Once every few days, we all need inspiration from those who managed to stand out within a clutter. Once every few days, we all need that push that helps us get ahead and stand out, once every few days, we all need a story like ours but had a happy ending, once every few days, we need mentors who rose above obstacles so we too, could do the same. Last time we have shared the success story of MageComp, and this time we are back with another inspirational success story.
OneStepCheckout happens to be a very evident company in the industry of Magento. They managed to achieve lots of success in a short span of time. So we decided to speak to the team itself and see how they started, what they faced and how it all went down. Here’s what happened;
The Basic Idea Behind It and How Was It Translated into Reality
Jone and Asbjorn are two Norwegian guys who worked together in a Magento agency back in 2009. Jone is the tech guy and Asbjorn, the sales guy. One day a client called them up and said:
“ Hey, the website you delivered is totally broken. Our customers need to go through 6 pages before they can even place an order. That Doesn’t work for me, you need to fix that.”
And that’s how Jone created a solution that allowed tens of thousands of Magento merchants to simplify their checkout process and therefore improve online sales conversions.
What We Learned
We need to bring a solution to an existing problem and then make sure the solution is friendly enough for everyone to be catered to. Next, the solution should be advantageous to not only the customers but the owners as well.
Challenges Faced During the Early Years, and How They Tackled
It’s one thing to create a technical solution, but another thing to commercialize it properly. That’s where Asbjorn’s genius came into play. He already had decades of experience being a serial entrepreneur. He had disruptive plans to put OneStepCheckout on the radar quickly. It took courage to make those decisions like for example; selling the extension for around $200 when back then most extensions were selling for $10 to $30. It also took a lot of hard work in building a list of thousands of Magento stores and agencies and cold calling them.
More challenges came when the market was more mature and Magento released the Magento 2 platform. But our team is also unique in the sense that we all had many lives before joining OneStepCheckout and we all have unique very strong talents, so we learned from our experiences and you can see how we have approached the launch of OneStepCheckout for Magento 2 and giving a new boost to our brand within the Magento ecosystem.
What We Learned
You need to be brave enough to brace the impact of possible obstacles that would be standing in your face. If you stand firm on your ground, even the most daunting challenges can be handled with ease. Believe in what you provide is of value, customers will follow.
New Initiatives Are Always Required for Growth. However, Some Initiatives Could Fail. How Did You Tackle All That?
In our team, we can rely on two complementary approaches. One is a long term strategic approach where we plan for all the scenarios possible. Our CEO is a keen chess player so you can picture what is going on in his head. He prepares it all up and when all is ready, he presses the “push” button.
I am more led by action and take the Test and Learn approach from my time working at eBay and PayPal. I launch initiatives based on some assumptions and feedback from customers and partners, then analyzing the results to refine the assumptions and do better for the next round.
Developing a solid OneStepCheckout for Magento 2 extension follows the same iterative process. Extensive testing went into multiple scenarios to keep pace with the fast release of the Magento 2 platform.
What We Learned
Plan ahead. Take all scenarios into consideration before you head out into the world of digital. Always hope for things to go north but at the same time, also be prepared for things to go south. Once you have a plan B in mind, you would feel easier when taking risks. Of course taking risks is common but planning ahead while having a safety harness is always a better approach.
Making Onestepcheckout Special. and Dealing with Client Requirements
The recipe for our success is definitely to be single minded on one thing and doing it extremely well. We have always dedicated all our resources, whether technical or business to Checkout for Magento. We have been laser focused on the most complex and critical processes of any Magento store. Day in day out for over eight years now, we have worked on the same topic, which allowed us to gain unmatched expertise and experience.
As Malcolm Gladwell explained in his book Outliers, the story of Success, you need to spend 10,000 hours on one activity to master it. Our tech team spent over 25,000 hours just on Checkout for Magento.
How that translates with clients interaction is that we all have first hand feedback from our customers. They tell us what they want, what works for them in their situation. We see a lot of combinations based on their regions, their industry vertical etc… so we understand the most common use cases and added features to our roadmap.
What We Learned
Understand your product in a way you will always know that it will work better than planned. You also need to look at your product from different mindsets because you are not catering to just one person or one community. You are working for the entire online digital world and with ecommerce evolving every day, you need to be attentive towards the needs and requirements of the people first, and then formulate solutions that would be helpful to them.
Go broad but go bold.
An Effective Workflow – Is There a Secret Recipe?
We are a team based and distributed across Oslo, Tallinn (Estonia), Haugesund (West coast of Norway) and one team member travels the world. So, in terms of getting the team to all work together, we use Skype both for a chat and conf calling. We log tasks and projects into Asana and share documents with Google Drive. Very basic!
KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) is the main idea on everything we make, less is more in almost every level if a team is small and tasks are plenty.
Technology wise, it’s about being a pro, knowing the concepts and rest are just tools that help you on your way. As most of our tasks are support related, then we mostly find value in tools that help us automate on that level: IDE-s with remote editing possibilities, secure access management, version control and simple tools for communication. Our field is a bit different from regular agency work where you might have time to setup pipelines by a customer to customer.
We have lots of customers to serve and in a day you might need to access and analyze ~60 customers sites and simplest tools without any setup complexity will allow that. Even if the tools you use feel spartan or not on the “hype” list of top tech tools.
However KISS also means we make it super easy for our customers and partners, and that required strong problem solving skills, empathy and customer insights that resulted in brilliant ideas executed brilliantly.
What We Learned
It’s simple. To keep things simple is the simplest way towards getting things done in a more simple way. Beating around the bush when it comes to solving a simple problem is confusing for you, the team and the people you are serving.
Since we have used the word simple so many times, the solution is simple to keep things simple.
Advice for the Novices to See Themselves as Pros
Solve a real problem that no one has solved before and that your customers really care about. Then focus on that one area so you build an unmatched expertise and experience that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t neglect Support. It’s our number one asset. Our Support team is what made our reputation: fast, efficient, knowledgeable, helpful and going the extra mile for customers. It’s what allows you to keep the pulse on the market and get first hand insights on demand and needs.
From a technical perspective, you will be judged on the quality of your code. Not just so it works with your customer’s store, but it also needs to be compatible with all third-party extensions that help your customers meet their business goals. As such a good place to start is Extension Developer Network that provides guidance and syndicates all the best practices around extension development for Magento.
From a business perspective, think about the good old 4Ps of the marketing mix. I find it also applies when launching a software:
- Product: what type of merchants are you targeting, what are your key features, customer service etc…
- Price: what pricing model makes sense: one off, SaaS. % of the transaction, fixed per order etc…
- Placement: how are you going to distribute your software: Magento Marketplace, own website, partners etc…
- Promotion: how and where are you going to communicate to raise awareness, consideration, and adoption of your product.
The Work Environment – A Pivotal Role in Success?
We are a distributed team and everyone works remotely from wherever it’s more convenient for them. Especially in Summer when most of us have to take the kids to their grandparents and get a refill of vitamin D!!!
So here are some places we work from. Changing setting is also a boost for creativity. Who wouldn’t be with that view on Paris or Salvador de Bahia?
Around the world around the world…