Code celebrates 5 years as Shopify Plus Partner by Linda Bleijenberg

Has it been five years already? Time flies when you’re building and scaling awesome e-com stores, doesn’t it! This month we celebrate Code’s 5 year anniversary as an official Shopify Plus Partner. A good time to reflect on one of the best decisions in the 18-year history of Code: becoming 100% focused on e-commerce.

In this blog, our founders, Bob Rockland and Wouter Monkhorst, reminisce on that decision for a bit and give you a peek inside the rollercoaster ride we’ve been on ever since.

Wouter and Bob Code office
Back in the days

Once upon a time…

… Code was ‘a Swiss army knife,’ in the words of co-founder Wouter. “We did everything. Lots of custom work on various platforms like Drupal and our own CMS: there was little focus. Around 2012, one of our developers left to start his own business working with Facebook, which went through the roof in the following years. We started realizing that focusing on a platform was our future.” 

Code continued to multi-focus for a few more years while the market for custom solutions steadily kept on shrinking, and by 2017 the agency was ready for something new.

2016: promising prelude

Luckily, by that time something new is in the air already. Several things actually. For one thing, Code’s co-founder Bob starts playing around with Shopify in his spare time, and thinks: well, doesn’t this have potential! Meanwhile, promising stuff is going on in the rest of the world, too:

  • Having conquered North America, Shopify has started looking to new markets, including Europe.
  • Thanks to the Dutch fintech genius of Mollie, Shopify is finally compatible with iDeal and a range of other European payment methods. 
  • Some very early adopters in the Netherlands (Amsterdam-based brands like Daily Paper) launch stores on the as yet unknown SaaS platform.
  • And last but not least: the End of Life of the open-source e-commerce platform Magento 1 is slowly drawing closer. 

2017: Code is one of Europe’s Shopify pioneers

By the time Bob and Wouter are having a serious talk about where to take Code, their decision to start working with Shopify could not be more serendipitous. The rest of the year, Code helps Filling Pieces build a new store on Shopify Plus, migrates several Magento merchants to Shopify, builds a custom B2B store in Shopify for BOSKA, launches MR MARVIS, and comes up with Veloretti’s bike configurator in Shopify. 

Curious why we love Shopify? These are our top 5 arguments.

2018: Code becomes an official Shopify Plus partner

Code keeps launching clients on Shopify Plus, at a time when Shopify headquarters are nowhere near rolling out Plus to the European market. One of them is URBANARA, a big German client with stores in all DACH countries. Impressed by our B2B work for BOSKA and our configurator for Veloretti, Shopify decides to make Code a Shopify Plus Partner - the first in mainland Europe.

Meanwhile, we develop our own base theme to build complex stores on. We start hiring more front-end developers and let a few backenders go. We have a stand at the Webwinkel Vakdagen and observe that nobody has heard of Shopify yet.

Even so, over the summer Bob and Wouter decide to put all their chips on Shopify and make a clean break with the multi-focus times. Saying goodbye to all clients from that era is a painful move, not least in financial terms, but the newfound clarity feels good.

2019: Code enjoys a rollercoaster year of growth

Code is fully focused on Shopify now, but the agency’s internal organization has yet to catch up. Our number of employees doubles over the course of the year and we open a second office in Amsterdam. We decide to not help our clients to a well-functioning Shopify webshop, but also to an impressive conversion rate through automated email marketing with Klaviyo.

Productive chaos rules as the team keeps launching one Shopify store after another and we establish long-term partnerships with brands like O'Neill, Veloretti, TI SENTO Milano, By-bar, 10DAYS, Osaka, Rosefield and Jane Lushka. 

It starts to dawn on Bob and Wouter that the agency could do with some more professionalization. Wouter puts his architectural skills into building the organization instead of applications and switches, becoming a full-time CEO. 

2020: Code gets a future-proof strategy and structure in place

While a global pandemic pushes online sales to unprecedented levels, Code sets out a long-term commercial strategy and formulates ambitious growth targets. One of the milestones is the development of Returner together with MR MARVIS, and the Shopify integration we built for the last-mile carrier Budbee that is nowadays used by major brands like Gymshark

2021: Code goes international

In addition to the Delft and Amsterdam offices, Code opens an office in Berlin to serve a growing number of German clients: our first office outside the Netherlands. The pandemic continues to favor e-commerce growth and yields stellar sales numbers for innovative brands like Stoov and Pieter Pot. Code builds their Shopify stores and optimizes them for further international growth. 

By this time Klaviyo has become an established part of Code’s services, helping clients like Veloretti, O’Neill and TI SENTO - Milano grow their customer base through automated email marketing. It doesn't take long before the team achieves to become the first Klaviyo Elite Partner of the Benelux

2022: Code is here to help brands grow in a future-proof way

With e-commerce growth slowing down after the pandemic, Code consolidates its position as one of the go-to Shopify agencies in the EU. Working for established German brands like Namuk, Santaverde and Urbanara, Code is becoming a market leader in DACH, one of Shopify’s key European markets.

