"We were being handled by one person doing website management as a side job. We wanted to take our Events and eCommerce functionality to the next level."
Sewtopia's new home page by Pronto
Plenty of Fun, but Not Enough Features
As its website makes clear, Sewtopia was inspired by the burgeoning online sewing community circa 2014. It prompted Amy “Sukie” Newbold to bring to fruition her idea of establishing a worldwide meeting place for friends to indulge in all things sewing.
With slogans like Sew. Indulge. Engage., F*ck it! Let’s Sew., and Holy Sh*t Balls, Sewing’s Awesome!, it’s obvious that this particular online sewing portal likes to focus on fun for its members, experienced sewists & quilters from all walks of life who spend serious amounts of their free time with a needle and thread.
But until she hooked up with Pronto Marketing in late 2017, Ms. Newbold was in need of some website assistance. Sewtopia.com lacked a truly engaging user experience and it wasn’t easy for members to obtain information about -- or sign up for -- the “weekend getaway” events designed to bring sewing hobbyists together in a live setting.
Sewtopia's famous stickers
Evaluating the Old Sewtopia Website
As more and more of the online sewing community expressed interest in meeting and spending uninterrupted time together cultivating their creative sides, Sewtopia.com’s weaknesses in functionality started to show. The site wasn’t designed to handle announcements, sign-up forms, and scheduling, so in order to provide those features, workarounds were required.
In addition to the difficulties surrounding announcing the events, taking RSVPs, and providing online confirmations, Sewtopia.com had “merch” to sell. To meet members’ demands, they began offering an array of goods like fabrics, project bags, and t-shirts, necessitating an online shop and exacerbating Ms. Newbold’s challenge.
"We couldn't get support from our website provider in a timely manner and felt the customer service wasn't there."
It didn’t take long for her to realize that the improvisational approach to providing services and goods online wasn’t sustainable. For one thing, it didn’t provide members the sort of social media experience they were expecting in 2017. Secondly, it relied on dedicated involvement from Sewtopia.com’s technology vendor, but they simply weren’t able to provide hands-on website management and technical support on demand.
Sewtopia's website before and after joining Pronto
Sewtopia Picks Pronto for Their eCommerce Site
Once the challenge of managing events and selling merchandise became too great for Ms. Newbold and her technology vendor, she turned to Pronto Marketing to leverage our Fully-Managed eStore offering.
"Pronto was able to refresh our site and handle our eCommerce upgrade and keep track of our issues and handle them in a timely manner."
Even though Sewtopia caters to a laid-back, fun-loving clientele, there are certain things every website needs in order to satisfy users. And once Pronto laid out all the eCommerce possibilities, Ms. Newbold came to a quick realization: Implementing proper Events and eStore features on an already popular online sewing portal would likely increase traffic, generate more sign-ups and sales, create more demand for live events -- wash, rinse, repeat.
In addition to the wide array of eCommerce functionality we offered -- customized storefront and landing pages, secure payment gateways, inventory management tools, members only areas, ticketing modules, and more -- our ongoing technical support and continuous feature updates pretty much guaranteed Sewtopia a much more contemporary web presence. The project kicked off right away.
Sewtopia's online store front and WooCommerce dashboard
A Totally Customized eCommerce Site for Sewists
Ms. Newbold signed up in September, 2017, and her journey towards a feature-rich, fully-managed eStore was underway. We can’t be entirely sure whether Sewtopia.com is the first of its kind, but a customized eCommerce website for an online sewing community was indeed a first for Pronto.
This made things all the more interesting for our eStore team, who up to that point had plenty of experience designing, implementing, and supporting sites you’d readily associate with eCommerce businesses, but none as fun and easy to work with as Ms. Newbold’s.
So while the project may not have been our usual “sign-up & shopping-cart” site, to solve Sewtopia’s issues we still installed loads of features from the familiar suite offered up by our partner in eCommerce, WooCommerce :
- FooEvents - Powerful ticket sales and events management tool that was perfect for Sewtopia’s weekend getaways
- WooCommerce Square - Integration with the popular “anywhere, any-time” payment processing system
- WooCommerce Deposits - Extension that allows customers to place deposits and choose payment plans
- WooCommerce Subscriptions - Plugin delivering recurring-payment functionality to increase residual revenues
- Measurement Price Calculator - Plugin that allows sales of goods measured by dimensions, volume, or weight, such as with fabrics
- ShipStation - Online shipping platform that integrates with any eCommerce site and provides huge FedEx and USPS discounts
- Constant Contact - Add-on that handles welcome emails, announcements, surveys, and more, right through your eCommerce site
- SSL Encryption - Heavy-duty security protocol that ensures every iota of sensitive customer data remains safe and secure
Whether you’re a full-fledged online store with thousands of products, or you just want to sell a few items and memberships through your website, Pronto’s customized eCommerce program delivers features galore. And, it includes unlimited support and ongoing maintenance, so clients simply send in requests and let us do the rest, which Ms. Newbold loves.
Selling Subscriptions and Loads of Stuff
Functionally, the new Sewtopia.com can do quite a lot, and Ms. Newbold is extremely happy with how the eCommerce features make her life easier and her sewing portal profitable. But she’s especially pleased by the support she receives from Pronto.
"We feel like Pronto is an extension of our team, and we can escalate issues and let them take care of it on their end."
In those rare cases where glitches do occur, of course Pronto’s dedicated eCommerce maintenance team is Johnny on the Spot. But the support really shines through whenever clients make special requests.
eCommerce sites have lots of moving parts, so ideas often arise about adding new integrations or improving existing ones to enhance the customer experience. For example, if there’s ever a need to install a new extension -- such as QuickBooks, which Sewtopia.com wanted to activate after the eStore had gone live -- Pronto does the research to find the best solution and then implements the new functionality on the fly.
Ms. Newbold’s site is a sterling example of how a range of eCommerce features can come together to solve business problems, so let’s talk turkey:
- Over $50,000 in sales for the first quarter of 2018
- On pace to generate over $280K on the year
- Processed a single-day-record of 54 orders
Not too shabby for a site that started out as a simple support system where the online sewing community could share knowledge and make connections with other sewists and quilters. To think now that Sewtopia.com is on pace to bring in nearly $300,000 in revenue in 2018, only one remark seems appropriate: Holy Sh*t Balls, eCommerce is Awesome!
“Being in an online sewing community has totally changed my life! I have more friends now than ever. That means a lot to me, and I’m no longer a hermit quilter.”
It’s certainly true that social media can bring people together. It’s also true that an easy-to-use website full of features can keep things fun. And thanks to Pronto’s eCommerce offerings, Ms. Newbold has been able to indulge and engage with her happy little community in creative new ways: Not only can she interact with them online, she can meet them in person, turn them into paying members, and sell them lots of merch.
Let us help you turn your leads into official members and paying customers with a Pronto Managed eStore!