Shopify · · 6 min read

Game Changer: How Baserow Transformed Our Approach to Data Management

Game Changer: How Baserow Transformed Our Approach to Data Management

For over a decade, my journey through the world of e-commerce has been an evolving adventure. Alongside my dedicated team, we have painstakingly built, refined, and iterated numerous versions of our online storefronts, transitioning from earlier solutions like Magento to Shopify over the years. Beyond grappling with the design intricacies and aligning the user experience with each iteration, I’ve come to realize how crucial our approach to product data management truly is.

Whether we were streamlining the user interface on our Shopify store or making amendments to our product listings, effective and efficient management of our product data emerged as a game-changer. It has truly made the difference between tedious, protracted projects and quick, manageable tasks, saving us dozens of hours in project time that we've been able to direct towards other business growth activities.

As our storefronts evolved, so did our approach to managing data. Like many others, we began with a simplistic approach, listing products individually via the store's backend. However, we quickly discovered the inefficiency in this method. We transitioned to spreadsheets, gaining the ability to set up multiple products at once. Yet, the limitations of standard spreadsheets prompted a search for an even more efficient solution. This search concluded when we discovered Airtable. Now, Baserow functions as our central repository for all product data. It feeds into all storefronts, various sales channels and our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, providing a cohesive, streamlined data management system that has scaled elegantly with our growing business.

The purpose of this journey is not just to share my own e-commerce journey. I want to share basic concepts for data management which can save huge amounts of working hours for e-commerce businesses. I will hopefully give you an introduction on how to build a lasting and efficient solution for data management and free lots of working hourse for more important business tasks like interacting with your customers or building great products. I don't know where you are on your e-commerce journey, but chances are that you face similar challenges like I do.

The state of tools

Excel just doesn’t cut it

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I've grappled with numerous challenges, a significant one being effective product data management. Using traditional tools like Excel, while initially straightforward, soon exposed issues. Excel has limitations on data size, lacks real-time collaboration features, and struggles with complexity as data grows. In short, it doesn’t scale particularly well, especially as an e-commerce business expands its product range and customer base.

With the growth of my own Shopify business, the limitations of Excel became increasingly apparent. As we expanded our product range, each with numerous attributes like SKU codes, colors, sizes, and prices, the spreadsheets became enormously complex. This complexity was not just hard to manage, but it significantly increased the risk of human error. Information was scattered across different sheets and files, making it difficult for team members to collaborate effectively and efficiently. In essence, Excel was unable to keep up with the increasing data demands of our growing business.

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10.000 products in a spradsheet
We had times where we had around 10.000 SKUs to manage across 4-5 platforms in 5 different languages. Managing this in a spreadsheet would have been an endless nightmare 🙈

The upshot of these complexities and inefficiencies were hours lost - hours that could have been better spent on growing the business, strategizing, or improving customer experience. The frequent errors due to the unwieldy nature of our spreadsheets added up to a considerable amount of time spent on rectification, not to mention disruption of workflow. Instead of assisting in our operations, the limitations of tools like Excel were creating bottlenecks in our product data management process, slowing us down instead of propelling us forward.

Intoducing Baserow

In the midst of Excel's limitations, I stumbled upon Baserow. This innovative tool, which combines the features of a database and a spreadsheet, offered a fresh perspective on managing our growing product data.

Baserow's strength lies in its flexibility and customizability, with the capacity to store information in a non-linear way. It presents information beyond the conventional rows and columns, including capability for linked records, multiple views, and rich field types like checkboxes, dropdowns, attachments, and more.

My initial encounter with Baserow marked the beginning of a transformative journey in data management. Compared to Excel, it seemed more aligned with the needs of a dynamic, rapidly scaling e-commerce business like ours. The question was - could this be the game-changing tool we've been searching for? The potential was definitely there and it was high time for us to dive in and explore.

Baserow as a Solution

At its core, Baserow shines when it comes to handling large amounts of product data. Unlike Excel, which often becomes slower and more difficult to use with really large lists, Baserow is built specifically to handle big datasets. This means as our product range grew, Baserow could easily keep up.

One great thing about Baserow is that it lets everyone on the team work together in the same place, in real time. No more juggling multiple versions of the same Excel file - in Baserow, everyone always sees the most up-to-date information. This makes teamwork a lot smoother, and means less chance of mistakes happening.

In Baserow you can view your data from different perspectives

Additionally, Baserow provides various views of your data. You can customize multiple grid views to display selected subsets only. Other view options include Gallery for quick overview, Kanban for managing actionable items and Calendar for deadline tracking.

Switching from Excel to Baserow has vastly improved our data management. Where we once struggled with disorganized product information, Baserow has provided a neat and easily accessible format. The transition to Baserow has saved us significant time and reduced errors, resulting in a more streamlined and manageable workday.

Baserow - A Single Source of Truth

With Baserow's robust features, our product data no longer exists scattered across disparate platforms, channels, and files. It's gathered in one place - in Airtable. This feature gave us a reliable "single source of truth" that everyone in the team can access, reducing inconsistencies and confusion.

Baserow allows us to see all our data at a glance. And it’s not just viewing; it provides rich insights which help in decision-making. In the past, cross-referencing data across multiple Excel sheets was a nightmare. Now, it's a simple task. It's like having a magnifying glass on your data that can zoom in on the tiniest detail and zoom out to give you an overview in an instant.

The biggest advantage for our product data manageent is to connect data and tables. This gives us the ability to manage one central repository of peoduct data as a single source of truth. From this we derive various specialized tables for platforms like Shopify and Amazon which can be easily exported. That makes it very easy to handle small and even large scale changes.

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Pro Tip
When you put some effort and care into the structure of your product data even large changes will be very easy. It will not matter if you want to push a price change for 5 or 5.000 🚀🚀🚀 products to Shopify.

The Potential of Baserow

One of the biggest wins with Baserow is how much time it saves us. Because it keeps all our data in one easy-to-use place, we're not wasting hours digging through messy information anymore. This has made our daily tasks faster and more efficient. Depending on the task you can easily 10x or 20x or productivity.

But the time saving doesn't stop there. When you connect Baserow's powerful API to a workflow automation tool like [[https://www.n8n.io][n8n]] you can go very very far. Just some examples what we are dong when it comes to automation:

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Create new products of push changes in products automatically to Shopify
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Create product descriptions with AI🧠 based on product attributes automatially 🧙
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Create translations for descriptions and other attributes with AI🧠
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Do all of the above each time a new product row is added 😉 🤖

The impact Baserow has on our working hours and overall satisfaction can't be overstated.

Conclusion

Looking back on my journey, transitioning to Baserow has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my e-commerce business. It's more than a tool; it's a time-saving, stress-reducing companion that's streamlined our operations and boosted our produtivity.

If you're an e-commerce business owner struggling with product data management, I wholeheartedly recommend considering Baserow. It may take a some effort to set up initially, but the benefits you'll reap - efficiency, accuracy, and precious time saved - will be well worth it.

At the end of the day, running a successful e-commerce business isn’t just about having a wide range of products or a sophisticated marketing strategy; it’s also about using the right tools to manage your operations effectively, and for product data management, I've found Airtable to be the right tool.

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