The client is a health and wellness startup offering customers a variety of premium natural health products and merchandising them exclusively online. Due to limited internal capabilities and frustration with their previous Shopify solution, the client sought a qualified technology partner to support the development and integration of their new Spree Commerce solution. Spark Solutions was one of several potential vendors to receive a request for proposal from the client, and they were chosen as the solution partner based on their demonstrated technical expertise and competitive pricing. Once commissioned, Spark Solutions assumed responsibility for the implementation, integration, and configuration of their Spree Commerce solution.
The client expressed great enthusiasm and appreciation for the work completed by Spark Solutions. According to the client, the successful implementation of their Spree Commerce solution has already begun to drive significant business results, the most important of which are a drop in their user bounce rate from their checkout stage and an increase in their sales conversion rate. The client also indicated that they have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from their end users regarding the new and improved site functionality and overall usability of the new checkout process. The client maintains an ongoing relationship with Spark Solutions and recommends them to others without reservation.
“They were super professional. You could tell that Spark Solutions had experience in the field, and they know what you’re talking about.”
— Co-founder at Yuve, Inc. (Health Startup)
Please describe your organization.
We make a vegan nutritional shake, made from more than 25 natural ingredients, and we sell primarily online to our customers.
What is your position?
I’m a co-founder.
What business challenge were you trying to address with Spark Solutions?
We used Spark Solutions to help us build the custom ecommerce platform that we needed. We used Ruby on Rails coupled with Spree Commerce. We used to use Shopify and were seeing a lot of checkout abandonments, and we wanted to offer our customers more features, such as Amazon Checkout and other custom features. We wanted an overall smoother user experience.
Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail.
I provided them with PSDs [Photoshop/InDesign files] made by my in-house designers, and they just implemented those into Spree. The front-end was already done, so they just did the Spree integration. We had around three developers assigned to our project. We also had one project manager and then a quality assurance specialist, but I primarily interacted with their project manager.
How did you come to work with Spark Solutions?
I found them through online research. I submitted our project summary to a handful of different providers and reviewed the proposals that they submitted. Spark Solutions had a very convincing one that outlined a logical and creative approach, clearly outlining the experience they’d be drawing from and offered some illustrative results.
Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?
The total is less than $5,000. We are still developing with them in chunks, like if we decide to add a feature. The first iteration was to switch to Spree, so Spark just customized our checkout, and we did the bare minimum to be able to sell on Spree. We are still adding new features as we go, and they provide us with an individual cost estimate for each feature.
What is the status of this engagement?
We’re still developing features with them. The most recent milestone completed with Spark was the Amazon integration, which was about one week ago [July 2015].
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
I don’t know how I would benchmark the quality of their work through our unique data, but the bounce rate, especially in the checkout process, went down tremendously after we transitioned from Shopify to Spree, so that was a major and critical improvement. We also think it’s an improvement that people are using the Amazon Checkout feature. It’s still young, so I can’t tell you how much it will help with our sales conversion rate.
We’ve also received a number of compliments around the improved usability of the new platform. The checkout process is much more streamlined and requires less information, so we made it easier for our customers to buy from us. Reducing the steps taken to purchase was a big step forward.
How did Spark Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?
From a project management perspective, we are satisfied with the work they’ve done. The project management tool we used was Pivotal Tracker. We found it easy to use and effective.
What distinguishes Spark Solutions from other providers?
The developer I was using before Spark Solutions was in-house, and we were not happy with his work. We switched to Spark and they were super professional. You could tell that Spark Solution had experience in the field, and they know what you’re talking about.
I was always clear about what we wanted from them. I always gave specific directions, but they were also very creative with solutions that I didn’t know how to implement. They gave their ideas, and we gave feedback to each other. I was able to tell them what we needed, and they were able to give me their expertise to be able to develop in the most efficient way.
In hindsight, are there areas in which they could improve, or things you might do differently?
They provide design services for people who need them, but I’ve heard a lot of companies need a full-service kind of deal. If they could build entire websites from scratch, they would benefit from more business. We do most of that development in-house, so we just used them for the back-end and the Spree implementation.
We have five additional questions. For each of these, we ask that you rate Spark Solutions on a scale of one to five, with five being the best score.
How would you rate them for the quality of their service and deliverables?
How would you rate them for scheduling, as in meeting deadlines and compliance with a project timeline?
Four and a half.
How would you rate them for cost, as in value and/or conformance with project estimates?
How would you rate your overall experience collaborating with Spark Solutions?
How likely are you to recommend Spark Solutions to a friend or colleague, out of five?