Pieter Pot: Scaling up flexibly with Code and Shopify by Linda Bleijenberg
Code x Pieter Pot
A great example of a client who taps into our expertise in a smart and flexible way is Pieter Pot, the sustainable online supermarket that is currently making great strides in the Netherlands and Belgium. They do a lot in-house, and seek external partners wherever necessary – in line with the philosophy of the lean start-up. Earlier this year we were asked to improve their Shopify Plus webshop a bit, and enhanced it with a lot of creative solutions.
Pieter Pot: a sustainable, online supermarket
Pieter Pot is quite the inspirational bunch. Their goal, eradicating packaging and going for full circularity, prompted founders Jouri and Martijn to completely rethink the whole traditional logistics chain for supermarkets. The result echoes the milkman and the grocer, from a time before supermarkets became the norm. With one crucial difference: everything is online, and its scale is way more ambitious.
Their future-proof supermarket avoids packaging in the whole chain, instead using re-usable glass jars that customers pay a deposit for.
Suppliers deliver in bulk: at various filling-locations the bulk goods are put in jars, shipped to and stored in the Rotterdam warehouse, and sent to the customer via the carrier PostNL Food.
When the jars are empty, with their next delivery the customer returns them to the warehouse, where they are cleaned and refilled. How much demand there is for this concept is illustrated by the waiting list Pieter Pot uses to ensure controlled growth (currently about 40.000 people). To meet demand they are constantly expanding, scaling up operations and finding new growth partners. Code is one of them.
Leveraging the full potential of Shopify Plus
Setting up an online supermarket in Shopify Plus: such a project calls for creative solutions of course! At Code we love to stretch Shopify’s limits a bit, and this assignment required us to do exactly that. The result: a super user-friendly order flow, fast search function, handy progress bar, and the most complex challenge of them all: the deposit return scheme.
Want to know more about the functions we built for Pieter Pot? Find out the details in this case study.
Lead Frontend developer Mark: “When we started, the idea was to replace Pieter Pot’s existing, self-built deposits-app with a third party app. But while we were working on that, the people at Pieter Pot realized that this was not ambitious enough.” Annelijn Vernooij, product manager at Pieter Pot, adds: “Somewhere in the process we decided that we wanted the best flow for the customer, and the option to scale up quickly. The deposit return system is so important for our business that we actually did not want to be dependent on a third party app for it. Our existing app was developed in-house, and for the new website we also wanted something that we had full control over.”
Deposit return system in Shopify Plus
This is where the most challenging phase of the project started for Code: how do you set up a deposit return system within Shopify, without using third party apps? The answer: by creatively re-interpreting existing Shopify features and coming up with some clever workarounds. Such as thinking of a deposit as a product to add to the checkout, and when customers return their jars, registering the deposit they get back as a giftcard. Mark: “For this solution we tied together literally all possible systems: the Shopify backend, our custom frontend, Shopify apps and external apps all work together to make the Pieter Pot site work as it does.”
Code also made sure that the whole deposit system functioned outside the Shopify-core, to prevent having to adjust everything with every Shopify update. Mark: “We never do crazy stuff in the checkout, for instance, because that’s where Shopify makes adjustments quite often. And it’s also the reason that we prefer to use existing Shopify features wherever possible, because that way you stay close to your platform and your solutions move along with it easily.” That’s how we ensure a future-proof platform for our clients.
Code as a flexible Shopify partner
As a lean start-up Pieter Pot went with Shopify right from the start, because it enables you to grow fast without having to build much yourself. Further down the line, fast-growing scale-ups often choose to gradually move things in-house - but a partner with a lot of Shopify Plus expertise is indispensable in the process, to make sure all the software works well together.
That’s the stage where Pieter Pot is in at the moment. Annelijn: “Code built a beautiful, well-functioning base for our website, and is now our go-to partner for challenging development issues. We just expanded to Belgium, for instance. Code helped other clients to make that move before, so we asked the lead developers at Code for advice and used their input to make the best decisions. They know that you cannot simply copy a custom store like ours and roll it out in another country.”
Sjoerd van Bekhoven, responsible for IT at Pieter Pot, adds: “The collaboration with Code was quite satisfying. We were allowed to work within their code base, which is not always a given, so that was very nice. We are currently working to build our own tech team, but all the same we will continue working with Code for some time. They have very specific Shopify expertise that we can’t acquire nearly as fast.”