November 2011

The Shopify Fund: A Quick Update

by Joey deVilla on November 30, 2011

"What's up with the Shopify fund?": Photo of a pile of US bills

Today is November 30th, the last day for which you can apply to the Shopify Fund. If you’re a developer with an idea for a Shopify app or a developer without an idea for an app but the skills to write one, go visit the Shopify Fund page and sign up! Just do it soon, because the deadline’s coming up quickly.

The Shopify Fund is our way of creating a win-win situation for both Shopify and developers. It lets us pay developers to work full-time on a Shopify app (an application that makes use of the Shopify API to add features to or extend the capabilities of Shopify shops or that integrates Shopify shops with other services) without them having to take on other jobs to pay the bills. In exchange, we get more apps in the Shopify App Store, and with those apps, more features and functionality and in turn, happy shopowners.

Starting tomorrow, the day after the deadline for applying to the Shopify Fund, we’ll review the submissions. We’ll spend the month of December looking at people’s proposed apps or the resumes and portfolios of developers who don’t have app ideas and want to build apps. Then in the new year, we’ll make our final decisions, start funding app development and get more apps into the Store. If you want a more detailed explanation of how the Shopify Fund’s funding works, see this earlier article: The Shopify Fund, Explained.

If you’ve got an idea for a Shopify app or the chops to write one, apply to the Shopify Fund while there’s still time!

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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"Shopify/Twilio Developer Contest": 1960s photo of a woman at a "futuristic" computer console

Shopify and Twilio are Holding a Contest!

Shopify, the ecommerce platform that makes it easy to set up online shops, is teaming up with Twilio, the platform for voice-over-phone, voice-online and SMS messaging, to create a developer contest where you’re challenged to write an app that makes use of both platforms.

Perhaps it’s an app that phones customers or sends them an SMS message when their order has been shipped. Or voice notification to a bricks-and-mortar store that tells the staff that a customer is coming to pick up their order. With a little creativity, some coding and our APIs, you can write an app that’s both useful and cool enough to win one of our prizes…

The Prizes

First prize: Macbook Air and Apple Cinema Display

First prize is from Shopify: it’s Edward from Shopify’s preferred rig! A hot-rodded 11-inch Macbook Air with 256GB solid-state drive and 1.8 GHz CPU along with a gigantic 27-inch Apple Cinema Display. Small and light for when you’re on the go, a nice big screen for when you’re at home, the office of wherever you decide to keep the display and plenty of horsepower to build apps.

Second prize: Lego Mindstorms robot

Second prize comes from Twilio and it’s a robot hacker’s dream: a stacked LEGO Mindstorms swag bag with the NXT 2.0, a bundle of touch, light and sound sensors, and a Bluetooth dongle to keep your creations connected. I, for one, welcome our new LEGO robot overlords.

Third prize: Amazon Kindle Fire

Third prize is a joint Shopify/Twilio effort: a Kindle Fire, the newest multi-touch full-color hotness from the world of ebook readers.

The Rules

We try to keep things simple – it’s about building cool apps, not being buried in regulations!

Okay, How Do I Get In on This Action?

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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Featured Shopify App: Kudyou

by Joey deVilla on November 29, 2011

Kudyou LogoThe Shopify App Store has over 100 apps to extend the features and capabilities that already come “out of the box” with your Shopify shop. We’ve been featuring apps from the Store for the past little while, covering apps that help you run your shop, make tedious tasks easier and help you connect with your customers.

Today, we take a look at Kudyou, an app that lets you offer your customers cash rewards that they can save or give to their favorite causes. We interviewed the Kudyou team and shared their answers.

What does Kudyou do?

Kudyou helps shopowners generate higher sales though personalized customer rewards. It allows brands to present one reward that customers can personalize to suit their unique needs, either by saving up cash or donating to any cause of their choice.

What are Kudyou’s key features?

Screenshots of various pages from the Kudyou app

Kudyou does the following:

  • Generates higher and more profitable sales by creating campaigns where customers can personalize their rewards, post-purchase
  • Helps your customers support causes they are very passionate about, which leads to more referrals and sharing of offers
  • Delivers these campaigns in a cost effective manner. Kudyou is more like payments processing pricing than daily deals charges
  • Better presents the causes you support and extend the reach of your existing socially responsible initiatives to a receptive Kudyou community
  • Learns about what causes your customers support in order to create more focused sales campaigns in the future

Why should shopowners use Kudyou?

Kudyou wants to help shopowners generate profitable sales and more beneficial engagements with consumers.

Shopowners benefit from higher sales and referrals from customers sharing these more meaningful offers with their friends.

