Powerful E-Commerce: Center for Action and Contemplation

“Nowadays, everyone’s primary reference for eCommerce is Amazon, so our user requirements were extensive. The Percolator team did a masterful job diplomatically leading us through the entire process so that our stakeholders felt we made good decisions about what was truly important vs what we could live without.”
-Ananda Robie, CRM Product Manager, Center for Action and Contemplation

About Center for Action and Contemplation

Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) is a progressive, faith-based education center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CAC encourages adults to engage in service by teaching courses on spirituality. CAC also distributes books and recordings written by faculty members, which are available for purchase through a campus bookstore, an online store, or pop-up shops at CAC events. 

The Problem

CAC approached Percolator for help choosing new platforms and determining the right investments for custom integration, particularly in regard to e-commerce. Isolated databases and outdated platforms were dragging on CAC’s outreach and engagement efforts. 

CAC stored data in three places: a learning management system, 3dcart (a storefront), and Salesforce. These platforms did not communicate without manual uploads, which were time-consuming and prone to error. Therefore,  CAC staff couldn’t see the various interactions constituents had or identify top engagers. The disconnect prevented CAC from providing a seamless customer experience or offering the right services and opportunities to deepen engagement.

Additionally, CAC was ready to transition from 3dcart. 3dcart was outdated and offered few options for customizing the user interface (UI) and customer engagement and, there wasn’t an available option for integration with Salesforce. 

CAC had specific asks for their next e-commerce platform. The new platform needed modern store features like pre-sales, gift cards, discounts, and preorders, a wide range of accepted currencies, sorting features allowing for products to be grouped by tags like a course or professor, and a backend simple enough to customize the UI without a developer. The new platform also needed an in-person POS system. 

The Solution

After assessing multiple e-commerce platforms based on cost, feature set, overall reputation and quality, tech support, and Salesforce integration, Percolator recommended Shopify for its affordability and diverse feature set. 

Shopify had many features that CAC requested out of the box, like control over sales and options for organizing products. Shopify fully integrates with EFS, which was a major win. The platform’s user experience is easy for both customers and administrators and can be customized via point and click, which gives CAC freedom over future changes. It offers the ability to sell on social media platforms, Amazon, or via blogs with a ‘Buy Me!’ button. We added additional features via Shopify’s extensive app market. The Shopify basic plan is affordable but Shopify also offers a discount to nonprofits, upon request, for premier plans. 

We partnered with Cornershop Creative to deliver CAC an attractive storefront. They designed a beautiful Shopify theme and email templates and made additional apps work nicely together. 

To integrate Shopify with Salesforce, Percolator recommended starting with middleware Zapier. We then extended Zapier’s simple Shopify and Salesforce integration with custom code to deliver all of their requirements. Integrating with Zapier was much cheaper than a fully custom project, and Zapier offers great features like prebuilt logging (a godsend!), a support team (so troubleshooting is included in the product’s cost), point and click development, and scalability. Since Zapier supports integrations between hundreds of other apps, CAC has the option to use it with other platforms in the future. 

The Results

CAC now has a powerful e-commerce system which is simple to use and delivers detailed information in an organized way. For example:

Customers no longer buy things and leave: they continue an engagement journey while shopping. 

    • During checkout, customers can opt into receiving emailed meditations–CAC’s engagement bread and butter.
    • Data in Salesforce gives staff a much better picture of what’s happening in the bookstore, like who’s buying and what’s selling, so they can better tailor outreach. 

High-level information is shared between Shopify and Salesforce.

    • Zapier pulls information every five minutes, including:
      • Details from new orders, including a detailed breakdown of which products were purchased.
      • Item price changes.
      • Contacts and their information.
      • Donations.
      • And all of this is happening for in-person sales because the POS system is also hosted by Shopify. 
    • If a problem occurs, syncing is stopped on that order and errors are logged in Zapier. A task to address the error is automatically created in CAC’s project management platform (Asana). 

The new storefront gives CAC modern tools for engaging with their customers. 

    • Gifts are sent directly from the website. Senders can easily include a special message in the recipient’s notification email. 
    • Notification emails are quick and simple to customize.
    • Shopify supports extensive gift card options (a priority for CAC.)
    • Discounts and upsells are easy to apply to products, both individually or in groups.
    • Customers can add donations to their order during checkout
    • Shopify allows for presales, which have boosted business and inventory forecasting. CAC’s first presale sold a whopping 2,000 books! 
    • In-person buying is super easy to set up. Shopify’s POS system is accessed via an iPad, which is travel-friendly and easy for event volunteers to learn. 

And, tasks involving the online bookstore are easier and quicker to do.

    • Staff can now do a majority of data analysis in Salesforce. They see other connections customers are making with their organization, which bolsters engagement efforts. 
    • Their Shopify online store has accurate inventory numbers, so items do not go on backorder.
    • Monthly financial reconciliation is a breeze: what used to take three people four hours now takes one person 30 minutes! 

Click below to see screenshots from the project, or visit the bookstore yourself!

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