their pricing schedules. Shopify Plus Warehouse allows customers specific pricing lookup                

Accepting payments outside of Shopify Plus

By default, the wholesale email invoices that Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel sends support credit card payments through your online checkout. They don’t allow your customers to use other payment methods such as net terms, direct payment, or bank transfer. You can still use draft orders to keep track of payments that you’ve received outside of Shopify. When you open a draft order, you have the following options:
Draft order payment options
  • Click Pay with credit card to enter credit card payments in Shopify for sales you’ve made by phone, in person, or elsewhere.
  • Click Mark as paid if you already received payment outside Shopify (such as a bank transfer or cheque).
  • Click Mark as pending if payment will be received later (if you have implemented Net terms, for example). You can add a comment on the draft order if you want to keep track of the payment terms on the same draft order.