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How MakerFlo generated an 8-figure business with an 8.5% conversion rate on Shopify in 1 year

Creativity is deeply embedded in everything that MakerFlo founders John Modi and Marc Pendergraft touch. Founded after the close of their first business—a product called Backup Soles, which were shoes that could be rolled up and placed in a purse until the end of a long night—MakerFlo is a crafting company that helps their customers successfully create custom and personalized items, either individually or by bulk order.

Even the job titles at MakerFlo are creative. In this company, CIO stands for chief imagination officer. And there’s room for a chief task tackler and chief chaos obliterator in the C-suite. The team at MakerFlo has a singular focus: making sure that their customers have access not only to the best products but also to the best education so that they can bring their own creative dreams to life. Each product comes with a mini master class in how to use it in new and creative ways—an approach that helps users make a purchase with the confidence of knowing that they’ll be able to make the most out of it.

This creative environment necessitates a need for a platform that can both handle scale and provide all of the new and innovative tools the company needs to best engage and educate their customers. That’s where Shopify comes in: the seamlessness and scalability of the platform combined with the robust app ecosystem ensures that the team at MakerFlo can constantly evolve their education and engagement experiences. This helps them provide knowledge right when and where it’s needed in new and creative ways. And that leads directly to engagement and conversion.

  • Experienced a 2,400% YOY revenue increase in year one
  • Saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on developer and project management costs
  • Built their new website in just a few days
  • Reduced new feature development time from 5–10 months to just a few days

Challenge: A custom website got in the way of growth

As a maker of custom things, it shouldn’t be surprising that MakerFlo started as a custom site on a platform called Homestead. But just as most custom things are a labor of love, so was the website, requiring constant assistance of a developer to get anything done.

“To implement anything creative on the website, it was a big ask for the developer and for us,” says John Modi, cofounder and chief imagination officer at MakerFlo. “We had to think about the logistics of how everything would work, how the entire back end would talk to each other—if we implemented this custom code, how it would work with this, this, and that, and how everything would talk.”

Even to add the simplest thing, the developer would say, “It's going to take me 6 months and it's going to cost us $60,000 to get it done.”

This wasn’t just an issue for the site itself. It became a roadblock for the company in making larger decisions about which products they could offer their customers, which in turn affected their ability to move fast, innovate, and, ultimately, grow the company.

Solution: Shopify holds the keys to expansion

It just so happened that as MakerFlo was on the hunt for a new solution, Shopify was taking off. When Marc Pendergraff, cofounder and chief task tackler at MakerFlo, caught wind, he decided to try his hand at the new platform everyone was talking about on social media. Within just a few days, he had a new website made, with more features than MakerFlo had ever had before.

We were like, you know what? This is it. We're launching. And we just went ahead and launched the website within a few days, with more features than we had before. It was incredible.


John Modi — Chief Imagination Officer

As John tells it, “Marc was on Shopify and he was like, ‘Dude, like, look, I could just plug in this app and then I can plug in that app.…’ He's like a kid in a candy shop. He was like, ‘I'm plugging everything in!’ I was like, ‘Well, chill out. Don't plug everything in, I'm not even sure what Shopify is.’ At the time it was just kind of coming out and we were just plug play, plug play, plug play, and before you know it, we have this massive engine that is ready for us.… And you know what? We were ready for it. We just skyrocketed because it was the perfect pairing. It was the perfect timing.”

Not only was the team immediately impressed with Shopify’s ability to help them scale, but they were also impressed with the tools that helped the team bring all of their “crazy ideas” to life.

With Shopify, all of my crazy ideas could finally come to life. That's what I love about Shopify. You [say], ‘I wish my website could do this.’ So you just search for it. It's so easy to find something and just plug and play and get it going. What I love the most is how fast we can do it.


John Modi — Chief Imagination Officer

Results: Explosive growth—and a platform that could handle it

The positive results were near instantaneous. With easy-to-implement tools, a vibrant app ecosystem, and a rapid time to market, MakerFlo was able to get their new site in front of more customers more quickly, better convert and retain them, and handle all of that sudden scale.

Once we started on Shopify towards the end of 2019, our revenue grew. The first year over the second year was somewhere around 2,400%. Then the year after that was over 100%. We had this incredible growth and Shopify gave us the ability to handle that traffic, to handle all these people coming in.


John Modi — Chief Imagination Officer

Soon, they were hosting sales on a massive scale that were sold out in minutes. For instance, they would do things like drop a 40-foot container with about 30,000 tumblers in it—and all units would be sold out in under ten minutes, generating $210,000 in instant revenue. That required a kind of scale and speed that many others in the industry couldn’t handle at the time, or even now. The Makerflo site has never crashed in any of the high-traffic flash sales they’ve held since switching to Shopify. And they’ve held many.

