Streamlined No-Code App Building: Sandbox Commerce Updates

No-code app and low-code app development, as a revolution in coding, have given rise to a number of digital solutions that changed the world because you no longer have to be a developer to build your own branded solution. Ease of use is part of what excites Sandbox Commerce users, and as a development team, we want to make sure that we’re always thinking through what “ease” means. 

This spring, we came up with multiple ways to make the user end of the platform even better. Below, Head of Operations Alec Boyd takes Sandbox Commerce app builders through the changes that shift their experience by reducing the number of clicks and drags needed to launch and update their app. 

Sandbox Commerce Back-End Updates

“The biggest, and also the most subtle, change is eliminating ‘menu diving,’ or the number of touches needed to find the functionality you want,” Boyd explained. 

When users log in, the interface layout is organized into left and right modals, which will shift based on what’s being edited.

Branding

Sandbox Commerce no-code app platform branding

In the branding section, you’ll find the details you can change in the left modal (store name and branding elements) and the theme settings (colors, typography) on the right. Up top, you can toggle to make changes to your splash page. 

Builder

Sandbox Commerce no-code app platform Builder

When you shift the Builder function, you’ll see the current version of your app in the middle as it looks with the edits you’re making. On the left modal, you’ll see various widgets and to the right options within that widget. You can also shift from home page view to category view and make adjustments in how your merchandise appears within the app and add and remove pieces, all from the same screen as opposed to moving between multiple pages. Sandbox Commerce designers also updated the way users get a real-time look at the app as they make changes. 

“We made it work sharper and faster,” Boyd noted. Any user edits are auto-saved as they move within the app builder, but not pushed to their customers until they log out. 

Push Notifications

Sandbox Commerce no-code app platform push notifications

Creating and personalizing app push notifications is now easier, which allows you to be more creative in engaging with your customers. You can set up a queue of notifications around triggers like sales and track how well they did within analytics. 

Analytics

Sandbox Commerce no-code app  platform analytics

Analytics, a key differentiator that helps Sandbox Commerce users make connections between their customers and how they’re engaging with the brand, can be segmented more easily from within the platform. Track your downloads, revenue, daily sessions and see what’s trending in search and products and then easily use these categories to build a target list of users for email and notifications. 


Much like our customers, the team at Sandbox Commerce is providing a solution that users can make their own. The thoughtfulness of the latest UI changes is part of our work in never being satisfied with the standard and always searching for better. 

“We wanted a superior user experience, to make all of the configurations of customizing a mobile app as accessible as possible,” Boyd added.

If you’re in the market for the best no-code app solution that can help you create more loyalty with your followers and customers, we’re ready to help. Start your 7-day free trail, or contact us for additional information. 

How Specialty Grocers Can Increase Customer Engagement with Branded App

For local neighborhood stores, the current economic outlook is driving a desire to increase customer engagement. 

As diners shift their restaurant habits to curbside pickup or forgo eating out altogether and we continue to spend more time in our houses, grocery store spending habits have shifted. Consumers who initially stockpiled dry goods and toilet paper are now buying food they cook at home and spending at the store is up since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, prices up and down the aisles are increasing and demand is up as well. Large national grocers are built to handle a level of instability in supply and demand, but for local neighborhood stores, the current economic outlook is driving a desire to increase customer engagement.

Safe In-Store & Online Shopping + Delivery

In addition to providing essentials, neighborhood grocers present a more intimate shopping experience for customers. For anyone concerned about crowds and wanting to decrease their exposure to the coronavirus, being able to shop at a smaller store can help eliminate anxiety. In addition, the owners can provide specialized shopping and delivery service within a radius.

Real-Time Inventory Alerts via Push Notifications

Inventory, especially fresh items or specialty ingredients, can prove a challenge to move. Getting word to customers about availability of items and limited-time specials can drive a sense of urgency that leads to orders or increase the likelihood that someone will make a trip to the store.  Push notifications, a key feature of apps, provide an option for immediate distribution of inventory updates. Plus, push notifications can be used to send updates about orders and delivery in real-time to manage customer experience.

How Grocers Are Using Sandbox Commerce App Builder

Sandbox Commerce has helped RydeOn Groceries and SuperFast NYC deliver a variety of groceries and other items to their customers. These entrepreneurial businesses are using ecommerce platform partners like Shopify or Big Commerce to manage what they have to offer. Sandbox Commerce integrates seamlessly and customers get their on-time delivery with no interruption is experience. SuperFast even has a promise to get orders to their destination in 45 minutes!

