Despite never building a Shopify app before, Bigside Tech won the prize for best overall app at the Gadget hackathon with their entry, Smart Sections. Here’s how they did it.
Smart Sections is an app that makes it easy for merchants to add new design elements to their product pages, and automatically fill those sections with AI-generated copy about the product. Merchants can then edit and customize the copy as they like. Currently, the app offers an FAQ section, and a two-column layout that features product photos and descriptions.
For years, Subodh Garg, founder of Bigside Tech, has wanted to create an app that allows merchants to add more design variety to their storefront without changing the whole theme. Originally, the idea was to create an app where merchants could purchase individual sections for their product pages as they needed them.
The team has worked with Shopify Plus merchants, and noticed that what made those stores feel special was the small customizations they would add to individual product pages, something that took time, skills, and resources that most smaller merchants don’t have.
Subodh had tried his hand at building Shopify apps previously, after working with merchants to customize their store themes, and he knew there would be a steep learning curve when making the transition to app development. He would have to set up all the infrastructure, hosting, databases, integrations, and more — but when it took him more than 15 days just to set up OAuth, he decided the project wasn’t worth the trouble.
That was until he came across Gadget.
Subodh discovered Gadget shortly before the hackathon was announced, and was excited at the prospect of building an app with a tool that took care of all the things he had struggled with before. He followed the automatic product tagger tutorial to get a feel for the platform and immediately was impressed with how Gadget handled the connection to Shopify. What had previously taken him 15 days, and was never quite finished, took less than 2 minutes with Gadget. After doing the tutorial, he said, “It was so easy, creating the product tagger app and seeing it live. Authentication went so smoothly.”
Subodh started exploring the platform to better understand how to build a Shopify app. Although he didn’t have experience with Node.js specifically, he was familiar with how to consume data and work with the models Gadget provides out of the box. So when the hackathon was announced, he jumped at the opportunity to finally build the app he had been planning for so long, with Gadget to bridge the gap when it came to the skills he had previously been lacking.
With a bit of practice under his belt and the AI theme of the hackathon, he decided to be bold and expand upon his original app idea of product page sections to include AI-generated content as well.
“The differentiation between stores comes when you customize it your own way. That is where the power of AI comes in. Each section needs to be more customizable, more AI friendly, plus the option to use my own assets.” Subodh shared. “You don't have to write each and every line to make it more personalized. AI can actually handle the problems that normal sections can't.”
Over the course of the week, between his full time job, Subodh worked on piecing the app together. Sometimes, that meant doing it on his commute — a 2-hour trip in one direction on the Delhi metro. “I'm a senior software engineer at a company in Delhi. And I have to travel for four hours in a day, two hours to work and two hours back.”
As he worked on building Smart Sections, the more he used Gadget, the more features he found, each one feeling like a game-changer for meeting the hackathon’s tight deadline. “When I opened Gadget, I realized, okay, there are a lot of capabilities there.”
Gadget’s auto-generated documentation was a huge asset to speed the project up. Having the documentation for the Smart Sections app specifically available allowed Bigside Tech to work quickly without having to dig through technical details, which made it easy to connect with OpenAI. And with Gadget’s automatic webhook handling, Smart Sections always had the most up to date Shopify information to work with, which made troubleshooting a breeze.
Although the auto-generated documentation saved time when it came to learning how to work with the platform, it was Gadget’s hosted frontend that made the hackathon victory possible. “Without that, I'm not sure if I would be able to complete this hackathon in a week. There are a lot of small pieces like Shopify, Polaris, App Bridge. A lot of things you need to cover.” But with Gadget, all of that was taken care of.
“Gadget will be my go-to platform for creating any application in the future."
— Subodh Garg, Bigside Tech
After 30 hours of building, on and off the train, Subodh recorded the hackathon video demo for Smart Sections and submitted the app. The following day, the announcement came out that his app had won the category for best overall app.
With a few tweaks, Bigside Tech will submit their app to the Shopify app store for review, and they plan to begin adding more variety to the section options. They want to make some improvements to their existing features and AI suggestions, but most of all, they want to get it in the hands of customers.
“My belief is customers are the real people who can tell in which direction to go, which features they want to build on.” Subodh says, and as the winner, he’s hoping to get a little bit of extra direction on how to scale his app with the help of the Gadget team.
For the long term though, Bigside Tech is hoping to expand Smart Sections to include a revenue sharing model that any developer can take advantage of if they’re looking to learn or find a way to get into Shopify app building.
Subodh says he wants to give other developers the chance to learn, and after building his app with Gadget, he thinks it’s a good opportunity. “I’d like to grow myself, and help others, so that is the vision. I hope Gadget can help.”