r/place Shop - My First Shopify Store

Luck is often thought to be when preparedness meets opportunity, this was not one of those moments. I decided to make a Shopify store based on the creation of r/place. Welcome to rplace Shop, being able to sell custom t-shirts (and other things) in 3 hours!

So what is r/place?

r/place was an interesting idea for April fools, a community created image whereby reddit users could contribute to single colored pixel every 5 minutes to a 1000 x 1000 canvas, it was also possible to overwrite other users pixels. Subreddit communities quickly banded together to create their little piece of history on this giant piece of pixel art and found themselves fighting other communities and trolls for pixel real estate. This went on all weekend and by the end of the experiment a final image was created that was reminiscent of the Million Dollar Homepage from 2006 albeit a little more modern looking and filled with memes.

The final r/place image in all it’s glory

The Project

Those that know me understand that I love community driven games, projects and ideas so this naturally got me very excited. Unfortunately I was completely unaware that this had been going on until after it had ended and so I was unable to contribute.

Those who know me know that I work for a Shopify agency called Diff Agency and that every day I speak and hear Shopify. I see people setting up stores and selling all kinds of stuff but never actually have built a store for myself never really knowing what I could sell.

I saw this as an opportunity to put my acquired skills to good use on a pet project. I set out to build a Shopify store that sold r/place merchandise; t-shirts, mugs, hats, pillows etc. Another contributing factor came form a colleague and friend of mine who had recently set up his own store Bolt Apparel, a clothing store whereby all the designs are original and created by himself. He showed me how easy it is to set up and the best part is that there is no need to handle any inventory at all! Drop shipping is great isn’t it?

So I span up rplace Shop on Shopify and began setting things up.

Printful makes everything easy

I think one big deterrence for people looking to start selling online is firstly manufacturing a product at high quality and being able to fulfill orders reliably. Thankfully there are companies out there, like Printful that take care of all of the hassle for you.

Printful has a Shopify app that plugs into your Shopify store and handles everything from allowing you to choose the type of product you want to sell; t-shirts, sweaters, posters, mugs etc. from a variety of different vendors. You then upload your own designs and then choose the price point and sizes you want to sell them at. Once created they are then synced with Shopify and appear on your storefront. It’s that easy!

Now the greatest things about Printful are the following:

  1. Everything is built to order, you do not need to worry about having stock on hand for a specific design as they are manufactured as orders come in.
  2. The goods are sent directly to the customer, you don’t have to touch any products that you sell.
  3. I hear they also handle returns! Again, you will never have to touch a product, ever!

The bottom line is that Printful allows you to be creative, sell products and not have to worry about any of the logistics. It’s incredible.

Not So Fast, we need to get a theme setup

Once the products were in place I was still using the out of the box Shopify theme that every store comes with, to call it bland is an understatement. As this is a pet project and is a bit of a silly idea I went with a free theme from the Shopify Theme Store and chose one of the free themes available. I ended up going with a theme called Venture that seemed decent enough.

using the basic theme settings that came with the theme I was able to get a color scheme that somewhat represented r/space. I think obnoxious was the style I was going for, anyhow it was up and running and was populated with some products.

Here’s what the featured products look like listed on the site

And here is an example product page!

Store Setup

So I had a storefront, custom products and all that was left were some setting sunder the hood that would allow people to actually purchase these goods if they wanted to.

I purchase the $29.99 basic Shopify plan and entered by Credit Card details and that was it. 3 hours after starting the project it was ready to be released into the wild.

Flipping the switch

When I started working in e-commerce I always thought that going live with a site would be some extraordinary event, something super exciting however most of the time it is the most anti-climatic thing ever. You spend all this time building up to something only to launch it by un-checking the “storefront password” box in your store settings. you un-check the box and absolutely nothing happens.

I was a little nervous about removing the password, what if i get a sale!? I hope the connection with printful works! What if the quality sucks and I have to deal with returns! I actually ordered some sample product with my designs to ensure that the quality does not suck. By the time they arrive this post will be 1.5 weeks old!

Getting traffic

This was the stressful part for me, I had a storefront but nobody knew it existed. What’s the point in that?

I figured the best place to post about the site would be on r/place itself but having never posted there before and essentially capitalizing on their work felt wrong and I was very hesitant and nervous about doing so. A lot of this fear was me ust being insecure about how it would be received, what if I got banned, or the post got taken down by a mod!? A lot of irrational thinking went on in my head.

At the end of the day I was encouraged to make a post by my colleagues, A place for place swag was the title of my post and it ended up with no up-votes but 2 comments. Unfortunately I couldn’t respond to the comments because I couldn’t remember the password or email to my throwaway account, go me.

What’s next for the r/space shop?

Designs! I plan on asking for help on fiver, to see if I can get some help cutting out some of the pixel art from the image. It’s very time consuming and I’m certain there are people more efficient at it than myself… Perhaps I should look into building an AI to do this for me… that’s another project I suppose!

The Conclusion

I have a feeling that the r/place store might not pick up and that’s OK, this was a great way to apply my knowledge of the Shopify platform, confront some fears and get a deeper insight into what merchants have to deal with. I think it might actually be a pathway into a new hobby of mine, creating t-shirt designs. It’s a great creative outlet and maybe one day someone might want one of the creations.