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Building advanced e-commerce with the digital agency Made People

An interview with Jonathan Selander and Anders Thorin, at the artisan e-commerce agency Made People. Read on to find out how the agency was founded, and why Made People build user-friendly e-commerce experiences for brands on Centra’s headless technology paired with the headless CMS, Storyblok.

Ebba Swanberg

7 minutes

Thanks Jonathan and Anders for having a chat with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and why Made People was founded? 

Anders and I founded Made People about 11 years ago. We’re childhood friends who started doing web development back in our high‑school days. We started out freelancing and quickly got a lot of e‑commerce projects which we mostly built on Magento and other older platforms. We didn’t really have a plan to move into the fashion and lifestyle segment. We sort of just found ourselves there. And as time went by we started picking up more and more major Swedish lifestyle and fashion projects – Happy Socks being one of the first big brands that stood out. The reason we created Made People is basically that we both worked in places where we felt we didn’t get an outlet for our creativity and ambition. We saw an opportunity to do a lot of fun and creative things together. We’d always dreamt of creating something amazing together and cared a lot about utilizing innovation to create new and unique selling points that make us stand out from other agencies in the business – and that’s where we’re at now!

 Tell us a little more about how you started building sites on the Centra platform.  When did you decide to go over to Centra, and why?

Two years ago, we decided to stop building sites on Magento and move onto a more modern platform. That decision is one of the best decisions we’ve made to be completely honest. At the same time, we had our first Centra project with ASKET, which was an eye‑opening experience. We quickly realized that we could deliver projects faster than ever before, and at the same time increase customer satisfaction by building innovative features and cool elements. Centra, paired with the headless CMS, Storyblok, was a great recipe for helping scale‑up brands take their businesses to the next level. The combination of the two helps us empower brands to create tight and creative organizations that can be very agile with their e‑commerce storefront – while making data‑driven decisions that help them grow faster. That is our goal with all projects today – we want to be viewed as a digital growth machine for brands. 

ASKET storefront

Image description: ASKET was Centra and Made People's first shared client

For what reasons was it difficult to work in the previous platforms you used?

 When it comes to Magento, it is a poorly written platform. You can say what you want about how neatly the code is written, but the platform is completely undocumented and indistinct. There’s also a lot of bugs. The decision to switch to Centra was mainly about coming to terms with using headless for real, and by that, we mean working with fully functional APIs that do not break. We used to spend hours on research and testing to be able to do what we wanted in Magento, which, obviously, was very inefficient. So, naturally, we started looking for a more modern platform and found Centra in the process.

What would you say are the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to designing an e‑commerce experience for a brand? 

What we’ve discovered is that brands need to be given the flexibility and the right tools to be creative when it comes to working with content. This is something we see as extremely important. Centra’s headless framework gives us as an agency the opportunity to be creative and build an experience that allows brands to be truly agile with their sites. We don’t want to work with templates, so instead, we’ve built a modular framework that allows us to build creative sites that also enable the brands to be creative with their content. I guess you could say that it’s more like a dynamic template, in which the brands can edit content in the same user‑friendly way as in a template‑based platform. The difference is that with our solution on Storyblok, the brands can change the disposition of the template however they want, whenever they want. They get the same easy‑to‑use editing experience without feeling limited by the template. We try to streamline everything that’s cumbersome and help customers deliver what’s unique to them without reinventing the wheel. Basically, we want to make it as easy and fast as possible, so brands can focus on expressing their brand values, instead of worrying about fixing stuff – or calling an agency every time they want to make a change or update. 

We’ve made a decision to only work with the headless CMS Storyblok. Storyblok has a truly awesome user experience that enables customers to be creative with their content and layout. Therefore, designing an e‑commerce site doesn’t stop at UX or design as it does for many others. We enable flexibility for our customers while also conveying the brand's expression digitally. To do that, we can’t work template‑based as many others do. Our clients or brands should not need to have to separate the design department and the content department – these teams should instead work together in the same system, which in our case will be the CMS.

Image description: Made people have created a smooth editing experience for ASKET in the headless CMS, Storyblok

Can you tell us a little bit about your working process?

We always start in the design/UX phase to map out the client's requirements. This phase sets the foundation for the entire project. To connect the UX with the design, we build a framework that is used to implement the design, as well as setting up the CMS. 

We always start in that phase even though it can look different from project to project. After that comes the implementation phase; implementing all technical features, everything UI‑related, along with continuous testing – where we have a dedicated QA tester. Finally, we do another solid test round before launching the site. Somewhere in the middle of code implementation, the client comes in and enriches all content in, for example, the CMS and with you guys in Centra. This is roughly what a typical project looks like, and it usually takes a total of about six months.

Do you have an example of a project you are particularly proud of?

We are proud of all of our projects, haha! But to name one – Stronger did some pretty cool stuff. We launched Stronger a few weeks before Black Friday, which was a bold move that went extremely well. 

We usually measure the value we create for the customer. We’ve done our job right if the customer has received a good delivery and increased sales. Stronger grew a lot from that project, and the delivery was smooth with a surge in sales from the get‑go – their e‑commerce revenue has skyrocketed since then.

Stronger storefront

Image description: STRONGER's e‑commerce revenue has skyrocketed since launching their new site by Made People on Centra

Can you give us some future projections of the e‑commerce landscape?

Well, all predictions about digitization and where the e‑commerce landscape is headed have been accelerated rapidly since the Covid‑19 pandemic. But one thing is for sure – communicating your brand and products digitally in a beautiful way is more important than ever. This goes for everything from design, feeling, speed, content, as well as using new technology and features that enhance the experience for your site’s visitors. To be able to provide this experience in the customer journey across all channels is more important than ever – how they receive their product, that the site works super smooth on mobile, as well as in‑store omnichannel experiences. 

Another trend we see in this quarter is that EVERYONE wants to have loyalty. This is completely new to us. It’s about giving back, all the time. As a result, we see a change in how people talk and communicate with their customers through loyalty platforms. Creating added value through loyalty platforms like Yotpo will become increasingly important.

Wanna know how Centra and Made People might be able to help your brand take it to the next level? Reach out through this form and we'll be in touch shortly. #nospam