We welcome the opportunity to work with local grocers who recognize the need to meet shoppers in this moment through contactless commerce, no-friction shopping and delivery options and providing beyond expectations by keeping the customer informed about opportunities to get what they need when they need it.

For your demo and to discuss options for your store, contact Sandbox Commerce or jump right in and start your free 7-day trial.

Founder Notes – August 2020

In the hottest part of the year, it’s more than just the mercury rising. Online sales across platforms are at their highest numbers yet: Amazon online sales jumped 40% in the second quarter year-over-year and Shopify second quarter revenue grew 97% from a year earlier. As uncertainty lingers, and consumers continue to adjust their shopping habits to include more e-commerce, I’m having more conversations with retailers wanting to meet customers where they’re at: online.

Running Sandbox Commerce is more than providing a no-code solution for building loyalty; the platform itself has to create an engaging experience for both the retailer and their customers. This creates a desire to return to the app, buy additional products and interact with the brand. The design team and I spent the last two months upgrading the back-end of Sandbox Commerce to expedite the process from a retailer signing on to build their app to actually launching the product in the app store. It’s now more intuitive and self-guided, reducing the friction of design and development and providing the seamlessness that makes no-code, low-tech the best way to launch an app.

We are proud of the updates, and if you’re in the process of developing a no-code app and want to see for yourself how it works, now with improved experience, hit me up.

What I’m reading: the new-ish Retail Brew newsletter, No Code is Eating the World by Frederik Bussler at Hacker Noon; subscribed to Catalin Pit’s newsletter

What I’m watching: Beyonce “Black is King” (wasn’t a huge fan, don’t send The Hive after me), basketball from the Bubble

That’s all for now, glad to be “catching up” with everyone. What’s on your list – reading, watching, happening in your world? Tweet it to me: @sterlingssmith on Twitter.

Service from a Distance: Contactless Experiences Are The Future of Retail

Life and business are moving fast, and with uncertainty high due to the ongoing pandemic, it’s safe to say that providing options like curbside commerce and contactless pickup is a wise choice for business owners.

As mentioned in the July Founder Notes, the way we purchase everything, from our groceries and daily goods to shopping, is shifting as states continue to urge residents to follow stay-at-home procedures and wearing masks is mandated or strongly suggested. Limiting exposure to only the necessary trips and keeping distance are among the ways we can keep each other safe and flatten the curve. In the place of in-person shopping, contactless experiences and curbside commerce have taken over as best practice.

The news podcast Marketplace called it the “low-touch” economy, noting that this shift will be changing many industries. AdAge stated that curbside pickup and delivery, alongside e-commerce, will define retail’s next chapter [subscriber content]. Sandbox Commerce has a dedicated section explaining how the platform can be used to facilitate curbside pickup, and our customers have become innovators in solving for the need to safely deliver products and services.

League of Rebels, a menswear boutique based in Austin, Texas, was mentioned as a Sandbox Commerce customer who adopted curbside pickup. As a retailer, when the initial shutdown happened, the store felt the impact immediately. Customers who would typically come in to browse, buy and be measured for the bespoke jackets, shirts, pants and other clothing were absent, and the hands-on experience that set League of Rebels apart couldn’t be delivered virtually. The store’s owner, Muso Alto, had to make an immediate shift to how he and the rest of the team worked in order to maintain relationships and survive during COVID-19.

Building a digital solution can take months of planning, from the search for a coding team to the design and finally launching and iterating based on customer feedback. Unfortunately, Muso didn’t have months, or even weeks, to go this route. When he engaged with Sandbox Commerce, we knew an immediate solution was needed to save his business. Fortunately, he was able to go from initial contact to launch in just a few weeks. Once the app was launched, customers were able to peruse the latest products, purchase what they need and schedule a contactless experience for curbside pickup. All without leaving the League of Rebels app.

Life and business are moving fast, and with uncertainty high due to the ongoing pandemic, it’s safe to say that providing options like curbside commerce and contactless pickup is a wise choice for business owners. No-code development means you don’t have to be a programming genius or spend tens of thousands of dollars to make it happen. If you’re ready to increase loyalty with your customers and provide the safest engagement, contact the Sandbox Commerce team for your demo.

