CodeRex Year In Review 2020
It’s the year 2021! But as we step into another new year, while reflecting on last year, I think it’s safe to say 2020 was way different and pretty challenging than any other year in the past decade.
Like every other business out there, at CodeRex, we had to take precautions and proper measurements to survive the lockdown during the COVID19 pandemic.
In fact, this was the first time we ran operations from home. But I am glad to say that we managed to tackle any possible obstacles that came in our way successfully.
Initially, the COVID19 crisis got most businesses worried and some of our web development clients decided to pause taking web services until the pandemic crisis would be reduced by a significant amount. This did hamper our yearly estimate and goals for the company.
But the good news is, it gave us room to focus more on our own plugin development business (widely known as RexTheme), which we were running as a side hustle until 2020. And that helped us survive and shift our gears to whole new opportunities. Today we will reflect upon our activities throughout 2020 and find out what we achieved and what actions we took to turn a hectic year into a successful one.
Stepping Into 2021
While entering 2021, we are proud to say that our team grew even more, unlike many companies.
Right now, in the first week of 2021, we have:
- 19 team members
- 10% more turnover compared to last year
But most of this success was thanks to shifting more focus on plugin development.On RexTheme we currently have:
We look forward to doubling these numbers throughout 2021.
Comparing January 2020 to January 2021 (RexTheme)
2020 saw RexTheme grow to twice of what it was at the beginning.
CodeRex Monthly Timeline 2020
How CodeRex Tackled Several Obstacles In 2020
As you know, 2020 was one of the most unpredictable years since the start of our business. We faced several obstacles that hampered our yearly plans.
However, a lot of these obstacles were successfully handled thanks to early planning and proper execution.
1. Advanced Planning For Work From Home
During mid-February, as the pandemic grew, we conducted a meeting to decide how to ensure our employees’ safety and run our operations without any major setbacks.
Considering the risks of travelling during the COVID19 outbreak, it was decided that we will conduct a ‘Work from home’ initiative from the second week of March 2020 (even though the lockdown was not issued at the time).
**FYI, by this time, some of our web development clients were already temporarily pausing from taking our service. A week later, a proper plan was conducted on how we will manage our working schedule, team collaboration, client collaboration, and project execution.
The following plan was decided:
- Every member of Team CodeRex will be provided with work stations at home.
- All team members will be compensated to arrange high-quality internet and ensure uninterrupted service.
- Team meetings will be conducted via video calls.
- Everyone is required to maintain scrum methodology for project management.
And to maintain this plan effectively, we decided to use the following tools:
**Initially, we tried using Microsoft Teams, but ended up moving back to Zoho Cliq as it was not suitable for us.
Apart from these, we used all other software that we generally used before lockdown. This plan helped us to start the ‘work from home’ initiative without any major hiccups.
2. Increased Focus On Plugin Development
During the 1st week of March 2020, we already got the news that the country will go on lockdown. Most other countries were already forced to go into lockdown. Hence, this was a time when we had the least number of web development work ever.
And with an attempt to find another possibility, we decided to prioritize plugin development. In fact, rather than putting 50/50 effort, we switched to a 90/10 effort towards plugin development.
But this decision wasn’t just a random one. Here’s why we figured plugin development was the right way:
i. Increased Demand For Virtual Solution
Our most popular plugin was WPVR – a virtual tour creator for WordPress sites.
Since people were going to stay at home for a while, we expected more businesses to embrace virtual reality to connect with their prospects.This opened up the room to target two types of industries:
- Our main target customers, small real estate businesses, who will now need to create virtual tours more than ever to showcase the properties.
- Web development agencies who can offer websites with virtual reality implementation to their clients.
ii. Higher Necessity For eCommerce
We also created a vital WooCommerce plugin called WooCommerce Product Feed Manager. This plugin helps WooCommerce store owners to generate an accurate product feed for several marketplaces for product promotion.
The lockdown would mean people now would have to rely on online purchases to meet their daily needs. We figured eCommerce businesses would be desperate to grab this opportunity and promote on large marketplaces to try and sell as many as possible.
This again opened up room for us to target two types of industries:
- WooCommerce store owners who will want to save time and promote on multiple marketplaces easily.
- Agencies who help WooCommerce stores to maintain their inventory.
Actions Taken To Prepare For Plugin Development
With proper market analysis, we decided that our best option would be to improve our plugins and get them ready for extensive use during the pandemic.
