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Domaine Doubles Their Client Base And Team By Building A Shopify Practice

Domaine Doubles Their Client Base And Team By Building A Shopify Practice

Shopify recently sat down with Marko Bon, co-founder of Tomorrow Agency (now merged with Half Helix to form Domaine) and Karolina Kondrat, Associate Director of Marketing at Domaine, to learn more about their incredible growth journey as a Shopify Partner.

In September 2023, Tomorrow announced a merger with Shopify partner commerce agency Half Helix. Together, they rebranded as Domaine.

The agencies support 70+ merchants on Shopify and are the largest independent Shopify service partner. Beyond growing their combined client base, both agencies can tap into each other’s creative and technical expertise to create a full-service commerce agency. 

Domaine is a web design and development agency that helps enterprise merchants grow and scale on Shopify. The Domaine team works with household names such as Arhaus, helping with everything from their technical architecture to Shopify migration. 

Domaine built their business exclusively on Shopify and were able to double their team, double their client base, and merge with Half Helix in 2023 to become the largest independent Shopify agency.

Monolithic platforms stifle growth and drive up costs for enterprise businesses

Originally co-founded under the name Tomorrow by Marko Bon, Joe Tatarski, and Oliva Quan Yuan, the agency’s goal was to address a specific problem they were encountering in their work with large enterprise brands operating on legacy monolithic platforms: they couldn’t develop the innovative site experiences they wanted to. Or that they felt the brands deserved. 

Marko was used to CEOs coming to him with innovative visions that the team knew were technically possible, but practically prohibitive. On legacy platforms, high budgets and lengthy timelines made executing on these ideas next to impossible. Soon the executive suite would turn their eyes—and their budgets—to more pressing projects that were simpler to get to market. 

Says Marko: “I was frustrated with the amount of time and the expense that enterprise commerce required. I was sitting in brand conference rooms, hearing ridiculous budgets and timelines that every project required [on these legacy platforms].”

And these “ridiculous budgets and timelines” wouldn’t have even fully accomplished what the brands needed them to given the limitations of the legacy platforms.

This had serious consequences for the enterprises Domaine worked with, as it hampered the ability of these brands to innovate and keep up with their customers in constantly changing industries, let alone delight them

Karolina Kondrat, who would later become Associate Director of Marketing at Domaine, notes how this manifested for enterprise brands that were stuck kicking tires on their legacy platforms rather than innovating and expanding their sites.

“Many brands [were] stuck dealing with the frustrations of being on legacy systems and focusing more on maintenance instead of innovating and continuing to iterate what they were doing online,” says Karolina.

In a strong economy, the problem was less pressing—more of a “nice-to-fix” than a must-have. But that all shifted in a down economy, where companies investing large sums in legacy platforms that were no longer serving them simply wasn’t sustainable.

“Brands [were] spending tons of money on something that [was] not improving,” says Karolina. “They [were] just maintaining the status quo. That [was] fine for the time being. But, eventually, every business needs to grow and move forward.”

Says Marko: “We built our company focusing only on the Shopify platform because the total cost of ownership on legacy systems was no longer justifiable, and that's even more relevant today than it was five years ago. The CTOs and commerce leaders who we end up migrating to Shopify recognize that innovation, speed, and reduced TCO is in fact the best first step toward digital transformation; eliminate waste and onerous tech debt, and focus on growth.”

Marko and Karolina were excited by the prospect of transforming brands with innovative creative experiences. They wanted to make their brands’ ideas a reality.

Becoming a Shopify partner leads to accelerated business growth 

As luck would have it, the solution was right in front of them. It was in the very vision the C-suite was laying out—specifically, in the examples they provided of other commerce sites they admired. 

They all seemed to have one thing in common: they were on Shopify.

Yet when they started out, commerce industry experts told them that Shopify’s ability to deliver better speed, lower total cost of ownership, and drive a rapid pace of innovation, would mean they couldn’t make as much money as a partner as they would on platforms like Adobe or Salesforce. The argument here being: pick a platform that’s harder for your clients to use themselves, because it will result in a greater demand—and higher fees—for you.

Says Marko, “They were essentially telling us to pick worse technology, worse experiences, and worse outcomes for our clients.” 

But in the end, choosing Shopify has only made their business boom. Domaine has enterprises “coming to us in spades” as they recognize the level of innovation, speed, and reduced total cost of ownership they can achieve with Shopify.

“In actuality, founding a Shopify exclusive practice was the best decision we could make,” says Marko. “We see higher win rates, stronger market demand for our Shopify expertise, and stronger retention because we invest on the platform that is building exclusively for commerce.”

