Like many other early e-tail startups started in post-2000, fashion accessories site Gorjana & Griffin opted to create a customized experience when it got off the ground in 2006, hiring Web designers to create a flashy online store using animated Flash files and an HTML-driven checkout process.
That was before the husband and wife cofounders (who had just started the site on the side) realized that Web design is pretty much an ongoing process, and that their approach had locked them into costly ongoing development fees.
"Web programming is not a completion-type task. We started learning more about our deficiencies as we got deeper into it," said Jason Griffin Reidel, CEO of the company, based in Laguna Beach, Calif.
That's one of the realizations that prompted the Gorjana & Griffin team to move the entire site over to Magento in early 2012. The platform, used by more than 150,000 businesses around the world, is owned by eBay. That provides a certain level of comfort in an era of perpetual beta services and startups that seem to come and go overnight. Just as important for Reidel, however, is his ability to keep the look and functionality of his site refreshed. "I use this analogy: it allows us to give our house a makeover, but doesn't require us to move the furniture out in order to do so," he said.
Magento also enables his team to make smaller, short-term tweaks rather easily. For example, during the July 4th holiday in the United States, the e-tailer created a related Pinterest board and teamed up with the blog, A Piece of Toast, to promote it. During the one-month promotion period, Gorjana & Griffin gained 400 new Pinterest followers. (It has a total of about 2,300 currently, so that's not an insignificant number.)
Even now, the company puts the "PinIt" button on its product detail pages, making it easier for visitors to share them and create important visibility for the site. Reidel is studying ways to be creative with Instagram, as well. "These are extremely valuable platforms for us," he said.
Over time, Magento will enable Gorjana & Griffin to accommodate growing visitor traffic. Although there is a community version that small businesses can use for free, the company opted for the enterprise version (annual fee starts at $15,550), which gives it access to modules, development resources and support.