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Grand ambitions

No-one can accuse Team Wild and Ian Harford in particular of not aiming high. So when they approached us with the idea of creating one of the main ecommerce sites for hunting and shooting, not just in the UK but across Europe, we were perhaps a little nervous but certainly not surprised.

Once we understood the scale and ambition of the proposed site we knew that this would have to be developed with Magento E-commerce, currently the most powerful feature rich Open Source ecommerce platform available.

When it comes to E-commerce, experience matters

 As experienced Magento Web Developers we knew that Magento E-commerce would give us the stable, reliable platform that Team Wild Outfitters needed. Our first thoughts were to discuss the matter of content with Kindra Ann Fisher, the Managing Director at Team Wild Outfitters.

An ecommerce site of any size requires a staggering amount of content, a typical brochure site may have under 100 pages on it, each of which will normally contain images and text. If an ecommerce site stocks only 500 product lines, then that is 500 pages, each of which requires multiple images, product description text (usually both a long and short version) as well as the precise parameters of the product, such as price, weight, colour, manufacturer, etc.

With this in mind the first area we wanted to look at was the Information Architecture (sometimes referred to as the Site Map). Getting the structures of both product content and supporting content (Terms and Conditions, sizing guides, Returns and Delivery information, etc) correct was vital, as once the site was set up it would be much harder to change the underlying structures.

With E-commerce there is so much more to think about

Once the information architecture was in place we turned to the product data. In Magento, products are essentially just collections of parameters, a t-shirt is made up of it's name, brand, size, colour, design, price, etc. Attached to that are the images and descriptions that allow the visitor to interact with the product. Each product type will have a different range of parameters, for example a television will need a different set of parameters (screen size, display type, HD status and so on) than the t-shirt. This means that a number of product types will need to be defined depending on the range of products and how precise the retailer wants the information on each product to be.

After the product catalogue discussions it was time to decide upon some of the other requirements to running an online store:

  • The terms and conditions needed to be defined and checked for suitability
  • How would the returns system work?
  • What delivery options would be offered and how would they be priced?
  • Which payment facilities were to be used and what was needed from banks and other intermediaries to put them in place?

The more you plan the less you work

What is great about Magento is that if you work with it, and do things in a Magento way, it can be quite easy to build very large and complex ecommerce sites. So by trying to get as much of the planning and strategy done before we started the build, the creation of the site was significantly easier.

We were also tasked to create some bespoke extensions to accompany this site, one was a system to upload bulk stock data quickly and easily. This was to allow stock figures and pricing data for the product range to be updated by simply uploading a suitable CSV file. We had experience of this sort of operation from a previous Magento build so knew this was feasible.

The second system was to create a Drop Shipping system that would alert the suppliers of the website when an order for one of their products was placed on the site, so allowing Team Wild Outfitters to use their suppliers as warehouses for their stock, selling it directly from their suppliers. We had seen extensions that would achieve this for sale for 1000's of pounds in renewable licences, but felt this was within our scope of abilities so created it in house instead.

The future for Teamwildoutfitters.com

Teamwildoutfitters.com is continuing to gain customers and is gaining market share despite the economic conditions and the poor summer of 2012. The range of stock is growing continuously with new lines being added and new suppliers being recruited, and the level of content is continuing to grow.

Products details are being embellished and product relationships defined, making the overall shopping experience for visitors better and easier. Kindra is proving to be an accomplished retail manager as well as self promoter, both of which are skills needed to survive in ecommerce.

We continue to support Team Wild Outfitters with updates and amendments to the site and enjoy watching it grow and thrive.

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