About 20 years ago, I decided to take 6 months off work at an IT job. I used to work in Dublin, and I moved to the west coast of Ireland and rented a little house. The person I rented the house off of later became my wife.

Ralph Doyle has done more than inspire us to take a little time off work. He and his wife, Sadie Chowen, have created a modest empire, inspired by the landscape and beauty of the Burren foothills, lakes, and limestone cliffs.

When Sadie bought the Burren Perfumery in 1999, her philosophy was to continue the Perfumery tradition of creating products inspired by the environment that surrounds it, to increase the simplicity and purity of the formulae, and evoke the scents and moods of being outside at different seasons of the year. LemonStand is lucky enough to host their custom made site, which reflects that philosophy beautifully.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Ralph about the Burren Perfumery, their custom design solutions – including faceted navigation – his experience working with LemonStand, and more in our customer showcase series.

Why LemonStand?

Initially, the Perfumery had a site built on WordPress with the RomanCart eCommerce plugin which they felt didn’t give them the flexibility or peace of mind that a modern SaaS eCommerce platform like LemonStand does. “I hacked together some god awful thing about 2007. We re-hashed and re-designed the front end. We didn’t have a lot of money for development and for design, so we did the best we could.”

But two years ago, Burren began a large-scale packaging redesign company with a design company from Austria.

“We’d gone from being a company with 10-15 products, to having 100-120 different SKUs. We wanted to create a coherence in our brand, to bring the packaging onto the same palette.

We hired Moodley Brand Identity from Vienna and they’ve been excellent. They did the design for the new website, but I didn’t like the technology base that they were proposing. I evaluated a several different options, and decided that LemonStand looked like the best choice. Since the implementation of the new site, we’ve seen a steady 22% increase in web sales.”

Custom Faceted Navigation solution

The choice to build a custom navigation tool with LemonStand was, for Ralph, a simple one.

“You could trace that to the re-design process. We had a cosmetics consultant in to do some work. One of her insights was that it was difficult to navigate our product range (physically in the shop). If someone likes a particular scent, how do they know what other products on shelf have a similar scent? You need to give customers a way to visually navigate that.”

burren faceted navigation

Burren Perfumery’s custom faceted navigation feature

“So we thought about that a lot. As perfumers we naturally categorize our products within scent families: citrus family, floral family, woodland family, etc. So from that we developed the idea of having the six categories, which you see color-coded into the products. That color code runs through all our product packaging, and the web navigation naturally followed on from that. It was a function of making the product range physically navigable in an intuitive way for the customer.”

The Perfumery teamed up with development/design agency 320NY to see through the necessary coding of this feature. You can select a product category, a scent family, select a price range, and more. The result is not only highly navigable, but beautiful and cohesive.

How they did it

So, how would a feature like this work? 320NY implemented the faceted navigation feature by using LemonStand categories, collections and AJAX (JavaScript) framework.

First, they created product categories, e.g., perfumes, face & lips, candles & teas, etc. Next, they created product collections for scent families, e.g., woodland, citrus, etc.

Each scent collection contains products from different categories. So, the woodland collection would contain perfumes, candles, lotions, etc. with the woodland scent.

customer spotlight burren perfumery

Woodland perfume faceted navigation

Let’s say you’re viewing the perfumes category page and want to filter by the woodland scent:

When the woodland button is clicked, an ajax request is sent to update the page. The logic for updating the page is inside a partial. Depending on which scent was clicked, inside the partial we loop through all the perfume products and we display all the products that are in the perfumes category and the woodland collection (in this case).

Similarly, when filtering based on price, an ajax request is sent to the same partial with the desired price ceiling. Again, we loop through the products in the category and collection to find matches, but this time we also check that the product price is less than the desired price ceiling.

The more you know!

Life after the switch

So how has the Perfumery found managing their site on LemonStand since?

The Burren Perfumery's mobile navigation

The Burren Perfumery’s mobile navigation

What I liked about LemonStand from the get-go was how clean it was from the back, how under the hood it was modern and up-to-date. What I wanted was something that was architecturally clean. Not something that was built from a blog. We’ve been down that route and we’ve seen the pain in that.”

There’s a nice API, I can reach in every month and pull all my line items, run my queries, that’s a huge win for me technically. The fact that it integrates with Shipworks is also big win for us.

“We’ve always been a fan of SaaS. We’re early adopters of that technology, early adopters of POS systems through iPads onsite. I like the fact that LemonStand uses best of breed solutions for extensions to the web business. It makes much more sense to me to integrate with the best top 3 solutions for accounting, or shipping. I totally think that’s the way things are going, and should go. “

What’s next for the Perfumery?

We’re going to be putting quite a lot of energy into the eCommerce side of the business in the coming year. We had to get through the re-design phase, and that’s 90% complete now. That’s given us a consistent presentation on the web.

Now our energy will be going away from the physical products, for a while at least. eCommerce has always been very important because it gives us sales during the winter, which is when our bricks-and-mortar side is quiet. Our customers have a good experience, and it’s great that we can touch base with them from Vancouver, Rome, Berlin. You couldn’t do that 20 years ago.”

“The ability to connect to customers is fantastic today for small businesses in remote areas. We want to build on that good customer relationship that we have to grow the website. You can scale a web business as much as you like. There’s no reason why you couldn’t do as much business on the web as in our physical store. And we want to do that in a fresh, innovative way.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about our valued customers, their stories, and experiences with LemonStand. If you would to learn more why LemonStand is considered as the best alternative to Shopify, Magento and BigCommerce by web developers, agencies and fast growing brands visit the following links:

To view more successful LemonStand customers, go to our Showcases page.