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The post will serve as a record after I launch BYOB on 22nd April 2021. BYOB (Build Your Own Bundle) is my second Shopify App. My 1st app is SEO Product Optimizer (SPO), which I launched in Dec 2016. After 4 years, I decide to continue my adventure in the Shopify ecosystem.

if you're interested, you can read my previous post FROM 0 TO 0.1: THE JOURNEY OF BOOTSTRAPPING A SMALL E-COMMERCE PLUGIN TO A SCALABLE BUSINESS (PART 3)

Side-track: if you're trying to start an online store, feel free to click this referral link. If you start a store via this link, I will earn a small commission with no harm to you.

How did I come up with the idea?

Since I am not a store owner, I can't solve my own problem and make it into an app. I was thinking hard for a good idea. In Sept 2021, I spent 2 - 3 weeks surfing on Shopify Community. I don't have a clear purpose to look for my next idea. I just try to see whatever interesting or problems encountered by merchants.

Most of the time, the merchants are looking for feedbacks, help for template tweaks, complaining for lack of features, etc. However, I found that users kept asking similar questions on product bundling & upselling.

I found that there were big limitations set up by Shopify here.

The 'Product Group' problem

If you're using other ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce & Magento, there is an extra product type for selling a group of products together. Let's say you want to sell a swimming bundle with 1 goggle, 1 swimming pant and a floating board. You can create a product group for this pseudo product. This is an out-of-the-box feature or you can buy a plugin to achieve what need.

However, Shopify only provides a single type of product. It makes it so hard to create a similar feature even as a Shopify developer. I believe that if Shopify database structure enables multiple types of products. Everything is simpler.

Having said so, it also means a good opportunity provided by Shopify.

One Discount at a time

Besides the product type issue, another major issue is the Discount, which is complained by Shopify merchants all the time.

If you own a Shopify store, you can create a discount in the form of a discount code or automatic discount. Both are very useful to drive sales since customers love deal. However, Shopify only allows 1 discount to be redeemed at checkout. In other words, you CANNOT activate 2 discounts at a time. This is a great deal since many merchants are offering multiple discounts like free shipping, % discount for the whole order, fixed-amount discount for specific items. This is not possible at the moment of writing. And I think it's not going to change in the short future.

My guess is the order of discount makes Shopify hesitates to implement this feature. The discount calculation may be prone to errors.

What is the fix?

As a remedy, Shopify allows app developers to provide fixes to this issue. There is an official API to change the order. If you can follow closely with Shopify discount calculation, you can handle the extra discount with your app and leave the built-in discount to the customers. Having said so, the discount calculation is quite hard to handle. I found it painful to deal with it. Even Shopify docs are not in sync with each other.

My Inspiration

When I noticed the problem, I found that there was an existing category of bundle builder apps on the Shopify AppStore. Great! So the problem is validated by existing solution providers. I can focus on differentiation and offer my own solution to the market.

Why I name it BYOB?

First of all, BYOB is commonly-used by the stores. When I search BYOB, it's a common term in ecommerce to demonstrate build your own bundles. Many online stores are offering this bundle deal to the customers. For example, the Nintendo Switch provides a great example. Personally, I love Switch. It's awesome! 😎

Secondly, BYOB also means 'Be Your Own Boss'. I love serving small merchants who are similar to me, bootstrapping to create my own business. When you're using BYOB, you're also building your own business. What a match!

So I bought the domain ilovebyob.com immediately. I started to work on the project in Sept 2020. After 6 months, I submitted my MVP (minimum viable product) for Shopify app reviews.

So BYOB was published on the Shopify AppStore on 22nd April 2021!