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Modern Sprout

Modern Sprout is a fast-growing, Chicago-based company that designs and manufactures innovative gardening products including hydroponic planters, grow lights, herb and flower grow kits, seed starter kits, garden accessories, and more. Ever since their start in 2013, this sustainably-minded company has been helping people become more confident gardeners indoors and out. They sell both direct-to consumer and in retail stores across the United States.

Modern Sprout’s website was powered by a combination of WordPress and Shopify. Maintaining and updating the site — even for small changes like updating a hero image or creating a blog post — was more complicated and time-consuming than it would be if they were on Shopify alone. Director of eCommerce Danielle Kurtz says that for a lot of updates or to launch something new — like a new holiday-themed gift guide collection — it was necessary to work with an outside developer and coordinate with them to make changes in both Shopify and a staging site in WordPress before pushing everything live.

It was just a really complicated process. A lot of times, promotions are time-sensitive, so we would be up at midnight trying to launch this thing before the email goes out.”

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

Danielle adds that the complex setup of being on two platforms with different URLs also prevented the company from being able to easily add new functionality with apps and make smart investments in digital advertising to grow their ecommerce business. They didn’t have a unified and clear picture of the analytics that would help them evaluate the effectiveness of any ads they would run.

Modern Sprout engaged us to rebuild their site entirely on Shopify and at the same time update their design with a customized theme. Danielle says they chose to work with Ethercycle because of how much thoughtfulness we put into the proposal process.

“Kurt had a lot of additional feedback and ideas and seemed genuinely excited about working on the brand, and we just clicked from that angle. Seeing the variety of the work they had done before, it definitely seemed like they could work into different aesthetics and knew a lot about what Shopify had to offer and how we could leverage that.

We wanted to make sure that while using the base of an off-the-shelf theme, we could still make it feel very much our own and customize it.

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

Designing & developing a customized Shopify theme and migrating WordPress content to Shopify

We designed and developed a new customized theme, working with Modern Sprout on how to achieve the objectives and ideas they had in mind.

We used Focal as a base theme and collaborated closely with Danielle on creating a design that reflected Modern Sprout’s brand. We incorporated lots of pops of color throughout the site. On top of the beautiful animations that are baked into Focal, we custom-built colorful and playful animations for the section headings (a semi-transparent bar of color highlights each heading) and homepage testimonials (which scroll across the page). We worked to create a design that complemented, not competed with, Modern Sprout’s gorgeous photography that is featured throughout the site.

“The process really helped push us to define what we wanted to look like now, because we hadn't been through that process in quite some time. We did quite a lot of back and forth and we're really happy with the aesthetic. It's the most up-to-date, accurate representation of who we are and where we’re going as a brand. We've used it to inform things that we're doing elsewhere off the site.”

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

For the product detail page (PDP), we worked through a couple iterations with Modern Sprout to find the best way to display the product description, contents, instructions, reviews and FAQs, aiming to keep the information easily accessible and minimize scrolling. Danielle especially appreciated how we worked to accommodate a later stage change that they wanted to make to the PDP design to have the information contained in tabs.

To enable more cross-selling, we implemented Shopify’s Search and Discovery app, available only for Online Store 2.0 themes. It enables Modern Sprout to curate recommendations for complementary products on any product page, in addition to what is automatically generated with Shopify’s recommendation engine.

For more upselling opportunities, we implemented a bundle and discounts app, styling and customizing it to integrate it into the rest of the site experience. We also custom coded a progress bar for the cart (which Modern Sprout can customize for different promotions they run) to show how close a customer is to getting a certain discount or free shipping.

On the collection pages, we added the ability to have callout blocks to feature a particular promotion or any other copy directly in the collection grid.

We migrated the WordPress content from their old site to the new Shopify site using Matrixify. Combined with our previous experience in helping merchants migrate from other platforms to Shopify, Modern Sprout’s savvy use of metafields made the migration a smooth process.

Danielle says she appreciated how easy we were to work with throughout the work.

“They're very knowledgeable, thoughtful, thorough, extremely responsive, flexible, and just a pleasure to work with. Everything was delivered on time and as promised and went according to the original plan.

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

A smart business decision

Now with a single CMS, Danielle says it’s now much easier to maintain and update the website.

“The ability to use the site all in Shopify has been a huge improvement. We can be flexible and launch promotions and add new products and all of those sorts of things we just weren’t able to do without working with an outside developer. Right now, I can just go into the website and change the homepage if I want to — it would take seconds.

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

Revenue has increased and Danielle says they’ve been able to cross-sell more effectively with the apps we implemented and customizations we made to their Shopify store.

We’ve seen really good sales results in Q4 of last year and into this year. Changing up the website was a huge factor in that.”

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

Danielle says being on Shopify alone gives them a clearer picture of the analytics, meaning they will be able to more accurately judge the success of any ads they run. She appreciates having KPIs to work with and being able to accurately see how people are converting.

Having the flexibility of the Shopify Online Store 2.0 sections has helped Modern Sprout be able to feature more kinds of content than they could before.

“We're able to use those quite a bit on making custom landing pages, which has really helped us for our advertising strategy. Our product is pretty unique and sometimes it takes a bit of explanation. So they're able to help us do that in a way where we can inform customers but not drown them in information.

In fact, we can tell by the questions we are getting that people are finding information more readily on the site. We're getting more in-depth questions from the people that are reaching out to us instead of simpler things that are now a little bit more self-service for customers. So we've been able to improve our customer service experience.”

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

We’ve continued to work with Modern Sprout to help them continue to make improvements and Danielle says that they are really glad they decided to work with us as a partner.

It felt like they were really invested in the project and the success and want to have a long-term partnership with us and keep improving the website — not just finish the project and move on. I can shoot them off random questions as we’re doing things that are adjacent to the website. Kurt just sent me an email a few weeks ago with a screen recording of him going through our site and giving really thoughtful feedback on some minor things to improve the site experience. They're invested in continuing to make it better and even initiating that without us asking them to.”

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout

Our Work Together

Ethercycle helped Modern Sprout:

  1. Eliminate WordPress from their site and go all-in on Shopify, making it much simpler to manage and update their site and giving them a clearer picture of key metrics
  2. Design and develop a gorgeous customized theme that accurately reflects their branding and improves the customer experience
  3. Increase sales through more effective upselling and cross-selling

“They just really understand Shopify and how to use it to help accomplish whatever your specific goals are. They're not trying to fit everybody into a one-box solution. They're making custom solutions, but using the knowledge that they have about what Shopify can and can't do and what you need to do to make it do those things. They’ve been really good to work with and our strong partner.

  • Danielle Kurtz
  • Director of Ecommerce, Modern Sprout
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