Kudyou manages the campaign funds and social sharing of these offers on behalf of shopowners while delivering a great redemption process for shoppers in the process.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Three of the four people who make up Kudyou

Kudyou is a core team of 4 people (with the usual support from loads of others) looking to build our start-up venture.

We’re actually split between 2 locations on 2 continents! We’re all Irish born, but John is based in Silicon Valley and has lived in the US since 2000. The rest of the team, Hugh, Karl and Des are all based on Dublin, Ireland. John and Hugh have known each other for over 16 years but that’s small change compared to Karl and Des, who met in kindergarten!

John had the original idea and is the business guy but only possesses enough technical knowledge to get himself in trouble. Hugh is technical so he manages the product strategy and John’s ideas. Karl
and Des, well they’re the engine, the coders who make all this a reality.

So, that’s Kudyou. You can find us in all the usual places, so check us out on the web, Facebook, Twitter etc. We look forward to hearing what people think about what we’ve built and seeing how people use it.

Where did you get the idea for your app?

We built this app for a number of reasons. Firstly, we felt that this was something missing from the market across all channels. Based on feedback from merchants, shoppers, donors and causes we set out to build our vision of this functional utility that would enable everyone to benefit. One of our advisors, Tamsin Smith who previously ran (RED), terms this “Beneficial Buying”.

Shopowners are looking to create better engagement experiences, enhance the attributes of their brand and get closer to their customers. From a sales campaign perspective, offering discounts
is easy but competing on price is not always a winning strategy; there needs to be more. Shopowners are doing a lot more socially responsible campaigns and these do resonate with consumers. Over
$200 billion is donated in the US by individuals each year and there are over one million active non-profits, so the question becomes from a shopowners perspective, which causes are right for them and their customers?

Giving is something very personal as is the need to sometimes save money. People want the choice to save or give to something they care about and want sales campaign to be relevant, genuine and
transparent. We believe that a lot of people are looking for more meaning, choice and control in their life. Giving customers the ability to choose how they would like to direct their reward is something positive and an experience they are willing to share with friends.

With all this in mind we set about building out the Kudyou service. We also knew that we would need to partner with others. Tamsin introduced us to Shopify since she was talking with Shopify about her
new business venture. We also knew some others who wanted to try out Kudyou, such as Willow Glen Charm, so we referred them to Shopify, given it’s such a great and easy platform to sell from.

It’s going to be interesting to see how people use Kudyou, from all perspectives.

Where can I find out more about Kudyou?

Kudyou Icon

You can find more about the Kudyou app on its page in the Shopify App Store and about Kudyou on their site.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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Featured Shopify App: Yotpo

by Joey deVilla on November 22, 2011

An Elmo doll sitting beside the Yotpo logo

There’s nothing like word of mouth to drive customers to your doorstep. Consider the following:

If you run an online shop, you’d do well to harness the power of word of mouth, and Yotpo, one of the apps in Shopify’s App Store, is a great way to do this. We talked with Yotpo co-founder Tomer Tagrin about his company’s app and we’re sharing what he told us in this article.

What does Yotpo do?

Yotpo Logo: "Yotpo. Makes Customers Happy."Yotpo is the first social micro-reviewing app. It enables your customers to read reviews from his/her friends and provides a quick and elegant way for them to write social reviews through the your shop. Our app uses patented software to build a social graph of your customers and provides social data on your top customers and leverages it to to increase your sales and customers’ experience.

What are Yotpo’s key features?

Screenshots of Yotpo's various screens

Yotpo’s key features are:

  • Builds a social report on your customers, improving sales and engagement.
  • Enables customers to read and write reviews using their social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Foursquare.
  • Provides an analytics tool for each reviewer, which draws customers to come back to your shop and check their reviewer analytics regularly.
  • Improves your shop’s SEO using social data.
  • Builds a social graph of your shop’s the site social graph of customers.
  • Full customization capabilities.
  • Stays in touch with your customers: after making their purchase each customer is automatically emailed and invited to review the items he/she bought.

Why should shopowners use Yotpo?

If you’re looking to make more money, Yotpo is for you! Yotpo gives your shop an easy, beautiful social review system to engage your customers, bring them back and buy more.

If you want to get a clear view of your shop’s top customer, Yotpo is for you! It establishes the social graph of your shop’s customers and lets you know who your top customers are.

If you want to give your customers a reason to come back, Yotpo is for you! Yotpo entices customers to make return visits to check their reviewer analytics.

Tell us a little about yourself.

