Ingebretsen's

CASE STUDY

A Century of Success for Ingebretsen's Nordic Marketplace

Become the Next Success Story

Steve Pierson of Ingebretsen's Nordic Marketplace in Minneapolis discusses the
business migration to Magento Community Edition with Wagento.

The muffled sound of a bell cling-clings outside as a streetcar putters up East Lake Street. A young butcher peers from his shop window at the tram, where it deposits passengers bundled in hats and long coats before continuing its journey towards the Mississippi. The soft December snowfall frosts the street like a tasty Christmas kransekake, and suddenly the young man is overcome with nostalgia for his home country and memories of holiday celebrations with his family. The familiar smell of lye-bathed whitefish circulates the room, further reminding him of meals shared in his native land. A customer strides in, and the butcher quickly snaps out of his trance. Wrapping up the patron’s order, the young man’s wistful mood evaporates, and he’s suddenly filled with pride as he reels his thoughts back to his new shop and the stunning “Model Market” freshly painted on the storefront in a bold, upper-case font. In that moment, Charles Ingebretsen recognized just how much he had to be thankful for: his new shop, his Scandinavian community, his favorite time of year in full swing, and—of course—his newborn boy at home, Charles “Hoot,” Jr.

Ingebretsen's Connection with Wagento

Ingebretsen’s transformation over the decades included its exploration into eCommerce. From its humble brick-and-mortar inception, the Nordic shop eventually embraced the online store model that was revolutionizing the shopping experience. The company had been using Magento 1 for its eCommerce platform until, unfortunately, it was announced that support for Magento 1 would end in June of 2020. At that point, all merchants were urged to either migrate to Magento 2 or find some other solution altogether. 

 

Julie Ingebretsen’s husband, Steve Pierson, realized his team’s options were limited. They couldn’t stay on Magento 1, but they weren't sure if Magento 2 was the best choice over another eCommerce platform entirely. However, after Steve and his colleagues discovered that migrating their complex point-of-sales system with anything other than Magento would essentially require them to start from scratch with that integration, the choice became very clear.

 

With their decision made to stay on Magento, the Ingebretsen’s team set out to find the person for the job. Hiring a local developer was one of their main priorities. Not only would proximity allow for better communication, but Ingebretsen’s itself is a testament to “locality.” The store is a longstanding artifact of the neighborhoods and cultures that made it what it is today, so choosing someone from the area to head the project would be in theme.

 

During Ingebretsen’s quest for a developer, Pierson ran across a blog post by Joe Shelton, who happened to be a backend developer for Wagento Commerce—an eCommerce solutions agency located in the western Minneapolis suburb, Golden Valley. After Pierson learned that Wagento specialized in the Magento platform, his team decided to reach out to the local agency about helping them with their migration. After connecting—coincidentally—Pierson discovered that Wagento founder Brent Peterson had a connection to the Ingebretsen’s of early days. It turned out that Peterson’s great-grandfather was a butcher and fellow business competitor to Charles, Sr. To Ingebretsen’s, all these factors must have amounted to some sort of fate, so they hired Wagento for the job.

Key Challenges

One caveat in Ingebretsen’s replatforming plan was the team’s budget. The cost of the Magento license alone is quite steep for a small business owner, and many of the standard Magento editions are targeted towards larger enterprises. Shelton worked with Pierson and his colleagues to discover and implement the best game plan for migration that would limit customization and keep costs low. Throughout this process, Pierson was thankful for Shelton’s ongoing transparency in regards to expenses and unnecessary spending.

 

“Part of our success was working within the boundaries of Magento instead of relying on heavy customization,” Pierson said. “Joe was always honest about advising against code and customizations outside those boundaries.”

 

Between the honesty Pierson and his colleagues felt throughout the project and the frequent communication facilitated by the Wagento team, the store employees were able to put their trust in the Minneapolis-based eCommerce agency without a hesitation. Paul Fraser, Ingebretsen’s migration project manager, was another key figure in the Scandinavian store’s success. Fraser not only ensured his team conducted frequent calls with the merchant, but he also taught the merchant to use Wagento’s ticket system on a software called Jira. Mastering Jira comes with a learning curve, but Fraser knew that this mutual task-and-communication tool between his team and the merchant would prove to be invaluable in the long run.

 

“Paul was the glue that held the whole thing together,” Pierson said. “He plugged up any cracks that things could fall through.”

Success for Ingebretsen's

In the end, Wagento was able to migrate Ingebretsen’s from Magento 1 to Magento 2 Community Edition while accommodating the complexities of the shop’s point-of-sale system and respecting their budget boundaries. The October 2020 launch, according to Pierson, came just in the nick of time in regards to the aftermath of both a global pandemic and—unfortunately—a summer of property-devastating riots. Being located in the thick of the busy Powderhorn district and just over a mile away from the original Minneapolis protests following George Floyd’s death in late May, Ingebretsen’s sadly was among the businesses impacted by the riots. The shop experienced ample damage, and the store had to shift to online and curbside pickup sales only, while the community members pitched in to clean up the wreckage.

 

Despite the uncertainty ushered in by 2020, the Christmas season was and will remain the most popular time of the year for the little Scandinavian store at East Lake. Christmastime traditions within the Nordic community are sacred and cherished by generations young and old alike. The festivities that originated across Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark have taken root across the United States, especially in places with a prominent Scandinavian heritage. For Ingebretsen’s, it’s obvious that tradition is baked into the very foundations of the building. Pierson and his colleagues don't know what’s next on the horizon for Ingebretsen’s in 2021, but until then, their focus will remain on the incumbent peak sales season, which—as forecasted—will shift significantly more online. Magento 2’s stability and functionality will prove essential this season.

 

“It’s all about driving more business to the website,” Pierson said.Many businesses will have the same mantra as they enter full-swing into the 2020 holiday season. Already, Pierson and the team have noticed a significant spike in mobile purchases compared to previous years. When working with Wagento, they wanted an easy-to-accomplish mobile experience to be a top priority. So far, those efforts have paid off in mobile device traffic. The manager and his team also noticed an uptick in positive feedback on his website’s look and feel–a response he attributes to working within Magento’s core functionality (with minimal extra customization) to achieve an awesome design and navigation.

100 Years Strong

Following its 100th anniversary in 2021, the Minneapolis marketplace has reason to be joyful. One hundred years of business is a milestone anyone should celebrate and be proud of—especially if the road to success is riddled with hardships right up until the very end with an unforeshadowed year-gone-haywire. Ingebretsen’s migration to Magento 2 served as even further proof of the business’s ongoing prosperity—rather than be content in their accomplishments, the Scandinavian landmark is still making improvements 100 years into the game. Despite Ingebretsen’s ongoing transformation, the traditions it was founded on continue to be the glue that holds the business together—or should we say, perhaps—the icing that holds the Norwegian Kransekake intact.

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