How an Unexpected Partnership & Migrating to Shopify Plus Helps International Military Antiques Customize and Sleep with a Smile

How an Unexpected Partnership & Migrating to Shopify Plus Helps International Military Antiques Customize and Sleep with a Smile

Founded in 1981 by Christian Cranmer, International Military Antiques (IMA) has succeeded where countless pre-Internet companies have failed: in the new, disruptive world of online commerce. 

Just last year, Christian’s son Alex Cranmer — Vice President of IMA and the man behind the company’s 2004 entry into ecommerce — announced a host of jaw-dropping statistics, including a growth rate of 350% and 1,000% ROI on the company’s technology stack.

In other words, even though they sell antiques, IMA’s business is anything but outdated.

So, in the face of IMA’s undeniable success, why would they embrace one of the most feared words in ecommerce: “migration”?

For Alex, the motivation to change came from two places:

  1. To advance IMA’s history of innovative customizations
  2. To work on a platform that combines ease-of-use with peace-of-mind.
But, when you’re at the technological forefront of high-volume ecommerce, can you really have both?

Thankfully, that wasn’t a question IMA nor Alex had to answer alone …

An Unexpected Partnership: “The timing was finally right”

To make the move to Shopify Plus, Alex enlisted the help of international design and development agency Corra, with whom IMA already had a long-standing partnership:

“I work with Corra because I trust them. I trust them because, for the past seven years, they have contributed directly to the stunning growth of IMA through their expertise in ecommerce, design, and technology.”

Alex Cranmer, Vice President at International Military Antiques

The only issue was — while IMA and Corra had a partnership — Corra and Shopify Plus didn’t. Not until last August 24th that is, when Corra broke the news few in ecommerce expected:

Global Commerce Agency Expands Platform Offering to Enterprise-Level Retailers

NEW YORK—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Corra is pleased to announce they have joined the Shopify Plus partner network. After working with Shopify Plus and vetting their technology for many months, Corra determined that the platform makes a strong addition to their Strategic Alliances program.

In the words of Martina England:

“The timing was finally right. Corra’s sweet spot is a client within the fashion, beauty, or lifestyle verticals where a more complex and involved implementation is necessary. As Shopify Plus has continued to grow and attract clients who need effective solutioning for those types of complex projects, the fit was natural.”

Martina England, Global Director of Strategic Alliances at Corra

Corra’s press release cited top-tier brands like Kylie Cosmetics, L’Occitane and GymShark as examples of merchants “drawn to Shopify Plus for its ease of use and scalability.”

Here at Shopify Plus, the feeling was mutual. As Martyn Boddy explains:

“We’re delighted to welcome Corra to the Shopify Plus Agency Network. Corra’s established and recognized commerce expertise, combined with their ability to support the growth of our … merchants, makes them well suited to help us power the future of commerce.”

Martyn Boddy, Head of Agency Partnerships at Shopify Plus

Kind sentiments to be sure, but the question still remains … can a thriving ecommerce company have both innovative customizations and ease of use?

Customizations: “Almost every aspect is better”

Corra worked closely with Alex to bring his vision to life. The results show that a cloud-based platform like Shopify Plus is no hindrance to customizations.

“Almost every aspect of Shopify Plus is better,” says Alex, “and many things have far exceeded my expectations.”

Among the elements Alex is “particularly proud of” are IMA’s …

  • Homepage that mixes beautiful product images and rich videos that bring IMA’s motto — “Everything We Sell Has a Story” — to life

International Military Antiques' redesigned homepage on Shopify Pluse

    • Navigational mega menu that divides their diverse offerings into easy to find categories complete with select-product previews

    • Payment and shipping customizations during checkout based on the customer’s destination and payment method (e.g., PayPal or Amazon)
    • Product description pages that now feature reviews, monthly payment options, and special “Hand Select” and “Certificate Of Authenticity” add-ons

    So, how did Corra work with Shopify Plus to customize beyond the mold of templated themes?

    Martina England explains:

    “One of the many benefits of Shopify Plus is that it comes with several standard frontend themes to choose from. It’s a process that allows for simplification during implementation and keeps costs down.”

    First, we walk clients through those standard themes to confirm if any fit their requirements. If not, anything is possible!

    “We understand that how a merchant presents their brand to the world is important and we can help them achieve those goals with our best-in-class visual and UX team working closely with development to make sure their vision comes to life.”

    In addition, IMA now utilizes over 25 apps across their Shopify Plus store …

    “This includes a kick-ass autocomplete window with full product images as well as a drag-and-drop merchandising feature that allows us to visually build search-result pages for specific terms in a matter of minutes.”

    • Rewind for backing up their site:

    “Like Time Machine for a Mac, but in ecommerce. It’s amazing and has saved us more than once from some pretty big mistakes, like deleting all our content pages 20 minutes before launch! It’s truly a lifesaver.”

    • Yotpo for reviews, ratings, user-generated photos, and Q&A:

    “This was a totally new feature for us, and in the first two weeks has provided over 2,000 additional product reviews from our customers. The Q&A feature is also perfect for our customers as what we sell tends to lead to questions.”

    “Simple, seamless online returns process. Love this. Also a totally new feature for IMA.”

    Ease of Use: “I smile on my pillow”

    Beyond design and features, Alex is thrilled with the platform’s ease-of-use. In addition to Corra’s technical and creative expertise, IMA also leaned on their dedicated Launch Manager at Shopify Plus during the build:

    “Shopify Plus support and especially my Launch Manager, Paul Moretti, have been incredible. There is zero comparison. Paul answered emails, Slack messages, and smoke signals typically within minutes and many times in the middle of the night. His guidance and advice were crucial to our success.”

    “I smile on my pillow at night knowing I never have to perform another ‘critical security patch’ or pay the equivalent of a mortgage on a small beachside vacation home each year for server space.”

    Alex Cranmer, Vice President at International Military Antiques

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    Header image courtesy of International Military Antiques: “Original U.S. WWII 752nd Bomb Squadron Bailed Out Co-Pilot Named A-2 Flight Jacket”

    About the Author

    Aaron Orendorff is the Editor in Chief of Shopify Plus as well as a regular contributor to sites like Mashable, Lifehacker, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company, The Huffington Post and more. You can connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.