I am doing some research for a possible client engagement. The client has invested in their Shopify storefront, and are extremely reluctant to move away from it. Updated 8/27: the client is MM Local Foods, and the issue is with their Harvest Share.
However, a significant subset of orders placed through this system have ‘pickups’ associated with the order–these are events where the customer picks up the product. There are multiple locations and multiple dates, and the customer can switch from one pickup to another at no cost.
Shopify, to put it mildly, doesn’t handle this use case well–it is about at easy to modify an order in Shopify as it is to read that Aztec calendar to your left.
Edit Order is the only Shopify app that I could find which will let anyone modify orders, and it has significant limitations:
- only staff with access to /admin can modify orders.
- it doesn’t actually modify an order. Rather, it deletes an order and replaces it with a modified order (order #204 becomes order #204A). This means you have to re-run the payment process.
I also looked at BookThatApp, which specifically handles ‘bookings’ within the Shopify framework, for services like tours or piano lessons. Unfortunately, this service doesn’t let the customer reschedule the booking themselves (I asked BookThatApp support to be sure).
So, I spent a fair bit of time wandering the internet, looking for scheduling and booking SaaS apps that:
- had an API that could be integrated with Shopify
- would handle events at specific dates, times and places rather than letting the customer pick freely from from a weekly availability calendar (such as for piano lessons or massage appointments)
- let the customer modify their pickup without calling customer service
- looked professional
- wasn’t too expensive
- wasn’t too cumbersome to manage from the business side
The bad news is I didn’t find any software that fulfilled all requirements, even after hours of searching and signing up for about ten different applications (at least they all had free trials!).
I was astonished–was I not searching the right keywords? Is this such a niche need? A lot of scheduling software failed on criteria #2. Eventbrite failed criteria #6 and #3. Most booking software failed #5 and #3–which makes sense as they are aimed at tour companies who don’t want customers changing their tour dates without talking to someone. I looked at some class scheduling software, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work.
The good news? I found one solution that does almost everything above–it does fail criteria #1, but I think it is the best of the worst. The other alternative is to write custom code, and that always worries me.
Why does writing custom code worry me? One word: maintenance. Especially for a small, non software focused business, maintenance of custom software is costly. Instead, it is better to conform your business processes to the SaaS application which best fits them, and let someone else shoulder the burden of maintenance. This is not always the case–sometimes needs are so precise and static that custom software is the right answer. But my default is always to look for other solutions.
I’ve outlined some of the pros and cons to the customer and am waiting to hear back on how to move forward.
And if you know of any solutions that might be better options for this customer, I’d love to hear of them.