From BigCommerce to Shift4Shop: Featuring Faith Vessels Pottery for Worship

Hue Parnell has been creating beautiful pottery for many years, and upon joining the church ministry in 2008 he received a request from a pastor friend for special pottery items to use in church services. One request became many, as pastors all over the area began to turn to him for custom communion sets and other pieces for use in their own worship services. Encouraged by the demand, Hue and his wife Marla did some research and discovered a real market for the high-quality, artistic and very durable ceramics that Hue was able to create. Thus, in 2010, Faith Vessels Pottery for Worship was born.

Hue possesses deep knowledge of all aspects of pottery, and he applies his expertise to every step in the process from selection of materials, to glazing, to final firing. He uses nothing but the finest bone china porcelain clay from England due to its quality and durability. Porcelain is fired at a higher temperature than other clays, resulting in a final product that is much more resistant to breakage and can stand up to years of frequent use. Every order is custom-made and Hue’s work is currently being used in churches of many denominations all across the United States.

Faith Vessels eCommerce Website

Faith Vessels eCommerce Website

Based in Springfield, Missouri, Hue and Marla are very busy with Faith Vessels as well as their three other businesses, Parnell Studios, Creava School for the Arts, and KilnDoc. In addition to being an accomplished painter in pastels, Marla has 32 years of experience in advertising and marketing and handles those aspects of their companies. “When Hue and I started Faith Vessels in 2010, I had next to no knowledge of how to design and produce a website, let alone an effective one, and I’m still learning,” Marla says. The first Faith Vessels website was very basic, utilizing simple PayPal buttons.

In 2012, Faith Vessels signed up with BigCommerce, and were happy with the platform for a few years. However, around August 2016, the Parnells received an unpleasant surprise. “It was time for us to renew our SSL certificate,” Marla remembers. “I went online and renewed it for $10 from Namecheap, which I had done since 2012, then attempted to upload it to our BigCommerce site. It was then that I discovered that BigCommerce no longer allowed third party SSL certificates.” Marla called BigCommerce and was told by their representative that she was now required to purchase their SSL certificate for $79. “I was not at all happy about the added expense, I had not been pre-warned, and I told the BigCommerce rep that I would be shopping for another eCommerce platform,” she says.

Marla began to research several other eCommerce options, including Shift4Shop. She was also considering building a WordPress website using WooCommerce, and had studied a comparison of that setup and Shift4Shop. “I had put the research aside for a few days when I received a timely email from Clarence at Shift4Shop, asking if we were unhappy with BigCommerce, and would we be interested in hearing more about Shift4Shop,” says Marla. “Honestly, the timing couldn’t have been better, and I set up a phone appointment with Clarence where he went over everything. I signed up that day, and took advantage of the offers of 18 months for the price of 12 months, plus 15% off for an annual payment. Super discount!”

BigCommerce, seemingly determined to continue making things difficult, soon slapped Faith Vessels with another unfair expense. Faith Vessels’ contract with BigCommerce was set to renew on October 4th, and Marla had the month of September to get the site migrated to Shift4Shop. When she called BigCommerce on October 1st, only then was she told that 5 days notice was required for cancellation. “We ended up paying them for the month of October after all,” Marla says. “Another reason to go elsewhere.”

Fortunately, the migration to Shift4Shop was very easy. Having only 17 products, Marla chose to do the migration herself. “I ended up reloading all my products, pages and copy manually while our BigCommerce site was still live, so that I could go back and forth, copying and pasting… and it gave me a chance to update copy and photos along the way,” she says. “If I had had a larger site to migrate, I would have taken advantage of the complimentary migration that Shift4Shop offers, but let’s face it, I’m a control freak and I wanted to make sure everything was done the way I wanted it to be.”

Marla has discovered that with Shift4Shop, she can certainly get everything on the site how she wants, and her design needs are informed by her experience in advertising. “We like that on each product page, all the options are clearly visible, and customers can see the description tab above the page ‘fold’ before they have to scroll down,” she explains. “On BigCommerce, I had to hide the product description AND the reviews under tabs so that the option info and Add To Cart button would be above the ‘fold’. All this info is important to see before a customer has to scroll down.”

That’s not all Marla likes about Shift4Shop. She and Hue find the home page carousel to be a great feature that allows them to immediately showcase their best products. They also appreciate that Faith Vessels is mobile-ready. “We really like the clean and responsive mobile version of our website,” Marla adds. “Awesome!”

Marla is also enjoying learning the Shift4Shop platform. “I feel that the backend is easy to use, and absolutely everything I don’t understand at first is always easy to resolve either by using the extensive Knowledge Base or Customer Support,” she says. “I know there are additional features, such as those in the Marketing section, that I need to explore and utilize. One of my major goals for 2017 is to educate myself further about online marketing, and to commit to a schedule for specific marketing duties, such as blogging, email campaigns, eNewsletters, etc. for Faith Vessels plus our other three businesses.” Fortunately, Shift4Shop provides all those capabilities and more.

As busy as Hue and Marla are, they need their online store to work perfectly with a minimum of hassles and no unexpected extra charges. With Shift4Shop, Faith Vessels Pottery for Worship has found its home. “We are extremely happy with our new Faith Vessels Shift4Shop website. We are receiving orders online and everything is working well, as it should,” Marla says. “We both highly recommend Shift4Shop to anyone who wants a clean, well-designed eCommerce website that works!”

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