Case study: Designgrotten

Written by Mark Forrester on January 8, 2013 Customer Stories, News.

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 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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19 Responses

  1. James Koster
    January 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Re ‘Deeplinking to reviews’; you might be interested in this commit 🙂

    • Thomas Clausen
      January 8, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      That is nothing short of fantastic 🙂 I’ll look into that tonight. Thanks a bunch for the link.

  2. samuelmaes
    January 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    i love hooknooks.
    you sir have a very nice site, and also very nice items there.

    It is so unfortunate that you do not ship to the United Kingdom.

    • Thomas Clausen
      January 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words. The Hook Nooks are great. I use them myself. Flip and Tumble must know where you can get them in the UK. Otherwise become a retailer :-).

      As weird as it may sound, a part of my strategy is to not be too busy and complex. With shipping within EU I gain complexity in both returns and in my tax returns 🙂 I try to Keep It Simple to gain as much time for the fun stuff as possible.

  3. allmyhoney
    January 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Nice to see some feature requests being outlined. I think something valuable for me at least is to have the ability for clients to print their invoices and receipts. Right from the user dashboard there is no facility for a customer to print a receipt or invoice which is a bit frustrating.

    • thomasclausen
      January 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      I bet I could make a mile long feature list if I had the time 😉

  4. uddhava
    January 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    I have been running a prestashop site for some time now. And for a new shop project i am trying out WP + woocommerce. As a business, i’m not afraid of investing in good components but when i see the nr of plugins you use then this looks like quite the investment. I added all the plugins and that would cost me $ 355 + theme costs. And then you still need to setup and tweak the whole thing.

    Compared to Prestashop (free) this feels quite steep. I think most functionality is inside Presta by default (maybe except hiding product). But the thing is that Prestashop is a pain in the behind to upgrade. WordPress is a breeze, and now Woo also has an updater. (except for themes, hello woo??)
    I found myself buying a plugin, then later a theme, and later another plugin. And what do you know? i also spend about $250…. That went quick…

    I was wondering what kind of plugin did you use to create the extra product section on your homepage?

    • thomasclausen
      January 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      Hi Uddhava

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve had people ask me why I didn’t just go Shopify, Magenta or Prestashop like you suggest since I launched. I think it’s a matter of several things:
      – What you’re good at (I’m pretty skilled with WordPress)
      – If you have a love for big or small companies (I tend to favor the later)
      – What kind of software-project you want to support. And I can’t think of a better one than WordPress, can you?

      Spending a couple of hundred dollars is peanuts I think. Just think about if you should start a real store. How far would you get for that amount? The amount of money spent should be seen as a motivation for going from amateur to pro. I would love to see more extension make it into core though, so that WooCommerce can win a side-by-side feature-comparison against the beforementioned and others, but I also understand that the ninjas need to make money. Given the focus that Woocommerce has earned the last year, I would say that the WooTeam has stumbled upon a little goldmine, and I’m in no doubt that they can steal customers from for instance wp e-commerce (been there), but I fear that they can loose customers to players like Shopify if they don’t push more standard functionality into core.

      And to answer your question regarding my site 🙂 I didn’t use a plugin to ad the extra products on the front page. I just created a child theme and a new front-page template where I basically copied and pasted some code from the old front-page.php and then altered it a bit to ensure that I didn’t run into any conflicts.

  5. tippetipp
    January 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Hej Thomas!

    Thank you for case study, it is both inspiring and useful! Inspiring for us that wants to start up a business and useful for all the small tips, especially the use of different extensions.

    I am about to start up an online store in Norway, with a different niche than you, and this post is already bookmarked!

    • Thomas Clausen
      January 23, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words Tippetipp. Don’t hesitate to ask, if you have any questions.

  6. Bjarne Ravn
    February 8, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Hej Thomas
    Surfede rundt for at finde en woo ecommerce udvikler – og landede i DK hos dig.

    Har en Scannetshop, der er dyr og ikke virker tilfredsstillende.
    Fornylig så jeg Woothemes og Canvas og faldt for det. Nu mangler jeg en, der kan sætte det op. Har ikke selv tid.
    Du har en shop, der ser ud til at virke. Med lidt andre farver og topbanner kunne jeg godt bruge det. Måske kunne du få tid til at kontakte mig.
    Venligst Bjarne

    • thomasclausen
      February 9, 2013 at 10:54 am #

      Hej Bjarne

      Lad os snakke sammen. Du kan fange mig her: thomas (hos)

  7. tatjanah
    March 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Hej Thomas,

    Super godt indlæg – Tak for det!

    Kan man bruge danske betalingskort? Og hvad med gls og Post Danmark shipping?

    Har arbejdet meget med Magento, men vil forsøge mig med Woo C, da min fornemmelse er, at det er mindre omstændigt at arbejde med. Jeg er dog bange for at Woo C kommer til kort på features, som member club og loyalitetspoint. Og kan man vokser sin online forretning stor i woo C? Vil meget gerne høre hvad du mener og har erfaret i forhold til Magento vs. Woo C.

    På forhånd tusind tak!


    • thomasclausen
      March 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

      Hej Tatjana

      Nu kender jeg ikke Magento så godt. Prøvede det for nogle år tilbage, og var egentlig lidt skuffet over mulighederne. Men der er garanteret sket en del siden jeg besøgte det CMS 🙂

      Du kan sagtens løse nogle af de ting du efterspørger med nogle extensions: Jeg bruger selv PostDanmark, men ville gerne bruge GLS. Desværre er der endnu ikke en extension til GLS, men stem på ideen her:

      Jeg vil tro du kan vokse din shop stor med WooCommerce, men er endnu ikke selv kommet dertil, hvor jeg vil beskrive min shop som stor 🙂 Jeg vil dog mene at det kan lade sig gøre ligesåvel som med andre CMS’er.

      Mit bedste råd er nok, at lave en installation af WooCommerce og så brug det gratis tema: eller og så se hvad du kan drive det til. Du kan nok ikke klare dig uden at købe nogle extensions. Men det er penge givet godt ud.

      Håber det giver svar nok ellers må du skrive igen.

    • thomasclausen
      March 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

      Hej Tatjana

      Jeg har skrevet et svar til dig, men det er utrolig lang tid om at blive godkendt af Woogutterne (formentlig pga sproget og for mange links). Så skriv til mig på thomas (hos), så kan vi tage den derfra 🙂

  8. Michelle
    March 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, a great article, I am checking out a couple of the woo extensions now! 🙂

    • Thomas Clausen
      March 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      Thanks a bunch 🙂

  9. Bjarne Ravn
    March 7, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Hi Thomas

    Congratulations with your exiting case at WooCommerce – and thank you very much for your great assistance by our shop.

    Best regards,
    Bjarne Ravn

    • Thomas Clausen
      March 7, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      You’re welcome Bjarne. It has been a pleasure working with you on your shop.

      All the best