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CASE STUDY

“We unlocked our business model with Violet’s API”

How Violet helped Thingtesting power a new ecommerce experience

Curation
CHALLENGE
No Native Ecommerce
INDUSTRY
Thingtesting
COMPANY
Over 110 New Brands

and accompanying flash sales

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BACKGROUND

Thingtesting, an innovative product reviews platform, wanted to enhance its commerce capabilities. The company has a loyal audience of “prosumers” from which it sources authentic, thoughtful reviews. In doing so, Thingtesting is trying to improve the way that shoppers educate themselves and help them make more informed buying decisions. They also partner with brands, allowing access to their audience with special offers.  


Prior to discovering Violet, those partnerships were basic: Thingtesting distributed coupons via email to drive sales on merchant sites. This approach, while simple, failed to gather essential data and insights and created a disjointed experience for their users. (Coincidentally, affiliate links have many of the same shortcomings for marketers.)


CHALLENGES

Limited Data Acquisition

The coupon-based approach didn't allow Thingtesting to track customer purchases or gather valuable data. Damien Timewell, Thingtesting’s CTO described the solution and its shortcomings: 

“It's super simple, but we didn't get the data. We had no idea if the user had actually bought the product. We were just sending coupons, so the brands were happy, but we didn't get anything and we couldn't push for reviews.” 

On-Site Commerce

Thingtesting needed to move beyond email coupons to a more integrated, on-site ecommerce experience.  As Damien put it: 

“We knew we wanted to do it more on-site, and we would like to do it in a way that we can control the shopping and checkout flow as much as possible.” 

Complex Integration Needs

Thingtesting required a solution that could seamlessly integrate their existing site with a wide variety of ecommerce platforms over time. Thingtesting was lucky to uncover this complexity early as they began to design and evaluate solutions:

Limited Data Acquisition

The coupon-based approach didn't allow Thingtesting to track customer purchases or gather valuable data. Damien Timewell, Thingtesting’s CTO described the solution and its shortcomings: 

“It's super simple, but we didn't get the data. We had no idea if the user had actually bought the product. We were just sending coupons, so the brands were happy, but we didn't get anything and we couldn't push for reviews.” 

On-Site Commerce

Thingtesting needed to move beyond email coupons to a more integrated, on-site ecommerce experience.  As Damien put it: 

“We knew we wanted to do it more on-site, and we would like to do it in a way that we can control the shopping and checkout flow as much as possible.” 

Complex Integration Needs

Thingtesting required a solution that could seamlessly integrate their existing site with a wide variety of ecommerce platforms over time. Thingtesting was lucky to uncover this complexity early as they began to design and evaluate solutions:

Limited Data Acquisition

The coupon-based approach didn't allow Thingtesting to track customer purchases or gather valuable data. Damien Timewell, Thingtesting’s CTO described the solution and its shortcomings: 

“It's super simple, but we didn't get the data. We had no idea if the user had actually bought the product. We were just sending coupons, so the brands were happy, but we didn't get anything and we couldn't push for reviews.” 

On-Site Commerce

Thingtesting needed to move beyond email coupons to a more integrated, on-site ecommerce experience.  As Damien put it: 

“We knew we wanted to do it more on-site, and we would like to do it in a way that we can control the shopping and checkout flow as much as possible.” 

Complex Integration Needs

Thingtesting required a solution that could seamlessly integrate their existing site with a wide variety of ecommerce platforms over time. Thingtesting was lucky to uncover this complexity early as they began to design and evaluate solutions:

“Everything is more complicated than you expect: The combination of getting merchants to ensure their data is all set up right, and that all of the data makes its way through the platform correctly by the time it gets to our side.  If we see an oddity or something not behaving correctly, it's clear where that is. But it's much harder than expected to get the entire flow end to end to reliably work.”

- Damien Timewell, CTO

The company also wanted a solution that enabled a unified checkout for multiple merchants. 

“We do multiple Thingdrops at the same time. So we wanted to have multi-merchant carts.”

SOLUTIONS

Thingtesting considered various options, including alternative marketplace solutions,  proxying products into their own Shopify store, and even building their own Shopify integration.  In the end, they chose Violet.io for the following reasons:

On Choosing Violet over another Marketplace Solution: 

Thingtesting considered various options, including alternative marketplace solutions,  proxying products into their own Shopify store, and even building their own Shopify integration.  In the end, they chose Violet.io for the following reasons:

On Choosing Violet over another Marketplace Solution: 

Thingtesting considered various options, including alternative marketplace solutions,  proxying products into their own Shopify store, and even building their own Shopify integration.  In the end, they chose Violet.io for the following reasons:

On Choosing Violet over another Solution: 

“When we started digging into how it would actually work to integrate a more traditional marketplace solution, it was clear that a few companies are focused on selling products from multiple merchants.  But [the other] company required you to import a CSV price list and/or connect multiple EDI systems. I don't want to do that. I don't get it. Being able to just hook it up and make orders with Violet, and for merchants to just one click install is very nice.”

– Damien Timewell, CTO

On Choosing Violet over a Shopify Proxy Store: 

“It's nice to keep the checkout experience as in-product as possible and not just linking out to a shopify checkout, and we didn't want to build everything from scratch. And I guess the other thing is that we wanted to make sure that we could reliably attach a successful purchase to a Thingtesting user.”

– Damien Timewell, CTO

On Choosing Violet over building your own Shopify Integration: 
On Choosing Violet over building a Shopify Integration: 

“It's easy to think, why didn't we just write against the Shopify API ourselves, since almost all of our merchants are on Shopify? But then when we hit rate limiting problems and stuff like that, we’re able to manage those limitations thanks to the work [Violet] did, as opposed to having to do anything with our integration or rethink our approach.”

– Damien Timewell, CTO

For all those reasons, Thingtesting turned to Violet’s Unified Checkout API to power their ecommerce efforts. They were able to quickly launch fully functional ThingDrops (flash sales) on their platform using Violet to access real-time product details, orchestrate checkout, and write accurate orders back to merchant systems.  

Using Violet for Products

Thingtesting uses Violet to source product details (e.g. pricing, inventory, media, and variants) directly from each merchant’s ecommerce system. 

“Once a merchant connects a product, we cache the product and the variants and details so that we can query them from within our system, then we update them quite regularly from the Violet responses.”

Using Violet for Checkout

Thingtesting uses Violet’s cart creation and order writeback APIs to pass orders directly into the merchant’s ecommerce system: 

“When we submit an order, we push the cart to Violet, and the cart in our system looks the same, but it's now a fully fledged Violet cart. Then we go through the steps of attaching a customer and a payment method and finally checking out.” 


RESULTS

Thingtesting's partnership with Violet transformed its approach to ecommerce, providing an integrated, data-rich, and user-friendly shopping experience. 

Melissa Seligmann, Thingtesting’s COO outlined Violet’s impact in no uncertain terms: 

“Through the integration of Violet, we were able to launch our business model. Partnering with brands through Thingdrops has allowed them to leverage our audience and our community in order to really represent themselves honestly.”

– Melissa Seligmann, COO

With Violet, Thingtesting successfully transitioned from a coupon-based approach to full-fledged ecommerce capability, leading to an entirely new business model. For marketplaces looking to unify or streamline their ecommerce orchestration across multiple merchants and platforms, selecting a Unified Checkout API is crucial. The right choice simplifies merchant connections, provides real time accurate product info, and untangles checkout and order processing across the widest ecosystem of merchants.

If data accuracy, checkout orchestration, or post-order visibility are standing in the way of your ecommerce revenue, learn more about how Violet can help.