Black-Owned Tech Companies to Help You Scale

Retailers have a range of tools at their disposal to ensure their growth, from suppliers to plug-ins and backend solutions to partners like Sandbox Commerce that help them grow their audience and strengthen relationships and loyalty. A recent example of how partners can help elevates small and medium businesses came last month when Shopify highlighted Black-owned businesses on Shop. The amplification of these Shopify partners gave them exposure to additional customers and showed Shopify’s commitment to diversity and inclusion for its customers.

We at Sandbox Commerce believe that Black-owned businesses deserve to be lifted up on both the B2C and B2B side. Over the years, I’ve connected with dozens of amazing tech leaders (who happen to be Black) who are building products that extend the reach of small and medium businesses. As they continue to help their customers find success, we want to highlight them, similarly to how Shopify did for their partners.

Saltbox

Saltbox provides highly functional and private micro-warehousing units ranging in size from 500 to 2,000 square feet complemented by traditional coworking areas featuring private offices, conference rooms, community spaces.

This company describes its customers as the Concrete Class – importers and exporters, distributors, makers and e-commerce operators. By combining the traditional office with warehousing needs of multiple sizes, Saltbox offers entrepreneurs ease of use and reduces friction between owners and team members operating in different functions within a commerce business. Founders Tyler Scriven and Maxwell Bonnie closed their $3.2 million seed round in September 2019 and continue to grow from their homebase of Atlanta, GA.

Upsie

Upsie is confronting the $40-billion extended warranty industry by challenging marketplace conventions and empowering consumers with information, access and convenience.Upsie’s website and mobile app provide users with dependable, transparent coverage and pricing options that can be easily navigated through our user friendly interface.

Though Upsie is B2C rather than B2C like Sandbox Commerce, the company’s founder Clarence Bethea has a similar story to Sterling Smith, Sandbox Commerce CEO. In a 2017 Fast Company story, Bethea talks about the challenges of venture capital funding. Though his numbers are strong, and he is offering a product that takes advantage of the gaps in an industry that has not modernized its practices, Bethea had only raised $1.5 in angel funding at that point.

Bandwagon FanClub Inc.

Bandwagon FanClub tracks qualitative customer data for ticketed events through a proprietary blockchain database that monitors each ticket transaction. Event owners can track the economics of each ticket and stay informed of the end user who ultimately attends the event.

Founder Harold Hughes acquired IdealSeat even as in-person events were being cancelled due to the pandemic. The company’s ability to shift quickly to virtual events and strategize for the way that organizations and companies needed to use events platforms shows that Bandwagon FanClub Inc. plans to be a partner for the long-term.

Resilia

Resilia is a fast-growing venture backed, mission-driven SaaS business based in New York and New Orleans. Resilia’s mission is to harness the power of generosity, technology, and human connection to make nonprofit leadership available for everyone. Resilia’s subscription-based platform helps existing non-profit organizations (SMB’s) increase capacity and enables Enterprises (cities, private foundations and corporations) scale impact. Resilia’s Formation product helps nonprofits by “turbo taxing” the process of incorporating and applying for tax exemption.

Resilia founder and CEO, Sevetri Wilson, is a serial entrepreneur whose work has been recognized by various publications and the Mayor of New Orleans and the U.S. Senate. Wilson describes her work as building “communities, brands, technology and people.” During the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and because of the generosity of people who want to support the causes they care about, donating to nonprofit organizations can be a lifeline for individuals and groups keeping people financially and physically healthy. Wilson and Resilia are providing the structure for nonprofits to meet their missions.

Founder Notes – July 2020

What an interesting time to be in the business of customer service. It appears as though our increased physical distancing as we shelter at home won’t be changing anytime soon, as reflected by restrictions and recommendations are being re-engaged in various states.

As I’m advising Sandbox Commerce users on trying to find a new normal while still attracting traffic to their business, states are adjusting to rising case numbers by encouraging essential travel only. Curbside pickup has risen in both popularity and necessity to keep buyers and sellers safe. There are still learning curves but I’m happy to see Sandbox Commerce customers use the platform in innovative ways.


You may not know this but my background is in coding. In order to keep the wheels greased and turning, I find new projects regularly. Most recently, I created a personal site: sterling.ooo. The creativity of building this micro-site gives me inspiration for new features on Sandbox Commerce.


