Mark Perini launched ICEE Social as a means of helping his favorite neighborhood boutiques scale digitally. 12 years, hundreds of merchants, and dozens of local meetups later, Mark and his team are on the frontlines of shaping modern retail—with Shopify at his side.
Keep reading to learn more about Mark’s story and how he’s found success with Shopify ecommerce and Shopify POS.
Founding ICEE Social
2009 was a tough year to enter the workforce. Yet when Mark Perini graduated from business school, he went above and beyond to make an impact through his career.
“I knew I wanted to apply my learnings from University to something in the real world.” To Mark, nothing was more real than the local businesses he frequented in the Upper East Side of New York City.
For years, he watched these boutiques get by on word-of-mouth marketing. But after college, Mark saw an opportunity to help these businesses succeed in the digital realm.
“I started going door to door to local shops and asking to run their Facebook business page and their paid ads,” he explained. “Because nobody was spending on Google or Facebook at the time, I’d spend like $100 a month and see [activity from] 100,000 people.”
Word spread, and Mark’s client list grew rapidly. He taught himself how to code and soon became known as “the web guy.”
Today, Mark leads the successful Shopify Partner Agency ICEE Social and supports merchants who do upwards of $100 million online.
Growing Up with Shopify
As ICEE Social was taking shape in 2009, Shopify was also in its early stages. “I’ve made the joke before that my business kind of grew up with Shopify,” Mark shared. From day one, Mark has recommended Shopify to his clientele.
While his team accepts projects on any platform, Shopify constitutes about 90% of his work.
Mark was a one-man show for a long time, so it was important that he be able to onboard merchants without requiring a full post-migration support team. “Shopify enables merchants to transact and manage [the back-end] themselves once their store is built,” Mark explained.
A few years ago, Mark set up a jewelry store for two 70-year-old women who operate pop-ups in Florida. “I built their website and integrated it with Shopify POS…and they haven't called me since,” said Mark. “Their business is still up and running. That's a testament to the platform.”
Mark has also migrated many merchants to Shopify POS, which has helped his business grow in turn—15% of ICEE Social’s revenue in 2021 was directly or indirectly tied to POS migrations.
“I’ve helped 100s of clients move from Lightspeed, Square, Vend, Quickbooks, Revel, and more. Merchants of all sizes are making the move.”
I’ve helped 100s of clients move from Lightspeed, Square, Vend, Quickbooks, Revel, and more. Merchants of all sizes are making the move.
Migrating omnichannel merchants to Shopify POS
In 2013, one luxury retailer approached Mark and his team for help migrating to Shopify. Her home goods business was on M1, but the license was expiring in two weeks’ time.
The catch? Two weeks after that, her business was holding its biggest sample sale of the year. “This was one of those projects I knew I shouldn’t take on, but I ended up doing it,” shared Mark. “It was too exciting!”
In “a mad dash of startup craziness,” the ICEE Social team migrated the brand to Shopify Plus and Shopify POS.
The retailer’s biggest issue at the time was overselling—for years, the owner would offer less inventory online for fear of stockouts. During the migration, Mark and his team helped cordon off inventory for the ecommerce and retail portions of the business, which made a huge difference during the annual sale event.
“They brought in almost $2 million at that sample sale—and that's from a migration five weeks before,” said Mark. “They also used Shopify POS for the in-person portion of the sale.”
Despite the success merchants find with Shopify, it’s not uncommon for some to hesitate when they hear the word migration. The biggest stressor for these merchants? Data management.
That’s why Mark and his team created two Shopify apps to further ease the migration process: Photo Finish and Selling Point.
As part of Shopify’s App Challenge, the apps were developed to combat issues that Mark and his team face almost daily. Photo Finish migrates product photography into Shopify via Dropbox, and Selling Point moves gift cards from any POS system into Shopify.
You might also like: How App Challenge Winner Tilo Mitra is Building for Success on the Shopify App Store.
When the ICEE Social team migrated Hanky Panky to Shopify in 2021, both apps came into play. The team’s biggest concern was its product photography—the website had 2,000+ products and at least five images per product.
Instead of the design team reshooting photos or the ecommerce team wrangling and renaming thousands of files, the team simply renamed the images by SKU and uploaded them to Dropbox—all using Photo Finish. “What would have taken two weeks took us a couple of hours,” said Mark.
The ICEE Social team also migrated nearly half a million dollars between store credits and gift cards using Selling Point.
Shaping the Shopify Meetup Community
After spending so many years building ICEE Social, Mark was ready to meet other developers in the New York area. “The first few years of ICEE Social were lonely, and I felt like the only Shopify developer in New York,” said Mark. “I didn’t want anyone else to feel like that as they started their business.”
The first few years of ICEE Social were lonely, and I felt like the only Shopify developer in New York. I didn’t want anyone else to feel like that as they started their business.
At the suggestion of a Shopify Partner Coordinator, Mark partnered with another local agency to host a Shopify meetup. It was a simple event, with a dozen developers chatting over pizza and beer.
But developers in the area craved camaraderie. So over the years, the meetups grew—the most successful one occurring in 2019 with 250+ attendees.
“For the app developers and developers like me, it was cool to see it grow from such humble beginnings,” said Mark. Expanding his network through the Shopify Partner Ecosystem has led to dozens of new friendships and business opportunities.
One of the best conferences Mark attended was A Day with Shopify in 2017. “Not only were the talks amazing and pertinent to my business, but I also met one of my best friends and future app business partner Robbie Sherrard,” shared Mark. (Robbie is also a Shopify Partner and the other half of Finish Labs). Mark and Robbie partnered up to build Photo Finish, and the rest is history.
“All of that wouldn't have been possible without that Shopify conference,” said Mark.
Today, ICEE Social works with merchants of all sizes, from fully-formed to fledgling companies. While he enjoys both ends of the Shopify spectrum, small businesses—like those boutiques in his New York neighborhood—are some of his favorite projects.
“I started with startups, little crusty brands that were just getting out there, and I never want to give that up,” shared Mark. “I believe that entrepreneurship is a superpower.”
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