Client Spotlight: Sophie’s Shoppe

If you’re from Chattanooga or the surrounding areas and you love to decorate, you probably know about Sophie’s Shoppe, located on North Market Street on the city’s North Shore. Last year, we had the opportunity to help the owners of this local boutique build their online shop. When I found out we got this job, I secretly did a celebratory dance while no one was looking—I love their shop, and it is really exciting to be a part of building its online presence.

I was pumped, but everyone else on the Papercut team was also excited because this project provided us with an opportunity to build another ecommerce website, which presents its own set of challenges. We all knew we were going to get to do some pretty cool stuff, and we couldn’t wait to get started!

Boutique-inspired Design

When we met with the owners to begin building their site, they told us they wanted a site that is clean, easy to use, and appeals to their target customer—women looking for unique, boutique home furnishings and accessories. They wanted fun, interchangeable textures, whimsical typography mixed with legible type, and a clean interface to allow users to easily see products.

Sophie’s is famous for the handwritten signs placed throughout its store, so we chose Carolyna Pro Black, a font with a whimsical, handwritten feel, to use for headlines and call-outs. To balance this, we chose Baskerville. This font was already being used on Sophie’s print pieces, so we thought it was a logical choice to use for large areas of body text and fine print.

For the colors, I pulled out the black from the Sophie’s logo and worked with the client to develop a palette that lends an air of earthiness and sophistication to the site. We started off with shades of mauve, eggplant, and gold and eventually landed on gray, moss, and mint.

Ecommerce Functionality

Clearly, building an easy-to-use, ecommerce-ready backend was key to this project. We know that managing a large database of products and sales is quite a task for a small business, so we built a custom backend using Expression Engine to make product and purchasing management simple and customized to the owners’ needs.

The owners can easily add new products and quickly update details like price and height. They also have the ability to add customized product descriptions and select categories. Because any ecommerce site needs the ability to run sales and promotions, we integrated functionality that allows the owners to create promo codes and sitewide/product discounts.

Some of the custom pieces we put on the site come in at the purchasing point. A user can choose to have their purchases delivered to their door, or they can pick them up at the store if they are in the area. Another Sophie’s trademark is its tailored gift wrapping and notes. To carry this over to the online store, we added options for customers to choose gift wrapping and custom notes during the checkout process.

Category and Product Pages

Amanda will tell you that for SEO, these pages are some of the most important features on an ecommerce site. Category pages serve as landing pages, and product pages are key in getting customers to stay on your site and, more importantly, purchase something!

For the Sophie’s category pages, we gave the store owners the ability to add some descriptive text, which is good for both customers and search engines. We also included photos and related products that encourage customers to click through to individual product pages.

Product pages are packed with information, including multiple photos, custom descriptions, and product specifications like price and dimensions. We added social sharing buttons, so it’s easy for customers to share products they like on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and we also included a large “Add to Basket” button to place the call-to-action front and center. To keep visitors engaged on the Sophie’s site, related products appear at the bottom of each page.

Special Promotions

The ladies who own Sophie’s are sharp, and they requested a couple of additional features for their site: Steal of the Week and Shop with a Purpose. Steal of the Week highlights special savings on some of Sophie’s favorite products. Users can easily access the discounted items from a large green banner at the top of the homepage.

Shop with a Purpose showcases the owners’ commitment to giving back. The profits from products in this category are donated to charity, and the owners choose a new charity every three months. This feature is showcased with a large, pink banner on the homepage.

Shop ’til You Drop!

This was a great project to be a part of. We got to flex our ecommerce web design and development muscles, and working with the ladies over at Sophie’s was a lot of fun. We’re all excited to watch the site grow. If you’re in the market for some unique home décor and accessories, head over to the site for some online shopping stat!