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Righting the ship: How ONELIVE automated shipping rate updates across 1000+ Shopify stores using Gadget

Jane Maguire
November 28, 2022

1000+ stores

deployed to

1000s of hours

time saved

ONELIVE, a full service ecommerce provider that manages 1000+ Shopify Plus stores, needed a way to efficiently update shipping rates across all of their stores. They used Gadget to quickly build a custom app that automated shipping rate updates, saving their operations team thousands of hours of manual work. By leveraging Gadget’s Shopify Connection and instant API generation, their team was able to quickly build, test and deploy this application in a fraction of the time it would have taken them to do so using their legacy tech stack. 

"Gadget essentially gave our team of frontend developers some backend superpowers. We were able to ship a project that was technically challenging in a fraction of the time, and at a fraction of the cost, of what it would have taken us with an agency or using our own tech stack.” - Rian Neil, Head of Ecommerce Development at ONELIVE

The problem

ONELIVE provides end-to-end ecommerce solutions that are trusted by some of the biggest brands in fashion, sports and entertainment. They offer a suite of services including website design, order fulfillment, ticketing, and customer service. In order to meet each customers’ unique needs, the ONELIVE engineering team often builds custom storefronts and applications to supplement Shopify’s core product. Time constraints and technical limitations meant that they occasionally had to utilize expensive third party resources in order to supplement their own internal capabilities. When ONELIVE discovered Gadget, they were excited to gradually bring all development in-house while continuing to deliver the ecommerce experiences their customers expected.

Using Gadget, the ONELIVE team decided to focus on automating shipping rate updates across their 1000+ Shopify Plus stores. Historically, this process was handled manually by their operations team.

“The shipping providers come to us - giving us very little notice - and they say ‘we’re going to be updating our rates by $0.50’, explains Rian Neil, Head of Ecommerce Development at ONELIVE. “We’d get a team of people together and say, ‘let’s batch these 50 stores today’, then manually add all of those rates in. We’d repeat this process until every store had been updated. With the number of clients we have at the rate we’re growing, we could never update rates across all of our stores fast enough.”

Any time their shipping partners would update their pricing, a handful of ONELIVE staff members would spend weeks manually updating the shipping rates for each of the stores they managed. This process took about four hours per shop. Across 1000+ stores, something as simple as a shipping price increase resulted in weeks of manual data entry, throughout which ONELIVE was generally under-collecting shipping fees and losing revenue.

Data entry is tedious, time-consuming, and prone to human error. Manually adjusting shipping rates across their roster of stores was not cost or time efficient. ONELIVE saw this as a prime opportunity to optimize their productivity through automation. They envisioned an automated system that would quickly update shipping rates across many stores from one interface. 

Historically, they would outsource this kind of backend development to an agency, but working with contractors also has its drawbacks. 

“Getting apps built on time to meet a deadline can be really tricky when working with third parties. There can be delays caused by misunderstandings around scope, requirements and process for future updates.” Rian explained, “Documentation, security and the ability to efficiently iterate are critical to both us and our clients. Utilizing third parties can create barriers to these needs and my team prefers to be as agile and reliable as possible.”

To save time and money, and regain control and flexibility of their project, ONELIVE decided to build an automated shipping rate management solution using Gadget.

The solution

ONELIVE was introduced to Gadget by their Merchant Success Manager at Shopify. They discovered they could use Gadget’s features and Shopify Connection to save countless hours of boilerplate development, while ensuring that the app they delivered met all of their specific requirements. Here’s how they did it: 

First, they leveraged Gadget’s Shopify Connection to quickly add Shopify’s OAuth flow to the app, allowing all of their managed stores to install the application with a single click.

Authentication can be a painful task even for a seasoned backend developer - they’ll often spend days reviewing and following the instructions outlined by the OAuth provider in order to build out the user interface and API calls in a secure and compliant manner. Given that Gadget abstracts most of the work involved in building Shopify’s OAuth flow, the ONELIVE team was able to connect to Shopify with just a few clicks, and with minimal additional code.

Then, they used Gadget’s Shopify Connection, which allowed them to quickly select any Shopify API scopes needed to power the app, and register for the desired webhooks with no coding required. Rian decided that he simply needed the information stored in Shopify’s ‘Shop’ resource, which includes the name and URL of the store. With a single click, he had a ‘Shop’ table setup in his Gadget database, and an event stream set up to listen to ‘Shop’ webhooks and keep his data up to date.

Screen recording of the ONELIVE shipping rate sync application in action
ONELIVE's shipping rate update application in action.

“Gadget has a good handle on communicating with Shopify,” Rian said, “It simplified the entire app building process for us.”

The ONELIVE team also leveraged Gadget’s instant model and API generation capabilities to quickly build the API that would power their Shopify Admin interface. They set up a custom HTTP route that would take in the new shipping rate information (in CSV format) and load the data into a Gadget database table. This table would then be displayed to ONELIVE staff who could further manage the shipping data before distributing the information across the 1000+ stores they manage.

The ONELIVE development team shipped the project in a matter of weeks because Gadget relieved them of all the boilerplate work involved in building this type of application. They got Shopify OAuth and webhook management for free, their database tables were set up and configured with a few clicks, and they focused their time on building an Admin interface that would communicate with the Gadget backend. 

“Gadget essentially gave our team of frontend developers some backend superpowers. We were able to ship a project that was technically challenging in a fraction of the time, and at a fraction of the cost, of what it would have taken us with an agency or using our own tech stack.” - Rian @ OneLive

The result

Within a month, the ONELIVE development team built an internal tool using Gadget that solved their problem. 

Rian was able to save a significant amount of time and money on this first project and is already planning to use Gadget to further streamline operations at ONELIVE. 

“Right now my focus is operations. I’m identifying the things we do right now that we either spend a lot of manpower on, or areas where we currently use another service but can use Gadget to cut down on our existing costs,” he said. He sees the potential of using Gadget to make day-to-day processes more efficient, as well as replacing any need for third party services with customized internal tools, and even enhancing the customer experience with automated reports. 

“We’re constantly generating new ideas about what we want to build,” Rian added, “and many of these ideas can come to life quickly using Gadget. These are the sort of things that are really important to us.”

Interested in learning more about Gadget? Sign up for free, check out our blog for some helpful tutorials, and join our developer support community on Discord.

For more examples on what you can build using the Shopify Connection, check out these additional blog posts:

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