Editors note: Today's guest blogger is Mike Knapp, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder, Shoes of Prey, a Sydney-based ecommerce business where customers can design their own shoes.

Shoes of Prey can be summed-up in four words “design your perfect shoes”. We’re a Sydney-based ecommerce business where customers can design their own flats, heels, wedges, sandals or whatever takes your fancy. 

When we established Shoes of Prey back in 2009, we wanted to combine our skills, passions and experience to build something remarkable — a product that would generate buzz and sell itself. Because our shoes are designed by our customers, they do just that. With over four trillion combinations of cutting-edge designs possible, our customers have designed tens of millions of their own shoes so far.

When we first started Shoes of Prey, we chose Google Apps for Business as our key technology solution. Much more than just email, we use the whole suite - docs, spreadsheets and presentations. One of the reasons we like using Google Apps is that it gives our staff the freedom and flexibility to work from home, allowing them to manage family commitments or just avoid the commute when the traffic turns nasty.

As we see it, as long as they have Internet access, our staff can be as productive at home or on the move as they are at work. Wherever they are, they have access to all the files and applications they need, and we have peace of mind that this data is secure thanks to Google’s world-class backup and security systems.

We also use Google Apps with our production teams, public relations partners and our investors. This way we can share up-to-date documents in real time, anywhere, anytime without sweating about version control or transferring files by USB stick.

Another feature which supports our flexible work policy are Google Hangouts. Hangouts allow us to communicate face-to-face, whether we’re across town or on the other side of the globe and help us maintain meaningful relationships with our production team and investors.

As an ecommerce business, it’s paramount that our website is always secure and stable, so we also host our website on Google’s App Engine. We can draw on Google’s infrastructure to ensures our site responds seamlessly when there are sudden peaks in demand which happen around key shopping times like Christmas.

Although we’re only a small team Google Apps allows us to “act big”  by linking multiple email domain names to single accounts, we can use French, UK or generic domain suffixes to give a local feel to a global interaction. And administratively, the system is intuitive to use and new users, groups and aliases are set up in a matter of minutes.

Having started with three people and grown to about 40, Google Apps for Business has scaled with us. Although we don’t know how many people we’ll have on staff in future, we do know that it won’t involve buying expensive servers or more IT upkeep. We’d recommend it to any SMB looking to set up and scale up big, as it has given us a lot of freedom and empowered us to work in new and innovative ways.