MissedFits is a Shopify app aimed at helping retailers balance buyer demands and supply chain limitations. Providing merchants with better insights into out-of-stock demands means they can find out exactly what shoppers are looking for, and send back in stock notifications and product recommendations based on missing items. From there, merchants can match inventory to demand, boost profit, and cut down on waste.
Like so many of us, Julia Benner is no stranger to online shopping, and with 13 years of experience working for corporate retailers, she understands the market better than most.
She began her career in inventory management, working at companies such as Gap, Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. to understand buyer demands, balance those against budgets, and manage the distribution of supplies accordingly. Over the years, she transitioned to oversee promotional marketing strategies, but she never lost her knowledge of inventory management.
But it was years later, when she was faced with a sold out product herself that she finally connected the dots between her skills: brands needed a way to give shoppers relevant recommendations and alternatives for sold out items while providing retailers insights around this data to make smarter product and marketing investment decisions.
With that, Julia came up with the idea for MissedFits. Monitoring the demand for specific items and creating promotional strategies around consumer needs seemed obvious, but it was something every brand she worked for struggled with. So she turned to her notebook and, along with her husband, began formulating a plan.
“There was always a lot of importance placed around speed to innovation. Businesses need their tech to be able to adapt to consumer needs quickly, and Gadget has allowed for that.”
– Julia Benner, Founder @ MissedFits
She wanted to create an app that would both help people find alternative options in the moment, and allow them to come back to get what they originally wanted once it was available, while considering the environmental impacts of the industry. Her hope was MissedFits would be a win/win solution that gave consumers a way to provide feedback to brands, and empowered brands to offer alternative options in response, without overstocking. To Julia, “It’s not just about someone wanting to buy shoes that are sold out. It’s about how many times in a day someone wanted to buy something but they couldn’t."
With her vision of the perfect algorithm in mind, she started looking into how to turn that into a reality. As a first-time founder, Julia knew there were a few things she needed to prioritize.
Cost, naturally, was the biggest consideration. Julia didn’t have infinite budget to give to a team of developers. She needed to be sure that the people she hired would spend their time on the features that would help her stand out from the crowd. And the longer the project took, the more money she would sink into it, so she needed this app to launch as soon as possible.
Second, as a non-technical person herself, she needed the flexibility to be able to host the app without having to hire an extensive team of developers to maintain different parts of it as the business grew. She needed to know the technology she chose to build on would be able to withstand the growth she anticipated.
And lastly, she needed to be able to easily offer the solution to as many merchants as possible. For this, she decided the best course of action was to create a Shopify app.
She began asking friends for recommendations on tools she could use to build a Shopify app. That’s how she found Gadget.
A friend introduced Julia to one of the Gadget founders, who put her in touch with Afocal, a development agency that would help her build MissedFits using the Gadget platform.
“In retail, time is money.” Julia shared. “We knew we wanted to support the existing Shopify community, and by integrating with great technologies like Gadget, we’re able to move fast and become a stronger technology partner in the overall ecosystem.”
Afocal, the agency helping Julia create MissedFits, essentially used Gadget as a middleware solution to bypass some of the limitations developers typically run into when developing Shopify apps. Things like the auto-generated API, setting up OAuth, maintenance for Shopify updates, and creating an embedded UI for the app were all handled by Gadget. Gadget helped the team contextualize some of the data and refine the app to work for any Shopify store, rather than working as a custom app.
Hosting on Gadget’s full-stack development platform also meant that Julia wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining the infrastructure of the app once the project was complete. Everything from her backend, to the app’s embedded frontend would all be managed and automatically scaled by Gadget.
The more they built MissedFits, the more Julia was reminded of the value of speed in a retail environment. “There was always a lot of importance placed around speed to innovation. Businesses need their tech to be able to adapt to consumer needs quickly, and Gadget has allowed for that.”
With help from Afocal, and guidance from the Gadget team on working with Shopify apps, Julia was able to build, iterate, and launch MissedFits in just a few months. Because Gadget handled all of the setup and connection to Shopify, the team could pour their time into ensuring the algorithm was as advanced as possible.
For Julia, that meant her costs were focused on creating a better product from the start. “When Shopify makes an API update or change, Gadget is making sure that is maintained and the burden isn’t on us. They manage the technical requirements so we can focus on driving value and not allocating resources just to maintain the basics.” Without Gadget, building MissedFits may have been prohibitively expensive, but her team was able to build the app faster and allocate resources more efficiently to push through to launch.
Although everything would have been possible had the Afocal team built from scratch, the project would have been a lot more complex, and costly. Gadget’s no-setup cloud infrastructure, and boilerplate-free framework made it so that their developers could quickly iterate on the latest feedback to meet user demands. They were able to work to optimize the algorithm right from the start, focusing on delivering that core value, not the basic infrastructure. Julia explained, “With the built-in API connections and the speed of using Gadget, we aren’t just seeing time savings in our development process, but also by simplifying our code, the recommendation engine we’ve built has a faster response time as a result."
Since launching, although Afocal is available for support as needed, Julia has been able to simply have the app run on autopilot thanks to Gadget’s auto-scaled infrastructure.
Julia hopes that MissedFits will be able to bridge a technology gap for many retailers, and that the speed to build with Gadget will help support that. “Gadget allowed us to connect to the Shopify ecosystem quickly, and start delivering value to retailers sooner.” To her, working in an environment like the Shopify ecosystem, where so much of the technology works together, it’s essential for app developers to be able to launch fast, and Gadget helped the MissedFits team achieve that.
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