Between March and April 2020, ecommerce sales rose 25 percent – and the numbers continue to rise. Shopify increased their year-over-year first quarter revenue in 2020 by 47 percent. Americans may be cautious about going outdoors but they’re still shopping for essentials and some nice-to-have items, especially to support small and medium businesses.

I enjoy having conversations about the state of ecommerce, and I shared some thoughts on ecommerce and native apps in recent interviews with Commerce Tea and Silicon Hills News. Hard work pays off, and I appreciate Forbes for including me in “Rising Startups to Watch with Diverse Founders.”

In July, I’ll be focused connecting with the companies who are implementing strategic solutions like curbside pick up and creatively driving loyalty for their brands. If you are one of those business owners, be sure to drop me a line or connect on social media: Twitter or LinkedIn.

The New Economy: How Sandbox Commerce Helps Customers Provide Unique Solutions

Over the last 90 days our team has seen innovative brands and retail entrepreneurs leverage our no-code platform in ways that we would have never imagined. Here are a few examples.

You may know that Sandbox Commerce is the smartest way for brands and retailers to launch mobile apps that both increase engagement and increase long-term value with their best customers. This relationship has served retailers well, deepening the loyalty between brand and shoppers (and vice versa).

Two companies caught our attention for the ways they’re using Sandbox Commerce: Go360 (Northern California) and League of Rebels (Austin, Texas).

League of Rebels is a purveyor of fine tailoring, a boutique that offers a full line of tailored men’s clothing, with ready to wear, made-to-measure and bespoke tailoring. With such a hands-on experience, from measurements to fit, the coronavirus could have derailed the personalized touch the team at League of Rebels provides. Instead, League of Rebels pivoted to include curbside commerce as an option for receiving wares. It not only allowed team members to continue to engage with shoppers but it kept shoppers safe and physically distanced without having to give up their style.

On the west coast, Go360 offers contactless grocery delivery and first/last mile transportation for daily commuters (think Instacart). The company realized that not only did they need an interface that met the needs of shoppers, they had to be able to use the same platform to hire and deploy drivers. A solution from a larger provider would cost over $100K, require a much longer timeline to go-to-market, and struggle to break even on cost of development. Using Sandbox Commerce, it took only a few weeks to build and roll out the solution, and the investment was reasonable for the startup as they scale and grow.

These are only two examples, and we know the possibilities are endless with entrepreneurs who are determined to make things happen in new ways. If you’re ready to explore curbside commerce or figure out how to make a native mobile app shock and delight your audience, let’s talk.

LISTEN: Sandbox Commerce Founder Talks E-Commerce Mobile Apps with Commerce Tea

Sterling Smith, Sandbox Commerce founder and CEO, spoke with the hosts of Commerce Tea about how a native mobile app can help Shopify sellers create a deeper relationship with existing customers.

Commerce Tea hosts Kelly Vaughn and Rhian Beutler are Shopify Partners: one Plus partner, and one app developer join forces and share the tea every week on what they know best: how to succeed selling online.

LISTEN NOW: Mobile Apps for Shopify Stores

Introducing Sandbox Social – Integrating Instagram with Your E-Commerce

Sandbox Social – shop straight from your brand’s beautiful Instagram feed.

“Doing it for the ‘gram” now has one more meaning with the introduction of Sandbox Social on the Sandbox Commerce platform.

This is a feature that the team has been perfecting for the last few weeks, focusing on the importance of visual stimulation in the purchasing process as shoppers interact and engage with brand- and user-generated content. I previously shared my thoughts about the importance of multiple ways to engage customers online, and integrating shoppable content is now on this list.

What is Sandbox Social aka Shoppable Instagram?

If your’e coming to this post and wondering what “shoppable Instagram” is and what it could mean for your brand and sales, I’m glad you’re here. You may already be familiar with Sandbox Commerce for our no-code app solution, which is designed to increase the lifetime value of customers by helping brands engage with customers who have already bought in by encouraging them to download the app for special offers and the latest news.

