An online retail business success story using our next generation, live eCommerce?
Dec 2016
Case Study: The Hawthorn Gallery
John Ince
Case Study: The Hawthorn Gallery
What happens when we apply our live webapp theory to a real online retail business. In this case study we look at 'The Hawthorn Gallery', a contemporary Art gallery in Stalybridge, UK. Just how did we change their online retail business for the better with our next generation realtime eCommerce?
What we do is Crazy Baby!
It's Christmas eve at 11AM. 'The Secret Snowman by Paul Horton' has belatedly arrived by courier. It's too late to get it on the website and up for sale online, damn! This was the frustrating world of The Hawthorn Gallery website before we arrived on the scene. I stood there listening to Ian, the owner, telling me his woes with the current website and the massive drain on his time. The existing website was vintage 2005, a bad year apparently, I'd have to agree it didn't taste too good. It wasn't like I haven't heard all this before. Our team, we, spend our entire lives listening to the uphill struggle that is website updating. We can't believe how manual most of it still is today! Ian's a businessman, not a web designer and wants to spend more time selling Art rather than struggling to update his website. We couldn't agree more. That was in 2013 and we've been working together ever since. So what specifically is the problem or rather problems?
Ye Olde School Web
A website without code. Web designers Vs Coders, never the twain shall meet! So your web designer can put together a pretty page but is he doing it in a maintainable way? I guess when you look at the markup language, the HTML, and you see comments in there that say "-Ian - Copy Start Here-", a block of markup then "-Ian - Copy End Here-" you know you're looking at a brute of a website. One of our pet hates, copious rubber stamping and duplication. So, to easily add a new piece of Art, simply FTP (File Transfer Protocol) download which is a way to copy a file from a web server to a local machine, update the page by above copy and edit, upload the images via FTP and upload the changed page. Wonderfully erroneous. This isn't olde school web, this is a crime! Remember Ian's a businessman. Over the years there's been thousands of these copies, hundreds of duplicated Artist pages containing these duplicated pieces of Art. The solution is really obvious but in the domain of the coders. Have a database driven solution with two templates, one for Art and one for Artists, and just poke the different data and images. Zero duplication. But we can do much better than that with our live WebApps which are at the perfect convergence of graphics and code albeit with perfect, transparent demarcation. We're the next evolution of database driven.
But that's Not the Only Problem
As I sat and chatted to Ian over a nice cup of coffee I sensed the website was just part of a much bigger and wider issue. I'm a bit worried Ian said about this new fangled mobile technology. A lot of my customers now have Smartphones and my current website is absolute pants! I think I'm losing sales since they're sat on the sofa with a phone and not a laptop these days! I'm going to need a mobile app, but I'll need more than one since some of my clients are on Android and some on Apple. That's a bigger budget than I've got and I'm also having to spend on getting my website updated too. Remember there's tablets too, I unhelpfully piped up! So we need mobile and tablet apps. Luckily for Ian, our live WebApps just resize into a mobile device. It's one solution for all devices. Our only requirement is a modern browser like mobile chrome or safari, think that covers Android, Apple and almost every other Smartphone. Ian's chirping up a bit, always does when he's saving money. We all know that feeling.
And there's More my Back-Office is a Mess too!
It takes me ages to do an invoice for a client says Ian. I have a Microsoft Word file INV3121, open, edit and save as INV3122. Sounds like the website all over again says me. Beautiful rubber stamping. The worst bit is the stage fright when I'm struggling to use Word and the client's getting impatient. My typing's not the best and Word is jumping all over the place. I'm space filling to get the alignment, etc. I lose sleep at night over aligning decimal points with tabbing... The moral of the story is that a general tool is never as good as specific tool for any job! Also, I only know if I've an online order via an email from PayPal to say a payment has been received and the whole process is a paper trail and documents in a directory that I never backup. Oh and I store my customer details in an excel spreadsheet that I copy from the invoice when the client has left the building. Good job our live WebApps handle all this seamlessly. From invoice production, to online payments, to keeping your client up to date live with their order progress, a searchable customer database with mail shots, oh and it's got live stock control working in unison with web sales and shop sales. Your back-office is handled as part of your workflow.
I want to take Payments without Leaving my Website
PayPal, the lowest common denominator. It's how the old website used to work since it wasn't secure, none HTTPS. Let PayPal handle the checkout by opening another secure browser tab. I'm guessing that, to the guy who 'drew' the original website, this was the only option. What's needed to bring this into our domain, just take credit cards in a modern way? Nothing it's all out of the box with live retail. We offer both secure and none secure WebApps. If you choose secure than just grab a Stripe account (a modern credit card payment processor) and you can start taking credit cards immediately. It's so good that it can be your shop PDQ too. This is only the beginning of your order tracking. During the sales process we keep your client constantly up to date with their order status live. As you mark as dispatched your client is immediately updated. Remember too that you can use your mobile to update client orders as well as your website. It's simply out of the box.
How Long is All of this Going to Take?
Ian says, Stop talking I'm sold! It's going to take ages though to set this all up. Is it? Not really, we simply create the new WebApp in our cloud, we spray paint to your exact brand and it's available by clicking a link. Our tailoring to your brand service is where we customise your new live WebApp completely to your business livery and also if you have existing data it's entirely possible we can import, with images, your current data. It's saves you the data entry job. Whichever way you want to go we will work with you from day one to get you up and running. So that's it, a full ecommerce website/app for mobile, tablet and laptop off the shelf.
So Why is this Better than a Data Driven Website
Why are we the next evolution from a regular website with a database? Why do we claim to be the next big thing? It's simple. Everything we do is live, in real-time! Let's consider a few examples to make this point understood. You make a sale and the product is the last one available, but hang on there's another customer also looking at the same product right now. Shouldn't they know in real-time that it's been sold? That's exactly what we do, that's why we're live! What if you add a new product as an administrator and your customer has already searched for what you just added. Would they see it? We live update search results in real-time. Wouldn't want your customer leaving and missing a sale. Who's live on your website now? We track connections in real-time and we can tell you who's online in the present time and exactly what they are doing. Isn't that much more like your bricks and mortar store? Everything we do is real-time. Our administrators can fill the same form data together and work in harmony without overwriting each other's changes. Ian didn't know any of this was possible until we drew his attention to it. Now he has competitive advantage with present time, live, business intelligence.
New features, All the Time for Life
We never stop adding new features to our live retail WebApps and over the years The Hawthorn Gallery has seen their website grow in functionality. There's simply nothing to do. We build exciting new features and they appear by magic in each release. Some of these enhancements have been driven by Ian's retail experience, these 'wouldn't it be nice ifs'! Others we have conceived, but we're always moving forward. We've added live auctions, a real-time version of eBay, that puts your customers live in the room. We've added Google Merchant Centre connectivity at Ian's request so products automatically appear in Google's store and best of all at the top of search. We created a great, searchable customer database that has a built in, targeted mail shots. We made it easy to run discount sales and create them just like programming your TV digibox. The list goes on. If you've a suggestion we're all ears, regardless of whether it's specific to your business OR it's generally useful in online retail.
We Didn't Create The Hawthorn Gallery WebApp, They Did!
Remember. Our live WebApps enable our clients to take control of their website. We simply provide the cloud software to enable this. The Hawthorn Gallery built their own website content and manage the content live. It's so simple that Ian's no longer solely responsible for website updating, his staff can just do it! Let's promote this on our landing page, changed in a minute! A better online experience for both customers and your business. More time doing business and less time dealing with online technology!
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