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Performance metrics compare April–May 2020 to April–May 2019.
Doug Burda went to college to become an attorney. He practiced law for a couple of years and knew it would grow into a lucrative profession, but decided to give it all up to launch a career in fireworks. Although it might not make sense to some, the decision to launch his own fireworks company made perfect sense to him.
In 1977, Doug’s father migrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union. A couple of years later he began working in the fireworks business, got married and shortly thereafter, fireworks became a family affair. “I've technically been in the fireworks business since I could walk,” Burda said. “I'm creative by nature and I have a bit of an entrepreneurial streak in me that comes from my mom and dad.”
It was that creative streak Doug missed when he was an attorney. “It finally got to the point where I was done practicing law. I couldn't take the stress and the lack of a creative outlet. I saw an opportunity to get involved in an industry I already knew a lot about and seized the moment.”
In 2011, Doug said farewell to life as an attorney and hello to becoming the pyrotechnics founder and owner of Red Apple Fireworks. He’s been helping people celebrate and light up the night ever since.
Done with Duds
Although Red Apple first opened its doors for business in 2011, it wasn’t until 2018 that the company began selling fireworks online. Magento 2 was Red Apple’s first ecommerce platform, but it would not be its last.
“We were spending a lot of time just trying to keep the site up. At times it felt like we had to duct tape the platform together just to keep our site from falling apart,” said Justin Nutzman, Ecommerce Director at Red Apple Fireworks.
Security vulnerabilities shortly after launching on Magento 2 further exasperated Doug and Justin. After experiencing a serious cyber attack due to a script vulnerability, Red Apple spent an entire weekend trying to revive the site and lost significant revenue because of it.
“I recall another weekend where we had an attack on our Magento site, and we ended up with half a million invalid foreign email addresses in our MailChimp database,” said Burda.
Enough was enough. Doug and Justin were tired of playing “platform patchwork” on Magento 2 and decided to make a change.
BigCommerce Delivers the Sparkle and the BANG!
Change came in the form of vetting other ecommerce platforms and for Red Apple it came down to BigCommerce and Shopify.
“When we got into the nuts and bolts of the two platforms, it really felt like Shopify was geared more towards smaller merchants and startups, even though I know there are some pretty big sites that work off of Shopify,” said Burda. “On the other hand, BigCommerce appeared to have all of the best practices in place so we didn’t have to create a work around, for example, how a category tree should optimally be set up. With Shopify, they deal with a totally different architecture for the categories, which is really free form and doesn't leave you in a good place to know what the best practices really are.”
During its assessment of BigCommerce, Red Apple was pleased to learn the platform has a seamless integration with Braintree, a payment processing tool that previously worked well for the company. This gave Red Apple confidence that it could migrate to BigCommerce and be successful.
But there were more compelling factors for why Red Apple chose BigCommerce, including:
“We appreciate how BigCommerce takes care of all the IT stuff like firewalls and intrusion detection to make sure our site remains up. This was really a big thing for us in terms of switching over to BigCommerce,” Nutzman said.
Another big thing Doug and Justin realized after making the switch was the joy of working with BigCommerce’s tech support team, fondly called their silent partner. “We received incredible support that was essential in helping us launch our website,” said Nutzman. “Being able to chat with someone on the team or give them a call and get answers was incredibly helpful.”
Using Apps to Stay Connected to the #PYROSQUAD
Red Apple considers itself to be a personable business and felt the batch and blast email marketing it was sending did not accurately reflect the brand. To communicate with its audience in a more personalized manner, Red Apple began using Klaviyo as its email marketing platform. Smile.io powers the company’s PyroCoin rewards program and Stamped.io manages its customer reviews.
“To have these kinds of apps that work with BigCommerce gives us a lot of flexibility to get really creative with how we're interacting with our customers and how they're interacting with us. The combination is really powerful,” said Burda.
Design Intelligently. Develop Intentionally.
Red Apple described its working relationship with Digitlhaus, its design and development agency, in a single word — synergistic. The agency migrated Red Apple from Magento 2 to BigCommerce and was the driving force behind the creation of custom features and integrations as well as a fully custom multi-store warehouse shopping experience.
“We had a vision and Digitlhaus delivered on it. We now have a visually striking, fast-loading website and I couldn’t be happier. They were a really good partner to work with,” said Burda.
“We appreciate how BigCommerce takes care of all the IT stuff like firewalls and intrusion detection to make sure our site remains up. This was really a big thing for us in terms of switching over to BigCommerce.”
“To have these kinds of apps that work with BigCommerce gives us a lot of flexibility to get really creative with how we're interacting with our customers and how they're interacting with us. The combination is really powerful.”
“With Magento, we didn’t get town hall meetings where the CEO and product owners tell you what’s new, what’s being improved and then ask us, as the customer, our opinion for how the platform might be improved. And, we didn’t get 24-hour chat and phone support and complete access to a vetted app and partner ecosystem like we do with BigCommerce.”
Permission to Celebrate
In a comparison between April–May 2020 and April–May 2019, it’s safe to say Red Apple experienced some pretty impressive growth numbers following its switch to BigCommerce in 2019.
“Compared to last year we saw universal increases in nearly all metrics. I think the conversion rate going up so much is particularly exciting as it directly compares our previous setup on the Magento 2 platform and site design to the BigCommerce platform and the new DigitlHaus design. This is a big win for us all!” said Nutzman.
Red Apple is also taking advantage of BigCommerce’s capability to allow multiple stores to be managed within a single account, which has enabled Red Apple to launch new warehouses that are closer to its customers. In a matter of months the company was able to come up with a different way to serve customers on the East coast. “That's what I love about BigCommerce. Doug and I can have an idea, and within months we can launch a whole new website that is SEO optimized,” said Nutzman.
BigCommerce succeeded at delivering more convenience, functionality, performance and peace of mind than Red Apple had on its previous platform. “With Magento, we didn’t get town hall meetings where the CEO and product owners tell you what’s new, what’s being improved and then ask us, as the customer, our opinion for how the platform might be improved. And, we didn’t get 24-hour chat and phone support and complete access to a vetted app and partner ecosystem like we do with BigCommerce,” Nutzman added.
According to Doug, Red Apple is able to simply click into the backend of BigCommerce and have best practices already established so all he or his team needs to do is fill in the blanks for things like categories, tagging and custom fields.
“The time savings associated with not having to reinvent the wheel on things that are just basic good ecommerce practice made going with BigCommerce an easy decision. It’s a real weight off our shoulders because BigCommerce frees up a lot of our time so we can focus more on marketing our company and educating our customers,” said Burda.
“The time savings associated with not having to reinvent the wheel on things that are just basic good ecommerce practice made going with BigCommerce an easy decision.”
Keeping Customers Happy
In the near future, customers may not only purchase fireworks from Red Apple, but also items like caps, T-shirts and sweatshirts as it considers the possibility of launching a merchandising store.
Recently, Red Apple began bundling products to make it easier for customers to celebrate with fireworks. The bundles, called pallet loads, are a way to make celebrating with fireworks fun and enjoyable.
“When customers buy a pallet load, they are getting a curated fireworks show that contains our best sellers and performers. The pallet load comes at a really great price and is shipped for free,” said Burda. “We want to make things simple for our customers in terms of product selection. I think that's where we're headed as a company.”
Published: June 2021