To further help clients scale their businesses without investing heavily in paid marketing Coen Fredriks (E-Commerce Strategist) introduces a Growth & Acceleration program to help brands improve their conversion rate, frequency and Average Order Value (AOV).

By launching over 300 online stores over the last few years, Code built a network of inspiring brand owners, e-commerce managers and other industry professionals. We decided to bring this community to life by organizing in real-life Code Commerce Club events and sharing insights and inspiration revolving around e-commerce and the Shopify ecosystem through our Code Commerce Club newsletter.

Register here to receive our Code Commerce Club email update 1-2 times a month

Watch the Code Commerce Club aftermovie

Code Commerce Club1
Code Commerce Club2

2023: Code celebrates its first lustrum with Shopify Plus

Five years after becoming a Shopify Plus Partner, Code is a household name in Shopify circles. Many clients from the early days, like BOSKA and Rosefield, are still with us. Today, clients tend to stick around for the long haul, as we offer a range of effective growth services to scale their brand. 

But that’s far from the only reason. What else do clients like about working with Code? This is something we ask our clients often, and we hear the same things over and over again. They all boil down to our biggest asset: our people!

Why clients like working with Code

  • Our track record. We were among the first Shopify agencies in Europe and have been building on Shopify longer than practically any other agency. As a result, we can confidently say Code is very good at Shopify. We know everything there is to know about the platform and about e-commerce.

  • Our Coders. Code makes a point of only hiring social nerds: Coders with character, people that can communicate as well as they can code. Because of that, we offer a great work environment - and we can hire the best developers.

  • Our Agile way of working. Unlike many other Shopify agencies Code works a 100% Agile, and has been doing so for 12 years already. It’s second nature to us.

  • Our lack of snobbism. Many Shopify agencies are very design-focused and exclusively work for fashion & lifestyle brands. We take pride in teaming up with clients across all kinds of different industries. Because of this, we get exciting challenges thrown at us, our range of experience is broad, we attract bigger clients, and it keeps things interesting for our Coders.

  • Our tech-orientation. Code is good at code, and it shows. Tech is still very much in our DNA, a leftover from our Swiss army knife times. It makes us the best in class, because our developers (shout out to you!) can build effective solutions to problems that most other agencies simply can't solve. We're one of the few agencies out there that excels in integrating Shopify to your entire ecosystem (WMS, PIM, ERP etc.)

  • The consistently high quality of our output. Our coders have incredibly high standards and will not deliver anything that isn’t up to scratch. The same standards apply to our communication with clients and agile processes. We make sure we deeply understand our client’s needs. That is why we plan a discovery phase for most projects: this accurately estimates the number of sprints needed to deliver something that solves our clients’ problems.

5 reasons why Code loves working with Shopify

We wouldn't be where we are today without Shopify. From the start, we were impressed with the platform - and that admiration has only grown over the years. What do Coders like about Shopify? 

  • It's high quality. Wouter: “Shopify tends to go for quality instead of quantity. Take Shopify 2.0 for instance: it was scheduled to release much earlier, but they postponed that to get it right. And they did; the ‘sections everywhere’- feature is just really, really well built.” Bob: “And they have the best checkout. The most precious bit of Shopify. I also think that the Shopify layout has become synonymous with ‘trustworthy’ for online shoppers; subconsciously, they recognize it.”

  • Its developer-first approach. Bob: “Shopify-founder Tobi Lütke is a nerd. As long as he is at the helm, Shopify will be focused on making it fun for developers.” Wouter: “When we started working with Shopify I was so impressed with their API documentation, all polished and shiny. Usually, it’s a mess, or there is no documentation at all. And it worked! There were no bugs! It never crashed! Amazing.”

  • Its army of developers. Wouter: “Shopify has só many people constantly improving the platform. Some 3.000 working on innovation and 2.000 on development. Their speed and capacity is incredible.”

  • Its extreme ease of use. Bob: “With other platforms, we used to invoice 1 or 2 days just to teach clients the platform. With Shopify there’s no need; it’s super intuitive. Clients hardly need us for the day-to-day running of things.”

  • That it’s SaaS. Bob: “We no longer have to do the dreary stuff, like crash management and server maintenance. We always have the weekends off, because Shopify hardly ever causes unexpected problems.” 

We could go on; there’s so much to like about Shopify. Take the 100+ new features they just launched through Shopify Editions, for instance. We can’t wait to start working with these new B2B features or the all-new checkout. See here what B2B can mean for you.

Speaking of which: if you want to learn how Shopify and Code can benefit your business, feel free to reach out. Fill out our contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours, or just drop by one of our offices. You’re hereby invited!