LemonStand: The eCommerce Platform for Advanced Stores

LemonStand eCommerce platform

It’s easier than ever to open an eCommerce store today, but go back just a few years and the story is very different. Back then setting up a store required developers and took weeks.

This is the environment Danny Halarewich and Aleksey Bobkov found themselves in when they met online in 2008. They were both eCommerce developers and decided to collaborate on projects. They started building out eCommerce stores for clients using some of the software around.

There weren’t too many platforms around even then. Shopify was just starting to grow, and the other eCommerce platforms were too clunky. They had terrible software and poor user experiences. It was a pain working on them, so after exhausting all their options Danny and Aleksey decided to call it quits.

They could have left it at that and gone their separate ways but they realised there was a huge unfulfilled need in the eCommerce world and so they took it upon themselves to fix it.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, they started hacking together their own platform, incorporating everything they had learnt building eCommerce stores on other platforms. In late 2009, the very first version of LemonStand was born, a simple and clean eCommerce platform that you could download and host on your own server.

At that time it didn’t have a name. It was just a product they built to satisfy a need, and they hadn’t even thought about creating a company around it. They shared it around and, much to their surprise, people actually started using it and giving them good feedback.

That’s when they realised they were on to something. They gave the product a name, registered a domain and company, set up a website and started iterating. They were all in now and with each new iteration they had a few more customers.

As Danny told me this story, I couldn’t help but remark about how Lean Startup-esque it was. They found a need, quickly rolled out an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), made sales and got feedback, and then decided it was worth working on. With only a team of two they kept rolling out new features every week and adding more customers.

They even turned down VC funding early on. They were still figuring out the product and didn’t want someone else coming in and ruining it by dictating terms. Finally, in the summer of 2012, they realised they needed to grow faster and so they took on a round of funding, hired a few more people, and started working on version 2.

While version 1 was a self-hosted platform, version 2 is cloud based like the other eCommerce platforms out there. There is no need to download or install anything. Everything is hosted on their servers.

At first they tried modifying version to adapt it to the cloud, but they soon realised they needed to build it from scratch again. This time they knew exactly who their customers were and what they needed to build. It took them some time but they finally released Lemon Stand v2.0 in December 2013.

Unlike other eCommerce platforms, LemonStand focuses on customizability. Danny believes that eCommerce entrepreneurs should have complete control over every aspect of their online stores. That’s why, with LemonStand, you can optimize, customize, and redesign every single aspect of your online store from the URL structure to the checkout process.

LemonStand isn’t a ‘launch in 5 minutes’ eCommerce platform. There are already a bunch of options for brand new eCommerce stores to quickly get set up with pre-made templates. Rather, it is meant for businesses that are already established, but have reached the point where they need more flexibility.

Using LemonStand, eCommerce owners are encouraged to design a completely custom theme for their store. There are absolutely no limitations and you have complete access over all the HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You can choose a free template to build upon or start from a blank canvas.

Their API is also extremely powerful, allowing you to build private apps and custom integrations into any third-party apps your store uses. In fact, there are already third-party developers working to build modules that will go up on their apps marketplace.

While it’s still early days, LemonStand already have thousands of stores using their platform. They continue to build, test, get feedback and iterate, adding at least 3 new features every week. Their output has been remarkable as they keep knocking off essential features on their laundry list.

What’s interesting is that features like analytics, optimization and customization will be built in to the platform. LemonStand wants to provide eCommerce entrepreneurs with all the tools they need to analyze and grow their stores, instead of having to use a bunch of third party tools and pay an extra $100/month.

For everything else, like e-mail automation, they’ll integrate with a third-party software like Mailchimp. By the time you read this, they may have already built their Shopify import tool, allowing you to seamlessly switch platforms when you feel the time has come for your store to grow.

eCommerce is growing extremely quickly and it’s becoming harder for businesses to compete online. The best way to beat out competition is to differentiate yourself by offering a unique shopping experience for customers.

If your store has outgrown the limited and generic designs offered by your current platform, it’s time to switch over to a more powerful one like LemonStand. With their unlimited flexibility and customizability, you can create an experience that shoppers will love revisiting again and again.

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