Case Study Essential Depot

Miva's powerful ecommerce platform improves sales, cuts costs, & saves an online B2B & B2C retailer from the limitations of cookie-cutter solutions.

  • +20%
    Sales Revenue increase
  • +52%
    Fast site load times
  • 132hrs
    Hours saved per month

Business Overview

Essential Depot founder Derek Hodges launched his business in 2009 when he saw an opportunity to provide high-quality food-grade sodium hydroxide (lye) to the hand-made soap making community.

Today the company sells a wide variety of premium materials for the production of soap, perfume, and other bath and body care products. The company's experience with selling chemical components online has led to them also becoming a trusted provider of key supplies for the e-cigarette and hydrogen fuel cell industries.


Hodges originally launched Essential Depot using ProStores as his ecommerce platform. "I wanted a store that would easily integrate with eBay," he explains, "and since ProStores was owned by eBay it made a lot of sense at the time. The shopping cart was fairly pedestrian, but the implementation was quick and it was pretty easy to use."

In the summer of 2014, eBay announced they were closing down the platform, and they had two solutions they recommended for their ProStores customers. "They were trying to push customers to Magento Enterprise," Hodges says, "or for shops like mine where Magento Enterprise was overkill and way too expensive, they were working with Bigcommerce to port stores over."

Essential Depot considered Bigcommerce and Volusion, but Hodges quickly found they wouldn't work for him. "I figured out pretty quickly they don't have the functionality we need," he says. "They have a cookie-cutter approach to building sites and we wouldn't have been able to customize what we wanted."

We feel like we have this sports car and we're finally on the freeway. It's doing everything we want, and we have the ability to supercharge the engine to fit our needs.

Derek Hodges |
President & CEO, Essential Depot

Choosing Miva

"With Bigcommerce and Volusion," Hodges says "you're stuck with limited features and a limited ability to customize the platform. I don't want a cookie-cutter approach, I want a tool kit to build my business. Magento has the tool kit, but the price is steep and they don't have an in-house development team. We're a relatively small company without the resources to build the site ourselves."

"Miva fills the void for someone like me," he continues. "I spoke with them, and after the initial conversation I knew right away there wasn't really any question. Miva was the right platform for us for a whole bunch of reasons. They had all the features we needed, an in-house professional services group that would be able to help with our build, and a cost of entry that made much more sense than the other options we were considering."


Miva untethered Essential Depot from the pedestrian cookie-cutter approach on ProStores by deploying a powerful new ecommerce portal that streamlined the purchasing experience for their wholesale and retail customers, while automating key business processes. One particular issue solved by Miva was Essential Depot's need to sell hazardous chemicals to customers across the world – their shipping procedures needed to comply with a wide variety of international import and hazmat policies. "On our new site," Hodges explains, "the appropriate Harmonized Tariff code gets added automatically to any international order that needs it. This is a feature we were able to implement with our initial launch, whereas with anyone else it would have been a one or two year job to build the capability."

Additionally, Hodges notes, "With Miva we can specify an unlimited number of custom fields for our products and our cart, and we can present them in any order we want." "This is true merchandizing flexibility, not some boiled down cookie cutter approach offered by your basic shopping cart." Hodges is also impressed by the integrated nature of Miva's offering. "Miva's in-house design support services are excellent. They are responsive and fast, which isn't something we would have had with a platform like Magento." Hodges expects to utilize Miva's ongoing Managed Account Program (MAP) for future enhancements to drive the growth and efficiency of his business.

Finally, Hodges praises the way Miva has streamlined the day-to-day operating procedures of his enterprise team. "The new Miva 9 back-end abilities are just excellent," he says. "Our marketing, shipping, and product departments are all linked, and anyone from any department can go in and make changes and do inventory control. With price grouping, inventory kits, and the limitless customization we can do on shipping rates, sales, and coupons, we can optimize our business and serve our customers in very specific unique ways. With Miva we can do things we never imagined with other ecommerce providers."

On Miva we can dream up things and implement them in a day. We can do things we never imagined with other ecommerce providers.

Derek Hodges |
President & CEO, Essential Depot


Essential Depot has achieved impressive results with their new Miva website. "Sales revenue is up 20%," Hodges says, "and we've seen an additional $480,000 in annual international orders due to internationally enabled check-out processes that were not possible on our old cart."

"Miva's automation of the Harmonized Tariff codes saves us 32 man-hours per month," he continues, "and we've also seen around 100 additional man-hours saved every month due to other site customizations. These man-hours saved translate into roughly $1,800 per month in cost savings."

Hodges says shipping errors have been reduced by 33% due to Miva's direct integration with ShipWorks. "We are also working toward achieving ISO 9000 compliance," he says, "and Miva's customizations and integrations help enable these efforts."

Finally, Hodges praises the performance of the Miva platform. "The look and feel are amazing," he says, "and our customers have given us nothing but praise for the new site." He says that Essential Depot is seeing page load times with Miva that are 52% faster than on their old site. "Everything we have now runs so quickly and smoothly," he says, "from the integrated videos on the front page, to the 100-plus price groups we're able to use, to the full integration with our social media platforms."

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