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Cooperation between Naturaily and Woolman in a nutshell:

  • scope: back-end development
  • technology: react.js, rails (sidekiq, event based data model), GraphQL API, JSON API, Shopify Polaris
  • tools: Slack, Teamwork, One-pass, Gitlab
  • team: 7 people from Naturaily
  • duration: ~24 months (ongoing)

Shopify remains the most popular e-commerce platform in the world. With 800,000 clients on board, who have made combined sales in excess of $100 billion, Shopify has a strong position as a market leader. However, it is not 100% flawless. Luckily for us, there is a shortage of integrations with external management, tracking or shipping systems, especially on the European market.

Starting point

A lot of our clients (merchants) came to us with the same need - a smooth integration between their e-shops on Shopify and the external systems responsible for particular e-commerce branches (e.g. warehouse management systems, loyalty systems, product data management systems, gift cards, etc.). Due to Shopify’s limitations on the European market, it was necessary to write the integrations from scratch.

Naturaily’s task was to:

  • design and create integrations,
  • ensure that all solutions are 100% scalable, safe and secure,
  • make sure the e-store works without mishap and is ready to handle the growing number of orders.

Main goal: integrate the existing external systems with e-stores on Shopify

Let’s start with a quick view on how the communication between Shopify’s API, Storefront and Integrations works.

Communication between Shopify’s API, Storefront and Integrations

Shopify offers a lot of features but lacks some important ones, such as ready-to-use solutions for simplifying order management (on the European market), for instance. If you need something extra, like a shipping list generated in real time - you need a dedicated application. That is what we help our clients with » Shopify app development.

Some of Shopify integrations made for Woolman & Naturaily’s joint clients

Nordic Shipping App (NSA) enables data exchange between the Shopify store and the shipping company in real time.

This way, it is possible to generate waybills and set new pickup points that are visible to customers while shopping.

The application was originally created by Woolman’s team. Our task was to:

  • refactor the legacy code,
  • make some fixes and improvements to reduce the number of errors generated by the application,
  • add new shipping companies,
  • rewrite the user interface using React

The NSA has been used by many online retailers, including Suomalainen - the largest bookstore chain in Finland. Founded in 1912, that latter sells 160,000 products online and has over a million clients, as well as several million gift cards. Within two months from the launch of integrations, the store handled over 7,000 orders. Everything worked seamlessly.

The second custom Shopify application is responsible for the integration of data, such as customer data, stock balance, order status, product data, product prices, gift cards, asset updates, etc.

Thanks to the integration, when new data is entered in one of the external systems, it also automatically appears in the online store (and vice versa).

The biggest challenge was data incompatibility. Our job was to format the data so that it would be readable for Shopify.

Data format incompatibility

In simple terms, the application is a communication layer that processes data to the appropriate format. This way, the data exchange is smooth and the information contained in external systems and presented in the store are consistent.

Have a look at how it works.

Communication

Data incompatibility example:

We receive data about all existing users coming from an external system and the customer’s name is saved in the following format: “firstname”. At the same time, in Shopify, the same data is saved in a different format: “first_name”. Our task was to create a solution that would make the field “firstname” correspond to the field “first_name” and update it in Shopify.

It sounds simple, but in reality, it is a difficult process, because there is a lot of data and not all of it is important, some is missing, external services may have different data validation than Shopify, etc.

The next integration has been implemented to enable customer identification with the use of suomi.fi system.

Suomi.fi is an e-identification system that enables the citizens of Finland and the European Union to be recognized in a safe way by using various identification media, such as bank-id and mobile certificates.

The integration allows e-store customers to pass authentication very quickly. The whole process is time-saving, 100% safe and secured. To make it possible, we have used SSO (single sign-on) - a property of access control for multiple related, yet independent, software systems. With this property, an e-shopper logs in and logs out with a single click.

In total, we have implemented dozens of different integrations. All of them are worth mentioning, but let’s discuss one more.

This custom Shopify integration was made for one of our clients (Vallila Interior), whom have both an online store and stationery stores in different locations and want real time inventory updates.

Thanks to this integration, customers can check the availability of their products of interest in a selected store and buy them whenever they want. The seller benefits from the integration as well: customer service is evaluated higher, conversions are increasing, and the order processing is more efficient.

Other custom Shopify applications made by Naturaily enable:

  • sending orders from Shopify to Oscar system (with data translation from JSON to .xml and field mapping);
  • integration of inventory and prices in an online pharmacy store;
  • automatic updating of product images, based on a media bank;
  • automatic updating of the privacy policy and regulations that the customer must accept before finishing the buying process;

and many more.


If you want to know more about the most common problems of growing Shopify stores and how to solve them with the right native or custom integrations - read this article by Mateusz.


As you can see, the integration possibilities between Shopify and external systems are almost limitless. If you want to increase the efficiency of your online store, improve order processing, increase conversion, facilitate sales management, minimize errors or achieve other goals - contact us and we will help you. Shopify app development is one of our specialties.

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