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Case Study –  MasterAppliance.com Upgrades from BigCommerce Blueprint to Stencil

June 6, 2022 | |

In 1958, Master Appliance was the first to introduce the industrial-quality, heavy-duty professional heat gun to the worldwide marketplace. Over the years, the company has continuously expanded new products and services, fulfilling its goal of providing customers with the most advanced heat tools available. Today, MasterAppliance.com offers an extensive selection of tools used for drying, heating, welding, shrinking, soldering, and other applications where heat is required. 

Striving to boost search visibility and conversions, the online retailer faced one significant obstacle: their website was on the outdated BigCommerce framework, Blueprint. As a result, MasterAppliance.com was at risk of losing critical site functionality unsupported by future upgrades from BigCommerce. 

Master Appliance knew the development of its website would stagnate without an upgrade to Stencil. They turned to the Blueprint to Stencil migration experts, IntuitSolutions, to perform a complete, custom migration of their online store, all while their existing website was kept up and running.

The Challenge: Limited by the Outdated Blueprint Framework

In 2016, BigCommerce upgraded its platform to Stencil, a more flexible, modern, and future-proof framework. Still on the antiquated framework, Blueprint, MasterAppliance.com was not only at risk of losing crucial site functionality but was also missing out on the features that BigCommerce had been releasing for its merchants, which you can read more about here.

As Blueprint is no longer supported by BigCommerce, merchants often begin experiencing issues with their stores. Features break, functionality doesn’t do what it used to, and even website traffic can begin to suffer.  

“Staying on Blueprint is like living in a house with old wiring. The most significant upgrade you can make in terms of your ecommerce platform is a move to Stencil.” – Lu Cordero, Lead Designer

MasterAppliance needed an updated, top-performing website that would help customers to find and purchase products quickly, easily, and without disruption.  The solution was clear – a custom upgrade to the BigCommerce Stencil framework.  Doing so would improve the overall functionality and performance on their site, implement a more modern code base, and ultimately help boost their online sales.

The Solution: Upgrade to BigCommerce Stencil

IntuitSolutions partnered with MasterAppliance.com for a custom full site development and upgrade from BigCommerce BluePrint to Stencil. This entire process was overseen by a dedicated project manager and supported by a full team of in-house experts in ecommerce design and development.  

Because IntuitSolutions works exclusively on the BigCommerce platform, our team is uniquely qualified to migrate – or create from scratch –  a custom best-in-class online store on the BigCommerce Stencil framework.

“[Stencil] incorporates industry best practices in technology, design standards, SEO, and allows developers to build a stunning storefront that engages shoppers and encourages checkouts on any device.”BigCommerce 

BigCommerce Stencil Advantages

Before we dive into the design and user-experience for MasterAppliance.com, let’s first highlights some of the native features and advantages of Stencil:

  • Better Website Performance
    • Akamai Image Manager to optimize images
    • Minification of CSS and JS for cleaner code and industry coding best practices
    • Google AMP Support
    • Enhanced Rich Snippet Schema
  • Developer Friendly
    • Improved Theme Editor for safer, cleaner, and more easily managed updates
    • Upgraded coding languages and integration support
  • More Functionality
    • Page builder capabilities
    • Access to More Payment Options
    • Powerful Marketing Features, such as Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking

A Custom BigCommerce Design

MasterAppliance.com worked closely with the IntuitSolutions BigCommerce design team to craft a design and layout on the BigCommerce Stencil platform that preserved the current site’s established branding, look, and feel. The result is an easy-to-navigate, clean layout that allows the robust product selection speak for itself.

Like all of our custom BigCommerce stores, MasterAppliance.com was built using our proprietary “ITS Base Theme,” which is better optimized for page load speed and Search Engine Optimization than our competitors who do not focus on BigCommerce. 

IntuitSolutions’ Base Theme

This theme was developed off of the BigCommerce Cornerstone theme and enhanced by our BigCommerce developers to achieve improved page load speed, Google Core Web Vitals, and SEO results. 

The IntuitSolutions Base Theme comes out of the box with the following features:

  • Significant upgrades to ADA & WCAG accessibility
  • Better 404 crawler instructions
  • Improved ‘Quick Search’ results
  • Resolved native bugs
  • Improved blog layout
  • Photoswipe product image viewer
  • Product data page custom tab
  • Popup login window
  • Image swap on hover
  • Mega menu
  • Improved cart page layout
  • Additional page builder region points
  • Slide out preview cart
  • Slide out search
  • Brand carousel
  • And much more!

BigCommerce Add-ons & Plugins

To add more sophistication and interactivity to the MasterAppliance.com shopping experience, IntuitSolutions implemented the Frequently Bought Together add-on, an Amazon-like bundling feature that’s a main staple on major ecommerce sites. This feature displays related or bundled products in an interactive carousel beneath the main product detail. 

With the Frequently Bought Together add-on, customers can add all suggested products to their cart at once, or select the specific products they want to bundle. Merchants control which products are included and available as an upsell.

Frequently Bought Together Add-on Features:

  • Sell Bundled Products Or Kits – highlight accessories or complimentary products
  • Increase Average Order Value – encourage customers to spend more without leaving the current page
  • Reduce Checkout Time – help customers to find what they need in less time
  • Enhance UX improve the user experience with interactive functionality and easy ordering

ThemeBridge™: The Staging-Like Environment Built for BigCommerce

The MasterAppliance.com project also utilized ThemeBridge™,  an app developed by IntuitSolutions to help expedite the testing and launch processes. The first and only true production-like staging environment built specifically for the BigCommerce platform, It allows us to preview any Stencil theme against your website’s real store data.

Every website development project and retainer gains access to ThemeBridge™ at IntuitSolutions. 

ThemeBridge™ ensures a smooth transition from Blueprint to Stencil and provides confidence for both our clients and our developers in knowing how a website will look and function prior to launch.  MasterAppliance.com was able to preview their new theme with their actual product data and content, browse the new site prior to launch, and see development progress in real-time.

The Results: An Updated Framework that Converts

Working with IntuitSolutions, MasterAppliance.com now has a high-performing, future-proof website that preserves its established brand and enhances the user experience for its online shoppers. They no longer have to worry about their site breaking unexpectedly, and now enjoy more sophisticated features that help drive conversions.

If you’re still on the BigCommerce Blueprint framework, we encourage you to take the leap and migrate to Stencil before your store begins to experience significant issues.  Whether you want to recreate your existing design or try something fresh, we have a Stencil migration package for your budget.

Want to know more about our blueprint to stencil services? We’re an Elite BigCommerce Partner and we’re here to guide you through the process each step of the way.  Unsure if your BigCommerce store is Blueprint or Stencil? Learn how to check here.Send us a message or give us a call at 866-901-4650 to discuss how we can help your business succeed online.

Sarah joined IntuitSolutions in 2022 as a Marketing Manager where she focuses on content creation, social media, and digital marketing. In her free time, she loves to travel, study a new language, and explore nature around her.

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