This interview first appeared on the ACE website for their International Exchange Program, a partnership between the Association for Cultural Enterprises in the UK and Museum Store Association in the US. CO-CURATOR founder Bradley Platz was invited to speak on Shopify at the 2019 Conference in Brighton, UK during his tenure at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Content below was revised in 2022 for this post:
"Over my decade long role at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which comprises the de Young and Legion of Honor museums, I grew to manage retail marketing and oversight of the museum's eCommerce channels for retail, gift membership, donations, and education.
I came to eCommerce from a background in fine art, web development, and graphic design. In 2010 I co-founded Modern Eden, a contemporary art gallery in the city, and recently, CO-CURATOR, a digital agency focused on helping cultural institutions and individual creators grow online sales channels.
An early adopter of both Shopify and Shopify Plus, over the last eleven years I have leveraged the platform to sell everything from retail products, print-on-demand, gift packages, event and exhibition tickets, to membership, classes, workshops, and original artwork.
I was selected for the international exchange program because of my experience speaking at the Museum Store Association conference (MSA FORWARD) in 2017, where I led a session entitled Taking it to the Cloud: Replatforming the Online Museum Store, which covered the steps in gaining internal buy-in, budget, and support to migrate a legacy online store to the cloud. What I discovered through that process is that for everything I shared, I learned something twice as valuable.
My session, Collaborative Commerce, focused on the retail eCommerce platform as a cross-departmental tool for generating revenue through new channels, and makes a case for expanding traditional retail offerings to include experiences, digital downloads, tickets, membership, and gift packages. Web-based software is becoming highly sophisticated and integrated out-of-the-box. As retailers we already consider ourselves the experts within our institutions at selling. New tools and new platforms empower us to break down departmental silos, and work together with colleagues across the institution to identify and achieve shared revenue goals.
After implementing Shopify Plus at the museums in 2017, and integrating of the online store with other museum software systems, it became apparent that our other systems were not as flexible, and could not meet the myriad of eCommerce needs across the institution. Over time, I began incorporating new types of products, adding new users, and finding new use cases for our online store platform. Today the Shopify Plus sites are shared by 35 users across the institution—in Retail, Membership, Data Services, IT, Education, and Marketing—and as a result my role expanded beyond retail to encompass larger and more broadly-focused commerce initiatives at the museums.
One of my favorite things about conferences in the non-profit and cultural sector is the opportunity to network with colleagues from institutions that I respect and admire. My time at ACE Conference in Brighton was a gift, that taught me more about the various ways that eCommerce is utilized in other markets and what larger technology trends are occurring within non-profit and cultural retail.