Capturing Ecommerce Through a New Lens with Shopify
A cornerstone of the Seattle creative community, Glazer’s Camera is an important resource for local residents who are passionate about photography.
Since Ed Glazer first opened the Glazer’s Camera store in 1935, it’s been the place to go for professional-grade camera equipment in the region. Today, after being passed through three generations of the Glazer family, the business now occupies a beautiful new store in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. In recent years, they’ve expanded beyond camera equipment to also include photography classes, community events showcasing local talent, and financial support for photography students attending Seattle Central Creative Academy.
Bear Group is proud to have partnered with Glazer’s since 2008 to develop their online platforms and expand their online business.
2020: The Year of BOPIS
With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting in early 2020, the Glazer’s team needed to temporarily close their new—and very beautiful—South Lake Union store to shift to an online-first approach.
This change happened quickly, and they needed to offer Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) to meet the needs of long-time customers, as well as new customers looking to explore a new hobby or rekindle their passion for photography now that many people had extra time on their hands.
Glazer’s ecommerce increased to 10x their normal volume almost overnight, and we were glad to see the systems currently in place held up to the new demand.
We approach every project from a holistic business perspective to set clients up for success—not just a technology-centered viewpoint. After working with Glazer’s for many years, we have a solid understanding of their business and the technical solutions that would ultimately help them be successful.
The Glazer’s online landscape is more complex than it might look from the outside. It includes:
- A rotating catalog of well over 12,000 SKUs at any time.
- Dynamic used inventory business, where single-units in stock is the norm.
- A physical storefront that shares inventory with their online store (so POS integration required).
- Picturesque marketing and front-end UX goals
- Retailer rebate programs and discounts coming from the manufacturers (Sony, Canon, etc.) that need to be incorporated into the checkout process.
- Community building tools (blogs, social integration).
- Registrations for events and classes
- Photography equipment rentals business
- Repairs business
- Enhanced security
At this point Glazer’s had a choice between upgrading to Magento 2 Open Source or migrating to Shopify, and while they had a more complex set of requirements than typical Shopify merchants, there were many benefits to going that route.
“They're advisors to us. It's critical help for those of us who aren't developers to understand the pros and cons of different decisions.”Rebecca, Glazer's Camera
Many of the fully-custom websites we build start with an upfront design/UX phase to determine the site’s look and feel. We were able to work together with the Glazer’s team to identify a Shopify base theme to use as a starting point, and then modify it to suit their brand.
They chose a Shopify base theme and from that base, we were able to extend the theme — taking what might be considered a “stock” look and customizing it to Glazer’s brand. This approach is very efficient, reducing the typical 8-10 weeks of front-end development when starting with a “blank” canvas, to almost 3 weeks with a base theme to build upon.
Shopify Integration with POS
Glazer’s uses a highly-customized point-of-sale (POS) system called Photoware, that is wrapped around the unique needs of a photography retailer. On-hand inventory is managed through their POS, and the system can output structured XML. Back in 2012, we built an integration with Photoware for Magento 1, and were able to replace that with a Shopify app.
The new app uses Shopify's JSON REST API to get current stock info, passes data into a GraphQL database, blends it with the incoming Photoware XML data, then writes back updates in batches to the Shopify app. It takes about 2 minutes to review and update all 12,000 SKUs, and processes updates multiple times per hour.
This custom build allows us to automate a number of Glazer’s inventory and product management tasks. For example, any product that is marked as deprecated in their POS system is automatically pulled from the website. Additionally, we are able to filter out or group certain products to help speed up the merchandising team’s workflow.
We’re happy to be able to continue to assist Glazer’s Camera—a growing family business that has been a cornerstone for the Seattle photography community for more than 80 years.