So the following was decided:
- Two new members in the marketing team would be required to increase our plugin promotion
- A developer was assigned full time to each plugin
- Our initial plan to launch Cart Lift was delayed until our existing plugins were improved
- A Product manager was assigned to each plugin to maintain proper development
- No more new web development projects would be accepted at least for the next 3 months to execute our plugin development plans properly
And without much delay, we started moving forward with this plan from day one of working from home.
3. Creating More Opportunities For Buyers
Unlike web development, we know that plugin sales will get more attention if we can create the right opportunity.
During the COVID lockdown, we knew everyone was suffering from a sudden fall in income. So it wouldn’t make sense to enforce a full plugin fee without added benefits.Here’s what we did to create opportunities for buyers to embrace our plugins:
i. Offer Free Hand-to-hand support
At the end of March, we announced that we would provide hand-to-hand support to our users without any extra cost.
For example, we promised to set up a product feed personally and upload it to Google Shopping for business owners who were not familiar with promoting products on Google Shopping.And eventually, we helped 100s of our users.
- Helped over 100 businesses to set up product feed for their desired marketplaces.
- Created initial virtual tours for several WPVR users personally to get them started with the tool.
- Recorded personalized video guides to help users when they were confused.
- Educated several online business owners about Google Merchant Center to take advantage of Google Shopping Ads.
The main concept was to guide users so that they didn’t have to waste time looking for other tools. For anyone who got stuck, we made sure they got a quick, personalized solution.
ii. Run Discount Campaigns To Make Plugins More Affordable
In July, after we launched the updated UI for WPVR, we immediately launched a special Lifetime deal for WPVR at an almost 70% discount.
We allowed WPVR users to purchase the plugin’s lifetime licenses at such a low price because we knew businesses were having a tough time during the lockdown. This offer could allow them to use virtual tours without a huge expense.
Meanwhile, we also offered a great number of discounts on all other plugins from time to time.
- A 20% discount campaign was run on the first week of April on all plugins
- Our Halloween campaign included a 20% discount on any plugin licenses
- We offered a massive 40% discount on lifetime licenses during Black Friday & Cyber Monday
- The Christmas Holiday campaign included a 30% discount on any lifetime licenses.
The Black Friday campaign was our biggest sale of the year. After a long lockdown period, we figured it’s a great opportunity for many to get back into business during Black Friday.
We also took the opportunity, but in doing so, we helped several businesses get our useful plugins to boost their revenue – a win-win for both.By the end of 2020, the number of plugins sold was over 10x as much as they were sold in 2019.
Was Work From Home A Set-Back?
Many asked us how we handled the lockdown, and we claimed that we conducted operations from home. This led to the next most common question, ‘was it a huge set-back?’
I can understand why this question may arise. During the lockdown, most businesses suffered from a lack of clients. Many had to lay off employees or reduce employee salaries to survive. And a lot of companies stopped operations until the lockdown was over, i.e., zero revenue.
Moreover, a ‘work from home’ initiative is not easy. There may be several distractions hampering work performance.
But I am glad to say it was different for Team CodeRex. Rather, we would like to think it was a huge success.
To start, we did not layoff any employees and never altered anyone’s salary. Rather, we hired three new members to the team during that time.
And thanks to our reliable team members who worked dedicatedly throughout, we managed to conduct our work with top quality even if it was from home. In fact, the work from home showed us how strong a team we are. Plus, it also proved to us that we could rely on every member to work independently without affecting work quality.
So, no, work from home was not a setback for Team CodeRex.
Now that 2020 is past us, we learn a lot of new things. Among many, the two most important lessons were:
- Never take business for granted. Unexpected obstacles may come anytime. So we should always be prepared and make sure to build a reliable team.
- Giving up or waiting for a bad time to pass is not an option. Taking action is the only way to success.
While taking these lessons with us, in 2021, we are more confident of achieving greater success.
Clearly, plugin development could be the best way ahead of our coming years. So we will continue to give more priority to plugin development.
As we speak, a great new plugin is being developed which is intended to help online businesses increase their revenue.
And soon, we will be working on adding more features to our existing plugins.
And to ensure we maintain our growing quality, we have already grown our team to 19 members.
Hopefully, 2021 will allow us to make up for all the possible opportunities we missed in 2020.