Shopify helps Domaine focus on transformation instead of maintenance 

What does it mean to expand focus beyond “just maintenance?” It means looking at commerce as more than a website and instead, as an event that happens via many different channels. By reinvesting their time in innovative site experiences, the team is helping to drive greater business growth for their merchants through higher conversion and lift. 

Shopify’s architecture is built to do just that. 

“We’re thinking about B2B commerce, social commerce, in-store POS, physical retail commerce, international,” says Marko. “And [with Shopify], we’re talking about an entire architecture that fulfills commerce across multiple channels.”

After all, when customers live and breathe across so many different spaces, that’s where brands need to be. To do that on a legacy platform is like trying to quickly change the direction of a freight ship; it takes a lot of time, and it’s cumbersome. Shopify, on the other hand, is built from the ground up to be nimble, with the habits of the modern consumer top of mind. As consumers change, so does Shopify, with $1.7 billion spent in research and development in 2023 alone and over 800 significant feature releases over the past three years.

“The biggest contributor to our agency's growth on Shopify has been the number of products and features that Shopify releases yearly,” says Marko. “Shopify is investing in feature functionality that I can apply to the growth of my clients. That's only accelerated over time.”

And it’s not just what can be done—it’s how it’s done, and how fast, from the very beginning. 

“Time to launch is a big reason why we recommend Shopify,” says Karolina.” Regardless of size, you can launch on Shopify in a day if you want to, and you can also migrate an entire enterprise site in a matter of months.”

Domaine delivers impressive results for enterprise brands with Shopify 

With Shopify at the core of their approach, the Domaine team has consistently achieved impressive results for merchants who have migrated from platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud to Shopify. 

Having the ability to make iterative updates and scale merchant websites helps generate their merchants a much higher ROI than if they were simply maintaining their sites. Where other platforms claim to have low TCO, their lack of features necessitate a reliance on costly and difficult to integrate third-party apps and plugins. Additionally, extensive platform updates at times amount to what feel like a total replatforming for brands despite technically staying with the same provider, and include things like downtime and less than ideal site experiences that lower conversion rates.

In contrast, Shopify now gives brands seamless updates, and a feature-rich core infrastructure out-of-the-box that still offers flexibility for customization and growth. Between the decreased costs and increased conversion rates, this massively increased the value Tomorrow brands saw in TCO when switching to Shopify.

“As someone who's been in the Shopify partner ecosystem for quite a long time, I think it's one of the better decisions you can make. You can’t go wrong. It's an incredible ecosystem.” 
– Karolina Kondrat, Associate Director of Marketing, Tomorrow

“From migrating from Salesforce to Shopify, one one-hundred-fifty million dollar fashion brand experienced cost savings of around thirty million dollars, which was due in part to their lowered reliance on third-party apps,” says Karolina. “We were able to prove that there are clear benefits of moving platforms.”

Shopify and Domaine grow, innovate, and scale—together

Domaine was founded not just from a dedication to their customer, but also from a shared vision with them. What their customers wanted, Domaine wanted to deliver. In Shopify, they found a platform that believed in their goal of delivering on their customers’ visions. And they also found a partner eager to share in the building of their road map. 

“One of the things that excites me about partnering with Shopify is that we share the same values,” says Marko. “That commerce isn't just on your desktop or your mobile phone. It's in store, it's in social, it's in international markets, it's in B2B. Shopify provides strong, robust feature functionality that allows us to tell that story to our clients and prospects.”

By partnering with Shopify, Tomorrow can access the platform’s newest features and tools, helping them grow merchant sites more quickly. This sharply contrasts with Marko's previous experience of commerce platforms requiring constant company spending.

“Other platforms like Salesforce invest in all sorts of clouds and bolt-on services that they want me as a brand to buy,” says Marko, “Shopify invests in feature functionality that I can apply directly to the growth of my clients and then to my own business. The professional and VIP teams are bolted-on services that have helped us accelerate our business.

With Shopify, Domaine has a partner committed to commerce in its entirety –– not just online shopping. The strength of the partner ecosystem and support system has made a big difference to Domaine’s growth as an agency.

“In two years, we've more than doubled our team, and we've more than doubled our client base.” 
– Karolina Kondrat, Associate Director of Marketing, Tomorrow

Join partners like Domaine in building high growth Shopify practices, powered by best in class commerce technology. Get started today.

This article originally appeared on Shopify Web Design and Development and is available here for further discovery.
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