“Shopify…really empowered us as a business to not only help us grow, but also help our customers get the product, get the product in time, get the product with the information through all the apps and tools you guys had to inform our customers,” says John. “It really empowered both sides to make us grow in our industry.”

Handling a surge of interest during the pandemic

MakerFlo would soon become used to handling surges without any issues. During the pandemic, with so many people staying home, many turned to crafting to learn something new.

“A lot of folks lost their jobs, they were furloughed,” says John. “What we were able to empower them with [was] these craft materials with these tutorials.… If they needed a little bit of extra income, they were able to come to our website and they were able to buy those craft products…[and sell them] on Etsy or on eBay or on Amazon.”

But as more people returned to work, the craft industry took a hit, with many brick-and-mortar shops going under, and competition increasing from overseas.

It was time to do what the team at MakerFlo does best: get creative, with a boost from Shopify along the way.

Converting more customers and driving loyalty

The MakerFlo team got down to brass tacks, looking for ways to get more creative in how they drove conversions. They searched the Shopify app ecosystem and fell in love with a conversion tool called Tolstoy, which uses video to increase the robustness, engagement, and usefulness of the product descriptions on their pages. With Tolstoy, the team can embed social media videos directly onto their site, so that the shopper can see products in the hands of influencers, and even in their own hands. Immediately, conversion rates began increasing.

The team’s creative use of shoppable videos, blog posts, and guides has helped improve SEO, educate their users, and build trust. Additionally, the team used a tool from the ecosystem called Yotpo to collect reviews with AI-powered review widgets that drive social proof. Reviews are easily displayed and integrated into social media and Google, where it’s easy to stand out with Google Seller Ratings and Google Shopping Ads. Together, these efforts have helped to drive loyalty and convert more customers at the same time.

New customers come in and see that we have this crazy ecosystem. It looks like a million-dollar ecosystem. It's incredible. It makes us look so much bigger, so much better, and it makes us look like this is a legit business, which I love about, you know, Shopify ecosystem platform.


John Modi — Chief Imagination Officer

Quickly implementing new features—and building a new app

If one of the themes of the MakerFlo story is creativity, the other is agility. On their previous custom platform, it often took a developer anywhere from 5 to 10 months to implement a new feature such as a loyalty program. Now it takes a couple of days, hours, or even minutes. John estimates this saves the team $120,000 annually.

Growing the Makerflo from web to mobile has been an intuitive process. Through the help of the Shopify app partner network, Makerflo worked with Shopify partner, SHOPNEY, to build their app within a matter of weeks—a significant reduction in time and expense compared to what it would have been had they done it on their own. Within the first 12 months of launch, the app made up approximately 33% of their top line revenue. They quickly have built a 4.9 star rating on both the Apple app store and Google play, demonstrating the high relevance of their app, products, and services to their customer base.

Says John, "When you're with Shopify, you're part of a community. Yes, of other business owners, but also of these amazing Shopify partners who are there, rooting for you, ready to take you to the next level."

We hear often that product is so important for Shopify, and we really feel that as Shopify users. Because in order for you to think of an idea, for Shopify to already have it, and for you to implement it, plug it in, and have it work and be live within days, hours, sometimes minutes? That's incredible! That's where the power is at! You can see real results so quickly, and that's what we absolutely love about Shopify.


John Modi — Chief Imagination Officer

Activating IRL experiences

It’s not just online where MakerFlo is pushing the envelope. Now that they can go on the road again, they’ve re-embraced hands-on, in-person road shows.

“A lot of what we provide is hands-on,” says John. “If I were to tell you, ‘Hey, let's make this table today,’ well, it's hard to do with a guide or a blog. Face-to-face, holding someone's hand to help them do it—it builds that confidence. It's our goal and our mission to get as many people into crafting because we've seen so much positivity come out of it. We make it a point to go out there, work with these folks, teaching them how to craft and teaching them how to have fun.”

Shopify is there to support both the online and IRL experiences for MakerFlo, which uses Shopify POS for their in-person events. POS syncs seamlessly with the brand’s online platform, helping to close the circle on the back end and create a unified experience for customers no matter when, how, or where they choose to shop.

The power of Shopify

The MakerFlo team is clear on the value and power of Shopify.

“The cost to build a website was one thing,” says John, “but the revenue, the speed, the time that we penetrated this market—that, I think, is where the magic happened…. We made a lot more because we could go to market, could penetrate the market in a way that nobody else did.”

Our website [experience] is absolutely seamless. It is easy for the customer. It was easy for us to make. It is easy for us to make changes on the website.… We just go in and make a huge difference. We’ve seen crazy revenue jumps. The power of Shopify.


John Modi — Chief Imagination Officer

Watch the entire interview

Watch the full video interview with John Modi, cofounder and chief imagination officer, and Génesis Miranda Longo, head of consumer goods marketing at Shopify, for a deeper dive into the MakerFlo Crafts story.


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