Sandbox Social is different; we are targeting people who shop with their eyes first. You know: the scrollers, the double-tap and leave a comment, and share-in-Stories buyers. Instagram as a social channel has a specific aesthetic that makes content really pop: clear, colorful imagery laid out thoughtfully not only within the individual image but as a whole grid of pictures. Brands like Revolve and XX not only invest in their own product images but also integrate content from their most loyal followers whose style mirrors the brand. Shoppers are able to see not only the most idealized snaps but also the real life ways that buyers style the products.

How Sandbox Social Works

Now that you’re sold on the concept of using your best Instagram pictures to capture the attention – and buying power- of the scrolling window shoppers, let’s talk about Sandbox Social in action.

How do I integrate Sandbox Social?

Like the Sandbox Commerce app builder, Sandbox Social integrates with the leading e-commerce platforms: Shopify, BigCommerce and 3D Cart for ease of use. Once you sign up for Sandbox Social, the platform makes it simple to tag the content you want to become shoppable. As you post and tag content to your Instagram, Sandbox Social syncs to your e-commerce partner to tag each image as available for purchase.

Not only are you able to feature your best Instagram content on your mobile or desktop website, you can also spotlight the same or different pics for your newsletter or mobile app (which you’ve already built with Sandbox Commerce, right?).

How do I track use of Sandbox Social?

Data is key to understanding how the work you do is bringing in and keeping customers active and engaged. Sandbox Social delivers usage stats to your account’s home page, giving you the ability to see in real-time how shoppers are engaging with both Sandbox Social and your Sandbox Commerce native mobile app.

Get Started with Sandbox Social

Now is as good a time as any to launch your shoppable social feature for e-commerce. Log in if you are an existing Sandbox Commerce customer or create an account to get started on integrating Sandbox Social with your e-commerce platform. Want to see Sandbox Social in action: Book a demo.

Rise of No-Code and Low-Code Solutions for Work-From-Anywhere Life

As the business world continues to deal with the fallout of a global pandemic and millions of workers are either adjusting to work from home or are being laid off or furloughed, we are proving to be as scrappy as founders of years past with one distinct advantage: coding is no longer required to quickly put together the solutions we need.

Scrappy is a word used most often to describe founders of previous eras, whose empires were built in basements and garages, based on coding and programming written from years of education and practice.

Today, as the business world continues to deal with the fallout of a global pandemic and millions of workers are either adjusting to work from home or are being laid off or furloughed, we are proving to be as scrappy as founders of years past with one distinct advantage: coding is no longer required to quickly put together the solutions we need. As entrepreneurs or as leaders within an established company, we are solving for the issues at hand with the help of low-code or no-code platforms that allow us to address employee, client and/or contractor needs easily without the on-ramp of writing original programming.

Examples of Low-Code and No-Code Solutions

Articles in Wired and The Wall Street Journal illustrate beautifully how the get-it-done spirit is being buoyed by online tools.

In Wired, a copywriter-turned-marketing startup founder with no background in coding took it upon herself to automate systems and create tools for both herself and her team as well as potential clients through a handful of programs like Webflow, Airtable, Zapier and Slack. Dani, the startup founder, admits that the system isn’t perfect but it’s working for her as she scales her services.

The Journal article explores how larger businesses are helping their employees function as they continue to work separately from the central office, especially as some industries codify their work-from-anywhere policies to keep employees safe and help them manage households. Whereas meetings, business trips and other in-person activities typically made workflow smooth, companies are having to solve for the mishmash of regulations as some states continue stay-at-home orders and others begin to “reopen for business.”

One supply chain company was able to launch a system to track their company equipment for out-of-office workers within two days; a biotech firm is using a rapidly developed app to track employees’ location and health status since many of the company’s research and development department was still coming into the office and the leadership was concerned with tracing any illness should it occur. Both companies cited the need to get their solutions launched as the reason why they chose to go with low-code and no-code solutions as opposed to outsourcing to developers or purchasing more advanced, pre-coded options.

#NoCode Solutions Here to Stay

I’m excited to read these articles and others as the  corporate world embraces the simplicity and ease of low-code and no-code tools. When I launched Sandbox Commerce, it was precisely for the reasons that many of these companies are creating solutions: working to make the complicated simple, be it providing ease of use for a retailer or helping keep employees and customers safe by tracing the health of workers.

I’ll wrap up with a quote from the Wired story:

The success of no-code startups may thus be a useful corrective to the cult of the Brilliant Tech Dude. If nearly anyone can do this, some of the magic dies. And some new magic, possibly, is born.