The Yotpo team, all gathered on a couch in their office

Yotpo is an 8-person machine based in Tel Aviv. We’re divided into R&D, sales, marketing and customer service and got an $800K investment in early 2011. We’re big believers in providing quality content to our customers. Check out our blog; we have even an article from Shopify’s CEO!

We’re going to disrupt the way users read and write reviews. We’re working on taking reviews into the social space by both providing e-commerce sites a true social solution and by building customers a fun, influential way to read and write reviews. We’re working on being a cross platform solution for shopowners and customers.

Feel free to reach us at through our social networking profiles on Twitter or Facebook!

Where did you get the idea for Yotpo?

A "Tasmanian Devil" doll, sitting between two Yotpo logos

Me and my co-founder Omri got the idea from just being internet shoppers. We were frustrated with the way reviews worked on ecommerce sites. Many of them carried very cool products that I wanted to review but the writing process was bad — really bad.

We wanted to enable customers to write social reviews and influence their social graph. We also talked to many online shopowners saw that they weren’t using reviews to establish a true social graph of their store.

If you think about it, the review space isn’t all that different from the social netowrking revolution. Yotpo is just that: a true social, fun and influential way to read and write reviews among friends.

Where can I find out more about Yotpo?

The Yotpo icon, as seen in the Shopify App Store

You can find more about Yotpo, along with over 100 other apps to add features and functionality to your Shopify shop, at the Shopify App Store.

This article also appears in the Shopify Blog.

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"Pragmatic Bookshelf's Black Friday Sale": photo of people in line at a Black Friday sale

On Black Friday – for those of you outside the U.S., that’s Friday, November 25th, they day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year – most of the Pragmatic Bookshelf’s books, PDFs and screencasts will go on sale for 40% off. Only a few titles, such as The SPDY Book and Exceptional Ruby, will be exempt, but everything else will be available at a 40% discount.

All you have to do to get the discount is use the discount code “turkey” while checking out at the Pragmatic Bookshelf store on Friday, November 25th between 00:00 PST (3:00 a.m. Eastern / 0800 GMT) and 23:59 PST (2:59 a.m. on Nov. 26th Eastern / 0759 on Nov. 26th GMT).  Just enter “turkey” in the coupon code field, then select your payment method to apply the discount to your order.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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Rob Conery: Setting Up Rails on Your Mac for Microsofties

by Joey deVilla on November 17, 2011

Joey deVilla's MacBook Pro, with an IE9 sticker on it

Why, oh why, didn’t Rob Conery’s guide to setting up Rails on a Mac for Microsofties exist back in May? While I did fine following Cowboy Coded’s excellent guide to setting up Rails 3 on Snow Leopard useful (and hey, prior to joining Microsoft, I did Rails 1.x development), a ‘Softie-friendly guide from the other famous guy to leave Microsoft for the Rails world would’ve been nice. If you’re from the world of ASP.NET MVC development – or worse, plain old ASP.NET or worse still, oldie-von-moldie ASP – Rob does a pretty good job of giving you the background details on all those things that Rails developers use that you probably didn’t – XCode, Homebrew, Git, gems, bundles and so on.

Once you’ve followed Rob’s steps, all you’ll need to truly be a Rails-on-a-Mac developer is a fauxhawk and perhaps a fixie. I’ll refer you to my hipster stereotype coworker Edward for those subjects:

Photo of Edward Ocampo-Gooding in a Canada Goose parka, wearing a scarf, smoking a pipe and with an Xbox 360 achievement: "ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: Maximum hipster level reached"

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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50 Cent is Now on Shopify!

by Joey deVilla on November 17, 2011

Curtis Jackson, the rapper better known to the world as “Fitty Cent”, has a company called SMS Audio and they launched their Shopify-based shop today. The shop is called SMS By 50 and it’s the go-to place for premium headphones.

Headphones offered by SMS By 50: Earbuds, wired and wireless

The headphones come in three flavours: wired, wireless and earbuds. They’re currently available for pre-sale and range in price from $129.95 to $399.95, which is “right in line with current market trends” according to this TechCrunch article. SMS Audio recently bought KonoAudio, who’ve been making funky high-end headphones for ages, presumably for their headphone manufacturing expertise, which will be backed by Fitty’s street cred.

SMS By 50 T-shirt and Cap

In addition to headphones, SMS By 50 also carries shirts and caps, suitable for just plain old hangin’ or hittin’ da club.

Screen capture of the main page of the SMS By 50 shop

If you’re working on your own Shopify shop or designing Shopify themes, give SMS By 50 a look. It’s got a great design whose look and feel works for its audience; it also shows you how flexible Shopify’s templating system is.

Oh, and by the way, if you think you’re not “street” enough to sport “Fitty” gear, here’s something just for you:

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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