Greens Models was an entirely new business selling high quality model radio controlled kits, spares and associated products and services. Since this was all a very new experience for them they required a lot of help and guidance from us.
What they did know is that they needed an e-commerce solution to perform as their digital shop front on the web. It had to be clear and concise, easy to navigate and easy to manage. It also had to make the products centre stage whilst also promoting their USP. Ease and speed of management for the products was a very important factor. For this particular project it is conceivable there will be thousands of products and product variations. That isn’t a trivial business function for e-commerce.
Over the last few years the model market has become an almost exclusively price competitive market to the point where web retailers make little effort to differentiate themselves from the competition based on anything else. The market has changed massively in the last 30 years and it seems many have relied on long term reputations but are now suffering decline. Since the products are generic across retailers there is ample room for a good retailer that will also support customers, just like your high street model shop once did.
Once we had gathered all the information, ideas and requirements from the client we started to evaluate the various options that are available. There are two over-arching decisions to make here, you can decide to go self-hosted or you can opt for a hosted service. The two differ a lot in terms of management overhead from a technical perspective and depending on the business model involved can make a huge difference in financial costs and costs in terms of effort to manage.
Given the criteria on this particular shop we recommended that the client go with a fully hosted solution. This was based on a number of reasons. The business model suited this, the ease of use for the client and the much shallower learning curve and the increased simplicity of the solution.
Another factor we considered was performance. Solutions like Magento can handle vast catalogues of products (as can many platforms to be fair) but for an inexperienced and new small business Magento would also be too complex. Wordpress and associated products also work very well but you have to have the hosting horsepower to really keep on top of the UX. By opting for a hosted solution you also benefit from a vast infrastructure powering your site along with CDN (Content Delivery Network) features.
The solution we opted for in this instance was Shopify. The package made sense, included everything that we required and was in-line with their business model. Shopify also includes complete SSL coverage of the site for secure transactions. Not only to secure the site and customer data but to aid in gaining another bit of good SEO as well. Shopify is also backed by a huge CDN which has many benefits.
The Shopify templating engine means that HTML is rendered on the server rather than the client but also benefits from having a lot of processing power in the back-end database. This is a very important factor when you are dealing with vast numbers of products in a database.
Whilst we cannot document every feature in detail, it is designed to get a complete novice up-to-speed with their solution in the shortest possible time. We don't deploy and desist!
The client is extremely happy with the final results which is always a pleasure to hear and we wish them all the luck in their new venture.
We have followed up with them a number of times now and the business is thriving with quarterly turnovers in year 1 that are remarkable given the sector. Anyone experienced in e-commerce will appreciate that to be turning a profit within year 1 is a huge achievement to be proud of. We were very happy to be an important cog in their wheels.
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